Usambara Mountains, the Swahili coast and Zanzibar by bicycle! (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania – KM 20,960)

With our plane tickets for Montreal bought, we cycled out of Lushoto and towards the Indian Ocean, staying high in the Usambara Mountains as long as we could.

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During our stay at Lawns Hotel in Lushoto, we receive information from the Cypriot Tanzanian owner family on how to link the coastal area through the West Usambaras. The rainy season is late so let’s ride some dirt! Tanga Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

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The way out of Soni is steep! The Bangala River left behind in the crack. Tanga Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

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Mountain roads to make any bicycle tourist scream with joy! Tanga Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

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Laundry day! Tanga Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

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The deep Lwengera valley separates the West and East Usambaras, we’ll get to it later. Tanga Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

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Giants in patches of protected forest, the mountains are a biodiversity hotspot. Balangai Forest, Tanga Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

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Tea estates in the highest parts. Tanga Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

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1,500-metre descent toward the Lwengera River! Heat and sisal plantations await us. Tanga Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

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Sunday afternoon football game at Magoma Sisal Estates. Tanga Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

With the mountains behind us, the next goal was to reach the Indian Ocean, having dreamt of its Swahili culture and cuisine since a good while.

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Clouds shrouding the Usambara summits. Korogwe, Tanga Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

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The familiar sound of an ice cream truck behind us on the highway. Are we dreaming? Nope! Korogwe, Tanga Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

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From Muheza we leave the highway behind and ride down the Pangani road. So close to the coast now…Tanga Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

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Two wheels is best! Tanga Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

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Four-legged traffic! Tanga Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

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From noon on we stop in every village to sit in the shade and guzzle neon fizzy drinks and coconut water. It’s getting hot in here! Tanga Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

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Indian Ocean! Tanga Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

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Full moon rising from Peponi Bandas and Beachside Camping  where we spend three nights. Peponi means paradise in Swahili. Nothing more to add. Tanga Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

Our next destination was Unguja Island, the main island in the Zanzibar archipelago. Zanzibar conjures visions of sultans, vizers, slave traders and ivory merchants but also of spices, seafood, palm trees and white sand. We could not have ended the first leg of this trip in a better place. Time for an easy ride!

Dhow Zanzibar from Pierre Bouchard on Vimeo.

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The dhow ride from Pangani to Nungwi behind us we disembark in the hot water and pinch ourselves! Zanzibar North Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

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From Matemwe, we can ride on the hard packed beach for 15 kilometres! Zanzibar North Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

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Zanzibar City has Catholic and Anglican Cathedrals, Mosques and Hindu Temples, one of which, Shiva Shakti is visible from our over-the-top suite at the legendary Emerson on Hurumzi in Stone Town. Zanzibar City, Zanzibar Urban West Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

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Ngome Kongwe (Old Fort) was built by the Omanis after banishing the Portuguese in 1698. Zanzibar City, Zanzibar Urban West Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

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In Zanzibar, many Maasai make a living as security guards (they’re trained as warriors, after all!), trinkets salesmen and professional photo models for tourists. Looking so cool and so out of place! Paje by Night, Zanzibar South Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

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Because of the shallow lagoon waters and reliable wind Unguja‘s East coast has become a major kite destination. Paje by Night, Zanzibar South Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

Back in the labyrinth of Stone Town we hunt for souvenirs. « How much you want to pay Madam? » Zanzibar City, Zanzibar Urban West Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

In the dhow harbour a bounty gets unloaded to the fish market. Zanzibar City, Zanzibar Urban West Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

It’s a feast everyday at the fish market! Zanzibar City, Zanzibar Urban West Region, United Republic of Tanzania.

After a smooth crossing of the Zanzibar Channel in an air-conditionned speed boat, we ride the 8 kilometres south to Kipepeo Beach and Village. We lean our bikes against our banda and realise this was our last ride for a while, we will leave here in a car for the airport. We pull out our GoPro camera (our Pentax wide angle lense is in need of repair), give it to the front desk employee that is welcoming us…and smile. Bitter sweet. Kibada, Dar Es Salaam Region, United Republic of Zanzibar.

 

                                                                                                                        

Paje by Night                                                     Sans titre-1                                                         

 

Maasai Land by bicycle! (Lushoto, Tanzania - KM 20,480)
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