It is amazing how quickly time flies by and it has already been a month since we cycled into Moshi at the base of Kilimanjaro which marked the end of our cycle leg of the #Joburg2Kili Expedition.
We wanted to share our final itinerary of our journey cycling from Johannesburg to Moshi in Tanzania as we had quite a few changes to our original planned itinerary along the way. We have included some hyperlinks to the campsites websites and/or tripadvisor pages that we stayed at along the way as well.
If you know of any friends or colleagues looking to cycle or drive up from South Africa to Tanzania via Botswana, Zambia and/or Malawi, please do not hesitate to contact us for any advice, tips and lessons that we learnt during our expedition that we can share with them. We would also love to hear about other adventures people are taking on:-)
The Joburg2Kili team have made it to Arusha two days ahead of schedule after three days of seriously tough cycling from Dodoma. We have decided to have one rest day here in Arusha and then we will cycle to our final destination the town of Moshi at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro on Thursday 6th October.
We spent one rest day in the capital of Tanzania, Dodoma at African Dreams Hotel who kindly let us camp on their premises. One of the highlights of Dodoma was definitely the Italian pizzeria called Pizzeria Leone l’Africano down the road from our hotel where we ended up having dinner two nights in a row as the food was excellent.
From Dodoma we had a 95km cycle to a bush camping spot marked near Mbuyuni village. We knew that from Dodoma there was a chance of having to ride along some dirt road sections as they are still busy tarring the road through to Babatie. As soon as we left Dodoma we had a dirt road section for about 20km but luckily the rest of the road was tarred and was fairly easy riding all the way to Mbunyuni Village where we needed to find a suitable bush camping spot.
We arrived ahead of Bryan who was busy in Dodoma stocking up on supplies so we found the turnoff to the local school where we planned to see if we could possible set up camp there. We struggled a bit to find someone that could speak English for us to get permission to stay at the school. Eventually we met a teacher who was able to speak some English and she indicated that we needed to visit the village office to get permission from the chief. So Warrick drove the Jeep down to the village office with the teacher to help with translating. After a bit of difficulty in terms of the language barrier, Warrick eventually managed to get the ok to camp on the school field from the chief.
We then went to setup our campsite on the soccer field and were joined by at least 100 children and adults who were very intrigued and interested in what we were doing. We were also visited by various people throughout the evening including the chief who was dropped off on a motorbike by a local called Emmanuel and his brother who spoke really good English. Emmanuel helped us to organise some firewood so we could braai and he also taught us a bit of Swahili. Warrick decided to race one of the children in a cycle race on the soccer field from one set of goal posts to the other which was lots of fun to watch and the children in the village all laughed and cheered. Gareth and Derrick were on dinner duty that night and they enjoyed teaching some of the children some English words for some of the foods they were preparing. It certainly was one of our most memorable bush camps to date and a truly authentic experience to be part of a local Tanzanian village.
From Mbunyuni Village we planned to cycle 90km to Amarula Campsite but we ended up changing up our plans during the day which ended up making this one of our toughest and longest cycle legs of the journey. About 20km into the cycle we hit a dirt road which continued for 40km through a hectic rocky and dusty mountain pass where it was particularly tough going on our steel framed, single-speed, back-brake-pedal Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycles. As soon as we hit the tar again, much to our delight, we heard from Bryan who had driven ahead to Amarula campsite that the camp was not quite what we were expecting with no electricity and only a bucket shower. As we had a lot of meat in our freezer with low battery power we needed to have electricity that night so we all decided that Bryan should rather go ahead to find a campsite or lodge in the main town Babatie which was a further 70km away. He would then have to come back to shuttle us as it was too far for us to ride before sunset but we would ride until he met up with us.
The plan did not go exactly to plan as it turned out that the road to Babatie is still under construction for 50km on a corrugated dirt road with a lot of climbing and so it took Bryan over 2 hours to get to the town and start finding a place to stay. As a result, we just had to continue cycling until Bryan was able to come back to meet us so we could load the bicycles and drive through to the town. We had some seriously tough climbs and shortly before sunset Warrick’s front tyre got a puncture. As we were replacing Warrick’s front tyre with a spare tyre, Bryan caught up with us much to everyone’s delight. We then loaded the bicycles onto the two cars and drove the mountainous pass through to Ango Lodge in Babatie where Bryan had arranged for us to camp. It ended up being our longest day on the bicycles close to 10 hours for only 126km.
The next day we packed up camp and got shuttled back to the spot where we had ended the previous day. We decided to push ahead a further 100km to get close to Lake Manyara, which would put us two days ahead of schedule. However, we had a slow start as literally 1km into the ride, Warrick’s front tyre was giving issues. We replaced the tyre and inserted a new tube and then as he rode again the tyre went flat again so we had to replace the tube once more which thankfully was a success. We had about 20km left of riding on a very corrugated dirt road and so our bicycles took a beating and by the time we hit the tar road again, Warrick’s front rim of his tyre had bent so we had to replace a spoke on his old rim and then rebuild the tyre. Thankfully the rest of the ride was relatively easy and we had no more mechanical issues. Bryan had gone ahead to arrange us a campsite. Unfortunately, the first place we had earmarked to stay on Lake Manyara wouldn’t allow us to camp so we pushed onto Zion Campsite which is on the road to Tarangire National Park. Whilst setting up our camp we noticed some heavy rainclouds building in the distance and before we knew it we had our first thunderstorm of the trip. The rain came down really hard and the boys all enjoyed having a shower in the rain.
Yesterday, we decided to push on towards Arusha for a 100km cycle. Derrick’s mom and brother had arrived the previous day and had stayed at a place on Lake Manyara for the night. Bryan went ahead to fetch them so that they could join us and follow us as we cycled towards Arusha. We had a fair amount of climbing in the first half of the ride which was hard going on our legs along with our first bit of rain whilst cycling. Bryan, Derrick’s mom and brother followed us for a while and then went ahead to Arusha to meet up with some friends of Bryan’s cousins, the Dennis Family, who have very kindly let us stay with them. We all had a wonderful dinner last night at the Arusha Coffee Lodge and we are spending one rest day here in Arusha. Derrick, his mom and brother, Gareth and Bobby have all gone on a day safari to Ngorongoro Crater whilst Warrick, Cam and Bryan relax in Arusha.
And tomorrow after cycling over 4500km from Johannesburg we will be heading through to our final destination, Moshi, at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, which is a bit surreal but very exciting for us all.
We have made it to the capital city of Tanzania, Dodoma, after four days of riding in some serious heat through Masai land. Along the way we also reached the 4000km mark on our journey from Johannesburg to Moshi at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro.
On our cycle leg to Ngwazi Sailing Club we came across a German called Daniel who was cycling from Cape Town to Cairo. We mentioned to him that we would be staying the night at the Ngwazi Sailing Club and we would be happy for him to join us. Warrick shared with him the co-ordinates but we had expected there to be some signs to the place but there were none but alas Daniel managed to still find us.
We spent one rest day at the beautiful Ngwazi Sailing Club, which was in fact Warrick’s birthday. We spent the morning doing some errands which included fixing Warrick and Gareth’s back-wheel hubs and just giving the bikes a much-needed clean. The rest of the day we just relaxed around camp and Derrick and Gareth prepared a delicious birthday braai for dinner.
The next day we had a 90km cycle ahead of us to African Gardens Campsite which is about 10km from the main town Iringa. Derrick was feeling a lot better after having completed a course of the malaria treatment medication so he decided to get back on his Buffalo bicycle again. The first 40km of the ride were really tough as we had roadworks and ended up having to cycle along dirt road diversions with some big climbs. However, as soon as we got through the town called Mufundi there were no more roadworks and we had an awesome smooth road to ride on with a wide shoulder all the way through to African Gardens Campsite.
Whilst we were riding, Bryan drove ahead to Iringa to stock up on supplies before going back to setup our campsite. He also gave Daniel a lift as he was having issues with his bicycle so he was going to arrange a bus to Dar-es-Salaam from Iringa. Daniel decided to also stay at the same campsite with us that night.
The next leg of our journey was a long and really hot 116km cycle through to a bush camp by the Mtera Reservoir. In the first 20km we had a serious climb up to the main town Iringa where we spent a bit of time sorting out some admin including drawing some more cash. After leaving Iringa we felt like we were in the middle of nowhere as there is very little civilisation along the way. Around 90km from Iringa we cycled down this incredible mountain pass with amazing views of the Mtera Reservoir. As soon as we descended the heat picked up to 40 degrees so we were all suffering. Bryan went ahead to try sort out a suitable place for us to “bush camp” for the night and luckily managed to arrange for us to stay at a mission clinic with a Masai warrior as our security guard.
From the mission clinic we had a fairly hilly 93km ride to another “bush camp” spot. We were now cycling through Masai land with some incredible baobab forests scattered across the landscape which was really amazing and helped take our minds off the heat. Bryan managed to find a bush camping spot for us on the top of a hill by a baobab and rocky formation. To ensure we got some kind of permission to camp on the hill, Bryan went to speak to a local in the nearby village called Joshua. As there was a language barrier, Bryan had to phone a contact he met in Rungwe called Daniel to help translate English to Swahili which worked out well and we had no issues camping in this awesome “bush camp.”
Today we had a short cycle of 74km to the Tanzanian capital city, Dodoma, where we are now staying at the African Dream Hotel for one rest day. The first half of the cycle today was flat and really beautiful as we continued to ride past baobab forests and then we had a gradual climb up to the city. Time has really flown by on this phenomenal journey and we can’t believe that we only have 6 more days of cycling left to our final destination, Mount Kilimanjaro.
We have had some seriously tough riding over the past few days since entering our final country on the Joburg2Kili Expedition, Tanzania. But before updating on how things have been going in Tanzania, as we haven’t had much luck with signal the past week here is just a quick update on our final days in beautiful Malawi.
We had one rest day at Chitimba Camp by the Lake and decided to go check out the town of Livingstonia (Derrick also wanted to go to the hospital there to get a doctor to check on his knee which was troubling him). We had been warned that the road up to the town has 21 hairpin bends and you definitely need a 4×4 so we all jumped into the Jeep. The road was hectic with lots of rocky patches and narrow bends but the further you get up the mountain the more spectacular the views. We finally got to the top and found the local hospital which was quite an eye-opening experience. Unfortunately, the doctor wasn’t able to help Derrick with his knee pain so we headed back down the treacherous road. On our way down the mountain we stopped at the Mushroom Farm which is a lodge and campsite with incredible views looking over the Lake.
The next day we cycled a relatively easy 80km to our last stop along Lake Malawi called Mikomo Beach Lodge which is just before Karonga. As the only campers we were able to take the prime spot on the beach to camp for the night. It was then time to say goodbye to the Lake and make our way to Tanzania. We had an early start as we had a 60km ride to get to the border post. The ride was relatively flat and we made it to the border much earlier than we expected. Bryan had stayed behind at the campsite to fill the water tank on the trailer which can take up to an hour and so he was still behind us when we got to the border so we had to just sit around and wait for him. We then headed over to the Tanzanian side and we all thought things were going quite smoothly until you have to start the whole car registration process. We ended up waiting for 3 hours to get both cars and the trailer processed including travel insurance so we were all feeling quite exhausted by the time we had to start riding again.
One thing that has been so interesting to note on this journey is that as soon as you cross over a border you instantly notice you are in a new country as the people, vegetation, signs, houses and advertising are all different. Crossing into Tanzania the terrain changed from dry savanna to tropical forests. The last 50km were really tough for us all not only because we had already had a long day waiting at the border but because we ended up climbing over 1000m in elevation. The day was running away from us and we only got to the turnoff point to the Rungwe Avocado Company where we were staying for two nights as the sun was setting. Bryan met us at the turnoff and we loaded the bicycles onto both the Jeep and Ford and drove up to the farm. Warrick was put in touch with Rob who owns the farm and we were all very grateful to both him and his wife Petra for letting us stay at their amazing farm.
The next day we had a rest day and decided to go and check out the Ngozi Crater Lake which Warrick had read about online. Derrick’s knee was still troubling him so he decided to give the hike a miss. The rest of the team jumped into the Jeep and we made our way to the start of the hike. Rob had mentioned to us that we must make sure to pay the entrance fee and to try get a security guard for our car as the place is quite remote and there had been incidences in the past. We got to the turnoff and noticed that there was no guard at the hut so we waited around for a bit and eventually two locals arrived who we negotiated with on the price and one of them called First jumped into the Jeep with us to be our security guard. We had to drive down quite a rocky and narrow road to get to the parking lot at the start of the hike. The hike took us about 30 minutes which takes you through a beautiful forest to a viewpoint looking into the crater lake which was really spectacular and untouched.
We then headed back down to the Jeep and found our car guard had done a runner which was very annoying. As we drove back up the rocky and narrow dirt road we came across a Toyota vehicle with some hikers we had seen on our way up that were stuck in a rocky section of the road. They were locals and didn’t speak any English but through some hand signals we managed to explain to them that we would try get them out with the Jeep using a tow rope. The first challenge was to get the Jeep past them as they were stuck in a gorge. They managed to reverse down and make just enough room for the Jeep to sneak past and then we got the tow rope all setup. The Jeep managed to hurl the Toyato out of the rocky patch it was stuck in with ease and we then said our goodbyes to some very grateful Tanzanians. To view a video of the Jeep pulling out the Toyota, click here.
We then headed back to Rungwe where we picked up a few supplies and Bryan sorted out some sim cards for the team which took a couple of hours. We got back to the Avocado farm just in time to enjoy the sunset. Derrick was not feeling at all well and had slept basically the whole day. Luckily Rob’s wife, Petra, is a doctor and she did a few tests which indicated that he might have malaria but she wanted to do some more tests at her practice in the nearby town Mbeya the next morning.
The next day, Gareth, Cam and Warrick headed off on a really tough 128km cycle to a place called Riverside Campsite with Bobby in the Jeep following behind them. Derrick and Bryan went ahead to Mbeya so Derrick could get some more tests done and Bryan could get a few supplies. The ride was seriously tough with close to 1500m of climbing. The last 60km were also on a really bad road with plenty potholes and big trucks and buses flying past. We also had quite a few mechanicals on this leg having to replace both Warrick and Gareth’s back wheels and Gareth getting a flat tyre. We eventually got to Riverside campsite which doesn’t have much in terms of facilities but is a beautiful location on a river. Derrick got the results of his tests which had come back that he didn’t have malaria but was just burnt out and needed to take it easy for the next few days.
The next morning, we planned to ride close to 90km and would then hopefully find a suitable bush camp to stay at for the night. Derrick received more results of the tests that were done and it turned out he does have malaria but luckily he had continued with the treatment and was already feeling a lot better but would not be riding for at least another 2 days. The cycle was once again really tough with over 1000m of climbing, a headwind, busy roads that were under construction so we often had to ride on these dirt road diversions which were super dusty with all the trucks and buses driving past. Bryan went ahead to find a place for us to setup camp but unfortunately the best he could find was Amana guest house in a little town called Makambako where the team decided to take rooms rather than camping but Warrick and Cam setup their trailer tent in the car park. We were all feeling really exhausted and decided to find a restaurant for dinner which ended up being very average.
Today we had a short but really hilly 65km ride to Ngwazi Sailing Club with over 700m in climbing. It was also really misty and cold when we left town, which also made the start of the day more challenging. We had our first near accident as Cam braked suddenly as it seemed as though a truck was about to drive in front of her which caused Warrick to come off his bike but thankfully he has no injuries. We will be staying here at Ngwazi Sailing Club for one rest day tomorrow, which happens to be Warrick’s birthday.