This blog post covers my time cycling from Nairobi to Dar Es Salaam. Part of my bicycle tour from England to South Africa.
Jungle Junction in Nairobi
Note: This blog post was written in 2007, but then reformatted in 2020 so as to make easier reading. The content remains the same)Day 213 Nairobi Tuesday 20/2/07
A brief summary of my week off in Nairobi then.
Jungle Junction was a great place to stay, which because it doesn't feature in mainstream guidebooks, operates by word of mouth via anybody travelling Africa with their own transport. This means that there are no backpackers, and the conversation is actually interesting!
Guus and Catarina, the dutch/Belgian couple arrived during the week, and its strange to think that i have been bumping into them in different countries since cycling from Cairo.
There was also Dave the American motorcyclist, Sasha and his girlfriend also on motorbikes, and another German couple whose names I never caught again on motorbikes.
We were the core of the people staying at Jungle Junction, although others came and went. We were also all going off again in different directions, so it's the last time I will see any of them.
Jungle Junction itself had plenty of books, so I had a week of reading! It also had plenty of maps … wow MAPS!!! I managed to plan out the rest of my journey up until South Africa, and I am now including Malawi, as a couple of people had said that it was beautiful by the lake.
I used the internet a bit during my week off (goes without saying really!!), and a new age has started in War of Empires. I'm playing as Darth Thug, as we have revived SITH again for the round after our success last time, and I managed to build us a clan a day before anyone else did… I'll stop being geeky now, and shut up about it.
As for my websites, I've been trying to find ways of increasing visitors to them with varying degrees of success.
Difficulty finding bicycle parts in Nairobi for bike touring
So back to the travelling and the bicycle…
The bicycle is in pretty good order, but I couldn't find new inner tubes or tyres anywhere in Nairobi. (My inner tubes are the long, narrow valve ones for racing bikes. Tyres are 32 x 700).
Traveling with 700c wheels in Africa is proving problematic in finding even simple things like tyres and inner tubes. Something for other cyclists to be aware of.
Chris at Jungle Junction sorted the rear wheel out, and it makes a big difference now that it goes around properly!! He also put a new chain on for me, which although skips a little, is ok.
Phoned home a couple of times to talk to my brother.
Day 214 Cycling from Nairobi – Namanga Wed 21/02/07
Back on the bike again! Quite a long day of 180kms to the border town with Tanzania, but these things have to be done. Reasonably uneventful.
I met Guus and Catarina on the 100km mark, who were coming back from a national park. That is positively the last time I will see them now, as they go on to Uganda for placement as doctors for three months.
40 kms from Namanga, the rear tyre went flat. As I was changing it, two guys cycled out of the bush and gave me a hand. They might have been good farmers/hunters/massai warriors, but they sucked as bicycle mechanics.
The last few kilometres into Namanga were tough work, but I eventually pulled into the River Hotel, where I set my tent up. As I had a shower, a mosquito bit me on the left bollock. Ace.
Day 215 Namanga – Arusha Thur 22/02/07
The border crossing into Tanzania went smoothly, and I headed for the town of Arusha. The ride was ok until I reached a section which was a 40 km climb to the village of Simbu. A bit nasty that one, and the rear tyre went flat again, which only added to my joy. My inner tubes now have a ridiculous number of patches on them!
From Simbu, it was basically downhill all the way into Arusha, which would have been fine, had the rear tyre not gone flat again. These constant tyre problems are really starting to get to me… the inner tubes are next to useless now, and my front tyre is splitting and bulging at the sidewalls and won't last long.
Anyhow, I passed a stand where some guys were repairing bikes, and got them to repair the tube, which was possibly an error on my part, as they over inflated it, causing an explosion. Great, another hole!
Eventually, I got underway again, but as I reached the outskirts of Arusha, guess what, it went flat again. Triple arse !!!
I was supposed to be heading for Massai camp, but I was tired and sweaty, and dived in at a place called the Outpost which was outrageously expensive but I was too knackered to carry on.
Day 216 Arusha Friday 23/02/07
The all inclusive breakfast was a bit of a disappointment. I had been mightily impressed with the sausages of Kenya, and was expecting more of the same in Tanzania, but it wasn't to be. Instead of a banger, it was more like an anorexic hotdog sausage.. not breakfast material at all.
The rear tyre was flat again in the morning. Feel the joy people. Feel the joy!! I swapped it around, and then cycled down to Massai camp, which at five dollars a night for camping was more like it.
With the tent set up, I got down to some work on the bike by swapping inner tubes around and patching up holes. The bicycle pump was suffering a bit from over use and also needed a bit of TLC.
Used the internet, had something to eat, and went in search of inner tubes. No result there though. They just don't keep the size tubes that I need in Africa.
The problem with my tubes is not one from punctures, but more from the high pressure I have to run the tyres at to carry all my bags. This means that new holes appear in the seams, and that repairs are only likely to last a couple of days before the air inside the tube finds yet another way of escaping.
Basically, I need new ones, and it looks like if I can't find any in Dar Es Salaam, (the next big city on my route), then I will have to get some sent from England along with a couple of new tyres.
Anyway, I have to get a move on, so I leave for Moshi tomorrow, and hopefully will get a couple of hassle free days under my belt.
Day 217 Arusha – Moshi Sat 24/02/07
Had breakfast and then got underway.There were only 80kms to do today, and the first 40 of those were downhill.
Although the town of Moshi is the closest one to Kilimanjaro, it felt as though the town of Arusha was higher.
Two flats along the way, front and back, but I'm more confident with the repairs this time. In Moshi, I stayed in a hostel for 4 USD a night which included breakfast. I had a good look around for replacement tubes, but again, none to be found.
Day 218 Moshi Sunday 25/02/07
I sent an email back home asking the folks to look into how much sending me two new tyres and six inner tubes is going to be. Checked my tubes over and had one repaired. The tyres were still inflated on the bike, so hopefully I can get to Dar Es Salaam without any more delays.
Day 219 Moshi – Same Monday 26/02/07
At last, a good days cycling without any problems. Party time! The road I'm following towards Dar Es Salaam is good quality, and although it follows the South Pare Mountain range, the climbs haven't given me any problems.
I left Kilimanjaro behind me, and had my first clear view of it. Seems strange to have a snow capped mountain in Africa, especially with how hot it is!
The going was good, the tyres stayed inflated, and I feel that I've regained my drive to get this cycling trip to South Africa finished. I arrived in Same at 1.30 with just over 100 kms clocked up and found a campground. Ate, stocked up on supplies, and slept early as tomorrow will be a longer day.
Day 220 Same – Green Hill
Another good day with 150 kms in the bag. It must have been warm, as parts of the road were melting, and my water was getting just a little tepid.
I'm staying at a campsite 15 kms short of the town of Korogue, and am the only person here for the night. I'll eat well and do another long distance day tomorrow.
Day 221 Green Hill – Mtaka
I was up early, and packed my stuff away before heading to the main building for breakfast. Despite me asking the night before if breakfast would be a problem, and being assured that it wouldn't be, it obviously was.
From the vast range of items being offered for breakfast, only eggs and coffee were available. No worries, I'll have scrambled eggs and coffee please love. At least it will be quick and I can get going.
Wrong. I might have gotten speedier results if I had asked her to send a rocket to the moon, as it wasn't until a full hour later that an anaemic looking omelette with a pot of coffee turned up. One hour!
I'd rummaged around in the bottom of one of my bags and found a loaf of bread, so I had that with it as well. The loaf was a bit old, and I was going to eat around the mouldy bits, but I looked again at the omelet, and decided that some home grown penicillin might be a good move.
I wolfed it all down in two minutes, and hit the road at 8.15, an hour later than I wanted too. Initially the cycling wasn't too bad, but after three hours the constant rolling hills combined with an outrageous humidity level started to take their toll.
I've been on the road seven months now, and yes its been hot before, but nothing like this.
The locals were sweating just sitting in the shade underneath trees (as they always do), and titty bollocks here is pedalling up hills. A bit of a shirt and short drencher!
I reached the town of Mkata and chose a suitably scummy guesthouse where I would fit right in.
Day 222 Cycling from Mkata – Lugoba
A reasonably early start, and the massive storm last night seemed to have cleared some of the humidity. By eleven, both the heat and the humidity were back though, which also coincided with my tyre problems making an unwelcoming return.
Wonderful stuff. VERY frustrating, especially when I'm leaking like a sieve.
Due to the constant stopping to re-pump, and two stops to repatch, I didn't make my target destination, which means tomorrow Ihave 140 kms to do to reach Dar Es Salaam.
Day 223 Lugoba – Dar Es Salaam Friday 02/03/07
7.00 am, and I left the hotel, and began cycling. I reached the junction at Chalinze for 8.00, and this time, it was my front tyre's turn to go flat.
Because I have to retrace this road from Dar Es Salaam back to here when I carry on, I was sorely tempted to say sod it and leap on a bus.
It would have been a bit lame though, so instead I got somebody to fix the puncture whilst I had something to eat. I started off again at nine, and it was another long day in sweltering temperatures.
About 40 kms short of Dar, I was starting to reach the end of my endurance when it began to rain. It made a pleasant change to be soaking because of water instead of sweat, and it revived me enough to carry on.
I've checked in at the Pop Inn, which at 2 pounds a night is cheap if it isn't clean.
Day 224 Dar Es Salaam Sat 03/03/07
The first of what look like many days off in Dar. I looked everywhere for inner tubes any tyres, but they are simply not available here. This means that I will have to get them delivered from England, which means I've probably got a week off here.
I'm kicking myself a little for not sorting it out in Nairobi, but I can't turn back the clock, and you have to carry on carrying on, you know.
More from this bike tour
Next update – Travelogue 24 – Time off in Dar Es Salaam
Previous update – Travelogue 22 – Cycling from Addis Ababa to Nairobi
Start from the Beginning – Cycling from England to South Africa