So as some of you may know we are now back in Australia for a two month break to attend our Granddaughter Serafina’s baptism, enjoy Christmas with our family and also escape much of the wet season in East Africa. When we return in February our plan is to travel to Uganda, Rwanda, finish Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt and then ship the Land Cruiser over to either Turkey or Greece but for now it’s time to catch up with my blog posts. Enjoy.😜
The drive to Dar es Salaam was a lovely drive through heaps of villages selling mangoes, jack fruit, watermelons, oranges and all sorts of vegetables. We were starting to get into a much greener fertile area which was a pleasant change and before long we were in Dar es Salaam in masses of traffic trying to find our way to our camp site. Dar es Salaam has a distinct big city feel but you could also be in the middle of the city and still feel you were in a village. For a big city it has an amazing number of narrow gravel streets full of potholes and because there had been some rain we encountered a lot of mud and deep puddles.
We finally made it into what would be our camp for the next week or so which is on the south side of the harbour in a suburb called Kigamboni. We stayed at the Makadi Beach Lodge and once again the term lodge is used very loosely, it is more like a backpackers with lots of small beach huts with no facilities. For some strange reason they only have salt water showers even though we are in a capital city, but they did provide a bucket of fresh water to rinse off with!
There was also a small area for camping and a lot of the Overland trucks use this so it could get quite crowded but while we were there only a few came in. The passengers from the overland trucks are dropped off at the Zanzibar ferry and then return about five days later. In the mean time because these trucks are always on the move between Nairobi and Cape Town the driver does maintenance on his truck and has a bit of R&R himself. We got to know two of them quite well Anthony and Es who were both Kenyans and we really enjoyed our chats with them. I asked one day why most drivers, cooks and guides were from Kenya and Anthony told me that it takes three Tanzanians to do the work of one Kenyan so that’s why!😂 As I mentioned in our last blog, last week when driving through the Selous National Park with the Karavan on the back something I had been thinking about really came to the front. The tracks we needed to take to get to our campsite and then back out again were narrow, rutted and also had dry creek crossings with very steep entry and exits and then to top it off the track took on a very steep and rutted climb which I was just not confident about taking on. So we had to backtrack to find another way around but these situations were becoming quite common and we had even opted not to take certain tracks because we were not confident enough that we could get the Karavan through. Don’t get me wrong the Karavan is an incredibly well built and capable off road van but it was starting to hinder where we could go and this was not what we wanted. So after lots of discussion Pauline and I came to the same solution and that was to send the Karavan home to Australia from Dar es Salaam and then continue the trip with a roof top tent on the Landcruiser. We really want to experience Africa and yes we would sacrifice some comfort but would broaden our overall experience in Africa. So our first few days in Dar es Salaam was spent organising a shipping agent to send the Karavan home. To get the Karavan back into Australia is a minefield of red tape mainly to do with Biosecurity because understandably Australia does not want any nasty pests and diseases. As you would know we have travelled through all sorts of Biosecurity areas containing everything from Foot and Mouth Disease and all sorts of flora so the van could well be contaminated. So we set to and totally emptied everything out of the van and scrubbed it from top to bottom inside and then made sure that everything going back in was not contaminated with anything. This took two full days and then we had to clean the outside but had no access to a pressure washer so had to go in search of one. I went to four different car wash places before finding one that had a pressure washer that actually worked! The guys did a great job under the circumstances because every ten minutes the pressure washer broke down.
Then we had to deliver the Karavan to the shipping agents warehouse but it had started to bucket down so all that cleaning of the chassis was for nothing as we negotiated our way through deep mud and puddles! We were able to get a man to come in and give it another wash but I’m sure we will be up for another clean once it lands in Australia.
We were now free to head out to Zanzibar which takes a two hour ferry trip, to relax for a few days. While staying at Makadi Beach Lodge we met a young women called Helen who was on an Overland bus who wanted to go into Dar es Salaam city but she wasn’t confident enough to do it on her own so we suggested she come with us. So the three of us jumped into a Tuk Tuk to get to the ferry to cross the narrow channel to the city and then took another Tuk Tuk to the Zanzibar ferry terminal to get our tickets.
We then had time to kill so managed to find a nice little and I mean little coffee shop where we had great coffee and a sandwich. We then sorted out a way for Helen to find the film theatre and how to get home again before returning to wait for our ferry. Helen by the way is a 28 year old lawyer from Belgium who had been working for three years since graduating but hated the job so had decided to take a year off to travel and also work out what she really wanted to do in the future. It was really hot and humid so in a moment of weakness I went back to the ticket counter and upgraded to VIP for an extra $10 US which gave us the luxury of aircon in the cabin on the way over! Bliss! The night before we had booked on Bookings.com a nice little hotel called The Spice Palace in Stone Town located in the very narrow laneways of the town. It was a nice hotel, certainly not flash but was comfortable and had aircon in the room as well as a restaurant/bar on the roof from where we could take in the sunset and enjoy breakfast in the morning. We thought we would eat in the hotel restaurant that night but after the first two choices were not available we decided to see if TripAdvisor had any better choices and as it was the restaurant rated number 1 was a only a few hundred metres away. So we had a delightful warm balmy night feasting on Middle Eastern fare sitting on cushions on the floor of a roof top restaurant called The Teahouse.
We spent the first day discovering Stone Town and all it’s many laneways not to mention stopping for a beer or two at a great restaurant perched right on the beach.
Stone Town is a fascinating place with an amazing vibe going on. We picked up a few presents in the many beautiful and interesting curio shops and just had a very relaxing day.
Day two we had booked to go out on a Dhow for some snorkelling, site seeing and sailing which was the highlight of our stay on Zanzibar. We snorkelled on what was pretty much a dying coral reef (thanks to global warming) but the number and quantity of beautiful colourful reef fish was outstanding and Pauline and I had to be dragged back into the boat so that we could move on to our next stop, a sandy cay. Here we did some more swimming while our guides cut up all sorts of different tropical fruits for us to feast on. We then moved on to have a look at some stunning lagoons on an island and then had a scrumptious BBQ seafood lunch on the beach where Pauline was super lucky. Because of my allergy to crustaceans she had two half lobster unlike all the others who only got one half! Then it was time to head back and the crew hoisted the great sail and we fairly flew back with a good strong breeze, I thought I was in heaven! The only bad part to the day was that I decided to get some sun on my white belly and ended up quite sunburnt.
After our first day we realised there was more to see than what we had seen in Stone Town on our first day so we booked a town walking tour with the Ramadan the guide who took us out to the reef. It was threatening heavy rain and we didn’t have a rain jacket or umbrella but thought we should get through because the rains had been coming late in the afternoons. Ramadan took us to some great places of significance like some of the older hotels that were architecturally stunning, Freddie Mercury’s birthplace, the Old Fort and a walk through the huge market which was an assault on the senses I tell you!
We were just about finished when the heavens opened and it rained so heavy that the narrow laneways flooded with some of them up to 6 or 8 inches deep in parts. We had no choice but to walk back in it because our ferry was leaving and we had to be on it!
It was a fabulous time on Zanzibar and we just wish we could have stayed longer but Nairobi beckons. On our return to the Makadi Beach Lodge we were sitting having a cup of tea when I was doing my usual survey of the Landcruiser and I happened to notice something sticking out of one of the front tyres. On closer inspection I realised that it was a thorn from a Thorn tree. Now these are huge thorns up to 2 inches long but this one was running down from the top of the tyre down along the side it so I thought it was ok to just pull out. So I grabbed the pliers and gave it a yank only to hear a loud hissing of air! Bugger, I quickly grabbed the jack out before the tyre lost too much pressure and then arranged a Tuk Tuk driver to take me out to get it fixed!
The next morning we were off for the first time without the Karavan on the back and it was quite a funny feeling but we felt a sense of freedom.🤪 Tally-ho, what!
“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home”. – James Michener.