June 14 2023 – Day 18 of the Old Legs Zanzibar Tour – from Songea to a bush camp on the edge of the Selous Niassa Wildlife Corridor

Distance – 126 kilometers

Total time elapsed- 8 hours 34 minutes

Total ascent – 1345 m

Av heart rate – 137 bpm

Max heart rate – 188 bpm.


I enjoyed my Eureka Day today. My mojo has been missing in action, lost in my kitbag since the beginning of Tour, but I came right today. Which is not to say I still didn’t come into camp stone bone last, but I so enjoyed my day on the bike.  There is nowhere else in the world I’d rather be, nothing else I’d rather be doing, and no one else I’d rather be doing it with, apart from maybe Stinky Watermeyer who threw me on the head with an empty can at the breakfast stop. Luckily I was still wearing my helmet.


You will remember we swopped our next rest day due on the 15th for a reorganization day in Songea. My sock drawer at home is testimony to my challenges with reorganization, but yesterday was bliss. I was reunited with my clean underwear last seen in Malawi. But best of all I was reunited with my bike. Angus worked his magic and replaced my derailleur and repaired as best he could, my frayed derailleur cable and my bike is like new. It is still slow as compared to the spare Scott bike but it is comfortable like an old pair of slippers.


Our huge thanks to Oscar and Graeme at Revélo Bike Barn for facilitating our big bag of bike spares.


We ventured into Songea for lunch. We had to hire 6 tuk-tuks to ferry the team, 3 up per tuk-tuk.


Pete, Jenny and I quickly chose the green one, the same colour as my very fast spare bike. Our tuk-tuk was piloted by Mr Frank wearing aviator sunglasses, even though his vision was completely obscured by a huge sticker of Che Guevara on the windscreen. It was easily the coolest tuk-tuk in the fleet.


Unfortunately it was also completely knackered and couldn’t make it up the hills without Pete and I de-bussing and walking them. Mr Frank did his best to play catch up in the hectic traffic that is Songea. Non-existent gaps become even less existent in a tuk-tuk with a top speed of 15 k.p.h.max.


Our trip into town was hair raising, even though I am bald. Shame, I felt sorry for Mr Frank. Despite being hugely distracted during the trip by Jenny’s loud and constant calls to both Jesus and God for help, he delivered us to the restaurant safe and sound, albeit a bit late, and then we go and dump him in favour of a blue tuk-tuk for the trip back to our accommodations.


After a hard few days in a borrowed saddle, today’s ride of 125 kilometers complete with 1350 meters of up, loomed large and threatening like a big thunder cloud for my wounded bottom. So I decided to go with triple-padding.


Triple padding can be a high-risk strategy. You sit taller in the saddle than when you stand, and in 30 plus degree heat, there is the risk of severe global warming in your nether regions. But the gamble paid off and me and my cosseted bottom enjoyed our big day out hugely.


We luxuriated glorious wide tar with a generous yellow line all day, courtesy of pre-Trump American taxpayers. It was glorious and took the heat off the fact that we were sharing the road with a steady stream of coal trucks heading to the port of Mtwara.


We had been pre-warned about the coal trucks and were dreading a Chirundu highway type experience, but the truck drivers were all well- mannered and courteous, and all was good on the road.


Even more glorious than the tar were the views we enjoyed. The horizons in Tanzania are vast, especially when seen from the top of big, bloody hills, and we were able to look down upon thousands of square kilometers of pristine woodland and bush, stretching away as far as the eye can see. After the charcoal carnage in Malawi and Mozambique, I wanted to hug each and every tree.


I was also quite keen to hug it up with the people we met along the road. I like Tanzanians. They are gentle and polite and less in your face than Mozambicans and Malawians. I shared a fist pump with the one very enthusiastic little guy that almost went horribly wrong. He had fists of granite and packed a punch like Mike Tyson.


We are bush camping on the side of the road in a veritable forest of beautiful trees. There is not a single mopane tree in sight, but we have been overwhelmed by every  mopane fly in creation, looking to feast upon our sweat and tears, and also Brian’s earwax.


Brian celebrated our campsite by getting Christopher in deep sand. He and George were excited like kids on Christmas Day when they got to extract Christopher using the snatch strap. It made for jolly exciting watching.


We are getting the hang of this bush camping and should have it taped by the time we get to Zanzibar. Zack was a camping rookie when we left Harare but is now a seasoned veteran. At 71 years young, Zack is the second senior man on Tour. If I am half as spunky as Zack at his age, I will be very happy.


The only fly in my ointment were the 2 poacher snares we found in the bush around camp. I hate poachers more than I hate charcoal lumberjacks.

I also hate the people who have destroyed Zimbabwe. Back home I am told that 18 rolls of toilet paper in the supermarket will now cost you $132980. Alas.


In closing a big shout out and much love to

Jack and Max in Perth, WA from Grandpa Pete, and also to

David, Matthew, Benji and Rafe from Granny Vicky.


Until my next blog, have fun, do good and do epic if you can – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong.

online please use the following link –


Thank you for your support. It will be used to save and change lives. God bless.

The Old Legs Zanzibar Team – a.k.a. Al Watermeyer, Zack Patinois, Pete Brodie, Rafe Wetzlar, Angus and Rowena Melrose, Clem Henon, Cedric Breda, Kim Parker, Eric and Jenny de Jong, Hanny Swart, Brian Goodman, Vicky Bowen, Gary de Jong and George Lockhart.

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