Tuesday, 16 September 2008

13th September 08

Date: 13th September 08
Location: Mbeya, Tanzania
Weather: Hazy sunshine and very hot, 37°c
Status: Tired after a long day on the road but the Colonel is moving along very well!

One of those mornings when I just couldn’t sleep and was up with my eyes open from 4.30am…..OH AND ADD TO THAT THE SOUND OF THE DAMN MOSQUE NEXT DOOR!!!! Such an antisocial thing to do blasting your “Allah Akbar” from the minaret’s at that time of the morning!

Anyway’s we had to be off early so a blessing in disguise really and we got on the road before the sun poked its head above the horizon leaving the town of Mbeya behind and the hordes of smoking diesel trucks with it.

Once we’d cleared the city limits the road was good tarmac interrupted occasionally by the speed bumps which seem to be on the edge of every town and village we came to neatly organised in groups of four or more! When we arrived at the border town of Tunduma, between Tanzania and Zambia, the crowds of money changers, street sellers and officials were a familiar sight but this time we were happily turning right back into the country rather than into a new one.

We fuelled up just in case and I worked out we’d used 12 litres of fuel since we left Mbeya giving us a pretty respectable 26.5 miles per gallon, well done Colonel! As we turned out of the town there were loads of little tuc-tucs providing the taxi services around the town; very amusing seeing them in Africa for the first time in a few months!

The tarmac ran out within 200m of the town’s limits and we were again treated to the delights of the reddish African gravel road, the likes of which haven’t seen the use of a grader for what seems like months, leaving a mixture of bedrock, sun-baked mud and loose gravel which turns to dust as soon as you hit it. In no way ideal but a whole load better than the Zambian equivalent which generally has corrugations from hell due to the sheer number of trucks pounding them on a daily basis, at least I could keep a speed of around 50km/h up!

We stopped for breakfast at the side of the road once the number of road users both walking and driving had dropped, and enjoyed the morning sunshine which for a change was accompanied by a strong easterly wind whipping up the surrounding dust bowl countryside. Our only company the birds in the trees above.

After another 5hrs driving we entered the outskirts of Sumbawanga, another dusty transit town which we stopped in to use the ATM which again Bre’s card failed to work in….damn Mastercard! As it was after lunch we found a cute little café with the help of a very kind local gentleman and were served a huge plate of chicken, rice, cabbage, spinach, beans and a really good tomato sauce….all on a S/Steel prison plate!

Out destination for the night was to be Kalambo Falls on the edge of Lake Tanganika another 130kms away down some really small tracks to the south west of the town, we left and found the correct turn off, followed it for 17kms until our progress was firmly halted by the sight we really didn’t want to see…..a washed away concrete bridge! I got out and surveyed the surrounding banks but the drop into the river was too steep and the only possible track was straight into a mud hole which the first local who arrived told me “had no bottom”. Hmmm that put pay to that little adventure then, balls.

We made the decision to head back to Sumbawanga and to spend the night there as we in reality be a day ahead of ourselves and could spend it somewhere equally as appealing when we got into Rwanda or Uganda, famed for their beauty.

Coming back in we spotted an internet cafe but typical, the power was out for the town, according to our newly acquired friend Alfred “due to the Zambian’s who supply it!”. He took my number and promised to call as soon as it came back…..I never heard a thing!

We made out way to the Forest Side Country Club, pitched the tent in the dusty car park and made use of their facilities for next to nothing. I think the manager just liked us as we had a buffalo skull on the roof….just as they have over the entrance to their bar!

End of day location: Sumbawanga, Tanzania
Distance covered: 369kms

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