Monday, July 2, 2012

Southern Tanzania and Dar es Salaam

On the other side of the Unity Bridge we spent nearly two hours completing all of the necessary paperwork to get into Tanzania with our cars. Our visas which cost only $50 for three months were processed quite fast and the guys were friendly, making jokes, etc. It was the car guy that was the big hold up. First we all had to wait for him while he was away on his break, although 20 minutes wasn’t too bad. Then we had to sit with him while he processed the forms, hand wrote four (!!) individual receipts for various things, etc. Mike and Martin offered to fill in the forms for him, to “help him out”, but no, he wanted to do that himself. Seriously painful but at the same time I had to stop myself from laughing out loud.

Back on the road we found that the roads had improved a little from the Mozambique side, still dirt and corrugated, but smoother and we were able to drive faster.

The road on the other side of the Mozambique- Tanzania border; a bit better!
Our first stop was Lindi, a small fishing town on the Southern Tanzanian coast. We arrived as it was getting dark so had to choose accommodation fast, opting for Adela Guesthouse, not as cheap as they have it listed in Lonely Planet, but still ok at $30pn including breakfast. It was a bit late to go exploring the town so we decided to eat in with a choice of chicken or fish and rice or chips. We all opted for the fish.

Better than it looks in the photo. My fish with beans, vegetables and rice. It was
the healthiest thing I'd eaten in about three days and enjoyed
Our first night in a new country also meant sampling the local beers and Tanzania has a lot. I tried a couple, Serengeti and Kilimanjaro, picking the later as my beer of choice.

Beer of choice in Tanzania
The weary travellers: Me, Monika, Martin and Mike (L-R)
The next day we had a look around Lindi which was quite nice and in hindsight we should have stayed another night. Instead we brought a pack of cashews for the bargain price of $3 for around 300gms and went our separate way from Monika and Martin for the first time in a week, heading north while they headed south.

Mmmm! Cashews!
Our next stop was Kilwa Masoko, which Lonely Planet had labelled as “a sleepy coastal town” and the “springboard” for visiting the local Kilwa Kisiwani ruins. Sounded like the perfect place for another night’s stopover before heading to Dar. However it wasn’t meant to be; the town wasn’t that nice and the accommodation was extortion, including camping! In the end we stayed at what was truly one of the most horrible guesthouses ever, so bad I can’t even remember the name. But it did cost us only around $12 for the room which was cheaper than the $20 we would have paid for camping. Go figure! Food was also an issue with no nice places to eat and neither of us game enough to eat the street food after seeing a dude chopping at a hoof of sorts to go into something, not sure what. Thus, we enjoyed a dinner of yoghurt, crackers, fruit and chocolate :-)

What $12 will buy you in Kilwa Masoko
Plus the luxury bathroom!
And the very accurate description of the feel to the town
itself. We laughed at this sign hanging in our room!
The next day given there wasn't anything to stay for in Kilwa Masoko, we left early for Dar es Salaam.

The road to Dar wasn’t too bad, actually quite good for the most. There was around 50km of pretty bad road which left us wondering how a car that wasn’t 4wd would get through, but we saw sedans along the way so they must have got through somehow.  The other bad part about the road was the number of villages along the way that we had to slow down to 50km for; in some cases the villages seemingly only consisted of 2-3 huts, not really what I would qualify as a “village” but that’s just me. And man, do they love their speed bumps! Out of control, but I digress…..

The road to Dar es Salaam, or at least the worst 50km of the drive
As we approached Dar the traffic got a bit crazier and the roads a bit dustier, but nothing like what we had expected, quite tame really. We thought that maybe it was that way because it was a Sunday, however I have to say that during all of our time in Dar, the traffic, while busy, wasn’t that bad. Organised chaos! The biggest hindrance to the traffic was the police who seemed to think they were doing a better job than the traffic lights, overriding them and causing major traffic jams. If we were sitting in traffic jam we could guarantee there was an incompetent police officer at the end. Yes, guarantee!

The road heading into Dar es Salaam
In Dar we stayed at Sofia House Hotel, located in the city area and known to us through a recommendation from Zully, our mechanic in Lusaka. Tawfiq, the manager of Sophia House, immediately helped us to settle in, organising a room for a very good price of $45 a night (including air-con, hot shower, ceiling fan, free wi-fi and free laundry!!) and giving us some tips of places to go around Dar.

We didn’t do a great deal of touristy things in Dar; mostly we just wondered around the city to get a feel for it. Dar has a great energy about it and although we had a lot of warnings and had been told a number of stories about petty crime in Dar, we felt very safe. Maybe we were just lucky, but although a bit smelly in parts, it was an ok city. And the market next to Sofia House was fantastic providing us with a huge range of summer fruits, cheap cashews and the tastiest apples I think I’ve ever had.

The view from our hotel room balcony
The market next door.....
...and a closer view
Looking across from the market, including the mosque which had us awake at
5:30am every morning for call to prayer
The buildings of Dar
We made a couple of trips out to Oyster Bay, a suburb of Dar and what we termed as the “muzungu” area of Dar, providing us with tasty food including seafood on the pier (The Slipway) and good sushi.

Lunch on the pier. My choice was grilled king fish with vegetables....
.....while Mike enjoyed fried calamari with chips and salad
The view at lunch, not too shabby!
View of large cargo ships new Dar port
After a few days of exploring Dar and enjoying the benefits of a big city we decided it was time to head to Zanzibar, one of the places I was most excited about visiting on our trip!

No comments:

Post a Comment