Katesh, Tanzania

One of my favorites places in Tanzania is Katesh, a small village in Hanang district, the starting point for Mt. Hanang, the fourth tallest mountain in Tanzania, 3114m. I went there without knowing much about the place, while waiting for the guys to have their safari experience. I was thinking of hiking up the mountain, but finally I gave up the idea, mainly because I was by myself and I was a bit afraid I won’t find the path. Lonely planet says there’s a center where you can get a guide for about Tsh 12,000 per day, but I couldn’t find the center (truth be told, I also haven’t tried very hard), so I thought it’s wiser not to hike. And I guess I was also a bit tired after having biked a whole day just the day before getting there.

Anyway, another thing that Katesh is famous for, is a big market that happens three times every month. Somehow I happened to be there at one of those dates. Very colourful and a wide variety of things – food, clothes, scarfs, goats, shoes… I had lunch in one of the tents, greeted all the locals who passed by, shook hands with everyone, replied to the rare “How are you?” and smiled to the many Swahili words that I couldn’t understand. It was nice to just sit there and observe the locals’ eating habits while enjoying food cooked on a small improvised stove. As a “muzungu” (white person in Swahili) of course you can’t pass by unnoticed and, I have to admit, that can get quite tiring at times. But the moments when people are genuinely kind to you, not because they expect money or because they see in you some sort of opportunity of getting out of their country or because they think you’re a potential customer, are valuable and should be highly appreciated. I think that’s the main reason why I liked Katesh so much – leaving aside the cool mountain close to the village and the nice scenery, it just made me feel human again. It was a good and needed break from all the touristic destinations where most people were trying to seek an opportunity by talking to a “muzungu”.

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