The Rip-Off Artists
After two days full of encounters with the wildlife in the Mikumi national park, we decide to continue our exploration of Tanzania.
Despite the ridiculous high fees for the Ngorongoro conservation area and the Serengeti national park, we want see those two beauties and drive north. Our goal is to reach a campsite which is 300km away. It takes us a couple of hours to reach it, only to find out that it is closed. We continue further in hope to find another campsite - without any luck. Usually we just look for a hidden spot and camp wild. But a handful people gave us the advice to stay on campsites for security reasons. With that kidnapping still in our minds and those advices, we want not to risk it.
We end up at the Irente View Point Lodge up in the mountains. It has a gorgeous view and was totally worth it to come here. But we drove an hour in the dark on a track which had seen better times. What a nightmare it would have been without that LED-bar which I installed back in Dubai!
We reach lake Manyara a few days later. From here we want to drive up to lake Natron. A Lake which attracts a lot of birds and Flamingos because of its richness of minerals and salts. As lake Manyara, this lake changing its colour from blue to red due to the organism inside, which react on the sun rays. You might also have seen some unnatural pictures of bird carcasses in standing positions in a lake - that's lake Natron. In the dry period it drains and the mud gets hard as concrete. The birds get stuck and die but the minerals and salt conserve their bodies.
The off-road track leads us over plains which look like Serengeti and gives us a small impression what is awaiting us there. We can see everywhere Masai with their cows surrounded by Wildebeest herds and every now and then some Zebras.
As we want to cross the first village, we get stopped at a barrier. They want 10 USD per person for entering their region. Alright, that must be the fee for lake Natron then. We were before already annoyed that we had to pay nearly everywhere a little fee to get there. We take it easy and continue. 30km further another barrier. A Masai approaches from the nowhere - how the hack are they always able turn up from nowhere?! Thomas losses a bit his temper as the guy ask us to pay 10 USD each. We are not willing to pay and have an argue but without any luck, we have to pay.
Now you may think «that's it». No no, we get stopped again at the village short before the lake. But those cheeky gangsters ask for 15 USD each plus 20 USD for Matatu! Serious guys, after nearly 6 hours driving you are robbing us completely? At least the valley and surrounding is stunning, it just has its price.
We stay three nights in a nice little campsite and enjoy a quite time after so much driving over the last few days. On the last day we can motivated ourself to drive down to the lake. Walking was no option as the heat was brutal. While we pack our stuff together, the guy from the camp approaches us. He explains us that we have to pay 20 USD each for going to the lake. Going to the lake or waterfall is an activity and an activity costs 20 USD per person. We are definitely not in the mood to talk about something silly like this and just leave.
The story is not over here; they really want their money. We stay one last night in the camp and want to leave early in the morning. At 7am are two guys from the local council in front of Matatu to collect the activity fee. I start slowly and nicely, explaining why we're not gonna pay and why they lost some many tourists (everyone was complaining about that). After over twenty minutes I give up as they still want money... jep, my Italian temper finally shows up - we leave without paying the fee.
Tanzania is a country full of beauty. The locals who screwing up tourists and the ludicrous fees on the contrary, makes the whole country one of the destinations I don't want to visit again.