18thJuly – 2ndAugust 2018
(Day 17 – 32 of the trip)
Total – 16 days
This post is going to include Zanzibar too. We got a stamp of entry in to Zanzibar but we don’t separate it from Tanzania.
BORDER CROSSING NO. 3 -RUSUMO BORDER
We left Kigali at around 9:00 am with a plan to ride to Kahama in Tanzania and cover 460 kilometers in a day crossing through Rusumo border.
We arrived at the border around 12:30 p.m. We had lost some time on the stretch between Kayonza and Rusumo due to the bad roads, however, we were still in good time for Kahama if we got cleared in good time.
The border was relatively busy as we arrived with a few other groups of over landers. We got our way to the Rwanda section for exit stamps and clearing the bikes with the customs. This was pretty easy and fast. We were done within no time. Next was Tanzania immigration for the entry.
Entering Tanzania was different. First, they scan everything, by this we mean, you have to pass through the scanner for body scanning, then bring your luggage for scanning before going to the immigration. This process takes time and depends on how many people you find and their amount of luggage. We had to off load our dry bags to take through the scanner. Fortunately, they agreed to check the panniers from the bikes, but this meant opening our panniers in front of everyone and they also asked that we open the little bags like toilet bags and day bags which carry an easy access set of change of clothing inside the panniers.
Once we scanned our big bags, they identified metal and we had to open and pour out everything. We tried to explain that those were the tools but that did not work. The process of re-parking took some more time off our schedule and was not very interesting.
TO NOTE: –
- Scanning is mandatory.
- Make time for this process since the time you spend here largely depends on the number of people you find. Arrive as early as you can.
We eventually got our entry approval and stamp at the immigration and quickly headed for the customs to clear the bikes. By this time, it was past 1:00 pm and the officers had taken their lunch break. There was no alternative but to wait till 2:00 p.m for the officer to return from his lunch.
In essence, we spent two hours at the border hence losing some precious time for the remaining part of the journey.
RIDING TO DAR ES ALAM
Our plan was to ride all the way to Dar es alam covering a distance of 1,439 kms in four days. The plan was to do:-
– Kigali to Kahama – 460 kms
– Kahama to Singida – 306 kms
– Singida to Dodoma – 232 kms
– Dodoma to Dar es alam – 441 kms
We ended doing the distance in 5 days. Travelers don’t make plans, right? Continue reading and see why?
THE INTENDED RIDE TO KAHAMA.
At the border, we asked a few other drivers how the road to Kahama was and they told us it was bad but doable. That did not exactly define how bad but of cause everyone was using this road. Some people told us it was about 50 kms but we found out it was way more.
We left the border at 2:30 p.m ready to cover another slightly more than 300 kilometers. The truth is the first 40 kilometers were fine, just an old good road. Then, the rest was really a tough ride.
There were sections of former tarmac road now just potholes, there were long sections of diversions that were full of gravel, fine deep soil or sand. The road has many trucks from and to Rwanda and therefore in the dusty sections there was zero visibility at times due to dust and all we could do is wait for the trucks to pass and the dust to settle.
We arrived at Nyakananzi at around 5:30 p.m having covered only about 115 klometers in 3 hours. Our maximum speed on that road was 60 kph if we got lucky. At Nyakanazi there is nowhere to sleep. We stopped to fuel and we could see a very good tarmac. We asked if there were any more diversions ahead and were told only a short one about 500mts long. We hit the road at about 6:00 p.m ready to get to Kahama but hardly 10 kilometers ahead, we got in to the first diversion with many other trucks. This one turned out to be about 2 kilometers but we were so happy when we saw the tarmac again. We pushed the bikes as though to recover all the lost time and get to Kahama but 12 kilometers before Uyovu, we got in to another diversion. At this time it was dark. The best speed we could do on this stretch was a max 40kps. There were many trucks and that slowed us down too. It got worse when we lost visibility, and our only option was to follow the trucks as they seemed to light better and had a better visibility. We eventually arrived at Uyovu at 8:30 p. having covered only about 50 kilometers.
We looked for a place to stay and found a small lodge. We asked the lady working there to help us get some food and she gladly got us some chips mayai. We were finally in Tanzania. What a welcome.
And this is how our 4-day plan became a 5-day plan.
ACTUAL RIDE TO KAHAMA.
The following day we were pretty tired and decided to just do a ride to Kahama and have some good rest. We covered the 145 kms pretty well and first. The road was all good, but the winds get tough sometimes.
RIDING TO SINGIDAM- DAY MILEAG 306 KMS
We spent a night at Kahama and left the following day for Singida. This was going to be 306 kilometers ride. Wamuyu had been to Singida before, and we were excited. We went back to the same PHB hotel she stayed at, a year ago and was really amazing seeing everyone again. We took a walk in the beach just like she did one year ago. One night at Singida and we left for Dodoma.
Hotel are not expensive here and we did not see any backpackers. With Tshs 30,000 (Kshs 1,500), you get a very good room with private bathroom and double bed, AC, TV and fridge. The price includes breakfast too. We highly recommend visiting Singida. Its really beautiful by Lake Singidani.
RIDE TO DODOMA – DAY MILEAGE 232 KMS
Let’s just give this a name! The windy start.
West Tanzania is mainly dominated by a large central plateau and covered with grassland and plains. We had experienced winds before, but they were not as bad. We left Singida in the morning. The first 30 kilometers were really bad. The winds were just crazy, they had been the same the whole of the previous night and we had been warned. A few kilometer into it, we stopped for a wind 101 chat ;). From here on the ride was really good and uneventful.
FINALLY GETTING TO DAR ES ALAM
Woohoo we finally getting to Dar and we going to have some rest.
You have no idea how this feel …
We had a really nice ride and only got hard about 25 kilometers to Dar es alam due to heavy trucks traffic. Please don’t make this mistake like us. Use the Bagamoyo route to Dar and while on that, please stop for a night and day and Bagamoyo. This small town is so beautiful.
DAR ES ALAM HERE WE COME.
We were welcomed to Dar es alam by our very good host and the Dar Bikers.
We parked the bikes and we were not to touch them again until the departure day. 😉 We had a few activities in Dar before leaving for Zanzibar.
We took a day to experience Dar es alam. We also met up with Diana our friend from Kenya and experience Dar together. We took a walk in the beach, had fish for lunch and some drinks at a local beach restaurant. After getting ourselves stuffed, we decided to take a boat ride to Mbudya island.
– A boat ride to the island takes about 45 minutes.
– It cost us Tshs 50,000 (Kshs 2,500/-) for a return trip. The boat guy waits around for you to enjoy the place.
– There is park fee paid at the island and we paid Tshs 46,000 (Kshs 2,300/=)
To note: –
- We highly recommend you eat before your trip to the island or pack a picnic bag. Carry your drinks and water. The place is very beautiful for picnics. There is a small restaurant in there but not a reliable one.
- Don’t leave your swim suit behind, the beach is beautiful and a jump into the ocean is well worth it.
- There are no clean changing rooms, so wear your swim suit inside and have enough time to dry up. Carry your lotion, sunscreen and a good pair of flip flops.
MEETING THE DARS BIKERS AND FRIENDS.
We had been in contact with Mrusha and Hussein of Dar Bikers way before our arrival in Dar. We were also meeting our long time friend Salim. They gave us a very warm welcome and spent time with us. Mrusha and Hussein organized a dinner meet up with Dar Bikers. These three gentlemen made sure Tanzania truly is “Unforgettable”. They took us around for many lunches and dinners. Ensured we were well taken care of. We can never thank them enough.
Zanzibar is known for honeymooners, white beaches and good food. Initially, Zanzibar was not in our plan until the last night in Rwanda. We looked our next days of travel and route and we changed all that to add some excitement to the trip. We settled to do Zanzibar. We were in Zanzibar for four days and spent the entire time in Stone town. We were so lucky to hook up with our friends from back home.
Zanzibar can be expensive and requires some good planning and budgeting. Besides hotels, there are Airbnb and couch surfing options too. The hotels range from 5 stars to budget hotels. We stayed in Abuso Inn hotel in old town.
We visited prison islands while there, did a tour of the stone town, ate different types of foods at the Forodhani Gardens and our favorite restaurant at Stone town was Mash Allah restaurant. Great food, ambience and service.
We returned to our host Joseph after ending our holiday in Zanzibar. We really did not want to leave Tanzania. It had become home, and we were having lots of fun. At our host place, we met other travelers. We met Tracy and Katherine. We however had to leave. On Sunday, we packed up and Mrusha and Hussein came to see us off. We rode with Mrusha to Bagamoyo where we were to have some coffee as we say good bye and continue to Dodoma.
There was the Bagamoyo annual marathon happening on that day, but what caught our hearts is when we rode through the small-town heading to Firefly backpackers for our coffee. Bagamoyo is really beautiful and when we parked our bikes at Firefly, it took us just a couple of minutes to know we were not leaving the town that day. We had our coffee and headed out for a walk and see the beautiful Bagamoyo town. We also walked to where the marathoners were gathering having a relaxed time after the run. It is here that we were fortunate to meet the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism – Hon. Dr. Hamisi Kigwangala
If in Dar, please spare time to visit Bagamoyo. It’s only 50 kilometers from Dar and definitely worth a visit.
After our day and night in Bagamoyo, we were back on the road again, heading to Malawi. This would take us through Dodoma again, onward to Mikumi national park, Makambako and eventually Kasumulu border. Another 4 days before we enter Malawi and a total of 887 kilometers.
We enjoyed riding through the Mikumi National park. A stretch of about 100 kilometers within the park and it is all tarmac main road. However, you cannot stop or take pictures in this section as its dangerous to do so coz of the world animals. We saw buffalos, monkeys, baboons, giraffes and zebras. The buffalos were the highlight of the ride.
We stayed at a lodge called Bastian and we recommend this place highly. The staff are very welcoming, the ambience so good, the food is delicious, and the campsite is very clean and well maintained. We camped at their tent for USD 25 per person full board and we even got a lunch box each on our departure day. Their tents come with a bed, matress, bedsheets, warm blankets, a small balcony or veranda with two seats. We were able to park our bikes right next to the tent. The bathrooms and showers are very clean, spacious and with hot water. We were grateful we found this place after the place we had been recommended to was full.
At Makambako we stayed at a nice budget hotel and the following day rode to Kasumulu. We had checked on a place to stay on iOverlander app and found one Mara Green backpackers. We don’t recommend this place although we made our own party and made our stay memorable. We arrived there at around 4:00 pm together with one other cyclist riding his bicycle around the world. In total we were three people in the entire backpackers which looked more like a deserted place. Nothing works anymore, ran and managed by one elderly man, no kitchen, no bar, no nothing but an old place of what may have once been some nice backpackers.
The gentleman was kind enough to help us order some food from the nearby town and was later delivered by a boda boda rider. The three of us, ate together, enjoyed some drinks and danced ourselves to bed.
And this marked our last night in Tanzania. A party out of Tanzania.
Keep it here for our experience and fun in Malawi – turuuuu