International travel in any form is still uncertain. At the time of writing Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania are all on the Covid red list. It seems the possibility of journeying in East Africa is still some way off. Indeed, I was surprised to see that Namibia, one of the least densely populated countries on earth, is on the list too.
If we can't go to East Africa then we shall continue to bring it home, to savour the flavours and evoke cherished happy memories.
I'm a big fan of my local Peak Bean coffee roasters https://peakbean.co.uk/
Recently the folks at Peak Bean have obtained several excellent new lines from East Africa to create single bean roasts. So, with a grind of the coffee mill, the heady aroma of my cafetiere and a swoosh of the Aeropress. We continue in the spirit of previous stories.
|Peak Bean single origin East Africa trio|
Along the western boundary of Uganda, rise the Rwenzori mountains. The massif was formed by a mountain building up-thrust of the earth's crust three million years ago, creating peaks towering five thousand meters above sea level. From the Stanley Glacier you can see over a seemingly unbroken sea of broccoli green canopy into the Congo basin. Meltwater draining along wild montane rivers irrigates the lower slopes of the Rwenzoris, going on to feed the tributaries of the magnificent Nile and fill the great African lakes.
In the foothills live the Bakonzo people. This is coffee country. The Rwenzori's are known as the rainmaker, which along with the equatorial climate, go to producing high quality coffee cherries.
Later, enjoying my recovery, drinking a kahawa bila maziwa on the verandah, a family of warthog peacefully mowed the grass on the lawn, all in a line as if given instructions for the task.
Overlooked by her bigger sister, in any other location Mount Meru would be top of the bucket list must do experience. Just sixty-something kilometers apart, from each peak on a clear dawn, you can see the other. Standing at 4556m Meru is lower in altitude, but it's still a big mountain, with several distinct ecological zones to trek through on the way to the summit.
With the current rate of loss, it's predicted that in only a few decades time there will be none of Hemmingway's Snows Of Kilimanjaro left to see.
|Kilimanjaro summit & the remnants of the southern ice field|
Mount Meru, the attractive bridesmaid to Kili, missed out being been a lyric in a 1980's chart topping pop song. Although, sorry folks, Kilimanjaro doesn't actually rise above the plains of the Serengeti. The nearest savannah is in Kenya. But then 'Kilimanjaro rising above the plains of the Amboseli' isn't quite such iconic a reference. If you're looking for a mountain which does overlook the Serengeti, then Loolmalasin, in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, is a closer candidate. But it doesn't trip of the tongue nearly as well. So I guess we'll have to forgive Toto in taking a few geographical liberties for the sake of their art.
|Mount Meru summit - photo: Stu Westfield|
For me, summit day on Mount Meru is one of the finest trekking routes in the world. Around 7800 years ago the summit collapsed, sending lahar mud flows as far as Kilimanjaro. This left Meru a broken caldera, with a magnificent ridge trek to the summit. Below ancient lava flows cover the floor of the caldera and a ash cone, 'son of Meru', is nature's finale in this most epic of landscapes.
Are you considering or planning to trek Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru or more widely in East Africa when global Covid-19 travel restrictions are lifted? Ranger Expeditions UK guided challenge walks are excellent training for steady paced, full days on the trail.
I have also guided expeditions, worked with NGO's and travelled in many areas of East Africa.
Ranger Expeditions weblinks to....