Tanzania - Long Bus Ride
Tue 7 Oct
Woke at 0405 and again at 0410 showered, packed and took a taxi to the bus station. It was pitch black apart from the headlights. I was told to take my rucsac onto the bus, which presented a challenge getting it into the overhead luggage rack (but I managed). By 0440 I’d taken my place much to the disappointment of the two others already sat on the three-seater bench seat. The engine was started and at 0500 there seemed to be a lot of "last minute" activity but it was more like 0540 when we finally pulled away. Everyone was seated, the interior lights went off, and we set about chasing after the bus from a rival company that had left no more than two minutes ahead of us. We raced into the black of night, down a dirt road, tossed and shaken, vibrated and bashed. It was a bit scary.
I thought of the train due to leave 15 hours later and wondered about the practicalities of changing my mind. I also thought of people who pay good money to have scary rides and wondered how they’d like the real thing. I was pleased with choosing the window seat as the middle person gets squashed and the other strives to stay on the seat, has be continually alert to tumbling luggage and inevitably has standing passengers leaning on them. After it got light we stopped several times more. We seemed to take on many standing passengers; the aisle got crowded. Also, we loaded a lot of cargo – most interestingly a gearbox from another bus. (It took five men to lift it from a pick-up into the luggage compartment.)
The journey went on forever; sometimes hilly, sometimes irrigated fields. I considered disembarking at Biharamulo (after eight hours) as there was a chance to get to the lake and catch a local boat. However, this plan relied on there still being a ferry service described in my two-year-old guidebook; too risky.
We reached the Kigongo ferry crossing at around 1740 (12 hours after we’d set off). Annoyingly we had just missed a ferry - the next would be at 1930 - at least a chance to have a pee and stretch legs. In the late afternoon sun the village around the ferry point was looking pretty. There were curious outcrops of water-rounded rocks – like enormous pebbles, I guess at one time the lake was a lot higher. I took some photos and had a beer; watching the sun set and chatting with the driver. He promised to find me a good clean modern guesthouse - much nicer than the Lake Tanganyika Beach Hotel where it transpired he had ALSO spent the previous night. It was 2200 by the time I’d found a room and ordered some food; just in time for the TV news.
Tanzania - Long Bus Ride