On Her Bike through Tanzania and Zanzibar

Best African Coast ride!

What is the best African Coast ride you may ask? Definitely Tanzania.  This country has a great culture and great people. The road and traffic here are so organised. That is mainly because there are police checkpoints in nearly every village you pass by. The great thing about it is that they don't tend to stop bikers, they mainly monitor trucks if they are roadworthy and if they stick to the speed limits. I found Tanzania's roads very pleasant to ride.

I entered Tanzania from Rwanda and it hit me right away how isolated some of the regions are. At the start I covered long stretches of paved road which was a bit dull but the moment I left the asphalt I felt alive again.

I absolutely fell in love with the Northern part of the country which is a Maasai land. The Maasai are a Nilotic ethnic group inhabiting Southern Kenya and Northern Tanzania. They have proudly maintained their traditional lifestyle and cultural identity despite pressures of the modern world.

I spent a few days wandering through this region, often just following single walking tracks. A lot of times I had no idea where I was, but I felt safe and knew that sooner or later a Maasai would cross my path and give me directions. And for me it was an opportunity to engage with these incredible people. I love to be lost in Tanzania.

The hidden giant

I was waiting for this moment for a long time. I finally reached the Kilimanjaro region. I looked at the map and I was sure this big giant mountain should be right in front of me. However, all I could see was a flat plain and low clouds and Kili was nowhere to be found. It turns out that it is a very shy mountain which rarely exposes herself. I was patient, I stayed in the region for a few days and finally I saw it – in the evening at the local bar in Moshi. Unfortunately, my bike Chillie missed it all.

Also, here in the Kilimanjaro region I finally got to meet, hang out and ride with Tim Burke – a world traveler and talented photographer whom I've been friends with on social media for ages and ages. Tim at that time had been on this way up to Egypt and we finally crossed our paths in Tanzania.

The riding community is very strong in Tanzania and we were honoured to meet all these fantastic people. Simion hosted us in his beautiful lodge in Arusha and Godfrey gave us a tour around Moshi - thanks to him we got to learn a lot about the local coffee.

I rode with Tim for 5 days along the Kenyan border. It was so nice to have a riding buddy for a change, having someone to have a beer with at the fire while camping in the wild is very nice. Not to mention all these epic pictures he took of me. Did I mention Tim is very talented? Yep, he's a legend!

When I finally said goodbye to Tim I continued riding to the coast. It was rainy season at the time, so the roads were very tricky occasionally.

And the humidity was a killer! So, I rushed down on paved roads to Dar es Salaam to meet even more local riders! During my stay in the capital city I was hosted by Adrian and thanks to him I got to hang out with this cool crowd!

Heaven on Earth

I was so eager to get to Zanzibar and of course I had to take Chillie along with me. Due to misleading information I was convinced the only way to take my bike to Zanzibar was on a cargo overnight ferry which was operational a couple times a week. I had a few days to kill before the departure and decided to go for a little ride along the coast. 50 km South from Dar es Salaam I found myself at Kimbiji Beach Lagoon – a true hidden gem. The owners were in the process of building a house on the hill and they allowed me to camp in it. The house was still quite unfinished and looked a bit creepy but somehow it was one of the best places I slept at - the view was absolutely magnificent.

After these bliss days it was time to finally catch the ferry to Zanzibar. And what a nightmare that was! I was waiting in the rain for a couple of hours to get onto the ferry. Once I got in, I couldn’t find a seat to crash in for the night. Finally, I squeezed myself somewhere in a corner and hoped for a little snooze, which never happened. The ferry arrived at Zanzibar City at 4 a.m. in the pouring rain. It was so early in the morning that the whole town was still asleep and the hotels were still closed. I rode around completely soaked hoping someone would react to me knocking on the door and finally at 6 a.m. I managed to find a hotel that would let me in. Yeah, sometimes going with the flow without a booking is not a good idea.

When I finally got my so desirable sleep I went for a little exploration of the heritage Stone Town which is preserved under the UNESCO - a labyrinthine tangle of winding, narrow alleyways, mix of architecture and culture which combines Arabic, Persian, Indian, European, and African influence. Stone Town is soaked with culture and history.

The rest of my time on the Island is spent on enjoying the white sand, crystal clear waters, and chilling in the shade of palm trees. It felt like heaven!

And Chillie got a lot of attention when I took her for a little spin on the beach.

On my way out of Zanzibar I managed to catch a fast passenger ferry. That was a completely different experience from my previous nightmare on the cargo ferry. Loading the bike was a bit tricky as I had to walk my bike up the ramp to the ferry and walk it down to leave the ferry but within 2 hours I was already on the main island. From there I transited to the Malawi border as my visa was about to expire.  

Tanzania will always stay in my heart. It is a country that is very rich in culture. There is so much to see and so much to experience. That I wish I had more time to explore this beautiful country.

 

Photo credits:

On Her Bike

Tim Burke

 


 

 

 

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