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Old 02-02-2012, 11:03 AM   #1
wildside OP
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RIDING the RIFT - East Africa - Dec 2011



Before I tell you about our adventure through East Africa I want to give you a brief description of the Great Rift Valley as this is the route we followed.
Africas Great Rift Valley is a 6000 km crack in the earths’ crust caused by violent subterranean forces that tore apart the earths crust causing huge chunks of the crust to sink between parallel fault lines and force up molten rock in volcanic eruptions. This stretches from central Mozambique in South East Africa, through Malawi where it splits into the Western Rift Valley ( also known as the Albertine Rift ) and the Eastern Rift Valley, which runs through central Tanzania. The most dramatic section that runs through East Africa divides Kenya into two segments and continues all the way to Northern Syria in South west Asia.
The western branch contains the Rift Valley Lakes which we followed up to Murchison Falls, on the Victoria Nile in Northern Uganda. We then crossed over to Kenya to follow the eastern Rift Valley back down to Southern Lake Malawi.


MAP SHOWING THE RIFT VALLEY

The Rift Valley is something that has fascinated me since high school and after our Namibian Meander in 2009, we discussed our next destination and jokingly I suggested that we follow the Rift Valley. Kingsley wasn’t too sure about where or what it was. To cut a long story short he was soon convinced that this was a good idea as our dream of doing Cape to Cairo had little chance of ever materializing. This was going to be our Trans Africa trip.

“KARIBU”
This is the word we heard many times throughout our journey, which means “Welcome” in Swahili. This was how we were greeted and how we felt throughout our month long trip through East Africa, likewise I would like to “WELCOME” you to our Ride Report.
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Old 02-02-2012, 11:08 AM   #2
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Finally we were loaded up with two well prepared motorbikes on the back of our Hilux and ready to roll. We snuck away from work and out of Howick (Kwa- Zulu Natal, South Africa) on the 7th December 2011, a few days earlier than planned. All responsibilities behind us and an amazing adventure in front us. We popped in to see our son in Johannesburg, who had just returned from a trip to Bali, and without further adieu we headed for Zimbabwe. It was now 9.00 pm Wednesday evening and with all the excitement we managed to drive through the night and arrived at the Beit Bridge border post (South Africa and Zimbabwe) just as the sun was making its daily appearance.

“The road has got me hypnotised and I’m speeding to a new sunrise.”
Golden Earring

We were so organised and had all our paper work in order, such as Visas, Passports, Carnets, Vehicle/Medical Insurance, International Drivers licence, Yellow Fever Health Card and logbooks. This was going to be a piece of cake.........boy were we wrong!!!!! This was one expensive piece of cake which left a bitter taste in our mouths.
We exited South Africa and entered Zimbabwes huge, dusty and unmarked parking/waiting area. We were amazed by the number of parked buses and taxis. Spread out next to these was all the luggage and people milling around. Some were even draped over the piles of luggage enjoying a bit of shut eye. We hadn’t even worked out yet where it was safe to park when a hand full of locals ran up to us indicating to us to park in a specific place. We obediently complied and soon learnt that this was our first mistake. We were parked a fair distance from the administration buildings and there was clearly no order in all this mess of vehicles. We opened our window to thank the kind gentlemen. He immediately convinced us that for R200 he would get us through Immigration and Customs. To reassure us that this was a good idea he indicated to all the vehicles around us and told us it would take a couple of days for us to finally clear the Border. We were so naive and willingly accepted his kind offer.
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Old 02-02-2012, 11:15 AM   #3
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Pissed

ABOVE: THE CAR PARK AT THE ZIMBABWE BORDER POST.

I stayed behind to look after the vehicle and bikes while Kingsley went off to take care of the paperwork. About 2 hours later a very pale and flustered Kingsley returned with a receipt for $470. What the hell !!! Carbon Tax and Road tax for the bakkie and two motorbikes. This took care of a big chunk of our budget. It was now time to pay the ‘runner’. He demanded $500 !!!! By now there were so many corrupt officials and buddys involved. We were so angry and overwhelmed by what had happened and once through the boom we were being escorted by 5 locals to an ATM. Can you believe it, we actually paid them $500 – totalling a payment of R7500 to enter Zimbabwe.

In hindsight, we must have stood out as easy pickings for the well seasoned runners who were pros at intimidating and overwhelming the inexperienced tourist who are clearly out of their depth. Angry as we were we decided to learn from our mistake and not let it happen again.

For the rest of the day we stewed over this incident and had to recalculate our budget. Fortunately we had no other unpleasant incidences in Zimbabwe and arrived at the Mozambique border at 5.00 pm and within 1hour and R100 down we were through both borders. This was a breeze as we were now wise travellers and managed on our own. It was now a race cross the Tete Corridor to reach the Malawi border post before 9 pm. It was dark when we arrived at Tete and we needed to refuel. We had no Mozambique currency and after negotiating with a manager at a fuel station our dollars were accepted.
After Tete the roads deteriorated and dodging potholes slowed us down and resulted in the snapping of the tailgate support. This dropped the back wheels of the bikes a bit but they were still secure. Arriving late at the border post, we join the short queue and tried to settle down for some much needed sleep. Loud music and voices boomed through the night. Occasionally a black face peered at us through the window to reassure us that he was determined to be our body guard – despite us refusing his request.

The surrounding area started waking up at about 5.am and the queues were growing longer. The need for the loo also grew. Oh my gosh we must have been desperate because we actually had to pay for the use of this awful, dirty, smelly, and dilapidated excuse for a loo – no seat, no water, no toilet paper or flushing devise. However, there was a 44 gallon drum with about 5 inches of water in it squeezed into the corner. Hanging from this to support my squatting position I closed my eyes and tried to think pleasant thoughts. Water from this drum had to be scooped up into a container, poured into the cistern and then you had to pull up the flushing stem. Washing your hands also took place in this same drum as I’m sure many other hands had. Kingsley had to endure the same procedure and I had to chuckle at the look of horror on his green face as he walked out.

We exchanged some dollars for Malawi kwacha and eventually got rid of our so-called bodyguard after many threats from him because we refused to pay him. With great relief we headed for the Malawian border. We popped out the other side even more broke and angry with ourselves as once again we fell for the ‘runners’ bribes and so-called formalities!!

As we drove through the gate some official looking locals carrying clipboards stopped us and told us that we needed insurance for both bikes and vehicle. We discussed a crazy price of MK 35000 ( R1 646 ) and insisted on a receipt. They then told us to park at the building and before we knew we were being ushered into the building and handed Temporary Import Permit ( TIP) forms to fill in. This chap was so helpful, cheerful and friendly and one couldn’t help responding to him. We were then ushered to another small office to make a payment of MK 1500 ( R70 ) to pay for the TIP. None of these offices are sign posted so one responds to a friendly chap directing one in the right direction. OK...... all this friendliness cost us MK 20 000 ( R940 )!!! When Kingsley said to him “this is f...ing criminal”, he replied with much amusement “we are trying to uplift our economy”. Our insurance man arrived back with the insurance cards and a receipt which we are convinced had been written in his own personal receipt book and had nothing do with Hollard Insurance. Who knows how much money he made out of that deal. Yes, it happened again – how embarrassing. So much for us wizening up.
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Old 02-02-2012, 11:08 PM   #4
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Apologies about the posting delay - having internet problems. Hopefully this will work.
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Old 02-02-2012, 11:28 PM   #5
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We were now in MALAWI ~ The Warm Heart of Africa.




Just as we were starting to relax and get excited about the start of our ride out steps a man in uniform and pulls us over to the side of the road because we didn’t have reflective tape on our bumper. MK 2000 ( R94 ) poorer we were soon on our way to Cape Maclear feeling a little disillusioned about this place people refer to as ‘the warm heart of Africa’. This was not a whole lot of money but added to the ever increasing amount spent on silly unbudgeted stuff. This left us feeling a bit vulnerable because if it continued throughout our trip our budget wouldn’t get us home.


Shortly after this we were stopped again because we were carrying extra fuel as Malawi has a fuel shortage. Did we have a permit? NO! Did we have a fire extinguisher? NO! Fortunately we got away with a warning.


STACK OF HOMEMADE CLAY BRICKS - A FIRE IS BUILT INSIDE AIR SPACES UNDERNEATH TO BAKE THE BRICKS.

WOODEN AFRICAN CARVINGS

The last 18 km stretch of dirt road takes you through some lovely countryside to Cape Maclear, which is on the southern shore of Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi is the most southerly of the great lakes of the Rift Valley. It is the 3rd largest lake in Africa measuring 585 km in length and is up to 100 km wide. The Rift Valley escarpment rises sharply to the west of the lake.


A FLOWERING FLAME TREE

About 500 m before arriving at FAT MONKEY my bikes tie-down snapped and over went the bike. Fortunately it didn’t fall off. Some friendly locals helped us to off load it and Kingsley rode it the rest of the way to Fat Monkey. What a welcoming sight.








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Old 02-02-2012, 11:36 PM   #6
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So we finally arrived Friday lunch time, hot, exhausted, unwashed and poorer. It was good to be back again after 25 years. Once we off loaded the Tenere and chatted to the owners, Geoff and Karon, who kindly allowed us to leave our vehicle at their resort while we Rode the Rift, we spent the rest of the day relaxing, swimming and cheering up.
















Tomorrow was the big day. Our plan was to follow the Great Rift Valley, riding through 7 countries and visiting 7 lakes in the Western and Eastern Rift Valley. After about a year of preparation it was finally time to Ride the Rift.



(MAP SHOWING THE ROUTE THAT WE RODE. )

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Old 02-06-2012, 06:30 AM   #7
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FAT MONKEY to KANDE BEACH
Day 1: Saturday ~ 12 December 2011
Distance: 408 km
Time out: 8 am ~ 4 pm




MAP SHOWING ROUTE AND OVERNIGHT STOPS IN MALAWI


“The travellers conceit is that he is heading into the unknown. The best travel is a leap in the dark. If the destination were familiar what would be the point of going there.”
Paul Theroux



Despite the heat, mozzies, and loud music we slept well. We loaded up our bikes, said our farewells and with butterflies in my tummy rode out through the little village for the start of our big adventure. As we slowly weaved our way through the narrow, sandy lanes passing clay brick and thatch dwellings we noticed the house proud ladies sweeping the sandy area around their homes. We passed a restaurant called “The Boma”. We were hoping to stop here to meet the owner who is a member of the Wilddog forum, but unfortunately it was closed.










It felt good to be back on the bike again and experiencing the simpleness of Africa. The butterflies were soon replaced with great excitement and eagerness to get the show on the road. To reach the tarred M5 which would take us north we took a short cut which was an interesting and busy little dirt road. For about 15 km we passed many locals pedalling their bicycles in both directions and little clay houses with scruffy thatch rooves lined the road. Friendly little kids, with big smiles on their faces, would run towards us with arms waving. All this could only lift your spirits.







The M5 was very quiet due to the petrol shortage and all the bicycles were taking advantage of the extra space. I was so impressed by the good cycling etiquette. They would ride in single file and kept to the side of the road. There was no road rage and no riding next to each other as do the ‘roadies’ here in South Africa who like to ride 2 and 3 abreast. This whole scene was so peaceful.
These bicycles were being used for transporting all sorts of things, passengers, pigs, goats, thatch grass, long wooden planks, baskets piled high, bags of maize and coal, poles, doors, and crates filled with all sorts of goodies. The women would often sit sideways on the back seat with ankles crossed and display amazing balance as some even held a baby on their lap or strapped to their back.



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Ride Reports:
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Old 02-06-2012, 06:39 AM   #8
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I passed a poor chameleon lying in the middle of the road and some kiddies were sitting on the edge of the road watching it. I immediately turned around to rescue it and to the horror of the onlookers I picked it up. Its mouth was wide open and dry. Kingsley poured a few drops of water into its mouth to moisten it, took a couple of photos and we placed him out of harms way. We appealed to the onlookers to please leave him alone. In most African mythology, the chameleon is regarded as a creature of distrust and deceit and often considered as a bad omen.





The whole stretch of road to KANDE BEACH was lined with villages, people and bicycles. There was never a stretch of road without people nearby or bicycles passing by and if we stopped for a rest or to take photos we always found ourselves surrounded by curious little faces.









All the fuel stations we stopped at had no fuel but we finally managed to find some on the black market. 1L cost us R35 . We paid R350 for 10L. At the previous village they wanted R50 per litre. This was going to be a costly exercise. This petrol/money situation was becoming a bit of a problem as we were unable to pay with credit card and there were no ATM’s for us to withdraw cash. We were running out of cash and trying to exchange dollars into Malawi kwacha was crazy. They were offering MK 16000 for $100 which was way below the bank rate. Between us we were carrying an extra 23L of fuel but we were saving this for a real emergency.





A big sign on the right hand side of the road directed us along a short stretch of road to Kande Beach which was very sandy but we got there without any mishaps. It appeared to be bit of a shabby place but very pleasant and tidy and managed by a friendly fellow called Dave. We hurriedly pitched our tent and without wasting any time headed off to the lake with a G & T in hand and for a swim. A lovely setting to end a lovely first days ride.














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Ride Reports:
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Old 02-06-2012, 06:51 AM   #9
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KANDE BEACH to MIKOMA BEACH RESORT (Karonga)
Day 2: Sunday ~ 11 December ‘11
Distance: +/- 230 km
Time: 8.00 – 3.00 pm

The overlanders made their presence felt with loud music and raucous behaviour – but despite this we still had a good nights sleep. Enjoyed an early morning cup of coffee on the beach and took some more photos. This was when we noticed in the distance these dark shapes over the lake. These are Lake Flies. After hatching on the waters surface the females fly upwards, followed by the males. Mating then takes place. They have a 24 hr life cycle. If the wind blows them onto the land they make such a mess, getting into every ‘nook and cranny’. The locals catch them with nets, and fry them together with tomato and onion, making a very nutritious patty.

















After setting off we followed a very scenic route northwards. Shortly after the Nkata Bay turnoff we started to ascend into the mountains. The roads were lovely, windy and steep in places with stunning surroundings – lush, green vegetation. The higher we rode the chillier it got and the rain added to the chill. We passed through a rubber plantation and stopped to check it out. The cup ( not visible here ) that the white liquid rubber drains into is protected from the rain by the plastic sheet that you see wrapped around the tree trunk.





We rode into the first petrol station at Mzuzu to enquire about fuel. The people were very helpful and soon we were following a police driven vehicle with a sign ‘scene of crime’ on the door. We followed them out of town into a suburb and down a few little lanes. Now I started to get a bit anxious. Why should we trust these people. But, my ‘gut’ feeling was still OK. We stopped outside a nice looking home and within minutes people came out and we exchanged cash for fuel. R 50 for 1L of fuel !!! Outrageously expensive, but we had no other alternative. The fuel situation was becoming quite stressful as we knew our budget wouldn’t cope with many more surprises.





We continued through some amazing scenery, rode down a valley alongside a river with mountains on either side of us and a bit of construction going on – thanks to the Chinese.



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Old 02-06-2012, 07:01 AM   #10
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We started to descend down a steep, windy pass towards the lake and it reminded me of the Western Cape with the beautiful passes and scenery. The views of the lake were stunning and where ever possible we stopped so that we could try and absorb this beauty around us.











Villages are spread out alongside the road the whole way up the lake. What is so sad is the fact that all the fish drying racks are empty. When we last visited, 25 years ago, every village boasted racks upon racks of fish drying in the sun. The fishermen, no doubt, are now having to work a lot harder for a lot less.











We had We decided to visit Livingstonia on our return trip as it was already afternoon and we still had to find accommodation in KARONGA. This was a busy little village and the places we checked out were not very inviting. Club Marina looked a bit dilapidated with a view of huge reservoir tanks. Mufwa Lakeside centre was no better and looked very run down and abandoned. We headed off 5 km north to Beach Chamber Hotel and once again were disappointed as there were too many locals milling around both within and out of the broken fenced area and it didn’t look a secure place to pitch a tent. We were now both tired and getting desperate for a place to rest.
I recalled seeing a sign advertising the NIKOMA BEACH RESORT but was unsure of the distance. So we headed back south and 10 km later turned off and found a very smart, clean and well maintained resort. I now remember ‘googling’ this place and found it to be extremely expensive. Peter, the manager( who we found out later was from Pietermaritzburg) came out to greet us and informed us of the rates, R600 per room and no camping. Well, we definitely didn’t want the room and I think he took sympathy on us and suggested we camp on the beach and use the ablutions in the guest room closest to us. How was that for luck. We were delighted. I felt like a teenager again camping out on the beach. They are busy clearing an area for a campsite so perhaps in the near future it will be available.
After enjoying a dinner of ‘chambo’ (their local fish) and chips we crawled into bed. That night the wind howled and brought the rain. We had to sit up against the tent to prevent it from flattening out, however it didn’t last long and we managed to get some rest.






View from our tent.









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Ride Reports:
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Old 02-07-2012, 10:36 PM   #11
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MIKOMA BEACH RESORT to UKINGA HILL HOTEL ( Tunduma - Zambia)
Day 3: Monday ~12 December 2011
Distance: 220 km
Time out: 8.00am – 3.00pm ( 7 hrs)




MAP OF ROUTE THROUGH ZAMBIA


“When you’re heading for the border lord you’re bound to cross the line”
Kris Kristofferson

It was so divine waking up on the beach and looking out onto a calm, shiny lake. The huge mountains in the far off distance belong to Tanzania. I had to continuously remind myself that this was not the ocean. It’s such a huge expanse of water and in many places you don’t see the other side of the lake.
We reluctantly packed up a wet tent and damp washing. On our way through town we stopped at the museum hoping to see the Malawisaurus but unfortunately they were closed. We were both unsure of this next leg of the ride as we battled to find the complete route on Tracks 4 Africa. We headed west to Chitipa (Malawi border town). This road was under construction for about 100 km. About every 30/40 meters there was a speed hump so we were unable to maintain a nice speed and it became quite frustrating after a while as progress was slow. We travelled over many different road surfaces except tar. Negotiating these roads with oncoming traffic was quite a challenges they were narrow in places. The going was slow and very taxing on the body.






KINGSLEY BUYING BREAKFAST AT THE LOCAL MARKET


SOME PRETTY, FLUFFY FLOWERS ALONG THE WAY.

There was no fuel available at the petrol station at Chitipa so we decided to push on into Zambia and get cheaper fuel as the going price was now R60 per litre. Well........ we never did find that Zambian border post!!
We were a bit concerned with this stretch as we were unable to find any information on map source or Tracks 4 Africa , but managed to download a track from Google Earth, something we were not very confident with. Things didn’t start of well as we managed to overshoot the Malawi border and were turned back at a control boom about a kilometer beyond the border post by an uniformed auntie with an ugly uzzi but a pleasant attitude. The border was just another unmarked building on the side of the road. After checking out of Malawi we headed to the Zambian border, supposedly only a few kilometres away, however, there were road works and a detour. Nothing was sign posted and we were instructed by the GPS to take the right fork. I should have listened to my internal compass and headed left BUT how do you argue with a GPS.
To cut a long story short we cruised around the northwest corner of Malawi for hours once again riding in the rain along narrow roads, down some tracks, through villages, crossing over broken bridges, battling over wooden bridges, back tracking and looking for new tracks and finding little reassurance from some locals who we passed by. Sometimes the GPS didn’t like where we were going and would coerce us into another direction again through single cattle tracks. At one point we came to a cross road and asked the locals were the border post was. There were four different opinions as to which direction to take – more confusion. Anyway we decided to try and trust this piece of high tech equipment. After several hours we finally popped out to join a main road. We went to a little hut to find out where we were and were told that his home was in Zambia and across the road was Malawi. To our horror we realised that we were now illegal immigrants with no stamp of entry in our passport. He indicated in which direction to go and we told him if it was the wrong way we would be returning for dinner. He was very amused by this and told us that we were most welcome. We were now about 30 km away from the Zambian/Tanzanian border.






























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"Heading out to where pavement turns to sand...."
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Ride Reports:
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Old 02-07-2012, 10:53 PM   #12
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With great relief we finally headed off in the right direction to Tunduma. The road went from bad to worse. Muddy stretches, crazy potholes, ruts, wash-aways, stones and sand. Exhausted and with sore butts we dragged ourselves into Tunduma at about 3.00 pm. We decided we had to find a bank and get to the Zambian/Tanzania border post to get stamped into Zambia and TIP’s for the bikes. It was a crazy, busy, bustling mess of cars, tuk- tuks (3 wheeler taxis), bicycles, pedestrians and buses taking up every bit of empty space in the main street. The buses, crossing the border, were lined up one behind the other for about a kilometer. One lane was left for the rest of the traffic moving in both directions and we often found ourselves tussling with everyone to stay on the road.
We were politely bullied by a few ‘runners’ but we were toughened travellers now and stood our ground refusing any help. I left Kingsley amongst the crowds outside to look after the bikes while I went in search of the correct office. I was the only white person ( female at that ) in a sea of African people and not once did I feel nervous or intimidated. They were all friendly, helpful or simply indifferent. I was directed from one office to another. A pleasant gentleman came up and started to assist me. I politely told him that I would not be parting with any money and that if he chose to help me it was because he was a nice, kind person. That was the last I saw of him. After about 45minutes I had all the paperwork completed.
We found a fuel station that had fuel and were relieved to pay R12 per litre.











A huge sign directed us to our next accommodation. We were meant to stay at the Mwetwa Guest House but didn’t feel up to travelling a few more kilometres so we took advantage of the nearby UKINGA HILL HOTEL.



We were surprised to find this clean hotel down a little dirt lane. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming. After cleaning up we enjoyed a dinner in the pub, chatted to our kids back home and with tired bodies retired for the night – once again a bit anxious about tomorrows route as we knew nothing about this dirt road that would take us west along the southern Tanzanian border to Lake Tanganyika.







SOME LOCAL BEER WAS ALSO CONSUMED AND ENJOYED !
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"Heading out to where pavement turns to sand...."
Neil Young.

Ride Reports:
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Old 02-07-2012, 11:13 PM   #13
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UKINGA HILL HOTEL to LAKE TANGANYIKA LODGE (Mpulunga)
Day 4: Tuesday ~13 December 2011
Distance: 220 km
Time: 8.00am – 2.30pm


“The sky is crying....
Can’t you see the tears roll down the street”

Stevie Ray Vaughn

WHAT A DAY!!
We had a feeling that we were in for a tough ride – not knowing much about this route. No words or photos will ever begin to describe what we went through.
We left the hotel, weather overcast after having rained all night. We travel southwards from Tunduma and in passing the Mwetwe Guest House (which, by the way, seems a very nice place to stay) were cheerfully greeted by someone sitting on the verandah. Shortly after this we turned right onto a muddy road. We were prepared for mud but what we went through was indescribable. It was a continuous 130 km of just mud, potholes filled with water, rivers of muddy water running down the road and huge eroded ruts. It rained most of the way making visibility poor. After a while one is so wet and muddy one just doesn’t care anymore about the continuous trickle of water down ones neck and between ones legs. The rain suit didn’t offer much protection either. We really looked a sorry sight.











We slipped and slid all the way. Most of our riding was done standing up which was taxing on the legs. We passed a few trucks that had slipped into huge ruts and were unable to continue on their journey. They would probably remain there for a few days until help arrived. For a long time we were the only people travelling on this road until I noticed, in my mirror, a bakkie travelling behind me. I decided to pull over and allow them to pass. It stopped alongside me and two very polite gentlemen enquired as to where we were heading and if all was well. I recognised one of them being the one who greeted us earlier on. Brink (a Wilddog member) was from Johannesburg and Duncan from Durban, were on a business trip and heading in the same direction. Strangely enough, just knowing that they were on the same road gave me a bit more confidence because for the rest of this muddy, wet road we passed each other several times.











About 5 hours later, exhausted and filthy dirty, we turned right onto the M1 tar road. What a relief. By now the rain had eased up and the sun was attempting to make an appearance. Despite that hectic road we were still in good spirits and I realised that I had actually enjoyed that ride.



Rode into Mbala to refuel and get something to drink. There was no fuel in the pumps but managed to find some on the black market at a reasonable price of R12 per litre.





We carried our own fuel flters for black market fuel for one can never be absolutely sure what you're buying. apparently diesel is a much higher risk as it is easier to blend or 'thin-out'.
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Old 02-07-2012, 11:25 PM   #14
wildside OP
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Feeling refreshed we headed off to find Mpulunga on the southern shore of Lake Tanganyika. Lake Tanganyika, the longest freshwater lake in the world, follows the contour lines of the Rift Valley measuring 675 km North to South. It averages a width of 50 km and a depth of up to 1 435 m. Despite its smaller appearance it holds a volume of water seven times greater than that of Lake Victoria.
There was nothing exciting about this busy little town. Went in search of the local market and found a very colourful and popular shopping area which spread out along the shoreline. We didn’t spend much time here as we got the impression we weren’t welcome. Leaving this rather dirty place behind we went in search of Lake Tanganyika Lodge.










The GPS led us along a filthy little lane through a grubby little village and along what looked like a disused road and it got progressively steeper and rockier. In an arrogant moment I thought to myself that if I could survive that last stretch of road then I could certainly cope with these dry, loose, round rocks that were double the size of tennis balls. Up and up we went and down the other side. We eventually stopped and asked someone where the lodge was. We had overshot the turnoff. So back up we went and this was when I took my first tumble. My front wheel slipped off a rock and over I went twisting and trapping my left leg under the bike. In the time it took Kingsley to realise that I was not behind him I had managed to remove my helmet and somehow eased my foot out of my boot that was firmly wedged under the bike, as I was in such agony and couldn’t wait for him to help lift the bike.



YOU CAN SEE THE BOOT STICKING OUT FROM UNDER THE BIKE.

Within 10 minutes my ankle had swollen up and I battled to get my boot back on. I was unable to ride the rest of the rocky way and while Kingsley rode my bike up I hobbled painfully to the turn off. A combination of exhaustion, heat, shock and pain prevented me from riding the last kilometre. An already exhausted, and asthmatic, Kingsley would go ahead, park his bike, walk back and take my bike and repeated this until we eventually limped into the ‘lodge’.



There, through the trees and bushes, close to the shore, were some stone huts, a stone and thatched lapa, rock pathways and all this was surrounded by rocks, rocks and more rocks. We were initially very disappointed as we expected a more typical South African lodge environment eg. pub on the beach and tourists lazing around......etc . We had no option but to stay and thank goodness we did.









In no time at all the Zambian couple, Austin and his wife Celeste, who managed this lodge for a Swiss Research Scientist, were sweeping, cleaning, building fires in the ‘donkey boiler’ to heat water and putting clean linen on the beds. There was no way we could camp in this rocky area. I dosed up with anti-inflammatories, massaged the ankle and leg with Arnica, wrapped an ankle guard around it and hoped that the pain and swelling would go down soon.



Shortly after our arrival a vehicle drove in. We were delighted to see Brink and Duncan once again. They had very kindly decided to come and see if we had arrived safely and ended up spending the night. In no time at all we were relaxing around a table of Whiskey, beer and Konyagi gin which had Duncan talking fluent Swahili in no time at all. Looking out over the dark lake that night we could see a line of little lights bobbing on the lake marking the position of the nocturnal fishermen on their little fishing boats. It turned into a magical evening with lots of liquor and laughter.





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Ride Reports:
Namibian Meander-Southern Africa
Botswana /Caprivi Loop 09'
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Old 02-08-2012, 01:40 AM   #15
stevh0
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Great report.

When you get back to Sa, hit me up, you need som crash bars for that tenere!

Cheers

Steve
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