Africa, what does that do to the mind,well i can tell u it seems to worry many of my friends and facinates others.Ive been on the move for over 3 years now sort of drifting from one place to another, never knowing where ill be next.The time has been used up travelling Australia,Vietnam,Canada,Alaska and a little of the USA.
Now its time to do Africa.Ive learnt a lot,read a lot,chatted a lot and even seen some docos on the country called Africa,but im sure all that will not compare with what im about to experience in the flesh.
The goal was/is to travel from Aust. to South Africa by plane (with bike) then ride up the west coast to England and catch the Isle of Man races.That all sounds rather straight forward,well over the coming months ill be telling if that is so.I would'nt put myself in the real adventurious type bracket but ive done a few things in the past so i recon ill be OK.
Being the first page to this and im still in Australia,i want to just break the ice and give a little run down on the bike and some stuff ive done to prepare for the trip.Im using my 30,000klm DR650 suzuki 02 model,ive owned this for a few years,bought it 2nd hand with 3000ks on the clock.
mods are- 1/33lt safari fuel tank -best range so far 650klm.
2/solo seat from 2nd dealer,came of some late model BMW.
3/home made racks/panels
4/home made cruze control
5/andy strappz touring bags
Thats sort of it,i like to keep things reasonably simple(i must remember that when i make this more complicated)
When i figured out i was going on such an adventure i started a get fitter campain.I was in Brisbane(Queensland) renovating a house for 6 months and funny enough there was a gym near by that was offering personal training one on one or in groups of 6 max.I opted for the group sex,no sorry i mean group of six.I went to that gym for like 3 months or so and i can say they where fantastic.A little plug for them ,their in the suburb of Wynnum, call themselves "Personal Training Plus",great people.
I was to also start sorting out needles that where needed.Rang the 'Travel Doctor' and went with their advise,rather simple just roll up get jabbed and pay up.
How to get the bike there was the next step,after e-mails back and forth,even more phone calls and checking out the web sites,i found TOLL International.They are handling the pick up from home(at the moment thats Albury NSW) and the transport by plane to Johannesburg, South Africa.Now this has'nt happened yet so ill give details on this after i get it and myself to Joburg.All i had to do was get the bike packed in/on a crate.Well that is actually rather easy in my opinion,i went to the local m/bike shop and they gave me a used crate with tiedowns etc.Now if your thinking a big ,heavy wooden object think again.I didnt know but they use lite pressed metal as a pallet,with slots for the forklift arms and tiedown eyes with a cardboard box to cover it all.The only extra i bought was some "shrinkwrap" to wrap around the bike and bits after i had dimantled the bike
to a smaller package to save on size(more on that later).
That will do for today,ill post more and if i can figure it out some photos of the bike and crate etc.
ride safe Brian B
Not long now. The bike is actually going to Adelaide, South Australia to be sent from there. Seems that Sydney had to much on over the new year or something was amiss.
Recieved the Carnet documents just in time. Something ive learnt now is the Carnet must be signed off at the Customs House with/when the bike goes. The little things that need to be sorted, my hint to others is to get things done early so as to save on stress.
Ive booked accomodation in Johannesburg for a few nites, but i expect to be there for a few weeks, sort of looking around and doing the tourist thing.
Having a little problem getting the photos to work so youll see them once i have that sorted.
My next post will be in Joburg , all the best regards Brian B.
After 22 flying hours , arrived in Joburg 6.30am to rain . Australia has been and still is in one of its worse droughts in 100 years so it was rather a shock and lovely for me to see rain .
At the airport i was meet by a local who i had been in contact over the net , a big thank u to u Ian .
Id booked my room at the local hostel and after a nice shower and a beer , i joined a free bus to the local shopping mall . I took a walk around had some lunch and spent some rand . Taking in all that i could but the flight was catching up with me and i was pleased when the bus arrived to take us back to the hostel .
After a broken sleep of some 12 hrs im now feeling like myself . Recieved an e-mail from australia about my bike , should be here on my birthday , the 20th of jan . For now ill do some local trips and catch up with Ian and some of his mates from the African bike club . Ill leave it for now . take care and regards to all Brian B.
Well for me getting around Joburg is a bit of a struggle . I have not figured out how top use the local transport system yet . I did a paid tour to Soweto the other day 31/2 - 4 hrs cost R330 plus tips which as an Australian i dont understand . I gess im wealthy by their standards but i dont have a never ending pile of cash . The joys of being a self funded traveller .
My bike arrives on the 23rd of Jan . so ill have lots to tell about the exact cost and details of how i got it from Australia to South Africa .
The tour of Soweto (south west township ) was interesting and enjoyable . I bought a local beer at a drink house (pub) came in a carton and u shake it before opening . Didnt get to drink it all , dont know why , it was rather nice , i must be more assertive as i would have liked to have finished it .
Yesterday i did a big walk to the local shopping centre and post office . I realy had no idea of where i was going , but took of in one direction . Came across a shopping place but no post cards or post office but found a photo place to do copies of my pictures to send home . The lady at the counter could not have been more helpfull . She sketched a mud map of where the BIG shopping mall was for me , so of i went . You know i recon i was the only white fella walking . Its funny the things u notice .
While on my walk i noticed none or very few pushbikes or motorcycles , there was'nt even foot paths for me to walk on , if i was'nt on the road i was in the grass on the side and geen grass at that , wow . These are just observations no more no less .
Other observations are that the people are not a happy smiling race , i can get a smile from them but its does not seem to be there in their hearts . For an Australian the cost here in SA is the same as in Aust. and even sometimes more so eg. accomodation , food , cloths , m/bikes etc .
Thats it for now , wish u all well Brian B
Somethings just dont go smoothly. No bike and when it does arrive (thurs. so im told) it will cost me over $3000.00 aus. to get it. The great thing is the guy at this end has said i can unpack it at their depot. This will be a great help to me.
While ive been waiting ive taken many walks. but the most fun was catching the local 'Black Taxi's' and the general 'Big buses'.
With a guy in the same room as i, off we went to the local Mall,where there is a TAXI rank. This Rank is all Toyota Hiaces in all manner of conditions. There seems to be no real logic to it all, although im sure there is. You keep asking and eventually u find the taxi that will go in that general direction u need, with, 15 other customers.
All customers pay a set fee, that fee seems to be known by some of the customers and u hand that money to the person infront of u and so on till it gets to the driver. If change is required it will come back to u in the same way. This is all happening while the taxi driver is driving, sorting the change, and sometimes all while hes on the mobile phone.
The goal to the taxi trips was to get to the Joburg Zoo, this took a good 5 different taxis to achieve our destination. After the Zoo we went to a Market place using one Big Bus and 4 taxis, then to get back home it took us 5 taxis and a fair amount of walking. Saw a great deal of Joburg and its locals during the day and it was a long long day.
Funny realy as it was my birthday, mind u i had not remembered till late morning.
That nite and i mean nite, when we returned to the hostel i was exhausted but partied with some of the other tenants. Had great if not blured chats with many of them as the nite continued.
The next day was spent lazing around with a rather sore head.
I have now got hold of the bike, DR650. It was all there at the freight recievers in Joburg. The people at this end could not have been more helpfull, well actually they could have put the bike together for me. I say that because about 100ks out of Joburg a loud bang hit the bike, on stopping, which was a little worry as id lost a bolt out of the front brake caliper. This lost bolt had been the noise that i heard. A little walk back the road did not find the affending bolt so out with the tool kit and spares to sort it out.
On the road again after a few moments, i came to the town of Ventersdorp. Stopped in at the local pub at the end of town. With in an hour i had meet two lovely blokes and with in 2 hours i was invited back to one of the blokes (Gideon) home for the nite. This invite was ofcourse cleared with the Wife first. Gideon took me to his home where i parked the bike, then out in his car to do a tour of the town and his properties.
The next morning after a great sleep it was of on another tour with Gideon. He showed more of the town and to check on his farm fences.
The friendlyness of Gideon contiued all that day. I followed him on my bike to Potchefstroom, a larger town about 50klm away where we visited the local bike shop, shopped for batteries for my camera, went to the post office, took time out for lunch, then meet a friend of his, Kobus.
Kobus owns a local hotel and the Elgro river lodge. After meeting Kobus for no more than a few moments he offered me free accomidation at his lodge. I must say this blow me away. I could say no more than 'thank you'.
The rest of the day Gideon and i spent in the private bar at the said hotel meeting others and eventually getting to chat some more to Kobus. Turns out that Gideon owns a Harley and Kobus a BMW, i did not hold that against them.
I left Gideon at the bar to travel the 25klm out to the Lodge, it rain lightly on the way out and had a slite chill to the nite air. At the Lodge i was shown the room and asked if i would like the bar to stay open for me. I declined the bar offer prefering to run a nice warm bath and have a relaxing time while turning over the past 2 days events in my mind.
I feel so pleased that i got to spend time with the people of Potch.
I visited one of the local m/cycle shops (Biker's Paradise ) i asked about some parts i wanted and it was no trouble at all. They did not have the bits in stock but the owner, Anton, said he'd have them the next day. One thing lead to another and i found myself back there at the end of the day having beers and chats with Anton and some of the local m/cyclists. A great afternoon.
One of the guys (Johan) asked me back to his home to share a meal with his family.
At Johan's and Margarets home that nite i was to learn more of the local area and what i would see on my future travels in South Africa . I must have been a good boy that nite as i was asked to return to spend another in their company and also to sleep over. We spent the nite looking at photos, eating, and discussing the joys of traveling by m/cycle.
The next morning i went with Johan to his place of work. Now this was a worry as he and Margaret are in the Police Force. All things where cool, i was shown around the Offices and meet some of Johans team and even sat in on the morning meeting, fantastic.
After that i said my goodbys at the Bike shop and road out towards Kimberly.
As it was so hot the towns between Potch and Kimberly had no real interest for me. Arriving in Kimberly i headed straight to the local B/P,GreatBatch Guesthouse and Backpackers. I fully recomend this place, has secure parking, swimming pool, pool table, bar, i could go on but its best to just go visit.
The Lady owner was fantastic could not do enough for me(not because of me its just shes great to all guests). I was taken on a comprehesive tour of the old building that serves as the Guest house , kitchen, dinning, bar etc. The backpacker section is out back and with own showers and toilets.
I stayed several days in Kimberly enjoying the towns sites, such as the big hole, a museum and the general feel of the place.
At the b/p i was to meet others and it came to a nite of playing pool. That nite i could do no wrong, i just kept winning. The words i heard where 'bloody australians, good at all sports'. To be honest im not into sports or being competative, but it was a great nite of drink, pool and laughter.
One of the guys i meet, Peter, and i got on well and he had so much knowledge of Africa. Peter is from Holland but has lived, toured and ran tours of Africa for 20 years. He was of great help sujesting routes to take and places to stay. I can not thank him enough.
It turned out that Peter was heading to Upington as i was. It was organised that i would meet up with him there and go over the map again to note some more places for me to visit.
On the way to Upington i took a side route to Douglas and Griekwasted, some where on the road i stopped to take photos of all the birds nests that have been built on the power/telephone poles along the roads. After a few photos i figured id ride off the made road over to the poles to get a better look. Well that was it for a while, as soon as i stopped at one of the poles my bike sunk to the axels. I struggled for some time to ride it out, with no luck. After unpacking the bike and have had it fall over i was able to get it back to the bitument. I was rather hot and puffed and felt rather silly.
That nite i camped with Peter at Upington. We chatted about the road ahead and i decided that it would be good to move on to Namibia for a look. Peter was going to spend a few weeks in Solitaire in Namibia, so we made plans for me to meet him there later on.
At Upington i found the local bike shop, that was a Suzuki dealer. I popped into ask if i could do an oil change there. The guys where great, one of them does all the service work at his home so of we went to his place. At the guys place he brought out the container for the old oil, a funnel, rag and the new oil. It was just great, after a bit of a chat and some photos we went back to the shop and i was only charged for the 2.33 litres my bike holds, fantastic stuff.
I headed out to cross my first border in Africa. Its was all rather simple if a little confussing. No trouble other than the Namibian side wanted to know where i was staying. As i had no idea i wrote on the sheet 'The local pub' this was not good so i looked in my map book and picked a town any town. There where funny glances behind the counter.
In Namibia i stopped at Karasburg Pub, see said id go to the local. At the pub i must have been a bit happy, lonely, comfortable or all of those as i didnt leave that pub till 10am the next day and R333 lighter in cash.
With a bit of a sore head i rode on to Canon Roadhouse.
A little on the roads and the bike. I find the roads(dirt and bitument) so far in great condition. Most people i meet ask me how the bike handles it all, its a little hard to explain to people who dont ride, but i do my best. The bike is a standard DR650 suzuki. I have a 33litr fuel tank and have not done anything to the front forks or handle bars. I did fit a heavier spring to the rear shocker, and that is a bit of a diapointment. As for tyres i use what ever is avaliable, people ask what brand i prefer and i always say what ever i can get and sometimes the cheapest. I found that to play with tyre pressures can mean the differance between a hard scarry ride to a commfy relaxed cruze. Im using 15psi in the front and 23psi in the rear. Im traveling at any where between 80-100klmh on either surface. Im getting 19-22klm litre and that will give me about 700klm before walking becomes the next mode of transport.
At the canyon i meet some great people from Germany(im to see/chat to them over the next week or so even to lunch with them by the side of the road) they give me their address in germany and say to pop in when i get there.
From Fish River i head to the town of Aus, and what a great place. Rocks and more rocks are what make Aus and also the old prison of war camp. On the way to Aus i get close to being cleaned up by a heard of Springbok, i now know how to get them to spring, TOOT the horn and watch them spring into action.
A cool ride into Luderitz, i was going to spend 2 nites in Luderitz but i arrived before midday one day and by the same time the next day i figured id seen all i wanted and headed out.
I took the dirt road from Aus that heads nrth to Betta. U all gotta go to Betta, a very clean friendly camp ground. They have onsite van type accomidation but i choose to sleep under the stars. I bought a Sudoku book in Joburg so each time i want to spend time i get that out to play. Mind u im no good at it yet but boy it shore takes the time away. I also meet and have breakfast with a British couple Bob and Margaret. Was to meet them again in Solitaire.
At Betta i had to do a repair job on my air bed. Seems my hammer handle put a small hole near the valve of the bed. All fixed now but i have now seperated the two so that they dont fight again.
Next came the sand dunes of Sossusulei. I was a naughty boy by actually sleeping at the dunes. This i found out is not done when i arrived back at the check in gate the next day. The Gate lady did not know what to do, she kept saying 'u cause problem'. I started to say there where no signs to say that i could not camp 65lkm from all the other campers but wisdom took over and i apologised very much, gave my regards and road off, with her giving me a smile.
At the dunes the day before i took the soft option and got a lift the 5klm over the sandy track to the actual end of the dune site. The nice couple took me and another young family in the back of their 4x4. This saved me playing with tyres and unloading the gear of my bike. I saw no reason to push myself in the heat of the day.
At the camp i had by myself at Sossusvle, i was the one to be checked out. Owls in the tree above me kept a close eye on me during the nite and even came within a foot of my head in some closer inspections.
From the sand hills i headed nth for my meeting with Peter(duchman) at Solitaire. Now Solitaire is named so because of the, u gessed it, the Solitude.
In the very clean camp area i found Peter on his Hammock. I spent 2 days and 3 nites at that loveliest of places called Solitaire. Some times Peter and i would have a beer at the camp and other times we would go to the other side and have a beer at the bench seats that over looked the fueling pumps. At the fueling pumps we would watch the Tourist arrive and some times we would have a good old chin wag with them. I also caught up on washing in the well thought out laundry/kitchen area.
Solitaire and its peace to Walvis Bay and Swakopmund and all the bustle that larger places give out.
I took a room at one of the local B/P, tripped all over town, did some tourist stuff, but just generally looked around.
I took the opportunity of the larger place to get some spares for the bike and personal stuff for me. Here i also changed my rear tyre and didi a little general maintenance. Also had a beard and hair trim.
Leaving Swakopmund i moved inland to find some warmth, as the west coast is rather cool. I found myself that nite at ABA-HUUAB camp at Twyfelfontein, great nite with the locals at the bar.
From there i headed to Sesfontein, i was going to stop at Sesfontein for a nite but i didnt feel good about the place so i headed out. Unknown to me till 100klm later i had headed out on the wrong road. Now all is not bad, the road i took towards Puros was fantasic, it had all the various things that makes my heart sing. I rode on long stretches of loose sand, red and white, dry stoney creek beds, the sun shinning on the hills and passes and playing tricks with me as i rounded a corner. That 100ks out was full of sunshine, as i retuned it went cool and even rained. Great ride and great riding all that and no traffic.
I was getting rather tired by the time i arrived back at Sesfontein, but the hours that i had left had not changed my view of the place so i headed on ward.
I came the the main junction outside town to see a sign saying there was a camp with bed and breakfast 55ks further nrth. on the road i should have taken. North i went.
I camped that nite at Aussicht camp. A spot about 5 ks off the main road, i was a little worried on going in as the sign at the junction said nothing about BEER. I was to arrive to a friendly greating and my first words where, 'all this way and no beer' i had a joyfull reply from the manager to say 'YES' we have beer.
I spent 2 nites at the camp, having a tour of the old gem stones mines and looking through the benoculas at the wonderfull hills and gouges that make up the area.
Heading north again i came to the town of Opuwo, and what a site it is. All manner of people come to this outback town for their supplys. There where Himbas and Herero people all about mixed with the general tourist, great place to see.
My camp that nite was at the Epupa Falls camp ground. Right on the river bank facing Angola. I had tea with a Spanish couple, and yes niether of us spoke each others language, but the food was great.
I moved on back to Opuwo the next day and on to the Otitotongwe Cheetah park some klm east. I spent 2 nites here, enjoying the nice rains.
The road from the Cheetah park east had very little traffic. I stopped at a roadside stool for a cool drink as i felt it was a little warm, i was told its 43 degees C. Well i thought it was warm.
Had a great stop in Otavi at the local pub. Got into a chat with some local boys and was a little weathered the next day, but great blokes who i met up with a few town latter.
I kept moving east then north to Rundu on the river facing Angola again. It was on this day that i had to take out the rain gear as it came down and down during most of the afternoons ride.
At the camp spot i meet a couple who write for the 'Lonely Planet' book so i took advantage of some local knowledge, while beating them at pool.
From Rundu its a short ride to Ngepi camp on the bank of the Okavango near the border of Botswana. I took the dirt road that sort of follows the border of Angola and goes through all the little villiages. I did this for about 100klm but got sick of all the corrigations and moved on to the bitument that runs parrallel but 2-5ks to the south.
At Ngepi camp i made myself comffy for 2 nites. On the first day i was reading on the deck overlooking the river and a Hippo popped its head up twice, all within 20mtrs of where i was sitting. Great stuff. At nite i could hear the hippos as i drifted in and out of sleep.
It was here at Ngepi camp that i took a walk late in the day, i only walked some 4klm but i got to see the locals moving about doing what ever. At one point i was chatting to myself and behind i got a 'hello', coming up beside me was a young lad carrying many fish. One was a Catfish the others im not sure. We exchanged some words as he started to walk past me. It was so lovely that i asked if i could get a photo. He was so pleased as i was to share that moment. Great stuff, again.
A few days latter saw me with the wet weather gear again, rain and more rain. I must look into better rain gear as i was soaked through when i camped at the border town of Katima Mulilo.
Next the crossing into Zambia and all the money i must pay.
Border crossings, i dont know if its just me but i get a bit nervice. I have no idea what im doing, things seem to happen but not in any order. I had to pay to get me in, plus the bike plus the road tax plus the insurance. All up it cost some R350, to come and visit Zambia. For that u get to ride over a lovely Bridge into the country. Its all an experiance i gess.
From the border at Katima Millio its a gental ride, passing lots of villiages to Livingstone. I did get a little tired of all the waving so ive changed to nodding my head, but i feel that the locals dont understand so i may have to continue waving.
Livingstone is a real tourist town. Lots of banks, tourist vans, tourists and heaps of traders walking the street wanting to sell u something, anything. The trader will usually start with little trinkets then move on to changing money or tell u he can get u diamonds, anything u want.
I booked into the local B/P and meet 3 german m/bike riders and 1 Japanesse Lad who himself had riden from Japan via Mongolia. If we could have comunicated more easily i would have loved to have heard his tails.
I took the tourist bus to the falls, and what a great sight and sound it is. I got very wet (again), took photos, chatted with the stool holders and generally had a nice day. The rising water from the falls can be seen from the main street in town.
I left Livingstone wanting to stop somewhere before Lusaka the capitol but for some reason i just kept riding to find it nearing dark, and myself very close to the city. I read in the Lonley Planet book that there was a camp 10ks south of town, so with headlite showing the pot holes in the dirt track leading to the camp, i was to find myself a home for the nite.
At the camp south of Lasaka i meet a couple(Ernest and Astrid)that where down from the Copperbelt. Its just amazing how things happen. Id been talking to others about the Copperbelt, and felt it as a place id like to visit, and here am i meeting people who not only live there, but would like me to come and visit them.
The next morning i got their address/phone no. in Ndola, one of the main towns in the Copperbelt, and said id see them in the next week or so.
I seatled into Lusaka for a few days. I did the usual ride around town on my first visit to get my bearings. I found some m/bike shops, but being a sunday, i just noted the area and moved on.
The next shoppping day i bought a spare tyre for the rear and moved camp, so as to get my people fix. This actually turned out as not the best idea i could have had as the B/packers that i moved to was very noisy and had lots of people, much more than i realy needed.
I did meet some nice people though, one especially being a Swiss lad who was riding a pushbike, from his home town in Switzerland to Cape Town. He left in Europes winter. I saw some of his photos that where rather amazing, more so as he had a laptop that he carried. Great lad and i wish him all the best.
The day i left Lusaka it rained, i was wet through before i got out of the city limits. I was not interested in stopping so i continued on till i arrived at Ndola. All 300+klm in the rain.
I took time out at a cafe for a bite to eat and a drink. I struck up a conversation with the Owner. We chatted for a while about a variety of things, he felt comfortable with me so he lent me his phone to call the couple id meet at the camp near Lusaka. The wife was at the cafe to collect me in a very short time.
At Astrid and Ernests home i was shown my room and given a tour of the house, then left to clean up and seatle in. Ernest arrived home later that afternoon and we sat down to a home cooked meal and some great conversation.
As Ernest worked during the day, Astrid took me to the local attractions or out with her to visit friends or to the shops.
Well we shall try again, i wrote a lot yesterday when i got to Muzuzu, all was great till the power went off and i lost it all.
The people in Ndola where fantastic to me, i stayed around over a week. They took me to a game park with a lake, went to a lodge and when we got there it was closed and flooded, went out riding, with Ernest on his Quad bike. Did so many things it was great.
Ernest and Astrid do a lot of 4x4 driving so they gave me hints on where to go, and how to deal with the local border posts etc.
I took time out while in Ndola to go up to the Chimpanzee Orphanage nrth of Chingola. The Orphanage is rather run down but it was nice to see, especially the elderly lady owner. She and her late husband started the place like 20 + years ago. They have Chimps from all types of back grounds- movies, circus, private zoos, bar rooms etc. rather interesting. She also was a bit of a motorcyclist, did some social racing in her time.
From Ndola i headed over the Congo to get to the Northern Province of Zambia. Ernest and Astrid gave me all the low down on what to see and what to expect. They spent so long going over the map marking places of interest, giving minute details of the border crossing etc. i was actually a little nervice as i left. I didnt want to let them down after all their effort, but there i am, havant even got to the border and id realised that my medical book had no stamp for COLLERA. Ernest had specifically said for me to check and i didnt.
So on the side of the road near the border of the Congo i played doctor. With a stroke of the pen and a signiture of DR. LOU i was inoculated against Collera. I must have done a great job as when i showed it at the the border all went well. On the subject of the border, i couldnt even make an easy crossing out of Zambia. my visa had expired. I felt a bit of a fool, i never even checked. It ran out several days before hand. I handed over ZK50,000 to the gaurde and got my stamp out. Better than the time in jail he was talking about.
At the Congo border post the officials where sitting in a row at one desk like birds on a branch at feeding time. It went like this 'show me this form, now pay zk5,000' on to the next official 'show me this form, now pay me zk5,000' this kept up till i got to the end of the row and i think there where 6 of them. Some where in all that, lots of locals had gone and went and i also remember handing over $30 U.S. to one offical and actually got a reciet.
Now at the end of the line im told to follow one official and sort out the papers for the bike with another over the road. Finally im allowed through the gate, but no the gate guy wants his bit, i say no, your mates have it all and i ride into the Congo.
At the border post of the Congo is a little township, not that i stopped, but i had people yelling at me, staring, or just motioning for me to come to them. My gess is i would have been hasseled to buy something, well i never stopped.
I rode and rode, not wanting to stop. Nature plays a part in travelling, and it was nature calling me. I pulled over or should i say i just stopped on the road, looking around while i releived myself i felt i was not realy there, i felt i was looking at it from a distance, like a movie. It was only 70klm but my nerves where on high alert. At one point i crossed from one path to another, being all dirt/mud and long patches of water, i chose badly and the bike sunk, my heart went with it. No dont get stuck here i said to myself, i was scared. I took it gental on the throatle, played the clutch and the rear tyre bit some thing hard, of i rode. It must have been all of a few seconds, but my heart was racing as it is now thinking of it.
Getting out of the congo was another round of officials wanting and getting a payment for one thing or another. At the re-entry into Zambia i had to pay to have my visa updated. It was all to hard for the one official, he kept saying, as they all do in Africa that ive come across, 'you cause problem'. He called someone on the mobile phone and i payed and rode out leaving my sandwich for the official to eat at his leasure.
To get to the Zambia side from the Congo u catch a ferry, this is a waiting game if its on the other side as it was while i was there. I put some effort into being friendly to the locals, i shared my bottled water with a young local, but sharing with me was not on his mind. My water bottle and lad disappeared into the crowd. I thought better of yelling or going after him. Must be some local custom 'we take but not return' as i smiled to myself.
Now on the north side of Zambia i headed for my next camp. Headed is the word as it took me till well after dark to find and reach my nites camp. I do not like doing this but my map is not the best and the signs are none existing at best in Africa. Ive found the local people happy to help out when needed, they may sometimes want money in return, but to me that is not a problem. Ive not found the locals to lead me astray and be dishonest.
My main reason for continueing on so late was that the area in the north is just so buisy and crowded that i could not relax, enough to look or even find a place to stop for the nite. As i was riding i was thinking of the nite i may spend propped against the bike sleeping peacefully as the locals walk by.
It was not to be so, this time, i got to the place i seeked, Samfya where there is a small lake. At nite i could not see, but next morning i realised i had a million dollar view. I was under a large grass canopy, looking over the lake and all its local fishermen in their dugout canoes, great stuff.
Samfya is off the main route so back i went to see the road i travelled in the dark. I could have taken some dirt roads but if i havant mentioned, its the rainy season. Most afternoons the rain gods come and visit, making the roads rather interesting.
That ride from Ndola to Samfya was a long one, something i did not want to repeat. I kept heading nth. to reach Ntumachushi Falls well before dark, actually i think it was very realy afternoon. The caretaker of the park was a lovely young local. We sat and chatted quite a lot about tourisum. He picked my brains about ideas to get the camp more visitors and had some great ideas of his own. Sadly or unfortunately he does not see his government going with his ideas. Like lots of things ive seen since being here, it will continue to decline. I feel for them,the locals, but now realise that the worst thing that we, the wealthy, did for the non-wealthy was to give and give.
The town near the Ntumbachushi falls is Kawambwe, i stopped at the local servo to fuel up. No power said the attendant, but we sell from a 20 ltr plastic container. Ill have one, and when i came to pay i realised id used all my money getting across the border. Of to the bank i go with the attendant in tow. No ATMs here, well that was an interesting morning. Me sitting at the very clutered and small office of the Bank manager, changing South African Ran for Zambian Kwacha.
/On my way again, i headed to another falls. These where actually 2 close by each other. I took it from Astrid, from Ndola, that they where very close to town, wrong again Brian. A very rough 69klm later, i came across the sing to the Lumeungwe and Kabwelume falls, i quote 'national monument'. Ten even more interesting klm. later a fork in the road. I go right to the first falls, the road get much more interesting and im thinking, of how ill get back up some of the jumps im going down. At the parking spot for the falls i should have taken the hint, grass taller than the highest mt. water from one side to the other. Not realy but it was very over grown, that bad that i could not get to the falls without, some sort of machettee. I realy did try, taking of my boots, rolling up my pants, but still no hope.
Returning to the fork was not that difficult. Heading to the 2 falls was rather a great track. The boom was down and locked, i gessed closed. So i walk on through as i could hear and see the falls from the boom. I take a look and a few shots with the camera. An official comes along and starts telling me all about the falls and the great veiwing platforms. But its in flood and i can not get to 2 out of the 3 viewing places. I chat to him as i head back to the bike, i ask him about the road i need to take to Kasama. He is very helpfull. He then asks me to pay $3 u.s.
I say no i will not, explaining i carnt even see the falls properly, he says i need to fill in book and pay, i give him $2 u.s and say keep it yourself, your government can go jump.
From the falls i head east, but take a wrong turn at Mporokoso. My problems detiriate with the road. I get to 65klm from Mporokoso and realise ive gone wrong, i actually swear for the first time in over 12 years. I calm down enough to turn around, i could have kept going but the road was a dead end and i was short of money and realy did not want to be where i was. As calm as i tried to be i did push it a bit, the sun was setting fast and i was not looking to riding in the dark again, not on that road.
Then it happened, poof, out went the front tyre, i got stuck in a wash out at the same time and just lost it. Over the bars i went as the bike sat to rest a while. My swearing was over, i just got on with the job of wrighting the bike and taking stock of the situation. Id travelled about 15 klm since i turned around, the front tyre was flat and the sun was setting, but to the left of the road about 4 mtrs was the nicest, flatest space id seen in many days, just there across from where id come down. I could see my tent parked rite there. So it was to be, after repairing the flat, i decieded to fit my new tube and tyre that id been carrying. The front was getting rather worn and the tube could be repaired at a more leaserly pace latter.
I made camp, while locals passed by, 2 stoppped to chat but since i had nothing for them they moved on. The nite was actually realy good, out bymyself in the wilds of Africa. During the nite i heard one Tractor, one Truck, one Car several walkers and a pushbike or two. I had a very good rest, checking on the stars(i dont fit the fly to the tent till realy needed) and listening to all the local noises.
The nite out on the road seemed to revive me. I felt real good in the morning and had a great ride back to Mporokoso. On the road i meet some workmen with a broken down tractor. I stoppped as they waved to me, they asked me to tell their boss at the town of their problems. On getting to Mposokoso i found the boss of the boys id meet to relay the message, i also found the correct road and headed to Kasama, a day out but well and happy with my new tyre.
Just before Kasama is the turn of to Chishimba falls, i would come back that way and spend a nite after refueling, cashing up and having a bit to eat at Kasama.
Back at the Chishimba falls i did some cloths washing and viewed 2 of the 3 falls. As has been the case on most of my trip so far i was the only tourist. It makes the camp very quiet but a little lonely. It seems that im a little to early in the year to catch all the tourists that do travel the area.
After another thunderus and lightening full nite i awoke to a clear morning. I was going to be rather lazy and not visit the last fall, im pleased that i did as the last falls where fantastic. So much water, from all angles. The thing about Africa is that the signs, when they exist are generally quite wrong, as in the distance they display. This is quite evident at the falls when the sign said 300mtr, when it was easily 600+mtrs.
From the falls i rode back through Kasama to travel the all bitument road to Mpika. I had some idea that i should find the turn of to some hot springs on that road. It was not to be as i came into Mpika as the clouds took on a rather mean look. At Mpika i hid the bike undercover and sat in the first real bar id seen in many weeks. A great afternoon was spent with the locals drinking and disussing world issues. The rain had come so i felt rather pleased that i had a dry place to be. The day wore on and it was plane to see that i should stop the nite in the town. Just across the road from the pub was a lodge, with reasonably clean rooms and bedding i set up for the nite.
Leaving Mpika the next day i saw one of the locals i was drinking with the day earlier, i asked him about the Hot Springs and he said there just up the road about 30klm. As with the road signs tyhe locals have no idea of the real ditance either. Some 89klm later i came across the turn of to the Hot Springs.
It turned out the Kapishya Hot Springs is one of the cleanest, most lovelyest places ive come across in all my travels. The people where just fantastic, the showers and toilets where like a 4 star hotel and the Hot Srings where just great.
I spent some time in the Springs kicking up the sandy bottom to disturb the worms, then watch as the little fishes feed on them.
From the Springs i contiued nrth. I had to get fuel from plastic containers again and pay rather a lot, by my estimate it came to $2.20 aus. a litre. Later that same day i arrived at the border town of Nakondi.
Luck realy is with me in my life as i had no idea what i was doing other than i didnt want to pay to go to Tanzania to get to Malawi. Id seen a road on my map that went from Zambia direct to Malawi. I talked to a policeman and he directed me to the imigration office. I spoke to one official about the road and he directed me to another. The 2nd guy knew the road well, gave me directions, then said i will need to get my stampout, here and now as there is no Zambian post on that road. That i had done in double quick time, then sent on my way.
The sky did not look nice again so i took refuge in one of the worst hotel/lodges ive come across. It was that bad that i didnt want to sit on the bed or chair. I took out my tent thinking ill set it up on the floor, then i decieded that i could lay out the Fly over the bed and then id feel a lot happier. The bathroom was a bit of a surprise as the toilet was fairly clean, no shower or hot water but i was safe from the rain outside. Id parked the bike in the passage next to my door, all in all we where quite happy.
The next day my ride took me to Malawi via Chitipa. At the Malawi border i was greeted with open arms. I dont think to many tourists use that route and it was rather a novalty for the lonely official. Being the only one there, i was in and out before i new what was happening and at no cost. I must say that the road that id travelled was the worst as in bumps, slowness, and general condition that id used, great fun though.
Karong was the next town on my map, i camped there 2 nites, meeting some other travellers and lunching at a little bar while watching sport on the TV.
Karong is by the Malawi Lake and this is where i was camped, very close to the waters edge. Unfortunatelly the locals running the camp/lodge had no idea about rest at nite. On the second nite there i was that upset at their noise - voices and music at 2 in the morning i got up and said my peace, and thats what i got. In Karong i did find an internet cafe. Cafe in the Africa ive seen has nothing to do with coffee and cake. One lonely computer in a vacant room is the norm.
Next down the road was Muzuzu, a very buisy, bussling town. I didnt feel that good about the place so a look in the Lonley Planet guide lead me to a great camp at Chinteche about 80klm further south but at the waters edge again. The ride there was just great, winding road, water views, hills and valleys. It was that good/fun that i went back to Muzuzu for shopping the next day.
At the camp at Chinteche i learnt that the local fishermen go out very early in the morning to do there fishing/netting etc. Laying guite peacefull in my tent, all i could here was their voices, paddles touching the water and the general sound of workers at their work. Nice to see the goings on.
From Chinteche i kept next to the Lake to reach Senga Bay. First i stopped in at a very upmarket pub/hotel/camp area. I watched T.V and sunk a few beers. The mk1,000 that they wanted for me to pitch my tent was not all that bad considering that u could use the pool and bar. But my tightness made me move on to another place id read about mk400 for me and tent, much cheaper. The camp was great but only had room for me for one nite. That was fine so i settled in to chat with others and sink a few more Browns (local beer brand).
The next day saw me in Lilongwe where i meet 2 aust. cyclists that id chatted to a few days before on the ride from Muzuzu. They asked for directions to the same camp that i was staying at, rather nice camping with some great aussies.
Lilongwe is the capitol of Malawi and has the congestion of traffic to prove it. Nice enough place but rather buisy. I stayed a day longer than expected as the rain found me again, this time in the mornings. The town had a nice second hand book store where i found myself stocking up on reading material.
Leaving Lilongwe i was to meet 2 guys on a mt. range towards Monkey Bay, we had all pulled over to take photos at the same time and spot. We chatted and i said i was going to Monkey Bay, one of them actually worked in the area, and said dont bother with Monkey Bay, go direct to Cape Maclear. Funny how things happen, all that day as i stopped to check my map people came up to tell me to go to 'The Fat Monkey' at Cape Maclear.
At The Fat Monkey i was delighted to find a great sandy beach, a bar, food, shade and all the things that make u feel that u are not in Africa. But seriously, it was and is a great place to unwind. I spent 2 relaxing days either at the waters edge taking in the views, reading at the waters edge or at the bar drinking. Learnt to play the local African Board game, forgot its name though.
From The Fat Monkey i moved down to Zomba. I meet and chatted to 2 AIDs Volenteer workers at Fat Monkey, who told me that the Mt. at Zomba is very lovelly. The winding road up the mountain and the views over the plato? where some of the best ive seen since i was in Alaska, fantastic.
I arrived at the camp to find they wanted mk600 to camp and no views, just a mozzi infested lawn to lay out on. I got on my bike to leave while a couple where backing out in their 4x4. We spoke for a moment and it seemed that he had been there a few days. He was going for a tour up the Mt. further and said i could follow if i wished. It turned out he was going to a look out way up top. It was great. I told him about the cost of the camp and he showed me a nice place a little from the lookout that i could camp bymyself for free. That was me, i set up camp and procceded to read my new book to the sound/views of monkeys in the forest all around me.
During the nites camp i heard a sound, sure it was from a gun, i sat upright sortting out the sounds. Low and behold i heard a car/truck coming along the track. In a short time i also saw the lights, it came around the last corner before my camp. I thought of getting out to chat but decieded to stay in the tent and ignore them and hopefully they would do the same for me. The 4x4 just quietly passed by, no hassel, no problem.
The next day i spoke to a worker (at the camp i didnt say at) about the gun shot during the nite, he said it was not uncomon for poaches to roam the Mt.
The most beautifull of sites i see in Africa are the little babys/children on the ladys backs, or feeding from the breast. Wide eyed and lovely. It was no different on the road to Blantyre.
From Zomba its an easy ride to Blantyre, the major town of the area.
I wasn"t in town long before the local police had me pulled over at a road junction. There was 3 of them, first they wanted to see my licence, this was hiden in my luggage, so i stripped the bike to get said licence. This took a little while, i was sort of hopping they would lose patience and just let me go. One of them stayed with me while i was sorting out the licence, he said 'WHY U NOT HAVE IT EASYIER TO GET TO" my answer was, so that no one stole it. Mind u i had several copies made and that was all i was now showing him. On seeing my licence he instructed me to pack up bike and move to the side of the road where their van was. This i did as slow as possible. At the side of the road i was told that i needed road insurace, i kept explaning that i was told at the boder crossing that i did not need one. This did not sit well with them.
They started to threaten me with fines and taking me to the local police station and id have to be booked and would go to court and pay big fine. At this point i was sick of them so i said " U DO WHAT EVER U NEED TO DO and thanks for spoiling my time in Malawi" with that said i sat down to read my book. I had just started to read the first line and one of them came up to me and said"U GO NOW, U FIND SOME WHERE TO BUY INSURANCE, WE LET U OFF, GO". With that i rode off.
Here in Blantyre i meet a german bloke who invited me to his home for tea and sleep. Turns out he ran out of money in Malawi, so hes set up for 2 years doing what he nows best, Optician. On seeing his 4x4 truck, i could see how he ran out of money. The 4x4 was just huge, like something u would see the army using to move a platoon of men. I never asked the fuel usaged, but could gess it would not be good. Had a nice nite, a little hung over but all well the next day.
I didnt like Blantyre all that much so i took of towards the border to Mozambique, well thats what i thought i was doing. I got rather confused in the town, went in circles for a while. Im so lucky to have a large fuel tank and a bike that gets great economy, i get lost so many times its comforting that i have the fuel to find my way out.
Love border crossings,LOL. I actually feel that the people at the borders do bad service for their country men and women. If only they would be a bit more forthcoming, helpfull and smile all would go better. To me, im that wound up after leaving the border post, it takes me quite a time to calm down enough to actually be human again, thats me anyway.
Well in to Mozambique i went, rather wound up. every one was hassling to sell me money, said i needed it to cross some bridge, i didnt.
From the border i rode through some nice ranges and reasonable roads. Arriving at Tete i was still a bit wound up. I took a hotel room for the nite, ended up staying for 2. Not that the place was anything to rave about, just i needed to do a little work on the bike(air cleaner etc.). Also just down the street from the so called hotel was a nice bar, that sold great food.
I had a nice meal at that bar and even caught a bit of TV. The bar girl was rather funny in that she came up to me to say 'U BUY ME DRINK' i said yes thats fine, thinking she was to drink with me, what i didnt realise is that it was not the drink she wanted it was the money that a drink is worth. In Africa it all about the MONEY, OR WHAT U CAN GET FOR FREE.
Even so it was a nice place and very tidy and clean.
As i said the hotel was a bit/lot rough and i was paying top $, asking for hot water for the shower, fell on deaf ears. Turned out at the time of leaving i was shitty again with the managements slackness to my hot water requests that i started to argue over the price they where charging me. I thought for a few moments, tore up some of the cash i paid to them, told them to get stuffed and rode out of town.
Not my best day.
South of Tete i was getting a little hungry, just as i was thinking it a town came up, and would u believe, there on the side of the hyw. was a 'Resturant and Bar" in big bold letters. I park the bike to the pleasure of all the locals looking on. At the counter i ask, 'English' a little was the reply. I had an hour or so having lunch and watching all the people watching me.
Turning more east than south i headed towards Beira, on the coast. It started to get late, but the sun kept up, this had me a bit confused untill i realised that Beira is actually on a point and sort of faces west, if u get my drift. Any how it was of a great help as i wondered around town, getting directions to a camp spot from various people. Till finally one guy at a servo said 'u just follow me', in broken english. First he had to put fuel in his car, then with him and his male and female passengers enjoying a beer, i followed. Now the streets near the sea, where i wanted to camp where mostly dirt and floaded with water. Very interesting in the fadeing lite.
In no time at all the car stopped in the middle of the road, the guy got out and pointed to a small walking track through some bushes. Go through there he pointed. With caution i rode the small track, on the other side it was like another world. New 4x4s parked in a line, lights from a resturant and a welcoming smile from the secruity gaurd.
After booking in, the guard(i speak no portuguess) led me to a place i could put my tent and bike in that was under cover, safe from the rain. The gaurd raked the sand smooth and helped put the tent up. All settled, i handed him a mzn100, with a big smile he showed me his hitting stick and demistrated how he would hit the people that might want to touch my gear. Money makes many friends in Africa.
While in Beira i did an oil and filter change. This i did by the road at a pile of rubbish. My logic was the same as Arlo Gutheries in the move/record 'ALICES RESTURANT'. If u have not heard the record, do its quite good, even has referances to motorcycles. Any how as i was saying, oil change. While finishing of 3 lads come along and rumaged through the pile and yes they took my used oil containers, recycling at its simplest.
From Beira i headed to Vilankulo, it was a big day. Unable to complete the ride, in the daylite i opted for a camp off the road. As much as i try to remember i always forget about landmines. This was brought home to me the next morning. I came across a well set up camp, in a road side stop. Thinking it was a tour bus group with nice ladys to look and chat to i pulled over. That bus of ladys is still out there as the camp was for the 'land mine removal men'. I was welcomed to their camp, for coffee and chat. The main guy spoke great english. He explained what they where up to and that because of the Cyclones, the land mines have shiffted, not that they new where they where before. But it seems that land that they had cleared before must be checked again. Bloody land mines.
My thoughts after talking to the land mine guy was me camped of the road, walking around like i owned the place, what i fool i felt.
Wow, Vilankulo, is amazing, ive never seen anything like it. A cyclone or 2 came through a few months before i got there and its rather flatterned. I did not see a straight or undamaged building on my ride through town.
I went to see the B/Packers that where named in the lonely planet book. All i remember was workers refitting/ renewing the roof and a lady waving me on, as to say ' u can not stay here'. Luck was with me again, id seen a sign for a lodge just out of town so i headed there. And what a lodge it is. It would have been 150mt x 25mt built by this swiss bloke at the cliff edge. The veiws from the lodge where just amazing, looking out to the east, the never ending beach and the local boats going by.
I was welcomed to his home. The place was not finished, as in it had not proper camping/ showers/ rooms/cabins for me. But that was not a problem for the owner. I was told to put the bike in the main room of the lodge, really it was just in front of the Bar. Here i also set up the tent. All the while the owner, Peter was boiling water for my bush shower.
With all the domestics out of the way, Peter and i sat down to chat. I found out that his wife lives in the town, but may come back. Sounded close to a breakup.
Peter had been building the place for 5 years, with local help. He made his own concret blocks, bent his own steel work, dug his own soil for the blocks, concret and mortar. People just amaze me, there persistance, reziliance, and determination. He(Peter) must have done a great job as its about the only building not damaged after the Cyclones.
After Breakfast with Peter at the lodge. i took of for Tofo. 20klm out a flat rear tyre. Turned out a small steel pin, 25mm long went straight through my new tyre tread. This was a bit amazing in its self but even more so when i had a brain blank and pinched the tube 2 times before getting mobile again. But now that was not the end of my day, id done badly with my patching. One of the patches came loose, so there i was fixing another flat. But me being the smart traveller, decieded to fit my new tube. Out with the new tube, i looked and looked again, the size of the tube id bought was 2.75/3.15 x 17 not 3.75/410 x17 that i realy needed. Thank the stars as it worked and is still in there to this day, that rubber sure is streatchy.
With rain still playing its part, i took a break for lunch in Maxixe. Over 1 1/2hrs i waited for my fish and salad, the joys of travelling. Mostly rainny and windy during the day.
Not long after moving on from the lunch spot i meet 2 other m/cyclists. Stopped for a chat, they where headed nrth. The where on older XT600 yamahas- NO ELECTRIC START. I dont know how they do it, love electric start. They looked at me funny, saying 'what happens if the starter fails'. I wished them well and rode on to Tofo.
I continued to camp at a beach van park, Morrungulo. Not the cheapest place but it did have a bar and a beach. A walk along the beach, had me attacked by a little runt of a dog, a well place rock had it sortted to its owners discust.
Later at the bar i meet a group og South African, up on holidays. I got and took the invitation to join them for tea(supper). What a great nite, i took some beers over to their camp and just hung out, chatted, eat and relaxed. Must have been a good nite as i lost my way back to camp.
The next day saw me having my photo taken by the S.African group. The photo actually turned up on a local bike site a few weeks later.
In Tofo(well Inhambane realy) i borrowed a spanner to adjust the headstem bearings, unfortunately i did them a little to tight. The bike road as it was on tracks, bit of a bother. So in getting to Maputo i found a steet vendor selling tools, he had exactly what i wanted and a good price also. I re-did the bearings there and then on the side walk.
I stayed in Maputo at Fatimas BackPakers, the first time i ever put my tent up on a roof. Not a lot of room for me and the tent, also the stairs where rather badly made, step and narrow. I was a little concerned on setting up but the place actually turned out to be a nice place to stay. The B/P was a nice walk to town and close to food and booze places, rather cool.
I made some new friends at the B/P incuding the manager/barman.
From Maputo i road to the border into South Africa. Border crossings as u now know are not my most fun. The funny thing at this one was i didnt get stamped out of Mozambique, no idea what happened, or where the post was. I was at the S/A crossing thinking it was the Moz. border, i road on looking for the next crossing, that just didnt happen as i was in S/A, weird.
In S/A i went to a B/P i new in Nelspruit, stayed the nite then moved to Graskop, a town a little further north west.
Graskop is the centre of tourists heaven, lots of gift shops, drives, hotels, cafes etc. I did the drive that is most comon where u get to see Gods window and all other sorts of tourist traps. Its was/is a lovely part of the country and i enjoyed the day very much, touristy though it was. The ride came back to Graskop, and just in time as the sky opened up, i did my usual and found a pub to keep dry. That nite saw me take a room at the pub, as it rained and rained.
After the great time i had in the Graskop area it was a bit of a shock to hit the high life of Pretoria. I booked into a local B/Packers, but it turned out to full of the younger set, not a lot of sleep or rest for me. The second nite it got that bad that i moved my gear to the driveway where my bike was and slept there, rather nice. Was even better when the owner didnt charge me for the nite.
While in town i caught up the the local bikers at the Dros pub again. Had a nice nite of beer and food. I still to this day dont know how i found my way there or back, not because of drink, just lack of road knowledge.
In Petoria i took time out to get my movie fix, saw 2 movies in one day, nice.
While in Pretoria i did the movie thing at the local cinema and booked my plane flight to Ireland. The Story with Ireland is that i find i need a break from my travels in Africa, so Ireland will be it from early June.
A few days break in Pretoria and on the road again. The first day out id not even got out of the general area and i came across a bike race meeting. It was free entry as it was just a local club meet but for several hours i had a great time watching the locals do their stuff and checking on the machinary in the pits.
After the race meeting i arrived in Potch taking a room near town to sort out some washing etc.
Back in Potchefstroom, i caught up with the locals id meet 3 months previous. I took time with Anton at his bike shop 'Bikes Paradise", to do a general service on my bike. Was great to have a place to work out off and chat bikes, drink beer, read bike books and generally just hang.
I also went to see Kobus at the Elgro Hotel, took me 2 goes to find him in but finally we got to have a chat. Whitey the elderly barman had a stroke not long after my last visit. I was very sad about that, the stroke has meant he is unable to work, well at this stage, so i missed seeing him.
At Potch i also made a new friend at Anton work shop, Tony. Tony is the general helper at Antons. Tony and i got along well so i went to his place for the nite, but not before we had been to his local to down a few. At home i meet his sister and Brother in law and got see Tonys colection of posters and assorted models. Nice nite.
All roads headed north, well they would if only id follow them. My plan was to leave Potch and go directly north to cross the main hwy.N4 at Rustenburg. But no Brians that silly he just follows his nose and gets himself bush wacked for half the day. Mind u i did get to where i wanted so u could say i did OK.
GOD BUY ME A GPS.
I think that would make a nice song. LOL.
That nite i camped at a nice camp ground, just north of Thabazimbi, just south of my destination, the Wildlife Rally at Ellisras.
My first Rally in South Africa was to be an education. The Rally is not like im used to, being held in/at a lodge/game park. Very different from the bush Rallys i do in Australia. Nice just the same, but loud. Music 24/7 and drink. The boys up there can drink, i spent 3 days with them and the next 3 days getting over it all.
I got a mention at the awards and meet so many many people. I was welcomed extremly well. I had some much free it just blow me away. Not that i didnt pay for it in all the jokes that where put on me being a "Sheep rooter" and other such lovely things.
Part of the weekend was a pub run. Now to me this is crazy, but boys will be boys so off i went with them to the pub. We, as in Motorcycles took over the town. It was fun but rather dangerous, with all the crazys doing high speed racing with all the people just walking around. I did hear a lad did die that same day, very sad but after what i saw not surprising.
Love Kimberly, even more so as they had tyres for the bike. The tyre id had on the rear that i bought in Lasarka in Zambia, was throwing of the knobs and running very badly indeed. This combined with the wearing-out front made the bike do some very weird things, rather dangerous actually. A more reasonable person would have changed them there and then but this is me, i just tied them on the back, feeling comfort in knowing i had spares. Well i figured, what could go wrong.
Had u there, u thought some thing went wrong, well it didnt, thank god.
In Kimberly i stayed at the same Back packers as before. If i like a place or a person i go back. In Kimberly i did a bit of a walk got a hair cut and generally looked at the town again.
Kimberly to Carnarvon, nice country side, cleaner, neat homes and friendly smiles from the locals. Great dirt roads, lots of fun, even on my bad tyres.
At Carnarvon i took a camp spot in a van park. One other occupant. Great showers and spacious grounds, R20 per nite, what a bargain. Well thats what i thought before my so called sleep. Would be the loudest town ive ever known, dogs, donkeys, cars, people, all nite it kept up, and the park is actually on the outskirts of town.
I know ive said it before, but its funny how things happen.
Was in a small town just north east of Vrendenal, taking a break from the heat. There i was just sitting out side a shop drinking my fanta. Car pulls up a couple get out. Where are u from the say, i go into the usual story, gee they say do u know theres a Bike Rally just down the road. Funny how it goes.
That nite i was at the Rally, free entry,free 'T' shirt, badges,won longest distant rider( and that was because i actually did more than any other that day) not because i was Aust.
Also meet some local boys from Cape Town and was given food, booze and conversation. Great Rally, Great nite.
From the Rally i headed towards the coast, all a nice day and my tyres where still hanging in. At the coast i saw something completely new for me, mind u it did look like a scene from a movie. Its was the mist/fog rolling in from the sea. I just stood there fixed and amazed by the site. Before i realised the mist/fog had hit land and i could see no more than a few meters. I took photos but not so sure how they will look. The fog/mist lifted in some spots so i road on still rather amazed at w3hat i had seen.
That afternoon i got to Lamberts Bay, well i could not see the bay as the mist/fog id seen earlier had taken over the town. It was not till the next morning, after a great nite with DSTV, that i saw the Bay in all its glory. Sorry, DSTV is like cable/satilite TV where u get lots of movie channels, love it.
I realise now that the Photos have not come out well. Ill be looking into them and hopefully get them nicer. Basically the 4 here are of the rode nth of Cape town, my tyres distruction, the pass south towards Hout Bay, and a shot of Table Maintain.
I didnt spend a lot of time in Cape Town, no real reason just didnt appeal to me. I found a Caravan Park at Hout Bay that had all that i needed and wanted. Funny place actually, the Van park, it was actually an animal farm. There where all manner of animals, ducks, sheep, horses, goats, dogs, cats and many more besides. U had to be carefull where u stood and walked for all the droppings.
Here i did tyre changes, oil/filter and general check over of the bike. Its was also at Hout Bay that it started to rain and get rather cool. So for the first time this trip i used my leather pants, where as before id ride in my denims.
I took a day out site seeing down at the bay, had a great feed of rollmops and fish. I was sitting at a bench enjoying my meal when a hobbo came up and sat there with me. He kept looking at my food so i shared it with him. I asked him how he got to be in such a state in life, he just kept eating, so i was none the wiser. After the shared meal he begged for money, i quite bluntly said no and left him to his world.
Thats me at the southern most tip of Africa.
From Hout Bay its a great great ride east along the coast. I made for Cape Agulhas, the southern most tip of Africa and where 2 oceans meet. One ocean is cold water and the other warmer, so they tell me, i did not jump in to test. The weather was rather cold and very windy, im not sure if thats quite normal, for that part of the country.
I booked into the local Backpackers in Cape Agulhas. After the last few days of heavy drinking i was to take time out. I did a walk to town and had a lemon squash at the local pub. Other than that Cape Agulhas was rather quiet, being the off season.
Heading east it was rather windy and rained slightly, nice mountains and mist was the order of the day. Talking about mist, i was having a bit of a problem with my motorcross goggles, they had lost most of their foam and the lenses where rather scratched. Try finding googles in George, i went to every bike shop and where where they, yes the last one in my search. At the bike shop i was served by a very helpfull lad, he even did an add-on sale of tear-offs for the googles. Great invention but i personally found them a bit noisy.
Something about being a lone bike rider, everyone wants to ask u how u do it by yourself, dont u get lonely, what if something goes wrong. It was no differant at the bike shop. Just love talking to people like that, LOL, realy makes my confidence collaps. Seriously though, its nice to have people interested in what im upto, i dont mind repeating the same words day in day out. Ive not had one bad experiance in all my trips and if i have ive now forgotten.
A nite in George then nth. to Graaff-Reinet, where in the center of town is a big old church, well worth the time to look. From there i took a dirt side road to a historic town, Neiu-Bethesda. Very original type of town sort of hidden in the ranges to the west of the hyw.
My main goal was to reach Colesburg and attend the Ulysses Rally, and what a waste of the word Rally. It was not so much a rally as a country fair that motorcyclists where invited to. The only up side was the great people i meet and the country feel of the fair. I watched sheep dog trials, strong man comps and the like but nothing to actually to do with motorcycles. I was disapointed i think ill hand back my Usless club badge. I was also the only person not to stay in a motel, what a bunch of girls. I did win the rat bike award, so i gess there was some motorcycle stuff.
From Colesburg i headed on to Venterstad, Ladygrey and into Rhodes. Nice day, in Rhodes i took a spot at the caravan park, i was the only gest. That nit i joined the locals and others at the Bar at the hotel on the hill. A cold walk back to the tent and an even colder nites sleep, well i was warm in my Bag but it was cold going to the loo.
From Rhodes i took a very windy, rocky, slow ride up and over a mt. pass in to Maclear. The pass was such great fun but boy was it cold and then cold. I took lunch in Maclear at ' Lisas kitchen' very nice it was. Rather funny when an old lady, local, came in and started stipping, i thought thats my luck, why was it not a nice young lady. From what i gathered she was a little crazy and this is not uncomon, the joys of travel.
Maclear led me to Kokstad then down into Durban, the Indian capital of South Africa. I took some tourist drives of Durban and did a little internetting while there. Checked out the beaches then moved on to Underburg where i got a nice cabin and spent the nite with the local farmers at the pub. Cold nite.
Underburg is not far from the SaniPass. This was also one of my goals.
The joy i felt on arriving at the top of Sani Pass is something i hope i remember for a long time. 7klm of rocks, sharp bends, wet/ice corners, changing light, and passing 3/4x4s going the same way while all the while going up hill. No room or want to stop, put the foot down or even slow down to much. I found it rather nerve racking but joyfull at the same time. This done fully loaded with gear and fuel, and no one to help me pick it up if something had gone wrong, the joys of solo travel.
After the ritual of a beer at the pub, highest pub in Southern Africa, so they say. I was into Lesotho propper. Slow going generally, keeping an eye out for the locals on horseback and the great views.
I spent one nite in Lesotho then down into Bloomfontein. Bloom as they call it is a nice city of resonable size, i gess the most noicable thing for me is all the students, and student accomidation. Lots of places where full so i took the caravan park, this turned out much to noisy, being near the hyw, and had no washing facilities. I moved the next day to find a small room in a large complex of unites at a fair price. I stayed around Bloom for a few days doing general stuff including a service on the bike. I meet some lovely people at the local Kawasuki dealer that where very happy to let me use some of their floor space. I like going to dealers to do my services, serves several purposes, gives me a place to off load oil and gets me to meet new people who are into bikes. I find the bike shops generally dont charge, but as a curtisy i generally buy them some beers or what ever.
Windy and cold as i moved on from Bloomfontein. I kept to the side of Lesotho, going through Brandfort, Ficksburg, Bethlehem to find a motel in the coldest town yet, Clarens. I meet a local who took me out on a drive, in his warm 4x4, along some back roads, it was a very pleasurable morning but very cold.
I spent the other part of the day going to every shop in town, very touristy but nice enough. Seems im in the place at the correct time of year as its not high season, they tell me u can not move for people in the peak times.
The next day at breakfast i had a veiw looking to the east at some mountains, and what do i see, Snow. I never new that there was snow South Africa, how travel broadens the mind.
Pleased i put the new tyres on in Cape Town as they have been a great asset on the windy roads ive been on in the last week or so.
From Clarens i went nth/east to where some war sites are ,BLOODRIVER, (from the Zulu/Bore wars) well thats what i got out of it. I saw the wagon train memorial that they've built there, bloody amazing, thick sheets and beams of copper, the cost had to be out of this world. It always amazes me how much we put in to remembering the dead but still go on taking the lives of the living, strange us humans.
The following weekend brought me to another Rally, at 'White Mountain' on the eastern edge of Lesotho, but still in South Africa. Meet and made some nice friends, some who ran the food stalls for the Rally. I joined in on the slow race and the engine tossing competition. No prizes but great fun just the same.
It was at this Rally that i was interviewed by a couple who regularly put articals in Bike Magazines. After many questions and a few photos, they said they had enough to go off. I hope to see my lovely picture in a mag., sometime.
Thats my cruze control, actually not my idea, stole it of a mate, thanks Chris. Its so simple and cheap, one hose clamp, one 4" nail, one small washer, little hit with welder, and one cruze control.
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