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Aug 14 2013

Back to the shore … Lake Shore at Kipili

“Wow, that was close” I think as we sit idling in the ditch, a big plume of dust slowly settling between the trees. I have just wrenched the car out of the two-spoor that is the national road up the west side of Tanzania, in order to avoid the bus that was hurtling towards me at 80 or 90 km/h. It is a known fact that these bus drivers are nuts, and that they won’t stop for anything.

We leave Sumbawanga after a good night’s sleep and a quick breakfast in the car park. The VodaShop is still closed, so no SIM today either. We’ll have to try again in Mpanda. It is going to be another rough day on the road. Dust, dust and dust. The road we use is the oxen track on the side of the old road – just slightly improved to ensure the trucks and busses can use it to. Remember, this is the national road and is the main artery on this side of the country… The track is bumpy, it is corrugated, and it is in places covered in a fine talcum-like powder. Very tiring. After about two hours of this we get to the turn-off towards Kipili, and we can almost smell the lake.

The first 28km towards Kipili is the same as we just left – only without the busses and trucks. Then we reach the roundabout! where we continue straight towards Kipili – and onto the best road we have driven so far in Tanzania. Hard gravel, almost as good as Namibia. There are places with corrugation on this road too, but all in all a very pleasant 90min down to the lake. And a taste of paradise.

We are met at Kipili by Chris and Louise. The carport is covered in pink and white flowers. The lodge and chalets are white with perfect thatched roofs. The boats are lined up on the lake, and the lake is very inviting. Dinner sounds tempting, but we decide to cook ourselves.

Well settled in on the campsite we finish laundry, wipe down the car a bit, and chill for a while before heading down to the beach. The water is lovely, it ends up being our first “swim” for a long time. Later, Niall and Simon arrive on one of the other stands. The next morning we exchange information about where to go and where to stay.

Day two at Kipili is almost a day of chill. Aside from another load of laundry and a full clean of the inside of the car, we read a lot and have another swim in the afternoon.

When we leave Kipili we can again enjoy the relatively good gravel going up to the roundabout!. Only this time it seems much more corrugated that when we arrived… it is funny what a day of chill and swimming does to you! The bus that had fishtailed on the corrugation and planted itself in the ditch was a timely reminder that gravel can be tricky. The stretch from the roundabout towards the main road is not too bad, but the main road is still in bad condition. The last 15km before we reach Katavi National Park is horrible, so corrugated in places that I can either do 10km/h or 100km/h. As 100km/h is impossible on these roads in Brodie, it is down to 10km/h… it almost physically hurts.

After an afternoon and morning in Katavi National Park (see separate post) we started the final 35km towards Mpanda. It ended up taking us more than an hour due to the condition of the road. In Mpanda we spent the night in Baraka Guest House, which had been recommended to us. Clean, and relatively quiet. We went out in search of a SIM. Found one, but the registration system was down so no luck again. Then we searched for a restaurant, but didn’t find one apart from the one at Baraka, which turned out to be quite ok.

Tomorrow is our biggest day on these roads – 300km to Kigoma on the lake shore again.  We hope the roads improve, but realistically we are in for another long, hot, dusty day …


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