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Author Topic: Christmas Safari 3 - Mozambique & Zimbabwe  (Read 31037 times)

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Offline dirtyXT

Re: Christmas Safari 3 - Mozambique & Zimbabwe
« Reply #120 on: May 04, 2016, 11:05:10 am »
waiting for the next installment!
Bike history:
Ital jet 50 - sold, DT 50 - scrapped - AR80 - sold DT185 - confiscated  KDX250 - sold ZZR400 - sold KX500 - XT660R Swapped for R1 YZF R1 - sold - XT660Z - current

 

Offline aka.Goliath

Re: Christmas Safari 3 - Mozambique & Zimbabwe
« Reply #121 on: May 04, 2016, 12:01:37 pm »
You not alone!
BMW 1150 GSA - 2004
KTM 690R - 2014
KTM 300 X-CW - 2012
KTM 530 EXC Rally - 2011 SOLD, KTM 690R - 2009 SOLD, BMW 1200GS 2009 SOLD
 

Offline dirtyXT

Re: Christmas Safari 3 - Mozambique & Zimbabwe
« Reply #122 on: May 04, 2016, 12:04:13 pm »
 :happy1: :help: :sign12:

what he giveth he taketh away.  :patch:
Bike history:
Ital jet 50 - sold, DT 50 - scrapped - AR80 - sold DT185 - confiscated  KDX250 - sold ZZR400 - sold KX500 - XT660R Swapped for R1 YZF R1 - sold - XT660Z - current

 

Offline Xpat

Re: Christmas Safari 3 - Mozambique & Zimbabwe
« Reply #123 on: May 04, 2016, 12:33:06 pm »
Sorry, I'll try to finish it today - came back from bush only on Monday.

Offline Xpat

Re: Christmas Safari 3 - Mozambique & Zimbabwe
« Reply #124 on: May 04, 2016, 08:18:36 pm »
Day 17
 
Already in Vilankulos it was clear that I have lost too much time wasting week in Joburg and taking much longer than anticipated to navigate the sand tracks and beaches along the coast. I knew that at that stage I have no chance to complete the whole planned route and will have to skip most of the route planned in Zambia. At the time the revised plan was continue the original route along the eastern border of  Zimbabwe north to Zambia, follow the northern shore of Lake Kariba west per the original plan, but then turn south and cross to Botswana effectively cutting out the originally planned loop north along the Kafue national park and the source of Zambezi.
 
Now, 5 days later I have managed to lose another 2-3 days in the bushes of Moz and the revised plan had to be looked at again. I had 4 days left to get back to Joburg, was knackered from the last 5 days of pretty hard ridding and all indications were that the tracks up north are going to be at least as exhausting as the ones I just did. Still a bit delusional, I have played with an idea to gun it up north to Kariba and then follow southern shore on Zim side west to Kasane in Bots, and then gun it back south to Joburg in 2 days. But it just didnít make sense Ė no point gunning it up and down. I would have to probably stick to tar most of the time and miss the really good dirty stuff I came for. It was a bummer as this was my second failed attempt at riding north east of Zimbabwe Ė it will have to be tackled next time.
 
So south-west to Joburg it was then. However there were few things to iron out still. One, the shortest route back to Joburg goes through Beitbridge Ė the only border crossing to South Africa and as such one with the worst reputation for the heavy traffic and corresponding delays. It is probably an exaggeration, but it was holiday season and I wasnít keen to try to prove its reputation wrong. Two, this was supposed to be safari, and I havenít seen any animals yet. Mozambique turned out to be complete disappointment in this respect with most animals eaten long time ago. So I was looking for a place where I may see some game Ė and the only one that seemed a safe bet was Tuli Block along Limpopo river on the Bots/SA/Zim border.
 
So the plan was to slab it on tar (in the lieu of rest day Ė I was really knackered) 400 km west to Lion and Elephant Motel located few dozen km north of Beitbridge for an overnighter. Followed next day by a dash to Tuli block long way around, following the dirt roads through southern Zim west to Mpohoengs - the southernmost border crossing to Botswana, and then taking a sharp turn south east and following the Bots /Zim border all the way to Tuli  block. It was a massive detour compared to Betbridge option, but would enable to exchange hassle of Beitbridge for tranquillity of Mpohoengs (remote and little known crossing about 60 km south of Plumtree crossing not indicated on any map  I have seen Ė Iíve found the place just by accident few years back) and hopefully provide some game viewing opportunities in Tuli.
 
With that settled, I have packed up after breakfast and set-off. As said, the plan was to stick to tar for the day to recuperate some energy for the next dayís over 600 km, majority of it dirt. First 80km or so from Chimanimani, were twisties through the forest descending  down from the highlands to the plains below. Once on the plains I hit the main road south, dialled in 100 kmh or so (remember, I had KTM geared short) and tried to go to sleep. But it wasnít to be. It was hot. The kind of hot when you prefer the windshield on your helmet fully closed down as the inside feels colder than the air blasting through, even at 100 kmh with its supposed chill factor. Like staring into a blasting hot oven while riding on a pudding of melting tar. And of course closing a windshield is not an option on my trial open face helmet, so I just had to take it literally on the chin all the way.
 
The drought that has affected SA so badly has clearly taken toll on the southern Zim as well. The surrounding plains were baked and bleached solid, the trees remaining the only sign of plant life as far as eye can see. The place looked just like Somalia Ė huge contrast to the lush green Eastern Highlands.
 





 
274 km of the same later I made it to Triangle where I couldnít take it anymore, and turned off tar south onto the gravel road shortcutting to Lion & Elephant via private plantation. Which turned out to be noticeably  better as the dirt road didnít reflect the heat back as much as the melting tar. And of course it was shorter and stimulated by the gravel I was ridding faster than on tar (I usually sleep on tar).









I have eventually made it in the afternoon to the Lion & Elephant where I got a room after quick refuel in the adjacent petrol station. Lion & Elephant motel is famous overnight stopover for people entering Zim via Beitbridge and I expected it to be relatively basic backpackers/motel type of accommodation. It was actually significantly more upmarket (pricewise and facility wise) than I expected, which was fine with me - I was looking for a cosy refuge from the accumulated exertions of the prior 5-6 days. The place is run (and I assume owned) by I dare to say very elderly white couple, who still manage to keep the place running in top condition. I couldnít help to wander for how much longer and had this sad sense of foreboding of what will happen once they are gone. Somebody may consider this racist Ė and quite frankly I donít care if they do, but I find it fascinating how white folks with limited resources and in in an adverse environment are able to build and run and oasis of comfort and amenities, that would easily qualify as cosy upmarket lodge in the first world. And leaves me wondering how quickly will the bush reclaim the place once they are gone Ė which I think will be shame for everybody, including Zim fatcats. 
 







 
After shower, nap and excellent schnitzel with mash for dinner I went to check with the owner my route options for tomorrow. The oven ride didnít do much for my energy and I was seriously considering to cut home short through Beitbridge 60 km south even with the expected hassle. The alternative was to retrace about 30 km north on A4 and then turn west on a dirt road running through a concession with possible game viewing all the way to Makado, where I would hit A5 for about 80 km up to  Gwanda. From there it was dirt roads all the way west to Mpohoengs border crossing to Botswana. The owner advised that Beitbridge should actually not be that bad going from Zim to SA, except in the morning when all the buses come. On the alternative he believed I may not be let into the concession on the bike as there may be hunting going on there, or just as a precaution as the place hosts full spectrum of African crickets, including big 5.
 
Fed and anaesthetised by few Windhoek lagers I decided to give the Bots route a try. If I get turned back at the concession gate, I will just revert back to Beitbridge option and take easy ride back home to Joburg through Waterberg or some such.
 
Route ridden:
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Christmas Safari 3 - Mozambique & Zimbabwe
« Reply #125 on: May 04, 2016, 08:41:26 pm »
Day 18
 
This was supposed to be a long day with over 600 km, majority in dirt taking me to Tuli block for a bit of game viewing (of course the irony being that I was less than 200 km from the Tuli block on the Zim side Ė however there were no border crossings to SA or Bots nearby, barring Beitbridge). I have half expected that should the things not go to the plan I may need to sleep in Francistown or thereabouts.
 
So I started early, skipping the breakfast. Soon Iíve been at the concession gate, and to my relief the guard just wrote down my details and let me in without any complaint. He confirmed that concession is home to big 5 and the rest of African fauna, and I set-off. Proceeding slowly, scanning the bush for the sign of animals. I have come across few giraffes and a herd of Kuduís (I think) and impalas in the dry riverbed. Much better than Mozambique, but no lions or elephants. Well, hopefully Tuli will step it up later.
 






















Herd of Kudus and Impalas:




This was the sad sight on the northern side of the bridge with this mudhole being the last remains of water:





This monitor lizzard passing by probably just checking if the time is ripe for a meal yet:














Met this guy (walking relaxed in the big 5), who was a ranger and asked him to fetch the fishes from the mudhole rather than just letting them slowly rot away. He smiled and agreed, but I'm not sure he really could have been bothered:

















About 100 km later I hit tar A5 in Makado and turned north up to Gwanda, where I filled up and turned west on the dirt roads heading to Antelope mines and Mpohoengs, eventually connecting to the dirt roads I did in Christmas Safari 1 trip. The section to Mpohongs was tiresome as the road was gravel, later on it eased up as it turned to compacted dirt.
 



























 
I have made it to the border at about 2 pm. There was quite a bit of traffic of Zimbabweans returning to SA after holidays Ė they clearly prefer detour through Botswana rather than going straight through Beitbridge. There was a jovial post-holiday atmosphere between travellers and officers and the proceedings went without a glitch. That is how I like it and why I came all the way here!
 
That is until the things went completely pear-shaped 100 meter later at the exit boom. A young dude on a phone there stopped me and indicated for me to wait. Once he was done with his call he requested and proceeded to take out go literally through every item in my luggage, including going through the pictures in my camera (he just missed the helmet cam). Despite my better judgement I was very hostile throughout the act and came close to punching the mother fucker senseless few times (Iím no fighter, but no, he wouldnít have a chance). Normally Iím much better at handling these situations, but the fatigue was getting the better of me and I didnít have much resources left to control the animal.
 
Now it was the fatigue induced lack of judgement that got me into this situation in the first place. You see there was a police checkpoint about km before the border, where they stopped me and asked to inspect my luggage. Hot, tired, grumpy and keen to make it through the border asap, I gave them an earful about why the fuck they bother people a km before the border Ė why donít they just check everything there like civilised people would do. I did used more polite language, but Iím sure it came across more or less the way I formulated it here. To my surprise they just smiled and let me go. Well, I think it is pretty safe to assume, they called their buddy at the boom to give me proper check-up. To be fair, should I have made that mistake in a police state like letís say America (actually in any first world country), I would probably end up in jail or at least with bodily search.
 
I took a lot time to repack everything diligently as I was holding up quite a few cars behind me (hence taking my anger on innocent bystanders Ė I guess you might call it displaced angerĖ anything just to make myself feel a bit better) and then rode across the dry river bed to the Bots side, where I was met by diminutive Bushman in the veterinary controller capacity. I understand the drill, rode the bike through that stinky disinfection water and walked on the wet math, but somehow it was not enough and he continued to point to my luggage and blabber something about meat, which I indicated clearly I do not have. He didnít speak any English but persevered with what I have interpreted as a request to inspect my luggage. Being a man attuned with the nature he sensed quickly that the end may be nigh and let go after few tense seconds, while I battled to keep the beast within. Which Iím very grateful for as he saved me from rotting in the jail for the rest of my life (well actually they still have death penalty in Bots, so I might not have to rot for too long).
 
To continue with the theme, the Bots border took quite a long time mostly because of the stupidly inefficient process for paying the obligatory road tax, with people jostling in and out of the queue randomly and me waiting there in the alternate state of consciousness trying to muster any last drop of equanimity I still had left. To round it all nicely up, when I was finished and came out of the building, my bike was laying on its side (yes the fucking side-stand) with people who waited with me inside strolling casually around, not considering it worth mentioning. This fall resulted in only damage sustained on this trip (except for the half-expected failure of the usual KTM components like speedo/revmeter, and rear brake pedal spring) Ė the front brake lever broke. Which, as it turned out wasnít a bad thing, as it turned into a short brake lever, which I prefer. I didnít see it that way there and then though. You know that Beitbridge Ė it may not  be such a bad idea after allÖ
 
I made it finally out of the border probably at about 4 pm and didnít even stop at the little adjacent spaza shop, but rather continued with undone body armour and googles hanging from the mirrors through the village looking for the road south to Selebi Phikwe. As every single time before in this village (about 1 square km big) I got lost even with GPS resolution at about 50 meters), but eventually found the road and proceeded few km - until I was sure there are no people around Ė where I stopped, calmed down with a ciggy or five and geared up properly. Once sufficiently calm, I jumped on the bike and gunned it down the dirt road which after few dozen km passes a dam on the Shashe river (DiÖ. .something). I didnít make any pictures on the way, but it looks the same as on my first Christmas Safari trip I did, so you can check pictures from this route on this link:
 
http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=151222.80
 
I hit the tar for the rest of the day in Selebi Phikwe, where I filled up, and pushed on. In the next town Sefhophe I hit a crossing where I knew I have to take the right road so I consulted GPS closely before taking the right turn. With the sun setting fast behind me I hit 70 km later the T junction with main Tuli road at Zanzibar. It didnít look familiar and after consultation of GPS I have confirmed that indeed I did the wrong turn in Sefhophe (quite an achievement with only two roads to pick from and GPS at hand) and Molema campsite I was heading for is at least 50 km further away. So I have ridden 600 km round trip to see some game around Molema, just to miss it at the end due to unbelievably silly navigation mistake. A fitting end to a bitch of a day.
 
At least there was a border crossing about 150 meters in front of my nose(closed by now of course) and Oasis lodge right in front of me. So that is where I retreated into an expensive air-conditioned chalet to lick my wounds.

Oasis lodge in Zanzibar right on the Bots/SA border:






 
Route ridden:
 
« Last Edit: May 04, 2016, 08:45:13 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Christmas Safari 3 - Mozambique & Zimbabwe
« Reply #126 on: May 05, 2016, 11:12:05 am »
Day 19 - the end

Last day of the trip was just a liaison involving more or less straight dash from Zanzibar to Joburg. The route south involved riding dirt from Zanzibar down to Baltimore, then tar to Marken and Vaalwater, where I stopped for lunch. From there on I hit dirt again down to Rankin pass, Roiberg, Assen all the way to Letlhakaneng in De Wildt area, where I hit tar for the last push home. I had to stopover and wait out huge storm with hail in Hartbeespoort Total garage, and eventually arrived home just as the darkness fell.

Overall this was a good trip, despite the prior day's  border melodrama and the fact that I have ridden less than half of the intended route. It was the shortest of the Christmas Safari trips so far (about 3500 km compared to over 5000 km of CS1 and about 6500 km of CS3) and yet by far the toughest. It was much closer in spirit to the CS1 trip in that the plan went to pieces more or less from day 1 and the whole trip turned into one big day by day improvisation (CS2 went much more to the plan, though there were deviations mostly due to killed clutch).

I have to say from now on this type of trip - discovering and riding remote and rarely ridden routes, is what I'm after. Nothing against the usual tourist traps, but I've done most of them already, and this kind of trip provides much more sense of exploration and enjoyment. The physical exercise this kind of riding provide is also very welcome change for this office rat.

And the 690 - I came to like this bike, a lot. Initially I was feeling iffy about reliability (and sure enough it has shown its KTM idiosyncrasies), but it didn't (or even try to) leave me stranded which is what matters. And this despite the abuse I threw at it while running out of talent (very often to be honest) for dozens of km at a time. And the lightweight was just blessing - I wouldn't be able to do half of this trip on the routes I did on Tenere in given time.

The one thing that I believe would make this trip even more enjoyable would be right tyres. I used E09 Dakars front and back. They are great for back as they last, but I came to realize only too late how much they suck up front. I have since moved on Runner's advice to Maxxis CrossIT Desert (not pushing them - I'm sure there are other tyres like that, but it must be real hard core dirt tyre, none of those 50/50, 80/20, whatever concoctions) and the difference is unbelievable. I was actually a bit pissed off realizing how much more enjoyment I could have had on my prior trips. I have done two more longer-ish trips with the new front (one 3000 km to Okavango and one 1800 km through Limpopo and Tuli block), as well as few weekends in De Wildt, and haven't fell once and not because I didn't try. I'm ridding much more aggressively and faster, yet with complete confidence. I even lost little bit of respect for those Amageza warriors once I found their secret  :peepwall: (just kidding, I couldn't ride the distances they do over multiple days for a week).

That's it - thanks for following.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2016, 11:20:27 am by Xpat »
 

Offline dirtyXT

Re: Christmas Safari 3 - Mozambique & Zimbabwe
« Reply #127 on: May 05, 2016, 11:16:43 am »
thanks xPat great story, good advice and accounts. wish i too wasnt an office rat.
Bike history:
Ital jet 50 - sold, DT 50 - scrapped - AR80 - sold DT185 - confiscated  KDX250 - sold ZZR400 - sold KX500 - XT660R Swapped for R1 YZF R1 - sold - XT660Z - current

 

Offline onderbroek

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Re: Christmas Safari 3 - Mozambique & Zimbabwe
« Reply #128 on: May 05, 2016, 08:15:01 pm »
Thanks Xpat

Another great RR.

the lodge you visited that was run by the elderly couple reminded me of this book:

http://www.takealot.com/the-last-resort/PLID34472714

a very good read
hak vrystaat
 

Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: Christmas Safari 3 - Mozambique & Zimbabwe
« Reply #129 on: May 05, 2016, 08:32:58 pm »
Thanks for finishing this report, what a nice read. Your writing is engrossing and very funny at times!

That Zanzibar gate must be the best border crossing in Africa.
Rally nut. What could possibly go wrong?
Living the Rally Dream - Ride Report
Current bike: KTM 350 EXC   Previous bikes:  2010 WR450F, 2006 KTM450EXC,KTM 450RR, BMW800GS, KTM450EXC, BMW650 GS, BMW650 Dakar, and Honda XR250
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Christmas Safari 3 - Mozambique & Zimbabwe
« Reply #130 on: May 06, 2016, 11:18:33 am »
Thanks for the comments.

@onderbroek: I have heard about this book before, but haven't read it. Will give it a try.

Offline Malcolm

Re: Christmas Safari 3 - Mozambique & Zimbabwe
« Reply #131 on: May 06, 2016, 04:03:09 pm »
Thanks for the Writing Xpat.  i am making plans for the Mozambique section...  Keep the beer cold :biggrin:
950SE  XR650L  KTM250
 

Offline lj111

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Re: Christmas Safari 3 - Mozambique & Zimbabwe
« Reply #132 on: May 07, 2016, 09:32:57 pm »
Thanks for another great RR Xpat :thumleft:
Your RRś have got adventure written all over it.
That 690 looks  :drif: :drif:
Some people feel the rain and others just get wet...
 

Offline funacide

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Re: Christmas Safari 3 - Mozambique & Zimbabwe
« Reply #133 on: May 09, 2016, 10:34:19 am »
Xpat, thanks again for sharing.

I just had a chance to finish reading the report. Awesome as usual, I really enjoyed it!!

I know the feeling at the border post, you know you shouldn't shout and make a scene but it is sometimes very difficult. Also costs you time in the long run.

Thanks again!
KTM 1190 ADV R
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Christmas Safari 3 - Mozambique & Zimbabwe
« Reply #134 on: July 12, 2017, 01:37:27 am »
Here is a video clip from the ride from Bilene to Inhambane on the sandy tracks along the coast:


Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: Christmas Safari 3 - Mozambique & Zimbabwe
« Reply #135 on: July 13, 2017, 02:17:45 pm »
Lekker little vid, thanks :thumleft:
Rally nut. What could possibly go wrong?
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Current bike: KTM 350 EXC   Previous bikes:  2010 WR450F, 2006 KTM450EXC,KTM 450RR, BMW800GS, KTM450EXC, BMW650 GS, BMW650 Dakar, and Honda XR250
 

Offline landieman

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Re: Christmas Safari 3 - Mozambique & Zimbabwe
« Reply #136 on: July 19, 2017, 10:52:31 am »
wow wow wow wow wow wow  :thumleft:
don't worry about things you can't change,change the things you can.
 

Offline Slim Jim

Re: Christmas Safari 3 - Mozambique & Zimbabwe
« Reply #137 on: July 19, 2017, 12:38:22 pm »
HI Expat , unreal RR , I am never going to get any work done with all your RR!!!!!!  You made a coment on the old folks at that resort that if they left you would wonder what would happen to place , you quite correct ! I did a 3 day ride last week and went to all the parks bourd parks in the KZN midlands and it has gone exacly that way [no hot water,broken toilets , leaking taps exct] maby some time they will figure out that tourism makes money and if people have a good experiance they will come back and spend more money.You make me envy to go further and more confidence to do that , I want to do a 10 day from Home to bivianns and die Hell and home through Tankwa solo [mates think I'm nuts] but you are a real inspiraton for me [ I must only learn how to spell though if I'm going to do RR like you]
Thanx for the awsome read , still got xmas1 and the last 2 to read I will leave that for another day as my family think I'm a computer gurroo spending all day infront of this laptop [if they only new!]
Thanx Budd
PS : many safe adventure in the future
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Christmas Safari 3 - Mozambique & Zimbabwe
« Reply #138 on: July 19, 2017, 05:10:45 pm »
Thank you  :thumleft:, I'm glad the report is still useful.

Offline Gee S

Re: Christmas Safari 3 - Mozambique & Zimbabwe
« Reply #139 on: July 20, 2017, 04:00:12 am »
Thanks for a great report Xpat.  :thumleft: Looking forward to your next ride :ricky:
All that wander are not lost