The drive to Dar es Salaam

After the coffee farm we drove to Dar es Salaam. It took us a long time! First we drove through Kitulo Plateau National Park. It is famous for its plants, but Daddy thought it looked a lot like New Zealand (round Golden Downs) There were lots of pine trees and you could see people drying planks of wood at the side of the road. They cut their trees into boards in the forest, rather than take the logs to a saw mill.

There were also some big rock hills that were formed by volcanoes. We did two sneaky wild camps.

Then we got to the Indian Ocean near Mtwara. We went to a supermarket, but it didn’t have any fresh veges or fruit. I think people here buy fruit from little market shops. We stayed at a farm, where the owner didn’t speak much English. Daddy had to talk in sign language. The owner gave us a bowl of fruit – we weren’t sure what it was called. Daddy thought it was like a crab apple. It tasted sour and floury, but I liked it. We also collected some pretty white shells and painted them. We got a big fright when one of the shells got some legs sticking out of it and it started moving!!

After this we drove up the coast and spent two nights near Kilwa. It was a lot of fun swimming in the ocean. It was very shallow but nice and warm, like a bath. People here were collecting seaweed from strings tied to poles in the water. We also went on a hermit crab hunt. It was fun, they leave trails in the sand that look like bicycle tyre prints. We collected lots of shells too.

Then we drove to Dar es Salaam. On the way we got stuck in a big traffic jam. It was crazy. There were rickshaws and motorbikes weaving in and out of the cars. We ended up getting off the road and going through some very narrow village roads. We went to the Sunrise Beach Resort and on the way we went through a ford. We thought it would be quite shallow, but the water went over the bonnet of the car! It was a bit scary!


We had another nice swim in the ocean, then we went to a storage place for our car. Tomorrow we are going to Zanzibar. I can’t wait!!



We left Zambia and drove to Tanzania. The road was very bad, with lots of pot holes and trucks in the way. Getting across the border took 4 hours! It was a nice, new and clean border post, but their computers were broken and couldn’t talk to the bank, so Daddy had to wait for ages until they agreed to accept cash and let us go. Daddy was very grumbly.

We drove to Utengule Coffee Lodge where instead of camping, we rented a huge bungalow with real beds and mosquito nets that look like princess beds.  I like this place very much, but not as much as Daddy because he loves coffee.


We went on a big tour of the coffee plantation and learned lots of interesting things:

  • There are three main types of coffee plant – Liberica, Robusta and Arabica. Arabica is what they grow here, it only likes growing at high altitude. We learned that it also only fruits on what the man called secondary branches – Daddy said this was the same as apples.  He told us that the fruit are called cherries, and that unlike all other fruit they throw away the skin and sweet flesh, and keep the stone. (ed – they compost this, and feed the trees). Brown means the cherry is overripe, green underripe, and red is just right.
  • We learned all about the types of diseases coffee plants get – Daddy said this was very similar to peaches and nectarines. We saw leaves that had been hurt by rust and insects, and from trees that didn’t get the right minerals.
  • They grow all their own trees in their nursery – they have 20,000 baby trees ready to replace ones that get sick! They never sell or buy trees, as the man said the trees are their gold.  This means that their coffee plantation is unique and no other coffee tastes the same.
  • We saw the machine that they use to remove the skin and flesh from the beans.  The beans then get washed down a little river to where they get fermented just like beer!  This removes all the sugar.  They stir the beans with wooden paddles to avoid damaging them.  This is very important. There are two types of bean – sinkers (the best), or floaters (unripe or overripe).
  • The beans then get dried in the sun for a few weeks, sorted to remove bad ones that still have skin on them, then they get roasted or sent away to other people who want to roast them themselves.
  • We saw a little roasting machine and they roasted us some beans to take in the Taniwha! They know the roast is finished when they count the crackles, like popcorn!
  • I tried an espresso but it was yuck. Daddy drank it.  He said it was the best coffee that he had ever tasted.

When the tour finished we walked up a big steep hill and the view was good. Then we walked back to the bungalow and are having a restaurant dinner for the first time in ages! I like this place.

Going to the source of the Zambezi

After Lusaka we went north. The first night we stayed at a game reserve that had lions. We didn’t see the lions but we heard them roar. They were very loud, (and very early in the morning!) It had a nice playground too.

Then we drove on some really bad roads, they had lots of pot holes. Some were as big as the Taniwha! We also took 2 pontoons. That was fun. (ed. The photos don’t really do justice to the size of the pot holes!)

One night we stayed at the Kanzenzi Wildlife Camp. Seconds after we arrived, about ten children came to use the well. Mummy got the ball out and we did some catches. Then Mummy threw the ball at one of the children, and she joined in. Soon all the children were playing. Genevieve didn’t want to play with the ball, so Mummy laid the tarpaulin out and got out some colouring books. The children wanted to do that too. At the end they all took their pictures away with them. It was fun to play with the children.

The next day we had to use the well to fill our water tank. It was hard to pump the water.

Then we went to the source of the Zambezi. It is right on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Zambezi River is 2,574km long. It runs through Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe and goes into the Indian Ocean in Mozambique. We had to walk on some wooden paths to get to the source, but there was nothing there, except lots of mosquitoes!

That night we stayed by a river, and lots of people came to stare at us. When we had dinner, there were about 25 people watching us. Not many people spoke English. I didn’t like being watched. Some people called us Mzungu, which means white person.

Then we drove to the Mutanda Falls. It wasn’t really a waterfall, but some rapids in the river. It was pretty with lots of trees. We stayed two nights.

The next morning we walked to the primary school. We saw impala on the way, and we had to walk next to a busy road. There were lots of big trucks and we crossed a river with no hand rail!

The school has 550 children. There are only 2 classrooms. There are so many children, some go to school in the morning and some go in the afternoon. Children start school at age seven. The class room is very different to my old school. There is one big blackboard at the front, and there are lots of desks. The walls are plain cream and there are no books.  The government tells them to teach computing, but has only given them one computer! We think the teachers here have a very hard job.

Daddy drew a big map of the world on the blackboard, and we talked about where we had been and where we were going. Some of the children asked us questions.

(ed. We are considering what we can do to help this school. All ideas much appreciated!)



Chinfunshi Chimpanzee Orphanage

Yesterday we went to Chinfunshi Chimpanzee Orphanage. There are 132 chimpanzees there, and they have been rescued from all over the world, even New Zealand. We met the lady, Sheila, who started the orphanage 35 years ago. She is 89 years old, and she overlanded from the UK to Zambia, with her parents just after World War 2. It is the biggest chimpanzee orphanage in the world. A lot of the chimps are naughty and some of them throw stones. But many of the chimps weren’t treated very nicely before. We were told that in the bush, some people catch monkeys to eat them, and that monkey meat is cheaper than beef. I would not want to eat monkey.

The chimps were very noisy. They were screaming and making grunting noises. In the wild, chimps hunt and eat meat, but at Chinfunshi they only get fruit and vegetables. They eat 7kg every day. They love bananas and when we were there one chimp kept clapping and pointing at the lemons. So Sylvia, (Sheila’s daughter) knocked some lemons off the tree with a stick and threw them for the chimpanzees. One chimp went and collected the lemons for himself and even stole them off other chimps. Chimps can live for about 60 years.

When we went back to the car, there was a peacock standing on the bonnet. Daddy was not happy because the peacock did a big poo on the windscreen.


Then we drove to the big chimp enclosures. We met a lady called Manon from the University of St. Andrew in Scotland. She was an evolutionary biologist. She goes to Chinfunshi for three months every year. She is doing some research. The chimps know how to use water fountains and she has put a special fountain in their enclosure. This fountain gives juice. But the chimps can’t reach the juice when they press the button, they have to press the button for another chimp to get it. She was looking to see if they would help each other.

We met four chimps that they called the escape artists. These chimps escaped by using trees and leaning them up against the fence and climbing up like a ladder. When they escaped they broke into the food storage and ate it all. One of the chimps was called Mila. She was brought to the orphanage by Jane Goodall. Jane Goodall is in our Rebel Girl book. Mila was kept in a pub and people gave her beer and cigarettes. When we were watching, she clapped her hands to get attention, then held out her cup and pointed to the water fountain. The man filled her cup up.

On the way to our campsite Daddy saw a snake on the road! It was short and fat and we thought it might be a puff adder! At our campsite there was a little playground and the men made us a big fire! I helped Daddy make stirfry for dinner. It was yummy!

Man vs Land Rover – flesh wounds

So… as anyone reading Eleanor’s posts will already know, it’s been an action packed few weeks in the Man vs Land Rover department. Apologies for the unusually long tale. If reading on Facebook, click the link for pics (if interested of course).

Suspension… £$£@@!! Suspension.  I got sick of crawling around in 40 degree heat replacing the factory air bags at the rear. It’s a hellish job in the sand.

We blew two bags in two days, the toys left the cot and we legged it to Windhoek to rip them out and replace with the toughest coils available here, Ironman +40mm jobbies. Huge thanks to Stefan at 4×4 and More for moving heaven and earth to overnight the parts from Joburg.

I fitted the coils in the campsite and we headed north to try them out (break the truck again). We found sand.  Lots and lots of it, deep. We HATE deep sand. The Khadum National Park is not for the fainthearted, or those with soft suspension… We bottomed out approximately once every 30 seconds, at 10kph, and it was a horrible driving experience. As we couldn’t drive at the correct speed for the conditions, we had to do some digging. The kids were amused. After escaping the clutches of the sand we found an awesome campsite on the Okavango (Ndurokoro, the owner, Leon, is a true gent) and I proceeded to try and source some helper springs (airbags that fit inside the coils to stiffen up the ride and restore height) in Zambia. No luck. Zambia has many weeks of customs hell. Back on the line to Stefan, no worries, back to Windhoek we go, via Swakopmund so HMV can do a Parkrun. (I walked it, a month after busting my knee – result). Stefan and team fitted the bags, serviced the truck, found a nasty loose nut in the steering I hadn’t noticed… didn’t even stop for lunch. Superb service. Pumped up to 2.5 bar we have restored ride height, and offroad is much nicer on the bum. Cheers Stefan!


Power. I hate electrics with a passion.  For many months I have been chasing an intermittent issue with our batteries discharging, charging slowly, lights blowing, general gremlins. I am on first name terms with my multimeter. After a relaxing 800km drive from Windhoek back to the Okavango I decided to get to the bottom of things, and discovered the negative terminal on the crank battery was tightly bolted, but the cable running into it i pulled out with two fingers. Queue an enormous amount of bad language (this issue has plagued us since before Morocco). We now have multiple grounds.

Bonnet latch.  I think I wrote about this previously. The bush mechanic fix at Puros failed. I have now broken in again, and jimmied up a paracord solution… tied around the mechanism, routed out the grille by the winch so a simple tug on the cord pops the bonnet. Simple and works.

Fuel tank… this is a scary one. Working on assumptions here, but I think the regular bottoming out in Khadum eventually stressed out the front mounts for our longrange tank enough to tear the metal of the mudguard mount (where ot was attached). Mud and crap covered this, so I didn’t notice it when airing up and down in the Plains National Park here in Zambia. It separated. I spotted this after exiting the park, resulting in a reroute through Lusaka so I could unpack (actually, strip the vehicle so I could get some bolts through the wheelarch). 4 bolts through good steel, I think we are now sorted.

Exhaust. Khadum, again… all the bottoming out tore an exhaust hanger. Nobody has the part. I’ve “fixed” it with cable ties and swearing. Maybe i’ll find one in Tanzania.

Drinking water pump. Failed. Damn annoying. Replaced.


Boot latch. This one really annoyed the kids. After a stupidly long day (after spotting out broken fuel tank) we got to a rubbish camp next to a police checkpoint only to discover the %£$^! boot won’t open. No dinner. Just cheese from the front fridge. And beer. Queue pissed off children. Their toilet was also in there… Anyway, next day we made it to Lusaka and Margaret and I started tearing the car apart to fix the issue.  Not easy… we have a security cage, and it works well. Eventually we managed to remove enough stuff via the kids seats that we could squeeze Margaret in with screwdrivers, wedge open the door card and pop the lock. Needless to say, we have cut a hole, fixed the problem, and have also jimmied up another paracord “get out of jail/feed the kids” solution, cunningly hidden away behind the numberplate. Naturally it only works with the car unlocked…

Africa is hard on vehicles. Until next time…