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Offline Oubones

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Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #160 on: November 13, 2018, 05:50:49 pm »

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

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

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

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

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

Namibia is an absolutely stunning and friendly country that totally bowled me over. I will have to go back.
For Kaokoland, speak to Hardy here on the forum.
He does supported trips there and has space on his April 2019 trip. :thumleft:
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Offline MRK Miller

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #161 on: November 13, 2018, 07:49:54 pm »
Thank you for sharing this very unique experience. I have been to Namibia a few times, but would live there if i could. South Africa though has just as many awesome places. To many, and sadly in my lifetime i will not see them all as i started out with adventure riding much to late in my life, although i have seen so many awesome places. God bless your way forward,     
I would rather fall a thousand times, and keep riding, than to stop riding and never fall
 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #162 on: November 14, 2018, 06:43:01 pm »

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


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

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

I have so many projects, so many places I want to ride to and so many countries yet to explore! I just need more time and money  :angel4:

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #163 on: November 14, 2018, 06:46:14 pm »
Day 42 –Zambia, Livingstone – 220kms – Monday 9th of July


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


The first 40kms were fine with good tarmac. Then things went bad, but not as bad as we expected. For a long section the potholes had been filed with a mix of stones and sand. After that we had massive potholes. They were very large and very deep. With our agile and light motorbikes we managed to slalom and avoid the worst without any trouble.
 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #164 on: November 14, 2018, 06:50:01 pm »
Eventually we made it to Livingstone and found the guesthouse we had booked the day before. Those with theist ratings were already fully booked so we settled on that one. I can't remember the name though....

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

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

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

We had a look in town and had dinner in a café near the supermarket. Alistair did not warm too much to Livingstone. It was rather different from Namibian towns, with their orderly architecture and clean streets.  Livingstone was a far cry from those.
 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #165 on: November 14, 2018, 06:52:35 pm »
Zambia got independent from the UK in 1974. For about 20 years, Zambia went through a lot of trouble, economic mismanagement, corruption of the One Party ruler, the usual story. In the late 90s it was probably one of the poorest countries in Africa.

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

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

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

It seems that opportunities for careers (and salaries) in Zambia are attractive enough to keep graduates in, and with that the country will benefit and grow further. Poverty is still an issue, but things are starting to happen. There is still a long way to go but I felt a great optimism emanating from the locals that as not there when I first visited 20 years ago.
   

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #166 on: November 14, 2018, 06:56:24 pm »
***Putting few posts as I will be busy for the next week or so and won't be able to work on this report until next week ***
Day 43 – Zambia, Livingstone, Tuesday 10th of May – 0 kms


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

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

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

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

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

In the afternoon I lazed around, sitting in one of the various harm chairs dotted around the shaded inside garden, and read my book. The place was fine, our room minuscule and our shower gave us an electric shock when touching the taps. If we were dry it was ok, but once I stepped into the shower and got wet, Jeez! Nasty. I had not had a shower giving electric shocks since Bolivia!  :lol8:

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #167 on: November 14, 2018, 06:59:25 pm »
We did some research to find accommodation in Lusaka. We usually avoid capital cities, but we needed tyres! No way round it and we could only find them in Lusaka, or few months later in South Africa. We decided to try to change them in Lusaka if we could. In any case, we had no choice, as all the roads go to Lusaka and there was no way to avoid it on our way East.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

She looked at me and said: “what is it, a dish?”. Hmmm….  ???

Seeing the state of the bedroom we decided to inspect the other choices in town.

After a bit of a run around (the second place we looked at was fully booked!) we eventually found a descent and clean guesthouse with large grounds.

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #168 on: November 14, 2018, 07:01:26 pm »
After a long day ride with lots of wind we were rather tired. We ate at the restaurant attached to the guesthouse. Choice was chicken, pork or beef. We took chicken! It was good.




Day 45 – Zambia, Lusaka- 135kms – Thursday 12th July


We were not in a rush, but somehow, we were told breakfast was at 7:30, so we woke up early.

A large group of about 10 or 12 white girls, in their late teens early 20s, arrived with an old bloke who seemed to be  in charge of the group, to have breakfast. I think they could have been Germans. By the time we loaded the bikes they seemed to have a working group going with some locals, sitting in circle in the shaded garden, with pads and notes. The girls seemed very young, so I thought they might be ***students on holiday**** sorry I mean  volunteers doing some stuff around?

We left soon after 9.


For about 70kms, the road was in terrible condition.  As before, we had to slalom to avoid massive potholes. It was also very busy with many trucks. Many of those trucks seemed broken down by the side of the road. I was not surprised considering the state of the tarmac. The weather was cloudy but not too cold.

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #169 on: November 14, 2018, 07:04:10 pm »

We arrived in town around midday. The traffic was going nowhere as all the roads end up in Lusaka and there is no ring roads or anyway to avoid the town centre.

So even massive trucks were sucked into the centre and toward Cairo Road. It was very slow going with minibus drivers and taxis all over the place as well as street vendors walking on the road, between cars, selling anything from jeans or shoes  to trinkets.

We wanted to stop at Best of Bikes, a motorcycle workshop near or on Cairo Road, as we would be riding near their shop. They did not have a proper address. It said on their website they were on Cairo road, the main road in Lusaka. But Cairo Road is a very long road.

In the end, we stopped at a petrol station and Alistair went on foot try to find the place, based on Google Map guessed location, but it was not where Google Map said it was!

So we decided to ride to the Airbnb flat. That also took a while. I just wanted to get out of the heavy insane traffic, as it was rather stressful.

The Airbnb place was off the main road, through a dirt road with a big tall metal gate. They had a very large garden, perfectly maintained. Perfect for our bikes. Our studio was at the bottom of the garden, in a separate building to the main house, and had a little kitchen and a nice terrace facing the garden. It was beautiful.

After getting changed, we walked to the local supermarket.


Our AIrBnB street (rather typical of the area):
 
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Offline mtr89

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Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #170 on: November 15, 2018, 12:05:53 pm »
Awesome ride report, Maria!!!
Really am looking forward to the rest of this adventure.
Thank you for sharing this with us/
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Offline Poenabul

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #171 on: November 15, 2018, 03:49:45 pm »

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


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

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

I have so many projects, so many places I want to ride to and so many countries yet to explore! I just need more time and money  :angel4:

Sounds exiting as long as you share it on this forum
Don't judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree........
 

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #172 on: November 20, 2018, 04:45:55 pm »
By then it was mid afternoon and we needed some food. We got enough for a snack and dinner. We decided that Alistair would ride the next day to Best of Bikes and check their tyres. If they were good quality I may also change my rear tyre. My Shinko tyre could still go on for a while. For Alistair, his Mitas rear tyre was looking very tired and had to be replaced.

The flat had a washing machine so we decided to do a big load with almost all our clothes.
We were staying in Lusaka until Sunday. I had to do some planning for the next few days of travel across eastern Zambia and our visit to South Luangwa National Park. Long distances with little fuel and campsites. And Alistair needed to do a bit of maintenance on the bikes.

The best of plans….

More walking in Lusaka:



Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #173 on: November 20, 2018, 04:49:27 pm »
Days 45 to 50 – Zambia, Lusaka ( Friday 13th to Tuesday 17th July)

Friday morning Alistair rode to Best of Bike to check out their tyres. They only had cheap bad quality Chinese tyres and even the staff there advised him to keep the Mitas (CRF rear tyre).

In the afternoon we walked to the local shopping mall. We were staying in an AirBnB and had a small kitchen so we wanted to cook some vegs. The little studio flat was located in the back garden of a large mansion, behind a tall metal gate. All the area was like that: big plots with big one-storey buildings and very large gardens. Everyone had security but nothing too bad. It was obviously the nice area of Lusaka as the Parliament was a short walk away with High Commissioners mansions and embassies around.

The city, however, is built for cars with no pavement for walkers. So you either walk on the road, with the cars or across the front gardens and piles of dirt, rocks, and rubble that constitute the sides of the road/street, as well as very wide deep open drains. A health and safety officer would have a fit!

On Saturday morning, as Alistair was doing some maintenance on the bikes, as we were planning  to leave the next day. He cleaned the oil gauge glass on my bike. The glass fell inside the engine! Big “Oops” moment.

He contacted Best of Bike and had to push my bike to their showroom, a good 5 kms away, leaving a trail of oil all the way! He was in a rush at the shop was closing at noon for the weekend, so he had to deliver my bike before closure. No pressure!  :o

Then the bike had to be trucked 35kms away to their workshop.


Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #174 on: November 20, 2018, 04:52:18 pm »

The workshop closed at lunchtime on Saturday and reopened only the following Monday, so there was not much to do but wait.

I spoke with the Airbnb owner and we were able to stay until Monday. After that they had a guest.

We investigated few local hotels in the area. The bike would not be looked at until the workshop opened, after the weekend break. So no chance to leave town on that day.
 
With only one bike, we looked for a hotel or guesthouse close by. The problem was that both Booking.com and Google Maps locate hotels in completely random places and often miles away from where they really are.

This happened to us a lot also in Russia and Central Asia. You think your hotel is in the town centre, as showing in the map, and you end up miles out of town in the middle of nowhere. That is if you can it in the first place! More often that not, we could not.

Anyhow, after a lot of walking around on Sunday, Alistair located a guesthouse that had room for us, about a mile away.

So on Monday, he took some luggage there on his bike. Then he came back and picked up more stuff (tank bag, backpack, small roll bag). Then he came back and picked me up.

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #175 on: November 20, 2018, 04:54:11 pm »
The hotel was rather run down but it was fairly cheap at 40 USD per night, including breakfast, so that would do.

After that we contacted the mechanic dealing with my bike. They confirmed the XT would be ready and back in town the next day (Tuesday). We just had to wait another day.

So the next day we finally picked up my bike. I had to ride pillion on the CRF, which is not great as it has no passenger’s foot pegs.

The mechanic had to reuse the crankshaft cover gasket and glued the gauge window. It should last until we are back in the UK. Then I will need to order few parts from the US.

On the way back, we rode to the local Honda dealer, to check if they had tyres. They did not. So we would have to carry on and hope our back tyres would last until we were back in South Africa. It was highly unlikely that we would find tyres in Malawi or Mozambique.


After that, once we dropped the bikes, we walked to the mall to get some supplies for few days camping in South Luangwa National Park. I took also the opportunity to investigate and plan more precisely our itinerary across Malawi and Mozambique and agree the details with Alistair. We decided to avoid Zimbabwe, as they had the presidential elections at the end of July, and things could turn hectic there.
Finally, we were ready  to leave Lusaka!


« Last Edit: November 20, 2018, 04:55:23 pm by maria41 »
 

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #176 on: November 20, 2018, 04:58:07 pm »

Day 51 – Zambia, near Petauke (Chimwemwe lodge) – Wednesday 18th July, 410 kms


We left Lusaka early and only stopped for fuel at the last fuel post for a long time. Our map showed a good 320kms without petrol stations, so we also filled the 5 litre canister. In the end, mid way, we came across a new petrol station. The buildings were still in construction, but they were open for business.




The road, for half way, was rather boring and busy. It was lined with constant traditional villages (small huts and mud houses) lined with constant cyclists and walkers, women carrying water on their head, kids in school uniforms, men walking around…. not much privacy for a quick pee stop. And many goats, pigs, donkeys and cows wandering around.

In one small village, a massive coach came in the opposite direction. As usual, goats were on the road. 2 small kids (baby goats) in particular, did not look like they would move.

They were standing on the incoming traffic line. I slowed down, expecting them to jump in front of me at any time. An incoming coach came at full speed, only vaguely hooting, the 2 goats did not move. As I came to the level of the coach and goats, all I heard was a big “thump” noise. The driver did not even bother to slow down! I gasped in horror.

 I did not expect that!

People along this road are visibly very poor; a goat is worth a lot to them. I understood though why the big buses had massive metal bumpers! They would stop or slow down for nothing!
 
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Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #177 on: November 20, 2018, 05:13:02 pm »
Our staple food while camping was peanut butter and bread for breakfast, with coffee, and tins of curried mix vegs, tin of baked beans, bread, bags of instant noodles, salted peanuts and biscuits.

And no one has introduced you to biltong on your travels in Africa?!!!! :eek7:
The best road food there is. :deal: :drif:
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Offline shark_za

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Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #178 on: November 21, 2018, 07:52:56 am »
Its also very pricey compared to the rest.  Nothing a few Euro cant solve.
 

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #179 on: November 21, 2018, 04:44:50 pm »
In term of food, tins and bread are easy to carry and pack small. In Mongolia we ate often pot noodles and Russian tinned sardines with stocky Russian bread (I can always post the ride report in here if there is enough interest). Again, it was easy and small to pack and carry those. And after few very dubious meals we avoided all meat in Mongolia and would get eggs and rice as breakfast anywhere we could. We stuffed our face once we went back into Russia!

The Biltong I found on the road was not very tasty and super salty, and Alistair is (usually) vegetarian. Also when breakfast was on offer, it was usually huge, which was enough food for 24h. None of us is  a big eater, as you may have noticed.
We had great meals and toasted sandwiches everywhere we went. Sometimes, even the Malawi version of fast food (in Lilongwe)!
 But for camping in remote locations, tins were useful and could last long. 
To be honest we both expected to lose weigh in this trip, but instead, Alistair put on 5 kgs! Especially once we crossed back into South Africa! All those massive breakfasts!  :biggrin:

Also what I forgot to add is that we often can find snacks on the road: pies, samosas and "food in Pastry " parcels everywhere in the world, named Pirojky, pastries, samosas, pies, empanadas etc... they all have the same idea: some pastry with food inside, usually very hot!

They are usually very nice as well and filling and are easy  to find in supermarkets, fuel stations, corner streets etc.
We had many of those in all our trips.

Why carry lots of cooking stuff (oil, rice, salt, pots and pans etc) and lots of food when you can buy ready to eat food anywhere, cheaply, on the go? Cooking on a fuel stove is not great either. Also this keep us with minimum luggage and weigh.
In south america we used to take the full set menu at lunch time which was incredibly cheap (1$) tasty and very big. It really depends on the country and price of eating ready made food.

« Last Edit: November 21, 2018, 05:01:18 pm by maria41 »
 
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