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Old 02-08-2012, 01:55 PM   #16
Three Dawg
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Subscribed! One question: Why did you go in the wet season?
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Old 02-08-2012, 03:58 PM   #17
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Excellent report so far. Subscribed!
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Old 02-08-2012, 11:18 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Three Dawg View Post
Subscribed! One question: Why did you go in the wet season?
We were aware that there wet season is from November to March but we didn't have much option as our business closes for a few weeks over December/January. So, it was iether then or never.
Hope you enjoy the rest of the RR. The roads get worse!!
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Old 02-09-2012, 04:31 AM   #19
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wet season is from November to March but we didn't have much option as our business closes for a few weeks over December/January
Same as us! Very interested in the rest of this trip- it's pretty much where we want to go next, but perhaps not two up on someone else's 1200GS through the mud...
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Old 02-12-2012, 02:02 AM   #20
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TANZANIA

LAKE TANGANYIKA LODGE to SUMBUWANGA (TANZANIA)
Day 5: Wednesday 14 Dec. 2011
Distance: 160 km
Time: 8.30 am – 2.30 pm

“To me, travel was not about rest and relaxation.
It was action, exertion, motion and the built in delays were longueirs, necessitated by the inevitable problem-solving of forward movement.”

Paul Theroux



MAP OF ROUTE THROUGH TANZANIA

It rained again all night!!! With all this wet weather our tent and clothing had no time to dry out and things were starting to get a bit smelly. We could hear the cheerful, singing voices of the locals passing by in their dugouts and on looking outwards to the lake one could only feel privileged to be surrounded with this beauty and peacefulness. We had warmed to this place and it was a pity that we had to move on. We had a long day ahead of us. Our plan was to get to Katavi National Park (Tanzania) about 360 km away.











THIS IS THE LOVELY FAMILY THAT LOOKED AFTER THE LODGE

My ankle was so tender and swollen and I wasn’t keen to ride that road again so Brink very kindly offered to take my bike back to the tar road and I would drive his vehicle. We didn’t realise it until then that they had taken a different route here. They had turned off onto a dirt road long before Mpulunga and hadn’t travelled on the same awful rocky road that we had used. It was a relief not go back on our route. At the tar road we exchanged contact details said our farewells and headed to Mbala. Fortunately I had recently read a book about travelling in Africa by Chris Harvie, “Do not take this road to Al-Kamara” so we were aware that we needed to clear Immigration in Mbala before riding the 21 km to the border.





On arrival at Kaseshe, the Tanzanian Border Post, we discovered a closed Customs office. We hung around attracting a bit attention as these people don’t see too many ‘mzungus’ (white man) in this area. After a while a man appeared and told us that the border official had gone off to Mbala and he was unsure when he would return. Cool...what now! The gates were also locked.





One of the youngsters indicated for us to pass through the pedestrian gate, which we duly did. So in and out of Zambia was not a straight forward procedure. We crossed over into Tanzanian to find that office also closed. However, someone soon came out from somewhere to welcome us and attend to our needs. This is a very remote border post and weeks can go by without anyone passing through so I suppose it is pointless sitting there day in and day out waiting for tourists to arrive. This was the first border that we used our Carnet as we only had a 5 page one which cost us R2550 each. I must admit, it does make the process a bit easier. We were delighted to only pay $30 each for a visa as we were in transit. Normally it costs $50 for tourists. It was a quick, easy and pleasant procedure and we were soon on our way again.





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Old 02-12-2012, 02:07 AM   #21
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From here it was only another 80 km north to Sumbuwanga. We thought that we would get there chop-chop. Well.......it took us 4 hrs ! We were averaging 20 km /hr. It was almost a repeat of the previous day. Wet, muddy roads slowed us down once again. It poured with rain in places and after a while you just don’t care how wet and muddy you are. Despite it raining every day since we left Cape Maclear our spirits couldn’t be dampened. We would also waste time stopping for water and bite of a dry rye bread or nuts. We helped a chap on a little motorbike who had run out of fuel and he was so grateful for the 1litre we gave him. He later found us in town and directed us to an ATM. All the people we came across in this remote area were so friendly.




We only arrived at Sumbawanga shortly after 2.00 pm realising that we would never make it to Sitalike ( northern border of Katavi National Park) which was another 200 km away. In Fipa language Sumbawanga translates as “throw away your witch craft”. This obviously stems from local superstitions relating to spiritual healers. We decided to refuel and look for a place to stay. Three of the fuel stations were empty and finally we found one that had fuel and had to tussle with other bikers to keep our place in the queue as they all just push in front of you and I found myself having to stand my ground and ease myself to the pump without too many sneaking in. We were all nervous that there would not be enough fuel to go around.


Checked out a few places that we picked out from the GPS and settled for the MORAVIAN CONFERENCE CENTRE. It looked so welcoming and civilised that I celebrated by stepping off my bike without dropping the stand, startling the doorman, twisting my already unhappy ankle and bursting one of the fuel containers. This bit of carelessness reminded me that on a ride of this nature one should not try to go to fast or too far as once fatigue sets in things seem to unravel. This nice three story building was clean, well organised but pretty much empty bar a few Chinese guys organising themselves some supper. The en suite rooms were comfortable and spacious. We settled into our room, did all our washing as best we could, popped a few painkillers and headed for the dining room to order our dinner, which was delicious.


Once again I phoned the kids only to be reprimanded by my son who told me that he was having nightmares about this trip. He suggested I dump the bike and the ‘old man’, board the first plane and head for home. I must admit there were times when I warmed to this idea.
We looked forward to a good nights rest and set the alarm for an early wake up.
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Old 02-12-2012, 02:39 AM   #22
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SUMBAWANGA to MPANDA
Day 6: Thursday 15 December 2011
Distance: 240 km
Time: 6.15am ~ 2.00 pm

We woke at 5 am after a restless nights sleep, with dogs barking all night. We wanted to get an early start as we were expecting to have a wet and slow day as it had rained again most of the night and it was still raining as we set off for our daily ride. We found an ATM and headed off once again into the unknown, expecting more mud and challenges.





But we were pleasantly surprised as the road was an improvement on yesterdays. As the morning progressed so the weather improved. It warmed up and out came the sun which attempted to dry up the mud. Whew, what a relief. We could now look around and start enjoying the scenery. There was a lot of cultivated land and everything was lush and green and I’m sure the soil was nice and soft because even the little ones were toiling in the fields.














WE FOUND THIS LITTLE CHAP HEADING FOR THE GREENER GRASS ON THE OTHER SIDE



It was a lovely day in the Tanzanian country side and I supposed having the roads a little drier and more compacted attributed to the more relaxing ride. The villages were more spaced out and we came upon the occasional busy and colourful markets.






There was a fair amount of trucks travelling in both directions on this route. These huge overloaded trucks would just bare down on you and not give an inch. If we wanted to survive the day then it was up to us to get out of their way. Definitely a case of “might is right” as they didn’t even seem to acknowledge us. Throughout this trip we both had some very close shaves with these truckers. They would pass us by with a few inches to spare. It was also a common sight to see them broken down on the side of the road. What we were aware of was the lack of cars on this stretch of road and as we progressed through Western Tanzania, we understood why. In a few places there was some attempt at road improvements but due to the wet weather these had all come to a standstill. No doubt, in the near future there will be a lovely road through this area. Unfortunately for bikers, they will miss out on the adventure that we were fortunate enough to experience on this route.




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Old 02-12-2012, 02:56 AM   #23
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Approaching the remote and isolated KATAVI NATIONAL PARK, the third largest park in Tanzania, the bush became denser and the people fewer. The lush green beauty of our surroundings was captivating. This is one of the most untouched areas of the entire country especially during the rainy season which is from November to March. I suppose this is why game viewing is poor at this time of the year and explains why we only briefly saw a few skittish giraffe which promptly disappeared into the thick bush. It was a lovely easy ride through the park and we were looking forward to arriving at Katavi Hippo Garden Hotel in Sitalike.











A MALE BATELEUR EAGLE

For tourists who are simply passing through, no entrance fee is charged but you are not allowed to deviate from the main road. If you do stay at the Katavi National Park Headquarters, which is about 500 meters from the main road at the northern border of the park, it will cost you $30 per person entrance fee and $30 pp for accommodation in one of the resthouses. We took a brief ride around to check it out and headed for the Katavi Hippo Garden Hotel.

After crossing over a milky grey coloured river with its own resident pod of hippos wallowing around we turned off to the hotel. This was a disappointing sight as it was so run down and shabby and they had the audacity to request $30 per person per banda. It was hard to tell if these buildings were half built or half falling apart. The veranda walls were overgrown with creepers and weeds grew were a veranda floor should have been. I was so horrified that I didn’t even bother to look inside it. Our expectations were obviously too high and we were still adjusting to this east African way of catering for tourists.









Camping was only $5 per person, which was more our scene, but decided against it and because it was still early in the day we thought it would be a good idea to get a few more kilometres behind us. After enjoying something to drink at the local cafe we rode another 39km to Mpanda.








The Super Sun Hotel wasn’t even an option and we continued looking for something else. I noticed a sign on the side of the road advertising the Esnatha Villa, with air conditioning, and went in search of it. To our surprise we came upon a clean, secure and welcoming home in the middle of a typical, run-down, East African neighbourhood. They were just as surprised to see us and there was much giggling amongst the two ladies as we checked in. The room was clean and fresh as was the linen and it had its own bathroom and air con. It only cost us about R80 each. Kingsley went out to the street market to buy onions, potatoes and tomatoes and we cooked up a delicious meal in the room. This was Kingsleys birthday treat.





Later in the afternoon we decided to take a walk around outside and try to find some beer. Ladies were sitting outside their small dwellings sewing, selling fresh produce, looking after kiddies and some were collecting water. Men were socialising with each other in little groups, drinking beer. Bicycles and motorbikes also lined the streets. We felt quite safe and lots of giggles and comments followed us, probably a good thing that we didn’t understand their ‘lingo’. Being the butt of some ones joke does not seem too bad if it is done good naturedly. I suppose it was an unusual sight seeing two ‘mzungus’ walking around the streets in their sarongs. This was the end of a great day, the heat and the dust was the type of African experience we had been looking forward to.





THESE WERE OUR NEIGHBOURS







I JUST LOVE THESE COLOURFUL SCENES.



WHERE THERE'S A WILL THERE'S A WAY!



KINGSLEY FOUND HIS BEERS!!!
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Old 02-16-2012, 08:43 AM   #24
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MPANDA to UVINZA
Day 7: Friday 16 December
Distance: 200km
Time: 6.15 am – 3.00 pm


“...and I thought to myself,
This could be heaven or this could be hell....”
The Eagles

A ‘highway of hell’ or ‘heartache highway’, whatever you want to call it, it was a road that demanded constant attention and at the slow speed, just never seemed to end.
The first 50 km out of Mpanda was a treat, nice roads passing through lush green and very dense forests. But as all good things come to an end, the going become more and more of a challenge as we progressed. We had thought that Tuesdays ride in Zambia was bad, well....... this was a whole lot worse.
We passed through fewer villages and clay home could be seen amongst newly cultivated lands.















There were fewer people using the road, no bicycles or motorbikes and less and less pedestrians as we travelled along. We should have seen this as a warning because where we were going people seemed reluctant to travel in the wet season, even in 4X4 vehicles. I have never ridden through so much mud. It was hectic work concentrating on staying on the bike, looking where you are going, deciding which line to take, being careful with the left ankle and trying to maintain a good sense of humour.
I continually reminded myself that this was an adventure and as long as these wheels were turning I was OK and it doesn’t matter how long it takes. For me it was a slow process getting through the mud but I managed it without any mishaps and my bike never missed a beat.























At one stage Kingsley took a wrong line and really got bogged down. The Teneré didn’t even need a stand to hold it up. This mud created such a vacuum that it held itself up. We pushed and pulled but couldn’t budge it. Two youngsters, who were looking after their cattle nearby obviously heard the commotion and came to our rescue. We tied some rope around a thick branch and two of us pulled on it while the other pushed. The bike wouldn’t budge. It was difficult to even walk in this mud as the suction gripped you around the ankles and made it difficult to pull your foot out and having this swollen ankle didn’t make it any easier. As a result I ended up on my butt in the mud. They had to pull me out of the mud as well. I don’t think these two guys could quite believe what they were seeing. We must have looked a spectacle.








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Old 02-16-2012, 08:49 AM   #25
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Damn, there's just an unlimited amount of Front Page Photos here.
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Old 02-16-2012, 09:10 AM   #26
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We eventually managed to push the bike over onto its side to break the vacuum and between the four of us we dragged it on its side through the rest of the bad patch. After 30 minutes of battling in the mud we rescued the Teneré. Exhausted and filthy we set once again



These muddy roads continued for a long time and the weather was very threatening. We had to have frequent rests as the shoulders were aching, the hands sore from gripping too tight and the rest of the body was also damn sore from bracing ones self the whole time.





We passed about ten trucks of which only two were still travelling. The rest had broken down or were stuck in the mud. The drivers, co-drivers and passengers could be stranded for days. As we passed by they would hold out their one hand and rub their tummy with the other.....indicating that they were hungry.




MORE MUD.......it just went on for hours!!




A much needed lunch-time rest.

We finally arrived at a river and were once again encouraged by the sight of people and general activity. As we approached the turn off to the village, on the left hand side of the road, were the salt springs. At the time we didn’t know what these were and after ‘googling’ I discovered that Uvinza is famous for its supply of salt from the brine of the salt springs.









We decided it would be a wise decision to look for accommodation in Uvinza as we were never going to get to Kigoma in daylight, we were averaging 20kph and Kigoma was still 100km down the road. It had been more of a day than we had bargained for and we needed a bit of time out if we were going to keep our spirits up.



It didn’t take long before we spotted the brightly coloured ‘Sleep Lodge’ and we were delighted to find this spot in the middle of this little African village that looked drab, brown and colourless in comparison. This was real ‘truckers’ accommodation but it was bright, clean and a cheerful place for two wary travellers









Once again they were surprised to see us and communication was a problem until someone arrived who could speak a smidgen of English. Bright green and blue floor tiles, yellow walls, blue doors and pink window shutters decorated the little quart yard. How could one resist being cheerful in this quaint setting. They very kindly allowed us to park inside the quart yard.




ONE VERY DIRTY AND TIRED LADY.....!


.......OFFSIDE LOOKING EQUALLY SHABBY!

We settled into our little room with the bright blue walls and private bathroom. The little hole in the floor couldn’t even upset me. Our water supply, for washing and flushing, came from the 44 gallon drum of rain water in the quart yard....jugs and buckets were supplied.


AT LEAST IT WAS CLEAN

The folk there were so friendly and willing to help. Emanual went off to the market to by our standard supply of tomatoes, onions, potatoes and.......... beer! The old ‘mama’ indicated to us that she would wash our clothes. This was a real treat and she did an amazing job on our mud stained clothes. I rested my foot while Kingsley took care of dinner.





It’s amazing what one will be happy to settle for when you start running out of options. Kingsley did his best to convince me that this was a delightful little ‘love-nest’. The joke was on me because in the early evening the was much singing and joviality going on outside and on investigating we realised that it was the bridal couple we had seen earlier at the church when we rode into the village. The room next door to ours was their ‘honey-moon suite’......! No need to say anymore.







A pleasant evening passed sitting on the veranda and chatting about the days ride while a group of men sat watching the T.V. It was a very peaceful scene after a hectic day on the ‘highway of hell’.
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Old 02-16-2012, 10:37 AM   #27
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UVINZA to KIGOMA
Day 8: Saturday 17 December
Distance: 105 km
Time: 7.20am – 1.30 pm


Woke up to a glum day and in a glum mood. It rained again all through the night and I just wasn’t in the mood for another wet day of muddy riding. I lay in bed for a while reluctant to face this day. I had to convince myself that we just had to keep moving forward because knowing what was behind me there was no turning back.

Thank goodness it had stopped raining by the time we left but the roads were saturated, much like our newly washed clothes that had not had a chance to dry.


There was a lot of road construction going on and more 4X4 vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and buses using this section of the road. Ones spirits automatically improved because with all this activity there had to be an improvement on the roads. Well..........I managed to drop my bike twice, so they couldn’t have been that good!! Fortunately I was travelling slowly for the roads were compacted clay and as slippery as ice. We were only managing speeds of 20-25 km/h. It was such a relief when there was a 20-30 meter stretch that was decent and we could accelerate for a short while before we started sliding all over the place again.
I have never experienced so many mood swings on a ride before, one minute feet out on a slippery surface at 20 km/hr, the next cruising at 50 - 60km/hr enjoying the sun and the scenery. These emotional ups and downs went on for about 70 km.













In the distance I could see a wonderful sight......a tar road! No doubt there are some readers who think “how boring to be on a tar road”, fair enough, but after what we had travelled on it was always a treat .....for a while tho’. No sooner were we on the tar road and the weather cleared up beautifully and it ended up being a magic ride into Kigoma. We rode through some stunning stretches where the road was lined with palm tree plantations.









At the T-junction in Mwanga we took a left turn to Ujiji. It was a lovely colourful little town with a nice vibe and it’s famous for its historical events.






We found Livingston Road and headed down a short, narrow lane to the Livingston/Stanley Museum and Monument. Only now can we really appreciate what these amazing men achieved way back in the late 1800’s with no communication and very little infrastructure.









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Old 02-16-2012, 11:00 AM   #28
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Laugh

. This site is the place where Henry Morton Stanley, the newspaper reporter from the New York Herald met with Dr. David Livingston with the well known introduction, “Doctor Livingston, I presume”, back in 1871. Livingston had worked his way through Africa to Kigoma in his effort to fight against slavery in East Africa. He believed the only way forward was to open Africa to the three C’s - Christianity, Commerce and Civilisation.

This basic history lesson was so much easier to remember, being told by an old museum curator with a sing- song voice delivering a well rehearsed repertoire with his mind on a tip. This was an entertaining and amusing break in our ride with us both sitting under the mango tree suppressing our giggles. A tip well spent. There is also a small plaque in the grounds to Speke and Burton who were the first Europeans to set eyes on Lake Tanganyika on 14 February 1858













On our return to Kigoma Kingsley stopped at the nearby town of Mwanga and took a long shot at looking for rear brake pads for his bike. Needless to say there were none around. His back brake pads had been worn out with all the mud. This was not a big problem with the speeds we were travelling at, but would become an issue if the roads and weather improved.











It was quite amazing riding through Kigoma and seeing all these shops, people, cars and general activity after being in the back of beyond for what seemed ages. Camping at Jakobson Beach was on the cards and was a few kilometres south of the town. A sandy track took us to the main cottage which was in amongst some trees with no lake view. The camp site was a bit further away after a steep descend.





We decided to check out some other accommodation and headed back towards town and discovered the Lake Tanganyika Hotel.


ACCOMMODATION HAD TAKEN AN UNEXPECTED AND WELCOMING LEAP FROM ‘DISA-STAR’ TO ‘FOUR STAR’.

We felt and looked like two tramps checking in but we were beyond caring. No sooner had we entered our luxurious room and I was out and over the veranda railing and heading to the pool that overlooked Lake Tanganyika. Poor Kingsley was left with the task of bringing the bikes down and off loading. What bliss. Sun, pool,G & T’s and relaxation.........what more could we ask for.






WE ALWAYS SEEM TO HAVE THE ABILITY TO LOWER THE TONE OF A PLACE.








HILLTOP HOTEL





A magical sunset over the Congo brought closure to a wonderful day.



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Old 02-16-2012, 11:30 AM   #29
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Old 02-20-2012, 08:51 AM   #30
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BURUNDI

KIGOMA (Tanzania) to BUJUMBURU (Burundi)
Day 9: Sunday 18 December
Distance : 250 km
Time: 8.00 am – 3.00 pm


“Girl, aint no kindness in the face of strangers.
Aint gonna find no miracles here”.

Bruce Springsteen



OUR ROUTE THROUGH BURUNDI.

We enjoyed a lovely breakfast at the hotel after waking up fresh, rested, revived and ready to take on another border crossing. Took some early morning photos before setting off in damp clothing and on mud-caked bikes.







Just before departing Kigoma we spotted the “Jane Goodall Institute”. She initiated the Gombe Chimpanzee Research Project back in 1960 enabling her to observe chimpanzee behaviour in the Gombe National Park, the smallest of the reserves in Tanzania.



This is a low keyed and very little-visited reserve as it is in a relatively remote location. Its most southern border is only 16 km north of Kigoma and lies between Lake Tanganyika and the road leading to Burundi. There is no road access and Gombe can only be reached by lake-taxis which depart from Kigoma, therefore, travellers are only able to explore the reserve and do chimpanzee tracking on foot.
The ride north to the Mugina Border Post was quite spectacular with stunning views overlooking hill tops onto the lake and across to the Congo. We passed by acres of banana plantations and cultivated lands.


Ferry docking at Kigoma.











After 4 days of amazing riding we exited Tanzania which was quick and easy and we were entertained by a few little locals.






Where the tar road turns to dirt we entered Burundi. The scenery suddenly changed and we rode through a beautiful plantation of tall eucalyptus trees that led us to the Immigration office where entry was a quick stamp of the passport and a brief welcome. Only when we enquired about the Customs office were we told that it was 20 km away at Mabanda.





After a few close shaves, much shouting and arm gesturing we realised that we were riding on the wrong side of the road. Now this took some getting used to as one automatically wanted to veer left when confronting a fast moving vehicle on a narrow road. On one occasion I watched in horror as Kingsley forgot the new rules of the road and headed off onto the wrong side in front of an on- coming vehicle. At least we had these 20 km of quieter road to make friends with the right side of the road.



Burundi - “The Switzerland of Africa”, lies in the Great Lakes region and it is a hilly and mountainous country with a western range of mountains running north to south and continues up to Rwanda. Burundi experienced unrest similar to that of the 1994 Rwanda genocide and has also managed to quell other uprising in 2005 following the first ever democratic elections, though suspicions are still rife among the Hutus and Tutsi groups, constituting the government and rebel forces.
On route to Mabande we both picked up a change in the vibe of the country. Unbeknown to each other at the time we both felt uneasy as we passed villages and people on the side of the road as there was much shouting at us and they didn’t appear at all friendly. Many were walking around carrying machetes. But, as Kingsley said, it is a tool of their trade..........I still found this unnerving! Not a place to stop and take photos.
We somehow managed to find the Customs office on arrival at Mabande. The officer there requested a payment of $40 each but we politely explained that after having paid $90 each for a Visa, which we organised in South Africa, and paying for a Carnet we were not going to be parting with any more money!! Amazingly they settled for this and we were on our way again – quite ‘chuffed’ with ourselves.

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