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Thursday, August 11

Tanzania heading North West

Brett: We hit more bad traffic on the way to Bagamoyo – we were crawling along at 5km/h for the first hour or so. We stayed at Traveller’s Lodge for $12pppn. There isn’t much in the way of facilities for camping, but the gardens are large and very pretty. We walked along the very littered beach and into town – other than many dhows and a couple of very ruined buildings, there is not much to show for Bagamoyo’s interesing history. When we got back to the campsite, there were huge numbers of mosquitos – probably due to them leaving their sprinklers on the whole time. The grass was completely waterlogged and there were still sprinklers on and hoses left running in flowerbeds. We went to shower and killed about 50 mozzies in the bathroom (maybe 2m by 2m) with our flipflops before braving the shower.

 

Mary: We joined up with the main road between Dar and Arusha – this is a good tar road, but narrow and very dangerous because of the crazy overtaking by speeding busses who were not that concerned about whether or not they ran us off the road, cut in too early, overtook on blind rises, etc. We saw 4 recent accidents in one day and many near misses, pretty much all caused by busses. There was a convoy of 10 overland vehicles from SA heading in the same direction but travelling much faster than us. We had passed a few roadside stalls with fairly uninspiring looking veg and far too many people hanging around (prices will be higher as you don’t always know exactly who to bargain with; it also means you have less chance of coming across as a person rather than just another gringo). We found a good one, a small road side stall all on its own, with lovely fresh ripe looking veg, and an old man and one other helper. I managed a whole conversation in Swahili, correctly guessing what must have been appropriate responses to the bits I didn’t understand, and using my “ni ghani mno” (“that’s too expensive”) to get to a good price on our veggies – five tomatoes and five onions for 1000Tsh, about ZAR 4.50 or 40p. The guys seemed genuinely impressed with my Swahili and gave me a bonus carrot for free, and we concluded our business with a great deal of handshaking and wishing each other well.

We stopped about half way to Arusha in the Usambara Mountains at Irente Farm ($4 pppn) near Lushoto, which had been recommended to us by a lovely German couple in Dar. There is quite a small space for camping, but it is a brilliant setting in an indigenous forest, with great views over the surrounding hills and a fantastic shop selling yoghurt, cheese, butter, bread and chutneys produced on the farm. It also comes complete with some charming caricature personalities. There was the really helpful, kindly manager, super-cheerful gardeners, and an obtuse, sullen lady in the shop who seemed to deliberately misunderstand every request. She didn’t recognise us from one day to the next, and asked us with suspicion on the second day if we were really camping there (it was us and one other family, but then maybe us gringos all look the same Winking smile). We had thought to stay one night, but ended up staying two. There was a lovely South African family also camping, with 3 kids in the best kitted out vehicle we have seen so far (a Landcruiser with everything, done by R&D in CT who made our canopy). We spent a long time drooling over their setup – Brett over their vehicle and kit, and me over some of the kitchen stuff. One afternoon they baked a carrot cake!

 

Brett: It seems that everyone in Lushoto is a guide, and why wouldn’t they be at the crazy prices they charge for hikes?! The asking price for a day hike was $30 pp and obviously some people are willing to pay that, as we were mobbed by potential guides when we went through town. We went for a hike up the nearest mountain on our own and it was great, with beautiful views. The area doesn’t have much indigenous forest remaining, except at Irente Farm and the Mkuzi Forest, but the climate is nice and cool in the mountains. We seem to have acclimatised to the tropics where 35 degrees is getting warm and 15 degrees feels freezing. Mary fed us like a king in Lushoto with Chicken a ‘la King and Chicken Curry – it was great to have some big meals for a change.

We continued on the track up to Moshi. We stayed at Honeybadger Lodge & Camp Site ($5 pppn) which has very friendly and helpful staff, but the camping is a bit uninspiring. The power went off when we got there, so we spent the evening reading. The manager also mentioned that Tanzania has run out of petrol too now, so in the morning we headed out and joined the queues because we didn’t know if it would be worse as we got further from Dar. We managed to get petrol after queueing for a while.

We headed for Arusha and went to Toyota. We bought an air filter and spark plugs. Toyota didn’t stock the oil filter, but the guy helping us phoned a few other stores in town and sent someone to collect it (probably at a small mark-up, but definitely worth it rather than us missioning around again). He thought he could source the handbrake piece too, but it would mean waiting in Arusha over the weekend, so we skipped. We stocked up again at the Shoprite (which was full of tourists).

We stopped in for lunch at the Masai Camp Site, but didn’t like it much (the bar was luminous and more like a club and there were tons of signs warning everyone to look after their things) so we stayed at the Snakepark Camp Site.  The Snakepark is great, run by a very friendly and helpful couple and very enthusiastic about over-landers. The grounds are massive, so you have space to yourselves. There is also a workshop if you want to sort out and issues. They have a fascinating collection of crocodiles, birds and snakes (black mambas, very active spitting cobras and massive pythons) that they are rehabilitating.

Mary: On our way out of the snake park, before we had even joined the road, we were pulled over by a policeman who noticed Brett wasn’t wearing his shoes. He started off saying he would have to pay a 40 000 Tsh fine (about $25), then asked us if we would rather just pay 20 000. I suggested that he should write us up a proper ticket and that we would pay whatever the fine was, after speaking to his supervisor, since we hadn’t even gotten to the tar road yet, and he dropped his price to 10 000 Tsh. At that point I lost my temper and asked, “what, for a fine? or a bribe?” and Brett shushed me. After a while he changed tack and demanded to see our fire extinguisher, hi-vis jackets and triangles, which were all in order, and like it was some kind of test he asked me when we would use the triangles – I suspect he would have tried to fine us again if we had got the answer wrong. He eventally let us off when we apologised and Brett promised to drive with shoes on, but then he wanted a coke for his troubles. Needless to say he didn’t get one – it was our most direct request for a bribe so far and I was harrumphing for ages afterwards. 

Moshi should have had good views of Mt Kilimanjaro but it was covered in clouds and we only saw a small glimpse of it (we think) from Arusha when the clouds had lifted slightly.

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