Bongo Camp

Trip Start Apr 24, 2012
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Tanzania  , Mbeya,
Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Next morning we looked forward to some tar road to Mbeya.  At first there would be the stretch back to town - but after that it should be smooth sailing.
Don't bet on it!  Lots of road works with time delays made for a slow drive for the first while.  But then things looked up with long stretches of "open" road.

Unfortunately this also meant lots of accidents.  We saw a number of trucks over turned next to the road.  It soon became clear why so many "truck bodies" were scattered along the road.  The reason simply, reckless driving ! 

This high lying area has gum and pine plantations on either side of the road.  Descending towards Mbeya is very scenic, with harvested Millie fields in big golden blocks next to the road.  Mbeya is a fairly big town.  Modern Hotels line the main road.  Too many to count but they must all be doing well as the manicured gardens are all in competition with each other (the garden is normally the first to go when things are not going well).

For the rest of Mbeya, it is much the same as any of the other towns we pass through.  Hundreds of thousands of stalls along the road.  Hoards of people on the streets and cars and taxis in an never ending battle in the traffic.

We drove past the new Mbeya Airport just outside town.  It looks like an international airport judging by the size. 

We travel for about 30 km outside town where there is a Marble Quarry with a cave and hot spring.  Having been there, we can not believe that it is not sign posted and better developed. 

The road goes through a village and then comes to a boom gate. No indication whatsoever.  A worker that speaks very little English, then hops into your car. He will show you the way.  Once at the Quarry, you take a walk to where the cave is and then to the hot spring.  Altogether about a hour walk. 

The cave goes into the mountain from the top of the quarry (a few kilometers, according to the worker) to the bottom of the mountain. One of the entrances (about mid way down the mountain) is where we went in. It is remarkably cool inside the cave. With the sun blazing down outside it was a relief to spend a while there before going to the hot spring.

According to him a Chinaman followed the cave a couple of years ago, but other than that not very many come to explore the cave.

On the way to the Hot Spring, as far as one walks, blocks of marble lie around, seemingly redundant.  The patterns and colors are all unique. 

The Hot Spring is extremely hot!  Apparently more than 50 degrees.  Its runs all year round. He pointed out that the grass that grows at the spring can only be found at the hot spring.  The grass has a tube like leaf rather than a flat leaf.

We made our way back to Mbeya only to get stuck in a huge traffic jam half way up the hill.  It must have taken us the best part of an hour to get out of town. 

Anxious not to arrive at Bongo Camp after sunset, we set off ever so careful not to go over the speed limit.  We have had our share of fines and did not need another one. 

We road climbed a lot and the surrounds became green and lush.  Banana and tea plantations everywhere.  The income from these products have made this region more prosperous than most of the other areas we have been to. 

Just before sunset we arrived at Bongo - ordered a hot shower - and got a bucket of hot water in stead. Grateful none the less.  After my wash I could sit with my feet in the hot water for as long as I wanted.  Don't know when last my feet were this clean. LOL

Early to bed and early to rise as tomorrow we will leave Tanzania behind and enter Malawi.
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