“Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you traveled”. – Mohammed.
Over the next 8 days we covered 4784km, those that know these roads will confirm that this formidable leg involves plenty of hard work and concentration.
Home where the music’s playing,
Home where my dogs lie waiting,
Silently for me…….
Much of this part of the trip was covering the roads and accommodation we had utilized on our earlier drive north. For fellow travelers there is some new info such as a couple of new campsites that we utilized as well as some new border posts. I have always had the strange habit of rushing the homeward leg of previous trips and so it turned out again. Others seem able to make the long trip home part of the holiday and I wish I could, but it is just not in my makeup. Once the time has come to head back, I find the pull of home too strong and this was especially the case after almost 9 months on the road. We had especially missed family and friends over the festive season and having very successfully achieved the vast majority of our goals it was now time to move on as rapidly and efficiently as possible. I had entertained the idea of diverting to the northern part of Lake Nyasa in Tanzania (better known as Lake Malawi in Malawi), but we even dropped this idea in our headlong rush home and do not regret it. We will no doubt have to plan a future shorter trip to some of the places lying closer to home. A future trip encompassing the few parts of Zimbabwe not previously visited, northern Mozambique, Malawi and the southern Tanzanian coast is already beckoning.
The journey home. Saturday 9 January, day 266.
“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only the cover”.
• Peponi to Mikumi.
• Stayed at Tan Swiss campsite.
• Distance covered 454km, taking almost 8hr.
We had the choice of heading south on the dirt road along the coast connecting Tanga to Pangani and the Saadani National Park, but in fact elected to take the route via the tar road towards Dar, before turning inland towards Morogoro on the Great North Road. Saadani National Park advertises itself as providing a unique combination of beach and bush. We had had enough of the beach and in fact had been informed that there is not all that much wildlife to view there. Going this route would entail the expense of taking the short ferry crossing the Pangani River and then the considerable fees for personal and vehicle entry into the park. We felt it was not worth it despite the fact that the route was probably slightly quicker.
We headed directly for the village of Pongwe a little way from the coast, this was the same route we had utilized on the way to Peponi. Here we turned south towards Morogoro on the main road towards Dar es Salaam. We had enough exposure to the chaos of African cities and could see no point in visiting the notoriously busy city of Dar. A T-junction is reached after 227km on this main route (A14), west to Morogoro and east to Dar. Here we proceeded west on the A7, the main route north-south through Tanzania. Morogoro was reached after 5hr30min and 334km and Mikumi 118km further on. The 50km section of road through Mikumi NP we had covered on our route north. Things were far more green and lush with the rains and we fact saw a few more animals this time, including a herd of elephants.
Tan Swiss Camp is well known and is a popular stopover on many overland trips. We in fact were also impressed with their setup. It is owned and run by a Swiss (of course) couple and as is the case with most camps run by Mzungus, it ticked all the boxes quite well. Unfortunately indigenous Africans in most of their camps we stayed in (with a few rare exceptions), do not have the same grasp of the facilities and standards expected by most of us and understand the concept of ongoing maintenence. This is sad but unfortunately true and I think it needs to be said, as much as I encourage the use of community campsites. The only disadvantage here was that it is fairly close (200m) to the highway with its heavy trucks. Fortunately the campsite is on the edge of the large property furthest away from the road and the traffic noise did not disturb our sleep. However we were veterans by now and were inured to noise and would probably be able to sleep through the noise of a stampeding herd of buffalo. The campsite is large, thank goodness as it appears popular with overland trucks, and there is plenty of shade. The ablutions are a little small but the flush toilets and cold showers were clean and functional. The cold shower and small swimming pool were welcome in the seasonal heat and humidity. There is a busy bar and good restaurant and we thoroughly enjoyed our Wiener schnitzels. There are also very comfortable looking rooms and chalets of varying prices and levels of luxury. Camping cost us US$7 pppn and was good value. Recommended!
An alternative is Crocodile Camp, about 50km further south on the Great North Road in the spectacular Valley of the Baobabs. We obviously did not visit there but apparently it is rustic but well run with a bar and restaurant.