Historic Hike

A Hike back in History

In some studies it is claimed that the endemism of the East african coastal forest is the result of lost interconnection between the forests in Central Africa and East Africa some 40 million years ago. Looking at the century old Milletia Puguensis even the 40 million year old age of some patches of the Pugu Forest is quite imaginable. giant_old_milletia_puguensis_pugu
However, on the old colonial map of Pugu Forest (1898) the Pugu Forest around Minaki is called "Buschwald" which German expression does not sound like Primeval 40 million old forest. It is therefore plausible that the even at the end of the 19th century not much primary forest was left at Pugu. present_day_Pugu_Hills_and_1898_map_reduced

We do know about the Mackinnon Road constructed in 1877 from Dar es Salaam to Kisarawe with the plan to open up the mainland for trade as a means to combat the slave trade. The capitalist who financed the road, Sir William Mackinnon from Scotland was a prioneer of British interest in East Africa (first chairman of the British Imperial East Africa Company in 1887).

The road was never finished and ended after 81 miles. It did revive trade in Dar es Salaam the Zaramo would bring rubber and copal. Dar es Salaam was in a poor state after the death of Sultan Majid of Zanzibar (1870) who decided in 1862 to build the town and actually started in 1865 or 1866. The first attempt stranded and half finished buildings were overgrown at the time the Mackinnon road was under construction.

Dar es Salaam during construction of Mackinnon road

A small stretch of the road can be found in the forest and even a road culvert is partly intact. The road is still printed on the topographic map of the Ministry of Lands. In Kisarawe the road seems to get lost in what looks like more recent planning. What is left of the route after Kisarawe may be difficult to resurface. Perhaps the chinese who constructed the TAZARA railroad to Zambia in the 1970s may have known the old track.

 

pugu_forest_section_mackinnon_road_1898_legend
The image at the right suggests that the malaria infested terrain which eventually made the project collapse after 81 miles, may well have been the banks of the Ruvu River which they would have reached at that stage? possible_route_Mackinnon_road

Just thoughts for a stroll along the Mackinnon Road of which a section can be visited from Pugu Hills Nature Centre (when a permit for the forest has been obtained). The remains of the original Mackinnon road starts less than 2KM from the Centre. The visit of the Mackinnon road can also be combined with a larger loop including the Zaramo Cave and water reservoir (9 - 11KM).

The last section of the Mackinnon road where it closes in on Kisarawe is a military camp and should be avoided. The best advise is to use one our village guides for the hike.

view_from_Mackinnon_road_2_north_reduced