Throughout the years, most of my overland journeys have been done via the use of local buses. I’ve taken many train journeys as well, but the bus is still the most common form of transport for long distance travel.
Without a doubt, the toughest journeys I’ve undertaken by bus have mostly been on the continent of Africa. There have been a few hard journeys in the Andes region of South America, but they all pale into insignificance compared to those that cross vast regions of the African continent.
One particular journey that comes to mind was the crossing of Tanzania from West to East back in 2001. Liza and I had recently spent time in Uganda and Rwanda, and we were now heading across the vast open plains of Tanzania. With our next port of call being the beautiful spice island of Zanzibar.
Although Tanzania can be quite a touristy country, with a multitude of visitors each and every year. They tend to stick like glue to the coastal regions and the famous game parks, and very few venture to the West of the country.
I’d completed a similar route to this journey via train, some nine years previous but in the opposite direction. The train journery was a breeze compared to this slog. The total distance travelled was somewhere in the vicinity on 1250km (770 miles). Coming from Australia, the distance was no issue but the time it took was. Originally we were told it would take in the vicinity of 22 hours, an under estimate to say the least.
47 Hours From Nyakasanza to Dar es Salaam (it was tough going)
All up the journey took us a whopping 47 hours of which the last 15 I was basically hallucinating, due to complete lack of sleep (I just can’t sleep unless I’m lying down). At least half of the distance was done on unsealed roads, but at times unsealed roads are better than an unmaintained sealed road in Africa.
It was the end of the wet season as well, and the bus got trapped in the mud on many occasions. Everyone had to get off and remove all their luggage to keep the overall weight down. The driver would then plough his way through, sliding from side to side with reckless abandon.
Driving through the mud on one ocasion, we passed a large truck that was literality burried in the stuff up over the height of the rear wheels. It was safe to say, that this truck wasn’t going anywhere fast, and would need to be dug out.
On another occasion I remember getting off in the middle of the night. A local tribesman came over to say hello, complete with his bow and arrow (he must have been on a night hunt).
The last few hours of this journey were a complete blur to me. By the time we reached Da es Salaam, I was half by delirious from lack of sleep and in serious need of a warm shower and a comfortable bed. Overland travel, you’ve got to love it……..
Your Thoughts and Comments?
Although not the toughest bus journey I’ve undertaken, it was certainly the longest I have ever had to endure. I’d love to hear of some other horror stories. Come on, there must be a few to tell.