A ticket to ride

Thu, 14 Feb 2002 08:03:41 +0800

I got my train ticket this morning. Tomorow, at 5:00pm, I begin the long journey west. The train takes 40 hours to reach Kigoma from Dar Es Salaam. I will be traveling 1st class for the princely sum of 45,000 Tsh ( ~$50 ). Once I get on the train, I will probably be out of communication for at least 10 days, and 2 weeks or more is likely. Kigoma is pretty remote and the next few stops are even more so.

The plan is to spend a day or two orienting and stocking up before heading on the real attraction: Gombe Stream or Mahale National Park. Both have habituated groups of chimpanzees. Gombe Streem is a little more straight forward to get to. (I won't say easier because I don't really know that) It is also a bit easier to see the chimps but Mahale is a better park and the fees ($50/day) are half that of Gombe Stream. There is a travel agency in Kigoma that, I hope, will stear me right. They don't seem to have an email address, strongly suggesting that there is no Internet in Kigoma.

The wussy way to continue on would be to back track to Dar. But, there is a better way: I'm going to take MV Liemba down Lake Tanganyika all the way into Zambia*. Then I will need to take a (not fully defined) bus journey to connected up with the Tazara line for the final leg to Kapri Mposhi (and on to Livingstone/ Victoria Falls). It is likely that I will not be sending any more mail until I reach Livingstone. Lusaka certainly has the facilities but it is not a place I care to spend a whole lot of time.

Livingstone is where I will need to make the judgment call of whether it is safe to enter Zimbabwe. I hope it is.

Today, I've been hanging around Dar Es Salaam. I rather like this town. It seems more modern, even, than Nairobi. The air is much cleaner. It is not 100% safe but much more so than Nairobi. It is also very hot and humid, but hey, you can't have everything.

*The original plan called for crossing from Kampala, Uganda to Mwanza, Tanzania via a boat across Lake Victoria. But I wused out and took an overlander out of Nairobi. In retrospect, I could have done the Uganda gorilla leg independently, including the cool routing. But it is not 100% straight forward and I'm not sure if I could have handled it well so early in the trip.