Cherry festival Ficksburg and The mountain KIngdom of Lesotho 16th Nov 2018
Left Durban after work on Fri at 4 pm to meet up with the Krogs at 68 on Main in Howick (Gubba & Tony Willment) . Victoria met us there . Lots of catching up realizing that at 8:30 all the kitchens were closed. Thus Dinner for the Krogs and the Soutar’s was a pie milk and a chocolate from the local caltex garage …gourmet…..Topped up with fuel R 1500 for 840km. Full tank now R2500.
Headed out for Mbona to overnight
Up at 5 on the road by 6 Heading for Ficksburg for the cherry festival via Golden Gate and Clarens, where we intended popping in to see Yvonne.
By passed Old Mill as we couldn’t make contact and headed on to Fouriesberg then Ficksburg Temperatures soaring to 34 Hot and Dry.
Came across the Ilona festival just outside of Ficksburg It was pumping Everything Cherries was available …. male and female cherries ,differentiated by their color ?Small medium and large cherries First and second grade cherries Cherry jam marmalade,chutney,cherry chillie sauce, syrup,liquor,mampoer,kirschwasser,dried cherries,glanced cherries,cherry biscuits and rusks Cherry linen and crockery
Live music food stalls craft market
After an tasty Afal (sheeps tripe and Stertkies) and samp, a cold beer or two ,a few purchases (Mampoer and cherry liquer) and we headed off for the air show over town .
Watched the magnificent Harvards perform from the Maulti Airfield. Bumped into Scully Levin and team. Last seen at Graham Wulff funeral.
Headed off to Ladybrand where we stopped for a light lunch at a delightful restuarant Route N8 Villa on Joubert
Refueled with diesel at R17 89 a litre in SA and headed into Lesotho through Maseru. Diesel dropped to R15.50 across the border. Maseru was bustling late on a Sat afternoon
We headed towards Roma the university city The roads magnificent Tarred about 5 yrs ago The last time Bruce came through ago the roads were dirt rocky slippery tracks. Buses had chains on their wheels Plenty of Signs of agricultural development evident
Passed an interesting development on the rivers edge
Then on to Semonkong the place of the famed waterfall. Longest drop falls in the Southern Hemisphere. The 192 meter (630 feet) Maletsunyane Falls . It falls from a ledge of Triassic-Jurassic basalt.
Our overnight stop , Semonkong Well equipped with plenty to do . One of the craziet was a 10 donkey pub crawl in the local village
Semonkong is celebrating this weekend lots of festivals ponies and children. Dinner at the lodge. Trout and Veg , Lamb chops morogo and pap.Watched the springbok Scotland game Went off to bed with the score 23 :20 to SA .A glass of wine up at the cabins before bed with same Lesotho Roma lecturer and wife.
So far,Have done 620 km engine on for 9hours 37 minutes
About 8 km from lodge to falls view point by road.
The last time I visited these falls they were obsured by mist from the flood waters pouring over the rim. Lesotho clearly dry this time round. For those that wish abseiling from the right side of the falls is organised followed by a walk out of the valley.
Leaving Semonkeng for Qacha’s Neck border post 120 km Leaving at 9:30
Averaging 20km in 30 min
Crossed over a very impressive bridge over the Senquenyane river Airstrip on top of hill.
Lunch on the bed of the Senque river snacked on Bruce’s doggy bag from last nights dinner
Last fill up at Qachas neck border post in Lesotho with diesel R15 /l 65 l for 1000 R .
Done 13hrs elapsed time and 767 km
After absolutely beautiful steep twisty tar. ( The road double back on itself so many time that looking across and valley you can see where you`ll be in 45 minutes. I would not like to do the road in ice and snow). An hour from Matatiel to Kokstad. Awful all weather road so bad that all drive on the “pavement” rather than the road.
In conclusion, a short trip with spectacular scenery. will dropped down the escarpment to Marburg and along the South Coast to over night at Mtwalume cottage before hitting Durban and home.
In SA on the journey Durban to Rustenburg passed through about 40 “road enforcement” areas. All speed and revenue focused using cameras ,speed traps over timed distance or hand held radar. The likelihood of being asked for your license, road worthy certificate, 3rd Party cover or breath analysed , add to this the chances of seat belt checks, hazard triangles and first aid kit check are near zero in SA. Other than camera speed fines near toll stops we experienced zero road safety controls in SA in 1600km.
So to look at the statistics
SA 40X2 =80 unmanned speed traps
Botswana 10 road stops
Zimbabwe 8 road stops
Zambia 8 road stops
Malawi 18 road stops
Tanzania 50 road stops
Not one of the neighbouring East African police,customs, or Army personal attempted to solicist a bribe. They were polite professional and checked and re checked all. TIP (transport Import Permit) road Tax and insurance along with Drivers licence and general road worthy issues (tyres & lights).
Speed limit 50kmph through any settlement ,whether marked or unmarked and 80kmph on open road.
I got 4 speeding fines and one $600 fine in Zambia for not being able to produce proof of export and re import permit. I cannot but praise the helpfulness and professionalism of all. It is important to put to bed the corruption/bribe charges laid unfairly against these officers.Speak to me for more detail.
#BULLET POINT SUMMARY BY COUNTRY
Afrika as taken off an ARUSHA monument
South Africa. First world (if compared). Love it, and its infrastructure. Traffic signage and roads good, road safety/ road worthy checks non existent. Defensive aggressive drivers led by our taxi industry and re enforced by you and me.
Botswana. Elephants Ground Horn-bills, Vultures antelope, tall anthills and huge baobab trees.Vast good straight roads (can see tomorrow) and huge road and agriculture land clearings inputs from China.Fish & chicken meals
Zimbabwe. Honest police in the most deserted areas leaping out to pull you over. Always three on duty. Lotsa German and EU tourists. Expensive as they use the US dollar. Eg. Victoria Falls walk $50 each (Over R1000 to see the water). G&T $15 at the Victoria Hotel. Tomatoes Fish & chicken meals
Zambia. Environmental nightmare, everyone is converting trees to charcoal. Very dry. Lusaka is looking so prosperous, the best city on the route. Tomatoes and fish meals mainly.
Malawi. Poor very, Christian church owned people. Socialist in nature.Fertile lands yet very under utilized. Tomatoes by the thousand and fish, some scrawny chickens.
Tanzania. Kamikaze Bus drivers capable of speeds greater than the Prado. Drove mostly behind one battled to keep up. The road from South to Dar , a land mine of detours as China re builds their roads. The Danish who constructed the first admitted it would not last due to the heavy traffic from Dar es Salaam to Congo Rwanda etc. Heavily rutted tar middle mannikies humps. Much more of a capitalist state. Zero tolerance.
# SUMMARY of AFRIKA thoughts
#LIGHTS.In all except SA, the VIPs drove with their lights on, the ordinary folk were hauled over and told to switch off.
#Must haves. Pure clean ice and Cold wine
#Never tired off. Boababs and Afrikan sunrises & sunsets.
# Nice to have but not essential. Wi fi. Cell phones. A 4X4. Music in the vehicle.
#Most misunderstood & maligned. Roadblocks
# Most undervalued. The Agriculture potential. Use of on site resources rather than exporting for refinement and re import..
# Driving recommendations. Drive closer to the white line than the deep crumbling edge. Anticipate villages not always marked and cut speed to 50kph.
# Semi essentials. Airconditioning and a towel to sit on to collect sweat.
# Distance. Did 1 646 return Jozzi Durban, in white Prado and 4 800 on road in Burgundy Prado plus 1500Kilometres on the Mbilizi Ferry to Kariba wall gives a total 7948 (8000km ) Before the flight home
BEERS of AFRIKA
This Chenin Blanc is Tanzinin made Catholic brothers
ROAD TRIP INTO AFRIKA ….DURBAN (eTHEKWENI) TO ARUSHA in TANZANIA thru Botswana Zimbabwe Zambia and Malawi . part 2 of 3
A lazy start to our adventure ,packed our Prado with what we thought we would need for our minimalist adventure , we were to be flying home with only our suitcases so travel lite was the motive. The crazy thought was taking a blow up mattress and pump , the cases of wine and lotsa snacks and tinned food was good although Rwandair were good enough to let us have as many packages on the home trip as long as they weighed in under 60kg.
Left Durban at 07H26 on Thursday 17th October 2014.
Our White Prado odometer reading 67654. The plan was to leave it in Jozzi and pick up the Burgundy Prado we were transporting to Arusha for a friend Chris Lello now living in the States.
“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting so….Get on your way ” Dr Seus quote per kind favor the Lodders)
Pleasant journey up to Johannesburg with two things in mind ,the Gama and Dlodlo wedding at Centurian (Siyabonga Gama and his family, friends of longstanding) and secondly the Prado swop.
The Burgundy PRADO T801BZP , swop was accomplished without much ado. Thank you Susan, odometer reading 98150 (Handed over in Arusha with 103 200Km) . Counting the 1300km on board the Kariba Ferry, (the Prado below deck),and the return drive in the white Prado Jozzi Durban,we were to do around 8,000km. At this stage still sweet “virgin” Afrika travelers with stars ,not roads, in our eyes.
Then on to Noel and Holly Naylor for the night. Dinner and far to much wine ,a quick visit to see Rose Stan Smith and little Tyler and Caylee and fall into bed. A great send off thanks guys.
The Gama /Dlodlo wedding was spectacular ,took place in a lovely medieval type castle in Centurion, with its own cathederal . Vuyi looked gorgeous in her wedding gown , arriving at the chapel in a bright red Ferrari proudly driven by Siyabonga her dad.
Stunning setting ,serenading in the chapel by the The Soweto Quartet.Their rendition of Ave Maria caused goosebumps. An entertaining service given by her Methodist minister uncle from KzN. Bruce managed to connect with a number of his Johannesburg friends and catch up with the KZN friends . Put at a KZN table for “natal boys” With Don Mkwanazi, Qedi Zulu, Glen Mashinini, Geoff Radebe and spouses.
The newly marrieds Vuyi & Lindo
Pre drinks and snacks on the expansive lawns outside the castle with a fun photo booth and more from the Soweto quartet .As the sun was setting we bid our adues ,missing the obviously sumptuous reception and Moet toasts……. (So sorry Vuyi and Lindo ,but we had a long road to Arusha & Kilimanjaro ahead of us).
Our next stop was a surprise visit and overnight with Jeni and Herman Visser in Rustenburg arranged only that morning. A lovely braai on the deck of their beautiful home ,we didn’t miss the water Jen ,and the gods were good to us with water back on tap in the morning. Herman and Jen stocked us up with (more) wine and water (both precious commodities)
A few points
Exchange rate. R11.20. = 1$
R1.32. = 1pula
Left Rustenburg at 7:10 with 98300 on odometer reading Burgundy/Red Devil Prado.
Our goal….. Nata in Botswana. Herman put us on the road past SunCity and Kwa Maritane and on to Thabazimbi, Lephalale(old Ellisrus) passing places like Koffiewater, Stockpoort Deelkraal. Baboons aplenty Warthog, guinea fowl and Gemsbok. Very green and marshy areas.
On to Groblers Bridge /Martins Drift border posts.Pleasant exit and entry into Botswana apart from not having our TIP (temporary import permit)Chris?… No money exchanged .We stopped for lunch just inside the Botswana border and filled up the red Devil …9.82pula/litre 70.98l for 697.02p and headed for Francistown .
First bit of road pretty atrocious, torn up by trucks, but soon settled into really good roads ,per kind favor the Chinese ,evident everywhere. Bypassed Francistown and headed for Nata ,finally the Baobabs Bruce was looking out ,for appeared.
Magnificent specimens huge ,hundreds (1000?) of years old.
Spotted about 20 gi-normous vultures roosting in a tree .Generally very dry compared to the green lushes Limpopo area of earlier..
Arrived in Nata just before sunset ,located The Northgate Lodge recommended by the Ogilvies ,booked in .Wow ,yay for a bed wine and a meal. Took Gabba Willment`s advise to photograph the different beers we would come across.
The first Outta Afrika
Overnighted in Nata at a comfortable lodge called Northgate Lodge ,at 650p . Nata is 260km north of Francis town.Enjoyed a G&T and Bruce sampled their Gaborone beer around the pool. Chobe Bream for dinner and chilled wine before bed ,tasty but rather pricey at 200 p.
Swimming pool wifi and hot water what more could u want.
Left at 07h30 with a topped up Prado to hit the vast plains. In SA the gamin seldom gives u a way point of more than 20km in Botswana the way points started at 80 then moved to 160 and this morning the GPS first way point is 260 km to kazangulu in a straight line and before a turn.
Ant hills and vultures
Long straight road between Nata and Kusane interjected by plentiful Elephant and giraffe on road side .Also little duiker and the occasional Gazelle herd within meters of the road. Chobe has tens of thousands of elephants, some of the largest herds in Afrika
Agricultural fields. Pandamatenga intensive agricultural land cleared as far as eye can see ,Dept of crop production ministry of agriculture financed by African Development bank ,Project leaders China. Note horizon curve of the earth
Huge Ground hornbill
Visited Kusane , which lies in a riverrine woodland at the meeting point of four countries (Botswana,Zambia, Namibia and Zimbabwe) and confluence of two major rivers Chobe & Zambezi.Off road to get a view point of the Chobe. elephant evidence everywhere cropped & crippled trees and dung .Kusane is worth another visit and more time spent exploring the water.
Also Kazungula which is the border crossing `tween Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Trees destroyed by elephant
Looking across a dam toward the confluence of the two rivers
Came across a small herd not more than 2 m from vehicle.
Headed back to Kazangula ,getting lost and finally through customs to Zimbabwe , very very pleasant border officials no visa required into zim but a road tax of $50 US
Kazungula. Arrived just behind a bus load of tourists but as SADC members we were processed quickly ,Zimbabwe Vic falls side, friendly official no visa required for SADC members, bridge Saps friend
They discovered we didn’t have a transport import permit (tip) into sa so how to take vehicle out.Warning and sent on our way. Coming into Kazungula stopped by smart cop .Warned for not traveling at 50 ,B apologized and were wished well
Then onto next counter for our Tip and oops he took papers and then went for tea we waited for 15min.(smile) 45$ plus 10$road tax just outside border 2km a road block friendly and waved thru. Vic falls toll fee 2$ and reciept .
Access to falls is R1000 a couple we decided to use our insider knowledge and spoil the tourists fotos by appearing on the brink of the falls waving to them.
Then off to the Big Tree baobab. Girth 18m, Height 23m, 1000 to 1500 years old.
Cheapest heli flight $280 (R2800+) a couple.
Highlight was retracing our steps to Victoria Falls hotel ,for a G&T at $15 each, last visited in 1993 with Moe and Suryai Shaik . Gave Moe a ring in SA and told him we missed our Muslim party animal. Still have the Video
We joined the dancing warriors to see off the Ravos Rail red carpet locomotive to Pretoria
Grand old lady……….Victoria Falls Hotel
The wing we stayed back then .( Was recently reminded by Walter Raw at his 60th that as his best man I got bored exploring Zim by myself and instead flew to join them on honeymoon.)
Spent the night in a set up tent, on a concrete slab with beds and nets at $35. A tin of tuna and baked beans a tomato and rolls from local store. (and wine)
A pleasant nights sleep serenaded by a near by Marimba band. Monty Python had it right, you do want to kill them after their 100th identical number.
Woke early to the sounds of the thundering falls ,packed for an early start .Of note the The Falls safari camp is great but no access to kitchen or facilities to boil some water for tea. Also wifi really expensive at $6 for 500megs for 1device.
Over the pool you can see the spray of the Victoria Falls in the sunrise
Left Vic Falls for Hwange , stopped in at Hwange to see the double tree lined roads (a bit like Pmb.). Coal mining area,baobabs every where large magnificent species ,as far as the eye can see
Went up to see the Baobab hotel on the top of the hill ,we could see the magnificent tree from the town below. Stopped for a cup of tea under the tree. 600 yes old.
Stopped at a road block coming down the hill ,for drivers and TIP. All in order waved on. Stopped to buy Baobab seeds to take back to SA and get the young Raw guy to try propagate. Baobabs have the most magnificent big white flower and were flowering profusely.
At cross roads filled up after being stopped by officials again , turned off to Songwe road to Mlibizi and terrrain changed .More twists valleys and hills, we stopped to take a photo of our first bend in the road .
Passed a tin mine at Kamativi stopped to pick up some rock and take photos.First need of a high 4×4 clearance.Headed for mlibizi ,so much scrap metal around in Zim ,would be moved for money in a flash in SA .
From there through the Chief nenynka – kamativi territory we encountered habitation for the first time, Road side stalls selling beautiful hand crafted, chairs ,3legged pots
and choppers (Bruce bought his) went though a few road blocks . Amazing no one in sight ,and suddenly a chap appears from no where. all polite and friendly officials.
Arrival at Mlibizi
The resort at Mlibizi is stunning green and lush on the banks of the Kariba.We were booked into a lovely 3 bedroomed cottage with our own house keeper huge lounge and kitchen ,a communal pool and lovely sunset spots .went down for a swim then back up to the cottage for lunch ,a stop in at the local store to buy a 6 pack of their local Calsberg pilsener $9.50 then back for an afternoon swim .Great to relax after all our galavanting .
Cracked a bottle of our now chilled wine and watched the sunset over the Zambezi .Spotted a Croc lazilily making it’s way across the lake and a hippo just wallowing in his spot .Lots of little local fishing boats out with their nets and line to catch bream and kapenta. Believe Zambian fish poaching very bad.
At R770 a night , sleeping six, ,we could definitely do this again.
Dinner was a simple affair of Spanish rice and a mushroom pasta sauce.
Early rise again this morning to pack and prepare for the ferry which literally docks below our cottage.Breakfast has become a drink of Future life .Watched the ferry dock and the cars and passengers disembark.
Our turn to embark ,quite a feat which Bruce managed well reversing into the bowels of the ship ,
We popped off to see Zambian kapenta boats which had been impounded 2 days previously for poaching in Zimbabwe waters .The fisherman were carted of to Binga and the boats carry a fine of $4000 each ,before release.
Six 4X4 vehicles loaded and 17 passengers ,Swiss ,Americans Canadians and Dutch . (apparently they can take 14 vehicles and 60 people. That must be hell) The only other SA guys had mutual friends in Joe Bresler, Christensen boy killed in Iraqa . They were off to fish then a Reunion with Joes sister and other Zimbabwean friends at Beit Bridge.
Headwind and white horses but cool and comfortable .Savananas at 2.50$ each ….chilled
FERRY Web Ad.” Save time, fuel, money, frayed nerves, over 1250Kms of driving and at least one night’s hotel stop by taking your car the length of the lake using the Kariba Car Ferry service.
Youand your family can relax in the spacious panoramic windowed saloon, laze on the partially shaded deck or enjoy the upper shaded deck whilst someone else does the driving.
The Voyage takes approximately 22 hours in each direction, during which time you will be served with three nourishing meals together with the morning and afternoon tea or coffee which is included in the tariff. There is a fully stocked cash bar aboard.”
When full you sleep in a deck chair arrangement. you can pull out mattresses and sleep on the deck. Three meals a day are provided at R5000 ,fair when you write in fuel and fines and accommodation ,
The lights in the distance are Zambian capenta boats
KARBIA ferry disembark (enjoyed the trip could do again)
ZIMBABWE AND KARIBA BORDER POSTS
Zimbabwe was in disarry, the authorities are reinforcing Kariba Dam wall and edges and seem to have moved the offices back from the precipice into the Dam. Currently housed in blazing hot tents. We had our first exposure to Interpol, here everything and all documents was re run
Stopped on both sides of the Dam wall. If you look at the photos closely you can see workers inside the main sluich gate 100m above the river bed
Zambia border post……….The bad news we were fined $600. No TIP or transport permit. The good news is we were taken by the senior OFFICIAL to a side office and he went through the regulations in detail. After we paid and receipted. He took all our documents , took out the necessary, for crossing Zambia (6) and copied them 4 times stapling them together. He said this would obviate further hassels (and it did). Unfotunately this took about 3 hours. Including the re issue of 10days visa in Zambia rather than the few we had requested. He insisted we visit a few parks naming them and showing us. This “generosity” got us into trouble later as he did not void and sign off the extra visa.
The trees changed to tall white bark things, but I doubt they will be there on our next visit.
Charcoal fires steeming into the air, filled us with dispair, hugh sacks on sale on the side of the road confirmed this distruction. Many charcoal vendors. Zambia border control recognises the enviromental nightmare. And would not allow charcoal transport through to Zimbabwe generally.
We set about getting to Lusaka. Only to have a boat and trailer come off an approaching family double cab. Overtake the double cab and plunge into a ravine on our side of the road. We stopped as did a taxi and by sheer manpower go the bent trailer and undamaged boat sweating and cursing, back on the road.
Lusaka in retrospect , was the most prosperous of all the towns. The sky line rimmed with cranes signifing construction. Traffic jams of note as they diverted us so they could finish the new double highway into town. We decieded to go into a major shopping Mall to change money. Noticed a new GAME store from SA.Helpful Forgein Exchange people directed us to Standard who were offering a better rate than themselves
Zambia was in party mood as it was their 50th anniversay of independance. Military Jets swooped low over the city practising for the day. Spoke to many zambians over time, most wanted to avoid indepth political discussion. Especially when discussing the health of their President (whohas recently died), and the possibility of the deputy, a white, being their next leader. They were chuffed to hear SA news , we have only been free for 25 years. Also interested to discuss SA,Whilst Mandela man of honour and Mbeki not bad , the new Zuma fellow was a headache with too many wives and money problems.
We hit the road, stopping to buy the mandatory 4 Colsbergs and started looking for a bed.
First attempt at accommodation, the owner really great. But the rudimentary pump in the courtyard and warm beers and drunk villages,got us moving on,after apologizing to the Inn Keeper and giving him a SA 2l coke in penance.
Friendly locals, on the veranda at Chinyunyu, the second attempt at getting a bed, who I gave some quarts cold beers ………………what more could you want?
Our bunglow of six rooms
A cold shower and packed ready to leave at 6:30 .Our hosts were kind and helpful ,their accomodation really basic tho .Breakfast was Future life with water ,(our long life milk now sour). And we were off heading for the border into Malawi . Bruce keen to try for the Lundazi Border (the most northern post) rather than go in at Chipata to Lilongwe. Through Rufunsa and just before the suspension bridge…..
At Luanga we were stopped by border control ,of course again typically Zambian he was not happy that I had two entry visas in my passport ,one a one day transit visa ,the other a 10 day visitor visa. That the kind border control guy at Kariba had changed for me encouraging us to visit the South Luangwa National park.Think he wanted to push the envelope ,didn’t get it ,and eventually sent us on our way . Have a full face picture
My best toy was my Samsung Gear (wrist watch camera). This is the guy that tried to give us a hard time.
This was a customs stop.Next check point was police, then Army control on the bridge ,they waved us on ,as did a few more check points after that. The Great East Road is in the process of a major overhaul ,so mostly dirt temporary roads with kamikaze bus and truck drivers ,sinkholes for potholes and numerous stranded long haulers who have lost their footing or their loads ,the local kids acting as traffic directors around said obstacles ……hair raising .
Then through the most magnificent Baobab forest 1000s of them
Stopped at 2 little villages ,Nyimba and Petauke ,in the search for compulsory Warning triangles for the Prado ,as we realised we didn’t have any and at this rate we may need them .Nyimba is small but friendly bought my Zambian wrap but no diesel (definitely no air pressure ) and no triangles .On to Petauke ,just off the main road a bustling town with a huge local market and a town centre , found our triangles and a garage with diesel.Bruce bought lunch ……..mopane worms and chapata?? Dried fish bigger than Kapenta..(the name for these dried fishes changes by country but remains the same staple), back on the road to Chipata .
Mopane worms at R7 a cup
Did not ask the price of dried rats
Mopane worms R7 a cup and the different dried fishes for the same price. They were tasty, but the Mopane tasted like Spinach biltong.
Suspect a Tequilla chaser might improve them !!
Dried Rats for stew on sale in this market. ?? Dagga in a bag openly sold next the rats.
Great celebrations in Chipata for Zambia 50 year Independence day tomorrow …50 hrs of independence. Foreign exchange at Stanbic then onto Lundazi. Pushing it now cause it’s getting late .
At Lundazi we filled up and spent our last remainig Zambian Kwatcha on an independence shirt for Bruce made in china!, Off to border post ,cleared out of Zambia no problem ,on to the Malawi side ,all well had our Ebolia temperatures taken for the first time by an elderly lady in civilian clothes with her bright new toy ,all in aid of the Ebola scare ,which she explained carefully and clearly to us.
Now for the TIP ,oh dear 5000 MAlawi Kwatcha and we have none .Not keen to take dollars ,so off outside to try for a backstreet exchange ,it’s now heading for 18h00 ,pressure ,after much negotiation and a young chap from customs running along with us , he and we decided on a 15$ amount,we were finally ready to go.A kind chap outside border control mention a little Presbyterian mission to Bruce which had a B&B ,follow the electric overheads he said ,we did till well after sunset and into the dark…….no mission ,the GPS was even lost….(saying go 2.5km and do a “U turn”we had not seen tar for hours and certainly not yet in Malawi.
So I did what I do best.Stopped cracked a bottle of Chenin Blanc and after the 2nd glass set sail,more relaxed. Finally by following two bright red mast lights and asking for a few confused directions we stumbled on the mission .
Bible and wine and anti-mozzie
They were welcoming at 20h00 and even opened the dining room for us for chicken and a few small roast potatoes . Food at last . A comfy bed and who knows maybe water in the shower tomorrow , none tonight.
Met 2 missionaries from Colorado USA ,Coral is a speech and hearing therapist who helps at the school for the deaf has been coming to the mission for 17 yrs , he an HP engineer. They leave for home tomorrow, during the wet season and return in the dry.He is a retired soft wear engineer ,was with HP now runs the workshop on the mission building water pumps and going out into the rural areas to install them ,really honorable people and a lucky find for us .
24th oct 2014
Awoke after a good nights sleep ,had breakfast of black tea and local bread with our new friends ,the kitchen had not much else,they shared some Quaker oats with us .Think the mission kitchen closes down when the missionaries return home .We both packed our vehicles and after a quick tour of the church and manse we were off heading for Mzuzu .
We had been warned ,the first stretch of road was pretty bumpy ,rocky and rutted ,through the Perekezi forest reserve.Green and hilly ,lots of giant bolder hills .Lots of private road side saw /timber mills. Plantation reminiscent of KzN
FInally pulled into MZuzu . First sign I saw that had me hankering for SA was a STEELBANK business sign a very prominent and successful SA business with a hugh factory in South Durban
Off to the bank to exchange our dollars then a quick visit to the local shoprite to stock up with water ,and the post office to post off our letters and fill up with diesel.again we went through about 8 road blocks ,all friendly and we were waved on.From Mzuzu we were headed to Livingstonia ,recommended by our new friends . .we decided to find a place to stay for the night along the shore and head up to livingstonia in the morning …….oh well after climbing down a very windy mountain pass (like Chapmans Peak in KZN,mountains with lush tropical bush),we decended to the lake passing many small villages……. As things were going I had braced myself for another waterless basic accom. Bruce was determined to keep looking ….and voilà we stumbled on the most wonderful oasis called Sangilo Sanctary …. what a find,Thailand (Phuket) or Mauritius by the lake ………and now for dinner
…Ps forgot we passed a local suspension bridge …..worth a visit.
Zambian soccer shirt worn in honour of Independence day.
25th Oct …….
A day of rest .Have decided to spend another night here.Met lovely Nicola and her 2 children ,they had travelled none stop for 13 hrs from just north of Dar ES SALAAM. On their way back to Lilongwe.She and the owner of the lodge ,Marc Stephenson were very keen to give us a number of options on where to go and where to stay.Nicola was originally from Tanzania near Lake Victoria ,She a medical practitioner, now in the social science area.Marc has owned the lodge for 11yrs ,both concerned that the recent Ebola scare was affecting their tourism.
Marc more concerned for his sanity living in such a remote place
Next morning,Up early for a cup of tea and our customary mug of Futurelife .
Then off up the hill /mountain to Livingstonia…..what a pass ,they say 19 hairpin bends we counted many more ,steeper and Longer than Sani Pass also really rocky but mountains covered with trees ,took us an hour and a bit to get up to the top . Livingstonia named after David Livingstone was a mission set up in 1884 by Dr Robert Laws,there is a lovely old Stone house now a museum and a Church ,all the buildings quite colonial and interesting gardens a tree lined streets ,there is a mission run lodge at the top and a number of camp sites on the way up. Including a mushroom farm
Then off up the mountain to Livingstonia…..a similar if not more difficult drive than Sani Pass.
what a pass ,they say 19 hairpin bends we counted many more ,steeper and longer than Sani Pass also really rocky but mountains covered with trees ,took us an hour and a bit to
get up to the top .
Livingstonia named after David Livingstone was a mission set up in 1884 by Dr Robert Laws,there is a lovely old Stone house now a museum and a Church ,all the buildings quite colonial and interesting gardens and tree lined streets ,there is a mission run lodge at the top and a number of camp sites on the way up.
Including a mushroom farm
We headed back and were on the beach in a little alcove by 10:30 …..swam …chilled…..ordered lunch spring rolls and salad ,back for a swim and snooze on the beach,dinner of fish and veg all in all a good and well needed day of rest.
With good advice and clean clothes ,repacked car we were off to cross the border into Tanzania.Again a 7:30 departure,a quick stop at Karonga to top up with fuel and a visit to the Atm and a photo of the legendary Dinosaur we were off to the border.
Again leaving Was a breeze ,but oh dear entering Tanzania was a different story, we didn’t have the original exit permit from Tanzania ,so a bit of to`ing and fro’ing and a visit to inspect the car by the Tanzanian chap ,we were waved thru ,no visas for SA citizens yeah…..no money exchanged…..good as we still had not found an exchange to get Tanzanian Shillings..Entering Tanzania was such a contrast to barren Malawi ,just across the border the fields were lush and green, hilly ,banana plantations ,tea plantations and in contrast to Malawi the Tanzanians drive motorbikes as opposed to bicycles .
Southern Tanzinia is as close as you`ll get to KzN coastal and Midlands
topairies common in gardens ,their homes are brick and thatch and police have hand held radar …..we were warned ….our first fine 93km in a 50 km area ,oh dear we had no shillings (30 000shillings standard fine ,payable on the spot before they even write out the fine ) so handed over our last remaining dollars 25$.stopped at intersection to Mbeya ,found an Atm Drew money (200 000shillings ) and bought 2cokes ,cold !!!! Tinned sardines and baked beans and Eat sum more biscuits in the car as we headed off for our next overnight ,the road from Mbeya ,as we were warned is horrendous ,80km /hr speed limit ,hundreds of huge trucks and roads deeply rutted.Heading for Iringa and a working farm called Kisalanza recommended by Marc and Nicola,Huge wet lands ,thru plantations ,gum and pine, every village has cops with radar so slow trip .Finally made the farm ,really special and our room in the stables….met up with a German couple Ellen and …….. Lots and lots of bottles of wine plus B ‘s Malawian gin consumed …..firm friends ….more Germans (south)to visit Durban !!.tried out our gas cooker ,worked surprising well ,pasta
and sauce for dinner.Long night.but comfy sleep.
Another early start ,boiled our water for tea yeah on our gas cooker,showered and packed car ,last goodbye to our new German friends and we were off ,not before the owner of the farm came across and helped us finally decide not to head to Dar .It took her 11hrs the previous week to get to Dar .so a quick change of plans and we decided to head for the coast just north of Dar .She explained that since Congo ,Zambia and Malawi now all used Dar as their port ,the roads were horrendous ,and not designed to cope with the traffic,boy was she right .
The road between Iringa and Chilinza was busy,and to top it off by 9am we had been stopped twice and fined 30 000shillings each time .for speeding, I took over the driving for the first time this trip travelled through really mountainous territory,over passes ,through 2 reserves The Udzungwa Mountain National park and the thru Mikumi National park ,saw Buffalo and Giraffe and a spectacular baobab forest ,all under 80 km an hour 30km thru the reserve and 50 through villages.Stopped just outside the Mkuni reserve for lunch again tinned pichards and mixed veg out the can in our car.villages.10hrs later arrived at Bagamoyo, 500km trip tired .Booked into the Travellers lodge ,a bit expensive by our standards but it was getting dark and we were ready to stop moving.Not before exploring the pictueresque fish market at the harbour and sticking our heads into a beautiful colonial old building well kept,hoping against hope that it was a lodge,but no I walked straight into a board meeting in progress ,all very helpful tho. Earlier had stopped in Morogoro to draw money and fill up with fuel .Masai everywhere .from mountainous to flat plains …buses and trucks and motorbikes ….half stranded and burnt out on the side of the narrow roads.
Warned by a number of broken tree and bush branches in the road,so considerate.
Dinner at Travellers turned out to be disappointing for Bruce who ordered beef fillet and potatoes ,,when it arrived it was infact a leathery piece of thin beef ?( goat ) needless to say tired and frazzled Bruce didn’t let them get away with it ,and proceeded to instruct them on what a south African expects when offered a piece of fillet.Bruce went to bed hungry (after devouring a whole R2 delicious pineapple ),I on the other hand had made a good safe choice Dar squid and rice ,yummy ( poor octopus)
At the travelers lodge in Bagamoyo, our cottage was right on the beach .(mkwaja)
Went down for an early walk on the beach .After good breakfast at the lodge we went to explore this old city with strong Muslim influences ,old derelict buildings a fishing harbor with hundreds of fisherman a colorful busy sight Huge amounts of fish .couldn’t take too many photos as the locals are not keen so B surreptitiously took with his GEAR wrist watch.explored the historical sights then back to pack and check out and head further up the coast.
Fried Prawns R7 a dozen and tasty
The manager at Travellers lodge confirmed that the coastal road was now usable and that he had a lodge just north of the Sadaani game reserve ,and suggested it would be more scenic than heading back onto the A14 tar road ,so we took his advice and set off on the coastal which is very bumpy gravel so we were shaken about quite a bit .the fee thru the Saadani Reserve was 100$ for 25 km no animals in sight except a lonely giraffe and a few huge buck nyala type ,not even an elephant dropping in sight ,dissapointing, terrain was very much like northern KZN.flat pans ,no flamingoes we eventually arrived at Nicks
Note the Giraffe skull. Also a lot of Dolfin skulls
..Vagabond lodge tired hungry The lodge,,,quite spectacular but deserted ,the local workers tho made us welcome and put us into an ensuite lodge although we were only paying 40$ .we went down to the beach to catch the last rays of sun as it was setting ,came up and had a beer at the bar (they were cold) and headed off to make our dinner of pasta again.
Of note I noticed in the register that they had only 61 guests since march this year.Again most complain about the recent incidences in Nairobi,And Ebola .Sad really built in another era as the photos will show.
Have a photo of me going for a swim ,not a person in sight and me in my inside out under pants.(Right way, back to front, inside out………., a 4 day use theory)
After our cup of Milo we were packed and on the road again by 7am heading for a village on the mouth of a lagoon called Pangani ,again recommended by Nicola who we met at Sangilo. Slow going again this morning very bumpy.passing through many sisal plantations ,we popped out at a small fishing village and then back heading north .came across the Mashado airstrip .manned a by a solitary guy waiting for a 10 seater (costa?) plane which was due to land around 10:30,we couldn’t wait so continued on our journey
.Eventually arriving at the lagoon at Pangani .we went to explore a few lodges on the south banks ,all really nice but deserted ,we decided to catch the ferry across to the north banks and find a lodge there.So along with 30 locals on foot with their huge bundles on their heads ,10 motorcycles piled high with goods ,a Masai guy herding his 3 cattle our vehicle and a huge milk tanker the ferry was pretty loaded and we were off for our 5 min trip across the lagoon .once we had disembarked
(I had to walk off while Bruce drove off,) we were on our way again ,about 15km further on our bumpy road we came across
What was to be our next stop ,Bahari Pori ( meaning sea forest in Swahili) which is a tented camp (on concrete under thatch) just behind the mangroves .met 2 brothers (both missionaires, who were both raised in Tanzania so filled us in on some history ,the lodge served a pizza for lunch and we spent a lazy afternoon around the pool.
Tomorrow we must find the little gravel rd back to the A14 and head to Arusha,
Pangani is in the lee of the Pemba island. Stunning untouched mangroves ,notably no crabs scurrying up the trees.
Oh dear we have left our little gas cooker at Vagabonds …….no more morning tea or coffee.
The GAS cooker (and the cook)
Breakfast served early just for us again everyone so kind.We confirmed that we could stay on the little gravel coastal road up to Which then would put us back onto the tarred A12 to our final destination Arusha.It turned out to be 40km of shake rattle and roll again ,taking an hour and a half.the gravel roads bordered by lush 2story high palm trees ,fruit trees ,valleys and mountains ,over a beautiful mountain pass ,then flat plains which made we think of Mexico ,tall cactus and thorn bushes and numerous whirlwinds for as far as the eye could see. Lots of Sysile
We also came across huge Baobabs with huge bamboo tubes /vaults / bee hives hanging from them.
Bruce spotted Kili first ,covered in cloud.We stopped at a roadside beer garden for a beer ,numerous detours for road works ,passed Moshi and stopped in at the Kili airport to try and confirm our return tickets ,not possible !hit the rush hour Arusha traffic.Tired hot and hungry we stopped at a few potential places to stay ,then found the Outpost recommend ,in Seringeti Road (so of course we had chilled Seringeti beers) booked in for our last 3 nights.Stopped at our “local” for a beer then off to explore ,found the market ,clock tower and then back for dinner .
A serious dust storm.In Afrika only larnies drive with lights on,not the plebians.
Our room at the Outpost.
Up early ,breakfast ,then set off at 7:30 to find the Arusha private airport hoping to secure a scenic flight around Kili and over the Crater.Lots of coffee plantations,found the airport ,had coffee and sent off some postcards (cool) but no luck with a flip.1600$ to charter a 10 seater 900$for a six seater….no available seats ?headed back along the Ngorogoro road,found a new Mall ,great ideas ,baobab birds nests ,Masai women bead art ,to replace the income they previously earned by making charcoal .The NGO run by a Roberto Rossi from Italy.We then set off to find Rwandan Air offices ,ladies at Kenyan air really helpful.Rwandan air in a tiny side street ,confirmed our flights then ,did the side streets ,came across a funeral at the big Catholic church ,colorful,lunch at a serene Chinese restaurant,again Bruces bad luck with food persisted,he ordered Curried chicken and rice , came with one or two small pieces of biltong chicken in a mound of rice……..I went for the safe noodles with mixed veg,tasty but to large a helping.Even tried our hand at the local casino and blew our budgeted 10 000 shillings each ,but it did give us a respite from the torching heat out doors.Back to our local for a beer and then to the Outpost to catch the last rays of sun.Dinner and bed.Washing nearly dry !
Road to the Outpost
After breakfast were on the road again by 8 determined to catch a glimpse of Kilimanjaro.Mt Meru was clearly visible so we were holding thumbs that our luck would be in,so we set off on our 60km trip to Moshi .Great photo opportunity for Mt Meru,stopped to see a German styled church ,received a guided tour around the church by the minister ,pulled off by the police twice ,first guy checked the insurance and politely informed us it needed to be displayed on the window ,warned we were waved on our way ,the second woman was not as lenient and asked for drivers licence too,we explained our situation and our earlier stop ,she reluctantly sent us on our way.Finally off to Moshi,cloud cover again ,sad ,but waiting in que at the ATM I spotted a tiny snow topped peak for all of 20sec through the gap in the clouds,no time for photos.Then off to Moshi small airport,again Kilimanjaro not allowing us a view,no one around at the airport except the guards, so no flights. Headed back towards Arusha,tried to find some live music ,but apparently everything closes at 12:30 so settled for a French Wine and Tapas bar ,expensive but a fair Spanish Paella and a Robertsons Sav R240. .Also a trip in to see Kennedy House coffee plantation and polo club.Back to the pool for some sun.
Skipped dinner tonight after our big lunch ,so cleared car and started the packing ,tomorrow is DDay.
Completed packing ,breakfast ,then off to spend our last shillings.Explored the side streets around the stadium ,the Muslim quarters ,the museum for natural history ,a beautiful Hari Krishna temple and came across the Arusha Park, sat and watched the locals come in after church for a cold drink and lunch from the little kiosks.
Heard our lunch being slaughtered …..then boiled…politely turned down lunch and enjoyed our cokes.Then back to the Outpost to meet Kirsty and hand over the car.What a great car ,really impressed by its resilience and kindness to us ,not one iota of hassles.Kili airport clouded in dust ,no visibility ,so delays but soon we were airborne to Kigali .Rwandair impressive ,clean and helpful.A quick change of planes in Kigali and we were headed south for O R Tambo and home.
Air Zambia pulling in behind us. Again a watch camera useful.
Landed just about 22h00 cleared customs then located our car kindly delivered by my brother ,and with much apprehension we set off for Durban at midnight , still very hyped by our exciting holiday.The Gods were with us and we sailed into Durban at 5am 3 November 2014 ….
What an adventure
We would do all over again
We are so so fortunate to have had this opportunity…..