RIDING the RIFT - East Africa - Dec 2011

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by wildside, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. wildside

    wildside Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2009
    Oddometer:
    211
    Location:
    Kwa Zulu Natal South Africa
    SANGILO LODGE to MAKUZI LODGE
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    DAY 29: Saturday 7 January 2012
    DISTANCE: 240 km
    TIME: 9.00 am – 2.45 pm

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    “Travelling makes one modest – you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” <o:p></o:p>
    Paul Theroux

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    We awoke to some rumbling thunder and a few spots of rain. I was dreading riding out on the awful driveway as it was steep, rocky and no doubt a bit muddy after last night’s rain.......”I guess it rains down in Africa....”. After a light breakfast down at the beach we said our farewells and went back up to the bikes.

    We were warming up the bikes when my phone rang. When I saw who was calling my heart sank.......I just knew it was bad news. It was a call from my family letting me know that my Mom had passed away earlier that morning. In the back of my mind I knew it was what Mom would have wanted as she was now in a better place and it was something that we had been expecting to happen sooner or later but one is still never really prepared for it. I just couldn’t image not having a Mom as Moms should be there for you all the time.

    After the initial shock we decided that it was best to continue on our way. For me, it was therapeutic being on the bike where I could think and cry and just be on my own. Fortunately there was very little traffic as my concentration wasn’t too good. The country side and time passed by in a blurr and I couldn’t appreciate it in my state of mind. We were meant to have visited Livingstonia on this return trip but at this stage it was the last thing on my mind so sadly we gave it a miss.


    At some stage we stopped for a rest on a quiet stretch of road and within minutes a man arrived carrying a bucket lid filled with water and 4 mangoes. He said that we looked like tired travellers and he wanted to offer us some fruit. We couldn’t believe his generosity. While we peeled and messily ate our juicy mangoes we chatted about his farm and he told us in well spoken English that they were “busy with agricultural activities”. When I asked him what they were actually busy with he said “weeding”. He was joined by two others who spoke English very well. After washing our hands in the water from the bucket lid and scraping mango fur from between our teeth we said our goodbyes and moved on, once again taken aback by the kindness of the locals as no reward or payment was asked for or expected.

    Our next stop was at Mzuzu where we withdrew cash and went across the road to a petrol station to find something cold to drink. We didn’t even attempt to refuel as there was no fuel anywhere. As we came out of the shop I noticed an attendant putting fuel into a container in the boot of a white mans car. Excitedly we moved our bikes closer to the pumps and indicated for him to fill up. He looked at us and shook his head and refused. Well... we argued and accused him of turning the garage into a black market outlet, but he was so arrogant about it and challenged us with “what are you going to do about it?”. We both suppressed the need to punch him!!!

    Fed up with corruption we rode off, out of Mzuzu, and to add to our misery, into a speed trap!!! I can’t recall how much we paid but you could imagine how we were feeling at this point. Our next stop was in the rubber plantation. A chap on a bicycle stopped to enquire if we were OK and offered us some fuel. He had 5 litres which he was selling at R60 per litre. We simply had no choice but to buy it. Soon there was another chap offering us the same deal. So now we were R600 poorer and only 10 litres in our tanks. Can you believe it!

    Anyway, we enquired about the rubber trees and they gave us a guided tour and demonstration in the plantation of how the rubber sap is tapped from the trees. A coiled formation cut is made around the tree trunk and from that a straight line cut running downwards. The white sap now bleeds from the cut running down into a cup which is secured at the base of the cut. It takes about one and a half hours for the cup to fill up. The plastic wrapping around the trunk protects the milk in the cup from the rain. The dried milky liquid that remains in the scar of the cut can now be pulled away and the locals use this to wrap around a bit of old tyre tubes until a lovely bouncy ball is made. It was so good to learn something from these guys....perhaps our money was well spent after all.


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    The up and coming entrepreneurs.

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    The milky liquid that has drained into the cup.

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    The dried elastic strip that he has just removed from the scar in the tree trunk.


    We decide to call it a day at the Makuzi Lodge turnoff and a 4 km sandy track lead us down to another picturesque spot on Lake Malawi. We pitched our tent on the edge of the beach and were treated to a stunning view of yet another secluded beach. Once again we were the only visitors but sometime late during the night another camper noisily moved in. The rest of the afternoon passed by while we swam, relaxed on the beach, communicated with family back home and mourned for Mom.



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  2. wildside

    wildside Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2009
    Oddometer:
    211
    Location:
    Kwa Zulu Natal South Africa
    MAKUZI LODGE to FAT MONKEY

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    DAY 30 : Sunday 8 January 2012
    DISTANCE: 408 km
    TIME: 8.00 am – 3.00 pm

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    Instead of feeling excited about our last days ride I felt so downhearted and didn’t look forward to 408 km on the road. We eventually left this wonderful spot that I wish I could have enjoyed under happier circumstances. Never-the-less, once I was back on my bike and lost in my own thoughts I started to feel a bit better. It was a chilled ride and we forgot to turn right at Salima and instead headed off to Senga Bay. We were so fed up because we were now running so low on fuel and couldn’t afford to waste it.

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    I COULDN'T RESIST TAKING A PHOTO OF THESE LITTLE DUCKLINGS ENJOYING THE PUDDLE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD.

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    It was a relief to arrive at FAT MONKEYS later that afternoon. I think we rode in there on the smell of an oil rag as we had no fuel left. I can’t believe that it was a month ago that we rode out of here all excited for our adventure and now we were safely back with feelings of elation mixed with sadness.

    After travelling about 7000 km, visiting 7 countries and 7 lakes we had finally completed our GREAT AFRICAN RIFT VALLEY RIDE.

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    We were greeted by the owners and were relieved to see that that our vehicle was still there. We promptly made a bee-line for the pub to celebrate our return. After having a hot shower and donning ourselves with fresh clean clothes we settled down on the beach and contacted the kids to let them know that we had arrived safe and sound. We decided to spend another day here to gather our wits.


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  3. wildside

    wildside Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2009
    Oddometer:
    211
    Location:
    Kwa Zulu Natal South Africa
    LAST DAY AT FAT MONKEY

    DAY 31: Monday 9 January 2012

    We enjoyed a lazy morning on the beach watching the locals catch and clean their kampango (catfish).


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    Before loading the bike we took a ride down memory lane and went to visit Otters Point...a short distance north of us and part of Lake Malawi National Park. I was last her 26 years ago and Kingsley was here 10 years ago. This used to be a very shabby but popular spot to stay in years back and has now become a World Heritage Site.........what a disappointment! It was overrun with baboons, the buildings now completely dilapidated and overgrown with vegetation. This area is government owned and was ear marked for a 5 star hotel which never materialised and what was once a beautiful spot on the beach is now a wasted piece of land.

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    This is the spot we camped in 26 years ago.

    After lunch we loaded the bikes with the help and support of the enthusiastic locals and made a start with the packing.

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    We enjoyed our last evening on the beach and as a farewell treat we had our last stunning Malawian sunset.

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  4. wildside

    wildside Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2009
    Oddometer:
    211
    Location:
    Kwa Zulu Natal South Africa
    HEADING HOME

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    DAY 32: Tuesday 10 January 2012
    TIME: 9.00 am – 3.00 am Thursday 12 January


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    “When you wake up it’s a new morning,<o:p></o:p>
    The sun is shining, it’s a new morning.<o:p></o:p>
    You’re going home, you’re going home.”
    <o:p></o:p>
    Gerry Rafferty


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    The next few days were long, tiring and boring as we took turns driving throughout the 2 days and through both nights. We headed south via Mozambique and Swaziland ( giving Zimbabwe a wide birth) but it gave us time to think about and recapture where we had been, what we had seen, experienced and achieved.

    It took awhile to settle back into our mundane life again with routine, responsibilities and the loss of a Mom. But life goes on.


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    CHEERS !!


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    “WE’VE BEEN THROUGH SOME THINGS TOGETHER,<o:p></o:p>
    WITH TRUNKS OF MEMORIES STILL TO COME.<o:p></o:p>
    WE FOUND THINGS TO DO IN STORMY WEATHER.<o:p></o:p>
    LONG MAY YOU RUN.”


    <o:p></o:p>
    NEIL YOUNG<o:p></o:p>


    Both Kingsley and I would like to thank all the Wilddogs who have taken the time to read this RR and to those who have supported us with your positive and encouraging comments all the way through the GREAT RIFT VALLEY.

    We hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as we enjoyed riding it.

    Take care
  5. BCBackRoads

    BCBackRoads Travels with Gumby

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2008
    Oddometer:
    259
    Location:
    Kelowna, BC
    I certainly have enjoyed reading your report. The photos are excellent and it's great to read your impressions as you made your way through the adventure. Exploring unfamiliar places, close to home or far away, is to me what adventuring is all about.

    A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to set foot on Africa but on the north end with a visit to Morroco. I would love to see more of the continent, but until that becomes possible (if it ever does), seeing it through the eyes of others will have to do. You've done an excellent job presenting Africa in a positive light.

    Best Regards, Wayne :clap
  6. wildside

    wildside Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2009
    Oddometer:
    211
    Location:
    Kwa Zulu Natal South Africa
    Hi Wayne, thanks for your input and I'm glad that you enjoyed it. I hope that you do eventually get the opportunity to visit our east Africa....you certainly won't be disappointed.
    Take care
  7. shallowskiff

    shallowskiff Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2011
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    Location:
    North Carolina
    Love those pictures.
  8. WHYNOWTHEN

    WHYNOWTHEN where are the pedals?

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    612
    Location:
    closer to Baja
    Thank you sooo much for taking the time to put this together. It looks like you had an amazing adventure!
    It is sad to see the 'warm heart of Africa' collapsing. I left RSA on a bicycle in '93 and traveled some of the same areas.
    Things appear to have changed a lot, and stayed the same.:cry
  9. poolman

    poolman Gnarly Poolside Adv.

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    Darnestown, MD
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    Spectacular ride report and photography, really an amazing trip! My condolences on the passing of your mother.

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  10. wildside

    wildside Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2009
    Oddometer:
    211
    Location:
    Kwa Zulu Natal South Africa
    What an amazing experience to travel on a bicycle - thats doing it the hard way. Despite all the negative comments we made about Malawi it still is a wonderful place to visit and one couldn't hope to meet friendlier people once away from traffic officials and border posts.
    Thanks for reading and commenting.
  11. legasea

    legasea Ape on wheels

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2010
    Oddometer:
    169
    Location:
    Hanging on in a garden by the sea
    Thank you both, the biggest part to the writer..., for showing through your gentle feelings such a pleasant trip.
    The thematic choice showed to be excellent in offering a wide variety of natural delights and a precious guide to keep as a reference to an hipothetical visit to the deep green Africa.
    Regarding your leg and Mom, the past went to the memories side, let´s make a nicer tomorrow.
    Cheers and keep on riding.
  12. Arthurwg

    Arthurwg Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 30, 2004
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    102
    Reminded me so much of my Africa travels by Land Rover in the 70s. Morocco to Mombassa via the Sahara, West Africa, Central African Republic, Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania, mostly sleeping in the truck. You had a great trip. Cheers!
  13. BcDano

    BcDano One Lucky Dude

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    Rolling on the RTW
    Brilliant, thanks for taking us on an amazing journey.. :clap :clap
  14. Shaggie

    Shaggie Unseen University

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    Christchurch, New Zealand
    fantastic fantastic RR

    so sorry about your Mum.

    Best wishes from NZ!

    Shane
  15. GSPD750

    GSPD750 Adventurer

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    Calgary, AB
    Fantastic report!! :clap You made my top ten. :deal
  16. ugandarider

    ugandarider n00b

    Joined:
    May 5, 2012
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    SW Uganda
    Thanks for this great report - it's inspiring!!

    I live in SW Uganda and I'm going to take a trip along some of your lines at some point. Can I contact you for some tips?
  17. wildside

    wildside Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2009
    Oddometer:
    211
    Location:
    Kwa Zulu Natal South Africa
    Nice to hear from you and glad you liked the Ride Report. We just loved your country.......wonderful people and beautiful scenery. You are welcome to contact us through the PM facility available on this forum.
    Take care.
  18. Baba Luka

    Baba Luka Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2013
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    Location:
    Tanzania
    I'm a little late to the party, but I really enjoyed your ride report. I live in Tanzania, and I've only done a couple short weekend trips along the border of the Serengeti, but hopefully I can do something longer soon (just sold my bike and trying to get another, which is always a challenge in Africa).

    Thanks for the pictures and write-ups. :thumb I'm inspired to do a RR next time I go.

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  19. travelingaustralian

    travelingaustralian Globe Trotting

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2011
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    98
    Location:
    Off to do London to Cape Town on my KTM690R
    Great trip guys, Brings back great memories for me as I us to drive overland trucks all over east Africa plus a couple of trans trips from Cairo to Cape town.

    I cant believe it cost you so much to cross into Zimbabwe!!!! I never payed anything close to that and that was in a truck!!!! From you pictures im guessing you crossed at the baitbridge crossing? Im sure Zimbabwe has changed a lot from when I was there. I was still transiting through there in 2007 when no one was doing it and all the towns looked like ghosts towns and nothing in any shops!!!.

    Thanks again for a great trip report!!