In June 2013, my boyfriend, his father and I spent three wonderful days trekking in the Usambara Mountains with Said, as part of a two week trip to Tanzania. It was a highlight of our visit! Said met us at the bus station - very good, as if he hadn't we would have had lots of other guides offering their services, and we can't imagine anyone else could have been as great a guide as Said. He designed a brilliant itinerary for us, - meeting us after breakfast at the lodge we stayed in and then an idyllic walk through the hills to a convent high in the mountains, where we stayed the night. The next day we hiked through mountain villages and learnt so much about the local environment and culture - Said was so knowledgable, having grown up in the area himself. He could name all the plants, landscapes, gave us a great summary of Tanzanian history and could spot wildlife from miles off!
After watching the sunset high up in a mountain village and staying in a small guest house the second night, we woke early and returned to Lushoto, where we climbed to a viewing point from where we could see a wonderful view of the Valley, and then had a feast of cheese, chutneys and rye bread at a local biodiversity farm. It was a perfect itinerary, and we only wish we had had more time with Said and on the hike!
I would unhesitatingly recommend Said's treks to anyone - well worth the journey to the Usambara. Also, having met and spoken to other guides and the tourists with them, we felt certain that Said's trek was by far the best! He is the longest serving guide in the area, and knows routes the other guides don't. Also, where other guides take their guests to 'cultural craft' exhibits - where there is pressure to buy souvenirs, Said only took us to a local market, where we were able to enjoy the atmosphere with no pressure to purchase.
Finally, Said is a remarkable man. Having been ended up on the streets of Arusha at the age of 9, he went on to graduate from university, learn many languages and run his tour guide business. He now works to improve the lives of local children, and - he modestly told us - runs a computer training scheme for them.
You can email Said at: firstname.lastname@example.org !
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