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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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Old 28 Jul 2012
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Cape Town to Nairobi on small bikes, any suggestions?!

Name’s Ken and still very new to this forum. Here is a link to my introduction:


Anyway, our vision for The Trip:

Ethos: Travelling on a tight budget on lightly packed, small bikes. Pitching tents and camping most of the time. Want a mix of different types of roads - asphalt, gravel, dirt but most importantly, routes that are fun (not fun for us = pothole ridden chaos, muddy rainy season oblivion, crazy-populated with cars and super-fast stretches.....fun for us = hairpins, camber, switchbacks, long sweeps, desolate roads, anything that you can highly recommend). With the addition of also doing some very common, touristy stuff (see below).

From: Cape Town to Nairobi

Group size: 2 people, close friend is flying into Cape Town from San Francisco

Must see attractions/tentative route:

1. From Cape Town, ride east along the coast, very frightenedly do that highest bungee jump in the world (open to route suggestions)
2. Reach Durban, then head north to the Botswana border (open to route suggestions)
3. Southern Botswana to Okavango Delta (open to route suggestions; or can anyone recommend a better, yet still ‘affordable’ safari anywhere along my CT>Nairobi route?)
4. Okavango to Victoria Falls (open to route suggestions; should i see Vic Falls from the Zambia or Zimbabwe side?)
5. Vic Falls to Zanzibar, Tanzania (open/really need some route suggestions)
6. Zanzibar to Moshi (open to route suggestions)
7. Summit Kili
8. Moshi to Nairobi, Kenya (open to route suggestions)
9. Fly back to California with a big stupid grin on my face and collapse/sleep for a week

Time frame: 1.5 months, hopeful trip start/end dates – Aug 11, 2012 - Oct 01, 2012

Bike: Looking to buy TWO (2) used in the Cape Town vicinity. Budget is around ZAR12500 max for each. Link to my Bike Wanted post below:


Tires: Intermediates, 50-50 asphalt-gravel (sound right? A need to carry a spare for my type of trip? )

Gear (have):

1. Riding gear sans helmet
2. first aid kit and meds
3. sleeping bag, tents, bed roll, small burner, pots, utensils
4. compass
5. digi cams and memory cards
6. water filter and iodine tablets
7. headlamp

Gear (need to buy/searching for and could you kindly direct me towards..) - :

1. Helmet (motocross w/ visor and goggles OR full-face?)
2. Rack, if not included on bike
3. Soft panniers
4. Brake lever protectors
5. Engine crash guard (truly necessary on smaller bikes? Can they be found?)
6. Spare tubes and puncture repair kit
7. Tank bag
8. Tire levers, tool set (understand that this can be very bike specific)
9. Atlas
10. Spare brake/clutch lever, clutch cable
11. Wire, duct tape, and zip ties
12. Spare plugs
13. Instant gasket
14. Spare oil and air filter (still necessary for this short length of a trip? Can i just clean existing filters?)
15. (Am i missing anything else crucially important?)

Documents (have):

1. California/USA motorcycle license in paper form only, no picture (original was lost and could not be replaced unless i go in-person to a California motoring office)
2. expired USA drivers license
3. Liberian drivers license (auto only)
4. yellow-fever/immunizations WHO card
5. non-expired American passport
6. medical insurance
7. Peace Corps Liberia Volunteer ID card
8. Passport photos

Documents (don’t have, trying to obtain):

1. Trying to obtain an international driving permit (IDP) for my USA motorcycle license
2. Trying to obtain an international driving permit (IDP) for my Liberian auto license (will this even help me at border crossings/checkpoints?)
3. Carnet (as an American citizen but buying the bike here in SA, how do I obtain a Carnet?)
4. Need motorcycle insurance?
5. Visas and entry requirements research still needs to be done for an American entering: Botswana, Zambia or Zimbabwe, maybe Malawi?, Tanzania, Kenya (own research will be done yet still, can anyone shed any light/recent info on this?)
6. Photocopies of everything
7. (Am i missing anything else crucially important?)

And I think that’s it. That said, if you know or have seen any of the aforementioned and things currently on the market, forums, gumtree, junkmail, wherever..if you could be so kind as to direct me to those postings that would be really HUGE. To save money for this trip, I am currently doing a lot of couchsurfing and staying at backpackers and therefore won’t have the easiest access to the internet to browse for great deals and such (was further hindered as my laptop broke about 6 mths ago during my volunteer service in Liberia).

I know many might be thinking that i shouldve postponed this trip to when im a bit older or after dedicating some more time towards the research end of this trip but from a very realistic point of view, if I can manage to get this trip underway at this time, then I really can’t think of a truly better time as a) I am already on the continent b) up to date with my immunizations/vaccs c) my antibodies are already built up to withstand a plethora of nasty bacteria and illnesses d) still remember a decent amount of swahili e) and currently not tied down to any time-conscious, career obligations.

Anyhow, would love to hear what your thoughts and suggestions are if you got em.

Cheers and thanks,
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Old 28 Jul 2012
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Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Wessex, UK
Posts: 2,136
Hi Ken and welcome,
I know somebody who did a whole six month tour of southern and east Africa, including Kenya, on a Honda XR125 bought in SA. She said it was a great bike for the trip and never had a problem with, it was bought new thought, the only negative comment was that it was slow accelerating. It cannot of been that bad as she has since bought a Honda CG125 which has the same engine in south America.

This was all done without a carnet, insurance is not needed in SA, at least it wasn't when I was there, you can possibly get it there but certainly in Zambia and at that time you ask for a comesa which is a yellow card extending cover to other countries which you must name and they will tick.

Where you need to buy visas have cash dollars, they must be good condition notes, most obtainable at borders.

It sounds like you have enough driving licences/id to cover it, if asked for show anything with a photo on it, I never was in 8 months. Expect to get pulled over regularly in some countries, everybody does including the locals, always smile, shake officers hand and tell him/her about your trip, they are probably having a crap, boring day and you will be the most interesting thing to happen to them, they are not after bribes, usually!

Buy hand guards/crash bars if you can get them but not essential, a spare pair of levers will cover that if not, if the bike has a small bash plate then good, don't waste too much time and money on one, don't forget spare throttle cable more important than clutch.

Spare tyres not needed, if you start with good quality new ones they should get you to Kenya where new are available, new for a small bike probably available in all countries.
Air filter not needed, probably washable anyway. If there are two of you on two bikes try to get the same models.

Head east from Cape town along the garden route and you can go to cape Aguliias, the most southerly point in Africa, make it up from there.
Your time is a little limited for where you want to go, at least 3 months for that I would say, remember August is winter in SA it will be cold and could be wet, you might want to head straight north from CT into Namibia, a good time to be there, from there you can go to Botswana and or Zambia and on.

There is probably more but I cannot think of it now.

Last edited by mark manley; 28 Jul 2012 at 12:06. Reason: more info
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Old 29 Jul 2012
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thank you thank you thank you!


thanks SO much mate! on borrowed computer time right now but really appreciate the tips. been leaning on the 125xrl side as well. hearing what you have to say only reaffrims my position.

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