Knud Henrik's diary 17 June 2006: Sumbawanga and the Mbosi Meteorite

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Last updated 2007.11.21

In Sumbawanga we found a very pleasant hotel, Forest Way Country Club. Despite the name, it is a hotel, owned by an Indian, who has been living here for nearly fifty years. We were accommodated in the most spacious rooms we have had so far. Sumbawanga is situated around 1800 metres a.s.l. and the climate is therefore rather cold. The hotel was constructed in such a way that it indeed was cold there. I didn't measure the outdoor temperature, but indoor it was a mere 15 ° C in the morning.

We didn't feel like two rough days in a row, so we decided to stay over at Sumbawanga, having done a lot of bouncing kilometres the preceding day. An attempt at an internet café (without being able to upload anything) and relaxation was the menu of the day.

Friday 16 June we did the last part of the road running along Tanzania's western border, the Lake Tanganyika shore, the road not being as bad as the piece from Katavi to Sumbawanga, but still agonising. The road goes all the way to Tunduma, a town at the border to Zambia. From here it was just smooth tarmac all the way to Mbeya.

Some fifty km before Mbeya we paid a visit to the Mbosi Meteorite. This meteorite arrived here probably several thousands of years ago. It was discovered in 1930, but there is no trace of the crater it must have created on impact, indicating that it has been here for a very long time. When it was discovered it was barely visible, it was almost completely buried in the soil. The soil around it has been removed and a plinth constructed underneath it, without lifting it, so the position is allegedly exactly original. As it has never been lifted, the weight is only estimated, figures between 12 and 16 tons are mentioned. The length is some 3 metres.

It was somewhat of a quest to find the meteorite. According to our guide book there should be a sign at the highway, but the sign must have disappeared somehow. We had to ask for directions a number of times. As we approached the local people were obviously knowledgeable about the place, we just had to mention "the stone". When we arrived a watchman approached us and asked us to register in a guestbook. Here it became clear that the place actually attracts quite a number of visitors. A group of three people had been there the very same morning, an Australian, a Swede and a Tanzanian. On average, about one visitor per day seemed to be the frequency.

The meteorite consists of some 90 % iron, 9 % nickel and small amounts of other components, thereby accounting for the high density. According to a booklet we bought at the place the Mbosi Meteorite should be the fourth biggest in the world, but other sources rank it somewhat lower. There is also some disagreement about the weight, from 12 to 16 tonnes (in one place even 25 tonnes, but that must be a misunderstanding). Also, there seems to be some disagreement about the geographical position, these are the coordinates according to my GPS navigator: S 09º 06' 28.4" E 033º 02' 14.1", elevation 1615 m asl.

Then we went on to Mbeya, more to follow.