Thursday 8th May
We finally left Peponi and continued with our journey northwards on another rainy day. A few people had suggested we stay at Irente Biodiversity Farm in the Usambara mountains near Lushoto, which wasn’t too far. The route took us up a beautiful old mountain pass built by the Germans many years ago. The road was narrow and twisted. We suddenly came across a massive rockfall which blocked the road.
We had to turn back to search for alternative accomodation. On the way down the narrow pass we stopped for a bus to pass but he still clipped the rear side of our car!
Again it was getting dark when we finally found Zebra campsite. It looked as if it had been abandoned but a watchman let us in. It must have been lovely before, set on a river bank under Baobabs and other trees.
There was no electricity nor hot water and we did not dare even try the toilets, we had no alternative but to stay and bush camp!
The following day we continued our journey along the beautiful Usambara mountain range and plenty of sisal plantations.
The road was in the process of being upgraded and was excellent where completed but the deviations were poor, especially with all the rainfall in the region. At a detour we came across this traffic jam of trucks which tailed back about a kilometer.
We followed a track cars had made through the veld to pass the jam and eventually came across a truck stuck in mud sideways blocking the detour. We could go no further as the way passed had been blocked by rocks. The rocks had obviously been placed there on purpose. There were plenty of helpers offering to remove them for a fee of course. No ways were we going to be blackmailed! Solveig blew a fuse, jumped out in wet mud up to her ankles, prayed for strength to move the rocks and pushed the obstacles out of the way to cheers and clapping from other onlookers while I maneuvered passed the truck up a bank in 4 wheel drive. We had made the onlookers day! They were all waving and cheering this mzungu bebe for her determination.
We passed many villages on the way. It’s always a treat to see what they offer for sale…
As we neared Moshi we took a right turn towards the Kenyan border. We wanted to extend our stay in Tanzania by another month and hoped we could do that at the immigration there. But we were told we had to do it at Home Affairs in Moshi or Arusha.
Now to find the road to Lake Chala. Quite difficult to find, but we did discover an amazing little town, Marangu, buzzing with people and bananas. Never seen anything like it. Marangu is the largest banana marketing town in Tanzania.
Hundreds of people, trucks, bikes, wheelbarrows and tuktuks etc.
What a buzz. Beautiful scenery up passes. Fields of sunflowers.
Eventually found Lake Chala. Ian could not understand why he never saw the lake before getting there. The reason was its a meteorite lake.
A great big hole filled with water and surrounded by high hills and beautiful vegetation. Good campsite and lovely pub/restaurant overlooking lake.
It offered wonderful views of Mount Kilamanjaro, which unfortunately was covered in cloud the whole time we were there.
Next destination Moshi. Coffee, cake and Internet connection. What a great town.
At the foot of Kilamanjaro but no sign of the Mountain!
Wandered off to look at nearby African shops – accompanied by unwanted tout who would not leave us alone. A real pain. Escaped from him into fabric shop (African cloth)
Different dude took us around and after much “to do” I was really ripped off buying the fabric. Another tout! Anyway, hopefully lesson learnt. I was Mortified. Such clever con artists!!! Stayed at Keys Hotel campsite, not very nice. But it was safe. Off to Arusha.
Overloaded taxis are a common site, as is this bicycle:
Arrived at circle half way between Cape Town and Cairo in Arusha.
Had to have pics with George. Unfortunately, halfway sign had been removed.
Pics taken anyway.
Really battled to find the turnoff to our campsite at Lake Duluti, the road was dreadful. Without actually seeing some of these roads for yourself you’ll never believe its possible to drive on them.
The evening vista was beautiful and well worth our effort. There were many people enjoying their Sunday. A group celebrating a birthday. A Turkish family with young children.
Father teaching boys to catch fish, while girls screaming like little girls do. We ordered a plate of slap chips to snack with our drinks at the lakeside.
They brought a bowl, tea pot of hot water and towels to wash and dry our hands before eating. Some very pissed locals sitting next to us were very friendly, shaking and slapping hands with us. We chatted away and enjoyed their company.
Everybody left soon after dark and we were all alone. Camped behind restaurant close to power point. Early to bed.
Great hot shower in the morning even though the ablutions were a bit rough. Luckily they were still flush loos with seats. East Africa is full of Asian squat loos looking as if an elephant had sat there.
Went to Home Affairs to get stay extended. Had to come back at 3.00 to fetch passports, so went shopping. Found Shoprite, the worst one yet. Heard that a Kenyan group, Nakumatt, is buying their operation in Tanzania which explains the empty shelves. Met a bunch of Australian tourists outside and connected with them. Just loved the contact. Then spent some time at a coffee shop, Mzumba, which had free Internet, we paid for the internet with what they charged for the coffee! Had lunch at a Mexican place with a view of Mt. Meru. Great food, better prices, also free Internet. Back to Home Affairs. Stay extended for another month. Bought some veggies at roadside and George interacted with the sellers. Visited Sameers, a famous motor spares place with parts for every type of overland vehicle. Ian needed some fuses.
Went in search of Meserani Snake Park campsite where all the overlanders stay some 25 kms South West of Arusha on the way to Serengeti.
Passed many coffee plantations on the way as well as farms with tunnels for growing cut flowers for export to England and Amsterdam.
There were many overland trucks and lots of tents pitched all over the spacious grassed campgrounds. We parked near the ablutions again to plug in our freezer and fridge. The staff were Maasai, dressed in their traditional clothing. Interesting place. We based ourselves there for the remainder of our stay.
On Tuesday we went to visit the Cultural Heritage village near Arusha. Wow! Beautifully put together in a lovely setting.
Owned by an Indian. Interesting shops with magic products.
A must see for visitors to Arusha.
Went to the campsite pub in the evening and chatted to Ma, BJ and younger Deon, the owners. They had built it from scratch when the SA couple moved there in 1993. Ma proudly showed us photos of the place when they bought the ground. Not a thing there and now,20 years later, big trees providing shade, grass and the Snake Park. They’ve also built a Clinic, specialising in treating snake bites, scorpion and spider bites.
We had to move on . Decided to make another attempt to stay at Irente Biodiversity Farm.
The road up to Irente just amazing – Winding, narrow, a bit scary but awesome vistas of little villages.
Terraced fields of mixed agriculture. The rocks and landslides had been removed thankfully.
Went through a village called Soni ….
Which was above a waterfall of the same name.
Peter Murless, managing the farm for 14 years and married to a Swedish lady, Anette, invited us for a drink and chat after we had settled in. Said Ian’s beard reminded him of a very good friend who had an Eco farm in Natal specialising in herbs. His name…. Nino Rivera! Cannot believe it! 6° of separation!! Nino is a FB friend who had worked with Ian at MvN studios in Joburg in the 70’s. That’s not all…
The next day Ian received a photo of Nino posted on FB by Peter’s daughter! Bought loverly homemade goodies at the farm before we left, honey, yogurt, butter, bread and mango chutney.
Now on a mission! Gotta get to Peponi early before Keith and Ticks. Give them a huge welcome. Speeded a bit and of course got caught. Ian very good, polite and apologetic, I, with hands covering my face, burst into tears. The cops got such a fright and told us to continue with no speeding. My crying worked! We will not pay bribes! Got to Peponi 3:30 p.m. And Keith and Ticks a half hour later. Hugs, squealing
laughter and emotional tears. So wonderful to see them again and someone from home…… ( more soon!)
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