19th to 24th August
Makuzi Beach Lodge
Found an idyllic place on the lake shore – Makuzi Beach. It’s a very secluded cove, fringed with rocks and palms and graced with white sand and beautiful gardens. The water here is like a millpond, the perfect chill spot. Emma reads books faster than Amazon can download them and I’m playing my iPod to death in between kayaking. We had a couple of windy days but apart from that the weather has been perfect with temperatures in the day around 33C and nights 25C.
Just good to chill out and get a break from the driving.
One more overnight stop before entering Tanzania on Sunday 25th Aug.
This is a community based effort. They’re trying hard and slowly getting there but can’t say I’ll be returning in a hurry. I think we got spoiled at Makuzi!
Tanzania – Utengule Coffee Lodge
African Border Posts – don’t you just love them!! My stress levels go exponential at the very thought of a border crossing on this Continent. As expected, we were plagued by touts, “helpers”, pedlars, money changers, you name it on arriving at the terminal ………….. and they are so difficult to shake off, talk about me and my shadow!
It took us around 1 1/2 hours in total and $200.00 for Visas, Car Taxes and compulsory 3rd Party Insurance (I was probably ripped off on the latter!). Officials were a bit surly and we had to go through Health Checks (Yellow Fever inoculations fortunately all in order).
That done, entering Tanzania was a bit of a Eureka moment. As much as we’ve loved the adventure to date, the main draw card has always been Tanzania. We’ve done the Northern Circuit (Serengeti, Ngorogoro, Tangire) a few times (just loved it), it’s just simply quintessential Africa, the wild evocative Africa we long for. The Southern Circuit we are about to experience is reportedly even wilder – I’ll let you know in due course!
The drive from the Tanzanian border to Tukuyu in the mountains was very scenic and interesting, lots of tea plantations and banana plantations and just a beautiful drive through the hills and valleys of Southern Tanzania. It took us around 4 hours to get to Mbeya. Chaotic or what? ………I wasn’t prepared for Mbeya, what a dump. Get me outa here. We made our way to Utengule Coffee Plantation Lodge, just about 20kms outside of Mbeya and quite an oasis away from the chaos below, with lovely views over the countryside.
Interesting to note that since we entered Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania, most of the places we have stayed at have been filled with Aid workers and NGO’s etc., rather than travellers like ourselves. Not sure how well they’re doing trying to save Africa but certainly doing great things for the hospitality trade!
Then there’s all the Missionaries, of every denomination. We even came across a group of Canadian Jehovah’s Witness on an 18 month assignment to translate their Bible into the local Lingos. So next time you get that knock on the door, just ask for a copy of the Watchtower in Swahili!
Can’t say who’s winning the race to save souls but by the number of football shirts being worn, seems to me like Man. Utd., Chelsea and Arsenal are winning the hearts and minds. Sadly I haven’t seen a single Everton shirt and only one Liverpool shirt.
River Valley Lodge – Iringa
The next day we made tracks for Iringa, somewhere to stock up (a small town close to all the attractions we plan to visit). We’re staying at River Valley Lodge, a magic spot just 11kms outside Iringa. It’s owned and run by Amanda, the perfect Hostess (naturally she’s from Liverpool once upon a time!).