The Call of the Open Road
Exploring the world, experiencing adventures, and traveling make me happy. It gives me a sense of freedom and exhilaration. This is why I try my best to spare a few days on my calendar as often as possible in a year to get out of the house for a journey. Anyone can ride a motorcycle, but not everyone can challenge themselves to take a long trip. As I plan a 10,000km journey around Tanzania, this trip was critical practice on how I need to prepare.
I started planning my motorcycle odyssey months before, preparing financially and stamina-wise. This was one of the most challenging adventures I have ever been on, but it was also the most fulfilling of all I have done before. My goal was simple: ride to Dodoma, explore the city, and head back. Was it that simple? You will come to find out that it was not! Riding a motorcycle for long distances is not easy.
Not Just Any Motorcycle
There are several reasons I travel with a Motorcycle. For example, the fuel price in Tanzania one week ago was 2,736 Tanzanian Shillings (TZS) per liter. The current price is 3,199 TZS per liter, an increase of 463 TZS per liter. This represents a 17% increase in the price of fuel in Tanzania. With these numbers, you should not be surprised why I traveled by motorcycle and not by car.
With my bike’s mileage of (60 – 65)km per liter and its fuel capacity of 12L, I can travel about (500 – 700)km at a fuel cost of only 38,388 ($15.5). If you have never owned a motorcycle, this would be a perfect time to remind you to pick up your jaw. It’s staggering how much money I save on fuel by using a motorcycle, not a car.
Of course, this doesn’t excuse the risks and challenges that come with it. Car owners and motorcyclists experience rain and sun differently. The fatigue is also exaggerated when you ride rather than drive. Either way, I am still happy with my decision.
My adrenaline machine of choice is a roaring mini beast from Honda. I bought an Ace CB 125 – Taxi from Afritool Ltd Tanzania (Honda Franchise Division). This motorcycle is an Engineering marvel; even after 8000km of constant strain and adventures, it is still pristine. I love this motorcycle because it has good fuel efficiency and is a Honda. It remains reliable despite the hardships I put it through. And the fact that Afritool Ltd is available whenever I need checkups and service, I am even more confident to continue with my Journeys.
The Allure of Dodoma
For many years, I have had my eyes on Dodoma, the Tanzanian Capital. My curiosity was triggered by a bold decision by the late Hon. President Joh Pombe Magufuli to move all key government offices to Dodoma and the continued support for the mission by the current president, Hon. Samia Suluhu Hassan. I call this THE GREAT MOVE.
Since the great move began, many individuals and businesses have moved to Dodoma. Could it be the new cultural hub? Could there be serene landscapes that need discovering? Could the vision that drove the 1973 transfer of capital city status from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma pay off? My curiosity has been through the roof, and I just had to see it myself.
Dodoma is not only the place where all significant laws are constituted (by the parliament) but also the place where the head of state resides. With fewer tourist attractions than other regions, its beauty lies in the possibilities ahead as the effect of The Great Move, and I wanted to tap into that glory. No one would stop me from taking this journey, not a storm or heavy winds; Dodoma had to be explored.
Essential Preparations for the Journey
Preparation for this journey ranged from saving up for weeks, if not months, to riding around the city with saddle bags to get used to the weight. I spend days, if not a whole week, just deciding if I should take this journey! More than 7 hours and 30 minutes on the road to cover 430km+ to a place I have never been on a motorcycle! It sounds crazy to say it out loud!
I created and decided my routes, stops, and destinations ahead of my departure date. This way, I wouldn’t have to worry and freestyle on the journey or face surprises. I also ensured all my riding gear was ready and items and clothes were well packed. I tried to convince some hotels to host me for a review, but I wasn’t successful. So, this meant I had to be ready to spend a few bucks for accommodation and travel.
One day before the trip, I took Ariel (My Motorcycle) to a service center where it was approved by a mechanic and exterior add-ons were installed for the trip.
Moments of Awe, Challenges, and Triumphs
My journey was longer than I had anticipated. I was so happy that I did a practice ride (Dar – Chalinze – B/moyo – Dar), which gave me the stamina and confidence to take this journey. If you want to read about the Chalinze journey, you can read by (clicking here).
At 8:45 am on departure day, I was already heading to Dodoma. I chose to leave later in the morning for safety reasons. Motorcyclists in Tanzania are not very well respected on the road. Therefore, I needed to be sure that in case of any problem, it was clear enough to get help, or drivers were afraid to drive roughly due to Traffic Police.
The journey was arduous, challenging, and complex. After three hours of riding, I took a one-minute break every half an hour to stretch and hydrate. This changed my riding experience completely. I wish I had known this trick before I started having long motorcycle adventures.
Arriving at the Destination
I arrived at Morogoro around 11:30 am, where I had lunch. Sadly, the restaurant I had marked on my route did not have breakfast or lunch then, so I had to improvise and eat elsewhere. This was all thanks to a gentleman I met at that restaurant who was so friendly and guided me to the other restaurants. We had a good conversation; he even gave me some insights on what to expect when I arrived at Dodoma.
After another four hours of riding, I saw a road sign saying welcome to Dodoma region. AH, I can not explain the joy in my heart. “Yes!” I shouted. This was it, and I had made it to Dodoma. No break-downs, no quits, and still strong. I was so proud of myself; I STILL AM. Slowly, I navigated my way to my final destination, DS Hotel Dodoma. This is where I stayed until I left to head back to Dar es Salaam.
Full Review – Destination, No.1: DS Hotel Dodoma
Embarking on Your Own Motorcycle Journey
If you wish to start traveling with a motorcycle, you should know a few things.
- Motorcycles are dangerous: If you are an adrenaline junkie, always looking for the next crazy decision to make, then motorcycle adventures are not a thing you should opt for. Also, ensure you always ride at reasonable and safe speeds, depending on the size of your bike.
- Prepare Your Motorcycle: Don’t go on a journey without first taking your motorcycle to a mechanic so you are sure you won’t get into problems on the road.
- Plan your route wisely: Resources like Google Maps don’t have personalized maps focused on motorcyclists; you need to go the extra mile to avoid routes that would be dangerous for you compared to a car adventurist (e.g., avoid national parks and areas harboring wild animals or bandits)
- Inform Your Family: Inform the people close to you about your journey and the travel date so they can check on you to ensure you have arrived safely. (In case you get a problem, they will make a follow-up to ensure your safety)
- Wear proper gear: Carefully and correctly choose your riding gear to ensure you enjoy your ride. This includes your saddle bags and other travel bags.
More Than Just Kilometres
This trip was more than just a Motorcycle Journey. I learned a lot about life, God, and nature. Did you know that you could accomplish anything you set your mind to do? Well, this trip is proof to me that this statement is true. I returned home with an enriched soul, a clear mind, and a purer heart.
Would I do it again? Yes, very soon, stay tuned! My next adventure is coming soon, and it will be even more interesting than this one.