Tour d'Afrique - and then some

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Asianrider, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. bikeboer

    bikeboer Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Oddometer:
    53
    Location:
    South Africa
    Ah so glad your south now! Great to read your story again! Hope all goes well! Again your pictures are really good
    #81
  2. quicktoys2

    quicktoys2 ADVrider junkie :)

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    Oddometer:
    632
    Location:
    Patras, Greece
    I am enjoying your ride report ... thank you
    #82
  3. whaleoilbeefhooked

    whaleoilbeefhooked n00b

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2011
    Oddometer:
    2
    Location:
    Van Isle
    Thanks for taking us for an adventure of a lifetime. Excellent photos here and on your blog. Looking forward to future posts. Stay safe. Cheers :photog
    #83
  4. Asianrider

    Asianrider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Oddometer:
    120
    On the way to Uganda, we stop at Lake Naiwasha. There are many campsites to chose from on the side of the lake so we do some shopping as there aren't many tourists around. The lawn is occupied by marabou, an ugly but funny bird that likes to feed in the garbage bins. It has a very large wingspan, so they come in flying very slowly, much like a glider. Next to the lake is Hell's Gate National Park, where I was told bikers are allowed inside. Not so, we're told at the gate, but one can get in with a car or.. on a bicycle. Does it make sense ?

    [​IMG]

    Anyway, it's useless to argue so we rent bikes and get in. Only a few minutes inside and we meet our first herd of zebras and warthogs. The warthogs are very curious and come pretty close if you don't move.

    [​IMG]

    On the other side of the road, buffaloes are grazing. That's cool, we're alone, on foot and we can get pretty close to these animals. Not too close to the buffaloes, mind you, as they can charge you. More people are killed every year by buffaloes than by lions.

    [​IMG]

    A little later we meet some giraffes close to the road. But the rest of the park isn't so nice, as they've built several very noisy geothermic power plants and quite a few big lorries as well.

    The following day, we take the main Nairobi - Kampala road, which is in a pretty bad shape because of all the lorries plying the road to Uganda. And probably also because of bad constuction, that's the first time I see such deep ruts in tar.

    [​IMG]

    The border crossing is very easy, following a common pattern: guys come to "help" you with the paperwork (requesting a tip afterwards), and scores of money changers come to you with big wads of bills. Soon after we reach Jinja, next to the Victoria lake and the source of the Nile. The Nile source is supposed to be here as the Nile exits Victoria lake to flow into lake Albert - which we'll see later. Jinja is a big spot for rafting on the rapids, but it's also quite nice to sit back and have a beer watching the sun set over the Nile.

    Our next goal is Murchinson Falls in the north west. To drive there, we have to cross Kampala to find a pharmacy for Cécile, so reluctantly give a miss to the northern bypass. Boy, do I hate the big cities, it takes us 2h to cross the center of the city, which is not that big. All traffic is totally frozen.

    Arriving at Murchinson Falls they let us into the park (after paying 30$ for the bike itself), which was a good surprise as in most game parks in Kenya and other countries you can only drive in with a car. We camp there and take a cruise up the Nile (again), which is a very good way of watching hippos and crocs, as the boat gets pretty close.

    [​IMG]

    We also drive to the top of the falls, 1h 1/2 drive in a small trail infested by tse-tse flies. We leave wearing just t-shirts, and as soon as I slow down below 30 km/h or so, we're literally eaten alive. But it was worth it as we could get within 2-3 meters of the falls itself.

    [​IMG]

    Back on the road we head south to Fort Portal on a pretty good gravel road. The area is very fertile, they grow mostly plantain bananas, called matoke, a staple of the country. The banana cluster are transported on bicycles, with one "driver" (on foot) and one "pusher" behind, necessary because the country is very hilly. They must put around 100 kg of bananas on a push bike!

    [​IMG]

    From Fort Portal we start to organize our trek to the Rwenzori mountains, a chain of mountains between 4000m and 5100m (so it is the 3rd highest mountain in Africa). It turned out the be very easy (but very expensive). We show up in the afternoon, and they prepare everything for leaving the next morning. We decide on a 6-days trek, which means we won't be climbing Margherita Peak (5109m), but it will also be much cheaper. The walk up the mountain is incredibly steep, unlike what we do in the Alps, they make absolutely no effort to build switch backs. It's straight up the slope! The vegetation is stunning, definitely a highlight of my trip so far - even though it was on foot. Sometimes you need to get off the bike to experience something else.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The rest of the pictures are here.

    Fantastic trek, unique, and very enjoyable, although it started to rain after 3 days of sunshine so it was nice to get back. It sees it's almost impossible to trek there without getting at least some rain. And in the wet season, it's raining all the time so you're walking with rubber boots.

    On the way back, we pay a visit to a new luxury lodge that was built on the rim of a crater lake, in a stunning location. Very impressive - and of course very expensive. It's just not the kind of place for a dirty and smelly biker!

    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately it's time for Cécile to fly back home. She had booked her flight from Entebbe a few weeks earlier, on Egypt Air, which was the cheaper and most convenient flight. That was just before the start of the revolt in Egypt.. now we're in the middle of it and we're not sure if the flight will leave. The website shows it as "scheduled". When Cécile shows up at the airport, at 3AM, she finds out that it's marked as "canceled". But no one from Egypt Air is at the airport office, so she just comes back at the hotel. The next morning I call the office in Kampala, and after some discussion I manage to make them book another flight to Paris, on Turkish Airlines. It should have been automatic, but they just couldn't be bothered to help their customers. I guess there were so many cancelation that they didn't want to fly an almost empty airplane, so they canceled it, but without telling anybody of course!

    Alone, I get on the road again to return to Nairobi and settle down in Jungle Junction to do some maintenance on the bike - and change my front tyre that's now completely slick. It's a nice place owned by Chris, a very competent mechanic, who opened a workshop there. It is therefore a must for almost all overlanders going down or up the east coast.

    [​IMG]

    He keeps many vehicles on storage, the blue lorry in the background is a "2DM", a Swiss military truck. It has been raining, look at the mess that the 4-wheelers have been doing. tss..

    I get to meet a lot of people, unfortunately not many bikers, most of the space is taken by 4x4s, or even truck, a favourite of the Germans. But among the few bikers I meet Michnus, on his way to Europe. His brother-in-law is Metal Jockey, of ADVRider fame because he wrote the absolutely best RR, of their trip to Angola. You definitely need to read it if you haven't yet, it's here.

    [​IMG]

    (Yes, it does look like he's milking his Dakar..)
    #84
  5. Asianrider

    Asianrider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Oddometer:
    120
    I'm probably about half-way through my trip, so here are some feedback on the bike.

    Odometer, total: 36'458 km
    Into the trip: 32'221 km

    Oil usage: none.
    Fuel usage: around 4.5 l/100 km

    Sprockets / chain

    I'm still running on the original ones. They're till good after 36'000 km, I'm very impressed.

    Tyres

    Tyres used: 3 front, 3 rear. The first set (original Pirelli street tyres) I dumped in Istanbul only half-worn, to put TKC 80s. The 2nd set I changed in Dubai with the front still OK and the rear almost finished, for Metzler Karoo. The 3rd rear I changed in Addis for a Karoo again, the previous was completely slick after 11'000 km. The 3rd front I changed here in Nairobi, again almost slick after 15'000 km. I should have been able to make it all the way here with only 2 sets if I've been to do the changes when I intended to do, but to be able to ride 2-up I've been forced to change them a bit early.

    In summary, I'm disappointed by the Karoo, they wear off too quickly. The TKC 80 were OK. I need to test the Heidenau when I get to South Africa.

    Break downs

    No show-stopper so far, only minor issues.

    I have an issue with the breather of the fuel tank which can bring it to a stop. Still not entirely solved, but in case it happens again I can just open the lid to let air in and that's it.

    The valve cover gasket is leaking, but nothing significant, it's just dirty.

    The coolant circuit developed a bubble, which means the pump wasn't circulating it and the bike was overheating. Once I've found out how to bleed it, it was back to normal.

    Finally, the rear 2 indicator lights don't work anymore. They stopped working at the same time, so it's probably in the cable harness. I can't be bothered looking into it, so I just ignore it.

    The engine is running like clockwork.

    Broken bits

    The pannier rack has taken a beating with a few lie-downs, so it needed some attention here, straigthening it up and welding a broken bit. I have ridden the last few days with a strap to secure it until here. The panniers are still strong, even though they aren't completely waterproof anymore.

    The plastic chain guard was broken in 2 places, fixed with glue and cable ties.

    The front rim has got a severe dent in one place. I just ignore it, it's fine like this.

    The bolt holding the top part of the shock was bent, I had it replaced here (Chris's got some in stock because it's such a common problem with the F800GS).

    The shock itself is quite a bit weaker than when I started, which is not unexpected. I need to be careful and it'll make it to South Africa where I can fix/change it.

    That's it folks. Nothing serious and I've never been stopped for more than 5 minutes. What more can you ask for ?

    Cheers,
    Laurent
    #85
  6. Motorfiets

    Motorfiets Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,997
    Location:
    North of Jack Daniel's, South of Country Music

    awesome! glad to hear someone talk about the reliability! :freaky
    #86
  7. Johnnydarock

    Johnnydarock Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 6, 2009
    Oddometer:
    308
    Location:
    Redondo Beach CA
    Laurent: You R da Man! What an incredible journey. I loved your side trip to the Rwenzori mountains. Looks like you had a bunch of porters. What did that little trip cost you? Nice to hear the bike is holding up...I just bought an F800GS myself. I'm looking forward to hearing/seeing the rest of your trip.
    Johnnydarock
    #87
  8. The Crow

    The Crow Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2010
    Oddometer:
    19
    Location:
    Cape Town, South Africa
    :lurk

    Let me know if you need any maintenance help in CT. We have some excellent BMW dealers down here
    #88
  9. Asianrider

    Asianrider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Oddometer:
    120
    @Johnnydarock: the trip was pretty expensive.. look here at the options they propose:

    http://www.rwenzoritrekking.com/trekkingoptions.html

    @The Crow: yes I will need to get to a BMW dealer, around CT or Port Elizabeth preferably. There's some work I like to be done under warranty. If you have a tip on which one to pick, I would appreciate.
    #89
  10. The Crow

    The Crow Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2010
    Oddometer:
    19
    Location:
    Cape Town, South Africa
    We are fortunate to have some really great ones down here. I would recommend you use Hamman Motarrad. Owned and managed by father and son who are directly involved and riders themselves.

    They recently worked on a several other RTW / through Africa bikes so will know what to look for. Good QC, fast and reliable.

    Hamman Motarrad
    Chris Hamman
    t: +27 86 000 0269
    t: +27219145073
    e: chris @ hammanracing.co.za

    GPS Co-ordinates:
    X: E01 37 87.5
    Y: S33 53 43.9

    Avanti South Block
    3 Churchill Close
    Tygerfalls Estate
    Bellville
    Cape Town

    If you need more info or any help when you are down here PM me
    #90
  11. Deadly99

    Deadly99 Fast and Far

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2008
    Oddometer:
    10,159
    Location:
    Merrickville, Canada
    :lurk
    #91
  12. Asianrider

    Asianrider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Oddometer:
    120
    Back in Jungle Junction, the campsite became very crowded with several 4x4 and overland lorries arriving, and the biker dudes had left. Boring. I had finished my bike so it was time to go - even though it had started to rain. It's not supposed to be full rain season yet, but it's a warning of the arrival of the wet. I have replaced the front tyre with a second-hand one that Chris had in stock. Not great but still better than nothing. The rear tyre, although much worse for wear, will have to do another 5000km or so.

    [​IMG]

    Because of the rain I'm thinking of taking the main highway through Tanzania, which goes through Dar Es Salaam on the coast and then down to Malawi. But 1500 km of tarmac is just too boring, plus I don't want to visit Zanzibar or hit the beaches so I have no reason to go to Dar. There's a road straight south from Arusha to Dodoma, the capital, on the map it looks like a major road but the reality is often different. What the heck, let's find out. The gravel road starts soon after leaving Arusha, and there wouldn't be tar until the junction with the Dar highway south of the country. It starts OK, but quickly deteriorates quite badly with a lot of potholes and some road construction that makes it more difficult. The road is almost dry, so it's slow but OK. I have no reason to rush it and I stop before Dodoma in a small town that's not so interesting, besides having a petrol station.

    [​IMG]

    The next day I get through Dodoma, which is the administrative capital of Tanzania but feels like a small provincial town. There's no reason to stop, and I quickly find a very good gravel road all the way down to Iringa. I must admit that it feels good to switch to 6th gear and open up. The landscape is quite nice, the road is bordered with baobabs. Arriving in Iringa it's already quite late in the afternoon, and the clouds are building up rapidly. I find a small hotel not far from the highway and check in. That was a good idea, because I just have time for a quick dinner before the sky opens and an incredibly powerful storm drenches everything.

    [​IMG]

    Next day is an easy half day to the Malawi border. Easy... only that I forgot a detail: we Swiss are among the only few who need a visa for Malawi. And they're not available at the border. F.....ck, I knew I forgot something! 1000 km to Dar and back to find an embassy ? not in your dreams. I would rather go around through Zambia (although I had already been stamped out of Tanzania..). Finally, after some discussion with the arrogant custom officer, we find a solution: he gives me a temporary "laissez-passer" so that I can get to the next immigration office and get a visa there. Pfewww, that was close.

    [​IMG]

    That town is Mzuzu, but today being Saturday I have to wait until Monday. I find a backpackers managed by a drunk British where I can pitch my tent for not too much Kwacha - although the food is pretty expensive so I prefer to cook for myself and only get cold beers from them.

    [​IMG]

    With my visa secured (70$, ouch!), I move on to Lilongwe to get things straight and request a Mozambique visa from the embassy. That turns out to be very easily done, the same day for about 40$. The camping is inside Lilongwe and a bit noisy (because of the road, and because of the overlanding truck that had arrived). There I meet a german guy on an Africa Twin and we do some maintenance together. I've noticed that my chain has some slack, the first time I have to adjust it in 35'000 km, that's not too shabby I have to say.

    [​IMG]

    In Malawi, you just have to check the famous lake beaches. Cape McClear seemed nice, and there's a campsite I've been told about: Fat Monkey. Supposedly there are many overlanders, but when I was there it was pretty much empty. The beach is really nice, though, so I enjoyed it a lot. Bilharzia ? yeah, sure, but you take the pills and you should be OK.. time will tell. A lot of dudes were hanging out on the beach, waiting for the few tourists to start their sales pitch: boat ride, key rings, etc.. not interested, but I asked this local artist to have a go at my tank. Not too bad.

    [​IMG]

    The beach is Ok for 2 days but it's a bit too quiet and boring so I leave and head south to Mozambique. The border crossing is very easy, the only thing is that they don't acknowledge the Carnet so I have to pay a temporary import duty. And an insurance, as the country isn't part of the "yellow card" insurance system I purchased in Ethiopia. Ok, except that I didn't check closely enough and the guy made me pay for a car instead of a bike. My fault really, I should know better by now.

    [​IMG]

    Mozambique ? it's OK, but somehow I wasn't so much fond of it. Maybe it has to do with the language (all speak Portuguese but only a few speak English), or the lack on roadside café and restaurants. Although the north is supposed to be better, but I didn't go there because of the rains and bad roads. Of course, the beeches on the Indian ocean are nice, and arriving in Vilankulos I barely had stopped the bike that I was jumping in the sea. Tofo in the south boasts the best beaches in the country, and fortunately it was pretty quiet, because it is a major holiday destination for the South Africans. Not that I don't like South Africans but when they come with the caravan, the kids and the dog it can be quite too much.

    [​IMG]

    Finally I arrive in Maputo, very close to the South African border. There I was hosted by friends of the family, who happened to be a retired Prime Minister. With his help I tried the first attempt at securing an Angolan visa. The Angolans make it extremely difficult to come visit their country, so I have to take every opportunity to try and get one. First off, they only speak Portuguese. Of course this being a Portuguese-speaking country, it doesn't help. Then they would only take applications by local residents. This was cleared by my friend calling the ambassador directly. Finally, the visa once granted has to be used within 60 days, so it was too early for me: I would enter after 3 months. After some phone calls the ambassador said he would write me a letter of introduction for the consulate in Namibia; I'm not sure if it would help, but it's worth trying.

    [​IMG]

    So I went to the embassy every day for a week, filling papers, leaving my passport, trying to explain to the office workers that I was expecting something from the ambassador himself. Basically they don't' give a damn about me and after a couple hours of waiting just tell me to come back the next day. Meanwhile I'm getting very bored in the nice house, Maputo is very dully and doesn't have the vibe of other African cities. The only excitement came when a driver forgot to brake and ran me down at a red light. The car rammed into my right pannier which was threw the bike and myself down in the middle of the street. It hurt but I had nothing broken, even though I was not wearing ATG ATT. I got up and looked up at the car: the driver was shitting himself, thinking he had killed someone and he didn't even dare coming out and help me. I picked up the bike, and fortunately it seemed unharmed except for the ripped off pannier and bent carrier. Not too bad considering that the bike at been thrown onto the back of the preceding car, badly damaging the bodywork. I strapped the pannier back onto the bike (why was I riding in the city with panniers ?) and we all went to the police station to fill out the report. That of course took all afternoon, and a bit confusing as nobody spoke English.

    [​IMG]

    The next day I went to the insurance company to sort out the damage report with the offender and the other affected car. It turned out the brain-dead driver was working for a company owned by a Portuguese. That guy spoke English and was comprehensive. I found out that it may take several weeks for everything to be fixed by the insurance. The Portuguese proposed me a deal: I would come to his workshop and they would fix my bike there. There wasn't actually much damage to the bike itself, only a broken rear footrest. The problem was the pannier rack, it wouldn't hold the pannier anymore. I took us the whole day with the help of 2-3 guys to straighten and weld all pieces so that it could be put together again. African-style of course so I had to lead ll the work. At the end of the day the pannier was fitting again on the rack, and almost as before. The guys paid me the broken footrest in cash and I left. It could have been worse.

    [​IMG]
    #92
  13. Drif10

    Drif10 Accredited Jackass

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2003
    Oddometer:
    46,751
    Location:
    Gates of Moscow
    Good trip. :thumb
    #93
  14. KnuckC

    KnuckC F8er

    Joined:
    May 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    199
    Location:
    North Vancouver, B.C.
    Awesome RR and pics. I apologize if this has already been asked but what type of camera are you using?
    #94
  15. quicktoys2

    quicktoys2 ADVrider junkie :)

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    Oddometer:
    632
    Location:
    Patras, Greece
    #95
  16. Christian RA40XT

    Christian RA40XT Don't Panic!

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2011
    Oddometer:
    120
    Location:
    Ruhrpott, Germany
    Great RR! :clap
    #96
  17. NicoP

    NicoP Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2009
    Oddometer:
    19
    Location:
    Duivendrecht, Holland

    that is sooo awesome, i've got 3 paintings of richy here in my living room :-)

    to bad i didn't bring my bike with me, hope to do that someday.

    nico
    #97
  18. Asianrider

    Asianrider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Oddometer:
    120
    Yup, that's the man. Indeed, he showed me that same photo before I left.. he seemed pretty proud of it. He told me he had painted several bikes. Michnus' Dakar was another one.
    #98
  19. sonnyboy

    sonnyboy Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Oddometer:
    312
    Location:
    Cape Town,RSA
    Nice read and pics, Enjoy!:D
    #99
  20. dc1

    dc1 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Oddometer:
    21
    Location:
    TelAviv Israel
    hi great report
    planning a smaller trip Namibia to east african coast
    Namibia Botswana Zimbabwe Malawi Mocambique South Africa
    Could you tell mores about road conditions?
    What maps or Gps are you using?
    Safety issues , would you encourage or advise on solo riding?
    What are your dates or routes around Southern Africa ?

    Jealous but live to ride

    David