September 22nd 2013: Kilambo – Mtwara, Tanzania
Driven distance on September 22nd 2013: 40km (20 miles)
Driven distance total: 76’600km (47’600 miles)
Of course we had some confused but friendly looks at us during our breakfast at the police compound :-). Then, something completely unexpected happened – it started to rain! We looked at us somewhat confused and asked ourselves when we had the last time rain. We believe it was somewhere in Namibia a couple of months ago!
It still took almost 2 hours to cover the short distance! Mtwara seems quite small, even though it has nearly 100’000 inhabitants. We went to a nice hotel at the beach to check out the sleeping options. Luckily the information from the navigation system was right and they let us camp in our car directly at the beach for 20$.
September 23rd – 24th 2013: Mtwara, Tanzania
Driven distance on September 23rd – 24th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 76’600km (47’600 miles)
We finally were strolling around on foot, since our camping was within walking distance from the town center. We enjoyed it to experience the African life closely, even though the sweat was running down on our faces ;-). Otherwise in cities we usually have the problem, that we can nowhere safely park our car and that the campgrounds are often out of town. So therefor we usually cruise around towns in our car. There are actually anyways not too many sights in the cities, but it is always interesting to witness the daily life. But now back to Mtwara :-). First we walked to the fish market and the dhow port. The tiny sailing boats (dhows) that are everywhere along the Indian Ocean Coast are mainly used by the local fishing community, but are as well a small tourist attraction. It is actually quite beautiful to see how they glide over the water with their white sails... There wasn’t that much going on at the fish market, since we didn’t arrive early morning. Anyways, there were still some fishermen who were selling their goods. They offered many small fish, but also some bigger once and some squids. In addition there were several food stalls where they were frying fish in huge pans. We strolled further around until we reached an open pool table, where we shortly stopped. As soon as the guys noticed us, Stefan was holding immediately a pool stick in his hand and had to play one shot :-). The balls weren’t lying good at the table at all, but Stefan managed it anyways to sink one at his first shot! A surprised groaning, a load cheering and laughing went through the crowed :-). We kept on going and let them exercise a bit more :-). We ate lunch at a small local restaurant. We had the usual chicken and fries... We started to chat with a local man who is working here as an insurance agent. As one of the first and only person he honored the charity work from the western countries and was glad that he met us and talked to us. Afterwards we continued to the local market. There we got some tomatoes, carrots and some strange looking tiny cucumbers ;-). Our next stop was the St. Paul’s church, which is famous for its wall paintings from the German priest Polycarp Uehlein. We were really surprised when we entered the church. Instead of the regular church windows known to us, were all the walls beautifully painted with biblical passages. On the way back we had to wait half an hour at some houses entrance to have some shelter from the heavy rain. We took a rickshaw (3-wheeled thing) for the rest of the way. We actually saw them for the first time in Africa and they really are imported from India! Unfortunately the rickshaw broke down along the way and we had to walk back the rest :-).
September 25th 2013: Mtwara – Mikindani, Tanzania
Driven distance on September 25th 2013: 30km (20 miles)
Driven distance total: 76’630km (47’620 miles)
Before we took off, we had to do some grocery shopping. The very short distance to the neighboring village was of course rapidly completed. Afterwards it rather took long to find a place to sleep. There was unfortunately no safe parking available at the place we intended to stay and we got sent further to a “nearby” campsite. After more than 10km (6 miles) and some confused local villagers we finally arrived at the “campsite”. The place was nothing else then a big fenced property with 2 little houses on it and one of them was the village bar :-). Otherwise it was settled very beautifully directly at the beach surrounded by baobab trees.
Since it now was already lunch, we decided to stay at the camp and moved the sight seeing program to the next day.
September 26th 2013: Mikindani – Lindi, Tanzania
Driven distance on September 26th 2013: 120km (70 miles)
Driven distance total: 76’750km (47’690 miles)
Today we explored the historical town of Mikindani, which used to be an important port and trading town in the 19th century. The Arabs from Oman that used to operate trading routes to the inland between the 16th and 19th century founded the town. Trading goods were mainly slaves and ivory. In the year 1890, the German colonial power used the place as their headquarter and started the widely spread production of sisal, coconuts, rubber and oil seeds. This boom didn’t last for long. The town was pushed in the background and had to give way to the neighboring town Mtwara and its huge port when the English arrived.
The Germans used the fort, built in 1895 on a hill, as the administrative center. It got carefully restored and is used today as a hotel. Unfortunately it is being renovated at the moment and we could only see it from the outside and take a short glimpse of the inside. Anyways it was impressive, especially in contrast with the neighboring mud and wood huts of the local community... After a delicious lunch with beef and prawn skewers we hiked up the short trek to the Bismarck hill, from where we enjoyed a perfect view over the palm fringed bay. Afterwards we walked through the village where we could see some old buildings with wood carved doors from the Arabs. On the way to Lindi we bought some cashew nuts along the main road. This is happening approx. like this: A bunch of men are waiting at the side of the road – one of the man shows the nuts to the oncoming cars and the rest of the group is sitting at the ground. As soon as we stopped were all of the men jumping up, coming to the window and held their bags of nuts towards us. Of course we couldn’t buy from everyone, but at the end we definitely had enough nuts with us :-).
September 27th 2013: Lindi, Tanzania
Driven distance on September 27th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 76’750km (47’690 miles)
Now the sightseeing can start. The small town of Lindi is mentioned as a suggestion in the guidebook and even made it on our “made in India” world map :-). Well, in early times it used to be the main city of South-Eastern Tanzania, but today it has lost quite a lot of it’s appeal. Nevertheless we really liked Lindi. First there was a wonderful beach without tourists that was great to stroll along. Then there are many buildings from the old days and finally we liked Lindi due to its friendly locals. It was also pleasant since there were no people or kids coming constantly who asked for money and so on.. all in all a friendly enjoyable place on this planet :-).
We bought our dinner directly at the fish market. But before this could happen, I (Stefan) got called by from some local men who were working at a wooden boat that was being built. They needed one more man to tip the boat by hand from one side to the other. They were all laughing and enjoyed it after it was accomplished :-). Now back to the fish. Since we have no clue about preparing and cutting a fish, we decided to leave this work to the fisherman. After a short time the uneatable things from the inside were out, the fish was cut in pieces, washed and packed – including the fish head :-)!
In addition we just strolled around town, drank here and there a coke, ate lunch at a small restaurant and just enjoyed the typical local life of a typical small coastal town.
September 28th 2013: Lindi – Kilwa Masoko, Tanzania
Driven distance on September 28th 2013: 200km (120 miles)
Driven distance total: 76’950km (47’810 miles)
The 200km trip along a good road wasn’t really exciting. The landscape is mainly consisting of a mix of bushes and trees and near the rivers some farming fields. But once again were the many baobab trees very special. Already around lunch we arrived in Kilwa Masoko and the first thing on our list was eating lunch at a small restaurant – rice, beans in sauce, fries and some fish. You pay for this menu about 2$ at a local restaurant! The rest of the day we spent at the campsite.
September 29th – 30th 2013: Kilwa Masoko, Tanzania
Driven distance on September 29th – 30th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 76’950km (47’810 miles)
Kilwa Masoko is a peaceful small town at the coast. Our campground was directly at the sea and the nice beach was not busy with tourists, but just with some friendly local fisherman :-). In general were the people very friendly! Every time when we wandered into town, almost every kid was waving at us and laughing and none of them came to ask sweeties or other stuff. Well, but with the English language it isn’t all that good by those local kids, they all cried „bye-bye“ instead of „hello“ :-).
At our campground we also met the French guy Yves, who is travelling through Africa on his bicycle!
The main attraction of the region are the 15th century ruins at the Kilwa Kisiwani island. The entry fee to the ruins was slightly increased shortly ago! We had to pay 18$ instead of 1$ that it used to be!! In addition to that, you must have a guide. Including all the port fees, the boat ride etc. we finally spent about 44$ per person, incredible! Tanzania has possibly the highest prices worldwide for tourist attractions! For this reason we will also skip almost all attractions! Safaris are about 150 to 200$ per day including camping per person and when you are intending to hike up Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, you spend about 2000$!
But now back to the ruins. All over the small island (25 square km / 10 square miles) you can find the different ruins. All in all it was a very impressive and interesting day trip. There were different mosques, houses and walls that we could appreciate. The island used to be the base of sultans and was a trading center for gold etc.. between Africa, Persia, China and India. Our female tour guide was very friendly and the entire trip was very interesting, also because we were able to get a glimpse at the local life from the 1300 residents that are living on the island. Frustrating about the high entrance fee is also that the local community doesn’t really get anything from the money and they are still living without power or respectable water recourses!
October 1st 2013: Kilwa Masoko – Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
Driven distance on October 1st 2013: 330km (210 miles)
Driven distance total: 77’280km (48’020 miles)
We heard from different people that a short piece of the road (20km / 12 miles) to Dar Es Salaam isn’t finished yet. The part was indeed really bad since it was raining the night before. We had to drive through 30cm (1 foot) deep mud and huge water filled areas... Our Landy was afterwards covered in mud from head to toe :-). Later, near Dar Es Salaam we saw plentiful coconut palm trees. Somewhat south of the city we camped directly at the beach at a nice campground. We met there a young couple from Greece, Georgia and Nikos, that are on the road in Africa since 1½ years in their Suzuki Jeep. We met them once before in Zimbabwe a few months ago.
October 2nd – 5th 2013: Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
Driven distance on October 2nd – 5th 2013: 40km (20 miles)
Driven distance total: 77’320km (48’040 miles)
Only at one of the days we went to the center of the big city. As it should be, with local transport :-). We went, squeezed in a so-called dala-dala (minibus), some miles towards the ferry, which leads directly across the river into downtown of Dar Es Salaam. The few sights were easy reachable on foot and we just enjoyed to soak up the city life. The sights were mainly older buildings and churches that are dating back to the colonial and missionaries times. For lunch we enjoyed a pizza. Why not, if you get for once something different to eat :-). A highlight was also the “fabrics quarter”, where you could buy many different, typical fabrics that often is being worn by the local women. An entire street was full of shops that are selling all kinds of colorful fabrics. We could also not resist the temptation and got a few items.
We spent the other days at the beach with Internet, beach walks, swimming, inviting a local guy for dinner or with purchasing a squid from the fishermen – yes, you heard right! First we intended to buy a fish for dinner, but then was just a squid available, so we got that. Luckily the fisherman prepared and cut it so even we were able to cook it ;-).
After a quick repair at the car (new light switch) we first went in direction downtown on our last day. In order to avoid a longer detour, we decided to cross the river once again by ferry. Unfortunately this took a bit longer then without the car a few days ago. There weren’t actually that many cars, but it still progressed very slowly! So we took it like the locals, who live after the motto „Pole Pole“ which means “slowly, slowly” :-). After about 2 hours we arrived in the city and drove directly to a big shopping mall. We just enjoyed it for once to shop like at home. The disadvantage though is, that the prices are also like back home :-). A shopping cart full of stuff was about 150$ (approx.. a monthly salary of a average local), but you have to treat yourself once in a while with such goods (Haribo, chocolate, cheese, and so on..) :-).
We decided to stay about 30km (20 miles) north of Dar Es Salaam, since our further journey leads us in this direction anyways.
October 6th 2013: Dar Es Salaam – Bagamoyo, Tanzania
Driven distance on October 6th 2013: 50km (30 miles)
Driven distance total: 77’370km (48’080 miles)
After a short drive we already arrived in Bagamoyo. To our surprise we discovered some kite-surfers n front of our campground. Originally we didn’t plan to go kite-surfing again, but the wind was blowing so nicely that we couldn’t resist. So let’s go, unpack kite, pump it, and into the water! The kite-surfers were mainly Expats from Dar es Salaam who spent their weekend here. Of course we had to take a cold beer at the hotel bar after a successful kite-session. What wasn’t really funny afterwards was, when we realized that we forgot our wallet at the bar counter when ordering the beer. And of course, at the bar nobody knew anything about a wallet... We went frustrated and without the wallet back to the car after a hefty discussion with the bartenders and the manager. We already figured that the wallet including debit card, 100$ and some business cards has disappeared for good. Somewhat later we went showering and what’s there?? Our wallet was nicely placed behind the bathroom door!!! Of course, the 100$ were gone, including all the coins! For us it is a clear case that one of the bartenders must have taken it. At least he was that generous that he returned the important things back to us. To steal the 100$ is indeed very tempting, since it equals about half a salary of the guys! But anyways we were quite disappointed from the bartenders, also because it is rather fancy hotel and not just a crappy village bar...
October 7th – 9th 2013: Bagamoyo, Tanzania
Driven distance on October 7th – 9th 2013: 20km (10 miles)
Driven distance total: 77’390km (48’090 miles)
We spent the days in Bagamoyo half kite-surfing, half sightseeing. We had the ocean for us when we were kite surfing :-).
Otherwise is Bagamoyo absolutely worth a stop and we tried to increase our knowledge about colonial history :-).
Bagamoyo used to be the capital of the former German East Africa between 1887 and 1891.
Some of the more interesting colonial buildings are the German customs house, an administration house, the German school and the German Boma (small fort). In addition we visited the Catholic Church, where there is also a very interesting museum located about the colonial history and the slave trade. There were also some stunning wood-carved doors at some of the older buildings.
There was also always something going on at the small fishing port, for example the interesting fishing auction.
Another sight would have been the Kaole ruins. But since we have seen some ruins at Kilwa Masoko a few days ago, and since the entrance fee was a steep 15$, we decided not to visit them.
October 10th 2013: Bagamoyo – Korogwe, Tanzania
Driven distance on October 10th 2013: 240km (150 miles)
Driven distance total: 77’630km (48’240 miles)
After we said good-bye to our camping neighbors (a South African couple that lives in Uganda and a young couple from Austria that are on their way back home with their Toyota bus), filled up our diesel tank and after we drained an ATM we could finally start our journey :-). We were very surprised how green everything was. The grass is growing green like back home and not anymore beige like in the previous regions of Africa! We also have to say, that already some pre-rains from the rainy seasons are beginning. But anyways seems the region north of Dar Es Salaam to get more rain. We could also see more cattle, since it probably has more food to feed them. The herds are often taken care of by the skinny Maasai men. The tribe of the Maasai is mainly located in the north of the country and in Kenya and they are mainly obvious for tourists by their clothing. The men are dressed in some fabrics, are wearing partially pearl jewelry and have unique hair dresses. In addition they have often a long knife at their hip and a wooden stick in their hand! Earlier, we were actually quite surprised that we have seen Maasai men in the southern part of the country. In Mtwara, the first city we visited in the far south of Tanzania, were several Maasai men working in the hotel we stayed! Even in Dar Es Salaam we could see some of the bizarre individuals in the big shopping mall :-). We assume that the young men are looking for work in the south. But we will most certainly get more information regarding this tribe further north :-).
October 11th 2013: Korogwe – Lushoto, Tanzania
Driven distance on October 11th 2013: 70km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 77’700km (48’280 miles)
The short trip led us from an altitude of 300m (980 feet) to an incredible 1400m (4600 feet)! Lushoto lies at the so-called Usambara mountains and was for us an unusually nice change. Everywhere hills and mountains, little mountain villages and mainly green parts with a lot of forests made the drive to a varied journey. From the guide book we knew, that there is a campground about 5km (3 miles) outside of Lushoto. The main reason was not the special location, but rather the fact, that they have a small “farmers dairy shop” there. To our surprise we got fresh bread and home made Swiss chees for lunch :-). In addition was the view from our camping spot just remarkable. We got comfortable in our camping chairs and enjoyed the unusual nice surroundings.
October 12th – 14th 2013: Lushoto, Tanzania
Driven distance on October 12th – 14th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 77’700km (48’280 miles)
The morning after felt specially nice after a rainy night. A slight fog was laying gently along the trees in the valley below and provided a special atmosphere together with the clear blue sky. We could enjoy this morning spectacle from our bed, out of the 5 star Landrover-residence :-). What’s also special are the big hornbill birds who are flying around us and sounding like small helicopters :-). Unfortunately came the thick fog just after the breakfast back and killed our nice view completely. Anyways, we didn’t let this to interrupt our plans to visit the famous Irente viewpoint. We were very quickly at the point, since our lodge is already quite above the village of Lushoto. We hoped first in vain that the fog disappears. After one hour though, the fog was slowly pushed away by the sun and we had clear skies. We got rewarded with a fantastic view. The plains underneath were 1000m (3300 feet) below us and it was impressive to see how abruptly the Usambara Mountains are starting from the plain below. What was also conspicuous were the extensive Sisal fields in the plain. We continued our tour with Joseph, a young tour guide who already followed and talked to us about a tour when we were walking to the viewpoint. So finally we agreed that we come on a tour with him. First we went to a second viewpoint with a slightly better view. Joseph gave this point the name “German viewpoint”, since some crazy guys are using this point as a starting point for base-jumping! Further on we strolled along footpaths through tiny villages, along fields with maize, potatoes, cassava and sugar cane and we saw avocado-, mango-, banana- und eucalyptus-trees. Women, men as well as children were working greatly on the fields and our guide always talked a bit with all of them when we were passing them. Something that is always a bit annoying are all the children who are begging for sweets. Unfortunately there are still many people who are giving away many sweets to the children and are therefor making our life a bit harder. It was also interesting in those villages, that the traditional houses built with mud, are giving way to houses built with self made bricks who are usually burnt just behind the house. Joseph showed us along the way several plants that are used to cure different illnesses. We were somewhat irritated when he showed us some poisoned plant that they use for abortion... The people are using many of the plants before they are consulting a doctor and pay for expensive meds. There are in general still many traditional “medicine-men and women” all over Africa. Joseph, our guide, also kept his promise to show us a chameleon. He stopped at one of the trees, took a long stick and grabbed a chameleon from a branch. We were already astonished that he even saw the little green, well-camouflaged animal in the first place! He explained us, that the locals are afraid of them, since the creatures are supposedly poisoned and give bad luck. Probably just an old myth... Joseph on the other hand, didn’t have any shyness against the animal. He took it on his hand and tried to get him to change the color by putting him upside down :-). Also we dared to take it on our hands :-). The ending of the tour was a visit at a family who makes “beer” out of sugarcanes. They press the liquid out of the sugarcane and let it sit for 2 days, so the juice is done. After the third day has the juice enough matured and is finally sold as beer. We could also try – the juice was rather sweet and tasty, the beer somewhat bitter and the taste one had to get used to :-). The beer is consumed on a daily basis and the families home is also used as some kind of bar according to Joseph :-). Then we continued back to our camping spot. In the evening we fell asleep during some drums and singing from the nearby village! The following day we took off to see the weekly Sunday-market in town. We were not the only ones walking around on foot, but also many women with baskets or buckets full of water on their heads. But before we could burst into the market we went to service in the Catholic Church! Not really because we were converted or enlightened :-), but rather because we heard that there are in the services more gospel singings then back home. When we finally arrived at the church had the service already started, but the doors were still (and stayed) open. We seated us in one of the back rows, so we could sneak out if necessary ;-). We weren’t really surprised that there were 2 services each Sunday and both are full, since the people in Africa are quite religious everywhere. Well, since our Swahili language isn’t too good, we didn’t actually understood what the preacher talked about :-). But since we don’t very well know the Catholic customs it was anyways interesting to see how everything took place. At one time we got a bit surprised when all the people got up and shook the neighbors hands! We also got pulled into this „ritual“ ;-). There was also a chorus in companion with an electric organ that played nice songs. The African church songs have a bit more pop and are less boring then back home :-). The service was over after a bit more than one hour. We continued to the market where there was still a colorful and vivid presence going on. It is always again a pleasure to see the colorful clothes from the women. There were the usual goods being sold, such as veggies, fruits, clothes, fabrics, dried fish or kitchen stuff. We organized two motorcycle taxis to get back to the campground after we were done with our market shopping tour. The two guys were hurrying badly and were riding recklessly uphill since it looked like it starts to rain soon. We were quite happy when we arrived alive back at the camp! The heavy rain started just when we arrived and we took shelter underneath our sun and rain panel! At the final day we visited the cheese as well as the juice and jam factory that belongs to the camp we stayed. I (Maryse), as a former mountain farmer, was in particular very interested in the cheese-making place :-). The juice and jam “factory” was mainly interesting because of the exotic fruits like passion fruit or loquat fruit.
October 15th 2013: Lushoto – Moshi, Tanzania
Driven distance on October 15th 2013: 290km (180 miles)
Driven distance total: 77’990km (48’460 miles)
The trip towards the Kilimanjaro was really divers and interesting with its numerous hills, small mountains and rocks.
Then, all of a sudden he appeared far away on the horizon, the highest mountain in Africa! The 5896m (19’344 feet) tall Kilimanjaro was partially behind clouds, but we could recognize the top of the mountain and we could see snow for the first time after more then one year :-).
The annoying campground search started after we did some grocery shopping in the town of Moshi. Finally we ended up at a “campground” that is run by a German fellow. We were the only “human guests”, but our Landy has met many alike friends there :-)! There were about 10 to 15 travel vehicles like ours, with license plates from Switzerland, Germany and Italy on the premise. The property is, besides the campground, mainly used as a parking area for travellers, who have stationed their vehicle in Africa. They are using then their car for several weeks or months each year to travel around Africa.
October 16th – 18th 2013: Moshi, Tanzania
Driven distance on October 16th – 18th 2013: 20km (10 miles)
Driven distance total: 78’010km (48’470 miles)
In Moshi, we just tried to recover from a cold and some probable side effects from the malaria prophylaxes. Besides this we just looked once in a while at the mostly cloudy Kilimanjaro.
The city of Moshi is very touristy. Many of the tourists, that are climbing for a load of money (ca. 2000 USD!!) up Mt. Kilimanjaro, having here their base.
The last night we changed to another campground since there were 18 Italians arriving at 5AM to get their parked overland vehicles ready to go.
October 19th 2013: Moshi – Arusha, Tanzania
Driven distance on October 19th 2013: 100km (60 miles)
Driven distance total: 78’110km (48’530 miles)
We encountered numerous safari-jeep on the short trip. The heavy tourism also has an immense influence to the general viewpoint of this area. The houses are nicer, the people are wearing nicer clothes and you just see that there is more money around in general. Along the way we’d have had a great view of the Kilimanjaro, but as usual the mountain was behind clouds L. When we arrived in Arusha, we could check out the several luxury hotels and the touristy-business chaos in the city :-).
October 20th – 23rd 2013: Arusha, Tanzania
Driven distance on October 20th – 23rd 2013: 60km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 78’170km (48’570 miles)
We weren’t also in Arusha not extremely active... We visited the museum of natural history, which is located in one of the old administration buildings dating back to the German colonial times. We could see an absolutely fantastic photo exhibition from animals and a display about human evolution and archeological discoveries. There are believes that the human being has it’s roots here in Tanzania. It was even possible to see some fake animals if you wouldn’t have seen enough on safari :-). Another small part of the museum is dedicated to the German colonial history. We could witness a few times nicely the landmark of the city, Mount Meru (4500m / 14’800 feet), while we were staying there. Another project was the short movie-session of the wedding message for Andi (brother from Maryse) and Steffi. After the third trial we had it in the box :-). Later on we also visited the workshop of handicapped people. They are creating remarkable glass products, jewelry, clothes and so on.
Originally we planned to leave the city at this day, but once again we encountered some problems with the diesel pump... For the third time on this trip it broke down! Unfortunately we couldn’t find a new that day, so we had to postpone the project to the following day.
October 24th 2013: Arusha – Mto Wa Mbu, Tanzania
Driven distance on October 24th 2013: 130km (80 miles)
Driven distance total: 78’300km (48’650 miles)
We finally found a new fuel pump in a car spare parts shop after some searching around. The shop is managed, as many other shops, by Indians! In Africa it is in general the case that foreigners are managing many shops or hotels.
Well, now the new pump. We figured that it will be quicker when we change it ourselves. So we drove to the mechanical shop that we already visited the day before to look for a spare. I (Stefan) climbed into the working clothes (old Osterwalder outfit :-) ) and started the work at the parking area of the shop! The manager of the shop supported us always when we needed something, really nice!
We first granted us a drink in a small restaurant after we arrived in Mto Wa Mbu. The entire area is extremely touristy since there are some of the best safari parks and the famous Maasai tribal region in this area. What we unfortunately witnessed here, were the numerous irresponsible tourists. Many times there are pictures being taken of the locals with big cameras out of the driving vehicle. The locals are feeling like this probably more of being an animal in a zoo then as a human being.
October 25th 2013: Mto Wa Mbu – Engaruka, Tanzania
Driven distance on October 25th 2013: 60km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 78’360km (48’690 miles)
Now we drove towards lake Natron and left the Serengeti and Ngorongoro tourist masses. By the way, we decided against visiting those two famous national parks because of the ridiculous entry fees. In the southern part of Africa we had the chance to experience great animals in several National Parks for a fraction of the price here! As we expected was the dirt road to our first overnight stop, Engaruka, not very pleasant. The road was full of corrugation and very rocky. We took it with an average speed of 15km/h (10 mph) fairly slow, not like the locals who are hurrying in their jeeps and trucks across the crappy road. Like this we could also enjoy the nice landscape. On one side are the cliffs from the East African Rift Valley that are raising out of the bush savanna. Further on are many big herds of cows, goats and sheep from the Maasai tribe and finally many small settlements consisting of small round mud huts. At a somewhat elevated position we stopped and took a quick rest to enjoy the view. We weren’t alone for long – out of nowhere was a young Maasai-“warrior” appearing and a bunch of children was crawling up the hill :-). Now it was over with the tranquility. First we tried to occupy them with our binoculars and they liked it. Then we gave them 2 apples to share, that one of the 10 years old boys split in half with his machete that was hanging on his side. The atmosphere got quite relaxed and the little children started to like it to touch us and to pull on our cloths. Later one of the older guys asked if we had a camera. We got the SLR-camera out of the car. He was very interested in it and we explained to him how he has to operate it. Really excited he started to take pictures! Half an hour later were 50 pictures more on the memory card :-). The IPhone was also discovered. A young Maasai kid grabbed it, started to take pictures and looked at our pictures on the phone :-). Now we know how to get good pictures from people – just give them your camera :-). We enjoyed a funny time with the kids and an hour later we took off with many good pictures in our pocket! We reached a gate just in front of the village Engaruka where we had to pay some kind of “road toll”. 10 USD per person plus vehicle. After some talking they didn’t ask anymore for the 10 USD for the car and we paid just the 20$. The manager of the campground was there as well by coincident and he sat on the hood of the car and showed us the way to the campground.
October 26th 2013: Engaruka, Tanzania
Driven distance on October 26th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 78’360km (48’690 miles)
The lovely Maasai campground manager was almost too friendly we figured. Already at breakfast he was sitting with his traditional robe to us on the table. The dialogues were quite simple since his English vocabulary contains only 30 words :-).
As discussed the day before, our guide came after breakfast to pick us up. On the schedule were the local ruins, a view point and a place where they perform rituals. The 300 – 500 years old ruins weren’t much more then a few broken walls and not really that exciting. The local Maasai tribe people were really interested in us since most of the tourists are just passing through this village without stopping. Along the way were some men of this tribe working on the field. Immediately they invited me (Stefan) to help them. The idea behind was rather to see if a Mzungu (white man) kan actually work :-).
Step by step was our idea of an easy walk to the viewpoint ruined. Finally we hiked up a hill for 2 hours. Somewhat exhausted we arrived and at least we were granted with great view :-).
At the end he showed us a place where a medicine man performs the circumcision rituals at young men along with other rituals. Such rituals are still widely spread in such tribal areas! All the boys are gathered in age groups every 7 to 15 years and are being circumcised together in a big ritual and festivities. Afterwards they receive a black robe that they have to wear for several months afterwards.
We didn’t have a quite minute after we got back to the campground. Our campground host was usually around us and wanted to show us the nearby “medicine kitchen” and the village doctor. This medicine man was sitting in front of a huge pot of soup that he was stirring with a huge spoon. Just on the side from him was also something boiling with pieces of wood inside! Everybody laughed when we tried to stir the soup since we didn’t do it as good as the „witch doctor“. Of course we had to taste it before we could go back to the camp :-). It wasn’t that bad but it was also no minestrone soup :-). The campground manager just cooked another broth at the camp since I (Stefan) had some stomach problems. Some roots, rind and for the taste some earth ended up in our cooking pan! We were so excited and almost couldn’t wait until we could taste the “tea” ;-)!!
Later on there was a bunch of children coming to our camp. We gave them an English lesson since we somehow had to entertain those children. Then we continued the school with some geography :-). After 2 hours we had enough fun and finally sent them back home. Of course was our campground chief coming to our table just as we intended to start the cooking. So we gave him the Ipad to play around and while he was checking out our pictures we had our peace when cooking :-). What a day!
October 27th 2013: Engaruka – Engaresero, Tanzania
Driven distance on October 27th 2013: 60km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 78’420km (48’730 miles)
As we promised two days ago, we had to visit the Maasai souvenir selling women before leaving Engaruka. Mainly they offered the typical Maasai pearl jewelry. Of course we couldn’t leave before we purchased a few things ;-). Just besides it was a little creek where the cattle is being brought to drink and where the women brought the donkeys there to carry water back to their homes. Once again led us the road towards Lake Natron through gorgeous landscapes. There were many smaller tornados sneaking across the sand and stone desert like landscape. It got very nice when the perfectly “volcano-shaped” Ol Doinyo Lengai (2960m) volcano was sighted. This one is the only still active volcano in the entire rift valley. We of course encountered many Maasai tribal people along the way and the children were sometimes running from far to the road and held their open hand towards us. Sometimes we stopped and gave them some water and some fruits. But not only the humans and cattle are living here. Also some wild animals like zebras, giraffes and ostriches are around.
October 28th 2013: Engaresero, Tanzania
Driven distance on October 28th 2013: 20km (10 miles)
Driven distance total: 78’440km (48’740 miles)
Like the evening before, there was an employee of the campground that mentioned to us that we have to get a permit to see the sights of the village. He actually wanted to join us in the car to show us the office, we said no. We started the day without permit. We spotted a really nice place with a good view over the spectacular nature, where we finally spent 2 hours. The first Maasai tribal people were knocking at our door just when we installed our chairs :-). To get them a bit busy we just handed them over our binoculars. The Maasai made themselves comfortable in our chairs as soon as we left them :-).
The nature was unique. Near the shore of the strongly alkaline lake were edgy rocks-cliffs sticking out of the water and in the background we could see the Ol Doniyo volcano, a fantastic picture.
On our way back we had the glorious idea to stop for a beer in the village where the permit office is located. As it was to expect, there were 2 guys arriving that explained us that we needed a permit! We said NO! The conversation got immediately a bit more unfriendly! We explained to them that we didn’t have the intention to pay more then the 90$ that we already paid since we left Mto Wa Mbu. In addition to that we mentioned that we didn’t visited their sights (waterfall, flamingos and Maasai village) at all! The aggression increased continuously and the was of course a crowd of 20 to 30 local people around us :-)! One of the two guys wanted to check our camera to proof that we didn’t take pictures of the sights. As soon as he saw the first tribal person on a picture he immediately asked aggressively the question „Did you pay those people for taking a photograph?“! The atmosphere got even more unfriendly now and we were of course also quite angry! When he asked at another Maasai-person-picture if we paid them, I (Stefan) lost my tranquility and said angry „What the fuck is your problem?“ and Maryse laughed at him! To laugh as a woman at a Maasai man (to make fun of him) in front of other locals is generally an absolute no-go in this culture! But in a situation like this it just happens. Also my choice of words „What the fuck...“ put him in rage and he accused me of insulting him badly. The situation almost seemed to escalate! We all finally agreed to go to the chiefs office to continue the talk. Everybody has calmed down a bit and we finally had to pay another 30 instead of 40$. We gave them to understand that we don’t feel as humans anymore, but rather as white people that you can rip off anyways. All in all we paid 120$ to get to the lake! What was really annoying about the whole thing is, that all the fees were coming “creeping”. At the first two gates we paid at each one 10$ per person. At the last gate, just before the village of Engaresero (where you can’t turn around anyways), it is 15$ per person plus another 20$ for the car (local cars carrying tourists are paying 60 cents!). Then you are finally at the campground in the village and you realize that you have to pay another 20$ per person to see the sights! So it is not a surprise that people are getting upset! In all the other countries we never had this situation that we had to pay just to see a lake! Tanzania is indeed very beautiful, the people friendly and the country has some of the best safari parks in Africa, but when it comes to touristy places (entry fees), they rip you off like hell and quite some money is most probably ending up in the German automotive industry because some fat bastard is buying a Mercedes from it ;-).
October 29th 2013: Engaresero – Longido, Tanzania
Driven distance on October 29th 2013: 130km (80 miles)
Driven distance total: 78’570km (48’820 miles)
We had to drive a short bit on the same road as we came to get finally back into civilization. But soon we turned left in direction east onto a small track which led us through the endless seemingly grass step. After a few miles the track transformed into a very wide sand track with really deep trails. We had to leave the “road” to drive besides it in the grass, to avoid the risk of getting stuck in sand in the middle of nowhere... The sand was so extremely fine, that we continuously drew a huge sand cloud behind us. When the wind was coming from behind, it happened that we actually had to stop because we didn’t see a thing :-). We encountered a lot of that fine sand inside the car (and on us) due to the fact that Landrovers aren’t very famous of being well-sealed cars :-)... Of course we always have some dust inside, but this was severe! After about 30km (20 miles) was the sand track over and we had a quite nice dirt road, which started to get worse and worse towards the end again! After a long drive we reached the tarred main road in Longido with our nose and ears full of dust and we were happy we could get under the shower :-).
October 30th 2013: Longido, Tanzania – Nairobi, Kenya
Driven distance on October 30th 2013: 200km (120 miles)
Driven distance total: 78’770km (48’950 miles)
The border crossing went very good. Stamping the passports, filling out the carnet and paying road taxes and insurance.
We were surprised how much money there has to be around in Kenya, especially Nairobi area. It seems that the people are doing better here in comparison with other African countries (except South Africa). Many dairy and food products are being produced here and there is also quite some industry around.
We ended up at a small, not very inviting campground, since the campground, that we intended to stay, moved away 2 month ago.