Home' Travel News : December-January 2013 Contents 32 travel news December 2012/January 2013
December 2012/January 2013 travel news 33
Many of those miles were documented for this editor.
My frst Tanzanian story, the description of a sojourn into the Usambara Mountains
which rise and plunge lushly inland from Tanga, was written for Travel News ten years
ago. And the very frst safari that I made and subsequently described for the magazine
was undertaken in 1996, a madcap adventure between jobs; we drove from Arusha to
the Cape and back accompanied by our two children, a four-year-old, a two-year-old
and -- though we didn't become aware of it until the Caprivi Strip -- a third in the making.
The nauseating fried egg breakfast on Lake Malawi wasn't the consequence of a tummy
bug. Rather an imminent tummy bulge. It took us three weeks to reach the Cape as
we meandered through Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe (where there was still fuel and
farms, when Zim was Africa's bread basket and not her basket case). Botswana less
meander, more madcap dash as the authorities permitted us a two-hour transit visa to
race through the Chobe towards the Caprivi.
From Namibia, where we discovered there were more of us on board than we'd imagined,
we arrived dusty, exhausted, exhilarated in the Cape. It took us six days to drive back.
Like pigeons or post-hack ponies, once our noses were turned in the right direction, we
bolted for home. Husband's post-trek anecdotes included the one about putting petrol
in a diesel Land Cruiser, paraffn in the radiator and – recklessly – a description of the
vasectomy he'd purchased Down South (the consequence, indubitably, of a decision
reached after too many hours in a car with wife and growing brood). Friends tried not to
count off my months on their fngers in public but I knew they were dying to ask: what
came frst? The Snip or the Nipper? Is she his? She is.
Since then, since the late nineties, all the Tanzanian travels I have made have been
made in the glorious – mostly (if you discount the fghts, the perpetual pleading for
pee-stops and the interminable games of I Spy) in company of Husband and/or Three
Children. I haven't always been a graceful or responsible maternal travelling companion,
more spit on tissue than Wet Wipes, my picnics more Out of the Packet than Organic,
my holiday choices have not always been as well received by the team as I had hoped
which is why I tell them I believe (usually out of self-justifcation) that the travelling is in
the Getting There not just the destination.
Enough of the preamble and on with the journey: my editor directs, 'The Best and the
Worst of Tanzania'. Happily, the worst are easier, much easier, to identify. And far fewer.
Worst Family Destination
The Soni Falls Hotel in the glorious Usambaras was not a Happy Family experience.
We stayed by default having misjudged our timing. We ate chicken (that, morbidly, came
complete with rigor mortis curled feet) and damply oiled chips; in the absence of a
needed beer, (you try that hairpin-bended road in the dark with three Squeakers all
demanding to know 'Are we nearly there yet?' when you haven't a clue yourself) we
drank cheap gin with Sprite (for there was no tonic water which bothered us but not the
children: 'We don't like it anyway', they helpfully informed us and then fought over whose
turn it was to fnish the dregs in the soda bottles, then after a freezing plunge into a rusty
tin bath, we clambered, exhausted and miserable, into clammy cold sheets.
The prospect of a Sunday in the company of the children, all under ten at the time, whilst
Husband did busy important Hunting Shooting Fishing things with the boys, inspired
me to take them on a writing gig to the Protea Aishi Hotel at Machame on the slopes
of Kilimanjaro. After the children had screamed at each other in the pool and trampled
the over abundance of fuffy white towels that had kindly, if stupidly, been lavished on
us by a pool attendant into the ground, I herded them into lunch in the dining room,
where I ordered Children's Surprise with French Fries. When it arrived, three children
with verbal diarrhea suddenly became constipated, stared at their plates and middle-for-
diddle, the most eloquent of the trio, announced loudly, 'Well, that IS a surprise'. It was.
Fries, peanuts and biscuits. Where was the Green? I wanted to know. The kids didn't
care, and as they munched their way through a lunch made to eat with fngers (peanuts
liberally doused in tomato sauce because their mother was going to get her money's
worth) I asked them what they thought of the hotel. 'I like the roof', proffered Little Miss
Mouthy. The dining area boasted a high vaulted thatch, 'It'd be good for mice' (which
one imagined must scurry down in the dead of night and gather up all the Surprises
children had left for them?). The hotel's manager wasn't very pleased when he read my
review. I reminded him that all Sunday Lunching guests must be considered discerning
even when they trample towels into the grass and get high on Fanta Orange.
Worst Romantic Getaway
Matemwe Beach Village must defnitely not to be confused with Matemwe Beach which
is part of the Asili Africa Group and veddy veddy nice.
Husband and I stayed here by default. (We do a lot of that -- not always entirely our own
fault). I ought to have guessed that the trip wouldn't work given an inauspicious start: I
was dispatched by Travel News to review a Zanzibar hotel.
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