Locked and loaded

Posted on June 23, 2015


The rifle was big. Almost the same size as the ranger. Clever has worked for Arusha National Park for 11 years. He patrols the park regularly for poachers. The illegal ivory trade is still thriving in Tanzania. The country is among the worst in Africa (Mozambique also guilty) for this activity and according to conservationists Tanzania has lost 10,000 elephants over the last decade.
Clever met me at Momella Gate at 10am. I had booked a four hour hike through the forest. The park is just outside of the city centre and is a bit of a faff to get to. The park fees are $45 per non African resident and then you must pay for an armed ranger if you do a hike, this is mandatory and is $20 per person. The animals here include buffalo, leopards, elephants and black rhinos. I sincerely hoped I would not have to see a bullet fired at a charging animal, the guilt would be too much to handle.

I had read that many people arrive in Arusha and travel in and out of it without even setting foot in national park, which I think is probably one of the most beautiful areas I have been. 


Mount Meru is also found here. It is sometimes used as a “warm-up” for Kili as it sits at a lower altitude. But locals tell me it is actually much steeper and not an easy climb, I decided not to try it with my Kili challenge less than 5days away. 

The rain came down thick and fast and then continued throughout the morning. This did not deter me and I appeared to be the only person in the park willing to walk around in it. I was blown away by the landscape. It was incredible. Animals are harder to spot in the rain especially as they too are taking shelter. I did however manage to see black and white colobus monkeys, zebra, buffalo and a large male giraffe. Seeing them all on foot really does put into perspective their size and at times made me feel quite vulnerable.