Some scenes from the Rubeho mountain range. There was plenty of dirt and gravel road to be negotiated, where the tarmac had been removed to place huge great drainage pipes underneath. This road follows a tiny high pass between the Rubeho and Udzungwa ranges.
There were four or five separate systems of alternate one-way working around the mountainsides, each about two miles long, controlled not by traffic lights but by enormous gates across the road and a system of walkie-talkies. There were many long queues of resting truck drivers and impatient bus drivers, but I was waved through every time, sometimes having the whole gravel road, or whole new tarmac road, to myself.
I had just entered a one-way section before taking this photo.
The big gate was closed behind me as there was no traffic following, but a long line of traffic ahead of me. I stayed there a while before realising the heavy lorries that were in front had disappeared into the distance. And the road here was just one bus-width wide.
If the last lorry ahead got through the distant gate without me in sight, the gateman there would unleash a roaring hoard of angry buses right into my path.
Oh dear, I had better get a move on, and hope nothing came round the tight turns hugging the mountainside.
Well, luckily this section was quite a few miles long, so I caught up the freight ahead OK, followed it all through the exit gate and the short way up to the next gate, where I was waved past it all to the front.
So that was alright then.
The narrow tarmac road winds up from the valley below.
Eventually the road comes out onto a high plateau shortly before Iringa. about 6000 feet up, so not very warm again. In fact, pretty cold at times.
I'm at a campsite a way outside of Iringa, very rural, and those African birds again.
These are a bright irridescent navy blue, not entirely rendered in the photographs, and quite timid. A flock of about twenty seem to live here and I caught a couple unawares.
Some more overlanders went past in the other direction in the midst of all the roadworks. Two British cyclists doing a loop starting and ending in Nairobi, round Lake Victoria more-or-less by the same route as me, except they went through Burundi from Rwanda and caught a ferry from Bujumbura to Kigoma.
"What was that Kigoma road like on your bike? Doing it both ways as well? In the bus, it was absolute hell. Nearly broke our backs, don't know how the bus doesn't fall apart."
So I replied that I quite enjoyed it (except for the eastern fifty miles)!
"That's what I'm going to do next, a trip on a motorbike. Where did you get all your luggage?"
So we did a quick inventory, which showed that only my tank panniers are new, the rest all second hand.
"So it shouldn't cost too much either! Right, we'll work on that when we get back home."
From Dodoma they had again followed the same route as me except they'd been on various safaris on Tanzania's 'Southern Circuit' around the highlands, and were now taking the direct route back to Nairobi.
It's not far from the Malawi border now but I think I'll stay in Tanzania a little longer, look for places to see around Mbeya.
Posted by Ken Thomas at July 20, 2010 01:56 PM GMT
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