Since my previous guest blog about Namibia was a big success and due to all the positive reactions (😀😀) I (Leo van den Berg) decided to write another blog. Since it’s quite boring to write about Zoetermeer in the Netherlands we decided to travel all the way to Tanzania. We’ll spend the first couple of days along the East Coast and then head to the game parks in the North of Tanzania.
Just like James Bond
It was Friday night, the 29th of June, when we arrived in Dar es Salaam. The biggest city in Tanzania and right on the Indian Ocean. Jolene and Lennart were waiting for us at the airport together with a taxi driver since driving at night in Dar es Salaam can be a challenge. It turned out that even with a local driver the short trip was full of adventure. Little stalls along the way, “tuk-tuks”, huge potholes and a lot of traffic made it feel like we were in a bad James Bond movie. We finally reached our first accommodation, the Mara Courtyard.
Fishermen of Bagamoyo
Since Dar es Salaam isn’t exactly the ‘place to be’ we left early the next morning in the direction of Bagamoyo, a little fishing village 70 km North of Dar. The main purpose of staying here was to acclimatise: have a nice lunch, visit the local fish market, admire old ruins and stay in a lovely B&B. The latter didn’t have hot water in the showers but according to the owner this was completely normal this time of year: it was just to hot for a hot shower!! Unfortunately we found out that more B&B and lodge owners thought like this while travelling in Tanzania.
The Tanzanian Police
The next day there were a number of challenges that we’ll remember for some time. First I have to note however that we were amazed by all the things we saw along the road that should have ended in Pangani (more about this later). Along the highway you’ll find dozens of little villages with colourful dressed and super friendly people, lots of stalls with local food and all kinds of activity. The word highway shouldn’t be taken too literal: around the villages you’re allowed to go 50 kilometers per hour with lots of speed bumps that make this impossible. If you’re outside of a village you’re allowed to go 80 km/h which doesn’t really help if you need to cover bigger distances. The local police is fully dressed in white and use photos sent using WhatsApp to ‘enforce’ the speed limit. You’re stopped at nearly every police checkpoint where they try to make you believe you drove too fast. We had to pay a fine once (around €2,50) so that Lennart and his driver’s license could return to the car.
Welcome in Villa Matalai
The next challenge that day was the fact that the owner of our accommodation in Pangani called to say that the road was really bad due to the heavy rainfall in the past few weeks. After a short debate in the car we decided to look for an alternative. We then made the (in hindsight great) decision to drive to a B&B called Villa Matalai in a super small village called Kwale. The destination is that unknown that none of our GPS apps could find the place on the map. When some people started worrying a local ‘Kwaler’ helped us out and directed us to the villa of “Mama Sarah”, a paradise with an impressive view on the Indian Ocean.
Our private boat
Although we had plenty of ‘warm welcomes’ along the way this one was superb. Once we arrived a number of people were called to give us the best service ever in the villa, which we had all to ourselves. The highlight of staying here was without a doubt sailing on the Indian Ocean with their own boat. Mama Sarah arranged a skipper and a diver and after about an hour out on the ocean we arrived at a sandbank where Lennart and Jolene spent some time snorkelling and kayaking with the local diver. We walked along the sandbank and enjoyed the great view on the ocean. It’s a strange feeling walking on your own private beach in the middle of the ocean. On the way back we had a nice cold beer and when we were at the house again a great lunch was waiting on us. We then walked through Kwale, an authentic Tanzanian village and ended the day with a game of hearts. I then learned that both Lennart and Jolene still lack the experience to make it an exciting game. After a (yet again) wonderful dinner and breakfast the next morning it was hard to say goodbye to the friendly people of this stunning place. Our next destination was Emau Hill in Amani.