Day 314: Right Or Wrong?

Sun. 23rd June 2013

Baobab trees, always strikingIn terms of what we did today, it is very simple. We sat on Sabie from 5am to 6pm as we drove some 500km from Iringa to Dar Es Salaam. There was a stop for breakfast at around 8am at which we also made our sandwiches for lunch and another short break at around 3pm at a service station for some snacks. Other than those and the odd, on-request, stop for bush watering, it was all sit back, get as comfortable as possible and do whatever is your preferred way of passing the time – in my case it is mostly listening to podcasts and reading my Kindle.

Giraffe peeking out from the treesThe one distraction was when the road took us through Mikumi National Park though as we hadn’t paid our park entry fees, then (technically) we weren’t allowed to stop or to take photos. The main attraction in the park are pygmy elephants – smaller (duh!) than the African elephants we have seen to date. Sadly, we don’t spot any of these but we do see a few giraffe, buffalo and impala (yawn!) and Dom helpfully slows down Sabie while some (naughty) people forget Duncan’s prohibition on taking photos.

Well the giraffe looks interestedWe approach Dar from the north but then have to drive all the way round the city as our campsite is on the coast south of town. Worse still, there is a bay that comes a good way inland which we also have to drive around in heavy traffic. Once again, its nearly dark by the time that we get to the campsite and we’re all tired after the long drive and frustrated that the last 20km took the best part of 2 hours. The good news is that we don’t need to worry about pitching our tent tonight. Here, we say goodbye to the folk on the Acacia trip and we don’t envy them as they have another 5am start to head off to Zanzibar.

Breakfast time after 3hrs on the roadAt the campsite, on the shore of the Indian Ocean, we’re relieved to find that they do have our reservation for a banda for us. It’s a little beach hut on stilts with a couple of mattresses in it. There is less space than there is in our tent but at least we aren’t going to be turfed out of it at 4:30am because the rest of the group have to head on to Zanzibar. We’ve also been warned by Duncan and by signs in the campsite that going outside the boundaries of the campsite isn’t safe and that is more than born out when the police arrive on site, blue lights flashing on their car, as a thief was discovered in one of the bandas. We make extra sure that we carry our valuables with us all of the time after this. We’ve had no problems like this so far on our trip – now is not the time to start.

X means scheduled for demolition for a widening of the road.So, the day was simple and straightforward if tiring. Over the last 10 days we have driven over 3,000km from Livingstone to Dar. Of those 10 days, 4 or 5 have been full days where we have done little or nothing else other than sit on Sabie. With the Nomad trip up to Vic Falls, there was so much to see that I wish we had more time. On this trip, there has been too little to see and too much time spent on Sabie. I spent some of the time musing as to whether we were right or wrong to have signed up with Acacia.

Caught in the traffic around DarIf we had travelled independently up from Livingstone, it would have undoubtedly taken more time and have been much more difficult – but not impossible. We would certainly have seen much more of the locals if travelling on their buses. However, we wouldn’t necessarily have seen more sights – the buses run from town to town and some of the sights we want to see are outside of town (e.g. South Luangwa) and some of the things we did see (e.g. the Mphatso Day Care Centre) we’d really only have been able to see as part of an organised trip.

It very nearly is too!In the end we have to be happy with what we chose to do. We can’t change it and we did achieve our primary objective of getting up to Dar in good time. Even better, because of the trip we made contact with Leanne and she has helped us to develop a programme for the missing week of our trip between leaving Dar and meeting up with Steve, Chris and Lucy in Arusha. The big news is that we are now booked to fly from Dar to Nairobi and then spend a few days in the Masai Mara (including a dawn balloon flight) and then Amboselli park before hopping back over the border to Arusha. This sounds like it is going to be a fantastic itinerary and we are very excited about it and the prospect of meeting up with the boys at the end of it just makes it more so. We’re sad that our trip is coming to an end but the final three weeks are going to be something to remember.

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