|Co-ords||On Lake Victoria|
Somewhere on Lake Vic, after setting off late, we had supper of cheese and biscuits in our tiny cabin and went to sleep. The cabin consists of bunk beds (Renee on top) a chair (kitchen variety) and a basin. We also have a window – not a traditional porthole, and a cupboard. The room is 1.5m wide and 2.5m long. Huge hey. Anyway, it gives us somewhere to be.
At 3am we arrived at Bukoba on the Western shore of Lake Victoria. The boat was then raided by the army (Tanzanian). Not in a bad way, they were just getting on. In the confusion to find rooms we had many people banging on our door to get in. None did. Anyway, about half an hour later all had found place. Then the purser (or whoever) came and asked me to move my car. They wanted to load some more. So I went into the hold and moved as close as possible to the edge, they then proceeded to load others. They put 4 Landrovers next to us and five behind. There was no room to open doors. Then they put three on the deck. What a squeeze.
Back to sleep and up at nine. The boat is really full now so can’t go sit in the lounge. The army guys have been pissing it up since they came on board. They have also ran out of cokes. We had tea and biscuits for breakfast. Now we wait. God knows when we will arrive in Mwanza, we estimate about 1pm or 2pm. Meanwhile I’m bored to death.
Anyway, back again. We docked at 1:30pm so quite spot on. We had a morning siesta so I bored myself to sleep. Unloading was fine, ours was the second last car out so waited an hour and a half. Another nerve-wracking experience. We did the carnet and customs while the car was still in the hold so obviously no-one checked it. This is great, in North Africa border crossings took hours and hours (OK so in one case, even days) but in East Africa no-one cares. I like it.
We messed around a bit in Mwanza getting money and diesel and then hit the road to the Western-most gate for the Serengeti national Park. The first 30km were rough, really rough and maximum speed was 20km/hr, we thought we would never make it because we only left town at 3:30 and had 150km to do but the road became smooth tarmac so all OK.
We are staying at Speke Bay lodge, Liesl and John stayed here a year
ago and were allowed to camp, we were not but they gave us one of their
kitted out tents for only $20, which is actually less than I thought we
would pay to camp. It’s nice, got good beds and even a light. Tonight we
will eat in the restaurant but after that we will cook for ourselves. Need
to eat well, not that we don’t, but because we survived the boat trip on
peanuts and chips. OK, off for a hot shower and a beer. Tomorrow game viewing.
28th July 99
|Co-ords||S 02 16 02.1
E 33 47 45
Supper was not as good as expected. Not bad but just OK. Anyway, I ate it all. I did however sleep very, very well thank you.
So today we entered ‘the Park’ – Serengeti. For two days plus camping for 2 $260 so a little less than expected. A small charge for ‘arranging’ our entrance time to 10:30 instead of 9 cost us $20. We did that because to leave the park by 9 we would have to get up by sparrow.
The roads in the park are OK but you cannot really speed – some patches are fairly bumpy and they have monster speed bumps every 3kmor so. Still, the allowed limit is 50km/h which is fine. And what a day, we started off by identifying some new birds, some really pretty ones. We had to take our time getting to the first check because the guy at the gate did not want to get into trouble for jipoing our entry time. Birding was a good way to pass the time. We also had a great animal day. We saw thousands of wildebeest heading North, thousands of impala and springbok and hundreds maybe even thousands of zebra, loads of warthog, ostriches, giraffes and unidentified buck. We also saw elephants (4), Lion (6) right next to the road and 2m away, cheetah (2) and a rogue buffalo. All along the main road too. Eventually you just get tired of looking at buck.
We arrived at Lobo at about 4pm and found our campsite. We are the only ones here which is surprising. The campsite has long drops but nothing else. Also, there is no fence between us and the park. The campsite is just in the bush and exposed to everything. We have been visited by a large baboon who even got onto the car. We saw a silver backed jackal pass by on the other side of the road too.
Went to the lodge for a drink after setting up camp. It is quite nice but does not seem to have many guests at all. The place is infested with dassies who have no fear of people. We had 3 bean chili for supper and also pineapple and cream for dessert. Then hot chocolate. Took a short stroll, very short, a bit worried about being eaten by something. The rising moon was really spectacular and I took some pictures which I hope work out.
Bed early, before 8pm. Not too much else to do. Listening to the radio and heard that the peace keeping force in West Africa is called ‘EEGMOG’ – who the hell thought of that!
Tomorrow we will do some game drives. Based on what we saw today on
the main road, it should be good. OK so goodnight, up at 6am tomorrow.
29th July 99
|Co-ords||S 01 59 59.4
E 35 10 09.8
|Fuel||38.8 L 56 554.1km not full|
Hell of a night. Fell asleep at about 8:30, woke up at 9 to hear lions roaring nearby. Shat myself to be honest. Then the hyenas and jackals started. Hell there we were alone with lions sniffing about. To be honest they were probably not too close but who knew. Of course at that time you need to take a pee too so it’s lie awake, heart beating like a drum, needing to piss. Then the wind began to howl so it was really a restless night.
This morning we did two game viewing circuits near Lobo and saw all the same again as yesterday. We even got charge by elephants twice. We also saw strings of Wildebeest heading north.
We headed South to Seronera. We are camping at the Dik Dik site which is pretty ugly and dirty and we are not alone. There are 4 tour groups here. I think we are the only foreign car in the reserve though. We went to the tourist centre and had a coke and then went North and South along the Seronera river, looking for leopard. Did see hippos and crocs today which we did not see yesterday. Also we saw a very good close up of a cheetah – really good.
We had a bush replaced on the shock which fell out, at the park garage. I took the air filter feeder hose off and put some cheese cloth over the front as a sort of primary protection. I did not like it feeding from the wheel well. There is a slight clunk on pull off and stop sometimes – not sure if I am imagining it but will have to keep an ear open for it. Poor truck needs some loving attention.
Tomorrow Ngorogoro crater. I have had enough game viewing for a while. Tonight is savoury rice with tuna – great I’m starving.
Hopefully sleep better tonight.
30th July 99
|Co-ords||S 02 25 15
E 34 50 59.7
Well, even though I said yesterday that I had had enough game viewing, today was really great. We drove slowly through the Serengeti to the Eastern most gate looking for some game. Saw of course the buck but not much else, a cheetah on a hill far away. Then Renee got pissed off with the roads and floored it the rest of the way. The corrugations are really best taken at speed.
We left Serengeti and entered the Ngorogoro conservation area ($90) at about 9:30. We decided then to go into the crater today and not to pay again tomorrow. The road to the actual crater crosses the Olduvai gorge which is really only a dent with a dry river bed but is very famous, it’s the home of the Leakey’s find of hominoid life millions of years ago. Neat but we didn’t visit the site.
We knew that we had to have a guide to go into the crater but instead of going to the park HQ to get one, we decided to ask at the gate to the descent road. This would save 6 or so km. Since this is where the Serengeti road meets the crater, it was worth a try. Luck was with us. We arrived just after a hire car (Avis) and the guide assigned to them told us to tag along. This is normal practice apparently where one guide has two or three cars. The passengers, we learnt later, we very pissed off at us, they had refused the same arrangement at HQ.
The crater is open to 4x4’s only though we have been on worse roads just driving from place to place. The descent is pretty steep as is the ascent so we used low range, maybe overkill but it’s not used much.
The crater floor is really covered with animals. Tons and tons of wildebeest and buffalo. We saw hippo in the lake and a few elephant. We saw one solitary white rhino and a weird pride of lions with 6 males and two females (weird because so many makes to only two females). We stopped at a lake for lunch with 30 other vehicles. It was really strange being with so many cars. What was good was that there are 15 to 20 Black African Kites that prey on tourists stealing their food. The Italians who were preceding us had something stolen from their hands. It was really nice in the crater and something I would do again.
We left the park at about 5 and found a campsite (safari junction) for the night outside the reserve. We were going to take a hut but it only had cold water whereas the campsite had hot. So we camped, we used the big tent for the first time since Kenya.
We had dinner in the restaurant. Tough (very) beef and rice followed
by pancakes and melon.
31st July 99
|Co-ords||S 3 20 47.5
E 35 40 14.6
|Fuel||75 L 56 982.4km|
Well, not too much today. Drove to Arusha, bad road for the first 60km but really good after that, we could do 100km/hr. In Arusha we had lunch in the Mambo Jazz Café, I had chicken and Mayo sub and Renee had vegetable lasagna. Really good. The slight knock in the front was again heard so we decided to camp and spend the afternoon looking at it. Filled up at a Total garage and got ripped off. They claimed to have put 84litres in the tank which takes max 80. We ended up paying for 77 which was still too much.
Went to Massy camp, the one recommended by Robert and the Lonely Planet but decided to give it a skip. Too many people and very noisy. They play load music until (according to one couple we spoke to) 1 in the morning. We went instead to Klub Afriko and we are the only one’s here. OK there are no hot showers but we have everything else.
Had a long hard look at the front of the car, could not see anything glaringly wrong but did fill swivel joint oil on RHS and change front diff oil. I drained about 2.3 litres out of it and it should only have 1.7 litres. It was grey so water must have got in.
Had a great supper and now we are sitting in the bar writing diaries.
Had a very cold shower but now feel very warm – maybe because it’s after
2 beers. Tomorrow we will try to get to Dar Es salaam. If the knocking
persists will stop at Moshi for a major checkup.
1st August 99
|Co-ords||S 3 22 08.2
E 36 43 14
Well, next month it is all supposed to be over. Anyway, I am having a good time so won’t think about it too much. A long drive today, over 600km but really 90% on good roads. We arrived in Dar at about 3:30 and after a few backtracks with the associated stress arrived at the ferry across the bay. Robert’s directions were a little astray but it may be that he hasn’t been here in a while.
The ride on the ferry takes 5 minutes and costs 606shillings for 2 passengers and a car. Cheap. We found the campsite with no hassles arriving the same time as an overland truck. Though it only had 8 passengers. The camp was totally crowded with day trippers but the area for camping was OK. Actually you can camp anywhere along the beach at the resort.
The bloody infamous bit of clunking returned on the bad bit of road. I looked again but found nothing. The rear diff needed oil too so I added about 500ml. It was getting dark when I found I could reproduce the clunk by hard rocking of the car.
We have just been invited for a fish braai by the resort managers. It started 5 minutes after we decided to stop with the car so a major rush to shower and pack away the tools.
The fish braai was good, not sure what fish but there was also calamari and prawn curry along with rice, potatoes and salads. Really nice. The truck clients were also there as well as the drivers and their helpers. The clients didn’t even say hi to us but we did speak to the workers.
Quite a nice evening, had a stroll along the beach and then to bed.
|Co-ords||S 6 49 12
E 39 19 17.7
We are on the Flying Horse to Zanzibar. Woke up at about 7am, the truck had left and they did it quietly too. After breakfast I enlisted the help of a local worker to rock the truck while I lay under it. I was able to identify the clunk as a slightly loose bar holding the front stabiliser and rocker arm. Tightened it up and there you go, no clunk.
We packed up and walked to the first ferry across the estuary and then to the main ferry station. We were ‘helped’ by many to get tickets to and from Zanzibar. We are going by Catamaran and returning by Hydrofoil. Our return tickets are open so we can leave when we are ready.
So now we are off the African mainland. Zanzibar has an aura of mystery about it so lets see. The car is safely parked at the camp ground so no worries mate (tons of Australians around), hakuna matata in the local lingo.
We arrived safe and sound, ½ hr late which is surprisingly punctual for the boats we have been on. Had to go yet again through immigration (?) and customs (double?) and then out of the dock. Immediately you are besieged by ‘helpers’ wanting to ‘show’ you a hotel without any payment. We tried hard to shake them by telling them any story like we’ve been here tons of times before, anything short of telling them to fuck off. Still we cold not shake one guy off. After wandering around for a bit, we finally broke down, admitted we didn’t have a clue (to ourselves not to hanger on) and told him to take us to a hotel of our choice – the Tembo.
We were really lucky, they gave us their last room which is normally sold as a single. It actually has a double bed, not the normal two. It reminds me so much of the Spanish Paradors. It is an old house with nice, neat courtyards, very Arabic (or rather Moorish) style. I really like it.
We went for supper at the park in front of the old fort. There are stalls of different foods being cooked, mostly seafood but not only. They do prawns, crabs, lobster, fish and all other things on open fires. Mom would love it. We pigged out on 2500shillings ($3) so it’s really cheap too.
We then went for a short walk around stone town. This too reminds me
of some villages in Spain – balconies, fancy doors, small alleys – really
neat. Our short walk became a long one because we, of course, got lost
– even with map in hand. Anyway we got back safe and sound so it’s off
3rd August 99
Today we did a private spice tour with another couple from London (Phillip and Chrissy) who are on honeymoon. The tour was $25 each so more expensive than those offered on the street but they seemed to have more people on them. We first visited the 2nd sultan’s harem. Seems he always had 99 and picked the most beautiful women from the village. Practised an extreme form of family planning too – death to anyone who fell pregnant. Based on what the guide said I felt that the sultan spent all his time either having sex or killing those women he had had sex with. Nice picture.
The spices were really great. We saw all the ones we know growing. Things like cloves, nutmeg, lemon grass (citronella), ginger, vanilla and many more. It was quite good and of course we bought some spices too. Got back at about 1:30 and went for lunch. We looked for one mentioned on the book but didn’t find it. No problem, we found one that was good anyway. Had yoghurt milkshakes too. Had a siesta, a swim and then went with Phillip and Chrissy for a beer.
We booked dinner at the blues restaurant for 8:30 had some time in the pool and lying on the beach. Not ideal weather, cloudy but fortunately not too cold. We went out for supper with Chrissy and Phillip (had to change our reservation for 2 to one for 4 but OK). It was really nice too, I had a hot Swahili curry, it comes in a coconut, and Renee had vegetarian fajitas.
Really a great night out, goodnight.
Had a great night’s sleep in our 4 poster bed. The mosquito net makes it feel like our tent without the zips.
Had breakfast, a buffet which is included in the room price and pigged out on fruit. Before breakfast went for a swim in the sea and was knackered again. We checked out (our bags – two small day packs – were left in reception) and went for a tour (self-guided) of town. Ended up spending loads of money of things too. Did an email update, wrote some postcards etc. We visited the old fort which was built by the Portuguese. Not much left in it, now it houses a craft centre and a restaurant.
Had lunch at an Indian vegetarian9 place. They do a meal a day so no choice but it was nice. We had Hal which I haven’t had for a while and Nan bread too. Before catching the ferry we walked around the fish ‘market’ which was a bit smelly but there you go. Not a market in any first world sense, just wooden barrels of fish. The ferry ride was very rough. Had to hang around with eyes closed. Luckily it wasn’t too long. We walked to the ferry across the bay and then caught a matatu back to the camp.
Had a coke and set up camp. Then sat around in the bar until 12, first
time since being on this trip that we have stayed up until midnight. Wow.
5th August 99
|Co-ords||S 6 49 12
E 39 19 17.7
|Fuel||57 L 58 091km|
A day of driving though on good roads all the way. I was a bit worried because we saw a few cops with radar though we never got caught. The speed limit is 80 km/hr?! We left Dar-es-salaam at about 11:30am after first doing a re-sort of the car and going to a great supermarket on the old Bagamoyo road (shoppers plaza). The first 60km of the road out of Dar is poor but they are doing a major re-furbish so in a few months it should be good.
We drove through a game reserve (can’t remember the name) and saw an elephant and baboons. We camped at a farm 50km south of Iringa. Met some South African missionaries who had tried to get visas for Sudan but failed. They did go to Ethiopia but only as far as Addis. They had been shot at over in Awasa can you believe.
Tomorrow Malawi, goodnight.