Shagala Bagala

By Darby and Cami

We arrived in Iringa on the 17th to the craziness of the bus park where our attention was immediately pulled in all different directions. A few kilos to the Alizeti (meaning “sunflower”) Hostel we walked and promptly dropped our bags, enjoying the company of the resident kittens before a group dinner at the BBQ Hut.

Iringa is a “mountain town” as described to us by a Peace Corps volunteer, a population of whom we found more present in Iringa than in any town we previously visited. Because it is more “touristy” we were lucky to find granola and other snacks in the supermarkets.
Wednesday allowed some time to enjoy Neema’s, an NGO cafe and craft house which supports locals with disabilities and serves heavenly smoothies and… desserts! Maasai Alley, full of bright beaded and handmade art, was explored and many of our findings were displayed during the past week by the girls in the group to feel that we were more put together, despite the solid layer of dirt covering us after our time spent in the bush.

We became one with wildlife camping at Wildlife Connection, which is based in the bush near the main gate of Ruaha National Park. The NGO works to educate villages surrounding the park on the importance of environment conservation—specifically their neighboring elephant population—and implementing their bee fence project around farms at risk of being raided by elephants.

The group helped to clean and build straw roofs for the hives along the bee fences. In the afternoon, we tagged along to see the environmentalism curriculum in action at village schools. We were able to ask questions not only about the environment but also about cultural similarities and differences. One hot afternoon, we got to spend time at the NGO library and, upon returning to camp, ended the day reflecting by the campfire under the most brilliant stars!

Finally, the past two days we took a park trip to see all the grand creatures including giraffes, elephants, impala, hippos, crocs, kudu, leopards, warthogs, lions, and more. If pictures are worth 1,000 words, along with our “wows” and “ah’s,” our safari days were filled with the most words unspoken.