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The Solo Scooterist

Documenting my travels on a Vespa

Category: Tanzania (page 2 of 3)

The Stanley of Singida offers organic

Enjoying Singida as the sunsets , sitting across from the local bar I perused the very extensive menu which also sported local Tanzanian wine from Dodoma . In consultation with my very attentive waiter who every time I had a question about the menu would pull up a chair almost on top of me ,  explain in great detail what the dish was by running his finger under the name of the dish and reading it allowed to me , we made a great team huddled together over that menu in the soft light making choices with the intensity of a world summit.

The goat and salad was ordered the local wine passed  on by recommendation from Henry and I pointed to the starter that sounded fantastic . I settled in to enjoy the twilight . My starter arrived which only had the word chicken in common with what I thought I had ordered and to my delight was exquisite what ever it was , I wolfed it down hardly lifting my head from the trough so to speak . The last bit of  light fell as I caught a glimpse of a man crossing the restaurant  cleaver and meat in hand , all would be revealed in a few minutes . A fire was built the grid placed above the dancing flames , the sound of cleaver on meat and bone eminated from the barbeque room , was this dinner I wondered? An hour later this perfectly prepared crispy salad arrived and Henry gestured to the man in the room who in a flash produced my freshly prepared organically reared local goat , finger licking good goat mind you. While eating I spent time meeting and greeting the locals  who were staying in the motel , who took great interest in primarily Victoria and then my story as the solo scooterist .  I look forward to staying at the Stanley on my return as I make my way to the Tanzanian border with  Rwanda. I met such fascinating people doing so much for their country and with such pride in their nation that seems to reward in other ways other than those of a monetary nature . So off to bed , early to rise to make the final ride to Arusha.

Rider on the storm

Rider on the storm

Finding unleaded proved difficult , once done  I was off to Babati and then Arusha  on a wintery day that made me miss my heated grips and left me huddled behind my little screen . A ride I look forward to doing again with the road taking you along the rift valley past mount Hanang , just the most intoxicating scenery with great tar and turns , Victoria and I had a ball . We arrived in Babati  the first town thus far that offered no unleaded , so off came one of the petrol bags to start the top up , with in no time  I was once again the topic of discussion , surrounded  by the friendly , enquiring and intrigued towns folk , so we chatted and discussed fuel consumption as well as the 160 km per hour top speed , once again this was put under the spotlight ,  spedo’s don’t lie , that been true in every sense of the word. Top up done , questions dwindled and stopped to be replaced by the sound of Victoria starting her motor and so we waved Babati goodbye.

 

Mount Hanang

Mount Hanang

Coming off the escarpment

Coming off the escarpment

The ride to Arusha just got greener and the mountains started flattening out and the plains opened up as Victoria’s wheels rolled towards our next destination.

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Masai Village adopting the old and the new.

Just outside  Arusha about an hour from safety I came across the demons of death , I had to stop to take a picture as I had never seen them stationary before . Still they stood those menacing eyes glaring , that I forever see in my lane. Halted briefly ,  pulled over by the weigh bridge they idle , motors rumbling waiting for the flag to drop so they could once again enter the race of speed and destruction.

Those eyes will haunt forever .

Those eyes will haunt forever .

Relief when the back is visible , you just say , I survived another.

Relief when the back is visible , you just say , I survived another.

The road was almost done when I came across this Masai market day , what a sight to behold , the bold of blood-red awash across the market . As blood brings and carries life so this red set the market alight . Beautiful , strong , old and bold filled my eyes , yes Africa rich in so much.

Masai market

Masai market

I stopped , tried not to be invasive , asked if it would be alright for me to take a few pictures , a young guy said it would be fine , but I must not focus on one person alone unless I asked them personally , so just a few general shots and then I put the camera away , sat on the scooter and watched an ancient tradition bring the modern to life.

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An hour later I was waiting in a school parking lot for my friend Tim to arrive and show me the way home . He arrived riding and revving an old school Honda scrambler as he slid sideways over the loose gravel and luckily to a halt just a few meters from Vic and I . Hugs and hello’s and we left for Tim’s place . Wow what a road , poor Victoria bouncing , scraping and clutch smoking as she finally summited , the stench of the clutch instilled fear of hurt as I parked her high up on the hill to catch her breath. I unpacked , pitched the tent , showered and walked up the hill to enjoy my first home cooked meal since leaving South Africa , finer than fine it was , enjoying Silvia’s delicious pasta , wishing her a long life on the day of her birth , just to end it all with scrumptious home made cake , dressed with only a few candles celebrating her youth . So nice to be with Tim and those close to him , we sat back , I felt warm , safe and secure in the fact I was amongst friends. Welcome to Arusha Solo and the scooter.

Until we meet again.

 

 

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Lazy Days in Arusha

The days are taken up doing chores , planning for time in the bush , tracking down a place to do a full service on Victoria and the nights are full of home cooking , conversation and live music courtesy of Janelle on guitar and Gabby on vocals, just fantastic to be in the heart of a home . One thing that I think is true for all travellers , is that when you come across a washing machine it is like finding the pot at the end of the rainbow. Before you have even put the washing in you start fantasising  about that clean fresh smell as you pull the shirt over your head , the smell of softener and soap fills your senses , so thank you Janelle , staff and machine for being so kind and helping remove the road scent from my clothing.

Tim and Craig sorted out the safari for me and Tim found a motorcycle expert to help with Victoria. Dates booked all sorted out in two days , I felt much better for getting the admin stuff out of the way. The next day Victoria and I following Tim in a taxi finally  arrived at Per’s place who owns the service centre were I was welcomed with spice cake , cookies and tea and met Gifty who was going to service Victoria. ( Vespa Wynberg please take note )

We started just after 10h00 and finished just after 15h00 having done a major service and health check. We put the spare on the rear , changed belt and rollers , checked the brake pads , changed oil and all the filters , checked the clutch , the shocks , changed the spark plug and so the list goes on and on . Gifty was incredible and if ever anybody has bike issues in and around Arusha or anywhere in this great country this is the only place to take your loved ones.

www.tecnixbike.wordpress.com .

 

Gifty and the art of scooter maintenance

Gifty and the art of scooter maintenance

The major service

The major service

I was hoping to do the service at 10 000 but I felt that when you find a great facility and very capable workmanship grab it with both hands . We have travelled just over 8500 km to get here , If I had travelled the most direct route to Arusha from Johannesburg it would have been a smidgen over 3600km , the beauty of been lost in Africa. Thank you Gifty we both appreciate your meticulous and thorough work , I really enjoyed our hours together with chats and tunes playing over the speakers , while we tinkered and torqued the time away

All done and all that was left was to get ready for my safari. What is really cool about Tanzanians is that anything that involves a getaway or a weekend break , not necessarily to the bush is referred to as a safari. When people ask about our journey , the comment is wow that is a long safari you are doing or what a great safari . I love being on safari. The other very  cool thing about being in Arusha are the people that I have had the pleasure of meeting and being welcomed with open arms into their homes. Thank you Arushans see after safari.

Until we meet again.

 

 

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Lake Manyara and lions in trees

The day finally arrived it was safari time , I really was so excited and found myself wide awake in the early hours of the morning counting down to launch. What was so exciting about the operator Tim had found me was that he has his own tented camps in the national parks , and what made it even more unique was the fact I would be solo safariest as I had booked my trip when the camps had no guests except me .

Jean the owner of the Safari company collected me with a few of his friends as they were driving up to Lake Manyara and offered me a lift to the camp . It was about a 2 hour drive and we arrived in Mosquito town , were I met Chrisple who was to be my guide and game companion.

 

On the way to market.

On the way to market.

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Beautiful forests as you enter the park watered by the underground river .

Beautiful forests as you enter the park watered by the underground river .

Our game drive started as we jumped into the jeep , Chris giving me an in depth understanding of the surrounding area , the park and what I could expect from my time in Manyara . The park has woodland , forest , plains and of course the lake , so the game diversity in one area is amazing.

 

The pink of flamingos as they line the lake for as far as the eye can see.

The pink of flamingos as they line the lake for as far as the eye can see.

Millions of flamingos on a lake is a sight to behold , it truly is a once in a life time experience ,  the amount of colour that lines the horizon resembles the  pink of a sunset or sunrise not a million birds feeding , I stood on the jeep field glasses in hand , mouth a gasp with wonder as the line of pink went on kilometre after kilometre un broken in  colour and amazement . My mind took me to a national geographic card my sister had given me before I left to cross Africa , the card a picture of a million Flamingos , a wonder on the card a wonder in life. Once again I felt the gift of this experience , the words of encouragement  my sister had left for me on that card and now the picture brought to life.

 

Sunset of flamingos

Sunset of flamingos

The plain and the lake.

The plain and the lake.

After our time enjoying the plains game and the spectacular bird life on the lake it was time to head for camp to un pack and have some lunch before we set off once again at 16h00 for yet more of Manyara.

 

Arriving at camp

Arriving at camp

The waterfall , that reminds you of the ocean as you drift off to sleep.

The waterfall , that reminds you of the ocean as you drift off to sleep.

It was just perfect , the camp on the river bank  , the elephants drinking , the tents nestled  in the greenery , I felt my heart lift as I was welcomed by Seti to his camp on the river.

My room

My room

 

 

My shower , my view

My shower , my view

Welcoming party

Welcoming party

I had lunch on the beach followed by a nap , only to be woken by the gentle voice of Chrisple calling me to our evening drive , and what was to be a wonderful first day in the bush , Tanzanian style. Enjoy the pictures of Manyara.

 

Pelican brief

Pelican brief

Oh so Africa

Oh so Africa

Wow

Wow

What a great day out , we drove back to camp in a midge storm , arrived back in camp covered in a million midges both dead and alive as Chris and I rolled with laughter at the sight of the midge covered humans. Time to shower , dine and dream , for tomorrow we press play and the wonder starts again.

 

Breaking my fast , morning press and eggs

Breaking my fast , morning press and eggs

We would spend most of the day out , just driving , sitting in wonder at nature and her beauty or quietly observing  life around us. The pictures from that dreamy day , enjoy.

 

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Madonna and child

Madonna and child

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A small wonder

A small wonder

After dinner it was off to bed , the waterfall inducing sleep . Tomorrow  we planned to do our  game drive early because I had to fly up to central Serengeti for the next leg of my safari later that afternoon , and what a swan song it was going to be.

We had been out for about an hour when we came across a pride of about 8 lion and spent the next hour with the mother and her cubs playing around us , just Chris and I with these beautiful cats at play.

 

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The power and the beauty

The power and the beauty

 

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Sadly we had to get back to camp to pack and get to the airport by 14h00 , Chris said that we would drive back this way to the airport to try and see them again. The lions of Manyara are world famous for their life in the trees , they escape the flies by leaving the ground and spending the day up a tree in the shade dozing above the flies   . I was so hoping to see it before I left.

Back to camp a quick lunch then farewell to all , packed up and then back to the jeep for my final game drive in Manyara.

 

Seti , who cared for my every need in camp and my trusted guide Chris .

Seti , who cared for my every need in camp and my trusted guide Chris .

 

Farewell Manyara

Farewell Manyara

 

So we drove in search of the lions to say our farewells and the final hour drive to the gate , What a wonderful place , with fantastic people , so sad to go , but thank you .

 

And so we found them

And so we found them

 

Lions in trees

Lions in trees

 

The tree lions of Manyara

The tree lions of Manyara

A last farewell to Lake Manyara

A last farewell to Lake Manyara

And so a wonderful experience runs out of time as Chris and I make our way to the airport , Within hours I will be in the Serengeti , flying over the crater en route to a new destination and experience.

Until we meet again.

 

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Quintessential Africa

I had been feeling a little flu like , with a slight temprature on the way to the airport  and while we drove up the escarpment my left arm had lost alot of motion and felt limp with no power , so while waiting for the plane I got google up and my malaria test kit out  to try and figure out what was going on .

 

First test negative , good next test to be done 8 hours time.

First test negative , good next test to be done 8 hours time.

The test proved negative and after much prodding and poking , I figured that I might have pinched a nerve , so the anti inflammatory’s would be the answer while on safari  . The caravan touched down  spot on  target and time and within minutes I found  myself and fellow passenger’s  been dragged through the air by this single prop plane .

 

The airstrip

The airstrip

 

Two pilots one prop

Two pilots one prop

The flight is only around 40 minuets and takes you over the Ngorongoro crater and the wide open plains of the Serengeti to land at the Seronera airstrip to start what was to be an experience beyond all expectation.

 

Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater

 

One prop

One prop

I was collected by Zephania my safari guide in the national car of Tanzania , the land cruiser and off we set straight into the rain for our game drive before we set course for  camp.

 

Zephania navigating the storm.

Zephania navigating the storm.

Zeph was very excited by the rain as this is what brings the migration . All that is required by the Wildebeest and Zebra to pick up and move are the rains and the promise of fresh , crisp new grass  , so Zeph was hoping we would get the big herds into the central Serengeti by morning or the day after , I could not believe my luck , the only person in the camp and the possibility of witnessing a wonder of the wildlife world .

 

Picture perfect , the Serengeti

Picture perfect , the Serengeti

We drove in the rain for a short while and then  the sun returned , I settled in , to enjoy the drive along the river  and what a drive it was , the Serengeti leaves you speechless from the get go and keeps you that way for your entire stay.

 

Over a 100 Hippo enjoying no personal space.

Over a 100 Hippo enjoying no personal space.

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Spot the croc

Spot the croc

The game came thick and fast Giraffe , gazelle , elephants , impala , hippo’s and all looking so healthy , coats gleaming , belly’s bulging , we were driving through the land of plenty , every turn of the head found something wild .

 

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The sun was setting and so we decided to make our way back to camp , we travelled for a short distance and about 15 kilometres from camp we started seeing the herds of Wildebeest scatterd over the plains and the closer to home we got the deeper we drove into the herd , until all around us the sight and sounds of Wildebeest as far as the eye could see , I was totally amazed , the sheer number , the noise of the males herding their females and trying desperately to steal females from other males when they roamed a little way out of the circle of love. So we sat in wonder , Zeph informing me that this was just the beginging . I could not believe my eyes.

 

Just the begining

Just the begining

 

We drove into camp where I was welcomed by Cliff , Husein , Peter and Julias , a hot shower was prepared for me so that I could be fresh and settled to enjoy the sunset before dinner.

 

My new home , in the middle of the Serengeti , wild and wonderful.

My new home , in the middle of the Serengeti , wild and wonderful.

 

My first ever sunset over the magical Serengeti

My first ever sunset over the magical Serengeti

From the second one lands on those plains you feel the magic of the Serengeti , You feel you have entered the birthplace of the wild , it took my African soul and my eyes and filled them both with a sense of wonder and serenity . Surprisingly it is not the game that does this , it is  the landscape , the sheer beauty and power of the land gets you first , the game just a additional spectacle to marvel. The rain came and went so Husein set up dinner in a tent mess and so I sat down to a meal with Cliff surrounded by only darkness and natures surround sound my music , I took a deep breath to settle my excitement , enjoyed dinner and waited for Zeph to pop down so we could plan our first full day out.

We had finished dinner , Zeph and I in agreement about  our next days activities , so off to bed it was , Cliff offered to walk me to the tent , we stood up , I was about to say don’t worry , and in an instant the tourch light found a lion and lioness in the grass not 30 m away , all I recall was the roar of the male , my dive into the tent and Zeph in unison with Cliff shouting Michael don’t run , just like that it was over the lions moved off , my heart returned to its rightful place in my chest , and I gladly accepted the protective detail back to the tent.

Cliff was instructing me  as we walked , Michael don’t leave your tent at night and various other warnings and bush survival techniques , all I held in my mind was the sound that male made and those huge shiny golden eyes . Cliff was safe in the fact that I would not leave the tent even in a veld fire or any other major catastrophe . Further discussion revealed that two males , brothers and a female had taken up residence in the camp and on most nights slept but a few meters from Cliff’s tent , they seemed to have a reciprocal relationship , one of Cliff does not bother them and they don’t bother Cliff.

So began my first night in the Serengeti , sleep not immediate but once my mind settled and the lions roars wondered off into the distance my eyes closed only to be stirred now and again by animals grazing outside my tent or the odd hippo whispering by.

After breakfast our lunches packed we set off for a day filled with sighting after sighting that just got better with every hour , six lion sightings in total , elephant , buffalo , hyena and more and more plains game arriving to graze on the crisp fresh grass . A  total gluttony of game on the Serengeti a never ending feast for all both human , predator and prey .

 

And so they came

And so they came

 

And so they waited

And so they waited

 

And so they watched

And so they watched

 

And so hard they worked

And so hard they worked

 

And so they followed

And so they followed

 

And so they fought

And so they fought

 

And so they roamed

And so they roamed

And so they lived

And so they lived

 

And so they relaxed

And so they relaxed

 

And relaxed

And relaxed

 

And relaxed

And relaxed

 

And slept

And slept

 

And kept watch

And kept watch

 

And grazed oblivious to death napping under a tree

And grazed oblivious to death napping under a tree

 

And they group to survive

And they group to survive

It wold take the pen of Shakespeare to do justice to the magnitude and magnificence of this place , some sights so beautiful you don’t pick up the camera because the distraction is just to much , your mind is capable of  only processing the assurance that reminds  your eyes that what you see is real and true . Just speechless.

 

And so I sat , tried to absorb the essence of this place , because it is  just to much for your eyes alone.

And so I sat , tried to absorb the essence of this place , because it is just to much for your eyes alone.

 

Sunset slipped in and I sat trying to put to pen what I had experienced , felt and had seen that day , after much thought the keyboard untouched I sat and waited for the darkness and the stars to arrive , could they help ? Did it take the moon , the night and  the stars to find the words.

 

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So Zeph and I had dinner , waited for Cliff’s lions to make their presence known  and just as the previous night , as we finished dinner they roared into camp.  I hope to find the words while I dream.

Until we meet again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Coffee , Cats and eggs.

I woke to Husein preparing my hot shower before breakfast , today was to be another full day out , so fresh and frisky I bounced down to my breakfast table on the edge of camp ,made my plunger and sat down to my fruit , ordered my eggs and was basking in the morning light . Between mouthfuls of mango and sips of coffee I thought I heard something , something that I thought could be a lion , the  sound coming  from behind the bush but it was brief and to close. My eggs arrived , I asked Husein if he had heard the lions , he said yes but far away I should not be concerned , I ate a little faster than usual and moved the table and chair a little closer to the mess tent , rather safe than sorry I thought to myself . Breakfast done , alive and well  Zeph pulled up to collect me , I jumped into the national car , greeted Zeph as the lion spotter , all smiles and we pulled off , we had not even got out of first gear and just around the bushes we came across these love birds .

 

Love me tender , love me true , keep your fangs close to you.

Love me tender , love me true , keep your fangs close to you.

I could not believe we shared such close proximity over eggs and bacon ,  I hate to think what would have happened if I had seen these two romantics stroll around the bush , while I tried not to run and keep my food down . I looked at Zeph , Zeph at me , no words passed our lips initially , then he calmly he said , you are a very lucky man , My murmur a meek yes. Once I had gathered my composure , we spent over a hour and a half with this couple , with a brief interruption from the brother looking for some companionship a hippo enjoying a morning walk an a failed baboon hunt initiated by the lady in question . It does not get better than this , or so I thought.

 

Look how playful

Look how playful

 

Look how attentive

Look how attentive

 

Look how protective

Look how protective

 

Look at the fangs

Look at the fangs

 

Playing with the Hippo or was it the other way around.

Playing with the Hippo or was it the other way around.

The rest of the day was even better if you can believe that ,  with the migration arriving in full force , my battery going flat while  filming zebra and wildebeest crossing the road , there were so many , observing plains of game , watching one failed lion hunt another aborted charge , and so the day went beyond reality.

 

The great outdoors

The great outdoors

 

Zephania and I on our morning coffee break .

Zephania and I on our morning coffee break .

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I was so overwhelmed by the day that I asked Zeph to take us home earlier than usual , I wanted to keep the day as pure in mind as it was just then , so we pointed the 4X4 home passing massive herds of zebra , wildebeest , towers of giraffe , buffalo , elephant , more lion and animals to many to mention. I stood looking out over this wildlife wonder while Zeph drove us home , thinking to myself how will I ever explain this place , I only wish from my heart that all who read this end up in the Serengeti  just once in their lives so they to can stand silenced by the wonder and depth of this magical place right here on earth.

 

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