Tuesday, 16 September 2008

14th September 08

Date: 14th September 08
Location: Sumbawanga, Tanzania
Weather: Clear blue skies and sunshine all day, 37°c
Status: Colonel missed a beat today but back in the groove now, Bre and Me all good!

Another early start to try and get as far as possible down the road towards the park, we left the compound surrounding the Country Club at around 6.45am as drove through the town.

Must have been a good Saturday night for someone as when we came to the central roundabout we noticed a Nissan Patrol parked right in the middle of it…..with its doors open…..somehow having cleared the foot high wall all around the circular centre…..with its bumper hanging off…..and the concrete centrepiece a good five metres away after it was knocked off its mounting!! Amusing photos were taken!

Filled with fuel and worked out that on the last dirt road the Colonel has been doing an incredible 40mpg!!!! Honestly its true, checked my figures again and again!

The road north from Sumbawanga was again dirt and gravel with a broken surface in places which meant the speed was kept below 60kmh most of the way but on the good open stretches we could hold at it for 10 mins at a time and made good progress to our breakfast stop at the edge of the track. A local stopped and we tried to have a broken conversation but in the end we just had a fit of laughter trying unsuccessfully to communicate with each other!

Around midday it was time for another training run, over the last few weeks I’ve been trying to run early in the morning to stay out of the baking heat but as we’re driving all of the time at the moment I don’t have much choice and anyway its good for the fitness to try and cover the same sort of distances with the mercury hitting 35°c!

Managed just under an hour and passed through a few little villages which always leaves the locals a gasp and wondering why, while they’re retiring from the midday sun, there’s some strange Mzungu (Tanzania for European white man) running through their world! Bre was driving all the way laughing at me, filming me and coming to terms with the manual stick-shift as she calls it!

Entered the southern boundary of Katavi National Park but there were no signs, barrier offices so we just kept on going, within the first km we’d seen five giraffe! Pulled over for some sandwiches after a while then continued up the dusty track with our destination being the rangers hut in the centre of the park.

As we arrived at the river, the only source of water in the area during the dry season, the game started to appear with more giraffe, impala and elephant making their way to drink. The track we took beside the river passed directly by the hippo pools which had tens of them in there wallowing away and wherever they were the huge Nile crocodiles were on the bank to waiting for the next unfortunate creature to come down and drink.

We tracked east along the river, crossed it and came across another group of ele’s all slowly plodding away from the water. They seemed very reluctant to move and one of the smaller males mock charged us to protect the three young calves in the group. It always gives me the heebygeebies when that happens!

After another hour we decided to turn and head back out of the park in time for sundown and as I did so the Colonel chose his moment to have a splutter and loose power, great right on the banks of the river surrounded by wildlife!

I revved him up and after a few seconds he came back to life thankfully, so I can only think it must have been a blockage in the fuel of something similar (it didn’t do it again all day!)

We exited the park at Sitalike and found a cheap little camp right on the river on the park boundary, our campsite, where I’m writing this from now, is half a metre from the bank of the river which has 20 hippos in it making the most awesome noise!!

The sun set as we cooked dinner on the banks, sweet potatoes and cheese on toast! Watched a movie then bed. Up early tomorrow for the final epically long day on this trip up the dusty not tarmac side of Tanzania!

End of day location: Sitalike, Tanzania
Distance covered: 235kms

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