The long long road to Arusha and back (2)





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  1. #1
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    Default The long long road to Arusha and back (2)

    Hello all, now we are back in the cold North, it is time to complete long overdue trip reports and enjoy reliving wondrous moments. In the three months we drove 15000km through South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and back to SA and I am delighted to say, had not one problem with being harassed, threatened or having anything stolen. On the contrary, I often wondered if I would manage to be so respectful if the tables were turned. I am deeply grateful for the many lessons and blessings we were able to take with us.


    To complete this report, I am pretty sure that I can’t add much new info for the stretch Ndabaka Gate leaving Serengeti up to Mzuzu border leaving Malawi as we stuck to the main roads, which were all very goods with only a couple of patches of good gravel near Kigoma.
    I have written a paragraph for each leg just to mention our stay or visits at places that were recommended here.
    The only part that has real driving value is number 8 below Mzuzu - Mquocha border (Malawi crossing into Zambia) to Buffalo Camp in North Luangwa as it was quite difficult to find info on this section when we were planning. I’ll copy it to the Zambia thread.


    1) Mwanza - Kigoma – Utengule
    The road from Ndabake gate to Mwanza was excellent. Once in Mwanza we stocked up on provisions at Rock City Mall, not inspired but practical, and had the problem with the Hilux locking mechanism repaired at Toyota. We camped at the Mwanza Yacht Club and had the best dinner of the whole trip. A group of young girls from a tour group singing Bye-Bye Miss American Pie for several hours during the night were a sweeter note than the rowdy night time predators we had become used to in Seregeti & Co. The next morning, sitting next to our tents, not more than 2m from lake Victoria, drinking cups of coffee, none of us really wanting to break the peace by getting the safari machine going again. And also we did.



    2) Mwanza to Tabora
    Very good tar road, slowed only by speed limits. Fewer control points than usual. Once in Tabora, the only hotel we could find space in had loud calls for prayer from the nearby mosque for a couple of hours (16:00 - 18:00), seamlessly followed by the Seventh Day Adventists with a strong but badly distorting sound system (18:00 - 20:00). The baton was then handed on to the local night club who proved to have the most stamina (20:30- 03:00). This was one of several nights when we were certain that we would have been better off camping a bit out of town but somehow the thought of a nice room is so temping after several days camping...we never learn.


    3) Tabora to Kigoma (Jakobsen’s)
    Very good tar most of the way. There is a total of about 50km of good gravel towards the end. The usual kamikaze bus and truck hazards.
    For me the best part of Jakobsen’s was the idyllic little beach where even a little snorkelling could be done. And having enough water to wash the dust of the car and ourselves! I did get bilharzia but can’t be sure if it was perhaps from Lake Malawi. In any case, it was easily cured with the single dose of praziquantel prescribed.
    Perhaps we missed the main stores but getting supplies was pretty much the same as in the small towns – getting locally produced goods from small shops.
    The trip to Gombe Stream was easy to arrange. One of the employees at Jakobsens brought a boat captain to the cottage and we negotiated the price with him directly. His boatsman slept with the boat at the beach so all was ready for our 6:00am departure the next morning. In Tanzania we quickly realised that we would be going deep into our reserve funds and Gombe Stream was no exception BUT my opinion is that it was one of the most worthwhile things we did during the trip. I would rate it above Ngorongoro and on par with Serengeti as a memory making experience. I only hope to get to Mahale some day.
    We also had time to visit Ujiji. This was particularly moving as we could put the various pieces of information together that we had gleaned from both Tabora and Bagamoyo to get a glimpse of the scale of the atrocity. The coordinates given for the museum in Ujiji in T4A are correct but it is nevertheless a little tricky to find. Drive into the school grounds, they call a guide.


    4) Kigoma - Katavi
    We took the main road from Kigoma to Sitalike over Uvinza and there is really nothing significant to add. Good tar, usual slowing down for villages etc. However, even with good tar, we learned to plan about double what we would normally expect at home. The going is slow.
    I have read several reports from people being surprised about the TANAPA office at Katavi but you have to see it to believe it. For the life of me, it looked like the backyard of an auto scrap dealer, with a small plane body thrown in. Several officials saw us wondering around looking for any indication of an office, and after a brief glance, went back to their tinkering. We eventually agreed with an administrations person to come back the next morning as we would not make it to the southern area, which was more interesting. After this strange but not unpleasant first impression, things went smoothly and we were allowed to find our own campsite. We used an official picnic spot as there were only a few other people in the park and it had a lovely view of the swamp and clean toilets and a wash basin. In the
    river / swamp in the SE area, there are incredible numbers of hippos, crocs and a good variety of other game. The next day we took a drive to Lake Katavi and indeed did see a seemingly endless stream of buffalo, unfortunately at a bit of a distance as the water had receded quite far.


    5) Katavi to Utengule Coffee Lodge near Mbeya
    Again, very good road, even a few official 100km/h zones. As reported recently by a couple of people, the problem is Mbeya. We too thought that we had missed the worst by taking an official (required) deviation through a back road of the town but then got channelled back into lanes of trucks that looked like they had been queuing for a long, long time to cross the border. At one point the driver of the small truck in front of us really pressured us to move out of the main lane so that he could take a kind of side track. But a truck driver opposite us told us to stay put. If we moved, we would have lost our place and found ourselves in no-mans-land on the side track and would have had to try to eke back into the main queue again. We saw others who suffered this fate. After about two hours we were out of town and made it to Utengule with the last rays of sun. I can really swoon about the lodge. Accommodation good, restaurant excellent, really, really excellent breakfast and fantastic coffee. According to their info, their Rift Valley coffee is of the top 1% in the world. I think the best value would be to use the campsite and have breakfast at the lodge.


    6) Utengule to Karonga (Malawi)
    The drive to the Songwe border was unproblematic although we encountered the infamous stop sign painted on the road but long faded. There was no police vehicle at the stop sign. They seem to have had a plainclothes spy in place who called ahead.
    The border is fairly large and it took us 2hrs to cross, including a long wait at the exit gate for the customs official to get to us. It was difficult to find the agents for third party insurance and when we did the computer was down. As they were asking inflated prices, we decided to leave and get the insurance in Karonga. To our great astonishment, at the first police checkpoint, the officer told us to wait for the agent who was on his way with our insurance. The agent had called ahead to the checkpoint to make sure we were pulled out. We weren’t very impressed but did get the insurance for the correct price.



    7) Karonga to Nkata Bay
    As said in other posts, the roads are basically good with the odd surprise. They are just used much more frequently by villagers so we had to be extra careful. There were also more checkpoints here than in any other country we were in, including Zimbabwe, but they were all just checking one specific item. We didn’t get any fines in Malawi. Mzuzu, near Nkata Bay was exciting as we had our first real grocery store since Arusha. Yoghurt, cheese, cold meat. It was love and we bought way too much. Only then did I appreciate the privilege of having spent 3 weeks totally out of range of any product advertising.
    Nkata Bay has a wide range of accommodation, great fish and very friendly people. It was time to relax, snorkel, get a lesson on fish drying . After three nights we were ready to move on again - North Luangwa was calling.


    8 )Mzuzu (Malawi) - Mqocha border - North Luangwa (Zambia), Buffalo Camp
    DRY SEASON
    Before we left Mzuzu we were in email contact with Buffalo Camp who advised us to do the route shown on the pic below. Apparently the two more northerly roads are seldom used and considerably more difficult.
    Trip breadown:


    Nkata Bay to Mzuzu 47km, 90min. First 18km severely potholed, then new tar.
    Mzuzu to Mqocha 152km, 3 1/2hrs. Gravel, slow with a few tricky spots but quite doable. Border: 45min in total for both border sides. Very efficient.
    Zambia border post
    - could provide TIP and 3rd party insurance.
    - 50$ single entry visa, 80$ double. We could pay the equivalent in Malawian Kwacha.
    - 3rd party - 8500 Malawian Kwacha (we didn’t have Zambian Kwacha yet)
    - road tax - 18 000 Malawian Kwacha
    - for some reason we didn’t get the road toll done and were asked for it later 2 times on the T2 but both times they just said that we should get it at Kapiri Mposhi. The office at Kapiri is on the road and it was easy to get.
    Mqocha to Lundazi - 17km, easy hop. Nkata Bay to Lundazi is an easy day. We slept at Jonester Executive Lodge which was quiet and adequate. Only limitation was a very,very soft mattress. There is a little beer garden next door that did indeed make a good effort to create a garden atmosphere in this dry area. They had delicious charcoal grilled chicken. We were also able to get any Zambian sim card and an assortment of ATMs are available.
    Lundazi to North Luangwa entrance: 217km, 8hrs --> take the southern route through Chitungule. It is longer but quicker (see pic).
    Entrance at pontoon to Buffalo Camp: 39km, 1 1/2hrs, including park formalities (20min) and pontoon (15min).



    The plateau descent starts about 50km after Lundazi. The worst part of the road is the 15km around Chitungule. After Chitungule the road becomes quite easy to drive. We met a couple who had just come up on this road from South Luangwa and they said that it was in the same condition from Chitungule going south.
    I was a bit nervous about this leg as there was not much information and only one positive report that I found. However, in the dry season, it was fine. The going is slow and there are wash-aways which required the height of a 4x4 but there were no areas we felt were dangerous.


    Buffalo camp
    The time at Buffalo Camp was like a wildlife extravaganza. We were woken up with “get up, there’s a wild dog kill on the river”. After pulling on a couple of clothes and jumping into vehicles, we watched as a large pack were excitedly moving between THREE kills they had made in the river bed. It was incredible, action everywhere. Hyenas joined in, the wild dog being too satiated to bother chasing them away. Following that we saw buffalo and lion - and that was before breakfast. On an afternoon walk we saw elephant, which is a special experience on foot, carmine bee eaters, lilians love birds, surprised a warthog who hadn’t heard us and watched his thought process until he arrived at the decision to scuttle off, and enjoyed the many educational and entertaining stories of the owner and relaxing time with the other guests. This was a great stay, also for the much needed time out of our own car.
    I think it might top Serengeti for me.


    I’m afraid that one more post will have to follow with a some info on the return trip N. Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, SA.


    If anyone would like to read the blog we are putting together retroactively with some pics, you can send me a PM.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  2. #2
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    Default Re: The long long road to Arusha and back (2)

    Asante sana, Carol, for this excellent trip report.

    What a wonderful trip you had.

    Many, many thanks.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: The long long road to Arusha and back (2)

    Hi Carol,

    Great to hear you are back! What an excellent trip you had ! Hope you are fully recovered from bilharzia.

    Thank you for the wonderful and very informative trip report. Eagerly waiting for the rest!

    AP

  4. #4
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    Default Re: The long long road to Arusha and back (2)

    I would like to echo the other thanks for your reports. Could I suggest you post access to your blog on this page. If it is a private blog could you please allow me access via a PM?
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: The long long road to Arusha and back (2)

    Many thanks, Carol, this is much appreciated. I also have some fond memories of excellent food at the Mwanza Yacht Club...
    Last edited by Tony Weaver; 2018/04/03 at 04:31 PM.
    Tony Weaver

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    Previously Land Rover 1968 SII, 1969 SIIA, 1973 SIII, 1983 Toyota HiLux 2litre, 2006 Land Rover Freelander TD4 HSE.

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    Default Re: The long long road to Arusha and back (2)

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Weaver View Post
    I also have some fond memories of excellent food at the Mwanza Yacht Club...
    A really lovely place with acres of space for camping, a beautiful view, an up-market hotel next door if needed, and a fascinating pre-First War German cemetery just along the road. Also, the old silver regatta trophies are fascinating - as are the names and dates.

    Have you been to the Tanga Yacht Club, Tony? Another lovely place (no accommodation or camping, but a great place to have lunch/dinner).

  7. #7
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    Default Re: The long long road to Arusha and back (2)

    Carol28,

    Many thanks for this info also from my side. I'm currently planning to cover part of southern Tanzania circuit for August 2019. Currently the route is only in my head and my wife even don't know anything about this yet . Up until now I didn't plan to include a visit to lake Tanganyika and to Katavi NP, but your info above might cause some serious change of plans.

    Will ask you for further info in due course, that's for sure.
    24 hours in a day.... 24 beer in a case.... Coincidence?
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    My blog: Our African Ramblings (https://safaribug.wordpress.com/)

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    Default Re: The long long road to Arusha and back (2)

    Great report. Loved Mbeya ... spent a day walking thru backstreets and across into Zambia ... the only indicator of being in a different country was price of whiskey. Nyama Choma exceeded all expectation. Utengule coffee lodge a must place for a good bed and meal. Carol plse send link to previous report

  9. #9
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    Default Re: The long long road to Arusha and back (2)

    Quote Originally Posted by ortelius View Post

    I'm currently planning to cover part of southern Tanzania circuit for August 2019.
    Our next trip will definitely be exploring northern Mozambique (coast, inland, lake!) and southern Tanzania more. It is always so difficult to chose between covering distance or exploring one area more thoroughly.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: The long long road to Arusha and back (2)

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickeld View Post
    Great report. Loved Mbeya ... spent a day walking thru backstreets and across into Zambia ... the only indicator of being in a different country was price of whiskey. Nyama Choma exceeded all expectation. Utengule coffee lodge a must place for a good bed and meal. Carol plse send link to previous report
    . Just read your intro, that’s going to be a lot of wonderful planning!
    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/showthread.php/280995-The-long-long-road-to-Arusha-and-back



    By the way, I came across a great book about/by an anthropolgist in the Cameroon. Humorous and an easy read. Nigel Barley, The innocent anthropologist. Does anyone have a good Africa based read to recommend? Preferably not too heavy.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: The long long road to Arusha and back (2)

    Quote Originally Posted by Carol28 View Post
    ..... Does anyone have a good Africa based read to recommend? Preferably not too heavy.
    Carol, here is an old thread. It contains many recommendations with African themes.
    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...-books-to-read
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

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    Default Re: The long long road to Arusha and back (2)

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post
    Have you been to the Tanga Yacht Club, Tony? Another lovely place (no accommodation or camping, but a great place to have lunch/dinner).
    No I haven't, but I have a standing invitation to lunch there from an old friend who lives in Tanga and moors his yacht there. I'll definitely cash it in one day!
    Tony Weaver

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    2012 Mitsubishi Outlander.

    Previously Land Rover 1968 SII, 1969 SIIA, 1973 SIII, 1983 Toyota HiLux 2litre, 2006 Land Rover Freelander TD4 HSE.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: The long long road to Arusha and back (2)

    I loved “The Innocent Anthropologist”. Might have to dig it out and read it again.

    Some other Africa themed books:

    Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: Alexandra Fuller (and all her other books such as “Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness” and “Leaving Before the Rains Come”.
    Mukiwa: John Godwin (and his other book)
    All of Peter Mathieson’s books
    The Life of My Choice: Wilfred Thesiger (and all of his other books though not necessarily about Africa)
    Poisonwood Bible: Barbara Kingsolver
    King Leopold’s Ghost: Adam Hochschild
    Blood River: Tim Butcher
    The Barefoot Emperor: Philip Marsden
    The Chains of Heaven: Philip Marsden
    Flame Trees of Thika: Elspeth Huxley (and all her other books)
    Nellie: Letters from Africa: Elspeth Huxley’s editing of her mother’s letters.
    Journey to the Jade Sea: John Hillaby
    Home from the Hill: Hillary Hook
    No Picnic on Mount Kenya: Felipe Benuzzi

    And, of course, Out of Africa: Karen Blixen

    That and Stan’s list will keep you going for a long time!

  14. #14
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    Default Re: The long long road to Arusha and back (2)

    Great! Thank you, thank you

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    Default Re: The long long road to Arusha and back (2)

    Quote Originally Posted by ortelius View Post
    Carol28,

    Many thanks for this info also from my side. I'm currently planning to cover part of southern Tanzania circuit for August 2019. Currently the route is only in my head and my wife even don't know anything about this yet . Up until now I didn't plan to include a visit to lake Tanganyika and to Katavi NP, but your info above might cause some serious change of plans.
    Ortelius

    Katavi National Park is one of the least visited parks in East Africa - it is wild and remote. You must try to make a plan to get there.

    And, definitely, you must try to get to see the extraordinarily beautiful Lake Tanganyika - particularly staying or camping at the extraordinarily lovely Lakeshore Lodge at Kipili on the lake. Lakeshore Lodge is one of the loveliest places that we camped at on our whole trans Africa trip. It is hard to believe that such a lovely place can exist so far off the beaten-track.

    It won’t be difficult to combine Ruaha NP, Katavi NP and Lake Tanganyika in a “southern Tanzania” route plan. Depends if you want to go to the Selous as well (although I have never understood why the Selous seems to considered part of a southern circuit: the Selous is really eastern if anything).

    Best salaams.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: The long long road to Arusha and back (2)

    Hi Carol,
    It was great to read about your trip!

    We live in Malawi and are planning to drive to Northern Zambia in June. We will drive up the lakeshore to Chitipa and enter Zambia there. We will then drive through Isoka, down through Shiwa Ngandu and down to North Luangwa (Buffalo Camp).

    We would then like to drive from North Luangwa through Lundazi and enter Malawi at the Mqocha border – so we would do the same route as you but in the opposite direction. We would be leaving Buffalo Camp on the 23rd June.

    We have done a lot of driving around Malawi (on dirt roads) however we are not very experienced 4x4 drivers. We have a Toyota Surf. Do you think this route would be doable at this time of year? We changed our plans from driving to South Luangwa as we heard the roads are tricky and hard to find and there are a lot of rivers to cross. On the map it looks like the road wouldnÂ’t be as close to the river on the route to Lundazi as the section down to SL.

    Any advice here would be most appreciated!
    Many thanks
    Hazel


    Quote Originally Posted by Carol28 View Post
    Hello all, now we are back in the cold North, it is time to complete long overdue trip reports and enjoy reliving wondrous moments. In the three months we drove 15000km through South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and back to SA and I am delighted to say, had not one problem with being harassed, threatened or having anything stolen. On the contrary, I often wondered if I would manage to be so respectful if the tables were turned. I am deeply grateful for the many lessons and blessings we were able to take with us.


    To complete this report, I am pretty sure that I canÂ’t add much new info for the stretch Ndabaka Gate leaving Serengeti up to Mzuzu border leaving Malawi as we stuck to the main roads, which were all very goods with only a couple of patches of good gravel near Kigoma.
    I have written a paragraph for each leg just to mention our stay or visits at places that were recommended here.
    The only part that has real driving value is number 8 below Mzuzu - Mquocha border (Malawi crossing into Zambia) to Buffalo Camp in North Luangwa as it was quite difficult to find info on this section when we were planning. IÂ’ll copy it to the Zambia thread.


    1) Mwanza - Kigoma – Utengule
    The road from Ndabake gate to Mwanza was excellent. Once in Mwanza we stocked up on provisions at Rock City Mall, not inspired but practical, and had the problem with the Hilux locking mechanism repaired at Toyota. We camped at the Mwanza Yacht Club and had the best dinner of the whole trip. A group of young girls from a tour group singing Bye-Bye Miss American Pie for several hours during the night were a sweeter note than the rowdy night time predators we had become used to in Seregeti & Co. The next morning, sitting next to our tents, not more than 2m from lake Victoria, drinking cups of coffee, none of us really wanting to break the peace by getting the safari machine going again. And also we did.



    2) Mwanza to Tabora
    Very good tar road, slowed only by speed limits. Fewer control points than usual. Once in Tabora, the only hotel we could find space in had loud calls for prayer from the nearby mosque for a couple of hours (16:00 - 18:00), seamlessly followed by the Seventh Day Adventists with a strong but badly distorting sound system (18:00 - 20:00). The baton was then handed on to the local night club who proved to have the most stamina (20:30- 03:00). This was one of several nights when we were certain that we would have been better off camping a bit out of town but somehow the thought of a nice room is so temping after several days camping...we never learn.


    3) Tabora to Kigoma (JakobsenÂ’s)
    Very good tar most of the way. There is a total of about 50km of good gravel towards the end. The usual kamikaze bus and truck hazards.
    For me the best part of JakobsenÂ’s was the idyllic little beach where even a little snorkelling could be done. And having enough water to wash the dust of the car and ourselves! I did get bilharzia but canÂ’t be sure if it was perhaps from Lake Malawi. In any case, it was easily cured with the single dose of praziquantel prescribed.
    Perhaps we missed the main stores but getting supplies was pretty much the same as in the small towns – getting locally produced goods from small shops.
    The trip to Gombe Stream was easy to arrange. One of the employees at Jakobsens brought a boat captain to the cottage and we negotiated the price with him directly. His boatsman slept with the boat at the beach so all was ready for our 6:00am departure the next morning. In Tanzania we quickly realised that we would be going deep into our reserve funds and Gombe Stream was no exception BUT my opinion is that it was one of the most worthwhile things we did during the trip. I would rate it above Ngorongoro and on par with Serengeti as a memory making experience. I only hope to get to Mahale some day.
    We also had time to visit Ujiji. This was particularly moving as we could put the various pieces of information together that we had gleaned from both Tabora and Bagamoyo to get a glimpse of the scale of the atrocity. The coordinates given for the museum in Ujiji in T4A are correct but it is nevertheless a little tricky to find. Drive into the school grounds, they call a guide.


    4) Kigoma - Katavi
    We took the main road from Kigoma to Sitalike over Uvinza and there is really nothing significant to add. Good tar, usual slowing down for villages etc. However, even with good tar, we learned to plan about double what we would normally expect at home. The going is slow.
    I have read several reports from people being surprised about the TANAPA office at Katavi but you have to see it to believe it. For the life of me, it looked like the backyard of an auto scrap dealer, with a small plane body thrown in. Several officials saw us wondering around looking for any indication of an office, and after a brief glance, went back to their tinkering. We eventually agreed with an administrations person to come back the next morning as we would not make it to the southern area, which was more interesting. After this strange but not unpleasant first impression, things went smoothly and we were allowed to find our own campsite. We used an official picnic spot as there were only a few other people in the park and it had a lovely view of the swamp and clean toilets and a wash basin. In the
    river / swamp in the SE area, there are incredible numbers of hippos, crocs and a good variety of other game. The next day we took a drive to Lake Katavi and indeed did see a seemingly endless stream of buffalo, unfortunately at a bit of a distance as the water had receded quite far.


    5) Katavi to Utengule Coffee Lodge near Mbeya
    Again, very good road, even a few official 100km/h zones. As reported recently by a couple of people, the problem is Mbeya. We too thought that we had missed the worst by taking an official (required) deviation through a back road of the town but then got channelled back into lanes of trucks that looked like they had been queuing for a long, long time to cross the border. At one point the driver of the small truck in front of us really pressured us to move out of the main lane so that he could take a kind of side track. But a truck driver opposite us told us to stay put. If we moved, we would have lost our place and found ourselves in no-mans-land on the side track and would have had to try to eke back into the main queue again. We saw others who suffered this fate. After about two hours we were out of town and made it to Utengule with the last rays of sun. I can really swoon about the lodge. Accommodation good, restaurant excellent, really, really excellent breakfast and fantastic coffee. According to their info, their Rift Valley coffee is of the top 1% in the world. I think the best value would be to use the campsite and have breakfast at the lodge.


    6) Utengule to Karonga (Malawi)
    The drive to the Songwe border was unproblematic although we encountered the infamous stop sign painted on the road but long faded. There was no police vehicle at the stop sign. They seem to have had a plainclothes spy in place who called ahead.
    The border is fairly large and it took us 2hrs to cross, including a long wait at the exit gate for the customs official to get to us. It was difficult to find the agents for third party insurance and when we did the computer was down. As they were asking inflated prices, we decided to leave and get the insurance in Karonga. To our great astonishment, at the first police checkpoint, the officer told us to wait for the agent who was on his way with our insurance. The agent had called ahead to the checkpoint to make sure we were pulled out. We werenÂ’t very impressed but did get the insurance for the correct price.



    7) Karonga to Nkata Bay
    As said in other posts, the roads are basically good with the odd surprise. They are just used much more frequently by villagers so we had to be extra careful. There were also more checkpoints here than in any other country we were in, including Zimbabwe, but they were all just checking one specific item. We didnÂ’t get any fines in Malawi. Mzuzu, near Nkata Bay was exciting as we had our first real grocery store since Arusha. Yoghurt, cheese, cold meat. It was love and we bought way too much. Only then did I appreciate the privilege of having spent 3 weeks totally out of range of any product advertising.
    Nkata Bay has a wide range of accommodation, great fish and very friendly people. It was time to relax, snorkel, get a lesson on fish drying . After three nights we were ready to move on again - North Luangwa was calling.


    8 )Mzuzu (Malawi) - Mqocha border - North Luangwa (Zambia), Buffalo Camp
    DRY SEASON
    Before we left Mzuzu we were in email contact with Buffalo Camp who advised us to do the route shown on the pic below. Apparently the two more northerly roads are seldom used and considerably more difficult.
    Trip breadown:


    Nkata Bay to Mzuzu 47km, 90min. First 18km severely potholed, then new tar.
    Mzuzu to Mqocha 152km, 3 1/2hrs. Gravel, slow with a few tricky spots but quite doable. Border: 45min in total for both border sides. Very efficient.
    Zambia border post
    - could provide TIP and 3rd party insurance.
    - 50$ single entry visa, 80$ double. We could pay the equivalent in Malawian Kwacha.
    - 3rd party - 8500 Malawian Kwacha (we didnÂ’t have Zambian Kwacha yet)
    - road tax - 18 000 Malawian Kwacha
    - for some reason we didnÂ’t get the road toll done and were asked for it later 2 times on the T2 but both times they just said that we should get it at Kapiri Mposhi. The office at Kapiri is on the road and it was easy to get.
    Mqocha to Lundazi - 17km, easy hop. Nkata Bay to Lundazi is an easy day. We slept at Jonester Executive Lodge which was quiet and adequate. Only limitation was a very,very soft mattress. There is a little beer garden next door that did indeed make a good effort to create a garden atmosphere in this dry area. They had delicious charcoal grilled chicken. We were also able to get any Zambian sim card and an assortment of ATMs are available.
    Lundazi to North Luangwa entrance: 217km, 8hrs --> take the southern route through Chitungule. It is longer but quicker (see pic).
    Entrance at pontoon to Buffalo Camp: 39km, 1 1/2hrs, including park formalities (20min) and pontoon (15min).



    The plateau descent starts about 50km after Lundazi. The worst part of the road is the 15km around Chitungule. After Chitungule the road becomes quite easy to drive. We met a couple who had just come up on this road from South Luangwa and they said that it was in the same condition from Chitungule going south.
    I was a bit nervous about this leg as there was not much information and only one positive report that I found. However, in the dry season, it was fine. The going is slow and there are wash-aways which required the height of a 4x4 but there were no areas we felt were dangerous.


    Buffalo camp
    The time at Buffalo Camp was like a wildlife extravaganza. We were woken up with “get up, there’s a wild dog kill on the river”. After pulling on a couple of clothes and jumping into vehicles, we watched as a large pack were excitedly moving between THREE kills they had made in the river bed. It was incredible, action everywhere. Hyenas joined in, the wild dog being too satiated to bother chasing them away. Following that we saw buffalo and lion - and that was before breakfast. On an afternoon walk we saw elephant, which is a special experience on foot, carmine bee eaters, lilians love birds, surprised a warthog who hadn’t heard us and watched his thought process until he arrived at the decision to scuttle off, and enjoyed the many educational and entertaining stories of the owner and relaxing time with the other guests. This was a great stay, also for the much needed time out of our own car.
    I think it might top Serengeti for me.


    IÂ’m afraid that one more post will have to follow with a some info on the return trip N. Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, SA.


    If anyone would like to read the blog we are putting together retroactively with some pics, you can send me a PM.

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