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Saturday, August 20

Lake Victoria, Tanzania

Brett: We left the park in the late afternoon, too late to make it to Mwanza. We saw a sign for Soki Camp Site ($15 pppn) which we had heard recommended, but wasn’t on our GPS. It had been raining and the tracks turned to a clayey mud. We took a wrong turn and the tracks got worse. We got stuck in the mud with our diff stuck very lightly on a rock on the middle mannetjie. We were able to get out by digging, removing the rock and placing rocks in the ruts - Mary drove out like an expert, handling the skidding and avoiding the trees and coined the phrase, “a brush with Diff”. We reached the end of the road, realised we weren’t at the campsite, and got directions. There was a Land Cruiser being repaired with a cracked diff – we suspect it was from the same rock, because of the tracks around there.

 

Mary: We eventually made our way to the camp site, absolutely exhausted and covered in mud, and had it all to ourselves. At $15pppn it was expensive, but given how close to the park it is I would have been surprised if it was cheaper. It had a really great feel, especially with us being the only people there. They made us a huge bonfire and hot water for the showers (whoop whoop!) so we had a good scrub after 4 nights of cold showers. I made macaroni cheese, which we ate in the tent because it started to rain. A lovely end to the day.

It had been an exhausting few days so we slept in and then drove to Mwanza. We stocked up on groceries at the U-Turn Grocery, which is very well stocked but expensive. We camped on the beach at Tunza Lodge ($7.50 pppn) and spent the evening with the owner Jan and his friends playing pool and enjoying springbucks. Jan is a real character, and made us feel totally at home. I had spent some time moaning to Brett about all the things I have been missing, including electric kettles, as it takes so much longer and is a hassle to heat water on the gas. So I was delighted to find free tea, coffee and hot chocolate at Tunza – complete with an electric kettle! It’s amazing what you miss….

Jan organised one of his guys to wash the Beast as a surprise, which was really fantastic - it hasn’t been that clean since the day we bought it! We can really recommend this place – it’s not in T4A but we will upload it as a waypoint. The only thing missing is internet/wifi, but Brett is going to try and find a 3G dongle somewhere to make it a bit easier. Our last wifi was in Dar!

 

Brett: We ended up spending 3 nights at Tunza, as it was such a great spot. We did some yoga on the beach and caught up on chores. I cycled into town and found a really well stocked computer shop where we replaced one of our Lacie “Not-So-Rugged” portable hard drives which had broken. I also found a universal laptop charger for the car, which should help as our inverter is not powerful enough to charge the laptop (which claims “Intex promises the human race a touch, feel and experience of things never heard of, neither dreamt – the aspiration to experience the future and live life that has never been lived before” – that is good enough for me). I found really fast internet at the Tilapia Hotel and uploaded the blog & photos after a long silence. Mwanza feels very safe and is a very easy place to get things done (especially if you ask Jan for advice). When I got back, Mary had done all the washing and cleaned the fridge, which had started to smell a bit. We reorganised our kitchen drawers into a commonly used one and a longer-term one to experiment with needing the table less often.

We set off early in the morning, but missed the first Kigongo ferry (the one 20km South of Mwanza) by a few minutes. The second one broke down, so we ended up waiting about 2 hours. The roads were all good except a small corrugated dirt stretch near Ginza that connects the two main tar roads and some diversions from road works. With all the delays, we should have rather free camped on the Tanzanian side but we pushed on anyway because our Gorilla permits were booked for the 24th. We got to the Rusoma Border just before it closed, but luckily we knew that Rwanda is an hour behind Tanzania so we would have enough time to get across no-mans-land before the other side closed. The border was quick, easy and free for us (South Africans don’t need a visa for Rwanda, and the Carnet & Comesa meant there were no other fees) – they didn’t even mind us taking a few pictures. Although the road to Kigali was very good, we hadn’t realised it how slow it would be because of the steep hills, trucks, and people in the road. In the end we got in to Kigali at 9pm; a long and extremely tiring day.

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