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The Transit: Nairobi to Windhoek in six short days

It’s been quite an eventful week for OTA.  On Monday Kenya held its long-awaited election.  Francis arrived at his polling station at 4am ready to vote early so we could leave on our next adventure.  But alas, it was not to happen.  Twelve hours later, suffering from sunstroke and dehydration, he submitted his vote and I unpacked my bag for another night in Nairobi.

So on Tuesday, this time it was me to leave at 4am to pick up Francis and this time start on our next adventure.

Currently we are on our way to Windhoek, capital of Nairobi.  It’s a cool 4000km from Nairobi as the crow flies.  But of course, travelling as the crow flies takes us on all sorts of interesting roads.  So we take a longer route in the interests of saving time – this is Africa!

Our early start on Tuesday paid off and by evening we were in Chalinze.  Although satisfied with our progress, we did feel that the Tanzanian police stationed every 5km (it seemed!) were hindering us somewhat.  Of course some police are necessary on a major highway to control speed and occasionally check documents.  But checking the presence of our fire extinguisher and asking who we were voting for in Kenya (that was the real reason for the pull over) constituted, to me, a waste of time.

Breakfast in Morogoro - OTA travels from Nairobi to Windhoek

Breakfast in Morogoro, Tanzania

Wednesday got a little more interesting when we lost the water pump.  Even on the major highways, the roads are riddled with potholes and, especially in Tanzania, the buses and trucks don’t mind overtaking on blind corners and pushing smaller vehicles off the road – a bit terrifying at times!

Francis came the rescue and, once procured (from the town 60km away and the first one that arrived did not fit), he popped it in and we were away.

Dinner that night does deserve comment before we continue.  Chips mayai (chips with a couple of eggs fried over them – I imagine a fantastic hangover cure, but otherwise a heart attack on a plate) and chicken, also fried.  In East Africa you get a choice of chook: broilers are normal chickens; African racing chickens are the one you see roaming the streets – tough old birds!  This night we got no choice; African racing chicken it was.  Francis’ comment sums up the jaw-breaking experience perfectly: “Oh, I thought it was a bone, but it is meat!”

Thursday was our Malawi marathon.  We crossed the border, meeting some friends from another tour company at the border post.  After getting past all the police checks in northern Malawi we were free to move.  And we did!  We drive all through the night, while I introduced Francis to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on an audio book.  That was about 12 hours we spent in Malawi, arriving at the Zambian border around 3am.  We snatched a couple of hours sleep in the supermarket car park in Chipata before continuing through Zambia – this is NOT how we run tours with our guests, please note!

Driving through Zambia with OTA - Overland Travel Adventures

Street market in Zambia

So we zoomed through Zambia on Friday and entered Namibia on Saturday.  At last we reached Windhoek this morning after 5116 km where we were so happy to meet a hot shower and a comfortable bed.  Now, refreshed and ready for the next three weeks, we will meet our guests this afternoon.  Stay tuned next week as the story continues (of saner and more interesting travelling).

Travelling in Namibia with OTA - Overland Travel Adventures

Villages in northern Namibia as we whiz by

Nairobi to Kigali Post Script: The Return Journey

After farewelling Chris and Tom, my first task was to scout out hotels in Kigali across different price ranges.  This task was hindered a bit due to the conflict in Goma which had resulted in both Congolese and foreigners fleeing into Rwanda and filling all the hotel rooms.

The next day I headed to Gahini, about 80km east of Kigali.  My uncle had recommended I visit as he had been there in 2007 working with the church on a water project.  Set on Lake Muhazi, Gahini is a small community with a couple of lovely accommodations overlooking the water.  I had one entire guesthouse to myself and spent a peaceful day alone catching up on emails.  I met the Bishop, who does various projects in the area and on my second night a group of young people from Gippsland (regional Victoria) arrived for their “Schoolie’s Week” experience.  It seems a much better idea than getting drunk on the Gold Coast, to come to Rwanda and volunteer for two weeks.

Lake Muhazi

From Gahini I crossed the border to Tanzania.  I was joined by Nadia and Eric who I had met in Kigali.  When we got to Mwanza, there was another accommodation crisis.  This time because graduates were celebrating by coming to Tanzania’s second largest city – another Schoolie’s Week celebration!

Mwanza is set on Lake Victoria and is not too bad for an African city (visit Africa for the nature, not the cities!).  We found a decent pizza restaurant and a flash hotel with a pool to lounge by after wandering the streets under the hot sun.


From Mwanza, it only took a few hours to reach the western entrance to the Serengeti, where I wanted to check out some accommodation options.  And that’s where my problems began.

I headed down a dirt track to check a recommended place.  Just as I was thinking that I ought to turn around because it really was too muddy, my rear tyre fell in the ditch and I was stuck.  Some boys from the village came to assist me and succeeded, only to push me into another hole!  They disappeared, somewhat dejected.  I had called the accommodation I was destined for, and after two hours finally someone arrived…. on a motorbike.  I had assumed he would arrive with a vehicle to tow me out, but we never assume anything in Africa!  Shortly after he started working on getting out of the hole, the rain started to bucket down.  Digging a tyre out of a ditch in the rain is one of life’s more futile exercises, but bless him he continued work.  After a couple more hours I asked someone who had offered to call a tractor if the tractor was coming.  For some mysterious reason he had not yet called the tractor, perhaps thinking that digging in the rain was going to produce results.  At last the tractor came.  And then I learnt a key lesson: supervise everything!  One man attached the tow chain to the bulbar rather than the tow loop and as the tractor jerked the van (successfully) out of the mud, the bull bar became detached, smashing a headlight and ripping the steel on the front panel.  Then the tractor stopped.  It would not start again.  Not enough fuel was the explanation.  TIA – This is Africa!

The next morning they returned with fuel and I managed to get to the tar road.  I got to Musoma where I managed to get the bull bar re-welded.  From Musoma it was a long drive to Nairobi, which ended with a peak hour arrival in the city.  Sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether I love or hate this city – I was so happy to be home after the ordeal in Tanzania, but are these traffic jams really necessary??

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