BULLDOG REPORT : 15 JUNE TO 22 JUNE
LINDI TO DAR ES SALAAM TO WATAMU TO KILIMANJARO TO NAIROBI
15 June : Lindi to Dar Es Salaam
Departed early around 6 am after filling up with fuel in Lindi. Still haven’t found it necessary to use the special fuel filter funnel as all service stations to date seem to be reasonably modern.
20 km’s Out we came across two young French girl cyclists carrying all their worldly belongings strapped to their bikes. We stopped and chatted and they advised that they had left Maputo some time back and are covering about 40 km’s a day. They like to stay in B&B’s every night but do carry tents in case they need to stay in the bush for the night. Their intention was to finish the trip in Dar Es Salaam and then move on to south America and then Australia. We estimated that they would take another ten days at least to reach Dar. We gave them a tin of mints and bade farewell. These two little girls seemed unphased about being so vulnerable in the middle of darkest Africa.
The tar road was quite good so we made good time. Unannounced potholes and speed humps being our only enemy. We did a couple of our normal red bull flights again and landed beautifully every time after about four touch downs on our mud terrain tyres.
We were making good time and decided to stop to make a cup of coffee on the side of the road. We chose a spot at a bridge where the tar had broken up very badly on the approach and exit side and thought it would be our duty to warn oncoming traffic of what lay in their path. Our waving arms only seemed to aggravate the issue as truck after truck and bus after bus hit the two bad patches with an almighty crunch. Luckily we were in front of our group and were able to provide them with fair warning.
Suddenly we hit the famous detour, 70km’s of the most atrocius road you have ever seen. We were forced off the road by oncoming trucks and matatu’s (buses) that were not concerned about the condition of the road and were traveling at their limits. A frightening sight pulling over and watching one of these fully laden busses heading down at you and fish tailing as it applied brakes before broad siding past. In one instance we nearly jumped ship as we thought the bus was going to take us out.
After many hours we reached the tar at last and stopped to make a late breakfast
Reached Dar in the afternoon and got caught in rush hour traffic. Took us forever to get through the city and to Silver Sands camp on the beach. Another complete dump! Lousy ablutions, mosquitoes, etc., as before.
Joined by the rest of the gang who had come via Malawi. Piet had arrived two days earlier and had arranged a supper for us at the restaurant…….another complete disaster. After completing dinner had to chase the cats away that had taken over the buffet table……there was no way we would return for breakfast.
16 June : Dar Es Salaam to Mombassa
Departed early as usual and took more than two hours just to get out of Dar. Never seen so many petrol stations on the way out. All very new with massive canopies and lots of pumps but sans customers. Don’t know how they survive. Luckily we found a reasonable kiosk at one of them and fed ourselves on mars bars, eet sum mor biscuits and some home made chips, or should I say packeted indigestion.
Met Ice Van along the way and had breakfast along the road. Road surface was good and again it was village after village and speed trap after speed trap. We managed to avoid being trapped but the others fell like flies.
With 60km’s to go to the border post we hit Tanga, a town on the coast after which the road nightmare started again. This was to be a detour all the way to the border. We couldn’t help cheating by jumping across onto the partially prepared new surfaces just to get a small break from the bone jarring detour, much to the ire of the Malaysian road construction team. Passed many taxis with Arsenal/Manchester united emblazoned on there rear windows. Also Michael Ballacks name was popular.
Finally arrived at border post which turned out to be quite a rigmarole but we eventually got through after about an hour. Took a lot of persuasion for them to accept our South African third party insurance as they were trying to sell us there own version which we did not believe was official.
PROBLEM! The seal on the Bulldogs right front wheel bearing had disintegrated and all the grease and lubrication was now pasted onto the outside of the wheel and rim. We were not sure if the bearing itself was still intact. The wheel felt quite sturdy so we limped onto Mombassa 60kms up the road at a very slow pace, stopping every now and then to check for heat in the wheel hub, but the bearing held on and got us safely to the ferry just after dark.
The ferry crossing into Mombassa at night is something to behold. Its like the whole of Bangkok arriving at the same point at the same time, whether it be a car, truck, bicycle, tuk tuk, pedestrian, pushcart, catle, etc., all scrambling for the next ferry….organized chaos!. Ferry after ferry would arrive and drop its ramp down only to lift it again minutes later to prevent overloading of the ferry. You can imagine the rush onto the ferry during this brief moment.
Driving through Mombassa at night was quite a challenge. One can only equate this to driving in Cairo or Bangkok. Try entering a circle where no one seems to know who has right of way! Try changing lanes when your garmin says your turn off is coming up!
Our favorite hotel in Mombassa, the tamarind was full so we had to stay at the Nyali Beach Resort Hotel. A bit run down but a great setting right on Nyali Beach
17 June : Mombassa to Watamu
Phoned Mombasa Toyota first thing in the morning and was greeted by Peter, the service manager. Cut a long story short we were greeted at their workshops like heroes and they put the Bulldog on the front row in their workshop with their best team of mechanics all dressed up in their bright red toyota overalls. These guys had pride in their beloved land cruiser franchise and they assured us that we would be on the road again a.s.a.p. After about two hours the job was complete inclusive of their own stringent internal quality control checks. After lining them up for a photo in front of Bulldog and presenting Peter an ELAO cap and car sticker we drove out with all of them standing on the pavement waving good bye. Three days later we noted a message from Peter on the blog…..talk about service and pride!
We arrived at Watamu in the afternoon and met Geoff at his new mansion on the beach
18 June : Watamu
Geoff treated us like his long lost children and never stopped feeding us, getting our clothes washed, organising the staff to tend to us, driving us to various restaurants and hotels, etc., We felt like royalty and it was great to have our batteries recharged, ready for the next leg of the trip.
Thank you so so so so much to you Geoff, for taking time out to fly to Kenya to entertain and spoil us and to look after our needs.
19 June : Watamu to Kilimanjaro
Travelled through Tsavo West game reserve for 100km’s on very corrugated dust roads. Very hard on the suspension and especially the shocks. Very barren apart from the river which the road ran alongside. Had some good elephant sightings as well as grants gazelle, impala, zebra, giraffe and waterbuck. We were happy to arrive at the main tar road running from Mombassa up to Nairobi. It was very tempting at this stage to change course end head up to Nairobi on the beautiful tar road, but we decided that we simply had to see Kilimanjaro come hell or high water. Well it certainly turned out to be hell on absolutly poor gravel roads and eventually at sundown we reached the base of the mountain which was completely covered in cloud. We had been on the road all day, mostly on very dusty roads, so a couple of beers would be very welcome.
We slept at a catholic mission station where the padre was very friendly and allowed us to set up camp in and around a school like building next to his house. The cattle pen was right on our door step and right through the night they replied to every snore that came out of our camp.
The local children remained behind the barrier tape that Charl had brought up (very clever idea) and they watched us with great interest as we set up camp and prepared for the evening. They were completely encapsulated by our every movement as if they had not seen any Ümzüngus”in their lives before. They gathered fire wood for us and in turn we gave them all some sweets. Eventually they retreated into the village.
We gave the Padre some of the medicine spoons that Rotary has asked us to distribute and we also gave the church a donation for allowing us to stay in their grounds.
20 June : Kilimanjaro to Nairobi
We left in the morning with a heavy heart because we could still not see the mountain although we sensed its greatness within our midst.
Riding through dust that was like a 1m deep layer of talcum powder made visibility a huge problem. To our great joy and surprise we met up with a brand new tar road that led us all the way up to Nairobi and we arrived at around 11 am.
21 & 22 June : Jungle junction Nairobi
This is a camp where all the overlanders stay over and everyone takes the opportunity of swapping information. There are people from all over the world in various forms of transport mainly in the from of adapted landcruisers, land rovers and motorbikes.
Our vehicles have now all been serviced and checked out and we are ready to roll north again. Also managed to obtain our visas from the Sudan embassy so this alleviate the need for us to do this in Addis.
Had a braai with an East London family last night, Craig and Leonie Gehring as well as Dale and Desiree Harris from Port Elizabeth.
Nairobi is as westernized as you can get in Africa so we have all enjoyed shopping and getting re-organsied again.
Next report to follow sometime in the future
Thank you for all the messages received on the blog
From “woof woof who let the dogs out” the motto of the Bulldog