The weather's getting pretty hot in Arusha. So far, it's been surprisingly temperate for an African country on the equator, but this is due the city having an elevation of about 4,500 ft. Now, the afternoons are hotter and hotter, leaving me looking for places to cool down.
There are a collection of hotels and lodges in Arusha, which is a gateway for tourists to many national parks. These hotels have pools, and there's one near my apartment that I go to on occasion. However, a place affectionately called Maji Moto (hot water) definitely wins me over when I think about places to cool off. Maji Moto is a hot spring a little over an hour's drive from Arusha, though the water itself is actually not that hot. A more official name is Chemka Springs (chemka = boiling), though that's equally as misleading. The name Chemka, though, comes from the appearance of the spring, which bubbles a bit in some places. The water is not boiling, but rather a welcoming and refreshing temperature, inviting its guests to dive right in.
There's even a rope-swing hanging from a sturdy tree branch.
It's beautiful. The water reflects a pure, clear blue-green, and pockets of sunshine slip through the wide, shading tree leaves.
Another reason I love this place is its proximity to a collection of baobab trees. In Tanzania, baobab trees can be considered sacred, and prominent ones are used as tribal meeting places. People here eat a sugar- and spice-coated seed from the tree, and I've heard parts of the tree have medicinal properties as well. There's one baobab tree near Maji Moto that can be climbed.
All in all, Maji Moto is the perfect place to relax on a hot day. The water is rejuvenating, the spring and surrounding area are beautiful, and there are plenty of other activities to enjoy nearby. I plan to return during the nearest weekend with a staggering forecast.
If you look back at that graph of average monthly temperatures I included, you'll notice that November and December are some of the hottest months in Arusha. I return to Boston at the end of December, jumping back into campus life during some of the coldest months there. I can't say I'm looking forward to leaving the nice weather here behind.