Next stop Botswana and Francistown. A modern town with much development on the horizon. We camped at a Hotel Resort with excellant facilities. Unable to locate tyres again we headed to Maun. We confirmed all previous reports that the Caprivi Strip was out of bounds becaues of border problems with Angola so our trek would take us Sth West along the Kalahari Desert. There was approximately 150kms of rough dirt to cover so the Metzler was employed to cover the next leg to Windhoek in Nambibia where we hoped to get new tyres.
We covered the distance without problems stopping overnight at a campground outside Ghanzi. The owners had been doing it tough over the past couple of months with flood waters flowing through the camp at around 60cm deep. We were entertained by a flock of wild Ostrich who appeared to show no fear of us and walked close to our campsite. The next two days we would prefer to forget but this is all part of travelling.
The first flat tyre (rear) occurred around 80kms from Ghanzi. The repair took a couple of hours as more than one hole was found. 30kms further on we experienced the same horrible weave as it went flat again, tearing the valve stem out of the tube. Replacing the tube we headed to the next town (Gobabis , Namibia) No campground was found in town but we were directed to one abouut 10kms out of town, Very pleasant after our day of woes.
THe flats could only be linked to tube failure as no foreign objects could be found in the tyre. Next day after an unsuccessful attempt to obtain another tube we pressed on to Windhoek. 40kms out the rear tyre was flat again. On removal, scars on the tube were similar to the previous days holes. Checking the tyre again found a divot of rubber on the sidewall that must have pinched the tube. We cut it out patched the tube only to have both our pumps fail (electric & hand) Carol showed her skills and flagged down a passing motorist and we were soon on our way. The tyre and tube survived the remainder of the journey to Windhoek. Tyres at last.
We now sporta NEW Kenda with a heavy duty enduro tube on the rear. The front will last to Sth Africa. On this journey we have been in constant contact with another couple of Aussies travelling the world on a Harley Davidson. Finally after many delays we have met Peter and Kay Forwood. We are camped at the Roof of Africa Backpackers and our travel tales are keeping us entertained for many long hours. We will now travel a little around Namibia before heading to Sth Africa.
Crossing the border into Zimbabwe had its usual hiccups with the officials asking for US$ but unable to provide change. Carol walked to a money exchange but he was of little assistance. We were able to exchange for a little of the local currency to pay our way into the commercialized section of Vic Falls. A pleasant stay with Pres. Mugabe making his presence known when he held talks with the 'rebels'and the farmers about land rights issues.
Heading to Bulawayo we arrived Good Friday. No shops open for bike tyres we set up camp and headed out to get a little food. The sky was very black but our campground attendant assured us it would not rain . For over an hour we huddled in a burger bar as the rain and hail lashed down . The cafe was awash and the bike sat out in the gutter with 15cms of icy water leaves and branches floating around it. No harm done and the tent held up well. The campground was a little damp under foot though.
With no shops open for a few days we headed to the Great Zimbabe Ruins. Not too many campers and tourists. Zimbabwe is really suffering with this land crisis. The ruins were substantial and we find it difficult to believe that this was built by Africans in the 13th century without outside help but the archeologists say that this is so. The road to Harare was boring with little wildlife and very little traffic. We camped at Hillside Lodge and chased bike tyres at several m/cycle shops the next day. Not much luck though. However the local mechanic gave us a bald Metzler Enduro 3 to replace the rear Barum. This being a four ply tyre may survive the tough roads a little better. The 25000km old Sirac would have to cover a few more kays yet.
Back to Bulawayo (good title for a song) we tried a M/cycle shop >Bike & Boat Bar for tyres. Bruce the owner was very helpful and we able to buy a second hand Conti for the front that had plenty of tread and should get us to Sth Africa. His hospitality went further and he extended an invitation to stay overnight at his family's farm. We stayed up late talking history and enjoying some Zimbabwian hospitality. Bruce has a desire to set up a M/cycle only campground on the property. After staying a these facilities in the U.S.A. we hope he succeeds.
The long ride to Lusaka was a bumpy affair with a number of Police checks on our papers. A chance encounter on the road with a green mamba broke the monotony. THe tyres on the bike by this time were well past their use by date. However we were having great difficulty in obtaining rubber of sufficient size and quality at a reasonable price. Lusaka could be our answer as we were told their were bike shops there.
Camping at Eureka campground we were entertained by the resident pet Zebra who had become very territorial and regarded the camp as 'his' and chased any other animals away including other zebras and boks. No luck again with the tyres but enjoyed a tasty meat pie or three at the numerous bakeries around. We met a traveller who had just passed through Zimbabe and said despite the political trouble he was able to obtain plenty of fuel and did not feel threatened in any way.
We pushed on to Livingstone on the Zambian side of the Victoria Falls and found a very comfortable Hostel/Campground..Faulty Towers run by some English people. The falls were awesome with the additional water flowing from the recent rains made alot of the walking tracks very wet..(read like torrential downpour). We were soaked through on one stretch but it was hot and the water cooling. Plenty of souveniers (carvings) were available here and Carol swung into action with her bargaining skills losing a couple of second hand pens and her hat in exchange for some carved masks which she has taken a particular liking to. Some hard currency was also required but these small items reduced the price somewhat.
Border crossing was uneventful although Carol had her calculator stolen by one of the money touts hustling at the border. This really p--- -d her off. The road south although listed as tarred was very badly broken up to the point of it being just another dirt road. The surface was red soil and the ensuing rain turn the 'track' into a real mess. We headed to Nkata Bay on Lake Malawi stopping for supplies Mzuzu.
The road from Mzuzu to the Bay was very potholed . Road maintenance is not a big priority in Africa. Nkata Bay was beautiful and accomodation at the Backpackers Connection was inexpensive (room) and the view from the open bar was fantastic. A couple of days of R&R we chased the road along the shore of Lake Malawi enjoying an excellant surface with lush scenery after the recent heavy rains.
Enroute we had to negotiate a river with a broken bridge. We had heard of this and were prepared to tackle the temporary earth causeway which was under approximately 25cm of water. When we reached the river however the causeway was all but washed away and all vehicles were being sent back... except for motorbikes. Some enterprising lads had organized an old wooden boat and were asking US$5.00 to ferry both of us and the bike accross. Fun, fun, fun. We survived and made it to Senga Bay. Another priceless spot on the lake. We enjoyed a swim here as the weather was hot. Advised an overland truck driver of the road problems as he headed north. He adjusted his route cursing as he added another couple of hours to his next days schedule.
We contemplated further rest days on the lake but decided to head to Lilongwe to arrange a Mozambique visas. Our applications completed we were informed of the costs to travel accross this country for two days to Zimbabe and decided it was too much. Tore up our applications and said we would go via Zambia and Victoria Falls to Zimbabe. Crossing into Zambia the same day saw the usual hassles with money touts. Pushing them away we jumped on the bike and headed to Chipata where we negotiated our money exchanges in a more civilized environment.
We have gone from East to West since our last message covering some five contries. We enjoyed a couple of days at Zanzibar although we considered facilities were a little over priced compared to the rest of the countries we have been through in Africa. The seafood on the waterfront was tasty and the tour of the spice farms was great.
A walk around Stone Town revealed plenty of carving shops with eager salesman bargaining for the best price. We escaped without buying anything. Back at the campground we spent plenty of time with the Overland truck drivers discussing a safe route to the West with most agreeing that Zimbabe had a large question mark over its safety because of the political trouble. Heading out of Dar we travelled through Mikumi National Park.
The road went through the park for more than fifty kms and we hoped to see plenty of wildlife as it was getting later in the day. Our first sighting of an elephant was a bit of a surprise but the lion [two year old male] sitting on the road was more than we bargained for. A parked 4x4 in front of us waved us on which would have had us pass within 3-4 metres of the lion. That was too close. On oncoming truck caused the lion to stand up and turn ..to see us. We were about to beat a hasty retreat when he just sat down never taking his eyes of us. We probably looked about the same size so!!! who knows. The people in the parked 4x4 then offerd to drive forward with us shielded from the lion. We accepted and took off as fast as R80GS's can go.
Next encounters were far more amicable with the bike parked on the road between a herd of elephants happily chomping away unperturbed by our busy photographic excercises. Next was a herd of giraffe (Approx . 30) which stood and stared at us for 15-20 minutes. We wondered if we were in the zoo. We camped that night just outside the N.P. planning to cross the border into Malawi the next day.
Next HU Events
- Brazil: Feb 22-23
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- HUBB UK: June 19-22
- NEW! Canada Maritimes: July 4-6
- USA Colorado: July 11-13
- Ireland: July 18-20
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- USA North Carolina: Sept. 4-7
- Canada Ontario: Sept. 11-14
- NEW! UK - Haggs Bank: Sept. 19-21
- USA California: Sept. 25-28
- Aus Queensland: Oct 3-6
- Aus Perth: Oct 10-12
- Aus VIC: Oct 24-26
- NEW! South Africa: Nov 14-16
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