Tanzania - Lake Tanganyika
Sat 4 Oct
I supplemented the canteen breakfast with my own cornflakes and marmalade. The objectives for the morning were to get my washing done and get a crash course in Swahili (I’d not brought any of my books with me). Julius – who’d delivered the bedding the night before took the washing. As the light was so good I went off to take some photos. Other passengers became very interested in the camera and I soon had a queue of people wanting their photo taken. I had a lot of fun chatting and joking but not much Swahili was spoken. Perennial questions I couldn’t answer were why I couldn’t take any of them back to UK so they could study or find a job, and why I didn’t have a wife or children. I was very strange – someone helpfully told me.
In the afternoon loading seemed to be taking forever so I went for a swim much to everyone’s entertainment. We were anchored well off-shore and the water was a wonderful translucent turquoise. I swam all the way around the boat – talk about drawing attention to oneself. Fellow mzungu Ian told me afterwards "yes, it was rather eccentric".
Sun 5 Oct
In theory we were docking at 1000 so I made sure I was up and packed before breakfast at 0800. Of course by 1000 we were still at least an hour off. The captain looked in to say hello and ask if I’d had a comfortable journey. I was looking at maps trying to consider options and decide on my next step. A sister ship had recently resumed the service from Kigoma to Bujunbura (in Burundi) and would be departing the following morning. Did this mean it was now safe enough? If I felt uneasy could I make it a return trip and come back on the same boat? The captain was very helpful; he advised on times and fares and certainly thought going all the way to Mwanza "on my way" to Rwanda (my original plan) was for someone with nothing better to do.
It was still unclear to me how safe the overland route from Bujumbura to Butare (in Rwanda) would be. This looks good on the map but would mean postponing or skipping Lake Victoria. What I needed to know was the current Foreign Office posting, recent BBC news stories and details on the visa requirements. My original idea was to take the train from Kigoma via Tabora up to Mwanza, and the steamer across Lake Victoria to Bukoba near the Ugandan border. People on the boat had laughed when I talked about taking the train – "but there’s a bus" they kept saying. When we docked we actually moored alongside the sister ship that does the Burundi run so I took the opportunity to checkout the cabins and double check the times and fares. I was very tempted to buy a ticket there and then but the office was open till 1600 so cautiously decided to find out more first.
Tanzania - Lake Tanganyika