Coastal Catch up
9 March 2013- Mto Wa Mbu, Tanzania
We are trying to work out a rough plan for the next few days. Normally we wouldn’t really bother much but since it costs about $400 for each 24 hour period we want to plan our timing! We are very excited about the next few days as we are heading into the Ngorongoro and the Serengeti (just trying to block out the cost).
We have had a busy and fun few days since we left Dar. We made our way to the ferry back into the city and waited for three ferries to come and go before we got to the front of the queue and squeezed landy on. Within a few minutes a sea of people were crushed in all around us. Leaving Dar took hours as we expected as traffic simply doesn’t move, on the plus side you can buy pretty much anything you may want (or not want) while waiting in traffic- including fruit/veg, cds, plates, small battery run fans, papers, nuts, phone chargers, posters, pots and pans …… people walking up and down between traffic peddling their wares.
We decided we wanted a bit more coast time so we drove up to the far north coast of Tanzania, not far from the border to Kenya and had a lovely few days at a nice camp spot right on the beach. We also met some other overlanders, Collin and Diana who are from the UK and going south then Karen and Marchello from UK/South Africa also going south. We sat around with a few drinks and shared info and swapped ideas, it was nice (and helpful!).
There were a surprising amount of people staying in the simple chalets and camp site, a noticeable change from what we have had. We had a really good day out on a lovely old dhow (traditional sailing boat). The crew hoisted the big ratty sails and there was just enough wind to take us out on the turquoise waters to a small sand island where eight of us spent a few hours swimming, having lunch and chatting. We really lucked out and had a great group of people for the day. After lunch on the island we sailed to two different reefs for some snorkelling. It was great to be in the water and have a look at what lives in the underwater world of this part of the Indian Ocean.
We left a few days later and yesterday made our way to Moshi, at the foot of Mt Kilimanjaro. We passed km after km of sisal plants growing, which are dried and used to make fibre products like rope and twine, much more sustainable that plastic. The area was surprisingly flat and dry, quite barren really for most of the way. The drive was fine but quite tiring as driving here is- with trucks regularly going walking speed if there is any sort of hill at all, buses going as fast as they possibly can regardless of the road conditions or anything else, the speed drops to 50 through every village and there are massive speed humps all over. There are far more road blocks here than anywhere else so far but we get waved through almost all of them.
Anyway we arrived to Moshi yesterday afternoon and had a quick look around before heading up to the foothills of Kili to seek a cooler nights sleep. We couldn’t see the top of the mountain as it was covered in clouds (apparently if often is) but enjoyed having a look on the slopes as we tried to find somewhere to stay. Last night we ended up saying in the courtyard of a local family’s house with their nine children and two neighbour children as well as the granny watching every move we made and the kids crawling all over landy. They were lovely and we spent the afternoon playing footy and drawing letters and numbers in the dirt. We had a bit of time in their home in the evening before bed, a cd playing and all of us pretty much just looking at each other as only a few of the older kids spoke a very tiny bit of English and our Kiswahili is limited to thanks, please, etc. We didn’t want to be a hassle (and there was nowhere to use the loo) so we were up and ready to go early and were just saying goodbye and thank you when a small boy silently pointed to our tyre, which was completely flat. So Olly changed the tyre with three women (me and two mammas) and nine kids watching him. We said our goodbyes and the kids waved until we were out of sight, gorgeous. We went back into town to get the spare fixed and then hit the road for Arusha, on our way to Ngorongoro crater and Serengeti area, we never did see the top of Kili, oh well. Tonight we are an hour or so from the entrance to the crater area. The drive took all day again, plenty of road works and brightly coloured and decorated buses with bible verses, allahu akbar and such painted on them coming at us in our lane. We are seeing a lot more Maasai people- they are striking, tall and noble looking drapped in the red clothing, wearing elaborate beaded jewelry and always carrying a long stick. We have met some Maasai already, they were often security in Dar and Zanzibar.
We have had our dinner and are pouring over maps and trying to work out driving times and will likely go into the crater tomorrow- we are both very excited and refuse to think of the money- just go!