Thursday, October 22, 2009

17th October – Zimbabwe & MALARIA

We crossed the border a Mutare, the only problem is that the officials were adamant that they needed the exact address of where were going to stay. This with the help of some local self employed “Agents” and a few dollars was sorted out within about 15 minutes. They even forgot to charge us for carbon tax, even though we asked a couple of times if that was all we had to do, they were more interested in making sure that each department we went to had stamped our gate pass. Just saved $25. Then we went and met Mike and Elsie Jahme who had put us up in Kariba for a few nights when the trailer shock mountings were being replaced. They are absolutely fantastic people who reminded us of the early Rhodesians’. They met us in town where we dropped our Prado and trailer off at Elsie’s moms house and they took us for a braai at their friends place. Was awesome meeting so many wholesome souls. It made us really miss our family. We followed them for about 20K’s to their Tea/Avocado plantations where they showed us around before we wnet inside to our bedroom.
It was then that I got ill. Had to keep running to the loo and got very, very cold. I said I probably felt bad because the fish sandwich that I had for lunch was off. Anyway I went to soak in a very hot bath for about a hour then went to bed. I had a bad night with a sweating fever and vomiting my heart out. The next morning they told me what I didn’t want to know, - that I had Malaria. The made me take Coartem – which we had in our Medical kit, and made me stay in bed for a few days as I slowly recovered. They could not have done more for me. That, on top of the constant threat that they would be evicted from their farm any day and were constantly fighting their case in courts. They were classified as criminals as they were illegally occupying their own farm. Sounds insane. But the truth is that privately owned white farmers were still being evicted on a daily bases. They were now the only white farmers left in their area. This was terrifying for even us, whilst we were there and could feel the tension surrounding them. These are “salt of the earth people” and should not have to live like this. We plan to leave on Friday morning towards Beit Bridge. We still do not know how to thank Mike and Elsie as I can imagine what could have happened to me if we had been in a campsite whilst I contacted Malaria, with no doctor or hospital for more than a 100 k’s.

In the pics you'll see the one view looking from my bedroom window over one of their dam's. Also see the pic of Mikes new BMW 1200 Bike - yes he's also a "Biker"

16th October – Chicamba Dam

We stayed in a Camps site here on the dam which was reasonable for a overnight stop but the smell of smoke put us off and left the next morning. They however had very nice Rondavels and a restaurant which we didn’t go to as there was a power failure in the evening and we had frozen pooitjie in the freezer to use up. Note the smog in the background, the farm manager said that on some days you cant see the other side of the dam.


Since we left South Africa, we had seen Firewood and Charcoal for sale on the side of the roads and also being carried on peoples’ heads, on bicycles and trucks, along the way through all the countries we had visited for thousands of kilometres. But I have never seen so much smoke and the burning of fields and vegetation as in Mozambique. The whole way from Malawi to Zimbabwe was just in flames with a solid haze of smoke everywhere. Everytime we got to the top of a rise we were greeted to more smoke and more flames everywhere as far as your eyes could see. Total devastation and an absolute disregard for the consequences of what they are doing to their own country, never mind what they are doing to the atmosphere. I was deeply saddened and terribly disappointed as it seemed no one was doing anything or even caring about it. Like a whole breed of pyromaniacs were let loose on a mission to destroy as much as they could in a short a time as possible, and here right on South Africa’s door step.

Evan the roads are stuffed in places. Mozambique has gone to the dogs

14th October – Zomba Plateau

We were told that there was a good stop over at the Lilongwe Nat Park south of Malawi so we thought it was on our way to Mozambique anyway so we would try it. Well the camp site was not up to much and spent a while driving around in 38 deg heat and decided then to go up to the Zomba Plateau which is a much higher altitude and is a state forest mountain. The camp side was pretty run down but was great being only 15 deg. On the was up we were amaized to see wood cutters with bicycles so overloaded with fire wood with no space for the rider other than to walk down next to the bike with one hand holding the load upright and the other on the handle bar holding the brakes on. They must have had about 400 pieces of wood, I would say close to half a bakkie load on each bicycle. However we stayed the night and left early next morning to cross the border into Mozambique at Mwanza. The crossing was easy and we headed down the Tete corridor to the Zimbabwe border at Mutare 2 days away. We stayed on the other side of the bridge that crosses the Zambezi river, at Zambezi Lodge in a gr8 air conditioned bedroom as it was very hot here. That night Colleen and I had the biggest prawns LM style peri peri we have ever had.

12th October – Senga Bay Cool Runnings

We left Mike that morning with sore hearts as we already had a bond with him – what an interesting man, as he was going off to South Lluanda Zambia and we were going to Cool Runnings, where Jane stone spent a month there as well as the couple from Oudshoorn - Jan and Lisa (who we met at Chitimba). So we were looking forward to something really special and I must say we were disappointed. Although the place was fully grassed (the only plus) it was very small so you had to camp ontop of each other. The Owners Sam’s house and the restaurant was above the beachfront but blocking the view and the off shore breeze from the campers. We came here to see Lake Malawi but unless you went to the pub or walked along the beach you were hidden from the view – which is why we came here in the first place. All the other sites that we had stayed at including Kenya and Tanzania had a view site of some sort, be it a river, sea or lake. As Colleen said it felt like we were camping in someone’s back yard, and that we could do at home.
We met up with Amy and Paul – the New Zealand couple the we met the morning we arrived at Chitimba. We were excited to see each other and had a good few days with them and even did a dive with them on lizard Island. My first fresh water “Altitude dive”, another point towards my advanced dive certificate. We also took some items of stuff for them to go to Cape Town to make there back packs a little lighter which they will collect when they come stay with us in November. They were on their was to South Lluangwa and then Bots and Namibia. They had back packed from Europe through Sudan and Ethiopia all on local busses, Amazing.
Also to arrive were a german couple in there groot Trok, they had been travelling Africa for 3 ½ years down the west coast and were now on their way up the east coast.

11th October – Chinteche2

At Chinteche us with a guy by the name of Mike Marsh driving a TDI with RTT (Roof Top Tent) and Wolf Stainless steel towing a trailer. At first I thought he was traveling with others. I found him very friendly and joined him for supper with Dave and Eva. It turns out that Mike (as retired Gen.. Manager Old Mutual - Kenya and lives at Jakkelsfontein - westcoast) Was on a trip with his wife Jakkie years and went diving off a little island south of Malawi and on the way up to the surface his wife had a heart attack and by the time they reached the shore she had died. And here we are sitting with this most amazing guy in his mid 60's and only a month ago lost his lifelong partner, and he has just returned from Burying his wife back home all alone to continue on their trip. Our Hearst really went out to Mike (who has 2 sons) and stayed an extra day just to be with him.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

10th October – Chintheche

The road to Chinteche from Chitimba although only 260 k’s was slow going and over a beautiful but very steep pass, of which several trucks had over turned. One was over half way across the road lying on it’s side which made passing a struggle, especially for the trucks ahead of us. We are staying at Chintheche Inn. Funny thing is when we stayed at Sunrise beach in Dar es Salaam, we met briefly, a South African couple from Durbs – Dave and Eva – who mentioned they were in the hotel trade and were touring for 6 months and on their way to Mozambique. When we booked in here at Chintheche a pretty blonde with a big smile said “I’m sure we have met” well within a minute or so we established that we met at Dar. She said that her and Dave had their holiday cut short because the Hotel Group management need them for a short term to manage Chitheche Inn. Again, a small world. This is 5 star camping. You just don’t get better than this. (It is also a hotel with lovely cabin style rooms. On the lake under a big Mango tree gentle breeze to keep the otherwise scorching heat off us, with clean, classy ablutions. Today it’s only 12 o’clock and we have already been swimming twice in the crystal clear water. There is a bit of a swell running with waves of about 2/3 foot to make things a bit more real, as it feels like we are on the sea instead of a lake. Some useless info, Think of the Calendar – the lake is 365 miles long 52 miles wide and has 12 rivers flow into it. Now you know why this lake feels like a deep blue ocean with tropical shores. If anyone needs to slack out and doesn’t particularly want to see wild life then Malawi is the place for them. Beautiful white beaches and crystal blue waters. We will be coming again for sure, maybe even next year.
Also Camping in Chintheche were a german couple who come to Africa once a year for 2 months. They keep their 1982 Landcruiser 3B diesel in Lusaka while they are away and fly in every year. Not a bad Idea, he says he’s been here for 8 years doing different trips.

6th October Chitemba beach Campsite

We made good time from Kisolonga and had the quickest border crossing ever. Form exiting Tanzania to leaving the Malawi Immigration was only 20 minutes. I challenge anyone to beat that. We arrived at Chitembe, must say the first time on our way up we didn’t stop here because the sign and road looked suspect, but after hearing the name mentioned by fellow travellers we came straight here. And what a surprise, very much like Pepeoni Beach camp in Tanga south Mombasa. It’s run by a Dutch couple Eddie and wife. On the lake, nice big trees close to swim, with a lovely bar and restaurant. Also we camped on GRASS, meaning Kikuyu. No more dirty dust feet, which by now we had plenty of. We met a south African couple Jan and Liza – in their mid 40’s (our age He he) and spent 4 days here. They had been at cool Runnings with Jane Stone and travel mate Doug. So all the Skinner was flowing. Short story is that Jane got involved with a guy from UK (Scotland) and dropped Doug to camp on his own for a while, and moved off with this oak. Then came back picked up Doug and shot off to Durban to drop Doug at his home with her Cruiser, flew to cape Town to pick up her anti safari clothes and flew straight over to UK. How’s that for skinner? Anyway we are leaving now going south to Chintheche and then to Cool Runnings then on to SA.

5th October – Kinsolonga Farm.

Again we stayed here as on our way up but this time stayed 2 nights. This is a don’t miss stop. The very best for a couple of nights stop over. If I ever built a camp I would do it on this basis. Its 60k’s south of Iringa, so in a good position just outside Ruaha and a good stop before going to Malawi.

2nd October – Ruaha National Park

Although the Tanzanian Park fees are flipping high on top of which the car cost $40 a day - F@$rk#% - I could not understand why it costs $30 per person to camp. A banda ( a room with 2 beds) cost $20 pppn and an en suite bedroom with communal kitchen cost $30 pppn. I told them they are trying to discourage visitors and camping. We camped anyway. It is actually one of the best Parks for came viewing I’ve seen. I would say similar to south Luangwa which is also on a river. We saw an amazingly beautiful leopard in a tree right next to us and eventually decided to move off – so I got a few pics of it as it came down and then it was gone – nowhere to be found. She was pristine, not often seen like this in the middle of the day. We spent 2 nights there and there workshop rewelded to trailer’s top shock mounting on which had broken on the way in. All Tanzanian and Kenyan parks roads are hectic. The National roads Dept say the parks must sort out there own roads but parks boards say they don’t have the funding. Meanwhile we just stuff up our vehicles and trailers.

1st October – Tanga Riots

On Thursday morning we left for Morogoro (our half way stop to Malawi) from Tanga at a place called Segera and were following two busses when all hell broke out. People were running around the busses with stones in their hands, Machetes’, clubs and all sorts of things, mostly young kids inspired by older types. They were shouting at us not to go any further or our windscreen would be smashed, so we stayed put for nearly 2 hours till the police and army arrived and fired shots in the town and they mob eventually dispersed. Colleen was so upset she had her cigarette in her mouth the wrong way around and was trying to light the filter. By this time there were hundreds of cars and busses behind us. It appeared that Shell had bought land to build a Garage and had evicted the people out of there houses. Even though they had been paid compensation they thought they were entitled to more. Typical.
We pushed on passed Morogoro to just before Iringa to a great camp called Baobab, on the small Ruaha river. A great place to stay – I can recommend it to anyone, also great rooms.

29th September – Tanga.

South of Mombasa. We had one stop at Diani Bech Resort and Camp – a small place not on T4A or any other guide book but gr8 for a day or 2 then went on to Peponi Beach resort. Now this is a place you can chill at for a week or so. We stayed 2 nights as we wanted to get on to Malawi. The owners, Denys and Gilly Roberts who knew my uncle was great and we met some ex Capies (who now live in Knysna) who Colleen used to play tennis with 12 years ago. Lionel and June Willmore ( he is ex Unicef Investment Bank) they are travelling with a Challenger off road Caravan – the big one – I don’t know the model name. But they have not had one bit of problem with the suspension in 3 months travelling – and its independent coil spring. Just goes to show you – its possible. This is an awesome camp site on the sea shore with no hassles’ from the locals ( a big plus).

27th September – Kenya to Tanzania

Malindi camp, the only camp left to stay (others all closed down) was not great but we had no choice and was only an overnighter anyway. The manager of the place arrived that night spaced out – on “Mirah”. He showed me some and I tried a piece. Its like thin and long shoots with a few little leaves that grow on a large tree. You strip off the skin of the shoot by pulling it through your teeth and chew on this skin – much like chewing tobacco – but is bitter as hell. You have to chew plenty of it for a few hours before the world gets a better place. I didn’t have the taste for it nor the inclination as by this stage I had paid the manager and he was off to a club, and it was a Sunday. This Mirah has taken off in northern Africa and is now spreading south. Apparently it only has a shelf life of 1 – 2 days and gets flown overnight all over the place even to London. This frightening stuff and is cheap. What next?

25th September – Lamu Island.

Absolutely fabulous. It’s much better than we expected. We could have spent a week there instead of less than 2 days. Because it’s only 130 km’s from the Somali border we were advised not to go by road which is extremely bad and should be travelled in convoy with the army. So we went to the airport at Malindi, to enquire about the flight. Nevertheless 1 ½ hours later we were walking the streets of Lamu. Most of the old town originates from the 13th century with 90% of the streets no wider than a meter – yes only wide enough to walk past a donkey, and there are hundreds of them. We stayed at Amu House which was awesome at R280 per day for the 2 of us including breakfast. We got a guide who was born on the island so knew everything including everyone. We had a tour for about 4 hours until we could hardly walk anymore.
Jean Visser would like this part. That evening we went to a local restaurant to eat local food, (ofcourse), we just sat down and who should walk in? Robin and Dianna – the Lichtenstein couple we met in Dar es Salaam who Jean and Hannelie met in Ghana. Strange how these things happen – neither Robin and Dianna had any plans to go to Lamu and at that stage nor did we. However we had a wonderful evening and I gave them the “vissers” regards. Next morning we had a tour of Shella, the rich people’s side of the island. Lots of film people and including Princess Carolina and the CEO of Peugot have places (or should I say palaces) there.