East African Odyssey. Road trip NBO through Tanzania and back to Uganda. - Page 2




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  1. #21
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    Default Re: East African Odyssey. Road trip NBO through Tanzania and back to Uganda.

    The next section was one that gave rise to the original query as to the current condition.
    TARANGIRE to IRINGA. A104.

    Well the God's must have smiled or Tanzania Highways pulled out the stops as this road was fully open and newly tarred the whole way down to Iringa. Some of the upland stages were very beautiful as the new road curved and twisted through mountain forests much like parts of Europe. Further south we were impressed by the huge stands of Baobabs between Dodoma and Iringa.
    But best of all traffic was light and there were not many villages to impede our progress so we made good time and even after stopping for lunch, and a bit of impromptu birding we got to Iringa around 17.00 having left Tarangire Roika Camp at 7.30. So 600 km in 9 1/2 hours puts our average up to just over 60km. We need not have fretted so much over choosing this route.
    From Iringa to our destination at Tandala Camp was dirt but in good condition and taking the 'village' route to the left was easy enough. The northern (right turn) route shown on Traks is about the same but very remote.
    The numerous 'warnings' on the southern village route may have been true once but no longer apply.

    So all in all this was a good days run for us and anyone wondering about the A104 can be assured that it is now one of the better North-South highways. 689km door to door was our best and longest drive of the trip.
    I have split the map into before Lunch and after. After is at a larger scale to show track from Iringa to Tandala.
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    Roika to lunch stop. 481km

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ID:	464265After lunch stop to Tandala. 208km.
    Albert

    Progress might have been alright once, but it has gone on too long.

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  3. #22
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    Default Re: East African Odyssey. Road trip NBO through Tanzania and back to Uganda.

    Thank you, Albert, for this excellent third installment. That is good news that the Tarangire to Iringa road is now finished, and that it is now possible to drive to the Ruaha in a long day.

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  5. #23
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    Default Re: East African Odyssey. Road trip NBO through Tanzania and back to Uganda.

    Glad to help. It is certainly a very scenic road in parts and I do recommend it to other members. Whether it lasts is another question as my next post will show.
    Albert

    Progress might have been alright once, but it has gone on too long.

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  7. #24
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    Default Re: East African Odyssey. Road trip NBO through Tanzania and back to Uganda.

    From Ruaha (Tandala camp) to Kitulo (God's Garden.)
    This was to have been relatively straightforward but we must always expect the unexpected when travelling in Africa.
    We decided, on advice, to head straight south for the tarred TanZam highway. Tis was around 90km and progress was very good and even after stopping for some impromptu birding (doesn't everyone?) we gained the tar in just over three hours. Turning west to stop in a small village where there as a shop and a clean looking refuelling stop. We ate our packed lunch in a small cafe outside the shop with the lady's consent and bought a case of drinking water as stocks were running low.
    Then we hit trouble with road works one after the other and where no roadworks we found Police waiting to pounce. We got a fine for TZ30K from a really officious young woman for not stopping at a 'stop' sign by a Zebra.The stop was painted on the road and was badly worn and virtually unreadable. But we paid and got a receipt. On resuming we discovered that our new water supply looked contaminated with suspended solids despite all the seals being intact. No point in turning back so we progressed through more works and more police points. We stopped at every bloody Zebra even though there was nobody close enough to use it.
    And we were STILL waved down. One stop was more fun as the driver of another car really took the police on and argued. He got a real tongue lashing for his trouble. Another highlight was a further stop by a smart policeman who had seen nothing wrong but felt like he wanted to inspect our papers. He was a bit tetchy to find them in order and asked if we could give him some water. To his delight we gave him not one bottle but four. I hope he enjoyed them as much as we enjoyed giving them to him.
    Eventually we arrived at Chimala and turned off to ascend via the Hamsini na Saba pass to the Kitulo plateau. The road was not in a particularly good state, narrow with soft verges particularly around the many hairpins. 57 for non swahili speakers.
    Now we were pushing sunset and had nowhere to sleep.
    We had been told that my chosen and known lodging "God's Garden Guest House" had been closed for some time but after getting nowhere with a satisfactory alternate I gave up leaving this to others and got out of the car and walked the short distance to where I remembered Gods Garden was located. It was open and I had three rooms booked before my car caught up with me. TZ15K per room per night. Food was a problem but we hired in a cook.
    Still we had a bed and after 10 hours on the road to cover only 320km we would have slept on a coathanger.
    (looks very much like the Forums upload issues are not yet resolved. Map to follow)
    As at 22.19 BST 17th October. No map.

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    Last edited by Albert Ross; 6 Days Ago at 12:37 AM. Reason: Addition of map.
    Albert

    Progress might have been alright once, but it has gone on too long.

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  9. #25
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    Default Re: East African Odyssey. Road trip NBO through Tanzania and back to Uganda.

    Asante sana, Albert. I would love to go to the Kitulo Plateau not only for birding, but for when the flowers are out (unfortunately they are out during the rains!).

    Keep on posting. Hard work, I know, but I am sure many other people on this forum will be very grateful.
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 6 Days Ago at 11:17 PM.

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  11. #26
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    Default Re: East African Odyssey. Road trip NBO through Tanzania and back to Uganda.

    Kitulo is lovely and remote. We had birds and flowers. Indeed so many plants are being stolen/poached that armed Rangers are now employed. Obviously the plateau is fabuous when plants are really in season but we saw plenty. Orchids, Iris sp. Angels Fishing rods and several 'everlasting' types. Our local guide Jafiri is a trained botanist and whilst birding was a bit slow at times one of our 'team' was also into flowers, he holds the national collection of Iris, the flowers almost got me hooked too.
    Do go whenever you can make it. You won't be disappointed and you can also look for "Kipunji" that has only been known to science since 1993.
    The NP needs all the visitors it can get if it is to be viable and 'encroachment' has changed it in the five years since I was last there. Camping is permitted but it will be cold.
    Albert

    Progress might have been alright once, but it has gone on too long.

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  13. #27
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    Default Re: East African Odyssey. Road trip NBO through Tanzania and back to Uganda.

    The next stage is relatively short.
    From Kitulo to ICC west of Mbeya.

    Forewarned of possible problems around Mbeya we decided to move off after lunch on our last day to save time the following morning. This was a wise move indeed.
    The run off the mountain was pleasant enough through first the NP and then the forested Mpanga Game Reserve and we made reasonable time although it still took 3 hours to cover 80km.
    On entering Mbeya traffic was heavy but moving Ok. We stopped for fuel and food and fresh drinking water before attempting to gain access to the main road once more. We achieved this but had only gone maybe a couple of km before everything stopped.
    The usual chaos ensued but nothing was really moving. Large trucks had pulled over, others added to the chaos by trying to turn back.
    We must have been stuck for over an hour and any thoughts of getting to Tunduma that evening evaporated. We really appreciated the warning that had caused us to set off early.
    We found the cause of the trouble, when we moved, was a repair that closed one carriageway at a very narrow point which the Boda boda etc., could not avoid so they chose to ignore any attempt at control with obvious and predictable results.
    Eventually traffic got moving and we asked "Gladys" for suggestions for a bed and chose the Ifisi Community Centre about 20km ahead.
    This turned out to be very nice and we splurged on a suite for TZSh80K. £40 incl breakfast. The "boys" had lovely rooms for TZSH 55K. Yes we could have dinner too. So serendipity triumphed in the end and we had a restful night.
    From Mbeya to ICC was 17km and it took 2 hours and 15 mins. 8kmph.
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    Track in Cyan. Magenta was another drive in the NP.
    Albert

    Progress might have been alright once, but it has gone on too long.

  14. #28
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    Default Re: East African Odyssey. Road trip NBO through Tanzania and back to Uganda.

    Thank you, Albert.

    I would be very grateful for the contact details of your local botanist guide. We are quite good on our botany, but often it takes so long to flip through the books. Love it, though!

    That is so devastating to hear about the encroachment in this remote part of the Southern Highlands. But what to do - apart from encouraging others to visit these specialist and remote areas. Africa is not all about big game.

    Asante sana!

  15. #29
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    Default Re: East African Odyssey. Road trip NBO through Tanzania and back to Uganda.

    Quote Originally Posted by Albert Ross View Post
    The next stage is relatively short.
    From Kitulo to ICC west of Mbeya.
    Eventually traffic got moving and we asked "Gladys" for suggestions for a bed and chose the Ifisi Community Centre about 20km ahead.
    This turned out to be very nice and we splurged on a suite for TZSh80K. £40 incl breakfast. The "boys" had lovely rooms for TZSH 55K. Yes we could have dinner too. So serendipity triumphed in the end and we had a restful night.
    From Mbeya to ICC was 17km and it took 2 hours and 15 mins. 8kmph.
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    Track in Cyan. Magenta was another drive in the NP.
    That is very interesting that you didn't head to Utengele Coffee Farm near Mbeya. Not that I have been there, but was it just too far after the roadworks?

    I am very I interested because next year we are planning on driving from Nairobi through TZ and Tunduma (having done TZ-ZAM in the past through Kashesha and Mbala which is laid-back to the extreme).
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 6 Days Ago at 01:16 AM.

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    Default Re: East African Odyssey. Road trip NBO through Tanzania and back to Uganda.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post
    That is very interesting that you didn't head to Utengele Coffee Farm near Mbeya.
    To be honest we had not heard of it and our trip was so impromptu we just wanted a bed, any bed, as close to our track as possible. It looks a nice place for a stay.

    I will PM the contact details I have for Kitulo.
    Albert

    Progress might have been alright once, but it has gone on too long.

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  18. #31
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    Default Re: East African Odyssey. Road trip NBO through Tanzania and back to Uganda.

    Thanks for the report so far, Albert, very useful info.
    Last edited by Tony Weaver; 5 Days Ago at 03:48 PM.
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  20. #32
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    Default Re: East African Odyssey. Road trip NBO through Tanzania and back to Uganda.

    Thank you very much for the very interesting and useful information Albert. Our next trip/s will focus on the N Mozambique & S Tanzania area so this report is very welcome.

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  22. #33
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    Default Re: East African Odyssey. Road trip NBO through Tanzania and back to Uganda.

    Same here, very grateful for all the useful info. I am in the very early stages of planing for our trip from Arusha through Tarangire and then down to southern Tanzania for 2019, so I'm following your report with great interest. Thank you for your efforts.
    24 hours in a day.... 24 beer in a case.... Coincidence?

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  24. #34
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    Default Re: East African Odyssey. Road trip NBO through Tanzania and back to Uganda.

    Mbeya to Katavi NP. This next stage was one I had been looking forward to.

    Back in 2012we had driven this B8 north to Katavi when the improvements were just starting. The whole route north to Sumbawanga was one long series of roadworks, temporary diversions through shambas. The dust was so bad that we had to clean out the air filter 3 times to prevent the engine choking and the two crew arrived in Katavi looking like survivors from a mining disaster or a skirmish with Irwin Rommel's Afrika Korps. We were one Mzungu and one Tanzanian but you would have been hard pressed to know who was who. BUT we did the whole run from Kitulo to Katavi in one day and still got to camp before dark.
    Now with the new tarred B8 and starting from west of Mbeya this was going to be simple and thoughts were of taking a game drive in Katavi in the afternoon. Well we can all dream.
    There were a few roadworks on the way to Tundumu but nothing to upset our plans. We arrived in Tundumu and the usual mass of parked up lorries waiting to access the border into Zambia. I had seen this before so told Emmy to just cruise on passed until just before the border where the B8 would turn off right and we would be on our way. Wrong call. The turn was there BUT it was blocked off and dug up. We could see the nice shiny tar at the far end of the street but could not get there. Bu**er!
    So it was back against the flow until a tempting left turn seemed to be going north to our road.
    And so it did. Eventually! But not before we had taken an impromptu tour of the backstreets of Tundumu and all that that entailed.
    But all bad things come to an end and we gained the newly tarred B8 and set off north to regain some lost time.
    Wrong again. Just out of town we hit a 50kph as the road ran through a small village, bumps and all. But we were soon through that under the watchful eye of a "man in white uniform". We hit the de-restricted sign in third and accelerated away again.
    Only to see yet another "50" sign a short distance ahead. We never got to 5th.
    This set the pattern for the day's driving. Out of one 50 zone and straight into another. It seemed, and was possibly true, that every mud hut and 3 legged donkey had its own 50 restriction. Sometimes we wondered why they did not save money on signs and just restrict the whole darn road. Dreams of a Game drive evaporated and we just set our minds on getting there before dark.
    Don't misunderstand, this is a road report and I can report the surface was billiard table smooooth. You just could not get to cruising speed. What a waste of good tar! We made better progress when it was roadworks in 2012.

    We stopped in Sumbawanga for fuel and the fastest thing all day was the Forex department of NC Bank where we topped up our diminishing stock of TZ Sh.

    After Sumbawanga we made better progress as the villages were not so prevalent and our average speed improved.
    At Chala we encountered Hugo's strange triangular diversion mentioned in his report (Two Monkeys in Africa: Ongoing Trip Report Cape Town to Uganda and back. )
    A pre-sunset arrival was on the cards.

    Even better was when we turned off the B8 at Kisi (Chisi) expecting gravel for the final run of 50km into Katavi we found more lovely tar and not a village in sight. At first having met heavy lorries we wrongly assumed that this was a diverted section of B8 as it seemed to be running north and not east but it son swung around a lovely wooded slope and headed east with intent.
    Strangely the tar stopped abruptly at a T junction close to Kibaoni which had a large transmitter mast and military undertones.
    Our way was left and soon we entered Katavi National Park where we dropped our speed to match the lower limit but we did not mind. We were almost home. I knew the way to our base at Figtree Camp and Garmin confirmed my directions were not at fault.
    A lovely camp now run by Flycatchers and set along the Katavi swamps.
    Some stats:-
    ICC to about 65km north of Tundumu on B8. 182km in 4hr.25 mins Ave 41kph.
    From that point to Sumbawanga:- 126km in 2hrs 40mins. Ave 50kph. Same road surface just less villages.
    Sumbawanga to Flycatchers Camp 181km in 3hrs 15 mns. Ave 56kph. Even including the gravel in Katavi this was good.
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    ICC to Sumbawanga.
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    Sumbawanga to Flycatchers..
    Four nights in Camp before a leap into the unknown.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by Albert Ross; 5 Days Ago at 09:34 PM. Reason: Changes to Mapping.
    Albert

    Progress might have been alright once, but it has gone on too long.

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  26. #35
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    Default Re: East African Odyssey. Road trip NBO through Tanzania and back to Uganda.

    First of all apologies for the rather large map at the end of the last post.. The Forum sometimes acts in devious ways.

    Tony, Carol and Ortelius. I am pleased you are finding it useful. I am simply paying back for the help I received when planning this trip. There is no doubt that Tanzania is spending money or new roads and what have previously been poor lengths of gravel are now tarred. The A104 south from Arusha to Iringa is a lovely stretch of road and recommended.
    Albert

    Progress might have been alright once, but it has gone on too long.

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  28. #36
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    Default Re: East African Odyssey. Road trip NBO through Tanzania and back to Uganda.

    The final and almost terminal sector.
    Not so much a road condiition report as a tale of hope overcoming adversity.

    Readers may recall from my posts
    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...ad-news-needed
    that I had spent ages planning the next stage(s) which were to take us to Emmy's Camp in Bwindi and then home via Entebbe.



    Two routes offered themselves to us:-



    1. North up the B8 used to be off limits due to banditry and a bad road so in 2012 Roger and I had swung east to Tabora and Nzega before continuing to Mwanza and back to Arusha.

    If we chose the first part of this route we could reach Nzega in a day and then swing back west for Rusumo Falls in Rwanda and then cut through to Uganda.



    2. Or we could brave the B8 and cut the total journey distance if not time by 250km. Favourable blogs from fellow travellers including @wickychicky and Hugo

    (Two Monkeys in Africa: Ongoing Trip Report Cape Town to Uganda and back. )

    induced us to try the B8.


    So we left Katavi and headed north up the tarred B8 from Sitalike to Mpanda where after topping off our tanks we continued on the now gravelled B8. The going, as promised, was fairly good, there weere few villages to slow us down and we made good time through some lovely scenery along the Burundi border and, as Hugo had stopped in Kibondo overnight at the Hotel Sekele, we made that our destination for the day too. And so after 400km from Mpanda we arrived in Kibondo in around 8 hours. Kibondo is a sizeable township and we sought out the Hotel Sekele. It looked OK in an African way so after checking they could feed us as well we took three rooms. They were self contained but not brilliant. They had no beer but the young manager volunteered to go and buy some for us after he took our order for dinner. We ordered 'chicken' so they went out, hired a cook and strangled two chickens! At least it was fresh chicken. We asked for Irish Potatoes and veg.

    The beer when it came was cold, we had stressed “Baridi”, and that is what we got. Dinner was slow in coming but eventually bowls were set before us in which floated the hacked up body parts of a “chicken”. We were not sure if this was soup or mains. Anyway more chicken arrived with chips and veggies with fresh fruit as Desert. We ordered more beer. The meal was not particularly inspiring but wholesome and filled us up. We did not risk asking for a packed lunch next day. The odds were too high that it would involve the death of another chicken. We ordered an early breakfast of Eggs and Fruit and retired.



    Next morning we re-fuelled and set off for our booked accommodation at Eastern Country Hotel in Kayonza in Rwanda some 300km away. The B8 road was now atrocious with many diversions until after 90km we reached the tarred B3 at Nyakanazi where we turned west for Rwanda. The road now became appalling with more potholes than the surface of the moon. Our average speed suffered as it fell to 40kph and then 30kph. For some time there had been an ominous knocking from a wheel but on inspection we could find nothing amiss so continued slowly. Well on that surface we could not go faster anyway. However the knocking persisted and we finally had to stop. The front wheel bearing had failed in a big way.

    We were stuck 20km short of the Rwandan border. A spare part could be obtained but how would it reach us and not get tied up in customs at a border? This part of Tanzania is remote from large centres and either Kigali, 200km up the road or Kampala in Uganda even further would involve a border crossing. However Emmy is both resourceful and capable and he was confident it could be done in a couple of days but what to do with us? He said we should continue with the scheduled stops by car and promptly flagged down a passing car, the driver of which was persuaded to take us and our luggage to the Rwanda border. From there we would take another car to our Hotel some 100km further on. Emmy would telephone our Hotel with news later.

    We left Tanzania and crossed into Rwanda where we were made welcome by a very friendly Immigration Officer who promptly stamped our EAC Visas, obtained you may recall in Nairobi, and cordially welcomed us to his country. Noticng we carried luggage he asked where our transport was and we explained, following which news he promptly ordered us a private car at an agreed price to take us the whole way to our booked Eastern Country Hotel in Kayonza. A nice smooth ride got us to our Hotel which was very nice. Thank you booking.com . Nice rooms, nice staff and nice food. We had a pre dinner drink of Rwanda Primus Beer, a very nice dinner of fish and went to bed after advising "management" that Emmy may call adn to put him through to my room..



    Next morning at Breakfast we received news that Emmy HAD called but they did not disturb us as we had gone to our rooms..!**!*! Etc., We returned the call to learn Emmy had located a part which was on its way from Kampala. I told you he was resourceful. He suggested we continued to Broadbill where he would eventually join us. So with the Hotel Management having failed in their promise of a private hire we enlisted the help of the barman/waiter who rang his friend who would take us to Kabale for a sum of $$..The car and driver arrived with the correct paperwork for crossing the border and we set off having assumed, wrongly, the driver knew the way. When after a couple of hours he pointed to some mountains that he said were in Tanzania I realised too late he was heading for the wrong Ugandan border crossing.
    So we arrived at Mirama Hills Border post, where after leaving Rwanda we were shocked to be told that Uganda did not honour the EAC Visa “as we had been into Tanzania”. This was nonsense of course as it remains valid as long as the holder does not leave the EAC. It clearly said so on the poster above the Immigration Officers head!! However protest as we might it made no difference so in order to proceed we each had to fork out another $50 for a new Visa.



    And so we continued into Uganda some 90km further east than we needed to be. Happily the roads were smooth tar and we made Kabale at 4pm and set about finding a car to take us up to Bwindi for which we needed 4x4. I know Kabale well and knew where to ask and we had a suitable car in minutes. So bidding farewell to Frank Mzungu (that was our Rwandan drivers name.) we climbed into 'Michaels' HiAce van for Broadbill camp where we arrived a little after 17.00 to a warm welcome. Our stay was for four nights and we quickly settled into our 'tents'. Emmy built this camp on the edge of Bwindi forest and has done a marvellous job on the bare plot I inspected back in 2013. I have been twice since then and each time I found improvement continuing. Tents on stilts overlooking the forest canopy with the rare birds and mammals of Bwindi as your neighbours. Without the planned transport we just went birding in the forest and were rewarded by many sightings. When we woke up on the third morning Emmy had arrived and promptly took us for more birding further afield in the forest. After too short a time in Bwindi our fourth day was spent travelling to Entebbe and an overnight stay at the Airport Guest house that I often use. Of course Emmy was not content to let us just get on the plane next morning before an impromptu visit to Entebbe's Botanical Gardens where we picked up even more birds to end our trip with 420 species seen.

    Then it really was time to catch the Emirates flight to Manchester via Dubai and bring to an end our East African Adventure.
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    Katavi to Kibondo. 495km in 10 hours.

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    Kibondo to our breakdown. 172km. in 4 hours 45mins.
    From there all roads were tarred in good condition to Kabale and from Kabale to Ruhija (Broadbill Forest Camp) the usual reasonable track through Bwindi.
    As we left "Gladys" in the Cruiser the track from the breakdown shows Emmy's drive home and not our route.
    If anyone would like to see that please ask.

    Thanks for following along and I hope you found it interestng.
    Albert

    Progress might have been alright once, but it has gone on too long.

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  30. #37
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    Default Re: East African Odyssey. Road trip NBO through Tanzania and back to Uganda.

    Asante sana, Albert, for this excellent and entertaining report. What a terrific bird count on your extended East African safari. Congratulations!

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