2007 SAFARI – The Great Trek Home: Kenya to South Africa.
© Enzo MMVIII
Day 0. Nairobi
We were running late. Again. We had packed the house down. The shippers had been and gone and yet we still had piles of stuff that my wife refused to leave behind or give away. (you lying shite! TEP) On our planned day of departure, we got up at 5am and spent all day packing and were not ready to go until after 2pm. However I felt we were overloaded and decided to dispatch some of the kit by air cargo to Zimbabwe.
We met the dispatchers at Jungle Junction and watched them leave with our money and our goods - very nearly for the last time, but I’ll let Swambo type that bit up later. Anyway, so we finally got down to a manageable load (3010kg – still 500kg over GVM I was later to find out at a lorry weigh station!) and we managed to depart. Our first goal was Arusha.
Before we left, Thoko had treated me to a new Hi-Lift Jack – genuine! Yes a genuine Hi-Lift jack and jacking points. I got a local chap to make me something similar to the ARB hi-lift jack adaptor (see pic) and had these welded onto the tow bar cross member at the rear and the ARB bumper at the front – they make jacking a pure pleasure!
Before we left we also had a full service including replacing both lower wishbones, installing heavier duty tortion bars and a new flexible joint in the exhaust. I normally carry two spares: one on the rear carrier and one on the roof but this time I wanted to free up the roofrack and so I appropriated a winding mechanism from a Surf and bolted it under the rear of the vehicle: picking up the points were the old one had sat (I swopped it with Lucky from the Hilux Surf forum for the swing-out carrier remember), so that now meant I could carry two spares safely and securely. Safely because they were now carried low down (COG) and securely as I can now lock both. When travelling we usually carry USD so for security I also had a small safe welded into the vehicle.
Day 1. Nairobi to Arusha: 178 miles.
Dept. 5:00pm – Arr. God knows...
So we finally hit the road: Arusha bound. As we waive good bye to Chris at JJ’s we pull into Nairobi’s rush hour traffic. Driving down Gitanga, we join merge onto Argwings Kodek heading towards the mortuary roundabout and Embakasi. We are in the near left lane approaching the roundabout when on old and very devious Policeman starts waving me down from the pavement on the OTHER side of the road! This bastard has cleaned me out before and knows when he’s onto a good thing: he squeezed me for 1500 Kenyan shillings (it was Ksh2,000, c’mon, admit it, he cleaned you out. T) the last time he caught me with bold tyres so he obviously thought he would find some other excuse to line his pockets today…well sorry old chum…we, my whole family and I, just waived merrily back at him and continued on our way however, I did put foot until we’d past the police road block on the Mombasa Highway to make sure he couldn’t catch up with me!
So we drive like hell down the road to Namanga – clearing the border with the minimum of fuss and in daylight so we are quite happy there. Our goal is now a hotel – a decent hotel in Arusha – yes I know that is asking something but after looking at a couple of dodgy back-packer’s joints (that smelled of wee!) we spoke to a couple of Indians having a beer outside their restaurant and they very happily jumped in their car and led us to a this rare item.
Now the The New Safari Hotel (125USD) must once have been pretty special but I am sad to say that it was only decent because it didn’t smell of wee. Anyway, the rooms were clean the food OK and there was plenty of secure parking outback for our trusty battle wagon: the Bundubasher.
Then and there I decided that I NEEDED to go to the Ngorongoro Crater – we may never pass this way again and I wasn’t going to allow one of the greatest natural calderas in the world pass me by unreported and unremarked. Remarkedly expensive is what I have to report. Since staying at the hotel was an expensive add-on we decided to make it a day trip to the crater.
Day 2. Ngorongoro
Rising at sparrow’s fart, we quickly dressed and jumped into the car ready to raw off into the fast approaching dawn however I had to leap out again to find the night watchman and kick him awake before he could open the gates for us.
Apologising profusely for disturbing his slumber whilst at the same time cursing the lazy dolt for not guarding my true love, I greased his palm with a few shillingi and managed to get out of the car park before all the other safari operators with their big beautiful (sic) 7 seater landcruiser safari conversions, and, with the sun at our back, we headed off.
The road to the NCA (Ngorogoro Conservation Area to the un-initiated) is smooth, beautiful tar ALL the way, however once you have been fleeced at the gate the road takes an immediate nose dive, well it would if you weren’t going uphill at a steady 45kmh trying to preserve your kidneys. As you start this steady progress to the crater rim your rear view mirror will suddenly fill with images of the dust, rock and metal as the landcruisers you left behind in Arusha suddenly all want to beat you to the top! As you wend your way like an asthmatic tortoise to the top, you are painfully aware that these people don’t own the vehicles they drive and that time is obviously money to the average East African Jeep jockey.
Once you reach the road around the crater rim you have a fair old way to drive before you reach the “down” route and you can’t see anything as the road is inset on the outside of the rim. There is one stopping point though and I did manage to squeeze both my car and the crater into the pic …I think:
On the way in…
…and on the way out.
I can’t remember what this Memorial is for…sorry J
As you drive around the crater rim, obeying the park speed limits, jeep jockeys come tearing by at a rate of knots leaving you sucking on their dust and cursing them. At this early point in our adventure we had our first “breakage” – the plastic radiator cowling rattled off and fell into the fan, luckily not damaging anything seriously, however it is something that I had forgotten all about.
So I stopped the car, opened the bonnet and removed any loose pieces of the radiator cowling and carried on down into the crater. Take note of the fact that whilst I was crawling around under my vehicle, 2 or 3 jeep jockies passed our stranded vehicle – none stopped.
After we descended into the crater we droving around the edge and then into the middle were we saw some vehicles collecting.
Ngorongoro traffic jam.
Half a dozen vehicles were crowded around a “sighting”. Our vehicle was blocked by the rest so I asked what they were looking at: “I don’t know” was the reply. Disgusted I moved on. We weren’t late in the day and as you can see the day was a little overcast but we saw bugger all apart from a few Zebra, Eles and a Lion up a tree.
Day 3. Arusha to Bagamoyo
Another early start and we were on the road out of town and heading for Bagamoyo. Bagamoyo was the start of the old slave route into the interior and was also the starting point of Henry Morten Stanleys’ search for Livingstone.
Travel in Africa is usually rough and the distances long and I’d seen a short cut on my T4A digital map and on my copy of the Mapstudio road map of Africa so rather than drive all the way to Dar and then drive north along the coast, I’d take the hypotenuse of the triangle of roads to Bagamoyo.
Now I was tired and the road was little more than a rough track cut through the bush. Added to this it was getting dark, at when point I lost concentration and we went crashing off into the bush! Eventually we pulled into Bagamoyo and we started looking for somewhere to stay and we aimed to stay at the very swanky Livingstone Club however they were full and we went to the Palm Tree Village Beach Resort (85USD) next door and found a bed there.
The Livingstone Club - Bagamoyo
Day 3. Bagamoyo to Dar es Salaam
Hard work waiting for a room...
Bagamoyo’s beautiful beach
However, we were back at the Livingstone Club first thing the next morning as we had been promised a room so we decided we’d “rough it’ by waiting on their beach whilst our room was allocated. Lunchtime came and went and no room was forthcoming and with no hope in sight we clambered back into the BB and set off for Dar.
The road to Dar is good tar and we made good time. We found the ferry to the south side, queued, paid and made the crossing.
The ferry approaches
And finally it splits at the seams like an overstuffed shopping bag!
On the south side, we quickly made our way to Pipepeo Beach Resort, parked up, got a 2 storey Banda and had a great meal in their restaurant.
The bedrooms are on the 1st floor and are open on one side I suppose to catch the sea breezes. Jaz made a beeline for the hammock though!
Day 4. Dar to Zanzibar
Leaving the BB locked and parked at Kipepeo (which has a lovely beach by the way) we caught a taxi to the ferry terminal, had a chat with some booking agents and bought passage on one of the hydrofoils beating the waves between Zanzibar and Dar.
We pulled in and started to clear customs, however the Tanzanian Transit Visas we had purchased did not qualify us to enter Zanzibar and so we had to upgrade them to full visas.
Leaving customs we were approached by many hotel and tour touts, however after wandering around Stone Town for a while we found the Chavda Hotel. A large hotel that was undergoing some work, with large rooms and a rooftop restaurant.
One of the things that people always comment on in Zanzibar are the fantastic Arabesque doors:
So after cruising Stone Town, which is full of lovely things and interesting people, we approached a small local tour op to take us on a Spice Tour and a Slave Tour.
Day 5. Zanzibar
Some places were lovely...
...and some not quite so.
Our guide, Ali, was great, he wasn’t the cheapest but his knowledge and his vehicle were great.
The next morning we did the spice tour:
Making the hats...
Day 6. Zanzibar
And then the slave tour:
The tiny cramped slave pens that are washed out by the sea.
The old slave market that is now a fish market – as a child I used to wander around exactly the same structure in Abu Dhabi and never thought about it’s more odious purpose.
We also visited the Fort & Museum which was full of great stuff including the President’s old car:
Things are decidedly run down in Zanzibar – there just isn’t the money, or political will, to save Zanzibar’s past.
The courtyard at the fort.
The Infamous Tippu Tip lived and died in Zanzibar, but due to pressure from Arab states and lack of political will, his place in Zanzibars’ history is studiously ignored. We visited his home but the hatch to the basement slave pit has been cemented up and the house is now home to squatters.
Tippu Tips’ magnificent front door
Tippu Tip’s grave is also run down and ignored.
And full of rubbish.
Of course there was also shopping!
Zanzibar was so full of great experiences, sites, colours and smells that I cannot do it justice with these few pictures but perhaps the smile on this smelly street kid we found may help communicate it.
Day 8. Dar to Morogoro
We hit the road and headed for The New Acropol in Morogoro. We have been frequenting this hotel for years as it does a great breakfast and it has Wireless Internet access.
Day 9. Morogoro to Mbeya
We stayed at the Mount Livingstone Hotel
Day 10. Mbeya to Shiwa Ng’andu
After staying the last few nights in some ordinary locations we felt that the driver should get a break and therefore be rewarded with a bit of luxury. On the way to Lusaka is the house made famous by Christina Lambs’ “Africa House”: Shiwa Ng’andu. They wanted 600USD per night to stay there (@*%!) so we drove down to Kapishya Hot Springs (250USD), Gore-Brown’s favourite place which was a bit cheaper (but still caused a huge hole in our budget).
The Hot Springs
Sorry about the fuzziness but this is the bedroom.
We checked into our chalet, had a drink and we were in time for a great dinner.
The Dining Room
The next day we did a tour of Shiwa Ng’andu (20USD) and then set off for Lusaka.
Day 11. Shiwa Ng’andu to Fringilla Farm/Lusaka
Before we got there we pulled in for the night at Fringilla Lodge (366,000 ZSh.) Bland little holiday type resort.
Day 12. Fringilla to Livingstone
Arriving late in the evening we stayed at an anonymous guest house on the main road close to Jolly Boys etc.
Day 13. Lingstone to Vic Falls/Bulawayo
Nothing new here but we did debate staying at the Victoria Falls Hotel but instead we decided to push through to Bulawayo.
Day 14. Bulawayo – Home
Day 15. Bulawayo – Home
Day 15. Bulawayo to Francistown – Anonymous lodge
Day 16. Francistown to Johannesburg – Friends’ house
Day 17. Johannesburg – Friends’ house
Day 18. Johannesburg to Durban – Friends’ house
Day 19. Durban – Friends’ house
Day 20. Durban to Johannesburg – Friends’ house
Day 21. Johannesburg – Friends’ house
Day 22. Johannesburg to Bulawayo – Home
Enzo & Thoko, MMIX
Self-Drive Safaris in East and Southern Africa
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