Tag Archives: Tanzania

Our Transafrican Adventure in numbers: four nomads, one Land Rover …. aaaand …

37,521

kilometres alltogether

This might sound a lot ... Actually the distance northern Germany - Cape Town as the crow flies is way shorter than those 37.521 kilometres. But as we zig-zagged through the Balkans and Africa according to our daily feelings and never followed a fixed route, it was of course way longer.

A bridge in the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

At Cape Agulhas in South Africa.

"There are no roads in Sudan", somebody said to us ... they were actually quite good in most places!

Above Fish River Canyon in Namibia.

34,600

kilometres in the Land Rover

And we still love driving in the Landy. From our point of view it was quite comfortable and we enjoyed driving quite a lot as we spent most of the time talking, singing, listening to audiobooks together and at the same time interesting people and landscapes passed by our windows. Sometimes the road traffic was challenging - before we started the trip we had imagined the road conditions being more challenging.

Driving a Land Rover is great fun!

And there's a lot to see next to the roads!

 
 

2,921

kilometres in rental cars

It was strange to drive a "small" rental car after having driven so many kilometres in the Land Rover. It felt like our bums were scratching on the tar actually! Still, if you ship home your Landy, you will definitely  either have to wait without a car or use a rental.

Is it a CAR?

Really!?

905

likes for our Facebook site during the trip

We have never been too much after "Likes" on Facebook but still they were a way people could tell us that they were interested in what we wrote and pictured. This made us happy, we have to admit!

384

days on the road

... and we could have gone on!

290

days spent in Africa

... were definitely NOT enough! Africa is absolutely gripping! It is like a virus you cannot be cured from!

160    

nights spent on campsites

Campsites in Africa vary a lot. You can get everything from being in the absolute wilderness (Okavango Delta) and having a private ablution block, barbeque et cetera in Namibia or South Africa. You will almost never have a German-style campsite (GOOD!). Sometimes we also camped next to restaurants, lodges, in the courtyard of hotels.

Our camp on a farm-campsite in Namibia ("Mesosaurus Camp"). A bit like in the wilderness.

But you do have campsites with your own "house" with all kinds of personal facilities ...

... like a kitchen ...

... and a veranda with a view.

 

Our camp in the Okavango Delta ... no fences and loads of animals. So, elephants, hippos, gazelle, lions and whatever else pass through the camp, mostly at night! Never go to the toilet at night! At least we didn't!

 

127

nights spent in private households (in 21 different households ranging from a 1500 year-old mountain-village-farmhouse in Ethiopia to a big house directly below Table Mountain in South Africa or a Beach House directly at the Indian Ocean)

This we had not imagined. Completely unknown people contacted us before and during the trip to invite us into their homes, just because they found our blog on the internet and somehow must have liked us or at least found us interesting enough to invite us. This actually shows the immense support, blogs and Facebook can provide for any traveller. We also feel that it was a good decision to blog in English, as that way we could reach more and international people. The friendliness and hospitality we were approached with was unimaginably touching. We wish that Europeans and Germans especially were as nice to strangers as Africans and people on the Balkans were to us.

In most cases we felt like being family members from abroad.

Especially with the van der Merwes in Namibia on their small farm "Eisgaubib".

In the Tigrinyan mountain village Zik'allay - Anouk's favorite place in Ethiopia.

In here - the kitchen - people from the same family have lived for the last 1500 years. For now, it is our bedroom.

106,36

Euros spent per day

This sounds a lot and probably it is. We had saved up for years for the trip and had 125€ per day. Still, we did not wild camp too often (as we could probably have done) ... and we have to admit that we did give us treats with good food and restaurants quite often. For sure, this sum could be way cheaper. Also, from what we have heard and read, East Africa is not the cheapest overland destination. So, also the area of the world you travel in definitely affects the daily budget a lot.

Yes, we do spend quite a lot money on good food. Here it is fresh Barracuda for Christmas in Kenya.

Lobster in Tanzania ... 8€ for 1,5 kilograms!

97,71

kilometres per day on average

Nearly one hundred kilometres per day might sound a lot on average, but it actually is not. This includes all the autobahn-kilometres and those on very good roads we easily put behind us in Europe and southern Africa ... It also includes the stretches, we just drove through non-stop (like from the Ethiopian-Kenyan border to Nairobi). We had many lazy days during our trip where we did not move a wheel at all!

94

days spent in Europe

Europe is wonderful and there is so much to discover. Period!

The old monks' rooms and monasteries in the cliffs at Meteora in Greece - an absolutely magical place!

Lake Koman ferry in Albania.

71

nights in hotels, B&Bs, hostels and holiday flats

As I said, this could easily be reduced. We just needed that every now and then to relax, recover and enjoy.

A family room at a lodge in Namibia.

And a hostel room (yes, this is no mistake ... this really is a room in a hostel) in Girokastër in Albania. The kids thought the house was haunted!

18

foreign countries visited

The original plan was to visit more countries on the way, but we did not want to "tick" countries but wanted to travel. This is where our route(s) took us.

16

nights spent wild camping

We love wild camping and we were surprised how easy and wonderful wild camping can be. Absolute highlights in this sense were Greece and Sudan. Still, there are countries, where camping in the wilderness for us was not an option, such as Ethiopia, where nearly every square meter is inhabited and we didn't like the feeling of being openly watched by tens of persons all the time.

A wildcamp in the Sahara desert in Sudan ... absolutely safe but (nice) people (and camels) will find you in the morning and try to trade with you.

Our wild camp at the (nudist) beach in Lefkhada in Greece. A wonderful place!

15,15

€ per night on average

Prices for accomodation vary considerably from country to country and region to region. The Balkans were cheap and good, whereas East Africa was quite expensive. Some campsites in southern Africa were completely for free for people driving a car licensed from overseas.

12,8

average fuel consumption in liters

Not much different compared to the consumtion we have recorded during other overland trips in Europe.

7

nights spent at family member's houses

... at the beginning and end of the trip.

6

things that broke (both water pumps, front prop shaft, central locking right rear passenger door, double shocker keep, Foxwing awning)

We had expected more things to break. And due to heat, dust and road conditions, we constantly expected more to happen. Maybe the small number of things that broke was due to using a relatively new, well maintenanced car and constant maintenance on the road (i.e. service every 5000 to 10000 km and directly before the trip). We think it is worth buying quality products intead of going for cheap options.

When the front propshaft started making funny noises, we used it for educational purposes immediately. We got it fixed within 48 hrs! In Africa!

On the way to Ol Doinyo Lengai in Kenya, the keep of the double shock absorbers broke. The village blacksmith easily fixed it at a very considerably price.

6

malaria tests

Malaria felt like a constant threat, especially thinking of the kids. We now think that we might have overrated Malaria, but are also 100% sure that being on the safe side healthwise never is a bad thing to do. Malaria tests and medication in Africa is relatively cheap (for us Europeans with hard currency at least) and doctors know more how to treat Malaria than our doctors sometimes as they are constantly exposed to the problem.

3

uncomfortable situations

Actually, two of these happened in northern Africa. Juliane had two situations where she felt uncomfortably approached by men, in Egypt and Sudan. But there is a big difference between cities like Cairo and Khartoum and small villages. We felt absolutely safe and extremely politely treated in the villages. Mischa would have had no problem of leaving Juliane and the two girls behind there for a while. The third incident was a misunderstanding with customs officials at a checkpoint in Ethiopia about 200km away from the Ethiopian-Kenyan border. We drove on without being allowed to (which we could not figure out because of unclear signs), people stopped us, came running at us in uniforms waving weapons and made us go back behind a piece of rope across the street . While reversing, Mischa bumped into a concrete pillar on the road and went mad.

 

This barber stole a kiss from Juliane while Mischa and the girls were in the same room. Juliane didn't want to tell Mischa right away as she feared he would go wild ...

 

3

times servicing the Land Rover

As we said before, service is the key to everything staying in good shape car-wise!

 

First service at "JBK" in Athens - the Greek Land Rover "horse whisperers".

 

2

speeding tickets

Mischa got his first two speeding tickets in Africa. His first two EVER! ... on two successive days. And he was speeding!

Quite beautiful actually! BUT I DON'T drive a LANDCRUISER!

1

car breakdown

Only one time our car broke down completely ... on a major crossroads in Arusha, Tanzania, when the president was visiting the city. ... 2 km away from a Land Rover garage ... It took 45 minutes from the time the Landy broke down to have the car towed to the garage. ... And the manager of the garage took us home with him for the night. The next day everything was fixed again.

1

visitor from Germany

Mischa's mother visited us in Ethiopia, which was absolutely great. It was a brave thing to do for a lady of 67 who had never been to Africa before!

Bajaj outing with Oma Babs.

And she brought Swiss cheese - a rare thing in southern Egypt, Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia ... worth its weight in gold almost!

0

bribes

We never pay bribes as the next travellers have to pay even higher prices. Also, we never give "gifts" for services that are not special. Whenever people really do things for us, we pay a fair price, though! We don't want to support a "bribe and beg" mentality, but want to make people start their own initiatives to make a living and support their families. When people are ill and sick, we sometimes go and buy food for them or give some medication.

0

punctures

... good tyres pay off! BF Goodrich Mud Terrain KM2! Never change a winning team!

 
 

0

robberies

... even though people could have robbed us easily. Was it luck? We don't know! We nearly always felt safe!

0

abductions

... see above!

0

days in prison

... see above! Although we were absolutely happy to be out of Ethiopia, as the traffic there is an absolute mess (Mischa would love to drive again in Cairo and Khartoum, but NOT in Ethiopia) and pedestrians don't know how to cope with modern road traffic. There are hundreds of people on the road, cattle, sheep and goats everywhere ... at night, people even sleep on the road. If you injure or kill somebody in an accident, you have to expect being lynched by the mob or will be put into prison for seven years. Even the embassies advise people to leave the country immediately after a fatal accident with a local person.

...

countless

new friends, experiences, things we learned

That's why we love traveling so much! There is nothing more to say!

Our kids make friends easily everywhere. Here in Namibia with Max and Irmgard.

The Calders in South Africa.

At the friday prayer in Omdurman in Sudan.

In "Anouk's mountain village" Zik'allay in Ethiopia.

Games in Kenya ...

... and in Ethiopia.

Farm friends in Namibia.

... with their wonderful parents.

Juliane and Zeinab in Cairo.

With Sam Watson in Cairo.

With Mohammed ("Mo") of "Adam Home Overland Camp" in Aswan.

... more friends in Khartoum, Sudan.

With Tyseer on a boat trip in Khartoum.

And with Sheikh Mohammad Mubarak and Tyseer in Khartoum.

With Chief Mkwawa and his family in Iringa, Tanzania.

With Ian, the manager of the Land Rover garage in Arusha.

With our travel friends "Six en Piste" from France who are now travelling in South America.

Lars - a wonderful family father, friend and Land Rover mechanic with a most wonderful family - in Nairobi.

... and so many many more! We miss you guys! Dearly!

Why many people don’t go on extended travel

Why actually do so few people from the "western World" travel the world overland long term?

During a long "kitchen party" together with another German overland-family we discussed this question.

 

We love long kitchen parties ... not just before a long day of traveling!

 

Especially in industrial nations many people are extremely focused on consumerism and competition. Long term travel is nearly always connected to a long-term withdrawal from the competition with colleagues at work, which can even lead to a jobwise "powerloss". The jobwise position can most surely not be kept during a long term travel. Earning money in the "normal" way most of the times also doesn't work, so people can't consume the products advertisements make us believe we need as life-essentials.

Fearing these two aspects deeply combined with a general and all-embracing angst concerning the "dangerous world out there" is the basic reason why so many of the citizens of the so-called "Western World" do not go out to take a personal look at the rest of our globe.

But it is also the simple fear of "being singled out because of being different" that stops people from going on a long term travel, as everybody knows that every single bit of "differentness" from the "norms" can lead to social isolation - in spite of the fact that we base our governments, cultures, job-culture and circle of friends on democratic systems stating that everybody is appreciated, approved and recognized in their otherness.

By many members of the so-called "upper classes" and the "educated classes", for example, the overland traveller is being looked down upon from the safari-cars as being somewhat inferior and being some kind of "left-wing-progressive camper rucksack tourist" who is not able to afford "proper travel".

 

This is real luxury: a warm night, a blazing fire, good food and drink, nice company ... and all "homemade".

 

From the perspective of the so-called "lower classes" long term travelers are viewed as "posh tourists who can afford constant vacation" ... We have met members of all occupational groups on our travels: from bus driver to university professor and from nurse to medical doctor or teacher.

People who do long term travel have to accept that for the "system", they have now thoroughly become "strange" and even "suspicious" persons.

Fundamentalists? ...

Terrorists? ...

... or just culturally interested, aware and respectful?!

To just give one example here from entering the USA, please read the following conversation between a traveler and US-customs: "Why did you travel to the Middle East?" ... "I didn't!" ... "Your passport states that you have recently been to Egypt!" ... "Ah, but that is Africa, isn't it!?" ... For government bodies and system followers it is unimaginable that people travel to Egypt or Sudan out of pure personal cultural interest, so everybody suggests terrorist motives these days.

When in Rome do as the Romans do!

Deep in conversation without a shared language!

For families with young children the situation with long-term travel is even more difficult, because everybody assumes that because their kids have been out of the school system, they will miss out on subject matters and thus will have less good starting positions on the jobwise competition-sprint.

 

Travel school can look quite "traditional"

 

Because schools have been "invented" by countries to recruit young talents for industry and economy, caring parents assume that their offspring will become disadvantaged because of long-term travel. Educational failure as the result of long-term travel! We are clear that schools have always been and today especially are very intensively controlled by the industry and do not focus on education from and for the child - why else still subjects such as music, arts and P.E. are the "Cinderellas" of school subjects at ALL schools from state to private!? In this context it by the way is quite enthralling that the internationally famous "PISA-study", which compares different school systems in different countries, is being financed and controlled by the international industry and economy.

Alongside the educational aspect quite a few people assume that "travel-children" might become "asocial monsters" because they allegedly lack contact to peers.

There are many opportunities for social interactions when traveling!

Everybody loves playing games!

One of our former colleagues postulated before we left home that all travel-children she had met until then had social adaptive difficulties and were eventually unhappy because of that.

Additionally, parents fear illnesses and diseases and because of that don't travel. Africa in itself is life-endangering! But with the help of good means of communication when traveling, vaccinations, medication, intensive planning, good travel-insurance and consulting specialist medical doctors it is possible to reduce those risks considerably. The long-term-traveler from industrial nations is anyway privileged, as he can always "pull out the trump-card" of a hard currency in the case of any medical problem and immediately be treated in a good private hospital ... even in Africa ... and in opposition to the local population which is not able to afford any good medical care of this kind!

When hearing of our travel plans, people accused us of being egoistic because we decided on traveling long-term instead of asking our kids (which, by the way we did and thus they were the major force to change the continent we planned to travel to).

 

Our kids just love Africa ... and decided to come back here because in Germany they missed the warmth of the people!

 

Everybody reading this might be ask themselves who exactly is the most egoistic, the parent who goes to work nine to five seven days a week to earn enough money for consumerism and then when they are traveling stay at a club for two weeks and send their children to the club's child care for most of the day to be able to play tennis, go running et cetera ... or the parents who invest time in family and children and "even" do without earning a wage for a long period of time.

Time with their parents is what young kids really need!

Child labor or sharing responsibilities?!

One thing that includes all the aspects described above for parents and their children alike are the media, the true "opium of the people", which are used to create a fear that makes people seek refuge in investing and saving money, over-insurance, travel-reluctance and at the same time is soothing, tranquilizing and satisfying addictions. The media-reports are the "modern sea monsters" that once used to be painted on maps at Columbus' times to instil fear in the too adventurous and restrict trade and navigatory knowledge to a small circle of insiders. People are not supposed to go out and explore on their own because they then would start to question the reports, prejudices and news and would realize that the all-encompassing fear homespun by bestseller-negative-news, half-truths and lies is completely made-up and unnecessary. People would maybe then discover that Muslims can be quite nice or African policemen not always corrupt ... the power to control and navigate people using fear would be gone then! Fairly dangerous!

It is intended and piloted by economy, politics and media that the Germans, Europeans, "Westerners" do not travel to far away lands because of this fear and in case they travel abroad in spite of that, then at a max they should travel to "safe trade partners". The "precious Euros or Dollars" are please to be spent in the domestic economy zone and rather not travel as a form of private foreign aid to Africa! And if Africa is the destination, please only book via overpriced European travel agencies so that a substantial part of that money can be skimmed at home instead of traveling individually without any pree-bookings!

...

But what is the real situation like during a long term travel concerning the aspects and concepts above?

Traveling definitely is an absolute "eye opener"! Apart from many learning experiences on the more intellectual side the most essential new experience caused by travel is to learn how to get rid of your fears. These fears eliminate themselves in any case when people realize that the "world outside" is not as bad as the media make us think it is.

For us it was for example quite scary at the beginning to wild-camp somewhere in the Sudanese desert because due to one-sided media cover, Sudan is considered an "absolutely dangerous country".

 

A wild camp in the Sudanese Sahara ... very relaxing and deeply touching instead of being dangerous!

 

We have finally camped wild regularly in Sudan and have felt very very safe, safer actually than in other places in Africa or even Europe!

An intensive openness concerning new situations is something that "just happens anyway" when you are traveling outside of your comfort zone and cultural sphere.

At the same time one learns to restrain oneself on the bare essentials.

 

Everything has to fit into the "small" Land Rover ... bare necessities of life!

 

With that, you automatically leave the consumerist-competition and instead of consuming "things" one indulges in deep, intensive human encounters ... traveling definitely also is making a move to a more social being. Once people asked us whether it is not boring not to build, create, construct something for one complete year ... our answer was and still is, "We do exactly that: we establish new ties and relations and stabilize those within the family, with the partner and with our children.

...

But what about the problem areas concerning children and education as stated above?

While traveling we have witnessed how our children "naturally" learned a foreign language, English, without any teacher in the traditional sense and without any learning material.

Natural learning: hatching turtles (science)

... zoology ...

... geology, mineralogy ...

... and gardening.

Furthermore, our two daughters were allowed to find out about their limits, could test themselves and by that find a different "inner ease of mind". Definitely, our children have become more culturally aware and also more cosmopolitan and open minded.

 
 

Life in the open in combination with more attention by the parents (who don't have to go to work) and simply more time gives the chance to include the children in many ways in travel planning, navigation, cooking, car-maintenance et cetera.

Mechanics and car maintenance ...

... help is always needed!

The great majority of contacts kids establish to other traveling children, adults and Africans of all ages are not rational but highly flexible and creative, especially when it comes to language(s)! At the same time even very young children learn a natural media competence by communicating with family and friends at home using emails, Facebook, Skype and the such.

 

Even "old school letters" reach us sometimes!

 

Believe it or not: our kids so far have not become "asocial monsters" - quite the contrary is true!

 
 

Ill or sick our kids were probaly not more than they would have been had we stayed at home. It is only more inconvenient when you are traveling! Our two daughters had gastro-intestinal problems (Anouk once and Sóley twice), tonsillitis (Anouk once and Sóley twice) and an ear infection (Anouk once). That was "it"! Still, we nearly always had the fear for malaria at the back of our necks even though all of us were on antimalarials.

...

Still, extended travel is not a "universal remedy" just as any "prenatal musical character coining" of all children using Mozart without taking into account the mother's favourite music is! Certainly, we don't want to persuade anybody and we also don't want to be fundamentalist in this direction! Those who love traveling will love long term travel and will profit from that and will experience great benefits in their children. Even the people you meet on the road will benefit from these encounters! On the long run travel will establish more mutual understanding! In addition to that long-term travel enables you to spend relaxed and intensive, sometimes challenging time together as a family and escape the competition about power and consumerism for a while! Certainly, after such a travel one has changed many points of view in many different fields!

For sure, we don't want to give the impression here that everybody HAS TO TRAVEL! There are many ways of living and what we do is just one of them! With this blog post we try to discuss why the majority of people in "our world" might fear long term travel! ... and we want to provide "food for thought"!

 
 

So how was … East Africa?

Eine deutschsprachige Version dieses Eintrages gibt es hier

In the meantime, we have left East Africa, drove through Zambia and have reached Namibia ... time to reflect on and describe the differences between the two large African regions, Northern Africa and East Africa ...

After we had spent several months in Northern Africa, East Africa - beginning with Kenya - was very relaxing right from the border.

As beautiful as we think Northern Africa is and as intensive our encounters with its people in Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia were, as beautiful and impressive it was to again drive through an isolated and green landscape and being allowed to meet the open, relaxed and cheerful people along the roads.

 

What a relief! And not every square meter is inhabited!

 

That Kenya and Tanzania are somewhat different, we instantly realized when we saw so many "mixed" couples and families. Without wanting to accuse the people in Northern Africa as being racists, one can say that the more conservative orientation of the people in these countries rather leads to a situation that culture, religion, but also the colour of a person's skin often lead to segregation instead of supporting contacts.

Impressive for us were the big shopping malls in Kenya which reminded us rather on the US than on Africa. The security guards with their automatic guns searching us for hidden weapons at the entrances and exits did in no way disturb, upset or frighten us. After in Northern Africa - even though we are quite open when it comes to different food - we had really missed especially cheese, sausages and good meat, but also chocolate and good wine, suddenly we were back in a culinary paradise. In spite of the high level of prices we indulged in French and Swiss cheese again ...

 

Our only cheese in Ethiopia ... brought from home by Mischa's mother.

 

But, in Tanzania - apart from the very few exceptions in the (very few) supermarkets in Arusha, Tanga and Dar es Salaam - the supply situation with familiar European groceries was a thing of the past again. And even in the supermarkets in these cities, what was offered was rather poor ... and expensive (i.e. a piece of the cheapest Gouda cheese sometimes was over 10€!)! At the same time, it is possible to get fresh fruit and vegetables at nearly every corner and also basic foodstuffs such as pasta and rice.

In addition to the high level of prices, also the national park fees have really surprised and startled us: if you want to enter the world famous Ngorongoro Crater with your own car and two children (in our case one of the cildren being below five years of age and thus free of charge), you have to pay a solid US$530 to US$580 PER DAY for entry (including entry to the crater itself), the car and camping. Absolutely ridiculous!

 

The Ol Doinyo Lengai ... near the Ngorongoro but less crowded and less expensive!

 

Tourists should try to inform themselves about other national parks and maybe decide on visiting these smaller and less touristy parks such as the Ruaha National Park, where you maybe see less animals at the same time, but don't have to share your experiences with a dozen of other safari vehicles full of other tourists taking photos of the same pack of lions at the waterhole. In East Africa tourism seems to be concentrating nearly completely on the high-priced segment of Safari-tourism and thereby completely neglecting the individual tourists. But exactly in the individual segment of tourim intercultural encounters and connected with that cultural exchange and understanding are more "normal" than in the rather "posh" segment, where you nearly rarely have an eye-level communication between guest and employee. A rather high percentage of the money spent for these holidays will end up in the hands of the owners of big international hotel and safari businesses. Individual tourists on the contrary buy most of what they need at the smaller markets, in small shops and thus spend their money where it should go to and where it is needed: with the "ordinary people" ...

Encounters ... How to make Swahili Crayfish

Encounters ... Meeting Adam Mkwawa, the Chief of the Hehe.

But especially because of this difference, individual tourists will quite often get preferred treatment by the "locals" and there are uncountable chances of intensive personal encounters. There are always at least two sides to each story!

One aspect everybody warned us against before traveling to Africa and especially to East Africa was the supposed corruption of policemen and military in Kenya and Tanzania. But - was it luck? - we didn't experience even one awkward encounter with members of these groups of persons. On the contrary, we were always treated corteously and friendly, sometimes even amicably. In Tanzania this might be because John Magufuli, the new president, has taken the cause of fighting the corruption in his country and the wealth grab of certain groups of persons connected with that..

 

John Magufuli, President of The Republic of Tanzania (source: www.bloomberg.com).

 

But he has made several other right decisions: He has, for example, reduced the costs for the celebration of the country's independence from a planned US$ 100,000 to only US$ 7,000. Politicians cannot travel abroad with a large entourage at government expense anymore, but have to use economy tickets and all international travel of civil servants has to be authorized personally by the president himself. Those who do not follow this doctrine are fired! Due to this policy, slowly but steadily the government coffers are filling and the money can be invested in hospitals, schools and in an improvement of the infrastructure. Every Saturday all civil servants have to collect garbage on the streets and in the countryside to make their mother country more beautiful. ... Corruption or personal enrichment of civil servants also lead to a prompt dismissal. Everywhere in Tanzania we have met people who felt encouraged by their president and there is a great spirit of optimism. The new president's popularity especially with the ordinary people is immense! In some way the policy of the new president has a rather unifying effect on Tanzania's inhabitants. Does this development in Tanzania lead to a respective media coverage in Europe? We don't know but fear that the majority of news are still negative, simply because they sell better.

...

Looking back on East Africa, we can say that Kenya and Tanzania have impressed us so deeply and were so wonderful to travel in that we can more than imagine coming back and discovering these two countries in more detail at some other point in time.

 

Of loving borders … and rain in Africa!

In one of the songs our children love, it says "In Africa it is so hot ...!". Is it!? Really?!

No, it is NOT! Since Ethiopia it has been raining almost all the time - at least that is how we feel! Why is it that whenever us nomads go to whatever place that people tell us that this week, month, year et cetera the rains and thunderstorms are somewhat different than "normally"! We had exactly that in the Pyrenees, in the Carpathians and now ... in Africa! ...

 

Traveling with Swiss friends we built this Land Rover Castle on our way to the Carpathian Mountains in Summer 2014.

 

Yes, we know that there is a thing called "rainy season", but this doesn't mean rain all day ... more or less for days on end! Well, that is the way it is, but we wanted to escape the rains ... "In the south, there is a draught!", somebody said!

 
 

Mischa wanted to go south fast, so he got his first speeding ticket in Tanzania on the way from Mbeya to the border ... No problem with the police though - all very nice, receit and everything, no bribe! IT WAS HIS FIRST SPEEDING TICKET EVER! Can you believe it!? ... When at that morning Nici at "Kisolanza" Farm, where we stayed two nights (a great place to stay, by the way!), had warned us that especially on this route, there would be myriads of policemen just waiting for issuing speeding tickets, Mischa had proudly stated that he never ever got a speeding ticket so far! Haha, he lost clean slate!

 

Our nicest border until we reached Namibia!

 

Borders! Everybody says that the borders are getting better the more to the south in Africa you come, and actually this is right ... generally! At the border between Tanzania and Zambia, the rains had just stopped (briefly!) and Mischa went out to follow his usual procedure: first immigration to get the exit stamps and then customs to get the carnet stamped out. No need to use the fixers which stick to you like flies do with sh**!

 

 
 

Oh, I forgot the Massai ladies in Tanzania ...

Kamal, our customs broker on the Egyptian side of the Egyptian/Sudanese border.

Magdi, our customs broker for the Sudanese side ... we had a wonderful time with him and his family!

Apart from Alexandria and the border between Egypt and Sudan, where we used the help of customs brokers who were respectable people and did a great job for us, at all other borders the fixers and the money changers really were extremely annoying even though we know that for them this is a way of earning money and they all are registered and have a permit for what they are doing. They follow you, you tell them that you don't need their services, still they follow you, do nothing for you because you don't let them and at the end they expect money for their "services"! Why use (and pay!) somebody you don't need!?

Anyway, in spite of the "flies" buzzing around us, at this special border everything seemed to go really smooth: passport stamps, then the carnet and off we went to the Zambian side.

For what comes now, I have to first explain that in Germany children's passports only have a very limited number of pages. So, we got new passports in advance in Germany to be used when the old ones are full. This is completely legal (even though your local city council might not know it and downright tell you that you are wrong ... don't let them win!)! As when we entered Tanzania, the border officials told us that our children's passports were full now. Now, in Zambia, we used the new ones AND also showed the old ones. As they are biometric there is no way of saying that they are fakes (so at least they could not suspect our kids of being spies for, say the Americans ... or the Absurdistanians!). Guess what came now! The Zambian immigration officers did not want to stamp an entry stamp into a new passport which doesn't have an exit stamp from the previously visited country. "Go back to Tanzania to have the exit stamp transferred to the new passports!", they said.

Seeing everything from a bird's perspective it would have been a wonderful picture: you could see Mischa running from the Zambian side to the Tanzanian ... only to be told that they would not do it ... then back to the Zambian ... who again said that they would not do it, so did their superior ... "Ah, no, our boss might do it, but today is a Sunday, so you will have to come back tomorrow!" ... "But we can't re-enter Tanzania, because we would need an exit stamp of Zambia!" ... so back to Tanzania, begging, asking for the superior ... "On a Sunday?" ... "No way!" ... so, back to Zambia, where the immigration officers suddenly didn't think the old kids passports were full and stamped their entry stamp on a page which legally was not reserved for visa. ... Problem NOT solved! Especially as we know that Namibia and South Africa are extremely strict with immigration, passports and children.

Different thoughts were going around and around in our heads: "Does this mean that our Transafrican adventure is over???" "What will "they" do with us if the country which we have just exited would not let us in again (because we do not have an exit stamp of the next country which we could not enter because of a full passport)?" "They"!?, Who will be responsible for us then, the officials of the country we have just left or the ones we intend to enter but can't?" "Us"?! No, only the kids! Does that mean that one of us will have to fly home with the kids and the other will have to continue to somwhere where we can meet again after having used the new passports for flying there?" "Shall we just cross the Zambian-Namibian border and wait and see what happens?" "Shall we go to the German Embassy in Lusaka and ask for assistance there?"

So, before getting stuck in "no man's land" between Zambia and Namibia, maybe in the rain, we contacted the German Embassy in Lusaka, Zambia. "No problem!", they said, "Just go to the headquarters of the immigration department in Lusaka and have the entry stamps officially transferred to the new passports!" Lusaka was on the way we wanted to take, but actually, we did not really want to into town! Especially not in that rain!

 

The most beautiful speeding ticket ... we will frame it! ... But just read what the police woman wrote on top!!! LAND CRUISER!!!!!

 

Mischa wanted to make haste ... and guess, what happened: he got his second speeding ticket, this time in Zambia (and what a beautiful one, too!) ... two speeding tickets within 48 hours!

Anyway, we did exactly what the embassy told us - in the rain - and, three hours later after writing a (typed!) explanation of our situation, we had the stamps transferred into the kids' new passports without a problem. Later, when crossing the Zambian-Namibian border, it was no problem at all for the officials in Namibia, the new passports were fine and we didn't even have to show the old ones!

...

Here is the text of the letter we wrote, just in case you want (or have) to do the same ...

...

Names of parents                                                                Date

Residential address: ...

Email: ...

Currently traveling in ...

 

 

To whom it may concern,

 

we hereby kindly request the entry stamps for Zambia (as stamped on the ... (date) at the Tanzanian/Zambian border post of Nakonde) in our two daughters' old passports

name daughter one, dob, pob (old passport: passport number, date of issue, place of issue, expiry date)

name daughter two, dob, pob (old passport: passport number, date of issue, place of issue, expiry date)

to be transferred to their new passports

name daughter one (new passport: passport number, date of issue, place of issue, expiry date)

and

name daughter two (new passport: passport number, date of issue, place of issue, expiry date).

The old passports (numbers as stated above) are full due to the fact that since the 10th July 2015 we as a family have been traveling overland by car (make of car, rego) through countries visited so far. In Germany children's passports do not have enough pages for the visa needed for a Transafrican journey, so the German passport authorities issued new passports for our two children to be used when the old ones are full. The old passports thus become invalid but will have to be forwarded at request to any customs ifficial to accompany the new passports and prove the route of the travel. Also, for the next following countries to bevisited (namely, countries to be visited on the onward journey) the passports need two blank pages each for the visa. to make sure that we are not stuck in "no mans' land" between the borders of Zambia and Namibia after having exited Zambia, we contacted the German Embassy in Lusaka who kindly informed us to request this transfer of the Zambian entry stamps in person at the Headquarters of the Department of Immigration of the Republic of Zambia which we hereby do.

We thank you for your help and support,

Yours sincerely,

(names, dob, pob, passport numbers)

From the Swahili Coast to the lands of the Hehe

 
 
 

Traditional fishing boats

 

The coast between Tanga and Dar es Salaam really is a wonderful place.

 

1,5 kgs of fresh crayfish directly from the local fisherman ... gorgeous!

 

You can indulge in fresh seafood, relax at the beach and swim in an ocean which has nearly bath tub temperature ... That's why we spent more time there than we had actually planned beforehand.

But also the places we stayed at were simply great.

 

The view from our camp at "Peponi Beach".

 
 

Our camp as seen from the beach.

 

Beach impression

Beach impression

 

An interesting procession ...

 

... majestic!

One of our favourite campsites in Africa so far definitely is "Peponi Beach" in Pangani just south of Tanga. This place is so very relaxed, the owner and staff are extremely friendly and helpful and you can camp directly behind the beach ... we spent nine days - and still were very sad that we had to leave!

Cheaky Sóley!

Anouk wants this sea shell ... but the hermit crab doesn't want to let go!

For Bagamoyo, we tried to put down our impressions in a more poetical way because we felt that only that way of putting it can really transmit the atmosphere in this town (here you can read our post on Bagamoyo).

 

The "Firefly" in Bagamoyo

 

Mischa's office ... any questions!?

A good place to stay at in Bagamoyo is the just recently opened "Firefly", an old German house beautifully restored with nice rooms, a pool and small restaurant. The camping facilities between the house and the beach are still under construction ... it will surely become a great place when everything is finished.

Going on to Dar Es Salaam, we were caught in the traffic jams for many hours ... Mischa would rather again drive through Cairo, Khartoum or Nairobi instead of ever driving here again. What a Moloch of a city!

"A fairy fortress it is!", they told me!

The pool at "Mikadi Beach", a very important place for Anouk ans Sóley

"Mikadi Beach" might be one of the very few places where overlanders can enjoy a relatively relaxed stay near Dar. The place also is frequented by the big overland trucks, so sometimes it can be a bit noisy and touristy.

 

I think ladies driving a Landy are more than sexy!

 

Driving from Dar to the south-western part of Tanzania is relatively easy and the road conditions are OK.

 

Majestic!

 

On our way to Iringa, we drove through the Mikumi National Park and, as we were just transiting the park right before and during sunset, we saw a multitude of animals just next to the road.

We stayed for one night at the "Tan-Swiss Lodge", a place where it is possible to eat both traditionally Tanzanian and Swiss food ...

Just a few kilometres before reaching Iringa, we turned left into "Rivervalley Campsite". As the campground is far too wet to set up camp there and all bandas (i.e. huts) are occupied, Amanda, the owner of the campsite invites us to stay at her home.

 

"Mama" Amanda Philipps

 

"Mama" Amanda's house - thanks for inviting us!

Yet another great place for an office!

Land Rover lovers already!

This campsite again is one of our absolute favourites, not only because it is beautifully situated, but also because Amanda Philipps is so very much involved in the lives of both her employees and the people of the surrounding villages, that you can really delve deeply into the life around Iringa. If you want to learn Swahili, private Swahili lessons can be arranged directly on the campground!

Cooking the traditional way begins at the very beginning ... that is how you learn to respect food (and life!) ...

Yuuuk! We'd rather take the chicken meat from the supermarket!

 

Carrying goods the traditional way!

 

When we arrived, a group of students from an international school in England just worked on a project with one of the nearby village schools.

Beautifully designed classroom ...

... new design, windows, tables and chairs! Great work!

Tanzanian and international students working together hand in hand certainly is not only a great example of direct help, but also a way of creating intercultural encounters and relationships and thus ensuring bidirectional understanding ... The story of a 16-year-old English girl who used all her birthday money to sponsor goats for families with HIV-positive parents was simply touching!

Amanda is included in all kinds of other projects and knows a multitude of people in and around Iringa, so from connecting with the locals to anything the overlander needs, she can certainly help!

...

Because of Amanda we stumbled across a very interesting true story which actually sounds like taken from a fariy tale, bridging more than 120 years and connecting Tanzania and Germany. But, let's start at the beginning:

Chief "Mkwawa's" tale ...

Once upon a time in a continent called Africa there was a powerful chief bearing the name Munyigumba. Chief Munyigumba managed to unite over 100 clans of his people, the Hehe, and thus created a united Hehe nation, making it an equal among the other powerful tribes in eastern Africa. His people were originally farming their lands in a beautiful mountain landscape, but Munyigumba had them trained and soon they were famous and known as courageous and cunning warriors.

Sadly, Chief Munyigumba died early and the chiefdom was passed on to his eldest son Mkwavinyika Munyigumba Mwamuyinga who then was only 24 years old.

 

A painting of Chief "Mkwawa" in the small museum at Kalenga.

 

His name Mkwavinyika, "conqueror of many coutries", would prove right, as the new chief continued the work his father had begun, extening his realm, winning wars against other people from the south, east and west, and manging to keep the famous Massai warrior-cattle-thieves at a safe distance to the north. His capital, Kalenga, he fortified with a long and high wall. Apart from training his people militarily, the wise new ruler also made sure that the watering of the farmer's fields was made more effective to secure future harvests and the prosperity of his people.

Then one day came when pale skinned strangers arrived from far away distant shores up in the cold cold north ... only to call the tribal territories their "own". Soon, the Hehe chiefdom was included into a newly established "colony" called "Deutsch Ostafrika", German East Africa. As the Germanic intruders with their strange tongue were not able to pronounce the chief's name, they called him "Chief Mkwawa", a name which would so soon become connected with grief and sorrow for his family and people.

The new rulers in the country feared the stubborn and fierce Hehe warriors and finally declared war upon them. But their 320 men were attacked by 3000 Hehe, who killed many even though they were armed only with spears and very few rifles. The Hehe finally won the fight, also killing the German officer in charge, Emil von Zelewski.

 

Mkwawa's state house at Kalenga village

 

The unbeaten "Mkwawa" still proudly resided in his capital undisturbed for some years but one day the enemy magaged to conquer his fortress and he had to go underground.

The Germans were looking for revenge and even put a price on his head.

Being supported by his people, "Mkwawa" began a campaign of guerilla warfare. He would suddenly appear at some place but like a ghost would vanish into thin air as suddenly as he came ... only to reappear at a very distant place only a few days later. Soon his name would be whispered with fear and awe among friend and foe, but especially among the new settlers from the cold cold north. The oppressors could not find him but knowing that his family would know about his whereabouts, put pressure on "Mkwawa's" mother. She, being as courageous and proud as her son, led the soldiers to a mysterious place called ... and told them that before showing them the whereabouts of her son she would have to perform a certain ceremony being naked.

 

Kikongoma, the place where "Mkwawa's" mother killed herself.

 

The prudish newcomers let her go to undress and perform her "ceremony" ... and nobody ever saw her again, as she had jumped into secret holes which were connected to an underground river to drown herself.

But the day came nearer when "Mkwawa" would finally meet his sad fate: he found himself being surrounded by his enemy and the only way out he saw was committing suicide using a German rifle not to fall into enemy hands alive.

The grave of "Mkwawa's" decapitated body.

The Germans could only get hold of his corpse. One of the German soldiers who had tried to find him for years and, being "far more developed" than the "black natives", in his rage that he could not kill the chief himself, cut off the chief's head to make sure that he would get the head-hunter fee ... with the blood money he later would set up a farm near Mt Kilimandjaro.

Chief "Mkwawa's" skull at the museum in Kalenga

A tooth from the skull used for a recent DNA test.

The chief's head traveled a long journey to the home of the oppressor only to be forgotten in the corner of a museum far away from his native Africa.

...

Still, "Mkwawa"'s story would spread and his name would become more and more famous among Africans and Europeans alike to even be called the "Black Napoleon".

...

"Mkwawa"'s son, grandson and great grandson alike would become chiefs of the Hehe after their fathers had died. The infamous reputation of their ancestor and his famous warriors created and still creates fear among other leaders whether they were German, English or are modern Tanzanian. The Germans took them to their home country, Germany and educated them, the English tried to pull them on their side in subsequent European tribal wars and modern politicians try to quieten them with money and a policy of "divida et impera".

...

When finally the colonies were taken away from the Germans because they had lost a big tribal war in their home-continent, a big international contract was set up in which they were forced to hand back the chief's skull within six months. ... it took over half a century after "Mkwawa"'s death had passed for his head to be returned to his family and home country!

...

 

Chief Adam at his inauguration ... on the same day when his father died.

 
 

Chief Adam and his great great grandfather chief "Mkwawa"

 

Today, the chief of the Hehe is a boy of fifteen years, the great grandson of chief "Mkwawa" ... Just like "Simba" in Walt Disney's "Lion King", one year ago he lost his father due to an unexpectedly early death. Unlike "Simba", he became the new chief of the Hehe on the very day when his father died, putting the responsibility of a tribe of about one million heads on his shoulders.

Does he have uncles just waiting for their chance to become chief as Simba's uncle "Scar" does? What are his modern enemies and challenges?

How will his story continue?

Chief Adam, two of his sisters and us.

Chief Adam and Mischa

 

Anouk holding Chief "Mkwawa's" shield.

 

...

We want to thank the family of chief Mkwawa for sharing their stories and their time with us ... We enjoyed every minute spent with you and surely will meet again! Adam, we wish you all the best for your future and the future of your proud people!

Bagamoyo

Eine deutschsprachige Version dieses Eintrages gibt es hier

 
 

Out from the Indian Ocean a goose-bump-breeze blows the old sorrowful secrets of this town into the ears of the sparse travelers. Life-rags of a time long long gone, a time when world-history paid a short visit to this town, breathing in a bit of colonial life

... only to decay into a laming lethargy all of a sudden again soon after.

 

Sometimes nature has a firm grip on what humans once built!

 
 

The old German customs building right at the coast.

 

Today the rotting vapours of putrefaction waver through the ruined houses

of this morbid beauty of a town.

 
 
 
 

Past the stinking fish-market, through the frames of the wooden ship's hulls

constructed in the same way as centuries ago, also past the gallows-memorial.

 

The German Boma, originally planned to be the government building for German East Africa before the capital was changed from Bagamoyo to Dar es Salaam.

 

The deep orange light of the cheaky setting sun twinkles

through the fleshless carcass of the old "German Boma".

 
 
 
 
 
 

Town houses of the Arabic, German and English aliens have gone to racks, long since the bewitchingly rich blossoming trees have conquered rooms in which once glamourous feasts were celebrated, where people loved, mourned ...

only the beautifully carved wooden doors hanging crooked in the hinges bring back memories of an old era, of a different life.

 

Beautifully carved door - the DHL office.

 

Arabic blackbirders traded their "black African gold" who "laid their hearts down" here with no hope of ever returning to their home lands.

But everybody else was here as well: German and English colonialists romantically-gone astray, adventurers, Burton, Speke, Stanley ... even Livingstone - but dead as a dodo just before his heartless corpse was shipped to his non-home England.

 

Gretchen died after only six days ... what made her parents come to Africa sometime before 1900? How did their story continue afterwards?

 

Even Gretchen, "Our beloved child" who saw life for only six days

... back then in February 1900 ...

 

Gretchen was born on this very day 116 years ago.

 

Mischa

Halftime at the Ol Doinyo Lengai, the holy mountain of the Massai

Eine deutschsprachige Version dieses Eintrages gibt es hier

From Arusha we drive via Mto Wa Mbu to the Ol Doinyo Lengai. This tip we got from our "Huddle"-hosts Elisabeth and Augustin (more about "Huddle" see the infobox below). Just before reaching the famous Ngorongoro crater, we turn right and drive through an impressive landscape - Africa as pictured in children's books - and incidentally in the open grassland see hundreds of zebras, but also many giraffes, gazelles, ostriches and wildebeest.

 
 

It's a dream! ... Wouldn't there be this strange noise coming from the rear left part of the Land Rover which seems to be getting louder and louder. Mischa tries to find out where that noise comes from several times but can't detect the problem. But as driving is not really different to what it was before, we just continue ... a Land Rover is never really broken but also never really completely in order!

 

The Ol Doinyo Lengai, the holy mountain of the Massai

 

The Ol Doinyo Lengai, the holy mountain of the Massai, is majestically towering up from the surrounding landscape. In its crater according to Massai-tradition, "Engai", the god of the Massai, lives.

Approaching the volcano, we discover that its slopes are rutted by lava streams. Apart from grass and shrubbery, there is no other vegetation on the mountain due to its ongoing activity. The Ol Doinyo Lengai is the only remaining active volcanoe in the east-African rift valley and last erupted in 2008.

Near Engare Sero we find a good campsite. While Juliane is checking us in, Mischa again checks the underside of the Land Rover again ... and discovers that the upper keep of the double shockers is broken, one of the three bolts is loose and one missing completely. Finally, we have discovered the source of the strange sounds. "Why didn't I see this before!?"

Roads?

The "road" is impassable, so we drive through the riverbed!

All this must have happened during the last 100km which were rather an adventurous track, especially when we had to cross lava streams and rivers. The rather uncommon rainfalls during the last few days and weeks have caused washouts which, too, contributed to this adventure-oiste.

Well, so fitting the "halftime" - half of our (planned) Transafrican adventure is over exactly today - we have the first "problem" on our Land Rover on this trip which stops the immediate progress of our travel. But even this is no real problem, because the local people use this piste as well and for sure we are not special with our car issue. By the way, here people use considerably more Land Rovers than Landcruisers ... quite uncommon for Africa! We ask the locals and get a clear reply, "Landcruisers break down constantly and both the suspension and the engine don't stand the bad road conditions here!" We also see many new Land Rovers just like ours powered by the "PUMA"-engine (Td4/TDCi) which in Europe are viewed as not being fit for overlanding or Africa.

 

The helpful Rasta-Village-Fundi

 

The manager of the campsite calls the local car mechanic ("fundi") right after checking us in. Within 45 minutes, the "fundi" is in our camp, takes out the broken part including the shock absorbers, drives home, welds, comes back and in the dusk, adjusts and again attaches the shock absorber keep. As by now it is far too dark, Mischa persuades him to stop working and come back the next morning to finish his work. Next morning our "Nyati" is ready to go back on the road again. For US$ 30 the "fundi" drove the route village-campsite three times, welded, took out and re-fitted the shock absorbers and checked all three other wheels incl. the suspension ... and has earned good money for a village-fundi! But this is no problem at all! Win-win is what we would call it!

...

Halftime! Half of our sabbatical is "already" over, or "only"!? This depends a lot on the perspective! ...

Definitely, we think that this is a good point in time to make up an interim balance. What are our thoughts on over half a year traveling facing the half-full glass of our onward journey?

For years we had planned this trip. It was our most favourite hobby, maybe even the only one our everyday working life (and our way of dealing with it) has permitted. But plans are only rough guidelines and should not be taken too earnest to still be able to enjoy freedom to the limit. So, we tried to be as flexible as possible and half a year before setting off, even changed the continent to be travelled from South America to Africa.

Many detours on the route to Africa we had planned. We wanted to go via Turkey (Oh, how much Juliane had looked forward to visiting Istanbul!), Georgia and Iran, but then, we changed plans while traveling, because of the political situation, but more so because at the beginning of our trip, we needed less challenges and more relaxed time spent together as a family. The kids had to understand that this would not be a short summer holiday ... more exciting countries would come in Africa anyway!

 

Nighttime at the beach, somewhere in Albania with great company and a campfire ... what more does one need!?

 
 

Our beach camp in Lefkhada, Greece ... what a wonderful and relaxed place!

 

So we were content not spending too many kilometres on the road and staying at the beach or in the mountains instead. Signals that this was needed were quite common: e.g. at the beginning of the trip the girls threw up in the car several times which we did not know from our previous travels. Of course, this always led to a lot of work cleaning up the car afterwards and also to bad mood with children and parents. "This way we can't go through Africa for a complete year!" ... So we had to change to even lower gears to make ourselves ready for crossing the Sahara desert and everything else that would be waiting for us after that ... inside and outside!

Looking back, this was very important because the leg Cairo-Nairobi was very exhausting for all of us: even though it was exciting and enriching from a cultural and personal perspective, there was absolutely no room for relaxation!

Africa! So many things people had criticized before we set off. Traveling to Africa with children!? "Politically immature!", "You will travel through failed states only!", "Irresponsible!" ... For us, Africa so far is far better than her reputation! Only very rarely - maybe even less than in Europe - we experienced uncomfortable encounters. Never have we been threatened by anybody so far and nowhere did we have to pay a bribe. Ok, every now and then there is a policeman asking, "Do you have something that makes an officer happy?" ... We always offer our broadest smiles, they reply in the same way and off we go! Especially the Muslims in Egypt and Sudan (the words of people from our home-village, "Don't go to the Mussulmen, they are all fanatics and criminaly!" still ring in our ears) and their hospitality were simply impressive!

 

Our good friends Tyseer and Sheikh Mohammed ... we can't wait to see them again!

 

In contrast to that great hospitality, in Sudan catholic Europeans twice sent us away when arriving at their "tented camps" in the darkness of a late evening when we asked to be allowed to set up our camp in their fenced compound. They sent us off into the dunes ... in the middle of the night ... traveling with young children! A thing Muslims would never have done and never did do so during our trip!

 

Beautiful Tigray in Ethiopia

 
 

Approaching Lalibela in Ethiopia from the North

 
 

The beach at Pangani, Tanzania (Peponi Beach Resort)

 

Apart from really impressive landscapes and exciting cultures, it is especially the people of Africa that fascinate us, because in spite of ineffable everyday difficulties ranging from corruption to malaria, unemployment and lack of money they are nearly consistently friendly, happy with a positive attitude towards life and an immense ingenuity to find solutions out of nothing. But also, we notice the negative influence some NGOs and tourism have on the people.

On our route we initially wanted to go from Nairobi to Uganda and then on to Rwanda before continuing to Tanzania. Health issues made us turn around and recover in Nairobi with the help of modern medicine.

Also the topic "health" was something that kept us, friends and relatives busy before we set off to Africa. Finally, everything that affected us on this trip so far apart from "Botflies" were illnesses quite common in Europe: Sóley had tonsilitis in Egypt, all of us a gastro-intestinal virus (Juliane for eight days, Sóley two times, once in Greece and once in Ethiopia) and a common cold which in Juliane's case developed into a beginning pneumonia!

The hospitals we went to were all in all quite OK, in Nairobi even above the central-European standard, in Ethiopia and Greece rather ill-equipped.

The anti-malarials we take as a prophylaxis daily seem to be without side effects, maybe they lead to a slight proclivity to diorrhea and in Juliane's case might cause slight problems with the immune system. Maybe!

For Anouk after the Botflies the trip was "over", she wanted to go home! We called in the family powow and together decided to set sails for the beach, to Tanzania, and to spend more time together with other families with children of the same age as ours. This flexibility has paid off after only very few days and Anouk enjoys traveling again.

 

A sad Anouk missing old friends from home and new friends who traveled up north ...

 

Only that she would love to be able to take all new friends with her on our onward journey. This travel is a hard training for her concerning saying farewell from unexpectedly cordial people.

All of us learn a lot anyway, especially Sóley and Anouk; maybe not all the things we had planned beforehand, but not less precious concepts and skills.

 

Travel School

 

The amounts of English our two daughters now have are really remarkable. While Sóley freely peppers German sentences with English words and chatters on everybody around her, Anouk by now speaks a relatively fluent English. For a long time she had quietly listened to the adults and obviously recognized words from her bilingual audiobooks. Since Ethiopia she actively speaks English with her friends and during the last few weeks even developed a slight French accent because we spent a lot of great time with three French families. Especially for Mischa as a teacher this incidental acquisition of a foreign language really is impressive. In the right setting, teachers in the commonly perceived sense are completely unnecessary! "Learning by doing" in real life situations and real contexts with people around whom one can ask for advice and help when needed are so much more effective than traditional classroom lessons without any connection to the children's experience realm. Grammar is intuitively perceived, autonomy is encouraged and success comes completely on its own when people understand in communication situations.

 

No words - some moments are pure magic!

 

Sóley has become more relaxed and open and has come closer to Mischa whom before traveling she did not really accept. Also, both kids have grown together and the whole family-coherence has become more and more intensive. ... Never ever have we experienced family and family bonds as strongly as during this trip.

New friends: the Leiste family from Munich ...

... Team "Slowdonkey.com", Stan and Anne ...

Silvia and Christoph from "Mankei Travel"

International Barefoot Beach Camp with the Dacaluf family.

All the people we met on this trip so far have also positively supported the development of our children. You don't meet many other "overland-families", but with the few that are traveling in Africa at the moment, it is quite easy to arrange to meet up with the help of modern media to arrange a meeting (e.g. with the help of a Facebook group for Overland Families co-founded by us ), to travel together for a while ... sometimes this works out well, e.g. with "the French". But sometimes one has to realise that it doesn't "fit" and that it is better to go separate ways. Still, we don't meet as many other overlanders as we had expected.

With Sam, our host in Maadi, Cairo ... and his beloved Land Rover "Stella"

Samuel and Genet with their new-born son ...

 

... and Hagos - together with their extended families very close friends in Ethiopia.

 

Lars ...

... and Flora who hosted us in Nairobi.

 

The Douillets from Arusha, our "Huddle" friends.

 

Infobox: "Huddle"

Huddle is a non-profit and free of charge international network to exchange tips, info, houses for a trip, weekend or expatriation ... with trustful expatriates & travelers. If you want to become a member, you will have to be invited by a "Huddle" member (contact us if you are interested).

 

 

A great help in discovering and feeling at home in a new country, a new culture are the many wonderful people that invite you to their homes, native inhabitants or expats alike.

Some meetings and visits had been planned for a long time, some come about quite spontaneously, just because you meet by chance, such as our meeting with Ian, the manager of the Land Rover garage in Arusha, where we had to have our Land Rover repaired.

 

With Ian, the CMC manager who took us home to his place

 

In this sense, by the way, our Land Rover is a good way of meeting new people as Land Rover owners are just like one large family. We for example had a great time with Konstantinos and Erato in Athens or the "Bundu Rovers" in Kenya.

Fellow Land Rover owner Konstantinos ...

... and his wife Erato who helped us immensely in planning the shipping of our Land Rover from Greece to Egypt

 

Our BBQ with the "Bundu Rovers" in Kenya ... one of the greatest evenings around a campfire in Africa so far!

 

Still, in spite of modern media and communication methods, you can't plan everything even though Facebook and our travel blog are a great way of inforcing that. It is so very exiting whom you meet on the road just by chance, even though not all those encounters are positive! One negative experience were a group of older German overlanders who were downright racist and loudly discussed about and judged "mixed couples" ("When exactly does a white man take a "Bimbo-woman" and when is it the other way round?" or "Don't invite her to Germany, we already have enough of "them" at home!") ... still these people have traveled through Africa for years and years. Strange, very strange! And a shame, as all of us are ambassadors for our countries, cultures and the idea of overlanding!

While traveling and experiencing all the positive and enriching encounters, it becomes more and more clear to us that it is exactly the inter-personal exchange which is the most important part of traveling for us, more important than sightseeing, ticking certain touristy hotspots, wild animals, national parks et cetera.

But the many exciting encounters can also distray you from relaxing: quite often we sit around a campfire or table and talk with new friends burning the midnight oil while not reserving enough attention on the kids ... or on ourselves! For the kids this is no problem when there are other children around to play with. But still it is quite alarming that Juliane did not manage to set up the slackline or even read a book which is not a guidebook or children's book so far. Yes, even while traveling, one has to make sure not to go back in unhealthy everyday structures similar to those of the everyday work day back at home! The daily life on the road, especially with young children, can keep in top of you just as the daily working-life at home if you don't take care. So, we decide for the second part of our Transafrican adventure to reserve some more time for us as a couple and for each other, of course without neglecting our children at the same time. Generally, they should profit from that as well when the parents are more relaxed. This might be a model for the time when we are back home again

Home ... This inevitably leads to the question on what is going to be "after" the trip. Will we be able to go back to our "normal" lives? Into a life governed by clocks and watches and demands from the workplace? How will we be able to keep the joy of living, which we have in spite of all challenges this travel has included so far ... and make the transfer to our every day lives? What would it be like to drop out completely? How would we be able to make enough money on the road? How would we educate our daughters for their future, a future that could be just like our way of living, but still could follow completely different ideas? Continuously traveling could also become "normal" after a while ... a new "job"!

Would emigrating be a solution and start a new life in Africa or somewhere else? So far - apart from Australia - we can only imagine doing that in Kenya, maybe also in Tanzamia ... In this context, we are really excited about traveling to Namibia, Botswana, Swasiland and South Africa ...

Money. Another one of the more uncomfortable topics! A good and relaxed way of dealing with money matters we had to learn while saving up for our sabbatical during the last few years anyway.

 
 

Even though countries like Ethiopia have turned out to be more expensive than expected because free camping simply is impossible there, we are quite surprised that we have managed to live on a daily budget of roundabout 100€ just as planned beforehand (daily average: 100,72€ incl. shipping the car to Africa) in spite of many paid accomodations. Really an eye-opener was that we only spent 8,71€ per day on diesel.

 

"Life" includes all food, entry fees et cetera
"Traffic" are road tolls, bridge fees et cetera
"Other" are mainly pocket money for the kids

 

Roundabout half of the daily budget we spent on "life", meaning food, entry fees et cetera, which reconciles us with the basic idea that this travel should mainly be high-quality time spent together as a family. Yes, this plan seems to be proving to be successful! Also, in this context, it is good to know that a large portion of the money we have spent ends up with the "normal" people on the road in the countries visited as we buy most of our food et cetera in small shops, street stalls and on the market.

After these reflections - but also complete without them - would we do it again? The answer is a clear and definite "Yes!". And to go further: we will do it again!

...

On our way from the "holy mountain of the Massai" back to Arusha, the engine of our Land Rover suddenly stops several times when we wait at gates or at police checkpoints and when we try to overtake the engine doesn't seem to have enough power. Finally, about 2 km before reaching the Land Rover garage in Arusha in the middle of the evening rush hour the engine stops completely.

Our poor Nyati on a towing truck.

... being pushed by other peoples' hands ...

But, in Africa just like in Europe it is possible to get a towing truck within 45 minutes, have your car towed to a garage and have the problem diagnosed: bad fuel, "bad" in the sense of "too much water in the fuel "! It turns out that when we had fuelled up in Arusha before setting of for Ol Doinyo Lengai, we fuelled up with about 50 % water and 50% diesel (i.e. 40 litres of water! ... one third of our tank!), because obviously the tank of the gas station had rain water leaking into it (and we had a lot of rain in Arusha!). So, we have to take out both fuel tanks and drain and clean them completely. Luckily, there doesn't seem to be further damage to the engine ... also, because the computer chip stopped the engine before (it is not so bad after all to have a chipped engine!). Within only one day we are helped by professionals and even privately, we are "rescued" by our French internet friends and by the manager of the garage, who without further ado invites us to stay at his place until our car is ready to go back on the road again and thus provides an interesting insight into the "expat-world" of Arusha!

Still, our "halftime" was a bit complicated car-wise!