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  1. #1
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    Default Through Tanzania 2018

    We drove our Kenyan-registered Land Rover Defender from Nairobi to Angola and back between 15 May and 19 July 2018. That trip report can be found here https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...o-26-June-2018


    The following diary entries relate to our journey through Tanzania (both ways).


    Kwaheri Kenya Hamjambo Tanzania
    15 – 19 May 2018


    We had a useful but relaxed few days in Nairobi, seeing the family, buying provisions and packing the Wagon. In Nairobi, rain was intermittent, but heavy at times and we scanned the forecast with nervousness. We left a rather muddy Karen as planned on Tuesday 15 May and set off south to the Tanzania border.


    Four years ago, just after the Ngong Hills, we saw the snowy peaks of Kilimanjaro, but no such luck this time here at the end of the long rains. The countryside, however was verdant: it is a long time since we saw so much greenery over so wide an area. We had a painless border crossing at Namanga at the new “one-stop” combined Kenyan and Tanzanian spanking new immigration and customs building. With all the bureaucracy dealt with, we zoomed to Arusha. Yet again, almost at the exact same spot, Hugh was pulled over by the vigilant Tanzanian traffic police. With a broad grin on his face, the young cop said we were going “speedy speedy”. Hugh was beckoned over to the unmarked police car. In the end, it was all too difficult for us to pay the fine as nowadays no cash is taken by the roadside cops and we would have to either go to a bank to pay the fine or (the preferred method) paid by the mobile phone system, MPesa. As we don’t have Tanzanian MPesa, it was all deemed too difficult and Hugh was let off. Phew!


    We set up camp at a well-known overlanders’ campsite about 25 kms west of Arusha. A rather eccentric place called Meserani Snake Park. The snake element of this place did cause some anxiety to one of us. We set up camp some distance from a large overland truck, whose clients fortunately were in the Serengeti (in smaller vehicles) and we had a quiet night.


    In the wee small hours, we woke to heavy rain. Come dawn we had to pack up a wet camp. Luckily, a short break in the rain allowed this without too much discomfort, and we headed down a wonderfully empty and smooth road to Dodoma. The first part of the journey ought to have given us wonderful views of Lake Manyara, the Rift Valley escarpment, and the Mbulu highlands; sadly, the rain came on again and, although we did have a view of Lake Manyara, it was a mostly soggy morning. Further down the road the sun came out and we had a lovely journey through deeply rural Tanzania.


    Six and a half hours later we arrived in Dodoma. This place is singularly unremarked on by any guide book, with reason. Although it does have a local vineyard producing Dodoma Red (generally described as ‘possibly the worst red wine in the world’), and is, in theory, the Capital City (it hosts the Tanzanian legislature), it has little charm. We took a room at the old colonial Railway Hotel, now renamed the New Dodoma Hotel. There are a few features remaining of its German past. However, the New Dodoma Hotel has acceptable rooms, a quietish courtyard, and food and drink. Its guests largely comprise earnest young NGO workers running conferences on sustainable projects with assorted cynical stake-holders.


    The next morning we had a lovely spin along more smooth, new and empty tarmac to a delightful farmhouse campsite just South of Iringa. Central Tanzania can be charming: the scenery not dissimilar to parts of France, with green broad valleys between wooded, and sometimes rocky hills. And as with France, when yet another sweeping vista opens up, one feel that, gosh, there is an awful lot of it. We last drove from Arusha to Iringa some ten years ago and the difference in population, commerce and agriculture is astounding. We even saw vines being grown on small shambas – presumably as outgrowers for the infamous Dodoma Red.


    We stopped in Iringa for lunch at a lovely crafts centre and café run by disabled young Tanzanians and afterwards visited the old German Boma (now an excellent little museum). As in many other of the old German Bomas that we have seen in Tanzania, it was built with Teutonic efficiency to last over 100 years. Iringa has improved since we last visited it some ten years ago and we can see the attraction of living in this nice hilltop town in the Southern Highlands. Then we wound our way down to join the TANZAM Highway and zoomed 50 kms south to Kisolanza Farm where we set up camp in an efficiently run, very clean and well-maintained campsite. There are even flowers in the washrooms! The farm has been in the same ownership for over 100 years. As we always say, every day is different…


    After an excellent dinner and night at Kisolanza Old Farmhouse, we had a lovely chat with the owners – the Ghaui family – and we hit the Tanzam Highway again. The road varied from pristine tarmac to Chinese roadworks, and 5½ hours later we arrived at Utengule Coffee Farm just south of the regional centre of Mbeya. We set up camp on the helipad and enjoyed chatting with a lovely South African couple (also camping). We swopped notes on Angola and Kenya.


    The following day we headed off early to tackle the border crossing into Zambia.


    Returning back through Tanzania
    15 – 19 July 2018


    The next morning, we pulled on to the Great North Road again and an hour or so of bumping and crashing took us to the border at Nakonde/Tunduma. It was as chaotic as on our way south. Matters were not helped by a bus load of Congolese heading into Tanzania and there being only one harassed Tanzanian on duty at Immigration. We had seen a Dar-es-Salaam-Zambia-Lumbumbashi (DRC) bus before and had commented on what a journey that must be. How lucky we are ...


    In the end, we were through the border in two hours - visa, immigration, customs - and an hour or so later we pulled into Utengule Coffee Lodge near Mbeya. We were disconcerted to be told by the gate guards that the lodge was closed for a private function, but after a phone call we were allowed to camp once again on the helipad. My dream of a burger and chips was not to be so the good old campers hash was doled out once again. Later, two South African vehicles pulled in and, just before dark, an enormous overland truck type vehicle containing a Dutch family.


    The following morning we headed further north on the TANZAM highway and five hours later (but only 300kms) we pulled into the lovely Kisolanza Farm near Iringa. We were firmly retracing our stops back to Kenya.


    At Kisolanza farm, we indulged ourselves with dinner in the candle and paraffin lamp-lit old farmhouse. Here in the Southern Highlands, it was very cold once the sun set and, once again, we were very glad to have our duvets, extra rugs and a hot water bottle. The following morning, we dragged ourselves out into the cold, but indulged ourselves with a full English breakfast at the old farmhouse. We were rather alarmed when starting the Land Rover that the clutch felt floppy, but on we went heading towards Iringa. As we went up the steep escarpment into this pleasant town, the clutch felt better. However, we stopped at a very pleasant crafts centre and cafe run by disabled Tanzanians and there Hugh checked the clutch fluid level. It was a bit low and he topped it up. Thereafter it was another four hours drive to Dodoma with all systems “go”. We did, however, get stopped a number of times by the myriads of traffic police at every tiny village. Hugh was driving very carefully within the speed limits and did successfully hold his ground twice with the cops. The first time he was “forgiven” and the second time he was “excused”. We are of the opinion that the photos taken on an iPhone at one place and then sent on to the cop at another place is suspect technology. It was all dealt with friendliness and jollity.


    We booked ourselves once again into the New Dodoma Hotel and were delighted that the receptionist remembered us from eight weeks ago. It is a haven in this supposed capital city, but, in reality, a dusty outpost. We did manage, eventually, to have a hot shower before bed and after a rather good Chinese meal cooked by some Chinese crone in a separate kitchen to the hotel’s kitchen.


    The following day was a seven hour drive from Dodoma to near Arusha. The difference in the intervening nine weeks was stark - very much drier. But the landscape was ever changing winding up various hills, through forest reserves, and shambas. We stopped for lunch some 5 kms off the road at a delightful campsite near Kondoa run by the Rock Art Conservation Society. Kondoa has some of the most extensive rock art sites in Africa up in the hills overlooking the Masai Steppe. This fortified us for the next stage down from those hills with great views of the 10,000 ft Mt Hanang. Once past Babati - a former colonial era farming area - we could see the western wall of the Rift Valley, the Mbulu highlands and Lake Manyara (which had been shrouded in low cloud, mist and rain on our way south in mid May). Onwards we went through Masai lands until we could see the massive bulk of Mt Meru ahead - and a small glimpse of the mighty Kilimanjaro.


    It had only been about 400 kms on an excellent new road, but the average speed was very low. We got pulled over for ostensibly speeding once again, but in the end Hugh was forgiven when the receipt book could not be found... The policeman did apologise for inconveniencing us. But there were also many other stops at the myriad of police checkpoints even if just to ask where we were coming from and where we were going to.


    Eventually, we turned in once again to the extraordinary Meserani Snake Park campsite just outside Arusha. Oh what a shock... There were five huge overland trucks there and at least fifty tents. The real worry was that there were only four ladies loos and six showers for this mass of unwashed. But we snuck in under a tree using the Land Rover as a privacy barrier. We had a dirty protest as queuing for a cold shower did not appeal. But as we say, every day is different ...


    This was our last night on this nine week adventure from Kenya to Angola and back. In the bar at Meserani, we increased the average age by at least three decades, but the beer and burgers were acceptable. We overheard that one of the huge overland trucks was leaving for the Kenyan border at 0700. After a reasonably peaceful night, we were up before dawn and on the road at first light and before the overland truck.


    An hour or so later, we arrived at the Kenyan border at Namanga. What a good call as we were through the “one stop border post” in less than an hour. As we drove out, there were huge queues at Tanzanian immigration from various buses and the overland truck.


    A few hours later, we arrived safely back in Nairobi. What an adventure!

  2. The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to Wazungu Wawili For This Useful Post:


  3. #2
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    Default Re: Through Tanzania 2018

    Love these reports. Thanks WW..

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  5. #3
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    Default Re: Through Tanzania 2018

    Quote Originally Posted by JohanRoux View Post
    Love these reports. Thanks WW..
    Asante sana, JohanRoux. This is my last trip report for the forum. Hopefully, someone else will take up the baton.

    Safari njema!

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    Default Re: Through Tanzania 2018

    Very nicely written - we traveled from Windhoek to Karatu, visited Serengeti for 6 days, via Moshi - did get nice 5 minutes glimpse of Kilimanjaro - to Dar Es Salaam (Zanzibar as well) and back via Malawi and Zimbabwe.

    Did that with our caravan hitched, so we were lucky to have own hot shower / toilet facilities on board.

    We did stay over at some of the campsites you mentioned and recall the traffic inspector actions.

    Keep well🇳🇦

  7. #5
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    Default Re: Through Tanzania 2018

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post
    . This is my last trip report for the forum. Hopefully, someone else will take up the baton.


    As the one that has probably benefited the most from your sage advice on East and Southern African travel over the last few years, please accept my heartfelt thanks for the huge difference you personally have made to our African travels. The huge amount of time and effort you have generously donated has certainly also benefited countless others. I am convinced that your endeavor to promote responsible overland travel to East Africa has indeed benefited conservation as intended.

    Having retired from trip reports is one thing. But that does not preclude you from continuing to add informed information to threads on this forum. There is still much to contribute.
    Stanley Weakley.
    Toyota Landcruiser 76SW 4,2L diesel.

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

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-6-SLOW-DONKEY
    OR
    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

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  9. #6
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    Default Re: Through Tanzania 2018

    Quote Originally Posted by JCNEL View Post
    Very nicely written - we traveled from Windhoek to Karatu, visited Serengeti for 6 days, via Moshi - did get nice 5 minutes glimpse of Kilimanjaro - to Dar Es Salaam (Zanzibar as well) and back via Malawi and Zimbabwe.

    Did that with our caravan hitched, so we were lucky to have own hot shower / toilet facilities on board.

    We did stay over at some of the campsites you mentioned and recall the traffic inspector actions.

    Keep well🇳🇦
    We saw you heading north when we were heading south - in the roadworks between Mbeya and Iringa. The people we met at Utengule said you had been there the previous night and had already broken the spare wheel carrier on your trailer. One of the many reasons we don’t do trailers...

    I hope you are going to do a trip report for the forum?

  10. #7
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    Default Re: Through Tanzania 2018

    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Weakley View Post

    As the one that has probably benefited the most from your sage advice on East and Southern African travel over the last few years, please accept my heartfelt thanks for the huge difference you personally have made to our African travels. The huge amount of time and effort you have generously donated has certainly also benefited countless others. I am convinced that your endeavor to promote responsible overland travel to East Africa has indeed benefited conservation as intended.

    Having retired from trip reports is one thing. But that does not preclude you from continuing to add informed information to threads on this forum. There is still much to contribute.
    Asante sana, Stan. I am not so sure now that I want my beloved East Africa overrun with convoys having given people the confidence to get out and see the real Africa...

  11. #8
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    Default Re: Through Tanzania 2018

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post
    I am not so sure now that I want my beloved East Africa overrun with convoys ...
    Fair comment. I always have this dilemma with trip reports. If everything is made too easy are you guilty of opening up your beloved destinations to all and sundry.
    Personally I feel that tourism stimulates conservation and the local maintenance of standards and the policing remains the responsibility of the local authorities. I try to preach sound ecological habits and considerate travel.
    I feel many share this dilemma.
    Stanley Weakley.
    Toyota Landcruiser 76SW 4,2L diesel.

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

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-6-SLOW-DONKEY
    OR
    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

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  13. #9
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    Default Re: Through Tanzania 2018

    Going to miss the inspiration to keep at the grindstone to save the money for a big trip that comes from reading these reports.

    Your thoughts, insights and writings will be missed WW!
    Last edited by Slowones; 2018/08/01 at 08:52 AM.

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  15. #10
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    Default Re: Through Tanzania 2018

    I would also like to add my own personal thanks for your ready and willing help to fellow 'explorers' such as I. Enjoy your 'retirement'.
    I share your feeling on opening up too much information on favourite quiet places can destroy the very thing we have enjoyed. There are certainly a lot more folks touring further and further afield which can be both a good and a bad thing.
    I am astounded at the number of 'self drive' enquiries I now see for East Africa when ten years ago there were virtually none. Now folks fly in to Entebbe or Kilimanjaro and pick up a Land cruiser and head for the bush without a second thought. And there are Rental outfits there to accommodate them!


    Thanks again and keep well.
    Albert

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

  16. #11
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    Default Re: Through Tanzania 2018

    Thank you, Albert.

    I will, eventually, enjoy my retirement from this forum, but it has been a pleasure to help those asking informed questions - and those giving excellent feedback. It is exasperating when one types and types only to never get any feedback on how the trip went.

    I hope that those taking inspiration from this forum appreciate and understand the environmental, conservation, and cultural differences. If they do, then “karibuni watu wote”... (although I might keep some very secret places secret).

    Of course, in East Africa, there were - and still are - many Kenyans, Ugandans and Tanzanians (of all ancestry) who have been going “on safari” (what is now known as “self drive’) in their own vehicles for generations. I am very lucky to have been one of these fortunate people.

    Safari = a journey.

    Asante sana.

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  18. #12
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    Default Re: Through Tanzania 2018

    Heading South

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    Central Tanzania between Arusha and Dodoma

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    The immaculate new road between Arusha and Iringa

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    The New Dodoma Hotel (formerly the old colonial Railway Hotel), Dodoma
    (you can still see traces of its pre-1918 German past)

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    The old German Boma (now an excellent museum), Iringa

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    A First World War German field gun outside the old Boma, Iringa

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    Lovely campsite at the Old Farmhouse Kisolanza, near Iringa

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    The Old Farmhouse at Kisolanza, near Iringa

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    Utengule Coffee Lodge, near Mbeya

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    Sunset over the Livingstone Mountains from Utengule Coffee Lodge, near Mbeya

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  20. #13
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    Default Re: Through Tanzania 2018

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post
    It is exasperating when one types and types only to never get any feedback on how the trip went.
    I agree. A sign of the times I am afraid. Much the same on other fora. Take heart from 'the few' that DO appreciate your efforts.

    I think there is scope for a new forum dealing only with "African" travel advice such as this. I fear from the 'monday digest' that much more emphasis revolves around which Chelsea Tractor has the better toys rather than those who actually take it, or an "inferior" model where it was designed to go.
    Your trip was an inspiration, I have read all sectors, and I had fun following each turn in the road on the very out of date Map Studio Atlas I acquired some years ago. Sadly my bucket list now contains more 'must sees' than I fear He who should be obeyed may have allocated me.
    A gentle tour of Uganda beckons in December. One step at a time.

    All the very best.
    Albert

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

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