July 22, 2024

Too much adventure for one day!

Our day turned out to be one of the most hectic experienced on the trip so far! We arrived at a hotel in Sumbawanga at 23h45 last night looking like this:

Francois and Tania full of dust
and here is a close up:

Francois  Tania

11 hours earlier…

We left the Vodashop in Mbeya very excited to have sorted out our IT with the help of Petro. The problem was that they still had to RICA our simcard before it could work, so now we should be okay for the rest of our time in Tanzania. Below Francois is making a post at the Vodashop…

Posting at the Vodashop
10 hours earlier…

The road from Mbeya to Tunduma was absolutely crazy and for the first time we experienced some real hectic driving. Up the hills the trucks slow down to 20km per hour and when they reach the top they race downhill at about 120km per hour and when you see one coming from behind you just have to hold on to the bike and stay as far left as possible. It is also not uncommon to see a truck or minibus in your lane coming from the front overtaking another truck. And every few kilometres you see a broken down ‘moer-toe gery’ truck stranded in the road. As we approached Tunduma the traffic intensified and now crazy little tuc-tuc’s and bikes (all looking like ours, but most 125cc) joined in with the trucks.

Tunduma havoc
What a busy town Tunduma is and it is a bit much on the senses to take all in. At the petrol station everyone wanted to do exchange Malawian Kwatchas, but we explained that we were going to Sumbawanga and then onto Rwanda. Finally they got the message and with full tanks we were ready for the next stretch.

9 hours earlier…

Just note that before taking this Western Road past Lake Tanganyika we consulted with a number of people. Everyone said that the road should be fine (gravel all the way to the top) and some even said that it should be tarred by now and that everyone loved going up this road etc. etc. So we were hoping it would be fine. We started off with a bang hitting a stretch of cotton soil (talc like powder). We asked one of the construction workers if the road gets better and they again assured us that it only lasts for 1 or 2 km further and then it’s fine… It turned out not to be so true :o)

After 30km we realised that we were not going to reach Sumbawango before sunset and we were already looking like this…

Dirty looking Francois
We still had 175km to go to reach our destination. First thing we did was to ensure that we had enough water should we be stranded somewhere and Francois had to go down to the local well to pump some water for our bottles. This photo I had to sneak in from a distance as the women down at the well did not want me to take photos.

Fetching water
We then asked some locals if they know of a place where we could sleep and they said that 75km ahead there is a place in Laeala. So we pushed to get there in time.

4 hours earlier…

It was dark already and by now we were only averaging about 25km per hour on the bumpy road (luckily no sand). We finally reached Laela but our hearts sunk as we saw the “place to stay”, a local hotel with people pouring out from the doors and windows and very dodgy looking. We did not feel safe so decided to see if we can find a local village where we could stay. During the next few kilometres we stopped a few times, but every time we got off the bikes to ask the people if we can stay there they could not understand a word of English and were also very hesitant to talk to us. Some didn’t even want to come out of their houses when they heard us and they looked scared.

The only thing we could do was continue until we find some place safe to stay. Luckily there were not many cars or people on the road so we pushed on at a slow pace.

We finally reached Sumbawanga late at 23h30 and luckily found a very good place to stay at the Moravian Church Hotel. I did not realise how dirty we were and when we finally looked in the mirror we had to laugh (a bit hysterically) and were very glad that we were safe.

We definitely had to learn the hard way, but I am glad it happened now so that we are better prepared for other difficult stretches ahead, such as the stretch between Marsabit and Moyale from Kenya to Ethiopia which we will not take lightly again. Today we are hanging around here for the day and will check the bikes out to see if everything is okay and we will relook our route for tomorrow. The Motomias really proved themselves on this stretch and we have developed even more respect for these sturdy little road bikes.

7 thoughts on “Too much adventure for one day!

  1. Hi foeitog julle is sleg gepoeier!! Fr daai gesig spreek boekdele – moedeloos maar tog bly jul is “tuis”. Nou het julle baie stof tot nadenke vir die pad vorentoe! Goeie advertensie vit MotoMia!!
    Bly julle is veilig. Voorspoed vorentoe.

  2. Hey guys! I don’t want to laugh but I am chuckling… this reminds me so much of our episode on the way to and through the Makgadikgadi Pans. I now have (as you probably do too) a healthy suspicion when sand is mentioned – they always say ‘oh, it’s just a short stretch’ and then it goes on and on and gets worse and worse! I feel your pain and am glad you got to your destination safely, albeit late. As tough as days like that are though, they will probably be the ones you remember the most fondly. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  3. Sjoe dit was ‘n tawwe dag/nag! Net bly julle het veilig in Sumbawanga gearriveer. Lekker uitrus vanaand. Luv. V1x

  4. That’s Adventure with a capital ‘A’ and LEGENDS with caps lock on!! I’m so glad you made it safely and that you could still smile (and laugh) about it at the end…AND take the time to share it with us. That shows a lot about your character!! As Aretha Franklin would have said: “R E S P E C T!!!”

  5. Wow! Tania, ek hoop daar was spesiaal ‘n bad vir jou; hoewel ‘n stort seker nodig was om eers die ergste stof af te spoel. Malawi was dus regtig ‘n vulletjie teen dié een! Maar, julle twee is net so ‘tough’ soos die Motomia’s – onstuitbare kombinasie!! Knap gedaan! XX

  6. Wow, now it loos like the real African adventure, reminds me to the motor cycle diary. Well done guys!

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