And then we got to Tanzania.
In the end, most people pay about $400 to $500 a person just to enter a Tanzanian National Park per day! Whoa! And I'm not even going to talk about the thousands of dollars it costs to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
But it turns out that there is something that Tanzania can offer the adventure motorcyclist that is free, if you're willing to do it: tough but scenic roads. And what I mean by tough roads is that Tanzania is an off-roader's heaven of difficulty, beauty, and unique cultural experiences.
After talking our way out of a speeding ticket, we all stopped at a roadside restaurant to have some lunch together. Gianmaria Colangeli and his girlfriend Lucia were headed through Africa in the same direction as us, but because he had to get back to Italy in the spring to run his hotel and motorcycle tour business (Macedonia Adventures), they would be going much faster.
Still, though we had to momentarily split ways as they headed to Zanzibar, we all planned on meeting again sometime soon. And after a week or so, this great reunion in Arusha turned into one of the best adventures we've had in Africa!
These two days of riding down rough roads turned out to be exactly what I was looking for out of Tanzania. No, we didn't see lions (actually, that's probably a good thing considering they like to chase motorcycles), but we did see giraffes, zebra, ostriches, and a very big strange bird called the kori bustard, which is considered to be the heaviest living animal capable of flight.
We could never speak each other's languages, but whenever we came to an impassable section of road, we'd ride through the tall grasses until we found a Maasai camp with cattle everywhere and warriors holding sticks and sometimes spears. They could figure out easily enough that we needed to get across the ravine that had formed from the recent rains, and they'd show us where they usually get their livestock across.
That night, we couldn't find a proper place to stay, so we wild camped in the bush. We cooked up some steaks which we'd been carrying, but unfortunately, due to all the falls of the day, the steak bag had burst and got raw meat juice all over Gianmaria's tent bag.
“Hopefully the smell doesn't attract lions," he said with a frown. I got out our pepper spray and kept our GPS emergency button close to me all night long, but luckily, we were only greeted by the locals in the morning who seemed to come out of the woodwork and shake our hands with warm smiles and stares of curiosity.
Tanzania is famous not just for the Lion King and the Serengeti, but also for its amazing coastline. Because we had skipped the island of Zanzibar, we thought we'd still try to get a glimpse of some beautiful turquoise waters by dipping into the sea near Tanga, at another place that Simon owns, Fish Eagle Point. Simply stunning. The water was like salty bath water, and just as clear. And because it was the off-season, it was our own private tropical paradise.
So stay tuned, and keep your eyes out for Tim's new book covering from when we left our home in Chicago and headed south through Central America. It's called Two-Up and Overloaded, and it's sure to be full of laughs and adventures. It will probably be launching within the next week!
I still find this hard to believe that it's a real thing, but it is. Enjoy this random fact for the day...