Beside Indian Ocean c. 10 km north of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, 12.8.77

It makes quite a change to swim off a sandy beach in warm salty water and see the sun set behind tall skinny palms. We have built our house upon the sand beside another north-bound EO group.

Same place, 2 days later. We have been frustrated in our plans to go to Zanzibar by the non-availability of places on flights and the bureaucratic obstacles and time constraints of going by fishing-dhow. Therefore we are to leave here this p.m. (14/8) for the 12-day 4,000 km trip to Joburg, leaving behind our Liechtensteiner who has found a flight to Zanzibar and who has a gland problem in his cheek. He will join us by Swissair in Joburg (only direct flight from here).

The other Swiss we left in hospital in Nairobi has since been repatriated by his insurance co. Two other American Jews have joined us for the last leg of the journey, and the driver has picked up a NZ girlfriend till Lusaka. I notice we have a mail stop there that I had forgotten about. Looks like we'll be in Joburg on time – even though the truck has started having minor mechanical bugs. (I'm trying to write this on the beach.)

Mikumi Wildlife Lodge, 15/8. We have stopped here for lunch at another of Tanzania's beautiful game lodges which are, however, depressingly empty (esp. since border closure with Kenya). Tour companies used to have their headquarters in Nairobi and bring people down to see the animals. Understandably, Nyrere was not content with that setup.These lodges are placed on hilltops with restaurant and swimming-pool patio overlooking waterholes and large expanses of animal country.

I don't seem to be making much progress with this letter and have only a day to go before the border. The road continues good (apparently built by the Yanks and damaged by Chinese transports during the building of the Tanzam railway which we cross several times).

I rather like this country, esp. at black market rates (c. 18/- per $ v. 8/- official). Even so, Kili cost me 800/-, but I was awarded a certificate for having reached the peak! We managed to find buses and other rides to Arusha for our rendez-vous with the truck a week ago. Found another EO truck in the camping area (Tanzania-only tour) and were fed before the arrival of our own vehicle. We were so stiff we could hardly walk at that stage. Nevertheless it is clear that 3 months of abstention in Africa have toughened up the former pasta-eater and wine-bibber! One of the pleasantest aspects of Kili was a detour I made on the way down (being ahead of the bunch) to see Maundi Crater, just like a grassy-sloped Greek theatre with the two peaks in the background.

After finding a black hand in my back pocket and making a few purchases of Maasai curiosities (beads etc.), Arusha's possibilities were exhausted and we set off through golden-grassed plains, past craters large and small, and Maasai tribespeople in their traditional ochre-red robes and displaying mud-caked plaited hair, perfect teeth, pierced and distended and bejewelled earlobes, shepherd's sticks and businesslike spears, toward Ngorongoro Crater. Slept in a paddock of thorny acacias and witnessed yet another spectacular sunset with strange cloud formations.

Next day we rented 3 Land Rovers and drove down into the enormous crater, right beside Serengeti and normally full of game. We had good views of buffalo herds with attendant white birds, a close-up of hippos dozing in a waterhole, sleepy overfed lions and hosts of lesser beasts. Went back up onto the rim to the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, beautifully situated right on the edge with a view of the action.

Returned in the truck down a dangerously slippery road (even got bogged and had to refit 4WD) to the same camp-site to find, as usual, our garbage-hole had been dug up and scattered by treasure-hunters.

Next day we visited Lake Manyara National Park (and another beautifully-placed lodge overlooking it), which has one of the highest concentrations of game in E. Africa. At one point a pink sandbank at the edge of the lake turned out to be thousands of flamingoes. We saw the tree-climbing lions for which the park is famous, comfortably asleep in the forks of trees with their enormous paws dangling. Also lots of baboons, elephants, storks, rhinos etc.

Back in Arusha again we ate well and too much in a hotel restaurant (soup, fillet steak, veg. in quantity, cake, cheese, wine, coffee) to celebrate the departure of one of our young Canadians who had to go back to school (uni).

Broke another trailer spring on the last stretch of unsealed road before Lusaka. On the road to Dar past ever-shrouded Kili again, we were bogged beside the sealed road worse that we ever were in the wilds of Zaire or the sands of the Sahara! Had ourselves pulled out backwards by a passing truck, sandmats being insufficient.

After 2 days of hard driving, we arrived at a beach near a hotel about 15 km north of Dar-es-Salaam (Haven of Peace in Arabic). Apart from the sandflies and thorns on the beach, it was a pleasant spot, complete with warm Indian Ocean and thousands of friendly crabs as big as your fist. Dhows slid past now and then, their sails bent before the wind. Fishing is big business and the lobsters are said to be very good. The night we went up to the hotel, however, to blow the last of our black money, they had an enormous barbecue at 50/- per head. So no lobster, yet.

The best lobster I ever ate was in Bellville, near Cape Town. If I have time, I'd like to go back there but I doubt if I could make it in 6 days there and back, even if I rent a car. That assumes I take the flight I have booked to Perth on 2 Sept. I'd really like to see Durban, Port Elizabeth and the Garden Route but it would be a big rush, distances are so great.

Some of us spent almost a whole day in Dar looking around trinket shops and buying up things in ebony, ivory etc. I bought myself, inter alia, a chess set with fierce little stylised African faces, with which I am rather pleased. Hope there's no silly restriction on importing wood into Australia. Some of the abstract Makonde carvings were very beautiful. The only one I would have considered trying to carry was bought under my very nose by a girl on our trip for a couple of miserable dollars. In Aust it would probably cost $50-100. Anyone who had the patience and enough money-making drive could easily make the trip pay for itself.

From all we have heard, Zambia is no great prospect. One Swiss is to get off in Lusaka to visit his brother in Rhodesia. We expect to see the Victoria Falls from the Zambian side, then go down the Botswana side of the Zimbabwe border (bad roads?) Seems unlikely we will actually go into Rhodesia, although it contains some real historical and natural treasures.

The group is already becoming morbidly interested in the precise workings of apartheid. It really is a horrible concept, after 2 months of fraternising with blacks.

Just read an article on Australia in The New Statesman which would turn a man off the place for life. It was called The Great Australian Emptiness.