Tanzania: From the Coast to Rwanda

Tanzania: From the Coast to Rwanda

I didn’t want to go straight from Tanzania to Kenya. First, I cycled past Kilimanjaro in the direction of Rwanda. Again, I discovered a very different Tanzania.

After the nice and restful days on Zanzibar, I stayed for a few days in Dar-Es-Salaam. By now my laptop completely refused to start and I hope I could get it repaired. Unfortunately, the spare parts weren’t available.

This gave me time to explore the city, which wasn’t the capital of Tanzania.


Directly behind the harbor were fishermen.

There were also some beaches but after the beaches of Zanzibar, I didn’t find them very attractive. More of interest were my favorite bikes.


I spend a day cycling along the ocean to Bagamoyo.DSCN8653klein

There was the German “Boma” (old German neighborhood) and pretty beaches. There were more tourists and everything was a lot more expensive than at my gorgeous Kigamboni beach.

Here I said good-bye to the Indian Ocean and wasn’t sure if I’d see it again on this trip.

On my route away from the main road, I found other German legacies.


This was the Catholic Museum.

On a road which appeared to be built just for me.


It was inaugurated a month before I arrived. Then I turned away from the coast and started climbing.

Strange animals crossed my way.


I had never seen a cow with such long horns but in Africa I encountered them several times.

The first stretch was very mountainous. It seemed to me that by the time I reached Moshi, Kilimanjaro’s base camp, I had already climbed the elevation to the top.

Then the mountains were next to me.


It was a gorgeous way along the mountain chain.


The population density was so low here that I even found a pretty spot for stealth campingDSCN8682klein

“Decorated” baobabs lined the road.


I didn’t know if they had a special meaning.

I came closer to Kilimanjaro. But Africa’s highest mountain was hiding.


During the days I cycled towards Moshi and while I was in Moshi, it was always covered in clouds. Fortunately, there was internet.


There you can always see it and don’t even need to travel to Tanzania.

The last few days at been very noisy: bad, screeching loudspeakers, kids that screamed “Mzungu”, and a lot of buses. Therefore, I enjoyed a quiet day in Moshi.

It took me a day to cycle to Arusha which is a much larger town and had a lot to offer. I could take care of a few things. For example, the Arusha Bicycle Center, was great help in replacing my chain, pinion, and chainring.


I had the necessary spare parts but not the tools.

I finally bought a new laptop. Without the laptop I missed the connection to the wider world and my writing.

At least Mount Meru, the neighbor to Kilimanjaro, appeared briefly.


I continued with a freshly maintained bike, new laptop, and fully loaded.

On the first day, I stayed on the paved road. Thanks to the wind which steadily blew from the Indian Ocean, I had nice tailwinds.

Then I had enough of paved roads. The road from Kilimanjaro to the Serengeti was the main tourist drag. Hundreds of jeeps and buses plowed this road. At Madukani I preferred to turn onto the unpaved road and towards the mountains.


This was much quieter and a lot more adventurous. Quickly I felt much better.DSCN8755klein

I probably took the steepest road up the mountain range. Don’t ask how I managed to get my fully loaded bike up there.

Not only was there less traffic but it seemed that the children hadn’t yet learned the word “Mzungu”.


High above Lake Manyara I found a very quiet place to camp.DSCN8760klein

Until Singida I stayed on this high plateau.DSCN8766klein

I thought I had a quiet place to camp.DSCN8769klein

Not tracks anywhere, no people to be seen. In the evening I sat in front of my tent and drank tea when they arrived. Four men, two women, and two kids. No one spoke any English. With sign language, I explained to them that I only wanted to stay the night and would continue the next morning.

One of the men wasn’t happy about it but the other one was nicer and agreed. Then they continued. I knew they’d leave me in peace. But I wasn’t absolutely sure and didn’t sleep very well.

Next morning the women and children came to watch me.

The track got more and more sandy and was only fit for walking.


The cyclists had made a narrow path next to the “road”.

I cycled next to Lake Balangida.DSCN8777klein

There was quite a lot of activity on land but nothing on the water. Later I learnt that this was one of Tanzania’s soda lakes with a very high concentration of sodium.

Finally, I reached Merya. The longer I stayed in Tanzania, the less I could endure the kids who always yelled “Mzungu, give money”. In Merya I found refuge in a small shop.


The “First Aid Bike” was probably only a prop. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find out anything about it because there was hardly any English spoken.

I camped behind the police station. That was one of the best places to camp. No one volunteered to go there.


The last stretch to Singida again was tough.DSCN8787klein

There were very few villages.DSCN8788inkle

My GPS took me on adventurous tracks.DSCN8791klein

There were so many washouts that cars didn’t take this road. Only a few scooters passed me.

There was wind which at least cooled down things a bit.

What would I have done without these industrious women.


The whole day they baked these delicious sweet little cakes. They were served with a spicy ginger tea which helped my cold.

After two noisy nights in guesthouses in Singida and Nzega, I wanted to camp in the wild again. There were a lot of herders about and it took a long time until I found a place behind thorn bushes where I felt safe.


But even here there men with torches came by during the night. They pointed towards my tent, talked, and laughed. In these situations, I stayed out of sight and quietly in my tent.

It worked and they went away.

For the time that was the last attempt to stealth camp.

To escape the traffic, I took an unpaved road for 60 kilometers. Even here the buses sped past and didn’t take any prisoners. It was even worse because they left big clouds of dust.


When I got back to the paved road, I cycled through an unpleasant area. There was a large gold mine in Kahama. Then came a shanty town for gold diggers which I had seen many times in Africa. They always seemed to be scruffy. It wasn’t a place to camp. Only monkeys were happy here and found food in the garbage.DSCN8831klein

I could camp at a surprisingly quiet new filling station and could even take a shower.

And of course, there was a police station. I got the impression they were used to cyclists who asked to camp there.


Finally, I descended into the gorge of the Kagera Nile near Rusumo, the border with Rwanda.


I was glad to leave the country and hoped things would be better in Rwanda. Fortunately, one doesn’t know ahead of time what awaits.

I had spent six weeks in Tanzania and biked 3,044 kilometers.

And what happed in Rwanda? I only knew about the genocide and that it was very mountainous. Let’s find out.


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