Sea, sea and sea everywhere. Though a glance at the beckoning waves always has a powerful impact over me, even to the extent of drowning my deepest worries somewhere in their splashes and the gurgle is nothing less than therapy for my soul, I was still kind of looking for a change. Maybe some greener pastures and the colder temperatures of the higher altitude. Though I can never be too sure of what entices me more – the sea or the sky. I guess the African winters will never give me the feel of Delhi winters – sheaths of woolens, the warmth of a hot cup of chai over which I can warm my palms as if trying to soak in the heat from the cup, condensed breath forming clouds in front of your nose. I can never get over the winters in Delhi, because that is my favourite season, and I really feel from every iota of my being that this is how winters are supposed to be.
All that made me nostalgic, and when the mountainside called me for a trip to a nearby hill station called Lushoto, I was excited like a little child going on a vacation with her friends.
A most scenic, almost 8 hour drive leaves you breathing fresh mountain air which couldn’t have been fresher anywhere else, and laden with the smell of pine leaves and clear blue skies. The roads are pretty well made, and you can expect a smooth drive. But boy, was our driver slow! A few of us, including me would have been happier pushing him over and taking over the wheel.
Situated at 1200m in Tanga region this highland surrounded by eucalyptus and pine is breathtakingly pretty. We stayed at The Swiss Farm Cottages which were nestled at the foot of a forested Mt. Mahande and gave a stunning view of the surroundings. …..and by stunning I do mean awfully beautiful. The plunge of the hills, smothered with milky misty clouds, shrouded with emrald greens.
Founded by a Swiss gentleman more than five decades back, this Resort is a real retreat for the soul. Calm surroundings, a spell binding view, cozy cottages and good organic food.
There are 2 chalets with two rooms and a living room, and 4 independent rooms. The rooms were well provided for, daintily setup, clean with adequate facilities and enough space. The cottages have a lovely fireplace which is lit up during the evenings providing a really wonderful experience. Just lighting up the fire is a great adventure in itself for those coming from the city. Its ideal to sip a glass of wine and listen to some great music by the fire, while it is cold out there. We were well provided for with extra and bunk beds for the children wherever required and everything was spot on clean. There is no intercom so getting stuff from housekeeping or the kitchen may require you to run down to the respective places, which is also kind of primeval as compared to modern resorts and hotels, but I honestly didn’t mind it one bit, because walking through the well maintained daisy beds with a view of the mountain was a pleasure. Not to mention sights and sounds of pretty birds, whilst inhaling the sweet aroma of the thicket of trees.
I am early riser but only whilst I am travelling – I love to wake up really, really early to catch the sunrise. The alarm set to catch the flight the previous day woke me up earlier than I’d wish to, but I couldn’t go back to sleep. The voices of dawn were mesmerizing, the cold was biting (it had been some time since I experienced such cold, and I loved every bit of it), and the view was magical. I saw the sky go from a sultry dark to a silvery metallic, and then to a pale yellow to a orangey golden. And 3 hours went by without me getting bored or tired, just standing at the window, watching this whole melodrama in the sky. Sunrise always gives me hope. Hope for a new day, and a reassurance that there is always a brighter side to any dark situation. I guess this is why I always find sunrises more enriching than sunsets. If I had not been strictly warned by my husband (I guess he knows me pretty well!) not to venture out into the early morning escapade, I would have really, really stepped out and felt the dew and chill of temperature outside.
The property is big with enough space for kids to play around safely, but do ensure they do not venture upward toward the hill as some places are infested with anthills and could be pretty much an issue if they manage to catch hold of you.
The food is all cooked with mostly organic ingredients from their own farm. They do take a lot of time if you order something so the best is to order in advance for the next meal. But the food is delicious, especially their pilaf. The breakfast is minimal, but you can get some really good Spanish omelette on order.
A friend and myself took a walk to the nearby village and we were really amazed by the beautiful smiles of little children and friendly greetings of the residents as we walked by trees laden with avocadoes. The benevolence of the villagers even allowed us to pick some if we wanted to, which really made me believe stronger than ever that people are rich not with money but with their hearts. It was pretty exciting to walk into corn farms and just gaze at mud thatched houses, whilst walking through beautifully growing plants and trees.
Diamonds couldn’t have sparkled more than the early morning dew collected on pretty leaves, and it is truly a photographers haven and a delight to the eyes.
We also did an excursion to the nearby Usumbura waterfalls. It was an exciting trek between thorny bushes and a narrow winding lane leading to a gurgling waterfall. Kids and adults had equal fun climbing boulders and some of us also braved an even narrower path to reach the bottom of the falls. We ended up reaching the resort famished with the workout and were glad that the food had already been ordered before we had left.
I cannot miss out on what was the most beautiful sights of all – the milky way in all its spectacular splendor! A sight I can never forget. The chill of the night, freezing breath and a sky full of stars, more than I could ever think of, more than I can ever imagine possible. ……..like a treasure trove of diamonds spilled carelessly in the sky. I could have sat on the steps the entire night and looked up, and still would have wanted some more of it. Those who have had the good fortune to see the milky way closely will agree that it is more than any camera can ever capture, and more than words could ever say.
The trip back home was full of the silence of the cold night with visions of the milky way and lungs full of sweet smelling mountain air. It had been a memorable break. Swiss Farms gave us a good stay with helpful friendly staff and cozy cottages. I would really love to go back again.
All images in this post are courtesy google.