Chimala, Tanzania

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Livingstone Lodge
Chimala, Tanzania
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I decide to head into the hills and take a scenic route to Dar Es Salaam to give Anne a chance to catch me up. Heading into Mbeya, i look for a Vodacom store to get a properly cut SIM and buy 1k TZS (€0.50) airtime (about 2 mins of talk time!) and 5GB of data for 20k TZS (€12). I get registered and setup, though the data does not work until i restart my phone an hour later. Unfortunately the data is 3G/Edge which is quite slow compared to HSPC(?)/+.
Leaving Mbeya, i head north and find that the road is under construction. This means it is dusty and in many sections only one lane wide. The lorries and buses don’t respect motorcycles, so i play it cautiously and hold back when i come across a pinch point. The road snakes in to the mountains, raiding from 1600m at Mbeya to over 2400m. Any vehicle that comes the other way sprays me with stone chips and dust, while reducing visibility to nothing. not a pleasant experience. The temporary (old?) road surface is mostly ok, with some stretches containing large stones and a few sections with gullies created by water runoff, but nothing i’ve not come across before. I take it easy, covering 20km in an hour. There are amazing views south over Mbeya and the mountains beyond, as well as north over the rolling hills to what looks like a plateau. At 2400m, i am at or above some of the clouds – beautiful. Riding on these tricky surfaces makes me unsure that i’ll be able to reach the next town i know has fuel – about 500km from my last fill up. On good dirt or tarmac, i can do 550 or 600km, but at this rate i’m not sure and don’t have any spare, there are no loop options so i chicken out and turn around, heading back down to Mbeya. it only takes me 30 minutes to return and i think about heading west to Sumbawanga. I head out on the road and program the GPS to take me there. The short distance on the map translates to 400km, so i think i won’t make it and turn around again. Back on the original plan, i start to head for Dar Es Salaam. At 4pm, i come across a lodge and decide that even though i’ve only made 100km east of Mbeya, i’ve had enough for today and find the Livingstone Lodge. Odd, as Tim Burtons Blood River is following Stanly’s route from Tanzania to map the mighty Congo and is talking about his previous successes, such as finding Livingstone, despite the British establishment’s best efforts to thwart him.

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Posted: 30 May 2014

Author: Steve Armitage

Category: Africa

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