A new “onestop” border processing where you only visit one office for both countries is in place at Nakonde – almost! Not quite fully up and running yet online as it should be with officials having to get assistance on their cellphones. But a vast improvement, only taking about 90 minutes to get us through instead of 3 hours. The touts and unofficial money changers were making the most of the situation while it lasted. They drove us absolutely crazy and Solveig resorted to her crying trick to get rid of them! Once the system is fully functional the touts should dissapear and that will be the most welcome outcome.
Apart from that, it was wonderful to be back in Tanzania with its colourful activity and lovely people.
We headed to Utengule Coffee Estate near Mbeya to camp.
There we met a young South African lady, Bronwyn McCarthy working at reception, from Jeffery’s Bay. She was missing home and still adjusting to her two year contract in a new country.
In Mbeya we struggled to find a supermarket we are accustomed to shopping at, as in the southern countries closer to home. We were only wanting basics fortunately.
The rain had not abated on our way to Iringa, so we stopped 50 km short at another favourite, Old Farmhouse, for the night. Luckily we got a site which had a thatched shelter to increased our living space in the rain.
In Iringa we just had to visit Nema Crafts again.They give employment to handicapped people, especially the deaf and dumb. When we arrived it was hailing so hard we had to wait in our car until it stopped! Above Nema is a restuarant that specialises in Tanzanian food and drink, also employing the handicapped. Orders had to be written down for the waiters. I couldn’t wait to try a “Rolex”. It can best be discribed as a savoury omelet served in a wrap!
We spent the day in Iringa changing our currency into shillings and trawling the street markets. A variety of fresh fruit and vegetables are available and we enjoyed bargaining too.
We enjoyed our day in Iringa so much that it was too late to go further so we camped at Riverside camp.
In Dodoma there is no camping so we stayed at the Nam Hotel which is about the same price as a campsite.
A dreadful breakfast was included. We should have prepared our own too! At least we enjoyed a lovely shower and the car was also washed!
The last time we travelled between Arusha and Dodoma the road was tarred. But this time improvements were been made by the Chinese. Where they had completed the upgrade it was great, but there was still much to be done. …
While on the worst section of road we came across Jean, a French motorcyclist overlander
We really needed to replenish some of our supplies at a proper grocery and that is why we detoured to Arusha which we had planned to visit on only on our return journey.
We spent a few days at Meserani Snake Park. It was so good to see Ma and BJ again. They’re the owners and ex South Africans. Unfortunately we learnt of the sad news that BJ is not well.
Meserani is one of those places that you will always meet interesting fellow travellers and this time was no exception either. Tremaine, an Australian Maths teacher was there to climb Kilimanjaro before visiting family in South Africa and was driving a Bushlore HiLux. We don’t usually get on well with Australian ex South Africans but Tremaine was an exception. He (61) and Ben(49), a separate traveller from the Canary Islands got on so well with us even though we were old enough, 72 and 69, to be Ben’s parents! Ben owns a Kite Surfing resort in the Canaries.
” Ma” you’re both so special. So sad to say goodbye once again!
We had toyed with the idea of visiting Tarengire Game Reserve but the prohibitively expensive entrance fee of US $150 for foreign vehicles on top of all the other charges put an end to that.
We eventually left on a two day journey of all day driving to reach Rwanda, our route took us back over a section of road we were on a few days before…
Much less rainfall than we had previously encountered
We had left Arusha later than planned and never reached our overnight destination so even wild camped at a filling station like we d 1id in South America.
The road was good the first day but deteriorated the closer to the border we came. Why is it? This happens in most countries, even back home!
We stayed at the Old German Boma on our second night. Most overlanders do.
It required a detour of about 35 kms. We met an Englishman, Jonathan on a 200cc Suzuki staying there too. He was going the opposite direction to us. We invited him to breakfast and he confirmed many places we weren’t sure of visiting. Very reassuring!
We’ve been so lucky with the wonderful people we meet.
Just as we had expected, the remaining section of road to the border was the worst!
The good news was that the Ruvumu border was also “onestop”. But this one worked and was a pleasure!
In no time at all we had crossed into Rwanda. Now to get used to driving a right hand drive vehicle in a country that drives on the right side of the road!!