Where on earth would you get roads with signs warning you to slow down as blind people may be crossing? Others telling you that the town you just passed has now ended? And double straight lines in the middle of a ‘two way’ road indicating you are not allowed to overtake from either direction? Did you guess Tanzania? You’re right.
Most friendly traffic police
And, where would you find friendly and down-to-earth traffic police? Who are open enough to ask you for a friendly gesture in return rather than waste your time looking for ‘mistakes’ to peg their demands? Yes, again Tanzania!
Are you wondering what I am on about? This story is a third and last blog about my road trip to Ngorongoro Crater. This time mainly about the roads. Ok, just about. And I agree writing about a road may sound a bit odd, but there is a good reason. The smooth state of these near perfect roads contributed a lot to my wonderful experience. No back or shafts were broken. Instead the trip was smooth all the way. I hope knowing how great the roads are will encourage you even the more to make that visit.
In need of speed? Here’s where to quench your thirst
It’s not just the evenly tarred roads, lack of potholes, long stretches of straight road, clearly marked road signs and low traffic. Alas! It’s the police assuring you, like they did me, that it was up to me to decide on speed. With a strict exception of when you approach a village – here the speed is clearly indicated. If the sign says 30 or 50km/hour do be sure to oblige. The police are vigilant and waiting calmly on the other side of the fence. The only respite if you are on the wrong side of the law is how friendly and courteous these officers in white are.
Ladies! There are rest stops in the middle of nowhere
I was pleasantly surprised to find two rest rooms on the roadside between Makutano and Karatu towns. I created a need to use one. The other place I have encountered these in Kenya is the road joining Machakos town and Garissa road. Wonderful.
Never ending road signs – visible and legible
There are road signs for everything. Most were familiar. A few others I was seeing for the first time. Those warning drivers of road bumps, speed limits, children and animals crossing are standard. However I could not get an explanation for the one below. I didn’t doubt there was a good reason why these were many at Kambi ya mbu village. So I stopped to ask. The two people I talked to were equally puzzled. Anyone guesses?
If the roads authority in Kenya or elsewhere is worried that materials making the road signs will be stolen to make chicken pens, Tanzania has found a solution. Why not make them out of concrete like the one below? To be honest on a light note I wondered whether any kids ever crossed the road around here. But that’s not the point.
And one is duly informed when getting into and out of a town. The latter I found a bit excessive, though no harm done. Tells you someone is taking no chances with your safety and tourist information.
Notable landscapes on the way to Ngorongoro
I would not blame anyone for enjoying the drive too much to miss out on some stunning landscapes. So I made a mental note to look out for Kilimanjoro, Longido, Lengai and Meru mountains on the stretch between Namanga and Arusha. The rest of the way is generally flat characteristically occupied by open grasslands and savannah woodlands. Below is Mt. Meru seen from the Kenyan side. Right behind it is Arusha.
The only down side, I found to the fanstactic views, were huge dust storms around Munduli as you finish the ascend towards Arusha. This is a place of great scenic beauty with rolling hills with Mt Meru usually majestically piercing the clouds (this time hardly there).
These storms have created a pot holed landscape not too nice to look at. Sheet and gully erosion was a common sight as I drove past the Arusha airport on my way to Ngorongoro. Something needs to be done to stall this massive landscape degradation. Planting trees is one way borrowing from successes achieved at Shinyanga near Lake Victoria. There a forest landscape restoration programme proved to be very successful.
When is your road trip to Arusha or Ngorongoro? Do share
In my first blog on Ngorongoro I shared about the magical wonderland experience in the crater. The second story was on how you too could enjoy four days of travel on a shoe string budget. I hope this third blog demonstrates how the road itself is a destination. From Namanga to Arusha and then to Ngorongoro you will surely quench your road trip desires. Whether you are in need of speed, a lazy drive or sight seeing.
I must say the avenues in the coffee plantations near Arusha are beautifully lined up with old Grevillea robusta trees and Bougainvillea fences. The former a native of South America and the latter from Australia.
When you go do share your experiences on mamaflos facebook page. I would love to hear from you so do leave a comment below. If you have enjoyed the story do like this page and share the link with your friends. Lastly do subscribe on my home page to be alerted when I post a story.
Thanks for reading. Florence