Giant Rock formations
E&C with the afternoon sun
Giant Rock formations
E&C with the afternoon sun
Our friend Tyler takes an empty taxi after disembarking the MV Liemba
Our first night´s accommodation in Mpulungu, Zambia
C by the river at Kapisha Lodge
E in the natural hot springs at Kapisha Lodge
"E" the tame Wilderbeest, so named as all he can say is "EEEEEEEEEEE!"
Delicious dinner at Jacobsens Beach Kigoma
Sunset on the Liemba travelling from Tanzania to Zambia
Loading the Liemba
Loading the Liemba at night
17.07.2012 - 25.07.2012
We find out at the port that there is indeed a ferry leaving on Wednesday the 25th, which means that we will have to extend our visa, since the three months will pass in 3 days.
17th - 25th July
After breakfast we go to town, again no dalla-dallas with room enough for us. (Yesterday on our return we squeezed in, after stopping for a beer at a great little, local beach bar.) There are other wazungu leaving Jacobsen´s so we share a cab to town. We walk back to the port and make a reservation for the MV Liemba, first class. Then we try to find Immigration. The lady at the booking office tells us to try near the train station. At the station we ask around and by chance (?) end up speaking to the Immigration afficer. What are the odds. He tells us that to extend, we must go to the office near the hospital on the way to the next town. His friend is going there in his car, so we jump in for a free ride. At immigration we talk with officer Saidi. He gives us a 3 week extension (at his discretion) which should cost USD 30 each, but as they have no change, we get 2 for USD 50. The way back is in a ´not taxi´ to town. Back at Jacobsen´s we join the other 4 campers for dinner and a good old chim-wag.
The next days are spent at the beach. Now we know we have another week here, we are content to be beach bums - there are worse places to be stuck than this mini paradise! We visit the Hilltop Hotel for pepsi and cake (with custard!) and spectacular views from high up the cliffs to the lake far below us. We visit town again for the undercover market: it is a warren of alleyways and sells spices, veggies and kangas (wax cloths for the ladies). The pineapples and passion fruits are excellent. We stop for the odd beer at the beach bar on the way back.
Morning swims before breakfast are sublime, once we get coordinated to have breakfast straight after (to avoid cranky pants). The 4 leave on Wednesday afternoon, heading to Mwanza on the morning bus.
A lazy Saturday at the beach. Swim 5 times. Finish books. New arrivals: 2 retired couples from South Africa, Andre, Ann, Gordon and Jean, in 4WDs. Later Alex from Germany appears with his tent. So we have a new happy family. We snorkle and continue to fight off the vervet raids. Gordon has a catapult to do the job; Andre comments that he always has a tin of rocks at hand. E, C + Alex have pasta for dinner.
The Monday before ferry take-off we are up early. After a quick breakfast we take a dalla-dalla to town. We buy our tickets for the MV Liemba; then it´s chapatti, chai and sambusas! A stopover at the internet and market for provisions. We also buy rice for dinner as we have been invited by Ann to share. Buying beers is more of an issue. If we want the long necks, then it proves difficult to buy them for take away, as the return on a bottle is some TSH 500. We bargain at one bar and get a price that we agree on, but when we pay, the price has changed and gone up. So we leave and walk back to camp with the plan to stop at the lakeside bar and get them there. By chance we stop at a store on the road side where C negotiates a price as E + Alex wait outside. We stop for a beer at our favourite beachside bar before walking back to camp. Dinner is delicious: pork, rice and stirfried veggies, and an excellent fish for C, all prepared by Ann and Jean. We spend a lovely evening. Quote from Gordon: SKIN = Spending the Kids´ Inheritage Now.
Our final day at the beach is spent swimming and snorkling. More folk in overlanders arrive; it´s getting pretty busy here. The Swiss overlanders have been driving through Russia and China. On their van is written the names of the places they have visited. They talk of how they have shipped their vehicle here and there, how much the port fees are, not knowing the port fees on arrival, etc. They have the skull of a Marco Polo sheep with its horns attached to the front top of the vehicle. They tell us that China has closed Tibet currently; no tourists allowed in. We wonder what will happen to our pre-booked Tibet tour in October. Alex´s BBQ doesn´t materialise, so we dine on our pasta with remaining tomatoes and cashews. We buy 2 beers from the Swiss. Tomorrow we leave Jacobsen´s.
Into Mwanza we trundle in the afternoon traffic. we disembark at a bus station out of town ( we missed our stop as we can be clueless at times) and take a taxi back to our hotel, the interestingly named Chistmas Tree Hotel (not a borbel in sight mind( you, let alone a tree). It is positively luxurious in comparison to the Tanzanian Christian Centre, with views over Lake Victoria. Our evening is hot showers, followed by cold beers and delicious Indian food.
We enjoy Mwanza with its lush and steep hillsides covered with houses and smooth boulders, over which countless hawks and birds of prey soar on the thermals. It is a bustling city and we discover the market and Hindu temples along the aptly named Temple St. We make for the Mohamed Trans bus ticket office and make enquires for visiting Musoma, north on Lake Victoria towards the Kenyan border, and also for travel to Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika from where we plan to take a ferry boat to Zambia. The Musoma ticket can be bought on the bus tomorrow, no worries - hamana shida, and for the Kigoma ticket we must go to another office, and the gent behind the counter offers to show us where. Through the crowded streets we bob and weave. It seems every square inch of space is occupied by somebody selling something. Upstairs and round corners we go, and arrive at another kiosk. Our new friend pops behind the counter and opens the ticket book, and proceeds to sell us our tickets.
Next day we depart for Musoma on a bus at 9am. E is again seated on what has become known as the `Mama seat`, as another large Mama squeezes in beside him. There is no need for sear belts on this ride as E is tightly wedged in. Arriving 4 hours later we take a Dalla-dalla to town and find our hotel. Musoma is a small town but as usual full of bustling life. Although the town is right on Lake Victoria, you wouldn`t know it. We walk for 15 minutes to a hotel at the beach where we sit with fantastic and peaceful views and and cold beer - benefits of being a Mzungu!
Later, as we return to town, we are led into an outdoor street restaurant (Free Park bar) where we are treated to delicious roasted fish for a very cheap price. We decide that Musoma is worth another day of our lives, and so to change our ticket to Kigoma, we fortunately have the mobile number of the gent who sold us the tickets written down. He'd written it on the tickets in case of any problems. After a couple of calls and sms's we have new tickets arranged free of charge. So it's back to the beach, passed the armed-guards carrying machine guns, and then roasted fish again.
The bus rids back takes us passed the edge of the Serengetti National Park, and we spy wildebeest, zebra and baboons. Back in Mwanza, we locate the ticket office to collect our tickets. This tiem it's frantic, as we are confronted by a very animated guy asking all kinds of questions about our travel. He is something to do with the company, but clearly he's had alot to drink. He manages to get in the middle of everything we are trying to do, and despite the comments and remonstrations of everybody else, he persists in being in the way. But this is the way of Africa, so we go with the flow, managing after retrieving our new tickets via him, to ditch him at the dalla-dalla stand, our kiswahilli pleasantaries all used up, and our patience threadbare! Taxi to the Tema hotel near the southern bus terminal, cold beer and chipsi mayei (chips omelette), and we take an early night.
Our bus leaves at 5am, so it's just after 4 am that we rise and quit the shabby hotel. It's still dark as we find our bus amongst the hum-drum of the bus station. As we pass our bags to the baggage guys, they clock us as Mzungu, and demand 6000 TSH for the bags. When we ask why this is, they blankly reply that it is to ensure our bags are there when we arrive. We gamble, saying this is included in the price of our ticket, and with that, we climb aboard. As we await departure, E wanders round the bus station for last minute provisions, and checks the bags are not dumped on the pavement.
The buses are being blessed by a man with a long stick. Back on our bus, and a preacher stands in the aisle and gives a sermon, to which the bus replies with a chorus of `Amen`, before placing coins in his hat. Everyone then puts on their seatbelts to our surprise. This, it turns out is for the benefit of a police check before leaving the bus terminal. It transpires later that these seatbelts may not pass British Standards, as breathing out seems to pop the belt buckles open. The `Mama seat` is far safer! And we're off. A cold wind blows around us - there`s a missing window in the seat behind us. An hour later, we disembark the bus, buy a passenger ticket and board the ferry that takes us across a small stretch of Lake Victoria, just as the sun rises. On we plough as the road becomes a dirt track. We pass, at speed, village after village coated in orange dust, as incidentally are we, thanks to the misisng window. The aisle fills to capacity with passengers and bags, through which the conductors squeeze - at one point the conductor passes his shoes forward, and then climbs nimbly over the seats to get to the front of the bus. As the sun sets, we arrive battered and tired in Kigoma. In the settling dust and dusk we squint for site of our bags in the hold...around the other side of the bus we go, and there, under a thick coating of orange dust are the backpacks. E purchases provisions - cold beers, peanuts, apples and water. C orgainises a taxi, and 20 minutes later we are at Jacobsen's beach. It`s dark as the staff put up our tent. We sit and listen to the sounds of the waves, sipping a beer.
Next morning we visit our private beach. A beautiful cove with 4 straw huts and palm trees. Later C goes with Patrick of the staff to the local fishing village for supplies, as E does laundry. c returns with a selection of local fish for the BBQ. The best fish are only available in the morning, and these have mixed tastes when cooked. Still, washed down with a cold beer, they are passable. At night, the horizon hosts the flickering lights of the small fishing boats.
Next morning, new campers arrive, having come from the boat we intend to take on Wednesday to Zambia. They bring news that the boat isn`t going for another week....
We decide to gather more information and formulate our plans. We head to town, excited that our plans are turned upside down. It is days like this that are quite magical, as you never really know how they will turn out.