We emerged from the Ngorongoro Crater, from all the dust roads and joined a beautiful tar road that took us to Arusha. It was wonderful to be on tar again! One of the things we’ve come to appreciate is good roads dirt or tar and we’ve come to the conclusion that in South Africa despite our groans indicating otherwise we mostly have really good roads! Our definition of what a good road is has also changed. We got all excited about this mountain we saw coming into Arusha and took many many photos thinking it was Mt Kilimanjaro only to check the map book several days later to discover it’s actually Mt Meru….
Our geography was sadly lacking. We only saw the bottom of Mt Kilimanjaro when passing through Moshi days later.
Arusha turned out to a bustling city, with the most western people we’d see whilst in Tanzania.
We found a campsite called Maasi Camp on the old Moshi Road which seems to be the only place to camp. It used to be a party venue too but that part was closed for renovations, however the noise from the road was incredible!
It was a campsite though and we have found very few of them in East Africa. So there we were chatting to a German fellow, Alex who had come in on his motor bike (travelling through Africa on a 150cc!), when a car came in and Al got up smiling and greeted the occupants! It was the Van Heerden family from Nairobi. It was wonderful to see them and swap stories again. It is amazing how great it is to see familiar faces from time to time along the road. Hugo had recognized the Sani also. We spent two nights there, and got a great tip from Dave, a Scottish fellow with the British Army based in Kenya, to go down the East Coast of Tanzania to Dar es Salaam as an alternative to the busy main road. Basically in Arusha we did the washing, sorted out money took more photos of “Kilimanjaro” and had lunch at the Spur!!!
Hugo, Dorette, Gustav and Sophie are a South African family who have lived abroad and have taken the year off to travel Africa. They have been on the road since February and for another perspective on travelling in Africa please check out their blog www.borderjumpers.net.
We left Arusha to head to a place called Peponi beach about 30 kms south of the coastal town Tanga which is just south of the Kenyan border. It was an unexpected pleasure, lovely spot with great view. We met more interesting fellow travelers here.
We stayed for 3 nights and on the second day did a dhow trip to a sand island. We snorkeled along a reef before getting there, and once on the island relaxed under a shade cloth that had been put up for us by the crew.
Everything on the dhow was made from wood including the runners and pulleys for the ropes. It was magical once the sail was unfurled to enjoy the silence and the speed of the boat. The sea was beautiful.
The place next door to Peponi had an intriguing sign, ‘bistro, groceries and clothing boutique’ so we visited out of curiosity. It’s been recently taken over by a couple from LA California who both have Kenyan roots. They make really good baguettes with fresh humus too! Bread is the one thing that we’ve found hard to find fresh so this was a treat. We also went off to the village down the beach to find airtime accompanied by the camp mangers dog – a Jack Russell who has loads of attitude. Eventually after much gesticulating and re-direction, we found the airtime. It is fascinating shopping in these places because you get sent with a wave of the hand in one direction, then in another in the opposite to eventually find what you’re looking for even although it’s a small village and you would expect everyone to know everything. We always wonder about that. It became very clear that dogs are not welcome in these environments and realized that we had not seen many recently.
We had supper with a German couple on our last evening and she put an interesting concept into words. She said that she spent a great deal of her time “wondering” about how things are done here. Things like small children barely able to walk are left to walk around by themselves even along busy roadsides. All the village shops sell exactly the same produce and price as the ten beside them. Most places you stop at have people offering exactly the same tours and souvenirs etc… It resounded with us as Al and I have often wondered the same thing and the result is your head hurts!!!! There was another family Dutch who came only using public transport which they admitted you need to be really robust to do. We have been amazed at people who have used public transport here because it makes the travelling so much tougher. You see “wondering” again!
Leaving Peponi we took the coastal road down to a place called Bagamoyo- 80 kms from Dar. The road takes you past huge plantations of Sisal plants which we had to google to see what they’re used for! Rope among others.
We found ourselves on a ferry again crossing the Pangani River a place that was written about by Richard Burton the African Explorer in the 1800s.
The road takes you through a coastal game reserve and we stopped for lunch at the campsite by the beach. Took a lovely stroll along it and decided not to overnight there but continue to Bagamoyo.
Bagamoyo was the hub of the slave trade here in the 1800, and has an Arabic flavor. Shops with wooden doors open directly onto the street.
We stayed at a place called Firefly which had just opened and is still in the process of being finished. The main building is a restored Arab house with the typical Arabic wooden doors, simple furnishings, mats on concrete floors with a courtyard pool. The campsite was just a patch of grass. A feature of places like this is that the gates are locked and usually manned by a guard, and at night you have a night watchman that patrols using torches. They are usually dressed as a Samburu/ Maasi warrior. I have to say that I haven’t enjoyed this aspect at all. We had breakfast at a local coffee place called Poa Poa (“Cool, Cool”), which was quite interesting before leaving for Dar. We overnighted in Dar at a place called Mikadi Beach which is across the river so we had to take another ferry! – this time a far more serious one, carrying passengers and 50 or 60 cars.
Although the crossing only took a few minutes, we queued or over an hour to get on.
Mikadi Beach is a backpacker type of place but very pleasant and the owners very helpful.
We were able to leave the Sani here whilst in Zanzibar. Getting to Zanzibar involved catching a Tuk Tuk (3 wheeled scooter), taking the ferry back across the river, a 15 minute walk to the Zanzibar ferry port and a 2 hour ferry crossing.