Blogs are certainly few and far between in these parts but with a small window in safari season I thought I would share some moments from a rather special place we visited with family in June.
Tanzania is a country full of surprises and it is a grave error ever to think you have seen it all. Guiding and organizing safaris all the time, it is easy to forget about the hidden gems of Tanzania that are not in a national park or by the ocean.
Mufindi is known largely for its tea estates that were some of the first areas to be settled by Europeans in the German controlled era. Tea is still grown there but is slowly losing favour to timber. We had passed through a couple of times with some of the local 12 toed residents but decided to do the tourist thing this time.
That pretty much means Mufindi Highland Lodge on the Foxes Farm. Well known as safari pioneers in southern Tanzania, this is the Foxes family home and you are made to feel very welcome, often by the family themselves. The scenery on the drive in is dramatic and the lodge itself is beautifully positioned overlooking the valley.
We visited in June, which was probably a mistake; we could barely see the road on the way in through the fog (yes we have fog in Tanzania) and the car thermometer read 12 degrees C, in the middle of the day. Fortunately our room had a big fire in it, which was lovely and a must have.
A few hours from Iringa and Ruaha, you can be forgiven for thinking you have teleported to Scotland or somewhere similar where the weather changes every 5 minutes. This makes for a fantastic break from the norm and a very pleasant contrast.
There’s no game drives around here but what there is a whole host of activities to keep you busy. We were out walking the first afternoon and the landscape is beautiful, if perhaps not what it once was. The Foxes have instigated conservation measures in the surrounding primary and secondary forest, the results of which are to be seen in especially, the birdlife around the wonderfully manicured grounds. After that it was straight to the secret garden (as good as it sounds) for a round of croquet. Don’t worry you don’t have to be a Lord to play but watch your mouth because swearing is punishable by being rolled down the grassy bank. As if it wasn’t all quaint enough, tired after our considerable efforts, we were rejuvenated by tea and cake on the pitch, or is that a lawn?
Over the next couple of days we followed up with tennis, horse riding (not me), fly fishing (no I didn’t catch anything), quad biking and visiting the Foxes orphanage down the road. We were also shown around the Trout hatchery, which was fascinating, even if you have no idea what’s going on.
Mufindi is great place and a great option for residents in Tanzania or as an extension on longer safaris for international guests. As an advocate of bursting the safari bubble when the opportunity presents itself, I can highly recommend it, bring your thermals and a fleece though!