Overland Ride

Public transport in Tanzania is different from that in Europe. At first glance it appears “woozel goozel”, but in fact, it is working very efficiently. That is why we had decided, this time, to travel to Dar es Salaam by bus. It is more relaxing. Early in the morning our pastor gave us a lift to the bus station in town. Twenty minutes before departure I realized that I had forgotten my phone at home! If I hurried, I could perhaps make it. So I called a pikipiki (motorcycle taxi) and asked him to take me home and back to the station – “Haraka!”, “Drive fast!” And he did go fast. I was praying all the time I would not miss the bus. Twenty minutes later we were back, but our bus had not yet arrived.

We had booked VIP seats. In most Tanzanian long distance buses the first six seats behind the driver are luxury seats. These are bigger and offer more space also for the legs. Usually there is also a TV screen in the front. There thy play movies or songs. Sometimes there is also a working USB port for charging the phone.

Even if there is no service for snacks or beverages on board, no passenger needs to be hungry. Either the bus stops at resting places on the way, or the driver stops along the road to let in street vendors, where we can buy local food or soft drinks and water. In the next bigger town the driver stops again and the vendors leave the bus.

Photo: Streetvendor
One of the numerous vendors, here in Nangurukuru

Buses usually are travelling fast: 100, 120, sometimes 130 km/h on a two lane road. This time we had decided to take a company well known for their safety. And so we were travelling on a maximum speed of 90 km/h only. However, our driver often hardly changed the speed when driving through the numerous villages. He used the horn instead. People here know it and when they hear the bus horn then they respectfully move to the side.

Photo: Passing a Truck
Our bus passing a truck on a dirt road.

At the bus stand in Lindi, where we live, things ar quite at ease. It is the opposite at the bus stands Rangi Tatu and Temeke in Dar es Salaam. Daladala (small busses), pikipiki, travellers, people who are delivering goods, vendors, all going criss cross and being busy. One person, holding a bunch of papers under his arm, offers his services to us, to carry our luggage. We thought he’d belong to the bus company. The papers made it appear that way. We later learned that the papers are part of his “outfit”. He is just one of the many occasional workers there.

Photo: Rangu Tatu Bus Stand

The landscape which we are travelling through sometimes is hilly, sometimes flat. One of the highlights, however, is crossing the Rufiji River, one of the biggest in Tanzania.

Photo: Rufiji River
Rufiji River near Ikwiriri Town

One week later we returned home. We took the afternoon bus, which meant that we’d come home to Lindi after dark. It is a special experience, however, to travel through Africa’s landscape at dusk. The setting sun sheds it’s golden light over it and creates a very nice mood.

Photo: Cockpit

It got dark quickly and I realized once more: bike riders and pedestrians are very hard to be seen, often enough only in the last moment. That makes night travels utmost dangerous. Good that I did not have to drive myself.

Photo: Bus Stand Nangurukuru
I admire our bus driver who has safely brought us back to Lindi through the night.

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