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Old 10-19-2010, 05:54 AM   #1
Osadabwa OP
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Cool2 Tanzania Mini Safari by Bike: Dar to Bagamoyo, Saadani and Pangani

In May, two of us took a ride from Dar es Salaam to Saadani National Park, north of Bagamoyo on Tanzania’s East coast. We had a blast riding through the thorns and exploring the pineapple plantations (Day Trippin' Report here). So when Seb asked if anyone wanted to accompany him to his new digs in Tanga up the coast, we jumped at the excuse to explore further. Below, I'll post the juicy details, some dusty photos, and a DIY helmet-view video of the tracks in the thorn trees.

The ride was great, but almost didn’t happen. Murphy’s Law was in full effect the night before the ride. Mika’s recent piston ring replacement had yielded a leaky gasket which, along with the replacement of a chain and sprocket set, a defective tire, and two mysterious pre-ride punctures, had to be hastily repaired. Finally, thinking we were finished, Mika kicked his bike over, only to hear the clackity-clackity-tickity-tickity of poorly adjusted valves... to be fixed by headlamp in the dark. At least it wern't rainin'.


Above: XR400 Valve adjustment by headlamp and the ride location.

Bikes prepped, we got on the track early to Bagamoyo for breakfast. As usual, nobody could remember exactly how to navigate the 60 km maze of roads and footpaths through farms and half-finished suburbs that link Dar and Bagamoyo, so we stumble our way along using a combination of guesswork, patchy memory, and strategic information gathering. In a classic example of the latter, Seb has the following conversation with a bicyclist on the trail:

Seb: Hi. Where is the path to Bagamoyo.
Guy: Go back, take a right, look for a big tree, proceed to the school and continue straight.
Seb: Can’t I go left here?
Guy: No. There is no road. Nothing.
Seb: (to me) Let’s go left. (to Guy) Asante! [engines roar, dust flies, end scene]

In many cases, ignoring advice is the best plan. This time was a case in point. Turning left led us through some curious footpaths to the beachside entrance of Bagamoyo just in time for breakfast at Traveller’s Lodge. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and we'd need our strength...


Above: Seb and his KTM 450, Mika & Seb look for a track, Seb’s sewerage covered boot from a muddier-than-expected stream crossing, and an Indian Ocean overlook south of Bagamoyo.
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I used to have a link to my African rides in my signature line, but every time I check it doesn't work. So, if you want to see Kilimanjaro, the Kilombero Valley, a bunch of short trips around Dar and another long one to Mozambique: go to my profile.
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Old 10-19-2010, 09:40 PM   #2
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Over the Wami and into Saadani

After breakfast, the really good riding began. From Bagamoyo, we took the wide dirt road west to the north-south railroad and a parallel track through the bush. It was dusty, twisty, narrow, excellent riding. The path led through empty gullies and around tight bends, scratching its way between thorny bushes and burned elephant grass. The area had been transformed since May from overgrown, grassy maze to scrubby, dry adventure park.


Above: Mika approaches through the charred grass, a Desert Rose in bloom, Mika and Seb take a break, and Seb overlooking the Wami Valley.

It was a solid hour of sliding around corners and blasting through the brush before we reached the Wami River Bridge and Matipwili village. The riverbank was green and lush, quite unlike the bush we’d just come through, and people were busy collecting the cool water in jerry cans bound for drier villages.


Above: Seb discusses life with water carriers at the bridge, Mika approaches on the railway, foot traffic on the railroad bridge, and the Wami River.

In Matipwili, we paused for a fuel stop. The village watched as the recycled one-litre water bottles full of petrol were emptied into our tanks. The price was steep: 2500 Tanzanian Shillings put the price at about $1.70 per litre (or about $6.50 per US gallon).

After Matipwili, we entered Saadani National Park. It’s an odd national park because although there are lions, elephants, Cape Buffalo and hippos, people still live in and around the park. Also, there is a road through it that leads to non-gazetted areas, and consequently motorbikes are allowed in… I suspect that last part will change in time, so I’m glad to have had the opportunity to explore it now.

We followed the main road awhile before turning down to the Wami River to see how deep it was at the road crossing (not very, and would be a viable option for later trips). Shortly afterward, we deviated from the main road and ended up out on the salt flats near the sea. We peeled around in the not-quite-sand, not-quite-mud flats awhile before emerging in Saadani Village for a coke at the beautiful Saadani Safari Lodge.


Above: Fuel stop in Matipwili, a family from young to old, the salt flats, and Saadani Safari Lodge.
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I used to have a link to my African rides in my signature line, but every time I check it doesn't work. So, if you want to see Kilimanjaro, the Kilombero Valley, a bunch of short trips around Dar and another long one to Mozambique: go to my profile.
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Old 10-20-2010, 08:12 AM   #3
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Awesome Osadabwa!

Love your photographs... inspiring stuff. Just last night I was lying in bed thinking about a trip up that way.
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Old 10-20-2010, 08:27 PM   #4
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Pangani, pastries & police

After our rest, we paid the $20 park fee (non-Tanzanians pay this, plus a vehicle fee which the guy waved after some pleading) and blasted the main road out of the park. The road was fairly wide and well-maintained, but had a few deep sandy surprises in store, and plenty of recently installed, nearly invisible, jump-sized culverts to keep the heart racing.

By mid afternoon, we were out of the park and riding up the road toward Pangani, where Mika and I would stop and Seb would cross the ferry on his way to Tanga. The road was onerous. We had been going hard all morning, and the monotony of the now rocky, straight dirt road was taking its toll. By the time we reached Pangani ferry, we were exhausted, hungry and sore. We snacked on sugar covered roadside pastries (aka deep fried dough) and took on water and fuel. Then, Mika and I bid Seb farewell and backtracked to our beachfront accommodation for a swim in the ocean, one too many beers, and a good night’s sleep.


Above: More fuel at Pangani Ferry (one litre bottles again… served up by Julio from Honest Jack’s Discount Auto Parts…), Seb and Mika devour a roadside treat, the bikes and the ferry, Mika and I at last at the Beach Crab Resort.

Next morning, we dragged our carcasses out of bed, packed our meager kit back onto the bikes, and rolled out with the lodge’s packed breakfast in our rucksacks. Mika was sure there would be a shortcut to the main road, so once again we turned away from the obvious track, and once again we were rewarded. After a little doing, we stitched together a series of footpaths through a sisal plantation, some funky palm trees, and a handful of fallow fields that eventually led us to the north-south road leading home.

Amazingly, the same arduous, rocky road from yesterday had transformed into an easy, nice little ride overnight. Morning light had given the world a new coat of paint, and the night’s sleep had returned the elasticity to our joints and spirits. The experience was briefly interrupted by a run-in with police however, who, in a display of macho inchargedness, abruptly halted their white Land Rover pickup ahead of us, skidding at a haughty angle in the road to block our way. In an instant, three guys in military green jumped from the bed of the truck, demanding our papers. Sadly for them, however, our stuff was all in order, so they had to bid us a quiet adieu. (Actually, I should say all the stuff they looked at was in order... I was riding without a motorbike license but the guy forgot to ask. In Dar, that always costs me a "spot fine" of 10,000 Tsh. Also, neither of our bikes have indicators, mirrors, or proper license plates... I love riding in Africa!)


Above: A sisal plantation, Mika in the palms, Mika by the roadside and Mika by some funky trees… hopefully next time Mika will remember to bring his camera along too!
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I used to have a link to my African rides in my signature line, but every time I check it doesn't work. So, if you want to see Kilimanjaro, the Kilombero Valley, a bunch of short trips around Dar and another long one to Mozambique: go to my profile.
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Old 10-21-2010, 08:02 PM   #5
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Saadani bike safari and the ride back home

We re-entered Saadani National Park by the same gate we’d exited the day before. The rangers at the gate told us that our pass was only good for single entry, but that this time they’d let it slide. We had our breakfast there, and they shared some sweet black tea with us. Tanzanians outside of the urban areas often make little gestures like this, and it was really appreciated. We offered them a melted chocolate bar as an inadequate thank-you, and sped into the park.

We knew that in theory, we were only supposed to be passing through. Still, we couldn’t help taking a little detour on one of the game drive roads in the hopes of spotting some animals. Reasoning that we’d paid the park fee, and were still on the way out of the park, we slipped off the main road onto a track that took us into the bush. Immediately, however, we became nervous. There was elephant crap absolutely everywhere. The little track appeared and disappeared into bush just dense enough to conceal an elephant or a cape buffalo and could have led to a very unpleasant encounter. To add to the nerves, my bike (the one with the big tank) goes on reserve… I had stupidly not added fuel at the last 2 stops.

Fortunately for us, the only creatures we encountered were wildly sprinting Impala, lazy Water Buck, and a flock of freaky Ground Hornbills (which, though harmless enough, always seem to be up to something sinister) on our little motorbike game drive. We didn’t come across any rangers asking for papers, and my fuel held out long enough to find yet another entrepreneur with little bottles ¾ full of fuel to sell… although since he was smoking a cigarette while pouring the fuel, I thought maybe the end would come in a flash of fiery flame.


Above: Elephant poop in Saadani, our smoking fuelstop, Mika in the park.

Having survived the Park and the fuel-up, we arrived again at Matipwili, had a snack and a coke, and crossed the Wami Railroad Bridge eager to get back to the bush track we enjoyed so much the day before. I made a makeshift helmet cam mount for my digital camera and set off through the bush. Here’s a 2 minute clip… I tried HD, but the outcome was jumpy and difficult to watch, so this is just a low-quality teaser:


Above: Bushtrails between the Wami River and Bagamoyo


Above: A baobab tree (see the fruit in the upper right corner), Mika and the Wami bridge sign, and Matipwili market.

Once again back to Bagamoyo, we paused for a coke, and re-entered the maze of roads bound for home. Somehow, we pieced together a reasonable ride, and were in Dar by late afternoon, exhausted, revitalized and already thinking about the next ride.

End.
__________________
I used to have a link to my African rides in my signature line, but every time I check it doesn't work. So, if you want to see Kilimanjaro, the Kilombero Valley, a bunch of short trips around Dar and another long one to Mozambique: go to my profile.
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Old 10-21-2010, 08:50 PM   #6
WHYNOWTHEN
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Thanks for sharing.
I miss Africa!
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where does that road go?
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Old 10-22-2010, 04:15 AM   #7
GB
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Wow! Awesome ride, report and pics! Thanks for sharing your ride with us
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Old 10-22-2010, 03:40 PM   #8
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Hey, I know Bagamoyo! I spent a few days there in 2005. Had my R-100 GS. Nice beach.
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Old 10-24-2010, 09:29 AM   #9
prometheus rising
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Outstanding
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Old 10-24-2010, 05:09 PM   #10
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Excellent . . . . . .



Quote:
Originally Posted by Osadabwa
We re-entered Saadani National Park by the same gate we’d exited the day before.



Above: Elephant poop in Saadani, our smoking fuelstop, Mika in the park.

Having survived the Park and the fuel-up, we arrived again at Matipwili, had a snack and a coke, and crossed the Wami Railroad Bridge eager to get back to the bush track we enjoyed so much the day before. I made a makeshift helmet cam mount for my digital camera and set off through the bush. Here’s a 2 minute clip… I tried HD, but the outcome was jumpy and difficult to watch, so this is just a low-quality teaser:





Above: Bushtrails between the Wami River and Bagamoyo


Above: A baobab tree (see the fruit in the upper right corner), Mika and the Wami bridge sign, and Matipwili market.

Once again back to Bagamoyo, we paused for a coke, and re-entered the maze of roads bound for home. Somehow, we pieced together a reasonable ride, and were in Dar by late afternoon, exhausted, revitalized and already thinking about the next ride.

End.
Can't wait to return to Africa ! ! !
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