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Old 02-24-2013, 08:15 AM   #1634
Jammin OP
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Joined: Jan 2006
Location: New Delhi - new 'home' for post RTW
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Tanzania, Part 3: Hippos, Dirt Roads and the Southern Highlands
November 25 - December 4, 2012

With sanDRina all sorted out now, I was finally back in the groove and enjoying Tanzania. I spent a night next to some noisy hippos at the Katavi National Park and then sojourned down southwest Tanzania and its dirt roads into Mbeya. After a few days rest at a CouchSurfer's place, I headed for the last leg through the Southern Highlands towards the border with Mozambique.

(Click the panoramas to see them larger.)

First day back on the road after sanDRina was cured of her ills.

Happy to have a smoothly running motorcycle.

Riding the remote roads of southwestern Tanzania. This is between Uvinza and Mpanda.

I was in the middle of the rainy season now but it mostly falls for just a few hours in the afternoons with bright skies in the mornings.

I got to Sitalike at the northern edge of Katavi National Park and tented up for the night at Riverside Camp where the Katuma River is full of...

...hippos! Lots of hippos and all close to each other, which inevitably leads to a lot of...

...pushing and shoving and grunting, especially where little ones are involved.

Hippos yawn a lot and the males love to show off their massive front-facing tusks.

They basically lounge in the water all day long, due to the heat, and with lounging around comes a lot of yawning.

My, what a big mouth you have. Strange that their large mouth is mainly used during territorial attacks and not really for eating, since they're vegetarians and come ashore at night to graze.

My camp site right next to the river with the hippos but no fears of being trampled at night due to large wooden poles used as fencing.

A large hippo skull by the bathroom.

Setting off the next morning and noting the sign at the entrance to Katavi National Park. The main road cuts through the northern end of the park and the sign says that it's prohibited to see and photograph any wildlife that I might come across. Since it's a public road, it's free to use but if I wander off into the bush, then I'm entering the national park and have to pay their fees. I promise to keep my eyes closed if I see an elephant.

A nice, easy ride through Katavi National Park. I didn't see any wildlife, so no rules broken.

sanDRina looking quite clean for having been on muddy roads. I think the nightly rains are doing their job of giving her a bath.

Waving to road construction workers having their lunch and seeking respite from the heat. There's a new, huge highway being built all up the southwestern side of Tanzania. I'm glad I could ride that route now, before the adventure is replaced by tar.

Taking a break and noticing a colorful hitchhiker who didn't survive the rough ride. Sorry. And here's a close look at the Kevlar mesh of my Motoport riding suit. Most people see the bulky riding gear and think how hot and miserable I must feel but they don't realize that it's all mesh and when I'm moving, air is flowing over my entire body and I feel just fine.

I got flashed by this oncoming, unmarked car and had to pull over. I saw it was full of police officers and before this agent of the law could ask a single question to me, I had fired off a volley of questions to him, "Good afternoon, Sir, where's the next petrol station? Can I buy water there? Is there a hotel nearby? Is it going to rain? I'm running late! Etc, etc." This tactic works like a charm, every time. The police officer has become my friend now because he has given this poor traveler lots of useful information and quickly lets me go to carry on my mission. No documents were shown and no bribes were given.

A wonderful ride, up and down mountains on a hard-packed mud road with lots of greenery. Ahh, good to be riding in Africa.

I got to the big town of Sumbawanga and checked in to the Matama Guest House, where a clean, private room goes for Tsh 7,000 ($4.50).

The Matama Guest House has some strict rules that every guest must follow. Lots of funny ones here but I love #12, no friendly talks anywhere else except at reception and #16, those smokers are such rough people.

Having a hearty meal of beans and rice with some spinach and peri-peri for Tsh 1,000 ($0.64).

Snap. The next morning, when packing up, I noticed that my pannier frame had snapped clean. That's the first time that's happened. All the previous ones were just cracks that were starting. I guess I didn't notice it for a while and had ridden some serious corrugations yesterday.
J A Y on a 98 Suzuki DR650SE (sanDRina)

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