The Kikuletwa hot springs in Tanzania are quite literally an African oasis. Hidden in the middle of the harsh African plain, you would never think that a hot spring of crystal clear, bright blue water was there. Most people come to Tanzania to climb the tallest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro. If you are visiting Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro, I would definitely recommend stopping by the Kikuletwa hot spring, which are just outside Moshi, the town where Kilimanjaro is located. Getting to the hot spring is a bit difficult, but not impossible!
Getting to Kikuletwa hot springs
Being that we were starting from Arusha, the first step was for us was to go to the local bus station and catching a bus heading towards Moshi. Small dusty over crowed buses are never fun but visiting Moshi is worth the trip all on it's own. Kilimanjaro sits just outside of town, and you can see it lingering in the distance from just about anywhere.
We knew that we would be getting off a bit early, and so we told the bus driver to let us off at Kikuletwa. Well to be fair we just said Kikuletwa and fortunately he knew what we were trying to do.
Okay, so step one, get to Kikuletwa, check! The next step was to try and find a tuk tuk to take us to the springs. This is easier said than done. When you get off of a bus looking like a tourist just about anywhere in the world, you're just asking to be swarmed by locals fighting for the chance to be your tuk tuk driver. In general I would recommend ignoring the large crowd and firmly pushing past until you're surrounded by less people. There's always going to be at least a few people coming up to you, but it won’t be anywhere near as overwhelming as the big crowd. We negotiated a price and followed our new driver to his tuk tuk!
This was where the real adventure began! We showed up in a pretty large group of about 14 girls all looking for tuk tuks to go to the hot springs, soooo as you can imagine the tuk tuk drivers were all very excited. They jumped at the chance to head out to the hot springs with their tuk tuks full of a bunch of girls.
Let's make a bet
Through the process of all of this it became pretty clear that the drivers where having a bit of a game between themselves. A race perhaps? I don't speak Kiswahili and so I wasn't quite sure what the first place prize was going to be, but the way these boys took off driving, it must’ve been good!
Our particular driver decided to take a different way than the rest of the group; I assume he must have had some sort of short cut in mind. What that cheating? I'm not sure. After driving with dust flying in our faces for what seemed like an hour, he drove to the top of a hill and got off the tuk tuk. He shielded his eyes from the sun as he looked out onto the horizon. This is when I came to a very sudden realization, we were lost! Some short cut!
After trying to ask if we were lost and having the conversation go nowhere (speaking different languages has a way of doing that) we soon found ourselves racing off once again through the desert.
Finally I spotted a group of trees in the distance and we were headed that way. I still had no idea where we where or at this point where we were even going, and so my heart continued to pound in my chest.
As our tuk tuk came to a dusty screeching halt at the edge of the trees our driver quickly hopped out. We were really here? Where were the other girls? I thought he surely must’ve taken us to the wrong place since we were lost for so long and no one else seemed to be here. We looked at him clearly confused but he simply pointed to a path leading into the trees. I followed the path and immediately felt a sense of relief wash over me as I knew this was where we were meant to be.
We made it!
I could hear the other girls laughing and quickly ran back out of the trees to meet our group. To this day I still have no idea how (especially with all of the time we spent lost) but apparently we had won the race! I don't know what our driver won, but I hope he enjoyed his prize.
The water was perfectly warm and there was even little fish that gave me an impromptu pedicure that I couldn’t help squealing from. It didn't hurt, but man do they tickle!
We jumped off the rope swing into the lagoon for hours and sat in the middle on a trees branch that had to be put there to give us a break from treading water. My friend even climbed to the top of one of the tallest trees and jumped off. All of the locals were doing it, but she was the only one of us brave and strong enough to climb to the top.
After spending a few hours relaxing in the water we decided that it was time at last to begin our long journey home. We made our way out of the trees to reunite with our tuk tuk driver and waved a goodbye to our little oasis. We were headed back to Moshi, and perhaps we would catch one more glimpse of Kili before dark.
Have you ever found your own little oasis before? A paradise that seemed as though it was made just for you? Leave a comment below and tell us all about it!