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Author Topic: Zambian Joyride  (Read 50436 times)

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Offline edgy

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Re: Zambian Joyride
« Reply #80 on: May 18, 2010, 06:31:37 am »
I think that the big Yamaha might just have been TOO big!
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Offline Nardus

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Re: Zambian Joyride
« Reply #81 on: May 18, 2010, 08:48:08 am »
Holy Smacker - bietjie rof vir my !! Great report, again...

Shot MJ and Hennie
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Offline Spore

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Re: Zambian Joyride
« Reply #82 on: May 18, 2010, 09:05:13 am »
Thanks MJ for another QUALITY & AWE-INSPIRING RR!! You guys are definately up there with the best in the world as far as adventure riding is concerned. Many thanks for sharing with us! I lift my hat for you... :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:
Courage without conscience is a wild beast...
 

Offline Diesel & Dust

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Re: Zambian Joyride
« Reply #83 on: May 18, 2010, 09:23:05 am »
 :director:  Please continue  :director:

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Offline Metaljockey

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Re: Zambian Joyride
« Reply #84 on: May 18, 2010, 09:43:17 am »
Bush camp to Flatdogs





We wanted to do two things in Zambia. The first was to do the northern side of Lake Kariba. We succeeded in that and it was just the most brilliant riding. Highly recommendable. The second is to travel up the bottom of the rift valley, skirting South Luangwa National Park and if possible cross the Luangwa river and ride the corridor in between the North and South Parks. Like this.





Today we start this second stretch.

Camping in the road again.





I tried to dry some of my stuff out overnight, but it had little effect.

The early morning cold makes the camera lens mist up. My camera that stopped working after itís swim yesterday, seems to be recouperating, no screen yet, but it is at least switching on. The amount of grass in this place is just mind boggling.









It looks like this hut was built using a tin can.





Again us and the grass. This was a proper road in the dry season. The only reason we can ride here now is that the villagers kept it open with foot traffic.





What makes the Luangwa valley different to the rest of Zambia is that it lies so low, 500m above sea level, and the fact that it consists largely of black cotton soil.

Cotton soil is the thing we fear most. If we are going to fail in our quest, it will most likely be because of black cotton soil in muddy form.

Cotton soil is a bastard. When it is wet it is clay that defies any vehicular travel. ALL vehicular travel. If you want to move, itís on foot only, and even then it is very unpleasant. It has the consistency ofÖ. well I canít think of something.  Depending on how wet it is, it can be slush or clay that is soft and deep. I saw some elephant tracks that are easily half a meter deep, when I stand in it the ground level is above knee height. Yet it does not close up like normal mud, it keeps itís shape. When it dries it goes rock hard. It has to be physically hacked apart into fist sized pieces to allow vehicles to travel there again. So it is kak when itís wet and it is kak when itís dry.

Throughout the morning we fight our way through grass on a single track, very little airflow here.

















The reason we are able to travel here at all is because this road was constructed of other soil brought in from elsewhere. When you stray off this surface, even just one foot, the cotton soil gets ya. Like so.





The fresh elephant dung isnít helping to lift Hennieís spirits. Towrope time again.





Could this be the end of the road for us?





The surface going in looks good, so we go with the hope that it gets better somewhere out front instead of worse.





We make it but shortly thereafter we come to what looks like the end.





Deep water and a muddy bottom. No visibility through the water to see whatís going on below and we cannot see the end either. A friendly local appears from the bush and assures us that ďthis is a good roadĒ. These Zambians, definitely a different frame of reference. He also walks in to prove his point and Hennie is convinced and he is off.





I take a look at this shit and it really looks like a bad idea to me.


 


Hennie stops somewhere ahead and calls for me to come, so I go.





So we leapfrog and keep going.





Except for one hole where a side stream flows through it is actually not too bad and we make it through to the other side. From here on the road is gone though and the going gets more difficult. We have a track to follow on the GPS but it does not take into account the many places where the road had reverted to large muddy bogs and the various new tracks cut from the bush to go around it.

When we get lost down the wrong track however, you just need to shut down the motor and within minutes you will hear someone shouting to lead you to the right path.





Thick stuff though and sweaty work to get a bike turned around in there. Every time you put a foot out it gets snagged in the underbrush and you have to stop to extract your foot.







It doesnít take long for us to start running low on water.





And then, out of nowhere you run into a teacher on a roadbike with slick tyres.





From here the road starts opening up and we see the first vehicle tracks. Good news, we are going to make it to Mfuwe at least without being turned around.

Also we get to a clear stream where we can fill up on water. Things are looking up.





When we start to get good quality open tracks I start having visions of cold beers at a lodge.





The GPS shows that we should be able to get to Mfuwe by 13h30.That is of course a mistake. One should never get impatient to get somewhere.









We are in a Game Management Area adjoining the park.





We keep riding and riding and It feels like we are getting nowhere. Because this is an area used for game viewing, there are paths all over and with the rains playing havoc, it is dead end after dead end running into mud bogs and washaways.
On top of this I start feeling not so well. I need to stop to rest every so often and am a little disoriented.

I think our eating regime, which consists of coffee in the morning and one meal at the end of the day, is catching up with us.
We have also now been riding hard for more than a week straight and at some stage you can expect your body to figure out that there is a moron in charge and that it needs to protect itself.





We have some goat and kapenta to try to get some octane into the system again.





Thornycroft giraffe, it is different from what we have in South Africa. These are smaller and have a more defined coat. Should make a killer seat cover.









Then Hennie again opts to ride next to the track to avoid a deep mud hole and gets the exact same result as earlier.





The mud holes may be deep but at least there is some traction if you stay in the track. And that brown muck is pleasantly warm when it fills your boots.





F@ck.





This stuff is not doing your chain, sprocket, bushes, bearings or brake pads any good.





After having bodily ripped that loaded 800 out of the bog, we both suffer from pap armpies and shortly thereafter Hennie loses the front on a muddy patch and goes down hard. The right footpeg gets bent right back so that it is not usable anymore. Also one of the 5l petrol containers pops itís top and floods a pannier.
We end up having to burn a lot of stuff that is now unusable.

And so 13H30 passes, as does14H30, 15H30 and 16H30. We finally roll to a stop at Flatdogs Camp just after 17h00. Man, I am glad to get here and man I am finished. It feels like I am living in someone elseís body and that oke is really not well at all.
We agree that we need to take a rest day tomorrow. Hennie needs some time to get his footpeg working again in any event.





The Luangwa river, we are planning to cross it in a couple of days time.









Nice platform tent sites, hippos are in camp every night. You actually have guards walking you from your tent to the restaurant and back. They keep an eye on where the hippos are grazing and make sure that you avoid them.





I sleep like a dead man.



Online Brink

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Re: Zambian Joyride
« Reply #85 on: May 18, 2010, 09:59:41 am »
Awesome :ricky:
I know nothing but I can not prove it,,,,,
 

Offline Rock Rabbit

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Re: Zambian Joyride
« Reply #86 on: May 18, 2010, 10:16:35 am »
What a fantastic adventure. Great report. Keep all those juicy details flowing.
RR
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Offline Metaljockey

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Re: Zambian Joyride
« Reply #87 on: May 18, 2010, 10:45:21 am »
Flatdogs to bush camp



By midday Hennieís bike is sorted and we get restless so we hit the road.

Our plan is to head north on a track that passes through the Nsefu area of the South Luangwa National Park and continue into Luambe National Park where we hope to find a seasonal ferry, used by hunters, to cross the Luangwa. We were unable to get info on the ferry except that it may or may not have been in operation in 2007.

We ask the local guides and they reckon we should not be too worried about the ferry because we are not going to make it that far. It is the track leading north that is the problem, it crosses many rivers and have no bridges.

Hmmmm.

Some elephant just outside camp.





We buy fuel out of containers again in Mfuwe and have lunch of nsima and chicken.





At about 14h00 we hit the road north. We want to sleep as close to the park gate as possible because we are not allowed to be in the park after dark.

To my dismay the track lasts for all of 1.7km before we hit the first obstacle.





It has a steep and deep entry, so in order not to flood the air intake you have to enter slowly. This makes it impossible to get up the sand bank without getting stuck.





After pushing my bike out with help of the kids swimming there, it is Hennieís turn. You can check where the water reached upon entry, just under the air intake.





Predictably he also gets stuck and after pushing him out too he takes a different line than me and gets stuck a second time.









Some more pushing and flushing of the exhaust that filled up when submerged.





Then the second part of the river, easier because there is a run up to get some speed.









Having just poured water out of boots and wringed socks out, we travel another two clicks when we hit the second river.
This one is too deep, there is no way we are going to be able to either ride or push through.





When we planned this trip we spoke to several people that know Zambia and the consensus was that April is too early, the rivers would be too high and the mud would not have dried out yet.

So we knew that we were going to have to deal with deep rivers. A friend of ours, Roger, is one of those crazy hard core enduro nuttters that populate Kwazulu Natal. He often comes down to East London to do a couple of days of Transkei riding. He showed us pics once of how the Natal boys deal with deep rivers. They float the bikes on pontoons that they carry with them.

So Roger puts us in touch with a specialist rubber duck manufacturer, these guys http://www.feralinflatables.co.za. You send them the specs for your bike that include the weight and the distances between axles and pegs and they tailor make a set of pontoons for you.

Have a look at this pic again, the black thing on the back is one of the pontoons.





We are soon going to find out if they know their business or not. This will be the first time that we try this.









Works like a dream.





Coming back for the 800.

















Check the happiness.





The bank on the other side takes a bit of effort.









I notice people slapping themselves hard and what looks like at random until the first tsetse fly lays into me. Then I do the same.

We are pretty chuffed that our pontoons are working, it would have been a bitch if we carried them the whole trip and never got the opportunity to use them.

Sunset and we make camp.





We are well happy. This trip is just so much more man, so much more.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2010, 10:56:57 am by Metaljockey »
 

Offline funacide

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Re: Zambian Joyride
« Reply #88 on: May 18, 2010, 11:03:31 am »
Damn I am loving this.... Awesome reading.
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Offline madmike999

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Re: Zambian Joyride
« Reply #89 on: May 18, 2010, 11:23:13 am »
MJ for President!!!

what a read, like always.

those pontoons, how much weight can they carry, and how do you inflate them?

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Offline JC

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Re: Zambian Joyride
« Reply #90 on: May 18, 2010, 11:24:21 am »
nogmaals, thanks for an excellent report so far and well done!  :thumleft:

MJ I see the locals are very keen to help anywhere, do you feel obliged to pay them, or do you think they expect to be rewarded for helping? They sure look like a friendly nation.

 

Offline Metaljockey

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Re: Zambian Joyride
« Reply #91 on: May 18, 2010, 11:30:48 am »
MJ for President!!!

what a read, like always.

those pontoons, how much weight can they carry, and how do you inflate them?

EPIC

You spec them to carry what you need. These we specced to carry 250kg. It was more than enough, I have no doubt I could sit on top too with no issues.

I used one of these 12v matress inflaters. Inflates in seconds.

Offline rubiblue

Re: Zambian Joyride
« Reply #92 on: May 18, 2010, 11:32:03 am »
Inspiring stuff, well done on the ride and the report, nothing worse than wet boots!
Past; PW50,PW80,YZ80,KX80,KDX200,CR125,KX125,KTM250SX,KTM250XCW
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Offline Metaljockey

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Re: Zambian Joyride
« Reply #93 on: May 18, 2010, 11:33:22 am »
nogmaals, thanks for an excellent report so far and well done!  :thumleft:

MJ I see the locals are very keen to help anywhere, do you feel obliged to pay them, or do you think they expect to be rewarded for helping? They sure look like a friendly nation.



If they did expect payment, they never showed it. But if a grown man wades through water and sweats to get your bike up a bank, then it's just the decent thing to do.

Offline JC

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Re: Zambian Joyride
« Reply #94 on: May 18, 2010, 11:44:14 am »
nogmaals, thanks for an excellent report so far and well done!  :thumleft:

MJ I see the locals are very keen to help anywhere, do you feel obliged to pay them, or do you think they expect to be rewarded for helping? They sure look like a friendly nation.



If they did expect payment, they never showed it. But if a grown man wades through water and sweats to get your bike up a bank, then it's just the decent thing to do.

 :thumleft: I didn't expect anything less from you  :)

 

Offline letsgofishing

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Re: Zambian Joyride
« Reply #95 on: May 18, 2010, 11:50:51 am »
This just gets better and better MJ!
ABSOLUTELY AWESOME :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:
There is nothing you can do about the past and you can't predict the future...all you have is the now...live it to the fullest.

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Offline WheeLZ

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Re: Zambian Joyride
« Reply #96 on: May 18, 2010, 11:55:23 am »
The stuff of dreams!!!
 

Offline PinkGoat

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Re: Zambian Joyride
« Reply #97 on: May 18, 2010, 12:48:50 pm »
Loving the RR!! You guys are truly inspirational!!  :thumleft: :thumleft:

Enjoyed seeing the pics of the pontoons carrying the bikes over... You seem prepared for absolutely everything!!
In the end it's not the number of years in your life that counts, but the life in your years...
 

Offline popipants

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Re: Zambian Joyride
« Reply #98 on: May 18, 2010, 12:52:28 pm »
You gonna need BIG pontoons to keep my GSA from sinking.

Awesome report!!!!
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Offline Big E

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Re: Zambian Joyride
« Reply #99 on: May 18, 2010, 12:54:26 pm »
Awesome stuff, realy makes you wonder what live is really about.
Nou kyk nou net waar het daai hond loop lÍ!