Tanzania Part VIII – The last few days…

Another beautiful sunset in Tanzania

By now, we are all quite comfortable saying a few basic words in Swahili:

Hello – Jambo / Mambo / Habari; Reply – Jambo / Poa / Nzuri / Nzuri sana; White person – Mzungu; Your are welcome – Karibu; Thank you – Asanta sana.

Banana is ndizi and bread is mkate. With these few words we got along fine, especially in Western Tanzania where English is rarely spoken.

That brings me to the most important words we learnt: pole-pole. Meaning slowly-slowly, be careful or keep calm. We figured it out all by ourselves by all the pole-pole signs at the millions of road works. Make it your mantra when you travel in Africa, we did…

It was very handy to be able to say hello in Swahili at roadblocks; we have decided before our trip started that we will not pay a bribe to anyone for whatever reason. This meant that we had to have some other way to work with corrupt officials. The trick? Knock their feet out from under them by being humble and friendly, and by greeting them in Swahili (or whichever language applicable). In Africa you have to have a lot of time and patience, being rude and seemingly in a hurry will make any official interaction, be it with traffic cops or border officials or game rangers, a very painful experience.

11 – 16 September 2015

We are proud to say that we have been stopped many, many times this year, often several times a day, and did not have any problems and haven’t been asked for a bribe, not even once! When pulled over, all of us (children included) opened our windows, stopped what we were doing, took off our sunglasses, and greeted whomever very friendly. It shows respect and that we did not have anything to hide. More often than not, after a short conversation about the maps on our doors and our trip, we were on our way without having to open the back of the car or the trailer. I can recommend this method – it worked so much better than the bossy, chip-on-the-shoulder way some travellers have.

Two or three times we have been subtly asked for bribes, but we played dumb, deaf and blind. Once we received a speeding fine for doing 52 km/h in a 50 km/h zone. We paid, and was issued an official receipt. And once, in Arusha, we had our wheel clamped by random guys on the street with not one government official in sight. That is a story for another day, the short version is we did not pay anything.

So we left Peponi and Zanzibar after a combined eleven days. We decided to give Dar-Es-Salaam a big miss. Many people told us about the horrible traffic and tourists mainly went there to use it as a hub to get to Zanzibar. Which we already did from Peponi. We also gave the road along the coast through Saadani National Park a miss, mainly because the road was very muddy at that stage (Denise and Alan sent us a message stating that we would not be able to pass through with the trailer) and because they (also) charge ridiculously high Park Fees which we are now familiar with. We decided to head straight for Malawi.

Denise kindly gave us coordinates to a campsite along the way to Kisolanza Farm, on the road to Malawi. After driving almost 400 kilometers for the day, we reached the vicinity of Mountain View, Sanga Sanga, Morogoro, near the Uluguru Mountains (I love the sound and rhythm of the name: Sanga Sanga, Morogoro, Uluguru  – small things and such…). “Vicinity” because it was nowhere in sight of the coordinates and our Swahili wasn’t sufficient enough to ask for directions, and our mimes were met with a lot of blank stares. After a phone-call to the Geddes’s we adjusted our coordinates and found the campsite.

Mountain View seemed like a newly built place, with brand new, clean, albeit dusty from un-use, bathrooms. We asked an attendant whether we could drink the water from the taps and he said yes, we should just add sugar! We did not know what he meant at that stage but we filled our watertanks (150 litres and 50 litres separately) with water that needed sugar…

Early on the morning of the twelfth of September (Day 200!), after filling our water bottles for the car, we left for Kisolanza Farm, recommended by the Grobler family from Peponi as well as the Geddes’. We havent been on the road very long when we realised why the water needed sugar. Although it was crystal clear, it tasted like the lion from Serengeti’s breath. If you have children you will know the scene from Madagascar where the animals drink ocean water from coconuts and how they spew it from their mouths resembling water fountains – that was us.

Anyway, we bought some bottled water, braai mielies (barbecued corn-on-the-cob) and slap chips (french fries) along the road and we were all content.

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We stopped for lunch at Crocodile Camp, owned by a German guy and his Tanzanian wife. If you are looking for somewhere to sleep in this area, Crocodile Camp is definitely worth while. They have beautiful rondawels on a riverbank, nice enough campsites, clean ablutions, and a restaurant serving good food (we unexpectedly got starters, main and dessert!). They tried convincing us to overnight with them, but it was still early and we decided to push on.

The road took us through something we have never seen before – a huge forest of gigantic baobabs, kilometre after kilometre. Unfortunately we only have it on the GoPro.

The Old Farm House, Kisolanza

Set in the crisp, cool altitude of Tanzania’s scenic Southern Highlands, Kisolanza has been the home of the Ghaui family since the 1930’s.Originally planted with tobacco, it is still a fully working farm with cattle, sheep, and a range of crops. The Cape to Cairo road that weaves the length of Africa passes directly through our home, and Nicky, the youngest of the Ghaui siblings, set up “The Old Farm House” to make the most of this ideal stopover spot for travelers – a perfect pause between Zanzibar and Malawi. The Old Farm House has grown to include a whole range of accommodation from luxurious cottages to bush camping, plus an exceptional restaurant and bar, a farm shop, and a spa. The aim remains the same as ever: to provide a haven that caters for all the creature comforts a guest could desire, such as hot showers, delicious food, a warm clean bed, and the welcoming feeling of a “home away from home” – plus a whole lot of luxurious little extras on the side that make it unique, and so much more than just a stop along the way. The Ghaui family has been in East Africa for over 100 years and are happy to share their knowledge with visitors.

– Source: http://www.kisolanza.com/

Kisolanza was a beautiful place with thatched covering at the campsites. It had very clean, non-smelling, “eco-friendly” (read: longdrop) toilets and showers with piping hot water from donkeys.

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Hugo making us goulash on the fire

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Bread on the coals

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Cattle on the Kisolanza Farm

The temperature dropped here and we had to take out our blankets and warmer clothes again. As usual, we also had to do laundry. Hugo drained our watertanks and we filled it with Kisolanza’s water. Fingers crossed it wouldn’t need sugar or salt.

My laptop was still giving me headaches, nothing worked, some programmes, not the USB ports nor Wi-Fi (it did work sporadically) plus a few other things I had no clue about. Derek, Anneline du Preez’s husband, suggested I try to reload all the drivers, as I did not have it with me on DVD, I had to do it online with Wi-Fi, eish! Kisolanza’s internet connection was by using a satellite dish and way too slow for this exercise. I also did a disk defrag and clean-up and got nowhere. Aah well, will have to try again at the next place.

In the meantime, the Groblers and Wepeners turned up. They ran into trouble with their vehicle’s diesel filter, but the kind people from the John Deere Service Centre just outside the farm, offered to have one delivered to the airport in Dar, their boss was on his way back from South Africa and would bring it from there. Problem solved!

From Kisolanza we drove to Utengule Coffee Farm (also being used as the local country club) where we set up camp on a heli-pad. The food in the restaurant and their Wi-Fi made up for the lack of atmosphere on the camping grounds. I could download the drivers as suggested by Derek and he is now my hero.

We stayed at Utengule for two nights (basically only to finish download all the drivers) and on the seventeenth of September we did another Border Jump – into Malawi.

2 responses to “Tanzania Part VIII – The last few days…

  1. Hello SWAMBO,
    thank you very much for the speedy update I asked for on LCCSA !!!
    Kind regards
    Fips (Philipp Becker)

  2. Hi the van Heerdens – you seem to have jumped the last border! Give us a call, we would love to catch up.
    Alan 082 902 1988
    Denise 082 338 9607

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