Monday, July 27, 2009

The end

Day 54 again.

We were all blown away by the reception at the Radison. The families and many friends were waiting and it was better than we ever expected.
There is no doubt that it couldn't have been the same to finish in Cairo. We were irritated leaving the city when we started imagine feeling like that at the end?
Thank you to everybody who was there.
This is the end. I now have to do some work.After 8 weeks off when I got to the office I was stopped at reception and had to introduce myself.
I hope you've enjoyed my ramblings. To anybody who ever had the slightest thought of doing it.............................................................


Day 54 and home!

Top of Signal Hill - almost the end

Our first view

We got away from Clan William quite excited for the ride in to Cape Town. There was acertain amount of joking as were ahead of schedule and the dreaded P word was mentioned, in a whisper.
It didn't take long. 10 km out of town, while waiting for Mike to take some photos, I went off the road onto the gravel for a few meters and the impossible happened. Number 21. Quite difficlut to believe.
It was a fantastic day with impossibly blue skies. At 2 degrees it was quite chilly starting but by the time we arrived it was up to about 19. There is no doubt about the Cape's beauty, the country side was stunning and the ride in was amazing. Africa has a lot of very beautiful places and the Cape is one of them.
Being 20 minutes early we shot up to Signal Hill for a view of the city. Unbeatable. Nothing could have presented the Cape in a better light.
We still had to reach the finish line so didn't wait long and then headed off down the hill.
Later. (About 10 minutes.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 51

Day 51 : Okahandja to Keetmanshoop

More progress towards the south.
We left for an easy ride to Windhoek where Mark had plans to have coffee with a friend. Being only 70 km we were there by about 8:30 and left again at 10:30, because of the supposed boring tar we chose a route out into the west towards Walvis Bay.
The riding was all sand and initially I battled to get going. I found the surface very slippery and with quite a lot of loose gravel made the going quite difficult and slow. We had planned a 450km route but after 75 km I was planning on heading back to the tar.
I was then given a quick lesson and I then managed to get my act together. It’s a very unnerving experience riding at 100km/hr plus on a gravel road with the bike doing it’s own thing underneath you. When loose sand or any thing looks uneven you then open up and go faster. Most of the time you’re standing up. All I can say is I was not thinking about coming off! Remarkably the bike does track by itself.
We have got to Keetmanshoop after 650km and have less than 1000 km to Cape Town.
I’m beginning to crave the idea of finishing. It’s been a long time away form home and whilst easy riding than perhaps I’d expected it’s still a long way. We should have ridden about 13500km which is very close to my original budget. I have to admit that I’d created a small buffer by planning the route through the Sudan over t different pages of my map book. That gave us spare mileage and time which we used in Ethiopia. Without it we’d have been a bit tight for time.
We’ll take it easy for the next 2 days, perhaps be able to watch some stages of the Tour.
We’re still on for 12 at the Radisson.

Later Jim.

Day 50

Day 50 After our relaxing day fishing and game viewing we had to set about pushing for home. The plan was to get as close to Windhoek as possible.
After an early and quite cold start we turned towards Rundu at the end of the Caprivi where it opens out. Finally the impossible happened and the yellow bike punctured. Despite me leading 10:7 to Mark’s machine the yellow bike remained out of the race, not having had a single flat. As usual it didn’t take too long to change but enthusiasm for quick changes is wilting.
In the late evening I had yet another flat. This prevented us reaching Windhoek and we stopped at a lodge in Okanhandja, just 70 km short. We found a very nice country hotel and had a good supper and bed.
The roads and country side made for quite easy riding and we did 830km, the longest stretch to date. It does seem that Namibia is an enormous place, we seemed to make little progress towards Cape Town.
After countries with too many people Namibia seemed deserted. Incredible wide open spaces with fantastic bush veld. After Grootfontein there were hundreds of Warthog on the verges. The place is clean and it all looks like it works efficiently.

Till tomorrow. Jim

Day 50

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day 48 at mahlangu Lodge

Day 48 Vic Falls to Mahkangu Lodge

Yesterdays’ ride was another long one.
We got away at a reasonable time and headed 200km down to the border at Katima and the Zambezi River. There’s a bridge there which makes it easier than crossing at Kazungula.
The crossing was quite quick and we then we found some sort of civilization. ATMs that worked etc. It was a quick 100km to the start of the Caprivi Park.and what we had hoped would be elephant country. There are signs along the road warning you of elephants but we rode for miles without finding any. We got so desperate that I had to take a photo of Mike next to a sign. However just before crossing the Okavango River we did find 2, not very close to the road.
The Okavango is the river feeding the Delta. It’s flowing at a good rate but having subsided from the massive floods of earlier this year.
We have been calculating distances and estimating riding time to get us to Cape Town. We’ve still got about 2500km to go. The lure of a day’s tiger fishing has however stopped us at a beautiful camp on the river. We’re going to spend the day here, perhaps with a game drive and booze cruise before pushing quite hard for the last 4 days.

This is Mike: Hello everyone, I’ve finally found the time to punch some insight into this little laptop. My dad usually blog’s while waiting patiently for Mark and I to get ready in the morning. He’s always the first to rise, shake our tents, and pack up before it even gets light, whilst we try catch up on the sleep we lost due to his snoring.

The ‘rest day’ we had in Livingstone 2 days ago was spent swimming for our lives down the Zambezi (very relaxing). Out of the 8 or so rafts (each with 6 rafters) in our group, the three of us were the only ones to opt for the bodyboarding/drown option. The rest of the group really got their moneys worth; getting the pleasure of watching us float down into ‘Judgment Day’ or ‘The Terminator’, along with Marks vulgar commentary. My dad’s helmet looked like it was made out of recycled piss potty, Mark enjoyed telling our fellow rafters this upon arrival and told them they could piss into it at will, whilst my dad’s next to him wearing the helmet.

Yesterday the ride from Livingstone to Bagani (back in Nam) was fairly flat Caprivi bushveld. We had a slight team dilemma after about 200km… Normally Mark and I ride faster than my dad, keep checking the review mirrors, and make sure he’s still in range by waiting every 10 minutes or so. After our lunch stop at 200km, my dad zoomed off on his own mission, as he often does, and thought it would be funny to ride fast so that we wouldn’t catch him so quickly. Us two chasers were messing around with ipods and gave him about 5 minutes. We then rode pretty damn quickly for 30 mins and still didn’t catch him. We then waited on the side of the road. We acknowledge that my dad’s GPS is broken and his phone is dead, maybe he’s lost his marbles and ridden off in the wrong direction, crashed into the Zambezi or something. At his usual pace we would have caught him a few km’s down the road. We then carry on all the way to the next town, 110km from the last stop, to find him sitting under a tree with a smart arse look on his face. We didn’t think it was so funny, anyway, we became friends again.


We’ve just got in from a wonderful morning on the river which is a really beautiful part of Africa. Willy our driver kept telling us how September was the month for fishing, so good in fact that the fish sometimes jump into the boat. We did however get 2 really nice fish, Mark also getting wildly excited when hooking a tree and a reed bank.
We were in the company of many hippo, a small croc, and great bird life.
We flattened a few beers while out on the water so the other 2 are now asleep and then we head out for a game drive. I think this very relaxing day has been good for us as the hard work now starts as we head down to CT.

Day 46 and 47 at Vic Falls

Day 46 and 47

Well what started as a long days ride to Vic Falls remained just that. We got away after breakfast but needed to stop for a front tyre replacement for my bike as I had found an alarmingly deep cut, through the tread, probably the result of a pot hole. We were able to find a replacement and it didn’t take too long to get it fitted.
On leaving the city Mark and Mike ran a speed trap without stopping. I duly got caught for speeding and then the usual explanation of ‘sorry no local currency and can I pay in dollars etc’ ensued. It did the trick and I got let off with a warning. Shortly thereafter I got stopped at a police block for allegedly overtaking on a solid line about 4 km back, which was true. Again I did the dollars, nil cash explanation and it worked for the 3rd time and then we were off. It looked like we had better start obeying the law.
The road down to the fall was very long, 580 km and except for the last 30km which was dirt, because of construction, very boring. Mike was delighted to be on the dirt. He had been complaining of not getting enough.
Mark tried to bargain the Royal Livingstone down to our budget. He thought that getting the rate form $800/night to $300 was enough to justify hammering the budget. Having the pay for 2 I didn’t so he headed for Fawlty Towers, I’m not kidding. It did the trick and we got a reasonable night sleep.
For our day off we had decided to go river rafting. As the river was very full, as it had been on my last trip, and knowing that the ride wouldn’t be too exciting I elected for us to swim the river, with a boogie board and fins. It ended up been very exciting just a little cold. We shot the first 3 rapids in a raft before getting in. At first the other passengers thought we were crazy but by the end were a bit jealous. We haven’t got any photos of our own but purchased a disc so they will follow.
Vic Falls was really busy, full of tourists. Zambia must have destroyed Zim’s tourist market.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Day 45 TO Lusaka

A long boring road

The view from Luangwa river bridge

Some proper sugar cane

Where the hell are we?

Day 45Day 45 Chipata to Lusaka

A long day.575km in all, long straight roads and not very special.
We had thought of diverting across the Zambezi and into Zimbabwe but that was too much. A lot of variables, unknown roads and it looks like we’re running short of time. We’ve still got 3000km into Cape Town and that translates into quite a few long days. To do more than about 500km is a big ask.
We plan on getting to Vic Falls tomorrow, have a day off on Saturday , spend time going slowly across the top of the swamps and then push through Namibia.

Day 44 to Chipata

Portuguese Puncture boy ( no 6)

Wake up to this

Day 44 to Chipata

We woke up on the lake at Chinteche to a beautiful morning. The place was deserted. It’s rated one of the most beautiful camps in Malawi and we’ve no doubt it is.
The ride it self was quite long and fairly boring. We rode about 500 km in the day and the only break being for the Portuguese Puncture Boy who had another flat. He’s catching up to me which is some relief.10:6.
Thank goodness for GPS’s. We found the best pizza restaurant in Lilongwe. We tried to pretend to the proprietor that we were the Long Way down team, unsuccesfully, but it got us a cuppachino freebie.
We’ve spent the night at Mama Rula’s across the border at Chipata which was very pleasant. The others are taking a b it of time to get ready so until they are I’ll blog.
Today will be a big 600km push to Lusaka or maybe a detour into Zim and down to Kariba. We’re not sure if the Zim leg can work but it will give us some dirt and relief from the tar.

Breakfast is calling. Till later Jim.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Day 43 The Sanctuary, somewhere near Chitumba, Malawi.

Hello everyone, Mike here. After months of day dreaming in the UCT library, I’ve finally arrived and joined the Portuguese petrol pump attendant and the old bullet. I can’t believe my luck.

I did write a post a day or two ago but it didn’t quite fit in with my dad’s uploading procedure, and missed the boat, which left from an absolute shit hole of an internet cafe yesterday in Mbeya, Tanzania.

It’s been a fantastic few days. I was welcomed into Dar by a friendly customs official (read sarcasm) who wouldn’t let me bring in the new rear tyre for the bike. My dad luckily saw this happening, called the guy over, and told him to get knotted. The last 5 weeks has obviously taught the guys a thing or two about negotiating in Africa.

We’ve ridden mostly on tar roads since Dar. The ride through the game reserve on the first day (Dar to Mikumi) has provided a definite highlight of the trip so far. We were lucky enough to see a herd of about 20 elephant very close to the road. The guys hadn’t seen wild game yet, so I guess my timing was pretty decent. Thank you Justin. Whilst we were still in the reserve Mark gave a huge giraffe the fright of its life as he came round a bend. He was as surprised, hit the anchors, and almost caused my dad to ride into him!

Since then we have spent a couple days meandering across Tanzania and down to Malawi. Yesterday was a full day of riding, travelling about 500 km and dealing with the Tanzania-Malawi border post. The Sanctuary where we are currently relaxing has exceeded all expectations. We got in last evening a bit thirsty and started drinking Carlsberg Elephants. We couldn’t quite work out why we were getting so inebriated. Mark couldn’t feel his legs after four. We finally read the label and discovered they were 7.2 %, too late.

So it’s been a slow start this morning. We plan on leaving here at about 2 pm and heading 230 km down the lake. The morning has been spent on the beach, watching what floats past: fisherman on dug out canoes, and busty Norwegian girls, perving over the fisherman. We received a time bonus of 1 hour when entering Malawi, back to SA time, so we having an extra long lunch.

Now it’s Jim.

Finally you can have a break form my ramblings and get a fresh view on what’s happening. Very nice to have Mike along for a new dimension.

This battery is going flat so till later.


The sanctuary , our home.

Down to the lake

Just for Rod. Any time is Kili time

Day 42 Iringa to The Santuary

Well we have arrived at a real sanctuary down on Lake Malawi.

It was a long day leaving Iringa early and pushing for 500kms down to Malawi.

The ride and the road were both good. Certainly the south of Tanzania is much more scenic than the north. Some of the views dropping down to the border were special going through tea estates and woodland.

Mike and I got collared by the long arm of the law. Mike doing 67 in a 30 zone and me 37. Both fines were 20000 shillings and we only had 500 so some long negotiating took place to try use dollars. What with a stretched exchange rate, in our favour, they declined. When we offered to go 20km up the road to an ATM, I think they realised we wouldn’t come back, they relented and let us off.

This little resort is very beautiful. It’s right on the water. We might well hang around for a bit.

Later Jim.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Day 40 Dar to Mikumi

Day 40 Dar to Mikumi

We regrouped at Dave Legg’s workshop, Mark only coming in from Zanzibar in the morning. He was a bit late as he and the taxi driver got lost. He didn’t realize there were 2 Bagamoyo roads! It didn’t matter as I had a flat.
We spent a bit if time re-grouping, changing back tyres, before leaving Dar.
Initially the ride was typical big African city. Too much traffic, not enough road etc etc. For Mike it was a baptism of fire.
The first 100km was retracing out steps and then we got into much nicer country side. The main road goes through Mikumi game reserve. Quite unexpectedly we had a wonderful afternoon ride and got to see elephant, giraffe, warthog, impala etc from our bikes.
We considered staying in the park but bikes aren’t allowed so we headed on to Mikumi town where we’ve spent the night.
Today we’re heading to Iringa where Mike’s mates the Gauie twins live. Not sure if we’ll stay over as it’s only 200km away.

Later. Jim.

Day 39 out of Zanzibar

Day 39

The break in Zanzibar has been good. Perhaps the weather could have been better but it was wonderful to have the families with us. I think the 5 week break was very long for them. At least form here it should only be 2.
We’re well carbo loaded for the last 2 weeks. Certainly we’re a bit chunkier than we were on arrival. After surviving some very long days on a single meal and getting a bit hungry we’ve had a full go at the buffet!
I’m now on my way to meet Mike in Dar and Mark is coming through in the morning. There’s some admin to do on the bikes like changing back tyres and we hope to be away by lunch time.
The next part of the trip is going to be different. Slowly getting onto home turf will add a new dimension. The next major break will probably be Vic Falls on either Saturday 18 or Sunday 19 for some adventure sports and then we plan to be at the Waterfront at midday on Saturday 25th. I’m unsure of the exact distance but it’s probably about 4500km.

Till later. Jim

Saturday, July 4, 2009

days 31,32 and 33

On Zanzibar

Mark looking civilised

Coming down from Loshoto

Yes, puncture no. 9! Only 15 minutes to change

Leaving Arusha

Days 31,32 and 33

We’ve now arrived in Dar. The ride down was really uneventful and quite boring.
We didn’t get to see Kilimanjaro because of the haze and cloud. Quite disappointing as the GPS had it quite close to the road. The road itself was narrow, rutted and difficulty to ride. The buses go like hell and you have to be alert.
We elected to go up to Loshoto for the night. We didn’t have many options and Dar was too far to push through to. It’s was solid 35km climb out of the valley, with some great views.
We’ve now left the bikes at Dave Legg’s workshop and are on the ferry on the way over to Zanzibar. The Portuguese navigator wanted to fly and I wanted to sail by dhow so we compromised and chose the ferry. Mark has his teeth gritted and he’s whining about getting sea sick. Justin left for JHB early this morning so Mark’s going to have toughen up without him. I’m planning on using the tents a bit more!
We’re both looking forward to a few days off as we’re both tired. It’s going to be wonderful to have Gilly, Wendy and the respective families here. Unfortunately Mike only gets here next Friday so won’t get to the island but he’s looking forward to the ride down.
The ride has changed quite considerably since Nairobi. Tanzania has been quite boring so far but should improve to the east. There are some game areas to look forward to.
You won't hear from me for a week.