Friday 19 September 2008

16th September 08

Date: 16th September 08
Location: Kigoma, Tanzania
Weather: Clear blue skies and sunshine, 34°c
Status: One of the best day’s for ages! Read on and find out 

Up as the sun rose in the east and then we had a knock on the door, Leroy the waiter was there asking how we’d like our eggs cooked….scrambled of course! So downstairs we trotted for a full breakfast all included in the cost of the room, wonders will never cease.

We grabbed our gear with a full day ahead of us organising things for the next few days. At the end of the track to the hotel we’d noticed the Embassy of Burundi and decided to pay them a visit to check out the situation in the country and whether it would be safe to drive to route we were considering.

As I entered the embassy there were already 10 local ladies waiting, some with their babies strapped to their backs in the standard African-style except the one little girl who decided to run towards me smiling and laughing with her outstretched arms thrust in my direction. I swept her up and played with her for a while much to the amusement of the gathered female throng who found it hilarious that the Mzungu was holding a baby! (makes me realise how much I miss my nephews….again!)

The gentleman behind the desk was busy processing other applications so I too my seat next to a younger guy who was very interested in why I wanted to go the his country, so I explained the whole Afritrex expedition and spent a very interesting half an hour chatting with him about Africa, his life, different languages, the rest of the trip and almost everything! Omary gave me his address and he then got up and collected the relevant forms for me which I took to the car a filled in with Bre.

As we’d only be needing a transit visa the cost was a much reduced $20 each instead of the $40 at the border so well worth the exploratory visit! We left the application with him and headed into town to stock up on dollars we be requiring for the upcoming visas for Rwanda and Uganda….what a waiting mission. Got the required monies out of the bank and queued in line like everybody else for nearly half an hour, was then told I needed to complete the relevant form and eventually over an hour later left the bank with the required currency! Africa is a waiting game, queuing is second nature.

Headed to the internet to catch up on emails and find out the latest movements of Kees, my Dutch overlanding buddy and update the website and then stopped in the market to buy some fruit, our first for a few days!

Dropped into the embassy to collect our new visas with no problems and then found out from a French gentleman that there have been some issues with Congolese rebels in the area surrounding the Burundi border and we should try and find out from local police which areas are safe before driving through them!! Exciting but also very serious.

We made our way to the Kigoma Hill Top Hotel to check out the site as a possible location to camp in for the next few days but as we arrived we knew immediately it was out of our price range….stuffed animals in the posh reception area, little cute chalets all along the cliff top and even two zebra grazing on the lawn in the centre of the complex….AMAZING!!! Had a quick drink and left.

To the south of Kigoma are a couple of beaches on the lakeside so we drove through some little villages to find them and up on the gps popped a little campsite which we’d missed before, strange! The 5km dirt road opened led us to another stunning location and we pulled into the guest houses yard to enquire about staying there, the private beach was gorgeous with little thatched umbrellas and only one other couple staying there!

Damn we’d promised to go back to the hotel that night as wished we hadn’t, a south African couple were staying there in their 4x4 and told us they’d had it all to themselves for the last few days! We chatted to them and found out they’d be going in the same direction as us for the next few weeks and we arranged to meet up on the banks of Lake Kuvi in Rwanda in a few days time! Good to meet Shaun and Catherine and hopefully we will see them again.

Headed back to the hotel stopping to buy some black shoe polish with which to preserve Baccus’s horns which are suffering in the hot conditions on the advice of a couple of people along the way!

End of day location: Sitalike
Distance covered: 265kms

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