At this stage we would like to share some statistics of the countries we visited.
Starting with Sudan. It was a pleasure to fill the vehicle with Petrol. At R4.20 per liter it reminded us of South Africa 12 years ago. Petrol stations are everywhere but power cuts and availability is a problem. The exchange rate was 7.1 Sudanese Pound for 1USD. Money must be exchanged and cannot be drawn from an ATM. We exchanged US Dollars for Sudanese Pound. Road conditions in Sudan varied from fair to very good, except for the stretch between Abu Hamed and Wadi Halfa where there were NO road, just a railway line that had to be kept in sight while negotiating the deep sand and sometimes rocky bits of the Nubian Desert.
Ethiopia roads vary from not too bad to extremely bad and and driving conditions are very hard on vehicle, driver and navigator. Pedestrians and animals claim the road for themselves and then animals are even fed on the road…..totally crazy. The exchange rate is 1.85 Ethiopian Birr for R1.00 and the petrol price is R10.30 per liter. ATM’s are available in the bigger towns, but US Dollar can be changed in most towns. There are petrol stations everywhere, but as in all the countries that we travelled, power cuts can cause problems. Very few petrol stations have generators, so you must drive in at every station to find one that is operational.
In Kenya the roads are fair to bad with lots of road works going on. They are even busy working on the infamous Marsabit road and about 40 kilos are already tarred. When one crosses the border into Kenya from Ethiopia, the people and animals disappear from the surface of the road and walk beside the road in the veld. It is as if a border post separates two different worlds! The exchange rate is 8.6 Kenya Shilling for R1.00 and the petrol price is R13.25 per liter. The petrol stations situation is the same as previously mentioned and ATM’s are readily available at Banks and in Shopping Centers.
The road to the Masai Mara
Moyale to Marsabit
Corrugated road between Marsabit and Isiolo
Uganda was really a very pleasant surprise to us. It is a very modern country and the road conditions are good although at times you must also dive and duck for huge potholes. The exchange rate is R1.00 for 250 Ugandan Shillings and the petrol price R14.60 per liter. All over Africa the petrol attendants wanted to put diesel in our vehicle and sometimes it took a lot of explaining and lots of different words for PETROL to convince them to fill the vehicle with petrol. The very sharp woman attendant in Jinja went and found a “PETROL” sticker witch she stuck to the body of the vehicle just above the petrol cap. I must say since then my problem disappeared.
We travelled through Rwanda without drawing money nor putting in any petrol. It is a very modern country with good roads and the traffic is not bad. We felt very uncomfortable after visiting the Genocide Museum and were in and out of Rwanda within 24 hours.
Tanzanian roads are mostly in a good to fair condition, except where there are road works and gravel roads. The detours at the road works as well as the gravel roads are not maintained and in a terrible condition. The Chinese are busy building bad tar roads all over Africa. I just wonder how the African Governments think they are going to repay the money borrowed from the Chinese for the road construction. The exchange rate is 15.5 Tanzanian Shillings for R1.00 and the petrol price is R14.50 per liter. ATM’s are available and function very efficiently.
In Malawi the roads are much improved since we last visited the country in 1998. There are still parts that have potholes, but one can at least travel at a decent speed and avoid the potholes. The one road that took us 3 hours to drive the 56km in 1998, is now a beautiful tar road. The exchange rate is 36 Kwacha for R1.00 and the petrol price is over R20.00 per liter! ATM’s are only available in the bigger towns.
Mozambique’s roads vary from good to potholes held together by small pieces of tar! We experienced some of the worst potholed roads on our whole trip in Mozambique. Petrol is readily available and ATM’s where one can draw money, is in every bigger town. The exchange rate is about 3 Metical for R1.00. The petrol price is just under R17.00 per liter.
To summarise: The one huge disappointment for me on this trip was Tracks 4 Africa. They should change their name to Tracks 4 Southern Africa. The further north you go, the less one can rely on T4T for the correct info. It lead us into back ally’s and slum areas when good direct roads were available. In Ethiopia it was a total disaster. It showed roads that did not exist, could not calculate distances, gave wrong info on road surfaces, etc., etc. Will definitely will have a talk with them. Personally, the worst road on our trip was the route along lake Turkana from Nanyuki in Kenya to Omorate in Ethiopia. The reasons are: The heavy rains……..Terrible road surfaces that very from rocky to fine powder dust to huge potholes……The fact that it carries on for four days without one kilometer of good road conditions……..The strong wind that blew the dust into the vehicle from behind, because of the fact that one can only travel at between 10 to 20 kilometers per hour.
(Posted by Arno)