When our boat approaches the island late in the afternoon, we actually get a glimpse of the summit above a layer of clouds, and it reminds me of one of the things I wanted to do on the island. The day after our arrival starts with rain, and we explore the hinterland of Mutsamudu, but when the next day looks more promising, we get in touch with a guide, who tells us that my plan of climbing the mountain from Lake Dzialandzé on the other side, and descending directly back into town, is theoretically possible, but dangerous after the rain that has come down on the island on the previous days and months. We are at the end of the rainy season. Instead, we head off to the lake by car - and before we know it, we are driving into heavy rain. Visions of a very wet hike come to my mind, but a little later, there are only clouds around us. We hike up to Lake Dzialandzé, and the views of the slopes with agriculture and trees, and the floating clouds, are great also thanks to fine light seeping through the clouds.
We reach Lake Dzialandzé after an hour over a trail that is not as muddy as I had imagined, and the guide and I continue around the lake, to attack Mount Ntringui. The ten minutes to the other side of the lake are still flat, but then, the climb begins. It is steep climbing, and after less than ten minutes, the guide has to catch his breath, and tells me I can continue. The trail is easy enough to follow, there are some steep parts where I have to use my hands to pull myself up on the many roots, there are a few points where I have to stop to look for the trail, there is one stretch where my hands and feet loose grip all at the same time, sending me falling down a metre, and when I think I can use a rock as a hold for my hand, it breaks away and tumbles down; but otherwise, the steady climbing is not difficult.
Then, the rain starts, and it is heavy rain from the very beginning. I immediately put my camera into my backpack, and continue in the same pace. At one point, I reach an open space, with trails leading off into different directions, and I see several cans scattered around. I imagine this is the top; from the shack at the beginning of the lake, it has taken me 1H20 instead of the 3 hours that the guide had told us it would take. I decide to wait for the guide to confirm that I am actually on the summit, and try to protect my bag from the rain. When my guide finally arrives, it turns out he has fallen, and saved himself by clinging onto a branch of a tree. We now face the descent, and are both a little anxious about it: the heavy rain has now made the leaves slippery, and the roots, which had been our ally on the way up, now turn out to be treacherous. The guide goes down much of the descent on his behind, too scared to fall, but I try to walk, which would leave me with sore legs for days. In the end, the descent takes exactly the same time as the climb. The trail back to the car has turned into a very muddy affair; in some parts, it has turned into a small river through which we have to wade. Our shoes would stay wet for days after. To my surprise, the clouds lift sufficiently to allow for a view of Mount Ntringui, and a sense of satisfaction engulfs me.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Mount Ntringui hike (). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Mount Ntringui hike.
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