Later the same night while staying at Karen Camp and after purchasing the tickets to Oslo online I received a Whatsapp from Belinda, our friend and business partner. She was concerned about us all being away from South Africa at the same time with us now planning to be in Europe while she was in Australia visiting family for three weeks during July. Business was slow because it was winter.
As mentioned in our previous blog, we’d been getting subtle messages every now and again about the timing of our journey through Africa.
The first warning came as far back as in April when our rental tenants let us down by informing us that they had to return to England for medical treatment. 9 months before their lease ran out! This would have a major impact on the financial aspect of our journey.
Then the visa and carnet problems, the political situation in North Africa, the suspended ferry service between Egypt and Europe, the bombings in Kenya….. Now this!
Our credo is Its about the Journey, Not the Destination that really mattered.
After we discussed this latest development in the morning, we decided to cancel the tickets we’d purchased the previous night. Fortunately there were no problems doing so.
A month to go before we needed to be back, still lots to do in Nairobi and Kenya and have time to also enjoy our trip home.
We’d seen adverts for a Masai Market being held on the rooftop of a shopping centre and went to see what it was like. Solveig is always on the lookout for something we can sell in our shop.
The craft was good but nothing new. There are so many people from Africa selling their craft in SA that it has to be something very special.
On the coastlines of Tanzania and Kenya as well as Zanzibar, there is a problem of littering being caused by the ocean currents bringing flip flops in their thousands from the rivers of Malaysia and India and dumping them on the beaches. While we were in Peponi each morning workers were on the beach raking up the debris. Even clothing was dumped on the beach by the currents!
When we got back to camp later that evening we saw a familiar Land Rover camped next to where we’d left our things. There was nobody in sight so we had an early supper and went to bed to plan our return trip further.
We got up early the next morning and just knew that it had to be Scott and Helene parked next to us. We called out to them and they joined us in a lovely reunion. We caught up with all their news and likewise. They’d had quite a bit of trouble with their car in the Serengeti with the very bad roads. Severed their brake hydrolics and broke both rear springs! They were angry with the general state of the park considering the absurd park fees they’d paid.
We left Karen Camp and said goodbye to Scott and Helene. They too had decided not to continue further northwards and were returning to Cape Town to ship their car and fly home to England from there. We hope they stay with us in Gordon’s Bay a few days.
Went to say our goodbyes to Karen and Vishal and spent the night at Devan’s once more. That night there was a terrific storm. We were grateful to be sleeping indoors. A huge bang followed by lots of sparks woke us. It was repeated a few more times. Very scary with all the bombings in Kenya! In the morning we foundt that during the storm a branch had fallen across high voltage cables and shorted, causing the bangs and showers of sparks.
Passed this cyclist and passenger on the way. Spot the child inside the tyre!
Near Arusha the T4A GPS routing took us on a short cut through farmland, passing many coffee plantations on the worst road imaginable. Every now and then it’s done that. Probably the settings. I allow dirt roads to be used when it plans the route.
We stayed at the Meserani Snake Park again. When we got out of the car the spare wheel was at right angles to where it should have been. The bracket was almost broken off completely! Must have been the shortcut!
I went to BJ, the owner of the camp, and asked if I could bring the car to the workshop the following morning for the bracket to be welded. He said he’d seen us coming in with the spare hanging and wondered if I’d come over. The Snake Park has a wonderful workshop where they carry out repairs to all 4×4’s and to the big overland trucks too. Next morning he repaired the bracket and refused any payment.
Meserani Snake Park, Arusha, YOU ROCK!
We’ve met so many wonderful people on this trip who go out of their way to help out, lighten your load or just offer friendship.
When we undertook this journey we could not have guessed what would make the biggest impression. Would it be the animals? The landscape? The towns and villages? The different cultures?
We now realise that the most significant and unexpected outcome has been the contact we’ve made with wonderful people. It has been a life changing experience!
What a surprise! Koos had told us the group wasn’t doing well in Tanzania but we had shopped here only a month ago!
Had coffee, something to eat and went online while waiting for the laundry.
Met another couple, Rob and Dee. This time from Colorado. Got chatting and found out that they had bought their Hi Lux camper from rental company, Bushlore, in Cape Town. They had done this before when travelling in other countries. Sold the vehicle when they were ready to go home. This saved them rental charges which could be astronomical for long stays.
I had seen a very well fitted out Land Cruiser Troopie with pop up roof from Bushlore and was thrilled to hear that they sold them while still almost new.
Our Patrol has been wonderful on this trip but we could do with more space inside to at least make some coffee when it rained. For the first three months it rained 2 out of 3 days! I sent off an email to Bushlore immediately to enquire. A CruCam as it’s called would be for sale in April 2015. We’ll see…
Visited a local market across the street.
There were lots of other things there too.
We bought some for the shop at the Waterfront.
Back at the Snake Park we met up with Rob and Dee again who were also staying there and chatted some more.
There wasn’t a campsite in Dodoma so we stayed at the Nam Hotel. Only R180 for the night. Couldn’t often camp for that price. Very good value, it included lovely room, bathroom and shower en suite, DSTV, breakfast for two and a car wash!
Continued along the Chinese tar road with occasional detours to Iringa the next day. We stopped at the Old Farmhouse campsite about 50 kms beyond Iringa for the night. We were the first to arrive and chose a site that had a Lapa where we could set up our kitchen and eating space under shelter.
Later while relaxing with a drink I noticed someone looking around the back of our car. OMG I exclaimed. It was Pam Stallebrass! Solveig shrieked and shouted Pam, Pam, Pam! We could not believe our eyes. What are the chances of meeting up with one of your best friends at a campsite in the middle of Africa?
They thought we were further north and never let us know of their plans and we did not even know they were travelling. Joe ran over as he thought something had happened to Pam. We spent a wonderful evening together catching up on news.
The next day they went with their group to Malawi and we set off to Utengule Coffee Lodge near Mbeya. We camped at the same site we had stayed in before. Met a couple travelling in a nicely fitted out Land Rover with a pop up roof.
One of the advantages of travelling abroad is that you get to see so many amazing camping set ups from other parts of the world. The coffee beans from Utengule are of the nicest we’ve ever tasted. Although both of us are “coffeeholics” we regretfully only bought 1 kg.
The border crossing at Tunduma took awhile. There were so many trucks crossing it was a bit of a nightmare. We had a long way to go to our overnight stop as we were trying to catch up to Keith and Tickey as soon as we could. Consequently we were travelling further each day than we normally would. Fortunately the road in Zambia was in good condition and there were no more speed bumps!!