Monday, January 16, 2012

Day 29 - 16.01.12

Got our dry clothes back this morning, was very impressed with the service. Packed up our stuff and settled the room in a mixture of dollars and Malawi Kwacha.
Rode a different but still muddy road out of the lodge and made our way to the border, border crossing went quite smoothly, took a little bit of time to get all the paperwork done but the ladies and gentlemen at the Mozambique border were very friendly (a far differnt experience from my last time I entered Mozambique) we rode to the the first town to try find some petrol and there was only black market and we would have to change dollars to buy as neither of our cards would work at the ATM. We decided to push on, IMO bought 5litre of the stuff on the side of the road (I did not like the look of the stuff!!) and we carried on, I still had my 10litre jerry can on the back and had last fueled up in Mzuzu. This tank of petrol was just lasting and lasting, I was very impressed, but finally it had to end!
Managed to get 576.5km off of a single 23 litre tank of petrol!!

Used up the jerry can and made it to the town just before Tete, where we found something we had both been longing for, a petrol station (if you are travelling and concerned about the long distances, the whole way, there were people selling petrol in bottles on the side of the road). Fueled up and filled the Jerry Can again and we stayed at a place called Hotel Nhungue, all the accomodation in Tete seems quite expensive and this place is on our route out of town and allows us a place to park the bikes off the road and do some much needed maintenance. Got here and after riding through pouring rain on the way here we had both dried out and while waiting for Imo to check out the rooms, the temp guage shot to 42c, got to leave some of my stuff in the sun to dry out like my camera and boots.
Went for a walk a little earlier on to Tete town and take some pics of the Tete bridge(we rode over it earlier on in the day),got to town carrying my camera (in a discreet way) and the Policia wanted to escort me around, 3 guys with machine guns, very friendly but I told them I liked to keep a low profile, so thanks, but not this time. 
Tete Bridge

Welcome to Tete

Found out this evening that there was wifi here and this is how we finally got to catch up with the blog.
Gonna try a long stretch tomorrow and push to Vilankulos and now that there is petrol readily available we can travel at normal speeds! We are both keen on getting home now.

Day 28 - 15.01.12

We got our earlyish start after having some coffee and as we were leaving it started pouring with rain, IMO had a small fall on the soft sand road but all is good and we are both in high spirits, we get on the road and my clutch is not right, I rev and the revs just go up but nothing really bites, still able to ride though, but it cant be healthy for the clutch or the fuel consumption. This is Sunday and I'm thinking who can I phone, I tried phoning one or two people with no luck. I eventually pulled over and got the good ol number 12 spanner out and loosen the clutch adjustment, it is a little bit better, the whole time it is raining and quite nippy. Ride on a little, and then adjust it again, finally I got it right and the bike is going good agan and I am happy again.The big concern with the whole clutch adjustment is also riding up hills as the route to Dedza is apparently quite a mountanous route. We got to the crossroads and decided to follow the GPS to Dedza, the route on the GPS is the shorter route (60km shorter) and bypasses Lilongwe, we were warned by a local that the road is not a good road. But for every warning there were 4 people saying it was a good road. Followed the GPS until it said we must go up a small dirt path and then it recalculated to another route, it was pouring with rain at this time. Following the GPS (she had not let us down yet!!) and next thing we see the signs for Dedza and follow the road in the pouring rain, this takes us up a very steep mountain pass, it is 16c and we are both soaking wet, maximum speed on these sharp bends up the pass is 15km/h and unfortunatley we could not see any of the apparently great views, just cloud and rain.
We got to the top of the mountain pass and in a gap, it looked like we had ridden to the end of the earth!
The edge of the world!!

We got to the Dedza border and a local warned us that the nearest thing to warmth or petrol was at least 60km from the border in Mozambique. I had already done about 475km on this tank of petrol and had been riding on  reserve for the last 70km already, (my last economy run before thr trip I had only got about 425km on a tank!) The recommendation was to stay the night at the Mapika Golf Lodge as this was the best plac in town. So we followed the directions back to the police road block and the local police made the same suggestion and very happily gave us directions, (pleasant chaps!)
We got to the lodge after an intersting muddy road in the rain and we were both soaking wet, were greeted warmly and shown to our room where we got changed into dry clothes and they took our wet stuff to dry for us. Settled down with some soup and enjoyed being dry inside while it bucketed down outside. The soup was great, supper was not so great. Had very comfortable beds compared to the beach cabin so we both slept pretty well.

Day 27 - 14.01.12

We decided last night that we would like to spend another day here at Kande Beach, some overlanders arrived yesterday and we have met a few interesting people, we have also given in all our dirty clothes to get washed this we will only get back late in the afternoon.
In the afternoon a storm came in and it started raining, when the wind got up the calm lake started having some waves the same size as the ones in zanzibar. Met up with a German guy who was travelling with his deaf father, very nice pair of people, they had just come down from doing Kilimanjaro and were using public transport, while we were talking he decided he wanted to swim to the island which is about 800m off shore, and next thing he was swimming past me on his way. Tried the local fish Chombe for supper, this was rather interesting but very boney! We decided we will leave relatively early the next morning for the border to get out of Malawi, we will head for Dedza and apparently there is a route past Selima that ismre direct and shorter.

Day 26 - 13.01.12

After stocking up last night at the local supermarket with peacful sleep and a couple of other supplies, we spoke to Gerard the owner of Mzoozoo and he suggested instead of going to Monkey Bay, rather go to Kande Beach, it was only 100km away and it is very peaceful and a place to enjoy the lake, apparently the view is also better.
We followed his advice and due to it being Friday the 13th, we decided we were going to only travel a very short distance and take it very easy on the roads, dont want to tempt fate too much!

Got to Kande and saw the sign for Kande Beach and followed this sandy road down until we came to a solid gate it had just started to rain as we got there, went inside and it was quite a nicely setup lodge, decided to take a beach cabin and enjoy the view. It was really weird seeing such a large mass of water and it is dead quiet with almost no waves.

Day 25 - 12.01.12

Woke up and and it was not raining anymore(yay!), we left Mbeya, back in the direction of Dar Es Salaam as the intersection is about 10km outside of town, a very scenic road. Just before the border we fueled up at the last petrol station that we will see having petrol for a while! (Also at the same time being bothered by people wanting to change cash for us into Malawi Kwacha at not a favourable rate, $1 to 150MWK or 180MWK) Border crossing was a little bit slow as there was only one teller operating the computer in the back, Imo went and exchanged some cash at the beurea of exchange and got the rate of $1 to 200MWK, as I was going to go exchange someone came and offered us an exchange rate of $1 to 220MWK, our first taste of the black market. Once all the papers were done, we were finally in Malawi!! Now to take it nice and easy, maintain a speed of about 85km/h max of 100km/h to use as little petrol as possible, the colours of Malawi were amazing, very green and the smells are amazing, we had a good laugh as the people on bikes here (like in Tanzania) do not wear crash helmets when riding motor bikes,and with the large number of big bugs hitting our helmets, we agreed that the Malawian version of a breakfast run is a dude riding his bike with his mouth wide open!
The roads are extremely quiet due to the petrol situation. We were riding along and I said to IMO, look dude, the Sea!! And to the side was the lake, it is huge!! It looks like the sea all you see is water until the horizon! Followed the lake for quite a while and this was a very scenic road sticking close to the lake for a while and then on one side is the lake and on the other side of the road is a mountain range (this is the border to Zambia), did some mountain pass riding while still trying to ride at a constant slowish speed and then came across a Japanese contsruction site where they are building a new bridge across a deep ravine with a very strong river below, the makeshift bridge is made of wooden planks but is quite sturdy as trucks still go over it! Was weird riding on planks of wood though.
We made it to Mzuzu and as we rode into town we saw a queue at a petrol station, went to go find out if there was petrol to be told that there was non, the queue was there as a rumour had come to town that a petrol tanker would come either today or tomorrow, we tried another petrol station and were offered petrol off the black market, we decided to stay at Mzoozoo Backpackers as per the Lonely Planet guides recommendation, had an amazing steak and chips and arranged with a local to get us some petrol on the black market,this came and we both topped up our bikes, this was the last time I was goint to get petrol for a while! We both paid the price though, it worked out to almost $3 a litre!

Day 24 - 11.01.12

We left Iringa nice and early on the route to Mbeya, got to Mbeya quite early in the afternoon and unfortunatley as it started raining, got some shelter at a petrol station and waited the rain out, as it subsided we then went back to the Mbeya in and ordered the one thing I really enjoyed there, the Hot and Sour chicken soup done the Chinese way, really amazing!! After that decided to go try find some local coffees and find some mosquito repellent and shoe laces, try find a supermarket in a town like that is another story in total, ended up walking back to the main intersection while getting some odd looks and then found out Town was the other way, went past the Police station, asked them for directions and nobody speaks English, only Swahili so a lot of hand gestures and I got my directions. Bumped into a guy named Laas who had ridden a bicylce equiped with a Game shopping trolley as his trailer solo from Cape Town on his way to Uganda, and he gave me a lot of advice about some of the countries and the alternative routes to take (thanks Laas!) it was quite weird as while we were talking we had a collection of Mzungu's (white folk) all gathered in the centre of the town, an odd sight for the locals! Managed o get some roll on insect stuff from the chemist and some instant coffee from a mini superette at a petrol station next to all the bunched together internet cafe's that apparently have faster internet then in South Africa, (didnt even try!) The funniest part was getting the shoe laces, popped into a few stores and got the same response, dont know what you want, speak swahili, eventually went to a street stall where a guy had a lot of pairs of brand new shoes spread out for sale, i pointed to the laces and was told a price and he pulled them straight off the new shoes and put the shoes back for sale. Still working out where we are gonna get petrol from, spoke to some other South African and a lady who used to live in Malawi, Imo made a few calls and the general response is avoid Malawi if possible ot else come and just buy petrol off the black market, there is nothing at the garages(although still check with each garage as you come in).We agreed that we would have breakfast and push it to Mzuzu in Malawi in the morning. 

Day 23 - 10-01-12

After saying goodbye to Joe(the owner of Makadi Beach Backpackers who had come out early to see us off),we got to leave Makadi Beach nice and early, and squeezed our way amongst all the traffic piling onto the Ferry to Dar Es Salaam CBD, was relatively nice and early, but still had the fight with the rush hour traffic, met with a guy named Simon who was keen on taking us to a meet with his biking club who do weekend outrides on their 250 and 450 enduro bikes down the coast, this would have been very interesting except it was gonna take place after we had already left!.

It felt good to be on the road again, but the ride out felt a lot longer then the ride into Dar Es Salaam even though we weren't having troubles with my bike this time. All seems fine after reseating the regulator (Apparently this is a common problem on the XT660Z)
Bumped into a group of German bikers who were on their way up to Nairobi, they had got their bikes shipped to Windhoek and had ridden their bikes down the West coast, around the Cape and up the East Coast to Nairobi where their bikes would then be shipped back to Germany. A mixture of bikes, BMW GS's, KTM 990's and another XT660Z Tenere in stock standard format.
Was an interesting ride but was long (501km) and with it taking some time to get out of Dar Es Salaam, we ended up getting to Iringa later in the afternoon, this resulted in us sometimes going a little bit faster through some of the towns (all the towns are 50km/h zones and many of them have a person hiding somewhere with a pocket held radar-gun) and of course, this ended up in us getting pulled over, 61km/h in a 50km/h zone, Imran was in front and spoke nicely to the traffic officer and told him that he had been in an accident and just wanted to get to Iringa to relax, the cop after thinking a bit and looking at the bike decided to let us carry on at no extra charge, well done IMO!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Day 22 - 09.01.12

We return to Dar Es Salaam today and then we begin our journey back home through Malawi.  we have made several contacts with lodges in Malawi and have hopefully arranged for fuel to be kept aside for us, hope it works.

we are both suffering with tempremental tummies and really look forward to getting home now.

we will be out of contact for a few days, so Caio!!

Day 21 - 08.01.12

Spent the morning exploring Stonetown, this really is a stunning place and well preserved in its charm.  Loads of little alleyways and intricate doors, the people are friendly and very helpfull, however the Touts are just nasty and can get extremely annoying.

Spent the rest of the day chilling on the beach and got really stuck into "Shantaram", what an amazing book, i cannot put it down.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Day 20 - 07.01.12

Finally reached our destination.....Arrived in Zanzibar today after a stunning ferry crossing.  Amazing teal waters and abundant communities working the oceans.

Stonetown has a really old charm, cant wait to go and explore.  We checked into the Tembo Hotel, probably a 3 or 4 star, we paid for this luxury.....wow!!

Fresh water from the taps (not salt water), we feel refreshed.  Shaun has gone off on some prison tour (thats a very busy boy), i have opted to stick around and chill at the pool.  tonite we are off to the market.

Take care folks!


Well, as IMO stated above, we are here, Zanzibar is interesting with a lot of interesting people, of which most of them are trying to haggle you out of your cash, went to Prison Island on this small wooden boat with one guy steering, the other bailing water out with a cut open bottle, it is about 3.5miles from the main Zanzibar island and apparently was a prison for about 150 yrs, this has been converted into a hotel and still tries to retain some of its original character, saw some of the largest tortioses I have ever seen, one of them was 185yrs old, spent a short time walking around and then went snorkelling a short distance off shore, sea was very choppy (didnt even plan on going snorkelling today, but before leaving Zanzibar got down to the shore and was asked if I had a mask, snorkel and fins or if I wanted to hire) visibility wasnt the greatest but saw a large variety of tropical fish and had these tiny jellyfish sticking to me.. all in all a very enjoyable experience! A note for any travellers, always ask for the best price here, most people are willing to negotiate!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Day 19 - 06.01.12

Woke up feeling like a new man, still a little weak and off centre, but feel great again.  Gonna take another day to chill and we are off to Zanzibar tomorrow.

Day 18 - 05.01.12

Spent the day today pretty much passed out, went onto the mainland with Shaun today to do some shopping.  Got back and slept again....alll day and all night.  feeling pretty homesick now!!

Day 17 - 04.01.12

Had a very chilled out day....Enjoyed a shower, all the taps here pump out salt water.

Organised a Tuk Tuk and went into Dar Es Salaam mainland to "The Slipway" to watch the sunset and had dinner at Addis on Dar, an ethiopian spot with an interesting menu.  Dinner was kinda like a bedouin style experience, with 4 types of dishes placed on some sort of pancake style bread and we both eat out of the same plate, it was delicious. 

The dinner tasted a lot better on the way in than on the way out, i awoke violently out of my deep slumber at 3am with my stomach having had enough of the Ethiopian feast and insisted that the feast returns to mother earth.  and so i spent the next two days being terribly sick!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day 16 - 03.02.12

An early start saw us on the road at first light.  Great ride through the mountains with no traffic.  Stopped for breakfast and got an unexpected treat of coffee and donuts.

This is where we met Giovani, a Tanzanian from Dar Es Salaam who is now living in JHB.  this meeting turned out to be very fortunate (more about this later).

We set off again on our 500 km journey to Dar Es Salaam confident that we wud be there in mid afternoon, all is great.

Then the traffic started and the manic!! Crazy!! Befokked!! Bus drivers got on the road.....no rules for these guys....it turned into a white knuckle ride with Shaun and i constantly on the comms warning each other of whats coming.....see a bus....STOP!! if u have to and let him pass or be crushed!

stopped about 100km from Dar for a water break, the heat at 42 degrees was now unberable.

and the adventure took another twist, Shauns bike has broken down!!!!

Shit, we are loosing time and cannot get to Dar after sunset.

the Bikes battery was stone cold dead, we found someone to have the battery charged and and hour later we set off towards the furthest point in our trip and the ocean.

40 k/m before Dar, Shauns bike stops, its the battery again, its not getting charged.

Its hot, we are tired and cannot think clearly.  so i set off to find someone with a bakkie to get Shauns bike to Dar, after my best Swahili and hand signs, i eventually found a guy with a bakkie at 70USD.

Got back to Shaun, and HEY.......Its Giovani, what good fortune (Giovani is a motor mechanic), Giovani promptly releases the guys in the bakkie (who were clearly unhappy at the loss of business) and explained the plan of action.  We took the battery from my bike and placed it in Shauns bikes and rode while the flat batt charged on my bike.  the next 40 km took ages, bumper to bumper traffic and having to stop and swap batteries all the time.

Giovani escorted us into Dar Es Salaam and all the way to the ferry crossing, what a great guy.......Thanks Giovani!

we get onto a very packed ferry together with pedestrians, motorcycles, cars, trucks, bicycles and head off to South Beach.  off course Shaun and I were the centre of attention, everyone on board stared at us!!

The ferry is a short 5 minute ride to South Beach, againe set off to Makhadi Beach Resort.  This place is stunning, we booked in for 3 nights and got settled.

i spent the night in a hammock on the beach, pure bliss!!

it sure feels great to chill again.

Day 15 - 02.01.12

Woke up to the sound of the Imaam belting out the Fajr Azaan (muslim call to prayer), after a hearty breakfast we set off for Iringa.  Great ride, my spirits have been re-energised since the accident (my first one ever), and somehow i have forund a new level of confidence in my riding.

Got to Iringa and we were emphatecially referred to the Ismillah Hotel by a local.  Great value at 5USD per nite, but what a stench, for those of you that may rember, this place reminded me of Rajab Building!!

Disgusting, is an understatement.

Day 14 - 01/01/12

I wake up, feeling really shit!! this cant be over, shud i continue, i am sooooo scared to ride now!
So i get on the bike and take it for a ride......best thing i ever did, i managed to find the courage to push on......Shaun is elated that i will continue.

So we set off to "town" and try and find a welder to fix the bike. a few hours later thje frame is welded, panniers are back on......a wooden branch is cable tied to the bike to hold the indicators and we are all set.


Lets hit the road now, i wanna get the hell out of Zambia.

we arrived at the Nakonde border post to Tanzania at about 13h00, absolute chaos, the busiest we have seen so far.  we were swarmed by hordes of fixers wanting to assist us.  Eventually settled on Ismail an insurance broker that sorted us out with our Comesa Third Party Insurance.

While waiting for our passports to be stamped, one of the locals had an epileptic fit and knocked my bike over, blood everywhere.....By now i had developed a serious sense of humour and took it in my stride.

Formalities done, we set off into Tanzania.

What a stunning country, without question the best of the trip so far.

we arrived in Mbeya later that afternoon and got settled at the Mbeya Hotel.  Great value at R230 per night.  After a shower (the 1st one in 2 days), we had a great meal, the town is very Muslim and has a strong North Indian influence.

Day 13 - 31/01/11

Ok so the reality is that we are not going to make Dar for New Years Eve, new plan lets make the Tanzania Border and see what happens, 400 km to get there, very achievable.  After an early start and a great breakfast we are off.  The ride has a great momentum and we are thoroughly enjoying the road.  The truckers are crazy though, you see them....stop!! move out of their way and let them go on....only way to be safe.  so we are now about 5 k/m away from a little town called Isoka, nursing the bikes and travelling real slow as we are allmost out of fuel, plan is to limp into Isoka, fuel up and head on to the border.  All going well, Jack Johnson playing on the ipod and i am loving this.

Crunch!!!!......WTF!!!! what was that, it took me a moment to realise that something just hit me, bike went into a speed wobble, WTF WTF!!!!, got on the comms, Fuck Fuck!! Shaun i have just crashed, and i am still trying to regain control of the bike, then this massive Truck and Trailer flies by me, Shit that truck just crashed into me!!!!

This is surreal, how cud this happen?!!....luckily i somehow managed to regain control of the bike, brought it to  a stop and got off, BANG!! the bike fell to the ground, i forgot to kick out the sidestand.....but my back flipping hurts and i feel like throwing up, so here i am on my knees in the mud and Shaun arrives.  Must have been a huge freak out for him when he saw me and the bike down.

Hey Pal....are you ok?.....i am good, i am alive......how the hell i managed to get out of this alive i have no idea!!

The truck stopped a few hundred metres down the road, the driver abandoned the truck and absconded.

By this time, a mob had gathered form the bushes and wanted to look for the truck driver, they were pissed off!!

Ok so what now?

Before i left AK, said to me....any issues in Zambia, call me and i will sort you out.  So at first glance the bike is stuffed, need to get the bike and me home....THIS Trip is over!!!! and i will never ever ride a bike again....Just really stoked to be alive!!

So i call AK and explain what happened while Shaun rode to a nearby police roadblock to get them.

Shaun arrives with the Police in tow, what happened, fortunately everyone in Zambia speaks great english.  Explained the situation, they took measurements etc and arranged for a truck to take the bike back to Isoka, about 3 km away.

on closer inspection we realised that if we remove the pannier boxes and with a little brute force i might be able to limp the bike into town

the plan worked and i managed to get the bike into Isoka, once the police formalities were over, the plan is now to get me and the bike to Lusaka, AK has arranged for a mate with a car carrier to get the bike from Lusaka back home and i will fly back.

The police introduce me to Francis, after negotiating we finally agreed on a rate of 1200 USD to get the bike to Lusaka (900 km away).....i agree cause all i wanna do is get back home.

we then get escorted to Limset Lodge, what a dump!!!

Still in absolute shock, AK and Adam have been on the fone constantly, what amazing friends!!

The fone rings, Hello, its Professor Ngoma, how are you? are you ok? are you hurt? do you need medical attention?

i am okay, thank you.....who are you?

Prof Ngoma is the head of Pediatrics at Lusaka Hospital, AK got in contact with her......WOW!!

So, i finally decide to call Zee, i need to speak with her.........contrary to the drama from everyone else and the calls to come back home......Zee is happy that i am ok and insists that i find a way to go on with the trip..........WTF!!

 I insist that i will go home.  AK Calls again, remember Sabera, an old friend, well she is now married and living in Lusaka, give her a call.

I called Sabs, she is ecstatic that i am ok and wants to help, her husband Lloyd takes over and gets the wheels turning so that i dont have to pay the 1200 USD to get back to Lusaka.

A few hours later Lloyd puts me in contact with My Nyimereka, he is the Deputy Police Commissioner for Lusaka.....WOW!! WOW!!......dont worry son, you are now in good hands, i will get you home.

Back at Limset Dump, i unpack and shaun takes what he needs to continue the journey without me.  i crash at about 9 and sleep through the church bells and fireworks bringing in the new year.