February 10, 2013 GMT
Ending the African Adventure
The place I stayed near Augrabies Falls was part of a grape farm where they had built a ski lake and some nice accommodations.
No matter where I go and the amazing things I see it is always the people I meet along the way that makes travel worthwhile. This is Willeman van Zyl, he and his wife Esme had the cabin next to mine.
Sometimes you just need to go down the dirt road to see where it goes
From there I headed back to the east heading down the back roads whenever possible. Lots of small towns with character throughout the region. Back in Johannesburg, I checked on the tires I had ordered and made arrangements for the shipping.
Getting off the main road you can find the really good places, had peri peri chicken livers here for lunch. A1 place.
There are some really great rides north of Nelspruit and through Zululand so I headed that way. Dodging the rain I ended up in St. Lucia on the east coast. Heavy rain was in the forecast so I signed up for a safari into Hluhluwe National Park thinking it was better to ride in the back of a truck with a cover than riding all day on the bike in the rain. I had rode up to the gate of Hluhluwe park the day before with the hope that I could get into a lodge or camp ground on the motorcycle but was turned away.
Side trip into the timber land
The safari truck picked me up at the guest house at 4:00 AM with expected return about 1:00 PM. Only two others on the tour, a lady and her daughter from London. On entering the part and crossing a long bridge the water was within 18 inches of going over, guide was concerned not knowing what the rain was like upstream and we would need to cross that bridge on the way out.
It was not too far in that we stopped at an overlook and could see the river had came up dramatically. Guide called in and bridge was underwater and we would need to wait till it went down to cross.
We had a really good lunch in the pouring rain. The ladies from London were to catch a flight out of Durban, (3 hours south of St. Lucia), and were very concerned about delay. So after a few calls to a third member of their group that had not came on the tour we set out to go the back route out of the park and meet up about half way to Durban. Had a great time traveling the back roads making it back to St. Lucia at 5:30.
We saw very little wild life on the tour, I think due to heavy rain and lots of feed available. I am very glad that I had decided to go as we did see three animals that we could not find last year. Wild Dogs are rare to spot but we came upon a pack of 14, see pictures. The pack was being followed by a Hyena another I had not seen in the wild. Then when we were almost out of the park’s back gate we came on a Cheetah. The only one I had been looking for that was never found was the Black Rhino, so maybe I will need to return some day.
River at flood stage plus sum
The first wild dog
The wild dog pack
Elly getting dinner
Lunch in the rain, good company and food
Cheetah, really thought she should get up for a better picture but could not talk anyone into delivering the message.
Had to stop and take a picture of the sign that said not to stop.
I rode into Swaziland and tried to find an American working there but just got lost.
I did the canopy tour in Swaziland park. There were ten of these cable runs across the canyon and one swinging bridge.
Another run up into the timber to see what was there
Entry to camp ground was flooded
I found a back way into camp ground and was the only one other than the guard in the whole place.
Sign you will not see at home
Some rugged country and good views
Well that is it for the African Adventure, (at least for now). 22.5 hours in the air and I was home. Now going through withdrawal and realigning to the time zone.
Posted by Robert Thode at 07:56 PM
January 12, 2013 GMT
Zam, Bot & ZA
The South Loop
I’ve headed south, out of Kenya and through Tanzania. Now I am in Zambia by Victoria Falls. Last year we rode a portion of Zambia but this year I came in from the north and saw much more of the country. North of Lusaka, (capital), I started seeing some large modern farms growing corn, soybeans, tomatoes and some other crops.
First train I have seen moving, to the north most tracks looked unused
After the colonial powers pulled out many of the white decedents moved out of the country. But many of the farmers stayed. Also some of the farmers that were evicted from Zimbabwe came north and set up farms here. Hopefully these farms will hold on and serve as examples to others on how the land can be farmed.
Zambia’s arable land base is tremendous, they could become a major producer and exporter of agricultural products. This will require a change in the tribal control of the land and a change in the culture of the people. I’ve wondered why in the USA the farm laborers that come in from Mexico but by the third generation they are running their own farms and businesses but here I do not see the drive enter the economic system. Some would argue that we should be content with the locals living like they have for the last thousand years but that would also mean the economy would not produce enough to provide quality heath care or education. You can not have part of the modern world without taking all of it.
Been dodging the rain with little success. Coming south to Victory Falls area I hit a torential down pour and finally pulled off in a village and huddled under a roof with the locals till it had passed. But on the road again I determined it was headed the same way I was so I ended up riding 50 Km in a group of 3 cars and me with flashers on so we could see each other. Got to Livingstone soaked to the bone but was never cold.
At the falls I went in to see how much deference it made in flow with the rain we were having. Was defiantly more coming over the falls than last year but you could not see as much due to mist. The next morning I took the ferry across the river to Botswana.
Bunge from the bridge
We traveled this road last year but I was still amazed at all the elephants. I think they get use to the cars but motorcycles they don’t know about so several times when I would stop to watch them they would snort, stomp and flap their ears at me, always keep it in gear in case they charged I would have a shot at escape. Spent the night at Nata Lodge camping, can recommend this spot as it was very nice.
Then on south to Gaborone. Botswana appears to be on par with South Africa economically, neat modern towns and cities. After all the boarder crossings in the last few weeks it was a shock to see the modern facilities when I went out of Botswana and into South Africa. I did have to spend quit a bit of time on the South African side as they had to hunt down someone who knew how to fill out the Carnet for the motorcycle.
On the road
Camp at Nata Lodge, they had a swimming pool that really felt good
Bot border post, what a change
In South Africa I first wanted to get the biked serviced and a couple of issues fixed. So I headed to Speed Bike in Klerksdorp. On the way I stopped in a small town market to get something to drink. I noticed a lady looking at the plate and on my way out she said I should follow her to the farm and have a rest. There are some really nice farms in this area and I was wishing I could get a better look so I followed her to their farm. Had a great time and even was able to do some laundry. The next morning I rode around the farm with Boxer as he checked out things before the crew got there, once the crew was lined out we had breakfast and I got back on track to Klerksdorp. Martie gave me the address of her daughter in California and a son in Gauna with instructions to stop if I get to that part of Africa someday. Having white children moving out of South Africa has become all to common and is going to do great harm to the country if the black government can not change the discrimination.
Checking out the farm
Garden by Boxer and Martie's house
After getting the bike serviced I decided I had enough time to head west and see more of the Northern Cape. I ended up at Augrabies Falls National Park. From here I head back to Jberg and line up shipping with enough time to head into the hill for a few days.
Augrabies Falls, from the top end
In the previous post I had pictures of the Children’s Center, I got the following email from Paul that really show how hard life can be sometimes:
Thank you for your email and the time we shared at Fursa. Recently I
had my friends from Germany here in Isiolo, therefore did not reply
Also I have found an orphan boy who was dumped under the tree with
multiple bone fractures.
He is 10 years old who was climbing the tree and fall down. I was told
that children often collect the leafs that help mangos and bananas to
ripen faster. The make as little as 10 Kenyan Shillings if they lucky
to sell them.
Unfortunately he fell down and injured himself badly. He was taken to
the hospital in Isiolo but only to found the staff on strike. Then
people took him to Missionary Hospital in Kiirua, which is about 40 km
away from Isiolo.
He did not receive help over there as hospital staff asked to put
deposit of 50,000 Ksh, so they boy was send back to Isiolo hospital.
Upon the arrival to Isiolo he was dumped by the doctors nearby my home
where I found him surrounded by neighbors.
I did take the boy with the protest of 250 people to District
Commissioner where we demanded investigation.
Now the boy is in hospital where he went 5 operations and is
recovering. He will remain in the hospital for another two months. I
have already decided to admit him to Fursa when he is discharged.
As you see there is always something going on and often kids are the
ones who suffer.
How about you, where are you know and what are your plans before you
fly back home?
Posted by Robert Thode at 12:51 PM
December 28, 2012 GMT
From Nakuru to Isiolo Kenya on mostly secondary roads for a stunningly beautiful day. I would nominate this for one of the top ten rides, some places the pot holes outnumbered the tar but had about 100 k of really good road twisting and turning as it rolled up and down the hills and valleys. Came by some large wheat farms. I do think that Kenya is on the right road if they can get the corruption out of the government.
Nairobi and I could get ice cream
Crossing the Equator
Hotel in Eldoret, first time I pulled in to hotel for parking in Africa
A little about the road to Moyale, it is 500k and normally takes two days. The only section of dirt that you need to take on the Cape Town to Cairo route. I had heard stories of this road with and seen the damage it did to motorcycle shocks when at Jungle Junction where he had a 2ftX2ftX1.5ft box full of shock he had replaced this year. It is not the bumps and washboard that get the shocks per say, but they over heat so I set up a system of stopping every half hour and letting the shock cool.
The first day I was surprised to find 100k of new road. In five years the whole road will be paved and done in an easy day. When I got to the dirt/gravel/sand road it is hard to describe other than to say it was brutal. As physically exhausting as riding this type of road is, it is far harder mentally requiring 100% concentration for hours on end. In Marsabit I pulled into ”Henry’s Camp”. I was tired and only a little hungry so I asked if I could get a bowl of rice, she brought me a big dish of rice with vegetables, beans and sliced tomato on top that was perfect.
I started out early the next day planning on a grueling 10hrs. I was making good time and by 1:30 I was 60k from Moyale and it started to rain. It was a down pour that had the road looking like three creeks. I had the fools hope of being able to get to the other side of the thunder shower but had my first “unscheduled get off” of the year, bike and me laying in the middle of the road soaked to the bone. You can not ride these dirt roads when it rains. The position of the bike made it impossible for me to pick it up even after unloading but a bus came sliding down the road and got stopped with everyone hopping out to help. They made sure I was all right before they went on. I decided to wait two hours and let the road dry some before trying again. As the two hour approached it rained some, not like before but kept the road from drying. The only choice I had was to go off into the bush and set up a camp.
Unscheduled get off
I survived the night and was up at first light and packed to go but waited for the sun to come out and help dry the road. By 10:30 I was to Moyale.
I had been confused as to visa requirements for getting into Ethiopia so had asked two traveling couples and both said I could get visa at boarder. They were wrong, maybe in the north but not in the south. I was told that I would need to return to Nairobi and get visa. The thought of traveling that road two more times was crushing and I did not have the time it would take. Three days (if no rain) to Nairobi then passport to embassy on Friday, lucky to pick up on Monday, then three days back. I did not have ten days.
So time to make a new plan. Plan A is to head back south to Johannesburg and ship bike home. Plan B is to find a place to store in Nairobi then go do some of the things I had to pass on for lack of time like climb Kilimanjaro.
When I got close to Isiolo where I would spend the night I stopped for a coke and something to eat where I met Paul. Paul is from Poland and is running a children's center for street kids. He invited me to come to the center which showed me a side of African life that most do not see. Overall Kenya is doing well but they have a long way to go in some spots. I will long remember the kids at the center and the lives they have led. This type of operation is so much more effective than the large NGOs and aid that is stolen by the government.
Fursa Children's Center
Paul with one of the boys
Dinner at the children's center
Getting ready to leave
I am back at Jungle Junction now in Nairobi. Will go with plan A and ship bike home as this will give me much more flexibility in when we travel again.
Jungle Junction, Nairobi
Posted by Robert Thode at 07:31 AM
December 21, 2012 GMT
Very slow internet here so will add pictures when I can
The Zanzibar adventure over I worked my way out of Dar Es Salaam, 100 k west then turning north. The country became dryer with many large fields of sisal used to make twine. Some new fields going in so plastic twine is not out competing the natural fiber. At Mombo I was getting tired and saw a sign for a hotel. 46k later and 1100 meters higher I was at Lushoto. This is wonderfully beautiful place and much cooler than the low lands. The road was a little harry being very narrow in spots and two way traffic. Got a really nice room at an older place for m/l $30, breakfast has been included in room rate as standard practice for awhile now. Gives me one good meal a day at least. I could just hide away in this place it is so nice.
Met a New Zealander who was there with his wife and new baby. He has been in the country for three years putting in power lines, (grant from USA government, good to see my tax money put to good use). The next morning I met a guy from British Columbia who has been there for four years teaching teachers how to teach blind and deft children. Great discussions with both about Tanzania and the people.
Well new day and back down the hill to the valley below for a ride up to Moshi. This is where you would book a safari into the Serengeti or a climb up Mt Kilimanjaro. I was really thinking about climbing the mountain. But after sleeping on it I decided to pass, not sure how motorcycle boots would do hiking and I came to Africa to ride. It would take five days to climb the mountain plus one on each end, this would cut me short and I would not have time to ride to Uganda. Maybe in my next life.
From Moshi I went north and crossed into Kenya. Easy crossing, $50 for visa and $20 for road permit and $150 for insurance that will cover the rest of the trip through Egypt. Kenya is way ahead of the last three counties, (at least in the south), signs indicating property for sale, large ranches, chicken broiler operations, green houses, and even nursery stock being grown and sold. It is obvious that a different economic system is in place here.
Into Nairobi, traffic is a disaster, and I am wanting to find Jungle Junction, a gathering place for overland travelers by truck or bike. This electronic age is amazing as I was able to stop, order a sandwich, and while waiting for it I used my phone to find location and get it punched it into GPS. That was the easy part, it was ll k away and took 1and 3/4 hours to get there. I am going to stay here a day and get some things sorted out on the bike, talk to those who have been where I want to go and make a plan. There is a poster here for rafting in Uganda, maybe.
Jungle Junction was a good stop and break, to be able to meet and talk with other travelers was good. The work on motorcycles and trucks there and he asked how the GSA was doing. He checked the shock and then showed me the box of failed shocks they have replaced this year. Mine is still holding well but I was told that it is the heat build up that destroys them. Recommended that when I get to the road to Moyale that I stop every half hour and let it cool down, do this and they will survive the road.
Today, Sunday, I rode out of Nairobi fairly easily to good road heading west toward Uganda. About 3/4 the way the good road ended, from there on into Eldoret the pavement was rutted the worst I have seen. Some as deep as eight inches. There was 20k of construction detour so at some time in the future they will get it all fixed.
Overall it was very scenic ride as I went up in the mountains as high as 2850 M. Several areas of forestry with pine and hemlock trees. Some larger farms, saw dairy herds of m/l 60 head and one circle irrigation system. Local produce being sold beside the road included potatoes, carrots, plumbs, sweet peas, green beans, squish, water melon and other stuff I could not id. Also saw three combines and some fields of wheat, a first on this trip. There is more than adequate farm ground to feed the population if production and distribution can be improved.
Crossing in to Uganda at Malaba, was straight forward and being on a motorcycle I did not have to pay a road tax. Many of the boarders want a address of where you are going to stay and do not like it when I put down “where I find a place” so I will go to guide book and write down name and address of one before I get to boarder, it keeps them happy. Got took for $50 by the insureance people. They wanted to see my Yellow Card that covers five countries, then said they filled it out wrong. I got it in Tanzania where they circled the counties that were covered, the instructions say “delete those not covered”. I refused to buy more and proceeded to get passport stamped and carnet processed. When I returned to bike the policeman wanted to see my insurance card and he said it was not good, with the same argument. So I am sure the insurance guy paid him to check and stop me from going farther.
Then on to Jinja where I will raft the Nile. I had not been sure how long it would take me to get here so I am a day early and spend time wandering around town and picking up a few needed items. I bought a pair of shorts that were used from “donated” clothing store. There is a whole industry set up to sell the stuff the world sends to Africa to help he poor.
Tuesday night I get travelers direa and spend most of the night on the throne. I was bunking at the rafting place and when I crawled out the next morning I felt like I had been run over by a truck and did not think I could raft at all but by the time they were ready to move out I thought I could ride in the safety boat that takes the easy why down. By the time we got to the river I was able to climb in the fun boat and off we went.
This is the start of the White Nile where it comes out of Lake Victoria and starts its run to the Mediteranian. Very large river even at its start. The firs rapids were one of the four class fives, a six meter waterfall m/l. We all lived and we were off. Made the trip without flipping the raft but dumped a few on some of the rapids. Rafting a class five river can now come off the bucket list, have done many class four rivers but never had the opportunity to run a five. I was extremely tired the whole way from being sick but made it back and sat down on sofa fell asleep and woke up when it was dark.
Sleep well that night but eat only a banana for breakfast as stomach still felt weak. The road in had been poor with lots of construction so I opted for another route and crossed at Busia. Was a good crossing and this time Kenya said I did not need to pay road tax for motorcycle. I paid it last time so I hop I don’t get in a bind with out. This road had less trafic but was full of pot holes and lot of construction. It took ten hours to go 400k to Nakuru. Today I ride by Mt Kenya to Isiolo.
Posted by Robert Thode at 04:59 AM
December 13, 2012 GMT
ZANZIBAR THE ADVENTURE
First let me say that if anyone is planning a trip to Tanzania, do not pass up the opportunity to cross over to Zanzibar Island. And if you are riding a motorcycle do not take it with you unless you are saying for at least a month. It was a nightmare getting here with the bike. They did not explain when I made the deal that cargo, (motorcycle) could not go on the same boat as passengers. This made no sense at all till finally someone explained that until a year and a half ago you could but they had two ferries go down, drowning 1150 people because they would load cargo to max then stack in hundreds of people. So I took slow ferry, three hours, and got here at 1500. Bike ferry was to be here at 1800 but did not show till 2000 then we waited for another boat to finish loading and move out only to be told that we would need to come back in the morning to unload. So one and half days to get the bike here. Not looking forward to Wed. when I ship back.
Ready to load
Now Zanzibar is part of Tanzania, or so says the book, but they forgot to tell the people of Zanzibar. They have their own government and rules. The paperwork to get the bike in was worse than anywhere I have been in Africa. All this to cross to an island that is in the same country, or so I thought. You also have to have an agent, now you probably have seen the “t” shirt that says “vegetarian is an old African word for poor hunter” well “agent” is and old African word for thief. They are always wanting you to pay for this or that “fee”
Zanzibar town was first settled by traders from Persia and became a powerful city state between the 12th and 15th century. Then was controlled for awhile by the Portuguese. Then in the mid 16th century Ottoman empire gained control as a trading post for goods coming into and out of Africa. For over a 1000 years this was the key trading port for east Africa. This included spices, slaves, timber and ivory. The old town, (Stone Town) has defiant Arabic influence. Plan is to spend a couple of days wandering the old town and markets. Today I did a tour of the island, about 250 k and I think I covered every road. Lots of small farms that seem unorganized in their production and distribution but it all works. I seen a couple of Christian Churches but mostly Islam.
The people of Zanzibar were friendly and helpful. It is a great place to visit, (without taking a moto). I met an interesting gentleman who was originally from Poland then got out in ‘82 and went to South Africa. He invited Martha and I to come to his retirement home on a island to the north in September when the weather is the best. It is a very tempting offer, to spend a couple of weeks on an island beach just kicking back. We talked about politics, religion and life and as always it is the people I meet along the way that are the best part of traveling.
View out over the water from restaurant
Loading off the beach
I was to ship back at 10 on Wed. But got a call on Tuesday about noon that I need to ship out today. So back to the hotel for quick pack and down to the dock where agent told me I need to go back down the beach to load. At the beach there was a line up of cars to get on the ferry, way more than would fit, so I worked my way out of the line and went around the buildings, between some tables, over a two foot bank of sand and on to the beach. Spun loose sand to the ferry ramp and I was on. (Always room for a moto). Agent was telling me I needed to go on people ferry but I went up and talked to the captain and he said I could ride with them but it would be 20 hours to get there. Told him I had everything I needed in the bike and he could sign me on as crew. So I moved into the bridge and had a great time with the crew and several of the shipping staff coming in to introduce themselfs and see the crazy white guy that was willing to ride the cargo ferry.
At the cargo dock
As we head away
Once the cars were loaded we went over to the dock and waited to load on some more cargo. It is amazing to watch the boats being loaded all by hand. Those dock workers earn every cent they get. Sacks of sugar, potatoes, refrigerators and everything else you can think of goes up on there back and into the ships. Once we were loaded we went out in the bay and anchored till about 2300 when we headed for Dar. The captain had said I could sleep in his cabin but I did not want to impose so laid down on a carpeted cabinet and sleep some.
On the bridge for the slow trip back to Dar
This ferry, and several of the others, are old Chinese ferries. Now just imagine what kind of shape the are in when the Chinese get ride of them and there does not seem to be to much maintenance, if it breaks, oh well we did not need that anyhow. Due to the history of these ferries I sent Ryan an email from my phone as to where I was so if I did not make it to the other side they would know where to toss some flowers.
We docked on the other side about 530 and the captain gave me the papers I would need and said the unloading would be about 700. The way they slung the cars and trucks off of here was just plain scarey, I can’t think they don’t drop some. But all went well and then we plucked the moto of and away I went. At the port gate they did not know what to do with me as I did not have an agent there to pluck me for more money. But I showed them all the papers and the Carnet so they let me pass. And the great Zanzibar Adventure came to an end.
Off loading a car, only a padded bar under front and back
Posted by Robert Thode at 06:19 PM