Tunduma to Mlibizi & Redemption Song 5 June 2021

Tunduma (Border town of Tanzania to Zambia ) is a bustling vibrant place full of colour, trading, busy people, motorbikes and tuk tuks. Tunduma is in the Songwe Region of Tanzania. It has border posts for both the Tanzam Motor Highway and the TAZARA railway (for which it has a station) linking the two countries. It is located 103 km southwest of Mbeya. It is also the junction for the tarred road which runs via Sumbawanga through the remote far western districts of Tanzania to Kasulu and Kibondo in the north-west. According to the 2012 census, it has a population of  98000 people.

The roads are full of bicycles, motor bikes, tuk-tuks (or Bajaj), taxis, buses, trucks, some cars and people. The folk in Tanzania just love pimping up the vehicles – so our Bru’ster (Our Hilux) – feels and looks right at home.

Here is a typical Bajaj(Tuk-Tuk) gathering place:

We arrived on Saturday so a market was in full swing

and with market day comes the related need to transport goods to & from market – using all modes of transport

We found that when driving through the town that when a bus (or truck stops) then one needs to take a lot of care as street vendors swarm from all directions toward the stopped vehicle where – “in seat” service is provided through open windows and reaching hands – most of the transactions relate to food or cooldrinks – in this case a bus stopped and a variety of wares were actively and quickly traded

– the money traded in the sidewalk trades (Shillngs in notes) are often very worn and dirty – it is good practice to wash/sanitise hands after handling any money (not only in the markets) – this image below shows it very visibly.

The Exchange Rate R1 will buy R7.48 Tanzanian Shillings(TZS) so in the image TZS2000 is R12.45 the largest currency we have noticed is TZS10000 (R62.27)

.So after buying airtime from a street vendor guided by Israel we started to weave our way out of Tunduma heading towards Mbeya it was 4pm but we felt we would make it by sunset

Our destination being the Utengule Coffee planation which according to IOverlander could accommodate campers

Little did we know that the 97km would take nearly 2 hours

Along the way we were quite taken by the apparent prosperity of Tanzania in comparison to Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe. The farms along this route were well tended.

and the many houses with high roof structures

We eventually got to Mbilizi which is where the turnoff to Utengule was – it was dark by them and we were driving though the main road dodging the normal obstacles and when garmin said turn left – we did – we unfortunately did not have the Garmin Overlander on the fullest detail setting and we ended up in the local township road that eventually narrowed down to one car width and we had to go into Low 4 to get through a big deep puddle  – they eyes of the pedestrians and ours got wider – we were under 100 m away from the correct turning

When Garmin said turn right and there was no right turn in sight – we said what we need now is an Angel to guide us.

The Angel appeared in the form of middle aged local – slightly inebriated – who stopped us and in Swahili told us to turn around and retrace our route in – he then insisted on getting in the car to guide us

We duly turned around and followed his directions.

When he saw the music system – he asked for some music – so we chose Bob Marley “Redemption song” – what a good choice – more to come


1 thought on “Tunduma to Mlibizi & Redemption Song 5 June 2021”

  1. Samantha Kitshoff

    What a journey! Those colourful trucks and Tuk tuks are amazing. Remind me of the colours on the trucks we say in Thailand in Ayutthaya. That’s where the face of the Buddha is nestled in the roots of the trees.

    Amazing experiences and awesome journey. Love seeing the road maps of where you travelled.

    Beautiful memories!!

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