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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by metaljockey, May 28, 2010.
Awesome report! This ranks up there with Burton and Speke!
Another great example of why we follow this forum and why we ride (although, I admit I would rather read about an adventure like this than live it).
Survival is good!
Mutinondo River to civilization
We get our things loaded up and as Hennie swings his helmet onto his head his eye catches something sitting in the earwell.
Damn, that could have been unpleasant. When we poke at it to try and get it to pose nicely for a photo, it scurries off into the inner recesses of the helmet. Hennie makes it clear to me that we will not move from here until the scorpion is retrieved. Wuss.
So we spend the better part of an hour stripping everything out of the helmet until we get to the little guy, looking a bit worse for wear.
Pulling out of camp, the road is ready to mess with us right from the word go.
Hennie gets himself stuck in a rut at 430m.
I make it to 640m before I topple over.
Bloody demoralizing when basic obstacles make you look like a total incompetent.
Even more demoralizing when my bike will not start after we picked it up, because the battery is flat. The alternator is specced so low that it can not even keep a charge up if the fan is continuously running , like it did yesterday.
So running it downhill to jumpstart it, I lose the 640m I gained for the day.
When I pull my helmet back on something with a proper venom bites me on the forehead. (Upon taking apart my helmet for washing some days later I found it to have been a centipede)
When we get up the hill things go a lot better and we are able to make rapid progress, still lots of sandy tracks, and my confidence is a bit bruised but in relation to the grass forest of yesterday, this is luxury.
We also reach the escarpment where we climb up out of the Rift Valley, very beautiful, tight and technical but we do not stop for pics, I need to get a charge into the battery.
We do stop halfway up for a rest when that Mr Bean feeling invades our limbs again.
When we get to the top of the escarpment we find a control point, (still no beer, four days now...)and in the control book we notice that the previous vehicle signed out in December 2009. That must have been the bastard that made the deep ruts.
From here the last 30 odd kms is beautiful hard packed road and we smile all the way to the junction with the Great North Road.
Well, that's about it as far as the real trip goes. From here on we have to do about 1400km on tar down to Kasane in Botswana where our wives will meet us for some R&R which we sorely need.
The tar run turns out to be a running battle to keep the X going. Suffice to say that when I go on a bike trip to another country, I want to see new and wondrous things, I want to drink beer with the locals and ride entertaining terrain.
What I do not want to do, is to be making shims from Fray Bentos tins.
Nor do I want to be welding safety critical components in the bundu.
Although I must say, this tractor driven alternator welder is the sweetest welder I have ever used.
Nor do I want to spend hours under a hot tin roof having proper parts made up to replace the poor quality shit BMW chose to equip this bike with.
Crossing the Zambezi marks the end of the trip.
From day one until we hit the tar to return to Kasane, I only had dry boots for two days. The Zambezi makes sure we leave with wet boots just for old times sake. The river is so high you get offloaded in the water.
A last word
I almost did not write this report.
We had good pics but it is difficult to make it interesting because all you can really say is “"we rode the best tracks, and then some even better ones, and then we rode some more that was mind blowing, and then we rode some fantastic paadjies, and then we rode a track even better than the previous one"” and on and on.
I made a big fuss about the day we travelled up the Corridor road, because it was the worst day of riding I have ever had. But it is insignificant, it was one day only.
Every one of the other days was fantastic. I have never had so much quality riding condensed into one trip.
This trip is for the kind of bikers that thoroughly enjoy riding. It's a rider's trip. I can highly recommend it. Also, if possible, do it at the same time of year. The fact that we had to deal with swollen rivers and washed away bridges and roads and mud, all contributed to the enjoyment. Timing is everything. If we came three weeks earlier of course, we would not have been able to do most of the trip. When I come again, I will do it at the same time of year.
This trip had many firsts, crossing rivers that, if anywhere else, I would have said‘'no way', the pontoon thing, cotton soil, grass that tower 3-4m into the air, being wet for so long etc. I learned quite a bit about fine throttle control. I learned a lot about hunting operations. It's also the first time I have been called Bwana.
Zambia combines some rare things, water available everywhere, friendly people, and the highest quality riding.
We had both traveled through Zambia before but only using it as transit. This time we spent enough time to form an opinion.
I was surprised to find the northern side of Kariba totally unutilized, I would think that there is massive tourism potential. It is very different from the Zimbabwean side though, no wildlife to speak of.
The people are great. A large proportion speaks English very well. We found Zambians to be courteous, interested and very helpful. The one thing that really stood out for me is that they are joyful. As a people, they are generally happy, you can see it in the faces and hear it in the singing and it is obvious when you speak to them.
We felt very safe, while bush camping we were always in the vicinity of a village or people. Only one night did I sleep with a knife in my tent, and that was more a general feeling of unease caused by the wildlife situation.
Alcohol seems to not have much popularity. On the whole trip we saw one, only one drunk. That is extraordinary.
The place is missionaried to death. Mud huts abound with signs of Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists etc etc. A noticeable proportion of Land Rovers and Cruisers were missionaries. We were asked whether we were missionaries.
The country is very low on infrastructure. I think that is what sets South Africa apart from a lot of other African countries.
I was asked by a local what he had to do, to be able to afford a bike like mine. The man was very earnest, he wanted advice on how to be able to make the kind of money that would allow the purchase of such a machine. I looked around, and the best I could come up with is“"it is easier to make money in South Africa". Not very helpful, I know.
The village he stays in has two small shops selling the absolute basics. I was thinking he could build a couple of huts or shops and let it to others. But there is no need for commercial or residential rental accommodation. If people need a structure they build one. They grow and raise their own food. In any event, the disposable income in the village must be almost nothing. It is a subsistence lifestyle. The only way to make any useful money would be to leave and go to a city. And in these communities, you will be leaving behind all your friends and family, your home since you’ve been born, your support structure. I do not think that it would be a fair trade.
Although there is enough land and water to raise probably a variety of crops, there was no way to get those crops to a market, the road was only barely useable when we were there, by November it will be useless again until next year April/May.
The way I see it, the rainy season shuts down most of the country for a good part of the year, there are basically just a handful of paved roads, the main routes. If you are not positioned next to one of them, commerce is not for you. So 90% of the population lives a rural lifestyle like it has been lived in Africa for thousands of years. Imagine being the government of a country with a population that can not be taxed, because they have no money.
I can see why South Africa is seen as a land of milk and honey by these people, hell, I see South Africa as a land of milk and honey. Roads, electricity, shops, industry everywhere you turn.
Travelling brings perspective.
Just a couple of pics to end off. This is the first time we ended a trip with a small getaway with the girls and it was well worth it.
Chobe Safari Lodge
Botswana has the tourism thing down to an art form. The staff at this lodge were perfect. Imagine the perfect reception staff, waiters and drivers; they are here.
The game viewing by boat is also really excellent.
Hennie got some Tiger fishing in.
And the chef prepared it for him at no charge.
This trip was a bit hard on the wallet, what with flying back and forth, lodges and so on, but damn, we got repaid many times over.
Most excellent! Thank you for taking the time to write this up...
This guy looks like a fake one you'd see at Disneyland or something...er, uh...only...it's real!
Spectacular and inspiring. Absolutely brilliant. Fantastic.
I'm at a stage in life where I've come to realize I could not do a trip like that.I'll fool myself into thinking that"when I was younger maybe." Thanks for the effort.
Thanks you for sharing your incredible journey. I very much injoyed reading every part. All the best to you guys.
What an adventure. Don't discount your story telling because you do it well.
I really appreciate the pictures because I know how hard it is to get myself to stop and take them, I'm sure you'd prefer to just ride too.
Your reports take so many people to places that they'll never see so intimately as you do.
Incredible! Thanks for sharing!
What a Trip, thanks for sharing a good read and pics. Glad to hear that Zambia is not stuffed up like our northern neighbour. It sounds like you had no troubles with bikes with all the water and mud .Looking forward to reading some more of your reports
I'm really glad you did! Thanks for taking the time and effort, it sets the standard for me around this place.
Truly an Adventure ride!
Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for the inspiration!
what an adventure!
If I may say so, this defines the art. Well done.
Thanks for having us along.
dude just reading your ride report i get all dehydrated and delerious. For the love of god never, never ,never let me go riding with you no matter how I beg. 2 of three of my personalities agree. If the other one shows interest have him tazed.
your humble swervant,
SWEEEEET! If I ever get back to South Africa I'll look you up.