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The long road home


TANZANIA | Tuesday, 11 March 2008 | Views [563]

Why hello Mr Elephant

Why hello Mr Elephant

The landscape changed almost immediatly between Rwanda and Tanzania. Every inch of land in Rwanda is intensly cultivated with Tea, coffee, rice, Bannanas etc. But in Tanzania suddenly the land is the Savannah-Scrub type bush which is what you imagine when you hear of the Serengetti and other national parks.

Because of the issues in Kenya (this was early Feb so Kenya was still a serious no-go-zone) we were taking a different route from Rwanda following the edge of Lake Victoria down through Tanzania to Arusha (the Capital city). This is not a route many tourists take and it proved higly amusing, if a little daunting. We had three full days of driving (7am to 5pm) to reach Arusha and the "roads" were a constant source of amusement. Pot-holes the size of craters..... puddles the size of swimming pools! On the last day the road was not tarcealed and recent rain had made it almost impossible to get through. We all had to climb off the truck (in ankle deep mud), grab a spade, shovel, pick-axe and start moving the rocks and dirt at the side of the road into the mud and puddles to try make it passable. Some skillful driving by Mugo our Kenyan driver got us through until we reached a swimming pool sized pond. We watched another truck negotiate its way through before Mugo gave it a shot (with all of us clinging on up top int he truck!).

There was no where to buy food for lunches or dinner so for 3 days we lived on the local staple diet of "goat and rice" or "beef and rice" for lunch and dinner. There was also no where to camp along this route so Becs managed to get us into local guest houses along the way. We'd book out all 5-6 rooms the "hotel" had and cram 4-6 of us into each double room. The owners of these "hotels" had a habit of switching the water and/or power off at the most inappropriate times... leading to some frustrating moments!

We felt somewhat like a travelling circus (well our big yellow Truck is kind of obvious!) with locals stopping to watch us go past and kids running along with the truck and crowding aroudn the door when we stopped. One night we had around 100 kids standing outside our "hotel" watching us through the gate. When we left to walk across the road for a "beef and rice" dinner we had 100 kids follow us... Simon almost caused a riot when he pulled a football out of the truck and tried to play with them.

Tanzania was full of highlights though and the first one was the Serengetti and the Ngorogoro Crater National Parks. We spent 2 days out on game drives, camping in the parks (with no fences between us and all the Lions, buffalo, cheetah etc we had spent all day watching!). Our first day we pretty much saw everything you could wish to see. Lions snacking on a Wilderbeast. Leopards resting in a tree. Cheetahs stalking Antelope in the tall grass. Giraffe's, Zebras, Elephants. There was just so much! Our frist day in the crater we thought we'd hit the jackpot when we came across 4 Lions stalking an injured Buffalo. We spent an hour watching them before it was decided the Lions were too darn lazy and were going to wait until the Buffalo got really weak before they took it on.

After the gameparks we spent a few days driving towards Dar es Salem where we took a (terrifying) ferry across to Zanzibar Island. Apparently we caught the end of a cyclone (from Madegascar) which made for a very rocky ride (hooray for sea sick pills!).

Zanzibar Island was a welcome break from the Truck and the Tents. We stayed in a lovely hotel on the beach and spent our days swimming, reading, walking on the beach, snorkelling and generally catching up on washing and bits and pieces.

So that was pretty much Tanzania. Loads of photos which won't be uploaded for another few weeks sorry.

So, onwards to Malawi.

Tags: culture

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