From Brum to Dar to Kigoma to Gombe, Tanzania

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September 9th 2018
Published: September 9th 2018
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Tanzania day 1
Feom Brum to Dar es Salaam to Kigoma to Gombe Tanzania
I’m in shock. We have arrived at our destination without mishap. No flight delays, no lost luggage, no Qatar Airways, no being asked to get off the plane while they restart it, no airline going bump, no being asked to get off the plane to identify your hold baggage.... Yes all these have happened to us...and more!
But this time with KLM it was quite the opposite-left on time, arrived on time, no problem with connections, good food and service and regular drinks, friendly staff, ice cream and even a stroopwaffel which made my day. Kudos Dutch people.
When we stopped at Kilimanjaro airport on the way they even told us where we were so we didn’t get off at the wrong place....again, yes we did that before too...
We arrived safely in Dar es Salaam where we joined a queue to get a visa. You can buy them beforehand but lots of people were queuing with us so it was a bit of a wait and I joined the slow queue every time but hey. You actually had to visit three desks and they employed someone to pass the passports to a fourth desk so it wasn’t the most efficient system to say the least. At $50 a pop I guess they need to jusitfy employing so many people and utilising the fingerprint scanners. They took our photos as well but bizarrely the picture on the visa is the one from our passport....strange....
Anyway, our luggage was there and we had to have everything pass through a scanner as we left. Unusual.
To add to the surprises there was even a driver outside with my name on it.
Fortunately the driver got lost and had to phone people, stop and ask people and then get the ‘hotel’ owner to meet him and guide him in. Phew, something’s gone awry! We arrived at our accommodation, the House of Changes, at 23:30 and were shown to our room and then just left. I’d paid beforehand ($11) so I don’t suppose chit chat was on the menu.
The room was basic, well what do you expect for $11, but being able to poo while having a shower as the bathroom was so small was ....different...not that I tried it out. Claire might have know what she’s like! The sheets looked clean as did the one towel. The mosquito net was functional and I don’t appear to have been bitten....which is nice...
We had a little over 4 hours sleep before the alarms went off. The shower was hot and I’d just stepped out when there was a knock at the door. Our driver was here, at 4:45, when we’d been told 5:30 so we quickly got our stuff together...and got dressed....and went outside into the darkness.
This driver knew where he was going thankfully. There were a lot of people around when we got here last night and it was still busy this morning at 5am. Not sure where everyone was going.... For anyone interested they drive on the right side of the road here....which is the left of course.
At the airport we were even earlier than I turn up for an international flight and we had to wait quite a while even for the check-in desk to open. After going through the airport scanners again.
Then once through we had a really long wait again so we had some breakfast-chips for me and scrambled eggs on toast for Claire. Really sampling the local delicacies eh! I don’t think anyone comes to Tanzania for the food and I in particular am being cautious as I have something of a reputation for getting ill....
And for any Americans reading, that’s chips NOT crisps!
Dar airport is a little rough but still at least twice as good as Kos airport.
We boarded our Air Tanzania flight to Kigoma in the west of Tanzania where we hope to be met by someone from Gombe Safaris. I booked this trip from home as the chance to go trekking to see chimpanzees in their natural habitat is something I didn’t want to miss. The flight and pick up from the airport are included so things are going fine so far.
The plane is four seats wide so far from the smallest aeroplane I’ve ever been on. Just learnt that only 5% of the earth’s population has even been on a plane....does anyone else find that surprising given how busy airports are!?!? Maybe they’re always the same people and I’m in some sort of Truman Show....
Anyway, we are taking off a few minutes early which is pretty nifty. Or maybe you already know that as you’re watching it live....scary....
The flight was fine despite not seeing a single giraffe from the air; well we can but hope! And we landed at the tiny airport of Kigoma where we had to go to the immigration desk even though we had come from, well, Tanzania... i think they just like to keep an eye on where people are and it didn’t take too long while everyone’s names etc were written down in a book.
The luggage arrived on a handcart and was then passed through a window onto a bench where you had to show your receipt on your boarding card to get it. And Claire had lost hers... Somehow she managed to blag it and get someone else in trouble as he chased after him for his ticket rather than her. Her escape was blocked as she tried to rush out of the room but somehow she made it and we were soon being greeted by many colourfully dressed women all serenading us.
Apparently lots of Muslims were ariving home and it wasn’t for us but it was nice anyway. We were picked up by our driver James who drove us to Ujiji and the museum of Dr Livingstone. The man in question visited here and this was where the famous phrase ‘Dr Livingstone I presume?’ was actually said.
An old man was our guide and he took us to a monument that stands where a mango tree used to be that the phrase was said under.
He talked for a long time about this and the good doctor himself and the receding water line but, to be honest, I couldn’t make out a lot of it. Claire was glad she was female as he did most of his spiel looking directly at me. I did manage to work out that Michael Palin hd been here too and they were good friends. Me and him then recreated that famous moment before we went for a look round the museum which told a lot about slavery as well.
Back into the car we headed then to the port where I had presumed we would be on a ferry. But no. We have a private boat and are sat on thin cushions on a two hour trip on the slowest boat in the world. The boat pulled up on the beach alongside locals humping sacks of something onto cargo boats which they had to wade through the water to get to. It took quite a few tries to get the motor going but thankfully it started eventually. So here we are bobbing along in an old wooden boat along the waters of lake Tanganyika. Just another day....
The only way to get to this park is by boat so it’s a pretty special place to be. We saw olive baboons along the way as they were along the beach in places. We brought our chef with us and eventually landed in Gombe National Park and were shown to our room, which is fine. The original plan was to go trekking to find chimpanzees today but we were told they were three hours walk away so it was too late.
So we went swimming instead! In Lake Tanganyika with the jungle just behind us. We tied up our belongings in case any baboons came along and tried to nick them but they didn’t. Dinner was a very late lunch as yet again we’d missed a meal on holiday. Basic food but quite tasty and filling.
After that we went and sat by the lake and took pictures of the sunset, wrote our blogs and, well, chilled....
We’ve had our briefing for tomorrow and have already been warned that we may not see chimpanzees...

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