6th Dec 2010 - 5th Jan 2011
Bulawayo to Kariba Mon 6/12/2010
The end of our centenary anniversary celebrations have finally arrived with the preparation of our two expedition vehicles, Nguluvane and Ngulungundu lined up in John's yard. Dale Dodds gave a farewell blessing for the safe journey and return of the expedition members,
Norman, John, Chris, Dale, Brendan, Michael, Declan and Kevin. By 6 am we were well on our way watching the sun rise as we headed out on the Harare road. At Chegutu we turned off onto the Chinhoyi short cut for Lake Kariba. On arriving at Kariba we were greeted by a young bull elephant that mock charged us, Zebra, Baboons, Kudu, wild pigs - a true African experience. After the cool rain before Makuti, the temperature change as we dropped down into the rift valley was very noticeable. Having arrived just prior to sunset we headed straight to ‘the heights' to view sunset over the lake - a real ‘cool' experience. Proceeding to our hosts Bill & Barbra Bourne for the night proved a challenge in the maze of roads and inclines of Kariba - being a former Bulawayo family they knew most of us. Total distance for day one was 710 km.
Kariba to Lusaka Tue 7/12/2010
Following breakfast we bade our hosts farewell and headed for the Kariba Dam wall passing through Customs & Immigration on the way. For five of the team this was the first time to see this 50 year old amazing engineering feat - the sheer enormity of the volume of water held back can only be grasped by viewing the lake in real life from a vantage point.
Passing through the formalities of entering Zambia, we headed into a heavy rain & thunder storm which stayed with us most of the way to the Capital city of Zambia, Lusaka. The heavy traffic of Lusaka in the rain proved a challenge causing us to divert across traffic islands to the back roads (when in Rome...) These were little dirt roads in between the high density houses which were full of enormous dips and humps flooded with water. One road was particularly narrow so negotiating the oncoming trucks meant moving to the side into a large puddle which turned out to be a drain, which brought Ngulungundu to a precarious standstill - Mike's greatest concern was the water rising about his feet! With the help of 14 bystanders and at tow rope onto Nguluvane, Ngulungundu came out like a cork from a champagne bottle... but Norman was concentrating on the tow rope with the driver's door open so did not see another ditch in front of him. The right front wheel of Nguluvane rolled into the ditch and Norman almost fell out of his seat! Now it was Ngulungundu's turn to pull Nguluvane out of the ditch to the amusement of the bystanders - Laurel & Hardy could not have done it better!
Having suitably rewarded our assistants we hastily departed the scene and found our way back to the Great North Road out of Lusaka. At this point Nguluvane's engine kept dying and the clutch slipping in the traffic. As providence would have we had stopped outside an executive sports bar, and were kindly welcomed by the owner Ben, who allowed us use of the facilities for the night. We gratefully took up the offer as it was still raining heavily. The boys quickly set up camp in the bar and Chris prepared dinner while Norman & John rectified the engine problem which turned out to be a blocked filter due to contaminated fuel. Distance for day two 204 km: Total distance: 914 km.
Lusaka to Kanona Railway Station Wed 8/12/2010
After restocking with spare filters we left Lusaka heading for Kapiri Maposhi and the Great North Road destined for Kanona. Passing close to the Congo border we were confronted by an immigration official at a road block who inspected all passports and ensured that photos tied up with each of the boys. It rained on and off most of the way contributing to the deteriorating state of the road after Serenje. The last hour to Kanona was at slow speed in the dark and rain avoiding an ever increasing number of potholes. The plan was to make camp at the Kanona Railway Station which we found was now derelict and was inhabited by numerous goats taking refuge from the rain. Having evicted them we parked Nguluvane in the entrance foyer and reversed Ngulungundu up to the entrance out of the rain. Having evicted the goats and cleaning out what seems to have been the waiting room, we set up camp. After dinner followed by a mug of hot chocolate we were ready for bed. Distance covered on day three 466 km. Total distance: 1380 km.
Kanona to Northern Zambia Thur 9/12/2010
Today's target was 640 km however, but owing to the deterioration of the main tar road to the border, our speed was drastically reduced.
As dusk was approaching we decided to stop by the road and set up camp. We approached a villager named Jennifer who took us to the Chief Felix in order to get permission to camp in the village. Having been introduced Felix warmly welcomed us, and gave permission to select a suitable site to set up camp away from the main road. This proved to be good entertainment for the local neighbourhood who gathered around watching our every move, including drafting this log. As I sit perched on my little camping stool typing under the tarpaulin, we have already had to evict two large scorpions!
The boys are setting up stretchers while scorpions & snakes have become the topic of great discussion. Distance for day four 470 km Total distance: 1850 km.
Northern Zambia to Ruaha river, Tanzania Fri 10/12/2010
We awoke to an overcast day fortunately without drizzle, had a quick breakfast, packed up camp and made for the border some 100 km away. The border was typically overcrowded and besieged by touts offering to assist passage through the formalities for a nominal fee. Considering the crowds & chaos, we were through the Zambian exit process quickly. The Tanzanian process however was another story, with payment of visas for British, Irish and South African passport holders and then because of a recent change in regulations for temporary import of motor vehicles we had to seek the assistance of the Chief Customs Officer who very kindly made arrangements for us to enter. Making matters worse, we lost another hour at the border changing to East Africa time. Having extracted ourselves from the web of bureaucracy, chaos and persistent money changers, we left the border and found the closest bank before refueling the vehicles and leaving Tunduma. The traffic was an eye opener - one lane was completely blocked by 30 tonne trucks waiting clearance into Zambia, leaving all other traffic - trucks, mini buses, tricycle scooters, buses, pigs, motor bikes, pedestrians and bicycles weaving along the single remaining lane - even the storm drain was being used as an alternative. Passing through the rift valley out of Tunduma towards Mbeya the road was in much better condition apart from tar ridges caused by the heavy trucks moving on the uphill gradients. The ripple strips on the roads to warn drivers of road hazards ahead are a hazard themselves - one has to virtually come to a standstill to pass over them without having the vehicle and contents shaken to pieces. Reaching Mbeya finally at 16.30 we again refueled, found local phone cards and chicken prepared in the traditional way on a charcoal fire, which we have decided not to try again. Setting out again for Ifunda where we knew there was a camp site some 160 km away, we saw a camp site advertised at the side of the road after 80 km and decided that because light was fading we would take a chance and see what the facilities were like. The road wound its way 3 km down between the hills and eventually opened out into a clearing beside the a river and after hooting to draw attention, the camp manager arrived and welcomed us Mfumbi camp, pointed out the tent under a thatched roof and another large shelter right close to the river and the ablutions tucked away. Having settled the night's fee (only Norman & John qualified for payment), we quickly settled in with the boys preparing dinner and setting up stretchers while Norman attended to a faulty fuel pump on Nguluvane and the loose connection on Ngulungundu's indicators. The intention was to have an early night as we would have to pack and leave early in the morning to be able to reach Dar es Salaam by the following evening as planned. Distance for day four 300 km. Total distance to date 2150 km.
Ruaha river to Morogoro Sat 11/12/2010
The sound of the Ruaha river must have been very relaxing as we all woke late and so only resumed our travels at 7 am with breakfast and lunch packed ready for a pit stops. The road after Iringa was a pleasure having been rebuilt recently, but as the day progressed we caught up with the road construction works and were reduced to single lane traffic a number of times with inherent delays. The scenery however was beautiful as we descended from about 5000 ft above sea level to 2000 ft in Baobab Valley. The highlight of the day was that the main road took us through Mikumi National Pack where we were able to view game as we moved along, (buses and Trucks still flying past us). We spotted Impala, Giraffe (reticulated), Baboon, Eland, Buffalo and Zebra. As we had been delayed so badly by the road works we decided to look for the camp site at Morogoro which Norman had been told about. Having been guided in circles through the streets of Morogoro on a Saturday evening, we decided to fuel up and carry on while looking for alternatives. As fortune would have it, we found a person at the fuel pump who guided us to the Gymkhana Club who kindly allowed us use of their facilities for the night. Distance for day six was 573 km. Total distance to date 2723 km.
Morogoro to Dar es Salaam Sun 12/12/2010
Rising early we had a quick breakfast and left for Dar es Salaam. The road condition and traffic deteriorated more and more the closer we came to Dar es Salaam but we eventually arrived at the Scout Headquarters of the Tanzanian Scouts Association at 12 noon to the welcome of Ally Mrisho, the Regional Scout Commissioner and Frederick Nguma, the Assistant Chief Commissioner (International). Having sampled a local delicacy of Chip-egg (potato chip omlette) for lunch Ally took us to the harbour where we drove onto a pontoon to take us across to the other side of the peninsular where we were able to have a swim in the very warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Having waited a long period to board the pontoon we decided it would be quicker to drive around the peninsular back to the Headquarters - this turned out to be another long journey due to traffic chaos. Arriving late, we again sampled the local cuisine at the restaurant next door before setting up stretchers under a clear sky. Distance for the day 261 km. Total distance covered 2984 km.
Dar Es Salaam to Zanzibar - Mon 13/12/2010
The plan for Monday 13th of December had been for John to rise early and go with Ally to make bookings for the 9.30 ferry to Zanzibar while the others would 'lie in'. These plans were scuttled at 4.00 by the clouds which had built up over night so we were leaping around covering what we could with a tarpaulin and spent most of the next hour sitting in Nguluvane & Ngulungundu waiting for the rain to abate. Fortunately it did and we were still able to keep to our schedule, and after breakfast took a brisk walk to the ferry, grabbing the complimentary coffee, fruit juice and bun on the way! The ferry (named Kilimanjaro) was an awesome experience for the first time 1st Pioneer mariners - who quickly took seats on the top deck with full open view all round except for the Captain's Cabin at the bow.
We had to wait for a large container ship to enter the harbour so left late but had ample time to absorb all that was happening around us. The journey took two hours and we were met at the Zanzibar jetty by Mr. Alli Ally Makame, the Commissioner of Zanzibar Scout Community and our tour guide Mr. Chimbene (self professed Actor, Musician and Tour Operator), who took us to the Manch Lodge where we were to spend the night. Some of the boys were adventurous enough to assist local people shoveling pit sand into a tricycle scooter and so jumped on for a lift close to the Lodge.
Arrangements were made for meeting at 15.00 to go to the beach before we settled in and took a short walk to a local café for lunch. The Lodge was nestled amongst the maze of alleys and old buildings making up part of Stone Town, so finding our way around initially was quite amusing. The beach turned out to be a short ride away where we stopped in at Mtoni Marine private beach.
The boys took no time to dash into the water finding it much cooler than at the Dar es Salaam beach, however there was a lot of sediment/mud on the sand under water thought to be remains of an oil spill from the tankers and oil off-loading depot close by. The water was very calm apart from the few waves caused by passing boats & ships - wading or swimming far from shore was easy so Dale & Brendan attempted to ask the fishermen on a passing boat what they had caught, but they did not understand English! The boys amused themselves in the water and on the beach while Norman and John tested the beach couches before having refreshments and returning to the lodge. Dinner was another unusual experience with a visit to an open air food market near the beach in the square in front of the 'House of Wonders' where one's selection is then cooked on a barbeque.
Each of us chose from a wide variety of fish and meat kebabs, coconut milk bread and more than one can remember but all sampled the sugar cane, ginger & lemon juice being squeezed on site and chilled in ice - delicious! Returning to the lodge again we all enjoyed a much welcomed shower before bed.
The Spice Farm - Tue 14/12/10
We had decided that a late start would be best so only rolled out of bed in time for the complimentary breakfast before Mr. Chimbene arrived to take us to Buda Spice Farm. Our guide, Juma showed and explained a broad selection of spice trees, plants, bushes and vines allowing us to sample each one in turn.
Not all are used only for food preparation or medicinal purposes, so the boys amused themselves greatly when we came to the Lip-stick tree! Our taste buds were totally confused by the time we were through the tour with such a variety of flavours, but then another guide showed us how to climb a Coconut tree and Chris hastily follow suit, although not to the top - fortunately coconuts had already been brought down and were opened with knives for us to enjoy the coconut milk and fruit. A visit to the farm's spice stall was then due before travelling to the next tourist attraction. We then moved on to the Anglican Church Museum which was built on the site where much of the East African Slave trading used to take place. There we visited the underground prison cells where slaves were packed into after their torturous journey through Africa. We were shown the site where the whipping post had been (now in front of the High Alter within the church, and told of how slaves were whipped and priced based on whether they screamed loudly or not. Those which could not be sold were killed, so being whipped without screaming was the key to survival!
Our third visit was to the House of Wonders (named so because it was the first building to be electrified and fitted with an elevator) build by the first Sultan to Zanzibar and used for his for formal functions. Like all other original buildings in Stone Town, it is built of limestone, coral and rocks and today is a museum after being rebuilt in 1896 after being damaged during bombing by the British.
As time was growing short before the return ferry we decided to visit a number of the local curio stores to look for interesting souvenirs and gifts where our negotiating skills were put to the test. Chris was determined to find a traditional coffee pot while others focused on wooden artifacts and necklaces with a variety of fish and animal teeth.
Armed with all of our parcels we made for the ferry and only had to wait a short time before passing through immigration and boarding, where we again headed for the upper deck. Coincidentally we met up with two touring couples - one being motorcycle riders who we saw many times on the road between Kanona and Dar es Salaam and the other being a couple we had met on the ferry the previous day. The trip back seemed a lot shorter but we arrived before sunset and walked back to the Tanzania Scout Association Head Quarters to set up camp and prepare for an early departure to Arusha, some 700 km away, the following morning. After dinner we presented gifts to Ally and Frederick in gratitude for their warm hospitality and the assistance provided during our brief stay. After bidding them farewell we caught up with washing, drafting this log and repacking the vehicles after the rushed and damp packing of the previous morning.
Dar es Salaam to Moshi - Wed 15/12/10
We woke early and after packing up camp were visited by the National Executive Commissioner of the Tanzanian Scouts Association (Retired Brigadier Mkude) who brought us the visitors' book to sign. Traffic was already hectic on the roads out of Dar es Salaam even at 6.30 am but we made reasonable time, stopping for breakfast after we were well out of the city limits. From then on we kept moving only stopping for refueling and lunch by the road side. By 17.00 we had arrived at Moshi, about 80 km short of our target Arusha, so made contact with our planned hosts to arrange a meeting point in Arusha. As this is Africa, one should expect changes - and found that our host was away. Some quick thinking at the fuel pump lead us to the Honey Badger Lodge in Moshi, who it turned out also provide hot showers, a tasty meal, green lawns to sleep on and could also arrange guides & porters for the climb! Having settled in, we had the opportunity to catch up on washing our clothes and enjoyed the showers while arrangements were made for Christopher's 18th Birthday dinner in the restaurant.
It was a lovely celebration meal with champagne and a sampling of a variety of local beers, refreshments, teas and coffees, together with a beautifully iced cake which Merle Cavil had prepared and Norman had somehow transported unscathed over all the pot-holes, ripple strips and speed humps for 3565 km. As full as a chicken bus going to Gokwe, we walked back to the camp site and settled into our sleeping bags for the night under the stars, knowing that there was no need to wake early. Distance for the day 581 km. Total distance covered 3565 km.
Moshi - Thur 16/12/10
Thursday 16th December started in slow mode - after breakfast and coffee enquiries for the climb were made and arrangements finalized. This included a visit to the National Parks local office at the Marange Route Gateway to the mountain some 40 km from Moshi. The road to the office gave us a brief insite of what is ahead of us - Nguluvane had to use first gear up the last 5 km of the road to the car park!
Returning to the camp site we were again stopped by Police at a road block and as has happened on many other occasions, they were overwhelmed by the fact that Scouts had travelled from Zimbabwe in old Land Rovers so bid us welcome and farewell without any delay! After a late lunch we tidied up camp and started assembling our climbing gear together in preparation for the check to be made by the guide operators.
At 1800 the operators gave us a short briefing about what to expect and what we would need and then checked each persons complete kit before we were allowed to pack. The vehicles were then packed with the balance of our luggage in preparation for their stabling at the Lodge. At this time dinner is being prepared while some of the boys are amusing themselves watching patrons playing pool in the bar. Unusual for this time of year but fortunate for us, we have not had rain since we left Dar es Salaam and again seem set for another beautiful night under the stars. Distance for the day 98 km. Total distance covered 3663 km. Blog 3: 23/12/2010.
17th to 20 Dec 2010
Finally the big day arrived and rolling out of our stretchers excited, we enjoyed a light breakfast and the boys, while waiting for the transport played a game of cricket then Chris and John quickly sent emails to the GP Newsletter and had some photo's taken before hopping into the skoroskoro mini bus that would take us to Machame Gate to pay the National Park and Forest fees. We were advised that under 16's were eligible for a greater discount if their age was proven but we had no way to prove that 5 of our boys were under 16. The lady ranger believed us but needed a copy of our passports (that were safely locked in the Ngulungundu back at Honey Badger Lodge) so Norm and Chris set off back to Honey Badger while the rest of us went to Umbwe gate (1800m above sea level) which was the starting point for our climb. Mean while back at the ranch Chris and Norm were puttering down the road in another skoroskoro with Amos the Safari Operator on their way back to Honey Badger at a break neck speed of 20km/hour!
At Umbwe gate we were enjoying the packed lunch watching the porters weigh our rucksacks (limited to a maximum of 15kg) to decide who would carrying what. We were then given a bottle of water and we set off behind all the porters. Walking at a steady pace along the 4x4 track we found ourselves ascending constantly. After about an hour the track slimmed down to a path about 1 and a half meters wide. While we were trekking Norm and Chris were taking the now photocopied passports to the Machame Gate and then finally going to the Umbwe Gate, now about 2 hours behind us!
After the beautiful walk through the cool damp forest with ferns, moss, tall trees with buttress roots and thousands of log steps (all up hill of course!) the first of us arrived out of breath at the Umbwe Cave Camp (2957m) which was already set up with tents for the night. As we sat in the mess tent enjoying hot drinks and popcorn, without warning Norm and Chris peeped there heads into the tent, breathing like they had run up (which they literally did) and joined us in pre-dinner snacks. Everyone was amazed at how soon they had arrived because they had done a four hour climb in two hours so no one expected them for the next 2 hours. During the well needed dinner, Declan was the first to react to the change in altitude and was unable to dive out of the tent in time - unfortunately for Norm he was the recipient. Justin the Senior Guide gave us a briefing for the next day's ascent just before we climbed into our tents for the night.
We woke at about 6.30 and soon were having a huge breakfast in the mess tent arguing about who slept on a bigger rock! We packed our stuff and it disappeared on the porters' heads and we followed them up the twisty path. The tall trees quickly vanished as we began to move out of the forest layer into the heather layer. The vegetation changed to shorter trees and was a lot dryer. Within minutes we were on a knife edge with a drop away on both sides boasting a stunning view. A good look at the top of the mountain was soon gone as the clouds rolled past to conceal it. The climb was again all uphill and was a lot more rocky and the higher we got the colder it got and more cloud limited our vision.
We arrived at Barranco Camp (3976m) at around 13.00 and had a refreshing hot lunch of French Fries, salad and a variety of fruits. Having the rest of the afternoon to relax, Dale, Mike and Declan played Uno and the rest of the weary travelers attempted to sleep. Around 17.00 we had dinner which consisted of rice, chicken, mixed vegetables and soup. At 19.30 we headed off to bed, feeling tired.
Waking in the morning we noticed that the condensation inside the tent cover had frozen and that the ground was crunchy with small shards of ice lying around on the ground. After breakfast at 7.00 (oats, toast, pancakes, sausages and omlette), we continued our strenuous journey up the mountain. Climbing to the top of the ridge was harder than it looked and took about 2 hours. Once again the clouds reduced vision as we approached our lunch destination which had a steep ascent up to the campsite. We had a packed lunch which was chicken, a pancake, boiled egg, juice, tea, banana, and a chocolate plus a honey sandwich! Half an hour later we left for Barafu Camp (4673m). Once again, the climb became steeper as we approached the camp, the last 500m were very steep and again we were surrounded by rolling clouds. Finally reaching the camp we had to sign in at the Rangers' hut before an early dinner of spaghetti and mince although none of us had any appetite - the Guides stressed the importance of eating in preparation for the climb.
Going to bed straight after dinner (due to us having had a bad nights sleep the previous evening) we were woken up at 10:45pm to prepare for the final ascent. We finally left at 12.00 midnight, for the 6 hour trek. As we walked we split into two groups, as the freezing wind whipped around us. We were literally walking in our sleep, watching the steps of the one in front of us as we trudged up the slope, stopping occasionally to catch our breath. Brendan, Norm and Declan reached Stella Point (5756m) at about 6.10 and Dale, Mike, and Kevin arriving at 6.40. John had been forced to stop just 50m below due to the lack of oxygen, but we all enjoyed watching a beautiful sunrise. Norm continued to Uhuru Peak (5895m) and arrived at 7.26. Having spent an hour resting we headed back to Barafu camp for an early lunch although none of us had any real appetite.
When Norm arrived back at 11.00 we quickly prepared to leave so as to return to Honey Badger Lodge for the night. This meant a long hike back, but the reducing altitude would make it easier. We left at about 12.00 passing through High Camp, then down a terribly rocky path to Mweka Hut where we signed out of the National Park before descending along a 24km path which had approximately 4000 log fronted steps to Mweka Gate. The pathway passed through beautiful dense, tropical forest abounding with wildlife e.g. black and white Colobus monkeys. We finally all arrived at the gate at about 18.30 and boarded a smart mini bus destined for our camp site at Honey Badger Lodge. After a fantastic traditional celebration dinner we flopped onto our stretchers absolutely exhausted enjoying another night under a clear African sky but this time with a full moon.
Technology at its best, this log was started while travelling in the rear seat of Ngulungundu, drawing power from the 220 volt invertor connected to the car battery, and once completed will be copied onto a mobile phone and emailed through the Tanzanian Vodacom system which has widespread coverage.
With Thanks to Chris and John for this past weeks diary
Roof of Africa Expedition 21st to 26th Dec 2010
Honey Badger Lodge - Arusha - Manyara National Park Tue 21/12/2010
We awoke late on the 21st and all rolled out of our stretchers with varying degrees of stiffness and a selection of blisters, sore knees, ankles etc, but with high spirits. After breakfast we set about dealing with laundry and repacking our 'cold kit' away while waiting for our Senior guide to arrive and present our certificates issued to him by National Parks. Shortly after 11.00 he arrived and having settled the tips for the 3 other Guides, Cook and 20 Porters we assembled for the presentation and photographs. In return, we presented him and his team with lapel badges of the Zimbabwean flag and the Zimbabwe bird which they gratefully accepted.
Lunch was quickly arranged and then we packed up our camp and set off in the direction of Ngorogoro Crater and after stopping in Arusha for some basic necessities (ice creams, cokes, chocolate) headed on and eventually stopped at a camp site adjacent to Manyara National Park. Wondering if we were going to Jurassic Park because there were dinosaurs painted on the fuel pumps just outside the gate that led to the camp site. On entering, the first thing that stole the attention of the boys was a curio shop lined with canvas oil paintings and wooden carvings. A quick visit showed that the shops were worth a visit again in the morning. After getting bedding set up some went for a dip in the pool and a shower (which was complained about because they were too hot or too cold - nothing in-between) while the rest of the team worked on the previous trip diary. The now burnt or chilled boys came and helped the authors by adding their sixpence. For the first time in just over a week it rained, not hard, but enough to scare a few of those left awake into the small eating shelter. Flopping into our stretchers we fell asleep instantaneously... Distance travelled for the day 95km. Total Distance to date 3758km.
Manyara National Park - Ngorogoro Crater Wed 22/12/2010
Well although the eating area seemed good enough there was one big problem - at 4.00 in the morning a chef came and began to cook breakfast for some other bunch of tourists. With no care he ran around banging pots & pans while preparing food and waking us all up! We believe he had one thought 'If I have to be up, so do you'. All of us wanted to shout and punch but found it easier to just roll over and ignore the racket the chef was making. Well Chris and Norm (who stayed out in the drizzle asleep) laughed in the morning when they eventually woke up. The oats for breakfast were guzzled down so that those looking for a little shopping time could have it. After practicing our negotiating skills and getting some curios for the loved ones back home we left, heading for a camping ground just outside the entrance to Ngorogoro Crater.
Arriving at the gate in just over an hour Norm went with Nguluvane in search of the campsite that he wanted us to stay at, but found that it was no longer in operation! So thinking on his toes he found a Convent at the end of a twisty, bumpy dirt road. The kind Sister Theresa agreed to allow us to stay for the night so Norm came back to the gate and we followed him to the Convent. A small building provided a sleeping area and a long late morning nap was had by all the 4 o'clock grumpy birds.
Later lunch was eaten savagely, and everyone went on their own exploratory missions around the convent to look at the Bio -gas digester and the various farm animals and the small vegetable garden. Then feeling tired again the boys entertained themselves watching a DVD on the laptop. Those not watching the DVD met up with Brother Peter who offered to take them to the Michaud Vocational Training Center next door to see the human waste biogas digester and the farm equipment used in the processing of coffee beans grown on the farm. They ended up coming back just in time to gather at the small grotto with the Daughters of Mary nuns to sing Christmas carols. With John's guitar and his small song file we sang a few carols in English and then the nuns sang a few carols in Swahili. We then we told them a little about ourselves before they prayed for us and continued safety on our travels. We left the nuns so that they could say their daily prayers while we went and had dinner. After dinner, all were feeling tired, so we went to sleep exited about going to Ngorogoro Crater in the morning. Distance travelled for the day 129km. Total distance to date 3887 km
Ngorogoro Crater - Oldupia Gorge - Serengeti DikDik Camp Thur 23/12/2010
We planned to wake up a little bit earlier than normal but that never happened as some of us were awake well before that. Having breakfast and packing up as per normal we bade farewell to the sisters and left following the uneven dirt road. Soon arriving at the main road we followed it along till we got to the Ngorogoro National Park Gate. After we had had a look around the little museum at the gate we set off on the now compact dirt road.
The road followed the gradient and we were soon navigating sharp corners and very steep inclines that had the drivers gritting there teeth together every time another car came the other direction. After about 10km of this terrifying road we arrived at a viewing site of the Ngorogoro crater from the rim. The view was absolutely spectacular and we were able to see the rim on the other side 22km away! There was also a wide variety of wild animals inside the crater that were considerably easier to see when a pair of binoculars was pulled out of the loaded vehicles.
Departing for the Serengeti we continued on the road with nail biting corners until we got to the stone memorial for Professor Bernhard Grzimek and his son Michael who dedicated their lives to the research and conservation of animals in the Serengeti. We were inspired by the inscription on the plaque 'It Is Better to Light a Candle than to Curse the Darkness'. Norm also told us about a documentary 'Serengeti Shall Not Die' that had been made about them and their work in the Serengeti.
We then took off, following the road around the crater rim. The road was less dangerous but predictably, there were more corrugations in the road than in the whole of Gorimonzi - having one set of wheels on the verge was often preferable, so at least one side of the car was stable. At another turn off to the crater bottom we stopped for a toilet break and a few Maasia from surrounding settlements tried to sell us their craft - resulting in a 6ft. spear and a hunting knife for Chris.
Finding the turn off to the Oldupia site museum, we went to see what the Leaky's had discovered. After a walk around the small museum we joined the other tourists listening to the museum guide who explained and answered all questions about the Oldupia Gorge. After a warm coke we continued our bone rattling journey. Shortly afterwards a few of our 6 litre water bottles that were strapped to the roof of Ngulungundu took turns in breaking and spilling their contents onto the roof and down the sides of Ngulungundu.
Finally we got to the entrance of Serengeti and excitedly the boys waited in the car while John and Norm went and paid the park fees. Coming down from a small hill the first thing that lunged out at us was the thousands of White bearded gnu's (Wildebeest) and zebra that were grazing in the expansive grass land plains. It was amazing seeing all the animals all in one place - from a distance they looked like an army of ants. Driving for another hour and a half the sun began to set. With pink highlights in the clouds we saw three hyenas next to a small herd of wildebeest. There were also two vultures waiting patiently in a near by tree. As the sun began to sink we zoomed over a bridge realizing a pod of massive hippopotami was in the small pool just next to us. We finally arrived at Seronera and made for our designated site at DikDik campsite where we set up our tents for the night. With our scheduled dinner we enjoyed some spinach that the nuns had given us. We were then soon climbing into bed for the night. Distance travelled for the day 201km. Total Distance to date 4088km.
Serengeti DikDik Camp - Ndabaka Gate - Mwanza, Lake Victoria Fri 24/12/2010
We were woken early again thanks to another bunch of tourists who sounded like a lumber mill and to the other tourists guides revving the engines getting ready for an early morning drive. Thankfully they all left soon enough and we were able to go back sleep. We then crawled out of our tents and had a quick breakfast before we packed so that we could drive around the Serengeti national park.
The first intended stop was the Seronera National Parks Headquarters Information Center but we stopped at the hippo pools that we had passed on the way to Dik Dik campsite. We saw the massive hippos again in better light they looked even bigger. Zooming off again, we arrived at the information center soon and walked along the specified route. The path is out doors and leads up through a small kopje where there are various displays and views along side notices describing the view in detail - it is a beautiful presentation which also goes into detail about the migration of the animals through the Serengeti each year, and finishes describing the research and conservation work carried out by Professor Grzimek and his son. There is a small cafe at the end of the trail so a few of us who felt they needed caffeine fix enjoyed a steaming cup of coffee while others looked for souvenirs in the small shop.
We then left and started the drive around the park when we were waved down by a friendly tour guide who told us where we could see a leopard in a tree! Without hesitation we dashed along the road and found the tree where the leopard was relaxing on a branch, although the tree was a bit far from the road and the leopard was partly obscured by the tree. Fortunately we arrived just in time because the leopard decided to move and we had a magnificent view of him as he jumped down. When he landed he disappeared into the long grass so we decided not to waste any more time looking for him. Later on we changed direction and headed for the main road that passes through the park which would lead us to the exit at Ndabaka Gate, en route to Mwanza. We increased our speed slightly and drove along the occasionally bumpy road. Along the way we saw Zebra, Wildebeest, Topi, Hartebeest, Hippopotamus, Crocodile, Bat-eared Fox, Hyena, Jackal, Buffalo, Ostrich, Rock Hyrax, Vervet Monkey, Impala, Thompson's Gazelle, Giraffe, and the weirdest fluffy Baboons.
Unfortunately we saw no lions or rhino but we were still satisfied with the numerous amounts of animals that we saw. We arrived 15 minutes later than our official 24 hour permit from time of entry at Ndabaka Gate and so had to pay a bribe to persuade the officious Ranger to open the gate for us - his generosity was limited despite it being Christmas Eve! Reaching the main tar road to Mwanza we turned south and headed down enjoying the smooth tar road to Mwanza. It wasn't long before we were plagued again with rumble strips and speed humps at every kraal and a couple of times were flung into the air because in fading light they were difficult to see or we were simply going too fast for their enormous size. In between all the pedestrians, mini buses and buses, we arrived in Mwanza late in the evening. Then we spent a while looking for the campsite Norm had hoped to find but we did not find it so we started looking for the Mwanza Yacht Club - we had been right at the Hotel next door to it but they said that they did not know were it was. When Norm was getting directions he unknowingly approached two ladies of the night who said he would have to pass two humps before finding his destination. This proposition caused Norm to lose all sense of direction, so we drove around trying to find some where else to stay the night and were guided back to the very same yacht club, two speed humps further up the road from the hotel were Norm had originally got directions from his ladies! Fortunately we arrived just as they were about to close for the night so the security guard had no problem allowing us in at 10 o'clock at night. The best thing yet was that the restaurant was still willing to prepare food for us so we ended up having a lovely Christmas Eve dinner. We then toddled of to bed on the shores of Lake Victoria in a cool gentle breeze. Distance travelled for day 312km. Total distance to date 4400km
Mwanza, Lake Vicoria Sat 25/12/210
A welcome Christmas Day break from traveling had every one waking up when they wanted and so the morning started in slow motion. A cool lake breeze greeted us as we woke up; the sun was up, the cry of the fish eagles could be heard. We began our day by having a filling breakfast and just sat relaxing under the warm sun until the boys found a ping pong table and squash court so they disappeared for a while. In the camp site a friendly couple of over Landers (Rob and Sarah) were spending their Christmas so Norm went and listened to stories of their adventures as they passed south through Africa. At tea time Norm amazed us again by pulling out a fully iced Christmas cake that had made it across all the millions of corrugations of the Serengeti!
After the cake faced sudden death, Norm, Chris, Brenden, and Dale went for a walk into town while others returned to their stretchers in the shade of the palm trees by the shore to have more beauty sleep. When Brenden and Dale returned they showed all they had managed to buy at a nearby shop while Norm & Chris had gone further into town to the spice market. While Chris was preparing lunch, Rob and Sarah again came and entertained us with all their tales of Africa. After lunch the boys played cricket with a ball and bat that Rob and Sarah had graciously given to them. The after noon was spent relaxing and plans were made to go to the Tilapia restaurant next door. Well the funny thing is that we waited an hour and a half for our food and when it came it was cold except if there was chili in it, so after John had a word with the manager the order was repeated in record time and we enjoyed our meal. Throughout the time in the restaurant we had been watching the lightening some distance away, but as our second order arrived the wind over the lake got up so those who finished first dashed back to the camp site to pack up the stretchers and sleeping bags into the squash court out of the impending rain.
Eight people sleeping on squeaky stretchers on a wooden floor in a room that echoes, where there are no hooks for mozi nets is not a good recipe for a good nights sleep... so after the few drops of rain had passed, each in turn moved back out under the stars making their own ingenious arrangements for hanging of the vital mozi net!
Mwanza, Lake Vicoria - Singida in central Tanzania Sun 26/12/2010
Boxing Day saw us rising fairly early and packing after breakfast so that we could now start our journey south through the middle of Tanzania. Shortly after 08.00 we bade Rob & Sarah farewell and headed for the garage to fill up all tanks before heading out into rural Tanzania. Various stops through the day were taken including short lunch and siesta breaks for the drivers who were suffering the effects of the previous broken night.
The latest activity has become checking with the shopkeepers for any old coins, to be added to collections back home. Tanzania operates mainly with bank notes (10,000; 5,000; 2,000; 1,000; and 500 Tanzanian shillings) and occasionally you may be offered 200 or 100 shilling coins, but Chris & John have already found the rare 50, 20, 10 and 1 shilling coins. Coming close to sunset we arrived at a relatively large town named Singida in central Tanzania so hunted for a camp site and were guided to a public area of open ground beside a small dam where we have set up camp - under the tarpaulin, as there have been rain clouds around most of the evening. All were quick to bed after dinner - mozi nets in place! Distance travelled today 467 km. Total distance to date 4867km.
Thanks to John and Declan for this past weeks diary.
Travelling thru Tanzania to 90k's N of Iringa 27/12/2010
Fortunately the rain circled around us so we slept well but the dawn broke with a strong chilly wind flapping the tarpaulin over our heads. Reluctantly we climbed out of our warm sleeping bags and packed up camp while breakfast was prepared. We were on the road again by 7.50 aiming for a camp site just south of Iringa. The road to Dodoma was lovely with little traffic and we made good time but needed to stop in at a bank before topping up with fuel again - banks are the same the world over with only one teller operating while half the shopkeepers of Dodoma wanted to deposit their holiday weekends takings! Attempts to find a shop with fresh bread were unsuccessful so we left town and started what we thought was a 172 km stretch of dirt road to Iringa. The road is in a terrible state so you can imagine our feelings when signs along the way confirmed that it was in fact 258 km!
We soldiered on through the afternoon and into the evening until we crossed another low bridge about 90 km from Iringa where we noticed that Ngulungundu's engine was again running warm, only to find a blown radiator hose.
The surrounding area looked so peaceful with short new grass under green trees by the dry river bed that we decided that it was a good place to set up camp for the evening and fit the replacement hose in the morning light. A quick recci found the business centre just up the road where the local headman welcomed us to stay in the guest house but we declined, preferring to have yet another beautiful night under the African sky (and our mozi nets)! Distance travelled today 436 km. Total distance to date 5303km.
90k's N of Iringa - Soa wood mills forest - Mbeya 'Peace of Mind' camp 28/12/2010
The clear sky and stunning stars ensured that we had a good nights sleep and waking up refreshed. While Chris was cooking breakfast Norm and John set about fixing the radiator hose. Fortunately Norm had brought a spare hose from Bulawayo so it was just a case of trimming it size and fitting it, which was completed before breakfast was even cooked. We were then packed up and ready to go in no time. Bidding farewell to the local headman we hit the 'road'. The 20km up a picturesque mountain pass proved that Ngulungundu's over heating problem was solved.
Just over the crest we noticed a pit-saw being used close to the road side so Norm had to test his skills much to the amusement of the labourers. Just outside Iringa Ngulungundu again decided to play temperature games sending false signals to the gauge - while filling with fuel Norm quickly fixed the broken wire from the temperature sensor. After hunting for more bread we stopped for lunch in the Soa wood mills forest and then continued along the remaining 200km to Mbeya which passed quickly. We attempted to follow directions from 'Over-Landers' but ended up 20km out of town with no sight of the camp so we decided to start again and headed back into town where Norm seemed to find his way easily to the Rift Valley Hotel. By chance, as we were turning into the hotel, we spotted a sign with the word 'campsite'. Closer examination showed that there was a camp ground was just further down the road.
While we were looking at the sign, a helpful man (Jedi) who spoke good English offered to take us to the campsite after he had shown us an alternative also close by. Having viewed both we settled for the 'Peace of Mind' camp after a warm welcome from Benson the care taker who showed us the limited space but advised us that the fee included a cooked breakfast - compared to the other which had a Mosque on one side and a bar with live band and function in progress on the other, Benson gave a good deal! We were soon setting up our stretchers and fitting them like a jig-saw puzzle into the small gazebo, but knew that we would at least be dry if it decided to rain. After a quick dinner we climbed into bed and were soon asleep. Distance for today 469km. Total distance to date 5772km.
Mbeya 'Peace of Mind' camp - Karonga, Malawi 29/12/2010
Poor Norm had to wake up early so he could catch the bus to the Tunduma border post to pick up the car registration books that we had left as surety at the border when we came into Tanzania. John and Kevin escorted him to the bus terminal and saw him safely onto a smart looking 28 seat mini bus. While this was happening the rest were still checked in at dreamland thinking about the breakfast that was to be cooked for them in the restaurant. After a morning cup of coffee we went to the restaurant with grumbling bellies. The breakfast was appetizing and a pleasant change from the usual morning dose of oats. It was just fried eggs and sausages with fresh sliced fruit, toast & jam but there was a weird fruit juice that turned out to have carrot amongst other fruit juices in it. After breakfast we tidied up our sleeping area and then went for a walk around the neighbourhood to look at the shops and meet with Jedi who had promised to bring a selection of old coins from home to his Tribal Arts & Tours shop.
We then returned to the campsite and rested while expecting a call from Norm, which soon came informing us that he was on his way back. We then packed up camp as it was still early enough to continue on our journey. We were just finishing the packing when Norm came around the corner looking hungry, tired and a little shaken. He then enjoyed the breakfast/lunch that he missed earlier and told us his stories about the bus rides that he had taken - the most amusing was about how all the standing passengers crouched down to look as if they were sitting on proper seat each time the bus approached a police road block! We then set off for the border in search of a campsite on the other side. We were soon at the border and pleased when we discovered that there was almost no one there.
Although a different story on the Malawi side there were a lot more people. It also took some time because Norm and John wanted to make sure that they had all the papers so as to not be caught out at road blocks. We were then off and heading for Livingstonia but ended up arriving at Karonga in the dark so we decided to find a campsite and spend the night there. After a short hunt we found a quiet camp site named Mufwa Lakeshore Campsite. On the other side of Lake Malawi there was a storm so every one but Norm, Chris and Brenden set up there tents under the plentiful Mango trees so that they would remain dry. After dinner and a much desired shower we helped the others set up the tarpaulin and we then squashed up inside our tents. Distance travelled today 174km. Total distance to date 5946km.
Karonga, Malawi - Livingstonia 30/12/2010
At about one o'clock a strong wind blew up with lightening and thunder threatening to pelt us with rain. Ripe mangoes could be heard falling all around - imagine when a mango lands on your tent in the middle of the night! Despite all the bluster, rain turned out to be just a light drizzle - just enough to wet the tents. When the tent dwellers got out of there tents they found breakfast being prepared by Chris and coffee by Brenden. We then inspected the entire floor for mangos that had fallen during the night for any edible ones. Just then a care taker came, dashed up the tree, shook it and almost knocked everyone out with delicious mangos. The boys were thoroughly pleased with all the fruit and tucked in on the spot.
We then departed and went to the grocery store to get some extra supplies then headed off in the direction of Livingstonia. We were soon at the turn off but were informed by a police man at a close-by road block that the direct road was closed but that there was another longer way around. After a while we began to ask the locals to make sure we were taking the correct route. One lady told us that Livingstonia was about 20km away. Just as we got a few kilometers down the dust road Chris spotted a soft tyre that we had pumped up in the morning so we stopped and as luck would have it, found that the little pole -and-dagga hut beside the road was a small shop that happened to have coke and some chips which were all gone in seconds flat. Well it sure was not 20km - we kept going up and down and the road kept on going, we were being hurled around inside the car by the terrible road and an hour and a half later we arrived and got the news that it was in fact 50km along the alternative road instead of the 15km direct road. The first thing that we visited in this little village was the church with a beautiful stained glass window.
We read the many memorial plaques and then climbed to the top of the bell tower along the questionable stair case and low ceilings; you suddenly realize why the Hunchback of Notre Dame was hunch backed. Realizing that we hadn't eaten all day and it was now 15.00, we spoke to the chef who rustled up some food for us while we took a tour around the small Stone-House Museum. In the museum there was an unnamed object which after deliberation Norm summed it up to be a piece of an old electric meter. We then had tea and a much required lunch. Because of the distance that we still had to go and the time of day Norm decided that we were going to spend the night outside the Museum in the camp grounds. Having a few hours of day light available, the boys fished out the bat and ball that Rob and Sarah had given them at Mwanza and started playing cricket. Soon the numerous young local bystanders gathered and joined the boys in their game.
All hopes of cricket were soon abandoned as the ball was being thrown in any direction. While the boys were busy Norm was putting longer shackle plates on the left rear spring of Nguluvane to overcome the slight spring sag while John stripped the invertor from Ngulungundu which was filled with dust and had stopped working earlier in the day. It was as if all the children of the village had come to join the boys in the game, but were later called back home as dusk fell. Tents were set up as dinner was being prepared on the balcony of Stone House, as there were clouds and thunder approaching over the lake. By 20.40 the rain was pelting down and we (along with another tourist couple) had abandoned the balcony and settled in the lounge, waiting for the rain to stop. By about 22.00 we were able to return to the balcony but some of the tents were drenched inside and out by the rain and strong winds that had found their way in open blinds etc. So all but Mike and Declan (who were brave enough to sleep in a tent) set up stretchers on the balcony of the historic Stone House and went to sleep, only to be woken again by another short but heavy shower at 04.30! Distance for the day 193km. Distance travelled to date 6139km.
Livingstonia, Malawi - Kande beach 31/12/2010
Reluctantly, we dragged ourselves out of our sleeping bags shortly after 6.00 to rescue our wet tents etc. and start packing ready for the return trip along the terrible road which would obviously be worse after the rain. We said good-bye to the curator who arrived in gum boots as if expecting floods. We then paid a visit to the cemetery and had a walk around between graves - the oldest grave found was that of a 13 month old baby dated 1897. We then visited Manchewe water falls close by. Despite the recent rain the falls were very narrow but the water falls along way down, estimated more than 200m, with a very clear rainbow near the bottom.
We then started down the bumpy slippery road. At one particular place in the road Norm was in front and almost tipped the car in a huge puddle that was very deep the car behind was amazed as Norm just kept putting foot and amazingly ended up on the other side. John decided to take Ngulungundu around the side rather than through the frightening puddle. The rest of the down hill was filled with unintentional drifts around corners and water being splashed all over the place utterly amusing the boys. The drivers on the other hand, breathed a sigh of relief when they reached the tar road and took the cars out of 4 wheel drive. We then headed for Kande beach where we intended to spend New Years Eve. After another concoction of canned noodles on bread at the side of the road and a quick Coke while refueling the vehicles, we pressed on, determined to reach Kande beach where we hoped we would be among other tourists for the festive evening.
Along the road we stopped on a side road in a rubber tree plantation to see how latex is drawn and collected from the trees. Touching the latex we quickly realized that it smelt terrible. Norm had already warned us of vendors who steal the latex and stretch it to long strands before making a big ball to sell to tourists, so obviously we were inundated by children trying to sell us balls of varying sizes.
Later we found the turn off and drove through kraals along a beach sand road and finally arrived at a security gate to the private beach. We signed in and drove around the driveway hunting for a campsite - almost all were taken by Over Landers and a variety of other tourists with touring vehicles of all descriptions. After claiming our site we all went to the beach for a swim in the warm water and played some cricket. When every one was out of energy they gathered around to set a tarpaulin and make some tea. We then went to the nearby restaurant for a pleasant dinner and chat. After dinner the boys went to the beach and tackled each other on the sand for a while and came back hot, sweaty and covered in sand.
They went for a shower but still had sand in there hair so the longer haired boys looked like well used brooms. As the evening wore on the crowd seemed to increase as did the loud music, but Chris and Norm were so tired that they went to bed while others went and sat on the beach and waited for midnight. After wishing everyone Happy New Year and watching the fire works being set off randomly, we retreated to our stretchers. The unfortunate thing was that a small group with a sub woofer and mixer had gathered and were playing their music in the middle of the car park. This continued until about 4.00 when another tourist had had enough and turned off the electrical mains switch for a few seconds. Shortly afterwards they resumed with their noise so he then approached them and complained so they moved their equipment to the bar area further away. Needless to say we did not get much sleep either way! Distance travelled for the day 529km. Total distance to date 6668km.
Kande Beach - Neil Garden Cottage, lakeside, Salima 1/1/2011
Amazingly and fortunately we were all up at half six but felt like zombies. Threatening clouds and thunder in the distance got us to pack up fast and just as we had just finished packing it began to pour down with accompanying lightening and thunder. We quickly finished our breakfast under a small shelter while other tourists scrambled around rescuing their belongings. Our little shelter soon sprung a few leaks under the deluge and at the same time the water in the car park became a river heading for our shelter so Norm quickly made a wall with some loose sand while the rest were trying to make another wall to keep the water out. We had to wait for the office to open at 7.00 by which time the shower had passed, so as soon as payment had been finalised we jumped into the vehicles and set off for Neil Garden's Cottage on a private beach near Salima which had been reserved for us.
Driving back to the main road was another slippery experience after the downpour - the beach sand had turned to slush in a few places, but 4 wheel drive saved the day again. We stopped briefly to get bread, chocolates and a few other necessities and were soon on our way. We arrived at Salima in good time and then followed the detailed directions to the cottage, only taking one wrong turn along the way. We were greeted by Bobo the caretaker who advised us that the cottage had already been let out, so we just set up camp in the garden and were soon swimming again in the lake while another tourist sped up and down taking his family for rides on a jet ski. Chris managed to buy two fish from a fisherman on the beach, which Bobo then braaied superbly for our supper. An early night was called for to catch up on the lost hours of sleep the previous night. Distance travelled today 280km. Total distance to date 6948km.
Lakeside, Salima - Lilongwe - Zambian Border - towards Kariba 2/1/2011
We woke with the sun in our faces over the Lake and after breakfast packing up camp went for another swim as we had decided to keep moving towards home. The water was lovely and cool although it was still slightly murky due to rivers feeding silt in after recent rains. We then left and only managed to get a few meters down the road before a pair of Norms shorts dropped off the roof of Nguluvane. We had also forgotten to tie down the water barrels on the roof of Ngulungundu, so after a few minutes we were back on the road heading for Lilongwe and then onto the Zambian Border. No time was wasted - stopping only for fuel and refreshments, using up our last Malawian Kwacha. Fortunately the border was not busy and we were through without delay.
Our plan was to get as far as possible so that Kariba would be achievable tomorrow (Monday) so we pressed on looking for a convenient place for a short lunch break. Finally at about 16.30 we saw a suitable spot, but soon after stopping and getting out the bread, cheese etc, the clouds that had been building behind us arrived and threatened to open on us. The food was quickly divided between the vehicles as we hurriedly piled back in and set off eating on the run. The storm seemed to follow just behind us for the next hour as we watched the wind blowing and people scurrying for cover each time we passed through a kraal or business centre. At 17.30 we came across 'Zulu Kraal' camp site some 50km east of Sinda and after discussing arrangements with the caretaker we set up our tents, unloaded the back of the vehicles and got coffee on the go. Because of the late lunch not all were feeling too hungry so we enjoyed a light dinner of pancakes and jam and a final cup of coffee. We then collapsed into bed for an early night with lightening on the horizon. Distance today 449km.Total distance to date 7397km.
Thanks to John & Declan for this past weeks diary and Mario for emailing it in from Chinhoyi Caves.
3rd Jan 2011 Malawi Road, Lusaka, Kariba - Zimbabwe
Fortunately we were not bothered by rain because it went around us. We woke up good and early as Norm had planned for us to make it to Kariba for the night. So we had a very fast breakfast, topped up our water barrels from the well and departed. We had been led to expect bad roads but fortunately, apart from several pot-holes the road was fine and we were in Lusaka in what seemed like next to no time. We stopped at a shopping center for some snacks and ended up getting lunch because the thousands of varieties of fresh foods were just calling out to our stomachs. It was drizzling a little so we hastily reminded our selves and John to take no wet, muddy, slippery back roads since we were back in Lusaka but found an empty car park and devoured the several food items that we had bought. After lunch we kept going to hopefully reach the border-post before it closed.
We then stopped just before taking the turn off to Kariba to see the protected fossiliferous site. We followed the marked path and saw the fossil wood. We then took the road to Kariba and as if time was flying we were suddenly at the border and were the only ones there. We crossed Kariba dam wall and were again the only travelers on the Zim side. Weary and tired, we departed for Bill and Barbra Bourne's house where we were greeted and congratulated before being shown the newly acquired pool that we could swim in. With the idea of the pool in our heads we dashed around and had a lovely tin of fruit and custard for dinner (we were still full from lunch in Lusaka) and got our beds ready. Then we jumped into the pool - it was so cool and refreshing after the long journey that we struggled to drag ourselves out before collapsing on the soft mattresses that Bill and Barbra had gratefully supplied and were consumed by our tiredness. Distance travelled for day 601km. Total distance to date 7998km.
4 Jan 2011 - Kariba to Chinhoyi Caves
We were woken by the sun rising over the lake, warming our faces as we rolled out of bed. The morning started slowly as one by one, each of us made a cup of coffee for ourselves and sat at the table outside that oversees a portion of the lake. Bill then came through from the bed room and turned on the TV and a comedy movie drew the attention of us all like moth to a flame. It was only when guts began to grumble for breakfast that we started to peal our eyes away from the TV. We then enjoyed a filling breakfast and packed getting ready to go to Chinhoyi Caves and perhaps onto Paper House. We again thanked Bill and Barbra for their hospitality and left to view the Lake from a number of different viewing points.
We were very close to the top of the hill when Ngulungundu ran out of fuel, but never fear - Norm to the rescue. He quickly drained fuel from the back-up tank into a jerry can and put it in the main tank. He also had to bleed the system and soon the engine roared back to life. The by-standing scouts then climbed on the back and we continued the short distance to the top of the hill. From the top we could see a great distance across Kariba and also all the house boats filled with people coming back for work after the holiday season. We stopped to top up with diesel before we ran out again and ended getting some drinks, chips and chocolate for the road before we departed, heading for Chinhoyi Caves. We finally arrived at Chinhoyi Caves and had a good stretch before making arrangements to go in.
We were actually waiting for Declan's and Kevin's aunt, uncle and grandmother who had planned to meet us and see the caves with us, but when they arrived and said that they had brought a picnic lunch, plans were rapidly altered. After the scrumptious lunch we all toured the magnificent caves. The water was clear and one could see the some fish many meters below the surface of the water. After a walk through the dark caves we felt a need for tea so we returned to the cars for some tea and cake that had also been brought by the family. As it was now late in the day, we decided to spend the night at Chinhoyi guessing that we would not make it into the planned night stop and see the paper house before they closed. Thanking and saying good-bye to Declan's and Kevin's relatives we then chose a campsite and began to set up. While the boys were setting up tarpaulins, stretchers and tents Chris had tea on the go and our weary drivers went and crashed (in their beds). The now bored boys started a lively game of cricket. When they were finished and somewhat out of breath we began to prepare dinner for those who wanted and had a quick shower before hopping into bed. Distance for day 264km. Total distance to date 8262km.
5th Jan 2011 Chinhoyi Caves - Bulawayo.
We woke up feeling exited and refreshed and very ready for a hot shower at home! We were packed in no time and after a quick breakfast we headed off in the direction of Bulawayo.
After arriving in KweKwe we soon found the way to the Museum which includes Paper House. We toured around the Mining museum and then went into the paper mache house - the last surviving one of its kind. Despite what the name suggests the metal roof, glass windows and supporting wood frames are obvious to the passer-by. After a few pictures and before we damaged any thing, we left.
We continued until we got to Gweru, where we refueled our trusty Landies and also bought ourselves some lunch. Whilst munching happily we drove on gunning for Bulawayo. After the long hours of rumbling along in Land Rovers we finally arrived at John's place.
We were greeted by the few parents that were already waiting outside and drove in to find a lovely painted banner welcoming us back. The Landies were emptied with haste while every body collected there personal belongings, certificates, passports and other valuables before a final photograph after which everyone went their different ways home, agreeing that there would be no monthly hike, but a thanksgiving service would be held on the forthcoming Service Sunday. Distance for the day 457km. Total distance for the trip, after recalculation, 8334km.
With thanks to John FitzPatrick for the photos and Scribe Declan for the last two blogs!
I am spending so much time in preparing both of my Landy's for our Roof of Africa Expedition, the badge for the expedition and GP's anniversary, enjoying the magic of the Matobo Hills, that I don't know if I am here or there. I haven't earned any money for months as the tourist trade has dropped off. The up side is that I can get on with some planning for the expedition without having to think of taking tourists around.
I will be collecting next year's Troop calendar from the printer later today. I needed to get it out early, one: to raise funds for our expedition and two: it would have been out very late in the new year if I had not done it now. Boy, it was a time consuming task as I had to replace quite a few ads this year, but hey it looks great. I have asked Brett Rorke to put it into a format for me to Email it to you.
I am to collect the Expedition badges tomorrow. They were designed by Kylie - the sister of Declan and Kevin, two of my Scouts, and have been embroidered by Mrs. Netti Maidwell - she has donated them to us. Our fundraising efforts will end on Saturday 4th Dec 2010 with the holding of a cake sale at the shops at Bradfield.
On Saturday 27 November, I was delayed in going out to the Park until the evening, as the Troop had joined up with the Scouts of the 8th Hillside in manning the Jumping Castle stall at the Christian Brother's College charity fundraising event. Although there was a large crowd, our jumping castle did not attract many children. By the end of the day we had not made enough money, which was intended to boost our expedition funds, to pay for the rental of the equipment. But that is life, you win some, you lose some.
I am still working on both Landies in preparing them for our journey. Jon, my Landy guru has been ever so helpful and quite excited in constructing a roof carrier for Ingulungundu. Hopefully every thing will have been done by Sunday afternoon when we meet at John's house to load the Landy's for an early start on Monday morning.
It is our intention to keep you and the world updated as the expedition unfolds.