After our successfull repair session at the Bosch garage, we were very eager to finally get going. Dar had been ok for a few days, but the traffic was getting on our nerves, and anyway we had been stuck for too long. Luckily, our friend Jay volunteered to accompany us on his bike for the first stretch. We had a lovely ride through the small town of Bagamoyo, once earmarked the German capital in East Africa and now romantically decayed, very similar to Stone Town on Zanzibar. The rains of the past weeks had heavily damaged some of the roads, but the riding was still ok, and we were only sad when we had to day goodbye to Jay, who was heading back to Dar. We pushed on and made it to Korogwe that day – not a mayor destination, but very beautifully set at the foot of the green, forresty Usambara mountains. From Korogwe, we headed straight for Moshi the next day – the town at the bottom of the Kilimanjaro.
We had already decided earlier against climbing the mountain, and maybe that’s why it wrapped itself in sullen clouds the whole time we spent in town. We did not mind that much, though, for we had met with some fun Americans and re-met some fun Germans as well, and spend the time eating great Indian food, drinking Kilimanjaro espresso, actually roasting our own coffee (check out our video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oh3rdaW10OE), and, of course, watching the World Cup. In between we poked fun at the street touts – those guys we know so well from Zanzibar – and tried to sell them a trip to Europe (“Super cheap, man, just 15000 Euro, and you can bring your own bike!”). that actually made them laugh, so we left Moshi after two eventful days in good spirits, and went further along a perfectly tarred road towards Arusha. Mount Meru in Arusha played the Kili-game on us and hid in the clouds, but we were somewhere else with our heads anyway: Jan had managed to break his sidestand on the road to Korogwe, and we were hoping to find someone to fix it in Arusha. Turned out that our campsite, the Meserani SnakePark, actually has a fully equipped garage (for the Overlanders to fix their trucks up), and we could use it for free! Even better, the welder also welded Jans sidestand for us. BJ and Ma from Meserani Snake Camp are just the best! We left Arusha after a quick visit with John and Mary, the Americans we met in Moshi, and headed further for the Ngorongoro Crater. Skipping so many “touristy” things, we had decided we would at least do the Ngorongoro a try for a day. It was not cheap, but it was worth it! The crater landscape alone is amazing, but the big kittys resting in the shade right next to our car were even better. We stayed at the Panorama camp for two nights and left from there for Mwanza at Lake Victoria – 740kms, split in two days. And this time we actully went for Bush Camping – our first try to find a quite spot away from the road ended with a shocked kid running away and leaving his cow herd to fend for themselves (two Mzungus in full bike gear on two huge motorbikes, that can be quite a sight I guess). So we went a bit further and pitched our tent in a small plantation of something – no idea what the trees were really for. Maybe oil seeds? We were both a bit nervous but faked it very well to each other that we were not, and of course everything went smooth and we left the next morning with the first daylight. I think we had to overcome some of our Germanness for this (pitching your tent just anywhere on someones property without asking – because everything is someones property nowadays, in Tanzania too), which is probably also not a bad thing.
We reached our last “big” stop in Tanzania – Mwanza at Lake Victoria – that day and spent the day hanging out at a local Expat watering hole until our host Peter got back home from Morogoro, and could welcome us to his house. We had met Peter half a year ago, two days before Christmas, when he cycled up a hill in Lesotho that we were just riding down on our motorbikes. Unlike us lazy bums, Peter is actually doing a real workout while travelling, and he has travelled a lot already: From Japan to England, and from England to South Africa. And some loose countries in between. Sitting in his garden, grilling Tilapia and talking about his travels and experiences on the road was splendid, and we enjoyed our hanging-out weekend with him a lot. On Monday, we handed over the keys to his neighbor Rachael, and hit the road again.
We were now slowly getting closer to the Rwandan border, and began to realize that we had spent nearly a month in Tanzania! It definitely had not felt like that. But though we really liked Tanzania, we were also at some stage quite eager to move onwards. For some time, we had actually discussed to skip Rwanda (and Uganda) and go straight to Kenya. Partly because we feared our long stay in Tanzania had delayed us too much, partly because we did not know, for a long time, how we might actually manage to get there. Now if you look at a map (or googlemaps), this might seem like a very stupid problem. There are roads leading to Rwanda, are there not? Indeed there are, but some of them are actually blocked for motorcycles – BOTH the way directly through Serengeti, as well as the path along Ngoronogoro crater, our two first route choices. Then there was a lot of uncertainty about the quality of the other road options: we had heard some horror stories from a Swiss motorcyclist (SAND! THORNS! A flat tyre every two kilometers, guaranteed!), and up until we reached Moshi no-one we met and asked about it had actually done the route in the last 10 years. Turning North from Mwanza and go directly to Kenya seemed like a sensible idea at some stage.
As often (but not always), it turned out that we had given those roads way too much thought…. Nearly all the way was tarred, mostly very new and very good, and the 45km dirt road we had in the end was of such a good quality that we could speed along with 60 or 70 km/h, at times.
These last two days of riding in Tanzania also taught us the limits of our various navigation tools, and that their lack of knowledge does not neccessary reflect reality: because several of the roads we were travelling on – beautiful, tarred, and NOT NEW roads – were non-existant in the 2014 Michelin map, the Tracks4Africa and Open Source maps on the Garmin, AND the googlemaps and skobbler apps on our smartphone (yes, we actually have 5 different navigation tools! How did that happen?? Madness!). It seemed like only the people who lived in a 10km radius around these roads were actually aware of their existence (and probably the people who built them, some years ago).
Anyhow, we fell a bit short of our day’s goal and stayed in a small town called Birahamula. But we weren’t the first Germans to set foot there which we learnt from an ageing Swedish couple we met on the main road. The German “Schutztruppe” (colonial army) had built a fort there – probably to control the road towards Rwanda. Our stay was cheap and another first: a guest house. The water for the sink and shower came from a bucket in a corner which we actually prefer over non-working fixtures. But something went wrong that eveing: Jan caught a stomach bug which was causing some inconvenience the next few days…
From Birahamula it was a mere 120km to the border to Rwanda which we spiced up with some carelessness in refuelling. So the reserve light came on and we knew we probably would not make it either to the next Tanzanian petrol station or even across the border. However, some friendly truckers somehow organised Super for us which we filtered through one of Anne’s old nylon socks. Obviously, we paid a premium for the fuel but had a lot of fun with the people there and they ensured the continuation of our journey. Nobody really bothered us at the border where we were quite impressed by the new border station being constructed. We swapped our last Shillings for Rwandan Francs, checked out and made our way across a bridge into the land of a thousand hills.
Kwaheri Tanzania! Muraho Rwanda!