Bye Tanzania, Indian Ocean, beach…..

January 18, 2009

Thursday 8th January – Tuesday 13th January

Elsie has firm buns again!!  Thanks to the lovely fellows at Tren Tyre, especially Mike Chantry & Erik who went out of their way to get us back on the road.

Elsie having her bottom looked at

Elsie having her bottom looked at

 Whilst we had the shocks fitted Sean & Mike, who is originally from St. Austell, chatted about rugby and Mike showed us his impressive gunshot wound.  We left Dar a day later than planned, but feeling positively liberated to be on the road again.  

On Thursday night we stayed at Malela Campsite – it was indicated on the GPS- but when we got there we found it derelict and deserted.  This suited us fine but eventually a guy turned up and extracted 6000 Ts from us.  It was an outrageous sum to pay for somewhere with no facilities at all, not even water, but when I reminded myself that it was only £3 it didn’t seem so bad…. 

The following morning we decided to backtrack to Morogoro as we were very low on cooking gas.  Morogoro is a bustling regional capital, with everything you could wish for, except the ability to refill gas cyliners.  So we made a 75 mile round trip, but only managed to get beer and water.  Oh well, at least we got the essentials covered.

Downtown Morogoro

Downtown Morogoro

From Morogoro the road to our next destination, Iringa, goes through Mikumi National Park.  From the main road we spotted elephant, buffalo and a tower of giraffe.  Close to Iringa we stayed at the very well run Riverside Camp for one night and enjoyed a camp fire and the closest we’ve got to a romantic dinner for a while with candles and everything!  Sean was delighted that as we were leaving I reversed into a tree, evening out the score somewhat, although unlike his efforts so far I didn’t manage to damage the car.  Did I mention this before?

On Saturday 10th we gave in to our wilderness craving and headed for Ruaha National Park.  The last 40 miles of the road from Iringa to the park had possibly the worst corrugations so far and even with her new firm buns it was very difficult to actually stop Elsie being shaken off the road, and the fillings coming out of our teeth.  It took us 3 hours to cover about 75km, and by the time we got into the park at about 3.30 I was exhausted by the driving. 

The Ruaha is a postcard African river, with sandy beds, big boulders, and a healthy population of crocs and hippos.  Amongst other things we saw a croc with her babies sitting on her back. 

Sweeeeeet!

Sweeeeeet!

I wasn’t allowed to steal one.  Reluctantly, we left the park at 6pm as we couldn’t afford the $60 it costs to camp in Tanzanian parks.   Our chosen campsite, Chogela Camp was 17 miles away, I think it was nice, but we couldn’t see much of it as it was dark by the time we got there and it did have the scariest range of weirdy insects we’ve encountered so far.

We got up hideously early the next day to get back into the park, but the sight of the full moon above the road ahead and the dawn just breaking behind us made up for the 5am start.  Ruaha is meant to be home to large buffalo herds so it came as no surprise that we didn’t see a single one.

Proof that we're not hiding out in Bognor

Proof that we're not hiding out in Bognor

 We did however spot a lot of circling vultures and followed them down to the ground where we saw a big pride of lions, absolutely stuffed after eating something substantial, but all that were left were a couple of leg bones.

Another zebra anyone??

Another zebra anyone??

Ladies who've lunched

Ladies who've lunched

We also saw a couple of small herds of ellies, which made a half hearted attempt to chase us as they had calves, and a vervet monkey crèche, with about 10 very cute baby vervets mucking about as only small monkeys can. 

On our last night in Tanzania, we stayed at ‘Bongo Camping’ between Mbeya and the Tanzanian border, which is described in the Lonely Planet as ‘community integrated.’ This means that you’re actually in the middle of the village and the evening’s main entertainment.  Balloons to the rescue!

Keeping Sean amused is a constant challenge

Keeping Sean amused is a constant challenge

It was a good place, and the camping fees contributed toward the village school so we felt useful to boot.  The sunset was stunning

Shepherds delight? I think not!

Shepherds delight? I think not!

Since the road from hell in and out of Ruaha we’ve been trying to locate a random smell in Elsie, so at Riverside Camp we cleaned the car out and didn’t find anything more noxious than a slightly suspect cabbage.  Sadly, the weird smell continued especially over bumps, and at Bongo, while sniffing around the wheel arches (as you do) I think I’ve narrowed it down to oil leaking from a front shock absorber.  Aaaaaargh!!! These are meant to be the best shocks available, and we’ve gone through 3.

Leaving Tanzania we got a taste of things to come, as the skies blackened and when it started to rain we had to pull over for about 40 minutes unable to see anything ahead. 

Rainy season here we come!

Rainy season here we come!

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One Response to “Bye Tanzania, Indian Ocean, beach…..”

  1. John Stoneman said

    Have you got contact details for Mike Chantry? I did my apprentiship with him many years ago with 8 other guys the same age.
    We are trying to get all 9 together for one last time here in St Austell.
    If you dont wish to give out his details could you give him mine please.
    Thanks
    John Stoneman
    Steve Chapman

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