Thursday, 13 October 2016

My road trip from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi

PART 2

I became quite nervous upon reaching the Ruvuma river. The water was dark and choppy with our ferry a tiny wooden boat. I wondered if it really could take all of us to the other side. On top of that, it was my first time taking a border crossing via ferry. My fears soon disappeared though as the tiny tugboat coasted to the Mozambican side smoothly in less than a half hour. Upon reaching land, public transportation picked us up and brought us to the immigration offices

One of the boats I used to cross River Ruvuma to Mozambique.
Locals were the first to be inspected at the office. I was last. Patrons were checked pretty quickly, but my inspection lasted a lifetime. I had never been checked so much like this. All my bags were completely emptied. They saw my money and asked how much I had. My friend had warned me earlier to hide my money because these guys are not ashamed to ask it from you. When they realised I had nothing illegal, one of the ladies with a gloomy face asked me for money to buy soda. I told her I did not have money, still my friend had advised me never to hand them any money. She hung on to my passport waiting to see if I could give her anything until the driver came and told her something and she gave it to me hesitantly. Mozambique Police are so corrupt and not afraid to show it.

We continued our journey to Palma which was the first town from the boarder. The drive was so long, and the roads were the worst I have ever seen. Some roads had been broken off by rain and there were young boys who had created an alternative path. Of course you could use these paths but you had to pay them. It was interesting because the driver had to make a stop every time to give the policemen some money even when he was not in wrong.




Broken road.

Statue of Michel in Mocimboa de Praia


 I spent my first night in a quiet town of Mocimboa de Praia. I had officially entered the Portuguese speaking country and it was quite a challenge. The driver helped me find accommodation. I had to speak a little Swahili and English. The North of Mozambique is full of Muslims and Swahili is spoken by most. To catch an early morning bus, you have to be up really early at 3 am. I got my bus that morning, the driver was really nice to me and oh boy he was so fast. I could not hold my breath but everyone on that bus that morning seemed more calm than I was. I was happy to get off on my next stop at Macomia. It was hard to get the next transport to my next stop but after about 30 minutes, I got a truck with the locals which dropped me off on the road going to Quissanga. The drive was quite nice because we drove through the forest, I was a bit nervous because everyone got off the truck and there was me, the driver and two helpers behind the truck. But fortunately, they dropped me off to my stop and were really helpful even though English was a problem and also I paid about 60 cents.

I got another truck to Quissanga which was a longer journey. At this moment is when I started to experience the squeezing that goes on in the trucks and mini buses. The road was very dusty and took forever and I couldn’t wait to get on the next boat to Ibo island.


The truck that I took to Quissanga

A very packed truck that I was on.

This is how I covered up to protect my self from the dust, it didn't help much though.

 When I got off this truck, I was so relieved. I was full of dirt and I could not wait to get a boat to Ibo island. Unfortunately the boat we had to use was being worked on which meant we were gonna wait longer. I made friends with a young man who was heading to the island and his friends had a boat. He talked to them and they allowed me on their boat and I did not have to pay too much for it.
When we got on the main land, this man and his friend walked me to the hostel that I wanted to stay at called Campsite Karibuni. It was the cheapest for me at about 5$ a night, with breakfast only 60 cents. It was a good place for a budget traveler and the owners were really nice even though they could not speak English. It was at this moment I realized that language was gonna be a problem.


I went to find some street food and then later had a walk on the island. This place makes you feel far away from the world, quiet and peaceful. People are nice and no one will come to sell you things. The island is like a ghost town, few people and old buildings of which some are ruins from the Portuguese colonial times. I really loved it here and had the best relaxing moments here. The sunsets here are out of this world. It is a favorite place to take walks around the island because there are no cars here.


My arrival on Ibo Island.


A street on Ibo island

Sunset over the ocean

Street in Ibo

Ruins

 I had planned to visit Matemo beach, do some snorkeling and watch dolphins. This was one of my best days! I set off with my guide in our boat in the morning, the ocean was very blue and calm. After one hour on the boat I got to see Dolphins for the first time swimming in group. We stayed to take some photos but they kept running away from us, but it was worth it. From there we went to Matemo beach and this was gorgeous! A wide spread out white sand beach with no crowd. It felt like Paradise. I stayed there taking a lot of pictures of course and swimming in the crystal clear, clean ocean. Go here before it starts to be infested by tourists.


Matemo beach

Basking in the sun

White sand beach - Matemo

I love floating on the ocean

I left Ibo island after three days and I proceeded on to Pemba. There is nothing to do here and it’s quite expensive. My travel mate and I stayed for a bit, had walks at Wimbi beach which is very nice and the people here are really nice and it is one of the reasons I stayed longer yet I did not do much. I loved the atmosphere here.

I continued to Mozambique Island a couple of days later. This island is absolutely amazing except for the boys who try to sell you stuff. I was amazed by the architecture from the former Portuguese colonialists. The island is only 3 kms and I walked the whole of it, taking pictures and witnessing the way of life. It is not as cheap here but you can eat street food, there is also a lot for bread sold on the streets in Mozambique. I went to visit Fortaleza Sebastiao, a big fort which was built by the Portuguese, there is a also church museum though I did not visit. I had a day trip from the island to another beach which hosts the Coral lodge, very beautiful beach and a nice place to go for a swim.


Wimbi beach

Such cute little swimmers

Mozambique Island streets

Fortaleza Sebastiao

Pier by the Island

After Mozambique Island it was time to say goodbye and head to Malawi. I thought it would take me a day to get there but I was wrong. My day started early at 3 am, but it was a such nightmare to find transportation to the Malawian boarder. It took me hours at Nampula to get my first transportation, I used two trucks in between and I did not even reach the boarder. I slept at Cuamba in a really bad guest house and I got there on a 40 ton transport truck. It was cold and very dusty because the road was so bad. The next day I hitched another truck owned by a member of Parliament but it broke down. It took us nearly 6 long hours for another to arrive. This time the drivers were nice and let me have a front seat. I was so happy. I took a rest in the town next to the Mandimba boarder and I crossed to Malawi the next day. The commute in total was 48 hours but I was so relieved upon arriving! Driving in the country was beautiful but tedious.


Beautiful view in Mozambique country side.

The 40 tonne truck that I used, such transportation is common.

So excited to be in Malawi and using a bicycle after many years.
Once I entered the Malawian side, I felt the warmth of the people right away. Malawi is known as the Heart of Africa. People were so nice as they welcomed with big smiles. There was a less hustle for me here compared to Mozambique. I got on a bicycle that took me to the nearest location for a sim card, pickup, as well as money exchange. It is amazing how inexpensive everything was (a great find for backpackers). I had to meet my friend at a place called Monkey Bay, a body of water located on the south side of lake Malawi. Lake Malawi is the most beautiful lake I have ever seen. Its water is blue and green just like an ocean. Snorkel and diving is welcomed. While there our stay was at Mufasa lodge, a clean lodge that was peaceful and quiet. very nice place and quiet. It less touristic here and hence a good place to cool off. I stayed here for one day and headed to Cape Maclear.

Cape Mclear is really cool and very touristic, so it is not as quiet. But I loved it here because I met really cool people. The sunsets were majestic. The highlight was canoeing on a genuine Malawian canoe, which was different from anything I’ve ever experienced.  The locals stared at me as my little boat caressed the water, something women don’t usually do.



Monkey bay

Sunset at Cape Mclear

Enjoying the canoe
Just chilling by the beach

Tanning time
From here we had to proceed further up on the western side of the lake. Unfortunately the transportation was sparse. You can’t get to one particular place in one day. If you don't have much time in this country, then it’s bad news! Also, expect to be squeezed in the minibus. No mater how claustrophobic, the bus will always stop to pick up passengers. Best tip? Always wait and sit at the front with the driver.

It got dark before we reached our destination and we decided to find a cheap guest house to stay. The next day the plan was to go to Nkhata Bay, but we decided to make a stop at Kande Beach. This was one of the best beaches I saw, but again, it was bloody expensive here. We stayed one night, and we got our meals by the village and then came back to sleep.


Next day we went to Nkhata Bay and it was different from the south. It is more rocky and beautiful as well. I did a lot of snorkeling here and swimming. We stayed at Mayoka village. Pretty cool place, I had to ask for a discount because I am an African and it worked. The food was great here, there is free wifi, free tea, and free usage of boats and snorkeling gear. I wished I had more time in Malawi, I met nice people on this trip and they made me feel special. They said they had never met a female African backpacker so I felt special! 

My travelling buddy who helped and taught me a lot on this trip.

Kande Beach

Nkhata bay

Group of mates for lunch

Ramadan caught me up on the road and I had to rush back home. I would have wanted to go to Livingstonia but there was no time. It is very beautiful up there. I drove through the north of Malawi and the landscapes were amazing. I got out of Malawi via Mbeya in Tanzania. From Mbeya, I went to Dodoma and from there I took a train to Mwanza. From Mwanza I got a bus to Bukoba, I spent there a night and drove to Uganda the next day. It took me about 5 days to cross through Tanzania. This whole amazing trip took me 40 days. I could have spent more time there but it was time to say goodbye. I have never done something this crazy all by myself! I would do it all over again if the opportunity presented itself. I look forward to more adventures in the future. Got any questions? Don’t hesitate to ask. There’s lots more I would love to communicate with you! 

Thursday, 29 September 2016

My Road trip from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique to Malawi.

PART 1


There’s nothing I love to do more than exploring. Whenever I get a chance to unwind, I cherish the opportunity to discover Mama Africa.


Back in May, I planned on jetting through Kenya, Tanzania and stop in Mozambique before returning home to Uganda all in three weeks. However, life is what happens when you make plans. You never know what you’ll find on the road, and I was blessed to extend my time by experiencing some amazing sights, sounds, and people I met along the way



Just about to set off.


2016 was the first year I had the pleasure of discovering Kenya. I have always postponed an opportunity to go there because it was so close to home, but this was the year I decided to visit. I had to get my Mozambican visa from Nairobi. I left Kampala at 5 pm and reached Nairobi a day later. The ride was pleasant. Nairobi is quite modern compared to Kampala. They have nice structures, nice roads and it seems bigger and more vast in every way. I noticed they also have a number junk food restaurants, some of them American. I had my first delicious Subway sandwich there and it was too yummy! We need a Subway chain in Kampala!


The city is way too busy. At times it was too much! I couldn’t take it—the noise, cars, and people. I had never experienced the drivers and motorbike riders in this country. They always rushed to get somewhere too soon. I almost tripped when I got into a bus. The driver started driving immediately and I lost my balance before I could find a seat. I was very cautious in the city since I had heard many stories of people being robbed on the streets, but that was not my experience. People were kind and helpful to me. I did not do much here, only visiting the famous slums of Kibera. It is so big and dirty—as expected. But amongst the poverty there were people trying to make a living.
I could not wait to get out of this city after getting my visa because it is expensive compared to what I am used to.
My delicious subway

Panorama view of Kibera slum

Colorful buses in Nairobi.


The following morning I bused to Mombasa. This was a complete nightmare! The road was long and beaten. The weather was hot in a crowded bus, and the driver a speed demon. The journey took about 10 hours, two hours longer than usual. When we got to Mombasa, I was excited because it was a bit more calmer than Nairobi, the vibe was good. I like old buildings and I love beaches, this was the right place to be. I spent three days here sightseeing; I visited Diani beach and Fort Jesus. The street food here is worth a try. The people here were mostly Muslim with a mix of Arabs hence giving you the right reason to try some Swahili food.

Diani beach is a gorgeous area with milk white sand and blue seas. The day I was there, there was only about five beach bums! Check it out when you’re in Mombasa!

Strolling through Mombasa's old town.

With my girl Angella.

Fort Jesus

My bedroom and balcony view.

Sharing a smile with a Camel at Diani beach.

Diani beach.


My next destination from here was Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The bus ride was easy and the driver was so good. I used Tahmeed coaches. The A/C was working in this bus at least and the driver’s speed was bearable. I got into Dar after a ten-hour commute, and it was at this time that I experienced a famous Dar Es Salaam traffic jam. Insane!

Although I didn’t spend a long time here, I did experience some sights with a friend who was hosting me. I visited two wonderful churches in Dar. The Azania Front Lutheran church offers a majestic view of the city from the top of the cross, while St Joseph's Cathedral (built by German missionaries in 1897 to 1902) is a beautiful and colorful place of worship.

I paid visit to the national museum and house of culture opened in 1940 as memorial of King George V. If you are interested in Tanzania's past and history, this is the place to go to discover a rich history.

I went to see the Askari Monument which commemorates the African troops who fought as carrier cops in the first world war. The last thing I saw was the fish market, at first I was not sure I wanted to go but it was fascinating. Seeing different kinds of fish from the sea and people getting around with their business was nice to see. I was here for about 40 minutes. The fishy smell drove me out!



The National Museum.

St Joseph's Cathedral

Azania Front Lutheran Church

The fish market.


I left Dar es Salam after two nights and headed south of the country to a town called Mtwara. This small town was where I had to cross from in order to enter Mozambique. I spent one night in Mwtara and used a motorbike (piki piki) to get me to the Kilambo boarder immigration offices the next morning. The rider who took me was a nice young man who rode carefully despite of the bad roads. He had been told by a money changer to make sure I got to the boat safely because I am a girl and a visitor. People were really nice and welcoming! Tanzania showed me nothing but kindness on this trip.



Monday, 8 August 2016

Seychelles, the Indian ocean Paradise.


 Seychelles?

We are  going to Seychelles.

That was my reaction when I found out I was heading to this magical place. I was excited! Located in the Indian ocean about a thousand miles off the coast of East Africa, its where paradise comes to life. I have always wanted to go here. I mentioned Seychelles as a possible destination when my partner asked where we should travel, only jokingly, because I love beaches. When he had a look into it, he got interested as well.

We started planning last June for a December trip, and soon discovered Seychelles is one of the most expensive areas in Africa. Its capital city - Victoria - is especially pricey. So we did intensive research and planning so that we could get great deals on accommodation and things to do. The best way we could cut down on huge hotel prices was to rent holiday apartments. Now, these apartment weren't cheap either, but there was a difference in price. Finally we had everything booked for our holiday and we were just waiting for an island getaway.


We flew out from Entebbe using Ethiopian airlines, its the only cheaper flight you can find heading to Seychelles, the rest are crazy expensive. It was a pleasant flight to the island and I got excited when we were about to land. The islands are so small and very beautiful from above the sky, little pockets of land nestled in aqua blue waters.

I was so excited to get off the plane! The airport was tiny and clean, full of honeymooners locked hand in hand. As we anxiously waited for the cab to come pick us up, we learned that Seychelles operated on island time. The driver was very friendly and mostly the cabs here here look so fancy compared to what I see in Kampala.

The drive from Victoria to our first holiday apartment was so amazing! As we cruised idyllic beach roads, I was refreshed by the scent of a lazy ocean breeze which tickled the palm trees. At times the topography was quite hilly, with the road snaking to an apex to reveal breathtaking view. My eyes feasted on the mountains which seemed to kiss the clouds. Some buildings looked quite smart, old fashioned and colonial. I love that look. When we got to our apartment, it was so nice and homely. A friendly woman -the manager- welcomed us with open arms. The apartment had a big kitchen, with cream colored walls for the bedroom and a tiled oasis decor for the bathroom. There was also a large living room with couches, a big backyard and front sitting balcony with comfy chairs.
Views along the road in Seychelles.


Seychelles has a population of 90,000 of nice and friendly people who are quick with a smile. On this holiday we had planned to go hopping on three of Seychelles' principal islands; Mahe, Praslin and Ladigue, So our first visit to Mahe was just for one night but we would be back later, we wanted to see the island in reverse; La Digue, Praslin and Mahe.

We had our first creole meal at a good restaurant called Kaz creole (located on the West coast of Mahe). Our seating was on the beach, and the decor was an idyllic island hut. It gave us a good impression of the meals prepared here (seafood based) and we were excited for more during our stay.
Our taxi in Praslin.

We decided to go zip lining the next day and there was no better way to appreciate the jungle-like forest than by flying high above. The trees were so tall. In some locations you could see the beautiful green/blue ocean. I had never done this before and I was quite nervous at first. However, the professional staff at SMAC Adventures relaxed my fears with their attention to detail and safety.
One of the views to the beach.




Zip lining.

Later after zip lining we headed to the Port to get out next boat to La Digue. There is only one shuttle ferry that goes to the three islands (Cat Cocos Ferry), meaning there are no cheaper options. La Digue was the best part of this holiday, so small and simple. It really felt like you knew everyone. Virtually no cars on this island, everyone was riding a bicycle. Upon checking in at our apartment, we were given our own set of wheels. On La Digue Island, you can have a walk anywhere and the most interesting part is that you can cycle from one beach to another, it is only 10.08 km, I covered the whole of it during our stay. I am not a great cyclist, but I'm functional. I got better as the time progressed. If you are looking for a scrumptious place for a meal, check out Chez Jules located at Anse Banane on La Digue. They serve an amazing creole octopus dish and have savory smoothies. Our holiday lodging here was by far the best, with a bubbly Jacuzzi and everything else was on point. It was nestled in a somewhat forestry area.




The jacuzzi.
Feeding a tortoise in the marine park
Anse De A'rgent beach.

The apartment garden.

My favorite beach, Coco Anse.
The next day was about discovering the island. We rode our bikes to a gorgeous marine national park. It’s a breath-taking reserve, with big bouldering rocks, vanilla plantations, and a tortoise farm where you can feed the turtles if you want to make some new friends. Did I mention in this same park is the entrance to the most photographed beach in the world, Anse Source d'Argent? CAN U SAY SELFIE? The beach has pink pale sand and a rocky scenery that’s more beautiful than words. If you want to relax and be away from everything, La Digue is for you.

Praslin is bigger than La Digue, but equally beautiful. Our stay was at a log cabin high above the trees. From our balcony we feasted on a spectacular view of the ocean and city. Praslin was a little busy compared to La Digue, but nonetheless a must-see. We went on a walking trail at a place called Coco De Mer where we learnt about flora and saw Seychelles’ world famous coconuts. One of the locals advised we go here instead of Valle de Mai because it is very touristic and expensive but everything is the same. On our last day we cooled off at one of the best and famous beaches, Anse Lazio. It’s a very wide terrain with ivory white sand. There’s a big crowd here, but it’s worth it. But be careful—the tide can sometimes be fierce.

While at Praslin, we went to Cruieuse Island at Anse Jose and were also able to visit the Marine national park and fed some tortoise . We took a walk through the reserved coco De Mer  mangrove forest all the way to the Doctor's house. This trail was well worth it because there was a lot to see until our destination. This island was used as a leper colony till 1965. The doctors' residence which dates back from the 1870's is a museum and educational center today. Cruieuse and Praslin are the only places in the world where Coco De Mer grows naturally. The plant holds three world records, including the heaviest seed at 17.6 kgs and the largest fruit at 42 kilograms. After this walk, we were sweaty and it was the right time to go soak in the ocean at Anse Jose which was right in front of the doctor's house.

View from top of the hill at end of the walking trail

Having a stroll at Anse Lazio.


Our lodge far up the hill

Ccoc de mer

Feeling the nature vibe in the forest.

We saw some baby sharks during snorkeling.

One of the trails in the mangrove forest.
Having a good time at Anse Jose.



Mangrove trees.


Our final days were spent discovering Mahe, the largest and most populous island in the country. I loved Victoria, the capital. It’s clean and organized and the restaurants have great food but pricey. There was one favorite spot we ate at twice (CafĂ© L’Horloge), the tuna seafood was too yummy to resist. We had scheduled to have a cruise on the ocean and it was well worth the price. The tour—a reef safari provided by Mason’s Travel-- started in the morning and ran until late afternoon. The catering was delish (BBQ fish and rice) and we were even serenaded by the captain who played guitar and sang. Not only did we cruise the seas, we also fed the fish and switched boats to a submarine where we plunged the great barrier reef at the Sainte Anne Marine Park. The vessel had a glass bottom though this was a disappointment because the water was not very clear to see much fish. We ended the day by going off to swim and bathe under a palm tree while baked by a fiery sun.

One evening we were fortunate to catch the Mr. Seychelles bodybuilding competition held at the International Conference Center in Victoria. I never imaged I’d see a dozen oily, beefy Adonis’ in person strut their stuff wearing only a Speedo. Quite a sight.



The last day in Mahe, we said one last goodbye to this paradise by ordering a taxi drive around the whole island while committing blue and green seas to memory.  We did some sightseeing in Victoria, did some shopping and had the best Italian ice cream at a place called La Dolce Vita located on State House Avenue (the President’s office was located just steps from the ice cream shop).



Victoria at night.

Delicious Sea Food.



Mr. Seychelles 2015

Boat Cruise


One of the great views from the mountains.

View from one of the high points.

Hindu temple in Victoria.

Beautiful beach in Mahe.

Seychelles is true kaleidoscope of colour. The forests are emerald green, with the waters a warm, ivory blue. But its the people,welcoming and kind, who really make this pl;ace so memorable. During the past year, Leonardo DiCaprio donated millions to Seychelles for marine life preservation. This country isn't immune to the threat of climate change and a rising sea level. So, support Seychelles. Visit, experience it, support it. You won't regret it.
Let me know if you need more tips, if you are planning to visit.