Mud + Rain + Potholes + Corrugations = Bad Roads part2

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Africa » Tanzania
March 1st 2020
Published: March 2nd 2020
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Once again we got up early, hoping the roads would be better but this was ill judged and it proved a very long and tiring day.

We left Kasulu after managing to re-fuel and head off on a 200km mud road. The conditions were variable with potholes and corrugations but for the most part the mud was well compacted and we could drive at about 30-40mph without too many problems. We were now driving through the middle of nowhere over the course of about 4 hours we probably saw about 10 people, 10 trucks and 1 car. We were driving through endless forest on all sides with little in the way of human evidence.

We eventually got to the entrance to the Kaprivi National park, which gets less visitors in a year than the Serengeti gets in 1 day. There was no obvious entrance to the park so we kept on driving. The last 20km to the park proper were some of the worst we’ve had to date with endless potholes and corrugations and now puddles to add to the mix as the weather started to drizzle. We were probably managing less than 20mph.

On entry to the park there was no gate, no ticket office and in fact relatively few if any signs. So we drove on through the park as the roads continued to worsen. The vegetation was think on both sides and for an hour all we saw were 2 pigeons. Eventually we got to a large plain where the animals would supposedly be but all we managed were 4 more pigeons and an eagle. We finally got to the centre of the park and whilst not abundant Dan and Toby got to see: Zebra, Gazelle, Giraffe, Hippo and warthog. We kept on driving as stopping the night in the park seemed a waste of money and further there was nobody there.

We kept driving through the park as the weather got worse and soon enough we were sliding all over the place. At one point as we tried to avoid ending in a ditch on one side of the road we turned too hard and ended up driving down the road sideways. We were now probably doing 10mph and with the rain coming down hard we were all keen not to get stuck as the road was now a mud bath and far from desirable to step into.

Thankfully the road gradually improved and eventually after about 40klm became tarmac and this we followed for a further 150km to reach the wonderfully named town of Sumbawanga. All told we did 530km of driving today and on some of the worst roads we’ve experienced. It’s dangerous to say but hopefully we are now finally through the worst of it as we sit on the border to Zambia where we (believe) most of the roads are tarmac.

We stayed at a church conference centre which was in reality a hotel in the centre of town. We headed into the town for some local cuisine and found a bar and a restaurant serving a BBQ we could see being cooked outside. It turned out the restaurant was Muslim and I was wearing a t-shirt with a picture of a pig on the front. It kind of makes sense why the waitress wasn’t exactly excited by our presence, but only really figured it after we left. The food was great and we had what we’re pretty sure was chicken (based on the anatomy) and beef (although the lack of local stray dogs means that’s not certain).

Tomorrow we leave Tanzania and head into Zambia.


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