We decided to chill awhile before our homeward journey and chose to return to Peponi Beach resort, where we stayed for nearly two weeks in 2014.
The trip from Kenya was short and our border crossing quick and efficient. We stopped in Tanga and visited the supermarket and fruit and veg market we’d shopped at three years before. Memories ………
When last at Peponi, the owner Denis, was in the final stages of selling the resort. New owners are from Kenya and it’s now being managed by their daughter, Claris.
And what a fantastic job she is doing. It’s hard to imagine how one can improve on paradise, but she has managed to do that!
Our friends, Michael and Birte that we met at Tiwi Beach arrived the next day before their trip to Zanzibar, but we still never had that Pinacolada!
We just loved our walks on the beach at low tide…..
We walked to Pangani, a small fishing village south of the camp and also north to the mangroves.
After only five days we moved on again unfortunately. We’d made the decision to include Malawi on our return journey and we needed to make time for that too.
After a long drive we stopped over at Tan Swiss in Mikumi for the night.
The drive there was stunning. Even the 50kms through the Mikumi game reserve was fruitful and we sighted many animals. Another long drive to Mbeya followed.
The scenery in this part of Tanzania is so wonderful that it makes the journey so much easier.
The Valley of Baobabs on the banks of the Ruaha river and the beautiful mountain pass through the Uzungwe forest are unique.
We arrived in Mbeya after sunset and drove the last 30kms or so in the dark. That we knew the area hardly made any difference to the difficult and risky task. Rush hour in this part of Africa consists of unlit bicycles, darkly clothed black pedestrians, handcarts returning from markets. And trucks stopping at each and every speedbump, not to mention the roadworks and potholes! The first thing we did on arrival was down much deserved drinks!
Creatures of habit that we are, we returned to Utengule Coffee Estate for the night where we experienced problems with the camp electricity supply. It damaged the mains adapter for our fridge which is an inconvenience as the fridge can now only operate when the car is moving.
As it was already late we decided to treat ourselves to supper in their restuarant. We weren’t hungry so ordered a light meal each which was dissapointing. We should have shared a good main meal instead.
In the morning we took the final pictures of Tanzania before leaving…
Although we were looking forward to visiting Malawi again we sadly said goodbye to Tanzania in the morning, one of our favourite African countries.
We entered Kenya at the Tororo Border. Everything went smoothly, efficiently and quickly. We’d planned to stay in Eldoret but when arriving in the town we were horrified at the appearance of some of the guesthouses. We kept on looking, found nothing so decided to wild camp in a filling station. We came across one that looked good and there was also a reasonable looking restaurant in the yard. We met the manager of the restuarant who welcomed us to stay. A 24 hour guard looked after both the service station and the restuarant. The manager was a delight and such a help we felt obliged to eat supper there. We couldn’t accept his hospitality and then cook a meal right outside his restuarant!
We made our own breakfast early before the restuarant opened however! After breakfast we made the usual visit to an ATM to draw the local currency when entering a new country, Kenyan Shillings this time.
In Kenya the roadside stalls aren’t grouped together but the goods are displayed individually. We often buy our fruit and vegetables from them and it’s better when you can deal with the vendor on her own and are not hassled by other vendors nearby.
We continued to Nairobi and Jungle Junction, an overlander favourite, in Karen the suburb. We asked ourselves, “Is the place more run down since our previous visit or is Kenya just desparately in need of rain?” It turned out that both were correct. Tourism has taken a massive dive in Kenya and the infrastructure is suffering.There is an overall rundown look about Kenya and is probably also the dirtiest country we’d been in.
But on the positive side, the road network had improved enormously since our previous visit and is ongoing!
We moved to Camp Karen nearby, but it wasn’t any better really. Both were tacky and lacking some TLC.
Solveig made contact with Karen Khagram and we arranged to meet for lunch the next day. We met at Karen’s house. It was like being at home again. Seeing her staff and being welcomed by them was wonderful. We caught up with news before going to lunch at a restuarant that specialised in Chicken Tikka with friends of Karen’s, Alex and Cas, and Bijal. Unfortunately Vesh and Devan were in Ethopia on business.
We didn’t stay in Nairobi for long and after stocking up at a brand new centre, The Hub, we left for Amboseli game reserve. Solveig had not ever seen Kilimanjaro. It was always covered with cloud whenever visiting Arusha and Moshi before. We’d been told that if we wanted a good view of themountain we’d have to see it from Kenya.
At this point I should mention how important it is to listen to advice from fellow travellers who have current knowledge of local conditions. This is to be able to deviate from your overall plan when necessary, and why you can’t have a fixed schedule.
I must make special mention of Stan and Anne Weakley, whom we have never met, but had made contact with before we left home. He has written an extremely detailed and entertaining blog, Slow Donkey. Whenever we’re not sure of something we always turn to his blog to see if they’d had a similar problem. Especially with GPS routes. Thank you Stan for your valuable advice regarding Amboseli!
After what had seemed ages we eventually turned south at Emali and were rid of the endless trucks on their way to Mombasa.
We enjoyed the peaceful brand new tarred road passing through the Nyiri Desert with its frequent dust devil’s, and the occasional wild animal.
We were once again “driving blind” with incorrect maps. Fortunately other travellers had told us of this route. Near the Tanzanian border at Kimana we turned right onto the gravel road towards the Amboseli.
We were excited because looming between the trees on our left was Kilimanjaro with only a scattering of clouds and it’s snow covered peak glistening in the late afternoon light.
Rooibos, not as tasty as the SA brands, but then it might be the water!
We soon found the turnoff to the Amboseli/Tsavo Rangers Community camp. It’s main purpose was a place to house and train the anti-poaching rangers that served in both reserves.
The community also “ran”a few tented chalets and camping alongside the ranger camp. Like most community rest camps we’d encountered it wasn’t about providing a service but another way of extracting tourist dollars from the visiting mzungus! The staff however were fantastic as usual and made us very welcome. James, who was in charge, has texted us since, to ask how we are enjoying our travels!
It was similar to wildcamping as there were no facilities that worked! What an amazing experience this turned out to be. So rewarding!
The next day after taking scores of photos we retraced our steps to Emali and continued on until we reached Voi. Bijal had mentioned where we should stay but foolishly I had not made a note of it and we ended up at Impala Safari Lodge. They had never had campers stay there before but went out of their way to make us comfortable and insisted we stay in their secure parking area. We even suggested what they should charge as they had no previous experience. We met a British couple, Julie and Ken there, that gave us valuable advice on the Kenyan coastal options and mentioned that we should not miss going to the Ngutoni Lodge just 15 kms from Voi where we could visit a waterhole on the border of Tsavo East Game Reserve and possibly see lots of animals for free! This was the same place Bijal had suggested!
After leaving Voi we looked out for the turnoff to Ngutoni which was about 10kms further from the highway.
Even the road to the lodge had plenty of animals. Elephants, Eland, Zebras, Giraffe and buffalo.The lodge with its waterhole was amazing. We so wished we’d stayed there the previous night. My fault entirely for not taking note of the name when Bijal told me of it.
After another long days drive, with road building and trucks slowing us down we arrived in Mombasa, luckily it was a Sunday.
The ferry to exit the south of Mombasa
The city centre is on an island, which you access via a bridge, but the exit to the south and the resort areas requires a ferry trip back to the mainland. A new experience for us. The total time for queuing and the journey probably took about 40 minutes and cost next to nothing.
It was wonderful to get back to the sea again after nearly 3 months and we planned to chill at the coast for a few days. We camped at Twiga Lodge in Tiwi right on the beach under palm trees. There we met Michael and Birte from Germany, also overlanding in a Landrover and we shared our stories.
We were visited by many locals trying to sell us their crafts or services.They were pleasant enough and not too much hassle. We bought green coconuts to drink from a local rasta. He’d even decorated Solveig’s with a few flowers. It reminded me of my coconut water treatmemt in Costa Rica for Denge fever. The beach had a reef which was exposed at low tide which reminded us of Peponi, our next destination.
Late on the first night a Landrover pulled in near the ablution block. I passed the vehicle when visiting the toilet in the morning and noticed it had a KZN number plate. Later I greeted the driver and we got chatting. He’d been in Kenya a few years working as an entertainer at hotels, lodges and functions. His name was Reggie and he turned out to be an ex-member of Ballyhoo!
I knew many musicians who had played in Ballyhoo though I’d never met him. He visited us in the afternoon and stayed for drinks and supper and we talked late into the night swapping memories of the music scene in SA during the 70’s.
We had forgotten totally of our date with Michael and Birte for a Pinacolada at the lodge. We apologised in the morning. They had seen Reggie visiting and figured we wouldn’t be able to make it and that we didn’t miss anything as the lodge made a dreadful cocktail! They were going to Zanzibar in a few days and we suggested that they stayed at Peponi on their way south.
We decided that Peponi would be a good place for us to chill too and made plans to say goodbye to Kenya…..
We thought Rwanda would be a hard act to follow with its natural beauty but Uganda is also magnificent. Unfortunately it’s people don’t share the pride of the Rwandans when it comes to litter. The border crossing was easy and quick and the officials very friendly. Our crossing was at Kisoro near to the Gorilla National Park in the Virunga mountains. The road into Uganda towards Lake Bunyoni is a magnificient winding pass through terraced farmland similar to Rwanda.
The pass has excelent tar and stunning views.
T4A battled again as it had in Rwanda even though I have the latest versions of Garmin and Tom Tom compatible maps. I hope that after Karen Theron’s recent extensive travels through Africa the next editions will be better! I will send them my tracks too. The tarred pass was new so we didn’t expect that on the maps.
We followed T4A to to our overnight stop along a 4×4 track on the side of Lake Bunyoni even though we were quite sure we should have stayed on the beautiful new tar road. But the lake was so beautiful we enjoyed it anyway!
Lake Bunyoni Overland Resort is an absolute delight. It’s location is on another of those stunning Rift valley lakes.
Their facilities are very good. We spent two nights there.
We went for a boat ride in a group on the lake to a small island where King George had sought refuge during World War II. Dr. Strong from Scotland had also stayed on the island in the past and treated lepers in a leper colony on an adjacent island for many years.
Before going to the Bwindi Impenatrable Forest, a World Heritage Site, we went to Kibale to stock up with essentials.
We managed to find an ATM where I could draw Ugandan Shillings, but could not find a supermarket we were used too. We managed to get some shopping from an Indian grocery store, but it stocked a selection of goods not familiar to us. We were now in a part of Africa where South Africa had less influence, although MTN and DSTV are everywhere.
The Bwindi forest was a treat. These equatorial forests in the high Rift valley mountains, as with Nyangwe forest in Rwanda, are different to anything we were accustomed to. The birdlife was incredible with many species new to us.
We saw a variety of primates too. That night we camped in the Bwindi forest at the Ruhiza community rest camp run by Goodwin. Expensive as community camps usually are for what we received, but the people are so friendly and proud of what they have achieved. The stay was another memorable occation for us.
We had a stunning view of the forest and there were masses of birds in their garden too.
I avoided the ablutions with their Asian slot toilets! I’m not able to squat since my knee replacements. I wasn’t partial to them before my operations either!
We continued our trip northwards through the forest although most people turn back to Kibale and take an alternate route north.
We experienced a day of continual rain which turned the gravel roads into rivers. The wet season had begun. We proceeded with great care. By the time we eventually reached tar again the rain had passed for the day.
Our route took us through the Queen Elizabeth Game Reserve. As it was a public highway we never had to pay the ridiculously high foreign vehicle enterance fees of $150 for the park. We did see some wild animals but I couldn’t enjoy the free game drive as I had to keep my eyes on the road because of the potholes!
We crossed the equator before reaching our stop for the night at Simba Safari Camp.
Although the camp is situated on a hill just outside the park, it’s a great pity they hadn’t thought of providing their guests with a view! T4A described the camp as having no shade. There were trees everywhere providing plenty of shade but blocking the view. Although I’m criticising T4A, we could never have coped without their maps and information, but their coverage of East Africa is not up to date. So many roads have been tarred and local conditions changed.
The journey along the western border of Uganda was beautiful. The Rwenzori Mountains towered to the left of us and Mt.Stanley at 5100m stood out with its permanent snow covered peak. When we got closer, clouds had covered them and we were not able to get any photos. We arrived at Kisomoro near Fort Portal in the early afternoon and booked in at Kluges Guest Farm, Kabahango. The owners, Stefaan and Mariam were the most welcoming hosts.
It’s a well run active farm with cattle and bananas and situated on the side of a hill with a stunning view.
We would loved to have stayed here for awhile and chilled but we’d planned to chill later. We made a lovely contact with a Danish family overlanding with their three children. They promised to try contact Janne on their return home.
It was a long drive to Kampala and we only arrived at rush hour in the evening, but I guess anytime would have been bad in the city traffic. Then the most dreadful thing occurred in the gridlock. Although we always travelled with our doors locked, Solveig had her window open and her cellphone on her lap so she could take pictures whenever she wanted. One of the throng grabbed her phone from her lap and disappeared into the crowd before she knew what had happend! She lost so many photos she’d taken since the last good WiFi connection, including a unique one of a motorcyclist with a lady and cow as passengers! The phone is insured and can be replaced but the photos are now just memories we’ll treasure together and not be able to share.
As we progressed towards our destination in the city we realised that we had two different locations for Red Chilli backpackers on our two GPS’s. We chose the closer one. Just before arriving a broken down truck blocked our path and we had to make a very difficult detour. After driving around the block on an unbelieveble road we reached our destination to find it was the wrong one! And the truck was still blocking our further progress!
We tried the other GPS (the one that was usually incorrect) and followed that for about another 10 kms. Near the new destination the roads were even worse, but luckily the destination was correct.
Certainly nothing to get excited about but the ablutions were good. It was late, we were angry for our earlier stupidity and decided to try their famous pizzas for supper. They were very good, but big. We had enough to have leftovers for supper the next day!
In the morning we were still upset but were determined to enjoy all our experiences. Can you believe the first good experience was Shoprite! It was great to be back in a shop that stocked brands we knew. So much easier too. The next good experience was a lovely lunch in Jinja.
Good things come in threes!
Our third was The Haven, about 30 kms up the Nile from Jinja. Our temporary home for the next few days
We’d heard from many fellow travellers how special The Haven was as a place to chill after travelling through Uganda and needed a rest.
Nothing had prepared us for what we found. It’s possibly one of the best campsites on our entire trip. We were surrounded by nature.
New trees we hadnt seen before which grew these huge fruits
Creatures and birds everywhere.
Then there was the river…….
We did something we didn’t do often and that was to treat ourselves to an excelent restuarant meal one evening.
The restuarant overlooked the rapids where we could watch rafters each morning around 10.00am.
As usual, we were enriched by the people we met and made contact with. The staff at The1 Haven made us feel really welcome. We swapped stories and destinations with a young Swiss girl Sebrina.
We can really recommend The Haven to all fellow travellers passing by that way. Eventually we tore ourselves away and left for Kenya looking forward to seeing Karen again……
It’s true what has been said about Rwanda by others. Everything is just perfect…. spotlessly clean, stunningly beautiful with friendly people.
The border crossing was painless. Another “so called” one stop crossing. But this time it worked! There is also a cunning way to get you to exit the border post on the correct side of the road for Rwanda…..which is on the RHS.
There was a thunder storm threatening. We needed to find a place to stay soon. We had so enjoyed our new found friend, Jonathan Bean, at the German Boma, that we’d lost track of time, which delayed our departure.
We stopped relatively close to the Ruvumu border in a town named Kayonza
We found a place to stay on T4A, The Eastland Guest House, situated soon after the turning towards Kagali. There was a huge lawn at the rear of the guesthouse where we were able to park. Electricity was also available which makes cooking so much easier. While preparing supper we heard music coming from the bar area and went to check it out after eating. A local singer-songwriter was accompaning himself on guitar. He had a lovely voice and played the guitar with an unusual picking style. He sang great melodies with French lyrics. Very entertaining. We were happy and knew we would enjoy our stay in Rwanda.
The following morning we carried on to Lake Kivu instead of stopping in Kigali, except for a brief stop at Simba supermarket and some excellent Rwanda grown coffee too. We passed through stunning countryside with terraced crops grown on the steep mountain slopes
and through many tiny villages with their speedbumps and 50 kph speed limits.
Progress was slow but we didn’t mind. It was all so different to anything we’d encountered before in Africa. The journey to Lake Kivu was one mountain pass after the other.
We finally arrived at Hotel Bethanie, beautifully positioned with the most exquisite view of the lake.
Lake Kivu is one of the deep Rift valley lakes situated on the border between the DRC and Rwanda. Part of the Albertine Rift which forms the western region of the Rift Valley. Also in this area lies the Congo Nile Divide. Rain that falls west of these mountains flows into the Congo River and rain falling east flows into the Nile.
Rwanda is a small country and the most densely populated in Africa. Although the population only numbers around 8 million. Consequently camping is not easy. Many of the campsites are part of a lodge or guesthouse, as in this case too, so you are not always catered for properly but located in a driveway or piece of grassed land within the complex.
At Hotel Bethanie we were next to the restuarant and had to use the ablutions there. It did not spoil our stay though. We were in paradise!
We took the recently tarred road south called the Congo Nile Route to the Nyungwe Forest National Park.
We followed the meanderings of the lake up and down steep and winding mountain passes. Every now and again we drove along the lakeside, passing rice paddies.
Then back up the passes again lined with tea plantations.
What a wonderful experience. Eventually the road turned away from the lake and climbed high into the surrounding mountains. We’d entered the Nyungwe Forest.
The forest has various vegetation zones as the altitude varies. From tall trees at the lower level to the bamboo zone at the highest level.
Each zone supports different species of primates and bird life.The bamboo forest in the south east supports the rare owl faced monkey which we never found. The most important aspect of the Nyungwe Forest is without doubt that it is the source of two of Africa’s greatest rivers.
We camped in the forest at the Uwinka campsite which had flush toilets and solar heated showers. It was also the parks headquarters and a very popular location for hikers to set off from. There was also a canopy zipline over the forest for those that wanted a closer look from above.
We awoke exhilarated from sleeping at a high alititude to the sound of birds and monkeys.
We continued our drive through the beautiful forest on an excellent tarred road back towards Kigali, passing many small villages and farmlands on the way.
Kigali is unbelievably clean and functional in every way. Even downtown where road works were taking place there wasn’t chaos! The T4A recommended camping in the city had closed down! We’d noticed an establishment with a giraffe entrance on our way through Kigali on the first day and thought we’d give it a try. The usual evening thunderstorm slowed our 15km trip down and we ended up in the dark in a downpour! We’d nearly stopped at a B&B on the way but we were determined to stay at our original choice. It was dreadful!! Thankfully we return to the B&B.
Micha’s B&B tuned out to be a great choice and was definitely meant to be. They made special arrangements for secure parking. The owner, her name was Peace, gave us 50% discount and it included breakfast! That night we slept in luxury after a magnificent shower in a beautifully appointed bathroom. We will certainly suggest to T4A to include them as suitable accomodation in Kigali.
We found that T4A had many inaccuracies and wrong information for Rwanda on their maps. In most cases it was about the state of roads, most of which are now beautifully tarred and re-routed in some cases. The worst of all was to try to navigate by street names in Kigali….they had all changed to a number system! Fortunately the new town names had already been updated.
We seldom venture into cities unless it is absolutely necessary for shopping, exchanging money and purchasing sim cards. However there is a “mustsee” here: The Genocide Memorial and Museum in the north of the city. I’d not been very keen to go, nor had Solveig. We both tend to be Ostriches when it comes to things we perceive as unpleasant, but after so many fellow travellers suggested that we cannot miss it, we left it to the last thing we did in Kigali. The experience was very sobering. One can form many theories and draw many different causes for the Genocide from the facts presented but one thing is certain…..neveragain!
After leaving Kigaliwe continued with our northwards mission.
We have found very detailed and useful information on two blogs we’ve used often in our choice of route. They are Slow Donkey from Stan and Ann in East London and Wearthefoxhat.us from Scot and Helena from UK, who we’ve met often in Africa. Thanks so much both of you for such a wealth of information. A good read for anybody considering doing something similar.
We arrived in Kinigi Guest House (thanks Stan) right at the edge of the Gorilla park and set up camp next to a shelter that had an electrical conection.
We were not doing any Gorilla trekking in Rwanda. It’s even more expensive here (US $ 750 per person) than in Uganda. That’s more than our entire budget for Rwanda!! Besides that, we cannot tolerate any canned tour excursions. If we’re meant to see gorillas, then we will naturally. That goes for all birds and animals we see on our travels. That’s the bonus for being there in nature.
Who has ever tasted an egg from granny’s chicken run at the bottom of her garden? Lovely, large, freshly laid eggs with a naturally yellow yolk. The eggs we purchased from the tiny store in Kisoro brought back those memories. As well as the bananas, pawpaw, bread, tomatoes and avos. It’s the best way to get rid of the small change you tend to collect in each country before you move on to the next one. The larger notes are used for diesel. Solveig gets great pleasure from shopping and chatting with the locals as well.
Then it was border time again!
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!!
Our border crossing at Katimo Mulilo / Sesheke took a long time even though we used a Carnet. As we exited the border we were stopped to pay a further tax! This time a municipal levy. We are convinced it was just another rip off.
Last time we’d been on the road between Sesheke and Kazangula we decided it was the worst road on our 2014 trip. We’d expected that by now it had been repaired, or at least patched up, but no way. Hard to imagine, but it was far worse!!! The region had received a lot of rainfall and many of the rural dwellings and villages were partially flooded too.
Lakes formed along the roadsides as we had seen near Gweta in Botswana.
Ages later, exhausted, we arrived in Livingstone in urgent need of a drink.
We went to book in at the Waterfront as usual but found the fees had increased substantially. Zambia, a dollar based economy, and the Rand’s depreciation, didn’t help either.
Scott and Helene Cable, who we’d met in 2014, had recently blogged that they had stayed at Maramba Camp, so we gave it a try. $20 per site was acceptable. The staff at Maramba were wonderful and welcomed us like old friends when we mentioned the Cables. They even directed us to camp H, their site, alongside the river. That evening we were glad to have had the thatched lapa for additional shelter as there was another fierce thunderstorm! Hippos kept us company in the river alongside that night. We stayed there a few nights while visiting all our favourite places in Livingstone. Fortunately it hadn’t changed much and we enjoyed being back in one of our favourite Zambian towns.
On our way to Lusaka it rained most of the way and we stopped for the night at a sodden Moorings campsite.
We met a German couple with an ex-Dakar support vehicle which they had purchased and fitted out as a motorhome. They had intended to visit Mozambique after Malawi but had to re-route to Zambia because of the heavy flooding in the Zambezi delta region in Mozambique.
Everywhere we’d been was experiencing much more rainfall than usual, except the Western Cape!
We passed through many small villages with roadside vendors and their beautifully displayed vegetables, and the inevitable bags of charcoal too.
Luckily Zambia has very dense forests and the impact hasn’t been too obvious on the trees. Zambia’s large rural population has no other source of power to live by.
We arrived in Lusaka, greatful that the road between Kafue and Lusaka had been completed since our previous visit. We chilled with Ginty and Kate on the weekend and caught up with some communications too. On Monday Ginty assisted me in arranging for a car service with his trusty mechanic, Dan, who happens to specialise in Cruisers. At this point I should mention that Zambia is real Cruiser country. So many vehicles we’d seen on the road are the same as mine. I was very happy on arriving at Dan’s, his yard had a number of Toyotas in varioaus stages of repair.
The service turned out to be more than a service! Before leaving home we had the car prepared for the journey which included replacing the very noisy rear brakes. The noise had returned. The cause was found to be a leaking oil seal at the rear diff which had saturated the brake linings. Both the linings and oil seal had to be replaced. While performing the repairs two of the wheel bearings were found to be in need of replacement too. One had collapsed and another had nearly seized. (standard grease had been used instead of high temperature). As a safety measure all four were replaced. Enough said!!
We made arrangement to meet Scott and Helene at Eureka campsite right next door to Ginty and Kate.
We spent a wonderful afternoon with Scott and Helene at Eureka swopping stories since we last met at Jungle Junction in Nairobi. They also gave us valuable information regarding our journey. We look forward to seeing them on our return in South Africa.
We enjoyed our stay with Ginty and Kate. We don’t get to see enough of them these days. Ginty and I, in spite of being family, have been friends since the fifties! We spent wonderful evenings reminiscing about the old days!! All to soon we said our goodbyes we were off again.
We took Ginty’s advice and stopped at Trotters on the Great North Road for a coffee.
We found a craft shop there; Lime ‘n Thyme, with some really great creations made by the owner, Debbie.
Solveig got on so well with Debbie that we were invited to stay at their farm nearby. We accepted provided we could still stay in Twiga Penthouse and not inconvenience them at all!
We cannot believe the generosity and friendliness of people we meet on our travels. Debbie insisted that we join them for supper too! We hope to reciprocate one day.
The next morning Adam gave us a guided tour of the farm. We were very impressed! Adam farms Virginia Tobacco, Maize, Soy, Cattle, Ground nuts and is experimenting in Passion fruit and Sunflower seed. We visited the tobacco grading, and the curing process which took place in heat and humidity controlled container sheds. What a treat! As a parting gift they gave us a shopping bag full of lovely avos from beneath a tree. We are still enjoying them with our evening meals.
After the late start we stopped at Fringellas for coffee and meat pies. Not nearly as tasty as Peregrines in Grabouw but never the less a lovely stop.
We got as far as Forest Inn on the Great North Road. There we met two South Africans. They were involved in farming chemicals and working in the area. One of them was investigating the possibility of running the Zambian office.
We had a look at Kasanka Game Reserve, known for its Sitatungas and the massive bat migration in October and November. But Kasanka was too expensive for just an overnight stay, so we continued to Kundalila Waterfall and stayed at the community campsite.
We were still experiencing the almost continous rainfall we’d had during our entire stay in Zambia and carried on towards the border instead of staying at Kapishya Hot Springs.
Luckily we found a guesthouse at Isoka where we were able to camp near to the border at Nakonde.
We came across the most important reason not to drive at night, especially on the potholed roads in the rain…
Not too far to the Tanzanian border the next morning. The rain seems to have subsided too…… But too late for this unfortunate truck!
We just can’t keep away from N’Gepi! The Kavango river was a metre higher than last time and there was plenty of rain about too, but we still enjoyed chilling in our favourite campsite with the hippos.
It was great to meet Mark’s son Rob at N’gepi having missed Mark by about two weeks.
Solveig insisted that a picture of me should also be included from N’Gepi
On our way Katimo Mulilo we detoured at Kavango to try out the recently tarred road via the Mudumu Game Reserve.
This route was about 60 kilometers longer to Katimo Mulilo but so much more interesting and very good tar!
We elected to stay at the Protea Hotel campsite in Katimo Mulilo, well situated alongside the Zambezi and close to town.
The campsite comes with free WiFi, electricity, and clean ablutions with hot water. After some shopping in town we returned to our camp to enjoy the sunset .
Early the following morning we left for Livingstone in Zambia and wondered about the condition of the road from the border at Sesheke. The previous time was dreadful!