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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by metaljockey, Mar 29, 2009.
Sweet, another MetalJockey report!
The next morning before sunrise I’m up to take a couple of pics.
When the first rays flow down onto the beach, Hennie and his bike are there to receive the blessing.
Here’s my lodgings for the night.
This boat sank during the night.
Not a problem for the owner and in short thrift it is recovered and fitted out with mast and sails. The fish ain’t gonna catch themselves.
Feathered fishermen also start their day of toil.
I just love Baobabs. Nardus getting ready for the day’s ride.
Some of us applied our minds when we pulled up the previous afternoon, some of us did not.
The early morning riding is easy and pleasant as can be. The crop on the left is cassava, more about that later.
We get drawn to a pub by the blaring speakers. Nardus dances an ethnic jig because life is good man, life is great.
Maybe I should qualify that, life is great for all of us except Hennie. Look at that face (on the right).
Somewhere he picked up a stomach bug and today is going to be the day that he would rather forget.
We settle in to enjoy some breakfast beers while Hennie disappears off into the bush.
This is where the music is powered from.
We quickly draw spectators.
By the way, the beer we are having is Castle Milk Stout. Very dark, very sweet, plenty strong and it is often used by new mothers to get their breasts lactating.
Yes, good shit. You don’t need no breakfast if you have two or three of these. Did I mention they were warm?
Arty Aqualine pic.
Mattel hasn’t reached everywhere yet.
Self portrait; the day was heating up nicely.
I want to get to a 'lodge' owned and run by the local population. The problem is that I have only read about it and we have no idea where it is. It is on the lake though so we keep going north, hugging the lake on increasingly diminishing tracks. This is our second day of riding where the GPS has no tracks. The new version of Tracks 4 Africa will be more complete, you can thank me later.
Very good riding and lovely scenery.
Here and there we are made to work though.
That there is a brand new bike. Damn!
As the heat intensifies, so does the terrain.
This is bad news for Hennie, he looks like shit and we start to worry that it might be malaria. He does not have a headache though, so we hope for the best and he soldiers on. Well maybe soldier is not the word, more like flounder.
At one stage I take Hennie’s bike down an ugly section and the next thing Nardus and his behemoth come storming down the mountain and he takes out my parked bike. Those 950s can keep a line, whether you want them to or not.
Where ever we stop for a break, Hennie uses his opportunities, and orifices, all of them.
What can you do? We wait and amuse ourselves with tall stories.
We were to see many of these beautiful trees.
Hennie; wondering how long this day is going to be.
On the advice of locals we swing away from the greenery next to the lake.
We have to cross some mountains, or rather hills, to do a loop into the interior before we can reach the lake again. Like this.
A lot of it is navigating by intuition, we don’t do too badly though.
The heat is something fierce here, but the most excellent paadjies makes up for it.
Now and then we need to stop and regroup, as two of us scout tracks, while two wait to see if it is the right way.
Things are going a bit slow, so I amuse myself with the camera.
Another self portrait, I’m the guy in the glasses.
Hennie’s diminishing powers has him at wits end. Every time he needs a little muscle, he doesn’t have it and he goes down.
Even my bike seems to be feeling a little weak in the knees.
The bikes are starting to show some wear.
Still, when we get to ride on top of the hills, it is Nirvana.
We can finally get some airflow over the radiators, and our heads, which is a relief.
Periodically we come to areas that are burnt. This was to be a common sight for the full duration of our trip in Moz.
New life giving the ashes the finger.
We stop once we reach a marked road again with the idea to lie down in the shade for half an hour. Within two minutes we realize that the heat will kill us, much better to keep riding and generate air flow. So we continue.
After going down a couple of dead end tracks, we get back to the lake again.
We don’t waste much time getting in the water. Today is also the first day that we start drinking lake water. We used what water we had in the hills.
Not much further and we get to the lodge I was looking for.
It’s heydays clearly over, we are the only guests.
It has basic huts and wonderful views.
We are very happy to be here though and the staff are very happy to have us. Someone is sent to fetch beer and 20 minutes later we wade into warm Black Labels. When I say warm, I mean 28-30 degrees Celsius.
For a snack we have some cassava (or manioc as it is known elsewhere) prepared. It is a root that can be fried, boiled, mashed, eaten raw and much more. Throughout Africa it is used to still hunger pains, it can grow anywhere. This is what it looks like.
The lodge is situated on a scenic peninsula, really an ideal spot. Reminds me of the Seychelles.
These kids had a whale of a time until they were chased away by the staff.
While all this joy of life stuff is going on, Hennie is down for the count.
Check out the sail on this mokoro.
We ordered chicken and msima for lunch and it is served under the beach pergola. These guys are looking after us really well. Even the beer goes down to 26 degrees after being kept under a wet towel.
How’s this for lunch with a view?
Having eaten well, and deserving a bit of rest, we spend the afternoon horizontally.
Peace descends upon the valley.
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Mein Herr, mj, das mann needs an haircut !
So now we can see u bl**d* b*st*rds having a good time while Hennie has a hell of his........
Eager to see how he avenged himself....>-)
Yet another quality ride report from the great MJ and fellow advrider buddies. Awesome pics as usual, great route planned or should I say scouted out!
SHEESH, hope Henne gets better, thats just the shi --- er I mean, blows- er I mean to bad. Gotta be a real advrider to manup like that, riding in the heat - mizzzzzzerable
NOW, GET WITH THE R.R. ----- I need more of this at a faster pace please.
How did the 800's do?
They look good dirty.
Absolutely nice pics and story.... its only going to get better
Wow, wat zo´n mooie strand! Your ride reports can turn anyone into an ADVsite´s adict, the Angola ride is a masterpiece. BTW if you need any help with translations into or from portuguese, just pm me.
Nog meer pics aub!!
Wow - get writing and posting more pics...am sure we all want to know more.
One more of MJ's great RR for us to feast on the real adventure, real Africa.
Thank you metaljockey for taking us along, waiting for the next instalment
Metal Jockeys ride reports..........Simply The Best
The next morning dawns slow and peaceful.
We hit the road, we are going to be passing through Lichinga again on our way east.
Everybody is feeling perky today.
And we get the right kind of roads too, nice and fast.
Many of the villages we pass through have specially made structures for shade.
When we hit Lichinga again we have lunch and as chance would have it we meet Warrick, an ex-South African. He farms in the area that we are going to be travelling through today and we are invited to stay over on his farm.
This is very fortunate as Lichinga is our last fuel stop for the next 600 odd km. He will cart our fuel drums to the farm.
Leaving us to pick up the pace without all that dead weight.
This river later cuts through the farm.
When we pull up at the farm we introduce ourselves to his wife, Fenn, who immediately offers us something cold and sends us to the river to swim with the kids. This river is right below their house, and it supplies their drinking and irrigation water all year round.
We spend most of the afternoon in Fenns lovely company, Warrick only arriving at about 21H00 from town with our beers.
A couple of years ago Mozambique invited commercial farmers from SA and Zim to relocate to underdeveloped areas of the country. The basics were that you get the land for free as long as you create a farming enterprise from scratch.
Warrick and Fenn came here to an area of complete wilderness, and have turned it into a sizable, well developed farm. Hectares have been cleared, irrigation installed and thousands of cashew trees planted. Still some years to the first harvest, but I am mightily impressed by what Warrick is creating here by himself. I certainly have neither the skill nor the tenacity required.
For instance, he has a generator and irrigation pump running off a Land Cruiser engine 24 hours a day. Except this engine is not running on petrol or diesel, it is running on wood. Check this out.
The first cylinder is burning the wood, the suction of the engine pulls the gases down so that there is no flames or smoke, just glowing coals. These unburned gases then moves through the next cylinder which uses water to cool it. What the third one does I do not remember, but this gas then goes straight into the inlet manifold where the carburetor normally would be.
Amazing stuff, a $2 400 a month diesel bill sent packing.
Like I said before, on every trip I learn some new shit.
Hopefully Fenn will follow her dream to have a guesthouse here, it will be the only one in a radius of several hundred km. They are wonderfully hospitable people and a treat to talk to.
On top of eating like kings, having cold beers and sleeping in a proper bed, we are also lucky enough to be joined by some professional hunters that will pass through Mavago the next day. We also are to travel through Mavago and they offer to drop our fuel at the government office there.
Most excellent, this takes our fuel far enough that we will now certainly have enough to reach the next fuel quite comfortably. One of our main obstacles sorted.
I figured 'use it or lose it'. Last chance to have long hair, I'm going bald at a fast rate.
They did very well, the only problem was that one had that coolant leak on the pipe/motor connection.
Today is the day that we get to Reservo do Niassa.
Reservo do Niassa is the reason we came on this trip.
The reserve is massive. Twice the size of Kruger National Park. It’s northern boundary is the Rio Rovuma, the border between Moz and Tanzania. It’s western and southern boundary is the Rio Lugenda. Around the park are what is called buffer zones. These zones are hunting concession areas. Check it out.
Aerial surveys have shown it to have 12000 elephants, 6000 lions etc.
It has always just been wilderness and was only proclaimed in the 90’s. Tourists are rarely seen. The ones that do come here get flown in from Pemba by the hunting concession holders. The reserve has only one official entrance, coming up from Marrupa. We are not using that entrance.
The riding is easy, nice hardpacked track with the odd rut. The only thing that upsets the cart are the bridges. Every couple of kms we cross small streams that cut across the path. The bridges are made of raw logs suspended lengthways. Like this.
Of course, I have to be the first schmuck that gets it wrong.
I’m thankful for the axle nuts though.
Every one is different and I have to inch my way across. The bloody logs does not have a flat top, it is round and tend to not only go up and down but also bend from side to side with knots sticking out here and there.
Just like every where else in Moz that we have ridden to date, the miombo woodland has been burned and clear cut in vast areas. The locals build their houses and then start clearing the forest around it until they have to travel about 30km to get to the edge. Then they abandon their homes and move to start the cycle again. What I do notice is that the trees are cut off about a meter above the ground. Presumably so that it can regenerate for the future.
On this picture you can see how the trees are cut higher up.
This is what the virgin bush looks like. Miombo woodland, no thorns, just like Nardus said it would be.
When we get to Mavago we create quite a stir. The moment I remove my helmet a general shout goes up : “Chucky Norris, Chucky Norris!”
I’ve been called Vincent Van Gogh before but never Chucky Norris.
We fetch our fuel drums from the government offices and fill the bikes and 20l containers each.
We try to sit down to enjoy a warm to hot beer but we get crowded so badly that we can’t seem to breathe in the stifling heat. I am very used to drawing crowds in rural areas, but here it is just extreme. Kids crowd right up against us. It seems the only white people that come here are people on organized safaris and they don’t step out of the Land Cruisers.
We are just about halfway through our beer when a local policeman tells us to put it down and follow him to the office. We get ushered into the office of what I gather to be the regional head of the police. Here we are interrogated on what our mission is and which one of us is the leader. Again we find it next to impossible to explain that we are just friends riding bikes because we like to. This goes on for quite a while and I am concerned about our bikes standing in the village unattended. It turns out that they are concerned that we have come to abduct their children! Freaky.
Finally after taking down all our passport and vehicle details we are released and we part on friendly terms. Not wanting to spend much more time in Mavago we hit the road.
When we stop for a break some time later there are hundreds of little midges trying to force their way into our mouths, noses, eyes and anything that is wet.
I find it easier to bear the heat and give the midges the finger.
And the log bridges continue.
I get the feeling that most of them are rebuilt every year after the rainy season. This is what the construction looks like.
Some are better than others.
Late afternoon and we are now well into the park. We start looking for a place to camp, but it is difficult to find an open area.
Hennie is still dealing with the remains of his stomach bug.
And we still cross one log bridge after the other. On the sparse ones like this I walk next to the bike.
Brian though, rides many of them at speed and seems to get away with it. I try to follow suit and I pay the price. As I am just about across the bridge my back wheel slides off a log and gets thrown sideways. I stamp down hard with my left foot to avoid going down and I save it. Unfortunately this move exceeds the design specification of my foot and I am the unhappy recipient of a blue ankle. Brian’s wife had packed some serious painkillers though, and I remain indebted to her.
When we finally make camp in the dark, my hammock comes into it’s own. I have progressively trip after trip become obsessive as far as weight saving goes. Every trip I have paired down and paired down until I am so lean on packing that I have excess space left over.
Look here for instance, that black bag on the rack carries everything except my tent. It has my clothes, personals, food, water, bedding, spares and tools. When on a trip where fuel is not an issue, the saddle bags would have been empty. Here they carry only fuel, 10l a side.
I read a ride report of a solo Trans-Africa traveler once. He mentioned that his hammock was the single piece of kit that gave him most pleasure. That stuck with me and on this trip, seeing as I had loads of space, I packed a hammock and a camp stool. Believe me the hammock is heaven. Especially when you have a sore foot. I will include one on all future trips where possible.
We finally go to sleep in a burned area of forest. Bright moon and deathly silence.
Another classic run. You RR's are the best in my humble opinion.
Oh my dear god!
The group of crazy and fearless South African are back!
And this time with vomit&diarrhea.
Perhaps, again, we must review RRs standards.
Judging by the picture and the way you described the Reserve it sounds like you're the only humans for many miles. At night like that how concerned are you for safety? You mentioned lions, but hyenas, snakes, spiders, etc.?
This report reads so well, and the pictures are fantastic. Can't wait for the next installment. Keep up the good work.
Your loyal fans are waiting - impatiently, I might add.
Great report - keep it coming.