13 March: Ngamanga to Arusha

I did not sleep that well but felt better than I expected in the morning. Today is 119 km which sounds manageable after yesterday with about 1,100 meters climbing. My only worry is the 500 meters climb from 60 to 80 km.

I had porridge for breakfast again with a couple of cups of tea.

Today first off we ride 2 km to the border to cross into Tanzania. The border crossing takes about an hour. Thankfully we get there just before the very full tour bus.

You have to get in 4 different lines. The first to show your yellow fever certificate, the next to exit Kenya, the next to pay the money for the visa to enter Tanzania, and then the longest line to get the visa put into your passport.

The border area is very clean and only people leaving or entering are allowed inside. After finishing we had to wait until the TDA trucks get through and give Tallis the tour leader enough time to get ahead flagging the route (not that hard with nothing to flag until lunch).

While we were waiting a local man was dragged kicking and screaming through us by security. We had to quickly get our bikes out of the way. We had no idea what started it as they were already carrying him as they came around the corner.

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Border crossing at Namanga into Tanzania

It was nice and cool to start off with and I was feeling pretty good. The uphills were gradual followed by down hills. We stopped in a town at about 36 km as we had been warned it was the only town until the end of the ride. We saw some other riders so parked our bikes by them. It turned out they weren’t parked by the shop, so Brett left his bike and went about 20 meters to the shop. I went and sat opposite in the shade and quick as anything a local was over by Brett’s bike. When he saw me looking he walked past, but the moment I glanced away he was back again, so I went and retrieved it and put it by my bike. A good reminder that we have to be more careful.

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Coke Stop

Once again lots of locals waiting for lifts by the side of the road, saying hello and good morning. Plus, people minding herds of animals, mainly goats and cows with a few sheep. A number of them were sitting in the shade with iPhones. There were a few small children minding herds again, even though it is a school day and we had seen a lot of children in the town before and after the border going to school.

One young boy about 8 came running across the road to high five us. We persuaded him to have a photo, he was a bit wary of us. His friend stood back on the other side of the road. As soon as we had taken the photo he held out his hand, Brett had a small coke so he gave him that he sprinted away with it. At this stage his friend came over to see what he could get so we dug out a snack bar. Next thing the first boy was back for a snack bar. We looked back and could see them 50 meters off the road sitting down to their picnic.

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Young shepherd we shared some goodies with

Once again it is very dry with dry river beds. Just before lunch at 70 km my lack of training set in and I was finding the going tough. I was hoping the rest at lunch would see me right for the 20km to the top of the hill.

For lunch we had chapati‘s with a savoury tomato sauce and cheese which was very, very nice. Plus, Lucita (called Lu Lu) the lunch cook had made fruit salad. I set off feeling positive but stopped for a rest at 2 km then again at the next 3km then twice at 1 km. At this stage I told Brett to go without me and I would keep riding slowly until the lunch truck came past. By the time the lunch truck came I was stopping every 50 meters.

I was annoyed as if I had made it another 4 km it was mostly downhill but I didn’t want to take the chance and let the lunch truck go past. I was pleased that I hadn’t as once I got into the truck I had really bad cramps in both legs.

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After lunch the climbing started

We got to Masai Camp and I dug out the bags and waited for Brett. We have 3 rest days here and rather than spending them in a tent at the Masai Camp we have upgraded ourselves to the African Tulip Hotel a couple of km away.

To get there we walked out to the road and waited for one of the local taxi cabs (called daladala) to come along. These are numerous, so the first stopped within a minute but the scout (person who hangs out the side door looking for passengers) didn’t know where we wanted to go and neither did they driver so they headed off without us.

The next one that stopped was full so we tried to wave them away. They were determined they could fit us in, plus they knew where we were going, Brett was squeezed into the front and me into the back. Our four bags were laid over the top of other passengers but they seemed good natured about it. I couldn’t believe it when they stopped on the way and managed to load yet another passenger.

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Daladala mini buses. Just have to flag them down to pick you up, always packed with passengers.

When we got to the hotel the security was not initially happy about letting the crowed daladala in until they pointed to us in the back. We off loaded, and we must have looked a sight! We had changed out of riding pants but still had our riding shirts on and were covered in dirt from the road. Suffice to say no one rushed out to get our bag. We did however have a booking and we were checked in.

We have a very nice room big with two sets of windows and balcony with two chairs. I have to keep reminding myself not to brush my teeth out of the tap! After a shower and clean clothes, we much more looked the part of hotel guests.

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Arrived in Arusha and upgraded from the camp ground to the African Tulip Hotel

The dinner is an Indian buffet which went down very nicely with a cold beer.

A number of the other riders are taking the opportunity to go on a 2 or 3 day safari to the Ngorongo crater which was created by a large volcano exploding 2-3 million years ago. This became a UNESCO world heritage site in 1978. The crater is 16-19 km square area which has a lot of wildlife in it. On the way to and from the crater is the Serengeti nature reserve.

We decided not to go to the reserve or crater as we had already spent 3 days in Maasai Mara reserve. The internet advises that in the crater you won’t find any giraffe or impala and the only elephants are old bulls and leopards that live up on the rim and are hard to spot. In addition, the numbers of visitors increase year on year, in 2017 they are quoted as 601,448 which equates to 1648 a day! Lots of safari vehicles full of people all trying to see the same animals.

I understand up to 10 years ago it was much quieter but the advice is now it is so crowded that this can affect the experience. In the Maasai Mara North Conservancy where we stayed the only people who can Safari in this area are the people from the 8 lodges. There is one bed per 350 acres. A much less crowed experience. I will be interested to compare with the riders.

The other place some riders are heading is to climb in the foot hills of Kilimanjaro.

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Mountains popping up from the plain

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Long straight road, but lucky with wind at our back

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Dry flat terrain with large mountains rising steeply, including Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru

 

Categories: Tour d'Afrique | 1 Comment

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One thought on “13 March: Ngamanga to Arusha

  1. Pat

    3 cheers for the lunch truck and a good bed!

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