Selous Game Reserve

 Posted by Elizabeth at 6:00 pm
Jun 252011

The road from Morogoro to Selous Game ReserveAfter a morning game drive in Mikumi National Park we headed towards Selous Game Reserve, which is off the beaten path to say the least. A quick stop in Morogoro for fuel and groceries and then we turned off onto a dirt track. The drive was scenic as it wound through mountains, tropical vegetation and villages, but the road was terrible! It was rough and at times quite muddy, yet the trucks and minibuses still travel a million miles an hour along it. Around lunchtime we arrived at Mikuyuni Village which is a small village with shops lining the side of the steeply inclined road. There were trucks parked on either side of the road loading and unloading things, some parked on the correct side of the road, others were not. The road was very muddy and slippery and it was pure chaos. We slowly crept forward, weaving between the trucks and people. The truck ahead of us started to slide sideways, in the process collecting the corner of the roof of one of the shops making the whole shop shake and move. The driver and his passenger got out and tried to move the truck, obviously without success. It took ages before anyone else helped them, and there were heaps of people around, yet no one was going anywhere until he made it up the hill. Eventually he made it past the shop but then had to stop again near the top of the hill as another truck was seriously stuck in the mud and pushed against the embankment and wasn’t going anywhere in the near future. So there we sat in the middle of the village with trucks, buses, people, mud and chaos all around us and waited. In true African style, no one could figure out how they were going to manoeuvre around each other whilst avoiding the parked and stuck trucks and make it through the mud. Every gap was instantly filled by a vehicle of some description regardless of whether their movement helped our hindered everyone else. Wayne went to see what was happening at the top and tried to convey to them that some of the buses trying to come down would need to reverse if anyone was ever going to get moving again. After some time they seemed to get the message and eventually the truck in front of us could move a few metres, although not enough to clear a path through. We stayed where we were as we did not fancy having to stop halfway up the muddy hill, and sure enough, a bus coming down the hill pulled into the gap between the truck in front of us and ourselves. Fantastic! Where he thought he was going to go, or what we were going to do is beyond me. He wanted us to move to the side into the really sloshy, sloping mud. Yeah right! We reversed and moved slightly to the other side so he could tackle the mud and we could get past him when eventually the truck in front was able to move. Eventually we made it to the top of the hill and through the village, taking more than an hour to travel probably 200 metres. Such is Africa!

Mikuyuni Village on the road from Morogoro to Selous Game ReserveMikuyuni Village on the road from Morogoro to Selous Game ReserveMikuyuni Village on the road from Morogoro to Selous Game Reserve

Our intention was to camp about 50km outside the park, but when we got there no campsite appeared to be around, so we decided to continue on and try to make the park before closing and camp inside. The gates close at 6pm and we did not make it in time, so we tried to see if we could camp at one of the lodges. I tried to get them to let us camp, but no go. They rung another lodge that is being built, but they wanted $US50 per person to camp! No way! So in the end we had to spend our first night in a lodge, costing us $200 with dinner. Dinner was nice, but we weren’t happy about having to spend $200.

Our plan was to get to the gate in the late morning, camp inside the park and then exit the following morning. Turning up at the gate we found out what the cost was and they confirmed that we would need a ranger to stay with us if we wanted to camp. No problem, let’s get it organised. Once again, in true African style, there was no ranger available so we couldn’t camp. So we couldn’t obey their rule because they could not supply a ranger, but they would not lets us camp without one. Not happy Jan! If we had known that we would have been at the gate at 6.30am and spent the entire day there, now though it was 11am and the day was wasted. Initially they wanted to charge us the full rate for entry and the vehicle, which is about $180, however after some discussion and getting them to agree that our plans were affected as a result of their inability to supply a ranger. we agreed on $50 for the car and they would charge us Tanzanian citizen rates (about $6) and allow us to transit the park (we did not want to have to turn around and tackle that road again!). We did see a few animals along the way, but unfortunately Selous did not quite turn out as expected!

After leaving the park we stayed at Selous River Camp where we met a couple from England and spent some time chatting to them. We took a cruise along the river in the afternoon and saw lots of hippo, birds, a couple of small crocodiles and monitor lizards. During the night there is an elephant that comes and eats near where we were camped and sure enough he turned up and ate just a few metres from where we were sleeping which was pretty cool.


Monitor Lizard, SelousWhite-fronted Bee-eater, Selous06250672_resize

Kilwa Masoko & Kilwa Kisiwani

 Posted by Elizabeth at 6:50 pm
Jun 272011

Thankfully the road out of Selous was not muddy and nowhere near as bad as the road we had taken in. When we hit the main road to Dar Es Salaam, we turned right instead of left to Dar and headed towards Kilwa Masoko. Once again we managed to find a terrible road! They were building a new road, although it has been in progress for at least 18 months, and there is a temporary road beside it. This temporary road was full of dips and bumps and it was not a pleasant ride at all, yet the buses still drove like crazy. We had the pleasure of about 2.5 hours of being thrown around constantly.Great Mosque, Kilwa Kisiwani

Dhow, Kilwa MasakoWe stayed at Kilwa Seaview Resort for 2 nights where we managed to do an enormous lot of laundry before taking a trip across to the island to see the Arab ruins. We spent a couple of hours on the island investigating the ruins of the Great Mosque, smaller mosques and the Sultan’s Palace. The island must have been something in its time as the buildings were quite impressive. 1500 odd people still live on the island in a small village with no electricity and wells for their water.


Great Mosque, Kilwa KisiwaniFort, Kilwa KisiwaniKilwa Kisiwani

On the way back we stopped in town to buy some “Chips Mayai” which is a local dish of hot chips with an egg omelette. It wasn’t too bad amd was very cheap, although I am sure it isn’t very good for you! We also tried to buy another local dish made from cooking bananas but there wasn’t any to be had, so we will have to keep an eye out for it somewhere else.

Dar Es Salaam

 Posted by Elizabeth at 8:23 pm
Jun 302011

We left Kilwa Masoko and headed north to Dar Es Salaam. Thankfully a large section of the horrible road had been graded the previous day, so whilst it was still bad it was nowhere near as bad as it had been on the way in. The crazy buses were still in abundance, and I am sure they would make world class rally drivers as they throw the buses around on the dirt, weaving all over the road trying to get the smoothest path then hammering it around the bends with the rear end eventually following.

Instead of heading straight to camp we decided to head into Dar to get fuel and do some shopping. We found a Shoprite, a large well stocked supermarket chain, which was a welcome change. It was great to be able to wander down the aisles and buy things we had not been able to for some time and at reasonable prices, even meat. After stocking up and fulfilling our westernised, civilised shopping needs we headed across the ferry to camp.

Ferry port to DarWe spent 3 nights at Kipepeo Beach Resort which is just south of Dar Es Salaam, requiring a ferry crossing to go to Dar. The resort is quite nice with a bar and restaurant, free wifi and a grassed camping area, although the camping area could be bigger given the large number of overland trucks that come and go (although they do only seem to stay one night on their way to and from Zanaibar). The showers were once again cold, but it is so warm that the chill is taken off the water by the sun shining on the tanks, so it wasn’t so bad.

When we arrived Natalie and Paul were there whom we had met previously at the camp outside Selous. There was also another couple there that we had met at Cape Maclear, and then Tim and Ania whom we had met at the Riverside Camp at Iringa sent us a text saying they would also be joining us.

The first day we had booked the car in at Toyota to be looked at. We left camp at 7am thinking that would give us plenty of time to be at Toyota early. Wrong assumption! Whilst the total journey was only about 10km, we had to cross using the ferry. It took 2 hours before we were actually on the ferry, which is about 7km from camp, then we had to get through Dar. It took us 2.5 hours to arrive, and when we got there and explained we had booked the car in and what needed to be done we were told there was no way we would get the car back the same day, which is not an option given it is our home! The service area had probably 50 or more cars parked around the place so I’m not surprised they said it would take more than a day. After some discussion with the service manager, who thankfully turned out to be very helpful, our car was taken straight to the workshop and work started on it. Our front left diff lock has not been sending power to the wheel when engaged and has been a bit of a pain when we have been stuck. The service manager looked at it and thought it was an electronic motor and told us it would take 6-8 weeks to get a part, but they would take it apart and have a look. Thankfully it was not electronic and a clip had come loose inside which they were able to fix, so hopefully if we get stuck again it will work properly. The knocking we have had since the start in the front left wheel was also fixed by replacing the bushes on the stabiliser bar. Both repairs were done inexpensively as the labour is cheap, so it was a pretty successful trip.

Tim and Ania had volunteered to come into Dar and pick us up from Toyota so we could both do some errands whilst our car was being serviced, something I think they may have regretted afterwards as it took all day! They also got stuck trying to get on the ferry but they finally made it and we headed to the Milani shopping centre. The traffic was terrible, although it was interesting to see what was going on around us. About 30 mins after we had left Toyota they rang to say they needed the remote for the car (even though they had told us they didn’t need it) so we had to turn around and go back – an hour wasted sitting in traffic. Off we went again through the traffic, finally making it to the shopping centre where we had some lunch and a quick visit to Game and Shoprite before we had to head back to Toyota to make sure we would be back there by 5pm given the traffic.

We spent the following day relaxing in camp and on the beach. I even went swimming in the middle of winter! The water was warm and clear although there were a number of jellyfish around so we really only just paddled in the shallow water as we did not relish the thought of being stung. The nights were pleasantly warm although there were a lot of mosquitoes around. It was quite a nice place to take a few days out from travelling.

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