Saturday, August 22, 2009

19th August Tanzania Dar es Salaam.

We stopped over for a night at Mikumi National park, I would have preferred Ruaha but plan to do that on our way back when we have more time. Great small park, saw lots of giraffe’s with a two little ones and the mother all alone. We found the remains of the father. I don’t think they will be around much longer as we also spotted a big male lion near the front entrance not far from the Giraffe’s on the way in. Also Ellies, buffalo, hippo’s wilderbees, and bokkies as usual. Also saw the “Burchell Coucal”.
Next day we arrived at Dar es Salaam, everyone said the traffic was hectic so we expected the worst. All was okay and Colleen kept quiet and didn’t nag too much and left me to concentrate on the driving or should I say avoiding the traffic. We arrived at Sunset Hotel and camp on south beach. Jean Visser recommended this to us. We camped right on the beach under Coconut trees. We met two couples that Jean had met in Ghana. 1 couple are from Liechtenstein – Robin and Dianna they send their regards to Jean and Hannelie. Also we had a beach party with Steve and Roxy – ex South Africans but living in London who also met Jean and Hannelie in Ghana and are on their return trip up north through Africa. Also with us were an Australian couple Phil and Christy. We had a really great party with Colleen and Roxy trying to teaching each other to dance. This was after we had picked up Cindy from the airport and I think Colleen was very excited with her daughter being with us that Roxy and Colleen seemed to try and out drink each other. We got to bed at 1 am. The latest night so far.
Tomorrow the 23rd we head up to the Serengeti.

17th August - Tanzania (Rally Busses and Speed bumps)

The climb up over the mountain was Hectic, straight up to 2100 Meters. We saw a number of burnt out wrecks of trucks that had gone off the road at some stage. On the way down the other side we followed a loaded taxi on the way down, that had burning brakes with smoke off all wheels – it smelt terrible. We were in second gear and holding back the load but only pressing brakes occasionally. We were waiting for the taxi to run away but it didn’t happen. Then we were caught doing 46km’s in a 30 zone. However I spoke my way out of that one with a warning as we didn’t have any local money, Phew – it’s just how you have to handle the cops – make them feel good and praise them and there country and have the odd laugh with them. We followed a truck loaded with Bananas with a cyclist hanging on the back taking a ride and breathing all the exhaust fumes in.
After this we have the normal highway which is actually one village after another. Everybody is busy trading along the road, you see their wares, which usually is fruit, tomatoes, potato’s, onions or whatever crop they are harvesting at the same time. They just leave them on the side of the road and when you stop they run out of their house to help you. All the time you drive through villages 3 small close speed bumps followed by a huge speed bump then through the village at either 30 or 50 KPH then another set of 3 speed bumps and you speed up to 80 or 90 then back down to 30 over more speed bumps. Drives you crazy. It take you 2 hours to do 100k’s – Africa travel time. But the busses they pass you over the speed bumps at about 70 instead of 30 – the limit – and stay on the right side and only move over for oncoming traffic. When on the “open road” which is narrow like a village road they have the foot to the floor over 120, bus after bus passing and sometimes we see them lying in the bush or smashed up. Crazy. We stopped at the Farm house lodge called “Kissolanzo” with camping. Fantastic - it is a old mud house that they used as the d├ęcor and built a thatch building around and over it. Great facilities and could have stayed a few days, great bird life.

15th August - Malawi - Bricks and Babies

Coming into Malawi we were amazed to see so many bricks being baked. It seems that there is a rush for everyone to own and build their own brick house. They are streets ahead of us in building a house for each family. The main advantage that they have is there endless resources of clay. Each family it seems has clay either delivered to their plot or they just dig it out of the ground, then proceed to form the clay into bricks and pile them up and fire them – bake them.
The second thing is that every women walking along the road (and there are thousands of them busy walking – I don’t know where to and I don’t think they know either) has a baby on their back. They have a huge population explosion problem on there hands.
A terrible bumpy sandy village back road led us to a place - Nkhotakota called Sani camp. We thought we had the wrong address but when we arrived we were delighted to this – slightly run down – but beautiful place on the water “Lake Malawi” We had supper there with 3 young English guys taking a “Gap Year” by going around to the community schools and teaching the kids. That night we were nearly blown away by a gale force wind. About 1 o’clock in the morning we had to take down the awning and bang in some extra pegs.
The next morning we drove to Chitimba and stopped at Nikata bay. Very hippi’ish villiage, hectically busy because we were told the “sheep” came in from the island. We couldn’t work this out but thought they must be short of meat. Anyway later on after some more enquiries we discovered that “Sheep” is actually “SHIP” and that is there supply ship to all the traders. We met the owner of The Butterfly camp site and said we would come stay there on our return trip as we were just passing through, they also have a Dive centre there so I may go for a dive sometime.
We noticed two signs amongst the many which made us laugh. One was “Kaka Hotel” which seemed deserted and the other was “Shito Welding”. Our proposed camp site at Chitimba was not very good so we drove on a bit and went to “Sangilo Sactuary” Was excellent for a room to stay but not such a wonderful camp site as you camp in the owner’s back yard. But it was on the Lake and they had a fantastic tropical pub right on the beach in a little cove. I had a friendly chat to a Rasta man behind the bar.
The next morning we left early for the Tanzania border and flattened a goat or two that ran across the road. I didn’t stop but saw a brown goat on my side spinning in the road and Colleen saw a white one disappear under the bull bar. We were totally shocked and dumbfounded as what to do, I didn’t want any altercation with the locals so I headed as fast as I could to the border one hour away. We went through two police road blocks before the border and were sure we may have been reported and would be arrested. However we got through the border but only after running over a chicken, Just to add insult to the injury.

Friday, August 14, 2009

South Luanga 14th August

14th August

South Luangwa

We left south Luangwa this afternoon heading back to Chipata – Mama Rula’s Camp site. We only spent 2 nights in S L which was fantastic. Plans changed a bit as we realizes we are running out of time. Met some Capetoneons – doctors – Anton and Jean …………..and also another couple Rory and Brenda Spence from PE. We were still with the English family and had great fun together. Wildlife Camp is fantastic. Right on the waters edge – the Luangwa river - Hippos grunting all day and night. We went for a night drive through the park last night, and saw what remained of a big pride of lions kill – buffalo. The lions all fat and fed and lying next to the side of the road in the grass doing nothing, so no so interesting watching sleeping lions. Colleen wasn’t interested in tickling the nearest ones tummy with a stick, just thought it would liven up things a bit. The next morning we took a drive in the Prado to around the park and as we approached the same pride we saw the night before they all started to walk towards us down the road. 3 little cubs were the best and one was even dragging a piece of cloth in its mouth – looked like the seat of someone’s pants. We counted 16 in all but only saw one male – Simba. We heard the big daddy roaring a bit deeper in the bush and sometimes the one cub also made a squeaky roar, I think he will have his own pride – Harem - one day. Also noticed one had a collar. It really is fantastic here as the park follows along the river and you can just park off along the banks for a few hours in absolute peace. We will come again and spend at least 5/6 days here, but we are off now to meet Cindy next Friday in Dar es Salaam just 1980 km’s away.

South Luangwa

9th August

Zambia – South Luangwa

Being a Sunday it was not so busy and took us about an hour to get through the border at Chirunu. – again Carbon tax and Road insurance, We also got Comessa insurance for Tanzania and Kenya, but only for 30 days as we only got 30 days with Zambia. We stayed at Eureka overnight camp just before Lusaka. It was good and can recommend it. The next morning we went through Lusaka town centre – Not Recommended – and had a altercation with a Taxi. Only a small scratch on the bull bar but R1750 damage to his rear side. After agreeing a price with him and the panel beater we went to about 5 different banks to draw Kwatcha – the local currency. Then some shopping for beer and fresh veggies at a very nice Spar – which informed us that Zambia do not take “Debit Cards” – only Visa Credit cards. And this we found to be true. Then on to the Luangwa Bridge camp, which was about half way to Chipata. A nice place but a bit cramped with back packers and bikers. Also the place looks a bit run down. We met an English couple with their 22 year old son there. They were also going to south Luangwa so agreed to travel together but not in convoy. They were in a Cape town 80 cruiser hired from “Just Done IT”. The next day we are going to Chipata – MamaRula Camp, and then on to South Luangwa to camp at Wildlife Camp, said to be better than “Flatdogs”. That will be the 12th to about the 16th, where we will try to find a way to the Gr8 north road to Tanzania to collect Cindy from Dar es Selaam. Sounds like the English family might travel this section to the Gr8 NR with us, as the roads are said to be nonexistent and washed away buy the last floods. We will just have to see.

Mana Pools 5th August

5th august

Mana Pools

We were glad that the suspension broke when it did because of all the help we got and the gravel road to Mana Pools after the Tar road is so badly corrugated for over 30 km’s that at times we were doing less than 5 kph and other times up to 40 only to slow down again to a virtual stop as everything shook to pieces. This road tested the “Newly Repaired” suspension which held together nicely, which is just as well because I had had enough of being a “bush Mechanic” by now.
The pools camp site – Nyamepi – although the ablutions are run down it is right on the banks of the Zambezi River. Elephant wonder through your camp all day picking at the trees, and Hyena scratch in you used braai. One night A Hyena tried to drag off our trailer cover which was lying on the ground with spare poles in it. We had to shout at it and shine my torch at it to chase it away – ugly thing. We saw Buffalo, lots of Ellies, Zebra, 4 lion cubs but had to get back to camp before we could see the parents, a few Hyena in the day as well as wild dogs and bush pigs. Lots of bird life – breading pairs of fish eagles, Bee eaters digging into the banks and millions of Scimitar billed Wood Hoopoe, squabbling in the trees. Not to mention the continuous orchestra of hippo’s, lion, and hyena singing in unison all night. Colleen said it’s like sleeping in Noah’s Ark. Met a few people their who gave us some good info on Zambia for us to look forwards to.
After 4 nights in Mana - Nymepi camp we left to got to Zambia. Again the road returning shock everything apart, even though we let the tyres down to 1,5 bar. Sometimes we were only doing idle speed and still shaking about. Eventually there was a huge thud and we stopped. We lost the tow hitch and the trailer was hanging on the ball by the safety chain – lucky. I ran back and picked up the hitch with both bolts sheared off. I was wearing a Black shirt and the Tsetse fly’s were all over me biting like mad. In the middle of the road I had to change my shirt to a white one and colleen sprayed us with Doom, it’s about the only thing that stopped them. Lucky I had two 10mm bolts in my box (but should have been 12mm) but did the job anyway. Then on to Chirundu, Zambia border crossing.

Kariba 31st July

31st July.


Just after leaving Masvinga (the Ruins) we got cell phone signal and called Colby to check if it was still ok to stay at his folks place in Banket, and wouls you believe it Colby was less than a Km away from us. Within 2 mins we met him and his new wife Anthea and her daughter – Kaylea at the garage where Colby had just done some repairs to his boat trailer wheel bearings. Never the less we stayed with them and his folks at Banket over looking a beautiful lake. What a lovely family they are, we all sat around the dining table having supper and enjoying each others company.
Next morning we were off to Kariba town to a private camp site called (Lake View) Lomangundi but spelt incorrectly as Romangundi on T4A ( Tracks 4 Africa). This is a very nice clean campsite 15 k’s outside Kariba Town, with reasonable ablutions – lots of trees and situated on the Lake shore. Again we were the only campers but were surrounded by private (mostly Holiday) homes with a few occupants. During the night we were surrounded by Hippo’s up to 11 one evening and it made braaiing a bit difficult because you had to keep watching your back and the fire at the same time. Although hippo’s are big, they creep up very quietly whilst eating the lawns. They don’t need petrol mowers here for their lawns. We can highly recommend this camp site to fellow travellers, it also has 24 hour security. Cost was $21 per night for the 2 of us.

3rd August.

Trailer Breakdown.

I looked under the trailer to see how the rewelded shock was doing and noticed the other shock had now broken off. Now I was getting really pissed off and noticed that the Shackle hanger was also broken / sheared right off. So now we have Major problems. I spoke to one of the local owners that were driving past us a quite often during the day busy helping to prepare the camp for the “Kariba Marathon’ this week-end. He suggested I go into Kariba town and speak to KB engineering (boat builders) I took off the shackle and the broken piece of the hanger and went to town, KB eng, said no problem they (Wilfred the black – forman) would make new shackle hangers for both sides and new Shock mounting plates which we would weld to the axle and make it stronger than Echo’s design and to make sure that they would never break again. When I cam back a local home owner Mike Jahme who was holidaying there at the time came past and offer his assistance. When I told him our problem he offered 2 their staff to help remove the axle. To cut alone storey short one side of the trailer fell on one of the workers . quickly the other worker and myself with the hilift jack got the guy out with only bruising to his foot – lucky nothing more serious. Some of the other locals came to out assistance and in no time had the axle off. Our heartiest thanks go out to Karva and Jerry who helped each and every time I asked, even though they had their hands full with the upcoming Marathon event. Then Mike cam along and said you cant stay here tonight whilst you are fixing the axle you better come stay with us, Colleen and I protested but with our rubber arms and depressed faces we could not resist and for the next to days we entertained by Mike and Elsie, fed three meals a day till we could eat no more or even drink any more nad even took us on a fabulous boat sundowners cruise. We lived like kings, and these we total strangers who just opened up their home to us. I must say that Jean Vissers suggestion to go through Zim to Zambia was the best ever. The Zimbabweans are fantastic people. We will definitely be back again. To Mike and Elsie, Thanks again and we will make every effort to meet up with you on your farm on our return trip. We hope and pray that the problems with you loosing your farm will resolve and you will be able to keep your farm after all.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pics of the Ruins

28th July Zimbabwe

We headed for Matopo’s National park which is just before Bulawayo. A very peaceful campsite following a quiet slow drive from the border as we hardly even saw another vehicle. We chose this site because from Woodlands it was only 220 km’s, just in case it may have taken us longer through the border customs, and also it was too far to Masvinga (Zimbabwe Ruins) where we were going to stay the next night. It was so peaceful here, that I left Colleen alone, as she was writing notes in her diary , and took a walk for about an hour doing a bit of investigating and looking at the water fowl etc, on the dam. When I came back the sun was nearly down and Colleen said “She can feel her Soul healing”. This was quiet something as there was no one within about 5 km’s from us. No security, No village or people, no Parks board officials other than those at the entrance booking office 5 km’s away. WE WERE UTTERLY ALONE. We must have been crazy. Being alone like this in Africa!!!! Weren’t we frightened? The answer is No. It was just the most peaceful place.
Then a long drive to Masvinga and only arrived as the sun went down. We stayed at Kyle Lake (dam) Lodge / Camping site about 6 km’s from the Zimbabwe ruins. Although typical of all government and Zim Parks camping sites there is no HOT water. However they opened up a Chalet for us to use the hot showers and for Colleen to Wash her hair, this was wonderful. Here too we were the only campers, but they left us with a security guard for the night, his name was Clevermashirri. I asked him what that meant and he said Brilliant!!! Colleen gave him some supper and he went on his knees and clapped his hands together in thanks. I think it has been a long time since he has seen a plate of food like that.
The next morning we sent Clevermashirri on his way and decided that I was not going to drive but to take the day off. So Colleen spent a couple hours washing our dirty clothes and then we set off for the ruins. Well let me say that the Zimbabwe Ruins is absolutely fantastic as well as all the history that our Guide Kennedy told us. Well worth the visit even if it means going out of your way to go there. Tomorrow we set off for Banket near Chinoyi – about 85 km’s past Harare a total of 650km’s. It’s going to be a long day.

26th July Botswana

We camped Sunday night at Kwa Nokeng after crossing the Botswana border post at Martins Drift (Grobblers Ridge) This campsite is just inside Botswana with nice ablutions. We then headed for Francistown and camped at Woodlands this was fantastic and upmarket ablutions. I noticed one of the shock lower mounting pins welding had broken, which was a bit disturbing as we had not really been on bad roads at this stage and Winelands Echo will hear about this when we get back. It was extremely cold during the night as the next morning we had to brush off the ice off the tent roof as we packed up. We then headed Francistown again and had the shock mounting rewelded and the other reinforced by a backyard mechanic, but very helpful as he was directed by me lying in the dirt under the trailer making sure he was doing a thorough job. Then onto the Plumtree border post to go into Zimbabwe. This post was easy and pretty well vacant to our delight, it made avoiding Beit Bridge a wise choice.

Trip preperations to bots

Here our last night in GP, with sister in law Lorna