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Some of the many moth species @ Sakila Sunrise Lodge

Recently I watched a documentary about the decline in insects and the serious ramifications for our planet. It made me think about what I was noticing at Sakila Sunrise: the number and diversity of insects have noticeably declined. Two years ago I photographed every gorgeous moth that was entering the manager’s house. (See below.) This year, I have nothing to photograph.

I had to ask myself if we were, in part, responsible for that despite our commitment to our environment and sustainability. It’s entirely possible, much to my chagrin.

Sakila Sunrise lodge borders the forest reserve of Mount Meru. The local community depends on maize and banana cultivation for their livelihood. It’s a wonderful rural community on the slopes of Mount Meru, the second highest mountain in Tanzania (4562 meters). Our privileged location demanded that full sustainability be the cornerstone of our architectural and urban planning: solar, rain water collection, recycling of used water. We installed solar panels, constructed fero cement tanks capable of storing 80,000 liters of rain water and a structured wetlands to recycle all used water for the gardens. In addition, all materials used in construction were sourced locally, with bamboo taking center stage.

Mount Meru is a volcano, so we benefit from the rich volcanic soil. We can grow everything here, no problem. In fact, I have never seen papayas as large as what our trees produce, and I was recently introduced to a banana variety from our garden that blew me away. (See photos below.)

Of course, that means that weeds grow overnight! About a year ago we started spraying insecticide to control the weeds. I’m now wondering if that was a big mistake, contributing to the reduction of insects, as well.

In my opinion, as we are all learning not to take our environment for granted, it’s better to appreciate the weeds AND the bugs. I believe our attitudes are changing, so I’ve decided to put aside my obsession with a perfectly manicured garden, and a bug free environment for my guests.

I personally love watching the geckos climbing the walls of the manager’s house. As I keep the windows open, everything is welcome. Mosquitos can be a bit annoying, but our elevation keeps them at a minimum and malaria free. (I admit, it only takes one to drive you nuts!) There are many eco friendly solutions; I planted lemon grass everywhere, for example.

As I write, Sakila Sunrise is 80% completed. We should have opened at the end of 2017. Financial problems due embezzlement by my Tanzanian partner is the unfortunate reason for our delay in opening. But, no worries, we will see this wonderful project to completion before the end of the year. In addition to the lodge, we will offer tent camping inside the forest reserve. The location, a kilometer from the lodge, is amazing with Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro at your feet!

As we say in Swahili, karibu sana, 2020!

In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact me:
+255-768965868 (this site will be updated soon to reflect our progress, but in the meantime, it’s helpful)
YouTube videos: Sakila Sunrise Lodge

I’m not a safari operator, but can arrange for you to connect with excellent safari companies, experts in arranging safaris to the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and Kilimanjaro and Meru climb specialists. For trips outside our Northern Zone, Zanzíbar and Selous Reserve, as well as the islands off the coast of Tanzania (Kilwa, for example), all that can be arranged. So, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions you have, ok?

Hjordis Fammestad (your friend in Tanzania 😊)
aka Mama Sakila