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Author Topic: Africa - Photoreport (Prague to Cape Town)  (Read 48061 times)

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Offline Jackol.

« Reply #80 on: October 23, 2014, 06:48:59 am »
Time wait for no man

Offline silvrav

Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #81 on: October 23, 2014, 08:54:53 am »

Is there a reason the church of St.georges was build in the ground?

Offline ArthurS

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Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #82 on: October 23, 2014, 10:12:12 am »
 :drif: Another morning at work buggered :sip: This is as said before one of the best RRs on this forum ! 

Offline Xpat

Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #83 on: October 23, 2014, 10:16:36 am »
Thank you.

@Silvrav: I don't know the reason for the layout, but it's not only the St.George that is 'dug out' of horizontal rock - all 11 churches are done in the same way (you can see it on other pictures - it's difficult to capture that though), they are just standard rectangles, so from the top visually less impressive than St. George - even though couple of them are much bigger and more impressive inside.

Offline XTRICK

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Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #84 on: October 23, 2014, 12:07:32 pm »
Epic. Thanks. :ricky:

Offline Xpat

Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #85 on: October 23, 2014, 10:41:55 pm »
For your viewing pleasure I have managed to resize retrospectively all the portrait pictures that came out originally too small.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2014, 10:42:21 pm by Xpat »

Offline Xpat

Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #86 on: October 26, 2014, 03:39:56 pm »
Ethiopia - part 4

From Bahir Dar I headed on tar south-east to Addis Ababa, where I arrived second day in the afternoon. Addis Ababa city of about 3.5 million people is capital of Ethiopia and the typical bustling dirty african city where slums surround few glass covered high rises along the main street. On approach it looked surprisingly small as it is squashed in a bowl surrounded by mountains on all sides.

After getting lost for an hour or so I have eventually found hotel Barro - travellerís nest in the centre of town recommended by 4 out of 5 overlanders. In the courtyard I found camping Eric and Daniela, who arrived day or two before from Bahir Dar, and John and Helen who came from Lalibela. They also told me about Loek staying in another hotel about 300 meters away, where his girlfriend works as a manager - contrary to the grapevine rumours of her being the 19 year old model, she turned out to be nice motherly lady in her late 30ís. 

Once settled in my room, I didnít waste any time and headed to courtyard to pitch the Lake Turkana trek to the Landie crews. I have strategically focused on Daniela, who was teacher and natural worrier. She was scared even of the standard Moyale route (rightly so, there were Somali bandits lurking there) and asked John to accompany them through the northern Kenya. John was keen to do lake Turkana and mentioned it to Daniela, but being real gentleman told her that if she wouldnít want to, he will accompany them on the Moyale route. Which would left me in a hard place - I could try to cross 800 km (including more or less illegal border crossing) of one of the most remote regions in Africa with no petrol available the whole way (I would have to carry somehow additional 20 litres of petrol on the bike through 100s of km of deep sand) solo, or chicken out and go Moyale. There was still an option to co-opt Rupert with whom Iíve discussed the option over email and who was willing to go, but even I knew that going only with Rupert and kids in VW Bus would be just plain stupid - Iíd rather go solo.

So I brought up my best game with Daniela. She had a time to prepare (probably using most of the at the time 10 MB/s internet bandwidth available to the whole of Ethiopia) and pulled on me a Dutch couple who did the Turkana route few months back and found a shot dying man along the route - too scared to stop they just left him there and pushed on. I came prepared too (using the rest of the ethiopian bandwidth) and trumped her with 30 people killed in a village close to Moyale about half a year ago. Both were episodes in the cattle wars, when villages raid each other to steal cattle. The wars were particularly nasty that year due to severe drought that killed a lot of cattle.

I have eventually got Daniella to see the merits of the Turkana route - all other things being more or less equal (cattle wars, rough terrain), there was no risk of Somali bandits on the Turkana route as they did not operate that far west from the Somali border. Plus we wouldnít have to backtrack to Moyale 100 or so km from Omo valley where we wanted to see the famous tribals as the Turkana route starts in Omo. We had a deal to go Turkana and I went to celebrate with John and Helen  to a nearby bar.

We spent a week or so in Addis doing chores, eating out and drinking in the surrounding bars. I have managed to withdraw $ from my Mastercard in an FX exchange office in Sheraton hotel - the only place accepting cards in the whole of Ethiopia at the time. I have also picked up new set of TKC tyres on the airport sent by my father from Europe. Iíve found that by far the best way to ship parcels anywhere in the world is using airlines - they are keen for any revenue and ship the package basically as a luggage. It is very flexible as they get it on the next plane to the destination (unlike seats there is always space in the luggage storage of the airplane) - so it can be almost anywhere in the world where there is an airport within 3 days. And they are comparably cheap - I think sending both tyres did cost slightly over 100 USD, while shipping companies asked more like 1000 USD due to what they call Ďvolume-weightí or some such. The only hassle is customs, but I somehow managed to get them from 3 different african airports, without paying any significant customs/bribes.

One day Eric and Daniela became a target of hilarious mugging attempt (I know that is wrong choice of words, but given nobody was hurt and nothing stolen it was quite funny) - while they were walking in the middle of the day on a busy street, a guy walking against them out of a blue dropped down to his knees in front of Eric, grabbed him tightly with both arms around the knees and started swaying Eric vigorously in circular motion. To keep the balance Eric was forced to swing his whole body in line with his knees with his arms flailing above his head involuntarily - like he was dancing on a rave party. An accomplice then jumped from behind and tried to pick Ericís pockets. Daniela, once she recovered from the initial shock started to shout and kick at them and they gave up and retreated empty handed.

So all good in the end, except that nobody came to help even though there were lots of people around. In my experience - and in big contrast to the brain dead individualistic indifference of most Europeans (myself included) - the strong communal sense of people in Africa usually prompts them to get involved vigorously when facing inappropriate behaviour. I myself had to save a thief who stole my MP3 player in Zambia from the outraged villagers who were ready to lynch him on spot. But not in Ethiopia where whiteys - or faranj in their vernacular, were considered fair game and people seemed to side with their own, regardless whether they were decent folks or criminals. Obviously Iím generalizing grossly and this was the most extreme case, but in many places in Ethiopia I had this funny feeling that if shit hits the fan Iím on my own against all of them - while for example in Sudan I was always treated as respected guest protected by local customs.

On December 25th the whole Lake Nasser gang present + Loekís girlfriend squeezed into the russian Lada taxi (this licenced Fiat used to be the most powerful car in the Eastern block) and drove to a Chinese restaurant to celebrate the Christmas and Loekís 67th birthday. Over the typical Christmas dinner of spring rolls, Peking duck and a little cup of complimentary chinese liquor, Loek mentioned occasional shots heard in the city during the night and his GF explained that those are police suppressing student protests resulting in few dead every night (weíve also heard them but assumed they were fireworks). There were elections coming and students were not happy with the current ruling clique from the north. We didnít talked much about it and moved onto other more Christmasy topics.

Next day, pissed off Loek came to see us at Baro and told us that during the night a secret police woke him up in his hotel and confiscated his passport - he was supposed to go to police station to collect it. They wanted to know what he was talking about during the dinner. This was quite creepy as somebody must have followed us there or back - the people in the restaurant didnít have a clue about where we stayed, we just rocked up in a cab. Loek eventually got away without much hassle and with his passport, but after the episode I understood a bit better sour mood of the youth we encountered every day in the streets. The general atmosphere resembled South America during the reign of their mustachioed dictators where people disappeared during the night and were never seen again - the same rumours were circulating in the city.

Funnily enough for a photo report, I do not have any pictures for this instalment - but will post the next one with pics again shortly.

Offline Xpat

Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #87 on: October 26, 2014, 04:30:50 pm »
Ethiopia - part 5

From Addis the whole gang (including Loek who wasnít going beyond Ethiopia, but still wanted to see us on our way) headed south to Awasa and Arba Minch. We departed individually over couple of days and agreed to regroup in Arba Minch for New Years Eve and push to Omo Valley and to Lake Turkana in Kenya.

The first objective was Awasa, main attraction of which was Jana - an immigrant from eastern Germany, who was famous on the travellers circuit for her cooking. While Ethiopian food selection was definite improvement on Sudan, a month of fried chicken, some uninspired beef and spaghetti bolognaise, gets old eventually - especially over Christmas. While I do not remember the menu, Jana definitely did not disappoint.

Other attraction of Awasa is its lake which is supposed to be a birdwatchers paradise - which Iím not, but tried and this is what I got:

And one monkey enjoying injera:

I chanced upon a religious gathering in town, here some pics:


These gangstas were cute - their attire, which their whole identity hinged on completely, was literaly the only set of clothes they had. So I've spotted them later at the bank of the lake waiting butt naked for their clothes to dry up after they done their own laundry:

These Marabu gangstas on the other hand stunk as shit (didn't know birds can stink, thought thats a mammal thing):

From Awasa we headed on a dirt road to Arba Minch in convoy with J&H, E&D and Loek with GF for meet up with Rupert before our push to Omo valley and Kenya. On the way there my rear moped tube blew up finally at about 100 kmh (I cannot remember why I have put the tube into the new tubeless TKC in Addis - probably something along the lines that more rubber will last longer or something). I tried to fix it quickly before arrival of the convoy behind me, but did not manage and so I had to listen to the comments like Ďleftie loosie, righty tightyí - well at least after that I finally remember how to screw a screw.

In Arba Minch, which is the biggest town in the southwest part of Ethiopia, we settled in a lodge outside of town on top of a hill overlooking the adjacent lakes. Rupert, his girlfriend Lena who joined them in Addis and kids were already there and next day the whole group went for a game drive in the nearby Nechisar NP (I took a ride with Loek as they wouldnít let me in on bike). The guards at the gate were strict that the route is 4x4 only, which Rupert assured them his Bus was (Haldex probably). Few km into the park on a steep rocky incline while being pulled by John (as the Bus didnít have enough power to make it) he eventually cracked the sump and lost all the oil.

Rupert assessing the damage watched by Loeks GF, while Eric and Daniela laugh at the kids hanging upside down about 7 meters up from the nearby rock:

and the kids with Lena:

Nothing will stop this man:

John had to pull him all the way back to Arba Minch for welding, while the rest of us continued through the park. In the retrospect the animals were a bit underwhelming - just boks and zebras, no big 5 there, but it was my first park so overexcited I took about million pictures of impalas and zebras - and deleted most of them later, so none of them make it here.

Much more interesting turned out to be the boat trip on one of the lakes in the park with lots of crocodiles and hippos:

Yannick (7) driving the Dutch veteran:

Right about here, our outboard motor called it a day, and our Ethiopian guide suggested that we jump into the lake and walk the 10-15 meters to the shore and walk back around the lake - he said it's not a problem, the water is not deep. Well it was deep enough for that mother on the bank to fill our all our lungs with it and still have some left, so he went alone. Surprisingly he made it and came back 40 minutes later on another boat with spare engine:

Laundry as an adrenaline sport - that lady has some cojones I have to say, even with the hubby on the lookout:

Back in the lodge we all were finishing the last preparations for the lake Turkana crossing - which mostly meant that Rupert got his Bus welded and then, when we told him there is no petrol along the way, went for search of jerry cans. Despite being major town, there were no jerry cans to be had in Arba Minch (warned upfront Iíve bought mine in Addis and deposited it in Johnís Landie), and the more knowledgeable of the gang talked Rupert out of buying 20 liter plastic cans used to sell cooking oil, as apparently they spark sometimes due to static electricity - not good with 20 liters of petrol in. I thought he is properly stuffed, but never underestimate Rupert! He eventually rocked up with 200 liter Shell drum strapped to his roof. Great, he now turned his 4x4 into a tanker.

The resident troop of baboons at the lodge proved to be proper pain in the ass. This alpha male even tried once to snatch Olivia to add her to his harem - luckily the alpha male of the Austrian troop was close enough to interfere (unfortunately his kick was too slow to connect though) and Olivia despite few scratched on her face seemed otherwise unaffected:

On the New Years Eve when we were all getting ready for New Yearís celebration and departure next day, a disaster hit. There was a sick Frenchman in one of the bungalows and Daniella found out that there is a meningitis epidemic raging in the southern Ethiopia. I couldnít care less - first if all I donít know what it is and secondly I was vaccinated against it, but Daniella freaked out and refused to continue to Omo and Lake Turkana (which would effectively force John & Helen out of it as well). She even refused to get vaccination freely provided (even to faranj) in any Ethiopian hospital, worried about the reuse of needles - I offered the sterile needles I was carrying, but she refused. Eventually we managed to talk sense to her - we were already in the affected zone and so was Moyale, where she wanted to go. She still refused to get vaccinated, but agreed to go lake Turkana, given we (at least the ones not vaccinated) will not visit the local village markets which were said to be the main source of infection. We agreed even though the village markets were the main reason for Omo visit - I was vaccinated so planned to go anyway. All other people from the gang sneaked out in the course of afternoon and got vaccinated as well, so ironically it was only Daniella and Eric who ended up being at the risk of contracting the disease.

To relieve the stress from this episode, I drunk up a storm later during the New Yearís celebration and blacked out with very scant memories of what happened. Which is probably a good thing as the last thing I remember was talking to nice crisp young european ladies fresh from the UN indoctrination training in New York and eager to save Africa. Iím afraid I may have told them what I think about development help in Africa - itís never a good idea to mix young sincere idealistic ladies with shit-faced horny corporate man-whore.

Next day we woke up late, said our farewells to Loek and GF and set-off to Omo. As we started late (me being the last) we had to sleep over in Konzo, only about 80 km from Arba Minch. From there we moved next day to Turmi village in Omo Valley on the way to Turkana, to get a glimpse of the famous local tribes.

Omo valley is a hot bowl surrounding the Omo river (tributary to Lake Turkana) in the south of Ethiopia. Itís famous for its inhabitants - the variety of animistic tribes looking like something straight out of stone age (sure, sprinkled with AK47 here and there). They are visually very impressive clothed in the animal skins and lots of bracelets and necklaces - I would say even more impressive than Himbaís in Namibia. The most famous is the tribe living in Jinca and surrounds, in which women cut their lower lip and wear plates embedded in. We didnít go to Jinca as it was out of the way and would cost us precious petrol and instead visited market in Turmi.

On the way to Turmi:

Turmi village market:



Don't ask, no idea...


Rupert's 4x4 tanker camping in Turmi:

« Last Edit: October 26, 2014, 10:07:52 pm by Xpat »

Offline Vossie72

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Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #88 on: October 26, 2014, 06:52:53 pm »
Great RR.   
Makes you want to hit the road....
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Offline Xpat

Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #89 on: October 29, 2014, 09:30:22 pm »
Kenya - part 1

Route through Kenya:

Keen to get into Kenya, next morning we set-off early from Turmi west on the completely deserted dirt road heading to Omorate (or Kelem on some maps).

Rupert setting off:

As usually I immediately picked up a few km lead - by now I got the T4A from John (I didnít buy it as I didnít know it existed - Iíve bought it twice since so hopefully that compensates for this transgression) so I knew my way and didnít have to wait for them until the turnoff south to Kenya, about 100 km from Turmi. I was in the zone - I was about to ride on a bike one of the most remote regions in Africa, through very rarely travelled track crossing Samburu and Turkana tribal homelands and 100s of km of deep sand and rock - life was good and I was smiling and singing with joy whatever crappy tune came up. So naturally at about 130 kmh  I have overlooked a bad corrugation before a right bend got carried out into the left side (in Ethiopia they still drive on the right side of the road - i.e. right), where I came face to face with the only vehicle I would meet for next 4 days (apart from my escort) - a truck full of gravel. There was no chance to make it back to my side of the road, so I just hugged the steep left shoulder (the road was about 1,5 meter above the surrounding bush) as close as possible and flexed all my muscles to deflect the hit. Luckily, the truck driver read the situation correctly and swerved to the left passing about meter from me - he even managed to blow the horn for an effect. That refocused me completely and the rest of the ride to the turnoff went without further hiccups.

The turn-off south towards Lake Turkana and Kenya turned out to be a double track in deep sand, like so:

It was hard to believe that this was really a start of 600 km route south to the next petrol station in Maralal. Once cars arrived we set-off . The track was mostly deep sand double track, including numerous crossings of dry riverbeds. I havenít ridden the sand since Sudan, but got quickly into it again, pushed ahead waiting in regular intervals for regroup with the rest of the convoy.

There are actually people living here:

We found large tribal village at the border indicated by GPS, but while we caused a big commotion (not many vehicles come there) nobody stopped us and we continued south into Kenya, without any formalities or stop whatsoever (I got my carnet stamped out of Ethiopia either in Addis or Arba Minch - canít remember now).

Rupert's 4x4 slightly out of it's depth:

As usually, John to the rescue:

My 2x1 out of its depth - about 60 km of this in Kenya heat has a way to highlight really clearly that GS is not an off road motorcycle:

About 60 km into the track we came to the northern border of the Sibioli NP. Correctly we - or at least me on the bike, were supposed to circumvent the park along its border to the east. But there was not gate so we just headed south through the park. The terrain - which until now was busn in a deep sand (I mean Mozambican sand monster), has changed a bit and deep sand was alternating with rocks on the higher ground. By now it was close to midday, bloody hot, and I was starting to feel funny. I suspected it was heat stroke / dehydration setting in, but wasnít sure what to do as I have already drunk more than 5 litres of liquids since the morning. Anyway it wasnít very dramatic yet - I just couldnít piss even though I thought I want to, and luckily we had a lunch break, as the kids had to eat properly, so I could rest a bit laying under the bike to catch some precious shade.

Lunch break:

No help whatsoever...

Through the park:

Lake Turkana:

After lunch I was still riding up front, but more cautiously as the reports differed on whether there were lions or not, and as I deteriorated further from the exhaustion and heat. Eventually cars caught up with me at one of my frequent vain piss attempts, asking whatís wrong. I told them itís just some indigestion and told them to carry on - I will catch up. We planned to camp in the park campsite on the lake of Lake Turkana about 25 km further on, so it didnít seem a big deal. So they set of, but John promised that he will come back looking for me if I do not rock up soon.

Which I almost didnít. I was deteriorating quickly and getting progressively weaker and dizzy. I pushed on but with about 5 km left in a deep sand on the lakeshore I dug the rear wheel in, and just couldnít find the strength to get it out. When I tried I vomited profusely - you know that proper one when you can taste your insides viscerally. I tried to drink, but that just went out immediately. I also started to hallucinate seeing lions all over the place, which actually helped a bit as a distraction.

Somehow I managed to get all the luggage off the bike, throw it on its side lift it and ride it out another 50 meters for firmer ground where I could use side stand. I went back 50 meters to pick the gear, but threw up 2-3 times to make the distance, so just grabbed on bag, left all the rest - cameras, boxes, helmet, body armour - laying there - I just managed to mark the viewpoint in GPS, sat on the bike and set-off. It was 5 km through the shittiest lake shore sand crisscrossed by car tracks, but weirdly enough I made it through sitting all the way (I did not have a chance to stand) without a single hiccup - go figure, but surrendering any pretense of control and easing into the ride probably had a lot to do with it.

When I made it to the campsite, which was one big buildings and few bungalows I could see from the faces of the others that I look like shit. I asked John to go and fetch my stuff and crashed into one of the bungalows - it was early afternoon and bloody hot. John came back with all my stuff but told me that when he arrived, there were 5 Samburus with spears and shit standing around my luggage and wondering what the fuck it was. I have sneaking suspicion that they must have watched me struggle with the bike while saying shit like Ďnice pussy cat, now just calm downí, bastards.

Anyway, few hours of rest in the shade and lots of litres of cold water worked like a miracle and by the dinner time I was on my feet circling the 4x4ís from some chow. Which was a good thing as while I was resting John called on satellite phone Bill & Claire (who were both doctors) to figure out how to deal with my condition. Luckily they didnít pick-up immediately and when they did return the call their only advice was to hang me upside-down from a tree or something, stick a hose where sun doesnít shine and pump some water in - no wonder British NHS is such a mess (to be fair as we didnít have a drip, and I was vomiting anything I put in my mouth, that was the last option how to get some liquid in). Luckily by the time they called I was already recovering well, so enema seemed unnecessary. I have spent rest of the night running out regularly for a piss among the big herds of zebras and wildebeest.

Next day we set-off to Loyangalani at the south end of Lake Turkana. We still had about 40 km to get to the gate of the NP and then another about 120 km south. The track through park continued to be deep sand through thorny bush and by the time we made it to the gate I was in pieces again. The concilium decided to wait with me one more day in the nearby park headquarters to give me more time to rehydrate and rest properly - should I not improve significantly by next morning day, they will call the bush doctor - a doctor coming in on a bush plane to take care of me.

Iíve spent whole day resting on a bed in the room they gave in park headquarters. To facilitate my recovery John designed a rigorous drinking plan (I was supposed to drink 12 litres of water that day), and encouraged my compliance by discussing casually the health and spiritual benefits of enema (great yogis apparently use enema regularly to cleanse themselves). He got my attention and by the end of the day I have managed to down 15 litres, the last three standing in the toilet with bottle at my mouth just letting the flow flow.

To give me maximum chance, next morning we set-off at about 4 am, while it was still dark and cool. The preparation paid off and I made it all the way to Loyangalani without a glitch. Loyangalani was a small dirty town at the shore of the lake, dominated by a luxury lodge owned by grumpy german piece of shit (clearly local capo), guests of which were shipped in and out by plane and. We camped in the community campsite, but food was proving to be a problem - we tried the lodge, but the nazi outright refused to bother with us as we didnít come on place (well I almost did). So eventually we scrapped something from the poor village shops - we were just one day from Maralal and civilisation.

As soon as I stopped being the trouble, Rupert took over. The Bus was very low on power and emitting very bluish exhaust fumes - John had to pull him for many kms through deep sand. Quick look into the engine bay made clear what was the problem - the air filter sitting on top of the engine was fastened by one screw instead of the original 4, so a lot of sand dust must have made it to the engine and it was burning a lot of oil - the car was at its last stretch. Men - Rupert, John and Eric took apart the carburetor to see if there is anything that can be done there. After I gave them few useful pointers (me:íwhat is that?í, rupert: Ď carburetorí, me: Ďcarburetor mixes petrol and airí) they send me make use of myself and play with the kids in camp pool, which is exactly what I did for the rest of the day.

Next day the weaklings - e.g. me, Eric and Daniela and Rupert started off towards Maralal 250 km away early, with John giving us 2 hours lead so that he can pick-up the broken pieces along the way. First 30 km from Loyangalani had ominous name Ďstaircaseí and was supposed to be hard riding up and down very rocky hills. I found it quite entertaining, but not that extreme and enjoyed myself greatly. Eric with Daniela started way ahead of me and because I stopped enough just to enjoy the scenery, I caught up with them only about 20 km before Maralal, when they were already worried that I went down again and John will have to deal with both me and Rupert. We made it together to Maralal where we filled up with petrol and headed to the beautiful lodge, famous for its once a year camel race - I think the biggest south of Sahara, but I may be wrong. Its probably not politically correct to say, but I was amazed (this was to be repeated many times when I came upon - mostly white to be honest - settlers/farmers across Africa) what can few committed settlers build out of a wild bush, while the locals still live more or less in the iron age at best. Kenya was the first country with proper colonial history and this was quite an eye opener for me. We could not wait for a steak we were promised for dinner and circled the kitchen an hour in advance.


Rift Valley:

Lodge in Maralal:

The only problem was - no Rupert and John, not a good sign. Eventually Johnís Defender rushed in occupied by John and Helen, Lena and the kids. Rupert could not make it through the staircase and so John left him behind to try to sort himself out. Anyway, there were more important things to attend to - steak and soft bed in a chalet.

Next day - no Rupert. Lena and kids were getting worried, and John was getting antsy - he was getting tired of getting this circus through Africa. I told him that I will wait with kids and if Rupert doesnít show till the evening I will ride back to see what I can do. Luckily Rupert arrived next morning - and in the Bus. I think somehow he managed to get a truck to get him across staircase and from there - via few refuels of oil in Samburu villages he made it - with one Samburu gentleman as a passenger. Rupert bought an oil from him but did not have any money left so took him along to pay him off in Maralal.

With this happy end John and Helen didnít wait whatís going to break next (the road from Maralal was good dirt road with some traffic on it), said their farewells and set-off south to Nairobi - as I mentioned before real gentleman. Rupert decided to chill for a day, and me and Dutch landie set-off separately south to Nakuru. While I was to bump into them few more times, this was the end of the Lake Nasser gang.

Bumped into few giraffes and zebras along the way:

And crossing the equator for the first time on this trip:

In Nakuru me and Eric and Daniela found accommodation in a nice campsite in a farm about 20 km out of town. The heat stroke caught up with me and I felt feverish so splashed out for a nicely treehouse for a few days of R&R.

Online XT JOE

Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #90 on: October 29, 2014, 09:52:00 pm »
Wow- as mentioned this would be a good book- absolute swell read with stunning pics. Thanks :thumleft:
When life gets to hard to stand. kneel

Offline Ian in Great Brak River

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Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #91 on: October 30, 2014, 01:16:55 am »
 This RR just gets better and better.

Thanks for sharing.

1978. It's 6am, mid winter...two up on a XL 185S ... off to my first casino ever with all of R40 and we've got a full tank of fuel, so enough to get there we reckon.... that's determination...

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Offline Xpat

Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #92 on: October 30, 2014, 10:16:58 am »
Thank you for nice comments.

Offline Optimusprime

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Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #93 on: October 30, 2014, 10:23:55 pm »
Hi xpat

What would you take with if you'd had to do the trip again, that you feel would make the trip 'easier'.

My pig has 105000, another 940 days to departure to UK.

Cape to Cairo 2017

Offline Xpat

Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #94 on: October 31, 2014, 01:04:23 am »
Hi xpat

What would you take with if you'd had to do the trip again, that you feel would make the trip 'easier'.

My pig has 105000, another 940 days to departure to UK.


I already have properly modified XTZ so this is what I would take now:

However if I would not have XTZ yet, the top of my list would be properly modified XT660R (like on the picture - I already know based on my Tenere mods how to get it to about 60 HP, which is more than enough - of course the engine and suspension mods may affect reliability, but so far I had no major problems with Ten) with bigger tank:

or Terra TR650 with big tank like this (with some more appropriate windshield):

I would also look into some well preserved 640 adventure. I personally would steer clear of 690 though, with its enduro geometry unsuitable for long distance riding, close ratio gearbox and questionable reliability, and I don't care how many km Noah on advrider done on it. That bike is probably already on a 3rd throttle body assembly and did not finish trip through Africa with its prior owner if I'm not mistaken).

But as I said before, it all depends on what trip you want to do - if you just want to make it the shortest way to Cairo and beyond on the main roads, the GS you have is probably the best tool. If you want to do a lot of off road exploring as I would tend to, I would look into the above lighter single options - but not too light as those tend to be very tedious on the long straight bits (even dirt) and there will be lots of them even if you avoid main roads.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2014, 02:02:53 am by Xpat »

Offline Minora

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Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #95 on: October 31, 2014, 03:06:52 pm »
Thanks for the report Xpat - really enjoying the daily read and the pictures, nice pictures draws me  :thumleft:

Correct, Luke (Fishfund) had numerous troubles with the 690, currently ridden by Noah on his RTW trip

On the point of 690's and beautiful pictures, this is also a good read.
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1006370 (How does one "personalise" a Hyperlink?)

Sorry for the high-jack - Cant wait for the next instalment  :deal:

« Last Edit: October 31, 2014, 03:08:20 pm by Minora »
Ek weet nie wat hier aangaan nie, maar dis 'n moerse sukses!!!

Offline Xpat

Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #96 on: October 31, 2014, 04:19:56 pm »
No worries Minora, thanks for nice comment and the links.

But I have to say that festival of idiocy that was Fishfund's (+1 mate) trip through Africa still gets me going - I had to stop reading before I post something stupid and get banned for life from advrider. They wasted most of their time due to technical problems immersed in Africa between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, after which they decided to make up lost time by riding in 4-5 days from CT to Kilimanjaro straight, just so that they can meet with some buddy of theirs there, and then in similar fashion made interesting only by daily repairs of 690 made it to Ethiopia from which they shipped to Europe.

Now I can live with that - it's their trip, not mine - but their conclusion that Africa is vastly overrated, there are no animals there except if you pay in parks and that while they were keen to experience African culture all they got was Africans asking them for money (part of the African communal way of living, and what they expect when they were basically just going through border posts) just really rubs me the wrong way, as I love Africa. And the number of idiots on the advrider who gratefully found their stereotypes about Africa confirmed by this thorough African experience...

Well sorry about the rant - I will try to get Kenya out today.

Offline ArthurS

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Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #97 on: October 31, 2014, 04:49:10 pm »
 :drif:  :sip: what a way to spend a friday afternoon at work... time to get on my pony this weekend... one of these beautiful african days i will drive up from RSA to Greece to visit some family. Hope to do it within the next 2 years !

Offline Difflock

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Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #98 on: October 31, 2014, 08:28:22 pm »
Excellent RR, this inspires us also to seek that once in a life time adventure. You lived it, thanks for sharing.  :thumleft:
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Offline Xpat

Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #99 on: November 01, 2014, 10:50:29 pm »
Kenya - part 2

When talking with other travellers about Kenya, the correct way to behave seemed to be to grimace disgustedly and start bitching about the horrific corruption. Now I have no doubt that corruption is endemic there - Iíve heard that EU has  fully paid already twice tarring of the river bed between Moyale and Marsabit (the one I didnít do) that is still the only official connection with Ethiopia, without single km of tar being laid (Iím sure Chinese will sort it out soon). But Iím pretty sure that situation is very similar in most Eastern African countries, so I didnít understand why Kenya was being singled out. Well, there seemed to be an upside of this criticism for us muzungus - whenever I came upon one of the frequent police blocks, where police used to milk passing traffic for kickbacks, the officers smiled, saluted and waved me through. I assumed that this positive racism was motivated by the need to improve their tarnished reputation - at least in they muzungu eyes. Anyway the reality was that I did not pay a single bribe (not only in Kenya, but throughout the whole trip), not even during such an opportune moments like us rocking up in the immigration office in Nairobi to get stamped into the country about two weeks and about 1000 km after we actually entered the country - try that in EU or USA.

For me Kenya - the African poster country, was an oasis of civilisation thanks to its relatively well developed infrastructure (compared to the surrounding countries). Nairobi is an unrivalled metropolis of Eastern Africa, big bustling city with high rises, shopping malls including Executive Books, cinemas, ATMs, and good restaurants - things unheard of in Sudan or Ethiopia  and to an extent not even in Egypt (there was no place to get cash off a card in Sudan, and one office in Addis in Ethiopia). The truth is that this type of travel - while interesting, enjoyable and relaxing, usually does not provide sufficient intellectual stimulation, and after 5 months on the road I felt a bit bored and in a need of distraction. So I took three weeks break from travelling in Nairobi and indulged in nightlife, good food, and lots of reading.

Back to Nakuru where Iíve left you: Once sufficiently recovered Iíve headed from Nakuru south-east to Nairobi. The main road has been rebuild and the construction works combines with traffic was just a nightmare. I, as almost everybody else, was mostly riding on the dirt shoulder in a bowl of dust trying desperately not run into or be run over by hundreds of trucks driving in both directions without clear denomination of lanes, or even their number.

Iíve made it safely to Nairobi, and headed to Jungle Junction - travellers nest in one of the western suburbs. Jungle Junction is the place in Nairobi (and Eastern Africa actually) for the overlanders with their own wheels, except for overland trucks - another benefit (no drunk drug heads in their early 20s trying to get into panties of overweight western spinsters in their late 30s - or maybe the other way around). It is a villa with big courtyard situated in a quiet upmarket neighborhood lived in and run by german Chris and his kenyan wife. Chris came down zig zagging through Africa on a DR650 (or maybe 400 not sure), found a job as head mechanic in the local BMW dealership and later quit and started Jungle Junction. He also run workshop for travellers in the attached double garage and had a collection of second hand bikes - mostly BMWs at the back that he sold to the passing travellers in need (unfortunately for me no KTM, XT or DR though). He has been around and had some interesting stories. For example Swazi king sends once a year helicopter to pick Chris up and take him to Mbabane to service the BMW X5/X3 fleet used by his 30 or so wifes - this is supposedly cheaper than servicing the cars in Nelspruit (it would be interesting if he actually pays for the helicopter ride, or he just charges Swazi people - probably the same thing anyway).

Machinery in the courtyard of Jungle Junction:

Chris - the owner of Jungle Junction:

There were few of these parked in JJ - it seems to be pretty popular for european couples to buy one of these, spent summer in Europe while the truck is parked in JJ, and then spend European winter travelling through Africa:

Pretty, eh? Unfortunately this dude was stuck in JJ already about 3 months trying desperately to get the Landie going - all his wiring was fucked. He went for some standard service in Nairobi, and one of the illuminati there connected 220V to his fridge connector, basically frying all the wires - and then they promptly denied anything and forced him to get the car towed out of their yard.

The group from Lake Turkana reconvened one last time in Jungle Junction to go get stamped as one group (safety in numbers) into the country in the Nairobi immigration/customs office. Afterwards Eric & Daniela headed east to the beaches in Mombasa and then further south to Tanzania. John & Helen headed west to Uganda to see gorillas and Rupert with kids & I hanged in Jungle Junction for next few weeks. Iíve spent most of that time eating in the restaurants, buying and reading loads of books. For some reason I caught a taste for mercenary memoirs and read anything I could find on Executive Outcomes or SAS. I also came across the second hand copy of Jupiterís Travels from Ted Simon - biking overlanders bible. It was OK, but to be perfectly honest a bit like listening to Beatles - you know that they are what a lot of modern pop music is based on but find most of those later incarnations much more enticing (and anyway I prefer the Rolling Stones).

Chris seen all this bookwormish special forces fantasmagorie as a waste of precious opportunities and imposed a strict party regimen - Tuesday dance parties in establishment called Pavement, Wednesday or Thursday rock parties in Carnivores (the famous exotic meat eatery), and any other night my favourite dive - Mad House in CBD based above Shell petrol station, where as somebody noted it doesnít matter how old you are, your girlfriend is always 18.

After three weeks, culinarily, socially and romantically saturated, I was read to hit the road again. Original plan was to head to Tanzania and further south. But lots of travellers Iíve met recommended strongly Uganda, especially gorillas, so instead I headed back to Nakuru and then further on to Uganda, with few stopovers along the way.

First stop was at the Lake Naivasha, about 50 km before Nakuru. The lake is famous for its birdlife, but for me the main attraction was adjacent Hellís Gate national park. the main attraction of the park was that you could cycle through it on a rented bicycle - rare opportunity as they would not let me in parks on motorbike and I wasnít too keen on the organized game drives.

Of course the cycling was allowed in Hellís Gate only because there are no predators, so even bimbo like me could feel safe without cage. The thing is I ended up riding in the park through big herds of buffalos, probably more dangerous than a lion would be in a midday heat. Funny how official approval created false sense of security. Normally I was clueless even when I came across cattle an the road that was not inclined to move on. My standard operating procedure was to squint eyes like Clint Eastwood, rev the engine and/or blow the horn - all of which usually just attracted unwelcome attention of the biggest bull. Right at the point when I was about to execute emergency 180 pivot turn usually a 10 kg screaming kid run out of bush and had the 800 kg bull stampeding away in a blink of an eye. The kid would then invariably turn at me shouting Ďcandyí, Ďpení or Ďgive me moneyí, and I would hastily kick in 1st gear in a blind panic and rush off with rear wheel spinning in the cloud of dust. But somehow I felt unperturbed cycling within 10 meters of huge buffalo bulls, just because some Masai at the gate,who probably had to kill a lion with spear to be classified as a man) told me that itís perfectly safe - go figure.

Campsite on Lake Naivasha:

Hell's Gate NP:



On the way to the gate to hell that gave name to the park; and the hell's gate itself - yep that little hole with sulphur fumes coming out:


And a close up, in case you looking for a hole to hell:

After sleepover in Lake Naivasha, I headed next day to Nakuru and settled in the same camp I stayed in on the way down. I then somehow by asking around a lot managed to rent a car - Maruti 4x4 from some local big man (surprisingly for the number of tourists that come to Kenya, there arenít many services like car rental available for independent traveller) and went for two day drive through the Nakuru NP situated around Lake Nakuru. This one had lions and other predators so as far as Iím concerned it was the first real NP Iíve visited.

My wheels:




The park is not big - probably about the size of Pilanesberg NP, but I decided to sleep over in one of the wild camps there for the experience. When I rocked up at the campground, the only vehicle there was the austrian 4x4 with Rupert & kids having good laugh at my Maruti. So Iíve spent next day driving with them and taking them to the camp Iíve stayed in.

Next day I said my last farewells to the austrian pack and headed north west to Uganda. I slept over in Eldoret and then headed to small border crossing north of Mount Elgon.