Once again we are running a bit late with the posts, but as to keep it current we will skip a couple for now and update it later.
Bennie and Elsie flew in from Rome and me from London to meet again in Cairo for our connecting flights. We all then flew to Addis Ababa from where Elsie moved on to Cape Town and Bennie and me to Nairobi. My flight from London was delayed with one hour which made things a bit hectic at Cairo since I had to run from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3 in order to make it in time. From Addis, we were then also delayed by about 45 minutes. On our arrival in Addis, the airport was hectic and we then were also informed our flight ET 302 to Nairobi is also delayed. Elsie got on her flight and she was on her way to Cape Town. Then our problems started: first it was 30 minutes, then another 1 hour and then another 2 hours and then another 3 hours. Elsie was already at home when we only got onto the plane.
Our flight was delayed with 7 hours and we had to hang around at the airport. Communication was bad and we once on the plane we learned it had technical problems that they could not sort out and had to bring in a replacement plane. Welcome back in Africa!
Arriving at Nairobi there were Ebola forms to be completed as well as Kenia entry forms – the process took more time than we hoped for. Further to this, we could not find Bennie’s luggage. One of the staff offered to help and we found it in an obscure place. Clearly, it was put there to score a quick buck, which we refused to pay. We got to Jungle Junction at 20:00, 8 hours later than planned. Chris was quick to assist with getting our vehicles ready for the next day. We put back the battery terminals and both fired up immediately, ready for the journey down. We got to bed at 22:00 and the next morning finalising everything with Chris we left just before 08:00.
We left Nairobi with the Southern bypass through its outskirts, then took the A104 to the Namanga border post. Although it was a wee bit wet (learned this in Scotland) travelling was easy and we progressed well. At the border post we were again conned with fixers. When we entered a man with a fluorescent bib came out – also indicated that he was an official indicated where to go and before we know were in it! We had a slight delay as we had to pay Kenyan road taxes for our vehicles as we did not only transit through Kenya but stored our vehicles for an extended period at Jungle Junction.
Once on our way again, traveling was easy (except for the number of speed bumps) and only before Arusha things became slower again – we were there just after 14:00.
Arusha is a city in East Africa’s Tanzania, located at the base of volcanic Mt. Meru. It’s a gateway to safari destinations and to Mt. Kilimanjaro. It is a busy town (and apparently fastest growing as well) with all the tour operators. In town, the small bikes are also like bees zooming all over the place.
Bennie had arranged that we can stay in Arusha at Bertus, one of his friends. Due to a sudden illness of his wife, we stayed at Masai Camp for the three nights. A very nice and neat campsite, except for all the disturbing noises at night hampering your sleeping, i.e. music from neighborhood club, the traffic on the Nelson Mandela Drive, Barking dogs from the village next door and the early morning Muslim prayers. We set up camp in the evening and prepared for our braai. We also met a German couple, Christine and Rudi that comes to Africa almost every European summer holiday for the last six years. They have a 4×4 vehicle which they keep in Africa to do their trips here.
The Masai Camp is regularly used by overland companies. On the last evening two groups of about 20 persons each made use of the campsite.
Most of Monday morning we spent at three Primary Schools with Malkiad. He is the receptionist/barman at the campsite that accompanied us. You can read more about this on our Social Responsibility post. The afternoon we replenished some groceries, had a quick lunch with the locals and did some relaxing at the campsite. We also organized a game drive with Tropical Trials for the following day at the Tarangire National Park.
Having some french fries and beef sosaties (only very small pieces) at a shop just next to the Nelson Mandela Drive.
Bennie relaxing at the campsite.
The evening we had a very unusual meal the Monday for this part of the world – a very nice snoek braai.
The next morning we were picked up at 07:00 for our game drive. It is almost a two-hour drive to the park. Tarangire National Park is the sixth largest national park in Tanzania, it is located in Manyara Region. The name of the park originates from the Tarangire River that crosses the park.
Bennie with our guide and driver for the day, Wilson of Tropical Trails. He was fluent in English and we also learned much from Tanzania by speaking to him. The Baobab tree just before the entrance to the park.
Some of the animals were close, but unfortunately the lion we could only see in the distance. The small antelope is a Dik Dik which I have seen for the first time. The giraffe is a Masai Giraffe and it seems if the pattern is more black than I am used to.
The Wednesday morning it was early up to pack and take the road to Dodoma. We continued on the A 104 until Babati from where we continued on a newly constructed tar road to Dodoma. This is the best section of road we drove in Tanzania and at some stage, our average was about 90 km/hr. Finding our overnight accommodation was difficult as we were not sure about the exact location. As the people of the Royal Village Hotel was not fluent in English they came to collect us from town. The hotel was large in size and rooms basic but spacious – except for the communication issues and poor wifi, we had a reasonable stay.
Thursday morning we left for Kisolonza farm, 50km outside of Iringa. Bennie organised to have early breakfast before we leave but when we were there at 06:00 the message apparently did not go through. Dodoma is now the capital of Tanzania but is relatively small and quickly got out of the city. We continued our journey on the A 104 and after an hour’s drive, we stopped in a Baobab forest for a bun and some cool drink.
Road conditions were good and on our way, we passed over the dam wall of the Mtera Reservoir. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take any pictures as it is a national key point. After that, we did some climbing up into the escarpment. It is scary to see how these big coach busses handle the twisty roads. Nearing Iringa, the villages are closer, meaning more speed bumps. It was frustratingly slow until we got onto the Tanzania Highway. Although not spared from the 50 km/hr speed limits and speed bumps one can move a bit faster.
Bennie first visited the Isimila Stone Age site and I went to Kisolanza directly. I arrived about noon and Bennie about an hour and a half later as he had to walk to the site.
The afternoon we also met with two other South African couples, Glen and Mike – respectively form Deneysville and Krugersdorp. It is coincidence as we also saw them driving behind us in the Tarangire National Park. They are also on their way to Malawi. Later in the afternoon we also met Ettienne from SafariWithUs who is on his way to Arusha to drop-off a Landcruiser to be converted into a safari vehicle.
We had a nice campsite with a grass lapa – all that we were missing is a water point, but this is typical across Africa.
Friday morning it was some maintenance repairs on the bakkie and I did some routine checks on the TEN. Further time was spend doing the washing, updating the Blog and planning for the rest of the journey down home. Tomorrow we will camp just outside the border to Malawi (Kasumulu) but first need to do a difficult section of road to Mbeya which parts of is currently under construction – it might end up in a long day of driving again.