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Old 04-19-2012, 08:30 AM   #91
wildside OP
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LAKE MANYARA to DODOMA

Day 25: 3 January 2012
Distance: 384 km
Time: 6.45 am – 4.45 pm




ROUTE FOR THE NEXT 2 DAYS.


We had a long day ahead of us and decided on early start. We hadn’t travelled very far when we were treated to an early morning sighting of my favourite animals........giraffes! They were fairly close to the side of the road and we watched them grazing in the tree tops and loping slowly around the bushes. They were soon joined by another who nonchalantly walked across the road......stopped.....checked us out for a while and then calmly moved off to join the rest of his herd. We were so delighted as this was probably our last chance of seeing any wildlife.














We headed south on the A104. Better known as the Great North Road – part of the legendary highway from Cape Town to Cairo. It was still a good tar road and the going was good. We were anticipating a long haul of gravel road. In the early morning light everything looked so fresh and appealing. Tanzania definitely has a certain kind of magic about it ....... a place to return to and spend more time. After passing the Tarangire National Park all sights of tourists disappeared and we were the only ‘mzungus’ once again on this long and lonely stretch of road. Most tourists avoid this stretch of road and travel from Iringa to Arusha via Dar Es Salaam........a longer route but all tar.

By 9.00 am we had reached Babati and were back on the dirt road. There was quite a bit of road construction going on which slowed the going down and gave us the opportunity to take in the stunning scenery. We alternated between climbing up into the hills and riding back down into the hot, dry and dusty valleys.

It was late morning when we arrived hot and thirsty at Kolo, which is about 100 km from Babati and it was fortunate that we came across the Antiquities Department office and Museum of the Kolo Rock Art






The Kolo Rock Art Site is a World Heritage Site, about 9 km off the main road, with caves containing paintings believed to date back more than 1500 years. As we were pressed for time we only visited the small but interesting museum that we had no idea was there until we stopped for something to drink. Mmm...another excuse to return.



I was fascinated by the lovely carving on the door frame.



A few photos taken inside the museum.



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Old 04-19-2012, 08:42 AM   #92
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About 50 km north of Dodoma the roadworks started again and we were diverted onto the side of the road. I would hate to travel this road in the rain!! By mid afternoon we were no longer cheerfully greeting the people, admiring the scenery and feeling on top of the world. Instead, my attention was now on my sore hands, the knot between my shoulder blades, checking the odometer to see if it was still ticking over and on my sore butt!

Below are some pictures taken along the way.


WE DID NOT SEE TOO MANY ACCIDENTS CONSIDERING THE CONDITION OF THE ROADS AND VEHICLES.


SOME SOIL EROSION.




WE FOUND THIS SIGN AMUSING AS WE WERE HUNDREDS OF KILOMETERS FROM THE BEACH.




THESE LOCALS WERE DIGGING FOR WATER IN THE DRY RIVER BED.




RESTING IN THE SHADE.


A FLOODED AREA.


Just when I thought I could continue no more there was the TWIGA HOTEL on the right hand side.




We had prepared ourselves not to expect too much but this was a lovely sight. Arthur, the manager, made us feel most welcome and at one stage we engaged in a long conversation with him and he took us by surprise as he had a firm grasp on the political situation of his country especially regarding corruption and deals with the Chinese. He left us with food for thought.




OUR ACCOMODATION.

A travellers palm –the sheaths of the stems hold rainwater which can be used as an emergency drinking supply for travellers. I have also recently learnt that the fan tends to grow in a n east-west line, providing a crude compass.



For some reason there was no electricity here but we were not too concerned as it was clean and comfortable and Arthur reduced the price. We had a cold shower, washed some clothes and relaxed outside. The only food available was rice, spinach and tomato which we enjoyed in our room with the aid of our headlamps.
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Old 04-19-2012, 08:50 AM   #93
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DODOMA to IRINGA

Day 26: 4 January 2012
Distance: 285 km
Time: 8.30 am – 4.00 pm

Feeling rested we said our farewells to Arthur and his granddaughter and headed off to Dodoma, 10 km away. We withdrew some cash and headed for Iringa.



The scenery was once again stunning and the baobabs started to replace the thorn trees and natural bush. The roads were a great improvement on yesterdays despite all the construction work interspersed throughout the whole trip. The down side to all this construction was the uprooting of some magnificent old baobabs








At one stage we came to the top of a pass and had a hazy but amazing view of a valley of baobabs.






We spotted this little guy resting in a bush next to our bikes.



One of the villages along the way were we stopped for something to drink. We were always grateful for the welcoming cold drink and bit of shade offered by the little stores. The locals never hassled us. They were always polite and respectful.




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Old 04-19-2012, 09:00 AM   #94
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Mid way between Dodoma and Iringa we came across the Mtera Dam which is located on the great Ruaha River. It is the biggest hydro electrical dam in Tanzania measuring 56 km long and 15 km wide. On entering this area we were required to stop at a boom, sign a register and were given a permit which enabled us to pass through. We crossed over a dam wall with the dam on our right and a very dry rocky area on our left.










WE WEREN'T ALLOWED TO TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS ON THE BRIDGE BUT I MANAGED A FEW QUICK ONES - ADMITTEDLY, NOTHING EXCITING.

We eventually climbed out of a valley into a lovely mountainous area with spectacular views but plenty of road works.





It was late afternoon when we arrived at Iringa, once again hot, tired and dusty. After refuelling and stocking up with a few supplies we rode up and down the main street several times looking for the turn off to Rivervalley Camp as the GPS insisted that we turn off in the centre of town but we couldn’t find the turn off and by now we were getting a little ‘tetchy’ with one another. We eventually continued through town and finally found the turn off to the main Tanzam Highway that leads east to Dar Es Salaam. The GPS picked up directions again on this road and about 10 km later we finally found our turnoff to the RIVERVALLEY REST CAMP. It was a lovely tidy little spot on the overgrown banks of the little Ruaha River. Arriving late and tired calls for a G&T, cold beer and a relax.


THIS WAS LEAVING THE FOLLOWING WET MORNING.



COOKING 'VETKOEK' ( DUMPLINGS) ON THE OPEN FIRE.

Tomorrow would be our last day in Tanzania and it is going to be a looong day. Lay in bed with sad feelings of leaving this wonderful country – just another reminder that our adventure was nearly coming to an end.
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Old 04-19-2012, 01:34 PM   #95
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Thanks for sharing this fantastic trip,awesome photos of majestic scenery and exotic wildlife .
I really like the lid of your topbox turning into a handy table.
Would love to make it over there some day.
Cheers Mike
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Old 04-21-2012, 12:51 PM   #96
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milknosugar View Post
Thanks for sharing this fantastic trip,awesome photos of majestic scenery and exotic wildlife .
I really like the lid of your topbox turning into a handy table.
Would love to make it over there some day.
Cheers Mike
Hi. Thanks for your response.
The table top was a very clever idea and a very useful piece of equipment.
I hope you get the opportunity to visit Africa some day ..... you wont be disappointed.
Take care and safe riding.
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Old 04-21-2012, 01:03 PM   #97
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BACK IN MALAWI


IRINGA (Tanzania) to SANGILO SANCTUARY LODGE ( Malawi)

Day 27: 5 January 2012
Distance: 574 km
Time: 6.45 am – 5.30 pm




ROUTE TAKEN FOR THE NEXT 4 DAYS....RETURNING TO FAT MONKEY.

OH NO !!!! It rained all night and continued to rain while we were packing up. My heart just sunk. We eventually moved bikes under the gazebo (shelter) in order to finish our packing. After putting on our rain gear we headed off into a gloomy day. A month ago we arrived in south Tanzania in the wet weather and now we were leaving south Tanzania in the wet weather. We shouldn’t complain as we were aware that it was there rainy season. Fortunately it would be tar all the way as we were now heading south on the lovely Tanzam Highway.

We rode very carefully for the first 150 km as it continued to rain. We didn’t take much notice of our surroundings as it took all our concentration focusing on the wet busy road and staying alive. It eventually stopped raining but we were now soaking wet and freezing cold.......my teeth couldn’t stop chattering. After refuelling and having something to eat we started to thaw out and relax.
The rest of the way to Mbeya was overcast but dry and the scenery became lush green bush as far as the eye could see. One would expect to see wildlife around here but only cattle and goats grazed in this area. Because of the shortage of fuel in Malawi we decided check fuel stations while still in Tanzania and at Chimala we filled up our tanks and containers.




REFUELLING AT CHIMALA



Which was just as well as most fuel stations from here on were empty. We had no sooner turned off the A104 towards Tukuyu when my bike started spluttering again. Kingsley just took the cover off again and we continued with no problems. What he did notice was that it had started to use a lot of oil and it needed frequent topping up.

Heading towards the border post we encountered some beautiful scenery along this stretch of road. At one stage we were riding on the top of a ridge of mountains with healthy banana plantations and neat tea estates on either side and beyond this it dropped down into deep valleys with lovely views. We were lucky enough to find fuel again about 40 km before the border. It was so crowded with locals filling up their containers to sell to the black market.

The Tanzanian border was once again clean, efficient and nicely organised compared to the dirty, unpleasant and costly Malawian border. We were now qualified as wise old travellers and managed without any help from the ‘runners’. I must admit it was good to be back in Malawi and another 50 km took us into Karonga once again....... we had now done a complete loop in 25 days. It was quite amazing to think back to the day that we rode out of here, so naive, into Zambia and got ourselves horribly lost.

I insisted on going back to the Cultural Museum Centre that we had missed out on previously as I wanted to see this amazing Malawisaurus ( meaning Malawi Lizard) that I had read so much about. This handsome chap that lived in the Cretaceous period, measuring 9.1 meters in length and 4.3 meters high, was found in the nearby hills of Karonga. There is an archaeology site called Malema Research Camp about 3 km out of town, where excavations are being done and it also provides accommodation.










A BIT MORE GEOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION.

We were now tired and hungry and still had another 80 km to ride. We arrived at SANGILO SANCTUARY LODGE at about 5.30 pm. What a relief. We spotted this sign on the way up Malawi last month and what fascinated us was the motorbike signage. It also came highly recommended by Peter from the Mikoma Beach Resort were we had camped on the beach. One has to ride about 2 km on a sandy road and down an awful rutted track to reach the resort. The Chalets were too expensive so we pitched a soggy tent in a tiny little patch reserved for campers which sadly, only had a limited view of the lake.






DESCENDING THE STEEP DRIVEWAY TO THE LODGE.



After a cold shower we settled comfortably in the pub which was at the base of some stairs that led down to the beach and it overlooked a divine secluded private beach. We were definitely in for 2 nights!!! Winston, our friendly Rasta barman took care of our thirst and his sister took care of our hunger and served up a delicious meal of fish, fried potatoes and salad.





Later that evening I received a phone call from my sister-in-law informing us that my mother wasn’t doing too well. She had lost weight and was no longer able to walk. She had suffered a stroke 2 years ago and her health had been deteriorating slowly ever since. I couldn’t wait to get back home and tell her all about our travels.
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Old 04-21-2012, 01:29 PM   #98
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REST DAY: SANGILO LODGE

Day 28: Friday 6 January 2012



Despite the rain throughout the night we had a good sleep. Spent the rest of the day relaxing and swimming at the beach. I have been trying to absorb as much as possible of this place and to hold on to these special feelings one gets when experiencing such beauty. This is a real little patch of paradise and we were the only people here enjoying it. As nice as it is to have this pretty place to ourselves, one must sympathise with the owners who are trying to keep things going when the countries economy is against them. The fuel crisis has really knocked the tourist industry.





NOTHING BEATS A KUCHE KUCHE EVENING NEXT TO A LAKE







THE CAMPSITE ABLUTIONS




THE OPEN-AIR KITCHEN AND TOTEM POLE.




THE PUB





THE BEACH LOOKING SOUTH




THE BEACH LOOKING NORTH




THE DINING DECK




PUB AND LOUNGE






THE UPMARKET ACCOMMODATION




THEIR UPMARKET VIEW




THE CHALET ABLUTIONS




THE TANZANIAN MOUNTAINS IN THE BACKGROUND



I have to mention that this is also the resort that Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman visited during their trip ‘Long way Down’ in 2007. They were lucky enough to stay in the chalets though. Apparently a lot of bikers frequent this spot and Mark, the owner, is also a keen biker.









MARKS PRIDE AND JOY WAS THIS TENERE




HE ALSO OWNS THIS EX-MISSIONARY BMW...A 350 cc I THINK.....NO DOUBT A COLLECTORS PIECE.





Nine years ago he built himself a lovely home on a rocky outcrop overlooking this little bay and seems to have become very critical of the locals in their expectations of the white man to make things happen.

By the end of the day we were feeling so chilled. What a divine place to start unwinding and to add to our many wonderful memories.





TOMORROW..... SAD NEWS ......A SAD DAY!
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Old 04-24-2012, 12:33 AM   #99
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Hi

thanks for the report and pics .... it`s an inspiritaion and a good source for information for our upcoming transafrica trip.
We are looking forward to ride the rift valley apart from all the other things of Africa

Happy trails and Cheers

Thomas & Andrea
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Old 04-24-2012, 01:06 PM   #100
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Hi

thanks for the report and pics .... it`s an inspiritaion and a good source for information for our upcoming transafrica trip.
We are looking forward to ride the rift valley apart from all the other things of Africa

Happy trails and Cheers

Thomas & Andrea

Hi there. Thanks for your input and I'm glad that this RR could be of help. I don't think that you will be disappointed in Africa - it's a magical place.
Hope you have a wonderful and safe trip. Looking forward to reading about it.

Regards
Karen and Kingsley
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Old 04-24-2012, 01:27 PM   #101
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SANGILO LODGE to MAKUZI LODGE

DAY 29: Saturday 7 January 2012
DISTANCE: 240 km
TIME: 9.00 am – 2.45 pm


“Travelling makes one modest – you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
Paul Theroux


We awoke to some rumbling thunder and a few spots of rain. I was dreading riding out on the awful driveway as it was steep, rocky and no doubt a bit muddy after last night’s rain.......”I guess it rains down in Africa....”. After a light breakfast down at the beach we said our farewells and went back up to the bikes.

We were warming up the bikes when my phone rang. When I saw who was calling my heart sank.......I just knew it was bad news. It was a call from my family letting me know that my Mom had passed away earlier that morning. In the back of my mind I knew it was what Mom would have wanted as she was now in a better place and it was something that we had been expecting to happen sooner or later but one is still never really prepared for it. I just couldn’t image not having a Mom as Moms should be there for you all the time.

After the initial shock we decided that it was best to continue on our way. For me, it was therapeutic being on the bike where I could think and cry and just be on my own. Fortunately there was very little traffic as my concentration wasn’t too good. The country side and time passed by in a blurr and I couldn’t appreciate it in my state of mind. We were meant to have visited Livingstonia on this return trip but at this stage it was the last thing on my mind so sadly we gave it a miss.


At some stage we stopped for a rest on a quiet stretch of road and within minutes a man arrived carrying a bucket lid filled with water and 4 mangoes. He said that we looked like tired travellers and he wanted to offer us some fruit. We couldn’t believe his generosity. While we peeled and messily ate our juicy mangoes we chatted about his farm and he told us in well spoken English that they were “busy with agricultural activities”. When I asked him what they were actually busy with he said “weeding”. He was joined by two others who spoke English very well. After washing our hands in the water from the bucket lid and scraping mango fur from between our teeth we said our goodbyes and moved on, once again taken aback by the kindness of the locals as no reward or payment was asked for or expected.

Our next stop was at Mzuzu where we withdrew cash and went across the road to a petrol station to find something cold to drink. We didn’t even attempt to refuel as there was no fuel anywhere. As we came out of the shop I noticed an attendant putting fuel into a container in the boot of a white mans car. Excitedly we moved our bikes closer to the pumps and indicated for him to fill up. He looked at us and shook his head and refused. Well... we argued and accused him of turning the garage into a black market outlet, but he was so arrogant about it and challenged us with “what are you going to do about it?”. We both suppressed the need to punch him!!!

Fed up with corruption we rode off, out of Mzuzu, and to add to our misery, into a speed trap!!! I can’t recall how much we paid but you could imagine how we were feeling at this point. Our next stop was in the rubber plantation. A chap on a bicycle stopped to enquire if we were OK and offered us some fuel. He had 5 litres which he was selling at R60 per litre. We simply had no choice but to buy it. Soon there was another chap offering us the same deal. So now we were R600 poorer and only 10 litres in our tanks. Can you believe it!

Anyway, we enquired about the rubber trees and they gave us a guided tour and demonstration in the plantation of how the rubber sap is tapped from the trees. A coiled formation cut is made around the tree trunk and from that a straight line cut running downwards. The white sap now bleeds from the cut running down into a cup which is secured at the base of the cut. It takes about one and a half hours for the cup to fill up. The plastic wrapping around the trunk protects the milk in the cup from the rain. The dried milky liquid that remains in the scar of the cut can now be pulled away and the locals use this to wrap around a bit of old tyre tubes until a lovely bouncy ball is made. It was so good to learn something from these guys....perhaps our money was well spent after all.



The up and coming entrepreneurs.




The milky liquid that has drained into the cup.


The dried elastic strip that he has just removed from the scar in the tree trunk.


We decide to call it a day at the Makuzi Lodge turnoff and a 4 km sandy track lead us down to another picturesque spot on Lake Malawi. We pitched our tent on the edge of the beach and were treated to a stunning view of yet another secluded beach. Once again we were the only visitors but sometime late during the night another camper noisily moved in. The rest of the afternoon passed by while we swam, relaxed on the beach, communicated with family back home and mourned for Mom.



















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Old 04-24-2012, 01:37 PM   #102
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MAKUZI LODGE to FAT MONKEY


DAY 30 : Sunday 8 January 2012
DISTANCE: 408 km
TIME: 8.00 am – 3.00 pm



Instead of feeling excited about our last days ride I felt so downhearted and didn’t look forward to 408 km on the road. We eventually left this wonderful spot that I wish I could have enjoyed under happier circumstances. Never-the-less, once I was back on my bike and lost in my own thoughts I started to feel a bit better. It was a chilled ride and we forgot to turn right at Salima and instead headed off to Senga Bay. We were so fed up because we were now running so low on fuel and couldn’t afford to waste it.




I COULDN'T RESIST TAKING A PHOTO OF THESE LITTLE DUCKLINGS ENJOYING THE PUDDLE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD.




It was a relief to arrive at FAT MONKEYS later that afternoon. I think we rode in there on the smell of an oil rag as we had no fuel left. I can’t believe that it was a month ago that we rode out of here all excited for our adventure and now we were safely back with feelings of elation mixed with sadness.

After travelling about 7000 km, visiting 7 countries and 7 lakes we had finally completed our GREAT AFRICAN RIFT VALLEY RIDE.




We were greeted by the owners and were relieved to see that that our vehicle was still there. We promptly made a bee-line for the pub to celebrate our return. After having a hot shower and donning ourselves with fresh clean clothes we settled down on the beach and contacted the kids to let them know that we had arrived safe and sound. We decided to spend another day here to gather our wits.




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Old 04-24-2012, 01:47 PM   #103
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LAST DAY AT FAT MONKEY

DAY 31: Monday 9 January 2012

We enjoyed a lazy morning on the beach watching the locals catch and clean their kampango (catfish).







Before loading the bike we took a ride down memory lane and went to visit Otters Point...a short distance north of us and part of Lake Malawi National Park. I was last her 26 years ago and Kingsley was here 10 years ago. This used to be a very shabby but popular spot to stay in years back and has now become a World Heritage Site.........what a disappointment! It was overrun with baboons, the buildings now completely dilapidated and overgrown with vegetation. This area is government owned and was ear marked for a 5 star hotel which never materialised and what was once a beautiful spot on the beach is now a wasted piece of land.










This is the spot we camped in 26 years ago.

After lunch we loaded the bikes with the help and support of the enthusiastic locals and made a start with the packing.





We enjoyed our last evening on the beach and as a farewell treat we had our last stunning Malawian sunset.



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Old 04-24-2012, 01:56 PM   #104
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HEADING HOME


DAY 32: Tuesday 10 January 2012
TIME: 9.00 am – 3.00 am Thursday 12 January



“When you wake up it’s a new morning,
The sun is shining, it’s a new morning.
You’re going home, you’re going home.”

Gerry Rafferty



The next few days were long, tiring and boring as we took turns driving throughout the 2 days and through both nights. We headed south via Mozambique and Swaziland ( giving Zimbabwe a wide birth) but it gave us time to think about and recapture where we had been, what we had seen, experienced and achieved.

It took awhile to settle back into our mundane life again with routine, responsibilities and the loss of a Mom. But life goes on.




CHEERS !!



“WE’VE BEEN THROUGH SOME THINGS TOGETHER,
WITH TRUNKS OF MEMORIES STILL TO COME.
WE FOUND THINGS TO DO IN STORMY WEATHER.
LONG MAY YOU RUN.”



NEIL YOUNG


Both Kingsley and I would like to thank all the Wilddogs who have taken the time to read this RR and to those who have supported us with your positive and encouraging comments all the way through the GREAT RIFT VALLEY.

We hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as we enjoyed riding it.

Take care
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Old 04-24-2012, 10:07 PM   #105
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Thank You!

Quote:
Originally Posted by wildside View Post
We hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as we enjoyed riding it.
I certainly have enjoyed reading your report. The photos are excellent and it's great to read your impressions as you made your way through the adventure. Exploring unfamiliar places, close to home or far away, is to me what adventuring is all about.

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to set foot on Africa but on the north end with a visit to Morroco. I would love to see more of the continent, but until that becomes possible (if it ever does), seeing it through the eyes of others will have to do. You've done an excellent job presenting Africa in a positive light.

Best Regards, Wayne
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