The final push
September 8, 2021
After the rest in the Mutinondo wilderness camp I had new physical and mental energy to cycle the last part to Kilimanjaro. Determined that I would make it in time, I planned a route with some detours to visit some beautiful places along the way.
Taking a turn off the main road to Tanzania I find a more relaxed road going straight up North. Because of Covid, the small border I’m heading to is closed. Locals tell me pedestrians and cyclists can cross anyway so I’m taking the risk. Pretty soon I end up cycling the 500 km near the border. There I take another road in the direction of Kalambo falls. A pretty, but rough ride takes me to this amazing place. The waterfalls are about 235m high and it’s quite remote. After a refreshing pause I continue descending down to lake Tanganyika. It’s one of the biggest freshwater lakes in the world and definitely worth the visit. The only painful part is that the descent is pretty long on a rough gravel road. Already feeling the pain for the uphill the next day…
The final crossing
My rest day at the lake helped me to get up the hill again, but it hurt a lot. Pushing hard to get up the steep hill with many loose rocks. I found most energy out of the fact that I would cross the final border in Africa and will be entering Tanzania! The border is a very relaxed one, and they only ask a quick test for covid to enter. Soon I’m stamped in and then I meet a group of cyclists. They cycled from Zimbabwe to Uganda for charity and are now driving back with the support cars. It’s really nice to meet them and they give me some good tips for the road. As well as some of their snacks (thank you so much) and a mosquito net for my head. That’s mainly to protect me from the tsetse flies that I will encounter later. I find a really nice place to camp not far from the border and the next days I’m heading to Katavi national park, one of the few you’re allowed to cycle through.
Attack of the flies
Before cycling through the national park, people warned me about dangerous animals there, especially lions. They told me to cycle on the warmest moments of the day, that’s when the animals are the least active. It’s only 60km on a bad (constant washboard) gravel road so I’m not too worried about all of that. Another warning where the tsetse flies, they are extremely terrible there. Especially when you’re cycling. They follow moving objects an just want to suck your blood. Insect repellent is not very effective for these little bastards. They get very active on the warmest moments and they made the drive a hell!
Followed by a swarm of those blood sucking vampires I’m swearing myself through the park, occasionally spotting some wildlife. Sometimes I’m finding the courage to take my camera, but only to start hitting myself non stop. This means no stopping at all, not even for drinking or eating. At the end of the day, getting out of the park I’m completely exhausted. Mainly because of a lack of fuel. But when I cross the bridge and I see all the hippos and crocodile in the river I’ve forgotten about those terrible flies. The next day was rest day and I went for a game drive. Not being attacked as frequently by those flies was a luxury and gave me the opportunity to take more pictures.
The final push
As I’m getting closer to Arusha it feels that my body needs some descent rest. I promised myself 5 days of rest before climbing which I’m looking forward to. From the Congo-Zambian border the main wind direction was against me, sometimes more, sometimes less. It became very frustrating to push every day and I was getting really sick of it. Slowly I made my progress, still enjoying the views and experiences of the road. I take it easy and try not to get frustrated about it. Which after a while really helps and while having fun, I’m making progress. After some days I finally arrive near Arusha. Instead of pushing through and finding a hotel I look for a nice place to camp one last night somewhere alone.
It’s a great time to realize what I’ve done, cycled and kayaked 19.000km from Belgium to Kilimanjaro. What an experience that was! I love enjoying the stars before getting back to the city where I will wait my friends to climb together. Here in Arusha now I’m taking some well deserved rest in Onsea house and the 11th of September I will go up Mount Meru with Ben and Nuno. We’ll be back down the 13th. The next day I will cycle half a day to Moshi where the other friends will arrive to climb Kilimanjaro with me. The 16th I’ll cycle to the Moshi gate where the others will start the climb with me and I’ll leave the bike to climb up. Can’t wait to get going in the mountains and especially climb the 4th mountain of the Secutec Seven Summits!
Special thanks to my sponsors who make this adventure possible!