Tanzania - December 2015

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Mwanza is called rock city because of the stacks of prehistoric granite blocks formed from lava flows that solidified before reaching the surface. A description of how they formed is here: https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC507ZB_rocks-at-lake-victoria-in-the-heart-of-africa

Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar are very hot and humid. Mwanza is 70 degrees F and low humidity. Altitude of 4000 ft is responsible for the pleasant weather.

Sunsets in Mwanza are beautiful and lead to sundowners on decks or porches of people that live on the lake shore. I used pictures taken from Angie's porch to separate days.

In Mwanza you can't buy land and hold it. If you don't build on it every year the land reverts to the state. So it is common to build a foundation one year, the tie beams the next year, walls the next. The roof comes last so that squatters can't move in. If a squatter moves in, eviction is difficult and can stop further building for years. Such a stopped project is along the route from Angie's house to downtown.

Lucas is Angie's guardian angel. He is of Indian descent and grew up in Mwanza slums. Started an auto repair shop with his brother. Now owns a few businesses, many houses, and the Ryan's Bay hotel where Angie's met him on her first visits to Tanzania. He liked her, and when she was looking for a house to rent, he offered to rent her his first house he built on the lake. It is next to his present house in his gated compound, so he is selective to whom he rents this house. When Angie and Victor needed a car, but couldn't buy one until they had a resident visa, Lucas found a car, had his mechanics, check it, bought it by letting Angie transfer money to his NY account (is that legal?) then transferred it to her when she got her visa. Lucas is like a good uncle.

Zanzibar was ruled by the Portuguese for 200 years, then the Sultan of Oman for198 years. He ruled both Oman and Zanzibar, but made his home in Zanzibar.

The English took over Zanzibar in 1890 to stop the slave trade and ruled until a revolution in 1964, one year after the revolution in neighboring Tanganyika that freed them from the English.

We stayed in the Dhow Palace Hotel, a refurbished mansion that had been abandoned in 1964. Duh. Rich merchant, stay and die or leave and live, hard decision. The new government held the abandoned house for 23 years, then sold it in 1987 when the socialist revolutionaries lost power.

First pictures are quick, but are just for the intro credits, which are not present. Credit go to the whole family. Some of the pictures are from Facebook posts, some from each person's phone or camera. But the close-up pictures are from Victor's Christmas present, a new 500 mm camera lens.

Arrived in Dar Es Salaam late and went next day to south beach to see a turtle hatching. They came out of the sand like a volcanic flow when the surface sand was scraped off. Instinctively headed to ocean.

Dar was hot, humid, and crowded; not as bad as the shop photos show.


Pictures around Angie's house.

The girls on a rock in Angie's back yard. Her house, the netted bed where we slept with fabulous view of Lake, bathrooms all have a personal hygiene hose, her car, the house compound, Lucas' house.

Our puppies holding new puppies, one of three sets in six months.

A walk down to Mwanza downtown.

Past a stopped house construction due to squatters.

Past a dump collection point with storks that pick through it. This dump was cleaned up and permanently closed a few days after we arrived. New president is pushing for pride and end to corruption. Already, area may be poor but it is much better kept than Costa Rica. No junk in yards.

Streets are busy.

View of Mwanza downtown from top of a hotel.

Fuzzy photo is U-Turn grocery. Too expensive for all but expats and upper crust Tanzanians.

Sofie at school scared of monkey in background.

Road with “SMALL” rut on way to girls school. Big ruts will stop a car. Note goats in front of school.

Chicken running through Kuku Poa chicken restaurant; the only fast food restaurant in Mwanza.

Tilapia Hotel was at edge of Mwanza downtown, about a block from where Angie's office, on the lake shore.

Picture of Angie at Tilapia Hotel. You travel 8200 miles for moments like this.

Major form of goods transport is bicycles.

Return trip to Angie's.

The skinny things are cows.

Sandy was sick the next day so the rest of us went to Jembe.

Road there was not major road so was dirt. Except for a stretch of granite block road paid for by a rich person who wanted a road to the village center.

Saw one of many rice fields.

Next day walk to down town by back route over hills with view of lake. Tan building in background of photo of lake is Ryan's Bay hotel, owned by Lucas.

Giant hotel under construction by Chinese. Built with teacher's retirement fund; will never be profitable as no tourist traffic to fill it.

Goats going down street in front of a luxury hotel?

Dumpsters in a different location that replaced the open dump – storks found them.

The communications building.

Went to expat birthday party the next day.

Girl in purple to left of Sofie is in her class and is the same age.

Pin the tail on the ZEBRA.

Cookie bake off or baking lesson, depends upon your point of view.

Market with Joan one of Angie's housekeepers.

Pick your live chicken and it is "prepared" while you wait.

Fresh fish. Fish caught last night is cleaned after you select one.

Aisha Angie's other housekeeper.

Well-to-do houses of Angie's Capri Point neighborhood.

National park Saanane Island took 40 minutes to get paperwork done for entrance and a double check of papers before we could enter. Part of anti-corruption effort I think.

Some wild animals, but we saw so many more on the safari that I left them out of slideshow.

Isa's best friend. Sofie couldn't climb up the fence.

View from Angie's porch: left, center, center-right with ferry that goes by every so often, and far-right.

Trip to Geita, location of a gold mine. Angie was going to meet with mine management to negotiate terms for spraying their employees houses, not part of governments project.

Stayed at the luxurious Lenny Hotel, best in town. Note rush hour in front of hotel. Bicycle taxis taking people to work.

After rush hour, traffic was decidedly different.

Coca Cola is available around the world.

Fruit stand where Sandy got banana that made her sick at the beginning of the safari.

From ferry we saw locals washing clothes and fruits/vegetables in parasite infested water.

Local transportation of goods by bicycle, firewood by head or bike.

Carrying loads on the head is learned at an early age.

Daladala is a van bus. Man hangs out left rear window to coax customers aboard.

Christmas was on the 23rd.

A swim at endless pool in resort on lake, then gift exchange by the Charley-Brown Christmas tree.

The safari started on Sandy's birthday, 24th.


First stop, Serengeti, translates to endless plain. A few animals, then we saw a long dark line that we first thought was a ridge but was in fact the great migration. Nobody had yet gotten out the cameras.

Water buffalo up to their necks in a mud pit.

Gazelle with his harem. One male, 50 females.

Our first resort, cottages shaped like huts. Escorts required from huts to main building.

Sandy not well, but her birthday party was on the 24th.

Sofie joined the floor show, was invited back the next night.

When animals are spotted, there is a traffic jamb of safari vehicles.

Some roads were a little muddy. Yes, we went on through it.

Leopard in a tree barely visible.

Nine lions sleeping in a tree. Note gazelles underneath tree. A second later they noticed the lions an beat feet. Kind of an “oh shit” moment.

Note lion to left of two-lion picture. That's a wart hogs's head. There was some disagreement later as to who deserved the prize.

Red pictures are victor trying out the infared setting on his camera. I think they are very impressive.

Zebras nap in pairs with heads resting on each other.

Hole is side of hill is a wart hog's cave.


An ancient volcano crater now a vast plain surrounded by a ridge and loaded with animals protected from poachers and people.

The big five animals are those that don't have predators - Lion, elephant, water buffalo, leopard, rhinosourus.

Roads and Ngoro's guide rules keep endangered rhinos away from poachers. We saw them but from quite a distance.

A hyena taking its nap lying on its back in a roadside ditch.

The wart hog is a skittish animal and it's hard to get a head-on photo.

Lion pride, lions sleeping on their back.

Thompson's gazelle.

Flamingos - photo only shows one-third of them.

Back at resort, floor show was original twerking – very embarrassing for one patron.

A termite mound on the way to a Maasai village.

Maasai are tall skinny people that can jump two feet straight up without moving their arms as they demonstrate in their celebrations. They dress in shades of red usually except for the chief who is in blue. We were welcomed into the village as guests in red garb.

This is an example of the largest-tree species.

Mt. Kilimanjaro

Look carefully at first slide above clouds. That is Mt. Kilimanjaro. Rarely seem after dawn. Climbers only get to see from peak at dawn. Last day of three day climb starts at midnight so climbers get to top at dawn.

We took tour with guide to waterfall near Mt. Kilimanjaro and were an oddity to locals who followed us.

Sandy is always talking about Plan B on our trips. We found Plan B restaurant.

Does climbing up Mt. Kilimanjaro to the starting gate count as climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro?

After a night in Arusha, we flew to Zanzibar.


Old Stone Town

Our room in the refurbished house that had been greatly expanded and converted to a hotel.

A reading room in the house, not our room.

Hotel is open except for bedrooms.

Streets are narrow.

Sandy bought scarves to cover the girl's bare shoulders in Muslim Zanzibar. Later a man informed us that it was the head not the shoulders that needed to be covered.

Building door and a grave are reminders of last super rich slave trader – still trading in 1911.

English colonial government building.

English fort. Note Girl Guides plaque. Girl Scouts originated in England as Girl Guides.

Girls both got henna paintings on their arms.

Sultan of Oman palace before British took over.

Restored Tembe Hotel where English elite stayed during colonial period.

Isa on porch of beach resort we stayed at starting New Years Eve.

Lucky to get beautiful resort. Travel agent said it was only place he could find.

Saw shacks and free-ranging chickens on way to resort, and we thought, “Oh well, we can sleep with the chickens for two nights”. But, we found walls separate resort from shacks and chickens.

Copyright Dale Thompson,
May 6, 2017 through
last revision on May 6, 2017.