Dar to Iringa

Flat tyre on Dar to Morogoro HighwayTuesday saw us up before sunrise to finish packing, have breakfast and get on the road by 7am. This did not entirely go to plan. We did finish breakfast in time, entertained by Indian House Crows stealing sugar packets from the tables. When we went to check out, the reception clerk had difficulty deciding what our bill should be (three dinners and a few drinks, not to complicated we thought). Once that was sorted out, we squeezed our bags into the back of Elwyin’s Toyota Landcruiser on top of all his camping stuff and set off into very heavy traffic. A few miles later I realised I had left my camera at the hotel so we backtracked and there it was to my intense relief. It took until 10am to get out of Dar due to heavy traffic and road works. We took the road to Morogoro that was plagued by dangerous drivers including HGVs, motorcyclists and cars over-taking on blind bends and summits. We saw numerous accidents, fortunately non requiring medical assistance so we remained off duty. At one point Elwyin was pulled over by the police and accused of speeding, which we knew he had not been doing. I suspect this was because he was driving a Malawi registered car. Eventually, after intense negotiation and us wondering whether intervening would help or hinder, he was let off. Continuing, we saw our first Vervet (or Tantalus) Monkey, Pied Crows and White-Rumped Swifts. Then: the flat tyre. Fortunately the spare on the Land Cruiser is under the vehicle, not in the boot so we did not need to unload. Elwyin quickly changed the tyre and as we had stopped opposite a local fruit stall, bought some small Ladies’ Finger bananas and some oranges. In Morogoro we got a new inner tube into the tyre and back on the car. As were behind schedule, we grabbed some supplies from a supermarket and munched as we drove on. The fields alongside the road had corn and sunflowers growing which was a reminder of Route 66 last September when they were our companions for many miles. In Mikumi National Park we saw several troops of baboons hanging around by the road hoping to be fed by passers by, giraffe, zebras, antelope and glimpses of elephants. As we are returning here for a stay on our way back to Dar we continued on into the upland forests and the Baobab Valley, towards Iringa. It was late afternoon by now and the blue of the mountains ahead and baobabs silhouetted against them would have made some great photographs but we did not really have time to stop for long. Nearer to Iringa we passed small communities selling red onions neatly stacked by the road and sacks of rock salt. After easing past slow lorries on the last climb, we neared the town but turned off a few miles before to our campsite. It was now dark and there seemed to be some confusion as to whether we were camping or in a banda. As non-one fancied erecting the tent in the dark, we opted to pay a few dollars more and have a little luxury as we are camping for the next three nights. Breakfast this morning was not at 7pm as advertised but eventually arrived. We were all packed up only to find that the car was difficult to start. We got up the dirt road and found the necessary part at a garage on the way into Iringa. Have picked up food from the market in Iringa and now are en route to Ruaha for three days then the Udzungwa Mountains so will be offline for a while.