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The Habdogs' Adventures

Livingstone to Zanzibar

TANZANIA | Saturday, 11 January 2014 | Views [268]

ULTIMATE AFRICA   PART 3 - LIVINGSTONE TO DAR ES SALAAM    

 

 

Day 23 - Monday 30th December 2013. Livingstone to Lusaka.  

Today we started the East Africa leg of the tour, which Vladia refers to as the "real Africa". As a transit day much ofour time was spent on the truck. Thankfully we are back to ever changing scenery which helps pass the time by. The land is so green reflecting that we are in the middle of the wet season, and the roads are lined with little community settlements every 20km or so. The rural housing is largely built  traditionally (small round houses with thatched roofs) but there are also many unfinished sqaure brick houses.    

The long bus drive was an initiation for the new comers. Only just over an hour in we had had enough of hearing them counting down the minutes the next campsite, so we reinforced that " this is Africa" and we will arrive when we arrive so not to set themselves up for disappointment if we arrive " late". Habby's hightlight for the day was KFC for lunch (or second lunch if you count packed sandwiches).  

Tonights campsite was one on the best so far complete with its own zebras, giraffes and waterbuck. We unwound from a long day on bus with a game of ultimate frizzbe. With Sam being the first casualty from Wes' s strong arm.  

Learning Points:

1. If you want to buy/order something waiting politely in a queue won't work as you will need to push in like the locals otherwise you would be still in the line waitng now.

2. KFC is even delicious in Africa.

3. The new comers make us feel like seasoned overlanders.    

 

 

Day 24 - Tuesday 31st December 2013 (New Years Eve). Lusaka to Chipata.  

New Years Eve didn't start well as it had rained constantly since 10pm the night before and all the tents were soaked. With bellies full of hot porridge to cheer us up we were soon on our way for another long drive.  Thankfully the complaining coming from the back of the truck was a little less with the new comers adjusting to the overlanding. Today we saw multiple motor vehicle accident scenes reflecting the danger of the narrow East African roads.  

It is still fascinating to see the different agriculture and how the local people farm. There are no fences, rather the land is divided by tribe, and families share the land and its produce. Men, women and children of all ages can be seen in the fields with their hand held tools cultivating the land into rows similar to raised-bed farming. The rows extend up to and go around the base of the many mango trees scattered over the plains.    

We celebrated New Years in style,  drinking local brew and spirits from plastic cups and having our own little karaoke session in the truck kitchen. Despite a few war wounds (thanks to invisible tent ropes and pegs) we all saw the new year in before retiring for the evening.  

Learning Points :

1. The famous African liqueur Amarulla is delicious

2. We should seriously consider locking ourselves in our tent at night as apparently we are deep-sleepers (as evidenced by us not waking to an apparently very loud argument that occurred overnight).    

 

 

Day 25- Wednesday 1st January 2014. Chipata to Kande Beach.  

Today we were up at 6am as we had to cross the border into Malawi.  Some of the crew were a little worse for wear after less than 4 hours sleep, with 2 of the other girls crossing the border in their pj's. The early start paid off though as the border wasn't busy and it took less than an hour which apparently is good for East Africa.  

We arrived at Kande Beach by lunch time and after setting up camp we headed to the beach for an anticipated relaxing swim. We could not have been more wrong. Being new years day there were local holiday-makers everywhere.  We could have mistaken the beach for Bondi. The difference was however, embarrassingly our white booty was the centre of attention. One particular young boy was infatuated by Sam, shadowing her even into depths requiring him to tread water to stay close.  

We were all very happy to be celebrating James' 21st Birthday, complete with our own spit pig and famous camp fire chocolate cake for dinner. It was amazing! We then partied the night away on the beach overlooking the lightning across the lake and accompanying the local guitarist with bongo drums.  

Learning Points :

1. Robin invented a new drink call the Vodrumcokesprite, which can be delicious if mixed in the correct portion.

2. An outdoor spit rotisserie is a must for our new home. (when we find one)

3. Without being racist we had never felt so white before (in reference to the attention received on the beach.

 

Day 26 - Thursday 2nd January 2014. Kande Beach.  

It's sad that we consider it a sleep in but a 7:30 rise and shine was greatly appreciated. Our first activity was a guided village walk in which we were supposed to visit the school, hospital and the village itself.  Unfortunately this was a pretty bad experience because as soon as we opened the camp gates we were swamped by local people who harassed us the whole walk and insisted we purchase from their shop at the end. The sites we were taken to had all been comercialised, the school headmaster was corrupt,  and essentially the tour was targetted on guilting us into donating money rather then being a culturally enriching  and informative experience.  

After lunch we went on an snorkeling tour to an island 900m offshore. There were many small fish around the base of the island as well as a ship wreck (sunken mokoro). After swimming back to shore we relaxed in the shallows for the remainder of the afternoon enjoying the novelty of having the beach almost entirely to ourselves.  

Tonight we had a farewell dinner for James and Lauren which was a traditional African meal eaten with african knifes and forks (our hands).  

Learning Points :

1. The depth of the lake was much less the anticipated when Habby and Wes decided to have a competition of who could dive the deepest. Both returned to the top with a handful Lake Malawian sand. We later told that it was only 9m deep.

2. Kande Beach is becoming very commercialised with local people relying on tourism as their staple income.    

Day 27 - Friday 3rd January 2014. Kande Beach to Chitimba.  

Today was a 'short' transit day (only 5hrs) and we arrived at our campsite for lunch. It was a very scenic drive through the Malawian mountains that border the lake. The vegetation was green as far as the eye could see and the views from the top were breathtaking. On arrival at our campsite we were informed that swimming in that lake would be at our own risk as quite a large crocodile was spotted there the day before. The camp site also had many monkeys in the trees which soon had Wes and Habby thinking of an elaborate plan to catch them.  

In the afternon most of us went off for a wood carving lesson. Once again when we left the campsite we were swamped by the locals, but this time it wasn't as bad as they were there to be our individual teachers for the carving session. For some the lesson was more of a demonstration as the teachers did most of the work, howerer we (Sam in particular) were able to do most of the work. Sam ended up making a key with and elephant on one side and Malawi on the other with Habby making a fridge magnet of a rhino.  

Learning Points:

1. Habby showed promise in following in his Pop's footstep with his wood carving skills.

2. Lake Malawi is also known as the calendar lake as it is 365 miles long and 52 miles wide.    

 

Day 28 - Saturday 4th January 2014. Chitimba.  

The one thing about camping is that you're guaranteed to never have a sleep-in even if it's rest day as there will either be the hot sun on the tent canvas or other noisy campers to wake you up. So at 5.30 am we wandered down to the beach with the locals to wait for the fishing boats to come in and watch the sunrise. It apparently wasn't a very good night for the fishermen as there weren't many fish caught and therefore lots of empty bowls remaining in the hands of the locals that morning.    

Habby spent his morning trying to catch a monkey (unsuccessfully) with Wes. They had a trap set up with a banana ready to go but the monkeys were too smart, staying well out of reach.  Sam went on another village tour hoping to replace her previous experience with a much better one. It did not disappoint.  We were welcomed into the homes of the local people, visited the local witch doctor and heard our future predictions, tried the dried fish from the local market and visited the health care centre. We were a hit with the local children and often had at least 2 hanging from our arms.  

We were initially going to hike or catch a 4WD taxi up to Livingstonia, a small village at the top of the mountain range but the temptation of a quiet afternoon reading a book and snoozing on a mat in the shade won over.  Habby's back was still giving him trouble so we upgraded our accommodation for the evening to a cabin with a proper matress. The cabin, located on the beach, was in the shape of a boat and rested upon springs. It was painted red and called the 'Love Boat'.  

Learning Points:

1. It is much harder to catch a monkey than anticipated.

2. A visit to the Health Care Centre further consolidated the fact that you definitely don't want to get sick in Africa,  especially Malawi!

3. Maybe Habby isn't a bad fisherman after all.    

 

 

Day 29 - Sunday 5th January 2014.  Chitimba to Iringa.  

Today was the first of two long transit days. We were very thankful of our upgrade to the 'Love Boat' as it meant we didn't have to pack up our tent for a 5am departure. We crossed the border to Tanzania in the early morning, though not arriving to our final destination until 4:30 in the afternoon as we were pulled over by the police 5 times for supposed speeding. The Tanzanian Police are openly corrupt and we soon saw how bribery worked.  The mountainous  Tanzania terrain was truly spectacular.  There was an abundance of crops including tea, corn and casava as well as many mango and banana trees. The communities similarly to Malawi lined the road side but the housing seemed more advanced, mainly built with bricks and a tin roof.  

Tonight we stayed on a farm where Vladia surprised us with upgraded accommodation and a traditional dinner cooked by the local people. Our rooms were setup like horse stables complete with a stable door and thatched roof. Before dinner we had to elect a chief who would represent our group and he would have to choose three wives. Habby was chosen as the chief and accordingly he chose Sam as his first wife (as traditionally the first wife is the most important wife and also chooses the subsequent wifes). Kathleen and Sarah were chosen as the two next wifes and we then dressed in traditional garments for dinner. Dinner was topped off with our new favorite hot beverage 'Chocorula' (hot chocolate with Amarula).  

Learning Points:

1. Some things don't change as Sam still hates packed lunch.

2. Habby was informed by Sam that this would be his only chance to have three wives.  

 

 Day 30 - Monday 6th January 2014.  Iringa to Dar Es Salaam.  

What a long day!!! Our wake up call was at 3.30am today (which was 2.30am for us as we'd lost an hour entering Tanzania). Most of us spent the first 4 hours sleeping as we drove in the pouring rain through the mountains. The ones that weren't sleeping were busy patching up leaking holes around the window frames. We were all very happy that we didn't have to pack up the tents thismorning! 10km short of our breakfast stop we got caught in a truck jam (80 trucks in front) as there was an accident ahead. To Sam's delight this provided the opportunity to get the breakfast box out from underneath the truck so she could play her new role as truck attendant providing the 'in-truck service'.  

Vladia had spent a lot of time warning us about how horrific Dar Es Salaam would be in that it was busy and full of unsmiling and unhappy people, but we had a ball from the back of a truck buying icecream from out of the windows and watching Wes shoot other drivers with his water gun (stealing santa present) when we were stuck in a traffic jam. We certainly agree with Vladia though that we would never want to live in or near Dar Es Salaam.  We finally arrived at our campsite on the beach after 14 hours on the road. We weren't treated to an accommodation upgrade which meant sleeping in the hot sweaty tents again but we did have dinner cooked for us which was great.    

Learning Points:

1. Swimming in the sea is as cleansing as having a shower when the showers are salt water anyway.

2. We not only survived but enjoyed the 14 hour day stuck on the truck.

3. The rest of the group thinks Sam should quit her job and become a truck hostess. 

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