public transport in Tanzania

A weekend out of town with two nice German guys. Nora, a friend of a friend, want show us her village in a more remote area. Just to travel to the foot of Kilimanjaro from Arusha is an experience itself. No, not an expedition, as many western visitors call any step they do in Africa, but daily life experience in a normal-crazy-traffic-way.

Lucky to find the express-bus almost empty, we got a seat at the back. All seats were occupied pretty quick and a western guy considered it „full“. But not the Tanzanian bus driver. As he drove off, every few meters he stopped again to take more passengers till they stand tightly packed in front of my camera lens. Surprisingly quite in the bus, but then my neighbors start to talk and laugh with me. Humor and patience also needed if a passenger from the back has to crawl all the way trough the crowd to get to the front door.

Dala-dala, are the mini bus version for shorter distances. Short in terms of just a few hours. Squeezed like fishes in a tin, i start to sweat and smell like a fish too. The sound of the engine, that thin, rattling ironskin of the vehicle and the bumping movements on uneven roads makes me smile. Not because it’s funny, but out of upcoming fear and images of accidents i saw on the road. And indeed, a sudden shot, a blast let the dala-dala slinger. Lucky the driver could stop at the side of the road without anybody get harmed. A tyre puncture is very common, and having a look on the tires, no one wonders why.

Where the data-dala stops, are only taxis or moto-taxis, so called „toyos“, which brings one further. Our taxi driver couldn’t afford the latest model of a car, nor a proper repair or replacement of broken parts. Anyway, the look trough the spiderweb-like windscreen has its own character.

Arrived on foot of Kilimanjaro, the only way to go further is by foot itself …until the highest point of Africa, for people who want give themselves the challenge and are willing to pay a big amount of money for the fees and tour agencies. For those who decid to climb the mountain very spontaneous can hire the gears just at start point. The three of us are just happy to get a coffee at Nora’s place and have a rest.