Tanzania (Part 1)

I had a late start; waiting for the phone shop to open and for the rain to stop. Another bit of waiting at the phone shop for my sim to be activated, and then I set off cycling out of Kigoma.

On the way out I stopped for a Chipsi Moyai. I’d heard of these as being an omelette with chips, and assumed that simply meant chips served on top of an omelette. It turns out the omelette is made on the same pan as the chips, so the chips are actually cooked into the omelette.

I passed a few villages on the way out of the city but then they became much rarer, and I ended up cycling through a big forest. When I did pass through villages, people called out and, if I stopped, gathered round to watch.

I was feeling a bit tired today and was riding slow. In the afternoon I got two punctures, one for each tyre. With those delays I had to pick up the pace to reach my destination before dark.

I got to Uvinza just as the sun was setting. The third lodge I tried had rooms available, so I checked in there. There was a guy selling Chipsi Moyai just outside, so I bought one there.

The road turned to dirt just outside the village. Initially I passed a few people herding cattle or carrying water, but after a while the population density dropped to a level rarely seen, especially in Africa. For about three hours I saw no one walking or cycling. Two or three vehicles passed each hour. I very much enjoyed this respite.

After about four hours of generally uphill riding I reached a collection of stalls. I bought a Chipsi Moyai, some chicken on a stick, and some water before continuing on. There were a few more people in this area but it soon reverted to quiet forest riding.

Another few hours led to a village, where I stopped again. I got enough water to last the night, as I did not expect to reach anywhere with accommodation available.

The tarmac resumed a bit earlier than I expected, near the village of Vikonge. The dirt road had lasted 150km or so, and had been of variable quality. There were lots of washboard sections, but usually (not always) there was a smooth area wide enough to ride a bike through.

I rode a little past the village then wandered off from the road and set up camp. It was my first time doing so in about 5 weeks!

It started to rain about an hour before dawn, then dried up as it started getting light. I packed up and started cycling before dawn.

It stayed dry for a little while, during which time I got a puncture and replaced a tube. It soon started to rain again and I took shelter during a particularly heavy shower.

As I rode on the rain returned and there was nowhere around to shelter so I just cycled through it. I reached the town of Mpanda after cycling for just an hour and a half or so. I’d decided to take a few rest days, and this seemed as good a place as any. I tried a few lodges before finding one that wasn’t full or closed.

I had 3 days off in Mpanda. I got a few useful things done, like having some holes in my handlebar bag repaired. Mostly though I just relaxed. I did buy a new tyre – I was surprised they had 700c ones. My rear tyre doesn’t look like it’ll last much longer. The pricetag of the new one (just under £4) doesn’t inspire much confidence so I’ll use the old one for as long as possible.

I set off again on Tuesday, making my usual early start. Once I got out of town it was a bit foggy, though that didn’t last long.

The first couple hours I rode quickly on a paved road, up to the village of Sitalike, where it turned to dirt. I stopped at the river running through that village, where there were several hippos. They’re difficult to photograph since they’re mostly underwater! If I hadn’t read there were hippos here, I would have just ridden straight through without noticing.

There were monkeys too

The road was flat for a couple hours past Sitalike. Despite the washboard surface I rode quickly, encouraged by the swarms of Tsetse flies around me.

These flies bite and can carry a disease, sleeping sickness. If they landed on my skin I would usually feel them in time to swat them away. But when they landed on my clothes I didn’t feel them until the sudden pain of a bite. So they were very literally a pain in the arse!

That’s a tsetse fly on my hand

When the road started to climb, they were more easily able to keep up with me. I must have looked a strange sight, arms flailing wildly to get rid of the flies. Thankfully there weren’t many cars around to see me, and nobody lived in this area.

At last I left the area with the flies. Not long after the road became paved again, and I rode on for a couple hours before reaching a town with some guest houses. I checked into one, declining the offers of a half-drunk man nearby who kept yelling “white man talk to me!”

Dec 15: 105 km

Dec 16: 158 km

Dec 17: 35 km

Dec 21: 159 km

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