Find a beautiful place in nature and refresh yourself over there. A wise man said. Day two had us check out of Kilimanjaro Crane Hotel at around 0800hrs for Kikuletwa Hot Springs. The visit to this paradise has to be the highlight of our stay. The skies were incandescently blue- an indication of the weather being all conducive for swimming. Having been there before (Cynthia and Ess), we could not stop buzzing about the fun and experience. We kept our mates anticipating and raised their expectations over the bar. The experience did not disappoint. On the contrary, it exceeded their expectations.
Known to the locals as Chemka Hot springs, the Kikuletwa spring is about a two-hour drive from Moshi town. The most of the journey is very smooth up until you get off the highway onto the dirt rough road. The ride through is albeit sluggish. However, it takes you through the quaint villages; the gorgeous scenery of the African countryside; bushland, dry riverbeds, baobab, and acacia trees. An opportunity to soak in breathtaking sites.
Before drifting off the highway, we came across vegetable vendors who we bought groceries (potatoes, onions and tomatoes) from. They sold them at a cheaper rate and we saw this as an opportunity to stock up our homes. For the “waru nation” this was a God-given opportunity to buy a sack that would last for the next few months. After experiencing the Tanzanian local food, Chipsmayai, conversations went round about them attempting to prepare the meal. Guys, do tell us how that has been going for you. Ha! Read on.
Beautiful roads do not often lead to beautiful places. Heaven may be hidden at the end of an ugly road, so try and see the end! Arriving at Kikuletwa, it looks quite deserted. Rather unassuming. A false sense of non-existence will occur to you until you hear the thrilling and shrill screams of the visitors in the springs. Immediately, you want to dash in and know why. Once you set your foot inside, you are met with basic structures of the reception and dense savannah vegetation.
Amidst the savannah vegetation, lies the paradisaic oasis of Chemka Hot springs clothed in its bountiful and beautifully styled views. The water offers crystal clear blue waters which are ideal for swimming, however deep. The term ”Hotsprings” is a bit of a misnomer: while the water isn’t cold, it is not hot either. It is tepid but quite refreshing. The pool of water is divided into two sections which are joined by a channel. You can carry your snorkeling gear, a GoPro or a waterproof phone to fully take advantage of the underwater experience.
It is the first section that receives most of the action, and definitely the highlight: getting onto a swing rope attached to a branch, swinging and jumping into the pool. Repeat. We dabbed it “the Tazarn branch” (Remember Tazarn the cartoon and his wild stunts on the branches?). The locals will indulge you in their stunts and leave your mouths agape. We wish we were that talented. Lucky for us, we had our very own Tazarns, Karis and Jesse, who wowed us with their stunts. Daring to go up the high branches! Kudos gents! Exhilarating is an understatement to the fun documented here.
The channel to the second section leads to a creek covered with vegetation. To get there you need to swim against the strong currents which poses as a difficulty at first but you get there eventually. You may opt to go round the pool and into the second section. It is the ultimate paradise! It is densely surrounded by palm trees and offers a picturesque spot for a relaxing swim. Floaters are provided for those who do not know how to swim, so do not miss out on this experience for lack of skills. Good swimmers also get tired of balancing in the water and grab the floaters. Lifeguards are as well strategically placed to reduce the risk of an incidence.
Do not also miss the “Tarzan” experience because of lack of swimming skills or fear. We came up with ideas to help the amateurs. Some dived in with mates who were good at swimming, others dived in alone then a friend/lifeguard would be ready to receive them with a floater once they plunged while others dived in with a floater tightly secured around their waist. Others, we kid you not, believed in themselves, overcame their shame of not knowing how to swim and gained some confidence. Clearly, no one wanted to be left out on the experience.
After the swimming and the fun, if you are not ticklish, lounge on the rocks or twirling branches and dip your feet into the water for a fish massage and pedicure by the resident fish, the Garra Fura. This species of fish is used for feet massage in spas across the world. They will nibble on the dead skin on your feet, leaving them soft. Your feet wont crackle on your sheets after this.
At Kikuletwa, you may sample the Tanzanian local foods, among them Chipsmayai, pilau and fried chicken. The meals are a treat to your buds. Being a tourist spot, the prices are a bit high but worth it! Those of us who opted not to swim enjoyed their booze and jammed to music at the shores. It was a party, and Keitan Safaris pulled that! There goes a tip: you can host a party at Kikuletwa grounds.
The fun was quite overwhelming. We lost track of time and missed our intended last stop at Arusha Cultural Center before heading back to Nairobi. We left Kikuletwa having been rejuvenated, exfoliated and with feet as soft as baby’s butt :-).
We set out for the Namanga border but first made a detour to celebrate the October babies plus the team at Keitan Safaris on their third anniversary.
We exited Tanzania through the Namanga border. This is the busiest of all the Kenya- Tanzania borders. Hence, the procedures are strict and thorough. To begin with, unlike the other (Tarakea Border), we had to assemble at the checkpoint with our luggage. Sniffing dogs are incorporated into the process. Once our luggage was all cleared, we proceeded to the immigration points to get our passports stamped and photos taken.
Important Note: Make sure your passport is stamped for exiting Tanzania and entry into Kenya.
Special shout out to our two ‘pilots’ for taking us to and from our destinations safely and soundly. It is always a pleasure. Grattitude is also a must. Here’s to giving it back to Kevin, (Keitan Safaris), for being thoughtful in organizing pocket friendly trips. Cheers and Happy Third Anniversary!
Important Note: Keitan Safaris organizes this trip to Tanzania four times in a year, follow his pages on social media to get information on the editions.
Entrance fee is Ksh.500 for non-residents. If you decide to go on your own a taxi (Bajaji) from Moshi town and back will cost you around Ksh.1500- Ksh.2000 (USD 15-20). Be sure to bargain. The driver waits for you the entire time as transport back is not easily accessible.
Food and drinks are available in plenty though you may decide to carry your own.
Changing rooms are available. They are basic structures, made of reeds. Do not expect anything fancy.
Important Note: Be sure to watch our IGTV Videos on Instagram. We take you through the entire experience.
Written by: Cynthia Njeri (@cynthianjeri on Instagram), Ess Opiyo (@ess_opiyo) and Mutave Nelly (mutave_nellie on Instagram)
Trip credits: Keitan Safaris.
Photography: Brent Focus (@40cus_photography on Instagram).