We stepped out into the banana plantation with our hiking boots and backpacks. We were there to climb up a waterfall.

We began the hike on smooth easy terrain, enjoying the sights and smells of the bananas above us. Quickly the trail gave way to a rocky river side, requiring us to jump from boulder to boulder amongst rushing brown water. We walked for an hour and came to the bottom of a great waterfall rising 300 feet in the air. We hopped and jumped our way up the boulder gully toward the spray. Once we got to the bottom pool, several of us decided to go another level up to a rock outcropping. We climbed up rocks and steep hills to the left of the waterfall, holding onto vines and stumps for support. When we got there we were covered in dirt and spray and our smiles were beaming. After we stayed there for a short time we resolved to climb to the very top. The rocks became more slippery here, and steeper and narrower. We climbed 1 by 1 and slowly made it to the top. We stood on the giant boulders as the water cascaded around from the precipice of the waterfall; we looked out at nature’s beauty.

Sitting there looking out at the baobab trees and the forest below, my feet dangling off the edge of the waterfall I began to cry. A deep beautiful cry as I listened to music by Nahko and Medicine for the People. I felt so at peace and whole in that moment with amazing people next to me, looking out at the world. Sydney gasped as I was crying and I looked up, and right above us were 20 butterflies of pure white and royal blue, fluttering in the mist of the falls. I had never truly seen nature so beautiful till that moment.

We left the boulder and we went further back into the river, where pools 5 feet deep waited for us. We swam and laughed and stood under the small waterfalls screaming and singing.

It was an amazing day, and one that I shall not soon forget.

Wildlife Management Studies in Tanzania