Tanga we go!August 8, 2019 in Tanzania ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C
As neither Jack nor I are planners, we decided last night that we would make our way north and then inland - passing by Tanga, Lushoto then onto Mtae. Or something like that. So we put our alarm on for bright early 7am, and walked out of Safarri Inn towards the DART rapid bus stop, where there was actually a map of the routes! I honestly think it's the first time I see a map of public transport in Africa! We eventually pushed our way onto an incredibly full bus towards the main bus terminal north of town. Having navigated buses in East Africa before, we were ready for the attack. And as we expected, we were crowded by men shouting different locations at us, even before entering the station, all hoping to score commission for assisting us to our bus. One guy kept yelling "Kilimanjaro" which made me laugh - it's not a destination, it's a mountain, and I guess he's unaware of my hatred for climbing mountains.
Once in the station (an outdoor parking lot of buses) we took a second in the middle of this crowd to look around and find the bus with our destination written on it. Yes, it can be that simple. Bus stops can get overwhelming for tourists because of the touts, but it's as simple as taking a minute to look around, find the bus with the name of your destination, and then finding the person standing at it's door holding the receipt book. Then you stand next to them, and wait for someone else to buy a ticket. Because yes, even they can up the price on you. And once someone else has bought a ticket, you get yours and demand the same price. And just like that, we were headed for Tanga.
Jack edit here- It may be easy, but it's a skill which took us some time to learn. Let's be honest, the first few weeks in East Africa last time was a learning curve. We now do know what to do and Fred and I even seamlessly will alternate who's walking in front, to be able to adjust if one is looking annoyed or if a bag is being grabbed (which they only do to convince you onto their bus). Despite the times I might get impatient, I still have a true love for the culture and life it brings. Anyway, back to Fred.
Lonely Planet says it's a 5 hour bus ride. I don't know where they got that, since Google driving instructions says 6 hours and it took 7 hours. The only thing on my mind at that point, was food!
But of course, the bus station was outside of town, which meant we needed to jump on a Dalla Dalla (like a matatu, or minibus) into town. And Jack being who she is decided to flag down the one that was leaving because it was full, because god forbid we'd have to wait 10 minutes for the next one to fill up and leave. So here we are, holding our bags with one hand, trying to stand in a mini bus, bent at the waist because the ceiling as at about 5 feet, and holding on to the side rails because your body is no longer over the top of your feet with all the people pilling in. Good times. Thankfully, the ride was short.
We walked around town to find accommodation and landed on New Coffee Tree Motel. It was even rougher then the last place, but had running water, private washroom with shower and a double bed for 30,000TZS (13$US). We later found out that the street and people noise was ridiculous, and we both barely slept. This one we'd both not recommend.
Tanga itself is a cute town! For being the 3rd largest city in Tanzania, it's actually quite small, 273,000 in population. It was laid back, easy to walk around, and felt super safe. Everyone saying hi as we walked by, or Mambo! In the morning we visited old Germain cemeteries and bomas (ie. 'German fortified compound' from their colonial days). We went into a museum which Lonely Planet said was free, it was not. But at this point, we were surrounded by about 10 students on a "field study" here from a bachelor's degree in tourism, all looking forward to walking us through the museum. So of course, as good, cheap travelers do, we negotiated the price. Only this time - it wasn't by lying! We asked for a student discount! And considering both Jack and I are going back to school in September, total honesty! Half price!
By the end of the tour, it felt like they should have paid us, but I wasn't going to try that one... Each student wanted a chance to practice their English and what they had learnt, so we went from room to room, and got full explanations of every single photo lining the walls. I'm not exaggerating when I say I got a full description of at least 50 photos. And I say I, because Jack had to excuse herself half way through to go dry heave and almost pass out from not having eaten yet and standing in the heat. Who had it worse? Jack passed out, pale as can be? Or me, having to listen to all they had to say about sisal plants...?
Once she gained a bit of color, we walked out to buy some fruit and hunt for food. Only - we really haven't mastered that part yet. Restaurants come to life from 5.30pm to 7pm. Before or after that, finding food is hard! Well, for two muzungus it is. We walked quite a while without finding any meals being served, so we bought yogourt and ice cream at a corner store and oranges which are everywhere here! That was the extent of our food intake before we made our way back out of town to the bus station to make our way to Pangani.
Granted, there wasn't tons to do in Tanga, but I really enjoyed it. The vibe of the place was great, friendly, we saw only 2 other tourists which made us quite happy, there's plenty of beautifully maintained parks, and there's a massive market around the central bus station that was lively and great.Read more