13th January 2014 The voyage back to Dar was much easier that the one to Zanzibar with hindsight for the planning and a VIP lounge to sit in. The on board entertainment was a movie, Captain Phillips, which involved piracy, terrorism and general mayhem of a container vessel in the very waters we were sailing in. The copy we saw was a pirated one, how appropriate and it was turned off five minutes before the climax. 0 out of 10 for that one.
14th January 2014 Took Nicola and Jacob to the airport for their flight to Arusha where they begin their assault on Mt Kilimanjaro. We still have to get two new tyres and a car service.
18th January 2014 It was a bad day on the roads of Dar the day we left, utter confusion and chaos, even our GPS was befuddled. As we were just clearing the last gridlock I made a right turn and was stopped in the middle of this busiest of intersections by the police. I had seen the No U turn sign but they claimed it was a No right turn sign. They also claimed two other charges, one of obstructing traffic (The traffic obstructs itself in Dar) and another undetermined charge with a total fine of Tsh90, 000 or AUD$63.00. This smelt of dodgyness to me so I argued that I was prepared to go to court and placed my arms out in front ready for the cuffs ( This is called bluff or possibly stupidity) . The officer then said what is your budget and I replied 30,000 no receipt required to which he replied 40,000. DEAL AUD$28.00.
Had lunch at Bagamoyo, a picturesque and historical town before heading further north to a seaside camping resort called Peponi just 20k south of Tanga to which we arrived at 9.30pm. The willing staff were happy to provide us with a meal and we woke up camped on the beach with a dhow silhouetted within a rising sun.
19th January 2014 Our wedding anniversary.
Happy Anniversary Judy.
Received a phone call from Nicola with the news that her and Jacob had reached the summit and were now at base camp. They said it was very hard, almost vertical at times but a great buzz on reaching the summit The phone reception from Mount Kilimanjaro is much better than at home in Sydney but that’s a third world country for you.( But which country am I talking about )
Congratulations and what a great anniversary present for us.
Judy and I had warm baguettes for breako and I procured a bottle of Spanish champagne for later.
Later we drove up to the Tangani ruins where an African guide, Job, took us around this 13th century Muslim mosque and the forty tombs surrounding it. No slavery here. Onward with a mini tour of Tanga a pleasant, mid sized town with more greenery than is usual in Tanzanian towns.
21st January 2014 Lake Chala is on the border of Tanzania and Kenya, in fact the border line runs right through the middle of it. We were trying to get to the Tanzanian side but ended up at the Kenyan border so we had to double back. In doing this we bumped into our old friends from Mikadi Beach, in Dar, Michaela, Tim and family who were also lost. Together we eventually located the southern shore of Lake Chala and its camping/resort. The view from up high is not only of the lake but also of a waterhole where animals drink. Elephants were here up until September of last year when they were all poached.
Lake Chala is a caldera (extinct volcano) and is meant to be three kilometres deep at one point so the next day we walked down to the waterside. All alone we stripped off, I did a little aboriginal dance and in we went. That was when I noticed the other people just along a bit, a fisherman canoeist and the chalets on the other side of the lake. The water temperature was just right.
Speaking of temperature, the weather throughout Africa, for the most part has been surprisingly moderate with daytime temperatures around 30c and cool nights. I believe its been 40c in Melbourne.
Off to arusha to meet up with Nicola and Jacob
22nd January 2014 Arrived at Ngorongoro Conservation Park, which is also a caldera with the animals more or less contained within. The beauty from the rim is nothing like I have seen before. We found our camping spot and then found a lodge for Nicola and Jacob where, from the balcony we could see many animals including lions and were treated to a double rainbow when the storm came in.
1.30am Judy said to me open your eyes but don’t make a sound. I did as I was told and found myself face to face with an elephant, a big one too with big tusks. He was not more than a metre away and upon raising his trunk sniffed at the mesh window of our pop-top not 30 centimetres away. The aroma may have offended him as he then slowly moved on never to be seen again. Later two jackals scavenged around the campfire.
23rd January 2014 Happy Birthday Tara. At 6am we picked up our African guide, Eric, Nicola and Jacob for the decent into the crater and what a sight it was. It looks man made, as if it were landscaped and so many animals. Even with out the animals this place would be unique but no lions this time.
We witnessed the birth of a wildebeest and as Eric, the guide, explained the wildebeest synchronise the births of their young to the same day as a possible survival strategy. If the new wildebeest cannot stand up within five minutes it is abandoned, if it can other wildebeest and zebra come around to congratulate the new mother.
Time to leave and, as we only had a 24-hour pass, we left in what we thought was good time for the exit gate.
As beautiful as this place is the park authorities do not give you any information and no maps were provided.
From the front gate the crater is about ten kilometres away but to the exit gate is a ride of 90 kilometres across THE worst roads I have ever been on, so it was a race against time to get to the gate so as to avoid a fine.
The road from the exit gate to Serengeti was equally bad. I saw a grader but it was not being used, perhaps they should start it up.
The same thing at the Serengeti gate no information or map available at the office. On reaching the campsite found it to be substandard for such a well-known park. No toilet paper, cold shower, concrete cafeteria with mesh windows and rats running around. The subcontractors did provide a very good meal at a moderate price.
24th January 2014 Drove the length of the Serengeti Plain and saw many animals, no lions, they truly are elusive but then that’s their job. The Serengeti is much greener than I expected and a very nice drive through it is. We arrived at the town of Mwanza on the shore of Lake Victoria at the Malaika Beach Resort and again landed on our feet as we are camped on a fake beach right on the lake, infinity pool, free Wi-Fi and gourmet restaurant.
26th January 2014 Celebrated Australia Day by doing nothing other than watching the Australian Open. In the afternoon we watched the cricket, India v India, right here in the hotel campground (remember I hit a hundred in the backyard at Mum’s) whilst refreshing ourselves in the good old Aussie way by having a couple of beers. Not VB’s. Here they are called Kilimanjaro’s, Serengeti’s or Safari’s but just as good.