Tanzania was pretty amazing. Unfortunately, most of it was covered in rain
As I cross into Tanzania I notice life at the borders got easier. Apart from having to go back to the Kenyan side for a bit as the guy forgot to stamp my side of the Carnet, life was easy. The first day was spend at at crater lake, right under mt. Kilimanjaro, called lake Chala. It was there that I would encounter my first glimps of the rainy season.
After having had a few cold beers and a nice shower, I rock up for diner. During diner I see some thick clouds come rolling in, thick like the kind you see up in the hills in southern France, just before they erupt into thunder and rain. And erupt, they did. After half an hour of waiting, I decide I have to get back to the tent as it didn't seem like it would stop. Walking through the mud and pools in the dark, I truly hoped that those slippery muddy surfaces would be somewhat dry in the morning. Which, to no surprise, they weren't. So I slip and slide my way out of there, continuing on Hunter's tracks.
Hunter provided me with a bunch of GPX files, they describe a certain predefined route and you can, just as you would with a GPS device that plots a route for you, follow the line. It started out rather tame, over some good solid dirt rodes but after a while, I find myself plowing through a wet rice paddy. The GPS told me I was right on the money but the going got so rough that the the only thing I could do was go back and ride around. After that, since it was rainy season and most of the roads I encounter had some puddles here and there, I decided to stick to main tracks and that if Hunters tracks diverted from that, I would find a way around it on the main gravel roads. Thankfully, his tracks stuck to the main road mostly and took me all the way up through an epic mountain pass down to the town of Lushoto. I spend the night and set course for 'Fish Eagle Point', a place Lyndon recommended.
Fish Eagle Point
After a day of riding through misty rainforests, finishing the crossing of the mountains I started the day before, I arrive at the northeastern tip of Tanzania, on the ocean, right at the border with Kenya. It is home to a place called the 'Fish Eagle Lodge'. Run by Simon and his dad, both ex Zimbabwean's and motorcyclists. A relaxing, quiet place. Simon told me all the rooms were full, but the campsite was open if I wanted to, there would however be some construction going on and as a fellow biker and extremely nice guy, he offered the campsite for free. I setup my tent underneath one of the pre-existing square party tent like structures and go for some diner with Simon.
Simon tells me that as it's the rainy season now, the 12km road I took to the camp but more importantly, the one Hunter provided me with to take me to Dar es Salaam, will basically take me through an ocean of mud. Wearily, as I never rode through such thick mud, I decide to see what my route should be and mentally prepare myself for the day back. Luckily, Simon and his dad needed to be at a meeting in Kenya, so we could ride the mud road to the main road together with a vehicle behind us as a sort of sweeper van. The 12km to the main road took us around 1 hour and I decided then and there I would keep on blasting tar roads until the rains were over. I also decided I would skip Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam all together (as that is a relatively simple / not to expensive flight if I ever want to go back) and cross Tanzania to get to the border with Malawi.
After about two days of full on tar road riding and shitty camp places I encounter a spot called the Kisolanza Farm. I put up my tent underneath one of the Bunda's (doubling up the roof made for a dry tent in the rains) and make some food. They tell me I'm through most of the rainy season now but that there are some spots upon the mountains where it basically always rains. They also tell me there is some sort of a rugby thing going on with a massive party. I wanted to make an effort to go but the complete and utter exhaustion from two days of 500+ km riding left me in bed at 8, sleeping right through all of it. At breakfast I meet all the hungover party-goers and the owner, a very proper British lady who introduces herself to me and helps me to a big bottle of water. I started noticing a pattern in that, like with the lodge at Mt. Kenya, whenever a place was ruled by an elderly lady, it seemed to be clean, tidy, well run, and very welcoming.
The semi last leg in Tanzania was from the Kisolanza Farm to the Utengule coffee lodge. I decided to take a shot and go offroad. Rightfully so. After a bit of tar, I turn left onto a squiggly GPS line. This could only mean going up a mountain through some twisties. As the road deteriorates and becomes rutted, steep, filled with rocks, and most importantly, dry, I start to really enjoy myself and blast up. Once upon the mountain I'm on some sort of plateau with its own little microclimate as the flora was completely different to the flora down below. And it made for some epic views. I was still a bit weary as there was a thick layer of spotted puffy clouds lurking above me and as the altitude increased, around me. I decided I couldn't be on that mountain for long and as the road itself was only another 80km's, that I wouldn't put on my rain gear (technically, it wasn't raining). However, it doesn't need to rain in a cloud, the cloud ís the rain. Around an hour or so later, completely soaked, tired and ready for a nap, I arrive.
I decide the lodge would be a good place to plan ahead and create my route for Malawi. It also gave me an opportunity to do some coffee tasting and get a tour around the premises (this had been on my list since the start). I learned all about coffee and for the first time in a long time I could wake up, have a proper cappuccino and continue my homely rhythm of a bunch of espresso's for the rest of the day. For some reason, in both Kenya and Tanzania (and further countries down as I would later learn), they coffee, but at every single hotel, camping, lunch or diner spot you come, they will serve you instant coffee. I cannot for the life of me understand why they would do such a thing. Blasphemy! I need me my coffee in the morning and I'd rather have a non-instant, non freeze-dried version. Luckily, the Utengule fulfilled my every need and even gave me some to go! It was here I also found more proof for my 'elderly proper lady' theorem. This place too, was ran by an old british lady. Very proper, very nice, and very inviting. But also, very strict. The staff knew exactly what to do otherwise they would have the lady of the lodge come down on them. I concluded then and there that if I found a place and was greeted by an elderly woman, I would stay there as it must mean it's good.