Posted by: megandnath | January 23, 2011

Day 38 – 42, Stunning Namibia and Etosha National Park

We left the okavango Delta and drove north towards the Namibian border in the pouring rain, after crossing through the quietest border so far we had a short drive through the Caprivi Strip to our campsite. If you look at a map you will see Namibia has a strip of land that pokes out into the interior of Africa, not the typical type of well drawn up border you find between most countries. The story behind this is that when the Germans colonized the area they wanted a piece of land bordering the Zambezi river so they could connect up with colonies in East Africa by boat. Unfortunately for them they forgot about the massive Victoria falls!  

Moving onwards again we headed west into central Namibia to Etosha National Park. In 1907 when the park was first established it covered 90,000km2 making it the biggest game reserve in the world, over time it has shrunk to 22,935km2. Dominated by its huge white salt pan Etosha means The place of dry water or The great white place.

Unfortunately for us January is not the best time of year to view animals. Due to the short rains having just finished  and the long rains starting in a month or so the area has a lot of water and the vegetation is thick, green and plentiful. In winter (June, July, August) there is no rain and endless hot days so the animals all head to the water holes, easy for tourists as you can just park up and watch the spectacle before you. That meant we had to go in search of animals and hope (with all our fingers and toes crossed) we would get lucky. Long periods of the day were spent gazing into the bush and across the plains without an animals in sight and then all of a sudden bang! A white Rhino sleeping on an ant hill, a cheetah running across the road, a black rhino (so rare to see!!) wandering along eating branches and then charges at our truck, the beautiful Oryx antelope with its dead straight horns and just as we were heading into camp 8 lions lazing in the afternoon sun!

At camp that night the most amazing storm passed by creating the moodiest sky we had ever seen and combined with the setting sun it created an incredible panoramic view to end the day.

The next mornings game drive was a bit too quiet for our liking and apart from seeing an African spotted wild cat and another black Rhino and its baby (even more rare considering there are probably only a handful of babies in the world) things were pretty quiet. We had an evening drive planned but within 2 minutes the beautiful blue sky and sun disappeared and a huge storm hammered us with the biggest rain drops we have ever seen! For an hour half of us we were stuck in the truck and the other half in the small covered kitchen hiding from the rain.

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Posted by: megandnath | January 23, 2011

Day 35 – 37, The Okavango Delta

As a crack of thunder ripples through the air sending chills down your spine and the blinding flash of lighting illuminates the night sky, huge droplets of rain the size of golf balls begin to fall. Slowly the torrent of water droplets increases and blanks out all other sounds. As they pound against the scorched red earth they rebound and send sprays of reddish mud in all directions, the dry earth becomes sludgy mud. Once dry streams begin to flow, picking up speed and scaring the landscape like the claws of a leopard. The streams merge together and the quantity of water increases, the rain continues to fall. Very slowly the water travels south snaking its way through the lush green countryside, some of the water will never make it to its destination sucked up by a herd of elephants or evaporated by the searing hot sun. After 6 months of traveling from the Angolian highlands the water finally meets an impenetrable wall as its long trip south is over. Strangely this river does not drain into an ocean but is stopped by the mighty Kalahari sands and forms the biggest inland delta in the world. At its peak it covers a huge 30,000sqkm.

Our delta experience began in Maun as we boarded a 7 seater Cessna. Over the next hour we soared above the wet marshlands looking down upon a world dominated by the rise and fall of water and the movement of animals. Huge herds of elephants dotted the landscape with their big grey backs surprisingly blending in with the blue, green and khaki colored floor beneath us. Giraffe could be seen nibbling away at the painfully sharp acacia trees and various antelope, zebra and wildebeest graze on as if nothing ever changes. Perfectly formed lines zig zag everywhere as though they are animal highways and it is a surreal experience to be looking down upon one of the 7 natural wonders of the world.

We then drove 4 hrs around the south west corner of the delta to Gumar lagoon, a luxurious location on the edge of the delta. Over the next 2 days we experienced one of the most truly amazing African adventures as we weaved our way deeper into the water world. Speed boats took us as far as possible until the river channel became to narrow and we transferred to Mokoros, long narrow boats hollowed out from trees and controlled by a poler who stands at the back and maneuvers the boat with incredible accuracy. Loaded up with all our supplies and a fleet of Mokoros we are the only sign of civilization apart from birds, hippos and crocs. After setting up camp on an island, and establishing quite an impressive bush toilet, we head back out to a safe swimming spot to cool off and escape the scorching sun, we are assured there are no crocs here! That evening we also went on a nature walk and our expert local guide explained all the plants, birds and hidden secrets of the bush.

That night after the beautiful sunset we experienced the wrath of the mosquito. These ones were as big as birds and could inflict painful bites even through a layer of clothing! No patch of skin was safe.

The next morning we set off back to camp and arrived just in time to bet a huge downpour. We are thankful to be back to showers, cold drinks and shelter but the experience of the Okavango delta will probably never be forgotten.

Posted by: megandnath | January 11, 2011

Day 32 to 34 – Into Botswana

We pulled out of Livingstone at the lazy hour of 9am and headed off on the short 1hr drive to the border, so far we have meet quite a number of road blocks or police stops and on a few occasions we have had to pay fines or bribes. This short section of road was of no exception and twice we were stopped to pay road taxes or some form of payment that the guards could make up. Eventually we arrived at the border and after another round of haggling with the money exchange man for a better rate we had our passports stamped and were on our way to Botswana. This particular border crossing must be one of the most unique anywhere in the world as it crosses the Zambezi river, instead of building a bridge they use 2 small barges to ferry cars, trucks and people across. The wait for trucks can be up to 3 weeks but for passenger vehicles like us it only took 2hrs. Slowly but surely the barge made its way over to the other side filled with our truck, one other freight truck and a ton of people. After more passport stamps we were officially in Botswana. This spot is also unique as it is the only place in the world where 4 countries meet; Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe’s borders all converge on one spot.

Botswana is the shinning light of Africa. When diamonds were found here just after it gained its independence from the British a very popular and talented president was elected. It is the worlds largest producer of diamonds and in the year 2000, 200million carats of gem quality diamonds were mined! Because of this it has Africa’s strongest economy, Africa’s strongest currency and has the most stable government by a long shot. It is the least corrupt country and continues to operate as a peaceful nation. Along with Namibia and Mongolia it is the least populated country in the world with only 1.6million people. Most of Botswana is made up of semi dessert or better known as the Kalahari dessert, a vast area of sand actually bigger than the Sahara and the worlds largest dessert area, for most of the year Botswana is as hot as the sun and drier than Monastery. Its first president setup anti poaching units and because of this it has turned its once ravaged animal populations (mainly due to the Angolan war) into flourishing national parks.

As we drove through the small town where we are staying, Kasane, multiple families of warthogs lined the road side and the supermarket car park munching away on the lush grass. As I sit and write this blog from our campsite I can look out over the Chobe river to the Caprivi strip (Namibia) and the Chobe National Park which is home to 120,000 elephants! Small yellow and black weaver birds make their nests in the reeds, crocodiles bob up and down in the calm water, a herd of elephants can be seen marching away on the opposite bank and the sun sets behind huge cumulus clouds. Once again I am sitting in paradise watching the world the way it should be – once Africa is in your blood you just cant get enough.

Early the next morning we set off on another game drive into Chobe National Park in search of elephants and leopard, unfortunately, and this is becoming all to common for us, we didn’t see a lot of animals apart from the standard Impala and baboons. What we did see was an amazing array of birds of all shapes and sizes and a dung beetle in the process of collecting dung. After a lazy midday of reading and relaxing we set out on an afternoon/evening boat ride down the chobe river into the park, this provided a much more exciting experience. In total we must have seen over 50 hippo out of the water and a ton of crocs basking in the sun, a herd of elephants came down for a drink but quickly took off again. Birds of all variety were out in force and the more I photograph them the increasingly exciting they become.

Another early departure from camp and after only 2mins we are stopped by 3 large bull elephants crossing the road! Over the whole day we see heaps of elephants and giraffe and we are not even in the National Park! 11hrs traveling and we finally arrive in Maun, the gateway to the Okavango Delta.
There has been a real change in scenery coming into Botswana, the roads are dead quiet, no mud huts line the road and people are harder to spot than elephants! As far as the eye can see its blue sky with huge cumulus clouds and green lush savanna. Its as quiet as could be and the feeling of being a tiny dot in a huge wide open space is always present. We love it.

Ps. All the other great pics will have to wait for a better internet connection, sorry!

Posted by: megandnath | January 8, 2011

Day 27 – 31, A foray into Zimbabwe and around Vic Falls

(Read with Eye of the Tiger music playing in the background)
I faced the demon and won, the odds were against me but I prevailed, death was staring me in the eyes and I defeated it, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and clawed my way back . The wrath of Africa had me by the scruff of my neck but I broke free. My family and friends flickered before me like the credits of a great movie ending too soon.

A survived a baboon attack. Early one morning as I stepped out of the tent I came face to face with a large male baboon. He looked at me, I looked at him. He charged, I stood my ground and charged back, I screamed like a dying man. My heart was beating so hard it nearly popped out of my chest, my body was shaking so much I nearly caused an earthquake. The baboon charged again, now only 1m from my face, I jumped higher, screamed louder, charged myself. I knew if I turned, ran, or showed any sign of being scared it would attack me. A baboon has the sharpest teeth in the animal kingdom, I would not have survived. Eventually he gave up, my manhood was superior.

Onto nicer things……

It has been a nice change spending an extended period of time in one spot, although we tried our best to change the itinerary and go somewhere else, a few days in one spot to read, swim, clean and generally relax has been a great way to recharge the batteries. The pool is only 10m from our tent and the very hot weather (37deg) has seen us spend most of our time either around it or in it.

For a day out we decided to head over the border into Zimbabwe, just on the other side of the Zambezi river. After a short taxi ride and a several kilometer walk between border posts past hungry baboons we were in Zim. First off we checked out the falls, depending on which side you see it from you get quite a different perspective, the Zambian side is much smaller where as the Zim side allows you to walk about 1km directly along the front of it. The spray of water was much more intense and it was impossible to stay dry, in some spots you could hardly see the waterfall! The lack of barriers allows you to actually sit on the cliff with your feet hanging over while the water tumbles down 20m in front of you!


After the excitement of the falls we walked into town to explore the curio markets and get a glimpse of how Zimbabwe is functioning. Before we left our chef, who is Zimbabwean and another tour leader had told us Zimbabwe was functioning as a normal country again and its problems were behind it, we were eager to see this for ourselves. The town was quite a quiet place with only a handful of tourists about but the overall vibe was very positive. The shops were full of souvenirs, some of the highest quality we have seen so far, lots of tourist police patrolled the streets ensuring all is well, every single person was friendly, smiley and eager to talk, hand shakes were a must. Most importantly the supermarket was full of stock (easily the best supermarket we have been to so far besides one in Lusaka), only a year ago the same supermarket would have had empty shelves. Zimbabwe has now ditched its own currency and operates entirely on the US dollar, South Africa Rand, Botswana Pula and the British Pound. I bought a Zimbabwe 100 trillion dollar note as a souvenir!

It was a great day out and we were pleasantly surprised by what we experienced in Zimbabwe, regardless of what the government is doing it seems progress is being made and positive change is occurring, our wee foray gave us a tiny glimpse of the country but it made me eager to see more. With out a doubt Zimbabweans are the nicest people you could meet and along with the Malawians easily take first prize for the biggest smiles, most welcoming personalities and friendliest hand shakes.

Aerial pics donated by Keith the Scot from his chopper flight

On a side note seeing as its the half way point of our tour here are a few of our highs so far;

Naths highlight: The migration in the Serengeti – Tanzania, The people of Malawi and Zimbabwe, South Luangwa Nat Park – Zambia, Victoria Falls – Zim and Zambia

Megs highlights: Ngorogoro crater – Tanzania, Tea plantation – Tanzania, night game drive in South Luangwa Nat park – Zambia, Victoria Falls – Zim and Zambia

Posted by: megandnath | January 5, 2011

Day 24 – 26 New Years in Lusaka and onto Victoria Falls

Christmas was an interesting affair and certainly different from the normal NZ type of celebration so we knew New Years would probably be a similar story. After sorting out exactly where we were going to be (a few itinerary issues) we settled on Lusaka the Capital of Zambia. After arriving in the city, quite a nice one at that, there was an obvious change in the way people lived. The cars were all quite flash, people dressed slightly more up market and there was a feeling of wealth floating around. It was certainly in stark contrast to the rest of the country we had traveled through. We stopped at a shopping mall to buy drinks, use the net and replace Megs broken sunglasses, it could have been a mall from any western country it seemed so out of place!

Our campsite was only 10km out of town on a beautiful 900 acre farm. Campsites so far have been a mixed bag with some easily comparing to the best you would find in NZ and others falling well short. A number of the locations we have stayed at have been out of this world amazing with the one at South Luangwa National Park taking the cake so far (watching hippos from the pool/bar). This farm campsite was well up there with the best and the fact there was a game reserve on site made it even better. We spent part of the afternoon walking around spotting Impala, Waterbuck, Kudu, Zebra, Monkeys and Giraffe! The zebra even wandered into our camping area and were only 2m away from us!

New Years itself was nothing too exciting, the highlight was the continuous drone of fireworks being set off all over the area and one guy who decided to get out his shotgun and shot wildly into the air! The vast majority of us weren’t interested in drinking the night away so sat under a thatched hut (which amazingly had power and so made a nice change from head torches) and played cards. We did venture over to the bar at midnight to wish the rest of the group a happy new year – we all then went straight to bed!

A slower start the next day and we set off to Victoria Falls and the Zambian town of Livingstone. An uneventful day driving with no real highlights apart from the continuation of the beautiful lush landscape. Each country we have passed through on our way south has got better; Kenya was busy, dirty and hectic, Tanzania got quieter, cleaner and showed us the real Africa you expect to see. Malawi and Zambia have continued on with the same trend and the biggest change has been the airily quiet roads, small villages with mud huts and stunning African landscapes.

We have 8 days in Livingstone, far more than ideal, but it will be nice to setup camp and stay put for a while, wash clothes, read, relax and not worry about packing tents and putting gear away. The day after we arrived we went to see the falls from the Zambian side. The falls are 108m high and 1.7km wide and form almost the center point of the Zambezi river the 4th longest in Africa. In high season 10million liters flow over it in only 1 sec!!! Even though I was here 6 years ago and viewed it from the Zimbabwean side I was still blown away by how incredibly amazing it was. The sheer size and amount of water that flows over it is indescribable. It truly is a wonder of the world. The spray of mist drenches you and can be seen from kilometers away rising into the sky, the rainbows created by the water and sunlight add a stunning natural touch to an already stunning view.  The local name – The Mist that Thunders – is a very accurate description.

That evening we headed out on a sunset cruise to watch the hippos and crocs play in the murky water as the sun went down.

Posted by: megandnath | January 4, 2011

Day 20 – 23 Into Zambia and South Luangwa National Park

Malawi’s financial capital Lilongwe was a much needed supply restock point, the only problem was we arrived on a public holiday which meant the only shop open was well short of anything resembling food or water.   For a major city it’s a small place with the main shops all centered around a T intersection. The drive down from our Christmas stop at Kande beach provided no  surprises although in the middle of the night we experienced an amazing thunder/lightning storm, the lake was a rumbling nightmare of waves and the crack of thunder sent us racing around the tents securing everything we could, amazingly it didn’t rain at all!

Over the last few nights we’ve been sharing campsites with another overland truck called Oasis, a younger rowdy group of piss heads. Our frustration came to a head when 5 of them decided to have an extremely loud and obnoxious conversation next to our tents. Keith (the scot) and I got up at 1.15am to tell them to kindly piss off, sparks flew, we nearly had a fist fight but in the end the 2 tired, angry and underwear clad bear chested guys (us) won.

Eventually we left Lilongwe and headed towards Zambia, another long wait at the border and we had our multi entry visas and we were off again to South Luangwa National Park. The road to the National Park is apparently the worst road we will travel on and after 4hrs of bumping around, bums flying off seats, and arms flailing about we were very pleased to make it to our wildlife camp. Situated right on the river and frequented most nights by Hippos, Elephants and the occasional Lion it certainly has the feeling of a truly wild location. We were amazed on the drive in how rural people live, we are smack bang in the middle of nowhere and there are still small mud huts with thatched roofs, the odd shop, church and school. These locals have no cars and the walk/bike ride to anything resembling a town would take them a whole day.

Just like us getting up to go to school or work they to have a whole day planned tending to their small crops of maize, washing their clothes, cleaning their huts and herding their animals. As most people live their lives fighting nature and trying to control it the local Africans seem to work with it, understanding that the natural world around them is something to be cherished and cared for.  Its also funny how we judge success by the size of our bank accounts, flash homes, cars and which school our kids go to yet when you look at a local African they have no car, a mud hut home, no power, internet or designer clothes, their children would be extremely lucky to go to school and even luckier to find a job. Yet their smiles are wider than ours, their hellos as genuine as the rising sun and when they ask how you are they actually care about the answer. They shake your hand with pride and hold it hoping never to let go, you look in their eyes and although comparatively they have nothing, they have a lot more.

We westerners judge Africa as a land of crime, poverty, danger and death. People ask me why would I want to come here? Why do you love it? I challenge you to come here, see it, smell it and experience it.

As we lay in our tents that night we could here the loud nostril call of the hippos only 20m away in the river, we were assured that Lucky, the camp security guard, would keep them away from our tents! The following day we headed into the park on a morning, 6-10am and evening, 4-8pm game drives. The parks center piece is the Luangwa river, a muddy brown wide flow much like a mini Amazon and every time you looked at the river it was full of hippos and crocs. Our guide was super knowledgeable and explained everything in great detail, apart from getting stuck in the mud once and having to have the vehicle changed because it wouldn’t start after stopping it was a perfect day spotting some incredible animals.

The park was full of fantastic green colors broken by the black and white of zebras the tan/ginger of Impala and grey of the Elephants. We saw a couple of Lions in the distance but missed out on seeing them with a kill or finding the elusive leopard. The bird life was also a highlight and ever color imaginable was represented, even the red billed horn bill which most people would recognize from The Lion King! At night the spotlight came out and a whole new animal world came alive, the tiny four toed Elephant shrew, a rare pale fishing owl, several civet cats, genets, the big eyed bush babies, African scrub hair and a bushy tailed mongoose. An incredible day in paradise, this is what we came to Africa for.

With the hellishly long and awful road to head back along we were away by 6am and spent the morning bumping up and down longing to be back at the National Park watching hippos. Eventually we made to the tarmac and after a quick food shop, interrupted by yet another power cut (a lot of these so far) we were back on the road. To break up the drive we played the longest game of eye spy ever!

 

Posted by: megandnath | December 31, 2010

The missing pics…….

We are in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia with super fast internet so here are some of the pics we couldn’t upload earlier!

Happy New Year everyone!


A tea plucker on her way to work


Tea plantation

The tea man


Us in the tea field


Typical Stone Town building

Stone Town alleyway

Christmas time in Malawi (Meg and Janet)

Mmmmmmm pig on the spit!

Our boxing day

Posted by: megandnath | December 28, 2010

Day 17 – 19, An African Christmnas

Another awful connection that has taken 1hr to get this far so no pics again, sorry! When I can I´ll upload a whole lot but for now enjoy reading!

African border crossings can be an exciting event or just a pure waste of time. We have a lot of crossings over the 3 months and each one will differ as only things in African can. Crossing into Malawi was time consuming but trouble free and even slightly amusing. Malawi is known as the warm heart of Africa and this was apparent in the smile on the customs officers face and his willingness to stamp my passport on the page of my choice, ¨Your wish is my command¨ he said to me with a huge grin! Crossing into Malawi we noticed the change in countries immediately. The rubbish disappeared, houses changed from mud huts to rectangle brick buildings with iron roofs, the roads instantly became void of trucks but full of people on bikes, the banana trees vanished and the landscape was replaced with fields used for agriculture and most notable of all the people changed. Smiles got bigger, waving was something everyone did, not just kids, children not only waved and smiled but screamed, jumped, clapped and sprinted after the truck. Every time we stopped a swarm of youngsters would appear asking for lollies, money, pens and so on. You would think we had entered a wealthy, healthier country but in reality Malawi is one of the worlds poorest countries with a massive number of people dying from AIDS. Orphanages are everywhere. We loved Malawi after 5mins.

Within a few kms of the border we were stopped at a road block, that usually means trouble. Sure enough a bribe was needed. Apparently the truck did not have reflectors on the bumper bars. Oh Africa.

Our first nights camping was at the northern end of lake Malawi on a beautiful beach. While swimming in the lake I chatted with a couple of local boys who were paddling logs around for fun. They knew were NZ was and even asked me if I was from Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch or Dunedin????! The oldest boy wanted to be a Dr when he got older.

The next day we were off to our Christmas spot, kande beach. Another fantastic lakeside spot with an even better beach. Christmas didn’t really feel like Christmas but I guess without family, friends and the hype that surrounds Christmas in a western country that was to be expected. The day was still a cracker and one we wont forget for many years. Brunch was a fully cooked delicacy followed by chilling out in the shade reading. The main event of the day was truck Olympics, with 5 other overland companies enjoying Christmas at the same spot teams were organized and the competition was on! The 5 rounds were tug of war, which we easily won, egg and spoon race, another win, wheelbarrow race, win number 3, 3 legged race, win, and the final triple point obstacle challenge. 5 events and 5 wins for us! Awesome fun in the sun.

By then the full pig that had been spit roasting all day was ready, the table was set and Christmas dinner was served! I played Santa and handed out the secret Santa gifts. Meg got a beautiful scarf/pashmina and I got a Masai mask!

Boxing day saw me take on my most physically challenging activity of the trip, swimming out to an island 1km off the beach while Megs and 5 others headed out on a paddle boat. Lake Malawi has over 1000 endemic fish species and the variation of colors, sizes and patterns was incredible. More reading, relaxing, house keeping and table tennis capped off an unforgettable Christmas!

Well I was hoping for some pics to accompany this post but the worlds worst internet connection is preventing that! Here is the text anyway….
After spending our last day in Stone Town, Zanzibar we had a real mission getting back to Dar (the mainland). Somehow or another we managed to miss our ferry/get the wrong tickets/tour leader stuff up and spend 1.5hrs waiting on the floating dock for another boat to arrive. Eventually we made it back to the truck and our tents (never felt so happy to see a tent!) and after a very short nights sleep we were on the road at 5am for a massive 12.5hr driving day. The drive took us through some very interesting landscapes and small villages. It was a relief to leave the coast, escaping the humidity and retreating to the highlands of Tanzania where banana trees, tea plantations and vast rock outcrops dominate and lush green surrounds. We passed through Mikumi National Park and saw a number of giraffe and elephants plus the ever present baboon troops. A few nasty roadside accidents caught our attention – one poor truck (and even worse off driver) lost a ton of tomatoes to a cliff face. Unfortunately when arriving at our campsite on the site of a flower farm we realized our lockers had leaked and ALL our clothes were wet! Not a nice surprise as the sun sets at 1700m with no chance of drying them out. The next day began well with the hope of getting to camp by midday however after only an hour on the road we blew a fan belt and our afternoon slipped away as it was repaired. Once again Keith the mighty Scot (Diesel engineer for oil rigs in Western Africa and the north sea) performed some magic and solved the problem. As we pulled into camp the rain stopped, sun came out and the drying began. Frowns became smiles and life was good again!

The next day we headed off to a local tea estate to see how it all works. Kenya and Tanzania produce huge quantities of tea and driving through the countryside they can been seen covering vast areas of land. Whenever you go to buy tea (or coffee and chocolate) you should seriously think about the fair trade stuff! It was amazing to see exactly where it comes from and to witness first hand what fair trade products actually do for the people who grow it. In 1924 the British first planted tea in southern Tanzania, after independence the government took control but eventually sold it off to local people. In 1998 several wise guys got together and created a tea association. Now with 15,000 small holders in 180 villages tens of thousands (if not more) people live off the production and fair trade of tea. We visited a large tea estate but dotted all around us were small holders with plantations as small as an Olympic swimming pool. These people pluck their tea every 7 days and it is trucked to the processing plant the same day. Each plucker can pluck between 70-150kg a day!!! A small holder receives Tsh184 per kilo (Tsh1000 = NZ$1). A majority of the profit from this fair trade tea goes to the local communities and builds schools, hospitals, clinics and community centers.

After tasting some of the local tea we took off for the Malawi border and crossed into Southern Africa. It will be interesting to see the change in countries, I suspect as we go further south the Africa I remember will become more apparent.

East Africa has been a real eye opener and is very different to the southern Africa I experienced 6 years ago. Things are dirtier, there is much more rubbish around (more like China and Thailand), people appear poorer with only basic mud huts. Towns are more crowded and there are a lot more trucks on the road.

Hopefully some pics next time!

Merry Christmas!

Posted by: megandnath | December 20, 2010

The East African Coast, days 7-12

Day 7 – Karatu to Moshi (Kilimanjaro town)

We were hoping to travel along way today to tick off some of the distance we needed to cover in order to be in Zanzibar on time. We skipped breakfast and planned on having brunch at a snake park, unfortunately after only 45mins on the road we came to a sudden stop in the middle of nowhere! Turns out we were out of diesel! Hoping for a quick fix we milled about on the side of the road killing time by talking with some of the Masai herdsmen who were looking after their cattle. Eventually after 2hrs of waiting and no solution in sight we hopped on another overland truck and sped off to the snake park for a very late brunch and to wait for the truck to get fixed. By the end of all the days drama we had only gone half the distance we hoped for but at least we saw a sneak peak of the snow capped summit of Mt Kilimanjaro!

Day 8 – Moshi to Dar es Salam

Up super early and on the truck at 5am to make up time we headed away from Mt Kilimanjaro and towards the capital of Tanzania. The countryside changed the further we went and the heat and humidity continued to climb. Having been camping as high as 2300m over the last week we had been sheltered from the high temps and mosquito’s. With a few stops along the way we managed to break the trip up a bit, 11.5hrs in the truck was about the max of what we could handle! One stop was to buy some charcoal for our nightly fire and to cook dinner, I don’t usually pay people for photos but as soon as I saw this guy i knew I had to make an exception! Imagine wearing those glasses! Our campsite was right on the beach surrounded by palm trees, the hot sea water lapping at the shore and locals casting out their fishing nest as the sun set – perfect!

Day 9 – Dar Es Salam to Zanzibar

We were all pretty excited about the next few days for a few reasons but the chance to just chill out, go at a slower pace and get away from traveling in the truck were all high on the list. Zanzibar is owned by Tanzania but is self governed and you get a passport stamp when you arrive. We boarded the ferry that was loaded up with people and goods and slowly set off. The sea was littered with traditional wooden dhows out fishing and a number of larger freight and oil tankers – no chance of pirates here! After 2.5hrs we arrived in Stone Town the main city, had a quick lunch at Mercury’s bar (Freddy Mercury was born here) and headed off north to Nungwi a small coastal town at the top of the island. Up here the beaches are golden, the water is beautifully colored and at the perfect temp, the wind blows ever so slightly keeping the mossies away and the bar/restaurant is built on stilts over the water. Its the closest we’ve been to a tropical resort paradise.

Day 10 – Nungwi, Zanzibar

Our first full day of being totally in charge of our own plans meant there were some important house keeping duties to take care of. Top of the list was washing and after 3 cycles of hand washing the color of the water had slowly turned from lack to a respectable murky white, it is amazing how dirty you get with all the windows open. After the formalities of breaky we heaed off south down the beach to explore the coast. Our bungalows are almost smack bang in the middle of all the hotel/bungalows so by weaving your way in and out off different properties and past numerous bars and restaurants you would poop out at a handful of different beaches, when the tide is out you can walk the whole way along the sand. Walking anywhere in this heat you need a swim afterwards and luckily the water is right there to cool you off. A bit more chilling out, reading, sipping cold drinks and internet usage passed the afternoon hours before we set off northwards along the beach at 5pm to explore things up that way. Heading north you quickly pass the other hotels and head more towards the locals territory where all the fisherman’s dhows are moored and groups of men sit around dhows on the beach and repair their hulls. It seems the whole village appears in the late afternoon to exercise and almost everyone was either running, doing stretches, or playing some form of sport or game. Groups of boys practiced gymnastics/break dancing, young kids swam naked in the water and clambered over the moored dhows while singing. Some people played rounders, others skipped. We passed a soccer game and were asked to join in, unfortunately my soccer talent laked the necessary skills required. Small groups of young kids walked with their mothers and some of the boys dug for crabs. it was as if this ritual was repeated everyday with everyone enjoying the sun, sand and fresh air together. Life couldn’t have been better for them at that point. Who needs computers, TV and technology to have fun. A great day was capped off with a great meal of freshly caught Kingfish – the best fish meal ive ever had!

Day 11 – Nungwi, Zanzibar

A bit of a lazy day with a morning stroll down the beach, lots of swimming, reading, sipping cold drinks and using the internet. We meet up on a beach at 4pm and headed out on a 3hr dhow boat sailing trip to go snorkeling and feel the wind in our hair! It was nice to get on a boat under sail, although meg felt sick. The snorkeling was disappointing though as 99% of the coral was completely dead. Loads of cool fish, sea urchins and other creatures though.

Day 12 – Nungwi to Stone Town, Zanzibar

After leaving the tropical beach we headed south to do a spice tour. Zanzibar is famous for it quality and variety of spices and on the tour we walked around a community driven plantation, the list of spices we saw were endless; nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, cardomon, vanilla pods, cloves, turmeric, heaps and heaps of tropical fruits, lemon grass and a bunch more. We tried all the tropical fruit and had a traditional lunch or palau rice, fish, salad and curry-yum! It was then off to stone town to explore the narrow alleyways and streets of the ancient slave trading center of East Africa, now a world heritage site.

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