The border crossing procedure into Tanzania was the most ambiguous process yet. We weren’t clear on what to do; was local insurance compulsory? The customs officials said “Ask this man”, pointing to a man in civvies who had already been pestering us for an hour, trying to sell us local insurance which would cost more than the international fully comprehensive insurance we already had. We asked the man in civvies where it said it was compulsory... no solid answer. Then he suddenly halved the price. When we declined, he said “Okay, how much you pay?”. Half way through clearing our vehicle, the electricity cut off. When will it be on again? They didn’t know. When should we come back? When the power was on again.
Stuck in the mud
Later that evening after samosas at a local market, we headed for a wild campsite found on iOverlander, which is a database for Overlanders where you can find different amenities. The road there had deep waterlogged ruts like the ones in Angola. No problem we thought, as we charged through the first few, then slowed to a grinding halt in what had looked like a shallow one. Mitch climbed out the drivers seat and his legs sunk waist deep into a slosh of black mud. It was quarter to midnight and the diffs were resting in the mud, Agnes leaning to the drivers side.
The next two hours were spent using all the recovery equipment that we had. A sand ladder was used to provide a base for the high-lift jack which would otherwise sink waist deep. The winch to pull forward, and another sand ladder to wedge under the wheel once lifted. Then repeat the process, fishing in the mud each time for the jack and sand ladder, which required two people to lift from deep in the bog of “sinking sand”, as we later referred to it. Once unstuck, we cheered in victory, but there was one way off the road: back the way we came. Now the decision: to turn around in the morning and risk repeating the process or turn around now while still muddy to the hips.
Agnes' screaming engine
We turned around at 2am and with all the speed we could this time, tackled the same daunting thick bogs, slowing again almost to a terrifying halt in a what seemed like an eternity. The screaming engine only just kept our momentum through and we arrived back to a solid road relieved and with trembling hands. At 3am we parked on an abandoned football field and at 7am heard “Good morning Mzungu! How are you?” At the door. Local village kids scattered, laughing and cajoling as we rose from our beds groggy-eyed. This picture was taken in Katavi on a film camera and developed when we got home.
A clean out
Arriving in Dar Es Salaam, we checked into an Air Bnb and sprawled out all the contents of Agnes in the apartment for a thorough clean out. We removed the roof sheets again, cursing at the four hundred rivets. The silver lining this time being that professional waterproofers came to do the job, using SikaFlex products imported from South Africa. We geared up for Christmas, decorating a tree in the apartment and celebrating our arrival on the east coast of Africa. Lounging in the air conditioned apartment in pyjamas until late morning, coffee in hand, while the waterproofers worked on Agnes was a feeling we all savoured.
Weighing up our options
We decided to investigate ferrying Agnes to Zanzibar island for New Years for some parts fitment. The shipping agent quoted us the equivalent of $6000 (R84000) each way for the 4 hour ferry. When we declined his offer he said “Okay, how much you pay?”. Agnes remained in Dar Es Salaam while we took a passenger ferry to Zanzibar to celebrate New Years. Our friend Reggie had his own face printed on t-shirts for us as Christmas gifts and we decided to all wear them and it felt like a bachelors, so we went along with it, saying we were celebrating the prime of Reggie as a bachelor.
We camped on the grassy shoreline of a small lake. Locals were unbothered by our presence and unobtrusive, going about their day. A man paddled across the lake in a boat riddled with holes, bailing water out between each stroke. Late at night a man arrived to another canoe, drunk as a skunk and paddled into the darkness to his home across the lake. Cattle carts waded waist deep into the lake to wash and drink.
Agnes in a thunderstorm
At 3am we were woken by loud claps of thunder, which became louder as the storm neared. The claps began vibrating the air around us as the storm loomed overhead and synced with bright bolts of lightning. We whispered of the possibilities of being struck and a deafening clap ran through the vehicle as a bolt of lightning struck within spitting distance, blinding the interior in a flash of white through windows thick in a deluge of rain. We all yelped in terror and excitement. We waited, anticipating another, but it struck across the lake next and within minutes there were several seconds between thunder and lightning. Sleep slowly overtook our elevated heart rates.
The last leg of our African journey is in Rwanda. Here, we end our trip reminiscing on the memories made over the duration of our adventure. Follow us on Instagram for Agnes updates!