Driving in Tanzania

Driving in Tanzania is quite exciting to say the least! The condition of the best roads are usually quite bad. And the bad roads are terrible.

I was going with a group from Moshi to Loshoto. (Not to be mistaken with the country Lesotho.) A 4 hour drive each way.

Even though we were driving on the main highway, connecting Dar es Salaam with some big cities, there were still no stripes on the road, no light and no reflexes. Whenever there was asphalt on the road it had huge potholes every now and then, causing our driver to zigzag in an attempt to avoid the worst of them.

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On our way into the rainforest.

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This was the first time I had ever been in a rainforest.

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The group I traveled with for this particular trip. Some from my hostel, others were volunteering at the local hospital in Moshi.

And even though we drove on the main highway it still had random speed bumps all over the place, with markings ranging from weak to nonexistent.

There was only one lane in each direction and the traffic was a good mix of cars, bikes, busses, trucks, bicycles and pedestrians.
Every now and then cows, goats and dogs also took a stroll on the road. Yet the people driving in Tanzania tend to go somewhere between 80 and 120 km/h (50-75 mph) whenever possible, also when the circumstances doesn’t allow it. Honking is frequent and means, “get out of the way”.

The main highway also had long stretches under construction, so we had to drive on dirt roads, next to the main road, where the holes were even bigger and more frequent.

In 2 trips of about 4 hours each way, there was enough excitement to satisfy the most incarnated adrenaline junkies.

It wasn’t long before things started. After half an hour we had to make an emergency break (the first of many) to avoid hitting a cow, because the Masai people lost control of them, and they were roaming aimlessly around on the highway. Yet we still hit it!

We almost hit an oncoming car when we had to avoid slamming into a boy walking on the road. Being close to a collision was quite frequent. Either because we, or the other car was overtaking, or to avoid hitting something running around on the road.

We saw a car that was completely wrecked, lying upside down. One car had tried to overtake when the other car also tried to overtake, and with room for just 2 cars next to each other, one had to go. It had happened shortly before we arrived. It was a miracle that they all survived and were able to stand on their feet. They were in pain, but considering the tumbling they had just been through, and with the front of the roof completely collapsed, it was not a surprise.

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We arrived at this view point in Loshoto, only to see this.

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Before we left, it cleared up.

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When the sun went down many cars and bikes still didn’t have the lights on, while others drove with the high beam on. Since the windshield was really greasy, you couldn’t see anything but flares, from the light of the oncoming cars.

All the speed bumps were hard to see and it became really difficult after sunset especially when everything was pitch-black. One of those speed bumps sent us airborne because our driver didn’t see it in the dark. We hit it with around 100 km/h. (62 mph.) The 3 girls in the back all hit their head on the ceiling. (The cursing, afterwards, lasted a while.)

At some point we saw something in front of us, while we were going around 100 km/h (62 mph) and of course it wasn’t a surprise to realize it was a huge truck going 15 (!!) km/h (9 mph) without any light at all! And it was transporting diesel.

While some of these things were happening we, at the same time, had 3 fish hanging from the side view mirror, which the driver had bought on the highway, as dinner, for when he got home.

I saw more accidents in 2 months in Tanzania than I have in all other countries combined. Even more than I’ve seen in 30+ years in Denmark.

Driving in Tanzania is just…different…than back home.

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