Updated 14 Mar 2013

Mark in Africa 1971

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Mark in Africa 1971

Mark Smith was born in Worksop, Nottinghamshire in 1940. He became a commercial artist and moved to London. Mark learned to fly and bought himself a replica World War I SE5a, with which he took part in flying displays. In 1971 he sailed to South Africa where he explored sub-Sahara Africa for 4 months. Here are extracts from his diary, transcribed by his wife Heather

1. To Capetown
2. Johannesburg
3. On to Bulawayo, Rhodesia
4. Zambia: the real adventures start
5. Mount Kilimanjaro
6. Through Kenya to Uganda
7. Back in Kenya, on the way out.

    To Capetown

    SUNDAY 16.5.71

    Embarked RHMS ‘Ellenis’ at 8pm after passing through many official checks. American fellow traveller in the main queue, artist. Cabin mates Ian, Barry and one unknown at this point of writing, a South African returning after wandering. Has a manner so unlike other South Africans I have met. Soup (small) followed by excellent meat salad. Then a drink with Ian. Walk around decks as we cast off from England. Hearty cries of ‘Goodbye’ and well wishes from shore and so to bed, which is not good. (I have the bed which folds out from the settee, very inconvenient.) I suppose England will be out of sight when I awake tomorrow. BEER

    MONDAY 17.5.71
    Excellent breakfast. Fruit juice, no cornflakes but apparently milk spoils that anyway – bacon, eggs, tomato, bread and marmalade. An uneventful day, just adjusting to having nothing to do. Fish lunch (at a different table as my allotted table was full). Sat with Julian (the 4th cabin member). Evening meal of veal (very good again) at yet another table. Ian, Barry and I sat and talked and an “elderly” Australian couple whom Barry met joined us. Ian interested in jewellery of the lady Australian. Revealing discussion with a young couple going to South Africa, heating engineer. How will I get on with the country and its racial differences? Spent many minutes looking into this with Ian. If only I had worked harder at school. So much to communicate and not knowing the language (or vocabulary). The sun shone all day. Beer.

    WEDNESDAY 19.5.71
    Sun almost directly overhead now. One small rain shower. Played cards with American fellow. Evening chat and drink with Julian, Ian, Barry.

    SUNDAY 30.5.71
    Cape Town! 6am, Ian, Barry, Julian, me, all awake now, last minute packing then out and away. Met by Peter Roogens (friend of friends of Julian’s on ship). He gives lift to YHA and Julian offers to put me up. Drive round seapoint to Rondebosch to Lorraine’s (Julian’s fiancée) parents for lunch. Chicken, then around the countryside. I keep nodding off on the back seat. Amusing for others! Walked to Ian’s flat and met his dad and 2 brothers in afternoon with Julian. Got lost of course.

    MONDAY 31-5-71
    Late to rise

    TUESDAY 1-6-71
    I kip in sleeping bag on floor. Julian on bed. Rise at 8.00 and Mick gives us lift into town. Lends car. Breaks down in main street (battery). Call Standard Bank for cheques, nice bird. Call YMCA to meet Barry and John. Table tennis with Julian. Collect knife from Barry but forgot his whisky. Leave Julian in bar while I shop for light meter and shorts. Nice chat with sales girl who remarks on the “London tan” on my legs. Bourneville choc. Lose all my documents and money when I return to car. Found between car seats. Climb half-way up Table Mountain. Rush back to pick up Mick from work. Unmemorable evening ‘pub crawl’. I drink tomato juice. Onward towards Johannesburg

    WEDNESDAY 2-6-71
    Set off on the long walk. Cook breakfast with Julian, square up money, shake hands, catch train into Cape Town at 12.20. At 3.00-ish get my first lift outside station. All the way to Claremont! Hospitable people! I like coal fire, lovely children, their houses very very much. Play snooker with Lance. I win. Remove snooker board to reveal long yellow wood table for dinner. Excellent sausages.

    Back into town. Talk very late on the everlasting South African problem.

    THURSDAY 3-6-71
    Breakfast and away. Misty and chilly. Lift 5 miles 2 doughnuts. Lift Zephyr 30 miles. Straight into another 30 mile lift, dropped in mid-country where 2 coloureds are hitchhiking also. Not much luck or traffic. Walk up road a way, 2 cars come back for us. Pack goes in one, me in other. Army fellows, long fast ride to Caledon (about 100 miles from Capetown). No traffic. Short lift to Hospital junction. Lorry picks me up. Stops at farm for some unknown reason, we continue for 30 miles. Some milk, 5 mile lift into open country. All cars go past. Long walk. Pack heavy. Fast Peugeot stops. Rough coloured? Very good lift to George arriving 7.00-ish. They drop me at house for bed, cost RI.50. Book in, friendly Bantu. Walk into town. Have large curry.

    FRIDAY 4-6-71
    Late to rise (10.00). Get on roadside by 11.00. All local traffic. 1 hour wait, hot and weary already. Mercedes stops. English immigrant of 20 years ago, sales rep for hardware firm in Port Elizabeth (PE). Excellent lunch of Sole Meuniere at the point. Shows me ‘Leisure isle’. How awful(?) for me. Drive on. So this is the Garden Route (National Park). Not so wonderful at this time of year anyway. PE 8pm. No room at YMCA, back to his home (English form of SA hospitality). Large home, 3 cars. Fish meal in evening, bath, bed.

    SATURDAY 5-6-71
    Bacon and eggs and away. Put on barren road to Grahamstown. Picked up by retired engineer turned farmer, lost wife in ’58. Dropped me in Grahamstown, students in boaters, blazers. Town atmosphere as I imagine the old American west to have been, wide dusty streets, verandahs. Tea and scones. Walk up hill through native district, very rough but cheerful. Picked up by van with schoolboys in it. 3 mile lift into wild landscape. Stand with chap on way to Botswana (‘sort of’ his home). Long wait. On with 3 Afrikaaners (hearty drinkers), stop for African whiskey. Drunken drive for many miles. Safely stagger away in twilight at King Williams Town. A sleepy place on Sat afternoon. More SA hospitality, asked in for tea and meal (chicken, tomato, bread). Nice house. Man lost wife and lives with daughter. Walk out of town up a long long road, getting dark, no cars, no lift. To the woods to christen tent. Deafening crickets. Shouts from local nature camp. Slept well from 7.00 till 7.00. Chilly morning. Only one bad moment when sudden wind flapped tent: as I half slept, dreamed I was being pulled out by a tiger!

    SUNDAY 6-6-71

    Pack and walk up road a long way. Pack heavy. Desolate country, no traffic. A lift to Durban! Young couple in Renault take me inland into Transkei. Clean self-respecting natives, well made huts, rolling hills. Stop for meat pie and chocolate. Towns are always scruffy. Photo of 2 Transkei youths in rites dress, painted white. Out of Transkei into ‘civilization’. Stop for bangers and mash. Pietermaritzburg. YMCA.

    Near Estcourt, on road inland from Pietermaritzburg

    MONDAY 7-6-71
    Lift with radio rep to Ladysmith. Richer countryside here. Aiming for Drakensburg National Park so police lift back to Bergville turn-off. Desolate road. First car lift from David Hargraves, farmer. Hospitality again, meal. He eats his wife’s leftovers. Walk a long way into countryside, past settlements. Short lift in caravan. Long walk. Zulu companion for a mile, Zulu churchman who picks me up. My first talk with a native! Bed on floor of Bergville police station. Cook meal on desk.

    TUESDAY 8-6-71
    Officers arrive. I leave 9.30 am, choc at store. Walk towards National Park, dirty dusty road. Cook breakfast by roadside. Lift from fast driving chap, dropped at native store. Very hot. (writing Sun 13-6-71). Clear memories of that time. Walk up hill, round bend and down. Pack getting heavy. No traffic. Lorries pass past. One stops. Pack on back with Zulu, me in cab. On to National Park Hotel. Leave kit in camp site. Walk up to mountains in shorts, legs get scratched. Mountain roebuck surprised in grass. Long climb, walk around base of rock, cross valley under waterfall. Very conscious of lack of humans for miles. Light failing. Family of baboons on burned grass run up into rocks. Pitch tent. Wash. Jacket on. Meal at hotel R150. Table with German South African lady, son travelling in Europe. Sleep in clothes (chilly in morning).
    28 Drakensburg
    29 Children & gourds
    30 Drakensburg range

    WEDNESDAY 9-6-71
    No food at shop. Ranger tells me of a day’s walk up mudslide. Walk to native shop 5 miles out. Picked up by couple in Jaguar. Stop at shop for food (no milk). Back to camp 11.30. Cook beans etc. Walk up to mudslide. Long exhausting climb, cliff looks formidable, chain ladders etc., reach top. Fantastic views to Drakensburg Mountains and all around. Like another world up there. Utter isolation. Take long walk back along valley ridge, trials in stream, lose path utterly. Sun sinks, getting chilly, worried, no sign of way down. Frightening drop. Getting dark, see path in distance at end of valley. Climb further up hill to reach where I now suppose path to be, see sun sink and moon rise. Hurry. Darkness! Path fades away. Lost! Miles from camp, tired. Get back 7.30. Cook beans by candlelight. Sleep 12 hours.

    THURSDAY 10-6-71
    Pack tent. Leave camp 11.00 am. Walk out from mountains; at 5pm car stops. Quite tired and legs very burned. Hospitality offered, gladly accepted. Walked 8 miles carrying 45 pounds. Talk South African war, economics, “fall of Britain”. Bath and bed.
    32 Lesotho

    FRIDAY 11-6-71
    Sleep till 9.00. Mealie porridge for breakfast, bacon, eggs. And so away. First truck stops. Ranger with 2 Zulus, back to Bergville. Very colourful . Buy film. Truck lift to Ladysmith again, from a much travelled chap. Long lift to Jo’burg outskirts in fast Peugeot truck, young engineer on way to Pretoria. Getting dark. Lift further into J’burg, dark, still not in J’burg. Lucky to get further lift to YMCA. No room. Meet Julian! Great to see familiar face. Out to YHA.


    SATURDAY 12-6-71
    Julian at YMCA. Walk into town. Library. Leave him sleeping on grass. Interesting African museum, Liverpool attendant. Meet Julian on bridge, back to YMCA, tea and sandwiches. Meet his roommate. Bus back to YHA with Julian. Cook beans.

    SUNDAY 13-6-71
    Krugerdorp Game Park with hostel chap, saw no lions but wildebeest, zebra, ostrich, antelope.

    MONDAY 14-6-71
    Off to town with Julian to phone about our jobs, trouble with phones. Go to Multitude. As usual, a brilliant anti-sell. Gives me leaflet to design. Horrors!** Return to Elizabeth Hotel bar to meet Julian. Horrible curry. Over to Stan offices about Julian’s job. No joy. Back to Multitude. Start selling learning tomorrow.
    (**The irony of this remark is because Mark was a graphics artist most of his working life - Heather.)

    TUESDAY 15-6-71
    7.00 am rise. Out to Ventensdorp. Enjoyable day seeing Mike sell 15 stamps [rubber office stamps]. Think I will be able to sell also. Back in J’burg 6.15, YHA 7.30. Bed. Americans arrive through windows, breaking glass. Sods.

    WEDNESDAY 16-6-71
    Morning selling with Evette. Shaky start, things pick up though. Mike asks if I’d like to have a go in afternoon. It’s a start. R2 to me. Tired. Long walk to bus stop home. Southern suburbs. Quiet evening. It’s good to have people around.

    THURSDAY 17-6-71
    My first day’s selling. Enjoy the job in this morning, sell 6 ½ in morning, 1 in afternoon. Nice lunch in café, Scottish cook.

    FRIDAY 18-6-71
    Hard selling in motor trade section of J’burg. Sell 6. I am very adaptable.

    SATURDAY 19-6-71
    A day of nothing. Rise, walk to shops and back. Take photo on lawn of hostel.

    SUNDAY 20-6-71
    Another nothing day threatens. Julian, I and Victoria walk to park of surging water just beyond La Rochelle. Old steam engines. Dog attacks native. Clash with owners. Stop and enjoy model steam engines (also Transport museum!!) with Julian.

    MONDAY 21-6-71
    Feeling grotty. Selling La Rochelle. Do quite well, 16 stamps. All in life’s journey.

    TUESDAY 22-6-71
    A bad day for me selling, 6 stamps. See the Lavender Hill Mob. Hostel door locked on return. Hungry.

    WEDNESDAY 23-6-71
    Am called ‘sunshine,’ endearingly I think. Enjoy selling in clean places, Pretoria today, 11 in am, 5 in pm.

    THURSDAY 24-6-71
    Rotten day, 5 sold in Bloemfontein office blocks. Cook meal with Julian, red sausages, raw cabbage, cups of tea. Dreams of Wales.

    FRIDAY 25-6-71
    Jenkins says I was late, 8 sold. Worked well. Sleep through evening. I want to move on. I want to be home. Perhaps a job selling? Near Mum and Dad. Julian left this a.m. for Bulawayo.

    SATURDAY 26-7-71
    Nothing. Bus to town. Shops. Crowded. Bored. Walk back.

    SUNDAY 27-6-71
    Early rise (6.30) to go to Mine Dance. Hitch in to J’burg. Dance terribly lacking. Lunch at station with Steve and Louisa. Walk back to hostel 5pm.

    Mine dance

    TUESDAY 29-6-71
    8 stamps

    On to Bulawayo (Rhodesia)

    WEDNESDAY 30-6-71
    Farewell to Multistamp. “Good morning Sunshine” from Nadine. I will miss that. Walk out of J’burg at 2pm. Past YMCA and new hospital up the hill. Long walk on to Route 11. Lift from student to outskirts. Lift from chemist in Japanese car. Lift from medical student to Pretoria outskirts (Warmbad). Sleep in police station.

    THURSDAY 1-7-71
    Afrikaaner lift to Nylstroom. Walk down dip across weir up to park. Short wait. Lift from farmer to Pietermaritsburg. Arriving 1pm. Have good lunch with friends and set off again. See giraffe near Verwoerd Tunnels. Dropped in country with darkness falling. Debate nearby farm or carry on hitching. Lift to Messina. Police station, hard floor.

    FRIDAY 2-7-71
    Bank 8.30, advises can cash travellers’ cheques across border in Rhodesia. Walk out of Messina past hospital, dusty road. Mini coach stops, takes me to Beitbridge, I walk the mile or so into Rhodesia, across the Limpopo. Pick up trucks again, fast ride to Halfway House, good road, bright birds, lunch. Reach Bulawayo at 5pm. Hostel almost empty. Steve from J’burg arrives 5 mins after me. Letter from Julian. Go for drink around town with Steve and Peter (2 beers).

    SUNDAY 4-7-71
    Steve and I go to Matopos National Park on a day trip. Lift from J’burg couple I met on road from Beitbridge. A splendid shrine with Cecil Rhodes grave, respected, no defacements. The Roof of the World is a good name. Part from our lift at native curio village and walk back to cave paintings. Climb the big hill, but almost ‘done’ up near top. Steve went barefoot on smooth granite. Darkness falls. Tricky walk back to road through long grass, baboons. Lift from students back to Bulawayo.

    MONDAY 5-7-71
    Lazy day in Bulawayo. Shops. Post Office with parcel from home. Steak in evening.

    TUESDAY 6-7-71
    Steve to Salisbury, me to Great Zimbabwe (ruined city). Both to return on Thursday evening. Land Rover ride from Geology research chap to Gwelo. Back of Lancastrian farmer’s van to Lalapangi. Walk. Rhodesian Air Force buggy to Umavuma. Quiet roads. Evening long walk 7 miles. No lifts so pitch tent beyond rail track.

    WEDNESDAY 7-7-71
    Long wait early am. Peugeot to Fort Vic. Long wait. Short English lift to Zimbabwe turn off. If only I’d known it was near! Long long hot walk to filling station, 6 miles. Milk. Mission lift to Zimbabwe. Pitch my tent in camp near log choppers. Late walk up hill road to the top of the ruins.

    THURSDAY 8-7-71
    Early rise. Walk through forest to Lake Kyle. Very good. Birds. Feeling tired. Walk aound the base of the ruins. Pack tent and away 12am. Quick VW to Fort Vic. Walk through to exit road. Short lift from English lady. Optimistic, so lift all the way from 3 engineers, drop me at YHA Bulawayo about 8.30. Steve back.

    FRIDAY 9-7-71
    Start big trek west into Botswana, for Maun and the Okavango Swamps! Firstly, buy socks. Steve gets stores. Hot and lazy. Lie on grass. Eventually get away. Quick ride to exit Bulawayo. Long wait. Abandon and return at 5.00 pm. So we will start tomorrow. Steve verges on not going.

    SATURDAY 10-7-71
    Away. Separate rides, Steve passes. Chat with Orange seller. An English couple in an old Chevy take me to Figtree. Surprise! There’s Steve sitting by road. Salad lunch. Chat with next lift, same car even more ropey. Drink in Francistown bar, buy maps. Walk through town and sleep under stars near airport. Abundant firewood. Frightened by bat.

    SUNDAY 11-7-71
    On the dusty road. Few trucks, all stop, but not suitable. Short lift on African lorry. They stop to gather wood. Wild and deserted place to get a lift. Hot. Good memories! Big laden Bedford stops eventually. To Nata (just huts and filling station) and to Maun. A ride to remember. Changing scene. Palm trees. Gemsbok. Touch on salt pans. Sandy desert track, evening falls, so huddle under sheets etc. cold. Arrive Maun. An amazing sight, fires in huts, drive round them. 9.30 pm, 300 miles! Sleep in young truck drivers’ rondavel by river. A bed!

    MONDAY 12-7-71
    Same truck to Crocodile Camp by Okavango Swamp. Decide to pitch tent out of camp by swamp. Walk back to Maun to shop for food. My legs burn a little. At butcher shop buy steak for 30c, sit by river watching washing and kids in canoe. Walk back. Legs burning badly. Feel sick, weak. Walk long way. Have to stop. Fortunate lift to Croc Camp. Manage to carry sack to our chosen spot, eat dreadful “steak” but legs feel better. Tent up. Steve in open. Workers from dredger pass, laughing seeing us cooking.

    TUESDAY 13-7-71
    On the empty dusty road. Family truck after 1 hour into Maremi Game Reserve, run entirely by Africans. Elephant droppings. See giraffe. Stop truck at water hole. Walk into forest at some risk. Great fun! On to North Gate. Seeing various buck. Back at speed, dropped at camp by swamp. Tsetse fly bite badly round here! Herd of hyenas round camp. Hippo near. Marvellous place. Gather wood for big fire. Pitch our tents near and hope for protection. Fearful crap in dark trees. Lions and hippos in the night.

    WEDNESDAY 14-7-71
    Wake alive! Walk out to junction road and think of lions around. Long long wait with no sign of humanity. Damned tsetse fly. Walk back out to Kwei River Lodge and airstrip, dump kit near runway. Beer 40c. Share Steve’s tent. Animals around. Make big fire. Usual delicious rice and meat.

    THURSDAY 15-7-71
    No radio contact from plane at 8.30. Long wait till 4.30 pm for plane. I walk out to scrub water hole and stalk wart hog. Strange birds and insects. Plane in distance. Run back to runway. Just made it. Steve was worried. Fantastic flight across Chobe. Running elephants. Giraffe. First half low, then climb and come in over Zambesi. What a fantastic sight. More elephants by river. Land Rover to posh camp site 75c, bit steep, but glad of a bath. 6.00 pm. Drink in bar 30c.

    FRIDAY 16-7-71
    Porridge of course! Leave tent standing. Trouble loading film. Walk into Chobe through entrance gate. Great fun. Stalked impala. Elephant devastation all around. Across road and down to Zambesi River. Wait by watering place. I walk along shore, 1 mile, then------elephants appear. Frightening sight but I have to get closer. Photos. A tremendous experience. One starts to come at me. Walk back to Steve, more elephants appear. Get quite close. Exhausted back to camp. Shift to free spot outside camp on banks of Zambesi. Make huge lovely fire. Sleep open. Noises. Crocs? Move up bank. Put tent up, sleep a bit more soundly.

    SATURDAY 17-7-71
    Last breakfast. Ride in dugout 40c, 10 min was enough. Trek out on road to Kasangula, no lifts. Feet hurt. Steve goes his way to Zambia. I turn right for Rhodesia and Bulawayo. Walk with nice native to Rhodesian border. Wave goodbye to Botswana, 4.30 pm. No traffic. Frontier African gives lift to Vic Falls. Something always turns up! Camp site 25c. Fish and chips.

    SUNDAY 18-7-71
    Magnificent falls. Absolutely fantastic. Meet Rhodesian lad. To his station office for tea. Get stores then pack tent and walk to Falls again. Pitch on edge and take photos. Drenched! Leave wet tent with African at gatehouse and walk to Zambia just before sunset. Another drenching. Exhausted walk back to pitch tent. Soup and bread.

    Mark's tent by Victoria Falls

    MONDAY 19-7-71
    Pack camp quickly then write postcard and letter. Various lifts back to Bulawayo. Hostel 9pm.

    TUESDAY 20-7-71
    Domestic day in Bulawayo. Washing. Buy food in town. Boots mended 75c. Steak 33c. African museum again. Pack. Shops ample. Eat many cream cakes. Alone in hostel.

    WEDNESDAY 21-7-71
    Woolworths 9am. Change dud Jap batteries. Lift to Gwelo. Walk through. Young Rhodesian and his brother give me a lift to Que Que. Walk through. Buy chocolate. Cream cake. Short lift to Salisbury, stopping at Halfway House for beer. YMCA 4.00 pm. Walk round Salisbury. Asked for money by African. Back 6.00, see Julian. Have meal. Drink and drink. Talk women.

    Zambia: the real adventures start

    THURSDAY 22-7-71
    Julian calls in my room and leaves for his office. Breakfast scrambled egg. Walk. 8.30. Lift to Salisbury Farm (about 20 miles out) and finally to Kariba. Kariba Dam is magnificent. Rough work on Zambian side. Tent pitched near Rhodesian gate.

    FRIDAY 23-7-71
    Walk across Kariba dam with young English worker, up hill to Zambian border post. Visa not valid. Wait 1 hour for officer to validate. Pack searched. Walk on. Fanta at store. African lift for 15 miles, 50N!! Can’t argue, didn’t ask before accepting lift. Land Rover with fellow traveller to Lusaka, to main junction. Hot wait. VW bus to Lusaka. Cross Kafue River where Livingstone went. Lusaka awful mess. Police station dirty. Walk on. Scottish lift to Kapiri M’Poshi, where crashed cars litter road. Frightening. Dark. Put up tent on hard earth.
    31 Kariba Dam, Zambesi River, Zambia

    SATURDAY 24-7-71
    Long wait. Missionary Father George takes me 8 miles short of Mpika. Get water at store. And baked beans and biscuits, what a price! Scammel giant with two Zambian passengers with babies to Mpika turnoff. Walk towards sunset. Beer in shop. Walk to Chinese camp. Dark. Chinese camp not so hospitable. Back to pitch tent. New moon.

    Chinese Camp

    Sign reads: "People's Republic of China railroad team. Second construction team"
    Part of the construction of the TANZAM railway that the Chinese made for Zambia and Tanzania
    See Wikipedia

    SUNDAY 25-7-71
    Walk to nowhere. Giant Merc lorry comes. Race to top of hill to get him on level. Rough ride to Kasama. Stop at village, beer, bananas 2N each! Kasama dusty. Get water, petrol. Just get bus to Mbala RI45. Rough ride (of course!). Dark at Mbala. Beer, shops. Buy sweets, carry on bus to Mpulungu (40N), south end of Lake Tanganyika. Sleep on police steps. 25N left. Beer 22N. Borrow from German. Offered sister of boy. No money and anyway? Harbourmaster says boat on Friday.

    MONDAY 26-7-71
    Wash at tap. Walk out. Cook breakfast. Call at bank 8.00am, shut till Tuesday. Ask lift to Mbala. Van boils over, turns back. Car to Mbala, any gear will do! Stock up food. Walk to Kalombo Falls, 11.30. Totally shattering walk, 7.00pm stagger dehydrated into small village. They give me water. They have no English. Headman welcomes me. Sit in hut, 15 kids at least! Sleepless night, rats, big beetles.

    Villagers at Kalombo Falls

    TUESDAY 27-7-71
    Rise 6.30, meet 2 lads, sit, wait for meal. Photos taken, up to falls with men and kids. Wash. Walk to other huts to Godwe’s house. Walk to river and back. Kasava in water, bananas, lots of butterflies, sweet potatoes, mealie, fish, tea. Walk up to headman to say goodbye. And walk up to Kalombo Falls with Godwe and Ablan. Wash shirt and socks and pants. Godwe sweeps steps. Sleep a while. Wake, make tea. Godwe speaks of going to heaven, reads his Bible, Luka? 19. We have eaten together. Makes fire ready for night.

    WEDNESDAY 28-7-71
    And after . . . Called early. Make tea, give shirt away. Car comes. Leave 12.00. Magnificent lunch at Arms Hotel Mbala. Sleep in tent in scrub. Read Huck Finn.

    THURSDAY 29-7-71
    Post Office, call home. Air Force lift out. Truck to Mpulungu, 20N. Walk down to fishing huts. Lovely view across Lake Tanganyika. Hippo. Tent on water’s edge. Boat on Fri or Sat. Buy 1 lb perch at Lake Fisheries, 40N.

    FRIDAY 30-7-71
    Late rise, very tired, hot, sleep by tent to 10.30. No boat yet. Walk up hill above petrol station, Round to hippo and children bathing. Back, start to feel I should move from here.

    SATURDAY 31-7-71
    Still lethargic. I want to move, thinking of home now. No boat. Swim. Pack tent. Visit fish market etc. Lift to Mbala, 3.00pm, tent by lake. Army washing.

    SUNDAY 1-8-71
    Post Office not open. Police station try contact Mpulungu. No phone. Lie about all day. Tent on golf course.

    MONDAY 2-8-71
    Early rise to Post Office at 8. No letters. Landrover to Mpulungu yet again. No boat. Buy perch again, evening perch, morning perch. Tent behind Custom Office. Officer asks me home. Arrange fishing boat ride to Mtakuja.

    TUESDAY 3-8-71
    On the wharf, Mpulungu. No ride, but short one to Kasanga. OK, 50N. Stop at lakeside village. Hot sand. Cook soup in boat. Grass huts on beach. Continue Kasanga, 4pm. Boulders for a street! Rough. Escorted to headman a mile away. German war fortress. I don’t suspect the trouble brewing because I don’t realise then that I am in Tanzania. Catholic mission hospitality. A bed with mosquito net! Excellent fish meal. Teacher calls to see passport, many questions. Returns with dissatisfied village leaders. Small trouble. The village court room is crowded, very noisy, all the people are there, kids screaming. Hot, sweaty, crowded search of everything, pigs. Things taken. Sleep in mission.

    WEDNESDAY 4-8-71
    Prisoner! Walk around under escort. Finally get free and walk to German place, return at 1pm. More fish. Police arrive 4pm. Another search. I take photos in secret. Rough ride to Sinbwanga. Shown room and feel the prospect of a long stay. Waiting for magistrate.

    THURSDAY 5-8-71
    A day spent walking round the town. Firstly, the Immigration and the Bank. Manager reasons for me. Wants my travellers cheques. Refuse. He accepts. Escort to Mbeya tomorrow. Bed to sleep on.

    FRIDAY 6-8-71
    A long day’s ride. Puncture. Mbeya at 10.30. Sleep on police station floor.

    SATURDAY 7-8-71
    Immigration £5 ‘fee’, passport returned. Marked. Bananas, chocolate, big price. Walk long way out on road towards Dar es Salaam. Wait till 4pm. No lifts. American mission car takes me 50 miles. Rough road. Soup cooked on roadside. Lorry to Iringa, 20S. Sleep on back of lorry at transport cafe. Beans and rice. Cold at night, sleep in jeans.

    SUNDAY 8-8-71
    Rise quick and away at 6.30. Goat meat and rice in Iringa café. At night big traffic jam on hill, and the Fiat giving me a lift can’t make it, 2 hour delay, then away. Sleep at Mbuyuni. Warmer, better cafe.

    MONDAY 9-8-71
    Start a bit later. Hills. Stop on riverside to see hippo (which isn’t a hippo), many Chinese. Elephant on road. Giraffe. Hartebeest. Stop Mikumi. Pawpaw 20c. Rough rough road all the way. Chicken and corn at Ngerengere. We reach Dar es Salaam at 10.30. Police can’t find YHA, sleep on their floor.

    TUESDAY 10-8-71
    Away at 7.30, tired and dirty. At Post Office meet American telling me of YMCA. Go there, new and good. Bank. Wash clothes, walk round Dar es Salaam. Not much to interest me here. Mt Kilimanjaro next. Fruit here 3.60 a tin! Evening meal, spaghetti. Library. Read Times. Numerous articles on methane gas fuel mess. Cheered me up.

    Mt Kilimanjaro

    WEDNESDAY 11-8-71
    Free breakfast. Back out to Ngerengere. All day no lift. Market. Haggle with Masai over bracelet. No sale. Finally lorry (Merc) takes me north to Moshi (foot of Mt Kilimanjaro), tired driver. Arrive 4am. Sleep in mosque.

    THURSDAY 12-8-71
    To YMCA. Shower. Shop for Kilimanjaro trip. Car to Marangu starting point. Tent on green.

    Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world.
    "Mark climbed Kilimanjaro via Marangu - Mandara - Harombo - Kibo to Gillman's Point. The mountain consists of three craters, the highest one named Kibo. Gillman's Point is on the Kibo crater rim, at 5681 meters (18638 feet). The highest point on this rim is Uhuru Peak at 5895 meters (19341 feet), but requires a further hour at least of trekking around the rim to gain just 214 meters. Most guided parties in Mark's day did not bother to go this extra distance. He did the whole climb up and down in 4 days - Heather"

    Read a description of the route and the problems at Marangu route. Its matter-of-fact, realistic and worth reading [I know, I've been to 18,000 ft on Mt Kenya and Annapurna, why do they do it? They say more people die on Kilimanjaro than Everest. Mark could easily have polished himself off doing it in such a short time with no acclimatization.- webmaster]

    FRIDAY 13-8-71
    Rise 6.30. Start walk. Land Rover takes the group part of the way to the Mandara Hut. Leave tent. Walk on. Sleep in Horombo Hut with German group (12,000 feet). Cold night. Headache.

    Probably Horombo Huts (slide just labelled Kilimanjaro).

    The ascent: The "saddle" between Horombo and Kibo Huts.

    SATURDAY 14-8-71
    Away at 7am. Arrive Kibo Hut (15,000 feet) at 1pm. Cannot see mountain beyond. Mist. Ghastly night, so cold.

    SUNDAY 15-8-71
    Rise 1am to start final climb. Cold, tired, sleepy, lungs. Top 7am, feeling ill and why am I here. Very weak. Back at Kibo Hut 8.30, sleep. Start walk down to Horombo Hut at 1pm, arrive 5.30. Cold night, feeling bad but recoverable.

    Gillman's Point, Kibo crater rim.

    Mark on the descent, mountain just visible behind him

    MONDAY 16-8-71
    Rise 7am. Reach Mandara hut 12.30. Walk on. Land Rover takes us part of the way again to Marangu Hotel. A VW gives me a lift to Moshi YMCA. Chicken lunch. Shower. Walk to camp site. Another lift to Arusha, arrive 7pm. Meet English chap from J’burg hostel!!

    Through Kenya to Uganda

    TUESDAY 17-8-71
    Stiff and tired after Kilimanjaro. Walk round Arusha shops, many tourist shops. Lift from Americans in VW van and kids to Kenyan border. Stop for photos of Masai. Indian gives me a lift to Nairobi (university) arriving 2pm. Walk to YMCA, 30/- full board. Walk into town, meet 2 friends again. Many good shops. Meet room mates, volunteer teachers. Evening meal. Television news.

    WEDNESDAY 18-8-71
    A day searching for money exchange rates. Exhausting. At airline office get ticket to fly back to England on 9 September. Bus to YHA. No letters. Evening meal. Pack for Congo trip.

    THURSDAY 19-8-71
    Depart 9am. Lift from English research chap 10 miles. Further lifts to Eldoret and then to Kitale turnoff. Lift with maniac Arabs to Ugandan border. Pick up English couple. Very hot at border. They are searched, I get through. Lift 5 miles. Long wait. Finally reach Jinja! On to Kampala, arrive 9pm. Big police station, park things. Police give me a lift to café, 2 boiled eggs. I call 999 and police collect. Good night’s sleep.

    FRIDAY 20-8-71
    Congo embassy, visa 99/- too much! Cash travellers’ cheques. Motorcycle out of town. English teacher takes me to Masindi, I sleep while he’s driving. Then wait by roadside. American teacher gives me a futher lift to Murchison. Excellent meal at safari lodge. Otherwise disgusting. Tent. Brilliant lightning.

    SATURDAY 21-8-71
    Meet French chap on similar jaunt. Hot. Cross river then back to Masindi Hotel. Indian takes me through a churned up road to Hoima. Meat and bananas. I sleep at the police station.

    SUNDAY 22-8-71
    Tea and bun in café. Wait for bus. French party take me in a VW to Fort Portal, then take a turning to Lake Albert and tea plantation. Stop for water. Walk to lakeside, steep and long. Lemon tea. Tent in darkness.

    MONDAY 23-8-71
    Rise. French gone to village. Wait all day. Alan cooks fried bananas. Delicious. Soup, anannas. Cook in dark.

    TUESDAY 24-8-71
    Slow morning. Depart 12pm. Truck to Kasese, another to Congo border. Elephants. Rain. Border at 6.30. Meal in Congo 60 (10/-). Very good. Tent by Customs. Rain, but wet anyway.

    WEDNESDAY 25-8-71
    Customs flag-raising 7.30. No admittance to Congo for me. Walk 5 miles to Kabale turn off. Soup roadside. Car takes me 5 miles to Kihihi. Wait all day in sun. Play Mweso. Teachers in a red VW give me a lift to Kabale. Darkness, steep road and rain. Game. West African Mancala, East African Aswari. Call at school for mail. Home with them. Stew for me and bed.

    Playing Mweso

    THURSDAY 26-8-71
    Egg and tomato breakfast! Tony gives me a lift into town. Get map of volcanoes. Walk for Kisoro, lorry all the way. Have reasonable meal at restaurant after fuss. Many huts, and kids following. Tent on lower slopes. Volcano looks formidable. Cold night, wearing anorak. Drink porridge (sorghum bean). Ugh.

    FRIDAY 27-8-71
    Rise at daybreak (6.30). Soup. Trek upwards along waterway. Dense growth. Elephant droppings. Fantastic rain, soaked. Animals around and I’m alone. Return and climb upwards again to the top of the swamp and see the Congo. Many signs of elephant and buffalo. Wise to return. Feeling weak. In Kisono 3.30pm. Dreadful meal 2.50. Taken to chief’s house and accommodated in a bed though I’d have preferred not.
    34 Rwenzori rain forest, upper slopes, Gorillas

    SATURDAY 28-8-71
    8am. Walk a way in scorching sun. Minibus and American teacher take me 18 miles for 3/-. Views across water. Roman Catholic service, lovely singing. Van with 2 Africans, oil drums and sacks takes me back. Sick journey. Kabale 3pm. Feeling ill. Bar, chicken curry. Walk to Tony’s. Through eucalyptus trees cut down. He arrives at 4.30 with 2 girls. Cheese on toast and fruit. Newspaper. Bed 10.30.

    SUNDAY 29-8-71
    Egg, tomato, sausage, breakfast. Read paper. 10.30, Tony gives me a lift to Kabale. Tomatoes, cheese, milk. Basket in market 2/-, travellers cheques. Roadside wait, slight rain. Taxi 10/- onwards. Scones. Long wait, miss many rides. Late taxi with 14! to Masaka. Tent on green in town. Good sleep.

    MONDAY 30-8-71
    Walk round town. Enquire boat times to Essese, travellers cheques. Short ride to junction. Taxi 30/- to Makakata. (baked beans 2.20, carrots 5/-, milk .70, bananas 60 for 1/-, pineapple .40 [2-3 for 1/-], taxi 90 miles for 3/-). Cranes feeding among huts. Ferry to Essese 1.50. Hot wait. Palm trees. Ants in food. Truck to Mission 2.50. Room and bed. Down to lake, something English about the landscape. Wade in and wash. Evening meal fish, sweet potatoes, beans. Excellent. Try pineapple. Beer. Television news. Write letter. Fishing tomorrow. Bed 10.30.

    White Fathers' mission

    Lake Albert, called Sese by the Congolese (short for Mobutu Sese Seko), divides Uganda from the Congo. Called Sese by Mark, and presumably by the Mission people he was staying with.

    TUESDAY 31-8-71
    Rise 6.30, and go down to the boat with Mary and Father Gabriel. Wash clothes while waiting. Have photo taken (see above). Embark when boat comes in. Storm clouds. Hard paddling, 1 mile out the storm breaks and soaked. Mary swims clothed over the side. I shiver and paddle as instructed while Father collects fish (such as they are) and sets bait. Return in mere drizzle. All clothes wet, boots. Return, sleep. Lunch on our fish. Afternoon walk a way, dawdle. Photo of Mission. See model boat. Evening meal sweet potatoes omelette. Purchase drum 45/-. Television. Bed.
    36 Uganda

    THURSDAY 2-9-71
    Rise 6am. Car with Mary, Francis and Tony. Truck to shore. Faltering crowded boat. Beautiful water, palm trees, boats, paddled. Pastry and beans thing. Taxi to Masaka. They shop. I shop. Market. Post Office. Lunch in good café, omelette and salad. Taxi to St Theresa. Evening cooking pork chops. Read “Cry the Beloved Country” Alan Paton, and “The Sinful Priest”. Bath. Talk teaching. Bed 11pm.

    FRIDAY 3-9-71
    Rise 5.30! Taxi back to Kampala 10/-, money going. Souvenirs, cream cake. Rain by roadside. Army bus to Jinja, 20 miles. Knife pinched! African gives me a lift 7 miles to Catholic church. 6.30. A bed!

    Back in Kenya, on the way out

    SATURDAY 4-9-71
    Breakfast with priests. Sunny morning. Continue in Dutch Swiss? car to border. Problem changing money, Kenyan incomer saves. Indian truck to Nakuru. Rain over the equator. Railway 9000 feet? Pick up American. Sleep in American house.

    SUNDAY 5-9-71
    On road 12 min after walk to lake and insects. Doctor (Indian) to Nairobi, stopping for sheepskin 20/-. Heavily laden now. YMCA 3pm. Keep tent and sleeping bag. Lock up rest. Evening meal terrific, 6/-, television. Sleep soundly on verandah of deserted club.

    MONDAY 6-9-71
    Three days to go! Keep rucksack. Walk around town, observing many elephant drums (390/-)!!! Ice cream.

    TUESDAY 7-9-71
    Library. Cream cake hunt. Thinking of home. No letter.

    WEDNESDAY 8-9-71
    Library. Cream doughnut, have shirts washed. Purchase “Mr Polly.” [HG Wells]. Lunch fantastic 6/-. Preparing to leave Africa. Sort out rucksack. Leave YMCA in sunshine at 2.15. Walking with some heavy effort to collect shirts, back onto Uhuru Highway 3.30. Last lift from a turbaned youth building contractor. Airport 4pm. Wait and wait, deserted at first, fills up around 8pm. Lue (the scrubber) turns up.

    THURSDAY 9-9-71
    Board plane at 6am. Sit by door between Indian and Canadian. Britannia jet of African Safari Airways. Breakfast agreeable. Rolls and jam and coffee. Lunch jolly good, eat neighbour’s meat. Engine failure, direct to Malta, back to Benghazi. Very hot, wait to fix. Away in 1 ½ hours. Pleasant hostesses and steward. Engine packs up again. Land London (smelly but friendly) at 10pm. Catch train to Victoria with Lue. Last tube up to Camden Town. Knock up Jonathan at 12.30 and sleep on kitchen floor (and Lue).

    FRIDAY 10-9-71
    3pm train up to Mum and Dad. No problems in my mind. Get in home about 7 and so glad to see them well.

Walked, written and photographed by Mark Smith © 2012.
Original slides digitised by Okehampton Photo Centre.