Unyamwanga to Kisolanza to Mikumi

The long haul to Dar es Salaam

It was cold cold cold in the morning it was 12C! Unyamwanga is at 1300m. I even tried to start the diesel heater, but alas it would not start and I couldn’t bother to stuff around with it. I had a quiet night even though I was close to the village. I headed back to the main road, and then stated to climb. It was overcast, cold, I was wearing gloves while driving (no heater), and eventually I got to 2300m, where there were pine trees growing.

I had set a target of The Old Farmhouse at Kisolanza, which was 295km away. I had read, and been told, horror stories by other overlanders about how corrupt the Tanzanian Police were. The many stories of them faking your speed on a speed camera and trying to get a bribe out of you. All the village speeds are 50kmh, and there is no lee-way, the Police will fine you if you get to 51kmh. So every Village I am slowing down to 45kmh as soon as I see the sign. I would stay at that speed until there was an end sign, and if there was not (often) I would stay at that speed until I was sure I was out of the village. So it was a slow trip. The fast sections I am flat out at 75kmh.

The T1 highway eventually got really good. There was probably 200km of excellent highway, to South African standards. It was probably the best highway I had driven on since South Africa. So there were many many Police stops. I probably got stopped 5 times up to Kisolanza, and was waved through another ten. However the Police were fine. No asking for bribes. I try to be very friendly, and generally they are friendly back. I make a big thing of being Australian, and I think they appreciate that as being a bit different.

About 50km out of Kisolanza I went through tens of kilometers of pine plantations. It was about 1600m, but it was surreal being 8 degrees from the equator and driving through pine plantations.

I got to Kisolanza about 5:30pm. I was the only guest, but it was a nice campsite, it had power and hot showers. The English owner came over later after dark to see how I was. This campsite used to have 80 people some nights, including overland trucks, and now they were down to the odd person like me. They had reverted to being farmers, and opening a couple of roadside shops. They were surviving, but they wondered whether tourism would ever come back to what it was before. It hasn’t in Australia, and it hasn’t in Africa.

I haven’t quite got used to the timezone and sunrise in Tanzania. In Malawi it was getting light at 5:30am, and the sun was up by 6am. Here in Tanzania a timezone further east, the sun gets up at 7am. So I wake up at 5:30am like I did in Malawi, but its still very dark. I really need to go to bed later.

I got going by 8am, I didn’t have any working internet. Internet is not very good in Tanzania. Its either non-existent, Edge (the old GPRS) or overloaded 3G. Its only in the large towns does it seem to work. I was headed to Iringa, a town about 50km north. iOverlander said it had a western style supermarket. So I got into Iringa, which was a bit crazy, as they had multi story buildings. Outside the supermarket were a couple of Australian lads loading a Troopy, headed for a National park west of here. I think they had not planned for the paucity of choice of food in Africa. They had loaded all sorts of stuff including a couple of dozen eggs that I told them would probably not survive the roads. The problem was they had only driven on the good road from Dar es Salaam, and they had yet to experience true African road horror. So I got some supplies at the supermarket, including a small bar of cadbury chocolate. I have not seen cadbury chocolate for quite a while.

I left Iringa and headed east. Eventually I started descending down the escarpment down a winding road. This road had, monkeys running around on it, broken down trucks, very slow moving trucks, and buses doing suicidal overtaking of slow trucks. It was 8km of African entertainment.

I got to Camp Bastian at Mikumi about 4pm. I debated going further, but I was tired, and I had done 240km.  Camp Bastian is pretty good, and has 3 safari tents set up, with people staying in two of them. They offer “full board” for $US25 a day which is accommodation and breakfast , lunch and dinner. So I am guessing the people staying in the Safari tents are backpackers. I am a cheapskate paying 23,000 TSH (Tanzania Shillings) about $A15 a night.

Tanzania is much, much richer than Malawi. Tanzania is the richest African country I have been in since South Africa. Its not South African standards, but peoples houses are bigger than Malawi, people have cars, motorbikes. The buses transporting people are actually buses. In the high altitude regions there is lots of intense agriculture.

Pine trees growing at 2300m
So cold I needed gloves to drive with, its not that I am a wimp, I have no heater
A picture of the houses and street at 2300m
Downtown Iringa
The fruit and Veg market in Iringa, where I got potatoes, carrots, peas and bananas
Broken down trucks on the 8km descent down the escarpment
Monkeys playing on the road between the trucks on the 8km descent
Forests of Baobab trees on the lower ground
Camped at Camp Bastian





One thought on “Unyamwanga to Kisolanza to Mikumi”

  1. You can’t beat a bar of cadbuy chocolate Greg ,lucky to find it in those stores. I have a glass of cadbury drinking chocolate every morning and have done for years.
    I noticed the driving was on the same as UK.
    Take care .
    Margaret xx

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