MWANZA

 

Currently residing outside Mwanza on Lake Victoria to sort out suspension on the beast. Has not done too badly considering the 70,000k on dreadful roads,although we were hoping it would have waited until Nairobi before a bit of a re-fit as spare parts are obviously more readily avaliable there.

Have set up camp on the beach at Tunza Lodge, a very cool place, run by a nice South African called Jan,whose being very helpful regarding the car, plus he enjoys a beer for breakfast, so can’t be bad! Mainly frequented by local Tanzanians coming out of town to chill on the beach.The Lake is lovely and warm, so we shall be in for a dip shortly,water a few paces away from the car.

Need to fix new shocks first. Weather warm to hot, but loud rumbles every afternoon indicate we wont be dry for much longer!

Ended up staying at Tunza Lodge for four days. We met and spent some time with Russell and Paul, steel men from South Africa, on business, Jacques, who cooked up a great brai for lunch, before drinks at The Yacht club to watch the rugby. Strangely his girlfriend, Vicky, turned out to be a family friend of The Foot family in Devon, who were founders of the Nyika/Vwaza Trust.

 

The following day,whilst having a drink on the beach, a couple from New Zealand, Liz and Chris who we had been in touch with, via a couple of brief e-mails and related to our friend Richard,whose been looking after our garden at home,turned up. No-one was more surprised than us to hear “The Rutters I presume” on the shores of Lake Victoria, it is a small world after all!

 

 

SERENGETI

 

See photo albums

Left next morning on the very, very corrugated road.

Normal method is 50k/hr whereby you only hit one lump in so many, downside is you are largely airbourne so braking & streering is a bit difficult with rear end fish tailing both ways. Trouble was knackered bushes on offside front, meant only one damper/shock and eventualy that leaked oil so with a lot of banging we limped towards Serengeti gate and Seronera main area. About 150k – not pleasant, except for the stunning views coming down from the crater rim, the plains extending as far as the eye could see. Plenty of Masai to admire in their brightly coloured cloaks and blankets, grazing their cattle and waving as we passed by.

big boys - there were 3

big boys – there were 3

We saw 3 male lions just before gate plus others (9 in total) all blond maned and extremely large, beefy, beasts. Plenty of other stuff too, Topi, Cokes Heartebeeste, kirks dik dik (tiny antelope) Bohor reedbuck, lots of Thompsons and Grants gazelles and wildebeeste ( millions literally) all as seen on TV but weird to be here, amongst it all.

Bohor Reedbuck - male -

Bohor Reedbuck – male –

Bohor reed buck female

Bohor reed buck female

more dik dik

more dik dik

 

Camped in another basic site($60) no choice unless you pay $100 minimum for a fancy lodge,so left next morning for a slow drive along western corridor and Grumeti river, because of the rains, this meant the migration has returned

.Shocking road again but improved after a while thankfully. More lions and we counted at least 10 fresh kills with owners absent but vultures very happy.

Landscape varied as rains have just started, so quite green in places but towards western end there were huge numbers of Wildebeest everywhere and bones littering the ground.

On way out, we had to make a detour, as an overturned Safari vehicle was blocking the road. Some poor tourists holiday of a lifetime had gone horribly wrong……mainly down to bad driving, these vehicles fly past at a crazy speed,chucking up the dust, so that you can’t see anything even if you want to. The drivers are supposed to be fined for speeding, but clearly this isn’t enforced, too much money to lose I think.

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We had a fantastic time and it wasn’t as busy as we’d been expecting but due to the harsh corrugated roads, it’s the easiest way to bugger up your vehicle, costing you serious money for the privilage.I too have suffered,developing a horrible tooth and jaw ache,which I put down to clenching my teeth together from the constant vibration, it’s certainly been a bone rattling last few days!

Ngorongoro Crater

 

See photo albums page

Off we went, slightly concernernd about over-heating problem, with such steep hills, Michaels theory that use of low ratio would help ,which it did seem to.Slowly climbed to the top, through the forest, to our camp right on the crater rim, having explored some of the routes on the rim itself on the way. Very strange looking down into the crater through binoculars, to see various beasts, which still look ant sized 2,000 ft below.

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Camp was basic, very expensive for what it is, but we were already prepared for that. We positioned ourself away from the main herd (people that is) chatted to a few Masai guys trying and failing to flog us stuff, before retiring to bed. Before this whilst cooking,we had a visit from a very large and frisky bull Elephant with massive tusks who skipped towards us for a few seconds, but veered off when we shone our bright torch at him as we were beating our retreat!

Up at 5:00 next morning and into the crater itself, forced to take a guide, quite ridiculous as it’s a 25km wide circle,however we got Edwin, who perched on our clothes box in the back, which can’t have been comfortable, but he was pretty chilled.

Drove around a while, saw lot’s of the usual animals,who are obviously very used to people and not skittish at all. Went to a picnic site and cooked up some left-overs for breakfast,but had confrontation with another big bull Elephant, who decided we were on his route and in the way and he was none to happy, I leapt into the car with frying pan and breakfast in hand, Edwin and Michael just kept their distance. The only other car around reversed well out of the way.

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crowned cranes

crowned cranes

kori bustard - huge

kori bustard – huge

A wonderful place, stunning landscape saw many interesting things, including Lions, but you tend to drive around in circles rather alot. Whilst the setting is fantastic,it is incredibly costly, but, we felt had to be done, wev’e come so far.

Cokes haartebeeste

Cokes haartebeeste

Topi

Topi

 

Cokes haartebeeste

Cokes haartebeeste

Arusha

 

Arusha

Was bigger and busier than we’d expected, with some of the worst driving we’ve experienced on our entire trip so far. Had a small altercation with a taxi driver,who pulled out into our path and then accused us of scratching his bus, when in fact he had clipped our wing mirror. This was a battle he was not going to win, we drove off as the traffic gained speed , he jumped on to the Landy on my side and we carried on until being stopped by a policewoman, with the guy still hanging on to our vehicle. Fortunately she was one of the more sensible variety and sent him on his way,warning us to be careful. Some of them are so inconsiderate, rude and just bloody dangerous…….and don’t get me started on the Safari vehicles!!

Having witnessed a couple of minor pile-ups,we found our way to Masai Camp on the outskirts of town, a well run and clean place with a promise of excellent pizza’s which indeed they were. These accompanied the local entertainment night, singing, dancing and acrobatics, which was actually very good, but we headed for bed early, although late for us (11:00 pm) and let the dancing continue until the very early hours next day(I know because I heard it)

The beast went into the garage next day, whilst we pigged out on some delicious food we hadn’t had in a while, steak sandwichs and salad Nicoise… all rather yummy! Problem is our stomachs seem unable to cope with rich food anymore and I, in particular have been suffering ever since!

Shoprite too was a magical experience and we’ve stocked up on butter, cheese, chocolate and red wine…..the finer things in life!

Off to Karatu, fully laden with fuel, water etc, stopped off for the night and our first hot shower in an age at Kudu Camp, before entering The Ngorongoro Consevation area tomorrow.

Lake Manyara

 

Lake Manyara see photos page for more piccies

the rift valley from campsite

the rift valley from campsite

A twitchers paradise, with a huge population of waterbirds. We saw hundreds, if not thousands of Flamingo’s, Pelican’s and Storks,they create a pink mirage effect on the lake, quite surreal really.

flamingos and some!

flamingos and some!

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Plenty of other interesting small birds too,but far too numerous to mention and sadly my camera just isn’t up to it!

The dense forest was equally beautiful to and from the lake, full of enormous Fig and Baobab trees, which in turn were full of Olive Baboons, Samango(blue) monkeys and the usual Vervets that you get everywhere. Some of the babies were just the cutest !

Blue (samango) monkey

Blue (samango) monkey

Saw an ex- pelican’s legs hanging from a branch, which presumably had been a tasty snack for someone.

Again a beautiful place with stunning views along the way.

Although the park has a reputation for Tree climbing Lions, we failed to spot any, but developed crick necks instead!

Rock agama

Rock agama

TANZANIA – Tanrangire NP

 

After a good nights sleep we hit the road again, bound for Tarangire, cross country,still plenty of roadworks,but after Kondoa and on to Babati, things became very scenic,clearly very fertile land with plenty of farmers tending their crops, Goats and Donkey’s, very green after the last few days dust and dryness. The last few km pristine tar of course.

Trying to get an early night, when drunken Massai night watch-man kept dribbling on, Michael sent him away,though he did come back a couple of times for repeat performance(and conversation)

Tarangire NP

We followed the river, plenty of animals in huge numbers. Supposed to be many predators, but although we’d seen a lioness by 8:30 am we didn’t see anything else for the rest of the day, a beautiful place once again,lots more vehicles though, all safari tours, this is the safari circuit, so we have to grit our teeth, we’ve been far too spoilt having had everywhere to ourselves much of the time. Still no other overlanders in sight but that might change shortly.

Camping on top of the Rift valley escarpment, overlooking Lake Manyara- all rather splendid really……..well the view that is!!

Keeping our options open on Sudan and Egypt, but too soon to tell right now and got to get visa’s for Ethiopia and Sudan in Nairobi.

Visiting Lake Manyara tomorrow, then to Arusha for some Mzungu time!

TANZANIA – Ruaha NP

 

Ruaha National Park

On entering, we saw some seriously large crocs in the river, as we crossed the bridge and plenty of waterbirds,after a short drive along the river,paying more attention to our surroundings, than the road itself,we had to brake suddenly, as three extremely handsome Lions(a huge male and two lionesses) were having a snooze under the shady trees, right across the road. A beautiful sight, so we just sat and watched a while,after 10 mins or so the male and one lioness got up walked straight passed us, so close you could have touched them. They proceeded to the next tree to indulge in some “sexy times”, although fairly short-lived, I managed to get some photo’s!

Camped in the park,on banks of the river, overlooking extensive plains, a magnificent spot, only us and from our chair’s we managed to see Ellie’s,Hippo,Giraffe,Impala, Warthog, Fish eagle, Hadeda, Saddle-billed and Yellow-billed Storks and many other birds too.

Up at 5:00 am next morning, we saw our lovely Lions again, resting in the dried up river bed, plus a little later on another younger one. By 10:00 am we were cooking in the 36 degree heat , back to drinking litres of water again, like in west Africa.

A film crew reported a pride of Lions had killed a Giraffe, the previous night and were desperately trying to locate them, we also tried on hearing this, but failed miserably.

Elephants at every turn here, many in or on the roadside, so you can do nothing other than wait for them to move off, this can take a long time, especially when melting in the heat of our tin box! We saw the cutest little baby though, playing with his trunk and tripping over his feet…..lovely.

Hot, sweaty and tired, we left the park, along the horrendously corrugated road and camped at Sisa camp, fairly run down and obviously little used, but the two guys rushed around getting firewood and washing out loo’s and showers, so all was fine,several of our “really strong” boxes had broken and cans exploded (even our toothpicks had snapped) due to the state of the road leading to and from the park . When inside it was actually fine and the park itself is wonderful, up there in the Top Ten!

Heading back to Iringa the following morning and still on corrugations, the Landy just stopped for no apparent reason. Trying not to panic, miles from anywhere with the sun blazing down and not a tree in sight, my bush mechanic got to work, luckily he soon discovered a wire to the fuel injector had disconnected itself on the bumpy road, so reconnected once again (and rather relieved) off we went…….then got yet another speeding fine, this time from a not so friendly,I’m just going to pocket the money, as I have no receipts, policewoman.

From Iringa after stocking up on cold drinks,we left for Dodoma, a far too long driving day in 38 degrees, major roadworks, on what will presumably be a great road one day, except the minute you get a few kms of tar, the speed bumps and 50&30 speed limit kicks in so you never actually get anywhere fast and then its back to dusty rubble again……..oh well, we got there in the end, nowhere to camp at Dodoma (believe it or not it’s the capital, not Dar as you might imagine)so we checked into the Cana lodge hotel, after taking some time to find it and a few near punch-ups….between us that is, we calmed down whilst supping a couple of cold beers, this always seems to do the trick when tempers are frayed!

Tanzania – Selous NP to Udzungwa NP

 

Off we went to Selous, via Morogoro, on the main road, a fairly dull, uneventful journey, very dry grey and brown scenery and villages. Morogoro, itself was surprisingly lush and green, lying at the foot of the Uluguru mountains. A nice ,bustling town ,we stayed at a small hotel, Kola Hill Lodge, very nice, clean and reasonably priced ,considering everything here is hugely expensive and we ate delicious fresh fish and chipsies. To be recommended if you are in the area.

I’d been eaten alive by something and my feet had swollen up, all fat and puffy with red spots……most attractive,so I sat with my feet in a bucket of cold water to soothe the excruciating itch, this seemed to help and next morning back to normal.

Drove to Selous, the back way, along a little used road, through forest and well kept villages, before dropping down the spectacular escarpment, across the plains to the edge of Selous. Stayed at a very basic but fine camp, the something annex, which seemed to be the only one, about 15 km from the park entrance. A couple of Massai guys were running it, they showed great interest in car maintenance!

Into the park(and I have to add ,before I forget we saw at least 60+ of the RARE Ground Hornbills!)

Supposed to be the dry season, but clearly the rains had come early here as well and all the large herds we were hoping to see had dispersed, however we now understand why they call this place Giraffic Park, as there were so many, but as always, lovely to see, so elegant and of course I can never get enough photo’s!

Saw plenty of the usual, bad point was that many of the lakeside loop roads just didn’t exist and despite $15 for a map we wasted half a day going down dead ends before retracing our steps to the main park road and heading to east side pools. All very nice but expensive for poor standards.

Spent the night at same campsite then left next morning for Undzungwa mountains, east side not the better known west tropical side. Not expecting much at all but surprised to arrive at a lovely campsite outside park under huge fig trees etc. clearly well used by ellies and other beasts.

Already there was Tomas & marielle and young daughter Tuva 2 (Swedish) – he had worked here as professional hunter for several years, a policeman and best sausage maker (Butcher) in Sweden 3 years running – a character as they say. Elephants and beasts of the night included hyenas. We decided to have a day doing stuff as it was so nice. Next day they hiked to a waterfall, we stayed put , Tomas decided it would be good to buy a goat and have a full on meat fest – Tanzanians love their braaied meat. So off we go to a village with a local guy. Caused a bit of a stir or rather Tuva did, the local kids found this little blonde bombshell very amusing. Bought the goat – paid over the odds with Tomas ( speaks Swahili) then pointing out to the guy we knew the score and he should be ashamed – he got the message.

Big fire, goat dispatched, Tuva came back for “the peeling” as she called it. On the spit we supplied spices etc. . Cooked in traditional old Swedish style – warm, fresh carcass is rubbed with salt then cooked with baste of more salt garlic and oil nice but I have to say a bit tough..

Also shower by Ms ( in dark) using hoisted bucket with valve – very effective, except he discovered he had ants – big ones about 20mm everywhere inc his nethers no biting thankfully as they looked like soldier ants. There were thousands all he could do was brush them off and get on with it . Snake in loo so I declined both until daylight.

That night awoke to what can only be described as gunfire……it was actually, it turned out, a mixture of Baboon poo and figs falling from a great height….but when your in your tent and a gust of wind comes along, gosh was it noisy.

Tanzania – Mbeya to Mikumi NP

So a few day’s have passed, the beast had a new clutch fitted in Mbeya and off we went to Iringa.

 

Travelled the Tanzam highway, very busy with huge lorries and buses going at an alarming speed, downhill and at a snails pace up the mountains. Why is it that we, going at a reasonable speed always get pulled , the first policeman was very nice and let us off, as we’d only been in Tanzania a couple of day’s. The second one fined us TSH 30,000 (£15) and the third stopped us, looked in the landy and ticked Michael off for wearing slippers (flip-flops) everyone else,whose driving it must be said, is quite appalling seems to get away with it. Police checkpoints about every 10 k and a pain in the neck.

 

Motorbikes and Tuk-Tuks more popular here, especially as taxi’s, rather than bicycles, but the few bikes we have seen , have fringes and tassels on their saddles, rather than all the bling they had in Malawi.

 

After a night spent just outside Iringa,which we soon found was a lovely town, very busy and vibrant with a fantastic fruit and veg market, needless to say, I came out laden with sacks of Mangoes, Passion fruit, Oranges and Paw paw’s and all sorts of veggies too. Very cheap, which is nice as everything else, is so expensive compared with other countries we’ve visited.

 

Stocked up with goodies in the only supermarket we could find in the whole town and headed off to Mikumi NP , stayed at very strange camp-site called Tan- Swiss near the gate. I did loads of washing and then the heavens opened, so we rigged up a washing line in the back seat of the landy where it’s been hanging out to dry ever since!

 

After a fruit salad breakfast at 5:00 am we went into the park. Crazy prices $100 for us and the landy for the day, to camp in the park would be another $60 so we decided to camp elsewhere.

 

The park itself was very attractive, mainly grassland,so easy to spot animals. Unfortunately the rainy season seems to have come early and the roads where in a bad way,this made things very tiring for my driver, who coped with the deep mud admirably(I have to say this as I wont do it) but it did hamper our ability to spot the wildlife as we were too busy concentrating on staying on the road, rather than spotting beasts.

 

However we did see many things including Elephants wallowing in the mud, a Jackal chasing a baby Impala, but lost sight of them as they sped off into the distance. Plenty of beautiful Giraffe, with really unusual markings, and a herd of about 200 buffalo.

 

When we came out, the landy was the filthiest I’ve ever seen it, caked all over in dried mud……but at least my washing had dried on the inside!

Photos in albums seem weird to us – web software ishaving a bit of a funny turn so posting again below

TANZANIA – INTRO

 

Tanzania

Quiet road to the border, crossing was very easy and then we were in Tanzania. Immediately different to Malawi – very good road to Mbeya about 100k over the border through what is known as the southern highlands, similar to those in malawi but much lusher, soils clearly much better with bananas, and veg growing everywhere. Tea estates in many areas which we had not seen before although they do occur in Malawi. Quite a climb from border of about 2300m ( 8000ft) landy struggling a bit with dodgy clutch and signs of overheating. This caused paranoia give 5 head gaskets already shot so far. We were pleased to find what looks like a good landy garage so the beast is being given a proper clutch, welding back anti roll bars, and sorting various other problems accumulated in malawi – the Nyika roads take their toll!!

As we write we are staying in a basic hotel in Mbeya town centre. Although 3rd biggest town its very quiet. Like many African towns it has spread a lot so centre is vitally silent at night. Still quite high 1500m the climate is pleasant

I had my hair cut in a local barbers which I think caused some puzzlement – but we got there in the end – even Emma has not said too much so can’t be bad.

Catching up on admin, buying phone cards etc. then we are heading west – plan is to do a loop through Mikumi NP then Selous NP ( biggest in Africa, its twice the size of Kruger so a virtual country in European terms) both wild with limited roads but hopefully plenty of beasts – cant wait. Then we will loop back west go through Ruaha NP and associated reserves ( again huge) and onto Katavi NP which is seldom visited by tourists as its to far from the usual tourist circuits. Its reckoned to be best kept secret in Africa in terms of animals – and its a reasonable price. Other here are not cheap!!

From there we want to go up Lake Tanginika to Mahale Forest NP (see chimps etc.) then loop back east to the Serengeti/Ngorongoro parks system. After that we are undecided but will probably go through Rwanda & Burundi and into Uganda.

Not sure what to expect in the way of communications,being pretty remote in places, so if you don’t hear from us assume no news is good news!!