TRANSPORT IN TANZANIA


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Last updated 16 January 2016

If there's a typical image of Tanzanian transport while on safari, this is it. A Toyota Landcruiser parks up alongside a sleeping lion in the Ngorongoro crater, so that tourists can admire and photograph it.

This page looks briefly at some of the transport items of interest that caught my eye during a fascinating trip to Tanzania for a wildlife safari in November 2011. It wasn't easy to get transport photos on this journey (many of which had to be taken from a moving vehicle on rough roads), so I hope you'll forgive me for the lack of quality.

The first thing that stands out is that the local Toyota salesman has done a fantastic job! At least one in three vehicles on Tanzanian roads (and maybe more) seemed to be a Toyota. Virtually all the others were Japanese too, apart from a few from Germany and a very occasional antique.

So let's begin with the buses. Larger buses were - on close inspection - frequently Mitsubishi or Hino, although it's not easy to work that out as they speed by.

I can't tell you what make this is, but it shows the typical upswept grille of the Tanzanian bus body. New ones tend to have curved 'smiley faces' while older ones are more angular. This bus from the Lake Natron Line takes a break before transiting the Lake Manyara national park. Lake Natron is a salt lake near the Kenyan border.

A more modern bus from the colourful "Promise" company, and with a typical 'smile', heads west on the main road from Kilimajaro.

Kampala Coach Ltd is a major passenger, parcel and courier operator based - strangely - in Nairobi, Kenya (Kampala being the capital of Uganda!). Their routes stretch from Burundi in the south to Sudan in the north. All their buses are registered in Kenya.

This smaller Isuzu is possibly the model known as the "Journey Bus", and is very typical of local buses in the area.

When it comes to the minibus in Tanzania (known as a 'Dalla-dalla'), they are almost always Toyotas, with some Isuzus. This is a typical Toyota Hiace, disembarking passengers near Kilimanjaro.

(Shane Conway says it's actually a Toyota Coaster)

Sadly one bus gave us some serious grief. We were parked up on the edge of the road watching a Hyena pulling a corpse apart (animal corpse, by the way!) when there was a mighty bang and the jeep shook. A speeding bus had given us a swipe, knocking off the front offside wheel hub cover and driving the running board back between the chassis and the rear wheel. It was wedged tight in there, and the rear wheel could not turn - we were grounded in the middle of the Serengeti. If the bus had been a couple of inches closer, our Toyota Landcruiser would have been catapulted into oblivion. We were very lucky to get away with it!

The bus stopped further up the road and a lot of shouting and gesturing then commenced, while the passengers (and us) waited gloomily in the rain. Fortunately we were rescued by another jeep from the safari company. It turned out that the bus driver was renowned locally for driving like a plonker. By the way, it was the beginning of the rainy season, as you can see! That's good, because the mass wildebeest and zebra migration had started, and the big cats were following them. A great time to see the wildlife.

Most of the time jeeps don't get hit by buses, and there are loads of them in the Serengeti, mostly Toyota Landcruisers with a few Land Rovers thrown in and the odd exotic machine (is that green beastie on the left a Unimog? Shane Conway tells me that it is. The occupants were trainees from the game reserve). As soon as someone spots some interesting game - in this case the sleeping lion shown at the top of this page - they radio their mates and in no time at all there's a gathering.

And talking of exotica, with a huge cloud of smoke and a mighty roar, a group of serious explorers set off into the game reserve in a splendid 1960s Volvo Titan, probably ex army.

A more typical rural truck is this Mitsubishi Fuso tipper. Large trucks were mostly Scanias, with the occasional Leyland. Medium trucks were Mitsubishis, like this, or the ubiquitous Isuzu.

But once in a while you get a surprise. This is a Bedford TK tanker forming part of a road-building team. It's hard to put a date on this truck, as the TK was built virtually unchanged for nearly 30 years. Another vintage vehicle that can occasionally be seen in Tanzania is the Peugeot 404 saloon car.

It seems that wherever one travels these days you will soon come across the Bajaj RE auto rickshaw from India; and Tanzania is no exception, as shown by this colourful selection in a village near Arusha.

They don't have many traffic cones in rural Tanzania, so they use branches instead. Here there's a warning of a problem ahead, indicated by a red flag, a wooden sign and a pile of brushwood. What can it be?

Here's the problem. When the rains arrive they can sometimes run in a torrent down gulleys and wash the road clean away. That's what's happened here, and it will take a bit of fixing. A job for that Bedford TK and its friends.

Finally a bit of local aviation. At Kilimanjaro Airport we see 5Y-BXG, one of two Boeing 737-200 airliners operated by Jubba Airways ("The happy way to fly"), based in Mogadishu, Somalia. Originally a 1986 Delta Airlines aircraft in the USA (N245WA), it had later worked for Kam Air, Kazakhstan.

This is Arusha Airport. The Cessna Grand Caravan is the aircraft of choice for tourist flights around Tanzania, as it has a good capacity and reliability, and can land on any little rough strip. There are two of them visible here. Apart from the sad-looking Cessna 310 on the right, the other interesting machine is the Czech Let L-410 Turbolet, right of centre.

Here's another Let L-410 at Arusha, completely surrounded by at least eight Cessna Caravans.

If you can add more details to the pictures on this page, I'd be delighted to hear from you. Hope you enjoyed the trip.



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