Thursday, December 23, 2010

Trip Complete!

So yesterday we arrived in Capetown for lunch, followed by a very scenic ride around the coast to the Cape Point, also known as the cape of good hope. The trip is all but over. Around about 13,000 miles in total. The old Honda has been a trusty companion, especially given its age and mileage (it began the trip with just under 60,000 miles on the clock). With the exception of a new battery in Tanzania, and the odd bit of altitude sickness, it hasn’t missed a beat. Just shows that you don’t need to spend the earth to do this trip. It can be achieved on a very modest machine and budget.

In the last two weeks we have passed through Namibia, visiting the sand dunes at Sosusvei, then heading south to the Fish river canyon, before hitting the South African border. The roads have been a mixture of tar and smooth gravel, the later taking a bit of time to master, but certainly great fun. The roads in Namibia are some of the best we have encountered on the trip, including the loose gravel sections.

The border crossing into south Africa was smooth and efficient, proving that we really are back in a developed civilised country. We followed the coast road down to Cape town, camping for an extra couple of nights along the way. The ride was quite boring to begin with, just hot dry deserted land, and long straight sections of tarmac road. Then we rode into wine country, and the temperatures fell as we neared the coast. With all the campsites booked out, we were offered a backyard to camp on by a local Afrikaans man who noticed we were in trouble. Turns out he was another keen over Lander himself. He also worked in the wine industry, so we had a constant supply of South African Sauvignon Blanc ‘forced’ upon us! So thanks to Stavi for making our first night in SA an accommodating and enjoyable one.

So now we are going through the process of sorting shipping and flights back to England. Actually its proving to be easier than we anticipated, due to us accumulating a few contacts along the way. Our flight back to England is booked for the 29th of Dec. Back to the cold dark damp England. I think we will make the most of our last few days in the sun, by organising a vineyard tour! Not a bad way to celebrate

Monday, December 13, 2010

Livingstone to Namibia

Quick update. We are now in Namibia at the coast. So we've officially crossed Africa, now we just have to do north to south. Capetown is near.

From Livingstone we ducked into Botswana where we did a flight over the Okavango Delta. Pretty cool, with plenty of game to be seen. We have been travelling with Max and Jacob, a couple of Germans travelling on KTM's. Good guys. Tommorow its off to meet Craigs girlfriend Eve in Windhoek. Almost out of Internet..... more later.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tanzania to Livingstone, Zambia.

Since the last update we have been putting in some big riding days. From Arusha, Tanzania we have been travelling south fairly quickly, crossing the border into Malawi, and then across into Zambia. Highlights along the way; Lake Malawi, a huge blue fresh water lake that seems more like an ocean with golden sand beaches. Great chill out spot. Livingstonia; A very rough steep and winding 4wd track that rises above the lake to a small town with old colonial style buildings. Worth a look. The church has a stained glass window of David Livingstone, the great explorer. The ride up the road was also good fun.

So now after a few more long days (MP3 music player essential kit) we’ve reached the town of Livingstone and the Victoria falls. The backpackers (Jolly boys) here is a great setup. Seems very popular with over Landers as we have been reunited with some familiar faces from further north (Namely Peter in his Landrover and the Irish trio of Podge, Jane and John. Today we visited the falls, and tomorrow its white water action on the Zambezi River!

9000 miles travelled. About 2000 to go. We’ve been lucky so far with no major breakdowns. I’m still running the original tyres (Craig and Neil changed their rears in Nairobi. Not even a puncture to repair yet - touch wood. The bikes had there final service a few days ago. Hopefully its smooth sailing down to Capetown.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nairobi to Arusha, Tanzania.

So we arrived at Jungle Junction in Nairobi, a renowned over Landers stop. This place is an overlanding Mecca with many 4wds, motorcycles and trucks parked in front of a large communal house. A great place to catch up on internet, and suck up information from other travellers. We were also reunited with Max and Jacob, a couple of German guys who we met earlier during the trip. Just down the road, a very modern shopping center, and a large supermarket. We spent a few days here resting, before Craig and I rode north to lake Naivasha, lake Begoria and also lake Baringo where we camped for the night. During the night we had Hippos grazing next to our tent. Perfectly safe we were told, as there was a guard who would shimmy them off if they got too close.

So back to Nairobi where we had left Neil to sort out his clutch cable. Another night at Jungle Junction and we headed for the coast, firstly stopping in Mombassa for some brief sightseeing, then onto Tiwi beach. We were greeted with gorgeous white sand and clear blue water. That afternoon we lit a camp fire and cooked fresh fish. Bloody Beauty mate.

From Tiwi it was into Tanzania. We decided to take the more direct route to the border, which included about 170km of pot holed tarmac and gravel, with the later being easier. We stamped out of Kenya and had to travel down a very poorly maintained road to the Tanzanian immigration. This road really was ‘no mans land’ with some of the slipperiest mud we had encountered on the trip. I dropped my bike four times over a distance of about five hundred meters, discovering that my front guard was choked with mud, and the front wheel was hardly turning. Also our boots had smooth soles making it very difficult to hold the bikes up. Neil crashed when a local guy on a 125 scooter ploughed into him. The stuff of real adventures can be found just between the border posts it seems. Crazy.

With the Carnet stamped, visas paid for, and my front mud guard cleaned out, we headed towards Moshi for the night. On the way we got a glimpse of mount Kilimanjaro, with its snowy peak just portruding out of the clouds. Quite lucky at this time of year. That night we chatted with a Japanese traveller who gave us good info on how to organise a budget Safari to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. So off to Arusha the next morning and onto a Safari we went the next day. Beginning at Lake Manyara national park we watched Elephants, Monkeys, Giraffe and Hippos among other things. The next Day we drove out to the Serengeti, a huge expansive plain of wilderness. There we sighted a Cheetah, Leopard eating its kill, more giraffe, a family of Lions playing and countless Zebra and Wilderbeast. The last day we entered the Ngorongoro crater, an giant extinct volcano renowned for a high concentration of wildlife gathered in one place. We weren’t disappointed when we were greeted by lion sitting at the edge of the road devouring their kill.

So tomorrow its down to business again. We have another 4000 miles to put in before reaching Cape town. Next country is Malawi, followed by Zambia, Botwana and Namibia where we meet Craig girlfriend Eve. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Addis Abeba to Isiolo, Kenya

From Addis we have been moving fairly swiftly south, making up for lost time. We spent the first night in just out of Shashemene close to some nice hot springs. Shashemene is apparently famous for its Rasta image, and the locals told us there were definitely ties to Jamaica. Interesting.

One more night spent wild camping and we arrived in the border town of Moyale. From Moyale south the road has a reputation for being the worst in East Africa. Large rocks and very rutted gravel. Historically it is also the most risky due to its close proximity to Somalia. The road has been dubbed the “Bandit Highway”. Fortunately for us the Kenyans have discovered oil not far from Marsabit, and hence the security has now improved and the Bandits are no longer. The road still proved rough and very slow going. It took us nine hours to travel 150 miles to Marsabit, arriving in the dark. My bike shaking its way along the rutted surface.

Day two of the Bandit highway proved more of the same, but for a much shorter distance of 90 miles till the new tarmac road. In Marsabit we awoke to our first African rain, making the first section of road quite muddy and slippery. It was short lived as soon we were back into dessert. We had a few kids throw rocks at us, with Craig landing one right in the chest. The locals are poor, and are shouting, or have their hands out for money at every other twist in the road.

So now as I am writing we are staying in the small town of Isiolo. We are yet to see Mount Kenya, which is still shrouded in the mist, hopefully we’ll get a glimpse as we head towards Nairobi today.

Khartoum to Addis Abeba

So we emerged from what seemed like endless dry dessert into the very green and mountainous Ethiopia. Quite a relief as we climbed higher into highlands and we felt the temperature falling from the forties to a much more bearable mid twenties, even requiring an extra layer in the evening. After another difficult border crossing we spent our first night camping at the side of the road, after Ed hit a giant rock, pinching his rear tube. Ethiopia is a country of 80 million people, making wild camping less than ideal. We were greeted in the morning by the local village kids who informed us that our tent had squashed a tiny piece of crop. One US dollar and they seemed happy.

So onto Gondor the next morning after a great roadside breakfast tasting our first Ethiopian coffee. Good atmosphere in the town, and the gateway for a side trip to the Simian mountains national park. We climbed to above 3000 meters, camping inside the National park for two nights. Some good fun gravel riding, even though my bike was struggling to breathe in the thin mountain air. Spectacular scenery all around. The nights were very cold, with frost in the morning.

We said our farewells to Matt, Kim, Ed, Dave and Steph back in Gondor. We had been travelling with them since Egypt. Craig and I needing make fairly swift progress from this point on, as we were held up in Egypt for three weeks with visa/ferry issues. Neil has decided he will travel with us for the time being. The ride south was an easy one through very nice Ethiopian rolling green countryside on decently sealed roads. My bike was still lacking power due to altitude which slowed the progress at times. We took three days to ride down to Addis Abeba where we were hosted by a very helpful Finnish family. They gave us a room to bunk down in, took us out to a German restaurant (Plenty of international influence in Addis) and even cooked us a proper breakfast. A slice of western comfort for three weary travellers. Thanks to Paivi and yuha for the great hospitality.