Saturday, May 21, 2011

Just Another Day in Africa

Daryll writes:

The next morning, we spent some time posing for photos in front of a boabab tree before riding through the Mikumi National Park. 

After riding through 2 other parks and not seeing too many wild animals, I wasn’t expecting too much from this park.  The sign didn’t convince me either.

Boy was I wrong.  It wasn’t too long when we stopped after spotting some Springbok and Wildebeest, the first Wildebeest we’ve seen thus far.  Going on safari is always spectacular, but when you can see wildlife wandering around from the saddle of our motorcycles reminds me how amazing this trip is becoming.  Just Another Day in Africa!

On the opposite side of the road, there were a few Giraffe looking curiously at us.  We pulled the bikes over immediately and tried to get the post card perfect shot of bike and wildlife together.  Dom, Ang and I were parked on the side of the road, helmets & gloves off and walking around and not giving the possible dangers a second thought. 

After watching the giraffe and zebra cross the road, we moved on and spotted a baby elephant in the distance.  There wasn’t much else, however as we passed the main gate to the park, Dom slows down and yells that he remembered staying there a few years ago within minutes of going on safari in this park, they had spotted a bunch of lions.  Glad that we were back on the bikes when he decided to bring this up.

As we slowly got closer to Dar Es Salaam, the more people we saw wearing traditional outfits whilst the traffic got heavier and there were more and more people at the side of the road that had set up little stalls selling their goods.  Tanzanian drivers are insanely crazy as well and don’t hesitate when it comes to cutting corners or passing when they can see that there is oncoming traffic.  We literally had to brake and move right over for a truck coming in the opposite direction.  On this occasion, our timing sucked, we approached Dar on a Friday afternoon during rush hour; however after talking to a local later that evening, the traffic was normal.  When the traffic lights work, they stay on for a really long time, fine when it’s green, but sitting on a red in the heat wasn’t fun and we had switched off the bikes a few times. 

Photo courtesy of Dom Giles
The camping spots that we had found were on the other side of town and we had to take a ferry to get across.  The GPS navigated us to the ferry terminal and after cutting through the line-up as I couldn’t bear to wait the 2-3 hours that one of the drivers had mentioned when I had asked whether the lineup was for the ferry.  As we got closer, a police officer had directed us around the corners to another lane.  I prayed that he wasn’t going to pull us over for cutting the queue as he was pulling cars over that tried to butt in.  It turned out to be a designated lane for motorcycles and tuk-tuks.  We paid the .25c for bike and person and lined up with the locals. There were people everywhere and after enquring, there were 2 ferries, one that mainly took foot passengers while the other took vehicles.  When it was time to get on, we moved forward and I just followed the local bikes as they pushed their way on board as people hurried to secure a spot for themselves.  It was insane.  I stopped at the top of the ramp, reluctant on whether to actually get on as I wasn’t sure if we would all fit.  I probably stopped for a few seconds, but the local bikes continued to honk and pass us and they were getting on fine.  I didn’t want to wait for the next one, so dropped down the ramp and onto the ferry.  As the foot passengers gave way, we barely squeezed all 3 bikes on and at one point I had to get some locals to get a tuk-tuk driver to move a bit, so that I could find more space.  Ang wasn’t sure if this was a good idea as we were squeezed in.  It was such a tight fit that there wasn’t enough space to get off the bike and leave it on the side stand, so we just sat on them and held them up.

Photo courtesy of Dom Giles

The M.V. Magogoni survived the 15 minutes that it took for us to get to the other side.  Whilst on the ferry, I started talking to a young lady on the tuk-tuk that I had moved and she was impressed with how far we had come.  The other locals gave us a weird look as we took photos and video of the experience.  Getting off the ferry on the other side wasn’t easier either.  Everyone gets off at the same time.  So together with the 200 odd foot passengers that are walking off the ramp, the bikes are trying to weave through the crowds.  We all get off unscathed and I stop to wait for the others when the lady in the tuk-tuk stops as well and invites us over to he place to spend the night.  It was an amazing gesture from a someone I had just met.  Aisha lived a few minutes away from the ferry terminal so we followed her tuk-tuk driver to her new home that she just finish build.  She had only been living in it for a week and made us feel at home.  Thank you Aisha!

Aisha our wonderful host for an evening
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  1. Hi guys! Great photos of the wildlife! I saw a raccoon the other day -- that was pretty exciting for me and Parker :-)


  2. LOL - Jim you rawk!! I'm sure Park would have loved the raccoon :)