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Ω2

Karibu Tanzania!

   Tanzania welcomed me with lush, mountainous areas… The rolling hills around Tukuyu have a beautiful, green carpet of tea plantations on them. After exploring the mountains around Mbeya for a few days, I headed east. I passed through Iringa town and I enjoyed a nice ride through the Baobab Valley. I was riding between hundreds of those characteristic trees and next to a river. Then I had to cross Mikumi National Park. Motorcycles are usually forbidden in areas where there are wild animals but the highway crosses this unfenced park, so all traffic is allowed on this road. I finally saw giraffes, warthogs, plenty of impalas and a lot of baboons too!

The rolling hills around Tukuyu have a beautiful, green carpet of tea plantations on them.

The rolling hills around Tukuyu have a beautiful, green carpet of tea plantations on them.

   My first impression from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city, was a terrible one… It’s just a huge, crowded, noisy and polluted city. The traffic there is hectic. Cars, buses and trucks manage to block each other on junctions, so nobody can move, sometimes for half an hour! Everybody tries to find a way through this chaos without minding the other drivers… What happens usually is that he comes to face a truck which is blocked on every side by other vehicles and at the end nobody can move! I was very grateful once again that I was on a motorbike…

Dar es Salaam: too crowded, too noisy and too polluted for me...

Dar es Salaam: too crowded, too noisy and too polluted for me…

   My getaway from this frenetic place was Zanzibar… That’s a different story: an island with exotic beaches on the Indian Ocean and a unique melting pot of civilizations! Ships were mooring on its coast for centuries from as far as India and Middle East. They were bringing spices, glassware and textile, while they were taking slaves, ivory, gold and wood. They were also bringing the Eastern civilization and Islam, which stayed until today. Zanzibar was united with the country of Tanganyika in 1964. Using the first three letters from the name of each country, Tanzania was just formed.

Zanzibar is a perfect getaway with exotic beaches and a unique melting pot of civilizations!

Zanzibar is a perfect getaway with exotic beaches and a unique melting pot of civilizations!

   Back in Dar es Salaam, I made a very special friend: Costas Coucoulis! As he says, he is an African, born in Burundi, with Greek origins. He has not only spent almost his whole life in Africa but he has actually dedicated it to Africa. Through his NGO called SANA (Saving Africa’s Nature), he struggles for years to save some of the last pristine areas that are left in our planet. That has become his life goal! His most special characteristic that I admire is that he tries to do that by educating and collaborating with the local communities. He doesn’t want to be the hero behind this story. He wants the indigenous people to be the heroes of their own story… Despite he has seen the atrocities of the human race, experiencing the genocide in Burundi and the disaster of our planet, he still believes in humans like a child who always hopes… After all, if it’s not humans who will make this change, who will be?

   Saadani National Park is Costa’s baby, as he says. He first visited that place when it was not even a national park. That’s where the bush meets the ocean and one of the very few places where you can see elephants in the sea! Costas fell in love with a spot under a tree, next to the river. He immediately decided that this is the place he wants to make his home and spend the rest of his life.

 

A very nice reportage of the Hellenic Television about Saadani National Park, SANA and its founder Costas Coucoulis.

 

   Since then, he is struggling to stop poaching, save the forest, build schools, dispensaries and whatever else is important for the neighbouring communities. Imagine that in this part of the world even clean drinking water is a luxury. Now they have access to it through a wind-powered pump. You cannot make these people care about the environment without satisfying their own basic needs first. Over the years, they have destroyed a big part of the forest to make charcoal. Costas knows he must offer them an alternative because they cook everyday on charcoals. He is trying now to make charcoal out of organic waste.

   Poaching is a big issue there. Tanzania is Africa’s largest source of poached ivory. Every single day 25 to 30 elephants die in this country. Their population now is alarmingly low. It’s obvious that educating these people is necessary. SANA has built a school and provides education to tens of children. They are also planning to establish an environmental training centre. Funds don’t come easy, so if you want to support these amazing projects, donate to SANA or visit Sanctuary Saadani Safari Lodge to experience all these firsthand!

Happily, the efforts of SANA saved a big part of the indigenous forest around Saadani National Park!

Happily, the efforts of SANA saved a big part of the indigenous forest around Saadani National Park!

   I couldn’t miss to see all this paradise by myself, so I visited Miseni Camp, just out of the national park’s border. I spent several wonderful days next to the spiritual hill on top of which the indigenous people used to pray since centuries ago. I enjoyed a lot the beauty and the silence of the nature… In the evenings, I was lying down in my tent listening at the concert of the bush babies and the birds, before my eyes were closing under a sky full of stars…

That's the top of the spiritual hill where the indigenous people used to pray after washing themselves.

That’s the top of the spiritual hill where the indigenous people used to pray after washing themselves.

   Through some narrow trails, I enjoyed a great dirt ride which brought me to the coast. I visited Pangani with its Arabic and German colonial buildings. After a break in Tanga, it was time to explore the Usambara Mountains… Wow, unexpectedly, that became my favourite part of Tanzania! I was riding mountains up and down as high as 2,000 meters (6,562 ft) through remote dirt roads and trails. Some of them were full of stones and ruts while there was some mud too. I was passing through small villages, blurred by fog, where smiling people were covered in fleece blankets. I even enjoyed a short hike in Amani Nature Reserve. I visited some scenic waterfalls and an old hydroelectric power station from the colonial era.

After a short hike in Amani Nature Reserve, I reached some scenic waterfalls and this old hydroelectric power station from the colonial era.

After a short hike in Amani Nature Reserve, I reached some scenic waterfalls and this old hydroelectric power station from the colonial era.

   There was something around there that I wanted to see before I close my eyes… It was Kilimanjaro! I was in Moshi town when the clouds were gone for a while and I laid eyes on Africa’s highest mountain for first time! I wanted to see the characteristic shape of this mountain and its snowy peak at 5,896 meters (19,344 ft). Unfortunately, the last snow on Kilimanjaro is estimated to melt forever by 2020. I rode all around the mountain and I enjoyed a great dirt ride on its foothills, through thick forest, which brought me to Marangu village.

Mt. Meru is Tanzania's second highest mountain at 4,566 meters (14,980 ft.).

Mt. Meru is Tanzania’s second highest mountain at 4,566 meters (14,980 ft.).

   My next destination was Rwanda. I was riding on cool plateaus for four days through dirt and paved roads. Every night I was wild camping in the bush and that’s how I enjoyed the 27th full moon I saw during my African adventure 😉

Another day on the dirt roads comes to an end and I must unpack the few things that a nomad needs. Time to enjoy the 27th full moon I saw during my African adventure ;-)

Another day on the dirt roads comes to an end and I must unpack the few things that a nomad needs. Time to enjoy the 27th full moon I saw during my African adventure 😉

You can check out the map with more photos and reports at: Live Trip Traveller

  

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