Stage 48, Nagana to Arusha
118km, 1154m ascending !!
Today we cross into Tanzania, in some respects were very excited but also disappointed to have cycled so little in Kenya especially as it looks so beautiful !!
Well I’ve still got my rash despite all the creams I’m using so I’m riding the bus and helping out where I can, still trying to enjoy the trip and take photos as I go! The truck is packed quickly and we drive the 4km to the border, first stop is Kenyan immigration to get stamped out….a fairly quick and painless process 😉
Next stop is a short walk away at Tanzanian emigration to get our entry visa and stamp, a small form to fill in, hand over $50 and your in 😉
Back in the truck for the 68km to lunch, the driver has his foot down trying to beat the racers, we manage but only just. Noah and his lunch crew are on the case and we manage to grad a bite to eat before the first riders arrive.
Off we go again, the scenery is incredible, the land is fertile and it’s getting more humid now, the rivers have water in them which we’ve not seen much off until now !!
Our camp is at a place called Masai Camp, it’s a great place to be, showers, restaurant, good grass under your tent and a bar with cold beer !!
As I got in early I managed to organise a room for Naomi and myself and then set about organising a safari for Naomi, Gus, Eerin and myself. The receptionist informed me that there was a new rider who was also looking to do a safari, a guy called Rob from Victoria in Canada. I met him and we hit it off so our party became five, an all inclusive trip with one nights accomodation and food came to $320, I booked it and waited for my friends to arrive.
Gus arrived first at about 2.30, Eerin came in a bit later and finally Naomi arrived at about 5.00pm, it was raining when she arrived and she was delighted to find that I’d sorted a room, no putting up a tent in the rain for her !!
When Naomi arrived I was attending a presentation of 30 bicycles, they are donated by TDA to various good causes, this is the first donation on this trip but I’m assured that there will be more. It felt good to to know that part of what we pay for this trip goes to pay for these bikes and that they are so well received 🙂
Dinner was at a local place, we went out with John Faulkner and the Kenyan riders, good chicken and Kenyan sausage, different but very tasty !!
An early night as we need to be ready for the trip at 7.30am, can’t wait !!
Rest Days in Arusha !!
Arusha is safari central in Tanzania, Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Serengeti are all pretty much on the doorstep so you’d be a fool not to book one !!
As I said in my previous blog, I’d arrived early in Arusha so had the opportunity to organise a safari for my friends and myself. The campsite has an office on site so I wandered in and asked for there help, I asked for two days, one night all inclusive safari to Ngorongoro Crater. They were very efficient and soon had all the details for me, pick up at 8.00am, drive to Tarangire and spend the day there, leave about 4.00pm and drive to hotel about 20km from Ngorongoro, dinner, accomodation, breakfast then drive to the crater, spend most of the day there, drive back to Arusha for about 7.00pm. They even provided packed lunches which were very good and mineral water on both days !!
Our driver and guide, Wilson, who is from the Masai tribe was brilliant, punctual, informative and generally very helpful !!
We arrived at Tarangire at about 10.30, we had no idea what to expect or what we might see. After all safaris are a bit of a lottery, you can pay a lot of money and be very disappointed or you can spend very little like us and be very very lucky. We fell into to lucky category, our expectations were low so when we saw our first Zebra we were excited already !! Imagine how we then felt after seeing a Giraffe with calf, Elephants with calf, lions, eight of them to be precise !! We also saw Warthogs, numerous exotic birds, I can’t remember there names but they were very colourful !!
Added to the already impressive list are, Black Faced Monkeys, Baboons, Ostriches, Ibex, Mongoose, Chameleon, Dik Dik ( a very small antelope ), Hyrex !! I’m sure I’ve forgotten something but I think you get the idea that we had a great day !!
We arrived at our hotel, The Bougainvillea at about 6.00pm, our initial impressions were very good and once inside they only got better. The rooms were spacious, well appointed and incredibly clean. There was a swimming pool and Internet available. The bar was stocked with plenty of cold beer and we were soon showered and relaxing in the lounge. Dinner was at 8.00pm and the menu was Tomato soup, Roast Pork and Lemon Meringue Pie, the waiters kept bringing more food when your plate was empty so nobody went hungry !!
Breakfast was also a massive meal with cereals, fruit, eggs, bacon, toast and lots of coffee…..brilliant !!
We were picked up at 7.30am by Wilson and started the drive to Ngorongoro, the first 20km took us to the gate on paved roads but after that it was all off road and up hill over the rim and down to the crater floor. It’s like one of those adventure films where they fall through the waterfall into a lost world. As we climbed up to the rim there were large black clouds above us but every now and again you get glimpses into the crater where you could see the sunlight shining of the lake !!
As we descended into the the crater the valley floor opens up to you, the lake in the middle is shining under the early morning sun and the Flamingos are already visible such are there numbers !! You can see herds of animals on the lush valley floor even from such a long way off, Zebra, Antelope and Wilderbeast are all in huge numbers !! When you get to the valley floor it almost overloads your senses, animals everywhere, you can’t quite believe just how many there are and they don’t seem to care about the vehicles being there !!
Again we were very lucky and saw just about everything you could hope to see, all apart from Leopards and Cheetahs !!
I think the highlight of the day was the male Lion that approached the vehicle and came within six feet, I was hanging out of the window with my camera in hand, the lion came so quickly that I had to get back in so fast I couldn’t pan out fast enough !!
Other highlights included seeing Rhinoceros, Hippopotamus, baby Hyena, Lions hunting Zebra and very cute baby Zebra. There were also Grants and Thompsons Gazelles, Eland, more Warthogs and loads of birds, there names escape me again !!
Our lunch was overlooking a very picturesque lake with basking Hippopotamus, things really were very special, it was a shame to leave !!
The drive back to Arusha took a long time due to heavy traffic, our driver Wilson worked long and hard for the two days and never complained once about the traffic or how long it took !!
Back at camp we met up again after a hot shower and headed out for dinner, good food but a very long wait for it !!
We had one more day off and spent it doing laundry, bike maintenance and changing tyres (more off road coming), and writing blogs !!
My rash persists so I’m resigned to being on the bus for a while, it’s not how I planned on seeing Africa but at least I still get to see it !!
I’m still hopeful of finding a remedy but in the meantime I’m trying to keep smiling and being helpful as possible, karma should be on my side 😉