Posts Tagged ‘Sumbawanga’

Last leg of Tanzania … the road the Tunduma, where tarmac starts again all the way to the Malawi border.

Again, as usual on this trip .. up early, packed everything, had some scrambled egg on toast and Africafe instant coffee in the restaurant of the country club.

I set off, but the road is all tarmac … can’t be .. or they just didn’t know what I meant when I asked them if the road was bad. About 20 miles later, I stopped next to a group of locals, but they directed me back to town and another road … which, yes, is gravel. I think my GPS got a little confused.

The road was not that bad … I can see it had rained, maybe the day before and then it can be nasty, I’m sure .. but today it was good ! The first 120km or so was great fun, some good fast sections, enjoying it, but then the last 70/60 km to Tunduma was just horrible .. rocky and stoney, bike feels like it is rattling to bits.

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First section was beautiful, if a little corrugated

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You got to see my ugly smug at some point

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I reached Tunduma in one piece and immediately set of for Mbeya … only about 100km from the Malawi border. It is good to get an early start every morning … gives you loads of time and by around lunctime you have covered some good distance.

As I was riding into Mbeya … there was something brewing in the air … it was pitch black clouds, wind like hell, sometimes it felt I had to ride at a 45 degree angle. I could see heavy rain hanging over the mountains surrounding Mbeya, so I diverted to the nearest hotel/restaurant that my GPS could find. It just happened to be on the same road .. it’s a place called ICC (IFSI Community Center). It is set on massive grounds … and very decent, they have a hotel, guest house and restaurant. I decided I will try their fish and chips while I wait for the rain to pass. Very interesting .. not sure what fish, but it was good, maybe a little thin on meat.

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Fish and Chips at the ICC (IFSI Community Center)

I also took this photo of an ancient telephone exchange I think that is in their lobby … and they still use it till this day, perfect working condition.

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The old telephone exchange they still use at ICC

Ironically enough, it never rained. The strong winds must have blown it the other way … so I set off to the Utengule Coffee Lodge (http://gpslog.cc/-8.8852,33.3205), a place I found on the internet. It is run by a British lady and her husband .. very welcoming, great bar and restaurant staff that looks after your every need. A little pricey … think my room was $80, but had a great stay. Off to Malawi tomorrow !!

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Photos of Utengule Coffee Lodge

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Down Tanzania – Part 2

Posted: November 13, 2010 in General, Tanzania
Tags: , , ,

Up very early, mainly because he hippos are so damn noisy … cold shower, sharing it with loads of mosquitos, but better than no shower 🙂

It is a cloudy day … with a constant drissle. I thought I will wait a while for the rain to stop, but it didn’t, so I decided to pack up everything and go .. not getting anywhere by sitting around. I need to get to Sumbawanga and early if I can.

Straight out of the gates, I turn left and left again … this road takes me straight through the Katavi National Park .. not even 200m on this road and I already spotted a herd of elephants to my left. Later on, some buffalo, baboons and loads of giraffe. Loving it …

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Giraffe next to the road through Katavia National Park

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Some buffalo ..

Or so I thought, soon the seemingly good road turned a little slippery at some patches. You just don’t know where these patches are … This made me very weary of the road, so I stood up in the pegs and concentrated hard on the road ahead of me, making it hard to spot wildlife.

With a constant wipe of the visor, so I can see where I am going … I carried on. It even got a little worse, potholes, which at least you could spot easily as they are filled with water and then corrugation .. my favorite ! It soon became hard work .. very hard.

I came to one section where even trucks got stuck in the mud, I had to wait for them to sort themselves out, passed them, just to discover that there is almost no road on the other side … the trucks have practically made a big “mushy” mud section of the road. Luckily, I knew lots of truckers were nearby if I get stuck. I made it through though ..

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Dirty from the mud ..

Today, I also had my first proper fall since I started this trip. They are busy with road works, so they make you divert to very dusty, sandy single laned roads on the side. Trucks in Tanzania know that they are bigger then you, so they won’t move, forcing me to one side of the road where I hit a massive sandy section and down I went. At least the truck stopped, the guys got off and helped me pick up the bike again. Bike and I are fine though, just a fall in the sand.

I eventually reached Sumbawanga (http://gpslog.cc/-7.9588,31.6290) around lunctime, so I went to the local country club for some lunch. I asked around and everyone told me the road to Tunduma (where tarmac starts again) is very bad and with rain on the horizon, I decided to sleep over at the country club for the evening rather than trying to make it all the way in one day … great little place, great food as well.

I also struggled a little to find petrol in town … I don’t think they want to sell … as they do have, but after a chat to the guys in the office, they agreed to sell me 10 liters on one condition, they want to have a ride on my bike … Like that is gonna happen, luckily they still gave me the petrol 🙂

Tomorrow, I am off to Tunduma .. last 200 or so kilometers before I get tarmac and then I plan to go to Mbeya.