Making My Way Through The Serengeti

My eye seems to be a bit better today. Still blurry but not so much itching or soreness. I think it’s turned the corner. As for my teeth and bones? The roads through the Serengeti perhaps are best spent in a 4×4 rather than a loaded motorcycle. I was worried about Simon’s break-neck speed through some of the nastiest roads I’ve seen since the Okavango Delta. It’s against park regulations to get outside your vehicle, but I was worried if Doc might have broken free of the tie downs in the trailer. To minimize dust the good guys at Bush2Beach secured a green tarp to cover the bike. So from the rear the trailer just looks like a field of green with a bubble rising from the center and rear. But my concerns were alleviated when checking confirmed all was secure and fine in back.

Images From Serengeti National Park, Tanzania:

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As we made our way west of Seronera we cruised by the park’s headquarters at Ikoma where a nice nature walk and interpretive trail provides good information on the parks ecosystem. Then we as we headed toward Lake Victoria through the Western Corridor we took a few side stops along the Grumeti River, which is famous for the massive water crossing of Wildebeest where calves and adults alike are dragged under the water by the fierce force of the river’s menacing crocodiles. We spotted one taking a crossing at one point, just hanging and baking in the son. In my opinion hose prehistoric reptiles are the ugliest and scariest beasts in the Serengeti. Close to the river it’s easy to spot good-sized monitor lizards and a plethora of bird life.IMG_4838_2.jpg

By the end of the day we made it to the Ndabaka Gate, the western entrance/exit to the Serengeti along the Mwansa-Musoma road. We made camp at the cozy and convenient Serengeti Stop Over Point just outside the gate. Here we finally unloaded my machine and fired up its engine. With barely a push of the starter button Doc hummed indicating it was time to ride again.

For the past four days I’ve spent, in close quarter, the entire time with my trusted guide and driver, Simon and the legendary cook Big Ben of Bush2Beach. They’ve got a two day journey back to Arusha while I will spend a night or two in Mwanza sorting out the route to Rwanda and Uganda. So we parted ways with promises to see each other sometime soon.

I decided that prior to heading to Mwanza at the southern end of Lake Victoria, I would ride 40km north to the tiny town of Butiama, once home to Julius Nyerere, Baba wa Taifa (Father of the Nation). It was Nyerere who put Tanzania on the international map in the mid 60’s after gaining independence from colonial rule. While Nyerere’s politics were based in socialism, he applied a uniquely African twist to his philosophy and ideals. Unlike its neighbors, Tanganyika, as it was called prior to and during its first year of independence, had little, if any, divisive tribal rivalries. He called his philosophy ujamaa, familyhood in Swahili. Coming from a family where his father had seven wives, Nyerere understood the importance of an extended family. And its this African commitment to tradition that formed the foundation of his social programs. Extended families cultivated communal lands and shared resources when times were tough. Self-reliance also played in an important role in Nyerere’s programs.

His legacy is preserved in a modest museum next to his family home where today he’s buried next to his parents. Documents, photographs, manuscripts and a slew of memorabilia in both English and Swahili is preserved in this museum. I paid the modest 5,000 Tanzanian shillings for my entrance but wasn’t allowed to take photographs without paying another 5,000. I objected and reasoned with the young curator that such a policy is silly, especially if he hoped to attract more visitors to the museum — which could do the museum justice — according to the guest register, I was the only visitor that day and only one visitor stopped by the day before. He later relented and allowed me to take photographs of the family compound.

Born in 192, Nyerere was a teacher prior to entering politics and ushering independence for Tanzania in 1962. Among his many contributions to African society are translating several Shakespeare plays and Plato’s Republic into Swahili while penning a number of books and poetry collections of his own. Unlike his peer in neighboring Malawi, Nyerere was strongly pro pan-Africanism and since the beginning openly opposed and was critical of South Africa’s Apartheid system. This alienated Tanzania from South African aid but helped put further importance on Nyerere’s social and self-reliance programs. His invasion of Uganda in 1979 contributed to the ousting of notorious dictator Idi Amin. Nyerere died in 1999 while still active in African politics.

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Monitor lizard on the rocky shore of the Grumeti River, Serengeti National Park.

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This hippo isn’t moving much. Seems was the victim of a failed lion attack the night before.

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Simon and Ben posing with the cargo they carried across the Serengeti

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Mural depicting Nyerere’s speach upon independence of Tanzania.

So about three hours later and with my newfound understanding of Tanzania’s young history I rolled into Mwanza just as the sky opened up and dumped some of the heaviest, hardest and most voluminous rain I’d experienced in sometime. I quickly found refuge under an awning of a downtown hotel. Hoping to make it my home for a day or two, but I was given bad news — fully booked. I finally found one open room at the Hotel Talapia aboard its floating annex – The African Queen – apparently the half-century old vessel was used in some way during the filming of Bogart and Bacall’s legendary film about a journey down the Nile; of which the source of this mighty river is on my list of next destinations. Completely restored on the inside, the room was spotless and of four-star quality. According to the hotel manager the next step is to restore the exterior.


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The gravesite of Tanzania’s “father of the nation” Julius Myerere

The Talapia was a pleasurable base-camp after four days of camping in the bush. Plus, the staff and its guests provided me with valuable insight on the road ahead.

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Sunrise on Lake Victoria, Tanzania in Mwanza.

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Sleeping aboard the African Queen — they tell me this was used during the making of Bogie’s epic film.

1 reply
  1. TheDarkDestroyer
    TheDarkDestroyer says:

    Updates at last!! How you doing Boet!!(Afrikaans for Bro’)
    The hippo in your photograph has been beaten up by another hippo – the males are very territorial and don’t take kindly to other hippos giving their ladies the “glad eye”… Wish I was ther with you when you did the Serengeti… could have named the “plethora of birds” you refered to!!! Keep going Allan…

    Reply

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