Tan-Swiss Lodge

Trip Start Apr 24, 2012
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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tan Swiss, our next stop.

Honestly, we could not get out of Dar soon enough. The 50 odd kilometers after Dar in which it felt like we were still in Dar, was almost too much to bear.  When we finally "hit the open road" we were both relieved and “gatvol”. 

It was only when we drove for a long distance alongside the beautiful Lupanga Mountains, on our way to Morogoro, that we felt calm again.  The contrast of sun and shadows made it so much more special. Although driving at higher speed, I got a few shots of the mountain (albeit through the window).

Morogoro is a surprisingly modern town en route to Ruaha. Complete with traffic circles and modern hotels.  It is clean and organized or at least so it looks “at a drive through”. 

Not far out of town the countryside changed and leveled out a bit.  A different product was being sold along the road in this part.  Big grass mats and baskets. These are displayed at intervals. Rolled up and pocked up on sticks so not to be missed.  There was no time to stop but it looked like a quality product.

The tar road cuts through the Mikumi National Park.  The main entrance is to the right off the main road.  A 50 km ph speed limit and hundreds of bumps in the road slows the traffic down effectively so not to kill the game crossing the road.  We saw Giraffe, Impala, Zebra, Buffalo and Warthogs along the way. 

As it was getting rather late so we were more than happy to arrive at Tan Swiss Campsite just before sunset.  From the road it does not look like much, but, is more than adequate inside.  A big restaurant and at least 25 chalets/rooms, plus the campsite, which makes this a rather big establishment.  We were welcomed with lovely Pawpaw and Lemon Juice at reception. The receptionist showed us to the camp, power point and ablutions. The bathroom is lovely. Done in slate stone, modern and seems brand new. (with hot water.)

They had lots of guests but only two other campers while we were there.  We drove out to Mikumi National Park with the idea to spend the day.  @ $40 for the car and $20 each for entrance we decided to give it a miss.  This meant going back, and packing up without delay in order to reach the next destination before dark. 

We drove through Udzungwa Mountain National Park.  It is the driest time of the year and therefore there was no flower to speak of.  Even so, it is a lovely drive and one can imagine just how beautiful it must be once the rains came.  Going down the pass we crossed the Ruaha River – still flowing strong.  There was even a lady selling fish caught in the river. 

We descended into the Baobab Valley. It has a beauty of its own.  Thousands or rather millions of Baobabs grow here.   It is an impressive sight. Unfortunately, some idiots with spray paint sadly painted their names on just about every 5th tree along the way.

This part of the country is a mass red onion producer.  It is strange that in SA one pays top dollar for red onions and in the poorest African countries they sell it by the bucket for next to nothing. 

Further on we reached Iringa. A town on a hill, quite literally, it is the first next big town.  We would need to fill up with Diesel before going further.  Much to our horror, the first petrol station had a queue of people lined up with containers for fuel.  Next one said, “sorry no Diesel”.  Having no other choice we stopped at the next station – almost deserted – in the hope of getting fuel.  No problem, they have Diesel. Thank Goodness! Why on earth the queue at the other filling station?  Still don't know the answer.  Satisfied we drove back through town toward Ruaha. 

At stages the road was badly corrugated but for the most part in good condition.  Just, very dusty.  We would stay just outside the Park to save costs.  The Tracks for Africa Map indicated a Camp with hot showers but no name.  This being Safi Safari Lodge, about 13 km before the entrance gate.  The Lodge entrance is rather impressive and as soon as we stopped two keen young men came to our assistance.  When asked about camping, they pointed us in the direction to go.  This lead to a dead end, and nowhere to turn – a pain, especially with the trailer.  It only just dawned on us that whoever built the lodge obviously has never driven a car.  The roads being like walkways, with no place to park or turn around.  This was the tented camp area, part of the Lodge and not the campsite. With difficulty we got out of there.

Needles to say, Carlos was not impressed.  Back at the point where we started from, the area indicated had no access to it – or at least no access with a car.  The ablutions did not have a shower head and the toilets did not have water. I think they could see our frustration because they then offered for us to stay in a tent unit for the same price as it would have been for camping.  So back to the tented area we go.

It turned out to be a bargain!  We had not slept in a proper bed for too long to remember.  The rooms had nice clean white linen and most importantly and on suite bathroom!! Wow!! I could jump out of my skin. It was a real treat.

 As it was incredibly hot and dry to the point where it felt like ones skin would crack, putting up the tent right then would have been a mission.  Instead we sat on our stoep with a beer in hand. 

Once it cooled down a bit, Carlos decided to take the one dead battery out of the trailer and to replace it with the spare we had in the car.  It was a huge “gedoente” as even just opening the unit up in the trailer needed two people and was a rather uncomfortable job.  Luckily our guide to be came to offer his help.  He also brought a friend.  With that they tackled the job and about an hour later, once again with beer in hand, satisfied with a job well done.  If they did not come to help we would not have been able to do it ourselves.

I cooked in the meantime and so we could have an early dinner and a long night in a bed.  We made arrangements to go into the park at 6am next morning.
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