Wild Dog Adventure Riding

Riding: Plan, Report and Racing => Ride Reports => Topic started by: maria41 on November 04, 2018, 06:43:22 pm

Title: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 04, 2018, 06:43:22 pm
Hi everyone,

Some of you may remember all my silly questions few months ago, as I was doing the research for our African trip. As promised here is now my trip report. It won't be the hard core that some have put (I read them all  :drif:) but I hope you will enjoy it.

Few words about us.
I am Maria, a grumpy french, and Alistair, my other half, a nice (and way too polite) British lad.
Together we have been travelling on our motorcycles in many places around the world. Our big first overland trip was in South America for a year, back in 2007/2008. Many trips followed, some shorts, around Europe, some much longer (3 to 4 months), across Russia and central Asia in 0214 and 2016.
Africa was never in the cards, until we got inspiration from someone who spent 3 years around the world.
I did the research, and for an easy life, decide to narrow it down to southern Africa. We had 4 months and 2 small bikes.

What could possibly go wrong?  :biggrin:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 04, 2018, 06:45:31 pm
So, let's start!
Our rough itinerary:

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1975/31182039138_d24911530b_c.jpg)

And few photos:

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1940/44316467664_f60be4428e_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1970/43224760030_f543c365a6_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1944/44987924992_779f145a91_c.jpg)


(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1905/31163093698_6686c2d059_c.jpg)


No driving service for campers:
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1917/44316511044_378c2c859c_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1923/31163201218_391600824a_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1933/31163189178_17cfd6a801_c.jpg)









Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 04, 2018, 06:49:19 pm
I feel I should put a post about the bikes (and luggage).

Let's start with my XT250. It is a 2009 grey import (to the UK) from Japan. It has probably bewn badly crashed over there and has few issues with the electrics, but nothing major.

Modifications / preparation:

1 / Tubeless back wheel (and front wheel): fitted with heavy duty inner tube and filled with "green Slime". It seems to have done the trick as both during my 2016 trip and this trip I had zero punctures.
Fitted with Shinko tyre at the back in Kyrgyzstan in 2016. Not replaced as it was truck back to the UK.
Front tyre: Pirelli MT21.

2 / handle bars replaced by rental ones.

3 / full service, new sprockets, chain, fluids, K&N air filter, (new wheel bearings if I can remember?)
And that's about it.


Alistair's bike: Honda CRF 250
This one, we spent more money on it as it was its first overland trip.
In addition to the XT250 point 1 and 3:

1 / 12 litre fuel tank fitted

2 / custom made frame to fit our soft panniers, as well as fitting under the luggage frame a 5 litre fuel canister. (My XT250 has a 10 litres tank and I did not want to change that - I carry a 5 l fuel bladder instead for extra).

3/ Alistair fitted a small tool box on the tail, to be used as a top box, for tools and waterproof.

We also got a £20 horse riding gel saddle over the seat, about 2 inches thick, for comfort, identical to mine. They remain in place with just some elastic.

That is about it for the work done on the bikes.

How they look like:

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1965/44987972622_c6535c277d_c.jpg)


Now, why do we travel with such small bikes? Only 250cc, I hear you ask!

First, I did the one year long trip (around South America ) on a BMW 650 GS. For me, it was a complete nightmare.

First, it broke down pretty much everywhere. Then it was way too heavy for me to handle, once we ran out of tarmac. So in the end there were lots of place we did not go as it was too hard for me to ride through that. At the time my only experience of dirt roads was the BMW weekend course in Wales. Not enough.

Then we rented 2 small YBR125 in Vietnam a couple of years later, for few weeks. For me, it was a revelation.
All of a sudden, all those terrifying rough tracks were actually fun to ride. So from there, we decided to downgrade.

No point in Alistair riding a 1200 something if I cannot keep up. It would cause a lot of trouble in our couple  :BLACK2:.

I have seen enough couples, him on the big bike, her on the little one. Him pissed off because she is going so slow, her pissed off because she struggles to follow. Not good!

With our 250s, outside of the western world, we have enough speed, and they are light enough to go through anything. Also, they are very simple to repair. With my BMW, 10 years ago, finding someone with a computer to plug the beemer in the middle of nowhere in Bolivia or Patagonia was impossible, unless trucking it to the capital city.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 04, 2018, 06:51:01 pm
I often get questions about luggage., so here we go:

Another important lesson I learnt, from my 1st long trip 10 years ago, was to travel light. Weight is a killer once I run out of tarmac. So all our subsequent trips, we have packed very light.

We always change some things and keep experimenting. Some stuff we keep with the method, some we keep trying different stuff. So let’s start.


On the XT 250.

I carry a tank bag with my iPad, small camera, phone, guidebook, bottle of water, and the occasional small pack of snacks (peanuts or nuts).

At the rear I have a 49 litre  Ortlieb bag. One of the main straps broke within a couple of weeks of starting our trip. I think I will avoid that brand in the future, as they seem to have dumbed down in quality but sill demanding high price.

In the bag I carry:
Big Agnes Dome tent
2 down sleeping bags
2 thermarest
Fuel stove and kit
Small Titanium cooking pot, aluminum plates, titanium forks & knives and collapsible cups.
Fuel bladder
4 litre water bladder (it was a waste of time, never used)
Mini kit of water filter (never used but tiny)

At departure my bag weighted 10kg.

Once the weather got warm I was able to ram in some of our waterproof (the over trousers and my jacket liner insert).
On occasion I also added few tins of baked beans, bag of instant noodle etc…

In addition to my riding gear I also had a backpack with some copies of my documents (like passport), bike docs as well as the “Carnet de Passage en Douane”, etc.… I never left the backpack out of my back or sight. The carnet is essential.
I also used to carry the bread in there so it is not squashed.

Some tools were also packed under the plastic frame, each side of the fuel tank, as there is a nice space for that.

In addition, I had a small 10 or 15 litres auxiliary bag, once we started cooking our food, that we called the Food Bag. This was strapped on top of the big roll bag. It contained often a jumper or light down jacket, instant coffee, powder milk, selection of salt, sugar and pepper, spices, as well as peanut butter and tins of food. 

That’s all.

On the CRF.

The small topbox contained tools, few spares like cables, sprays like WD40 or chain lube, and few of Alistair ‘s stuff (like winter / spare riding gloves and insert liner for his jacket).

The panniers contained all our clothes.  Estimated weight was about 12kgs.

In the right pannier we put the stuff we will need every day: Clothes we would need for the evening, towels, shoes, toiletry bag, cables and plugs for our electronics.

The left pannier had the spare clothes and stuff we would not use often (like swimsuit) , the clothes washing kit, pharmacy, flip-flops.

Bulky winter clothes like feather jacket, fleece, my winter/summer gloves (depending which ones I was using) were moving from one place to the other depending on requirements.

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Goingnowherekwickly on November 04, 2018, 06:52:37 pm
Whoohoo!!
Great intinery, looking forward to the report :)!!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Antonie on November 04, 2018, 06:52:41 pm
:sip: :popcorn:

Sent from my LG-H990 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 04, 2018, 06:52:57 pm
So we shipped the bikes to Cape Town by sea freight. We delivered them to the shipping company near Heathrow, early April, with some of our luggage and camping gear.

On the 28th of May, we got to London Gatwick and landed in Cape Town the following day, after a change in Istanbul. The flight was uneventful.

One of my ex-colleagues and south African friend, Johan, came to collect us at the airport in his massive Land Rover. Soon, we arrived at his house and as he returned to work we made ourselves at home. In another words, we just crashed out and rested.

Johan, Jo Ann and the kids, arrived soon enough in the afternoon. They had a South Africa treat for us. And no, it was not the fabulous South African wine, which is a given, it was Braai! What we call BBQ in England  :biggrin:!

We discovered Springbok meat! Oh My God! The best meat I ever ate in my life! I am a convert! It was amazing. We also tried the local delicacy Boerewors ( local beef sausage). It was quite a feast!

It was great to catch up with them and discover the local life style, much more laid back than in London. Last time we saw them, as they were about to leave London and go back to Cape Town, Lexi, their first kid, was just few months old, now she was running around. 18 months later, another baby girl had arrived. Remarkably well behave toddler and baby!

The next day, Johan worked from home as he insisted on driving us to the shipping company headquarters. We found the bikes on a pallet each, wrapped in bubble wrap and plastic, as the shippers had already removed the surrounding frame. As Johan went back home we got to work.

We had to reconnect the batteries, fit again the top box, fix the chains that had been left way too tight by the mechanic who changed the chains and sprockets… there was a lot of faff around to retrieve the tools from the small cubicles on the side panels of the Serow but after a couple of hours, we were ready to go.

Less than 2 miles from the shippers, I ran out of fuel on the motorway. Not the best place to breakdown, the area was far from glamorous! It is south Africa after all, probably one of the most dangerous countries in the world, in some areas at least! Rape and murder rates are off the scale here! So I was a bit concerned!
Luckily, I managed to stop on the emergency lane, and luckier yet, Alistair noticed.

Obviously, the shippers in the UK drained my fuel a bit too much! The Reserve light did not light up, my metre tends to play up a bit. For shipping, the bikes are supposed to be on reserve, not empty of fuel though! Thanks to the fuel canister, in the CRF rack, Alistair got a bit of his fuel in the canister and generously shared it with me. It was just enough to make it to a petrol station.

With no other problem, we rode the 20 kms back to Johan’s house.

We then repacked everything.

In the evening, Johan got another local feast on the go: Potjie ( pronounced “poeet-kee”). While it simmered for few hours, I offered my bike to Johan for a little test ride, while we seeped beer with Alistair and Jo Ann.

After another great evening in great company, it was time for bed. We were ready to hit the road.

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 04, 2018, 06:54:36 pm
Thanks guys! Always nice to have a couple of readers! at least it won't feel like I am just talking to myself!  :ricky:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 04, 2018, 06:55:26 pm
Thursday 31st May – Paternoster – 180 kms

(All distances will be in kilometers because my bike is a Japanese import and only shows kms)


(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1934/30193995617_157e2d5aa2_c.jpg)


The next day, we woke up to a downpour! Typical. They are supposed to have drought down here, yet, when we turn up, it rains! Would you believe it, the only time we crossed Death Valley in the US…. yes, you can guess, it rained too! As for our previous trips across Russia and central Asia, if you read my RRs, rain, hail and storms have been a constant. We even had torrential rains in July in the desert in Kazakhstan! Go figure!

Anyway, we waited a bit and by late morning, after getting all our waterproofs on, we made our goodbyes and left. It stopped raining eventually, but instead, we had much worse. A horrendous wind, with gusts so strong, I felt my head would be detached from my body and my helmet was inserting itself into my jaw!

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1904/44411167844_b5e9e7a387_c.jpg)


Our initial plan was to ride to a coastal town called Lambert’s Bay, about 250 kms away. An easy ride under normal circumstances. After 180 kms however, we ended up cold and exhausted in the small resort of Paternoster, where every other house is a hotel or guest house! All painted white! This being winter, it was rather dead. We found a place open and took a rather amazing room with a spectacular view over the beach and the grey sea and heavy sky, with the wind blowing  dog walkers almost off their feet!

After a light breakfast and skipping lunch that day, we were rather hungry.
We found the local minimarket where we bought some amazing local fish and chips, for an early dinner!




Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 04, 2018, 06:56:32 pm
Day 4 – Vredensdal – 285 kms (Friday 1st June)

We left the beautiful but empty white town of Pater Noster and joined the N7, riding north.

The wind was much better, the sky blue, and we managed 100kms/h. The previous day the wind was so strong that we could barely manage 80, and our fuel consumption was up by at least 30%.

We stopped here and there to refuel and rest. The road was long, flat and boring. There was not much to break the monotony and we failed to see much wild life, although I spotted few ostriches once!

We arrived at a very reasonably priced B&B (Vinie’s Cottage) that I spotted in Booking.com the previous night. The owner, Vinie, is a lovely lady and gave us an amazing and very big room, filled with jars full of sweets and biscuits. We made the most of it. The day was a bit warmer but we till kept all our layers.

As we were rather out of town, Alistair jumped into the bike (we cannot remove the panniers form his bike, without unscrewing the top box) and rode to the supermarket to get us some food for dinner and breakfast. We sat in the rear garden, by the small pool, to eat our dinner, although the evening was rather cold.

The next day, Vinie asked for our picture with the bikes for her website. It seems we are her first bikers. Definitely a nice place to stop over.



Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 04, 2018, 06:58:36 pm
Day 5 – Springbok – 300kms (Saturday 2d of June)

We continued on the long boring road north, the wind was still strong and exhausting, and it was cold, very cold.

Silly me! I knew that going to the southern hemisphere; it would be winter down there. But hey, it’s Africa, so surely, it is supposed to be hot!?

Well first you must understand the size of Africa.
This little stuff should help:

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1938/30220212817_1788827cf0_c.jpg)

It term of square miles, you could fit the USA 3 time over in Africa and still have spare space left!  So, of course, when you get songs about saving Africa and stuff like that, you really have to understand that only a fraction of Africa is in deep trouble or dangerous.

This trip has been a journey of discovery for us, reassessing my views about this vast continent. We never planned to cross Africa. Like many people, we thought the whole continent was dangerous and troubled. Exploring a small section of it was quite an eye opener, to say the least.

 Springbok was our last stop before crossing into Namibia.


(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1923/31163118448_fe58c8e4f2_c.jpg)


We arrived at Springbok mid afternoon. It was a short ride to Namibia.

I always plan to get to a border in the morning, to give us time to cross and find a place to stay in the other side, find local currency and other other issues we may have to sort out, like local insurance for the bikes.

The guesthouses were a bit pricey in Springbok but we found one a bit cheaper in the town centre. We got changed into our normal clothes and walked to the local Spar. It was closed! Argh!

Shops close at 1pm on Saturdays and Sundays in this part of South Africa! The liquor store was open though, so we got some water, beer of course, and crisps.

For dinner we had to go out. We were usually told not to walk out after dark, but it seems in Springbok it was ok. So we walked the few 100s metres to the most famous restaurant in town (according to the Lonely Planet!): Taurean. It specialises in meat! Well, it’s South Africa after all, so what else? They love their meat around there.

Outside the restaurant, we saw a big motorcycle, a BMW800GS with all the gear and panniers for long distance travel. Closer, we saw that the number plate was from the USA! Interesting!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 04, 2018, 06:59:21 pm
Inside the restaurant, set as an American steakhouse, with little booths and tables, we sat and I tried to spot the American. I saw a lone guy with an iPad. He was not wearing motorcycle gear and I could not see a helmet around, but I had the feeling it could be our biker.

Never the shy one, I got up and asked him if the bike was his. It was!

That is how we met Clark (like superman alter ego he said!). He had shipped his bike from London to Cairo with Motofreight (the same shipping agent that we used) and rode all the way down Africa by the East Coast!

Meeting a fellow motorcycle traveller is always good. Car travllers don’t pass the same relevant information, as they have no clue of what can and cannot be done with a bike.

We spent the evening talking and exchanging info. As it happens, Clark lives in London, so we hope to catch up later this year! He wanted to ride north by the west coast back to Europe. I am not sure it is wise. He will have to cross countries like Mali, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire etc where there have been lots of kidnappings.

These days very few people seem to cross all of Africa. I have friends who did, via Syria and the east coast of Africa, all the way down to Cape Town, but that was over 10 years ago. The world has changed a lot since then.

I ate a massive steak washed down with the local wine. Bliss!

Back at the guesthouse, the WiFi was down (not a rare occurrence in our trip) so we went to bed early.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1942/31163117838_4b3e0d07d2_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 04, 2018, 07:00:33 pm
Day 6 - Ai-Ais, Namibia – 250 kms – (Sunday 3rd June)

We left Springbok after a huge breakfast, including some very tasty boerewors sausages, and stopped for fuel. Then we rode the 120kms to the border. The weather was nice and sunny with not much wind for a change.

Leaving South Africa took about 10 minutes, as there was very little traffic.

Entering Namibia did not take much longer, riding over the Orange River.

We didn’t need to do any paper work for the bikes, as Namibia and South Africa share a custom agreement. So our Carnets, stamped in South Africa when the bikes arrived in a shipping container, would be valid across Namibia.  This custom agreement also include, we found out later, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. It makes for very easy and fast border crossings.

The whole process was calm with no chaos or hangers on loitering around as I was expecting. It was very civilised and efficient. The staff on both sides was friendly.

Once we paid our road tax in Namibia, we were good to go. We stopped few hundreds metres later to get fuel and local currency.  The local currency is called both (Namibian) Rand or (Namibian) dollar, which can be confusing when being quoted prices and they say “dollars”, as the Namibian dollar is about 14 to the US$! !

There was a fuel station with a small shop and an ATM machine, in the middle of the desert.

The owner came to speak to us. We asked about insurance for the bikes but he told us that it was not necessary.

We discussed about our destination fro the day: Ai-Ais,  and he advised us to take straight away the small road which follows the border with South Africa, and the Orange River, rather that the main road, much further north. That ride was supposed to be more beautiful. At least there would be less traffic!

We followed his advice and, as we rode through the desert, surprisingly, we came across vineyards. It was quite extraordinary and surreal to see large vineyards along the road, in the desert!

After a while we saw, among the vineyards, a sign for a Spar supermarket. We followed it and came across a sort of shopping mall, smartly built, with bank, shops and a SPAR, all those building inline, planted in the middle of the desert, facing a large car park and beyond, a village! All the shops were closed as it was Sunday.

The surprising thing was the “village” on the other side. It was only small shacks with tin roofs. We assumed it had to be the vineyards workers there. The contrast between the well build commercial buildings and living quarters was quite surprising.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1905/45159343721_ae61847c27_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 04, 2018, 07:01:56 pm
Soon enough we ran out of tarmac and rode a gravel road. It was not too bad and we were able to make good progress. It felt so good to finally leave the tarmac and head through the desert on those empty gravel roads. I had had that image in my head for so long, preparing this trip! So many dull winter days, at work, staring at my computer screens and spreadsheets, dreaming! The only thing that kept me sane!


(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1970/43224760030_f543c365a6_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1944/43224758210_94916a674b_c.jpg)


Ai-Ais is a large campsite and hot springs, near Fish river Canyon, the biggest canyon in Africa, which really compares to the Great Canyon in the US, for scale, according to my Lonely Planet.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1928/44125059845_cfe4518e96_c.jpg)


For a campsite (which also has lodges and flats) it was rather expensive. We paid 20$ per person per night. Not cheap! But to be fair the facilities were amazing with very clean shower blocks, separate cooking and washing up block, drinking water on taps, spring swimming pool, a small shop etc…

The campsite seemed very popular with South Africans. The majority of people staying were from there, with very few Europeans on rented SUVs with the tents on the roof.
South African seemed to love Big off road cars pulling all 4X4 trailers!  Those trailers are amazing, with everything in there, including a full fitted kitchen, it seemrd to me, and more food than necessary to survive a nuclear winter!

As we had no food at all, on the other hand, we ate at the restaurant. The choice was grilled pork, chicken or Orix, with few vegetables.

After that we read a bit and decided to go for an early night. We set the tent in a grassy patch, near a shower block, between two palm trees.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1921/43224755800_f602c156eb_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 04, 2018, 07:03:24 pm
Day 7 - Ai-Ais – 0 kms – Monday 4th of June

I woke to the birds’ songs and the staff chasing the raiding gang of baboons that had descended into the camp. The weather was splendid.

A group of baboons was near our tent. They sent 2 young ones up the palm tree next to our tent, and from up there, they threw what looked like yellow dates, to they family in the ground.

The staff kept chasing them with the use of slingshots.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1975/43224757460_5c8afa4999_c.jpg)


At first I thought how exotic this was and how charming they looked. With time and experience, over the following few months, I came to totally dislike the baboons! Little did we know to start with! Don’t they look cute?!

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1901/43224756680_e304501673_c.jpg)


 We made coffee and with bread and jam from the shop, that was our morning breakfast.

While I did some laundry, Alistair did the washing up.

Later on we got in search of the hot springs. At 65 degrees Celsius, they were too hot to bath in. But the swimming pool next to them was still super warm. It was fantastic and we swam and lazed a bit by the pool for a while.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1924/31163112438_2ee6dae4a1_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 04, 2018, 07:03:54 pm
We spoke with various people in the camp. The South Africans were super friendly I must say and they came easily to talk to us.

Late afternoon, while I was busy near the tent, Alistair got talking to 2 women near a small tent, at the very edge of the campsite. That was when we discovered how canny and intelligent those baboons could be!

While a couple of female baboons broke into the small tent that the 2 ladies were sharing, stealing a camping mat, and sending the 2 women and Alistair running after them, another very large male Baboon got into the open boot of a car, parked about 50 m away, and tried to get away with a very large plastic box containing food and wine.

When I spotted that fellow, I shouted to alert the others, as I was too far to do anything about it (and not keen to get into a fight with a large baboon!).

The female baboons scattered toward the hills with the mat, while Alistair got near the large male baboon, which was not ready to give up on his very valuable loot.

After a small staring contest with plenty of teeth showing, the baboon gave up on his loot. That was lucky, as it had very big sharp teeth! An adult male baboon is a very large beast!  You don’t mess around with them! Alistair got quite a fright, as they stared at each other with only the large plastic box between them, the male baboon measuring his chance of winning the fight! !

Staff, a bit later, managed to retrieve the mat. That was lucky as the owner, with a large group of friends, was going to hike the canyon for 5 days. Without a sleep mat, sleeping would be have been rather uncomfortable and cold.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Welsh on November 04, 2018, 07:23:37 pm
Enjoying the RR, first time I went into the Ockavango in 1982 I was on the open back of an F250 when we went through a BIG troop of Baboons, those Alpha males are SERIOUS... 8)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Goingnowherekwickly on November 04, 2018, 07:33:22 pm
Hey Maria
You type much faster than most south africans, brilliant :)
looking forward to following your journey..

Ja, try not tangle with a fully grown baboon, over the years, they have become accostomed to people & unruly..
especially if alone..  keep up the good work, enjoying the ride :)

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: skydiver on November 04, 2018, 07:45:37 pm
Very interesting read so far.....I will follow this trip to the end   :happy1:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Oubones on November 04, 2018, 07:48:42 pm
Nice trip and following with interest.
Springbok meat is tops! :thumleft:
Thanks for taking the time and effort to write this RR
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Herklaas on November 04, 2018, 08:02:19 pm
 :sip:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Vis Arend on November 04, 2018, 08:26:28 pm
 :sip:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Bliknêrs on November 04, 2018, 08:42:54 pm
Loving this, Maria you write very well.
 :thumleft:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: katana on November 04, 2018, 09:00:16 pm
Thank you for sharing. 
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Hinksding on November 04, 2018, 09:53:36 pm
Sipskraaaipt!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: NoRush on November 05, 2018, 12:59:32 am
 :sip: really enjoying the trip with you two. The small bikes are great furn. Enjoy Africa  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: jlr on November 05, 2018, 06:00:06 am
so cool, keep it coming.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: shark_za on November 05, 2018, 07:37:30 am
Interesting to see how other react to the culture we take for granted as normal. Keep it coming.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: ChrisL - DUSTRIDERS on November 05, 2018, 12:22:23 pm
The surprising thing was the “village” on the other side. It was only small shacks with tin roofs. We assumed it had to be the vineyards workers there. The contrast between the well build commercial buildings and living quarters was quite surprising.

Those reed shacks are built by the seasonal pickers and packers that arrived every year to do the picking and packing of the export grapes for about two to three months. About 7- 8000 every year.
They get on taxi's in Ovamboland in the far north to move there for the duration of the picking season.

The Spar was built there for the workers and their families. Their nearest Spar was 100 kms away in Rosh Pinah via a dirt road.
They also have a clinic there for the workers and daycare for small children all run and funded by the farms.
The Namibian government also have farms in Aussenkehr.

http://www.wecanchange.co.za/Editors/Articles/tabid/55/itemid/198/amid/376/praise-for-much-needed-aussenkehr-centre.aspx
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: woody1 on November 05, 2018, 12:56:36 pm
 :ricky:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: GIDEON on November 05, 2018, 01:00:40 pm
 :sip:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: P.K. on November 05, 2018, 01:27:46 pm
Awesome...Namibia is fantastic and I love your reasoning ito bike size. Too many guys ride bikes way too big for them to handle if it gets vaguely technical.

Quite a few peeps could take your packing advice too...The average Joe takes way too much shit. It is quite clear this is not you first trip.

Looking forward to the rest.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Oupa Foe-rie on November 05, 2018, 01:56:42 pm
I am also in on this ride .................  :sip:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Fransw on November 05, 2018, 02:17:51 pm
Lekker!!

Small light bikes are the best!! :thumleft:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: J-dog on November 05, 2018, 03:17:10 pm
 :sip:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Poenabul on November 05, 2018, 03:45:06 pm
This sounds like a proper RR.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 05, 2018, 04:15:03 pm
Loving this, Maria you write very well.
 :thumleft:

Thanks, despite all my bad typos and spelling  :ricky:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 05, 2018, 04:17:52 pm
The surprising thing was the “village” on the other side. It was only small shacks with tin roofs. We assumed it had to be the vineyards workers there. The contrast between the well build commercial buildings and living quarters was quite surprising.

Those reed shacks are built by the seasonal pickers and packers that arrived every year to do the picking and packing of the export grapes for about two to three months. About 7- 8000 every year.
They get on taxi's in Ovamboland in the far north to move there for the duration of the picking season.

The Spar was built there for the workers and their families. Their nearest Spar was 100 kms away in Rosh Pinah via a dirt road.
They also have a clinic there for the workers and daycare for small children all run and funded by the farms.
The Namibian government also have farms in Aussenkehr.

http://www.wecanchange.co.za/Editors/Articles/tabid/55/itemid/198/amid/376/praise-for-much-needed-aussenkehr-centre.aspx


Thanks Chris that is interesting to know! This has been a voyage of discovery for me!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 05, 2018, 04:27:01 pm
Awesome...Namibia is fantastic and I love your reasoning ito bike size. Too many guys ride bikes way too big for them to handle if it gets vaguely technical.

Quite a few peeps could take your packing advice too...The average Joe takes way too much shit. It is quite clear this is not you first trip.

Looking forward to the rest.

Hi Pete,

I think everybody starts the same way: big bike (BMW 'cause that is THE adventure bike!), big all boxes and too much luggage. Then if you are wise, you learn the hard way and modify.

Our 1st one year trip around South America we went that way:  big BMW F650GS with tons of crap we did not really need. My bike was a dog and it was So hard to find a place to fix it. I can list every BMW dealer over there. There are very few. IF you need help in Patagonia, Bolivia or the mountains in the Andes: Good luck!  And then it was so heavy!

For our trip across Europe, Central Asia to Mongolia and back, we went to the other extreme. We got a couple of Honda XR125. We bought them on eBay for next to nothing. Although it cost us a bit to revive them. But they made it to Mongolia and back in 2014. 12,000 miles we put on those little bikes. We had our challenges.

We learned from that more valuable lessons:
1 - Minimal luggage rocks once you run out of tarmac
2 - A 125 was too slow, you need speed to get away from trucks in Russia!

For me, finding an Enduro bike I could ride (I am small) was the big thing. We found an XT250 in 2015 and at 108kg is ideal. It was amazing when we went back across Russia and Central Asia in 2016. I could not ask for a better bike. Sure a 350 or 450 Enduro would be better in terms of speed. But where can i find one as low as my XT (84cm max) and as light????? And affordable?
And I can still cruise happily at 90 km/h and push beyond 100 if I need, with my little Xt250.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 05, 2018, 04:29:21 pm
Day 8 – Keetmanshoop – 250kms – Tuesday 5th June

Packing camp in Ai  – Ais took a long time because one of us needed to keep watch on the very clever and organized raiding baboons.

We did not see any around that morning. Were they gone, or hiding cleverly?

In any case, we knew, from the previous day events, that they were lightening fast and very cunning, using distraction technics to get what they want.

 After packing most of our stuff we got ready to sit for some breakfast. With our cups of coffee, bread and jam ready on the campsite table, I was still packing some stuff near the tent. Alistair just walked to the bikes, only few metres away. Just few seconds inattention, that is all it took!

In the blink of an eye, a female baboon, which had been obviously spying on us hidden somewhere, came at the speed of light, out of nowhere, jumped into the picnic table and stole our bag of bread! Before any of us could react, it was gone!

So this is how a baboon stole our breakfast!

Luckily, the tiny shop in the campsite had a bag of bread rolls left, so we ate our breakfast and finished packing very carefully.


We finally left, later than we wanted.

We rode to the Fish River canyon viewpoint, which was ok but nothing out of this world I thought! Sometime guidebooks and tourist websites make something such a big deal, building expectations, and when you get there it can be underwhelming. I mean it is beautiful but maybe not the best stuff in Namibia!? Still, it was a nice ride.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1935/31163108118_3e4a39e1a6_c.jpg)


(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1953/44125054255_f8af394be4_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 05, 2018, 04:30:37 pm
Then we made our way to Keetmanshoop, the biggest town (and only one) in this part of Namibia. Short of 30 kms, it was all gravel road. We usually try to stay on the small back roads, much more pleasant on our little bikes.

Although the gravel roads were in good condition, it was still very tiring for us, as it required 100% attention. At this early stage in our trip, we were still very much out of shape for long days riding. It usually takes few days to get into the Zone.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1918/44125055125_1c3d4a4f07_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1933/31163104718_cecaa69d13_c.jpg)


We had to get into town to get enough cash as well as find a supermarket to buy enough food to keep us going for few days in the desert. We did not know what to expect in term of food and cash, for the itinerary I had in mind.

My paper map was showing the fuel stations dotted around the desert, but I had no idea whether they would accept card payment or if they would have a shop attached to it! So, a town was useful for that.  It was early days in Namibia and I still didn’t know what to expect. 

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1952/44125053345_431afc46d4_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 05, 2018, 04:31:30 pm

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1915/31163103098_28dcddb02a_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1911/31163102528_2877307bdc_c.jpg)


In town, we found a place to stay by following signs for a B&B. The landlady told us that it was not safe to walk out at night, so we went out for a very early dinner. Usually after a full day riding, we don’t like to get back on the bikes. And also, if we ride to some place for dinner, we can’t really get a beer or some wine if we are riding.
The B&B owner told us how to get to a restaurant, not too far, and it was near some ATM machines.

Lots of local guys seemed to just hang around the ATM machine. Young, relatively well dressed, but just standing around doing nothing. I don’t like that. It makes me feel nervous! If they don’t use the machine, why are they hanging around like that?

Anyway, we got cash, found the restaurant, which was empty, and we got a really nice spicy pizza, washed down with local beer. After that we walked back to the B&B, before nightfall.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1913/31163106558_e52b390408_c.jpg)

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 05, 2018, 04:32:38 pm
Day 9 – Luderitz   – 370 kms – weds 6th June

After breakfast, we packed up and rode to the supermarket. In a strategy that would turn routine, I would stay with the bikes, while Alistair would make an "executive decision"  :biggrin: on what to buy. Obviously we had a list of essentials like bread, tins, instant noodles and peanuts.

We debated whether to do the detour to see the Quiver tree forest. We got on the way but the gravel road was insanely busy for some strange reason, and we were in a constant cloud of sand. I couldn’t see the road and got fed up. All that to see few trees that we could see form the side of the road in the region!
So we turned round, got back to Keetmanshoop and picked up the main road to Luderitz, the first coastal town in southern Namibia.

It was a long way but it was all tarmac. The weather was good and I removed some layers.

After 240 kms we stopped in Aus. In between there was not much! Aus is a very small settlement in the middle of nowhere. There is a fuel station, a large posh hotel (for some mysterious reason!) with a very nice big restaurant there, and a small village.

I was on reserve. By my calculations, cruising at 100kms/h I could do 300kms. If I rode economy, I should be able to do more. Alistair told me this meant my bike was making 90 miles to the (imperial) gallon. Whatever.   

In Aus, we found the fuel station and the very luxurious hotel. We stopped in the restaurant for cold drinks and some cake. They had a very interesting menu at reasonable prices.  I made a mental note of this and decided to time it so we could stop there for lunch, on our way back from Luderitz. The coastal town is a dead end, and we would have to come back via Aus, before turning north.

Next to our table was a large group of South Africans. We talked to them and they suggested for us a nice restaurant for seafood in Luderitz.


Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 05, 2018, 04:35:15 pm
From Aus, the road took us through Garub Desert Horse National Park, which, unsurprisingly, had many wild horses! We also started seeing road signs for Oryx and hyenas!

We saw a dead Springbok by the side of the road and also a dead hyena a bit later. I should have stopped for a photo of the hyena, as they are so elusive in the wild! We saw nothing else alive other than the wild horses.
 
The Garub National park was stunning, with the pale green of the grass mixing with the ochre of the earth, the red sand of the far away dunes and the blue hills further away. It was breathtaking, like a delicate painting.

Unfortunately my small point and shot camera cannot do it justice:

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1956/31163101668_bb1fa2d63d_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1914/31163101308_d2dae12d81_c.jpg)

 

Soon, all this turned to desert and the long straight road became very boring. We saw quite few water holes in the desert. It was surprising but we later found out there had been very heavy violent rains 2 weeks earlier.

The wind came laterally and fine ribbons of sand were flying across the road like ghostly fingers trying to grab our wheels.

We arrived in town and made it to the local backpacker place.

It was a large house with very high ceilings.

Germans founded Luderitz, and it had that German feeling with everything in its right place, spotless streets and buildings and no liter at all. 

The backpacker place had the faded grandeur of a rich family that fell in hard times. The floorboards were suitably creaking, as you walked through very large rooms, the paint and curtains very dated, tired dusty furniture… It was certainly not luxurious, but clean enough, welcoming and peaceful. The kind of place you felt at home.

  It had a large and well-equipped, if very old and tired kitchen, a very large lounge with sunken sofas set around an old capricious TV, a courtyard, a large backyard where we stored the bikes securely, and our room was massive.

We were able to spread all our gear over the many beds! We felt comfortable here and decided to stay 2 nights so we could visit the town and the area.

The place was very quiet, it was still low season, but we talked with few residents.

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 05, 2018, 04:38:22 pm
One of  the backpackers resident was an old bloke who sounded German but was actually Namibian and had been living in the backpacker hostel for the last 9 months. There were also two young men, James and Jonas, one British and the other Swedish.

They were attempting to walk across Africa, starting in Luderitz and ending somewhere across in Mozambique. We thought they were mad! But then lots of people think we are too!

The trolley they were pulling had its wheel bearings destroyed by the very violent sandy wind that blows in this region, 50kms from Luderitz. They had to come back to Luderitz for repairs. We spent some time talking with them.

Apparently, one day, while resting, they saw 5 lions staring at them from about 200m.

After a staring contest of few minutes, where they did not dare to move at all, the lions left but the guys tried to put as much distance as possible from them as they spotted lions footprint around their resting camp.
 
They had nothing to defend themselves and there was no wood to make a fire. They had quite a fright, but both did 5 years in the army, so I thought they should be able to deal with whatever Africa could throw at them!

The locals told them there were no lions in the area, but they were adamant they made no mistake. I think, being ex military, they should be able to observe and reliably report what they saw, so I totally believed them.

The German sounding old man asked me about retiring in France. He seemed disillusioned by the direction Namibia was taking and wanted to retire in Europe.  Funny conversation but I struggled with his very strong German accent. Remember, for non locals, Namibia was colonised by the Germans and the evidence is everywhere to see, including the language. Anyway, he seemed interested in France or Spain. Both are nice places to retire and very popular with the British and Scandinavians.

I guess the old Namibians with German or British descent, have seen so many changes since the 50s, that maybe it is a bit overwhelming for them.  The world they knew was gone, and the future can appear bleak.


Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 05, 2018, 04:40:12 pm
Day 10 – Namibia, Luderitz – 0 km (Thursday 7th June)

We sorted few things out and I tried to do some planning using the very unreliable wifi.
We also had a good walk in town.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1971/31163100888_b1c720daa0_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1978/31163100318_28e7f59d53_c.jpg)


We thought about riding to visit Kolmanskop, a famous ghost town about 15 kms from Luderitz.
We needed a special permit to get there or go with an organised tour, because it is in a Diamond Exploitation zone! So it was not possible to just ride and have a look around. In the end we got lazy and decided not to go.

In the evening, James and Jonas left. For them it was best to walk through the evening and part of the night, when it is cool, and early morning, avoiding the hot part of the day.

The place was very quiet. Our bathroom had no light, as there had been some storms and lots of rain 2 weeks earlier and it messed up the antique electric wiring in the house, as well as the gravel roads, we would find out later!

In the evening, we repacked everything in a more efficient manner. It always takes some time into a trip, to know how to do this in the most efficient and convenient way. At this stage we were still experimenting what to put where and how.

Back in London, I had made 2 bags (one for each pannier) that fitted perfectly the panniers, inside. So we could pull out all our gear from the panniers and carry it in one go.

I may have mentioned that once the top box is screwed into the CRF, we cannot remove the soft panniers. The straps are under the box. So we could not, as in previous trips, unstrap the panniers and carry the whole lot into our room.

The inside bags were not easy to put back into the soft panniers once full.  Eventually it became evident that it was easier to neatly cram the panniers more efficiently with all the stuff, then leave the bags on top, to fill  and use when we transported all the stuff out and back to the bikes.

I started also using an auxiliary roll bag, for the food and warm gear.

Our provisions included some bread rolls, a can of baked beans, 2 pack of sachet soups and 2 packs of instant noodles. And peanuts. I suspect Alistair had also a big stash of biscuits and sweets hidden somewhere.

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Dawid S on November 05, 2018, 04:51:08 pm
 :sip:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 05, 2018, 05:02:26 pm
Day 11 – Namibia, Helmeringhausen – 250kms – Friday 8th of June


We left the backpacker place early, keen to make as much progress as possible on the un-surfaced road starting beyond Aus. The backpacker owner had told us a section would be very sandy and like a riverbed. So we rode back to Aus, about 125 kms away.

On the way, we came across James and Jonas, having a rest in a shaded area. We mentioned to them that the water drains on the road and rail track that runs along the road could be ideal for shade during the hottest hours of the day. We got this trick from a cyclist we met in Uzbekistan.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1934/31163099808_a2c8df2e62_c.jpg)


After a long chat we continued. We arrived at Aus later than planned but perfect time for an early lunch! I had not forgotten the splendid menu. I had an amazing burger, with superb meat!  We also got some fuel.

We then set on the un-surfaced road. The 1st 20kms were a nightmare. It was like a riverbed with very deep sand. I hate sand.

Fro a while, the right side had been kind of compacted, so I put the bike on that side and rode until we reached the caterpillar or tractor or whatever you call that scrapping machine. After that, it was back to deep fluffy sand.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1945/31163099018_49379337e8_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1922/31163098688_367199df4e_c.jpg)


After that sand section, we were able to increase speed. It was badly corrugated but we were able to make some progress. On the way I saw 3 brown foxes playing and jumping on the side of the road.

We finally arrived in the hotel/ fuel station / campsite / shop at a cross road that is Helmeringhausen.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1972/31163098328_22fc181a49_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1934/31163097828_b8253e58fb_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1950/31163097318_e12a0753e5_c.jpg)


The grounds looked nice and we decided to stay there. In any case, there was nothing for a very long way so we did not have much choice!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 05, 2018, 05:04:03 pm
We put the tent up in a grassy area. The campsite was in a large garden surrounded by orange and lemon trees, with big pens of goats and geese, nearby.

The hotel was super expensive. We asked if they could do a discount, considering it was empty, but they refused. A couple of South Africans, on a 4×4, arrived and rented a cottage on the other side of the road, for the night.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1915/31163096908_583b125003_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1948/31163096268_2a1fc8075b_c.jpg)


After a quick shower, we went for a walk along the single street/road and met a tamed Springbok, behind a fence, in a paddock. We could even touch it from over the fence, although he was still trying to ram us a bit.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1902/31163095768_0c5b2c5583_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1933/31163095088_a0b5da5a7e_c.jpg)


After a small diner (eating our 2 sachet soups) we noticed that the generator had stopped. The ground’s staff locked everything, switching off all the lights in the compound and left.  The whole area, including all the buildings, was left in complete darkness.

With no one using the hotel, all was locked up and deserted. No one was around. No light other than our torches. The South Africans in the cottage were not close. As it got dark, the sky, without any light pollution or clouds, was amazing.

With electricity working only in the shower block, we spent some time there reading before bed.

Few hours after we had gone to sleep, I heard men talking and could see a torch being used around our tent and the grounds of the hotel. I was a bit anxious, but in the end it must have been only the staff checking on geese and goats in the pens.

The night was very cold, as we are at 1400m.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1947/31163094508_8f9819138d_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: dirtyXT on November 05, 2018, 06:31:37 pm
Excellent RR keep it coming thank you for sharing
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Mev Vis Arend on November 05, 2018, 07:54:02 pm
Thanks for sharing, Maria41  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Appel on November 06, 2018, 08:54:42 am
Agree with you about Helmeringshausen, I went through there a month after you, expensive sh!t hole.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: evansv on November 06, 2018, 10:35:44 am
Great report, thanks!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: BullFrog on November 06, 2018, 10:48:01 am
Excellent report and a brilliant experience!!

 :cheers:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Matewis on November 06, 2018, 10:57:33 am
Subscribe!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: ButtSlider on November 06, 2018, 11:24:17 am
Awesome report. Subscribed.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Steekvlieg on November 06, 2018, 11:41:12 am
 :peepwall:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Snafu on November 06, 2018, 11:50:20 am
Follow!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: skydiver on November 06, 2018, 12:48:02 pm
Very interesting thus far.
Do you keep a diary of each day's adventures?
 
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Bommelina on November 06, 2018, 01:20:40 pm
.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 06, 2018, 01:48:07 pm
Very interesting thus far.
Do you keep a diary of each day's adventures?

Hi Skydiver, yes I do!

I started this many years ago, with a pad and pen for all our holidays. It is so easy to forget. I value my holidays!  :)
So I continued doing this with our motorcycle trips. I filled 3 big pads back in 2007/2008 during one year around South America! A lot happened!

Once the trip is over, all we have left are the photos and the diaries.

As technology progressed, for our trips, I bought an iPad and I type using various apps ( as time goes by and new apps are made available). This time I loaded TextEditor as I can type offline. I don’t necessarily write every day but often enough. That turns into the blog.

Back home, with blog and photos ( and a proper computer!) i can load all the photos ( using Flickr this time after the photo bucket debacle!).

Then  I have time to rewrite using my notes and blog and put together a better ride report with more details.  ;D
Years later it is great to reread! Especially if bored at work and depressed of staring at stupid spreadsheets!  >:D

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Rotten on November 06, 2018, 03:14:55 pm
Thanks Maria. Enjoying this immensely.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 06, 2018, 04:25:10 pm
Day 12 – Namibia, Sesriem – 250kms – Saturday 9th June.


We woke up very early. The weather was sunny and beautiful but rather cold. Soon it would warm up once the sun rose further up.   

The hotel staff was already in the grounds, tending the gardens.
We had a quick breakfast with bread rolls and the local version of the Laughing Cow cheese triangles.

After that we were back on the road. There were two roads going to our next destination: Sesriem.

We decided to take the shortest route. We were told later it was the worst.

The road was indeed in very bad condition (once again the bad weather few weeks before had left it in a bad state) but seeing our first close range Oryx and zebras in this desolate area was rewarding. They were so beautiful as they all ran along us and across the road.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1905/31163093698_6686c2d059_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1967/44987930372_672581e3d6_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1962/44987929322_cac68fa2a8_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1952/44987928562_5b008d8acf_c.jpg)



Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 06, 2018, 04:27:14 pm

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1922/31163091268_94d4f8da41_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1935/44987926892_e05bc38714_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1968/31163090518_af4fdd8ee2_c.jpg)


(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1944/44987924992_779f145a91_c.jpg)


(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1936/31163089328_c302d70847_c.jpg)

Too many photos maybe, but Namibia is so spectacular!


(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1967/44987923582_b699eabcc8_c.jpg)


(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1973/31163088718_1fe8fc1636_c.jpg)


(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1958/31163088338_a21d302bbe_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1937/44987921852_44bbcc7fc3_c.jpg)


Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 06, 2018, 04:28:19 pm
The road was also deserted, we saw very little traffic, and it was magnificent. It was exactly what I had in mind while planning Namibia.


After a long ride, we made it to Sesriem. The place was only few sandy dusty campsites in the desert. It is the get away to visit Sossusvlei, one of the most visited places in Namibia, with very tall red sand dunes and the flat salt lakes.

Arriving at Sesriem, we decided to stay in the National Park campsite. There were many campsites to chose from around as well as many luxury lodges. Outside of the campsites and lodges, it was just the desert.

One of those luxury lodges (according to our 2 year old Lonely planet) charged about 900 dollars per person, per night! It may be all-inclusive, but for that sort of money I would expect unlimited champagne on tap! Yeek! Hell, I would expect the taps to be gold! How can anyone justify such expense? The average salary in Namibia is a pittance. 

After paying Park fees and campground, we set up our tent in our little allocated spot, containing a big round cement thing for fire, and a thorny big tree for shade and nothing else much.  The shower blocks were not too bad but busy.  I can’t remember the price but with all fees included it was quite expensive. The only advantage of having motorbikes is that we did not have to pay a parking fee in top of everything else!

We managed to 'find' a bench from an empty spot. Presumably this bench had been 'borrowed' from the bar. We thought we could continue the 'borrowing' and have somewhere to sit to have breakfast and dinner so we quickly moved it near our tent!

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1929/44987916912_02c31d715a_c.jpg)

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 06, 2018, 04:28:51 pm
We could not go to Sossusvlei with the bikes and visit the various locations. Only SUV were permitted into Sesriem.

We asked the ladies at the reception desk if there was a vehicle that could take us there. They told us the price but also advised us it might be cheaper and easier to ask around to the owners of 4×4 or the large guided tours on big tourist trucks.

There were a couple of groups travelling in massive trucks. As it was still low season, they were not at full capacity and had plenty of space for hitchhikers!

I went round and asked few tourists on big rented 4×4, but they all had too much stuff on the back seats to take 2 passengers.


Not far from our camp, there was a group on a big truck. I walked to the truck and, while a guy was getting off the driving cabin, I asked him if he was the driver. He was the guide.

That was how we met Zee. He was guiding a small group of French for a 3 weeks tour of Namibia and there was plenty of space in the truck to take us to the dunes. So he had no objection but he needed to check with his clients first.

Later on he told us it was ok and that we would have to discreetly (away from the French) had a chat with the driver as well ( i.e. the driver would expect some tip).

As the campsite was just sand and desert, with no light, there was not much to do. So we went to the bar to sit and read a bit. There was no WiFi. To be fair, since we had crossed into Namibia, even in places where there was WiFi, it never seemed to work! But the TV was on and a small crowd was watching football and the world cup by the bar. Alistair went to watch that, while I read one of the few books I had previously loaded on my iPad for such circumstances.
Zee came to confirm that they could take us to Sossusvlei. We did not stay up late, as we had to be ready by 6am the next day!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 06, 2018, 04:32:34 pm
Day 13 – Namiba, Sesriem – Sunday 10th June – 0kms

The next day we were up and ready by at 6 am. The tourists in the truck were 5 French: a couple in their 50s and 3 women in their 30s from what I could guess.

The road to dune 45 was tarmac, so we wondered why we could not ride with the bikes.

We climbed dune 45. I was out of breath. The previous 2 cold nights and cold rides had resulted in a bad cold. I was coughing and feeling pretty bad.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1947/44987921052_dfcb153595_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1924/44987920462_34c4192c42_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1950/44316468554_2109a23366_c.jpg)

After the climb we returned to the truck. The guys were having breakfast. We moved away and sat on a tree trunk to get ours: bread roll and some jam as well as the industrial and universal Laughing cow cheese.

The cheese had been rattled in the backpack and we needed to sort out the aluminum wrapping from the cheese! Not a nice feeling biting into one of those tiny aluminium bits if you have old metal filings!

Back at the truck, the tourists were finishing their breakfast of scrambled eggs, baked beans, bacon, sausage and more.  A huge feast. Alistair was drooling over the display but we did not want to impose and take advantage of the situation.

The left overs were put in a plastic bag. We assumed it was for the bin. Alistair was gutted and regretting not going and asking for some left overs! In fact, Zee gave the to the driver or park ranger, the one who would take all of us to the salt lake in a large safari car. The food was not wasted, so that is good.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 06, 2018, 04:33:53 pm
Then we understood why only 4×4 cars could go further into the National Park. It was very deep sand and very harsh tracks. We were told we needed to pay for this ride. The tourist truck could not go any further and we would all need to embark on a safari car. It was 170 Namibian dollars per person. As Alistair walked to the shack to pay, the driver of the 4×4 called him back. We had to pay him instead! That’s Africa! We all 7 (with the 5 French tourists) got in the back while Zee sat next to the driver.

The next stop was near a massive sand dune. Most of the guys decided to climb it. I passed on the pleasure and walked direct to the salt lake.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1940/44316467664_f60be4428e_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1956/31163087178_9bb9638b5c_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1956/44316468054_d7c9166a10_c.jpg)


(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1923/30099830227_a6e1a6e74f_c.jpg)

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 06, 2018, 04:34:29 pm
Later on we met all there and we got back to the campsite by early afternoon. We had no change so gave the driver, discreetly (!) 200 Namibian dollars. I think he was happy with it!

We decided to have some toasted sandwiches at the bar. I was very tired and feeling ill. I went for a snooze.

In the evening, Alistair cooked some noodles.
 
Zee suggested stopping, on our way to the coast, by a lodge and campsite that is really worth it. I took note and wrote the location in my paper map as we were in no rush to get to Swakopmund.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 06, 2018, 04:35:51 pm
Day 14 – Namibia, Rosteck Ritz lodge and campsite -150kms (Monday 11th June)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1913/44987919432_17c2b33c6e_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1948/44987918652_de19c0bf9e_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1938/31627916858_2d66c66ae5_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1909/30560317327_e5417ba68d_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1942/31627915128_ae8f1a8591_c.jpg)



We decided to stay at the campsite recommended by Zee, the tour guide for the French group, so we did not have too far to go.

We took our time to pack. The campsite in Sesriem was now full and with no wind, the road was in a perpetual cloud of sand and dust because of all the traffic.

Sesriem has up to 4 millions visitor a year apparently. The road was so dusty it was like going through thick fog while breathing sand! Not nice.

I was trailing behind Alistair. Usually on trails I am much faster than him, but that morning, I was just fighting the bike rather than riding with it. It is hard to explain. On the way to Sesriem, I was flying over sand and corrugations and waiting for Alistair every 10 kms, as he is usually “Captain Slow”. On that day however, I did not seem to be able to do this. The road was tricky and I usually used speed to fly over tricky bits, but that day, I just didn’t feel the bike.

On the plus side, my cold symptoms were almost gone and I felt much better.

About 80kms later we stopped at Solitaire. The place is a fuel station/ bakery / campsite farm. It is famous for its apple pie. I took tea with a cinnamon roll, to be contrarian, while Alistair fell for the apple pie. It was ok but not the best in the world as they claim. (Mine is better!)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: blockheadxl650v on November 06, 2018, 04:53:51 pm
Those are some epic photos you have posted there Maria41. well done
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: skydiver on November 06, 2018, 08:00:43 pm
Those are some epic photos you have posted there Maria41. well done
I agree.  :thumleft: 
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Tonteldoos on November 06, 2018, 10:35:22 pm
Hi Maria love your writing style and "eye" for a picture beautiful!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 07, 2018, 02:49:39 pm
Thanks for your kind words guys, really appreciate it :)

I only use a small cheap (about 70 or 80 British pounds) camera from Argos! One of those tiny pocket cameras. But any camera would make fantastic photos in Namibia, such is the country! Stunning!

Back home I used a free App called Fotor to add some light to the photos when they were too dark. Or I uses the automatic "enhance " function.
The only time we regretted not having a fancy SLR with big sense was in some national parks at night. Some night skies were spectacular. But an SLR can take huge space in the panniers. It is always a compromise, what to take or not. Our set up works for us. We need very little. Luxuries are usually staying in a nice B&B and having a nice meal every so often!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 07, 2018, 02:53:29 pm
The road was really bad until we got to the lodge. We rode all the way up to the reception desk, 7kms inside the private game reserve, with lots of zebras and ostriches running around.

The place was really nice, super expensive for a room, and deserted. The manager welcomed us and explained that the campsite was about 7 or 8 kms away. I guess they don’t want to have the "riff-raff" like us mix and use the luxurious swimming pool and facilities with their rich clients!  ;D

Although, he invited us to use the pool if we wanted too. We didn’t. We had a beer and examined the menu. It was very nice but suitably expensive. Being kind of “cheapskate”, or, as I prefer to say, "on a budget", we wanted to eat, but not at that price.
 
Two guys had turned up for lunch and their food did indeed look nice. They completely ignore us, dusty looking tramps in our old motorcycle gear. So we sipped our beer.

We asked the waiter if they had cheaper light lunches and the waiter told us about the toasted sandwiches. They were so cheap (maybe about 50 Nam rand if I recall) we did not hesitate to get them. I asked for a Toasted Steak while Alistair ordered a boring toasted stuff with eggs.

We expected something small, considering the difference between the very expensive menu compared with our cheap toasted food. Nope. It was big. Although we asked half a portion of French fries to share, we were given lots of them!

My steak was real steak, a large one with no fat, nerves or grizzle or the sort of cheap cut they often can give you in England. And it tasted AMAZING!
It was served with an onion sauce to die for. When I asked what meat it was, I was told it was Orix. It was superb! Despite all the fries they only charged us for half portion! Really nice people! I was loving Namibia!


Later on, totally stuffed, we rode to the campsite. The zebras and ostriches were running like mad as we got closer, it was beautiful.

We were the only ones there so we had the full place to ourselves. To be fair it was small and only has 4 spots, with each unit having a private area for BBQ with a bit of shade. Upper in the hill, there was a large viewpoint with a kitchen. Well, the kitchen was only a double sink but it had a terrace and nice grounds.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1975/44316518254_8a9fce4ff0_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 07, 2018, 02:55:14 pm
The viewpoint had a large section covered with tarpaulin and a small stonewall. It was a perfect place for setting the tent, away for the millions of giant crickets eating at the plants in the campsite below! Those crickets were massive, and everywhere. Apparently they have no predators so it is like a plague sometimes. 

Alistair then decided to set fire to the “donkey” so we could have hot water for a shower. At least it sounds to me like the word Donkey! (No donkey was harmed in the process!)

After a hot shower we tried to see if we could get closer to the zebras, but they had all vanished in the vast estate.

The lodge manager drove up to our camp to check if we were ok. On my little walk, a couple of hundreds meters from camp, I had seen footprints. Cat footprints. Too small to be lion, maybe a Cheetah?

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1956/44125027215_38c843f859_c.jpg)


As the lodge manager was around I showed him the picture. He seemed very interested about it. He said it was probably a leopard, as cheetahs have non-retractable nails, so the footprints should show them. Without, it was most certainly a leopard, or maybe a hyena. Although hyenas are pack animals and it was a lone set of footprints. The manager then tracked the footprints for a good mile before driving back to the lodge.

Apparently leopards are not dangerous so we were safe. Hmm!?  :eek:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 07, 2018, 02:56:32 pm
As the wind raised and we had little shelter, we took the tent to the viewpoint. There was more shelter there and we could get away without putting the roof. Also we were away from the hundreds of massive crickets. And I mean MASSIVE!

All our up and down the path to set the tent and our stuff in the viewpoint disturbed a small looking rodent, the size of a squirrel but with a skinny tail. It was not scared of us at all, and from the safety of the rocks, where it could hide quickly, observed our proceedings, not looking particularly impressed or pleased to share the area with us!

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1941/44316516224_ec95520815_c.jpg)


As we had had a big late lunch at the lodge, (hhmmmm Orix steak!) we only had a cup of tea for dinner, with few biscuits.

The night sky, through the mesh of our inner tent, looked amazing. The moon was full and as it rose above the horizon, it was like a spotlight over our tent, it was enormous.

There was no light pollution, no dust, only the 2 of us, with the lodge a good 8 kms away, and the nearest town over 200kms! It felt like we were the only two persons on earth. It was so peaceful! A memorable place!


Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 07, 2018, 02:59:23 pm
Day 15 – Namibia, Swakopmund – 230kms – Tuesday 12th June


We woke up very early as we had gone to sleep early. It was winter down here, and the days were short. The sun rose at around 7:45 and set at around 6, 6:30pm.  It got dark quickly and we had long nights.

With no food left other than some stale bread, we made some coffee and had a small bite of bread.

We left camp soon after 8am.


The road was still very bad. Heavy recent rains had done a lot of damage. We still managed to make good progress. Although, once we got over a pass, and rode along a plateau, it got very windy which was tiring.

We stopped on the way to drink some water and observed a cyclist, with lots of luggage, coming our way.

We waited for him to reach us and we had a chat with him, by the side of the road. He had started his trip from the Netherlands, across the Middle East and flew from there to Cairo. He planned a year on his bicycle. He asked us if we had water and we gave him our spare bottle. We told him about Rostick Ritz lodge. He knew about it, and if I recall, he said they offer free camping to cyclists. This is very kind!

Water, when we find it in campsites, is drinkable tap water. So far we had rarely bought mineral water. Although in few places the water would taste chemical, most of the time it was really nice to drink.

We made good progress on our bikes, despite the horrid dirt road, bad corrugations and slippery sections. We arrived at Walvis Bay around midday. The town is a big centre for mining and oil. There were big trucks everywhere. What we crossed of the town was not particularly inspiring and we only stopped to buy fuel. We had no fuel since Solitaire, about 250kms and we were on reserve.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 07, 2018, 03:03:24 pm
Then we set off on the easy tarmac road to Swakopmund, 30kms further north. We stopped midway at a large fuel station with all the facilities we needed: shop, deli counter and spotless toilets! It has to be said that facilities (like toilets) have always been great in Namibia!

As we had had no breakfast or dinner, we got some very nice hot meat pies.

After that, we arrived to our destination and found a brand new backpacker place at 40 pounds a night. We were the only guests and it had a big kitchen with all the utensils you need to cook a nice dinner.

Namibia was not cheap. Later on we found the local Spar and we were shocked by the price of basic food like butter or vegetables (fresh or frozen). A 250gr pack of butter cost nearly 4 pounds! We got a cheap half litre of vegetable oil instead for cooking our food. With chicken and noodles and a bag of very expensive mixed frozen vegetables we would be able to do a quick stir-fried. We needed to load a bit on vitamins, as our diet had been quite bad on the road, we seemed to only eat carbs and meat.

We then went for a walk into town and failed to find a launderette.

The town was full of these funny birds. There were even road signs to warn drivers. They looked like PeaHens (females of peacocks!) and bout the same size:

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1936/44316515404_53ec427a4f_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 07, 2018, 03:05:54 pm
So after a thorough exploration of the town, which was very pleasant, clean and tidy, we went back to the hostel. I washed most of my clothes, as we failed to find the laundrette, but the weather was nice. I also used the showerhead to rinse and brush the dirt from the zips in the lower legs of my motorcycle trousers, and the zips in the tank bag. With so much dust and sand inserted there, the zips were stiff and would eventually break, otherwise.

Fitting our travel wash line between the 2 bikes I was able to hang everything (Except the motorcycle gear) outside, hoping it would dry quickly! Hmmm…. I did not count with the funny weather in Swakopmund! The nice weather did not last and the cold combined with humidity and rain meant it took 3 days for all my stuff to dry. This included clothes that usually dry within an hour! The humidity was insane!


After the last few days and over 750kms of dirt roads and corrugations, the bikes had taken a battering. We both had leaking fork seals. So we needed to investigate if we could buy, order, or source replacement here or whether we would need to go to Windhoek.



Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 07, 2018, 03:07:42 pm
Day 16 and 17 – Namibia, Swakopmund – weds 13th and Thursday 14th June

Swakopmund seafront. We could see dolphins swimming and playing in the bay.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1924/44125023475_93c8d497b5_c.jpg)


We spent the following 2 days sorting things out. The backpacker place was great (Sea view backpackers – on booking.com).

It had a massive kitchen, various sitting areas and large upstairs bar, a snooker table, terrace, garden etc… all we needed and more! With a young German (I think) couple, arriving the day after us, we were the only guests.

The hotel manager was a bright young lady called Jolien Els. We talked to her and her boyfriend a lot. They suggested great places to stay and visit.

You may be familiar with Jolien, as she is world champion for field archery! Wow! They were a very interesting and lovely couple. That’s the thing with travels; we meet so many amazing people along the way!

We found a Yamaha dealer in town and we managed to order fork seals for both bikes. For my bike it was easy, but for the CRF, it either had to come from Cape Town or get aftermarket parts which could be source locally. So we were advised to take the after market stuff.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 07, 2018, 03:09:01 pm
It would take about 5 days to get the parts, so we decided to go on a few days excursion with the bikes.

I also asked the girl at the Yamaha shop to order a “cruise control” tool. It is a very simple piece of plastic that you fit at the throttle and I can keep my hand flat to accelerate rather than constantly gripping the throttle. I had one for my previous trips around Central Asia and Mongolia and it was an amazing little thing.
My right hand was painful. It has never been the same since my crash in Samarkand (Uzbekistan), 4 years before. So the cruise control would make a hell of a difference to me.

After everything ordered, we were ready to go on our round trip for few days. We had supplies (food!) and GPS coordinates of some interesting campsites!

The next few days were to be some of the highlights of our trip!

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: woody1 on November 07, 2018, 03:11:56 pm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guineafowl

Tarentaal in Afrikaans  :laughing4:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 07, 2018, 03:38:47 pm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guineafowl

Tarentaal in Afrikaans  :laughing4:



I bet they taste good!  :lol8:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Buff on November 07, 2018, 04:10:37 pm
They need to be prepared in a very specific way and are often best when baked in a pie  :thumleft:

Loving your ride report, thanks for sharing your trip  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Fuzzy Muzzy on November 07, 2018, 04:18:14 pm
lekker reading.. always nice to read a local report.. we have so much right on our doorstep. :thumleft:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: wilfwalk on November 07, 2018, 08:26:44 pm
 Thanks Maria for your trip report and the amazing photos. Namibia is a great destination even for us South Africans, I never tire of seeing photos of Namibia. Look forward to the remainder of your trip and photos. Much appreciated  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 08, 2018, 04:52:30 pm
Day 18 Namibia, Brandberg White Lady Lodge – 250kms (Friday 15th June)


We left the backpacker place and rode north toward the Skeleton last for about 70kms. Then, after refueling and stopping for brunch in a cafe in Henties Bay, we turned east, riding inland toward Uis. The road was badly corrugated.


Wild donkeys?????
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1910/44316514004_086072fc0d_c.jpg)

As we got closer to Uis we could see Brandberg slowing growing in the horizon.

Brandberg is like Uluru in Australia, a massive circular mountain sticking out of the desert like some ancient fortress. Seeing it from a satellite photo is very impressive.

By the time we get to Uis it was already lunchtime and we needed a rest. We bought more fuel and stopped at the Cactus Cafe and campsite for some tea and pancakes!  :biggrin:

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1931/44334330275_8c101bce0d_c.jpg)


We were then back on the road. Our destination was in the Brandberg nature reserve, the Brandberg White Lady lodge and campsite.

Apparently, David Attenborough spent time there while filming one of his most recent series.

The campsite was not fenced. So far no campsite had been fenced and wild animals were free to roam. So we tackled a good 40 kms of gravel road to get there and then a long stretch of sandy track.

The main office and reception also contained the main facilities: bar, restaurant and swimming pools.

For high paying guests, lodges were dotted around the bush, while the campsite was about a mile away from the main building.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1903/44316513164_f613bbc67a_c.jpg)


(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1962/44316512344_bcc25ed8b3_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 08, 2018, 04:53:28 pm
We had been told that, often, desert elephants and lions would be walking across the campsite. A sign at reception said so. And the staff at the lodge warned us to have a fire at night and not walk around after dark.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1917/44316511044_378c2c859c_c.jpg)


So, as instructed by the receptionist, who told us we had to have a fire going at night to keep the lions away,  we duly ordered some wood then rode to the campsite.

It was widespread. The camping spots had only a built up place to make a fire, but nothing else. Certainly nowhere to sit.

As there was one of those huge tourist truck which include cook, driver and guide, I walked over to see it we could borrow a couple of chairs for the evening. They had piles of those. My request was flatly refused. I guess if something happens to the chairs, the staff would be charged for them? Oh well, no bad feelings.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 08, 2018, 04:56:43 pm
The bushes and low grass around had thorns (like 4 faced dice with thorns on each end) that caught on the shoes and got everywhere.

We were paranoid about getting those in or under the tent, as we had inflatable mattresses. One puncture and it would be a very miserable night! I had that problem in Mongolia and I didn’t want a repeat.  :-\

After clearing under the tent I put my sheepskin and gel seat under my mattress for protection!

Then it was time for dinner. We heated a can of baked beans and ate them with some bread.

It was then time to get our fire going as it was getting very dark. We were certainly hapless at this. The wood was as hard as rock and we did not have any small branches or cardboard to get it started.

We tried using part of my lonely planet guide (very good use of a lonely planet!) and pouring some petrol, but the wood was too hard to catch fire. So setting fire to Swaziland pages had been for nothing!

We were a bit concerned about the lions. They had killed 40 goats and a donkey few days before, only 20kms from camp! It even made the local news! Rather concerning, especially after the lecture given at reception about them!

So I looked around for help.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 08, 2018, 05:00:58 pm
I could see another set of campers, with big 4x4s and trailers and all the modern comfort that South Africans seem to bring with them when camping (everything including the kitchen sink!). They had just set camp few hundreds meters form us, across a wide path.

I walked over to them and explained our predicament. They were very kind about this and gave me some fire lighter block (or whatever it is called!). Which shows that looking hapless and pathetic always gets you results! Lucky that South Africans are usually very friendly and helpful!

As I walked back to camp with my precious load, a big group of local people was walking across the path.

By then, it was pitch dark and I couldn’t really see much. They were walking in complete darkness, without lights, and not bothered by the lions. 3 young ladies from the group stopped to ask if I was ok. I explained my stupid problem (I can’t make the fire!) and they followed me and started the fire for us, using the fire starter.

 To be fair, with the fire starter , it is very easy. That thing seemed to burn forever, long enough that our wood finally caught fire!


The girls then left and the group stopped at the large organised tour camp (those of the large truck and plenty of chairs!) to sing A Capella. They had beautiful voices, rising in the dark. It was the best feeling in the world to hear those voices rising in the dark, under the magnificent night sky.

With no chairs, table or anywhere to sit, with Alistair we just stood around our little fire.

I just couldn’t stop looking at the stars, so may of  them!

 As my friend Naila told me once (she worked for the UN in refugee camps for over 20 years all over the Sahara) “in the desert the night sky feels  so close that you could almost touch the stars”.

With the moon only a thin crescent, it was spectacular.

As I have no camera good and expensive enough to take night photos of the sky, I just leave you with the day views from our campsite.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1971/44125017645_9b0e26c3a2_c.jpg)


Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 08, 2018, 05:02:28 pm

Day 19 –Namibia, Brandberg White Lady Lodge (Saturday 16th June)


We got up early and were at reception at 8am. We had booked an elephant drive. With two other tourists we got in one of the Safari cars in search of elephants.

Considering how big elephants are, they seemed to be very elusive.

The ride was usually 3 hours, but it took our guide a good 3 1/2 hours to find a family of about 16 elephants. But when we finally got to see them, it was great. Desert elephants are the same species than savannah elephants but smaller due to their very harsh environment.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1912/44316509084_42bea4664c_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1917/45036025351_27027a1f07_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1927/30099973017_d7fbac3c42_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1934/45036021611_dd46f4111f_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1963/45036020041_c9e540177b_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1954/44988065272_c7a36ab78a_c.jpg)


After many photos we went back to the lodge. We relaxed in the afternoon by the pool, beer in hand, and got some toasted sandwiches for late lunch. Sadly nothing will ever match the toasted steak sandwich I had at Rostick Ritz Lodge! Ever!

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 08, 2018, 05:05:29 pm
After the previous night problem starting the fire, we asked the staff if they could provide some fire starter for the night, when delivering the wood.

After some investigation they could not find any, but the guys setting the donkeys on fire ( you remember, that is the fire to heat water for the showers’ blocks, not real donkeys!  ;D ) got our fire going. It was easy when you knew where the cardboard and little branches were stored! (By the donkeys, behind the shower blocks, in a container, if you need to know!  >:D).


So with a fire going, we knew we could survive another night!

I took time to thank again the guys who gave me fire starter the previous night. They were now back to camp. One of them was actually competing in some motocross competition nearby (his bike broke down!).

We got some instant noodle bag in the little pot, over our fuel stove, for dinner. The night sky once again gave us a magnificent display.

The night singers were going around again with many more campers and organised tours. The camp had filled up a bit. So they had more work. Once again, the mix of this beautiful night with such a spectacular sky, combined with the voices of this Choir, sometime mixing gospel songs with traditional songs, was amazing. I was loving Namibia!  :sunny:

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 08, 2018, 05:14:56 pm
Day 20 –Namibia, Erindi private game reserve – 280kms (Sunday 17th June)

The following morning we packed camp after a quick coffee and some peanut butter with bread.

It took a while to pack as we got the tweezers out to remove those horrid thorns from our shoes, our tyres and everything they got into. Some were so large they could cause a puncture on our tyres!

We were finally on the way. Our 1st stop, 40 kms away was Uis again. We bought fuel and stopped at the Cactus Cafe again, for 2d breakfast! Another tea with their great cinnamon pancakes while Alistair preferred an omelette!


Herero women, with their 19th century style dresses near the fuel station in Uis:

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1975/44316651344_3515831498_c.jpg)

It seems the Hereros were almost exterminated by the Germans late 19th century to 1904, following a large rebellion. Their numbers went down to as little at 15,000. It is estimated than in a period of 4 years, 65,000 died.  Survivors were robbed of their land, segregated and forced to work in near slave conditions.

German rule ended in 1915, when the Germans were defeated by South Africa. Herero men began dressing as the German oppressors while the women took the style of the missionary wives.

Anthropologists think this is linked to the belief that wearing the enemy’s uniform will diminish their power and transfer some of their strength into the new wearer. Herero women still wear this style of clothing today and they look majestic and graceful walking around dressed in those 19th century style colourful dresses.


So we left Uis. We stopped at the closest town to Erindi: Amaruru. After buying more fuel we set the GPS with the coordinates of Erindi private game park campsite : Camp Elephant. I had found the coordinate on their website.

Erindi is the biggest private game reserve in Namibia. It should be easy to find you would think!

My paper map showed nothing! No game reserve, no campsite, nothing!

 To start with, the GPS calculated about 70kms from Amaruru to Camp Elephant. It took us on smaller and smaller tracks.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1939/44988063432_3f01b407db_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Sam on November 09, 2018, 01:41:45 pm


It took a while to pack as we got the tweezers out to remove those horrid thorns from our shoes, our tyres and everything they got into. Some were so large they could cause a puncture on our tyres!


These "wonderful" little things are commonly known to us as "devil thorns". Particularly pleasant when they grew on our sportsfields at school......when we used to practice barefoot sports.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Sam on November 09, 2018, 01:44:43 pm

We got some instant noodle bag in the little pot, over our fuel stove, for dinner.


Next time you must ask the South Africans (or the Namibians) to show you how to braai (barbeque in other languages.....but not quite the same.). You have wood fire......in Namibia, the land of meat......under a starry night desert sky.

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Sam on November 09, 2018, 01:45:39 pm
Thanks for sharing your trip and experiences here. Lots of stuff mentioned, commented on that we just take for granted.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: ruger1 on November 09, 2018, 03:36:38 pm
Awesome ride report and love your 250 bikes :ricky:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Black_Hawk on November 09, 2018, 03:52:38 pm
Very nice ride report and thank you for sharing it with us  :thumleft:

Keep it coming  :sip:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 09, 2018, 04:12:59 pm

We got some instant noodle bag in the little pot, over our fuel stove, for dinner.


Next time you must ask the South Africans (or the Namibians) to show you how to braai (barbeque in other languages.....but not quite the same.). You have wood fire......in Namibia, the land of meat......under a starry night desert sky.

Carrying meat without a fridge is not ideal.... tins are perfect as it keeps forever and no risk of contamination. Our last adventure in central Asia in 2016, Alistair was in and out of hospitals quite  a lot.

He contracted such a severe food poisoning he had to be hospitalised, in Kyrgyzstan, put on a drip and get his stomach pumped! Not a pleasant experience he wishes  to renew  :biggrin:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 09, 2018, 04:15:31 pm
Somehow the stupid GPS decided to take us through the scenic route, for whatever reason ( don’t get me started on artificial intelligence – the sheer uselessness and stupidity of a GPS is proof enough that no AI is going to steal my job, or most jobs, anytime soon!).

We ended up doing a total of 104 kms through smaller and smaller tracks.
By the time we found the BACK entrance to Erindi (Stupid GPS!), I was rather tired. The gate reminded me of Jurassic Park. It was huge.

(This is actually the main gate, taken when we left by the correct Main Gate the following day!)
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1974/44988056092_2e4ec260eb_c.jpg)


And then you had the warning board: “ enter at your own risk”; “ do not stop”, “ do not leave your vehicle”, “do not step out of your car”, “open top cars are banned”…. but somehow the armed guard (carrying a huge shotgun!) at the gate, did not seem to think that stepping into Jurassic Park, I mean Erindi, on our motorbikes, was dangerous!

I asked him: “What about the lions?”.
He answered: “Ah, if you see lions, just drive through.”
“Great!” I thought, “I hope the lions got the memo!”.


(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1918/44988055072_d5cf303201_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 09, 2018, 04:19:00 pm
As we arrived to the reserve through the back gate, we had to ride another 27kms to Camp Elephant! I was gutted! I was looking forward to get changed and have a cold beer!

We saw warthogs running around. We followed the guard’s instructions and the few road signs.

Riding ahead, I missed a junction at some point and had to do either a large u-turn or wing it through deep sand. I chose the deep sand doing a sharp turn and made a beginner mistake. The moment I started I knew it was a mistake!

I dropped the bike as a result. I thought I was getting really good at sand riding! Really! But it had been a long day and I was tired.

I stood next to my bike. Alistair had taken the correct turn and, thinking I would follow, did not worry about me. 

I couldn’t lift my bike!   :-\  I wondered how long it would take for the lions to find me!!!!  :eek7:

Funny enough, back in London after our trip, Alistair was watching some program on TV about big cats. They were showing a pride of lions. One of the female was even stalking the safari car were the filming crew was located! They were certainly very aggressive. When I asked Alistair where it was filmed, he said casually: “ oh that is in Erindi.”!

I just can’t believe they let us in and cross the entire reserve from the back gate to camp, on the motorbikes!  Maybe no publicity is bad publicity if a biker gets eaten by lions!?

Nevertheless, this was the most magical place to ride! I am so glad they let us in!

It was my lucky day as, after a few minutes, a car with friendly South Africans turned up.
They stopped and two young nice looking big lads came to the rescue!  :ricky:

Ha…. playing the (not so young!) Damsel in Distress always seems  to work!  :biggrin:

By the time the bike was lifted by the 2 big lads, Alistair had joined us, and we were able to get on our way.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 09, 2018, 04:21:16 pm
The campsite was luxury campsite.

From their website, I expected to pay 400 namibian rands per person (about 34 $).  However the receptionist quoted 1200 Namibian rands for the two of us. For camping! At the exchange rate at that time, it was almost 100 US$! My jaw dropped to the floor!  ???

So I pointed out to the website pricing (if my memory of their website was correct which I was not 100% sure!) saying “ - But your website quote 800 for 2. Why is it so different?”  :deal:

The bored and unsmiling girl at reception did not answer but after going to the back somewhere, came back and gave us a discount. We were charged 1000 rands for one night! That was about 85 USD. It was certainly the most expensive camping ever!

We were given a key! Our spot included, on the outside wall of a small building, a locked fridge next to the outside kitchen sink as well as an electric kettle.

There was also, on a grassy spot, a pick nick table and the ubiquitous BBQ (or Braii).

 Inside the small building was our private bathroom. It was big. On the right hand side was the toilet cubicle, and separated by a small low wall, the walk-in-shower.

On the left side a sink and built in bench. Between the sink area and the toilet and shower area, there was a very big space, big enough to fit two sleeping bags! It was the most luxurious campsite I have ever been to!

We decided not to bother with the tent and sleep in the bathroom instead!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 09, 2018, 04:25:27 pm
After a quick shower we walked to the lake. The camp had an electric fence all around. The lake was beyond the fence. There, we could see 2 huge elephants, some hippos and springboks.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1914/44988062592_3a169819cb_c.jpg)

Inflicting you a rare photo of the 2 of us together!

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1959/44316650084_23effa4a8c_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1959/44988060682_c14bae35a0_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1928/44316648774_368f11d6fb_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1923/44988058412_9f01654a57_c.jpg)


Some warthogs were running around as well as lots of birds that I could not identify.

After a good watch and lots of photos we went back for dinner. Our camp had also a small electric cooker  so there was no need to get our stove out.
 We ate a tin of curried vegetables and we added some instant noodles to it.

With another can of beer and some biscuits, as the sun went down, we went back to the lake. We could see 2 giraffes around but, although the lake was floodlit, it was too dark to take photos with my mini camera.

We were really happy to have seen giraffes! The 2 elephants were still there but one hippo in the lake was getting angry with them and wanted to get out of the water on that same spot the elephants were standing. Eventually, the elephants walked away, slowly, as if to say "This post belong to us, mates!".
The 2 hippos came out of the water with much noisy complaint and protest. Zebras faffed around while some Oryx and springboks were standing around.

No more wildlife came across so we went to bed. Alistair’s mattress seemed to have a small leak. Not great news! We looked everywhere for thorns.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 09, 2018, 04:31:59 pm
Day 21 –Namibia, back to Swakopmund – 320 kms (Monday 18th June)


We decided to get up before sunrise to check the lake. Not much was happening there, only few antelopes.

After a while we went back to our camp for breakfast: bread and peanut butter with coffee.

A very inquisitive bird, with an unusually large beak kept coming closer and closer, eyeing my bread, even landing into our picknick table. After the baboons in Ai - Ais, I was careful with my food! No one will steal it!

We then went back to the lake, a bit before 9am. Few Wildebeests and antelopes that I could not identify, as well as springboks, were around. Suddenly, they all got scared and ran away. On the opposite side, Alistair thought he saw something.

With nobody else around in the viewing platforms around the lake (some small kids had been having quite massive tantrums and screaming the day before which was not ideal to observe wildlife), we carefully and silently walked around toward whatever was “ over there “.

Something was coming, slowly, carefully, shuffling the bushes.

And then we saw it, hiding under the bushes, coming to drink: a cheetah! Very slowly she came out of undercover and came to drink before leaving quickly. She was beautiful!

Later on, I mentioned this at the reception desk and they told me that she came every morning to drink and had some cubs. It was a magical sight! I did not expect to see a cheetah in the wild, as they tend to be very shy!

It was a worthwhile visit!

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1950/44988057532_7893ae742b_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1961/31163037118_bfdb86f343_c.jpg)

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 09, 2018, 04:36:05 pm
After that, we finished packing and set off at 10. We were going back to Swakopmund to check out if our parts had arrived. And with Alistair’s mattress punctured, camping was out of the question until we fixed it.

The ride, once out of the game park, took us through some farms tracks. The public road crossed into gated parcels. One of them was a private hunting lodge.

At the entrance of the gate, a sign said “ Danger! Hippos and crocodiles! Do not stop!”. Hum…. I hoped that they, too, got the “memo” about us!

The tracks were very sandy and the many dry river crossings were deep sand.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1939/44316645714_677542fb89_c.jpg)


By then I mastered it, at least for short sections.  I just accelerated through deep sand lifting easily the front wheel and the bike did the rest without a hiccup.

The road was merely a single lane farm track and we saw no one! It was great and we made good progress. We came across many cattle gates. It was a bit of pain, as we had to open and then close them behind us.

On one of those small tracks, we came across a large single Oryx, standing in the middle of the road. It stared at us for a while, wondering what the heck we were, before gracefully walking into the bush.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1912/44988054552_4ffb05cbd8_c.jpg)



Eventually, we joined the tarmac road to Swakopmund. We stopped for fuel and some rest. We caught the Cross Kalahari Highway.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 09, 2018, 04:38:05 pm
We arrived at Swakop at 4 pm and found a backpacker place recommended by Jolein. She had to go to Windhoek that week, so her place was closed.

We settled at the Skeleton Coast Backpackers. It was a popular place. It included breakfast (bread, cheese, margerine, coffee, tea) and had all the facilities expected of a backpacker.
 
In the absence of a grill, we quickly came to toast our bread in the toaster provided and then fill it will cheese and put it in the microwave to melt it! Not bad at all!

The main living/dining room, next to the reception, was were the TV was and where everyone tended to hang out. It had a large table on one side, then 3 large sofas around the TV.
Despite many people there, no one spoke to anyone. Everyone was on his or her mobile phone or computer.

After a quick change, we walked to the Yamaha dealer. Our parts had arrived! That included not only the fork seals for both bikes but also the “cruise control”. So we dropped the bikes to get the fork seals replaced.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 09, 2018, 04:40:14 pm
Day 22 –Namibia, Swakopmund - 0km  (Tuesday 19th June)

We did not do much on that day. Just killing time by walking around and watching too much TV.

We picked up the bikes at the workshop later that day. All seemed good and we packed up in the evening, ready to leave early the next day.

Unfortunately the workshop had jet washed the bikes. My XT250 was not waterproof. The control casing was cracked (it was when I bought the bike – I suspect the bike had been crashed).

As a result, all my digital display was gone, and my bike was playing up when I tried to start it. With the horrendous humidity, the bike would  never dry, so I would have to wing it.

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 09, 2018, 04:45:42 pm
Day 23 – Back to Swakopmund, Again! - about 150kms (weds. 20th June)


The morning was incredibly foggy. It was often the case; after all it was winter down there.
We decided to wait until 9am, hoping that the fog would lift a bit. We aimed to get to Palmwag, 430 kms away, so it would be a long day, up the skeleton coast mainly.
We stopped for some fuel. My bike was playing up. Too much water somewhere. I will need to replace the meter when I am back home.

On the road, I could barely see through the visor of my helmet. It was very cold. By the time we arrived at Henties Bay, 70kms later, along the salt road, I was shaking because of the freezing weather.

Riding was hard as visibility was extremely poor through the visor, while at the same time I feared that if I rode too slowly, I could end up being smashed by a car from behind.

After buying fuel in Henties Bay, we went to the nearby café for tea and to warm up a bit.

We decided to leave the muddy salt road that runs north and, instead, pick up a gravel road going inland toward Uis. This was the same itinerary that we rode few days earlier. It would be much warmer and fog free once we got away from the sea. I could not face another 150kms or more of this along the skeleton coast.

After another 65kms riding inland, we stopped to drink some water and to stretch our legs. We were finally clear from the fog and it was warmer.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1923/31163201218_391600824a_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1973/31163200438_71c540f07e_c.jpg)

As Alistair walked around the bikes and checked our oil levels, he noticed a pool of oil on the rim of his front wheel. His trousers were covered in oil too!

The brand new fork seals were a spectacular failure on the CRF. So much oil was pouring out that, surely, there couldn’t be any oil left in the forks.

We had no choice but to go back to Swakopmund and straight to the Yamaha workshop. We were not happy.  :angry5:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 09, 2018, 04:49:48 pm

These "wonderful" little things are commonly known to us as "devil thorns". Particularly pleasant when they grew on our sportsfields at school......when we used to practice barefoot sports.

 :eek: Must have been excruciating!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Fransw on November 09, 2018, 07:39:26 pm
Hi Maria. Its called a Roan Antelope not a oryx! A scarce antelope not often seen.

We call it a 'Baster Gemsbok' , direct translation to English is something like 'Crossbreed Oryx'..

Nice report!...cheers!

Edit: I see Erindi is also for sale now. Only $160m and this piece of paradise is yours...  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 09, 2018, 08:40:07 pm
Hi Maria. Its called a Roan Antelope not a oryx! A scarce antelope not often seen.

We call it a 'Baster Gemsbok' , direct translation to English is something like 'Crossbreed Oryx'..

Nice report!...cheers!

Edit: I see Erindi is also for sale now. Only $160m and this piece of paradise is yours...  :thumleft:

Wow so we saw a rare antelope? Fantastic. Shame it took me so long to get my camera out of my tank bag. The antelope just stood there for a while, looking at us sideway, it was amazing! And huge with massive horns, really amazingly long!

As for Erindi, I hope it will remain a private game reserve. Getting inside with the bikes was a privilege. Everywhere else we had to arrange for safari car drive in all the National parks.

Maybe I should start playing the euromillions lottery  :biggrin:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Fransw on November 09, 2018, 09:39:01 pm
Hi Maria. Its called a Roan Antelope not a oryx! A scarce antelope not often seen.

We call it a 'Baster Gemsbok' , direct translation to English is something like 'Crossbreed Oryx'..

Nice report!...cheers!

Edit: I see Erindi is also for sale now. Only $160m and this piece of paradise is yours...  :thumleft:

Wow so we saw a rare antelope? Fantastic. Shame it took me so long to get my camera out of my tank bag. The antelope just stood there for a while, looking at us sideway, it was amazing! And huge with massive horns, really amazingly long!

As for Erindi, I hope it will remain a private game reserve. Getting inside with the bikes was a privilege. Everywhere else we had to arrange for safari car drive in all the National parks.

Maybe I should start playing the euromillions lottery  :biggrin:

Yes, both the Roan antelope and oryx are very beautiful animals! The Roan stands slightly taller and has a bigger frame, the horns are shorter but thicker than the oryx and also little bit sable in form. Hide  colour of the Roan is more light brown in colour. Almost no Roan antelope in natural habitat left. Most on private reserves like Erindi, etc. One of my favourite animals! :)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 09, 2018, 11:12:59 pm
Hi Maria. Its called a Roan Antelope not a oryx! A scarce antelope not often seen.

We call it a 'Baster Gemsbok' , direct translation to English is something like 'Crossbreed Oryx'..

Nice report!...cheers!

Edit: I see Erindi is also for sale now. Only $160m and this piece of paradise is yours...  :thumleft:

Wow so we saw a rare antelope? Fantastic. Shame it took me so long to get my camera out of my tank bag. The antelope just stood there for a while, looking at us sideway, it was amazing! And huge with massive horns, really amazingly long!

As for Erindi, I hope it will remain a private game reserve. Getting inside with the bikes was a privilege. Everywhere else we had to arrange for safari car drive in all the National parks.

Maybe I should start playing the euromillions lottery  :biggrin:

Yes, both the Roan antelope and oryx are very beautiful animals! The Roan stands slightly taller and has a bigger frame, the horns are shorter but thicker than the oryx and also little bit sable in form. Hide  colour of the Roan is more light brown in colour. Almost no Roan antelope in natural habitat left. Most on private reserves like Erindi, etc. One of my favourite animals! :)

Well there must be some of those antelopes around in the wild as we met that one about 20 or 30 miles outside of Erindi, on one of those various tracks that the GPS took us ( the “scenic “ route again)  We went  through many farm gates for a couple of hours. No idea where we were. Our GPs is quite imaginative when it comes to routing,
A usual, feeling like a complete idiot on a bike!  ::) no clue where we are,  no clue what is happening.... but yet, we had fun! Just shows that anyone can do this sort of trips!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: aka.Goliath on November 10, 2018, 06:30:43 pm
What a great report! Keep it coming. Must make a note to go visit Erindi when I'm up there.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 10, 2018, 06:53:09 pm
What a great report! Keep it coming. Must make a note to go visit Erindi when I'm up there.
Definitely you must go... and keep an eye on those lions when riding around :biggrin:
 
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 10, 2018, 06:55:34 pm
So following the spectacular new fork seals fail on the Honda, after only 160kms or so, we turned back. We were gutted. I took the lead and rode fast along the track.

As we came closer to the coast, we could see the layer of fog still hanging far away in front of us, along the coast, like some sort of giant grey caterpillar resting along the coast, following the line of electric pylons. It was quite surreal.

The weather turned colder and colder the closer we got to the fog.

 We hit the fog suddenly but we barely slowed down despite the poor visibility. It was all straight road anyway and we were in a hurry!

We rode to Yamaha and had a chat with the guys there.

After that we go back to the Skeleton Sea backpacker  and got a room again.

Shame, our previous room was big and airy on the 1st floor, while this one was on the ground floor and colder and humid. Nothing seemed to dry ever. We took the entire luggage off the Honda and rode to town to drop the bike to the workshop. We rode back 2 up on mine.

The shop was going to order genuine Honda parts from Cape Town. They fitted after market brand originally, although no after market can be that bad. We suspected either the seals were the wrong ones or they fitted them wrongly. Either way, they had to put it right.

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 10, 2018, 06:57:39 pm
Day 24 – Namibia, Swakopmund (Thursday 21st June)

After breakfast we walked back to Yamaha. They confirmed the parts would arrive on Monday (4 days later). With the Honda in the workshop, we could not go anywhere. We just had to wait.

We loaded on vegetables at the supermarket and made use of the communal kitchen to cook a big chicken curry with plenty of vegetable. That would last few days.



Day 25 to 28 – Namibia, Swakopmund - Friday 22d to Monday 25th June

We spent those few days waiting, with not much to do. We did some washing which took forever to dry, I read few books (I loaded few Anne Cleeves murder mysteries on my iPad) we watched too many repeats of Top Gear and too much football on TV. After all, it was the World Cup!

The weather was very cold, especially when the easterly wind was blowing. Sometimes, mid afternoon, if it was sunny and not windy, for about an hour, we could get warm.

The backpacker place was busy as it was very cheap.

We came across a young couple riding two up on a Yamaha DR650. Jordan (from Oz) and Malina from Germany.

Jordan rode from the UK. Somehow managing to get his bike through from Turkey to Israel and then to Egypt, using various transport companies and ferries.

I told him that we met an American, riding a BMW, in Springbok. He asked me “- Was that Clark?”.

Indeed it was! It is such a small world.

There were very few people riding around Africa at that time! Funny how we still managed to bump into each other! Jordan and Clark met somewhere in Sudan!

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 10, 2018, 07:01:12 pm
Jordan also followed on Clark with regard to Etosha, and camped at Onguma private game reserve. The campsite was cheap he told me, and they provided affordable drives into Etosha. Motorbikes are not allowed in these parks. So I took a mental note of the game reserve, and we would aim for it, once we were in the area.

The backpacker place was full of people coming and going.

We got to know the few who were hanging around a bit longer. Jordan and Malina eventually left, once Jordan had fixed few things on his bike. But then  we came across Twat Head and the Yah-Yah girls!

The aptly named (by Alistair) Twat head and The Yah-yah girls turned up, a day after us, and it just seemed like they would be there forever as they did not seem capable of taking any decisions.

At first, sitting at the table, reading a book, I thought there was a repeat of the comedy “The Windsors” on TV, and that we were hearing the parody of the british princesses Eugenie and Beatrice.

I turned my head to check out on the TV, but it was football again. Then I saw two girls of about 20, talking with exactly the same ultra posh upper class  British accent than in the TV series. (if you have not seen this program, make sure you do, it is a parody and is extremely funny!).

Initially, I thought they were having a laugh, but no, they really talked exactly like princess Bea and Eugenie in the series.

The Yah-Yah girls also seemed to have the same single neuron to share between the 2 of them, from what I gathered with their constant inane laugh and brainless comments. What a waste of a stupendously, no doubt, expensive private education. But I guess, as one of my friend put out, most of those girls are just educated so they marry into money and have the right accent and blend with the upper class. 
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 10, 2018, 07:04:55 pm
Every comment the Yah-Yah Girls made seemed HI-LA-RIOUS to them. They were constantly laughing and giggling loudly. Very loudly. Irritatingly loudly! All. The. Time.

 :BLACK2:

Alistair nicknamed them the Yah-yah girls, based (for non English readers) on the very posh way some people say “Yes” but sounds like yaaaaaahhhh.

They hooked up with Twat Head. Again, nicknamed by Alistair.

Twat Head was about 25 year old lad from New York. Difficult not to know he was from New York as he took great pride in it and kept saying it to everyone who would listen (or not!).

He had a rented car, so he was very attractive to the other backpackers (including the Yah-yah girls) who were all without cars and had  to depend on public transport or taxis or tours to get to places. It is not easy to move around in Namibia if you do not have your own vehicle, or you have to get organized tours.

Twat Head was groomed and buffed to an inch of his life, like a cast out of Sex and the City or such rubbish - I am not much Au Fait of US TV series - , very carefully clothed to have just the right look as a 'cool backpacker in Africa'. Maybe it’s a New York thing?

Twat Head was loud. Very loud. In the communal living/ dining room and the kitchen, next door, you could only hear him. He loved the sound of his voice. He hold court in the communal TV / dining room, with The Yah-Yah girls, as well as two other girls, who I did not notice as much as they were more quiet.

As you may guess, they were a bit irritating.  :cussing:

There was no escape from them, and even putting the TV louder, they didn’t get the hint!

We tried to find peace in our room, but Internet only worked in the communal room and our room was very cold. So everyone tended to gather in the large communal room.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 10, 2018, 07:07:34 pm
Some other characters we met were more interesting though. Like an 18-year-old lad from Oz, who was travelling around the world, working here and there to fund his travels. I was very impressed. When I was18 I could barely get round the corner without getting lost! He was a pleasant and very intelligent and competent chap. He used to disappear some afternoons to skateboard into town with a Brazilian mate. What a contrast between him and the loud crew!

On Monday 25th, we finally picked up the bike and we were ready to go.

We were happy to leave behind Twat Head and the Yah-Yah girls! They may still be there, incapable of taking a single decision!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 10, 2018, 07:09:51 pm
We saw many Himba women in town, as well as on the road, riding north. Sorry lads, I did not take any photo.  :biggrin:

I find that a bit creepy to take photos of semi naked women. You can always Google them and there are plenty in this forum anyway! They were beautiful. But seeing topless women reminds me of the recent debate in the newspapers.

There was that girl working at a McDonalds, making a huge fuss about being told to wear a bra at work and how it was her human right blah blah blah… Then lots of women coming out in support saying how it is so much better without a bra, blah blah patriarchy blah blah… You get the picture!

Anyhow, I guess none of those women has ever seen a Himba woman beyond 25 year of age.  They probably never heard of gravity either.  I guess by the time these women get 30, they will need to get a boob job as their sack full of fat will then be hanging down by their stomach, if they permanently ditch their bras!  Each to their own. I just think there are more important things in life than making a huge fuss about dress code. I don’t see men doing a massive fuss about wearing a tie.

Anyhow, back to the RR!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 10, 2018, 07:11:06 pm

Day 29 – Namibia, Uis 240 kms (Tuesday 26th June)

 
From a chat with Yamaha, we realised that the mud from the salt road was pure salt, which is not good!

To be fair, the 1st time we rode through it, it was dry, and looked like tarmac. We did not think much of it. So on the way back from Yamaha, We stopped at a car wash facility to give a rinse to my bike, as it was covered in salty mud.

My electrics took a hit again though, I found out later!

As we left Swakopmund (at last!) the digital display, which shows my speed, mileage, clock etc… was blank. Again. When we stopped for fuel, before leaving town, at first the bike would not start. Eventually I caught up with Alistair.

Once we hit the little D1930 shortcut to Uis, we stopped few miles later. The road was badly corrugated and sandy.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1938/31163036748_1d05cc29e1_c.jpg)


Alistair left ahead, and I could not start my bike. I made a mental note never to jet-wash my bike again. Ever!


The last small wash, where I directed the lad to avoid the controls and remove the salt just from the lower section of the bike only, still seemed to have played havoc with the electrics.

After 5 minutes, I finally got a response when I pressed the start button. Still, I was worried.
60kms from Uis we stopped again and the problem repeated. The bike started eventually and I hoped it was just water and the humidity causing this.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 10, 2018, 07:12:23 pm
All this did not help my paranoia about my bike dying!

We arrived early afternoon at Uis, and after refuel, we rode to the Cactus Cafe and campsite.
The facilities were amazing. Each campsite had its own shaded plot, with individual toilet/ shower, as well as a sink, Braai and tables ad chairs.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1907/44988052102_da7fe720d2_c.jpg)

 
Once we had the tent up, Alistair put WD40 around my controls and electrics. Leaving the bike drying in the sun helped. I still had nothing on the digital display. This was very annoying. But at least the bike seemed to start when I was on neutral only.

We revised our itinerary. We had wasted 10 days on and off in Swakopmund and the gravel road I intended via Palmwag to Epupa falls was the main tourist trail. It was now full tourist season!

The recent heavy rains had also caused heavy damage to the trail joining Epupa to Ruacana, which was impassable, at latest news, so we would need to do a detour south via the main road.

We decided to ride straight north instead, to Ruacana falls. Going straight there would save us few days. Also, we did not fancy busy gravel roads and breathing dust and sand raised by the constant traffic. It was exhausting.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Noneking on November 11, 2018, 04:46:36 am
Great RR Maria.
Nice to meet up with you guys in Nelspruit.
Looking forward to reading the rest! :thumleft:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Tonteldoos on November 11, 2018, 06:43:51 am
Nice RR keep it coming!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Sardine on November 11, 2018, 10:33:04 am
So glad I decide to open this thread!

This is what travel is about and I regret blasting through Namibia in 1.5 days.
Thank you for an amazing write-up with fantastic photos.
 :thumleft:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 11, 2018, 05:17:14 pm
Great RR Maria.
Nice to meet up with you guys in Nelspruit.
Looking forward to reading the rest! :thumleft:

Thanks Canzius, it was great to meet you and your advice about Swaziland was spot on. We had a great time there. It was beautiful.  :)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 11, 2018, 05:19:41 pm
So glad I decide to open this thread!

This is what travel is about and I regret blasting through Namibia in 1.5 days.
Thank you for an amazing write-up with fantastic photos.
 :thumleft:

You are lucky to be located in Botswana. Namibia is literally in your back yard! And with a DR650 you wouldl be unstoppable there!   :thumleft:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 11, 2018, 05:21:22 pm
Day 30 – Namibia, Kamanjab – 240kms – weds 27th June

After packing up, we had breakfast at the Cactus Cafe, attached to the campsite. They had nice pancakes. Have I mentioned the pancakes?!!!  :biggrin:

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1940/45035958271_56f4fb9fd8_c.jpg)


The staff was friendly, the café had wifi, and the wifi even worked! It was definitely a nice place for a night.
 
After that we rode straight north, through yet more bad gravel roads. We did not see any wildlife. Just cars. We stopped in a small town for fuel. Lots of touts around, trying to sell us tat that we didn’t need. We saw plenty of rented SUVs and tourists. The town was on the turn East to Palmwag. We rode north.  The track was much more quiet.

By early afternoon we arrived at Kamanjab. There was no other spot on my map until Ruacana falls, over 300kms away.

After stopping at the fuel station/ coffee/ shop, buying fuel and getting some tea, we tried to find accommodation. The GPS charger was dead from water and humidity, badly corroded. So we could not use it to find a campsite.

Alistair was told about a B&B few hundred metres away. He walked there while I kept an eye on the bikes and finished my tea.  They wanted about 100 USD for one night! How can accommodation be so bloody expensive in Namibia?

It never ceased to amaze me. Even camping cost a good 15 to 25 dollars per person, in average! And they would not drop the price, even if the place were deserted. Surely, if you have a business, you would offer a discount to get customers over?

The owner of the cafe recommended her campsite and cabins, a mile out of town. It was half the price and we had a nice big chalet for it. The place was deserted.

It was very hot, so I decided to make the most of the facilities (outside tap, garden chairs and table) to rinse my motorcycle gear, covered in sand. It would dry very quickly, hanging in the chairs outside.

We cooked a tin of curry vegetables with instant noodles, in the small kitchen, for dinner.



Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 11, 2018, 05:28:19 pm
Day 31 – Namibia,  Ruacana, ‘okapita ‘ campsite – 300kms - Thursday 28th June


After breakfast of toasted bread and cheese, as well as banana with yogurt, we were ready for a long ride. We started taking our anti-malaria tablets then. We were not sure where the Risk zone could start precisely. We used Doxycycline, considerably cheaper that Malerone and less risky than Larium. 

We got back to town for fuel. We filled the 5l fuel canister as well, as the next fuel station was about 320kms away. Too far to make it with our fuel tanks alone.

Then we hit the road. It was all sweet nice tarmac, with hardly any traffic. Unfortunately it was also a very boring long straight road.  :-\

About midday, we stopped on a rest area to have a rest and chomp on some peanuts. Then we saw a motorbike passing going south. I waved. It was a large bike with panniers and top box. We had not met any bikers since the unlikely meeting with Jordan in Swakopmund, and Clark in Springbok.

The biker saw us and did a U-turn. We met Bruno, riding a huge new Africa Twin.

We spoke bike stuff for a while. He mentioned he had a campsite near Ruacana falls, and told us we should stop there. He was on his way to Windhoek and would be away for few days, but he would phone is wife to expect us.

HE offered us to get the luxury Safari tent for the price of camping. Nice! He mentioned that some time ago he had had a Deutsche couple on two bikes like Alistair (CRF250) staying at his campsite.  :scratch:

It could only be Leonie and her husband. We met them in Wales last year. I checked with Bruno and he confirmed.

What are the chances? There are so few people over-landing by motorbike in Africa, and yet we either seem to follow on their steps, or bump into them!

So we kept riding, and a couple of hours later we reached the T junction. We could go not further North, as beyond the river was Angola. We did not try to get a visa for it as it is very complicated. We found Bruno’s campsite, up a long very deep twisty sand track. Not fun on two wheels. We had a reception committee, with wet towels offered to clean our hands and a glass of apple juice. All very friendly and nice.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 11, 2018, 05:31:18 pm
We settled in the Safari tent, which, as its name suggests, is a very large tent, with a double bed, and a nice shaded vestibule. We were the only guests in the entire site, so we were the centre of attention of all the staff.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1917/31163198888_fd0d1efb19_c.jpg)


After a beer at the small bar, we were asked if we wanted the set menu for dinner. As they kept asking we settled for the set menu. It was huge, enough to feed an army.

The dinner had been set in a large dining room, just for us as were the only guests. The lad serving with the help of another girl, were just standing next to us throughout, watching us, which made it a little bit awkward for us.
 
I mean, they were all lovely but their 100% attention on us all the time was a bit too much for me. Maybe British royalty is used to this but not poor old plain me!

Then we were invited to watch the staff singing and dancing. Including all the staff's children. I am never comfortable with that sort of display. It seems a bit like us lording over the peasants. But it was difficult to refuse.

After a long day on the bikes, we went to bed early. The night was very cold. Very cold!

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 11, 2018, 05:33:06 pm
Day 32 – Namibia, Etosha gate – 460kms – Friday 29th June

We left camp early and rode to Ruacana falls. Before, we wasted some time, due to the stupid GPS, which somehow had revived, trying to get us through non-existent tracks to the fuel station.

After finally finding the fuel station, we rode to the falls. They were at the border with Angola and we needed to actually get through the Namibian post border (without stamping anything, they wave us through!). Unfortunately, this was the dry season and the falls were dry! The dam controls the flow of water.

But it was a beautiful ride there anyway.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1960/44988050932_9239a80dd5_c.jpg)


After that, we went back on the road. It was all tarmac but the stretch of road riding East was very busy with lots of towns and villages. The area was very green and there was a lot of water with plenty of shallow lakes and flooded land as well as a long narrow river or canal along the road.

There were also plenty of donkeys, goats and cows grazing by the side of the road! After crashing into a charging cow in Kyrgyzstan, I am cautious around cows!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 11, 2018, 05:40:07 pm
Initially, I was thinking to find a camp on the way, but we found nothing obvious, and in the end, we decided to make it to Onguma camp, which was near the East entrance of Etosha National Park.

We could not get into Etosha park with our motorbikes, but we could organise a drive inside from the campsite (Set outside Etosha) at reasonable price in a safari car with a driver (about 45 USD if I remember).

So we pushed on with the bikes, for most of the day and arrived at the gate of Onguma Game reserve and Lodge (just next to Etosha National Park gates) rather late. It was nearly 6 pm and it was starting to get dark.

The guard asked us if we had reservations! This is never a good question to hear! Of course we didn’t. The camp was full!

We were on a bit of a pickle as the nearest campsite was about 100km away! The various lodges near the Gate to Etosha were way beyond our budget. We could not ride at night, as it would be too dangerous.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 11, 2018, 05:54:19 pm
The guard phoned someone, and after some wait, he let us in. We were able to set camp next to the gate, on the inside.

There was a small construction, a square concrete block, behind the guard's lodgings and next to our dirt patch, with a toilet, a sink, and a cold shower. This was designed for the guard, but we could use them. It would do for the night. We had no water left but we could drink from the tap. Tap water is drinkable pretty much everywhere in Namibia, although sometimes it does not always taste very nice. We had very little food left too.

We managed to cook a weird looking packet of dry vegetarian chilli which had been on our panniers for a while, which had to be cooked with water. We added some instant noodles. It was…. spicy. That is all I can say nice about it!

After that, with nothing much to do and the night being cold, it was an early night.

We had arranged, with the guard, to get into an early morning drive to Etosha, for about 45 or 50 USD per person. We had to pay the driver in cash  :angel4:.


We also paid the guard in cash for the night camping. I don’t think the campsite will ever get any of that! But this is Africa, and we were in a bit of a trouble, so we were grateful we found a safe place for the night.

With such a long ride we drank lots of water with a rehydration tablet. The consequences were predictable.


Day 33- Namibia, Onguma campsite – Saturday 30th June – 3 kms


I woke up around 3:30am…. the night was bitterly cold. I could hear lions roaring not too far. Obviously, I needed to go the toilet! I could not hold my bladder until daylight.  :eek:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: sidetrack on November 11, 2018, 06:08:25 pm
Is your bike a XT Serow ? They are highly rated on ADVrider, rear wheel looks like it could be a tubeliss rim ? Enjoying the RR  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Fransw on November 11, 2018, 06:34:56 pm
Nice picture! Which one is Alistair?... :lol8:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 11, 2018, 07:09:49 pm
Is your bike a XT Serow ? They are highly rated on ADVrider, rear wheel looks like it could be a tubeliss rim ? Enjoying the RR  :thumleft:

Hi Sidetrack,

Yes it is an XT250 Serow. They were never sold in Europe but I found one on eBay. A London company goes regularly to Japan and import a full container of second hand quicrky bikes. They had 2 serows. The better one was gone immediately but I secured the second ugly looking one!  :biggrin:

. In the Japanese model it has indeed a tubeless tyre at the back. Not the front! Weird but why not.
However, with our travels,  Alistair decided to fit a heavy duty inner tube. We also fill the inner tubes with green “slime”. So far it may work as we did not have any puncture in our two last overland trips since using this.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: hedleyj on November 11, 2018, 09:50:55 pm
Hi Maria and Alistair

Your trip and report are remarkably inspiring. One always tends to think a tour of this nature needs a great big 1200 or similar.

I am loving your writing. Excuse the ignorance but have you published a book about your travels?

Cheers for now. Hedley
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: CUZZY on November 12, 2018, 11:45:38 am
 Wicked pommy sense of humour Maria !!
 Fantastic ride report and proof you don't need an expensive heavy behemoth to do a long trip like yours.
Keep us entertained.
Cheers.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 12, 2018, 05:04:35 pm
Hi Maria and Alistair

Your trip and report are remarkably inspiring. One always tends to think a tour of this nature needs a great big 1200 or similar.

I am loving your writing. Excuse the ignorance but have you published a book about your travels?

Cheers for now. Hedley

Hi Hedley, thanks so much for the compliments! Considering that english is not my 1st (or even 2d!)  language I am very happy when people enjoy reading my reports!

For the bikes, well I tried travelling on a heavy bike. My first overland trip was on a BMW 650GS back in 2007. We spent a year exploring south America and it was not fun. I much prefer a small and light bike. To use a behemoth is fine if you are tall and strong and exceptional at off road riding. That is not me  ;D. (I never wrote a RR of the South America trip. Maybe one day... it could be fun).

I never considered writing a book. I enjoy writing my Ride Reports. I already published 2 RR about my 2 long trips around Russia, central Asia/ Mongolia in 2014 and 2016 (in another forum). It's enough. I enjoy writing, and keeping all this data in forums is fun, even for me, years later.

When all is done and dusted all that is left are my memories of  the events. By entrusting my failing memory to forums, I know I will not forget!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 12, 2018, 05:07:31 pm
Wicked pommy sense of humour Maria !!
 Fantastic ride report and proof you don't need an expensive heavy behemoth to do a long trip like yours.
Keep us entertained.
Cheers.
Thanks Cuzzy.

True,  you don't need a massive bike and a budget to match, to travel like that. Just a bike you are comfortable with and easy to maintain, and a strong sense of humour! The things that go wrong or turn out not as you expected, are usually the things that will make fun stories later on!  :biggrin:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 12, 2018, 05:12:28 pm
Alistair laughed at me because I was scared of the lions. He never seems to sleep  ::). It was 3am! 

Anyway, I did not know where the lions were. We were, after all, camping in a private game reserve. They had lions. And the official campsite, I found out later, was fenced and we were not allowed to walk out!

Anyhow, after careful exit from the tent and a watch around (it was full moon and it was like having a giant spotlight in the sky) I ran for the loos and managed my little expedition safely.

We were up at 5am to be ready for the drive into the park. It was absolutely freezing. I put all my layers on as well as my waterproof insert jacket.

We were told the car would pick us up at 6am.

The car actually came into Onguma at 7, and then it took forever to pick up 2 other tourists. They were taking their time having breakfast! Our breakfast was a cup of coffee, and the share of half a stale bread roll with peanut butter!


Finally by 7:30 we got on the car. By then we were frozen! The driver handed us a thick poncho, fleeced inside and waterproof outside. We needed it, as the safari car was open on all sides.

We paid the guard for our night camping and left, leaving our camp packed, except for the tent and all our motorcycle gear inside.

We spent all morning driving with a guide around the national park of Etosha. We saw plenty: lots of springbok, impalas, kudus and other antelopes, giraffes, many elephants, ostriches, zebras, a black rhino, and what I  really wanted to see, a lion! A magnificent lion!

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1921/44988049522_744104e6aa_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1940/31163194318_8791111917_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1927/43224835600_72f81d96ff_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1968/44125129125_419c89042f_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1907/44124964535_30ebd508c0_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1945/45035869271_961308851a_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 12, 2018, 05:15:14 pm

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1942/30099825657_0772dc893c_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1923/30099824947_596157e325_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1959/44988042112_74968b5030_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1966/44988033072_5a8f96d759_c.jpg)



Later on, we asked the driver to stop at the park official shop, as we though we could buy some food there and we could not get there with the bikes.

We paid the driver in cash for our drive. (once again I doubt that the Lodge will ever get a sniff of that cash!  :biggrin:). We were left with very little cash!
 
At our return, there were some spots available in the campsite, so we moved there early afternoon. We had a nice spot with our own toilet, shower room, sink, kitchen area etc… really nice.

As it was finally very hot, I washed some clothes, as my riding top did not smell its best!

We then had a nice hot shower and some late lunch from the bar (just toasted cheese and tomato sandwich) and two nice cold beers!

Once all the chores were done, we went to the swimming pool and lied in a sun lounger, trying to get a tan. The water was too cold to swim; it was not that hot around.

It had been a very tiring day, mainly because of the intense cold in the safari car.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 12, 2018, 05:21:28 pm
Day 34 – Namibia, Grootfontein – Sunday 1st July – 170 kms


I slept like a log, with my (now clean and smelling nice!) thermal shirt and wool socks on. The night, as usual, was very cold. We emerged around 7:30. We were not in any rush.

Our next destination was Grootfontein, only 170kms away. We were planning to stay there 2 nights to do some research on the next leg of our trip, do an oil change and get some provisions.

We left the campsite around 9:30am after a coffee and some bread with peanut butter. Then we rode!

We stopped on the way to buy some fuel and met there a mad polish lad on a big BMW800. He had ridden from Poland all the way to this fuel pump, along the west coast of Africa,  in 2 months! I think my jaw dropped to the floor.  :tongue9:

He said “I like to ride”. He certainly must! He was planning to be in Cape Town in 2 days to pick up his girl friend at the airport (and he did). My jaw dropped, once again, to the floor!  :eek:
 
We arrived at Grootfontein rather early. The backpacker place that we had in mind was empty. There was no one around. We rang the bell, banged on the metal gate, waited, but nobody came. After all, it was Sunday.
 
We eventually found another place with a nice café/restaurant onsite, and we got settled. Everything was closed but Alistair went to have a walk around town while I worked on the blog or shilled out.

He found a kind of motorcycle shop (more like quad bikes stuff). Maybe we could find motorcycle oil. We decided to get there the next morning after the (included) breakfast.

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 12, 2018, 05:24:00 pm
Day 35 – Namibia, Grootfontein (Monday 2d July)


The previous day, Alistair found a motorcycle / quad bikes workshop in town, but it was closed (as it was Sunday).

So in the morning, after eating our B&B’s massive breakfast (cereals, boerewors sausages, bacon, toasts, 2 eggs) we walked there. The town was pleasant, clean with wide streets and avenues, and low rise buildings. It reminded me of American towns on the layout and wide avenues.

We had a chat with the business owner, Johan, who invited us to do the oil change in his premises. Alistair talked mechanic stuff with the owner. He was worried about his clutch, as it slipped a bit.

Usually, we always (well, Alistair!) put specific motorcycle engine oil on our bikes. Sounds logical. But often, in our trips, it has often been very difficult to find any.

Johan had motorcycle oil, but he uses multi grade car oil in all his bikes, including his shiny BMW 1200 adventure. He said car oil is good quality, as long as we use a good brand. It is also much cheaper and easier to find. So it was good to know, for next time we needed to change the oil!

After 5,000 kms, the oil from our bikes was black with dirt. We were told the fuel here was probably more “dirty” than in Europe and we should change it more often. Although our bikes manuals said we should change the oil every 10,000 miles, Johan told us we should do it much more often. It is cheaper to change the oil than something in the engine!

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 12, 2018, 05:26:16 pm

After that, we did some shopping. Alistair got himself a hoody at the local PEP store,  as it was so cold, and we got some food from the supermarket, for the next leg of our trip. Our staple food while camping was peanut butter and bread for breakfast, with coffee, and tins of curried mix vegs, tin of baked beans, bread, bags of instant noodles, salted peanuts and biscuits. All of this was small and easy to transport in a roll bag, strapped at the back of my bike, on top of the big Ortlieb bag.

Talking of my Ortlieb bag, one of the straps had broken days in the trip. Quite disappointing considering the bag was new!

When we were riding we did not usually bother with lunch. Dried nuts or peanuts were found everywhere and were filling.


In the evening we had dinner at the B&B’s restaurant and watched some football game (it was still the world cup) with a glass of red wine! As you can see, we were having a hard life!

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 12, 2018, 05:30:53 pm
Day 36 and 37 – Namibia, Kaisosi river lodge campsite – 280kms - Tuesday 3rd July / weds 4th July


The night was freezing cold and we had added all the extra blankets to our quilt. There was never any heating in houses here, from what we had seen.


We left Grootfontein around 10am. We did not have that far to go, and it was all easy tarmac. I had booked a camping spot at a lodge by the edge of river Kovango. The river is the border between Namibia and Angola. After the debacle with Onguma lodge, I was rather keen to ensure a spot. I booked 2 nights there as the following campsite I had in mind was full until then. I had also ensured a booking there for few days later. I was starting to be rather organized! After all, it was now full swing holiday season in Europe and could not presume it would be easy to find a camping spot.   


The only problem on the road was the cold. It was always sunny with big blue sky, but, that morning in particular, it was freezing. I put all my layers on and even like that I suffered with the cold.


Eventually, by early afternoon, we arrived at Rundu. On the way we passed many traditional villages, with round huts and a round wood fence made of standing sticks side by side. There were lots of cows, donkeys and goats grazing by the side of the road.

By mid day, as we passed all those traditional villages, kids, still in their school uniform, got all excited to see our bikes and waved or ran toward us. To start with, I waved back, but I worried that some kids could get too excited and run too close to the bikes, causing an accident. So I decided not to wave and ignore then instead.


In Central Asia, some bikers started the trend of doing a High Five to kids, while riding. As a result, groups of kids now run practically in front of the bikes, even when riding fast. That made me very nervous over there.

The first bike (usually Alistair) would avoid the kids, but by the time I arrived, the kids were all over the road, trying to force me to stop and high five them with my right hand! I hope Namibia will not turn that way. If a biker has an accident because of kids doing this, and a local kid gets even slightly bruised, it could end up badly for the biker.

After a stop for fuel, we followed the GPS to the lodge. The way was via a sort of street with yet more deep sand for about a mile. And with heavy traffic: cars, vans and trucks! At some point I started digging my back wheel in deep sand, but I eventually (proudly!) managed to get myself out off the hole and move on.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 12, 2018, 05:37:16 pm


The grounds of the lodge were very pleasant. As usual for lodges, our camping spot had its own private small shower/ toilet block. The assistant showed us a site that had a concrete table and benches, after I asked for this, as we carry no chairs. This makes a big difference for me, as sitting in the cold ground is not great, and hurt my knees! After pitching the tent, we went for a walk.

They had the usual facilities, a curio shop with carved things and stuff to sell, a bar, a restaurant, a large wood terrace over the river, chalets for the high paying guests, overlooking also the river, and a very large room with 2 big TVs. So we could watch the football.

The night was very cold, even sleeping with layers. Our sleeping bags are goose down and usually very warm. We bought them in Buenos Aires, back in 2007, during our motorcycling year around South America. My BMW F650GS had been stolen in Brazil, and with it, most of the camping gear. We replaced the sleeping mats and sleeping bags in Buenos Aires. But even the top quality goose down was not enough to keep us warm that night! We were told it was snowing in the Cape, and the freezing wind was blowing from there!

For those anxious about the stolen bike, the police found it few days later and made an arrest. We had a tough time though and since then we always lock our bikes together with a sturdy chain. 

On the other side of the river: Angola.
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1978/44316626134_2972f6ff6c_c.jpg)


The next day we lazed around and got to know our neighbours in the campsite next to us. They were three couples from South Africa on big 4×4 cars with roof tents and all the luxury they could carry. Their Braii looked epic!


Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Oubones on November 12, 2018, 06:13:37 pm
Still traveling along nicely. :thumleft:
I hope they invited you to share their braai with them?
Thank you for all the interesting and practical tips you give us here as to camping spots etc.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: shark_za on November 13, 2018, 08:10:58 am
We were told the fuel here was probably more “dirty” than in Europe and we should change it more often.
Fuel quality has nothing to do with your oil color...  Changing oil often is a great idea though.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: eSKaPe on November 13, 2018, 01:43:10 pm
Enjoying the read and the pics, keep it coming Maria41
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: THROTTLE JOCKEY on November 13, 2018, 02:30:53 pm
Good RR. Well done!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 13, 2018, 05:12:55 pm

Day 38 – Namibia, Shametu lodge (near Divundu) Thursday 5th July – 230kms


We packed up very early. The night was still freezing cold.

We stopped at the local supermarket in town for some supplies to last the 3 days we planned to spend in Shametu Lodge, at the start of the Caprivi Strip.

If you wonder what we eat while camping, here is our usual dinner:

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1971/44988030152_4164fc4b44_c.jpg)

Washed down with some excellent South African wine!

Lodges are usually in the middle of nowhere. They don’t have a shop, or if they do, they don’t stock much. Lodge’s guests are in full board, and campers usually bring everything with them in their massive cars and trailers. South Africans travel in style! Those trailers have a full-integrated kitchen and fridge as well as enough food to last a nuclear winter!  :patch:


In the car park of the supermarket, as we got ready to go, a woman and an old guy came to tell us to watch for a white car. They warned us that the people in the white car might try to follow us. No doubt those guys in the White car were the local delinquents! As usual there were lots of people hanging around, or sitting in their cars. We thanked the couple and went.

I kept an eye on my mirrors but did not see anyone following us, which was a relief!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 13, 2018, 05:14:36 pm
The road followed the river Kovango, which is the border between Angola and Namibia. We passed many traditional villages, built with wooden huts and thatched roofs, with a round fence around them. As usual there were lots of cows and donkeys and goats roaming freely around.

We finally arrived at Divundu by early afternoon. We bought fuel in the village. By the supermarket/fuel station, many tourists in big 4×4, with the usual flat packed tent in the roof, were stopping to buy supplies. The place was busy. It was near the border with Botswana and on the way to Zambia.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1975/31163152678_2eefc4b881_c.jpg)


We found the turn off to the lodge. Once again, there was about a mile of deep sand. I made a mistake and quickly dropped the bike! I really don’t enjoy riding in deep sand. Sometimes I get it and skip over it using speed, and sometimes I just can’t do it! It is as much skill as confidence. It is a very big leap of faith, to stand on the foot pegs and open the throttle and accelerate over a long section of sand. Sometimes, I can do it, and sometimes, I chicken out!

The lodge was lovely with great grounds. Our camping spot was shaded and enormous. It had a large kitchen area, under a thatched roof, with a big worktop and a big aluminium kitchen sink.

Then another wood building was the toilet and shower room. The place was dark inside, the light bulb very weak, but it was fine.

Our private toilet/shower:
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1904/44125104675_31d1471111_c.jpg)


And the kitchen section:
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1974/43224793130_c89d9f0d08_c.jpg)

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 13, 2018, 05:15:04 pm

I asked the manager at the desk if we could borrow a couple of chairs or some benches to sit. She kindly got some staff to bring us a couple of camping chairs.

In the evening we cooked our usual tin of vegs with a bag of noodles and spent the evening lounging in the various sofas and areas.

The thatched roof of the main building had an owl and it had 2 or 3 little chicks nesting in the ceiling. They used the big wide beams to nest there. As night fell, the mother owl would fly out through the big pen windows and hunt and bring back food for its chicks. They made quite a noise when they were hungry those little chicks.

The owner explained that despite the mess they could cause (i.e. pooing on the floor of what was the big main lounge) it was worth having these owls there. They eat mice, which means there is less risk of snakes around, as snakes are also after mice.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 13, 2018, 05:18:28 pm
Day 39 and 40 and – Namibia, Shametu lodge – sat / Sunday 6th and 7th July – 0kms

We booked a river cruise for the afternoon. We saw hippos and crocs and lots of birds.

We also saw the Pupa falls. They were more like rapids than waterfalls.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1975/44988027502_bbe82a135c_c.jpg)

Hippos out of the water as it seems the water was too cold for them. Spot the baby one!

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1911/44316618104_7fe92991eb_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1901/44316616294_b41b0a2df2_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1926/31163164908_e62df86135_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1905/31163158388_c773229626_c.jpg)



I took the opportunity, with the massive kitchen and big sink, to make a big wash, including my motorcycle suit. I gave the zips on my gear a good brushing to remove all the dirt, until the zips worked fine again. The weather was still fairly cool and surprisingly cloudy. We had not had any clouds since we left South Africa!

With the WiFi working occasionally, near the reception desk, I did some research for the next leg of our trip. I found a couple of blogs detailing the border crossing between Zambia and Namibia.

Money (local currency) is always a problem when crossing borders. Can we pay fees and costs with USD? Or do we need local currency? Is there an ATM machine at the border? Or do we need to deal with dodgy moneychangers?  Beyond the border, can we pay stuff with a credit card or where is the nearest ATM machine? All that has to be planned a bit in advance. Well,I like to plan it if I can! I need to know how long we can go with cash, USD, fuel etc… In the past, we have been left in a bit of a pickle because of that.

I remember when crossing from Peru to Bolivia, back in 2007, we only had USD once in Bolivia. We stopped in Tiahuanaco to visit the ruins. There was nowhere to change our USD and we could not pay with them for accommodation or anything. Eventually a woman changed us 10 USD, which was enough for accommodation. I can't remember what we did to visit the ruins. I think we probably paid with USD! Then rode to La Paz where we were able to get local cash. We also had that problem entering Peru through an obscure little border post, as we took a 'shortcut' from Ecuador and ended up in the arse end of nowhere!  :o

So I like to plan when I can!

Anyway, according to some blogs, there was a bank and an ATM machine at the border, on the Zambian side, so we did not need to use moneychanger touts.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 13, 2018, 05:19:37 pm
I also looked at the itinerary across Zambia, where distance between fuel stations might be a problem, through the Great East Road.

I investigated further Mozambique. Outside of the north East, which was considered dangerous (some “crazy” people had beheaded 10 people in the northern coastal region few weeks earlier), the country was considered ok.

I read the travel advice from the US government website, which confirmed this. 
The on going sort of civil war between the 2 warring factions in Mozambique had stopped following a truce the year before.  So, with the exception of a small region, Mozambique could be safe to cross. I was keeping a close eye on Mozambique news, as we would need to make a decision about our itinerary across Mozambique and / or Zimbabwe soon enough.


Day 41 – Namibia, Katima Mulilo– 330kms – Sunday 8th July

It was time to leave Shametu lodge. The main building was like a Harry Potter movie with its 3 large owls living inside, nesting on the beams.

At night, the mum would go hunting while the 2 young ones would constantly screech, asking for food, while looking at us below, turning their heard in funny ways, as only owls can do.

Unfortunately we do not carry the sort of cameras that could take long shots in the dark. They were very cute.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 13, 2018, 05:22:10 pm
We left early. The road across the Caprivi Strip was long, straight and boring. We did not see any wildlife, despite crossing a national park with lots of elephants, lions and all that. The vegetation was kind of semi tropical with lots of bushes, trees and tall grass, so it would be hard to spot anything.

Still, when we stopped half way, in the middle of nowhere, for a quick pee, I put Alistair on lions watch!

I was told there were many lions and elephants there, so don’t laugh!

The ride was tiring as we had constant headwind.

Eventually, we arrived at Katima Mulilo and found the guesthouse we had selected online. We even had a booking!

We were the only guests. Although the next day for breakfast, there were two men there, who sounded like they spoke Russian or some Slavic language.

The guesthouse owner spoke with us of our plan to cross into Zambia. He warned us that the road, on the Zambian side, was in very a bad state and suggested to ride south and go via Botswana to Livingstone. In term of distance, it would be about the same, but we were not keen on crossing two borders on the same day and deal with all the taxes, fees and other stuff to pay twice and in two other currencies.

Eventually, after looking at the map we decided to stick to our initial plan.
We had dinner in the guesthouse. It was a set menu, beef and lots of rice, beans and some thick carrot soup that was to be used as sauce for the rice (I think?).

Then we went to our chalet. The guesthouse had several little chalets, small but nice. They even had functioning WiFi! Yay!

As usual I felt a bit nervous about the border crossing, not knowing what to expect!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 13, 2018, 05:24:29 pm

I was sad to leave Namibia. We spent 6 weeks exploring a little of this vast and very lightly populated country. There was so much more to discover.

Kaokoland, in the North West is the most remote and wildest part of Namibia. We took the decision not to go there on our own. Without satellite phone, in parts where you could be alone and not see anyone for days or weeks, we felt it was too remote and risky to get there.

The main reason was really to do with the wildlife. We have been to very remote parts, in Mongolia for example, Bolivia or Russia. But even far away from everywhere, there was often the odd person coming out of nowhere, on a horseback, truck or walking, and most importantly, there were no risks of bumping into angry elephants or hungry lions and hyenas!

It is easy to travel on a motorbike across the world, even when being as clueless and carefree as we are. I hope all my Ride Reports demonstrate that! However, facing big wild animals was a step too far for us. So we chickened out.  ::)

Kaokoland is a part of Namibia I would like to explore; probably with a guide or with a sturdy 4x4 and lots of water, food and a roof tent!

Namibia is an absolutely stunning and friendly country that totally bowled me over. I will have to go back. 

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Oubones on November 13, 2018, 05:50:49 pm

I was sad to leave Namibia. We spent 6 weeks exploring a little of this vast and very lightly populated country. There was so much more to discover.

Kaokoland, in the North West is the most remote and wildest part of Namibia. We took the decision not to go there on our own. Without satellite phone, in parts where you could be alone and not see anyone for days or weeks, we felt it was too remote and risky to get there.

The main reason was really to do with the wildlife. We have been to very remote parts, in Mongolia for example, Bolivia or Russia. But even far away from everywhere, there was often the odd person coming out of nowhere, on a horseback, truck or walking, and most importantly, there were no risks of bumping into angry elephants or hungry lions and hyenas!

It is easy to travel on a motorbike across the world, even when being as clueless and carefree as we are. I hope all my Ride Reports demonstrate that! However, facing big wild animals was a step too far for us. So we chickened out.  ::)

Kaokoland is a part of Namibia I would like to explore; probably with a guide or with a sturdy 4x4 and lots of water, food and a roof tent!

Namibia is an absolutely stunning and friendly country that totally bowled me over. I will have to go back.
For Kaokoland, speak to Hardy here on the forum.
He does supported trips there and has space on his April 2019 trip. :thumleft:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: MRK Miller on November 13, 2018, 07:49:54 pm
Thank you for sharing this very unique experience. I have been to Namibia a few times, but would live there if i could. South Africa though has just as many awesome places. To many, and sadly in my lifetime i will not see them all as i started out with adventure riding much to late in my life, although i have seen so many awesome places. God bless your way forward,     
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 14, 2018, 06:43:01 pm

For Kaokoland, speak to Hardy here on the forum.
He does supported trips there and has space on his April 2019 trip. :thumleft:


Thanks, I will keep that in mind. Not possible for 2019. Then for summer (northern hemisphere) 2020 I am quite tempted to spend few months exploring northern America, as we have not really explored that part of the world much yet. I would love to get to Alaska and ride part of the TAT.

Then we will be left with south East Asia, which is too complicated on our bikes and shipping would be too expensive. Maybe a mix of backpacking/renting local bikes is the way to do that section. We already rented bikes in Vietnam few years ago and it was amazing, so probably  the way to do it...
And Oz and NZ... and Botswana, and Namibia and back to South America, and ..... 

I have so many projects, so many places I want to ride to and so many countries yet to explore! I just need more time and money  :angel4:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 14, 2018, 06:46:14 pm
Day 42 –Zambia, Livingstone – 220kms – Monday 9th of July


After breakfast, which was included, we left Happy Forest guesthouse and went to buy fuel. Then we rode to the border.

Leaving Namibia was fairly fast and efficient. No touts in the compound. We got our passport stamped, then Custom signed out our carnet for the bikes. Then we rode to the Zambian side. All easy peasy  :)


On Zambia side, all the offices were in the same building. We parked the bikes, surrounded by touts trying to convince us to change money, but I had done my research and we walked first to the bank in the compound. I changed all our remaining Namibian rands into Zambian Kwachas (ZK) at the bank while Alistair got some cash from the ATM machine.

Then we went to the offices. We had to pay 50$ each (in US dollars) for our single entry visa.
Then we were sent to buy our insurance for the bikes (very expensive: about 45 US$ each, but we paid in ZK). Then we moved to the carbon tax office for about 7 US$ each. Then we were directed to the road tax and toll window to pay 10 US$ each. By then we had forked out a lot of money!  :-\

On the plus side, the officials were friendly and smiley. It makes a big difference compared with border crossings in Russia or Central Asia!

After that we were told we could go… only to be stopped just before the exit, to pay some additional local tax (3 dollars in ZK). >:(

After that we were really allowed to leave the border and enter Zambia!


The first 40kms were fine with good tarmac. Then things went bad, but not as bad as we expected. For a long section the potholes had been filed with a mix of stones and sand. After that we had massive potholes. They were very large and very deep. With our agile and light motorbikes we managed to slalom and avoid the worst without any trouble.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 14, 2018, 06:50:01 pm
Eventually we made it to Livingstone and found the guesthouse we had booked the day before. Those with theist ratings were already fully booked so we settled on that one. I can't remember the name though....

Livingstone is not as big and touristic as on the Zimbabwe side with Victoria Falls.

The guesthouse was simple, the building rundown, within walking distance of the town centre and supermarket, down a sandy gravelly road and it had secured parking for the bikes.

We decided to stay only two nights. We had been to Victoria Falls many years ago and stayed there few days, on the Zimbabwe side. We had done all the touristic stuff that all tourists do: the bungee jump off the bridge  :eek7:, the full day white water rafting (where I nearly drown few times!), the 3 days canoeing down the Zambezi river (amazing!), the helicopter ride over the falls (kind of ok)…. We were not interested on doing anything like that again on this trip.

We had a look in town and had dinner in a café near the supermarket. Alistair did not warm too much to Livingstone. It was rather different from Namibian towns, with their orderly architecture and clean streets.  Livingstone was a far cry from those.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 14, 2018, 06:52:35 pm
Zambia got independent from the UK in 1974. For about 20 years, Zambia went through a lot of trouble, economic mismanagement, corruption of the One Party ruler, the usual story. In the late 90s it was probably one of the poorest countries in Africa.

Democratisation finally happened in the 90s, slowly. We visited Zimbabwe and a bit of Zambia, in 1998, in an organised backpacking tour, and back then, the country was still incredibly poor with dreadful roads.

The economy eventually stabilised in the last 20 years, exports increased and GDP followed up. Unemployment is still a problem (as is corruption, bureaucracy and the size of the public sector) but the government is taking education seriously and the vast majority of children are attending school. And major roads were fine most of the time). Although most are probably being built buy the Chinese form what I gather.

We saw schools everywhere, even in the most rural areas. Education is the most significant tool to get out of poverty, so this is a tremendous investment. University graduates (the very few I spoke with) do not seem to be looking at leaving Zambia after graduation anymore.

It seems that opportunities for careers (and salaries) in Zambia are attractive enough to keep graduates in, and with that the country will benefit and grow further. Poverty is still an issue, but things are starting to happen. There is still a long way to go but I felt a great optimism emanating from the locals that as not there when I first visited 20 years ago.
   
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 14, 2018, 06:56:24 pm
***Putting few posts as I will be busy for the next week or so and won't be able to work on this report until next week ***
Day 43 – Zambia, Livingstone, Tuesday 10th of May – 0 kms


We went in search of an ATM that would accept our debit MasterCard. Not an easy task in Zambia, but we eventually found a bank that would take it. wE do also carry Visa debit cards, but we get charged a lot for getting cash.

Every time we go travelling, we try to open a bank account with a bank that would not charge for withdrawing money abroad. Every trip we change, as this free scheme never seems to last.

This time was no exception. Alistair got a new bank account and got the debit card, but it was MasterCard instead of visa. In Zambia they don’t seem to like much MasterCard!  :o

For British readers, we used Starling Bank. It works very well via a phone App and the exchange rate is SUPERB, almost interbank level, with no extra charges. Totally recommend them.

Eventually, after visiting many local banks in the Main Street, we found one ATM machine that would accept our card and would not charge a fortune for the pleasure!

In the afternoon I lazed around, sitting in one of the various harm chairs dotted around the shaded inside garden, and read my book. The place was fine, our room minuscule and our shower gave us an electric shock when touching the taps. If we were dry it was ok, but once I stepped into the shower and got wet, Jeez! Nasty. I had not had a shower giving electric shocks since Bolivia!  :lol8:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 14, 2018, 06:59:25 pm
We did some research to find accommodation in Lusaka. We usually avoid capital cities, but we needed tyres! No way round it and we could only find them in Lusaka, or few months later in South Africa. We decided to try to change them in Lusaka if we could. In any case, we had no choice, as all the roads go to Lusaka and there was no way to avoid it on our way East.

After checking online all the ghastly and expensive backpackers places in Lusaka, Alistair found a very nice AirBnB flat in Lusaka. It even had secured parking for the bikes. So we booked it.


Day 44 – Zambia, Mazabuka – 370kms – weds 11th July

We left Livingstone early as we had planned a long ride. We were not aiming to get to Lusaka on the same day, as it was too far and we did not know the state of the road. We decided to stop at the last big town before the capital city.

We had constant headwind, which was very tiring, so it was a long day. Our bikes have no fairing so we had it full on.

We finally got to our destination for the night. The cheap guesthouse we had found in iOverlander was ‘interesting’.

The room we visited was an absolute dump. No way would I sleep in that bed and those sheets! The horrendous bathroom had a massive plastic tub in the middle, full of water, between the innaccessible  shower and the toilet. When I asked if there was no water, the lady showing us round mumbled something. When I tested a tap in the sink, there was no water. I then asked if they had WiFi, not expecting they would.

The woman looked puzzled. I added, thinking she did not understand my French accent: “you know, WiFi, for Internet?”.

She looked at me and said: “what is it, a dish?”. Hmmm….  ???

Seeing the state of the bedroom we decided to inspect the other choices in town.

After a bit of a run around (the second place we looked at was fully booked!) we eventually found a descent and clean guesthouse with large grounds.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 14, 2018, 07:01:26 pm
After a long day ride with lots of wind we were rather tired. We ate at the restaurant attached to the guesthouse. Choice was chicken, pork or beef. We took chicken! It was good.




Day 45 – Zambia, Lusaka- 135kms – Thursday 12th July


We were not in a rush, but somehow, we were told breakfast was at 7:30, so we woke up early.

A large group of about 10 or 12 white girls, in their late teens early 20s, arrived with an old bloke who seemed to be  in charge of the group, to have breakfast. I think they could have been Germans. By the time we loaded the bikes they seemed to have a working group going with some locals, sitting in circle in the shaded garden, with pads and notes. The girls seemed very young, so I thought they might be ***students on holiday**** sorry I mean  volunteers doing some stuff around?

We left soon after 9.


For about 70kms, the road was in terrible condition.  As before, we had to slalom to avoid massive potholes. It was also very busy with many trucks. Many of those trucks seemed broken down by the side of the road. I was not surprised considering the state of the tarmac. The weather was cloudy but not too cold.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 14, 2018, 07:04:10 pm

We arrived in town around midday. The traffic was going nowhere as all the roads end up in Lusaka and there is no ring roads or anyway to avoid the town centre.

So even massive trucks were sucked into the centre and toward Cairo Road. It was very slow going with minibus drivers and taxis all over the place as well as street vendors walking on the road, between cars, selling anything from jeans or shoes  to trinkets.

We wanted to stop at Best of Bikes, a motorcycle workshop near or on Cairo Road, as we would be riding near their shop. They did not have a proper address. It said on their website they were on Cairo road, the main road in Lusaka. But Cairo Road is a very long road.

In the end, we stopped at a petrol station and Alistair went on foot try to find the place, based on Google Map guessed location, but it was not where Google Map said it was!

So we decided to ride to the Airbnb flat. That also took a while. I just wanted to get out of the heavy insane traffic, as it was rather stressful.

The Airbnb place was off the main road, through a dirt road with a big tall metal gate. They had a very large garden, perfectly maintained. Perfect for our bikes. Our studio was at the bottom of the garden, in a separate building to the main house, and had a little kitchen and a nice terrace facing the garden. It was beautiful.

After getting changed, we walked to the local supermarket.


Our AIrBnB street (rather typical of the area):
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1905/44125093455_d79d2e5ccf_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: mtr89 on November 15, 2018, 12:05:53 pm
Awesome ride report, Maria!!!
Really am looking forward to the rest of this adventure.
Thank you for sharing this with us/
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Poenabul on November 15, 2018, 03:49:45 pm

For Kaokoland, speak to Hardy here on the forum.
He does supported trips there and has space on his April 2019 trip. :thumleft:


Thanks, I will keep that in mind. Not possible for 2019. Then for summer (northern hemisphere) 2020 I am quite tempted to spend few months exploring northern America, as we have not really explored that part of the world much yet. I would love to get to Alaska and ride part of the TAT.

Then we will be left with south East Asia, which is too complicated on our bikes and shipping would be too expensive. Maybe a mix of backpacking/renting local bikes is the way to do that section. We already rented bikes in Vietnam few years ago and it was amazing, so probably  the way to do it...
And Oz and NZ... and Botswana, and Namibia and back to South America, and ..... 

I have so many projects, so many places I want to ride to and so many countries yet to explore! I just need more time and money  :angel4:

Sounds exiting as long as you share it on this forum
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 20, 2018, 04:45:55 pm
By then it was mid afternoon and we needed some food. We got enough for a snack and dinner. We decided that Alistair would ride the next day to Best of Bikes and check their tyres. If they were good quality I may also change my rear tyre. My Shinko tyre could still go on for a while. For Alistair, his Mitas rear tyre was looking very tired and had to be replaced.

The flat had a washing machine so we decided to do a big load with almost all our clothes.
We were staying in Lusaka until Sunday. I had to do some planning for the next few days of travel across eastern Zambia and our visit to South Luangwa National Park. Long distances with little fuel and campsites. And Alistair needed to do a bit of maintenance on the bikes.

The best of plans….

More walking in Lusaka:
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1910/44125090715_ff48e1df32_c.jpg)

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 20, 2018, 04:49:27 pm
Days 45 to 50 – Zambia, Lusaka ( Friday 13th to Tuesday 17th July)

Friday morning Alistair rode to Best of Bike to check out their tyres. They only had cheap bad quality Chinese tyres and even the staff there advised him to keep the Mitas (CRF rear tyre).

In the afternoon we walked to the local shopping mall. We were staying in an AirBnB and had a small kitchen so we wanted to cook some vegs. The little studio flat was located in the back garden of a large mansion, behind a tall metal gate. All the area was like that: big plots with big one-storey buildings and very large gardens. Everyone had security but nothing too bad. It was obviously the nice area of Lusaka as the Parliament was a short walk away with High Commissioners mansions and embassies around.

The city, however, is built for cars with no pavement for walkers. So you either walk on the road, with the cars or across the front gardens and piles of dirt, rocks, and rubble that constitute the sides of the road/street, as well as very wide deep open drains. A health and safety officer would have a fit!

On Saturday morning, as Alistair was doing some maintenance on the bikes, as we were planning  to leave the next day. He cleaned the oil gauge glass on my bike. The glass fell inside the engine! Big “Oops” moment.

He contacted Best of Bike and had to push my bike to their showroom, a good 5 kms away, leaving a trail of oil all the way! He was in a rush at the shop was closing at noon for the weekend, so he had to deliver my bike before closure. No pressure!  :o

Then the bike had to be trucked 35kms away to their workshop.

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 20, 2018, 04:52:18 pm

The workshop closed at lunchtime on Saturday and reopened only the following Monday, so there was not much to do but wait.

I spoke with the Airbnb owner and we were able to stay until Monday. After that they had a guest.

We investigated few local hotels in the area. The bike would not be looked at until the workshop opened, after the weekend break. So no chance to leave town on that day.
 
With only one bike, we looked for a hotel or guesthouse close by. The problem was that both Booking.com and Google Maps locate hotels in completely random places and often miles away from where they really are.

This happened to us a lot also in Russia and Central Asia. You think your hotel is in the town centre, as showing in the map, and you end up miles out of town in the middle of nowhere. That is if you can it in the first place! More often that not, we could not.

Anyhow, after a lot of walking around on Sunday, Alistair located a guesthouse that had room for us, about a mile away.

So on Monday, he took some luggage there on his bike. Then he came back and picked up more stuff (tank bag, backpack, small roll bag). Then he came back and picked me up.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 20, 2018, 04:54:11 pm
The hotel was rather run down but it was fairly cheap at 40 USD per night, including breakfast, so that would do.

After that we contacted the mechanic dealing with my bike. They confirmed the XT would be ready and back in town the next day (Tuesday). We just had to wait another day.

So the next day we finally picked up my bike. I had to ride pillion on the CRF, which is not great as it has no passenger’s foot pegs.

The mechanic had to reuse the crankshaft cover gasket and glued the gauge window. It should last until we are back in the UK. Then I will need to order few parts from the US.

On the way back, we rode to the local Honda dealer, to check if they had tyres. They did not. So we would have to carry on and hope our back tyres would last until we were back in South Africa. It was highly unlikely that we would find tyres in Malawi or Mozambique.


After that, once we dropped the bikes, we walked to the mall to get some supplies for few days camping in South Luangwa National Park. I took also the opportunity to investigate and plan more precisely our itinerary across Malawi and Mozambique and agree the details with Alistair. We decided to avoid Zimbabwe, as they had the presidential elections at the end of July, and things could turn hectic there.
Finally, we were ready  to leave Lusaka!


Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 20, 2018, 04:58:07 pm

Day 51 – Zambia, near Petauke (Chimwemwe lodge) – Wednesday 18th July, 410 kms


We left Lusaka early and only stopped for fuel at the last fuel post for a long time. Our map showed a good 320kms without petrol stations, so we also filled the 5 litre canister. In the end, mid way, we came across a new petrol station. The buildings were still in construction, but they were open for business.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1913/44125085615_faf42be597_c.jpg)


The road, for half way, was rather boring and busy. It was lined with constant traditional villages (small huts and mud houses) lined with constant cyclists and walkers, women carrying water on their head, kids in school uniforms, men walking around…. not much privacy for a quick pee stop. And many goats, pigs, donkeys and cows wandering around.

In one small village, a massive coach came in the opposite direction. As usual, goats were on the road. 2 small kids (baby goats) in particular, did not look like they would move.

They were standing on the incoming traffic line. I slowed down, expecting them to jump in front of me at any time. An incoming coach came at full speed, only vaguely hooting, the 2 goats did not move. As I came to the level of the coach and goats, all I heard was a big “thump” noise. The driver did not even bother to slow down! I gasped in horror.

 I did not expect that!

People along this road are visibly very poor; a goat is worth a lot to them. I understood though why the big buses had massive metal bumpers! They would stop or slow down for nothing!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: ChrisL - DUSTRIDERS on November 20, 2018, 05:13:02 pm
Our staple food while camping was peanut butter and bread for breakfast, with coffee, and tins of curried mix vegs, tin of baked beans, bread, bags of instant noodles, salted peanuts and biscuits.

And no one has introduced you to biltong on your travels in Africa?!!!! :eek7:
The best road food there is. :deal: :drif:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: shark_za on November 21, 2018, 07:52:56 am
Its also very pricey compared to the rest.  Nothing a few Euro cant solve.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 21, 2018, 04:44:50 pm
In term of food, tins and bread are easy to carry and pack small. In Mongolia we ate often pot noodles and Russian tinned sardines with stocky Russian bread (I can always post the ride report in here if there is enough interest). Again, it was easy and small to pack and carry those. And after few very dubious meals we avoided all meat in Mongolia and would get eggs and rice as breakfast anywhere we could. We stuffed our face once we went back into Russia!

The Biltong I found on the road was not very tasty and super salty, and Alistair is (usually) vegetarian. Also when breakfast was on offer, it was usually huge, which was enough food for 24h. None of us is  a big eater, as you may have noticed.
We had great meals and toasted sandwiches everywhere we went. Sometimes, even the Malawi version of fast food (in Lilongwe)!
 But for camping in remote locations, tins were useful and could last long. 
To be honest we both expected to lose weigh in this trip, but instead, Alistair put on 5 kgs! Especially once we crossed back into South Africa! All those massive breakfasts!  :biggrin:

Also what I forgot to add is that we often can find snacks on the road: pies, samosas and "food in Pastry " parcels everywhere in the world, named Pirojky, pastries, samosas, pies, empanadas etc... they all have the same idea: some pastry with food inside, usually very hot!

They are usually very nice as well and filling and are easy  to find in supermarkets, fuel stations, corner streets etc.
We had many of those in all our trips.

Why carry lots of cooking stuff (oil, rice, salt, pots and pans etc) and lots of food when you can buy ready to eat food anywhere, cheaply, on the go? Cooking on a fuel stove is not great either. Also this keep us with minimum luggage and weigh.
In south america we used to take the full set menu at lunch time which was incredibly cheap (1$) tasty and very big. It really depends on the country and price of eating ready made food.

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 21, 2018, 04:48:23 pm

We passed many police checkpoints and, soon after Lusaka, a toll. We were waved through the toll. The police never bothered with us and just waved us through. The only time we got stopped was actually soon after crossing the border from Namibia. The poor police officer was alone and bored. We exchange few jokes and he let us go!

About 200kms from Lusaka we crossed over a massive bridge over the Luangwa river. The views were stunning but we could not stop safely in the very busy road, to take photos.

The weather was cold and cloudy and we had a strong headwind, as every morning since we started this trip. It seemed the wind blowed from the east. It usually calmed down early afternoon.

Although the road crossed many villages on the way, there was no accommodation, shops, coffee shops or anything where you could stop for a rest. All along, people and children waved and smiled at us. Zambians were friendly.

After a long cold day ride, we arrived at the junction with Petauke. From my research, I knew there was some sort of hotel around. We found is eventually. From the outside, it looked nice. Inside, as usual since we left Namibia, it was poorly built and bit run down.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1974/44125089555_8c201a07b8_c.jpg)


The lodge had little individual wooden cabins or more expensive bricks ones. We took the cheap wooden cabin for 350 ZK including a small breakfast (about 35 $). They had a small restaurant, so we wandered there after a hot shower. I was absolutely frozen and asked reception for extra blankets. It was going to be a very cold night.

At the restaurant we had a choice of fish, pork or chicken. Rice or chips. We still had to wait a good hour to get our fried fish and rice. After eating, I felt a bit warmer. I never imagined Zambia could get this cold.

Tired and shivering, we got back to our hut for the night.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 21, 2018, 04:50:15 pm

Day 52 – Zambia, South Luangwa National Park – Croc Valley camp – Thursday 19th July – 310kms


That night we had a massive storm. There was no rain but a very violent wind. As we woke up, the sky was dark grey and fences and debris from a construction site had been blown away by the wind.  It was cold and still very windy.

I did not look forward to ride with such strong wind. We waited until 10am before setting off, with all my layers on. We neglected to put our trousers waterproof though. After all, this is the dry season right?

After riding for a while, it got colder and started to rain.

We had to stop to fetch our waterproof over-trousers. While we got them on, we provided some unusual entertainment to a young lad on a bicycle, across the road, who kept watching us. Women, carrying heavy baskets on their heads, walked pass us, laughing and saying a friendly hello.

As I finally sat on my bike, ready to leave, I smiled and waved a big good bye to the lad across the road, he gave me a big smile and waved back.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1963/44125088305_e501b4caac_c.jpg)


(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1908/44125086645_ebb9641bd0_c.jpg)

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 21, 2018, 04:52:23 pm

By mid afternoon we arrived at Chipata,  in the south east of Zambia, near the border with Malawi.

For now, we only stopped there to buy some fuel and visit the local Spar, to get some lunch. As soon as we arrived at the Spar parking lot, moneychangers surrounded us. It always makes me feel nervous, being surrounded by a bunch of guys, talking or shouting all at the same time.

We explained we were not going to Malawi and did not need their services. Eventually they left us. While Alistair went inside the supermarket, I kept watch of the bikes, being offered constantly goods by street sellers and being asked money by the many beggars that seem to populate border towns. I really don't like border towns. They always have that feeling of decay, crooks, thieves and danger.

Eventually, Alistair came back with a chicken pastry and two samosas, and some Diet Coke. After eating, we got out of town and picked up the road up to South Luangwa National Park.

Surprisingly, the road to the national park was all tarmac, contradicting my trusted paper map, which was nice. I was expecting a very bad road.

After 130kms of a small country road, up and down many hills, lined, once again, with many villages and people walking around, pigs, goats, cows wandering and eating by the side of the road, we saw the sign for Croc Valley Camp. I selected this campsite, among many available in the region, because it was one of the cheapest (I like a good bargain!) and also it provides safari drives in the national park at a reasonable cost! Once again motorbikes were not allowed in the park.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Noneking on November 21, 2018, 04:55:15 pm
(I can always post the ride report in here if there is enough interest).


Yes please!!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 21, 2018, 05:05:38 pm
(I can always post the ride report in here if there is enough interest).


Yes please!!

ah? ok then!
Just need to load photos into Flickr and see how many I can load there before they ask for money. The write up is pretty much done, loading photos is usually the big job. But I am not working at the moment so plenty of time  :angel4:

Although my idea, if I can find enough free platform for photos,  would be to integrate my year around south America followed by all  the others long overland trips. That would combine quite a world exploration. I will think about it. First, we finish this trip :)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 21, 2018, 05:08:02 pm
We decided, as it was just only 10 dollars more, to get one of the large Safari (canvas) tent, instead of using our small flimsy dome tent. Later on we realised it was a very wise decision!

The tent was big, with two beds and enough room for all our stuff. It had a thatched roof over the tent, which would come handy. It also had a pick-nick table outside and a big heavy metal box with a large padlock. The ‘door’ of the tent had also a padlock. This would become important later on because of the monkey wars!

After changing out of our motorcycle clothes, we went for a walk around the large campsite grounds, and I immediately saw all the monkeys, as well as the large baboons. So many of them!

There was a communal kitchen that had to be kept locked. We got a copy of the key at reception to access it. We were instructed that all the food had to stay in metal containers or in the fridge and the door should be locked at all times. We were not allowed to leave any food near the wired fenced windows. Hmmm…?

Apparently, during the winter season, when food is scarce, elephants wander around the campsites and will steal any food they can reach. A tent, window or car door is no match for them. And then of course, there are the monkeys.

The campsite was not too busy. A large overland truck from a tour company left that same day. Few tourists were around, staying in the safari tents or at the more expensive rooms and chalets.

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 21, 2018, 05:09:47 pm


Walking from our tent to the bar area, we observed, from a safe distance, a large gang of baboons completely flattening a small dome tent and stealing some clothes. They were also all over the car parked next to it. The staff, unlike in Ai - Ais, did nothing to stop them. I was glad we decided to stay in the big solid canvas tent.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1957/43224782660_fcbcf2b5fc_c.jpg)


Later on, a member of staff told me that monkeys are not afraid of women (sexist pigs, or monkeys in this case  :biggrin:), and often steal food from the hand of women. So he told me I should be cautious when and where I was eating. As it was dark, all the monkeys were gone. So it was ok. We cooked some vegs and noodles and ate our dinner in one of the many nice sitting areas.

The camp is set next to the river and we could see many hippos lying around. They can walk across the camp at night, as well as elephants, crocs and other wildlife.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1925/44125084175_30ab173716_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1906/44125082095_3caf837672_c.jpg)



Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 21, 2018, 05:13:41 pm


Day 52 –  Zambia, Croc Valley camp – Friday 20th July – 0kms


A bit before 7am we got woken up by a very large group of baboons. There was a baboon war going on, the noise, screams and rage going on, were pretty scary. They were so may of them, by the sound, and they were all over our tent, the roof, the trees, our front door, with a bit of the fight just on my side of the tent. I was so glad to be inside a solid canvas tent. It was a very large group and the males were massive! I did not fancy an 80kgs baboon ripping through the tent!

We eventually came out, once the baboons settled their differences. We went to the kitchen building and ate our breakfast inside, standing around the table. There were no chairs but I did not want my breakfast stolen by scary big baboons again!

We had booked a drive to the National Park, starting at 4pm.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1944/43224780430_faafd3c8fb_c.jpg)

So we did not do much while waiting for our drive.

The campsite discouraged people walking to the village, because elephants, big cats and wild animals wander around, but they provided a free shuttle service at noon to visit  the village. So we took the shuttle service and visited the village.  8)

The village:

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1903/31163144708_5c583847c1_c.jpg)

Lots of souvenirs stalls:
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1963/31163143728_d800309f7c_c.jpg)

Alistair considering a shave at the local barber:
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1974/45036089661_a1bcf43cd6_c.jpg)

Or maybe this one:
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1968/43224913210_34f4505a54_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 21, 2018, 05:15:33 pm

The fuel station, with no fuel. You will notice that, like everywhere else, people are glued to their mobile phones. Zambia is no exception:
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1929/44988105842_139ab4157f_c.jpg)




At 4pm, we got into the safari car, with 7 other guests and 2 guides, and drove to the park. The park entrance was very close to our camp. The park was much more impressive than Etosha, in Namibia, we thought.

It was forested and had a higher density of wildlife. We saw many elephants, giraffes, zebras, hippos, crocs and many different sorts of antelopes. We also got incredibly close to them. They did not seem bothered by us.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1901/44988104742_b59e721201_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1938/43224654670_e59bcb0828_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1908/44316696334_ca7f31015b_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1963/31163266398_1d96055853_c.jpg)

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 21, 2018, 05:16:39 pm


By 6pm it started to get dark. The safari car had a massive torch that a guy used to highlight the bushes. Predators are active at night so we were looking for them. The previous day they had seen many lions and a leopard. We were quite keen to see big cats. Unfortunately we saw none. We came across few solitary hyenas though. One of them was just lying down next to the road, totally ignoring us. It looked rather cute actually. They were smaller than I thought, the size of a biggish dog.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1932/30099821307_c08c96d708_c.jpg)


Back to camp around 8pm, we went to the kitchen to prepare our dinner. We met the unfortunate owners of the tent that had been flattened by the baboons the day before. It was a Canadian / US couple. They told us that the baboons had also urinated all over their tent and covered their car with poo. Nice!

We had a drink at the bar and went to chat with them again, around their campfire.


Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Noneking on November 21, 2018, 05:42:59 pm
(I can always post the ride report in here if there is enough interest).


Yes please!!

ah? ok then!
Just need to load photos into Flickr and see how many I can load there before they ask for money. The write up is pretty much done, loading photos is usually the big job. But I am not working at the moment so plenty of time  :angel4:

Although my idea, if I can find enough free platform for photos,  would be to integrate my year around south America followed by all  the others long overland trips. That would combine quite a world exploration. I will think about it. First, we finish this trip :)


Why not use Google Photos?
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Sam on November 21, 2018, 05:48:00 pm


About 200kms from Lusaka we crossed over a massive bridge over the Luangwa river.



A little bit of history from a different era...….that bridge was destroyed twice, once in 64 (Zambia was supporting rebels in most of their neighbouring countries), and again in 79 by the Rhodesian SAS (amongst a few other road and rail bridges in the country), to throw a spanner in the works of a planned ZIPRA invasion of Rhodesia.(once again, Kenneth Kaunda supporting rebels...)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Xpat on November 21, 2018, 05:54:00 pm
(I can always post the ride report in here if there is enough interest).


Yes please!!

ah? ok then!
Just need to load photos into Flickr and see how many I can load there before they ask for money. The write up is pretty much done, loading photos is usually the big job. But I am not working at the moment so plenty of time  :angel4:

Although my idea, if I can find enough free platform for photos,  would be to integrate my year around south America followed by all  the others long overland trips. That would combine quite a world exploration. I will think about it. First, we finish this trip :)


Why not use Google Photos?

Flickr you whould have 1TB for free. Google Photos about 15GB, which includes all your mail if you use gmail, as well as anything you might have on Google Drive.

So purely from storage cost point of view, Flickr is superior.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 21, 2018, 07:15:21 pm


Flickr you whould have 1TB for free. Google Photos about 15GB, which includes all your mail if you use gmail, as well as anything you might have on Google Drive.

So purely from storage cost point of view, Flickr is superior.
Unfortunately Flickr is now going down the paying route and will only allow 1000 photos free. I had an emaill from them recently. Although my website is supported by Aabaco, same group than Yahoo and owning Flickr too.... so maybe I won’t need to pay extra. I hope!

Anyhow,  i will find a way. A lot of work ahead for me if I write up all my long term overland trips. But why not? I like a challenge.

South America was amazing and very challenging as our first year travelling on motorbikes, Russia and Central Asia trips have been very challenging for other reasons... to compare, this trip around Southern Africa has just been like a big holiday, fairly trouble free. But I enjoyed it tremendously!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Xpat on November 21, 2018, 07:31:02 pm


Flickr you whould have 1TB for free. Google Photos about 15GB, which includes all your mail if you use gmail, as well as anything you might have on Google Drive.

So purely from storage cost point of view, Flickr is superior.
Unfortunately Flickr is now going down the paying route and will only allow 1000 photos free. I had an emaill from them recently. Although my website is supported by Aabaco, same group than Yahoo and owning Flickr too.... so maybe I won’t need to pay extra. I hope!

Anyhow,  i will find a way. A lot of work ahead for me if I write up all my long term overland trips. But why not? I like a challenge.

South America was amazing and very challenging as our first year travelling on motorbikes, Russia and Central Asia trips have been very challenging for other reasons... to compare, this trip around Southern Africa has just been like a big holiday, fairly trouble free. But I enjoyed it tremendously!

Whoops - I see it now as well. I do not use that yahoo email for anything, opened it only to register for Flickr, so missed that. Bummer than - it seems like eventually we will have to pay some money to keep our ride reports still working  >:(

And I already have over 5000 photos up there, so it seems soon many of my RR will stop working...
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Sardine on November 21, 2018, 10:03:41 pm
In term of food, tins and bread are easy to carry and pack small. In Mongolia we ate often pot noodles and Russian tinned sardines with stocky Russian bread (I can always post the ride report in here if there is enough interest). Again, it was easy and small to pack and carry those. And after few very dubious meals we avoided all meat in Mongolia and would get eggs and rice as breakfast anywhere we could. We stuffed our face once we went back into Russia!

The Biltong I found on the road was not very tasty and super salty, and Alistair is (usually) vegetarian. Also when breakfast was on offer, it was usually huge, which was enough food for 24h. None of us is  a big eater, as you may have noticed.
We had great meals and toasted sandwiches everywhere we went. Sometimes, even the Malawi version of fast food (in Lilongwe)!
 But for camping in remote locations, tins were useful and could last long. 
To be honest we both expected to lose weigh in this trip, but instead, Alistair put on 5 kgs! Especially once we crossed back into South Africa! All those massive breakfasts!  :biggrin:

Also what I forgot to add is that we often can find snacks on the road: pies, samosas and "food in Pastry " parcels everywhere in the world, named Pirojky, pastries, samosas, pies, empanadas etc... they all have the same idea: some pastry with food inside, usually very hot!

They are usually very nice as well and filling and are easy  to find in supermarkets, fuel stations, corner streets etc.
We had many of those in all our trips.

Why carry lots of cooking stuff (oil, rice, salt, pots and pans etc) and lots of food when you can buy ready to eat food anywhere, cheaply, on the go? Cooking on a fuel stove is not great either. Also this keep us with minimum luggage and weigh.
In south america we used to take the full set menu at lunch time which was incredibly cheap (1$) tasty and very big. It really depends on the country and price of eating ready made food.

Please do share your Russia trip!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 22, 2018, 06:04:37 pm

Please do share your Russia trip!

Can do. I have few months to work on these projects.

And if this is permitted: if anyone is coming to the UK Horizons Unlimited meeting in Wales, this next June, we will be doing 2 presentations: one about Southern Africa, and one about Russia and central Asia.  :) It will be more about practical information, rather than "look the photos of holidays" type of thing.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 22, 2018, 06:05:52 pm

Day 53 –Malawi,  Lilongwe – 290 kms - Saturday 21st July

I woke up around 6am. I could not hear any monkeys around so I decided to venture to the loos.

As I came out of the shower blocks and walked into the canvas tents area, built in a circle with the shower block at the exit, a large antelope, with very beautiful markings on its back and big sharp antlers, was standing in the middle of the camp. I was as startled as it was and after a moment of surprise, looking at each other, we decided to ignore each other. I walked slowly to my tent, and it walked slowly and gracefully to the other side.

10 minutes later, tucked in bed, we heard a rumble. It was not the hippos, which kept rumbling all night. The tree near our tent was being pulled. Alistair unzipped the window on his side. We saw large tusks. There were few large elephants eating from the tree!

We found out later that a group of 40 elephants had crossed the camp. And also that a leopard was lying by the chalets around 5:30 am!

Asking the staff about the notice to check the pool for crocs and animals, they confirmed that they had pulled out snakes from it and that indeed the older pool had attracted crocs, hippos and elephants! But there was no much risk at this time of year, as the water is too cold.

All I can say is that Croc Valley Camp was an amazing place to see wildlife. It was magical! Definitely worth the detour!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 22, 2018, 06:08:06 pm

We left quite early as we were planning to cross the border into Malawi.

Back at Chipata, the border town, we stopped to buy fuel and some food for an early lunch at the same SPAR than before. After that, we avoided the moneychangers hanging around and rode the 20 kms to the border.

We parked the bikes near the office. We got our passports stamped out then the next window was Customs. They filled and stamped the carnet for the bikes, gave us a Pass to exit the border and told we were good to go. Then we dealt with the moneychangers there.

We had checked the rates the day before. We had about 450 Zambian kwachas left, and got 40,000 Malawi Kwachas. It was a good rate.

Then we handed our pass to exit. Except that there was a local tax to pay. In Zambian Kwachas only! Argh!  >:(
Moneychangers again. I stood by the bikes, grumbling under my breath, while Alistair dealt with the tax.

Then we rode to the Malawi side, surrounded, once again, by the moneychangers.

We filled a couple of forms and pay 75$ each for the visas. We could pay with US dollars for that.

Then we went to the custom office to get the Carnets filled for the bikes. We were told we also had to pay a road tax of $20 each and needed proof of third party insurance for the bikes. Obviously there was a guy from the insurance desk hanging around. We paid 25,000 Kwachas each for the insurance. We changed $50 dollars as both the road tax and the insurance had to be paid in Kwacha (MK).
All that back and forth took about an hour and a half.

After the border we rode into Malawi!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 22, 2018, 06:11:32 pm
I hope I don't bore you too much with my detailed description of the border crossings. This is something I pay particular attention to, when doing my research before a trip, and some people may find this as useful as I do.  :angel1:

Malawi looked ok. The villages along the road seemed to have better housing, built in bricks rather than wood. The roofs were metal rather than thatched. I guess, as there were less forests and more agricultural land, there is less wood available for construction, so locals have to buy bricks to build homes. Many were painted in white or blue and looked fine.

On the road we saw some tribal men wearing non European style costumes.

We arrived at Lilongwe. The town was confusing, with forest surrounding everthing, the  streets built across the forest, with far away buildings we could barely see through the trees. It was hard to find our way round or a precise address! We had selected a guesthouse that had good ratings in booking.com and made the error of not cross-referencing the address on another site. As usual with booking.com, the guesthouse probably exists but somewhere completely different, 80kms away!

Street in Lilongwe. Confused? Me too!
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1936/45036077381_c8d565d537_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1909/31163262808_7ca05faa82_c.jpg)


After that, we went in search of another guesthouse called Japan House. It had good ratings in booking.com. It was on the GPS. We arrived at a gated community. No signs of hotel. We asked one of the guards at the gate. He took us to a house! Hmmm! It had an A4 sheet saying Japan House. Hmmm.

It was actually a house where 2 Japanese young guys lived in.

It had a spare bedroom with 3 bunk beds and an en-suite bathroom.

The guy receiving us made us wait a good 15 minutes while he prepared the room. We had to remove our shoes inside. Not sure why as the floor was filthy. The house was a tip. 2 you lads living there, no cleaner, the bathroom was in such a state that I did not want to touch anything. At least we had clean sheets. The floor was sticky and dirty and covered in hairs, the kitchen a health hazard… we got changed and walked to the nearby shopping mall, as we needed cash.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 22, 2018, 06:12:37 pm
We found an ATM machine. We used several cards to get enough cash. Then we had some dinner at the mall. By then it was dark. Night fell at around 6pm, as we were still on the same time zone since South Africa, but we had travelled quite a long way East.

We walked back in the dark, which was quite tricky (and unwise) as there was no pavement and the road was dangerous with fast moving cars. We had to walk by the sandy track that could have holes, garbage etc…

Back at the house, there was a young woman waiting. We had seen her at Croc Valley camp, she was in our safari car the previous day. Veronica was Colombian, looked like a super model. was studying in Barcelona and backpacking around during the summer holidays. We freed the third bunk bed of our stuff. I had not used dormitories for quite a long time!

There was no hot water, and none of use fancied stepping into the filthy bath, so no shower for us that day!

At least the WiFi worked so we read stuff in our respective bunk beds and chatted with Veronica. It seems the baboons stole her breakfast too, in Croc Valley Camp!  :lol8:



Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 22, 2018, 06:13:43 pm


Day 54 – Malawi, Senga Bay, Cools Running Camp – Sunday 22d July – 126kms

Early morning, Alistair walked to the little shopping mall with Veronica, to get some food for breakfast. Veronica also needed cash, as she had crossed the border the day before, like us.

I would not fancy using buses around here! She told us that she had to take a taxi from the border to the bus station. She was on the front seat of a car with 3 other people, while 6 people were crammed at the back! Taxis are communal in Africa! But the mini buses are even worse according to Veronica!


After loading the luggage onto the bikes, we left town and the filthy Japan house! That it was rated 8.5/10 in booking.com is unbelievable! It just shows you cannot trust any of those ratings online!

It was a short 2 hours ride to Senga Bay. Along the road we saw plenty of kids by the side of the road. After all it was Sunday.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1930/30100012677_f0772229c1_c.jpg)

They had a long stick with what looked like dead mice, 10 to 20 mice, skewered in those sticks. Sometimes even more, tightly packed. I found out few days later, talking to an Ozzie expat living in Blantyre, that the kids were really selling roasted mice, which is considered a snack in Malawi!

Some of them are roasted with the skin on. Not sure they are even gutted! The sight of them was rather revolting, with those little legs and skinny tails sticking out!


(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1938/31163260658_4e17406af9_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 22, 2018, 06:15:24 pm
Finding Cool Running Camp was not easy. Even with the GPS. We had to turn back, stop at a fuel station and ask for directions. It had good reviews and was also recommended by a fellow traveller.

The place was very pleasant. It was very reasonably priced. For 10 USD each, we decided to take the wood hut with real beds rather that set up our very small tent. We had a late lunch of toasted sandwiches on site and didn’t do much after that; the place was full by the end of the day.

our very pleasant shack:
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1959/44125189825_2c4b5cc135_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1938/44125190695_924552be23_c.jpg)



We also had dinner there. The local fish was excellent. It should be, as we were by the edge of lake Malawi. The lake is so big we could not see the other side. There were waves and it looked like the sea.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1952/30100011787_ef3af94e30_c.jpg)


Women were doing the laundry on the beach while kids played and swam around.

After our early dinner there was not much to do. It was dark. Most people seemed to have gone to bed very early, so we moved to our hut, away from the many mosquitoes. Our beds had mosquito nets, which was really useful.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1951/45036073171_bcff37159b_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 22, 2018, 06:16:51 pm

Day 55 and 56 – Malawi, Senga Bay – Monday 23rd / Tuesday 24th July – 0 km


We woke up early. After breakfast we did some laundry and planning. WiFi did not work, so I did not buy a voucher.

WiFi is rarely free in Malawi, except in high-end hotels. Malawi has a hotspot system throughout the country. You buy vouchers to access WiFi.

Except, if the power is off, there is no signal. Power cuts are a frequent occurrence in Malawi and most places have a generator. In towns the power cuts are actually planned and you know which time of the day and which days are the cut off!

So, our planning that day was mainly with the lonely planet and road map, as the power was off most of the day.

It seemed, from a tourist brochure, that for Mozambique, we needed to get the visas at a consulate as they were not giving them at the border!

Things change constantly with Mozambique visa thing, so we had to find out what was the latest situation on this.


In the afternoon, a group arrived, some with British accent. They were a mix of Brit/ Ozzie expats and some of their family, visiting from the UK. We had a good chat with the Ozzie expat and his wife. They told us they knew of Europeans who had crossed into Mozambique and got the visa at the border. But it was a lot of hassle and things with Mozambique change almost daily, so they recommended that we would be better off sorting the visas in advance.

I found out there was a consulate in Blantyre. It was in our way, so we decided we would stop there for few days.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1916/44988095372_416670683f_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1918/44988094282_2475220437_c.jpg)

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 22, 2018, 06:18:22 pm

Day 58 – Malawi, Senga Bay, Cool Runnings – Wednesday 25th July


We were planning to leave, but the place was so pleasant and relaxing that we decided to stay for a 4th night. We spent the day reading and lounging around the various chairs, sun loungers and sofas, with a bit of “Murder in Paradise” thrown in on TV for a change!

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1932/44125193415_7884f243fb_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1905/44988093302_f7f212f6df_c.jpg)

Paying the bill:
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1956/44125188915_e89f9e5d26_c.jpg)


If you find yourself in Senga Bay, make sure you drop at Cool Runnings. The Lady owner contributes and has created so many charities it is incredible. She is doing a lot of good locally. As an ex Nurse she also had consultations in the morning to help the locals children. She is amazing. And her place is incredibly pleasant.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: 2StrokeDan on November 23, 2018, 07:04:02 am
I enjoyed your ride report, very refreshingly done on small machines!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Fransw on November 23, 2018, 08:57:56 am
I enjoyed your ride report, very refreshingly done on small machines!

Agree, small bikes all the way! Interesting the more experience travellers become the smaller the bikes!...
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 23, 2018, 05:37:48 pm
I enjoyed your ride report, very refreshingly done on small machines!

Agree, small bikes all the way! Interesting the more experience travellers become the smaller the bikes!...

Indeed, my first trip (one year in South America) was on two BMW F650GS (single cc Funduro version) with all the trimmings: panniers, bags, more luggage than we knew what to do with. There is nothing wrong with that.

However it did not work for me. We had too much luggage and with very little experience of riding off tarmac, there are many places we could not go as I could not ride my bike there. In addition my bike broke down everywhere (Alistair's bike was reliable though - he had the Dakar version).

Outside of the western world, if your BMW breakdown, or any sophisticated bike that requires to be plugged to a computer for diagnostic and resetting of stuff, you can be left in big trouble.

Then we rented two small YBR125 in Vietnam and spent 3 weeks lost in the northern mountains. Suddenly I was unstoppable! It was so much fun.

So we went the other extreme and got 2 Honda XR125 from eBay to ride all the way from London to Mongolia and Back. It was epic but we did it.
Then we went back to Russia and central Asia fro few months, to explore further, on a couple of 250s. The weigh is perfect for me. The handling superb, and I can do without luxuries. If we need luxuries, we stay in a nice B&B and get a nice meal at a nice restaurant. Most importantly I can handle the bike on any sort of terrain, usually. I am not great in very deep sand but I managed fairly ok with it. It is extremely rare that I drop my bike these days.

 
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 23, 2018, 05:39:53 pm
Day 59 –  Malawi, Cape Maclear, Funky Cichlids (south shore of lake Malawi) – Thursday 26th July – 176kms


We finally managed to extract ourselves, reluctantly, from Cool Runnings, and rode to the south shore of the lake.

The weather was slowly getting warmer and less cloudy. On the day we left, it was clear sky but not too hot. Perfect weather to ride. We rode through the sandy streets of the village, back to the main road.

We planned to spend 3 nights in the south shore and get to Blantyre, the second biggest town in Malawi, on Sunday only. The plan was to get to the Mozambique consulate early Monday morning for our visas.

We took a short cut through some (mainly) pleasant trails with fun drops through river beds that took the bikes suddenly down then up. It was fun.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1941/30100008337_a95b996f8e_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1974/30100007427_e5056cf563_c.jpg)


The backpacker place we had selected in the south shore had great reviews, but they only had room for two nights.

It was now the high season, with plenty of backpackers from Europe. Cape MacClear was easier to reach by public transports than Senga Bay, I guess.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 23, 2018, 05:41:24 pm
There were lots of backpackers and long time travellers, most of them in their early 20s.

I am always a bit bemused (and a bit envious) by very young long time travellers. When I was in my 20s I had to save a lot just to be able to afford a bicycle from Decathlon to commute to my minimum wage job! How do they finance their trips?


The place was funky with music, nice bar area and cheap drinks. A G&T for a pound will attract the backpackers!

We settled in a room. The shared bathrooms were functional with hot water from solar panels. The water was pumped from the lake.

We explored the village which was much more touristic than in Senga Bay, with lots of shops selling craft and colourful clothes and bags.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1972/30100006467_fb11e10392_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1978/30100005797_17a8a8c67d_c.jpg)

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 23, 2018, 05:42:35 pm

The lake is fresh water, so the locals use the shore to wash their clothes, bath themselves, do the washing up, pick up water to take to their home. There are constantly women and little girls working on the shore doing some washing and men showering very conscientiously.

I read a review in Google, about Cape McClear, and a woman posted an outraged review of the place she was staying in, because the locals were using the lake this way near her lodge! I was a bit puzzled by this. The locals have barely electricity, and certainly no running water. And it is THEIR Lake after all. Which shows not all travellers get enlightened while exploring the world!

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 23, 2018, 05:44:01 pm

Day 60 – Malawi, Cape Maclear, Funky Cichlid – Friday 27th July


We booked a room in another lodge for Saturday night. And then decided to go kayaking in the lake. It had to be done. It was nice to go kayaking once again, We used to do this often at weekends, when we lived in Rio, years ago.

As we came back, two hours later with our kayaks, soaked, we decided to go for a swim too.

The weather was splendid and the water was warm at last!

It was only later that Alistair mentioned some disease from snails.

He went digging his emails and found the document the nurse at the surgery sent him.

There was significant risk of Bilharzia in all bodies of fresh water, including in lake Malawi.

Oh well, considering the showers and all taps were with water from the lake, swimming or not in the lake would make no difference.

We talked with the funky Cichlid’s manager whether there was any risk. She said they recommended everyone to take XYZ treatment as prevention. Well, lucky we asked, as they may tell everyone, but not one of their staff told us. And there was certainly no notice, board or any sign of this!

Bilharzia can be fairly dangerous and fatal if untreated. Although the risk of catching it is very small, it is best just to take the treatment as prevention, especially as it is a single dose to take 6 to 8 weeks later and cost about 2 pounds. So we planned to buy that in a pharmacy in Blantyre. Easier than asking for it to our GP, back in London, who would refuse to prescribe it.

The tests are apparently rather costly; so all the people living by the shore of the lake (including and especially all those Europeans and Americans volunteers or workers) take a tablet every 2 months.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 23, 2018, 05:44:55 pm

We did not do much after all that. We read some books again. These few days on the shore of Lake Malawi was a bit of a holiday for us, before we tackled Mozambique.


The Wi-Fi at the backpacker hostal was working pretty well. I bought a voucher for about 5MB to get ahead with my planning. Who knows when would find working Wi-Fi again in Malawi? It was a wise decision!

My research online showed various addresses for the consulate in Blantyre.
Alistair tried to phone the embassy in Lilongwe, but all the phones numbers we found online or on guidebooks were incorrect.

Emails were also incorrect, for both the embassy in Lilongwe and the consulate in Blantyre.
The phones for the consulate were also incorrect! Including from a Malawi magazine aiming at tourist info! The Mozambique embassy and consulate were rather elusive in Malawi!

Finding an affordable place to stay in Blantyre took also some time. The fact, that, as usual, Google and booking.com seem to place hotels and guest houses in random locations, making them look like they are in town instead of 30 kms away, did not help.

Any promising place we found we had to cross-reference the address using other sites, and find out it was actually totally out of town!

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1955/31163245468_14ebe00f50_c.jpg)


Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 24, 2018, 06:31:28 pm

Day 61 – Malawi, Cape Maclear, Eco lodge – Saturday 28th July, 500 m ride.

We packed up everything and rode out of the Funky Cichlid. The place was fully booked for the weekend so we moved 500 meters down the road to the Eco Lodge.

The room with shared bathrooms was cheaper than the Funky Cichlid, at 20$ instead of $30, but the communal space was less comfortable and the bar very small and poky. We realised that lots of people from the Eco Lodge were actually lounging at the Funky Cichlid’s large open bar and lounge area, as we recognised lots of people there having a late breakfast!

Our room was away in some sort of wasteland, in a poky place with lots of junk lying around. I guess at that price we could not complain!

Once unpacked and changed, like everybody else, we walked along the beach back to the Funky Cichlid to lounge! We could not get a signal from the hotspot at the Ecolodge, so that was another good reason to go and lounge and have a nice cheap dinner at the Funky Cichlid instead.

So we were having a relaxing Saturday by lake Malawi.


(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1958/43224654000_dc8969abd1_c.jpg)

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 24, 2018, 06:33:26 pm
Day 62 – Malawi, Blantyre – Sunday 29th July – 275kms

It was finally time to move away from Lake Malawi and get on with our trip. We left the lake and rode to get to the second biggest town in Malawi.

The road, for 60kms, was just constant roadwork with deviations through sandy tracks.

 It was slow going with constant people walking around and goats and sheep roaming free. This had been a constant for a while. There were constantly people and farm animals along the road, a village after another, nowhere to stop for a quick pee or a quiet rest. :-\

For once, at a police checkpoint, the police stopped us. They usually did not bother with us.

After the usual questions (where do you come from today, where are you going) the guy asked Alistair for money to buy a drink! It was so disappointing as so far it never happened.

Alistair told the guy we needed to get cash from a bank, as we had no cash with us. He let us go with a smile, so the encounter was not particularly traumatic.  ::)

In Blantyre, after some search, and despite the GPS, we rode around for a while before finally finding our guesthouse. 

In booking.com it had great reviews. The place was as to be expected for 35$ a night including breakfast in a big city! It was a bit of a dump! Alistair spent most of the nights there hunting massive mosquitoes as the mosquito net above our bed was full of holes and was so small it was probably for an infant bed only!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 24, 2018, 06:37:04 pm

Day 63 – Malawi, Blantyre – Monday 30th July – 0kms

We woke up at 6am. It was daylight soon after 5am and dark soon after 5pm. With regular power cuts and no WiFi or any sort of entertainment, we went to sleep early.

Soon after breakfast (microwaved cold fried egg, an ok sausage and some sort of fried potatoes) we walked to the town centre.

The Mozambique consulate, according to the guesthouse owner, who described in booking.com that it was close to the Mozambique consulate, was in the town centre. We walked the 3kms  to the address we had for it, only to find out it had moved two years ago to another location. It was even further away. The only clue given by the doorman, at the old address, was that the new embassy was near a Roman Catholic Church, located down the road somewhere.

After a lot of asking and a lot of walking under a blazing sun, we finally found it. There were quite few Roman Catholic churches!  Inside the embassy, the lady at the desk told us the visa would cost us 115$ each, but we could get it for cheaper at the border!  If we had known that ... :-\

So we walked back into the town centre and looked for an Internet cafe, as Alistair had to print some docs for our limited companies accounts.


After that, we tried to find a cafe to sit and have a drink. The only place we found was in the local luxury hotel. Blantyre must be the financial centre of Malawi as we could only find Banks and insurance companies offices in the town centre and nothing much for food or drinks! Where do the local bank office workers go for a drink after work, or a mid morning coffee or some lunch? This remains a mystery to me!

We then walked back to our grimy guesthouse. My steps App, which work offline on my phone, showed we walked 15.5kms that day! Not bad.

With another power cut and not much to do, we went to sleep early again.

During our expedition in town, we managed to get the tablets to treat Bilharzia. So we won’t die then!  :biggrin:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: 1ougat on November 24, 2018, 06:53:05 pm
 :thumleft:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 25, 2018, 06:36:53 pm

Day 64 – Malawi, Likhubula village, near Mulanje – Tuesday 31st July – 100kms

We left Blantyre early and took the scenic route, as we had plenty of time. The plan was to get close to the border with Mozambique and cross it very early the next day.

We bought fuel and filled the jerry can as well. Once we crossed the border into Mozambique, if we could find an ATM machine it would be hard to buy fuel, until Quelimane, over 360kms from the border. So we needed a 360km fuel range at least, just in case. From my investigations it seemed very few places accepted credit card payment in this region of Mozambique!

We had decided to avoid Zimbabwe, as we did not want to get caught on protests and unrest around the presidential election, should things take a bad turn. So the plan was to cross by a smaller border further east and ride across all of Mozambique.

The ride south of Blantyre was beautiful as we rode across vast tea plantations through stunning rolling hills. The villages around seemed more tidy and prosperous generally. As usual, there were constant busy people along the road, walking, selling stuff or waiting for a client to take around in a car, mopped or bicycle.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1960/31163243588_f149731bdf_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 25, 2018, 06:38:47 pm
We decided to spend the night near the Mulanje Mountains. It was touristic so finding accommodation would be easy.  We took a trail off the main road and found (eventually!) a pleasant backpacker place.

There were louts everywhere vying for business, on the main road, mainly posing as guides to go hiking into Mulanje Mountain. We had no intention to go hiking, but they were persistent.

Once settled into our very clean and comfortable room we went for a little walk. Back at the backpacker place, the locals just stared at us from the road, as we sat by the windows. Even the kids! Some lads would try get our attention (more guides?).

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1930/30100002437_3e2ab2dd03_c.jpg)


We had dinner at the guesthouse and chatted with a deutsche family on holiday in Malawi.

The wife had spent a year as junior doctor in Malawi few years earlier. She was now back with her husband and kids for a holiday.

After that we went for an early night, as we had to leave very early the next day, in order to cross the border and make it to Quelimane before dark.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 25, 2018, 06:41:18 pm
Day 65 – Mozambique, Quelimane – 400kms - Wednesday 1st August

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1917/45036057421_dac6cdabab_c.jpg)


We woke up at 6am and left the Mulanje backpackers place soon before 8. We stopped at the petrol station to buy some more fuel, as well as get enough water and snacks for the day. We knew it would be a long day.

Then we rode to the border with Mozambique.

My head was full of all the blogs, books and websites I read during my research, back in England: the armed gangs roaming and holding up cars and trucks on the roads, the robberies, the army escorts on some roads, the insanely bad roads… I did not know what to expect. The UK Foreign Office was alarmist as usual (you would never leave the UK, or even London, if you listened to them!) while the USA CIA advice was more nuanced.

Malawi had been good; at least we enjoyed our stay around the lake. It was designed for tourism and catered well enough with fantastic backpackers accommodation and plenty of stuff to do around the lake if you are sporty.

The food was fine especially the fresh fish from  the lake.

The country is still very poor, but the tidy tea plantations and busy business centres shows that maybe the country is now starting to pull out of deep poverty. It was still one of the poorest countries we crossed so far, in our trip, but we saw schools everywhere, children walking in their school uniforms, all the various churches and canny mosques with water pumps next to it, in every village, farm animals roaming everywhere. Too much unemployment was the main issue I would think, with too many young men sitting around not doing much, most of the time, while the girls and women were spending too much time carrying heavy loads on their head, fetching water or doing constant washing by the lake. But they looked happy, always smiling and joking with their friends. There was a feeling of hope.

All this was about to change… We got at the border at 9am.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 25, 2018, 06:43:12 pm
Exiting Malawi was simple enough. Once stamped out for both passports and Carnet, we were sent to the health centre, where they checked our yellow fever certificate.

It was a bit strange that they checked it at exit but not when we came in! Mine was done on 2004 and I was told, back in the UK, that it was valid for 20 years or for life, I can’t remember!

The health worker at the Malawi border told me he did not care but that I could have problems on entry to Mozambique, as it should be less than 10 years! With that in mind, and the added stress, we left Malawi.

After changing our remaining Malawi Kwachas into Mozambique Meticals, (we had about 12 dollars equivalent in cash left) without much hassle at all, we rode to the Mozambique border post.

At the consulate, they told us that the visa was $75 at the border or 115$ at the consulate. But immigration at the border asked us for $50 each, only. First for 2 months but then they changed their mind and said it was for 30 days only! It took a good 2 hours to get all done.

It was not busy at all at the border, inside the offices, although there was quite a crowd of people, hanging on or waiting outside. Inside, many border officials were sitting around not doing much, faffing with their mobile phone, staring at some empty space or using a sheet of paper to slowly fan their face.

 Meanwhile few locals annoyed the official in charge of stamping passports as he had to do some work instead of playing with his mobile phone.   

We handed over our passports to be processed to that same official. He called various people as he did not know what to do with us. He did not appear too happy but his boss took our passports and told us to wait. 

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 25, 2018, 06:45:07 pm
So we moved to the Customs office, next to the passport window, where I spent a while, explaining in my rusty Portuguese (we lived in Brazil for a while and have not used it since we left in 2012) to the custom officer, how to fill and stamps our Carnets! They obviously did not see many of those! But the guy signed and stamped the talon as I asked him to, and that was what was important to me.

Then we sat on a bench and ate some peanuts, and stared back at the glaring locals queuing to get their IDs stamped. No way to rush anything!

Meanwhile an older white couple came through and got their passport stamped without any problem. I guess they were South African as there was no faff around their entry or visas.

However, Customs refused them entry for their vehicle. I am not sure what was the problem, some issue with a document that was not the original. Maybe they rented the car? They spent time on their phone but it was Afrikaans (or German?) so I could not understand. Not that I am nosy  :angel12:, but there was not much in term of entertainment and it was not easy to avoid ear dropping! Then, an officer took Alistair into a small dark room! Alone! For a very long time!  :confused2:

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 25, 2018, 06:46:19 pm
I remained on my wooden bench, worried he was given the fearsome American style full body intimate search (latex gloves and all!) but they were just trying to work out how to take his fingerprints and photo! Not sure they use those machines often!

I think most people who need a visa get it in advance or use the main border toward Tete. Eventually he came out alive and not wobbling!

It was faster with me! By then the guy in uniform had figured out how to use the machines!

Then we were sent to a small office outside the main building, where a nice young lady was the health care officer. She took details of Alistair’s yellow fever vaccine batch number, by then I was rather nervous and worried I could be refused entry!

She took a look at mine, wrote some numbers in a big book and asked us if she could take our temperature, as she mentioned something about Ebola!

Apparently there was Ebola in DRC, but we went not near it. We both were judged fit and healthy enough to be allowed into Mozambique.

Then it was time to buy insurance for our bikes. We were quoted 880 Metical per bike ( about 14$) or, we could pay in US dollars and it would be 10$ each! Go figure!


A good 2 hours later, we were let into Mozambique.  :)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 25, 2018, 06:47:04 pm
I want to say a few words about the luggage at border crossing. Lots of people worry that if they have soft luggage, things may get stolen while doing the paper work.

Our bikes at that particular border were out of sight for a long time. You have seen from photos what we carry. Valuables are usually in my tank bag and backpack. The iPad is at the bottom of the tank bag and rather concealed. I never really bothered to take it with me in my backpack. I would remove the phone and pocket camera from the tank bag and nothing from the panniers or roll bags.

We never had anything stolen. Not in and out of Russia, not across central Asia and not in Africa.   The panniers would take a million year for someone to figure out how to remove the 2 sets of very tight Rok straps, one set horizontally and one set vertically.  It would not be fast or discreet or even easy to cut the straps. Then opening and unrolling the panniers would add to time. It takes time even to us!

So for the occasional “grab and run” thief at a border, this is not good as it wastes time and would get them noticed. The camping gear in the big roll bag is in a Packsafe. The most vulnerable is probably the tank bag and I remove most valuables. To get to the iPad, if you don’t know it is wedged there in a dark padded sleeve, you will think it is the bottom of the bag. Anything else is tightly packed there and is not valuable: big bottle of water, peanuts, fat Lonely Planet, various knickknacks.

Back to Mozambique now! The road was mainly roadwork and slow going for about 20kms, but then it was in very good condition.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 25, 2018, 06:48:17 pm
All along the road, there were constant villages and houses, as well as many people walking and we passed many markets along villages, but in general we maintained good speed. For once, we saw no farm animals roaming free!

The locals stared at us as if we were aliens from another planet. Unlike Malawi or Zambia, no one waved or smiled, not even the kids!

We stopped at a small town where supposedly there is an ATM machine to get cash. We just stopped at the fuel station and emptied the 5 litres jerry can on my bike. We had enough local currency to buy some more, so we put 6 litres on Alistair’s bike. With that done, we had enough to make it to our destination for the night. So we did not bother looking for the bank.


We were very keen to get to Quelimane (or Calamari as Alistair quickly renamed it!) before dark. I did not fancy getting cash from a street ATM machine after dark in town! Nightfall was very early as we were still in the same time zone than Cape Town and Namibia. In Namibia, daylight was about 8am, on the east coast it was 5am. It was starting to get dark soon after 5pm. With few stops on the road, we got to Quelimane soon after 4pm.

The town is by a delta river in the edge of the Indian Ocean. It was very hot.

Without Internet access for several days, we relied solely on the very unreliable Lonely Planet to find accommodation.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 25, 2018, 06:51:49 pm
The first budget hotel listed there, with its bucket showers and dilapidated description, did not appeal much. We selected the hotel slightly more expensive at about 50$ a night including breakfast. It was a good choice. Probably the best in town!

The place was busy with the zillions of Aid workers we have seen since Zambia, driving around in sparkly new giant Toyotas and other SUV, with air-con and all the trimmings, staying in the best hotels and eating at the best places.

Hotel Flamingo, where we decided to stay 2 nights, was full of them, going around with ipads and expensive looking Apple laptops, looking important with their iPhones, logos and conferences and meetings held by the poolside and next to the bar! No wonder most of them were so fat!

I hope that a tiny bit of those billions in Aid actually reach the people who truly need it!

Maybe I am a bit cynical here but many of those guys are just concerned about advancing their career and very little about sorting any problem. Sort the problem and their job is over.

I am particularly cynical when it comes to big NGOs and Charities, paying their CEO and board members a fortune. Take David Milliband, a big Labour Party (socialist) figure in the UK.
When he failed to become leader of the Labour Party (being stabbed in the back by his own brother!) he landed himself a cushy job with some American NGO helping refugees and moved to NY. Nice right? The aura of Sainthood. You can almost smell it!

Helping the poor and destitute!

Right?

Did I mentioned he is paid about $550,000 a year? Misery is big business. I am just waiting now for his Knighthood for his “charity work”.
And that is only one example among many! 

Anyway, moving on.

After sorting out the accommodation, we ran to the nearest cash point to get some local currency. We had to pay the hotel in cash.

Then we finally got a shower and went down to the bar and restaurant, by the swimming pool, joining all the aid workers, for a beer and some dinner!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Sardine on November 25, 2018, 07:55:37 pm
I remained on my wooden bench, worried he was given the fearsome American style full body intimate search (latex gloves and all!) but they were just trying to work out how to take his fingerprints and photo! Not sure they use those machines often!

I think most people who need a visa get it in advance or use the main border toward Tete. Eventually he came out alive and not wobbling!

It was faster with me! By then the guy in uniform had figured out how to use the machines!

Then we were sent to a small office outside the main building, where a nice young lady was the health care officer. She took details of Alistair’s yellow fever vaccine batch number, by then I was rather nervous and worried I could be refused entry!

She took a look at mine, wrote some numbers in a big book and asked us if she could take our temperature, as she mentioned something about Ebola!

Apparently there was Ebola in DRC, but we went not near it. We both were judged fit and healthy enough to be allowed into Mozambique.

Then it was time to buy insurance for our bikes. We were quoted 880 Metical per bike ( about 14$) or, we could pay in US dollars and it would be 10$ each! Go figure!


A good 2 hours later, we were let into Mozambique.  :)

When I flew in to Kasane I would often get a pie from the little kiosk in the airport. The tourists always went for the Magnum ice-creams. If you paid in Pula, it was P25 (R33), but if they didn't have Pula the US$ price was $5! P53 or R70.
Though I have a feeling the Dollar rate varied depending on how the sales person felt that day.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 26, 2018, 06:26:51 pm

When I flew in to Kasane I would often get a pie from the little kiosk in the airport. The tourists always went for the Magnum ice-creams. If you paid in Pula, it was P25 (R33), but if they didn't have Pula the US$ price was $5! P53 or R70.
Though I have a feeling the Dollar rate varied depending on how the sales person felt that day.

Yes these things seem to be quite random sometimes!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 26, 2018, 06:27:26 pm
Day 66 – Mozambique, Quelimane, Hotel Flamingo – Thursday 2d August 2018

We decided to stay for an extra day in Quelimane so we could plan and get ready for the long ride south.

We found the local supermarket, with few things we could buy. Each aisle had a member of staff to ensure that all clients were watched and none could steal anything! We got water and some more cash from the bank.

Later on we went for a short walk, everyone was staring at us (even on the ride to town, no one waved us, only stared). Few people came to us asking for money… The town was dilapidated and the buildings blackened from mould and dirt. The only nice and clean building was the massive new mosque in the town centre.

We saw few Chinese and middle eastern/Asian looking guys walking around town, but the local beggars ignored them.

Throughout our ride since Namibia we saw plenty of evidence of Chinese influence, factories, land, processing plants… maybe all these are part of the Belt and Road initiative and access natural resources. This has been the same in Central Asia where many new roads have been built by the Chinese.

The climate was more tropical with a lot of humidity. For the 1st time in this trip, we had air-con in the room and we made full use of it.

 
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 26, 2018, 06:28:24 pm
Day 67 – Mozambique, near Gorongosa – Kapulana Hotel – Friday 3rd August – 450kms


From my research online I knew there would be hardly any accommodation on the only road taking us south.

So, making the most of the Flamingo Hotel Wi-Fi, I found a hotel midway to the touristic regions of Mozambique, and I booked a room by email with Kapulana hotel, located near the Gorongosa region (or Gorgonzola, as Alistair quickly renamed it!)

As it was rather far, a food 450kms, we decided to leave very early.

We were packed and riding soon before 8am. With plenty of time to get there we stopped for fuel. We had few snacks and lots of water.

As we left the hotel, my bike started to play and was stalling repeatedly when stuck in the traffic of Quelimane. Everyone will know what I mean by ‘bike breakdown  paranoia’! Every noise the bike made I was thinking ‘this is not right!”. My paranoia was over the roof. Eventually as we did not have to stop and go, once we pulled away from town, the bike behaved. But I was concerned! 

What we had not prepared for was the absolutely awful state of the road.

The first 200kms were fine, then soon before Caia and crossing one of the very few bridges over the mighty Zambezi river, it all went from bad to worse!

It started with few potholes, then many, then the size of craters, some big enough to swallow the entire bike!

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1962/45036055531_d97a684af5_c.jpg)

This section is actually pretty good:
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1923/45036054331_7397cf1214_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 26, 2018, 06:32:08 pm

We had few short sections of good road where we could speed up, but mainly, it was bad to the extreme.  I had never seen anything like that. Not in South America, not in Russia or central Asia, not in Mongolia, not even anywhere else we went around southern Africa. It was that bad.

As the day progressed we did not progress too much, but we kept going.

By 3pm, our shadows were getting longer.

By 4pm, we were hoping to be closer. As we bumped, swerved and fell into those giants craters I started getting more and more worried.

The road was covered in sand, with the very long shadows from the trees and the sun very low in the horizon, it was very hard to actually see the holes and judge the depth of the potholes until we were nearly inside.

 If we had to press on after dark, it would be near impossible with our pathetic lights on the bikes! It was no safe to stop anywhere and camp. Eventually, as it got dark, I saw the sign for the hotel. We just about made it before night by the skin of our teeth, covered in dust and sand and exhausted. It had been a very long difficult ride.


Through this section we saw true poverty, women and children walking bare feet. We saw no sign of schools, churches, or even mosques (which usually were in every village since Zambia), giving the impression that even the Gods had turned their faces away from these incredibly poor people.

People were living in mud or even wood huts, a small kid that I glanced at as I passed, had a very distended stomach, a clear sign of malnutrition… the region seemed forgotten by everyone including God (or I least its minions and churches/temples/mosques…) .

It was obvious that very few tourists ever ventured around here, as everyone stared at us as if were aliens from another planet.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1977/30099999007_df48a6e175_c.jpg)

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 26, 2018, 06:32:44 pm
The Portuguese wrestled control of Mozambique coast from the Arabs between 1500 and 1700. Many trouble and wars for control followed. By the early 20th century, Portugal had shifted administration of Mozambique to large private companies.

Between 1964 and 1975 communist and anti-colonial ideologies spread across Africa, leading to a war of independence in Mozambique. In 1975, it became independent. The Portuguese left overnight I was told.

FRELIMO, a communist inspired government took control. An anti-communist national resistance movement, RENAMO was formed. It was initially funded by the Rhodesian intelligence service  (now Zimbabwe) and the apartheid South African government, to stop the spread of communism (helped by the CIA?) .

The civil war that ensued ended allegedly in 1994 but right until last year, 2017, RENAMO was still active in the country and attacks were frequent.  The region we crossed was until recently a stronghold of RENAMO and very unsafe. Travellers had to join military convoys for protection.

This was over when we rode there, but the insecurity was still plain to see.

When we stopped at rare fuel stations, they would often have 2 armed guards.

On one instance, the guard came to speak to us, all relaxed and happy. Then an SUV arrived, full of men at the back, and his attitude changed completely. I could see he was nervous and checking the truck and the passengers, clutching his riffle, ready for action, while looking for any sign of danger.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 26, 2018, 06:34:05 pm
One thing struck me few weeks later, when remembering this section. In that entire region, we never saw any farm animals, any donkeys, goats, and lambs, chickens, not even birds. Wild birds! We did not hear any bird either during our stops. It was usually a forested zone, so where had all the wild birds gone? Were the locals so desperately poor that they had eaten all the wildlife including the tiniest of birds? It was a depressing thought.

So we made it safely to Hotel Kapulana. The hotel was new, with great rooms, secured parking for our bikes, in beautiful gardens and we even managed to get a descent meal.

Considering the state of the road we had to revise our original plan. Our destination, Vilanculo, was a good 500km further south. With the road in such a horrendous state, we could not make it in one day. Scouring the Internet we found 2 places on the way. One was about 80US$ for a room, the other one was slightly cheaper and was midway… and more…exotic!

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 26, 2018, 06:35:14 pm

Day 68 – Mozambique, Muxungue, Hotel Canindica, Saturday 4th August – 240kms


We left around 9am. The road was still horrid for a good 75kms. It took us 2 hours to ride that distance.

Then we got to the good road at last. We made finally good progress and got to our stop for the night early afternoon.


The region seemed less poor, with many schools and neat villages, still some mud huts and wood huts, but more brick buildings, markets, villages and people wearing shoes, many moped and bicycles around, churches, mosques, and all that is in between.

Africa, or at last the part we covered, seem to be a very big hunting ground for all religions, as I never saw so many religious buildings everywhere (churches etc…) anywhere else in the world!

The hotel was adequate and fairly cheap. It was behind a big gate with big grounds. We parked the bikes in front of our room. They even had a restaurant where some locals were having very late lunch (or early dinner?).  So we had our evening meal there.


Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: evansv on November 27, 2018, 10:16:07 am
I worked near Vilankulos shortly after the civil war ended & it was very rare to see animals, even birds!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 27, 2018, 06:11:26 pm


Day 69 – Mozambique, Vilanculo, - 260kms - Sunday 5th of August

Despite what we were told by the staff at the hotel, the road was actually not too bad. Some sections were damaged and turned into a dirt track, but it was easy to maintain speed.

We arrived at our destination sooner  than expected, early afternoon. The first place we had in mind, the Baobab Beach Camp, was full.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1932/30099998277_948a1b29cb_c.jpg)


We then rode to the Beach Village Backpackers Camp, few hundreds meters down the same lane. It was empty. Not a single guest. That is never a good sign. However, the place looked very nice, so we took a hut with en-suite bathroom, as rustic as you can expect, although the price tag was not, at 45$. But then, it is a popular town with holidaymakers, with prices to match.

The hut was missing bed sheets, towels and even toilet paper. The floor was dirty and covered with dirt and dead flies.

I asked the guy at reception to remedy this and a woman came who could really not be bothered! The dead flies remained but at least we had bed sheets and towels as they were supposed to be provided! I washed some of my clothes in the sink while Alistair went into town to find a shop, as we needed drinking water at least. The tap water in Mozambique was not drinkable.

We were not sure if the place would provide dinner or any sort of food. The two women who apparently worked there, were busy sunbathing by the pool, giving me dirty looks because I had dared to disturbed them and asked for towels and bed linen! The guy in charge of the bar and reception was sleeping near the bar. Some places are so welcoming!


We walked along the beach at 4:30pm to get some sort of dinner at the nearby Baobab beach camp. The place was full, lively, with smiling staff serving drinks and dinner in the well-kept gardens, a receptionist arranging excursions and WiFi working! It was such a contrast with our camp!

The lady managing the Baobab camp came to talk to us while we ate our dinner, and gave us the WiFi password, although it is supposed to be for paying guests only. She was very welcoming. She knew our accommodation, next door, and felt sorry for us and encouraged us to use the Baobab’s facilities.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1976/30099997727_6b2e14999a_c.jpg)

We walked back to our camp before nightfall as we were warned at the Baobab that it was not safe to walk around after dark.

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 27, 2018, 06:12:59 pm

Day 70 – Mozambique, Vilanculos, Monday 6th August – 0kms

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1932/31163232558_97ea905509_c.jpg)


I woke up at 6am. After all, as night falls soon after 5:30 and we could not wander in the village at night, there was not much to do. Our camp was dead, the small bar was closed as there was no staff to be seen anywhere, with no WiFi or anything else to do, we read a bit and slept early.

I read a bit (I was quite hooked by the Shetland Murder mysteries series and reading my way through the whole 7 books from Anne Cleeves) and by 7am we had a look around to check if there would be some breakfast on offer or some menu. I don’t think they ever serve any food there despite the claims online.

All was quiet, the grounds completely empty, no staff to be seen around, so we walked, once again via the beach, to the Baobab beach camp. There were people having breakfast, there was a long menu to choose from, free coffee on offer… Paradise! I took an omelette with bacon. It was huge! I could not finish!

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1980/31163233318_48c4a23d32_c.jpg)

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 27, 2018, 06:14:20 pm


We used the Baobab Wi-Fi for some planning and finding a place to stay in our next destination.

We had decided to leave the following day, as our camp was not pleasant with really unfriendly staff that treated us like we were an inconvenience to them and the Baobab was fully booked. It was high season and everything seemed to be so fully booked everywhere, so we decided to secure a place before getting to Tofo, a very popular place for South Africans holidaying in south Mozambique.

All accommodation there was fairly full too but we booked a B&B more expensive than our usual backpacker places.


After that we went for a walk into town.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1972/30099995987_e3d5359f89_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1964/30099995507_966aa6ab97_c.jpg)

Traditional huts we have seen everywhere:
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1977/30099994827_d39a61ba20_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1914/44988159362_dcc1f0c482_c.jpg)





We went back to the Baobab to have a drink and early dinner before dark. We shared a very hot pizza. As we were finishing, a family (south African tourists I guess) sitting on the table next to ours offered us some grilled fish. They had been off fishing and caught a 1.5m fish weighting a good 38kgs. They could not eat it all! It was delicious!

After that, completely stuffed, we went back to our depressing camp, before dark, for another early night. This time, with power cuts, there was really not much to do.

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 27, 2018, 06:16:33 pm

Day 71 – Mozambique, Tofinho – Lobster Chalets – Tuesday 7th of August, 320kms

We woke up at 6 am and started packing.
As we asked the lad at the bar for the bill, he seemed surprised we would leave earlier than initially planned. Initially we were thinking to spend 3 days there but....What did he expect? It seems the owner of the place lives in Maputo and no one was supervising. It is a wonder how someone can decide to start a business in hospitality and not check the competition and wonder why it is that the Baobab next door is fully booked for months in advance while this place was empty.
 
The weather was very foggy but we were ready to go before 8. We stopped in the village for fuel, and then at the local bank to get some cash. The fog slowly lifted as we travelled south.

As the day progressed, it got very hot.  We stopped few times to refuel and to drink water. The road was in good condition so we made good progress. The many police check points did not pay us any attention. We arrived at Tofinho by early afternoon.

Tofo (and nearby Tofinho) is popular with South Africans for surfing and diving, so it tends to be very busy.

Finding the guesthouse was another problem. The very steep and damaged track that the GPS wanted to take us through was really too damaged for us. Eventually, after a bit of search and faff around, we arrived at the Lobster Chalets.

Our chalet was great, big, clean, with a private terrace, which contained a small kitchen sink and fridge. It was very luxurious.

The bar restaurant was on a roof terrace with a very nice view over the Indian Ocean. The WiFi worked, the bar was an Honesty bar and we were close enough from town to get supplies. Amazing place.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1908/44125260345_36950246cb_c.jpg)

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Clockwork Orange on November 28, 2018, 05:09:24 pm
I am really enjoying this Ride report. Thanks for sharing
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Single Cylinder on November 28, 2018, 05:50:19 pm
Marvelous, a great ride   :ricky: :ricky:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 28, 2018, 06:03:32 pm


Day 72 and 73 – Mozambique, Tofinho, Lobster chalets – weds. 8th and Thursday 9th August, 0kms

From the breakfast terrace, every morning around 7:30, while working our way through the B&B's massive breakfast, we could see whales playing in the ocean and jumping out off the water. It was amusing to see, an hour later, when they were all gone, the Zodiac boats, full of tourists, going all over trying to find the whales! We just had to sit early morning to check them out!  :biggrin:


We explored Tofinho, a small and very pleasant village, and had a couple of excellent lunches at a little shack.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1906/43224959030_5e70476ed3_c.jpg)

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 28, 2018, 06:05:05 pm

We also found a bar, the next day that served Caipirinhas! A real taste of Brazil! We spent 2 years living in Rio de Janeiro, and although some aspects were very difficult (insane bureaucracy) the outdoor lifestyle, the friendliness and easy-going nature of the Cariocas was fantastic.

We did not do much other than few long walks around the beach and the village. We had a relaxing time. The area was full of tourists, coming to fish, see the whales, dive, surf and party. As a result, it attracted a fairly young crowd.


Day 74 and 75 – Mozambique, near Chidenguele, Sunset Beach Lodge, 240kms – 10th and 11th of August


Most places I investigated online seemed still fully booked for our dates. I found the Sunset Beach lodge online. They had small self-catering chalets and camping ground at a good price.

So we left Tofinho after a huge breakfast and rode through few miles of sandy trails, then we picked up the tarmac and the main road south.

We arrived at the turn off from Chidenguele early afternoon. Then it was 6 kms of sandy track to the lodge.


Why is it that everywhere we go, we always end up riding few miles of sand to get to camp? I hate sand! Riding sand is hard! This one was usual with sections of deep fluffy sand that sent my front wheel all loose. I managed to keep control and made it to the lodge. The day was incredibly hot and by the time I wrestled my bike through the sand I was drenched!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 28, 2018, 06:07:03 pm
The camping area was just deep sand, which was not great. Although our small tent is dome style, and can potentially be used without pegs, using pegs help opening the sides and makes the tent more roomy.  The chalets were 2600 Meticals a night (About $40), so we took the comfortable option!

The place looked deserted but as we took the path down the beach we came across a group of South Africans fishing.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1908/43224958290_55178d5e73_c.jpg)


Back at the lodge, a local family with 2 kids (maybe form Maputo?) were lounging by the pool and then having dinner.


By dinnertime, half an hour after we ordered dinner, a large group of Italians (10 or 12 of then) turned up. I knew what would happen. Those organised tours usually pre order their food. While the cook prepared their food, we waited. 2 hours after our order went off, we finally had our dish, after the Italians got theirs.

It was a very long wait for a very disappointed dish or bland undercooked (and raw) chicken and bad rice. I did complain with my (non existent!) diplomatic skills!   >:D Not that the staff gave a crap about it. But I like to complain! I am French, I am good at that!  :angel11:

Big funny looking flower:
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1976/44125257965_9978b0f18d_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 28, 2018, 06:08:29 pm
The next morning, as Alistair was not feeling too well, and our confidence on the Lodge’s cooking skills was at an all time low, we decided to self cater, as the chalet had a small kitchen. We had some left over bread from Tofinho and some peanut butter. So that was breakfast with coffee.

Then Alistair took my bike and rode to the village. From the various little shops, he came to get some onions here, a green pepper there, a can of tuna in another shack, a can of beans and a can of chopped tomatoes. He also found some sort of spicy powder.

With all those ingredients I cooked a nice and tasty dish for lunch and dinner. The onions and peppers were incredibly sweet and full of taste, in this region.

I tried to do some planning, but without WiFi, it was difficult, I could only use my paper map. As it was a big bank holiday in South Africa, we suspected that the border point would be very busy and with very ong queues on Sunday.

I had booked a hotel in Nelspruit, South Africa, for Monday night, and we also had ordered tyres from a motorcycle shop, over there. The town was only 100kms from the border point. We though it would be better to spend the night on  the Mozambique side and cross into South Africa early Monday morning to avoid long queues.



Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Rotten on November 28, 2018, 09:09:36 pm
Really enjoying this. Thank you Maria
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Wooly Bugger on November 29, 2018, 08:50:01 am
Awesome!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Dustbiter on November 29, 2018, 09:09:18 am
Hi Maria,

Re - "Big funny flower" = a Cycad (the female cone).

This is a really great report with very good photos. I hope we see more of your tours.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Coxwain on November 29, 2018, 09:48:32 am
This is the best ride report I have read to date. Really enjoying it :thumleft:
Can't wait for the next installment.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Oubones on November 29, 2018, 11:08:15 am
Thanks for your effort in writing this for us.
I always listened to my brother about his experiences in Northern Moz without pictures, so finding it very interesting.
Waiting for the next! :sip:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 29, 2018, 06:23:32 pm
I guys, thanks for all your comments. I am really happy that you enjoy this ride report.  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 29, 2018, 06:25:13 pm

Day 76 – South Africa, Komatipoort - Kruger View backpackers, Sunday 12th August, 370kms

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1920/44988156882_88afefa9ee_c.jpg)



We left the lodge early, at 8am, as we had a long way to the border. The road was good and we made good progress, so we decided, on the way, to change our plan and get to the border and cross into South Africa directly. 

The ride approaching Maputo, was slow going, as it was busy with trucks hard to overtake. The road had only 2 lanes and constant incoming traffic. Despite this, we got near Maputo, the capital city, by lunch time. We caught the ring road to join the road going west to South Africa.


The ring road was not fully built. As one lane was cut, some young lads tried to stop us, saying there was a diversion. Alistair, being as usual, very British and polite, stopped.

As I saw trucks and cars continuing, and being French and rude and grumpy, I waived the kids out of my way and continued.

Whatever scam they ran I would be no part of it. An expensive looking saloon car went past and made us sign to follow it. As the road ended, we follow the car through sanding tracks across villages and slums, with the rest of the traffic.

Eventually, we got on the right road, with nice tarmac. The Mozambique driver waved his arm out of the car to signal which way we should go. We thanked him by waving and got on our way. So we did not part with one single Metical! Humbug!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 29, 2018, 06:25:54 pm

Soon before the border, we stopped at a fuel station to use our last Meticals. Then we went to the border.

Immediately, as we entered the compound, a crowd of men ran along our bikes and surrounded us as we parked. As you may suspect, with my sunny and charming temperament (*sarcasm*) I was already shouting at them with some very colourful English words!


One guy, with a badge and a hat that looked kind of official, demanded our passports and that I stay with the bikes while Alistair had to follow him. I shouted at the crowd to disperse and leave us alone, in my most diplomatic style.

I knew they were scammers but Alistair was not so sure. The official looking guy kept asking for a document for our bikes. I told him we did not have it as we had carnets.

He also demanded our passports and for Alistair to follow him. Alistair being way too polite gave him the benefit of the doubt and with our passports the guy took Alistair to Customs.

Alistair snatched the passports back and asked the customs official if he knew whom the guy looking kind of official, was. The custom official shrugged, not knowing.

Alistair stormed off and came back to the bikes with our passports. All the scammers were gone. I was relieved the guy did not run with the passports. Never again!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 29, 2018, 06:26:41 pm
We walked to immigration and had our passports stamped quickly, then we went to Customs.

 The custom guy did not know what to do with the Carnets but was happy to follow our instructions and stamp and sign them.

So we then rode to the South African border. It was an oasis of tranquillity in comparison with the Mozambique side.

We got our passports stamped in. I made clear we had a flight booked for the 19th of September, so asked for a 2 months visa, ready to produce a print of my plane tickets.


You see, after one spell in South Africa, immigration will usually only give a transit visa these days, unless you come straight from your home country. It seems to be the latest policy to avoid non-residents living in SA doing the border-crossing trip to renew their visa every 3 months! So the policy now is, if you already had a 3 months visa, to only give you a 7 days transit visa only. We got 3 months without any problem. Sometimes I worry too much.
 ::)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 29, 2018, 06:27:27 pm

Then we went to Customs. They were not used to Carnets. This is when we spotted that Alistair’s Carnet had not been stamped out correctly and in the right part, when exiting Mozambique.

I usually checked that everything was correct with both Carnets. The carnet is a very important document as we could be liable to massive import tax for our bikes, if our documents are not properly showing that the motorbikes left each country we visited. But this time, I did not check Alistair’s carnet!

So while I got my carnet filled for entry to South Africa, Alistair went back to the Mozambique side to correct the error. He had it done without any difficulty.

We were then stopped at the border zone exit for a quick search of our panniers and a chat with the bored customs guys.

We had, on the way, decided to spend the night at Komatipoort, the border town. It skirts Kruger National Park and had plenty of accommodation.

I had spotted a backpacker place few days before, when we had WiFi. So we rode there. As usual, the GPS took us via the scenic gravel roads rather than the most direct road. This time I did not begrudge it, as it took us through a beautiful road and across a stunning little lake.

So, we were back in South Africa! We still had 5 weeks left to explore and there was plenty of that to do! But first, we desperately needed new tyres and the bikes needed some maintenance!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 29, 2018, 06:35:56 pm
We were happy to be back in South Africa and leave Mozambique behind. It was only few weeks later that with Alistair, we agreed that we found the country kind of depressing. There was something sad, a lack of hope in Mozambique, with its crowds, along the road, in central Moz, staring at us with their empty eyes, like ghosts on the edge of the forest, it was unsettling.

It affected me like having a dark cloud in my mind for a while and damping my enthusiasm. Erik Satie Gnossienne 1 (Link here: https://youtu.be/oOTpQpoHHaw (https://youtu.be/oOTpQpoHHaw) would define very well the feeling and my state of mind.

The land on the Mozambique side had been kind of wasteland, we did not see much agriculture. As soon as we crossed the border, it was like a vast garden with massive plantations growing fruit trees and lots of plants and things I could not identify, as I am a townie and know nothing about agriculture, but it was beautiful, plentiful and so full of life!

The contrast, from the stunningly fertile, tidy, beautiful South Africa on one side and the scrubland of Mozambique, just a few hundreds metres away, was disturbing.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: GravelFox on November 29, 2018, 07:52:20 pm
Interesting your mention of the custom officials not knowing how to process a carnet. With our 10,000km trip through Africa in Jul/Aug we had to show so many officials how to complete it and then they messed it up anyway. Even returning to RSA through Beitbridge the lady was baffled with the paper work.

Thanks for a nice and easy reading report-nice to associate with so many of your remarks especially those at border crossings. Wish there could be one process for such crossings - in stead expect anything!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Fransw on November 30, 2018, 09:03:34 am
Nice refreshing rapport @maria41, you guys are really open-minded and seasoned travellers!  I was only making a joke about the Frenchies, no harm intended! :biggrin:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 30, 2018, 12:19:23 pm
Nice refreshing rapport @maria41, you guys are really open-minded and seasoned travellers!  I was only making a joke about the Frenchies, no harm intended! :biggrin:
No worries!  :biggrin:
I have an “entente cordiale” with Alistair   :ricky:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 30, 2018, 03:57:47 pm
Day 77 – South Africa, Nelspruit – 110kms, Monday 13th August


I had booked a hotel in Nelspruit (called SUN1), for 3 nights, within walking distance of the motorcycle workshop that had ordered our tyres (Pitlane).

We arrived at the hotel around lunchtime. It was reasonably priced, similar to an Ibis hotel budget or a Formula 1, in term of set up, with a bunk bed above the double bed and a shower in the bedroom while the toilet was in a small cubicle.  It was clean, modern, functional and totally adequate.
It was also across a small shopping mall with a big SPAR and few cafes and restaurant. Perfect for us.

We arrived relatively early but the friendly staff gave us the keys. After dropping our luggage we rode to Pitlane and left the bikes with them, with a list of instructions:

•   Leave the chains setting as they are (mechanics always leave the chain way too tight);
•   Do NOT jet wash the XT250, as water was causing problems with the electrics;
•   Do not touch the oil gauge window on the XT (it was glued in and already fell inside the engine once!).

My bike was leaking oil, as the oil filler cap was not original to my bike, and the thread was now broken, hence it would not close properly, splattering my right boot with plenty of oil.
Luckily, Pitlane found a good replacement.

Over the next day they did a good job. My back inner tube was damaged and they replaced it as well as filling it with green slime (we told them we had slime inside our inner tubes – for punctures).

My stomach was not too good, Alistair was also feeling unwell, so we did not do much else that day.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 30, 2018, 04:02:54 pm
Day 78 – South Africa, Nelspruit, Tuesday 14th August


The morning was slow, as we were still both under the weather. With our limited 150mb of daily free WiFi, I found few places within walking distance, to rent a car.

We thought we could spend some time the next day, self-driving in nearby Kruger National Park. Obviously, motorbikes are not allowed.

Alistair walked to various places but either they did not exist, or they had no cars available. It was disappointing.

For a couple of weeks, I had been in contact, via the Wild Dog forum with a lad called Canzius, who kindly offered help to find tyres in Nelspruit.

We arranged to meet late afternoon in a pub downtown. The bikes were ready by 4pm so we walked to the workshop to pick them up and rode to the pub.

The good thing being a biker is that wherever in the world you go, you will have friends! The motorcycle community is always incredibly welcoming and friendly, and so was Canzius.

 He advised us on places to visit the next day, on a loop north, and convinced us that it was well worth visiting Swaziland. It was not on our initial plans to cross Swaziland, but as usual, our plans kept changing as we went along.  ;D

My main problem with the new plan was that I had burned the Swaziland pages on my lonely Planet. Note I did not burn Swaziland out of spite, but in Namibia, trying to start a fire! We were camping and been told about the lions roaming around and to have a fire at night! We used some pages of the guidebook, and plenty of petrol, to start the fire (and failed!).  ::) Anyhow, the 5 or 6 sheets of paper on the guide were gone, and with very little WiFi, our plan would be even more vague than usual!  :biggrin:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 30, 2018, 04:07:23 pm
Day 79 – South Africa, Nelspruit, Wednesday 15th August – about 180 Kms loop

In the morning, feeling a bit better, we rode north across Sabie and various other places. It was a great ride to test our new tyres, and at last we had some mountains.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1930/43224953480_46795ea96a_c.jpg)

New tyres:
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1909/44988155282_16a9c243e0_c.jpg)


Later in the afternoon, Alistair did some more work and maintenance on the bikes.

On a twist of fate, one of those moments of “Most Unlikely Stuff” to happen, we saw on Facebook that the 2 lads we met in Luderitz, Namibia, 2 months before, and who had been walking across Southern Africa, from coast to coast, were also in Nelspruit!

We thought about meeting them at their backpacker hostel, but it got late as Alistair was working on the bikes until dark! So in the end we did not ride to meet them. It would have been cool, but we will meet them back in the UK!

So we packed, as we always end up doing. The bikes were in their best shape since we started this trip. Next stop would be yet another country!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 30, 2018, 04:08:59 pm
Day 80 – Swaziland, near Maguga dam – Thursday 16 August, 150 kms


We did not have far to go, so we took our time. We only left the hotel after 9:30.

The ride to the border took us through stunning views through mountains, riding well above the tree lines and down again. The road was pristine and not busy, it was heaven.

The border crossing was probably the fastest and easiest we ever had!

On the South African side, we were the only tourists, no scammers or people hanging around, only the friendly staff. We were stamped out quickly and we had not need to get to Customs, as Swaziland is part of the South African custom union. Our carnets, stamped into South Africa, were valid in Swaziland.


Then we rode to Swaziland. Again, there were only few staff and us. The guys were friendly and gave us a newspaper issued for tourists. It had very good info about Swaziland, so I packed it in my backpack.

We were stamped in very quickly and we paid a tax of 50 rand per person (or bike, not sure).

That done, we got into Swaziland, the Mountain Kingdom. The country is an absolute monarchy, so we expected great poverty.

I was surprised at how nice the village over the border was. Not mud huts, well built houses, small but brightly painted. No women carrying buckets of water or taking the washing to the river anywhere. So I assume they had running water nearby or in the houses. I was told later that it was an orphanage and that they produced honey.

The road from the border was a bad track for about 18kms, very rocky and bumpy with deep holes, high engine clearance definitely was a must.  Then we got to the tarmac which was in good condition.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1924/43224951640_ef700e62e9_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1929/43224950250_b737cfba23_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 30, 2018, 04:10:43 pm
There were plenty of cars in good state, stunning views of mountains and farms, very little littering, a neat tidy little country.

Our initial destination was a lodge and campsite near the dam Maguga.

The lodge was super expensive, and the campsite was down a mile, through a very nasty track, with no shade, nowhere to sit and no facilities other than the shower block.

It was not ideal and as it was very early we decided to leave and find something more confortable.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1945/43224949260_99dd35cf49_c.jpg)



The GPS was showing a backpacker hostel few miles away. So we rode to Sobantu Guest Farm and Backpackers. It was a working farm.

The little round hut (Rondavels) with en-suite bathroom was very affordable, about 28 dollars at current rate (the rand was plunging at that moment).

So we took one rondavel instead of camping! We appreciate our comfort these days.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1962/43224948080_a53681666b_c.jpg)



The farm had stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The main building had a couple of very big lounges, a kitchen and all the stuff you may need for a backpacker place, including several TVs! Ok no free WiFi, but free WiFi seemed hard to come in the region!

In the evening we cooked a pot of vegs with noodles.

We had a couple of glasses of wine from the little bar, as it was cheap! There were only another couple staying in, from France, so we spent a while talking to them.

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 30, 2018, 04:12:22 pm

Day 81 – Swaziland, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, Sondzela backpackers, Friday 17th August - 75kms


It appeared that Swaziland had a lot to offer. The little touristic newspaper that we were given at the border described few interesting places to visit. We also picked, at the backpackers place, a little free book called “Coast to Coast”, which listed all the backpackers places in Southern Africa, with a nice description of what was around.

The description of the Sondzela Backpackers, in that little book, was too tempting to resist: “ Sondzela overlook a Valley where wild animals roam and impalas, warthogs and zebras graze on the edge of the gardens. Campers are surrounded by fruit trees and roaming game”.

With such a description, we decided to spend a night there. 

It was not far, Swaziland is a small country, barely 120 kms wide and 180kms long, so we took our time.

We still got there before lunch. We arrived at the game park entrance and stopped to pay the entrance fee.

Just there, with no fence in between, were zebras and wildebeests, totally unfazed by us!

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1980/43224947130_75daa1e3b5_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on November 30, 2018, 04:13:39 pm

Once in the park we saw many antelopes, zebras, warthogs and more wildebeest along or on the track! They were so close to us it was amazing!

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1927/43224946110_a6d0037111_c.jpg)


(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1952/45036131421_6f34b5db36_c.jpg)


(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1947/43224944080_5b52f61fb4_c.jpg)


They had camping space, dorms and rondavels.

Some of the rondavels were very cheap so we took one, as the weather forecast was not looking too promising. Once changed out of our motorcycle gear, we went for a walk around the compound, the gardens  and the vast orchard with lemon and grapefruit trees.

Immediately we saw several antelopes, some very large, some smaller, and lots of warthogs, inside the camp, despite the fence. I saw the warthogs drop on their front legs knees and squeeze under the fence, to come inside our camp, and I guessed the antelopes just walked in when the gates were open!

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1951/44988149582_360449d179_c.jpg)

Warthog running along the shower block:
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1953/45036128911_16144f6b5d_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Edgar on November 30, 2018, 05:57:11 pm
Awesome ride report :thumleft:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: BlueBull2007 on December 01, 2018, 06:00:05 am
This is great, please keep it coming. :ricky: :thumleft:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Oubones on December 01, 2018, 06:28:35 am
Great country, near Big Ben in the south is a game lodge that we used to frquent where we walked between the game only to find out when we came back that the staff had been searching for us as the lions had broken out the night before! :peepwall:
Did u pass the distillery at Big Ben? I took the one column( the bolts holding it together are the only black ones) down in SA and shipped it there complete with full re-assembly instructions and my friend put it up.
Keep up the RR. :thumleft:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 02, 2018, 01:44:49 pm
Great country, near Big Ben in the south is a game lodge that we used to frquent where we walked between the game only to find out when we came back that the staff had been searching for us as the lions had broken out the night before! :peepwall:
Did u pass the distillery at Big Ben? I took the one column( the bolts holding it together are the only black ones) down in SA and shipped it there complete with full re-assembly instructions and my friend put it up.
Keep up the RR. :thumleft:

The only Big ben I know stands in London in the Palace Westminster  :biggrin:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 02, 2018, 01:46:23 pm
Mlilwane:

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1933/30100057187_a5bd2d3d68_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1955/31163304948_ecec0ce5f1_c.jpg)



The views over the valley and mountains were stunning. We were glad we had decided to cross Swaziland, as it is a beautiful country!

Later in the afternoon we had a walk in the reserve, as it was safe to walk around and hiking. Once again, we got very close to zebras, wildebeest and many antelopes.

This backpacker lodge had probably the best views we ever had anywhere!

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1934/45036125581_17db384bd4_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1938/30100055547_7d5cfda30a_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1942/30100055157_145971e961_c.jpg)

The communal kitchen was quite busy that evening. A large group of young teens with their teachers had been having "team building " games in the orchard earlier. Now the adults supervising them were cooking a big meal for them. We still managed to cook a quick something and we bought some eggs and bread from the shop near reception.
Later in the evening it’s started raining. We had a great night in our little Rondavel. It had no facilities but the shower blocks were close by and very clean, with good pressure and very hot water in the showers. And the tap water was drinkable!

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 02, 2018, 01:47:28 pm

Day 82 – same place – Saturday 18th August


The day was still very wet with constant rain and fairly cold, all of a sudden.

We decided to stay an extra day. The place was so magical with all the wild animals wandering around and the most stunning views. We felt comfortable there. The large youth Swazi group left, another arrived and took over the dorms once again. This time they were from the UK. The place was very busy, and with good reason. It was a stunning place.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1917/30100054667_bb43a741a5_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1919/44316737984_61b8d24146_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1907/44988141572_d14221509f_c.jpg)

If you get the opportunity, make sure to go there!


More zebras in case you did not have enough:

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1911/31163297758_894ecc5a0f_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1950/30100050047_3bb213faa8_c.jpg)



Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 02, 2018, 01:49:11 pm

Day 83 – Swaziland, Hlane National Park – Ndvolu camp, Sunday 19th August – 105 kms


On Sunday it was time to leave the fabulous Mlilwane, the game sanctuary, and ride to Hlane, the main national park in Swaziland, on the east side, near to tehborder with Mozambique.

The road was perfect; (allegedly built by the Chinese) the towns and villages tidy and clean, people were often dressed in their best Sunday clothes or traditional warrior costume for men, with traditional tools and weapons at hand.

It was a very cool sight. Maybe it is traditional on Sunday to dress like that, as we did not see anyone dressed in a traditional way before.

Swaziland is such a wonderful little country. I expected grinding poverty. After all it is an absolute monarchy. I expected a banana republic with the king leading an extravagant life while the subjects would be dirt poor.

I don’t know about the king, but people seemed wealthy enough, compared to Mozambique, Malawi or even Zambia. I did not see, like in the rest of Southern Africa, women walking for miles and miles with heavy loads of washing, dishes, wood or water, balanced on their head.

I saw no men hanging around waiting for a customer to taxi on their bicycle, no one walking along the road, or very rarely. Everyone seemed busy, well dressed, lots of nice cars, lots of satellite dishes out of houses, electricity, proper glass windows in the houses, no littering or garbage anywhere along the road.

After the depressing sights in Mozambique, it was so uplifting to discover a smiling welcoming happy country! And they didn’t even gouge you with the accommodation and parks. Prices were very reasonable and affordable!


So we rode to Hlane. It had lions. We wanted to see lions. The campsite and lodge had great facilities, communal kitchen, big shower blocks, bar, restaurant, but no electricity at all.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 02, 2018, 01:50:51 pm
We put the tent up and went to explore, as far as the bar. We had a late lunch of toasted sandwiches (Still not a match on the one from Rosteck Ritz Lodge in Namibia – I know I go on about it!).

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1954/30100048647_614b2b3f25_c.jpg)



We could see the edge of a water hole and lots of people looking and taking photos. I thought they were seeing elephants and we were a bit blasé about them.

As we moved closer, we saw what it was: 5 white rhinos. They were massive! And so close! The only fence between them and the public was 2 lines of barbed wire! Like if this could hold them, should they get angry! It was extraordinary!

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1978/31163290038_5d850f376b_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1917/31163288628_6cd0986210_c.jpg)


We booked an evening safari drive, as we were hopeful to see lions.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: ChrisL - DUSTRIDERS on December 02, 2018, 03:24:07 pm
I don’t know about the king,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mswati_III
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: shark_za on December 02, 2018, 04:58:09 pm
LOL Big Bend!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 03, 2018, 06:56:23 pm
LOL Big Bend!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


 :-\
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 03, 2018, 06:58:07 pm
The safari drive was a 2 1/2 hour evening tour. To start with, it was rather disappointing, as for about 1h 1/2, we only saw 2 elephants.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1925/45036113781_60266ffc9f_c.jpg)



And then we found the lions: 2 males and 3 females (brothers and sisters and their mother – not sure where the father was!). It was amazing to see them!

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1928/45036112831_d93d957cf3_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1946/44316717764_0587c9b778_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1938/44316821254_31c2d2c8c2_c.jpg)



We went back to camp in the dark. Literally. The campsite had no electricity, only a generator for the restaurant. Staff left some oil lamps in the shower block and in the communal outdoor kitchen.

After preparing a small dinner (our usual can of mixed vegs and noodles) we moved to the bar and celebrated seeing the lions with a bottle of Malbec! Even the bar was using oil lamps.

We caught up with a lad we met at Mlilwane the day before and spent the evening with him, around a fire camp, drinking wine and talking rubbish. The way it should be!

That was our last night in Swaziland. It might be small (120kms side and 180kms long) but it made a big impression on us: the superb landscapes, the welcoming smiling people, the Sanctuaries, the sense of optimism I sensed from talking with the locals…. definitely if you come to South Africa, make sure to spend few days here!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 03, 2018, 07:00:48 pm

Day 84 – South Africa, near Dundee– Battlefield sport resort– 285kms - Monday 20th August


After a quick breakfast at the campsite (coffee with bread and peanut butter) we packed the tent and left Hlane.

The border back to South Africa was about 130 kms south and although a section of road was bad with potholes (all relative, nothing can ever compare with Mozambique!) we made good progress.

Getting back into South Africa was very fast, a quick stamp out of Swaziland in our passport, and quick stamp in on the passports, into South Africa and we were off again.

We decided to avoid the main roads and take secondary roads through Kwazulu-Natal as it was not easy to keep up with fast traffic on our little bikes, and back roads are usually much more interesting in my experience. We passed many sugar cane plantations and farms. The weather was very hot.

Off a little road we saw a little shop and stopped to buy some cold drinks and a snack. The only snack they had was biltong. I bought  a bag but it was way too salty.

By mid afternoon we arrived at a town called Vryheid. My guide had nothing about it. It seemed the main business in the are is coal mining and cattle.

The  town had lots of B&Bs. We stopped at one and declined. The second and third B&B were still very expensive! A good 800 to 900 rands for an empty B&B!

I am not sure if they ever fill at the weekend, as there did not seem to be much around to attract tourists, but considering the prices, we decided to continue to Dundee. I had spotted, in iOverlander App, a caravan park there and figured it would be more within our price range (i.e cheap  :angel11:)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 03, 2018, 07:01:39 pm
Few kilometres from Dundee, we saw a sign for a large resort. They had a campsite advertised. We decided to investigate. By then we were a bit tired and very hot.

The place was absolutely massive, with plenty of rooms, rondavels, little square chalets, all with en-suite bathrooms, a big lake and lots of land. The chalets were only 500 rands so we decided to take one! It was luxurious, with TV and plenty of channels, a nice hot shower and beautiful grounds.


The restaurant was a buffet and very expensive, so Alistair rode to the nearest supermarket in town and came back with some sandwiches and a couple of beers.

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 03, 2018, 07:04:47 pm
Day 85 – South Africa, Albert Falls National Reserve – Tuesday 21st August – 210 kms

We continued riding East, making our way toward Drakensberg. It was still to far to make it in one go.

I had found this campsite and resort through iOverlander again. It had rave reviews, with wild animals roaming around, so we decided to check it out. The place was around a big lake. We got there relatively early afternoon.
 
Once again it was to going to be another surreal place!

The accommodation was half price as it was low season. So we got a big rondavel with kitchen and everything we needed for only 460 rands (about 32 US dollars !).

Reception was at the entrance of the reserve, while the rondavels were good 7 kms away. We rode to our accommodation, surrounded by many antelopes and zebras. It was amazing.

Once settled in our rondavel, we went for a walk and realised, from a sign, that the Reserve also had white rhinos! I was amazed we were allowed in with the bikes as well as allowed to walk around on our own!


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We were the only guests. All the other rondavels were empty; only the 2 of us and wild animals for company.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 03, 2018, 07:07:39 pm


Day 86 – South Africa, Sani backpacker lodge – Wednesday 22d August – 180kms

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The next day, after packing, we decided to have a ride around through various trails before leaving. Strictly speaking it was not permitted, apparently.

We took the turn to the camping area, few miles down by the lake then up some trails. At a turn of the trail we came across 3 giraffes grazing. Thankfully we did not come across the rhinos.

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Then we rode to south of Drakensberg. Soon as we started climbing the weather became cooler. The backpacker hostel that we selected was well located at the foot of the Sani pass and had great grounds, a big kitchen and lounge with a nice fire, large rooms and spotless communal bathrooms. The place was cheap and very pleasant.

The hostel was busy and we met with the same French couple we met in Swaziland, in our first stop there! There were few people in the communal kitchen/living room and it was nice to socialize a bit with them! Some of them had been driving up the Sani Pass on that day, as the backpacker organised this as a side business. They told us it was very bumpy and in bad condition. I did not sweat it; I had the ideal bike for that.

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Oubones on December 03, 2018, 08:26:46 pm
LOL Big Bend!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


 :-\
sorry my bad! spelling. :peepwall:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 05, 2018, 06:53:24 pm


Day 87 – Lesotho - Somewhere on the road – Thursday 23rd August – 220kms

It was time to get into Lesotho and tackle the famous Sani Pass. With the sky overcast and heavy rain overnight, we waited until 10am to leave.

It had been raining hard the day before. I did not fancy riding the pass in the wet.


 The climb to the pass would be rocky, we had been told, and we wanted to make sure we would start in the dry. The sky cleared a bit and we left. The first few kilometres, on the South African side, the road was just a massive building site with trucks everywhere. It was a bad trail but nothing hard for us with our Enduro bikes, so we kept going up and up.

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Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 05, 2018, 06:54:20 pm
The border crossing out of South Africa was very fast. Then we started on the 10 kms of no man land between South Africa and Lesotho. The Lesotho border post was at the top of the pass.

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We were told later that this section was the worse the trail had ever been.

In the past it was a descent gravel trail. Not anymore. It was like a riverbed with rocks and large boulders all over. There was no respite and little opportunities to stop.

With the bikes, we had to keep traction and momentum, overtaking all 4×4 and trucks on a narrow mountain road, while getting over, skipping and jumping over massive rocks and boulders and staying well clear from the cliff side.

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It was challenging and exhilarating at the same time. Despite the cold, I arrived at the top of the pass drenched in sweat. The difficulty of the trail certainly kept me focused; one mistake and it would have been a long way down the cliff! It was an exiting trail! My bike came alive in such terrain and was an absolute joy to ride!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 05, 2018, 06:57:28 pm
On wet conditions the track would have been way too dangerous, with very slippery stones, I think.

At the top of the pass we passed the Lesotho border and then stopped at the highest pub in Southern Africa for some food and hot tea.

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In the pub, we met with 2 bikers on big BMWs, they had also climbed the pass. The guys were super tall and big and I can imagine only strength and power could haul a 250kg (or 300kg with luggage!)  Bike up those rocks, 2 up!  :tongue9:

After lunch we rode on the perfect Chinese built tarmac road. I had kept the coordinates of some sort of camp or lodge that I had spotted in iOverlander.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 05, 2018, 06:58:25 pm
On paper it did not look too far. We had not counted on the several mountains passes at 3300m altitude and the many villages on the way, with farm animals roaming free, forcing us to ride slowly.

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It was a long day. Lesotho villages looked a mix of traditional round houses (rondavels) and brick square houses with tin roofs. They seemed to have electricity and we saw plenty of satellite dishes.

Few words about Lesotho form my research:

Lesotho men were often herding animals, either walking or riding horses, wrapped in their traditional Basotho blankets, wearing a knitted hat and carrying a fighting stick. I often saw young lads play fighting with those sticks. Once they even came kind of threatening or defying us (?) with their sticks!

Lesotho is a constitutional monarchy. The land is held in trust for the Basotho people and local chiefs allocate land to individual (usually married men?) however since 1979 security of the tenure was increased by recording rights of inheritance and allowing mortgaging and subletting of the land.
Traditionally, the women do most of the agriculture and home building, while men are responsible for the livestock. Cattle are important for them and represent wealth.
Like in most African countries the status of women is rather low but has been improving in the last decade. For example they do not need their husband permission or for him to sign all legal documents to do business and involved in economic development.


The mountains were beautiful but it was bitterly cold.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 05, 2018, 06:59:16 pm

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We went up and down mountains. Eventually, by 4 or 5pm we found the turn off to our night camp. We rode through a very bad trail into a village and then into a farm compound.

 The place had various rondavels, no running water and pit toilets. For 350 rands per person we could get accommodation, dinner and breakfast, so we took the option as we had very little with us to cook.

The rondavel had no electricity (or any facilities) but the main house had electricity and heating.

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There was nowhere to sit or get warm. As we were standing around in the courtyard, a van with a French/ Spanish couple living in Mozambique turned up and investigated the place further.

We managed to sit in the farm’s family living room, with a gas heater on. At last we were able to get warm. The other tourist couple left as they had food in their van.

Dinner was simple: some nice chicken, fresh tomatoes, spinach with ‘pap’ (white corn purée – rather tasteless but used to pick up food with your hands).


After that it was an early night.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 06, 2018, 04:27:09 pm
Day 88 – South Africa, Clarens – Friday 24th August – 82 kms

We woke up early. It was daylight. After a very quick visit to the smelly pit toilet, I put all my motorcycle gear on.

The two brothers looking after the place were around.

We moved to their house and sat at the table, in the living room/ dining room, as the breakfast was included on the price.The two guys had breakfast with us, same as for dinner.

We had coffee, some brownish porridge and bread if I remember. Like the previous day, the conversation was far from flowing, as the 2 brothers concentrated on eating. I tried to ask few questions (like why their mum did not eat with us? Apparently women don’t. Why? No clue). Answers were short. They were not interested on talking to us and it was a bit awkward.

There are quite few places where we have been, where they don’t really get the notion of customer services. Basically where they don’t seem to give a crap about their customers! It was just uncomfortable. It was a shame, as sitting there with locals in their home would have been a great opportunity to find out about their lifestyle and traditions. But as they were unwilling to chat, we just finished our meal and went packing.


It was still very early and we had a short ride to the border town. We stopped to buy fuel. It was cheaper in Lesotho than in South Africa, as apparently fuel in Lesotho is subsidised.

The border was a drive-through. Once again, it was very fast to get back into South Africa.

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By 11am, we arrived at Clarens. Our guidebook said it was a very nice town, artistic and a bit hippy, with lots of restaurants and art galleries.

We rode to the Clarens Inn Backpackers. Despite arriving so early, Katie, the manageress showed us to a large building. It was a massive (and I mean massive) studio flat.

It had a big kitchen fully kitted and big shower room! It was amazing.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 06, 2018, 04:27:42 pm
After getting settled, we walked to town. It was very pleasant, hippy and arty, like the lonely Planet said. We had lunch at the microbrewery place, on the main square. The food was disappointing. Who has ever heard of a goulash soup with chicken and no red wine in the stew? It was a watery tasteless chicken soup.

We found the big food store and bought fresh vegs and noodles for dinner. We were keen to make the most of the kitchen and get some fresh vegetables.

The town was still around 1800m altitudes, so as the sun set in, it got very cold. Luckily we had plenty of firewood and a nice fireplace. This time, starting the fire was easy, once you have some fire starter (or whatever that waxy thing you get at the supermarket is called!)!

In the afternoon, I sat near the reception desk, to get Wi-Fi reception and work on the blog.

A group of young women arrived. They were volunteers working in Lesotho.

I did not get exactly what they did for work, but they were involved in AIDS and LGBT stuff.

One of them was with the Peace Corps and another was with some German charity. All in all, there were 6 of them, some foreign and some native from Lesotho, all lesbians. Maybe you need to be LGBT to work in what they did? I did not ask.

Listening to their conversations was highly entertaining and funny as they sat around me.

We laughed a lot at their stories of living in Lesotho and how the local men are in the habit of walking up to white girls and ask them to marry them.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 06, 2018, 04:29:26 pm
Day 88 and 89 – South Africa - Clarens, Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th August – 0km

One of the hiking tracks around Clarens:
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The area is very beautiful and popular with hikers.

Saturday I did lots of washing. Most of my clothes were very dirty. All by hand as usual.

We got to know Katie, the backpacker manageress and a wonderful lady, and Robin, a guy working on fire management in Mozambique. I had not laughed so much in a long time.

We really had a lot of fun with them. One of those places where you feel at home and leave very reluctantly. Definitely worth spending few days there if you can.

For a pleasant change the town was safe to walk around, even at night (!) and we had some nice food here and there. And of course a nice sampling of local wines!

Over the weekend the town filled with people from Pretoria and Johannesburg (I think). The main square was full of very big and IMMACULATE BMWs 1200GS Adventure, giant KTMS and such other expensive bikes.
They were all absolutely spotless and obviously fully kitted for adventure with aluminium boxes and everything you may think you would need. The owners just posed around in their expensive and spotlessly cleans riding suits. It's only later on Sunday, when we saw them leaving, that we realised that most of these bikes had actually arrived on trailers. So all those guys just got to ride they big bikes around the square before driving back  home! Weird!  :rolleyes:

As usual, it was soon time to move. We packed up. Our last day there was very cold (it dropped to minus 2 overnight) and the next day would be even colder. I had a big fire going in our room all evening. It was great!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 06, 2018, 04:31:02 pm

Day 90 – South Africa, Boston – Monday 27th August – 340 kms.


With the weather so cold, we decided to ride as fast as possible down to the coast in search of some warmth.

As I woke up at 6:30 it was still freezing outside.  The very big studio was very cold. I started a big fire to warm the place while Alistair prepared breakfast. Then we packed slowly. We took our time, hoping it would get warmer. Then we left by 10am.

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We were heading south, taking the back roads. The ride across the mountains was very beautiful. However, despite wearing pretty much all our layers on, we arrived at the Boston T Party Backpackers totally frozen.

I expected rustic lodging but was surprised that we had a large room with en-suite bathroom for 480 rands. And thankfully, the water was very hot!

The owners were also farmers. They were very friendly and we spoke about bikes and travels with them. The husband (I can’t remember his name) is a big fan of enduro and had a nice bike in his garage!

The place had a big lounge/ bar building where they set a fire for us to warm up and sit.The place was very pleasant.

The communal kitchen was busy with 3 South African guys. They were transit workers apparently.

They blanked us out and concentrated on eating their food and watched some crappy soap opera on TV.

We prepared some baked beans in the microwave and made some toasts. After eating we washed our plates and left. We had not a flicker of acknowledgement. South Africa can be a funny place like that sometimes.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Oubones on December 06, 2018, 05:16:05 pm
Katie is really very nice and friendly.
Nice place to stay and my wife loves the Blondie craft beer.
Early morning food was a problem though.
Did you go to Golden Gate?
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 06, 2018, 05:38:21 pm
Katie is really very nice and friendly.
Nice place to stay and my wife loves the Blondie craft beer.
Early morning food was a problem though.
Did you go to Golden Gate?

Yes we crossed it once we left Clarens, using the R712 in our way East and south. But we did not stop much ... it was so cold!
It was a beautiful ride though.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Coxwain on December 06, 2018, 06:30:39 pm
Ahhh.....you met the posers in Clarence, South Africa is full of them. Hugely expensive bikes, all the latest gear and a trailer to get them to where all the beautiful people hang out.
Really enjoying your trip .....keep it coming  :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 06, 2018, 07:16:24 pm
Ahhh.....you met the posers in Clarence, South Africa is full of them. Hugely expensive bikes, all the latest gear and a trailer to get them to where all the beautiful people hang out.
Really enjoying your trip .....keep it coming  :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:

Yes, many of those here in Europe too. Funny how they usually look down on us with our battered , colour faded suits and little 250cc bikes, with our dirty soft panniers and muddy bags.... but I have a good laugh inside as I have gone further on my little bike than they will ever do with all their expensive gear and bikes.
Which just shows you don’t need the most expensive gear to travel the world. Just time,  a bit of savings and the right attitude.  :)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Coxwain on December 06, 2018, 09:05:23 pm
And the attitude is all important. I must say, you guys are living it rough. I admire your resilience and your can do attitude. Would love to meet you both if you are coming to the Western Cape. :thumleft:
I think you need some good Cape hospitality.......and a decent meal......I mean " beans on toast".......Jayzass  :biggrin: :biggrin:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: eSKaPe on December 09, 2018, 04:20:23 pm
You guys are doing fantastically well on those bikes, keep it coming!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: andrew5336 on December 10, 2018, 03:34:08 pm
Very cool to see our country and local areas through your eyes - keep it up thank you!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 12, 2018, 04:35:53 pm
Day 91 – South Africa - Port St John – Tuesday 28th of August – 350kms


The morning was, once again, very cold. We were still at altitude.

After a quick breakfast in the communal kitchen, still being blanked out by one remaining guest having his own breakfast in the kitchen, we put all our layers on and left.

The last 100kms to Port St John were slow going. We were constantly crossing a village after another and houses dotted all around, along the road, with very aggressive speed bumps. We could not go fast. It was not a fun ride.

From what I read, it seems that in some regions the land belongs to tribes, and the locals there seem to be on subsistence farming. The new South African president was considering in his land reform, to divide those tribal lands (from what I read online, bear in mind it might not be true or correct). So the land would belong to individuals living there, rather than the tribes’ chiefs, however the chiefs vehemently opposed that.

So these regions are very poor. Sadly, villages were covered in rubbish everywhere. Locals like in many other places we have been to, don’t seem to care that they live in a giant bin/ toilet!

In any case, it was still fairly cold and our descent was slow. Arriving at Port St John was underwhelming. The place was covered in litter, everywhere. And I mean even worse than what we had seen before! The smell of rotten food was sickening.

We rode to the Jungle Monkeys Backpackers, which was listed in the Coast-to-Coast booklet, with decent reviews. The lodge was up a hill, a bit away from town.

We got a room with shared bathrooms. It was clean, had a bar restaurant that was popular with the locals, swimming pools, a big communal kitchen, various lounging areas, grounds for camping and dorms. It was a typical backpacker lodge, very confortable and well designed. It had been a long day, and I was coming down with a nasty cold and a bad cough.
The place was very pleasant. We shared a pizza, from the on-site restaurant, as we had no food left. We were told that the bin men were on strike, hence the state of the town.

I went for an early night, as I was feeling unwell, my throat felling like it has been sand papered.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 12, 2018, 04:37:38 pm
Day 93 – South Africa, Port St John – Wednesday 29th August – 0 kms

After spending most of the night coughing, I was not keen on doing much that day.

We had decided to have a day rest, as the next ride would be a long day again. We also had to sort few things out and needed Wi-Fi, which luckily was provided, and for free (!) at the backpackers.

I was trying to find out if some Yamaha dealers could source some parts locally for my bike (they could not) and book a hotel for our last 3 nights, in Cape Town.

We planned to arrive on Sunday 16th September, deliver the bikes to the shipping company on the following Monday, and spend the rest of Monday and Tuesday exploring the town on foot. So the hotel had to be central and well located with safe parking for the bikes, as well as providing a shuttle service to the airport. And breakfast! No I am not demanding at all!  :biggrin:

Mid morning we decided to walk into the village and get some stuff from the supermarket. We walked among huge piles of litter. As we approached the town hall, we saw many police cars and riot police in full body armour. There were crowds hanging around, rubbish in the middle of the street, some on fire, and all shops were closed with metal gates.

The atmosphere was kind of tense. We decided to walk back to the backpackers, as I did not fancy to be caught up in the middle of a riot and everyone was just staring at us. We were the only white walking around so we felt a bit the centre of attention. I did not fancy being caught in the middle of a violent riot.  :peepwall:


We asked one of the staff at the backpackers if the shops would open later on the day, but it was unlikely. I suppose looting during a riot is a big risk, so all shops remained shut.

One teacher we met few days before told us how 20 schools were torched following protest on some education stuff.

How is burning down 20 schools going to help the education of the kids? But if this is the norm in South Africa, it is not surprising that all shops were shut!

The backpackers’ owner told us that the local businesses had been threatened so everything was shut.

Even the main gate to the backpacker’s reception was closed. We needed to get some cash but decided it could wait until we left town. We had enough cash to buy some fuel on the road.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 12, 2018, 04:38:31 pm

Day 94 – South Africa, East London – Thursday 30th of August – 370kms

We left early as we had a long ride. We were planning to get back into the mountains to the famous Hogsback and its even more famous ‘Away With The Fairies’ lodge. But things did not go according to plan.

About 150kms on the ride West, the Honda, Alistair’s bike, started playing up and shutting down the engine at speed. That is never a good thing.

So we decided to divert to the closest big town on the way, and try finding a Honda dealer. That was East London, down the coast.

So we set the GPS and rode there. We found a backpacker but it was impossible to get the bikes inside so we got recommended another backpacker place.

At 250 rands for a room with en-suite, you can imagine the kind of place!

The area of town we were was covered in piles of litter and garbage again, and they did not have the excuse of the bin men’s strike.

After buying some fish and rice from the local supermarket, for takeaway, we sat in the main room of the guesthouse. The place filled with local road workers, coming in at the end of their shift. People stared at us and seemed bemused to see us there. We were the only whites. Security in the area was very high in all shops.

I had a very bad night with my cold, with a very painful throat infection.

It made breathing very painful and I had nothing other than paracetamol. Where on Earth are the pharmacies hidden In South Africa? I had been on the look out for one for few days and saw nothing!


Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 12, 2018, 04:41:32 pm

Day 95 – South Africa, East London – Friday 31st August – about 15 kms

For those interested on a very cheap room, we stayed at the Buffalo Backpacker in Moore Street, few hundred metres up from the big SPAR supermarket. Not especially clean. In the communal kitchen, the freezer was overflowing with unpackaged raw meat, the fridge was a health hazard and the smelly mouldy shower/toilet in our room was ‘interesting’. We did not use the shower. But it had safe parking for the bikes, which was the important thing for us.

We packed and rode to the Honda dealer early morning. After few checks we were good to go. There was nothing much wrong with the bike and the engine turning off could have been due to too much oil or some water in the fuel…

Whatever it was, it did not happen again. Alistair got the oil filter cover seal changed as it had been leaking a lot since Nelspruit.

The guys at the dealership told us we had stayed overnight in the most dangerous part of town. To be fair the backpacker’s gate had been shut early evening and our bikes had been safe, although it had been very noisy during the night with a large truck coming and going (maybe collecting the road workers?).

We had booked the same morning a room at the nearby Fish Eagle hotel. I was not in any shape to go for a long ride. I needed a rest and to recover from my very bad cold. My throat felt on fire and I had fever. I needed a comfortable rest to recover, in a clean and warm room. 

The hotel we selected had great reviews in booking.com and was on special offer. We arrived there just after 10am.

Despite turning up so early, we got the room very quickly and we were warmly welcome. We also had a free upgrade to a better room! It was a really nice place.

Looking at the weather forecast, it looked like Hogsback would have to wait, as the weather in South Africa turned very cold and wet and it would be snowing up there. So we were changing our plans once again.

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 12, 2018, 04:42:03 pm
Day 96 and 97 – East London, Saturday 1st and Sunday 2d September – 0kms

I was still very ill over the weekend and despite wanting to get back on the road, we had to stay and give me time to recover. I still ate the most of the fabulous breakfast on offer! No illness will curb my appetite! To be fair the breakfast was amazing with every morning some new stuff to try on top of the usual. Their chef was brilliant!

We got to know our neighbours in the next room, a British couple who lived not far from Darlington, where Alistair’s family is from, in northern England.

It was funny to find out common places we liked to go, when we visit, including breakfast at the local prison! Yes the local open prison near Darlington has a restaurant and some farm and is a nice place for fresh eggs as well as breakfast prepared and served by the inmates!

Feeling low with fever and not helped by the bad weather, I was not too much in the mood to explore.

By then, over 3 months on the road, I was starting to look forward to go home.

The hotel was backing into a river that had many species of birds as well as fishing eagles, although we did not see the eagles.


(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1935/43224986290_b483309282_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Nigel X on December 12, 2018, 07:25:26 pm
Thanks for the lovely ride report :)

I have found that just a small dab of toothpaste on your tongue every few hours helps a lot when you have a sore throat.

No need to then carry extra stuff with.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 13, 2018, 04:28:34 pm
Thanks for the lovely ride report :)

I have found that just a small dab of toothpaste on your tongue every few hours helps a lot when you have a sore throat.

No need to then carry extra stuff with.
Interesting trick! I will try next time!  :)
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 13, 2018, 04:30:59 pm
Day 98 – South Africa, Port Alfred – Monday 3rd September – 150kms


I was feeling much better and it was time to leave East London. The day started cold and very wet. We waited until 11am in the hope it would calm down a bit. Unfortunately the South African winter decided to start then. At least it was a short ride to Port Alfred. The town was ok but it was just a stop over for us.




Day 99 to 101 – St Francis Bay – Tuesday 4th, Wednesday 5th, Thursday 6th September – 260kms


The day was wet, once again and very windy.

It was very tiring to ride with strong headwind. Eventually the rain stopped, but not the wind. We arrived at St Francis, a beautiful coastal town with big posh white villas behind electric gates, dotted around. We found a nice place to stay. In the afternoon, it was sunny and we went for a walk around the canals section.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1902/43224985740_273962d26d_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1933/45036171931_1260d99689_c.jpg)



Finding out that the weather would be rather bad for the next few days with heavy rain expected, we decided to stay for an extra two days and visit the place a bit.

The village was big and quite spread with many expensive toking houses built along the canals.

We needed to take the bikes to visit the port and the lighthouse at the bay. The next day, the weather was bad but we did not have too much rain during those two days.

The harbour was a working fishing harbour, the main catch being squid. So we had lunch at one of the local restaurants to try some of the squid and fish. Unfortunately it was way too salty.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1946/43224984790_f8c94d1e0c_c.jpg)


We started rethinking our itinerary. With winter weather, rain and cold spreading around the southern part of South Africa, we could not ride to Cape Town via some mountain passes. There were rumours of snow, fog and intense cold.

On the motorbikes, it would not be wise. So we decided to ride following the coast and the garden route.


Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 13, 2018, 04:33:30 pm
Day 102 – Friday 7th September – Storm River, about 100kms

According to the weather forecast, the day would be mainly dry. They were very badly wrong!

Early that morning, we had heavy rain, then a bit of sunshine. We packed and left soon after 9am, making the most of the dry spell. Then things started to get bad. Really bad.

We rode into huge heavy rain, hail, and violent wind…. visibility became next to nil, we could not continue, it was getting dangerous. I could not see the road through my visor and cars would not slow down and would risk wiping us off the road.

After what seemed like an eternity, we came across a farm with a cafe and a shop. We stopped there for few hours, gathered around the fireplace, bumping the cat out of the nearest bench, so we could sit next to fire and get warm. The cat, undeterred, made himself at home on Alistair's lap.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1964/45036230731_81a75144bf_c.jpg)

Eventually, the rain and wind calmed enough we could ride through.
Meanwhile we had to find a nearby place to stay, as we could not ride for long in such weather.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 13, 2018, 04:33:50 pm
The next village, Storms River, was about 32kms away and seemed to have lots of accommodation. We set the GPS and rode back into the storm. It felt like a millions miles!

 We arrived at the village drenched, shaking from the cold and exhausted, my hands and fingers stiff from the cold.

We found a backpacker place and took a room. We were told it was snowing in the nearby mountains and there were flood warnings in the area. We certainly passed many sections of road covered in water and bridges over raging rivers!

Once settled, we took turn for a very hot shower.

Most of our gear was drenched; water had sipped through my trousers’ waterproofs, as well as through my waterproof jacket liner, my gore-tex gloves and boots! My jumper and thermal t-shirt were wet, my feet and socks were wet, my underwear as well as most of my clothes!
We hang all our wet items everywhere we could around the room. Without a radiator or heater it was unlikely anything would dry as it was so cold and damp. There was nothing to do but wait for the insane weather to improve.


Winter had definitely started in South Africa!

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 13, 2018, 04:34:20 pm
Day 103 – Storm Rivers – Saturday 8th September – 0 kms

We woke up to yet even more torrential rain.

We decided to stay for another day; we could not ride in these conditions. It was like a monsoon. It was also very cold. Luckily we had electric blankets in our bed. As the backpacker place did not have any sort of heating, I made good use of the electric blanket as I was so frozen.


Later on, the staff lent me a hair dryer and I used it to try and dry some of our gear, like the boots, gloves and some clothes! I got a bit too enthusiastic while drying my winter gore-tex gloves and slightly melted some bits inside one of my gloves. Oops!


During a lull with the heavy rain, Alistair ran to a small local shop to get some food for dinner and got drenched again!

The day was slow and boring. We watched some TV in the communal room. Few guests arrived but none was particularly friendly and all ignored us!

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Casting from Turd on December 13, 2018, 05:03:44 pm
You should have stopped here in Addo with us.

It would have been awesome to host you folk
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 15, 2018, 05:59:57 pm
You should have stopped here in Addo with us.

It would have been awesome to host you folk

Thanks  :)
If we ever get back to SA to explore  :angel11:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 15, 2018, 06:00:27 pm
Day 104 – Plettenberg – Sunday 9th of September – about 60kms

We booked a room in Mandalay Guesthouse. The house had parking outside only but we managed to get the bikes through the door into the garden.

We had a big and very beautiful room in the 1st floor, with views over the sea and a nice big balcony. The day was sunny at last. We arrived soon after 10am, way before check in time, as it was so close to Storms River, but we were still given access to our room.

As it was sunny and warm, we put all our wet gear in the balcony to dry. We took the entire luggage off the bikes. The roll bag had remained dry, but both panniers where wet and all the stuff not in a dry bags was wet or humid. We had a lot of drying to do!


We walked into the town centre and found a Mozambican restaurant offering a Sunday Special buffet lunch menu! The food looked really good with lots of choice, so we went for it!

After 2 days of eating little else than pot noodles or tin food, it was nice to get also some fresh salad and vegetables. Completely stuffed but happy, we went back to the guesthouse for a rest.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 15, 2018, 06:01:33 pm
Day 105 – Plettenberg – Monday 10th September – about 30kms


Our stay in Plettenberg had a very special reason. We wanted to visit a Wild Cat sanctuary.

So, after an amazing breakfast, we rode to Jukani Sanctuary. We were the only guests for the guided tour. It was incredibly interesting and a beautiful place. They do an amazing job and our guide was very knowledgeable.

Some of the lions have been rescued from illegal canning farms. These farms breed lions and then sell them to some idiot with a small penis complex so they can kill the lions without any risk for the hunter. The lion is released in a bigger enclosure and has zero chance to survive as the idiot shoot it. The poor lion probably has no idea what is happening, having been captive all its life! It is despicable.

Canning farms are illegal in South Africa and are horrendous places.

Some other cats, like Caracals, were rescued as they can be kept (illegally) as pets, until they grow up. Adult Caracals are very aggressive and cannot be domesticated. They also had other cats rescued from abusive zoos and other places all around the world.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1931/31163445448_c31e2bc3a4_c.jpg)

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Apparently, among big cats, only cheetahs can be rehabilitated and taught how to hunt and released in the wild. The few wild dogs that they once had at Jukani, were also taught to hunt and are now free in national parks.

But for most big predators like hyenas and cats, born in captivity, they would not survive free. The good thing as well is that females are given contraceptive, so that they cannot breed.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 15, 2018, 06:03:02 pm
The animals are well looked after and seemed happy. I am always very uneasy about seeing animals in zoos or even big enclosures, even if they have lots of space, but in this case these animals are rescued and all have a bad story behind. They would have to be put down. It is great that they try hard to rehabilitate some so they can be release them into the wild but each animal is a special case.

The owner at Jukani seems to be quite open-minded. From my researches I found out that  when he rescued a black leopard from a zoo in Europe, the leopard was so aggressive and distressed that he would not leave his cage and explore is compound.
In desperation the owner, despite being extremely sceptical, called in an “animal communicator”. I kid you not. A video of this was filmed. It can be seen here:





Whatever you may think of it, it is quite remarkable to see such a stunning leopard.

 I asked about it to our guide, while visiting Jukani. He confirmed the events and that the Reserve’s owner managed to track down and rescue the two cubs, 2 females, and they are now all living together at Jukani. Their enclosure is so far that you can barely glimpse at them.  It is nice they are being kept in peace at least.

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 15, 2018, 06:04:06 pm
Day 106 – Oudtshoorn – Tuesday 11th September – about 200kms


As the weather forecast was showing warmer weather inland, we decided to ride to Oudtshoorn, well known for its Ostriches farms and, most importantly, nearby the Swatberg Pass. The pass was closed because of the horrendous weather, according to local news online. However I was hopeful it would reopen with the sunny weather!

So we rode inland.

We joined the dirt road that goes via the 7 Passes road, from Knysna to Wilderness. It was ok, with some hairpin bends but it was not really high. Still, it was nice to ride through some easy dirt roads!

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1923/43225078590_8d310a22b5_c.jpg)



Then we joined the main road to Oudtshoorn. The road was actually beautiful, with great views of the snow-capped mountains.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1968/30100169767_29736dfcd9_c.jpg)

We had booked a room at Oudtshoorn Guesthouse. It was tricky to find it  as the GPS was sending us at the other end of the street which is cut in the middle and continue few blocks later! Very confusing. However the place was amazing, with an extravagant pool/fountain and statues. Our room was massive! It was very impressive and the owners, as usual, very friendly.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1941/43225075770_d9271f8b5b_c.jpg)

Once settled and changed we went for a walk, try to find the local restaurants for dinner and investigate the town. The day was warm and sunny, the town pleasant, it was so nice!

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1970/30100168477_e505fae80b_c.jpg)

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 15, 2018, 06:05:18 pm
Day 107 – Oudtshoorn – Wednesday 12th September – about 200kms


After a big breakfast we got on the bikes. It was time to get on with the job!

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1936/43225072790_5af08c00d8_c.jpg)


The first sign we saw for the Swatberg Pass was saying it was closed! We still continued, just in case. The weather was so warm and sunny, surely it would reopen? Eventually we saw a second sign, with no particular comment about the Pass, so we rode up.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1976/30100167177_4223cbfb20_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1912/43225070500_d9dc936404_c.jpg)



We left the tarmac and follow the very steep dirt road to the Pass. The weather was good, the road enjoyable, and the views superb! On days like that, riding a motorbike is just pure Joy!

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1952/44988243522_b30ee2dda1_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1971/43225062660_c6d1abecf0_c.jpg)


At the top, we met with a South African couple. They offered us cookies and we spent some time talking bikes!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 15, 2018, 06:06:24 pm
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1910/43225062050_f32c99becb_c.jpg)

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Then we descended by the other side, doing a big loop back to town.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1924/43225059730_97a4a1de74_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1911/30100153427_5cf94bbf79_c.jpg)


We had some tea at Prince Albert, a nice little village.

The N12 from de Rust to Oudtshoorn was absolutely spectacular. Probably one of the most beautiful roads we ever rode.

 It was at the bottom of a very row canyon, surrounded by high, tall red cliffs on each side, the road crisscrossing constantly over a small river. It was magnificent but too busy with traffic and too and narrow to stop safely for photos. You will just have to believe me or go there yourself! Definitely worth it.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 15, 2018, 06:07:17 pm

We went back to the beautiful guesthouse. For dinner we found a restaurant specialised in Ostrich meat. I had a superb ostrich filet set as a burger. It was amazing meat! All washed down with, obviously, a nice local wine! It had been a very enjoyable day!


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4883/45387887225_b60d77d50a_c.jpg)

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4879/31361579047_ba42481877_c.jpg)


We then had to plan to get back slowly to Cape Town. We wanted to get to L’Aghulas, as good tourists that we are. This is the most southern point in Africa, and the division between the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic.

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Offshore on December 16, 2018, 09:42:06 am
Awesome RR, thank you for sharing.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Fransw on December 16, 2018, 11:58:37 am
Lekker ostrich burger! :drif:

Great RR...merci!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: BMWPE on December 16, 2018, 12:11:23 pm
Awesome ride report    :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:
Thank you for sharing
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 18, 2018, 04:53:38 pm

Day 108 – Swellendam – Thursday 13th September – 225kms


We went back down from the mountains to the Garden route and stop on the way in Swellendam, to break the journey to The Coast. The town is supposed to be one of the oldest in South Africa. It was ok. Nothing special.


Our guesthouse had no safe parking for our bikes but Alistair managed to get them inside the garden.

The lady owner did not seem impressed by this but there is no way our bikes would spend the night on the street.

Some guys turn up in a group, and had a big Braii. The next morning the lady was friendlier with us as it seems the guys caused more trouble than we ever did anywhere!

Not sure precisely what happened but they were told never to come back. Maybe they sneaked a hooker or got drunk and smashed stuff around? Whatever it was the lady in charge was furious. I hope she will be more welcoming to bikers as we, in contract, were on our best behaviour, as always! 


We rode route 62, but that section was very tedious, once we passed all the ostrich farms.

We had a walk in town. Accommodation was expensive, but restaurants were even more so.

I did not understand why, as there did not seem to be anything of much interest around. We decided to get a take away a pizza instead of spending stupid money for dinner! It was enormous but we still managed to eat it! No chance of losing weight on this trip!

The guesthouse had a book suggesting a couple of interesting places to visit. One, about 100kms away was the last hand operated pontoon ferry in South Africa. We had to go and check this out!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 18, 2018, 05:04:26 pm


Day 109 – Hermanus – Friday 14th September – 285 kms

We left the main road and got through little dirt roads to the ferry. It was a lot of fun, riding through rolling hills and farmland, with beautiful views.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1969/43225057220_be2caf8511_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1915/43225056720_c39e55db7f_c.jpg)

Eventually we arrived at the river and rode the bikes onto the barge. Only two men operate the barge. We gave them a good tip as it is a hard job they are doing!

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1950/43225056230_d4b7e8434a_c.jpg)

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1948/43225055450_fa6c3d635b_c.jpg)

Find my sticker :
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1956/43225054370_c70171b650_c.jpg)
And I believe everyone knows this guy:
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1962/30100143707_8d038b22fb_c.jpg)


We then continued through the dirt roads until we had to join a main paved road to L’Aghulas. The place there was ok, nothing special.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1912/43225053450_13d282edcf_c.jpg)


Our attempt to find a cafe for a hot drink and a snack failed. It’s so hard to find cafes around! So in the end we continued until we got to Hermanus, our destination for the weekend. The weather was cloudy and very windy so it was very tiring.

Hermanus and the surrounding area is famous for many whales coming very near to the shore while the females are nursing. We hoped to see some whales!

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 18, 2018, 05:07:05 pm

Day 110 – Hermanus – Saturday 15th September


We had a walk around town and investigated the boat trip to see the whales. At 800 rand per person, we thought it was a bit of a rip off! Instead we walked along the cliffs and saw many whales very close to the shore.

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(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1959/45036237991_643c6b7329_c.jpg)

It was the season now and many whales (females) were coming in the area with their calves. We saw them jumping out of the water and playing around.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1948/31163414508_dfb53f35d1_c.jpg)


(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1977/45036234891_0ba53a746e_c.jpg)

WE saw many of these things around. I think they are called Dassies, or Rock badgers. They were the size of a big rabbit. This little fellow did not look impressed at being us stomping around his nest!
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1971/45036235971_3abc959bc4_c.jpg)

Too soon it was time to pack up. We had booked a hotel in Cape Town that looked fairly well located, close to the centre and was cheap enough, with secured parking for the motorbikes and included breakfast!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 18, 2018, 05:07:43 pm


Day 111 – Cape Town – Sunday 16th September – around 200kms?


We decided to ride along the shore. The views from there were superb and the weather sunny and not too cold. The road was nice and twisty and as it was Sunday, all the bikers were out riding.

We thought about going to the Cape of Good Hope, but the road to get there took us alongside many shantytowns. The road was pretty awful, so we decided to get to the hotel instead.

We arrived mid afternoon to the Best Western Cape Suites hotel.

Our room was actually a flat, with a small kitchen, a large bedroom with balcony, and a second bedroom with 2 single beds. It was useful, as we had to repack everything that evening, to sort what would go in the shipping container with the bikes. We had to deliver the bikes to the shipping agent the next day.



Day 112 to 114 – Cape Town – Monday 17th to Weds 19th September – about 10 kms


The next morning we loaded the bikes with the luggage that could be shipped and we rode to Econotrans’ offices. We parked the bikes and loaded our riding boots and jackets in the panniers. We left the helmets too this time. It was such a drag to carry them as hand luggage when flying! After disconnecting the batteries, removing the mirrors and signing few papers, we went back to the hotel in a Uber car.

We met for lunch with our South African friend Johan at a funky burger place called The Dogs’ bollocks / Bitch’s tits. It was quite something!

It seemed it was compulsory for the waitress to add the word “F**king” at least once every sentence. We had to ‘F**king” get our burgers ourselves as well, once they were ready…. the burgers were great though and they served funky beers. 
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 18, 2018, 05:09:08 pm

Day 113 and 114 – Cape Town

The next day we explored the town on foot. The centre was nice. We found an amazing tapas place called Fork, in Long street. The food there was amazing. The weather was wet once again but it was worth getting drenched for such a meal.

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1948/43225048870_f1b662c29d_c.jpg)

With all the controversy about Rhodes, with students demanding its statue to be pulled down in at Oxford university, for being a imperialist, I was very surprised to see a statue of him in the town centre of Cape Town. Especially as the student who started demanding it to be pulled down was a South African student who accepted a £40,000 bursary from the same Cecil Rhodes Foundation. That is a lot of money to get from someone you despise. (don't mean to be controversial, just puzzled).

(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1961/45036233151_a0e266ee80_c.jpg)


The next day our plane was at 5pm only. So despite the torrential rain, we walked back to Fork for a last meal involving Ostrich Goulash and other amazing stuff! If you get to Cape Town, make sure to pay them a visit!

So that’s it, we went back home.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 18, 2018, 05:10:45 pm
So this is the end my report.

We rode over 15,000kms, crossed 7 countries, in 4 months.

It has been an amazing and thoroughly enjoyable trip. This was our 4th long (over 3 months) overland trip and the first to be totally trouble free.

I expected it would be much harder, but the fact everyone speaks English (even in Mozambique) and that most regions we crossed are fairly touristic, makes it an ideal part of Africa to explore. We saw many fabulous animals and landscapes that will stay with me forever.

And most importantly, I kept the promise I made to Alistair a year ago: “it will be like a big holiday”.

And it was. Honest! We added only the fun challenges we were confortable with, rode amazing tracks and had the best time of our life.

for those reading this and not from SA, if you think Africa is too dangerous or too hard, or too poor and depressing, with little kids starving everywhere, like in the TV adverts, think again. The countries we crossed were easy and catering very well to tourism. 

You don’t need to be an Off Road God or a fearless explorer to cover this part of Africa (Or anywhere, to be fair). Anyone can do it!  And if you go, you will have the best time of your life!

I hope you have enjoyed this Ride Report and that somehow it will inspire you to plan a trip like this in the future.

In the meantime, I wish you all a Happy Xmas and New Year, with lots of adventures and amazing travels to come your way. 


Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: JonW on December 18, 2018, 05:22:55 pm
Thanks for all the effort you put into doing this Ride Report Maria, I know it is a tedious job and takes a long time to do, but it is much appreciated.

Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Nigel X on December 18, 2018, 06:07:15 pm
A big thank you Maria.

I really enjoyed your report.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: evansv on December 18, 2018, 06:31:51 pm
Thanks Maria for the great report!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Beebop on December 18, 2018, 09:06:06 pm
It was a pleasure to "ride" along with the two of you.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Oubones on December 18, 2018, 09:30:05 pm
Thanks Maria!
You did well with this report and me and the wife was at Alberts Falls last weekend! :thumleft:
Had a great time.
Thank you for taking the time to put this report together!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: sackett on December 21, 2018, 02:13:46 pm
Fantastic - Thanks Maria!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: ChrisL - DUSTRIDERS on December 21, 2018, 07:14:11 pm
Maria thank you for your great RR. I am very happy you enjoyed Africa and that your whole trip was safe. :thumleft:

I would like to know how much this trip have cost you seeing that you used B&B's and hotels where possible?
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on December 22, 2018, 12:16:15 am
Maria thank you for your great RR. I am very happy you enjoyed Africa and that your whole trip was safe. :thumleft:

I would like to know how much this trip have cost you seeing that you used B&B's and hotels where possible?

The biggest cost for us was shipping two motorbikes from and back to the UK. That hit us near 3600 british pounds. Plus the carnet, cost 1000 british pounds for the two bikes, non refundable.

We camped  a lot in Namibia and even so it was super expensive. Beyond that, guess we averaged about 80 to 100 USD  a day for the two of us for accommodation, food and fuel. 

Backpacker lodges in SA were relatively cheap. Swaziland was cheap. Malawi backpackers were about 35 to 50 UsD plus food to add. It can be cheaper if you share a dorm, but with all our motorcycle gear we avoid sharing. If a helmet or some MC gear went missing it would be expensive stuff to replace.

So yes Africa was much more expensive than we expected. Much more than South America or Central Asia. But I am sure that it can be done in a cheaper way, by camping all the way and eating your own food. Or even wild camping, but we did not wild camp for safety reasons. We prefer to mix campsites and stay in guest houses from time to time or self catering places when  cheap enough (I.e. 30 to 50 USD).

But I must admit the last few weeks, once out of Lesotho and back in SA, it turned into a holiday. And we were rather tired. My throat infection lasted a couple of months and I ended up seeing my GP back home and taking antibiotics to shake it off.
All in all, not a cheap trip, but worth it, a once in a lifetime trip.

To compare, one of our friends ( he is loaded) went to a safari in Botswana and spent 10,000 pounds on a 7 or 10 days Safari, not including flights.  :o


Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Noneking on December 22, 2018, 07:36:28 am
Awesome Report Maria!
Glad I was able to meet you!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Clockwork Orange on January 03, 2019, 05:46:48 pm
Thanks Maria, I thoroughly enjoyed that report. As a South African now living in the UK it was interesting getting your perspective on the areas that you visited. If you are anywhere near Surrey it would be great to meet you guys.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Sardine on January 04, 2019, 05:50:53 am
A fantastic ride report. Great balance of writing and photos!
Thank you for taking the time to share it.  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Graemet on January 06, 2019, 04:19:30 pm
Fantastic RR, easy to read and brimming with anecdotes too, which really completes these kind of reports for me.
Just a note on the small bikes though; they are great due to their low mass and handling but the bikes you are riding also have full EFI engines and are just as vulnerable to connectivity issues as the BMW would have been.   A true African machine will need to run a carburettor and Chinese tyres!
Safe riding!
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Offroadrider on January 06, 2019, 10:11:49 pm
Wow and that was my Sunday afternoon,,, brilliant.
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on January 14, 2019, 03:47:40 pm
Thanks Maria, I thoroughly enjoyed that report. As a South African now living in the UK it was interesting getting your perspective on the areas that you visited. If you are anywhere near Surrey it would be great to meet you guys.

We are not far from Surrey at all actually!  ;D
Although at the moment none of our bikes are in a state to be ridden. My honda CB500 has its battery out and I need to get it prepped up for sale in March. The XT250 will go soon to the workshop as I just got some parts for the USA. It needs some serious TLC!  :angel11:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on January 14, 2019, 03:49:01 pm
Awesome Report Maria!
Glad I was able to meet you!
Thanks and thanks also to everyone posting here appreciation of the RR! Always great to know people enjoy the reading the RR and knowing it is not just a pure exercise in talking to myself!  :biggrin:
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: maria41 on January 14, 2019, 03:51:10 pm
Fantastic RR, easy to read and brimming with anecdotes too, which really completes these kind of reports for me.
Just a note on the small bikes though; they are great due to their low mass and handling but the bikes you are riding also have full EFI engines and are just as vulnerable to connectivity issues as the BMW would have been.   A true African machine will need to run a carburettor and Chinese tyres!
Safe riding!

 ;D True  but they are easy and cheap to fix. We may end up buying  cheap Chinese 125s on a future trip, who knows? This is not the end of our motorcycle adventures yet  >:D
Title: Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
Post by: Clockwork Orange on January 14, 2019, 04:33:39 pm
Awesome Report Maria!
Glad I was able to meet you!
Thanks and thanks also to everyone posting here appreciation of the RR! Always great to know people enjoy the reading the RR and knowing it is not just a pure exercise in talking to myself!  :biggrin:

Excellent!!, I am in Ripley, near Guildford