My reasons for wanting to tour this area were:
-It is on top of the rift and above 1500m and more temperate. They do live down the rift into the area around Babati and Magugu well under 1000m.
-The Iraqwi are Cushitic people and so culturally different than my neighbors.
-I wanted to do a tour around people and services.
-Lastly I felt being off the main tourist areas would me a satisfying people /cultural experience. I didnt want the "white man, give me my pen"
I have been discussing this with Erik Zweig aka Erik Mdogo for months and finally late last week I said lets go on Monday, and being a bum he agreed.
We set off with vague plans of a route and hoped to pass through the whole Iraqwi area to Singida region if we could.
The suspects before starting out.
I made the mistake of leaving my phone on and checking the network while waiting for Erik and packing so by the time Erik showed up I was dealing with work issues. We finally manage to leave at noon. We had food for evening meals and breakfast and snacks.
The 80km to Makyuni went fast with a tailwind.
We stopped once and had a weird exchange with 20 masai school kids on their way home. They definitely have interactions with tourists and other travelers on this big road. It was not a bad situation but unsettling.
Couldn't take a picture of the 20 kids standing in a line, scattering if we made a sudden movement.
My God, see that bag of trail mix. We pretty much killed it during the 5 days.
A rural mosque in masai land. No one used to live along the road 20 years ago, now at Nanja there is a small village and this mosque.
The TV was blaring with rap music and one waitress was surly and the other a sweetie.
km.I started mellowing out after awhile and I ordered a beer and we changed our destination to 20km away instead of 50 There didn't seem enough time to make it to the top of the escarpment and find a place to camp.
While eating an older man came by that has a house near me and also has a boma in this area. He used to be the village chairman here 20 years go. I haven't seen him in some years and we talked for an hour, I drank two beers and he had some brandy.
We rode another 20km on the new road and where a ridge of Losimongori Mountain hits the road veered off on a
The track wound right next to "bomas" making following tracks difficult because of all the cattle and goat traffic. We lost the track and ended up pushing the bikes for the rest of the way on rocks like this. It didn't help that my back tyre went flat twice and i ended up just lifting the back up some and pushing.
See how good the road up to the campsite was when we followed it down the next morning.
The road was glass smooth and downhill to Mto wa Mbu town and Lake Manyara.
We are both Erik's and we couldn't resist this sign.
I haven't done this on a mountain bike and even with the heavy load it was much easier than on the racing bike with its high gears. At the top we descended into the next valley to Kilmamoja village.
At Kilimamoja we turned off the tarred road to begin the trip. Up until now we were only in transport mode to get to the start. We were now in Iraqw country!
We were discussing where to get some food while standing in the middle of the dusty road and right in front of us was a row to tin shacks and they were all small "hoteli". For no reason we chose this one, mama Neema's.
While eating we learned a few more words in Iraqw. The stopped turned into fried eggs, chapatis, and tea. It cost about $2 for both of us. We got directions and headed down the hard dirt road.
One of her kids.
We had a fairly good map but we relied upon asking often and at every crossroads. The road was seldom flat. We would climb one ridge or pass and descent to see another one. There were other bikes on the road and seldom did we meet a vehicle in this 50km stretch.
At a crossroads we would wait a minute and someone would come along walking or riding.
We met more and more people the closer we got to Endabash. If they had heavy loads the bicycle was pushed on any uphill.
As we approached Endabash we were actually confused with the different paths. We lost the road somewhere a nice guy who took us into town.
Endabash was a big sprawling town and didn't seem friendly. We had a coke and some water sitting outside a shop. A guy asked us to move our bicycles as they were leaning against a wall of a shop and it could scratch the paint! If it would of been more friendly we might of had a meal, instead we moved on.
We found the main road to be graded gravel and mostly hard but at times washboard.
We had a plan of getting up to Kilimapunda where the forest touches the road at around 2000 meters according to the map. We hoped we could get into some forests. We met lots of helpful people and we eventually hooked up with one guy who was going to show us where to get water. We assumed BEFORE the pass. We climbed and climbed, descended and repeated that over and over.
A typical valley we rode through with the road meandering down and up the other side.
Then it was a long climb up to 2000m to the pass. our guide had been pushing his bicycle but we never waited long for him. the views were fun.
The camera view from the pass doesn't show how steep it descends from here. The climb was gradual.
At the pass it was windy and cold. We decided not to sleep despite the view being good. We descended some and were surprised we were in and out of forests. With our guide we checked water in one place and descended some more where we were in a thick forest and there was a small trickle of water running. We crossed the river and pushed the bikes into forest and made camp.
We cooked and lay our bags out on the grass and dried elephant dung. During the night hyenas and monkeys made some noise. It was cold night but we were warm in our bags and clothes.
In the morning we filtered water for drinking from the trickle and washed a few clothes and hung on the bikes where they didn't dry much as it was overcast and cool.
Interesting rock where we collected water.
In the afternoon we caught a glimpse of Mnt Hanang and the sun came out hot for awhile. The road was rough half the time.
There was only a few vehicles, mostly buses who would blare their horns wanting us to go off into the ditch.
Dongobesh town is a big valley with running water in this high plateau. Well the running water is pretty slow and murky.
We had rice and meat, filtered some dirty water as we were not sure what was ahead. We asked about this road with unpronouceable village names and got conflicting reports. One guy was very sure the road went to Kweremth and that was it. The other extreme was it went all the way to Babti. We headed northeast and into a strong wind. It was discouraging. The bicycles going our way were all pushing and the ones in the other direction were flying, even up hills.
Most people said yes there was a road all the way, and then we found out we could find a road to drop down off the rift wall to the kiru or Magugu area. If this was true we wouldn't have to go back to Mbulu.
We rode through a valley with lots of green fields on one side and were told it was garlic. Each valley seemed to become more fertile and more water. The wind eased up and we would around, up and down. For awhile i had some giggling school girls pushing me up a particularly steep hill. One ran next to me for a km. Filbert Bayi comes from this area.
We met a school teacher who caught on to where and what we were trying to do and we slowed for him to show us some forks. Eventually he came to a place the road took a hard left but he said we should go straight on a small track, almost a path.
The farms were pleasant looking. As we rode higher it was getting colder and darker . The track became a path and we could see ahead that we were heading into a rain forest.
Poor erik had to cook for several hours, rice and lentils, at one point with three stoves going.
We were snoring in
It was a completely unexpected situation.
In the morning we ate left over rice and lentils with tea, packed up and pushed out to the track. It was thick forest but we were able to ride now as it was flatter and less roots exposed on the trail.
The clouds and fog rolled in. Some trees catch the moisture and it is raining beneath them, other places it was dry. It became colder and windier and more open with glades and heather like plants.
The trail seemed to follow a ridge, gently with open glades. We came to a road of sorts but seldomed used and followed it down.
Sometimes very steep and rocky.
We began meeting people coming up and were reassured we were on the right way. After an hour we left the forest and were in a mixture of forest and farm land. Farms and people seemed well off.
The road forked and we were told the left went to kweremth, the village on the map and where the road goes to Mbulu or over the escarpment to Babati. The first person said go left to Kweremth. A man came out of a house and said that was true but where are we eventually heading. He was a retired military man and knew some English. After talking some it turned out the right one would take some time off and take us over to the escarpment. Sometimes it pays to stop and talk.
The traditional house all have one style, oval with thatch.
Eventually the road got bigger and less steep and we could cruise. Came to a big river and filled the water bottles, washed some. We were still too cold to think about swimming.
Talked with guys maintaining the road. Next we rode through forests and then into the large sugar plantations.
We crossed the river again on two logs and needed to help each other. Just after we crossed a 8 year old kid fell in and started floating away before someone yelled and his brother yanked him out.
The "suburbs of " magugu seemed to stretch forever and ever as we rode on as dusty side street that parralleled the gravel highway, for like 5 km. Finally we reached Magugu. I don't know why i wanted to reach Magugu as it was hot , dusty, dirty, crowded, lazy kind of place. A truck stop. We had more rice and beans, coke, and water. I had a beer.
We ride until 6pm and turn off the road and ride 1km into the dry scrub and find a place with enough trees for hammocks. We sleep 50m apart. I fall asleep several times while
Hyhenas make noise. Luckily there is cloud cover so the moon doesn't shine in our face and I sleep long stretches.
The scar in the scrub is the road up ahead.
A masai woman comes to the road with a rock! It angers me. Kind of odd situation. She is laughing. I haven't had a masai women ever threaten me. Well we are on a major tourist and trucking road. Seems to bring out the worst in people.
Eventually i find him lying down on the side of road waiting for me. I then draft him for an hour and we make good time into arusha and split up.
I think I had too much stuff. Like the spare tyre. Maybe the reading book. Sandals. But maybe my bike, rack, frame bag, and panniers is just too heavy.