Tanzania

Posted in: English Okt 10 2016

The officer at the Rwanda boarder told me, that I have to apply for a visa in advance. Fortunately, there was a Tanzanian boarder just 50km away from there. I changed my plans and cycled towards there. The entry requirements were dealt with quickly. Unfortunately followed thereafter an absolutely terrible ride. Unpaved roads with endless up and down and corrugated slopes.

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Another evil followed in the first night. Throughout the country, the landscape is lit in the dry season. Such brand grubbing-up scheme took place very close to my campsite. You can’t sleep cozy if beside you burn a fire! Henceforth, I looked for my sleeping places very thoroughly. Moreover, the drivers don’t care about cyclists and produce a lot of dust. On the border I could not exchange money. The people did not accept my Ugandian money. So I could not buy water. Fortunately I had my inventories still filled along the border. Never in my life I was so happy to reach a paved road.

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I had touched the side wall of my rear wheel tire at the great rift valley in Kenya. Few kilometers before Bukoba there was a loud bang. Luckily I had a spare tire in case. The next deep impact followed at the harbor in Bukoba. I wanted to take the ferry towards Mwanza. The boat, however, is defective since several months. So I had to leave my bike there and boarded the bus. In Dar es Salam I wanted to organize my visa for Zambia. The twenty-hour bus ride was pretty bad. The bus drivers lawn totally ruthless through the area. I could pick up my visa after 3 days at the embassy. Unfortunately forced me a fever attack for several days to bed. The food supply in the western part of the country is not very good. So I had to buy some stocks in the city.

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I visited some friends in Mwanza which I had not seen for almost 10 years. They spoiled me with cheese fondue and a proper bed. Thank you very much! Then it went again back by bus to Bukoba. Dusty (my bike) was waiting there in an undamaged condition on me. It’s not always easy to get back in the saddle after three weeks. Fortunately was in the beginning, the street still in relatively good condition. However, was this changing pretty soon. After a while there was no more asphalt. Thereafter only followed dust slopes. The reckless drivers whirled on an enormous amount of dust. Partly I had to stop because out of sheer dust you could not see anything.

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On the second day broke my sunglasses. The next mishap followed on the next day: While I pushed my bike through a field the chain drop from the chainring. It took me 3 hours to get back out to the chain.

The landscape seemed to me here rather bleak. Everything is burned and covered with dust. Along the border with Burundi you can regularly see refugee camps. In April 2015 protests broke out in Burundi after the ruling party announced President Pierre Nkurunziza would seek a third term in office. Following the attempted coup, protests however continued and over 100,000 people had fled the country by causing a humanitarian emergency. There are reports of continued and widespread abuses of human rights, including unlawful killings, torture, disappearances and restrictions on freedom of expression.

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After nine days I arrived morally and physically at the end in Kigoma. The campsite was too expensive for me. In the Aqua Lodge I found my place to sleep for the next few days. Then three days later I was on the ship to drive over Lake Tanganyika. MV Liemba, formerly Graf Goetzen, is a passenger and cargo ferry that runs along the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika. The Marine Services Company Limited of Tanzania sails her, with numerous stops to pick up and set down passengers, between the ports of Kigoma, Tanzania and Mpulungu, Zambia. Graf von Goetzen was built in 1913 in Germany, and was one of three vessels the German Empire used to control Lake Tanganyika during the early part of the First World War. Her captain had her scuttled on 26 July 1916 in Katabe Bay during the German retreat from Kigoma. In 1924, a British Royal Navy salvage team raised her and in 1927 she returned to service as Liemba. Liemba is the last vessel of the German Imperial Navy still actively sailing anywhere in the world. Lake Tanganyika is estimated to be the second largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, and the second deepest, in both cases, after only Lake Baikal in Siberia. It is also the world’s longest freshwater lake.

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The three-day navigation was a real experience. Mostly can the ship not land on the shore. Therefore goods and people be transported to the Liemba by small vessels. Foreigners pay for a ticket four times more than domestic. More than a third class ticket was not in it for me. This was a nice graduation for me in Tanzania.

Unfortunately, I can not very recommend this country for cyclists. The poor state of the roads and the reckless drivers do not make it easy. It is a pity, because the country would have a lot to offer especially scenic (if not everything is burned).