Monthly Archives: March 2014

Tanzania: Tzetze fly, tobacco and 500km of dirt road

Despite being relieved of 50 dollars the border crossing at Namanga is an entirely painless affair.

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The impending rainstorm required some accommodation to be found quickly in the small village of Lariboro. I was lead to the Catholic mission where to my surprise a group of 20 French volunteers were on their last day of classroom construction. To mark the occasion a picture slide show was shown to the assembled school. Then the BBQ started and the drinks started flowing..

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The day after with the father

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Road to Arusha

Arusha
Stayed with a contact, Erik, who runs a company providing data bandwidth to businesses in the area. The next day I headed into town to do some shopping and sort out a SIM card and kept on bumping into cyclists..

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Tour D’Afrique has arrived at the Massai Camp in Arusha. Its a ‘race’ of 1200km over 122 days, some of which are rest days.. Its quite an operation with a multitude of support vehicles. Most of the cyclists I chat to confide my way is much better and they would be doing the same if it wasn’t for work / family commitments back home. I regale adventure stories from the road and spend the evening drinking beers with the support staff.

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Massai village

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Road to Singida

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Typical Street scene in Babati with Mt Kwaraha as a backdrop

Singida

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Stopped at the train station to get some information for Thorston, the office is open but the tracks long overgrown with grass. Four security guards keep watch over the empty building..

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Kim from Singida took me on a tour of the town, eateries and shops. Enjoyable evening of chatting.

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Honey sellers line the roadside

Road to Mbeya

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The turning for the road to Mbeya.. 519km of dirt track..

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Very pretty stretch, passing 3 national parks with elephants and leopards.. Didn’t see any elephants, but saw lots of elephant shit!

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Wildlife I could have done without are the swarms of tzetze. That thing sticking out of its mouth is a needle to   pierce the skin and drink your blood. They don’t seem to inject anaesthetic judging by the pain.. Swarms of them followed me for hours, without liberal applications of DEET the outlook would not be good!

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Tobacco is a profitable cash crop. The guest house I stayed at is attached to a community centre build for tobacco farmers where the hold meetings and training session. I chatted for hours with the community head. My first of many questions was “if tobacco is more profitable than maize, why isn’t everyone growing tobacco?” answer, “because it’s very difficult to grow”. So discussion about smoking bans, cost of cigarettes in the UK and other topics followed until it was time for bed.

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School children conducting a road measurement survey when I arrived. Needless to say, all work was suspended until a photo was taken..

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It’s a spider in case you are wondering

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To Mbeya

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Sunrise, it was an early start. Rain can cause a clay road to stick like glue to the wheels and they grow bigger and bigger until they stop turning. In this case I couldn’t go back or forward so at 3pm I camped in a wood and set off early before the rain started again..

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Bikes are widely use in Tanzania. They are used to transport bundles of sticks, goats, sheep, whole families, unfeasibly high stacks of bottled drinks, bundles of charcoal, bundles of live squawking chickens tied to the rear rack.. Funnily enough none of these get a second glance.. But a muzzungo (White man) on a bicycle gets jaws dropping and a regular hearty laughs! Where’s the logic?

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Pepsi V’s Coke battle is in full swing

Categories: Africa, Tanzania | 4 Comments

Kenya: To the Tanzania border

I have already cycled Nairobi to Naivasha and the golden rule is you never go back the way you came. Taking a minibus to western outskirts of Nairobi solves this problem.  Once over the Ngong hills the route south is easy and quiet for the 200km to the Tanzania border.

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The first funfair I have seen in Africa. After chatting with the owner he even started the ferris wheel for me. I described the popularity of theme parks in the UK and how such funfairs are a permanent feature of some seaside towns.

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Cheap accommodation is often linked to pubs. Handy for meeting up with locals at the end of a day. This time 3 students who are teaching at the local school to fund their higher education. Maurice, to my right is one year away from being an insurance actuary.

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Countryside on the road to the Tanzania border

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This is the first and only view of Mt. Kilimanjaro 5895m. Taken at a distance 80km it seems to sit under its own weather system so I never got to see the peak.

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Mt. Namanga 2548m

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One of the many localised rain storms that chase me. No hanging around when one of these is on your tail..

I have fond memories of chips, sweet milky tea, ugali and people that allow you to join in the daily street scene, rather than being the focus of a street scene.

Categories: Africa, Kenya | 1 Comment

Kenya: Goal achieved. Nairobi to Naivasha

The ride into Nairobi is easier than expected. First goal, get our Kenya entry stamp for our passports. (a little late I know.. )

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Cycling along the main highway approaching Nairobi from the east. If you stop here you get pounced on by the fruit sellers (on the left) balancing bananas and all sorts on your handlebars..

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Campsite in Nairobi, tiered camping!! It poured with rain turning the bottom into a mud bath.. (my tents on top)

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Making friends at the Giraffe centre..

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The slums of Nairobi. A no go area after dark. Stark contrast to the modern steel and glass city centre.

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Nairobi museum. Looks real.. But it’s a bronze copy of a famous elephant I’d never heard of. It’s was a good place to escape the rain.
Railway Museum

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I just love railway museums for their quirkiness and this was no exception..

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From this carriage the man who tasked himself to rid the area of Man eating lions that were eating railway workers and employees was himself dragged of and eaten by a lion from this very carriage. He fell asleep with the door open. Twit.
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Familiar names and places..

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Decaying grandeur

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Rift Valley on the road from Nairobi to Naivasha

Mission Accomplished

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Institute director, Simon (left) and headmaster, Joseph (right)

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Computer labs where I did some tutoring

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The hardest job they have is teaching a class of 30 all with different levels and abilities

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Anita and Margaret, now top class Web developers..

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Nice comfortable little cottage on the grounds where I stayed

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Attached to the institute is the Sunshine Rehabilitation Centre who support street children. I was invited along for a visit by its founder members. They are doing something right as the children are polite, grown up and very well behaved

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Followed by a meal at their hotel. Martin, on my left and Anne (seated near Martin) Fun time for all..

Hells Gate National park in Naivasha
One of the few parks that let you walk or cycle. It not only has animals, there are also views of mountains, steam vents,  hot springs and a spectacular gorge.
Taking advantage of one of the few dry days I packed a day bag and set off..

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Fortunate to arrive at the same time as Gennys from Italy, we explored the park together.. She was much better at spotting the wildlife than I was, without her I would have have missed loads.

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Not sure what these are called.. Lion food maybe??

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Zebras love sniffing each other’s bums

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Buffalo, giraffe and zebra all playing nicely together

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Spotted

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Giraffes run in slow motion, it peculiar to watch

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Apparently more people are killed by buffalo than any other creature in Africa. If looks could kill..

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The gorge

Around Naivasha

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Famous for its lake and hippos. The hotels on the waterside have to have electric fences.

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Naivasha railways station on the Mombasa to Uganda railway. Sadly recently no longer running. It’s much faster by road now. The trains in the railway museum had seats on the front of the engine so the passenger’s could sit and watch the wildlife – and take pot shots at it.

Categories: Africa, Kenya | 2 Comments

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