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Leona's Travels.....

For a long while, I had wondered what it would be like to embark on a road trip to Dar-es-salaam and cross over by Ferry to Zanzibar. Doing my research on this, did not however yield the most enticing results. For instance,I learnt that to get to Dar,I would have to endure a 14hr or longer than 14hr road trip by bus. Having done several road trips over the years,a lengthy busride is no longer my cup of tea!Fast forward to April 2013,and I found myself at the Dar Express booking office getting a ticket to Dar-es-salaam. And yes,weird but I was taking this trip all by myself! It was a random plan,and I had no time to convince anyone to join me after 3 people very close to me rolled their eyes,asked me to see the Doctor and said not very encouraging things about my dream trip, all of which did not discourage me in any way.

The bus leaves at 6:15am from Nairobi but check in is at 5.30am. In my mind I thought the bus,like many Kenyan buses would be late,but Lo unto me! I finally found a bus that keeps time! This little detail impressed me and I knew this was going to be one long but smooth ride. The downside,was that I sat next to this man who kept insisting on talking to me albeit me being either deeply buried in my book or bobbing my head to the top 100 favorites resonating from my earphones. If he wasn’t forcing a conversation down my throat,he was busy handing me endless snacks and bitings which I firmly gave a negative nod to wondering to myself if I was the only one who got the ‘’don’t eat anything from strangers on the bus’’ memo

By 8.15am whilst the sleepy town of Namanga was coming alive,we were at the immigration office,checking out of Kenya and into Tanzania. We took almost an hour at the border getting derailed by one thing or the other and finally left an hour later. The drive through Tanzania is very scenic and some parts are not heavily populated(in fact,it’s most parts) and everything looks quite laid back which,if you’re going for a rejuvenating escapade,makes you feel right at home. By noon,we had passed Moshi town and were having lunch somewhere along the way,past Moshi town before proceeding on 20min later. If it’s your first time to travel to Dar-es-salaam and you Love sceneries and landscapes,ensure you sit on the left side of the bus. The magnificent Pare mountains will keep you glued for a good half of the long drive. They’re truly picturesque

We finally got to Dar at 8pm, 14hrs later and let’s just say,the welcome at the Ubungo bus park isn’t the best. It just reminded me of the Machakos/country bus park where people used to be grabbed,pushed and shoved,amidst all manner of confusion. Luckily,I have a contact in Dar who runs a cab company hence he had sent someone to pick me up. Getting off the bus you’re surrounded by several people all shouting different destinations where you might be heading to,but all I heard was ‘Harare’ and to myself I couldn’t help but think this would be a plan! Get off the bus in Dar and hop into the next thing that takes you further down south for an adventurous trip!

People who’ve been to Dar before had warned me that there’s nothing to write home about. They said it’s dirty, crowded, unsafe etc so I was pretty well prepared for whatever lay ahead. Honestly
though,I was surprised! I didn’t see the filth,overcrowding and all other bad stuff I had heard about.I only noticed the warm weather which was such a relief from the wet & cold Nairobi weather and I didn’t see a city worse than Nairobi like I had anticipated. Traffic in Dar is however as legendary(if not worse)as it’s sister Nairobi. To get to anywhere in time,you have to leave an hour or so in advance and everyone will throw warn you against Dar traffic soon as you land there. The taxi guy was however quick to point out the insecurity when I started to use my phone in the vehicle. He said ‘’Madam,in Dar-es-salaam, you no play with phone in car. People not very good’’ And with those few remarks,I put my phone away and waited until we got to the hotel. When the cab guy was leaving me at the hotel, he went like ‘’Madam,here at hotel is safe,now you can play with phone’’. He was a polite old-ish Arab guy so I couldn’t help but smile. This must be his way of welcoming people to his city, I thought to myself.

Next Morning,I was up bright and early to start my adventure to Zanzibar, the land of romance and spices, at least from the stories I had heard. The ferry booking place is a bit chaotic and I had a feeling there were conmen lurking around waiting to pounce on the unknowing tourists or some similar mischief. I was lucky to have my cab guy by my side and all I had to do was stand back and wait for my ticket. For the first time in my life,I felt a little discriminated having to pay USD 35 like a foreigner just because I don’t have a Tanzanian ID whilst Tanzanians paid Tsh 25000(equivalent of about 1,350Ksh).Whatever happened to East Africans being a one large family and being treated the same? You should have seen the way the booking guy sneered at my passport when I aired my thoughts on the issue.

The ferry ride takes a good 2hrs,and if the ocean decides to be rough that day, woe unto you if you’re prone to sea sickness. There’s a VIP lounge is which is a closed area and a lot more luxurious with a TV and snacks etc but I opted to sit outside and experience the real deal. You might ask,what’s there to see on the Ocean for 2hrs,but trust me., with a keen eye,there’s a lot to see! For instance,there’s Bongoyo Island,complete with a discotheque,where the young and restless go to sway the night away(an hour’s boatride away from Dar), and there’s Chumbe island,where those deeply interested in marine life would feel much at home. That aside,it just feels great to watch the blue waters and marvel as Dar grows smaller in the distance and Zanzibar gets closer and closer from a distance. For some reason,it just felt good to know that I was so close to exploring a place I’ve never been to before. An Island everyone swears has rejuvenating powers. Curiosity was killing me and I couldn’t wait to hop off the ferry and start this lifetime adventure!.......

Article by: Leona

Add Comment | Recommend This

good trip there. whats was your budget?

wilyum | Tuesday, April 30, 2013
@Wilyum Budget breakdown: Busfare: Ksh 3,500 one way Accommodation in Dar: Anything between 2,500 and 10k Taxi form the Ubungo bus park: Tsh 35k(around 1,800Ksh) So give it 25 to 30k but if proceeding to Zanzibar like i was,then around 30k+ should be enough depending on how long you stay there and your movements. Travel light,so that you can hop into Daladalas(matatus) which save you a lot in terms of fare hence you can use that cash to do other things Be careful in Dar though, they always know 'mgeni' and insecurity is rife.. Do your research prior to your travel,it saves you a lot of time,money & unnecessary hustle Happy travels!

leona | Wednesday, May 01, 2013
interesting, do invite the republic of wazua next time you travel @ club SK corner

harrydre | Wednesday, May 01, 2013
Thanks @Harrydre, will definitely invite fellow Wazuans next time

leona | Wednesday, May 01, 2013
I rarely travel, Always thinking am too busy. This article has inspired some different spirit in me! I must open a different line in my General Ledger called Travels. I will be saving regularly purely for visits to different areas.

washiku | Wednesday, May 01, 2013
@Washiku Way to go! Save up and travel whenever you can. It's very eye opening.. If you need any info/advise.. don't hesitate to ask me anytime! Ahsante

leona | Monday, May 06, 2013
Good read leona. I don't travel much but I would to do a lot of it. Funny enough I have always thought about doing a round trip to UG-TZ-Zanzibar- Msa - then Nrb. One day I'll do so. Thanks for sharing the travel info!

YoungMulla | Friday, October 11, 2013
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