20 Nov 2013

Arrive as guests, leave as friends

Tanzania: Kipili

On entering Tanzania we were welcomed by a host of animals travelling by motorbike, from chickens to pigs to goats. 

After an underwhelming stopover in Mbeya we continued towards Kipili.  We had heard good reports of a place which was “the best place to stay in Africa” in a German couple’s 20 years of travelling in Africa, so we thought it sounded worth a peak.

The western side of Tanzania is flanked by Lake Tanganyika, the longest and second deepest lake in the world.  And the towns and villages around it are by no means catering for tourists – this is a glimpse of true Africa.  The only obvious recent change is the road.  From the south western town of Tunduma up to the turn off to Kipili, the Chinese are building a road that, so far, seemed to only be catering for Tonka and the road workers.  Annoyingly the presence of a number of speed bumps and missing sections meant that a journey that should have taken us 7 hours, took 12 hours!  One of the craziest moments was watching a truck passing another under a bridge. The first one was clearly stuck and the second, not considering whether his was too high for the bridge also ploughed through - and... got stuck!

After stocking up on a few essentials in a local market…a market where all eyes were on the two “mzungu”, we headed towards our final destination – *Lakeshore Lodge & Camping*.  

We arrived in the dark at 8pm and Louise welcomed us immediately and was able to rustle up some dinner for us.  We met Chris (her husband) and other guests which included Chris’ sister and Lou’s brother and wife.  We were left to our own devices for dinner which was an excellent carrot soup with homemade bread – it was delicious.  There was a group of Chinese guests on the table next to us and we speculated as to whether they were working on the roads – it turns out they were.  Ni hao!

After our soup, and feeling relaxed again after the long drive, Chris gave “the weary travellers” a whiskey and we headed to bed.  It was only later we would find out that the evening’s delicacies were on the house.  We parked Tonka in the beautiful campsite, unpacked the tent and went to bed.

The magic started when we woke up.  We had parked under a mango tree and there were mangoes dropping left, right and centre.  The campsite was beautifully set up and kept with a set of table and chairs, a great view down to the lake, and the other buildings were so tastefully built– not to mention the amazing ablutions.  We had breakfast in our little haven and then headed over to the main building.

The main buildings were set on the beach – which must be one of the best lake beaches in Africa. Out on the beach there were swinging sofas, sofa chairs and a campfire, there was also a boat that had been turned into an outdoor dining area with hanging tables – very unique.  The buildings had been designed and built by Chris and decorated with a variety of memorabilia from both their families – making every corner an interesting detail in the stay with them. 

After another magical sunset we sat down to a three course dinner with the extended family.  We had a delicious menu with great company and it was like seeing old friends.  Feeling very full but satisfied we headed back to our campsite and an immense thunderstorm ensued.  It lasted all night and into the morning and we were very tempted to stay for longer, but we felt we should press on (something we would later regret!)

The best thing about Lakeshore is that you feel completely at home and relaxed.  The food is second to none that we have tasted in Africa so far and Chris & Lou – and their team - are perfect hosts.  It is a place that you truly feel you arrived as guests and leave as friends.

Days in Africa: 73
Km driven: 766km

Km total:  9,747km

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