Encountered my first real breakdown with the bike during the transit of Tanzania from Kenya on the way to Malawi. This was the consequence of picking up a tank full of bad fuel and resulted in a truck ride back to the nearest town. I got to experience first hand why it is that these trucks are seen on their side in the ditch on the side of the road. It was a frightening ride at some speed for something weighing many tons and controlled by someone scarcely old enough to have a driving license.
With the fuel draining and some proper gas in the tank I set off for a second attempt to reach Lake Malawi. You get a good impression of how poor this country is as there are no other vehicles on the road for miles after mile. This is true for the most part until you reach a city. Had my first running with the officials on the ride and placed under arrest for violation of a traffic law. Not stopping at a police check point, apparently. Fortunately this did not last for too long on the arresting officer being handed a book that I had recently finished reading. This is the flip side and for the benefit of myself the better element to the well know fact that African officials are corrupt.
Having spent too many days relaxing on the lake which is so vast that it confuses you in to thinking that you’re at the sea it was time for the obligatory stop over in the capital city on the road to Zambia. To avoid those famous riders on their Long Way Down, this seemed to be on everyone’s lips that I spoke to during the last month. Have you seen them, are you part of the trip, do you know where they are? etc, etc, etc….
The decision was taken to spend a few nights at South Luangwa National Park, more off road riding. The campsites there are open for the wildlife to freely roam which is all well and good until being awoken early one morning to the sound of an Elephant eating the tree that my tent was camped under along with the bike. I don’t remember getting much sleep for the remainder of the time there. Must have met the same animal again on leaving the park as it chased me down the track with ears flapping for some 30 meters. An exhilarating few seconds of riding, these things can run fast through the rough bush when they want to.
Next stop was to Victoria Falls which is some distance. Consequently we did one of the most stupid things on the trip that is very much advised against doing; riding at night. It was fucking scary, trucks blinding your vision, your eyes playing tricks on you and the local wildlife deciding to be kamikaze and run out across the road in front of you. A Kudu in this instance; don’t do it! On the second day with daylight diminishing we took up the offer of a free house on a farm that is being converted into a game lodge. Ended up being there for a few days being put to work, not so much the free house that was initially offered to us.
At Vic Falls took to the skies in another form of transport to see this great spectacle and later at night under a full moon to see the lunar rainbows.
It is easy to become complacent of just how fantastic things are in Africa as you get sensory overload. The falls under full moon is nothing short of spectacular.
Posted by Andrew Wells at July 31, 2007 11:06 AM GMT