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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by metaljockey, May 28, 2010.
Thanks for sharing
Yet another masterpiece, MJ Keep it coming!
Geniet altyd you reports. Really sweet. When are you getting a KTM.
Orange is good drink like Fanta.
you guys are unbelievable...
I have a question for you--how on earth do you get yourselves and your bikes to/from the start/end points of these journeys--do you ride, or ship them somehow?
I am very much enjoying your adventure
Best of luck to you.
Great stuff MJ. How's Peanut, she got her own bike yet.
Looking forward to the rest of the tale.
We normally trailer, it gives an extra 6 days to ride the good stuff.
Yay!! Another MJ adventure!!
Let's sticky it for a while and live vicariously through your words and lens.
Any crocs in those rivers?
She's fine. I just recently got her an Oset, it's like an electric trials bike. She was riding this afternoon.
Bush camp to Siyavonga
We get a relatively early start and another day of wonderful riding lies ahead on the "Main Road to Siyavonga"’.
Siyavonga will mark the end of our Lake Kariba expedition. It is the Zambian counterpart of Kariba town in Zimbabwe. There is a border post and the road crosses over the Kariba dam wall.
Stopping to get water from a well again. Barack Obama conquered not only the USA but also the whole African continent.
Check out the height of the grass.
Day after day we are blessed with the best riding you can ask for.
Here and there it reminds me of Northern Namibia.
Then we start hitting dongas, which means stopping and finding a way through every couple of hundred metres.
It is engrossing riding because the terrain keeps you busy, and we lose the way a couple of times as there is a shortage of locals to ask directions from. So here and there we run into dead ends.
When we reach a populated area we hear that from here on further, the road is such that vehicles can get to there. This is good news, it's excellent news. It means that we are going to successfully finish our first objective of travelling up the length of Lake Kariba.
The road is not a highway yet but we see vehicle tracks and things open up nicely, we get to increase our speed.
And I'm in the mood for a lodge. Siyavonga has several.
Aaaaaaaaaahhhh!! Sandy Beach Safari Lodge
Seeing this kind of thing is just heartwarming.
The lake is filled to capacity. The sculpture is of the Nyaminyami, the river god that is said to live in the Zambezi.
We are the only campers and we set up in an idyllic spot.
We are so ready for a bit of R&R.
As we sit there quaffing a beer or two, getting a feel for the place, I see what looks like a tiny human swimming out to the lake, elbows flailing. I wade out and find a chameleon that climbs up my arm hissing threats as he goes.
We are relieved to get our violently stinking riding gear washed.
My bike has also been giving me some grief with the handlebars having so much play that it has been very difficult to ride rocks. It is mounted on rubbers and there is obviously some problem. I can even straighten out the bars whilst riding by just hitting the one end with my palm. No need to wedge the wheel against something solid.
We take it all apart and finally grind the spacer sleeves shorter so that the rubbers are compressed more. I also inflate the air shock again because it has gone down to such an extent that I have to slow down for holes and the like in order to stop the rear from bottoming.
These and other issues were a continual hassle on this trip and I will get back to this in detail at the end of the report.
Sandy Beach Safari Lodge is not the most up market of places but they are well priced and serve good food and cold beer. It is really good to get our boots dried out for the first time since this trip started.
Siyavonga to Ihmman's Camp
The next morning we do breakfast and leave to refuel and have a look at the Kariba dam wall. Filled to capacity.
All nine sluice gates are open.
From Siyavonga we intend to pass through Chirundu in order to get to the lower Zambezi. We opt not to take the tar road but to rather take a shortcut and stick close to the river.
Good choice, nice riding and very entertaining as there are a variety of footpaths criss-crossing the area.
Crossing rivers here are different to what I am used to because of the sandy bottoms. I am used to rocky bottoms and where one normally want to cross at a fast walking pace, pushing a nice bow wave, here you have to carry as much speed as possible to prevent bogging.
I am hoping for my first day with dry feet since the trip began, but Hennie, with shorty boots, are in for another wet one.
That there is the Chirundu border post bridge, one of only three bridges to span the Zambezi in it’s 2700km length.
At Chirundu we stop to buy petrol out of drums again. On the Zambian side of the border there are no fuel stations, because fuel in Zambia is so much more expensive than it’s neighbouring countries.
Again here in front of the bar I have to strip the headlight out to tighten the bars. As I pull away the bike cuts out, no electrics, dash, everything. It doesn’t take long to find a fuse had blown because of some exposed wiring making a dead short behind the headlight.
We are on our way to the lower Zambezi and the Lower Zambezi National Park. The ferry over the Kafue river.
And here we learn that the ferry is free, except if you drive a foreign registered vehicle. Then it’s US$5. And no, you cannot pay in Kwatsha.
My concept of the Lower Zambezi Valley is that it is an unspoilt wilderness area with a dense game population living by the river. It turns out it is Dollar Valley. From the ferry onward everything is charged in US currency.
The river has a large variety of high end lodges, and all of them are in the range of $400 to $1200 per person per night. The ferry is the only way in and out.
We pull into what should be the most budget lodge and enquire as to camping. They want $19 per person, the going rate in the rest of the country is $5 - $7.50. So regardless of the excellent view we head out again.
We look for, and finally, after dark, find a camp that we had heard about from a connection that we stopped at earlier the day to say hi. It is a private camp on the river and the owners are not there but the keeper lets us bed down for the night.
Ihmman's Camp to bush camp
It turns out to be a lovely spot. Hennie has the unique experience of a vervet monkey urinating on his head while he sleeps.
A spider making himself at home in my bedding.
It takes us a while to get going as I am kept busy trying to get the airshock to do what I want.
As we continue in the direction of the Lower Zambezi National Park the animals increase, we also see elephant but cannot get a good picture. The parks in Zambia aren’t fenced, they are surrounded by Game Management Areas which are populated by man and wildlife alike.
When we get to the park and pull in at Nature Conservation the message is unambiguous – no pedestrians, bicycles or motorcycles allowed. But they turn out to be the nicest people and on seeing our disappointment, they organize us breakfast and a beer. How decent, especially as they do not cater for visitors. I have to juxtapose this against the treatment we got at Kariba Bush Club, who showed us away without as much as an offer of a drink of water.
We go to the Chongwe river, which is the border of the park, to have a look at what we are missing. The park is also only accessible to vehicles for part of the year when the river is low enough to cross. This is not that time of year. This is the crossing.
Looking at the frowning locals it may have been a blessing in disguise that we were not allowed in.
In this riverine forest the visibility is not so good and the bush is full of elephant. So what we do is ride very slowly to give them the opportunity to move away. Except that the track then turns and you are on the other side of the same lot that just tried to get out your way.
While we are riding on tenterhooks like this, swiveling heads checking for elephant, I suddenly see two lion slap bang in front of us, lying under a small tree. A full mane male and a female. They are close, maybe 30 metres and the track passes right next to them.
I jam the brakes and Hennie cruises on another ten metres before he stops, he hasn’t seen them, he is looking for elephant. He turns around to check why I’m stopping, by this time I’m already making turn around maneuvers, I motion with my head to look in front of him. When he sees the two lion not 20m away looking him in the eyes he goes into a stupor. For a further two seconds we look at them and they look at us, then, suddenly the lions jump up and race away. We also assist by putting some more distance between us and them. When it looks like we are clear I stop and take a pic, understandably a little blurry.
Bikes cannot be common here, and the fact that we were two might have been the little bit extra needed for the lion to be caught off guard. Where we were, if they came for us, we would have had no chance at all.
The Nature Conservation people had given us directions to a road that leads out of the valley to the north, so that we did not have to backtrack to the ferry again. It’s called the Leopards Hill road and we find it quite easily. Again a road that has not yet been put in use since the start of the wet season.
In places it is thoroughly overgrown. Not the most pleasant stuff to ride in. The seeds are sharp and your forearms gets cut. The seeds also penetrate your clothing and then gets to prick you many times over. Lastly you get a colourful collection of insects joining your forearms for a short ride, some of them repaying you by stinging, biting and whatever the word is for what the the hairy worms do to you.
In this grass it is easy to lose the track. We stop here and as soon as the motors is shut off, the friendly chap behind me calls out to come and show us the correct way. Zambians are really just the most helpful lot.
Then the track turns into a river. A blind one, you cannot see the other end, so you do not know if it gets deeper or gets overgrown or just turns into a big river.
Luckily it has a quality rocky bottom, so Hennie is off.
Some to and fro shouting and I know it’s safe, he’s on the other side.
A nice 90 degree lip.
As the afternoon shadows gets longer the track keeps moving upward and things start opening up.
It turns into the most beautiful scenery. This area is not populated and we are the only ones around to enjoy it.
The pass going up turns out to be very steep and twisty as well as technical and we ride it in one go. So unfortunately no pictures. But really worth it and I can recommend this road to any 4x4 junkie.
When we get to a river we are ready to stop for the night.
Cool clear running water feels like heaven after a hot day of getting slapped by grasses. A bath is in order.
There are beautiful pools upstream.
Little fish come and groom you from top to toe. Really pleasant, like little fingers all over your body.
It is impossible to find any open piece that is not overgrown, so we camp in the road.
I've been wondering about that, when I was up there a few years ago I saw a few crocs! Big ones. Plenty hippos as well.
Croc rivers are coming up.
Outstanding, more please!
Just when we think it couldn't get any better you write something like that. You guys have big balls. You have the best reports on ADV, MJ.
Maybe you need to install a prop on your bike with as much wtaer that you went through!
Another classic metaljockey