Aug 26 2010

Tanzania – diary 2010-06-29 to 2010-08-01

After our rapid escape from Kenya we arrived back in Tanzania via the Lunga Lunga border post. We were relieved to find that our visas seemed to still be valid even after we went to Rwanda from Tanzania in May which was supposed to result in the Tanzanian visa becoming null in void. With a saving of $100 we headed south, on an awful gravel road, towards Peponi Beach, a camp site and lodge that was set along the idyllic Tanzanian North Coast. We settled into our beachside campsite comfortably and enjoyed the views of the Indian Ocean with the fishing dhows sailing in with the day’s catch.

We spent the next 5 days at Peponi Beach where we made friends with fellow campers and enjoyed many meals together, a highlight being a fresh fish braai where we procured the fish ourselves straight from the fishermen who had literally just stepped off the boat. It must have been their easiest sale in months! Peponi was like a breath of fresh air in comparison to the very commercial Kenyan coastline. We truly enjoyed the serenity that the owners have created and will recommend it to many other overlanders in the future. We were still able to walk into the local village and not be harassed by the village folk but rather interact with them and shop at their little stores. We were also fortunate enough to be invited on a dhow ride with some fellow South Africans who we had originally met at Twiga Beach in Kenya. This was an authentic experience but left many of us feeling queasy and looking rather green.

With 2 weeks to go until we were to attempt to summit Kilimanjaro, Kirk and I were getting anxious about being at sea level and felt the need to get to higher altitude, to acclimatise and so decided to head to Arusha and suss out its surroundings. We made the journey through some valleys and across some plains where signs for strong winds appeared very frequently. The wind swept across the flat plains and hit Mvubu with a vengeance. Kirk had a tough time counteracting the short sharp bursts. The terrain changed drastically from lush tropical palms trees and sisal plantations to dry desolate overgrazed land. As the altitude increased so did our hopes of catching our first glimpse of the challenge that we were to embark on in 2 weeks time. She appeared out of nowhere…Kirk spotted her first and I was still uncertain if we were facing Mt Kilimanjaro as there was a haze that was obscuring the outline of the slopes. The only thing that was convincing was the white snow capped top that was peeping out beyond some clouds. As we neared closer it became apparent that we were in fact face to face with the highest mountain in Africa. It was quite a chilling moment and both Kirk and I were ecstatic.

We made our way towards Arusha where the backdrop of Kilimanjaro changed to her older sister Mt Meru, which was equally spectacular although it was lacking the brilliant white snow. We made our way to Shoprite where we bought a few luxuries (Romany Creams and Ouma Rusks) and headed towards the Snake Park Campsite. En-route Kirk spotted a recently refurbished short wheel base 1981 HJ42 Toyota Land Cruiser which made up his mind…we were returning to Nairobi to purchase the green double cab equivalent the following day. He had been deliberating over this for the last 2 weeks whilst chilling on the beach at Twiga and Peopni and had made the decision to buy! This now meant that out trip would have a completely different element to it and I would be allowed to drive Mvubu for the remainder of the trip. For the last 8 and a half moths I had been forbidden to drive but now his affection for Mvubu had been replaced with the love for his new green Land Cruiser, Kobe.

After a good night’s rest we embarked on our journey back o Nairobi. The road was under construction and the dust from the road works added to the dust of the extremely dry plains – the effects of years and years of overgrazing. It was quite a cultural experience driving through Maasai country as the herders were in abundance dressed in their colourful shukas and elaborate jewels.

The border crossing back into Kenya was mayhem; it was the most commercial border crossing between Tanzania and Kenya and every tour guide and his European contingency was out in force. We managed to get through fairly quickly and made the journey back to Jungle Junction where we were to spend the next few days sorting out the admin for the ‘new’ car.

 Jungle Junction – Nairobi

Our time at Jungle Junction was enjoyable. It seemed to be quite a difficult place to tear one self away from as was evident from the number of people who were camped up in the front garden and had been there for more than a week. It became a little community whereby we shared gourmet meals – roast lamb and Mexican being some of our favourites as well as amazing BBQ’s and enjoyed watching the build up to the Football World Cup Final and eventually the final where our Dutch friends were enthusiastically blowing a vuvuzella and cheering for their team. It was nice to be in a city where everything is so accessible and they have amazing shopping malls where one can almost feel like they are shopping in London or South Africa. Nairobi is set at 1800m so we were getting the much needed acclimatisation without even doing anything in preparation for our climb up Kili. After 10 days of eating, socialising and internetting we were able to leave Nairobi and head back to Moshi to meet friends who were flying out from London and to prepare for our trek up Kilimanjaro. The traffic leaving the city on Thursday morning was a nightmare. With Kirk leading the way in Kobe, and me following closely behind in Mvubu, I was forced into a world of African city driving which was enough to give me sweaty palms and tense shoulders immediately. At one stage, it took us an hour to cover 300 meters. We stopped off at Nairobi International Airport to fetch Nils, a fellow South African and made our way back to the Tanzanian border. It was great to have Nils with us as he was given the opportunity to gain insight into just how interesting our lives have been for the last 9 months.

We arrived in Moshi at the Honey Badger Lodge after an arduous 7 hours of driving that challenged me with sand driving, gravel driving and beautiful tar driving. I won’t give prizes to those who can guess which one I enjoyed the most. We met with John, our guide for the Kilimanjaro expedition and finalised all plans as we were meeting the rest of the London crew the following day.

Mt Kilimanjaro – The expedition 

Saturday, the starting day for our trek, finally arrived. Nils, Paul, Kirk and I waited anxiously for John and his team of porters to fetch us from the Honey Badger Lodge. His punctuality meant that we were on schedule and proceeded to fetch Cathy, Laura and Esperanza from the Protea Hotel which was close to the Machame Gate at Kilimanjaro National Park, the starting point for our 7 day trek. It took some time for the porters to assemble our belongings and their belongings and arrange them into 17kg parcels. Whilst waiting we were astounded at the number of busses that were dropping off tourists and fellow trekkers; there must have been close to 200 trekkers that day who, like us, we hoping to summit Kibo peak. We eventually set off after 11am and enjoyed the 1st day of walking which took us through lush tropical vegetation similar to that of the Rwenzori Mountains. When we reached Machame Hut, at 3000m, we were welcomed by our porters who had already started pitching our tents and preparing hot drinks and popcorn for us. This was the 1st experience of the wonderful hospitality that was to follow for the remaining 6 days.

The days to follow were much of the same with us getting woken up by Lucas, our wonderful waiter/host who arrived at our tent with a hot water basin and a cheery good morning every morning, followed by an enormous breakfasts of porridge, pancakes, omelettes, sausages, tomatoes and toast with the occasional treat of fried pork. This hearty meal was enough to get anyone out of bed regardless of how cold it was. Lunches were prepared in the morning and arranged in a lunch box or on every alternate day we would arrive at our camp by lunchtime where we were treated to a 3 course hot lunch. At one stage we were concerned that we were going to be gaining weight rather than burning off the calories that we were supposed to after a long day of walking.

 The 5 days of walking that preceded summit night were delightful in that they took us through some beautiful scenery as well as altering terrain that consisted of valleys and spurs. We rose above the clouds after day 2 where we settled at Shira Camp for the evening and woke, on day 3, to the most beautiful sight – the valley below us was completely engulfed by tick cumulus clouds that resembled an enormous soft, fluffy white feather down duvet. It was simply stunning. On our 4th day we reached Lava Tower, 4600m, where several of our party started to feel the effects of altitude sickness. The most severe symptom was a headache which was easily treated with Paracetamol or Ibruprofen. After lunch at altitude we descended to 3900 where camp was already set up and many of us collapsed into our tents to rest before taking a slow stroll up to 4200m that afternoon where we would get our 1st glimpse of base camp to the summit. The nerves at dinner that night could be cut with a knife and it was quite unnerving to know that in 24 hours we would be summiting the highest free standing mountain in the world as well as Africa’s highest peak.

 The sun was bright and warming the following morning and Kibo Peak was peering over us with her beautiful snow caped crags. We set off for a 3 hour walk to Barafu camp, 4600m, where again we were treated to a hot lunch and afterwards took a slow walk to 4800m that afternoon all in the name of acclimatisation. After dinner we were sent to bed only to be woken at 11pm to prepare for the ascent. Not much sleep was actually achieved due to the cold temperatures and low levels of oxygen but the adrenaline seemed to kick in and motivated us to get out of our cosy sleeping bags and meet in the mess tent for a cup of tea or Milo before suiting up in our warmest gear and making our way to the summit.

 We started the summit at midnight when the stars were out and the ¾ moon was shining its light upon us. The long trail of headlamps lighting the way up the mountain side was encouraging but also unnerving as it highlighted the trail that we too would be ascending. We started the slow and arduous trek up the mountain side starting at 4600m with the desire to ultimately reach 5895m. The 1st 500m went smoothly with all of our party feeling strong and jovial. The singing of the infamous ‘Kilimanjaro’ song by the porters kept our spirits high and our feet in time with the rhythm. The going was slow and when we reached 5100m I started to feel unwell. The day before we did a practice run up to 4850m where I got terrible stomach pains – the gas was expanding as we ascended. The same was happening to me on summit night. I was trying all sorts of things – burping, farting, you name it, to get the gas feeling to subside but to no avail. My head wanted to explode so Kirk gave me a headache tablet which seemed to keep it at bay. At about 5200m I couldn’t hold back the belches any longer and I proceeded to vomit up the entire contents of my stomach – 3 litres of water and some pineapple! I felt instant relief and my headache instantly disappeared. Kirk was standing by my side whilst I was projectile vomiting and all he could say to me was; ’now I can’t give you a big smooch when we get to the top!’ I was very scared at this point as I had consumed the full 3 litres of water in my pack to prevent it from freezing and it was now soaking into the ground at my feet. I did however feel 100 times better and felt that I could continue my attempt to summit Kili. Not long after I had been ill did Kirk start to feel unwell. We had reached about 5500m when we were both crouched over vomiting up the remainder of the fluids that had been in our stomachs. The headaches had subsided but the will to keep our eyes open was dying quickly and at times we were literally walking zombies. We reached Stella Point, 150m below the summit and miraculously didn’t hang around there for too long – a good thing as I probably wouldn’t have got going again – instead we trudged on. Kirk was blubbering at this stage as he felt this was the hardest part of the trek for him. He really did have to dig deep and use up all of his reserves to make the last hundred metres. As soon as the end was in sight we were both a ball of emotions. It was the hardest thing that we have ever done in our entire lives…it took all the mental and physical strength that we possessed but the feeling when we got to that sign, confirming that we were at the highest point in Africa, was utter joy and relief. When we got close to the sign Kirk insisted that we needed to have a photo of just the 2 of us first, which I didn’t think to be unusual as we had reached a huge milestone in our trip through Africa. When we were both standing under the sign, me getting ready to pose for the camera he pulled out a ring from his pocket and asked me, through many tears, to marry him. It was a very emotional moment and I replied with, ‘of course I will!’ gave him a hug and a kiss and then got everyone in to have a photo. The moment was very surreal and quite rushed and there is a classic photo of me with this look on my face as if to say, ‘What the hell just happened?’

The sun rose from the horizon a few minutes after the proposal and spread its warmth onto us which filled us with renewed energy and relief that we had conquered what we had come to Kilimanjaro to do.

 The view on top of the mountain was simply stunning. Glaciers, of mammoth proportions surrounded us and gave off a brilliant white shine as the sun illuminated their shadows. Our heads were still a little fuzzy at this stage and in hindsight I would have loved to have spent more time at the top but the cold fingers and nose were enough encouragement to get us moving and make the descent. The descent took 3 hours, half the time it took us to get to the top and when we reached the base camp we were greeted by cheery Lucas who gave us a much needed cup of juice and we flopped into our tent. We had a good 2 hour sleep and were woken to have lunch before setting off for another 3 hour descent to Mweka Hut which was set at a good altitude that allowed us to recover without a pounding headache. That evening was a jovial one with all 7 of our team summiting Kilimanjaro and feeling great about it.

We arrived safely at the Mweka Gate 2 hours from our set off time the following morning feeling, surprisingly, spritely! It was strange to feel so good after such a physical and mental challenge and have ludicrous thoughts of actually doing it all again…you forget so quickly just how painful a feat it actually is – the euphoria certainly outweighs the despair.

We arranged to meet John and Lucas that evening for a traditional Tanzanian meal and some dancing afterwards which went off very well. The Nyama Choma was delicious and consisted of 4 kgs of BBQ beef and goat served with salad and BBQ plantains. That was all washed down with many Kilimanjaro beers and followed by a night of dancing at a local nightclub that had a live bans. Our muscles behaved themselves and allowed us to party until midnight but as the clock struck 12 our fatigue set in and we dragged our weary bodies back to the Honey Badger where we slept like the dead.

The London crew left the following morning with Paul and Nils, Laura, Cathy and Esperanza making their way back to Nairobi and me getting stuck into the copious amounts of laundry that we had accumulated during the week. It was a wonderful week and the group dynamics couldn’t have been better. The sense of achievement still exists and the surprise engagement is slowly setting in.

Kirk and I stayed in Moshi for a week after our trip up Kilimanjaro as we were waiting for the final papers for Kobe to be couried to us from Moshi. The time was spent relaxing and socialising with John and his family. We spent a memorable Sunday with the family at John’s father’s house in Marangu where we enjoyed a meal of chicken stew with plantain. The Honey Badger Lodge provided a comfortable and safe place for us to stay for the week but our morning lie ins were marred by the inconsiderate Overland Truck companies who would wake up at 4:30am and bang pots and pans, talk at the top of their lungs. Our detest for these people was heightened and the urge to get to the remotest parts of Mozambique became stronger and stronger. The papers for Kobe eventually arrived on Wednesday and we were pleased to be on the road again on Thursday morning…our destination Dares Salaam, 500km from Moshi.

The road was very good and we made it to the outskirts of the city by 3pm but our progress was deterred by large amounts of traffic. This was painstakingly slow and the misuse of traffic lights meant that we were sometimes stopped at intersections for 3 or 4 light changes. We eventually reached Mikadi Campsite at 8:30pm where we were tired, hungry and irritable from the frustrations of African city driving. We set up our tent, scoffed down a meal of fish and chips, enjoyed a hot salt water shower and hit the hay…tomorrow was going to be a similarly long driving day.

The road was equally good the following day with a bad stretch of road covering only 75km for the day. The road was under construction and in pretty good condition so we reached our destination, Seaview Lodge in Kiliowa Masoko where we were treated to stunning views of the Indian Ocean. The turquoise water was the picture of brilliance and offered us a sneak preview of what Mozambique was going to offer.

The next day took us further south to Mamasi, our last stop over in Tanzania before crossing the border. It was a useful town in that it provided us with a great place to sleep, in a clean en-suite room and relatively good fresh produce so that we could stock up and spend the last of our Tanzanian Shillings. We were on the road the following morning bright and early in search of a deserted beach, crayfish, prawns and fresh Indian Ocean fish. Mozambique was calling and we were eager to get there.

[book id=’30’ /]

Jun 1 2010

Tanzania – diary 2010-05-14 to 2010-05-22

2010-05-14 to 2010-05-22

We crossed into Tanzania at 4:30pm which was a fairly hassle free process. We paid $50 each for our visas as well as $25 for Mvubu to drive on the Tanzanian roads as he was a foreign registered vehicle. After all formalities were over we adjusted our clocks, we had gone forward one hour, and made our way towards the northern shores of Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi) where we had been told that a new camp was in the process of being opened called Crazy Crocodile. The road there was rough and definitely off the beaten track. We drove through rice paddies and wheat fields that were giving off the most gorgeous light as the sun set behind us. We arrived in the town of Matemba where cries of Mzungu (white man) trailed after us as the children ran excitedly from their homes into the road to wave at us and welcome us into their village. We followed the red Crazy Crocodile signs and eventually arrived at the site of the new camp. Darkness had just fallen so e were feeling a little bit disorientated, furthermore, Thomas, the proprietor was not back from his meeting in Dodoma and so nobody could give us certainty that we were able to camp on the lake shore. Thomas was eventually reached by mobile phone and he was more than happy to have us but he told us that there were no facilities as they were still in the process of building the showers and the toilets. The wind had picked up and rain clouds were looking ominous above us so we decided it was probably better to camp at the established Matemba Beach Lodge and to visit Thomas in the morning.

We arrived at Matemba Beach Lodge and the rains started falling. We set up our tent and sought shelter under the overhang that it provided once we had opened it up. When it came time to shower we were awakened to the fact that we were back in the land of squat toilets and cold showers! We stepped into the shower gingerly, scrubbed up and climbed into bed.

The sun was out the following morning which dried the tent and prepared us for the hot day that was to come. We popped in at Crazy Crocodile where Thomas was there to meet us. He gave us a grand tour and explained the plan he had for the piece of land that was perfectly situated on Lake Nyasa. After a good hour of visiting we said our goodbyes, visited a nearby pottery market and then took a slow dive to Tukuyu. The drive was exquisite and took us through subsistence plantations of coffee, tea, bananas, cocoa, rice, cassava and wheat. The altitude increased from 500meters to 1400meters taking us through a winding dirt which bypassed numerous crater lakes which held much historical importance during World War I. Before reaching Tukuyu we passed a truck loading thousands of bananas to take to the market. We stopped to enquire about the price and came away with 3 avocados and about 20 bananas all for less than a dollar. The beauty about rural Africa is the availability of cheap fresh fruit and vegetables. We settled in at Bongo Camping for the afternoon and evening. It was a community run camp that had basic facilities (cold showers and squat toilets) and a wonderful gaggle of local village children who were immediately intrigued by the mzungus who had just arrived. The afternoon was spent teaching the Tanzanian children how to throw a Frisbee, doing cartwheels and watching them play. When night fell some of the children dissipated and returned to their homes but a few of them stuck around but seemed to congregate around the florescent lights with long sticks. At closer inspection it became apparent what they were doing… catching grasshoppers, a Tanzanian delicacy. They each had an empty 500ml water bottle that was filled with unfortunate grasshoppers. Kirk and I crept off to bed only to be woken by the same grasshoppers that had sought refuge in between the fly sheet of our tent. They were making the most horrendous sound that was reverberating off the canvass. A few vicious bangs on the tent seemed to get rid of them and we were once again able to enjoy a peaceful night sleep.

We didn’t have very far to travel the following morning so we packed up slowly and Kirk was coaxed into the grasshopper hunt. One of the smallest and youngest boys, Augustine, had taken a liking to Kirk and with repeated please of Mzungu Mzungu and a pointing finger, to show Kirk where the grasshoppers were hiding; he managed to fill his bottle up in no time at all. After a good hour of grasshopper hunting we left Bongo Camping and made a slow journey to Mbeya. The drive was once again spectacular with many of the hills being cultivated and giving off an array of different shades of green. We were pretty much restricted from venturing further afield as we didn’t have many Tanzanian Shillings and the banks would only be open on Monday. We stopped off at the BP garage to find out how much a new brake line would cost as we were a little uncertain about the repair job that had been done on the original one after the welding machine nicked it in Livingstonia. The guys at the garage were super helpful and in 3 hours we were all set and ready to go again. Because of our lack of Tanzanian Shillings they were trusting enough to let us go and return the following morning to pay them for their services.

We spent the afternoon exploring the town centre in search of bread and then ventured further afield to Utengule Country Hotel which was set amongst the hills of a coffee plantation owned by some very rich Tanzanians. Their prices were extortionate and even a coffee would have set us back enough to buy bananas for a week. We returned to Mbeya where we camped at the Karibuni Centre in Mbeya. It was a peaceful church yard that again had basic facilities but very friendly people who were very helpful in giving us advice on the roads up north.

We had decided to take the road less travelled towards Tabora which cut through the middle of Tanzania avoiding Dodoma. We did all the necessary admin such as changing money, paying our friendly mechanics buying the odd few groceries and hit the road. The GPS did not recommend the road that we were about to take but we had been assured, the previous evening, that the road was I good condition. The roads were dusty and very rural. Again we were treated to spectacular scenery of undulating cultivated hills and small rural settlements. The road took us to the top of the escarpment offering us sweeping views of the East African Rift Valley. The view was magnificent! The valley was luscious and green and dotted with the odd rocky outcrop and acacia tree. We continued north and drove through many more villages where the people waved frantically and called ‘Mzungu’ to get our attention. We found a great bush camp 220km south of Tabora and 10km north of Rungwa. The setting was idyllic with acacia trees surrounding us and the bell of the grazing cows tinkling in the distance. We made a fire to cook our dinner on and as we were sitting enjoying the solitude that this setting had to offer a herder started playing his pennywhistle, oblivious to the fact that there were 2 mzungus camping a little way from where he was, providing us with a melodious tune and completing the ambience that this tranquil place had to offer. It was just too beautiful.

As you do with bush camping, you rise when the sun does and you hit the road as soon as possible. We were literally in the wilderness as was evident by 2 little Black Back Jackals that were scavenging in the road and decided to run ahead of Mvubu and eventually dash off into the bush. The bird life was also impressive with massive birds of prey perched on the top of trees. We were hoping to see some elephants as there was fresh evidence that they had been on the road that night but they had moved on and were sheltered by the thick vegetation of the savannah. We arrived in Tabora just after 11am where we bought some meat, tomatoes and beer and pushed on to Mwanza, a port town on the shores of Lake Victoria. We were utterly exhausted when we arrived and the camping options were non existence and so we treated ourselves to a little bit of luxury and stayed at Isamilo Lodge. It was a relatively new hotel complex that was perched on the hillside offering great views of the lake from the hotel room balcony. We enjoyed our dinner of Indian curry under the stars on the restaurant terrace as well as the luxury of having TV, air conditioner and hot water in our room. It was a real treat and one that Kirk and I relished every moment of.

We cashed in on the free internet access and spent the following morning updating blogs and sending e-mails after our delicious continental style breakfast. We left Isamilo Lodge just after lunchtime and made our way towards the Serengeti National Park. We had not intended to enter the park on the same day but when we arrived at the gate and made enquiries about the cost and accommodation options in the park it made sense to enter straight away as the park permit was valid for 24 hours. We managed to wangle our way out of paying $200 for Mvubu as we claimed that he weighed less than 2 tonnes and so we got away with only paying $40 for him. The remainder of the costs included $50 each for park entry and $30 each for camping in the park. All in all a grand total of $200 for 24 hours but a magnificent saving of $160! It was 3:30pm and the gate warden assured us that we would reach the designated camping area before sunset which is when all cars were supposed to be off the road. The camping area was 180km away and with sunset at 6:30pm we had quite a distance to cover. The amount of animals on the plains was amazing. The Serengeti most certainly lived up to its name with us bearing witness to herds and herds of zebra, giraffe, impala and warthogs. The migration was still in its early stages with the wildebeest and zebras moving up from the southern sections of the park towards the north. We had entered through the western corridor and bore witness to thousands and thousands of Wildebeest grazing, playing, dancing and butting heads on the lush green plains. It was a spectacular sight. At about 5pm the heavens opened and we were treated to an African savannah storm which turned the clay roads into an ice rink. We were sticking to the speed limit of 50km per hour but alas on 2 occasions we lost control of the car and spun out once. It was a hair raising experience and my nerves were shot by the second episode. Because of the slippery roads we were forced to slow down and made our way into camp at 7pm. The camps were unfenced and had 3 caged dining areas that had been occupied by the tour groups which had arrived earlier in the evening. Kirk and I resorted to cooking and eating our dinner in the open at the back of Mvubu as we normally did. We were in no danger of being mauled by a lion or hyena because the noise levels were enough to chase any intrigued wildlife away. It had been such a whirlwind day that when silence eventually fell and the sounds of the nocturnal predators filled the air, it eventually sunk in that we were in one of Africa’s most eminent national parks and we had the following day to see what it had to offer.

We were up before the crack of dawn and were on the road at 6am. The suns rays had still not touched the earth with its warm rays and we were able to explore the park in darkness for the first 20 minutes. Seronera is the area of the park where most of the animals are concentrated with various other granite outcrops to explore that are home to leopard, cheetah, rhino and lions so we decide to head towards that direction. We had until 11am to search or these elusive animals before having to make our way back towards the gate that we had entered through. The morning started off well with the sighting of 2 big buffalo right outside the camping area as well as a Serval cat running for cover. This seemed to be the 1st of our luck because not long afterwards we spotted our 1st leopard. Next on the list was a pride of lions relaxing in the sun after a hard night of hunting followed by 2 cheetahs stalking and playing together. We were having a wonderful time and were feeling very fortunate but luck seemed to be on our side because not long afterwards we saw 2 hyenas and an abundance of elephants. The Serengeti was most certainly living up to its name and we were elated with our fortune. We had seen 4 of the Big 5 in less than 2 hours and now only needed to hunt for one of the 33 Black Rhino that were in the SNP. We didn’t have much luck with the sighting of a Rhino but we were instead privileged enough to again witness the masses and masses of Wildebeest that were on the march and walking in a westerly direction. We actually needed to stop the car in order for them to cross the road in their droves. We made our way back towards the western gate and were lucky enough again to see a mother and cub leopard in a tree. We were elated with our good fortune. We left the park feeling satisfied that we had made the most of our $200 and vowed to return one day but to do it the luxury way…an all inclusive 5* package. Wouldn’t that be great!

We didn’t venture too far from the Serengeti that evening and camped on the shores of Lake Victoria where fishing Dows were buoyant in the distance and the waves created by the windy conditions lapped onto the sandy shore. The reality of the day took time to sink in and both Kirk and I went to bed content and happy with our recent adventure.

Kirk had checked the welded diff the previous evening and found that it was leaking some oil and so we decided that we should head back to Mwanza to have it checked out by a Toyota mechanic. When Mvubu was on the ramp and we were able to inspect it more closely it was discovered that there was only a very small hole that was not going to cause much of a problem. We left the mechanic without paying for any unnecessary work and instead stopped off at Total to change the oil. We were on the road by 11am heading towards the Rwandan border where we stopped at Morcay Motel to spend the night before crossing into our 20th country. We enjoyed a meal of tough chicken, rice and a tasty tomato sauce at the adjoining restaurant and a couple of beers at the adjoining bar. It was Friday night and everyone was out on the razz. It was lovely to soak up the local atmosphere of Tanzania before leaving it the following day.

We had only spent 8 days in Tanzania but would be returning in a month and a half to climb the infamous Kilimanjaro and explore the coastal region. We were pleased that we had seen a large part of the country that not many overlanders explore and we had managed to visit the Serengeti at a fraction of the cost that it would have been if we had entered through Arusha. We look forward to our next visit.[book id=’25’ /]