Mnambe Falls, most commonly known as Materuni Falls, is a natural wonder not to be missed. The falls themselves can be reached from the village of Materuni in a tolerable time of 45 minutes. The village is located at 4,300ft above sea level, positioned amongst high rises and deep valleys. The Chagga tribe reside in the village, many of which generate income from growing coffee beans and bananas. You will pass forests of banana plants, waiting for the sun to aid with their ripening, mama’s passing you by carrying bunches upon their heads along the tiny paths. An abundance of coffee plants will appear ripened with red berries waiting to be picked, dried, milled and exported.
Amidst the hike you will come across many more of the Chagga community living with the forestry. Due to this fact we acquired many followers along the route, young children fascinated by our sweaty faces and peculiar accents, trying to lead us further up the peak.
The change in terrain and altitude for that matter isn’t for the faint hearted, or the ‘not-so-fit’ in my case. You have to bear a good sense of balance to cross the slimmest of paths segregating running streams from plummeting valleys. You will cross a running stream at many intervals, hearing and seeing the water density increase as you draw closer. Follow the water for long enough and you’ll be welcomed by a breath-taking view of the falls in the distance. At which point you have become sweaty, tired and eager to swim beneath the crashing water, enough to power on at an increasing speed. At 150 metres high, the water plunges over the cliff face, kissing the rocks as it descends, gushing into a pool of tranquility. The crystal clear water would be chilling to most, yet inviting thereafter 45 minutes of fluctuating peaks of altitude and terrain.
Once reaching the water’s edge stripping down to swimwear and jumping straight in is a must! Accompanied by flip flops and a beer, the swim is can be ever so refreshing.If you’re lucky enough to catch the Falls on an extremely bright day, you’ll most likely witness a rainbow form on the top of the water. This is best viewed from the many benches positioned on the valley’s edge, a great spot to eat lunch and leave your belongings whilst swimming. Do make sure that someone is with your belongings at all times as the young Chagga children tend to watch your every move at a distance. I’d like to say more out of fascination than as pickpockets however Western belongings have a higher value in a poverty stricken area.
How to get there
At just a 20-30 minute drive outside of Moshi, the falls are to be found. Many tour groups and hostels run day trips to the falls offering private transport and lunch included. It has come to my knowledge that many combine the falls with a tour of the nearby coffee farms as many are situated within the vicinity of Materuni village. With that said, the prices from one company to the next vary, some charging extortionate prices ($230) and others not so steep ($40). The prices therefore are affected by group numbers and mode of transport i.e taking the dalla dalla (bus) or hiring a taxi driver for the day. However, if you are lucky enough to find a trustworthy taxi driver and befriend a local who knows the hike route, then you wont be caught short. The latter option is the one we chose, only spending around 70,000 TSH each which is the equivalent of £26 British Pounds! This cost covered a private taxi to the falls and back, paying for our local companions taxi fares and sharing our lunch in return for a guided tour and our taxi driver joining in on the hike too.