Wheel alignment

Friday, 29 September 2017

Under African Skies, pt9

Our airline connections called for a road trip back to Arusha and a night at a hotel, a flight to Dar es Salaam and a night there, then a flight to Doha and another to Auckland.  Somewhere in the region of 18,000 km all up which is about as long as it gets to anywhere!

Like all the road trips so far, there was plenty of activity to keep the interest up.  One stop to mark territory, grab refreshment and buy some gifts was at a small but classy shopping complex on the roadside.

Cool stuff in here

There was a mix of reasonably-priced goods, plus some spectacular high end items.  Jennie bought a few bits and pieces, including a nice bracelet with silver fittings and a piece of Tanzanite set in it, similar in colour to a sapphire.  My eyes were firmly set on some magnificent stylised wooden animal figurines over 2 metres high which were apparently carved by a local tribe renowned for their work.  Unsurprisingly, they were deservedly expensive and besides, how would I carry them?  Here they are:

Sensational workmanship

The room where these masterpieces were located was beautifully laid out with other superb examples of the carver's art:

All way out of my league!

Not only were there animal carvings, but African masks, spears and so on.  However, it was the item in the next photograph which I would have cheerfully taken home and exhibited in our lounge.  Not at all what you'd expect to find in a place like this!

Isn't this just superb?
Contemporary African art

Back on the road again, it was time to shoot more photos of everyday life in Tanzania.

Downtown superette

Tuk-tuks are really popular as taxis in some places

These 3 wheeled bikes are popular general purpose carriers too

Local women selling green bananas

Maasai herdsman moving stock - a common sight

Coming into the city of Arusha, the women all wore brightly coloured clothing which really added something to the vibe of the place.  I noticed the woman below walking up the road and she walked with such grace and elegance that I just had to take a photo.

Grace and elegance

After a night of chilling and saying goodbye to our friends who were all in the process of working their way back to Australia by various routes, Jennie and I left for nearby Arusha airport.  Our driver was a delightful young man called Alex Kenga who had worked as a computer engineer in various parts of the world.  He had returned to Arusha with his wife to start a family and was in partnership with his brother running a tour company with the great name of Mama Savana!  Again, we were so impressed with the positive, "go get 'em" attitude of the young people we met and really enjoyed their company.  I guess that in an environment where social support is minimal, there's no room for snowflakes with a well-developed air of entitlement.

I must say that we had some severe reservations on the approach to Arusha "airport".  All we could see was a collection of tin sheds and thought that Aeroflot could well be regarded the world's best airline by comparison, especially after the drama with Kenya Air.  However, whilst the facilities were a bit limited, the ground crew were on their game and the aircraft belonging to Precision Air were perfectly modern.

The airport (a loose description) consisted of a main runway and a parallel taxiway.  This taxiway doubled as a loading area, a spot for giving aircraft a wash and lord knows what else.  Whilst waiting for our flight, we thoroughly enjoyed all the activity and watching taxiing aircraft weaving in and out of other stationary aircraft and people wandering about.  Perfectly safe I suppose but it's simply something you don't see in the west - all part of the fun of being somewhere else!

Aircraft and people everywhere

Our plane (green and orange tail) taxiing in

It would seem that in this part of Africa, planes are more like buses.  Our flight left Arusha, landed on the holiday island of Zanzibar first and was only on the ground for a few minutes - we didn't even have to get off the plane.  When it departed for Dar es Salaam, there were only a handful of us left on it.

Dar es Salaam is Tanzania's most populous city at around 4.5 million (over some 1600 sq km!) and temperatures were in the mid 30's C when we arrived and humid as heck. Africans are crazy about soccer and with a big game due to start downtown in a couple of hours, the traffic was absolutely nuts. Adding to the chaos were people wandering between the vehicles, trying to sell fresh fruit, newspapers, toys and anything in between - great people-watching!

Our hotel down on the harbour was seriously impressive.  Our room was the biggest we've ever stayed in and beautifully appointed - you could have held a conference in it!  It also had a large private deck outside with great views of the harbour.

Big, or what???

A big deck outside too!

Views from the deck aren't too shabby

We're tired and a bit disoriented after being constantly on the move so decide to stay in the hotel, eat well and get some decent shuteye in readiness for the long trip home tomorrow.  As mentioned earlier, we'll be covering a total of around 18,000 km...... starting with a 3 hour wait at Dar airport, 6 hours to Doha, a 4 hour wait, then 17 hours non-stop to Auckland finishing with a 2.5 hour drive home.  A real test of stamina and sanity for anyone.

The trip went smoothly although with the waiting around and time zone changes, sleep didn't come quite as easily as the outbound trip.  The lovely Qatar flight attendants knew that the trip was to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary and about an hour out of Auckland, they all came out of the galley and presented us with a cake with Happy Anniversary written on the plate in raspberry coulis and took selfies.  What a lovely touch to end what was undoubtedly the best holiday in a series of truly great holidays we've had over the years.

Qatar, Kenya and Tanzania are truly magnificent destinations for their wildlife and breathtaking scenery but as always, the holiday was made complete by the wonderful people we met.  In what seems like increasingly troubled times throughout the world, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that most of the planet's population are great people, trying to get by and caring about their fellow man.

Goodbye Africa, asante sana na mungu akubariki


  1. Those carved animals are awesome! I'd love the whole menagerie!

    Nice to see all the attention you got on the flight too.

    1. Andrew - me too, aren't they just the best?

      Thanks, the Qatar flight attendants were all young and a lot of fun in both outbound and inbound. I'd certainly fly with them again, particularly to avoid going through L.A to the Northern Hemisphere and the incredibly obnoxious people who seem to work there these days.

  2. Wow! What a fantastic adventure to celebrate your anniversary. Africa would be at the top of your list, eh?

    1. Sure was Richard! Yes, it is at the top of the list but we've been to other amazing places too and will no doubt discover more in the future. Still keen to go through some of the USA national parks.

  3. What a fabulous end to your African adventure. Can't say i'm envious of that flight time though. Grueling, but glad you trip was made better by fantastic people.

    Nice series of posts Geoff.

  4. What a great way to end the trip. I enjoyed all of the posts Geoff and appreciate you posting all the pictures and narrative.

    1. Thanks very much Brandy! It's been a bit of a marathon to get done but it'll be great for us in terms of triggering memories down the track.

  5. Thanks Steve! Going business class made it a lot easier but it was still a bit tedious on the way back, In retrospect, it would have been better to break the journey at Doha, like we did on the outbound leg. Plenty to see and do there.

  6. Geoff such a great run down on your trip, loved the comparison to Aeroflot! That must have had you apprehensive when you pulled up. Lots of good pointers for future reference and loved those wooden giraffes too!

    1. Cheers Julie and sincere thanks to you for making it such a memorable trip. Getting surprises like the Arusha "airport" experience are all part of the fun! As always on trips, it's the lovely people you meet along the way which are the icing on the cake. Jennie and I are currently tracking down the lady who runs the school we visited on the Maasai Mara to help them out with a donation.