Tamani Tanzania explore Moshi town, from a Swahili cafe with the best spiced tea to open air markets crowned by a night out.
Moshi is tucked away behind one of the world’s most beautiful sceneries, that of the snow-capped Mt Kilimanjaro- everyman’s Everest. No matter where you wander in this Tanzanian town with its clean streets, you are bound to behold the highest mountain in Africa, and so we wandered and wondered!
During its inception, Moshi was a small market town and villagers would come down the mountain every week and meet here to trade. While Kilimanjaro might still be its main attraction, it is now a vibrant melting pot of sights, sounds and tastes begging to be explored. We began our walk at Maembe Cafe & Lounge located off the Jacaranda lined Moshi-Arusha road. This spot is popularly known for its delightful Swahili cuisine, and after settling into the outdoor seating area, we ordered mugs of hot tea coupled with chapati. The cup was a perfect blend of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and milk, the best accompaniment to the slow ballads playing on the stereo.
The cafe is home to Kauli Studio, Hapahapa Curio and Pamoja Boys Art Gallery, which is where we strolled next. This is a haven for art lovers.
There are various unique collectors items by Hapahapa who recycle pots into beaded clay home décor pieces. Kauli create premium handbags with a distinctive African flair using folk fabrics traditionally crafted from all over the continent, a favourite being their ‘mkoba wa mpenzi’, bag of the lover.
The Pamoja Boys art installation is a treat born out of the desire to provide education and employment opportunities to the youth in Moshi.
Since there is no better way to experience a new place than by heading stark for the pulse of the town, we made our way to Moshi’s open-air markets. The are two main ones here: one is across the street from Kilimanjaro Coffee Lounge on Chagga Street and the other is further south along Mawenzi Road (aka Double Road), near Mission Streets. We headed for Double Road where we were soon swarmed by enthusiastic “flycatchers” trying to either sell us goods or take us to “their store”, and we declined on both accounts. Instead, we stopped by Baba Pendo’s fruit store for the most succulent of oranges at only Ksh 5 each.
Since it was getting hot, we decided to head to Union Cafe for a coffee shake and burger. The cafe is run by the The Kilimanjaro Native Cooperative Union (KNCU) who represent tens of thousands of coffee smallholders. The cooperative’s own beans are roasted on-site, and as a result, the aroma of fresh coffee is ever wafting through the air. We got to meet all the presidents of the KNCU since 1933 through their portraits which adorn the walls.
We then took a trip down to the industrial area to Shah industries, a leather lover’s paradise. The company is best known for employing disabled people and for their ability to create quality handmade products including custom leatherwork manufactured in Tanzania by Tanzanians. Here, I bought a new leather cover for my passport.
Moshi has some excellent international cuisine, and that evening, we decided to indulge in delicious Mexican food at La Fuente Gardens in shanty town. Highly recommended is their chicken enchiladas, or, if you’re vegetarian, the beans and lime rice is a treat.
For the small town that it is, the nightlife here is rather impressive. Given that it was Friday evening, we headed right down to Glacier, a seemingly popular spot given all the recommendations we got. There was quite the crowd when we arrived, and true to recommendations, they make some of the best BBQ chicken around. Shortly after, we hopped on over to La Fuente, some 7 minutes away, where we crowned our tour around Moshi with some cocktails and comic booty shaking on the dance floor.