2012 Kili Training Pugu Hills

The test hike for students of the International School of Tanganyika from Dar es Salaam is a traditional event at the Pugu Hills Nature Centre.

The school tests some 40 students on fitness but also team work and other skills not only important for conquering the Kilimanjaro Mountain but helpful for future challenges as well. Half of the students will not make it this year and may try again next year to be one of the 20 who will eventualy go for the Mawenzi Peak.We-Made-It

The report of one of the students reminds us about the reward for a bit of sweating around the Pugu Hills. For some a hike in the forest may be more imaginable than jogging along the beach or the streets of Dar es Salaam. Both are having the same effect, you feel great afterwards with a good chance of even enjoying it while meeting yourself and do with your body what it is meant for - to move!

"So last week Friday and Saturday (9 &10 Nov.) we went to Pugu Hills for a practise hike that is meant to give us an idea of what it will be like when we actually climb kili. Sure, the terrain was a bit different because Pugu Hills is more on the dense forest site compared to Mt. Kili, but I thought it was a helpful experience because it helped me figure out some things I need to focus more on when I’m doing my training sessions outside of the Friday meetings.

For one, I need to do more endurance training for my legs especially. It wasn’t too bad, but I noticed that my legs got tired sooner than I had expected. Couple that with how my feet were burning in my boots with the sun beating down on us and you don’t get a very nice experience. That’s something I’ve begun working on in Running Club (Tuesdays). When I start to get kinda tired, instead of slowing down to power-walk, instead I keep going until I’ve gone much further than what I thought I could deal with. It has proved very useful, because I find that I can run up to more than half way without stopping if I ignore that desire to just give up.

Second, and this is more of a general observation, I need to increase my intake of water throughout my day. It’s easy to get dehydrated and not really notice until it’s gotten much worse, and this ends up becoming more of a problem during Kili training and running since I sweat a lot which means water lost without getting replaced.

So, those are my observations thus far for Kili and Running Club. I’ve made noticeable progress in both activities which has me really excited :)"


Is Pugu Forest Value for Money

Is a visit to Pugu Forest value for money?


Photograph Courtecy of Sean Lues


We received an enquiry from a visitor of our website http://pugukwakiki.com. The person concerned asked if the Pugu Coastal Forest is worth a visit from a "nature lover" point of view. He found information that Pugu Forest Reserve is only existing on paper and best described as "dry bush and only a tree here and there".

We have to admit that the status of "global biodiversity hotspot" a status once linked to the Pugu Forest, is at present a sweet or bitter memory, but there are still some spots in the forest where the noice pollution from Dar es Salaam does not reach and the environment ressembles a primary forest including the sounds and scents.

The interest of visiting the remaining patches of pugu forest since the introduction of the new Government Fees of 10usd for foreigners and 3,000tsh for Tanzanian Citizens, suggests however that still few people realise that there is an exceptionally beautiful, though small forest area some 20km outside Dar es Salaam. Considering the distance to the nearest forest which would require at least crossing the Rufiji river, we do believe it is worth a visit even balanced against the 10usd for the Government Fee (children < 5 years are free and up to 18 years 5usd).

The image on the left (April 2012) shows that the remaining forest is limited to the valley with the water reservoir and Wazaramu Cave which is at the bottom left of the image. (not counting the Pugu Hills Centre forested area which expands into the public land at the bottom right). Close to Kisarawe town the Western slope of the Pugu Forest also indicates some major stand of mature trees (this section is not visible on this image) .


Trash from Pugu Forest

Trash from the Primeval Pugu Forest to become Trash Art Work at Centre

The video of the "Majestic Plastic Bag" (click here) shows that not only physical destruction (like charcoal production) is threatening our Nature but also our waste is suffocating and obstructing natural processes and space with adverse effects on our environment.

The Pugu Hills Nature Centre could even become responsible through the promotion of hiking in the remaining patches of primeval forest at Pugu for intensified littering of plastics and trash, which is presently only practised by the illegal charcoal burners.

We are convinced that by promoting hiking the whole purpose of this unique forest will be changed from illegal mining of natural resources to a green zone for recreational and non-invasive use and recovery of the forest. To make a difference from present practices all our guest need to respect the rules valid for any Nature Reserve which are summarised by the slogan "To Leave it Like You Found It (or even improve by REMOVING TRASH)", which addition solicits your assistance to restore the original primeval forest by removing plastic and other trash which do not belong to Nature.


We have therefore introduced the collection of trash from the Pugu Forest as a routine for the hikes. The guide will carry a bag for collection of plastics which are found on the way. Most dominant are PVC water bottles and polyethylene plastic bags left by the charcoal burners.

In case you bring any consumables into the forest please let the guide help you with taken the remains Out Of the Forest Again!. Even better you can help him picking up whatever trash you see on the way which does not belong to and in Nature.

The collected plastics and the like are kept at the Centre and will be transformed into a Trash Artwork, to set an example to be followed by all our staff, visitors, government workers and perhaps at some stage even the Pugu Village itself, to reverse the presently ongoing uncontrolled littering in Dar es Salaam with plastics and make Pugu to an example community of cleanliness and responsible waste disposal.

We invite everybody to propose a design for the Art Work while the Pugu Hills central committee is still not decided. (the winning contribution will obviously receive some sort of price for which selection we may also need to organise a competition)

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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.


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.



For the Super Fit

The opening of the Pugu Forest Reserve has increased the options for a good long hike. From the Pugu Hills Nature Centre to the bat cave, through the tunnel passing the kaoline production yard to Kisarawe and through the forest back to pugu hills is a respectful 18 KM. Please ask for details.