Cycling The Globe

A Cycle Touring Expedition Around The World

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Day 2015, Kisi – Mpanda: Tsetse Fly Madness!

Posted by Thomas Andersen Posted on May - 16 - 2016

Distance: 122.0 km
Ride time: 7:37:52
Average: 16.0 km/h
Max speed: 41.0 km/h
Total: 49096 km

In the night I had heard thunder and rain from my tent, but luckily the weather was nice and the dirt road in a good shape as I left early in the morning. I was only an hour into today’s ride when I had a bit of celebration to do. I’m looking forward to crossing the 50K mark which should happen in Rwanda!

I knew from other cyclists that crossing the Katavi National Park would be a real challenge because of: Tsetse flies! I was however not really prepared for the nightmare that awaited…

The flies started to appear a few kilometers into the park, and their numbers only grew and grew from there. The tsetse flies are nasty – they will bite through a layer of clothes, insect repellent doesn’t work, and you can’t outrun them on the bike as you can with normal flies. On top of that their bite is painful, and then there is the risk of sleeping sickness to take into account.

After the first bites it was clear that I had to put on my jeans and jacket to protect myself. I later learned that the flies are actually attracted to the blue color of my jacket, but since I was already being attached before I put it on I’m not sure it made such a big difference.

What followed was the worst three hours of cycling I remember! Even with all the clothes the flies would bite my hands (through the cycling gloves), my legs through the socks, and my face. Each bite was pretty painful for a few seconds, and I most have been bitten at least 50 times. Furthermore things got uncomfortably hot cycling in over 30°C in jeans and a jacket. Quite a nightmare really! Oh well, the lions and hippos left me alone, so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much 🙂

After 60 km the tsetse fly attacks stopped as soon as they had appeared and the joy of cycling slowly returned. I made it into Mpanda for the night and found a good guesthouse. I’m now already halfway through the 400 km of dirt road, and apart from the tsetse flies, so far so good. Let’s see what kind of challenges tomorrow will bring.

Categories: Tanzania
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4 Responses so far.

  1. Morten says:

    Wow! Well done! I wish you fewer flies going forward 😉

  2. Lots and lots of tsetse flies. Doesn’t sound like my idea of fun. 🙂 However, no pain, no gain, I guess. 🙂

  3. Randy K5ZD says:

    The flies do not sound like a good experience!

    With all of the dirt roads, how do you know if you are on the right road? Are there signs? Or do you just follow the GPS?

  4. Hi Randy! There are very few signs out here, but there is really only one “major” dirt road from town to town, so navigation is easy enough. I do have the GPS on my phone as well, but only use it in bigger cities.