After refueling and replenishing stores in Pemba we hit the road at 11 am en route to Mueda for an overnight stay so that we could springboard on to the Tanzanian border the following day.
The road out and around Pemba bay was good and we were able to maintain a speed of around 110km hoping to reach our destination within 4 hrs. The dream ended when we turned off the main drag and headed north. The tar road was a disaster with more potholes than tar and we were being thrown around all over the place. Add to this the continuous braking resulting in overheating brake pads, made the trip very stressful and tiring. Without a doubt a bad dirt road would be preferable to a bad tar road in this type of condition. Again we can only thank the land cruiser designers for producing a suspension made of rock. With every pothole you sub consciously brace yourself awaiting the sound of a complete suspension failure, only to emerge out of the crater and to prepare yourself for the next. It’s not uncommon to see the driver pulling up the steering wheel like a bicycle rider lifting his front wheel to rampover hole in his path.
We somehow caught up with the ultra fast Lipstick (messrs Willy Gauss and Olifante De Kock) and couldn’t understand their sudden slow pace. After observing their vehicle bobbing up and down like a cork and battling to maintain a straight line we realized something was wrong…….yes, their brand new old man emu shock absorbers had literally blown up. From now on they would be nursing Lipstick all the way to Dar Es Salaam which they eventually hit at 11 am that night after 15 hrs on the road.. The repairs included one set of new springs, which had also snapped.
Near Macimbo do Parai we decided to try a short cut on a gravel road, which turned out to be a good choice. The road was in fantastic condition, a welcome relief from the potholed tar road we had been on. This road took us through some magnificent forests and also over a mountain range with spectacular views over the plains of Africa.
Mueda town was a complete dump so there was no way we would stay over. We headed out towards the Tanzanian border in search of a good spot in the bush for an overnight camp hoping to set up tents etc., before nightfall. 30 km out we found a small gravel quarry and set up camp inside with a big campfire in the middle. Had a great evening around the fire and headed for our tents set up in various corners of the quarry for the night after dancing the night away to the music from the Bulldogs Mp3 player.
Rise and shine early, ablution in the bush, headed out at about 5 am.
The road continued to be a mix of good and very poor gravel. Very bad in the low-lying areas which are muddy and boggy. Eventually after many hours of single lane dust track we hit a magnificent tar road that resembled an international air strip! We thought we were dreaming….like the never to reach mirage in a desert.
We soon hit the border post at the Rovuma river about 4 k’s further on. A brand spanking new bridge also greeted us. This strip of road and bridge had recently been built by the Chinese as a start for the future tar road that will connect the entire length of Mozambique. The tar was to continue for another 4 k’s on the Tanzanian side and then back to more dirt for another 70ks’s!
First stop at the Mozambique side to clear customs.
Willy taught a soldier to sing in german. Quite a sight to see a Mozambican soldier in full battle dress singing “das germein in the gradena……….etc., etc” Paperwork went smoothly, another small bribe and we were on our way over the bridge to the Tanzanian side.
Tanzanian paperwork took some time but all went smoothly. All in all the entire border crossing took about 1 & half hrs. Not too bad. Although strictly prohibited the officials were quick to offer us a reasonable exchange rate and we were able to change some dollars into Tanzanian shillings. One rand equals 210 tanzanian shillings! We soon learnt that everything in Tanzania costs thousands of shillings..very difficult to do a quick calculation. We all became instant millionaires,even if only in Tanzania.
Poor roads continued, village after village, scoured out portions damaged by recent rains, steel army style bridges with loose timber planks to drive over. All single lane stuff. No way to overtake so getting behind a truck a big problem. Beautiful country side, tall trees, baobabs, mealie fields, remote villages, grasslands, etc. Still more gravel and more gravel.
What also struck us was the large number of local population along the way, even in the remotest locations. As vast as the land was there was always someone or some cultivated lands to be seen. This was self sufficiency at is best as there are no shops nor do they have money or transport to assist.
Generally we were impressed with the number of big large rivers that we had crossed during our travels thro moz. Some very impressive engineering on the bridges as well.
Gravel and gravel and more gravel…eventually after another 70 km’s we finally hit the tar. What a relief after two days on the most shocking road imaginable.
Again all praise must go to the Bulldog for her unfailing attitude to gobble up km’s no matter what Africa threw at her.
Purchased a third party from a broker in a village. We had been given instructions at the border post to do this the moment we hit the tar road, at the first village, the directions being : “at the truck stop turn right, 100metres down there will be a pepsi container and behind this there will be a blue shop with yellow curtains in the window” No garmin needed we found it at only our second attempt. Katie was very efficient and 40 0000 shillings plus 1 dollar for one photostat copy of the car papers we proudly displayed our 3rd party stickers on our windscreens.
Arrived in Lindi at about 3.30 pm after two very dusty and dirty days on the roads. The town was a complete dump although situated on the coast with magnificent inland waterways. After having bush camped the night before we were looking forward to staying in a hotel. The best hotel in the town turned out be Adela Hotel…..another complete dump but at least we could wash and use the toilet. albeit a squat pan ala muslim style.
Gave Bulldog a check out, tightened fan belt, secured water bottle that was coming adrift. Threw away air filter that now resembled a child’s sand pit, and replaced it with a new one. Will have to purchase another in Nairobi.
Some slept in the flee infested beds to be at the mercy of the mosquitoes, others set up tents inside the rooms and others on the front steps outside the rooms. Better to sleep in a tent as it works as a perfect mosquito net and also catches the cool evening breezes.
Re-packed the entire car which now looked like a stir fry after the two day roller coaster ride, all cleaned up and ready for a couple of beers and supper.
Two delicious Serengeti beers and then our chicken arrived…. or shall we say hadedah peri peri.What a let down…would have been better eating our own tinned food or having a braai with meat we had in our freezer.
Left early in the morning for Dar Es Salaam….to be covered in the next report.