Niassa, Chucky Norris and John the Baptist

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by metaljockey, Mar 29, 2009.

  1. metaljockey

    metaljockey Dodgy SOB

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2005
    Oddometer:
    279
    Location:
    Eastern Cape, South Africa
    This time, our journey starts here.

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    The plan was to do a coast to coast ride. That’s lake coast to ocean coast.

    Start at lovely Lake Malawi and work our way through Niassa and Cabo Delgado provinces in Mozambique to the Indian Ocean and the Quirimba islands, then double back to Lake Malawi again.

    Like this;

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    It did not work out like that though, we got sidetracked before we got started.

    As luck or Lucifer would have it, on the very weekend that we were to depart from Malawi the “Lake of Stars” party kicked off at Senga Bay, Malawi.

    Lake of Stars is a music festival slash club gig with a difference. DJ’s are flown in from all over the world to do an open air show on the lake shore lasting three days.

    They also fly in several plane loads of freaky, friendly, fascinating, club groupie type girls from Europe and the UK. How can you say no to that?

    We couldn’t , so we sacrificed three days worth of riding.

    The participants this time around;
    Myself and Hennie

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    Nardus and Brian

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    Our base was Fat Monkey’s. Best spot on Cape Maclear. Cape Maclear is a nature conservancy at the bottom of Lake Malawi.

    While we had a day or two to kill, some had their bikes individualized by Richie, the village artist. This is the same guy that did my 1200 in 2006, when my wife and I came through here (the Mozmalzambots trip).

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    And I just know you are eyeing that twenty litres of fuel in the saddle bags. Yes, we were going to need that later.

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    Nardus and myself playing bawu.

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    Visiting friends.

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    Hell of a spot ain’t it?

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    Cold beer and lazy sunsets, I just love this place man.

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    Anyway, the day comes and we load up for the trip, we intend to do the Lake of Stars and then leave from there for the Mozambique border.

    Immediately as we pull away from our undercover parking in Cape Maclear, I hit the deck. No idea why I lost the front, but not encouraging to go down in the first 4.5m of your trip.

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    Our route for the day, Cape Maclear to Senga Bay.

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    Pulling into the venue, we score a quality camping site.

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    The setup basically works like this. There are two stages, a main stage with live acts, and another smaller stage, both on the beach. There are many temporary bars and eateries and a hotel that serves food. Most people camp though.

    The music starts at 12:00 on the Friday and then continues until the next day at 06:00, just after sunrise. You then have 6 hours to clean up, eat breakfast and sleep, before the music starts up at 12:00 again, until the following day at 06:00. Then the same again until Monday morning.

    We snapped a couple of pics that afternoon before things really got going.

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    Then we partied.

    I learn that European House Music is basically crap.
    I learn that the local drug pushers stock some pathetic stuff.
    I learn that European club chicks are helluva friendly.
    I learn that the Malawian expat chicks are really good people to know.
    I learn a lot of other stuff and see some wonderful things, but this is a bike forum, I don't wanna bore you.

    I learn that I won’t last three days, and so after watching the sunrise on Saturday morning and participating in the booing when the music stops, we decide to get breakfast and get going.

    Yeah baby, bike trip at last!!!
    #1
  2. nachtflug

    nachtflug infidel

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    :drums
    #2
  3. bullfrog

    bullfrog Dismember

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Armpit of Texas
    :super

    :lurk
    #3
  4. Lion BR

    Lion BR I'd rather be riding

    Joined:
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    Oregon
    I can't speak for the others here. But I can assure you I'm not prone to be bored by this little deviation from the motorcycle theme. Pun intended.
    Lion

    #4
  5. maccajim

    maccajim Holding the Awesome

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2007
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    554
    Location:
    Tokyo at the moment
    Looking very attractive so far keep it up
    #5
  6. FatherX

    FatherX so͞oˈpərflo͞oəs

    Joined:
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    Location:
    NE Ohio,USA
    Great kick off to the report...

    More please. Before you get into the riding part :evil
    #6
  7. Chanderjeet

    Chanderjeet IndiYeah !!

    Joined:
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    Stockholm, Sweden
    Awesome, cant wait for the second installment.
    #7
  8. Nox

    Nox Adventurer Wannabe

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    36
    Location:
    Chicago
    Fantastic pictures so far. Can't wait for the next post.
    :lurk
    #8
  9. Horton

    Horton Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2008
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    450
    Location:
    Niederrhein
    F... I'm stay by my selve.

    Start the moto-part, please...
    #9
  10. metaljockey

    metaljockey Dodgy SOB

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2005
    Oddometer:
    279
    Location:
    Eastern Cape, South Africa

    So, not having slept, we hit the road at about 08:00. It will be a long day. Here’s the route.

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    We ride the whole day to arrive in Lichinga at night. Lichinga is the capitol of Niassa and quite a sizable place.

    I have only one picture to show. A quick pitstop at the first bar just past the Moz border post.

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    Finding camping in Lichinga at night turns out to be quite a mission. We get lost and ride around a barrier to go down a closed street. This turns out to be the street of the Governer of Niassa’s residence. This road gets cordoned off after dark and is guarded by AK47. Our patent ignorance shows though and we get redirected and luckily not shot.

    We finally find a ‘lodge’ where we can camp. It looks abandoned and has no electricity, pitch dark and we are the only people there. Two staff members make an appearance and indicate that we can stay but there is no food. They have cold beer though and no man can ask more after a long day of riding.

    We are happy, we made our target for the day and we are nice and deep into Mozambique where none of us had been before.

    Our first impressions of this part of Moz is that it is not pretty. For the hundreds of kilometers that we did, everything around was either burnt or cut down or both.

    Where the lake is about 400m above sea level, Lichinga is situated in the highlands, 1500m up. It is a little fresher but we sleep in the open as the bungalows that are offered are on the expensive side. Especially as there is no hot water, lights or anything else for that matter.
    #10
  11. Clarkman

    Clarkman Don't taze me bro.

    Joined:
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    In a VAN.., down by the river -- ABQ, NM
    I'm in. Subscribed.
    :super
    #11
  12. schismatic

    schismatic Been here awhile

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    Los Angeles, CA
    this is great, can't wait for more!:D
    #12
  13. marine dad

    marine dad getting there

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    i'm in...:thumbup
    #13
  14. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    61,132
    It's been a long time since your last awesome adventure! Thanks for the visual feast :clap

    :lurk
    #14
  15. kktos

    kktos on a bright side of life

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    Location:
    in front of Mare Nostrum
    I definitively like the way your eyes are seeing life. :wink:
    But I'm french, after all :D
    Audience's listening, MJ !
    keep goin'.
    /thierry
    #15
  16. on2wheels52

    on2wheels52 Long timer

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    Location:
    northern Arkansas
    I'm in too, glad you're sharing.
    Jim
    #16
  17. dtysdalx2

    dtysdalx2 PITA but useful

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Yep, what they said.

    More please!
    #17
  18. metaljockey

    metaljockey Dodgy SOB

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2005
    Oddometer:
    279
    Location:
    Eastern Cape, South Africa
    Today we want to get back to the lake. Maps of the Mozambican side of the lake shows almost no roads, so we expect the place to be sparsely populated.

    Our route for the day;

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    Everybody ready, bikes warming up and there goes my clutch cable. The one I personally inspected before the trip. And it breaks inside the housing, no end sticking out.

    It’s Sunday morning. Luckily the informal sector doesn’t respect business hours.

    The owner of the lodge pitches up and and after having stripped the cable out, he takes us around Lichinga to find a mechanic.

    Hennie has a spare length of cable that we can slide into the housing, we just need to fit the ends which we don’t have. The knob on the KTM cable is made of plastic, so we cannot re-use it. So we make one up and braise it onto the cable.

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    Meanwhile the locals show off their skills.

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    I’m again amused at what holds vehicles together over here, check out the leaf spring fix and the tie rod end.

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    Anyway, the short version is that when you heat up a cable like that it goes brittle. Twice we go back to fit and twice it snaps before we can even get out of town.

    So finally with local help we trace a used cable that came off some abandoned jalopy. This one has the lead knob on one end and when we fit it, it seems to work.

    Our guide that took us to a variety of backyard mechanics.

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    With all this commotion we get away a little late. I am really keen to get to the lake again. Over here it is called lake Niassa. A little silly seeing as niassa means lake. So we are en route lake Lake. I’ve never visited the Moz side of the lake and there are not many tourists that do.

    Niassa province has always been known as the forgotten province. Its over here.

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    To reach it from within Moz you have to brave some pretty bad unpaved roads for several days. There really is just one arterial road connecting Lichinga to Pemba. In the rainy season, it becomes unusable, even to 4 wheel drive vehicles. This effectively cuts Lichinga off from the rest of Mozambique until the rivers go down again.

    Ironically, this remoteness is the very reason that the civil war had less impact than in the rest of the country. Many people fled to live in the bush here and even the animal population survived the war.

    The previous night we ate dinner in town and met one of the locals who told us some interesting things.
    Unlike the USA, in Africa you do not criticise your country's leader lightly (or loudly). The previous leader, Samora Machel, had a habit of sending a truck to critic’s houses at night to pick up the whole family, who then were unceremoniously driven up to Niassa and dumped in the bush. The understanding was that this was very accommodating of the President and if the unwanted person was so foolhardy as to make his way back down to Maputo to reclaim his house or business, he should not expect to live very much longer.

    We hit the road on the way to Metangula, a settlement on the lakeside. It turns out to be a very entertaining road as Lichinga is situated on the highlands and the road winds down with many twists and turns. What makes it even more entertaining is that the asphalt is covered with a thin layer of river sand, maybe to make it last longer, who knows?

    When we get to Metangula we are met with not much more than some huts and this ancient tree.

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    We see a road split off to the north skirting the lake edge, this is not indicated on any maps we have, but we decide to follow it as far as it will take us. If we are lucky, it will take us right up to Cobue, our target for the day.

    It turns out to be a lovely road that quickly turns into a lovely track that quickly turns into a lovely voetpaadjie. We also find that contrary to expectation, there are many people staying here and we pass through village after village, scaring the poop out of chickens and some people.

    We notice that the houses here are prettier than in Malawi, check these out.

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    Interesting titbit; the roof lasts about 6 months before having to be re-thatched. The thatch is not personally collected, you buy it from grass cutters, whose only job is cutting thatch and selling it.

    Our late start have us running out of daylight pretty quickly though and we start looking for a place to camp. Some locals direct us to a wide beach and we pull in.

    Very quickly the local chief pitches up and there are all kinds of discussions re permission to stay over, what mission we are on, where are the others etc. The fact that we are just four guys riding for pleasure is a concept that turns out to be almost impossible to grasp here.

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    This beach is one of the places that the Ilala Ferry stops. This is the lake's ancient and only ferry that keeps a loose scedule. This beach therefor has a lighthouse, and taking pictures apparently is a no-no. I’m sure it is still some suspicion left over from the war. This area is clearly not visited much by strangers. After writing down all our details we are welcome to make ourselves at home.

    That night we are backlit by a huge brush fire. We finish off the warm beers that we brought and unknowingly set a trend for the next two weeks. This would be the first of too many too warm beers.

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    Finally I am where I wanted to be, the western shore of Lake Malawi. I sleep well.



    #18
  19. Lion BR

    Lion BR I'd rather be riding

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2005
    Oddometer:
    4,624
    Location:
    Oregon
    Hey MJ, nice report! I really appreciate the bit of history you add to your travel reports, your description of the location, of the people. It really makes a difference. I'm looking forward to what is next. I guess no more pictures of ex-pat Malawi girls? Love this house. Maybe it belongs to the village chief. Or the "doctor". Or priest? Behind it, to the right, I can spot a run down house.
    Great stuff man!
    Lion

    #19
  20. patiodadio

    patiodadio Motorcyclist

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Backwoods of Kentucky
    More please !:lurk
    #20