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Author Topic: Niassa, Chucky Norris and John the Baptist.  (Read 36383 times)

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Offline Metaljockey

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Re: Niassa, Chucky Norris and John the Baptist.
« Reply #20 on: February 27, 2009, 05:15:56 am »
So, not having slept, we hit the road at about 08:00. It will be a long day. Hereís the route.



 
We ride the whole day to arrive in Lichinga at night. Lichinga is the capitol of Niassa and quite a sizable place.

I have only one picture to show. A quick pitstop at the first bar just past the Moz border post.




Finding camping in Lichinga at night turns out to be quite a mission. We get lost and ride around a barrier to go down a closed street. This turns out to be the street of  the Governer of Niassaís residence. This road gets cordoned off after dark and is guarded by AK47. Our patent ignorance shows though and we get redirected and luckily not shot.

We finally find a Ďlodgeí where we can camp. It looks abandoned and has no electricity, pitch dark and we are the only people there. Two staff members make an appearance and indicate that we can stay but there is no food. They have cold beer though and no man can ask more after a long day of riding.

We are happy, we made our target for the day and we are nice and deep into Mozambique where none of us had been before.

Our first impressions of this part of Moz is that it is not pretty. For the hundreds of kilometers that we did, everything around was either burnt or cut down or both.

Where the lake is about 400m above sea level, Lichinga is situated in the highlands,  1500m up. It is a little fresher but we sleep in the open as the bungalows that are offered are on the expensive side. Especially as there is no hot water, lights or anything else for that matter.


« Last Edit: February 27, 2009, 05:47:48 am by Metaljockey »
 

Offline Metaljockey

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Re: Niassa, Chucky Norris and John the Baptist.
« Reply #21 on: February 27, 2009, 05:40:42 am »
 
Today we want to get back to the lake. Maps of the Mozambican side of the lake shows almost no roads, so we expect the place to be sparsely populated.

Our route for the day;




Everybody ready, bikes warming up and there goes my clutch cable. The one I personally inspected before the trip. And it breaks inside the housing, no end sticking out.

Itís Sunday morning. Luckily the informal sector doesnít respect business hours.

The owner of the lodge pitches up and and after having stripped the cable out, he takes us  around Lichinga to find a mechanic.

Hennie has a spare length of cable that we can slide into the housing, we just need to fit the ends which we donít have. The knob on the KTM cable is made of plastic, so we cannot re-use it. So we make one up and braise it onto the cable.




Meanwhile the locals show off their skills.




Iím again amused at what holds vehicles together over here, check out the leaf spring fix and the tie rod end.






Anyway, the short version is that when you heat up a cable like that it goes brittle. Twice we go back to fit and twice it snaps before we can even get out of town.

So finally with local help we trace a used cable that came off some abandoned jalopy. This one has the lead knob on one end and when we fit it, it seems to work.

Our guide that took us to a variety of backyard mechanics.




With all this commotion we get away a little late. I am really keen to get to the lake again. Over here it is called lake Niassa. A little silly seeing as niassa means lake. Iíve never visited the Moz side of the lake and there are not many tourists that do.

Niassa province has always been known as the forgotten province. Its over here.




To reach it from within Moz you have to brave some pretty bad unpaved roads for several days. There really is just one arterial road connecting Lichinga to Pemba. In the rainy season, it becomes unusable, even to 4 wheel drive vehicles. This effectively cuts Lichinga off from the rest of Mozambique until the rivers go down again.

Ironically, this remoteness is the very reason that the civil war had less impact than in the rest of the country. Many people fled to live in the bush here and even the animal population survived the war.

The previous night we ate dinner in town and met one of the locals who told us some interesting things. The previous leader, Samora Machel, had a habit of sending a truck to criticís houses at night to pick up the whole family, who then were unceremoniously driven up to Niassa and dumped in the bush. The understanding was that this was very accommodating of the President and if the unwanted person was so foolhardy as to make his way back down to Maputo to reclaim his house or business, he should not expect to live very much longer.

We hit the road on the way to Metangula, a settlement on the lakeside. It turns out to be a very entertaining road as Lichinga is situated on the highlands and the road winds down with many twists and turns. What makes it even more entertaining is that the asphalt is covered with a thin layer of river sand, maybe to make it last longer, who knows?

When we get to Metangula we are met with not much more than some huts and this ancient tree.




We see a road split off to the north skirting the lake edge, this is not indicated on any maps we have, but we decide to follow it as far as it will take us. If we are lucky, it will take us right up to Cobue, our target for the day.

It turns out to be a lovely road that quickly turns into a lovely track that quickly turns into a lovely voetpaadjie. We also find that contrary to expectation, there are many people staying here and we pass through village after village, scaring the poop out of chickens and some people.

We notice that the houses here are prettier than in Malawi, check these out.







Interesting titbit; the roof lasts about 6 months before having to be re-thatched. The thatch is not personally collected, you buy it from grass cutters, whose only job is cutting thatch and selling it.

Our late start have us running out of daylight pretty quickly though and we start looking for a place to camp. Some locals direct us to a wide beach and we pull in.

Very quickly the local chief pitches up and there are all kinds of discussions re permission to stay over, what mission we are on, where are the others etc. The fact that we are just four guys riding for pleasure is a concept that turns out to be almost impossible to grasp here.





This beach is one of the places that the Ilala Ferry stops. It has a lighthouse, and taking pictures apparently is a no-no. Iím sure it is still some suspicion left over from the war. This area is clearly not visited much by strangers. After writing down all our details we are welcome to make ourselves at home.

That night we are backlit by a huge brush fire. We finish off the warm beers that we brought and unknowingly set a trend for the next two weeks. This would be the first of too many too warm beers.




Finally I am where I wanted to be, the western shore of Lake Malawi. I sleep well.




« Last Edit: February 27, 2009, 05:48:32 am by Metaljockey »
 

Offline Smithey

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Re: Niassa, Chucky Norris and John the Baptist.
« Reply #22 on: February 27, 2009, 09:11:04 am »
You do some fantastic rides MJ, keep it coming  :thumleft:
 

Offline growweblaar

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Re: Niassa, Chucky Norris and John the Baptist.
« Reply #23 on: February 27, 2009, 09:28:49 am »
Nice! True adventure :thumleft:

I remember when we were at the lake on the Malawi side, there was always a pall of smoke hanging on the Moz side. Are these just bush fires? Sugar cane?


I love this pic :). Classic mud-brick house, owner-built:

 

Offline >Herman<

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Re: Niassa, Chucky Norris and John the Baptist.
« Reply #24 on: February 27, 2009, 10:13:27 am »
 :thumleft:

Nice  :ricky: report MJ.

Offline bmad

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Re: Niassa, Chucky Norris and John the Baptist.
« Reply #25 on: February 27, 2009, 12:15:07 pm »
As always, very well written and even though i cannot see the pictures, i can imagine it  :thumleft:

Will check the pics out over the weekend at home
I'm not a complete idiot, some parts are missing!
 

Offline Nardus

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Re: Niassa, Chucky Norris and John the Baptist.
« Reply #26 on: February 27, 2009, 12:19:52 pm »
Daas hy - goei mielies MJ !!!!!!
Let the snake slide and the lizzard slither and LET IT BE !
 

Offline redtiger

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Re: Niassa, Chucky Norris and John the Baptist.
« Reply #27 on: February 27, 2009, 12:24:00 pm »
Nice report and great photos thanks for posting.
 

Offline CHorse

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Re: Niassa, Chucky Norris and John the Baptist.
« Reply #28 on: February 27, 2009, 12:37:49 pm »
Brilliant report and great pictures.

Can't wait for the next "chapter"
 

Offline IceCreamMan

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Re: Niassa, Chucky Norris and John the Baptist.
« Reply #29 on: February 27, 2009, 12:41:27 pm »
........Nardus and myself playing bawu.........

Interesting game that, a barman there in Quirimba tought us to play  ... about a year ago. (Pity I was not there on a bike)

Barlady taught me the game at planet boabab in botswana on a bike trip  :biggrin:
Swim.Bike.Run.Eat.Sleep
 

Offline Jules

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Re: Niassa, Chucky Norris and John the Baptist.
« Reply #30 on: February 27, 2009, 03:21:26 pm »
Wow Nice!

Gota make my way out there ASAP


Jules
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Offline JourneyMan

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Re: Niassa, Chucky Norris and John the Baptist.
« Reply #31 on: February 28, 2009, 05:47:24 am »
Another classic from MJ. 8)

Great RR! :thumleft:
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Offline Paulsky

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Re: Niassa, Chucky Norris and John the Baptist.
« Reply #32 on: March 01, 2009, 04:26:09 pm »
Shit what a cool ride so far!
" TARRED ROADS , JUST ANOTHER PERFECT EXAMPLE OF NEEDLESS,  SPENDING BY THE GOVERNMENT"
 

Offline Chuck U Farley

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Re: Niassa, Chucky Norris and John the Baptist.
« Reply #33 on: March 01, 2009, 05:00:02 pm »
When I'm big one day, I want to be a fearless adventurer like MJ!!!

Don't leave us waiting too long for more chapters!!
go BIG or go home
 

Offline Metaljockey

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Re: Niassa, Chucky Norris and John the Baptist.
« Reply #34 on: March 01, 2009, 06:53:40 pm »
The next morning before sunrise Iím up to take a couple of pics.













When the first rays flow down onto the beach, Hennie and his bike are there to receive the blessing.




Hereís my lodgings for the night.







This boat sank during the night.




Not a problem fo rthe owner and in short thrift it is recovered and fitted out with mast and sails. The fish ainít gonna catch themselves.




Feathered fishermen also start their day of toil.




I just love Baobabs. Nardus getting ready for the dayís ride.




Some of us applied our minds when we pulled up the previous afternoon, some of us did not.




The early morning riding is easy and pleasant as can be. The crop on the left is cassava, more about that later.




We get drawn to a pub by the blaring speakers. Nardus dances an ethnic jig because life is good man, life is great.




Maybe I should qualify that, life is great for all of us except Hennie. Look at that face.




Somewhere he picked up a stomach bug and today is going to be the day that he would rather forget.


We settle in to enjoy some breakfast beers while Hennie disappears off into the bush.

This is where the music is powered from.




We quickly draw spectators.




By the way, the beer we are having is Castle Milk Stout. Very dark, very sweet, plenty strong and it is often used by new mothers to get their breasts lactating. Yes, good shit. You donít need no breakfast if you have two or three of these. Did I mention they were warm?

Arty Aqualine pic.




Mattel hasnít reached everywhere yet.




Self portrait; the day was heating up nicely.




I want to get to a 'lodge' owned and run by the local population. The problem is that I have only read about it and we have no idea where it is. It is on the lake though so we keep going north, hugging the lake on increasingly diminishing tracks. This is our second day of riding where the GPS has no tracks. The new version of Tracks 4 Africa will be more complete, you can thank me later.













Very good riding and lovely scenery.




Here and there we are made to work though.







That there is a brand new bike. Damn!







Hoe later hoe kwater, as the heat intensifies, so do the terrain.




This is bad news for Hennie, he looks like shit and we start to worry that it might be malaria. He does not have a headache though, so we hope for the best and he soldiers on. Well maybe soldier is not the word, more like flounder.

At one stage I take Hennieís bike down an ugly section and the next thing Nardus and his behemoth come storming down the mountain and he takes out my parked bike. Those 950s can keep a line, whether you want them to or not.




Where ever we stop for a break, Hennie uses his opportunities, and orifices, all of them.
 



What can you do? We wait.




We were to see many of these beautiful trees.




Mango trees.




Hennie; wondering how long this day is going to be.




On the advice of locals we swing away from the greenery next to the lake.




We have to cross some mountains, or rather hills, to do a loop into the interior before we can reach the lake again. Like this.







A lot of it is navigating by intuition, we donít do too badly though.







The heat is something fierce here, but the most excellent paadjies makes up for it.




Now and then we need to stop and regroup, as two of us scout tracks, while two wait to see if it is the right way.




Things are going a bit slow, so I amuse myself with the camera.




Another self portrait, Iím the guy in the glasses.







Hennieís diminishing powers has him at wits end. Every time he needs a little muscle, he doesnít have it and he goes down.







Even my bike seems to be feeling a little weak in the knees.




The bikes are starting to show some wear.




Still, when we get to ride on top of the hills, it is Nirvana.




We can finally get some airflow over the radiators, and our heads, which is a relief.







Periodically we come to areas that are burnt. This was to be a common sight for the full duration of our trip in Moz.




New life giving the ashes the finger.




We stop once we reach a marked road again with the idea to lie down in the shade for half an hour. Within two minutes we realize that the heat will kill us, much better to keep riding and generate air flow. So we continue.










After going down a couple of dead end tracks we get back to the lake again.




We donít waste much time getting in the water. Today is also the first day that we start drinking lake water. We used what water we had in the hills.




Not much further and we get to the lodge I was looking for.




Itís heydays clearly over, we are the only guests.




It has basic huts and wonderful views.




We are very happy to be here though and the staff are very happy to have us. Someone is sent to fetch beer and 20 minutes later we wade into warm Black Labels. When I say warm, I mean 28-30 degrees Celsius.

For a snack we have some cassava (or manioc as it is known elsewhere) prepared. It is a root that can be fried, boiled, mashed, eaten raw and a lot more. Throughout Africa it is used to still hunger pains, it can grow anywhere. This is what it looks like.







The lodge is situated on a scenic peninsula, really an ideal spot. Reminds me of the Seychelles.




These kids had a whale of a time until they were chased away by  the staff.










While all this joy of life stuff is going on, Hennie is down for the count.




Check out the sail on this mokoro.




We ordered chicken and msima for lunch and it is served under the beach pergola. These guys are looking after us really well. Even the beer goes down to 26 degrees after being kept under a wet towel.




Howís this for lunch with a view?




Having eaten well, and deserving a bit of rest, we spend the afternoon horizontally.










Peace descends upon the valley.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2009, 07:55:43 am by Metaljockey »
 

Offline Kaboef

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Re: Niassa, Chucky Norris and John the Baptist.
« Reply #35 on: March 01, 2009, 07:21:50 pm »
Very nice.
Impressive photos, respect.   :thumleft:



« Last Edit: March 01, 2009, 07:22:26 pm by Kaboef »
And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, "O Lord, bless this thy hand grenade, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy."
 

Offline Paulsky

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Re: Niassa, Chucky Norris and John the Baptist.
« Reply #36 on: March 01, 2009, 08:12:45 pm »
All I can say is "Fuckit but this is a cool ride report"
" TARRED ROADS , JUST ANOTHER PERFECT EXAMPLE OF NEEDLESS,  SPENDING BY THE GOVERNMENT"
 

Offline Bakkie

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Re: Niassa, Chucky Norris and John the Baptist.
« Reply #37 on: March 01, 2009, 08:20:02 pm »
jusso
There are no short cuts to anywhere worth going!
Performance is paramount, niceties only exist if it doesn't affect performance.

Don't rush it, it's helmet time you need, not a destination. Take it easy.
 

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Re: Niassa, Chucky Norris and John the Baptist.
« Reply #38 on: March 01, 2009, 08:45:09 pm »
man oh man, brilliant.  you guys are d/s riding the way most of us wish we could, and we/i will one day, thanks for the inspiration!  :thumleft:

africa is amazing.
 

Offline Chuck U Farley

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Re: Niassa, Chucky Norris and John the Baptist.
« Reply #39 on: March 01, 2009, 08:53:23 pm »
Hardcore man!!!
Mods, like all of MJ's RR's, this one should go straight to the roll of honour!!!
go BIG or go home