When I mention Tanzania you probably think of the wonderful wildlife, the Ngorongoro crater, Mount Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti National Park or the beaches of Zanzibar. However, it is the contact with the friendly locals that gives you opportunities to immerse yourself in the country’s rich culture. For 5 days I volunteered with Peter in Kahe, a rural district of Moshi in the Kilimanjaro Region. I helped to build a toilet from natural materials, painted classrooms and visited the homes of host families for vulnerable children. This way, I experienced the local hospitality myself and learnt more of the customs and habits than any guidebook could teach me. In this post, I will show you the different steps of building a mud and stick toilet and hope to inspire you to volunteer in Africa.
Friends often ask me what I like so much about East-Africa as I keep going back and back. I fell in love with East-Africa when I first step foot on the continent during an organized group trip to Kenya in 2010. In 2012, I was enrolled at the Jimma University in Ethiopia to conduct soil surveys for my master’s thesis in Geology. During 2014-2015, I spent about 5 months living and working on Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania for my PhD research and I backpacked with my dad in Uganda. I returned to Kenya in 2016 to exploit the sediment record of Lake Challa, again in the framework of my PhD. Picking a favorite country in East-Africa is difficult as I visited several countries with different purposes. Nevertheless, I selected the 4 most memorable experiences from all those journeys.
Travelers often forget about the continent of Africa when planning their next backpacking trip as they think it is expensive, unsafe or impossible to get around independently. I will not claim that East-Africa is as easy as for example SE Asia to travel around, but it is certainly doable. There is so much more on this continent beyond the classic safari. I hope to stoke a little East-African wanderlust with the practical tips and tricks in this beginner’s guide.