Distance: 62km (Cumulative: 10 499km)
Moving time: 1:51
Average speed: 33km/h
Road surface: 98% Tar
Zakinn - R240 p.p
Clean, safe parking, quiet neighbourhood, bit pricey
We didn’t set an alarm, but Hugo woke up at 08:00 and went for a shower. Back at the tent it took some convincing to get Caro up. We made tea and french toast for breakfast, all the bad bread found in Africa at least makes for delicious french toast. We took our time packing up and only left the campsite at 10:00.
Hugo sms’ed the owner and was told that we can get drinking water from a borehole outside the gate, so we had to make another stop there before getting to the main road. We filled one 25L bottle. The last time we filled our bottles was in Lusaka, so somehow we managed to use less than 50L of drinking water in 28 days. Most places we stopped at we used their water for washing, but mainly our own water for drinking and cooking.
We only drove 30km to our next stop: Isimilia Stone Age site. The road is a perfect tar road, complete with climbing lanes for trucks. On one of these climbing lanes we pulled over to buy some vegetables next to the road. They usually just sell buckets full of the same vegetables for a fixed price, but Caro only wanted 4 tomatoes, 4 carrots and 4 potatoes. Somehow our brains misfired and we paid 3700 shillings for it (basically all our change as they wanted 4000), this is way more expensive than what it should have been. Their mzungu price for a bucket full of tomatoes (more than 20) is only 4000 shillings, so 12 pieces of vegetables couldn’t have been more than 2000 shillings if not less.
At Isimilia we first checked out the campsite and lodge which is still under construction, but it didn’t catch our attention as a place we wanted to stay the night. We then went to the park office and paid the 20 000 shillings per person entrance fee. The guide, who has worked there for 20 years, first showed us the museum and then the site where more stone age tools was found. Basically a roof over a heap of stones, which are apparently different tools. We found it quite feeble and apparently so does most people as the guide told us we can skip the other site which also just has more ‘tools’ and rather head straight to the sandstone pillars.
The advantage of not doing much research, especially not research including pictures is that everything you see is an even bigger surprise. Walking through the valley full of the sandstone pillars carved out by water and wind, held together at the tip by lava, is comparable to parts of Cappadocia in Turkey. The guide was quite enthusiastic about taking pictures of us, with our camera, at one point Hugo even had to do some convincing to get the camera back as he just kept on taking candid pictures. We walked with a circular route back to the car, where we enjoyed some bananas before hitting the road again. We would definitely recommend a visit to Isimilia.
We decided to look for a hotel in Iringa to catch up on some more work. We found Zakinn, which claimed to have free wifi and the pictures looked nice. The place is indeed in a quiet part of town and the sheets was clean, but it cost almost double (80 000 shillings) what the previous hotels cost. To our dismay the WiFi was super slow, even the Vodacom 3G was slow. Hugo had to download a large file so he decided to go for a walk to try and find faster WiFi or reception. Caro joined him as she was promised a stop at a Cafe. Hugo found some open WiFi hotspots just walking down the street, but all of it was slow. At the top of a road Hugo tested the Vodacom speed again and suddenly it was 5Mbps. He downloaded the 300mb file in less than 10 minutes.
A promise is a promise so we walked to the Neema Craft centre, where Caro wanted to buy everything, and the Boma cafe, where we bough a samoosa and a cinnamon roll. We tried to look for a restaurant, but chickened out and decided to just eat at Zakinn.
We ordered Asian style chilli chicken, which didn’t taste or look Asian at all, but burned like hell. After dinner we did some more work on the slow WiFi and updated this blog.