Friday, 14 December 2012

We walk to Haubi

At Amarula campsite in Tanzania every once in a while someone would mention Haubi, a small town nestled in the mountains to the east and south of us. It had a lake! Amazing to consider in this dry environment. And a Sunday market!
Hamisi, one of our workers said he'd ridden his bike there to visit his father from the Pahi side, so I thought it couldn't be too far. One of our goals at the camp was to investigate possible day hikes around the vicinity for our visitors.  Our time at Amarula was rapidly coming to an end so we arranged with Hamisi and Daniel to guide us there one Sunday in September.
  Our host Seppo was visiting and drove us early to the turn, off the Kondoa road. As he drove away the numerous folks waiting for the bus to Haubi peppered Hamisi with questions. "Who are those white folks and why are you walking when you can take the bus?"

The road was rough; loose rock, steep and dusty from months without rain.  Soon we took a"shortcut" following a well worn path traversing a wild and undulating landscape. Off to the right and behind us a village  perched on a rise in the distance. Ahead brush, the odd tree and far away to the south as we climbed we could make out buildings in Kondoa.

When it rains here it is torrential. We descended a few times into canyons of eroded clay and stone, crossing narrow channels carved deep into the earth between hoodoo like columns of dried mud.

Then up and out through scrubby bush and herbage. Incredibly in the midst of this we passed a woman, just sitting, waiting. For what I know not, seemingly, in the middle of nowhere.

  Back on the road dump trucks filled with people passed us by on their way to the market. They all seemed pleased to see us, waving and calling out as the truck lumbered past swaying and straining up the hills. Not long after we walked across a wide sandy river, the tire tracks churned deeply into ruts. I wondered how they managed when the river was running.
Occasionally we'd pass or be passed by young women draped in layers of colourful cloth, Kangas and Kitenges flowing behind them, mist like, baskets in their hands.
Climbing still we passed through a small village, Hamisi again explaining  our purpose to the assembled men at the roadside.
 Not long after a few of those men caught up and walked with us awhile through more extreme looking landscapes till suddenly before us the lake appeared. Some settlement all around, the town visible at the far end at the foot of the hills.

 Walking on we found a fig tree loaded with fruit. Although apparently not so attractive to the locals, we nevertheless enjoyed a sweet treat and a break in the shade before continuing on.

 Down below to the left the lake was choked with weed and reeds so no swimming to cool our sweaty bodies. By this time the road had become quite crowded with people returning from the market. As we turned a corner near lakes end, there before us, a sea of people, booths and buses, trucks, donkeys, dogs, goats and chickens, coloured cloths, racks of western style clothing, pots and pans. I walked past a fellow sitting behind all manner of hardware, hinges, doorlocks, bolts and screws, car and bicycle parts spread out on the ground. And almost everyone there staring at us.
 The whole way we'd been anticipating some food and a place to sit to enjoy it. Where we finally ended up was more like a cave than a cafe and no chips mayai.
That brief interlude passed and we continued on around the lake walking back towards Pahi, passing a woman carrying an enormous clay pot on her head.
 Turns out Haubi is a source of homebrew, made in these giant pots. I wanted one! Sanity prevailed and we walked on.... and on... and on.
 The road continues into the hills but at the river Hamisi turned us right.

 Erosion has an amazing face, the steep walls of sandy clay cut by years of roaring river,  the bed wide and hard enough to drive on. We  walked down broad avenues, around corners into grottoes and canyons, past cliffs and islands eventually climbing onto a plateau up what looked like a driveway.
 On one side farmland stretched right up against the rising hills. On the left, steep drops into narrow canyons choked with vegetation.  Proceeding through this valley the path became narrower, the drops on either side more precipitous and I realized no one was driving in or out from this side!
Ahead the vast Masai steppe was visible from our vantage point in the hills. The trail, no longer a path, traversed one hillside to the other, up down and around loose rock and boulders through Miombo forest.
  It was remarkably red and green, the trees beginning to leaf out in anticipation of the coming rains.
 Stopping to rest we were passed by parties of young men and women, then family groups from very old to young with a troop of donkeys, not impressed, veering off the trail to avoid us.

 Down, down through scrub and forest, sliding over rock faces, around more boulders then coming around a corner on the road,  way off in the distance, we spied Amarula camp. Elke called Seppo for a ride and as the land leveled off we walked into  Pahi.
Quite a spectacular walk, we decided next time we'd do it in two days. Maybe then we could try the homebrew?

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