Tag Archives: travel

2015: 6 Countries, 4 Safaris, 3 Waterfalls, 3 Lakes, 2 Rivers, 1 Mountain ….and 2 Mums

What a year it was!

My first full year in Africa – the first year that I did not spend a single moment in the UK. We made the most of the year in terms of travel within Africa.

If 2014 was about moving to Africa then 2015 was about exploring part of it.

We travelled widely within Tanzania, visiting Rubondo, Bukoba, Dar Es Salaam, Mbamba Bay, Moshi (twice), Shinyanga, Tabora and Kigoma.

Rubondo Island on the Southern Eastern Edge of Lake Victoria. This island is a National Park, home to Elephants, Giraffe and Zebra which we we failed to see and Hippos and Crocodiles which we most definitely did see. We travelled there in February for a few days. This included a walking safari through the forest as well as a driving safari. The first of four Safaris in 2015.

We also travelled beyond the borders of Tanzania to visit Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

At Easter we travelled by coach to Uganda, our first trip outside of Tanzania. In two weeks we crossed the country  traveling to Kampala the capital and from there to Jinja, Murchison Falls, Mbale and Entebbe.

Kampala, the capital, was the hub of our journey from where we travelled to other locations, a busy city crammed with cars we spent Easter weekend here, visiting Watoto Church (home of the children’s choir).

In Jinja we encountered the River Nile, which flows out from Lake Victoria heading northward to the Mediterranean. We walked to source of the Victoria Nile though in truth this is just the place it emerges from the lake, the real source of the Nile is located in Rwanda to the south of the lake.  After a leisurely sunset cruise we then followed this up with a more vigorous encounter as we white water rafted along the upper reaches.

Murchison Falls as it’s name suggests is the location of an enormous waterfall where the Nile pours through a gap of a few meters into the Rift Valley. This was our first big waterfall of the year and certainly dramatic. Here also we had the chance to take a Safari into Murchison Falls Game Reserve and to see the many Elephants and antelope there as well as numerous bird species.

Mbale gave us a taste of Uganda off the tourist trail, and a chance to catch up with a girl we knew from home in the UK, working on a Street Child project. It also gave us a an opportunity to visit a second dramatic falls called Sipi Falls, a set of three falls flowing off a steep escarpment (another tributary of the Nile).

Finally on our trip to Uganda we travelled to Entebbe where we visited gardens and a wildlife park and chill a bit before returning home.

Later in the year we embarked on our multinational four week tour of Africa, accomplished purely on public transport. These countries formed part of our journey chronicled in our blog Victoria to Victoria.This encompassed a journey across Tanzania from Mwanza to Dar Es Salaam, Songea and Mbamba Bay.

This was my (though not Anita’s) first sight of Lake Malawi ( aka Nyassa). Three days here before chartering passage on a cargo boat to Likoma Island and our third country Malawi. From here the Ilala ferry to Monkey Bay and on to Zomba for a reunion with Anita’s old work colleagues and a chance to visit Chilimba Village her home for two years in the 1990’s.

Our journey northward then to onus to Liwonde (another reunion), Dedza and Lilongwe (more reunions) before crossing over to our fourth country of the year, Zambia. Our destination was Livingstone and the Victoria Falls. These immense falls were the third and most impressive of the year. We spent 5 days in Livingstone crossing briefly over into Zimbabwe (5th Country) and then had a day (and a third Safari) in Chobe National Park in our sixth country Botswana. Elephants, giraffe, water birds, kudu and hippos dominated the watery landscape. We travelled the Zambezi river a second great river of Africa.

We came close to but never quite entered Namibia at the near quadripont on the crossing into Botswana where these two countries as well as Zimbabwe and Zambia are separated by a mere 100m.

Our journey back from Zambia (and yet another reunion with former colleagues of Anita) commenced at an out of the way town called Kapiri Mposhi. Here we embarked upon two day  eventful train journey back to Dar Es Salaam through amazing scenery.

Back in Dar a fabulous day on the beach at Kipepeo Beach gave us rest and a chance to swim in the Indian Ocean. Then a further coach trip (one of many which lasted more than 12 hours) to Moshi. Here we hoped to see Kilimanjaro without  success.

After four weeks we arrive back home an amazing journey complete.

In October we took the car and travelled across to Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika, second longest, second deepest lake in the world.   Our third Great Lake of the year. A relaxing week at Jakobsen’s Beach, doing little but swimming and chilling. Our site had it’s very own herd of zebra, lots of bird life and amazing cichlids.

December saw the arrival of Mum and Mum-in-Law and the commencement of a Safari through Serengeti centered about a balloon trip and some amazing big cat encounters. Not before a return trip to Moshi and a final sighting of Kilimanjaro.

Not forgetting an excellent Anniversary weekend at Wag Hill (recently reopened again after closure) and a birthday weekend return to Kipepeo Beach.

Of course these are just the highlights of our team me here with plenty of life going on here locally in Mwanza. All this and more can be found by checking out the blog and our adventures in Mwanza and beyond!

Our African Journey

Wehave just returned from our epic journey across Africa – if you did not catch it you van read about it by clicking on any links below.

This is an update to the original as our plans changed throughout the course of our journey.


An epic journey – on public transport throughout – we survived and you can read about it here.


Day 1 – Mwanza to Dar Es Salaam

Day 2 – Dar Es Salaam to Songea

Day 3 – Songea to Mbamba Bay

Day 4 – Mbamba Bay

Day 5 – Mbamba Bay  and Night Crossing  to Likoma Island


Day 6 – Likoma Island

Day 7 – Likoma Island

Day 8 – Likoma Island to Nkhotakota (Ilala Ferry)

Day 9 – Nkhotakota to Monkey Bay (Ilala Ferry)

Day 10 – Monkey Bay

Day 11 – Monkey Bay to Zomba

Day 12 – Zomba (Chilimba Village)

Day 13 – Zomba (Plateau)

Day 14 – Zomba to Liwonde to Dedza

Day 15 – Dedza to Lilongwe

Day 16 – Lilongwe to Lusaka


Day 17 – Lusaka to Livingstone

Day 18 – Livingstone (Victoria Falls)

Day 19 – Livingstone to Chobe National Park (Botswana)

Day 20 – Livingstone

Day 21 – Livingstone to Lusaka

Day 22 – Lusaka to Kapiri Mposhi

Day 23 – Kapiri Mposhi to Mbeya (Tazara Train)


Day 24 – Mbeya to Dar Es Salaam (Tazara Train)

Day 25 – Dar Es Salaam (Kipopea Beach Resort)

Day 26 – Dar Es Salaam (Kipopea Beach Resort) to Moshi

Day 27 – Moshi

Day 28 – Moshi (Coffee Plantation)

Day 29 – Moshi to Mwanza

Victoria to Victoria

We’re soon going to be going on our travels as the Summer Holidays begin. Our plan is to travel from Mwanza to Livingstone in Zambia (Victoria Falls)  and back taking in Malawi (and Kenya!) on route. The Kenya bit of our journey is a late addition as we need to be in Nairobi in early August to drop my son off for some work experience, resulting in an extra loop.

Our journey will be entirely on public transport – following the success of our trip to Uganda at Easter, plane, coach, train all the way there and back again!

This blog will continue and will summarise our journey once back and some of the more mundane living before, during and after, but we wanted more of a daily travelog as we travelled along on our journey.

You can find all about our trip on a separate blog Victoria to Victoria which will be our travelog – feel free to subscribe.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Cornwall Off-Season

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Off-Season.” In  December we took a trip to Penzance in Cornwall to celebrate the Millennium. We had a great few days exploring the winter coast. New Year’s Day was fine and sunny and we walked a stretch of the Lizard Peninsular. A fabulous way to start  the year. These pictures of the landscape and beaches of Cornwall off-season

Meet ANA Gari

Finally we have made the leap. For those who followed our previous blog posts, this has been budgeted for and paid out of allocated UK funds. 🙂 We finally have a car – welcome to ANA (A part of the Reg plate and Kiswahili for car is…) Gari. ANA is a Toyota RAV 4. The majority of expats drive one of these and one of my colleagues has sold it to us.  Actually ‘a na gari’ would literally means he/she has a car in Kiswahili.  The great thing about card here is that they hold their value. Therefore we will get back the price we paid for it when we sell. In the end this will give us the freedom to travel locally and allow the children to more easily socialize. We’re not ceasing walking about town, it’s the best way of being part of the community, but it will add flexibility.

Mzungu on a Bike

Apparently on Ukerewe the thought of a Mzungu on a bike is enough to bring fits of hysterics, as if it is something very unusual. I imagine if the islanders ever managed to go to the Netherlands they would be apoplectic.

This weekend I have spent time on Ukerewe, the largest island in Lake Victoria. North of Mwanza, it is a three hour ferry ride to a completely different Tanzania.

Ukerewe is a fertile island and the first thing you notice when away from the little port side town is the shear number of citrus trees. Mostly oranges and tangerines, you can buy a large basket of these fruits for 1000 TZs (about 33p). Apparently the market traders buy a tree for a season and will have sole right to all fruit produced. Mango trees are also in abundance.

My visit is part of a weekend away for the boarding students. Staying at the Monarch Beach Resort, we arrived from Mwanza on the Saturday  morning ferry and we departed on the Sunday afternoon ferry.

In the short time of our visit we have hired bikes and used them to explore the island.
Our first trip took up through the fields and rice paddies and fountains of lake fly hovering in spires above the growing grains. Clouds of these mini-beasts so thick at times you needed to look down to avoid being splatted in the eye. Thankfully these soon passed and we came across the orange groves. Here the round became rougher and with no gears cycling was tough.    

After half an hour or so we came to the base of the view point and we climbed on foot up to some great views of the lake. Here I spotted a cloud bursting rain over the land – possibly Mwanza from its direction.

The evening meal was followed by a bonfire and a chance to relax.

This morning it was back in the saddle for a ride to the King’s Palace. This was a long ride up and down hills on Tarmac before a long rutted sand road and a shorter flooded woodland paths.

By European standards the place was a bit rundown, no stately home here. It was possibly impressive at one time but now has a large colony of bats on the upper floor and a pungent odour. The ride was tough and the backmarkers were eventually picked up in the mini-bus (bikes and all). As I was cycling at the back it included me – but we had s boat to catch and we were running out of time. The highlight of the trip was to see the land in all it’s greenery.


I’ve taken in recent years to getting a T-shirt with the flag of the country I am visiting. As yet I have not found one with a good Tanzanian Flag but I’ll keep looking.

Uganda Retrospective: Sipi Falls

The original post contained some great pictures from the phone but the camera photos add so much more – so here they are. The three main falls were part of a 3 hour guided walk through the coffee fields, banana groves and villages of Sipi. We even encountered the alien looking wild banana plant – the inedible ancestor of all modern bananas.

The Places You Go and The People You Meet!

One of the best things about traveling is meeting different people. So our recent Ugandan trip was fabulous not just for the places we visited (Kampala, Jinja, Murchison Falls, Mbale, Sipi Falls, Entebbe) but also those we encountered on the way. Our encounters were brief, a few hours at most, but it was interesting to here about other places.

There was the minister at the Ugandan border, British born – living in Kigoma off for a weeks break. Stories of travels to the DRC and Burundi.

The NGO’s in Jinja living a life in a provincial Ugandan town. Another NGO on holiday from South Sudan who shared our Nile Cruise and White Water rafting. Her tales of life in Juba and working in South Sudan were enlightening.31d Nile Cruise (67)

Then our fellow rafters. Two couples, one Norwegean, the other British. In both cases one partner was working on a short term placement in Uganda (Norwegean Teacher, British doctor), the other partner visiting. It was interesting to share about life overseas and to talk education with one of the partners, a British Design Tech teacher about the state of education back home, and to the other about life in Norway.

01 Nile Rafting (1)

In Murchison there was a family of expats working in the diplomatic service and now living in Kampala. In Mbale two doctor NGOs working in pediatrics, and the NGO volunteers working with JENGA and Olivia from SMB,  inspiring young people working to improve the lives of poor people.

 At Sipi Falls the couple,  he South African but UK based a former NGO in South Sudan, she a Swiss NGO working in the DRC, both meeting up in Uganda for holiday. This seemed to be a common theme throughout our time in Uganda. More information about South Sudan, the DRC and the life of an NGO.

07b Sipi Falls (208)

It is unlikely that we will ever meet these folk again but it was good to talk and share experiences.

What’s Changed?

Life here is certainly different as this blog has recounted over the months but I thought that I might summarise the big differences of life as an expat teacher as we approach the end of our 5th Month in Tanzania. Continue reading


So 2015  has started and tomorrow we return to work/school and normality resumes.

The year ahead will be a strange one – we have no plans to return to the UK during 2015 and so this will be the first year ever that I have not lived, even a single day in the country of my birth.

Exactly what the year holds is to be determined and as yet plans are vague, but we would like to visit Uganda at Easter if possible and in the summer we plan to take a trip south to include Zambia and Malawi which will give us a chance to visit the place Anita called home for two years.

A lot depends on Anita’s situation – she arrived here on a dependents visa and is currently unable to work or volunteer without an upgrade to her visa which will depend on any potential employer making a financial outlay. Working without a suitable visa could lead to deportation or a very large fine so it is not something we are going to risk without proper documentation. Should something come up then we will consider biting the bullet and buying a car – something we have held back on thus far. It’s not so much the purchase price but the running costs which is the off-putting factor as cars  generally sell for the same price as you purchased them for.

Bex has two school trips abroad to look forward to with a journey to Nairobi (Kenya) for a Model United Nations gathering later in the month, followed by a Year 9 trip to Rwanda later in the Spring. She will definitely be the most travelled by the end of the year.East Africa

Airport Travel

It’s back to Mwanza Airport, the place of our arrival nearly 4 months ago. It’s not the biggest airport in the world. We nonetheless have a two hour wait for our flight. Check-in was lengthy (given the number of people) as with all things here. Next stop Dar!
A distant view of Kilimanjaro.


In Dar awaiting baggage before a slow taxi ride through Dar to the ferry terminal and on to Zanzibar!





T + 1

So we are finally on our way. After a long check-in process – we had only a very little time with family before we were off. It was sad to say goodbye and we will miss them and all we have known in the UK. IMG_8550.JPGIMG_8552.JPG



After a delay of nearly 1 and a half hours we took of from Heathrow. As predicted we were well over our luggage limit but we are here in Africa, though not yet at our destination.
Very British weather to greet us on arrival. Raining and 16C 😦 I won’t say where we are yet on this blog so FB Friends don’t say yet. I’ll save that for a future blog (security and all that!).

Corsica 1989

The latest in a series of past travels – for more see Travels section.

In 1989 I embarked on my first Oak Hall Holiday to Corsica (France). Oak Hall is a Christian Holiday Company organising holidays across the world. Popular with young Christian singles it also appeals to older people and some couples. I travelled with a university friend (Jon) and another friend of his from Chorley Wood in London. These pictures are from a time when I did not keep a chronological diary so a representative of the holiday.

First Time Flyer

My first ever plane flight from Gatwick to Ajaccio. This was a very exciting time for me, though I was 23 I had never had the opportunity to fly.

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Our Campsite
Located on the coast near to the capital Ajaccio was our campsite for the next two weeks. A great place for the beach, where we could try out windsurfing and water skiing. Evening barbecues and a midnight swim were highlights.

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The capital of Corsica.

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A Rugged Landscape
Corsica has a mountainous interior with steep cliffs descending to small bays and hidden coves.We took three main excursions; to Propriano by coach, to Sartène by coach and Bastia by train.

Coach to Sartène via Propriano

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Train to Bastia
The train to Bastia took us through the rugged interior of the island.

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The trip to Sartène took in a visit to an ancient Mesolithic settlement…..

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….then on to Sartène with it’s narrow streets.

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Water Park

A day trip to a local water park

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Containers (on the High Seas)

A submission to this weeks photo challenge : containers.. I took a photo of this vessel from a Tall Ship (Morning Star) in 1992 whilst sailing from Dover to Vlissingen in the Netherlands. The English Channel is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world with ships like this one transporting containers the size of lorries all around the world.
Morning Star (4a)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Relic (Angkor Wat)

A submission to this weeks photo challenge : Relic

Angkor Wat

Such a difficult job to choose which of the many photos I could use to represent this World Heritage Site – a true relic of the Ancient Khmer Kingdom in Cambodia. Here are a few more from my trip last summer.


UK Bucket List

T Minus 50 On a lighter note (see last post). Here’s something I prepared yesterday 🙂 With 50 days to go I have decided to post a UK Bucket list of things I would like to do before I leave the UK. This is a mirror post to my East Africa Bucket List

  1. Visit Alton Towers Theme Park
  2. Swim in the Atlantic
  3. Have a Beach Barbecue
  4. Eat a Cream Tea (either Devon or Cornwall)
  5. Paddle in the North Sea
  6. Climb Steep Hill and visit Lincoln Cathedral
  7. Visit the Cotswolds
  8. Visit London – see the sights again
  9. Go Punting in Oxford
  10. Climb a hill (Dovedale, Ivinghoe Beacon or Crooke’s Peak)
  11. Visit Clumber Park
  12. Run 10K again (a recently torn calf muscle make this more challenging than you might imagine)

Many of these are built around places we’ll be going in the next 50 days but even so the list is ambitious – we’ll just have to see! However, we have just used Tesco Vouchers to get 4 free tickets to Alton Towers 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts (Technology)

A submission to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts

At the end of our Ratanakiri trek in Cambodia we stayed the night in a remote village deep in the jungle accessible only by motor boat. This was a village far from modern technology or so it seemed. Look closely at some of the shacks built on stilts, made from natural materials yet equipped with satellite TV dishes. A real contrast.20140630-002152-1312332.jpg

20140630-002152-1312141.jpg the stark contrast to the rest of the village exemplified below.








Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts

A submission to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts


Taken on our trip to the Vendée in 2009 – a silhouette at sunset

Vendée Iphone 019

Travel Theme: Shine

A submission to this weeks Travel Theme on the topic Shine. All taken in the period from Late December 2012 through to Mid February 2013.

Christmas Lights at Shining at Oxford Street and Shiny Baubles at Coventry Garden in London 20140625-154007-56407021.jpg

Ice Palace shining an eerie glow at Hyde Park, London

20140625-154144-56504930.jpgNew Year’s Fireworks shining out over Horse Guards Parade in London

Sun shining over Caldecotte Lake in MK

20140625-154557-56757267.jpgThe shiny polished metal bottom of the Cutty Sark sailing ship and a view across to the lights shining out from Canary Wharf in Greenwich, London

20140625-154847-56927799.jpgThe glow of candles shining from
My birthday cake 🙂


20140625-154847-56927960.jpgLight shining through wooden slats at Kew Gardens in London

20140625-155135-57095305.jpg Finally light shining through a Snowdrop at Anglesey Abbey, near Cambridge.