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Tanzania Part Two

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.

When you pull in late at night you just don’t know what you are going to get in the morning.

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.

On the way to the Serengeti we were rewarded with the annual migration of the wildebeest and zebra, a carpet of animals stretching for miles and we saw a leopard.

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.

 

 

 

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Zanzibar

7th January 2014 We find ourselves waking up on the northern tip of Zanzibar at Nungwi. I think I might have died and woken up in heaven. I know I’m repeating myself.

We are staying at Langi Langi Bungalows right above the white, coral sand beach and water a colour starting as light lime green, changing to an aquamarine colour then turning to a Mitchell blue to become the sky. I can’t do it justice. This end of the island is a tourist mecca but I must say in a very good way. The hawkers don’t hound you too much and as you walk along the beach there are numerous resorts, bungalows and Maasai markets. Langi Langi has a reputation for fine food and after last nights offering I can vouch for it.

Backtracking, my daughter Nicola and her good friend Jacob arrived at Dar on the 6th and next morning we departed in two tuk tuk’s, a type of covered, open air, motor scooter that can carry two passengers. These things are terrific, we need them in Sydney.

The tuk tuk’s deposited us at the ferry terminal our tickets being pre booked from the Mikadi camping area at Dar, so no worries.

They did it again, conned. When we arrived there were about twenty booking offices to choose from and we were late, with only twenty minutes to go before departure. Porters grabbed some of our luggage and took off with it to their booking office. Wrong booking office, time running out, deals being offered right, left and centre, even a flight. We missed the boat. No matter we caught the 11am ferry which ended up costing a little more and after a three hour voyage arrived at Stone Town where we haggled a taxi for the one hour trip to cloud nine. (I’m running out of words for heaven).

I keep babbling to myself this is fantastic.

8th January 2014 Travelled to Stone Town via the Government spice farm. Much more interesting than I imagined. I never quite knew how a spice originated but as we sampled the spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, pepper (pepper is fascinating, see later), turmeric, cloves, vanilla, ginger, straight from the bush they tasted exactly as we knew them multiplied by ten. They are just, by and large, dried and shipped, simple.

PEPPER I cant remember the exact sequence but as it grows it changes colour from white to red, black and green all with different characteristics and we could taste them all.

Tried jackfruit, not bad, a cross between bananas, rockmelon and pineapple.

On to Stone Town, a fabulous maze of donkey width alleys with all manner of goods mostly targeting us tourists. It is reminiscent of Fez in Morocco but a little more contemporary.

Stone Town is meant to have a reputation for badgering hawkers, pickpockets and backpack slashers but we found none of this. The hawkers would try to sell you something or try to entice you into their shop but would stop after a polite no thank you I already have one and, we weren’t robbed once.

In the evening we had dinner at the next resort and entertainment was supplied by an African from Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania. He was dressed in traditional garb and played several instruments including an African piano (a box with metal prongs which are depressed and released to make a note) and then a type of violin. I really enjoyed this and gave him a tip and I think he thought he was onto a good thing. However as the night progressed I may have made more demands of him than usual, such as posing with me for several photos ending with one where I’m playing his guitar/violin. After that he seemed to make wide arcs around our table whenever he approached. Sorry Peter (His western name). I did buy the CD but was disappointed later to see him in a T-shirt and jeans.

10th January 2014 Happy Birthday Nicola Today we did a tour of the village next to our hotel, it is a village of 15,000 people. We were taken by a guide and were allowed to take some pictures avoiding the elderly, as they don’t like it and children, unless given permission. The people here don’t have the material things in life that we do but they have a perfect climate, no hunger and beautiful surroundings. A highlight was the traditional boat building done with blacksmith made tools and nails (about six inches long). A twenty foot dhow may cost six million shillings or AUD$4000.DSC04355

On arriving back our hotel manager, Sele, or as he likes to be known Sele Rasta Chef, shouted us a bottle of Aussie champagne and as I thanked him, mentioned that his timing was perfect as it was our daughter’s Birthday. His ears visibly pricked up at this as he asked her name and the spelling of it, twice. He then proceeded to shout the four of us a delicious lunch and when Nicola went to her room later, found Happy Birthday Nicola written on her bed in petals.

I call that “good service”.  It was thoughtful and I thank you Sele.

I just bumped into him and he has told me that there is a cake involved also.

11th January 2014 We went on a game fishing trip today, it was a trip that Jacob had been looking forward to for about six months, as he is a keen fisherman. All I can say about it is that it took six people, six hours to catch one fish head. As Jacob pulled in the only bite of the day we noticed that the yellow fin tuna, he had on the line had, in fact, no body. A shark had taken it.

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Tanzania Part One

23rd December 2013 Entered Tanzania with no difficulty and are now ensconced in the grounds of an evangelical centre, in Mbeya, which provides camping. Appropriately an African choir is practicing in the hall next to us in preparation for Christmas. Sounds good too. Judy is defrosting the fridge.

The police are very courteous and cheerful at the road blocks and driving through Tanzania is similar to Malawi if not even prettier with rolling, green, lush hills.

By the way the toilets here are different to ours and are of the Latin variety. If you are a wallaby you will have no problems. Judy needed instructions. No I didn’t say demonstration. I piked out and used a conventional toilet when I saw an apartment open with an ensuite at the centre. I really am an opportunist.

24th December 2013 Received another speeding fine, $20, it’s easy to do here. As the sergeant was writing down my particulars, in his hand painted squad car, he asked what “Tribe” I was from and at first I didn’t understand, “Australian” was the correct answer. He guffawed when I shook his hand as I wished him a “Merry Christmas” and was truly grateful for the sentiment.

The driving here is something else with the mini buses being the worst. They are all packed with people, chickens, matresses and will overtake on blind bends or crests, no worry. The Juggernauts are much the same but even slower at it. We saw a three-truck pileup and if there wasn’t a fatality in there it would be a miracle. In the cities the driving is challenging in a different way i.e. It is utter chaos, honking, bumper to bumper, dog eat dog, no quarter given but my successful tactic was to get right behind a minibus and let him do all the hard work.

We camped at The Old Farmhouse campsite on Christmas Eve and listened to the Michael Buble` Christmas album for our Christmas cheer.

We wish you all a merry Christmas and New Year.

Our Christmas tree

Our Christmas tree

27th December 2013 Christmas day found us at the Riverside camp near the town of Iringa. It is very pretty here and we made a baked dinner in our camp oven. The firewood here was of dubious quality and when we started eating the meal, it had a strange flavour to say the least. Judy adlibbed an excellent Christmas pudding. On Boxing Day we just loafed around. Some African boys gathered around the old guitar again, later to be joined by the whole family and it was guitar lessons all round.

There are guards roaming around the campsite carrying double-barrelled shotguns or machetes but we are used to these sights now.

28th December 2013 Drove up to Ruaha National Park about 120k from Iringa. Very bad road and the park was quite expensive US$160 for the both of us including one night of camping within the park. The campsite was next to the river flats and the beauty of this was that we could sit there with our campfire and watch the animals coming for a drink. We saw elephants, warthogs and hippos. In fact we saw the hippos a little too close for comfort. There was another family of campers there, and at dusk, without warning, two hippos ran right through the campsite. Well! people ran everywhere, into cars, onto car roofs and into the toilets. It was really very funny. These hippos probably weigh about a ton each but we did not hear their approach, they kind of snuck up on us. They say hippos kill more humans than any other animal, apart from horses.

In the morning we drove around the park and it was wall-to-wall animals but no lions, although they were around as they’d been spotted the day before. We were bailed up by a cranky, adolescent, elephant who would not let us pass and later had an altercation with another elephant.

On the way back we had our fifth flat tyre, AUS$2.30 to repair.

30th December 2013  We’re on the Highway To Hell. The road to Dar es Salaam was even worse than the previous day by a degree of ten. We were nearly run off the road by a bus. These people are madmen. I believe the bus drivers have to undergo a psychological test here to get their licence and if they are proven to be a psychopath, well, they get the job.

I was pulled over for yet another speeding fine, this time dodgy, and was able to talk my way out of it, Judy put in her ten cents worth in, as well. Good teamwork.

Got into Dar and it was one form of madness transformed into another. Unbelievable chaos. Three hours to get through the city, just like Sydney and then crossing the harbour by jampacked punt to lead us to our camping area on the southern shore at Mikadi Beach Camp. This could be Tahiti or Nirvana, one of those two, I have been to Tahiti, working on the other. Tropical sand, palm trees, 33 degrees, unimaginable colour of the sea, turquoise to try to put a label on it.

 

31st December 2013 New Years Eve. Booked the car in for a service and got a sim card which took all day and had my sixth flat tyre on the way back. I am really going to have to do something about these Xxxxxx tyres as probably the hardest part of the trip is upon us, not to mention Mongolia, and what I am going to do is replace them with B.F.Goodrich All Terrains.

So in about 10,000k I have had six flats and two ruined tyres, one shredded and one with wall deformities and splits. Two tyres were brand new at the start of this trip and four had done 13000k.( see more details in “Travel Notes”)

In the night the camping area here had a New Years Eve Party, and we got to meet some of our fellow travellers.

This campsite is patrolled by Massai tribesmen complete with traditional togas, spears and swords. They answer to Hey Massai, are courteous but silent and don’t pry. They keep to themselves.

Happy New Year everybody

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