Makongolosi to Mbeya (110 km, 2150 m of climbing)


Day 69 - March 22 - Stage 48

Wednesday: It's the last day of our Seven Day Section, and the last day on dirt roads for a long time. Next dirt road section is most probably in Namibia,  so the non-mountain-bikers among us (the majority of the riders) are ecstatic!

Today's dirt road section was extremely rocky and in some instances quite dangerous especially the steep downhills, but we managed it quite well without any major mishaps.

We passed quite a few areas where Artisinal miners were actively mining for gold. You could also clearly hear the sound of crushers and mills working deep into the bush.
There were also quite a few miners who were walking around using metal detectors, looking for gold. The Tanzanian Artisinal Miners are definitely a more tech savvy breed of miner's.
We even managed to get one of the miners to demonstrate the use of his metal detector to Judith, as well as showing us a gold nugget he had recently found with the detector

Just before we reached the Town of Chunya, the dirt road became a tar road, and most of the riders became relatively happy, with a few of them even going as far as kissing the tar road!

The Town of Chunya was a hive of economic activity, there were many workshops in action,  where the manufacture or refurbishment of steel mills used for crushing ore, was in progress. I had previously read, that active gold mining had started in the Chunya Area from as far back as 1920. Shanta Gold is also very active in the immediate Area with both prospecting and mining.

An indication of the rock conditions we encountered today
Riding along a good stretch of dirt road...
Gold nugget found by Miner using a metal detector
The Miner giving Judith a demonstration in metal detecting

Back on the tar & back into the land of man-made speed humps
(AKA Sleeping Policemen)
We cycled to the Lunch Truck, where both Judith and I climbed in and took a lift to Mbeya, missing a major ascent up into the mountain and descent down into Mbeya.

The Camp was at the Mbeya Hotel, where I met up with a bunch of South African expats, who over a few rum & cokes, confirmed that there was plenty of active gold mining taking place in the Chunya Area and that even the Chinese were becoming involved (Sunshine Mining Company).

On a different note, we were also pleasantly surprised to meet up with Ben, a solo cyclist from England who is riding from Cape Town to the UK. We had previously seen him in December last year, when he stayed with us at our home in Prince Albert, South Africa.

Rest day tomorrow!

Mike T

Welcome to Mbeya

Tuk Tuk's in Chunya

Workshop building/refurbishing steel crushers and mill's


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