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Offline ratrap

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #40 on: August 24, 2008, 06:45:31 pm »
 :thumleft: :thumleft:
No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.
 

Offline Madala

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #41 on: August 24, 2008, 07:28:36 pm »
I'm hooked. Looking forward to next posts. Enjoy the adventure!
 

Offline bradleys

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #42 on: August 25, 2008, 08:52:21 am »
Cool report keep it coming :thumleft:
ROUTE DIFFICULTY
1 = tar
2 = good gravel /pillian friendly
3 = interspersed with sand, mud, sand , bush / not pillian friendly
4 = lots of sand, technical riding 5 = expert only
 

Offline Hammerhead

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #43 on: August 25, 2008, 10:15:35 am »
Befo(n)kte storytelling and pics!!  :thumleft:
I can almost taste the dust.  :biggrin:
At least my mind can travel while the body stays trapped in the office...
 

Online Kaboef

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #44 on: August 26, 2008, 09:17:51 am »
Please sir, can I have some more? :ricky:

 :biggrin:
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Offline brettp

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #45 on: August 26, 2008, 10:34:49 am »
Mark, this is stuff that create legends - Keep it comming!!!!

He who dies with the most toys, wins !!!!!
 

Online IceCreamMan

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #46 on: August 26, 2008, 11:05:39 am »
we is waiting not so patiently  ;D
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Offline kwassi

Re: African Enduro
« Reply #47 on: August 26, 2008, 11:16:56 am »
 :naka:
Solo travellers should not be considered unsociable, they are expressing their independence until they choose to do otherwise.
 

Offline mrg46

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    • African Enduro
Libya
« Reply #48 on: August 26, 2008, 05:09:28 pm »
AFRICAN ENDURO - Libya

As I said in my previous post, this was to be the biggest border gamble on my trip. Europeans seem to be granted entry quite easily (with transit visa's) but for unsavoury characters like South Africans its much more difficult. The only way I would be allowed to enter was by having a government (well dictatorship) approved tour agency supply me with an invitation to visit the country, and then provide a tour guide to shadow me the entire visit. This wasn't cheap but the alternative was a 5000km round-trip through Southern Europe to Egypt. Then three weeks before my trip started the Libyans issued a statement that South Africans were no longer permitted in their glorious nation. I contacted a my tour operator who assured me this would blow over and that he had the clout to get me in.

I clocked out of Tunisia and waited between borders in no mans land for a couple of hours for my guide to arrive. He then completed all the border formalities for me (all forms in Arabic and no English or Swazi speakers). After a couple of hours of negotiation and a small yet well placed bribe he emerged with my passport and the Libyan number plate that I had to attach over my MP one. By the grace of Allah (and his prophet Mohammed) I had made it into Libya!

I then rode (behind Mahmoud in his car) from the border for a few hundred k's to the capital, Tripoli. The drivers on the double-track highways were INSANE. They put SA taxi drivers in the shade. I quickly learnt that opposing lanes could become one-way lanes at the discretion of the driver. My first experience was a large truck coming in my direction, without the speed or inclination to complete his overtaking manouvre before flattening me. As I result I had to disembark from the highway onto the dirt on the side of the road at high speed. I lost count of how many times this happened but thankfully the awesome suspension of the KTM didn't mind the high speed transition into the dirt.

Tripoli was fascinating. Thanks to everybody's favourite colonel (that's Gadaffi, not Saunders - dictatorship not chicken) there has been virtually no tourism in Libya for almost 40 years. I took a day off in Tripoli to do laundry and have a poke around the city. There were none of the tourist facilities that we take for granted in foreign cities, such as;

  • All road signs in arabic, nothing at all in English (even adverts & product names)
  • No tourist-type retailing, such as souvenirs or western fast food
  • Not a single non-arab looking person in sight, and not too many hotels
  • Oh, and NO alcohol, nothing, anywhere. It was tough.

Before reversing out of North Africa in WWII the Italians left behind a penchant for good coffee and ice cream. The esspresso's were as good as anywhere in Europe. Sorry, no photo's of Tripoli. The AK47 clad polisie aren't that keen on American looking tourists waving big Nikons around.

The next day was a 200km ride eastwards to visit the Roman ruins of Leptis Magna. The ruins are of a huge port & market town dating back to 100AD and although most of the ruins are still under the cover of sand, the larger more impressive ones have been excavated. I've seen many similar sites in the Mediterranean but these were by far the most impressive.


An arch at the 2000 year old Roman ruins.


An early Roman kak house. Genius.


The signpost for the Red light district (seriously)

After that we rode/drove further East and very suddenly a sand storm started coming in from the desert. The air became very thick with sand and although I had just about enough visibility to ride at 50kmph I was worried about the effects of this fine dust on the KTM's lungs so we pulled into a town and found a hotel. Well I say hotel, it was actually a Moroccan run brothel with a thriving bed bug & flea breeding operation on the side. But at least the VIP KTM could sleep in the hotel reception under 24 hour observation. This would become the norm in the hotels I stayed at in Libya, and riding up the stairs of a Hotel after a hard days riding was very raakvat.

My bike was performing at 100%, and I was now so comfortable with the weight of luggage of opted to keep it on the bike rather than put it in trunk of Mahmoud's car. It was enjoying a diet of good quality petrol that was so cheap it was free sometimes. It cost about R30 to fill the tank, and when I was just topping it up by a few litres there wasn't a monetary denomination smaller enough to pay with so it was free! I was enjoying an adventure riding diet of one very large meal per day and just liquids & small bits either side.


The Libyan people were the friendliest & kindest Arab's I've come across.


Nice mkuku in Libya

After having done about 1,500 klicks along the coastline of Libya we took a very desolate road through the middle of the desert so that I could do some desert riding and we could camp out in the wilds. A few times along this road the tar would end and be replaced with sections of very soft sand and I don't know how I stayed on the pegs. Mahmouds Daewoo Nubia and more so his driving skills were impressive in this soft stuff, although we did have to stop a few times to shovel dust out of the engine where it was piling up.


A rest stop for the Daewoo. The KTM needed no rest.


A sufficiently overloaded taxi. This Is Africa.

Before long I had arrived at the border with Egypt. A particularly uptight official was insisting that I shouldn't have been allowed into Libya. He didn't see the humour in me suggesting that I'd leave immediately. I would have liked to spend some more time in Libya but the guide costs were expensive and although the KTM was performing superbly I was not far off having done 5000k's on the trip so far and wanted to do the next service in Cairo.


When I returned my rented plates at the border they were not impressed by the damaged caused by my Akrapovic flame-thrower.

Oh and I managed to get a small bit of video from my camera and put this together in an internet cafe that had Microsoft movie maker and a selection of Arabic pop music...

http://www.youtube.com/v/_VVvTFdqDUw

Egypt post to follow soon.

Mark
 

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Re: Libya
« Reply #49 on: August 26, 2008, 05:14:13 pm »
excellent ,,that kark huis is featured in long way donw as i recall...that sluit in front was where you dipped in your  hand to get twater to clean your nought
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Offline cloudgazer

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #50 on: August 26, 2008, 05:24:59 pm »
Awesome report.
A good chuckle at your 'favorite colonel' statement.
 

Online DanMan

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #51 on: August 27, 2008, 07:50:41 am »
I like this RR .
"It's not  the size of the dog in the fight,it's the size of the fight in the dog"
 

Offline GIDEON

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #52 on: August 27, 2008, 08:14:28 am »
Very very nice.
Keep going be safe.


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Offline bradleys

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #53 on: August 27, 2008, 03:20:34 pm »
GREAT REPORT,keep it comming ,i am glued to the screen :thumleft:
ROUTE DIFFICULTY
1 = tar
2 = good gravel /pillian friendly
3 = interspersed with sand, mud, sand , bush / not pillian friendly
4 = lots of sand, technical riding 5 = expert only
 

Offline GO GIRL

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #54 on: August 27, 2008, 09:34:40 pm »
Riveting stuff ....what a trip and experience.. 8)
 

Offline >Herman<

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #55 on: August 27, 2008, 10:08:06 pm »
Fantasties!

Offline mrg46

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Egypt
« Reply #56 on: August 28, 2008, 06:13:35 pm »
AFRICAN ENDURO - Egypt

Hallo-wherefrom-mister-hey-whatyourname

That is a typical Egyptian greeting, which is closely followed by a rapid fire of insistence to buy any thing or service you could imagine not requiring. Ironically I was actually in need of an entrepreneurial Egyptian at this border-post of Salloum in the North West of the country.

Egypt is famed for having one of the more complex land border entry procedures on the planet, and this border specifically as the worst in Egypt. I had researched exactly what I needed to do but fell down at the first hurdle and started throwing abuse at the officials. It was time to calm down and pay someone to do the shouting. End-to-end it took me 4.5 hours to get in, and this a brief summary of what I needed to do:

  • Validate pre-arranged visa, have my green mamba forensically examined for a forged photo and then have it stamped for entry. Now the bike;
  • First cursory glance at the bike's carnet de passage
  • Have exhaust emissions checked
  • Have chassis number traced onto a piece of paper
  • Buy compulsory 3rd party insurance
  • Have carnet validated & stamped
  • Get 'mini' carnet & temporary Egyptian drivers license printed
  • Rent & attach Egyptian number plate
  • Final check of passport & all paperwork collected thus far

Each of the above steps took place in a different building and resulted in me receiving some sort of document or paperwork which I then needed to make a photocopy of which got retained by guy in the next step of the process. What a pain the arse. After having several hundred Egyptian pounds liberated from my wallet I left the border with some high RPM's and some loud cracks of the Akra.

I was making for a town on the North coast called Marsa Matruh but was caught short of daylight hours and broke one of my rules of the trip - riding at night, in Africa. There weren't many villages and thus livestock on this highway so I thought I'd go for it. I wanted to push for this town because it was where my Grandfather had fought in World War II (all the way from the Lowveld). The only unpleasantness was the odd vehicle driving towards me in the wrong lane.The only unpleasantness on the road was the odd vehicle driving towards me in the wrong lane. It turns out that they do this when travelling short distances instead of going in the opposite direction to use an over/under pass in the correct lane. Another revelation was that these Egyptians were driving without their lights on, at night. This, I would be told was so that when they saw a vehicle approaching they would hit the high beam so that you can see them. Hmmmm, and these guys built the pyramids?

After this stopover I made a run for the capital, Cairo. I must explain that I wasn't purposely rushing Egypt, as I had spent 6 weeks here as a backpacker some years back when I was still nat agter die ore. I knew Cairo traffic would be hectic but nothing could prepared me. For the first time on my trip the KTM was getting a bit hot under the collar. The temp wasn't lank hot (low 30's) but the traffic was so slow moving that there wasn't enough air moving through the radiator. A couple of times I had no option but to stop and wait (with the electric fan running) and this seemed to work. I had found a cheap hotel and for the first time on my trip tried to use my GPS' mapping facility - which was not much use with the maps I had loaded.


Token pyramid shot.


A couple of guys on a Jawa with sidecar. Very popular bikes in Egypt but have a tendency toward spontaneous combustion.

Other than to arrange a visa for Sudan my time in Cairo was spent with my first big service on the bike (5000k service). Although I had all the tools & parts with me I decided to take it to a mechanic as the alternative was to do the service in the street outside my hotel. This mechanic was a guy who all the overlanders use and although his facilities (and English) are modest he is known as the best bike mechanic in all of North Africa, and specialises in DS bikes. Together we spent a whole day doing the service. Major items were:

  • New plug, oil & filters
  • Cleaned air filter
  • Checked valve clearances (they were spot on)
  • Checked brake pads
  • Replaced both stock sprockets with steel ones
  • New X-ring gold chain
  • Changed Metzeler Enduro's to TKC 80's


Mo getting his hands dirty.


He is an incredibly gifted mechanic.


Dinner with the boys. Afterwards Mo' serviced the front shocks of a CBR600 in the time it took me to pack up.

So the report after 6000k's was that the bike was in perfect shape, and I had 100% confidence in it for the more challenging roads leading Southwards. My health was questionable and a few times I was to be caught short of a latrine facility with the first strike of the unavoidable gippo guts. I like to call it the 'Cairo Quickstep' and have a new appreciation for the robes that these okes wear. I can't think of anything more practical for performing a dark alley squat in.

Once I had my bearings I enjoyed riding around Cairo with no luggage, however it took a while to get used to the Egyptian use of a car hooter. They use it constantly, a driving control as fundamental as the accelerator or brakes. Here is a clip of me negotiating some Cairo traffic. It's a bit drawn out & excuse the quality - I fastened the camera to my helmet with insulation tape.



(Why can't we embed youtube in this forum? Or is it just me being dof?)

After the Cairo stoppover I hit the road again, first traveling East towards Suez and the Red Sea and then South along the coast. Shortly after leaving Cairo I ran dry of fuel for the first time on my trip. It was my fault. Despite there being plenty of petrol stations some looked more questionable than others and I had become fussy. I pushed the bike for about one K and then freewheeled another one to a conveniently close pump. During this day I was aiming to get as far down Egypt as possible - as I said I'd seen every corner of the country before. In much of Egypt South of Cairo tourists can only move around in Military convoys, but I was able to avoid these with the 'next town' gag. (I'm just going to the next town down the road, china). These convoys are absurd - there is no threat in Egypt these days. I regrettably had my first flare of road rage on the trip. I was on a tiny road on the banks of the Nile and an oncoming taxi pulled out to overtake and to kill me. He could clearly see me but that didn't stop him. I had river on one side of the road and a steep drop on the other and don't know how I squeezed passed. I swung around and chased him. He was apologising profusely through his window but didn't want to stop so I have his car door a nice alpinestar tattoo & gave up the chase. I felt my rage was justified; I had come close to certain death. After almost 900k's in the saddle I stopped-over in a town called Luxor for a welcome few beers after a long day.


A rider i saw on the banks of the Nile, transporting some feed for his other bony.

The next day I woke up at crack of dawn (I think that was her name) and hit the road further South. I only needed to do 100k's but needed to get there before midday to arrange my paperwork for the ferry that runs into the Sudan along lake Nasser. I was about 20k's away when I got stopped at a military checkpoint where a particularly difficult soldier wouldn't let me through. What a proes straat pretoria. He insisted that I go back to Luxor & wait for a convoy. I tried every angle but he wouldn't budge, and when I tried some agression his AK47'd comrades flinched. They wouldn't let me wait there for a convoy either, so I went back to Luxor where I had to wait for one. In the end I arrived at my destination of Aswan 10 minutes after the government offices closed. I had missed the ferry. Next sailing was in 10 days. My anger was off the scale. Later that day while riding around looking for a place to stay a guy in a bakkie rode into the back of me at a slow moving traffic circle. Thankfully I wasn't on the brakes and the clutch was in so I just rolled forward instead of falling. I got out and throttled the driver - something I regretted within seconds and stopped myself from further action. That night I dopped like an Egyptian pyramid builder with a mastercard and made sure the surge of recent road rage was no more and good karma was restored.

While I was in Aswan I started noting a clicking or ticking noise coming from the engine at very low or very high revs. It was disturbing. I didn't know what the 'pinking' low octane noise sounded like and started getting paranoid about the valves, so through a guy I had met arranged a place to do a quick inspection service. This 'place' was in fact his cousins lounge - nice! This was to be my first solo attempt at a valve clearance check. I enjoyed doing it and took a very long time to make sure I wasn't cocking anything else up. The clearances were fine and it was in fact just low-octane pinking. Time to engage the low-octane CDI switch that the 640 Adv comes with.


Sharaf and the entrance to his house / KTM servicing lounge.


Valve inspection in the lounge.


I didn't have a straw to place through the spark plug hole to onto the piston to find top-dead center of the 4-stroke and the only thing I could find was my little SA flag with plastic pole. Nice. Proudly South African top-dead center, Mr Venter.


I took the time I had to do a bit of practice in the soft stuff.


It was like riding a 250 when the luggage was removed.


A local butcher. No biltong, but the fresh meat was fast approaching that state.


A knife sharpener in the market. Egypt is expected to advance beyond this use of a wheel very soon.

After an extended riding break and much time to reflect and lubricate my system in the hot weather it was time for the next ferry sailing to The Sudan. This ferry travels the length of Lake Nasser, which is a dammed-up section of the Nile and is the only means of getting between these two countries. The ferry is only for foot passengers and any cargo (my bike) is loaded onto a separate barge which hopefully also arrives at the same destination.


Loading the KTM onto the barge. I met two couples in these vehicles also heading South. That VW looks a bit low for the desert. Hmmm ons sal sien.


There were no sides on the barge, so my tie-downs were as tight as a guinea fowls hamstring.


No space was left unloaded on the barge. This Is Africa.

I was very excited about The Sudan. In just a 30 hour ferry ride I would be plunged from a pretty Westernised town into the most desolate and uncivilised environment imaginable. Befok!

Mark



« Last Edit: August 28, 2008, 06:15:51 pm by mrg46 »
 

Offline Doggone

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #57 on: August 28, 2008, 10:11:09 pm »
Wonderful report so far..........................keep it coming! :biggrin: ;D
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Offline JonW

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #58 on: August 28, 2008, 10:15:47 pm »
Befok.....indeed!
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Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #59 on: August 29, 2008, 04:16:04 am »
Absolutely brilliant stuff!!!

Cant wait for the next post.
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