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Monday, 4 February 2013

Tanzania 1

Day 1 – 20/1/13
The border formalities are some distance from the border, maybe even 10 km. We had the impression that the border staff were trying to be helpful, but the immigration formalities took some time. The good news was that it was only $ 50 each for 90 days and only a stamp in the passport. They did not take a whole page for a visa. Customs was completed quickly and our Yellow Fever vaccination Certificates were checked.
We drove to Ngara and stayed overnight at the refuge of the NGO, WomenCraft. The view from the cottage is spectacular, right across a valley into Rwanda and the lakes etc.

Avril  driving; 314 km; 6 hrs; S 020 29’ 19.2’’ E 0300 38’ 48.8’’

Day 2 – 21/1/13
Our objective for the day was Singida. We had heard varying reports about the road so set off early. The first ~ 100 km is potholed but after that the road was in a very good state and we made good time.
Initially the scenery was interesting with rolling hills, but then petered out to a plain with small hillocks. The whole way seemed to be cultivated with paddy rice the predominant crop.
As we entered Singida we were again assaulted by a fierce rain storm with hail etc. We managed to withdraw some funds from an ATM, buy (RSA) chocolate and check into the Aqua Vita resort. There are no camp sites documented in the area.

Ray  driving; 621 km; 9 hrs; S 040 48’ 18.9’’ E 0340 44’ 12.6’’

Day 3 – 22/1/13
Again we woke to a flat tyre. After breakfast we drove down town to get someone to look at the tyre. Inspection showed that the rim had a small crack. So, we replaced the tyre with the spare and put a tube in the damaged rim. The road from Singida to Arusha has recently been upgraded and except for a section under construction, it is high standard tar. Unfortunately, the ridiculous use of aggressive rumble strips and sharp edge bumps continued.
We dropped down off the inland plain and the vegetation changed to savannah type scrub. From a long distance out of Arusha we caught sight of Mt Meru (5th highest mountain in Africa!) and watched as it rose to fill almost our full view.
In Arusha we changed some money, did a bit of shopping, found the Toyota garage and booked a service, had the vehicle washed and checked into the famous/infamous Masai Camp. Bradt Guide (Latest available May 2010) said $ 5/person/night; charge now is $ 8.

Ray  driving; 331 km; 5 hrs; S 030 23’ 07.2’’ E 0360 43’ 13.4’’

Day 4 – 23/1/13
We were up early to get the vehicle serviced. It turned out that both front and rear brakes needed replacing and this cost a small fortune. The regular service was also quite expensive. Our experience is that if you use the recognised Toyota service garages, then the cost is very high. You can use a non-Toyota garage and get the service etc for a lower cost, but at this time we prefer to have the comfort of knowing the people who have worked on the vehicle have been Toyota trained and that we will get genuine Toyota parts. But, this does come at a large cost. This is the same for Toyota everywhere.
Whilst the vehicle was being serviced we wandered around Arusha, Ray got a haircut, we did some internet stuff etc

Day 5 – 24/1/13
We had breakfast in town at an internet café/patisserie before setting off to Moshi. We had missed the opportunity to get a picture of Mt Meru with no clouds, so on the way out of town we quickly snapped a shot of the mountain with a cloud skirt.
Then, we caught a glimpse of the snow capped top of Mt Kilimanjaro peaking through the clouds. An excited exclamation from Ray: “I’ve been there!” Ray noticed there was a sports bar in Moshi and after a bit of looking we found it. Nirvana for Avril – we had lunch and she watched an Australian Open tennis semi-final.
We then drove to the Mt Kilimanjaro park gate which is also the start of the climb. Ray noticed that the stone cairn recognising the initial European assent had been moved. At the gate there were a lot of climbers who had just descended and others preparing to make the journey. Ray recalled that when he with Jim Barratt and Ian (Chesty) Bond had climbed the mountain there was only one route and apart from 2 young German lads, there was no one else on the mountain. Now there are a number of new routes open and large numbers of tourists.
We drove back to Moshi and attempted to check into the Honey badger site, only to be told they did not take campers anymore! So, we drove on to the Keys hotel and camped there. Initially they wanted $ 15/person/night, but Ray pointed out that the Bradt guide said $ 5 and managed to get it for that.
It is a source of ongoing frustration that the guide books, no matter how new, substantially understate the actual cost of things. Do the guides deliberately understate the costs or do the establishments deliberately give the authors low prices to entice people??

Avril  driving; S 030 19’ 54.8’’ E 0370 21’ 46.8’’

                                              Long, long ago...
Day 6 – 25/1/13
We were fortunate to see Mt Kilimanjaro without any clouds - Africa’s highest mountain showing both peak! We did not waste the opportunity to get a few pictures.
The road again was in good condition and we drove towards the beach. The country side became very arid. In places looked like desert and in other places like the Karoo.
In the middle of nowhere (Korogwe) we spied what looked like a decent bar/eaterie. So, we stopped and to Avril’s great joy they put the tennis on the TV.
We drove through to the Peponi resort/camp. The road to Tanga was good but south from there it is gravel with sharp stones. Given our current theory on the BFGoodrich tyres, we drove this section very cautiously.

Rayl  driving; 380 km; 7 hrs; S 050 17’ 13.9’’ E 0390 03’ 58.0’’

Day 7 – 26/1/13 to Day 13 – 1/2/13
We took a long break at the beach. Time to relax for a bit. The Peponi resort had a restaurant and the Capricorn resort next door had a very basic shop & great pizzas! Between the two establishments we managed to get sustenance!
We celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary on the 27th January with a seafood platter to share and Avril had a chocolate brownie, which she did not share!!
We walked to a local village the next day and bought some fresh fish to BBQ with other overlanders in the resort.
The beach has a large tidal zone and is really not a swimming beach. But, the resort does have a pool.
Otherwise, not a lot to report!

Day 14 – 2/2/13
On the road again. Although there is now a gravel road all the way down coast we decided to take the safer, inland asphalt road. We also decided to enter Dar Es Salaam from the north. During the day we were stopped by a number of police checks. Most had radar guns, but we did not speed!!! So, they decided to try and tackle us for an un-road worthy vehicle – a crack in the windscreen. But, Ray managed to talk his way out of these attempts.
The road is generally in good condition and there are some road works. At one of the road works diversions a truck had lost it load. The trucks and buses were stopped but in typical African style an off-road track around the site was soon formed and at least us small vehicles were quickly on our way.
We travelled along rolling hills most of the day and the country side was developed for agriculture most of the way. Initially there seemed to be a lot of sisal plantation (but many of them seemed to be in a state of disrepair) and this gave an impression of lush environment. The country was drier and had more cassava in middle section of the trip. It was again lush when we got closer to the coast again.
We joined the coast again at Bagamoyo and looked hopefully, but without any expectations for a nice coastal café. It was not to be.
The final 60 km into Dar took > 3 hrs. Probably the worst traffic we have struck.
We were fortunate that Lodewijk  & Funmi had invited us to stay in their apartment in Dar. Luxury  – overlooking the sea.

Avril  driving; 351 km; 9.5 hrs; S 060 44’ 35.3’’ E 0390 17’ 05.9’’

Day 15 – 3/2/13
A relatively lazy day. We did manage to do some shopping and minor chores in amongst eating out for all 3 meals!

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