Travels & Trips

Usambara Mountains to Diani and home (East Africa loop – part 3)

It’s been a little over two weeks exploring East Africa with the new girl. She’s done great so far and I reached Kilimanjaro via the longest and most scenic routes ever: From Nairobi via Lake Kivu and Nyungwe Forest in Rwanda.

It’s been amazing spending time with biker friends, first Havana and then Mbeche – and now it’s back to solo-ing as he’s headed back to Nairobi. If you missed it, jump to Part 1 (Nairobi to Lake Kivu) and Part 2 (Kivu to Kili) first!

Kwaheri! Thanks for good company, mechnical entertainment, chain lube and bike wash! ✌️

From Kilimanjaro I want to continue to the Usambara Mountains. As a child I heard of a beautiful flower from this place (which is named after it). Plus I enjoy hiking so this was going to be great 😁

And somehow I want to find my way to Diani in the end. I’ll be starting my 2023 work schedule with a week long engagement there!

A scenic but hoooot and windyyyy 200km until the foot of the mountains.

They got some pretty unique road signs in TZ!

I can’t help but think that in Kenya, the main “produce” in such geographies nowadays is charcoal, sacks lined up by the roadside. πŸ₯΄ But here they deployed an irrigation scheme and flooded some fields in the plains. Sacks of potatoes and tomatoes abound in all markets!

Turnoff from the highway and up to Lushoto on a well maintained, sometimes narrow road twisting up 800 or more metres. The journey takes an hour with photo stops.

After a late lunch I check into a decent room and dig out my walking shoes. An evening stroll takes me to Irente Viewpoint.
Beautiful sunset and incredible views!

Day 2: More hiking and exploring!

Today I want to hike in Magamba Forest, a beautiful thick indigenous forest. Instead of using a guide I search for routes on Wikiloc. It’s a 5km walk through town and fields, and by the time I enter the forest I’ve finished my drinking water 😌

Up at the Viewpoint, there’s a young friendly ranger who sells water, charges the entrance fee and gives me directions for the remainder of the walk. I take his number just in case, because I wouldn’t be the first tourist getting lost at night here.

Once out of the forest, Lushoto town is a 3km walk back along the tarmac. It’s quite nice, mostly down hill and I glance at people’s houses and gardens and collect lots of greetings and smiles by school boys and girls. I realize that most women wear head scarves and skirts or dresses.

Everything’s great until I run into a group of construction workers who are walking uphill. One eyes me top to bottom, then stares at my breasts and loudly tells the others (in Kiswahili) to get for him that prostitute’s number because he really likes what he sees. Some of the others laugh, as we pass each other. I decide to let it slide, because who wants to deal with this kind of shit on holidays? Or any days?

After a micro seconds of self-doubt about the appropriateness of my clothing, I decide to shake it off.

It rains all night so I shelve the off-road route to Mambo viewpoint. Bucket list stuff! There has to be a next time!

Day 3: More mountains!

Day 18 on the road! Time to continue eastwards. Magoroto Forest is just 150km further. I book some recommended accomodation ahead, Mathias Cabin, having no clue how the road or place would look like πŸ˜… But first back down to the Highway!

Onwards to Muheza town, I pass through Korogwe. I wonder if this Ginnery offers tours πŸ€”

The cabin’s caretaker meets me in Muheza town and gets on a boda to guide me to the place. He says it’ll take around 30 minutes. Shock on me!

Once out of town, we twist up a dirt road, the more beautiful views the higher we get. There are some sharp corners with ruts and big stones. It’s so comfortable and pleasurable with the 390s torque!
At some point we enter a forest and as we exit, I realise we’re inside the clouds. Drizzle!

The road to the cottage becomes a steep single trail πŸ˜‚ Quite slippery! I have no plans of dropping the bike, yet it’s too tall for me to put a foot down securely on this slope. When in doubt, gas it out! I run into some traction control related issues, but make it in the end. πŸ’ͺ

These are some beautiful and simple huts on top of the mountain! It rains all afternoon and night so I sleep inside clouds πŸ’€

Day 4 – The longest day on this trip

Today I’m meant to get myself from mountains to the sea! But!

Everything is muddy. Visibility is low, it seems we’re still inside the clouds or some thick fog! I’m quite unsure whether to wait it out, as no-one can predict if the clouds or sun will win the race today.

The team sees my concern about the muddy steep corners and generously offers to help get the bike downhill to the village, which I happily accept 🀧

From the village it’s easier riding to enter the Forest Estate, which is a campsite and restaurant by the lake, complete with forest trails and a curio shop. The caretaker makes sure I’m comfortable and hands me over to the staff here.

I’m the only visitor this morning and swimming in this beautiful rain forest is just incredible!

Back down to the tarmac! I’m getting to practice standing cornering. Beautiful views across the valleys!

I’m really enjoying the larger wheels of my new girl. Quite a difference actually!

At 3pm I hit the tarmac.
Onwards to Tanga!

Mabuyu trees, palm trees, humidity, the coastal feel is amazing 🀩

I receive a contact for a very beautiful beach place to stay at which is run by a biker. They closed for the week though (guess what, for a ride!) so I add Fish Eagle Point to the bucket list.

(Y’all didn’t know there’s tarmac in Mandera, right?)

Wow! I’m less than 100km from Dar! This country is so massive, yet somehow I crossed it.

Finally: Tanga! I ride around town looking for the Indian Ocean

NOTHING beats the smell and sight of the Indian Ocean. It’s been around 2,200km since leaving Lake Kivu. Thoroughly enjoying this trip!!

And yes, the crocodile in front of my bike looks like a log. πŸ˜‚

After a quick meal in Tanga, I feel the urge to continue to Diani today. It’s 5pm and that’s only another 150kms.

Can you imagine such a sign in Kenya? Because bumps are so rare, they tell you how many to expect!

Somewhere just before the Kenyan border my bike turns 10,000km! I’ve basically doubled the new girl’s mileage in the last month since adoption her 😎

This is the least pleasant border crossing on the entire trip. First, the security staff want me to bring my entire luggage from the bike to a scanner (I decline). It’s five counters (health, immigrations, customs, immigrations, customs) and – excellent timing – a whole busload of travellers from a certain place in the West of Kenya with an entirely different concept of personal space pours into the hall. Finally, the customs team are watching soccer. Me and a truck guy knock at their window for several minutes to get their attention. πŸ€¦πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ


On entering Kenyan network my Airtel One Africa bundle that has taken me round all these foreign hills and water bodies stops working. Absolutely recommended at one thousand bob only! I top up a 254 bundle and head out

It’s 19:09 when I inform my ICE virtual escorts that I’m officially stamped back into Kenya and by 9pm I’m having pizza under palm trees in Diani.

Let me not tell you too many unnecessary details about how long I stay in Diani and what amazing, fun and relaxing things I do here!

But yes, I did carry work clothes all the way around East Africa, as I had a week-long workshop with one of my favourite clients!

Final day: Back to Nairobi! Today is day 30 of my roadtrip.

There’s something about bracing yourself for a ride back to Nairobi.

The drivers mostly actually. That carelessness, aggression and impatience. But also the state of the roads. Potholes, speed bumps or concrete pillars could have grown since the last time I was there!

I get some premium juice for the KTM and leave Diani just before 11am, curious to see how long the final 570kms may take!

I took the ferry quite a lot recently, so I choose the Shimba Hills route from Diani for today. The 22km rough road are in a terrible state with a thousand huge holes. Heavy trucks and some construction attempts are messing the road and it’s quite sandy, too. I remember beautiful smooth cruising from my last visit, but this time it’s not much fun even on an adv bike. Achieng may agree on this and Dindi disagree.

Riding between Voi and Emali is bsolute bliss… Fairly empty and the Tsavo road has been recarpeted in the bad spots!!

I have lunch in Mtito around 4pm. I take around 80-90 minutes for every 100kms today, with stops for photos, bush toilet and snacks.

Sunset over Makueni hills… Quite a treat 😊

Riding at night between slow and unlit trucks between Salama and Machakos junction takes up all my remaining energy… I’m happy when I get to the dual carriageway finally.

Athi Roundabout, Southern Bypass, Western Bypass – search for food – home!

4617.7km. What an amazing experience!

People ask me what on earth I do for work to have such opportunities to travel. Well, as a team we work pretty hard. We support fast growing organisations in answering big strategic questions. So we sat down and did the maths. We decided to close the office for three weeks to rest and rejuvenate after an intense business year and in anticipation for a kickass, energized 2023!

It might be different in other workplaces. Yet people love traveling! Adventure lovers all over are perfecting the ROI on their meagre leave day policies πŸ™‚

Other bikers were also sharing their holiday trips on African Motorcycle Diaries (a Facebook forum). It was a fun exchange πŸ˜‚ I missed a KTM lady by a day in Lushoto and Wakili passed Western Tanzania a few days before us.

Seeing how people live in other places and how they make things happen is such an inspiration. We have many big questions to answer as humans in 2023, from healthcare to livelihoods and climate justice. How do you feel about this saying: Think globally, then act locally!?




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