The heat of the midday sun beat down upon me as I walked out of the bright green rice fields I had been exploring near our camp site. Waiting for a tuk tuk to pass by, I crossed the main road and entered onto a dusty dirt street on the other side. The sound of cars on the main road slowly disappeared as I walked along, and the sense of peace and quiet hit me almost instantly. Around me were rough mud brick houses with banana leaf and straw thatched roofs, some with wooden supports and old sheets of tin roofing. Some chickens scratched around happily underneath banana groves, and I could hear the sound of children coming from somewhere to my left. Before I knew it a couple of young girls came out to greet me with huge grins on their faces.
I was currently on a tour through the streets of Mto wa Mbu, a village at the northern end of Lake Manyara in Northern Tanzania, which was included in the safari that I booked with G Adventures. Our group was being led through the streets of the village to experience what life is like in a typical Tanzanian town.
As I continued walking through the village, the meeting of curious kids became even more common, and they all seemed to want to have their picture taken as their mothers watched on from their nearby houses, busily sweeping or washing clothes. Our guide told us all about the village and it’s people as we walked along, taking us to a wood carving shop where you can watch the masters at work and purchase genuine wood carvings. From here, we were taken to a house to try the local banana beer before exploring more of the village.
I continuously found myself lagging behind as I interacted with the local kids and looked in detail at the interesting buildings of the village. Passing by their church, I found myself swinging a little boy with Jeff, another member of the group, his laughter showing me the joy in such a simple thing, and before I knew it we were surrounded by kids wanting a turn. This could have gone on all day if our tired arms hadn’t forced us to retire from our role as the new village swing set.
With what seemed like half the village’s children following us, we continued walking past the mud houses and banana trees, making our way to the tinga tinga workshop, where we were able to watch the artists painting the colourful Tanzanian art. By this time my stomach was telling me that it was well and truly lunchtime, so from here we made our way to our lunch spot where we sampled a delicious local lunch, with a whole selection of tasty Tanzanian dishes. After two plates of this delicious local food I felt that I was about to burst, and I was ready to head back to camp to have a rest before our afternoon game drive in Lake Manyara National Park.
Mto wa Mbu was a really interesting village to explore and it was great to experience real village life in Tanzania. However, what I’ll remember most from this day are those cute kids with their smiling faces.