March 29, 2008 GMT
Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia

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Campsite in Tanzania after heavy rain.


On my ride from Dar es Salaam to the Malawi border I encountered my first rain of the trip. It was late afternoon and I was about 10 km’s from the camping site that I had identified as my overnight stop on the GPS when it started to rain heavily. I had to slow down as the visibility became very poor due to the heavy downpour. I eventually found the turn off to the camp site and proceeded to make my way down a dirt road that had started to turn into a small river and as I progressed, the road turned into two ruts with water rushing down them. I was expecting to hit a submerged rock at any moment that would send me and the bike crashing into the water and mud. By the time I thought of turning around I was on a steep downhill and there was no way I was going to be able to turn 300 kg’s of bike around in those conditions.

I continued on in the pouring rain until I reached what under normal conditions would have been a small stream that crossed the road but had now turned into small river and tried to stop but the bike skidded and hit a submerged rock and I went down. Fortunately I was traveling slowly and there was no serious damage but I was now standing ankle deep in water with the bike on its side in ankle deep water, rain pouring down and not sure that this camping site even existed.


I proceeded to unpack the bike as it was too heavy to pick up fully loaded and managed get it in the upright position and then walked over to the small river to try and establish the depth of the water. I did this by placing my one boot in the water and slipped and ended up standing knee deep in this stream with water pouring into my boots. As you can well imagine I was pretty fed up by this time and decided to stay where I was and pitch my tent and get out of the rain. I manhandled the bike off the road and identified a place where I could pitch the tent.

I was about to unpack the tent when I heard the unmistakable sound of a diesel engine making its way down the road. It was the owner of the camp site and he informed me that the site was 500 meters further down the road. We decided to leave the bike next to the road and return when the rain had stopped and the water levels had dropped. Phillip, the owner took me down to his campsite and put me up in the tent on the photograph that had a dry bed with sheets and blankets and invited me for coffee and a great meal. We returned to the bike just before dark and with the help of a couple of Phillip’s workers managed to maneuver the bike across the stream.

After a good nights rest, a hot shower and dry clothes I was in a much better mood and ready for whatever the day would bring. Phillip took my luggage up to the tarred road for me while I rode the bike back up the dirt road without any mishaps and proceeded on to Malawi.

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Relaxing on Lake Malawi.

As I crossed into Malawi I had to slow down as the people and animals lived on the road and you had to be very vigilant to not be involved in an accident with the local inhabitants. In the above photo I had reached my campsite for my first night in Malawi and more importantly they had cold beers. You will also notice me still trying to dry out my boots from the episode in the river.


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What struck me the most was how green everything was in Malawi.


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Striking camp at the golf course in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi were I spent an evening.

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Victoria Falls in the backround. Notice the permanent cloud above the falls.


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The real thing.


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Good road.


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Not so good road.


The roads in Zambia are generaly in very good condition but the bad sections are really bad. It was sometimes beter to ride next to the road rather than on the potholed asphalt.


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Crossing the Zambezi by ferry to Botswana.

Posted by Lionel Haggard at March 29, 2008 09:47 PM GMT
 
 

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