Sunday 13 March 2005, near Mbeya
The border was relatively easy. The biggest issue was paying a USD25 road tax. It had to be paid in US Dollars which meant using more of our dollars. We also needed local shillings and ended up changing even more dollars. Our store of dollars is getting quite small.
There are several differences immediately noticeable about Tanzania. Firstly they appear more prosperous. Secondly in Zambia there was a Kingdom Hall (Jehovah Witness) in every village we passed through, now there are mosques in the villages. Thirdly the women wear two pieces of additional cloth. We are used to seeing women in rural areas with an additional piece of cloth tied around the waist or being used for something, now they also have a piece around the shoulders or draped over the head, presumably the Muslim influence. And lastly, everyone speaks Swahili with few English speakers. In Namibia and Zambia there were always plenty of English speakers to help us communicate. The signs are also only in Swahili.
We had not taken notice of the mileage at the border and had no idea how far we had gone, so instead of continuing until we reached Mbeya we decided to stop for the night down a side road. We had set up our tent and camp much to the interest of the passers by, when a woman came to talk to us. She had obviously been sent for and she made it clear by hand signals that this was her land and she expected some form of payment. Between Pieter and herself, they finally settled on Tsh 3,000. It was all very good natured. Later on some of the spectators came quite close to the Landrover and one asked for money. Pieter got up and told them that we were providing the show and they should give us money. He went around to each of them saying 'give me money', it was a very effective method of chasing them away.
Monday 14 March to Wednesday 16 March 2005, near Iringa
The main road to Dar goes through the Southern Highlands. The scenery here is magnificent. It is all mountains or hills covered in green with the road going through gorges between the peaks. One gorge in particular was covered in the flat topped acacia creating an irregular tiled effect. We would have liked to have gone on a scenic detour but as it was raining off and on, this was not worth the effort. It is certainly and area I would like to return to.
The camp site, Kisolanza Farm had been recommended to us, so we headed there for a few days of R&R. We were very glad to have the GPS to find the farm as the signboards had been painted yellow in preparation for redoing the printing! We had the GPS co-ordinates and although we saw the boards and wondered, we still went passed. A bit further along we checked our exact position and realised we had passed the farm. It is a lovely place to stay. There are hot showers (courtesy of a donkey - a wood fired water boiler), long drops that do not smell and space to wash clothes. I seem to measure time by the washing of sheets and towels! The policy of the camp is to keep it as bush camp like as possible, so there is no electricity but every night kerosene lamps are lit and placed in the toilets and showers.
The camp is very popular and well known. The first night an overland tour truck stopped by and we had a long conversation with Colleen and Harold Schmor. They are from Australia and have also retired. They are spending a year traveling using overland camping trips and will be returning to Cairns after the current trip. Several other people arrived the next day, among them two couples from Holland. Pieter said they reminded him of the Dutchmen he met in the Dutch country Club in Joburg. He only went there once and never again. They all have Land Rovers and the last night a group of Danes from the Danish community in Iringa came and stayed in one of the Bandas. A Banda is a single roomed hut with beds. The farm sells fresh vegetables and meat as well as providing meals if required. It was a lovely break.
The Land Rover crowd all have their own websites just like us. It seems the 'in' thing to do, but then it is the best way to communicate with friends and family.
Thursday 17 March 2005, near Morogoro
Finally it was time to move on. We spent the morning in Iringa shopping and checking e-mail before heading to Dar. In Tanzania, so far, it appears that Internet cafes are very easy to find. Iringa had 3 that we counted. Previously Mbeya had 1 although we were told later that it was not working.
Once again the scenery was magnificent, especially coming down the escarpment to the coastal plain. The main road goes through the Mikumi National Park. We had been warned about vicious speed humps and they were there. There were, however, smaller humps before each monster hump. The idea is to reduce the average speed of the big, heavily laden trucks going to and from Zambia. The only problem is that the trucks speed up between humps to make up time. As to be expected there was very little game to be seen along the main road.
We spent the night at Malela, a community run camp site about 300K from Dar. It is more expensive than Kisolanza Farm and has less to offer. The water for the cold showers had to be brought in buckets, the long drop smelt and the area was generally not well maintained.
Friday 18 March to Saturday 19 March 2005, Dar es Salaam
Dar es Salaam and money at last! We had been very careful not to spend money so we could preserve our dollars. What a pleasure to go to the Barclays ATM and simply draw shillings. We will be replenishing our stock of dollars before we leave! We also found an up market shopping centre where we bought ice-cream and butter amongst more mundane provisions.
Then it was onto the ferry across the harbour and down to Kipepeo Beach. We knew that security was good and we would be able to leave the Landrover at the campsite while we went to Zanzibar. Security was indeed good. There always seemed to be at least 2 guards around during the day and at night they carried rifles.
We improved our technology at last. Peter (from Redheadsontour) downloaded 'Tracks for Africa' onto our GPS. This is available free from the Internet, but we had never heard of it. It shows the campsites throughout the continent. We will download further places when we take the laptop to an Internet Cafe. Then Julianna showed us how to save track-logs on the GPS. Hooray! At last! We will not need to run the computer again while we drive.
Julianna is a retired Italian school teacher. She is traveling down Africa from Europe in a old Nissan 4x4 by herself. She used to teach physics and is technically literate. She also has a Garmin with Touratech QV and was convinced we could save track logs and then download the logs into Touratech QV. She spent well over an hour going through the Touratech software and the Garmin Manual until she figured out what was wrong. It turned out to be a setting on the Garmn. Another setting also prevented us from seeing where we had been using the Garmin. Not even Garmin or Garmin dealers had been able to help us. Julianna you are wonderful!
Sunday 20 March 2005, Zanzibar
We were given a lift to the ferry terminal by some other travelers to catch the 4:00pm ferry. It was only then we discovered that if foreigners pay in Shillings they pay an enormous premium. It is much cheaper to pay in US Dollars which, naturally we did not have with us. We were also taken for some more cash by the ticket seller saying he could organise transfer from the ferry to a very good guest house. Oh well, we cannot always be totally on the ball. The ferry ride was like any other passenger ferry. We sat in a large area with reasonable seats, several TVs and a canteen. It takes 2 hours to cross to Zanzibar and during that time we watched a movie.
It was actually nice to be met the other side and escorted through immigration etc. Foreigners have to have their passport stamped, locals do not. I assume this is to collect statistics on tourists. We went to the Annex Kids Play Guest House and there had to negotiate a price for the room. Pieter managed to arrange a reasonable deal. The room was very dark as the houses are all built so close together, but it had a fan, air-conditioner, mosquito net, TV, shower, toilet and hooks for the clothes. As at Kipepeo Beach the shower was cold, but with the heat and humidity this was very refreshing.
Jimmy, the owner, organised a spice tour for the next day and we went to Forodhani Gardens for dinner. Each evening stalls are set up which sell various seafood. There are mainly kebabs each with a different type of fish (e.g. tuna, shark, marlin) or shellfish (mussels, prawns, lobster). They also sell breadfruit and nana bread. Tables are available but most people walk around eating and deciding what to eat next. It seems to also provide a night out for the local people. The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly with a lot of interesting conversations.
Monday 21 March 2005, Zanzibar
Today we went on a spice tour. The sultans imported various spice seeds into Zanzibar to grow and export. The first of these was cloves but others followed. Today they still export spices but revenue has declined because of competition from Indonesia. Tourism has taken over as the revenue generator!
It was an extremely interesting tour and well worth it. Our guide Cassim has been leading spice tours for two years and really knows his subject. You can do the tour in an air-conditioned Kombi or in a dalla-dalla. Jimmy had organised a dalla-dalla tour for us. This is the local form of transport, basically a bakkie (pick-up, ute) with the back converted for seating and decorated in a colourful style. It could fit 14. The tour took place on a government experimental farm so all the spices were growing close to each other. The first item on the list was bananas. I had never seen young bananas and was amazed to learn that each bunch is produced under the leaf of the flower. Growers eventually cut the last part of the flower off so the bananas grow large. We also saw cocoa trees, vanilla vines, clove trees, jackfruit trees, lemon grass and a nutmeg tree. There were loads of others, but I cannot remember 80% of what we were told. We were also given a taste of various fruits that grow on the island such as oranges, grapefruit and the Jack fruit. This has a firm flesh and a taste somewhere like pineapple and banana. Then we had African coffee. This is boiled grounds served black. Really good strong stuff.
Lunch consisted of Pilau rice (with black pepper, coriander, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves), a local green leafed vegetable and coconut milk sauce, all deliciously spiced. What a treat. Pieter decided that from then on, we would never again just cook rice, but instead would try to create a tasty dish with aromatic spices to please the palette and bring a smile on our faces. The children of the farm workers made small decorations from palm leaves and handed them to the guests. These included necklaces, rings, bangles and the frog in the picture.
On the return journey we stopped at a beach for an hour to cool off. Unfortunately I had left my costume on the mainland. We had a sleep once we returned to our hotel and later decided to eat at the Sweet Easy restaurant that some of the girls on the tour had recommended. We walked (everything in Stone Town is within walking distance) and I slipped on the uneven pavement, breaking my sandals. Even though it was late and most stalls had closed, a stall owner still open immediately offered me new sandals. We then asked where the restaurant was. It was 50 meters away. The stall holder came with us though so he would be able to claim commission from the restaurant. Breaking my sandal was a bit of luck for him.
Tuesday 22 March 2005, Zanzibar
Today we went walking around Stone Town without any particular destination, just to absorb the atmosphere. We were admiring the very ornate wooden doors from a badly run-down place when Achmed approached us to look inside the house. It turned out to be Tippo Tips house. He was a very rich slave trader. The house is a bit rickety but up the top where the family lived was lovely and cool as it caught the sea breeze. The streets are all very narrow but there is a lot of building going on and some of the older doors are truly magnificent, others have been left to rot. We sat by the sea for quite a while, went through the market (it has 3 sections - meat, fish and vegetables), sat and watched the preparations for the stalls at Forodhani Gardens and generally absorbed the atmosphere before eating dinner at the Monsoon Restaurant.
Wednesday 23 March 2005, Dar es Salaam
We spent the morning walking around again. The Anglican Cathedral was built in 1887 on the site of the last open slave market in the world and is open to view the slave chambers. There is also a memorial in the grounds.
This time we paid for the ferry using dollars that we had purchased at a Bureau de Change.
Once back in Dar we walked to the harbour ferry terminal, caught the ferry and then a dala-dala back to the camp site. The dala-dala is a minibus with driver and conductor. The conductor is the last one in to the back section and he generally has to stand all hunched over. You have to sit 4 to a seat and some passengers stand at the door leaning in. The door is closed while the minibus is moving. How the conductor manages I don't know. He must get very strange muscle aches. Except for the conductor it is the same as minibus taxis in Joburg (or Lagos with conductor). At least the people here tend to be slim, they are soccer players not rugby players.
Thursday 24 to Friday 25 March 2005, Dar es Salaam
We spent two days relaxing and fixing various items. Pieter went into Dar on Thursday to have the laptop lid fixed. The hinges had broken when we used it to collect route information. He had to take a guide from a Sony Dealer to the repair centre. The technician tried to fix it, but only made things worse and then said that as he did not have the right parts it would be best to drill holes through the lid and put in bolts. Pieter then had to take the guide back. He hopped out of the Landy somewhere in Dar in the thick of traffic. Somehow Pieter managed to find his way back to the ferry, but being the day before Good Friday it took him hours.
I must report that on Friday Pieter went for a swim! It was very refreshing in the sea. The waves were very small and the soft currents brought both hot and cold water swirling around, quite different to any other sea shore I have been in.
Oh, and I washed sheets and towels.
Saturday 26 March 2005, Komkonga
We left for Moshi after first stocking up at a supermarket and uploading the new website. Unfortunately, although I managed to retrieve e-mail, I could not send it. Otherwise you could all have read up to our Zanzibar trip over the weekend.
One of the e-mails I received was from ABSA to say that we already had a VISA debit card. If only we had realised that the card we specifically got for Pieter so we would both have access to cash was a VISA card! It would have saved us quite a bit of hassle. But we had put the new card away because we realised we actually only needed one. Needless to say we will use the VISA card throughout Africa.
We stayed overnight at the farm of Florence Kimaro. She has had he farm for 8 months and has a mixture of pigs, goats, cows and mealies. She is still waiting for electricity but has municipal water already. She now intends to include a campsite on the farm for travelers like us, so next time we pass by we may find a new campsite.
Sunday 27 to Monday 28 March 2005, Moshi
It was a short day today to Moshi and a cloud covered Kilimanjaro. We headed for the Golden Shower restaurant where they provide camping only to be told that there would be a disco that night. We decided we could live with the noise for a night and agreed to stay. Then we found out that cars were not allowed on the grass. John, the owner of the restaurant said not to worry, we could stay at his house for two nights. He has a reasonably large property with many, many pets. There are 4 crocodile in a fenced in pond, geese, peacocks, a tortoise, 2 parrots and 6 dogs. The dogs (Alsatians and Bulbuls) are let out at night to patrol the yard. I am not sure how good they are though as they are extremely friendly. Perhaps its just the threat. The parrots are a very talkative lot. It is great just sitting and listening to the range of noises they make.
Pieter managed to find the right bolts for the laptop lid in a hardware store in Dar and we now have a properly working lid. He has also redone the electric wiring in the canopy as the wire he used initially was not thick enough. And he managed to get the air air compressor working at last. Quite a feat as one of the airbrushes had come off the connecting wire.
Tuesday 29 March 2005, near Kilimanjaro
We wanted to try and obtain a better view of Mt Kilimanjaro and decided to take a road from Arusha that went around some way. When we mentioned this to John he suggested that we drive all the way around as although the map did not indicate a road, there was one and it was an all weather road. Certainly it is used by trucks and buses all the time, but all weather? After we passed the border post it deteriorated rapidly with lots of evidence that the rainy season was on its way. We also had to pay a Tsh 600 toll fee for using the road through the forest, even though it is not that well maintained. In all we managed 145k in 7 hours
The scenery is very interesting. There were magnificent views over Kenya and of the clouds covering Mt Kilimanjaro. The road went through mountainous areas, gorges, river beds, forests, maize plantations and rolling hills. It was market day (perhaps) and at each village the people had collected with their bananas, avocados and potatoes. Trucks picked these up and transported them further. The rivers wash down gravel which collects at certain places and trucks also picked this up. In the forest plantations people make their houses of wood and plant between the trees until the trees cut out all light. I had heard that young forests were utilised this way but never seen it before. It is quite a different sight to see small trees dwarfed by maize or peeping out above the maize crop.
This diversion will take us 2 days, so we found an empty space to camp for the night. Luco saw us and indicated that it was not a good place to stay and we should move about 1k down the road. So we did while he continued to walk on with his donkeys. 10k later we saw an area where dirt had been removed for road making and stopped there. It was right near his hut and we think he may have stood guard all night! He was there fairly soon after we arrived - how's that for a fast walking pace - and was there the moment Pieter climbed out of the tent. We had a fantastic nights sleep without any noise from pigs or geese.
Wednesday 30 March to Thursday 31 March 2005, Arusha
What a fantastic morning. We now have photos of Kilimanjaro.
The road was much better today and eventually we arrived on tar and ended up in Arusha at lunchtime. On the way we saw the clouds over Mt. Meru, large fields being ploughed by oxen with a single plough and seeds sown by hand.
We were in Arusha by lunchtime, so you now up to the minute instead of a month behind!!!!!!!!!!!!
We stayed at the Masai Camp ( It is a normal campground not as exotic as the name might suggest) and spent Thursday having the oil changed, obtaining US dollars, shopping etc etc etc. We needed a new pillow and were interested to find the pillow cost marginally less than a kilogram of cashews.
The campsite is well known and we met two couples there, both dutch. Pier and Jaquelien live in Uganda and import machinery. Previously in Holland they converted trucks for use on overland trips. Paula and Jerzy, although young, have, like us, sold up everything and are traveling around Africa. They are heading in the same direction so we will probably see them again.
Friday 1 April 2005, Karuta
Today we headed for the Ngorongoro Crater and Olduvai Gorge. We stayed at the BM Campsite in Karuta, about 15k from the Ngorogora Park entrance. We will backtrack to bypass Serengeti because we are not really game watchers, its the rainy season and the game is spread out and most importantly park fees will come to approximately USD 100 per day! There is talk of tripling the park fees. This will certainly reduce the number of tourists but it will also put many locals out of jobs.
Saturday 2 April to Monday 4 April 2005, Mto wa Mbu
Saturday was spent in the Ngorongoro Conservation area. The road goes up the escarpment and there is a magnificent view over Lake Manyana.
After the gate into the conservation area the road goes along the crater rim with a view of the crater on one side and the lake on the other. Although the rim cannot be more than 30 meters wide, it does not seem at all dangerous as there are plenty of trees on both sides. The crater is volcanic and impressive viewed from the top. It is much larger than the picture shows. The lake in the crater takes up less than 25% of the crater area. There were some herds of wildebeest in the crater but nothing else was visible. We did not go down but continued to Olduvai Gorge where the Leakeys have done so much research on early man. The gorge itself looks a bit like a dump because of the excavations, but I found it fascinating to think of the work they have done here. The gorge contains the bones of 3 different kinds of hominids as well as every kind of creature that lived here during the last 2 million years. The museum also has a cast of the 3 million year old footprints found at nearby Laetoli. The actual prints have been recovered for preservation.
We stopped at the up-market lodge on the way out for instant coffee and English cake. The cake lived up to the reputation of English cooking - stodgy. Oh well, we had a great view of the crater from the lounge.
As we came down the escarpment we saw thousands of Yellow Billed Storks nesting in the trees near the lake and into the town.
We spent 3 nights at Twiga campsite catching up on the camp chores. We took everything out of the cone to check it over and found that there had been quite a lot of water damage. We gave away the suitcase Pieter had brought from Holland 30 odd years ago plus his one and only Jacket. If he ever needs it for some reason we will just have to hire one. Pieter had to fix the air bag on one side as it had sheared off due to bad manufacturing. He had help from the the onsite souvenir store holder, Maumu.
On Sunday the soldiers went for a march with their pretend rifles. You could hear them coming for quite some time as they were singing the whole way, and eventually they returned.
Tuesday 5 April 2005, Singida
We headed south and then west. The roads were terrible and it was raining. We had white water splashing onto the windscreen from the road with pedestrians cringing as the trucks passed by in case they were splashed. The road went up and down through the water troughs and then up and over the needless speed humps to slow the already crawling traffic. Accidents still happened though, even in villages! When the sun finally peeped through it burnt the skin. The general topology was green mountains with neatly ploughed and planted hills. We also passed rock formations made from a few large rocks. Some of them looked like a city in the distance.
We stopped to have some welding done on a holder for one spare wheel at a little town. The welder did a series of spot welds, on the ground, without protective glasses, to the music blaring out from the radio. He fixed the holder though.
The night was spent at the J-four Motel in Singida as there was no camping and the motel would not allow us to camp in their grounds. At least there was a hot shower and toilet. Pieter cooked a one pot meal in the back of Grom which we ate in the room.
We also uploaded our first route into the GPS to follow tomorrow.
Wednesday 6 April 2005, Nzega
This morning we were checked by immigration. They came up to us in the grounds of the motel while we were packing up and carefully checked the dates of arrival were the same in both passports. It seemed rather strange and we think one of the locals alerted them to our presence as there was a man watching us very carefully all the time. He actually started his car about 3 times to leave and changed his mind each time. Very strange.
The weather was cloudy with some rain in the air. Eventually it started to really pour down. Luckily it was at a small village called Misingiri with a local cafe called the Honey Pot Mgahawa, so we jumped out of Grom and ran inside. They had only just started to cook lunch and we dried off while we waited to eat and for the rain to pass. After an hour Pieter told them we had to move on and would like to eat now. The meal consisted of pap (ground maize) and chicken. It was very tasty, even the chicken was reasonably soft which surprised us as it must have been one of the chickens that run around everywhere and are sold alive to truck drivers. The truck drivers apparently kill them later at dinner time.
We were probably very lucky to have stopped as not far on, going down the escarpment, we came across an accident. It seems a truck jack-knifed and the cabin went over the edge. We were also told a bus was involved, but I did not see that. By the time we arrived a single lane had been cleared. There were at least 50 trucks held up by the accident, all waiting for their turn to move on. Plus another 9 being repaired by the side of the road. Even then one truck coming up was having great difficulty negotiating one of the bends so he could pass the accident scene, performing a many pointed turn to do so. Of course the few cars (including us) weaved their way between all this lot no doubt putting extra stress on some of the truck drivers. Those drivers must have an enormous amount of patience as they spend hours going very slowly and yet they still manage to negotiate the bad roads.
Entrepreneurship is all over the world. Where ever there is a fairly steep gradient there are blocks of wood with handles for sale, to be used to prevent trucks sliding down the slope when stopped. Large enough stones are relatively difficult to obtain. Of course one truck carried a large stone on his bumper for that purpose.
At the bottom of the escarpment we met a German couple on bikes. They started in Turkey 9 months ago and are headed for Cape Town. Now that is not only adventurous but a lot of hard work!
There was quite a lot of rice being grown in this area, a change from maize.
We managed all of 200k today. We stayed at another hotel, the Forest Inn Hotel, only this time we were allowed to use our tent. We ate at the hotel though as Pieter was very tired. I had chicken again and Pieter had toughish beef both with rice and greens.
The route on the GPS worked wonders, except we did not go as far as expected.
Thursday 7 April 2005, Biharamulo
Just before Nzega we hit the tar, what a pleasure! Then of course we hit the 'under construction' part. It was under construction most of the way to the border. Just imagine how fast we could have gone if we had waited another year.
Just outside Nzega there was a single lane section. Passage through was controlled so that each direction had a chance to pass through. When we arrived at about 9:00am there were already 15 trucks queued up on one side and 6 on the other side. There were also 2 trucks being repaired on the side of the road.
We arrived near the border about 5:00pm but did not want to go through so late in the day as we had no clue about camping in Rwanda and it is always a little difficult the first day in a new country. We ended up staying in the yard of a well built house with a glorious view over the Akagera river, the Tanzania / Rwandan border. There seemed to be only men there. We later found out that it was a military post and there was a woman doing the cooking and the small child of one of the men.
The roof of the house had a large colony of bats. At first, just on dusk, it looked like leaves were falling from the roof, eventually though they started calling to each other. It seemed to take hours before they all left for the nights forage.
Tomorrow - Rwanda
|Averages||Rand||Dollar||Shillings||BACK to Zambia||NEXT to Lake District|
|Cost per litre diesel||5.50||0.84||940|
|Kilometers per litre||9.12|
|Camping per night (2 people)||44.67||6.81||7,632|
|Days in country||26|
Zanzibar was expensive, a one way ferry trip was USD35 pp and accommodation ranged from USD 17 to USD 25 pppn including breakfast.
The parks are also very expensive. It costs USD30 pp per day plus USD30 per car per day plus USD20 pppn for camping.