Sunday, 13 May 2012

On the road: day 4

Much like yesterday we were in no great hurry to move, we knew we had a short hop to get to Iringa before ploughing on to Ruahah National Park, the largest national park in Tanzania. Although the journey encompassed some 350km we had it broken down so that by 190km we knew we should be able to have a decent break with something bordering on edible as far as food goes due to Iringa being a fairly decent size town.

The initial journey was pretty uneventful with no Police bothering to trouble you as it was Saturday and it would seem this is a day of rest or, as I now know it, bribelessday.  We reached Iringa in good time (3:5hrs) so were ready to chow down by 12:30, however, Zanner was adamant we stop at the local information office to seek onward advice as we hoped to stay in or near the park. The office belongs to the local tour company and wanted to charge $10 for making a call to the place we had already been recommended by friends back in Moshi. Suffice to say we got the call made but sidestepped the ridicules fee. Fortunately the same place has its own exceedingly good cafe, coffee and pies, oh yes they make chicken and mushroom pies better than Greggs here! Refreshed we headed to the local craft building which was run as a charity for deaf people who are cast out in Tanzania due to the perception that they cannot earn money for their families. This charity gives them work and therefore an income from which to gain a foothold in the human race! They also serve good coffee and chocolate brownies. As I am now 16 months without touching a drop of alcohol ,coffee does seem to have become a disconcerting habit, but with Zac and Josh bickering in the back of the car and Zannah falling asleep in the front you need something to keep the reflexes sharp on these roads. Again we came across more carnage, with one truck even taking out the whole of the crash barrier along a bridge with some 40ft drop either side...scary.

After the Iringa stop Zanner sent us the wrong way before we turned around and headed in the general direct necessary to get us where we needed to go. It's a bit like having a sat nav, it will always get you there but sometimes you need accept the fact it hasn't a bloody clue what it's doing.

The journey to Rhuha is pretty brutal as it involves around 100km of unmade road, made much worse by the recent rains. It is a real bone rattler and filling loosener which really tests your nerves and worse still makes Joshua's decibel level go beyond critical. Suffice to say he very quickly lost his much loved Nintendo time not helped by Zach constantly winding him up about each minute that was taken away from him.

Worth the journey any time

Crocs have real back bone for their work
The next pictures don't need captions, there are just nice...Zanz is getting good at this photo thing!

Kudu du du du duo
We arrived at the park with enough time to trek 20km with good light before we needed to find our bandas for the night. Amazingly we spotted Kudu, Rock Hyrax, Elephant, Zebra, Gazelle and the Saddle-Billed Stork (East Africa's largest) all within half an hour, pretty cool we thought. As the night drew in we found our accommodation, amazing little steel bandas with toilet block and small eating area. Just as we were getting bags out of the car we spotted two Giraffe happily munching at the trees next to one of the bandas.  Already encamped we're two couples from South Africa, I say SA but three of them were from the UK but had lived there for 20 years. They were over-landing for four months and heading up to Ethiopia. They will have covered over 20,000k by the time they return to Joburg making our road trip look like a day out. However, by now the hobbits were getting restless so we drove up to the only place we could grab food, the staff canteen. And there we sat, eating chicken and rice with 15 local workers all happily ensconced in the FA Cup is very funny at times.

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