Pamela MacNaughtan

We packed up camp rather early this morning as we were making the long drive from Marangu at the base of Mt Kilimanjaro to Dar es Salaam which is on the Tanzanian coast.

Sarah and I are tent-mates and went to work quickly. It was dark outside and only one of us was using her headlamp (not me). I cringed as I tried to pry the metal S-hooks off the tent poles and then struggled to flatten our tent. I wanted to get onto the truck early so I could reclaim my seat from Eloise (the now made up name for the woman who locked me in the bathroom), as she had snaked it from me yesterday, but I wasn’t fast enough. Right then, 10 hours on an old blue Coleman cooler it is.

The drive was somewhat scenic as the landscape changed from brown and dried to green and thriving. I loved the diversity.

As we reached the outskirts of Dar es Salaam traffic increased and things slowed down quite a bit. By this time I (and pretty much everyone on the truck) wanted to get off and set-up camp. Ben, our driver, skirted around the city to where the ferry docks are located and as we waited to get through the traffic, I took the opportunity to look around and snap a few photos.

On the left side of the truck was a fish market and just behind that was a soft beach and the ocean. The turquoise water looked cool and refreshing as we sat on the truck feeling hot and tired from a long day of driving. As I looked out the window I could see an old wooden boat with its big dirty white sail gliding along the Zanzibar Channel and marvelled at the size ratio between the boat and the sail. Watching the boat made me think of older, simpler times and it was then that I started to really like Dar es Salaam. After all, I’m a sucker for old, rusted or worn things.

The smell from the fish market wasn’t too intense, which surprised me as it was quite humid outside. As we sat on the truck some of us experienced a bit of role reversal as Tanzanians started to take our photos instead of us taking theirs. Bernie was on top of things quickly and did as many Tanzanians do…”No, no, no!” Bernie said with her Australian accent, wagging her finger. “I want money!”. The majority of us on the truck started laughing as she kept this up every time a Tanzanian tried to take photos of the truck and Bernie.

The ferry was crowded with people, cars, trucks and motorcycles and trying to walk from one end to the other proved to be more challenging than I thought. The ride was short (about 10 mins) and we ended up waiting on the beach (some of us with beers in our hands) for Ben to arrive with the truck. Once the truck arrived we climbed aboard once again and headed to our campsite.

Our campsite for the night was in Kipepeo, right off the beach. I was overjoyed at the thought of pitching my tent near the Indian Ocean and listening to the waves crash against the sandy shore as I attempted to sleep.

Traveling in Africa, solo can be a scary thought -especially for solo female travellers. I’m not saying it can’t be done, it can. What I am saying is that there is nothing wrong with joining a group tour.

For 45 days I travelled from Kenya (Nairobi) to Cape Town with Intrepid Travel. This was my very first group travel experience. At first, I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into, but as time progressed, I began to relax and fall in love with this type of travel. In fact, I would definitely travel with Intrepid again. 



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