Saturday, January 26, 2008
This morning we woke up with a wet tent into a grey day. The took the road south towards Malawi and very soon had to stop to put on our wet weather gear when it started raining. We passed many tea plantations. We stopped at a petrol station 5km from the border where we filled up and exchanged our last few shillings. It stopped raining by now. After fighting our way through touts and money changers on the border we entered the immigration compound. On presenting our carnets the customs official asked Charlie for his receipt he got entering the country. Charlie told him that he specifically asked the customs official when entering the country whether any monies were due to which he said there were none. Charlie told this official that if there was an issue he should phone his colleague on the Kenyan border but that Charlie is not going to pay a cent. The official handed back the carnets duly stamped. Immigration was straight forward. On the Malawian side the customs and immigration were straight forward and free except Rensche got a bit hassled while "guarding" the bikes. We made our way to Chitimba camp. By this stage we had damp helmets, gloves, socks, boots , tent and was hoping for a bit of sunshine! Yes we know Chitimba is a serious overlander stopover point (and it did not disappoint..) but with that you are pretty much guaranteed clean toilets, reasonable food, sensible prices, good chance of Internet and noise in the evening! Unfortunately the Internet is 15MK a MINUTE (US$6/hour) so we barely did emails. Blog and photo's will have to wait. Malawi is a lot like Ethiopia. People everywhere waiving and green green green!
19/01/08 - Old Farm House - Mbeya - 282km
This morning we left early under gray skies keeping one eye on the sky and one eye on the potholes. We went through beautiful fields and hills. We didn't have any rain and rolled into Mbeya at about lunch time. Not a pretty town and we were aware that there is also crime reported by other travellers. We found our way to the Karibuni centre thanks to the GPS coordinates Alex text us. After a quick lunch at the restaurant Charlie inspected his front tyre and decided it had to go. On the Marsabit road one of the knobblies got cut off and since then every second knobbly had started wearing down to the point where four of the knobblies are about to expose the ply. Charlie headed into town and all he could find was a cheap and nasty VEE-Rubber 4 ply soft rubber Thailand tyre which should hopefully make it to the Namibian border. The rain came down just as we finished cooking our pasta and with that we went to bed.
18/01/08 Old Farm house
We spent the day hanging around the farm and inspecting the flower plantations. The flowers are picked, packaged and shipped daily via Dar Es Salaam to Europe. In the evening the Austrian couple we met in Damascus arrived! The had gone all the way down to South Africa and are on their way back. They had a few scary stories about tourists being attacked in Namibia at camp sites some of which where they were present. This is very sad news.
17/01/08 - Boabab Valley - Old Farm house - 188km
It was a day of firsts today: our first speed fine and our first road kill! Unfortunately not our first dry day since leaving Peponi but what can you do? We left Boabab after shooing the monkeys off our bikes and headed for Iringa. The road was beautiful and winding. Pity about the crazy bus drivers! Just outside Ilula we were pulled over by a big man in his white uniform and radar gun. We were going 62km in a 50km zone in town he said. He gave us a choice: 20 000shillings with a receipt or 10 000shilling without. We chose the latter. So off we went very cautiously obeying the speed limit and ducking the fast buses. While admiring the surroundings (Tanzania is stunning, Ethiopia has moved to second place) Charlie didn't notice the poor little fury animal run out in front of his wheel. Rensche followed in horror hoping a truck would finish him off as he was still trying to lift up his mauled head. A few kilometers later we saw a green-lime boomslang streak across the road. At Iringa we stopped to draw some cash (daily now...) and Charles spotted a bike workshop and managed to buy a second hand mirror to replace the one he lost in Ethiopia. The local mechanic had a listen to Rensche;s knock and diagnosed a loose timing chain. We now have a)piston b)loose clutch basket c)bottom bearing d) timing chain e) all of the above! Seeing big dark clouds develop on the horizon we made a run for Old Farm House and arrived just as the first drops started to fall. We had some nice hot chocolate and amarula to warm us up and had a good chat with the lady owner, Nikki, about the State of Africa. Unfortunately she told us that her worst customers are self-drive South African tour companies who trash the place. Unfortunately this is not the first time we have heard from lodges that they dread the South African 4X4 tourists. Also Nairobi is at lock down again and she's had overland companies diverting to Dar Es Salaam instead of Nairobi to finish their tour. In the afternoon a Swiss couple arrived in their landcruiser that was on the ferry from Aswan to Wadi a few weeks before us. (Alex and Katja) It was amazing how small the world is as they knew of people we know. We had a very romantic candle lit 3-course dinner in the restaurant and savoured every morsel.
16/01/08 - Morogoro - Boabab Valley Camp - 185km
For the first time since arriving in Tanzania we had a really good night's rest. No noise and nice and cool. At about 08h30 after a breakfast we headed out of town onto the beautiful Tanzan highway. This road goes straight through the Mukumi Nature Reserve which makes this one of the few main roads in Africa going through a Nature Reserve on where you can ride with a motorbike. We were expecting it just to be one of these reserves where you strain your eyes for hours to see anything but were pleasantly surprised! Within minutes we saw A large herd of elephant and then a herd of Zebra shortly followed by a large herd of Giraffe and then a massive herd of Buffalo and Impala and Gnu.(Wildebeest) We even saw a 3m long rock python on the side of the road although sadly one part of it's length was slightly flat and the ants were in the process of carrying it off. And we saw a family of warthogs with their aerial tails trailing above the grass. Exiting the reserve we stopped off at the Tan-Swiss hotel for lunch. As we approached the Ruaha river it started to bucket down again. Just other side of the thundershower we arrived at Boabab Valley Camp. It is a really nice place to stay with beautiful rooms overlooking the river but slightly out of our price range with a honeymoon suite going at US$65 per person. But fortunately camping is the standard US$5 per person including boma to camp under to keep you out of the rain!
15/01/08 - Peponi beach - Morogoro - 360km
We again couldn't sleep because it so hot and stuffy and decided to leave paradise. Apparently we missed a spectacular thunder storm during the night so we must have caught some shut-eye. So we asked Denis to prepare the bill and said our good-byes to the other overlanders. Rensche's bike wouldn't start but Charlie noticed a wasp flying into her exhaust the previous day. After a bit of persuasion the bike started fine with some debris flying out of the exhaust! We only managed to leave at about 10am and already drenched in sticky sweat. Just as we exit Peponi we nervously spotted dark clouds on the horizon. We decided to take a short cut to the main road but before long it was raining and our short cut turned into a red mud Africa track in seconds. It was slow going on the slippery gooh and we tried hard to avoid the water-filled potholes. Before long we hit the tar road with a sigh of relief, put our heads down and headed south. The clouds became heavier and we had sharp short showers and drizzle here and there. Fortunately the road winds it's way between the big thunderstorms. At the Chalinze crossroad we got on the Tan-Zam highway where we filled up, bought a pineapple,cashew nuts and a kettie and headed into the black cloud ahead. All of a sudden we were in monsoon rain wetting us through to the skin in seconds and swishing our toes in our shoes. After about 30 minutes we started to exit the cloud lightening on our left and keeping our eye on the bit of blue sky on the horizon. We were now thoroughly wet. At last we arrived at Morogoro just before sunset. After asking everywhere for camping and being quoted US$10 per person at a local hotel-dump we headed up the mountain to find a room at the Peace Mountain Lodge for US$25. Hot shower and TV! Even a cover for our bikes against the rain. We hope the rain we saw today is not a sign of things to come. Apparently there is flooding in Mozambique from all the rain in Malawi and Zambia which is both on our route south.
14/01/08 - Peponi beach
Another lazy day at the beach. It was really hot and clammy last night and we tried to stay as far away from each other as possible in the stuffy tent. The mozzie's are about as well so we can't even open the door slightly. But at least a dip in the warm sea sorts that out! Although at low tide the sea is 500m away! We learned today the word for white people (Mzungu) actually means in Swahili "hangover" and in Kishwali "person wandering about aimlessly". The word came from the early European explorers, Dr Livingstone I presume, who wandered around Africa. Not much has changed then except they are now Aussies and Kiwi's and Overland trucks. Tanzania is truly the Real Africa if you could find such a thing. It has beautiful beaches, green forest, nature reserves full of animals and friendly people.
13/01/08 - Peponi beach
We had a lot of rain last night and are glad that each camp pitch has a thatched awning. Stew and Natty are leaving today and offering Jan and Jo a lift to Zanzibar so we said good-byes again. We saw a magnificent sunrise this morning with the sea at high tide a stone's throw from our tent. At the local Internet cafe we tried photo's again but no luck. There is also a little shop with beach fashions and European luxuries like peppered cheese and bacon! In the afternoon we caught the local fishermen and bought two chokka (calamari) for supper and fried it in our farm butter for supper. Delicious! 12/01/08 - Lushoto - Peponi Beach - 216km
The noise of the forest kept us awake most of the night and we got up a bit groggy to start our descent down the main road. Rensche had a firm foot on her back brake down the slippery dirt track. Once back on the main road we made our way around to Tanga where we filled up petrol and stopped for a Fanta on the beach. Last time we saw the sea was in Nuweiba! It was hot and humid and we wanted to move again. We took the rocky road to Peponi beach although it had recently been graded and they were adding top soil. After about 20km of corrugations and potholes we reached Peponi Beach. Paradise!! Beach camping with swimming pool and restaurant. And there we found Jo and Jan together with Stu and Natalie! The last time we saw them was in North Sudan in the desert where they had to leave us to go and see the gorillas in Uganda. We spent a nice evening over a few beers. There is quite a few people "hanging" here waiting for the troubles in Kenya to settle including an American couple, Eric and Sherry-K in a Landcruiser (has come down West Africa and now going up East Africa) and a Swiss-Italian couple in their 1960 VW Camper van waiting to go up. Apparently Kibaki has now refused to speak to Condolisa Rice (USA) but is talking to Mugabe (Zimbabwe)... There are rumours that tourists are now also being attacked. The guys on the Ducati's have emailed us for info as they are now stuck in Ethiopia with other travellers waiting for the situation to improve. We are so relieved to be out of Kenya.
11/01/08 - Moshi - Lushoto - 256km
After taking some photo's of Kili we headed south passing the foot of the Usambara mountains all the way. Along the way we were surprised at the number palm plantations for all those Big Macs and cosmetics in the western world. All traffic was fine even the buses but one Audi A4 with a SA GP numberplate almost pushed Charlie off the road followed by two Mzungu ladies who lost patience with us obeying the speed limit through town and blasted pass us on a blind corner onto a bridge crossing and barely missing an oncoming bus. At Mombo we took a small winding tar road up a stunning valley to Lushoto. Lushoto is known as Africa's Switzerland with its high mountains and deep valleys with dense forest. From Lushoto we took a tiny dirt track which has recently been eroded by flood waters to Irente farm where we set up camp for the night. There we bought some nice farm produce of bread, butter, cheese, jam and veggies from the farm shop and had a nice afternoon snack overlooking the forest. There was a short sharp shower - the first rain to catch us since Montenegro and we moved our tent and bikes under the boma where we spent the rest of the night.
10/01/08 - Arusha - Moshi - 108km
Before heading out of town we quickly went to Barclays and Charlie tried to use his card (which he hadn't used since leaving the UK) at the ATM machine. It wouldn't accept the card so we went to the internet cafe and Charlie phoned Barclays to be informed that yes his card has been cancelled because Barclays has sent him a new one. To SOUTH AFRICA without telling him. There was no need for him to get a new card - his current card is valid to 2010! They also said they couldn't help him now and that he should phone back at 07h00 UK time. With that we left town. We rode east and all along the foot of Mount Kili. It was beautifully clear. Arriving in Moshi we stopped at the internet cafe and finally saved all our photo's taken since Egypt to disc. Charlie also phoned Barclays and after some persuading they reactivated his current card but asked him to cancel it when we are back in the UK...Charlie did not tell them that he is going to close his account once back in SA. The card has still not reached South Africa and we suspect it has too fallen inbetween the cracks of the South African postal system. (Rensche still has not received her two replacement Mastercards...) We booked in at the Honeybadger and noted that Clive and Denise have left that morning and Jan and Jo a few days before. In the afternoon we tried to upload our photo's again but no such luck!
9/01/08 - Arusha
Internet day! The WHOLE day at the local pattiserie. We couldn't get our photo's uploaded but at least did all our emails and checked banks. Charlie could still not log into his Barclays account...
08/01/08 - Arusha
We spent the evening with Clive, Denise and Roy. Roy we met briefly at JJ's and he travels Africa about 2 weeks a year on his old BMW 1000cc. We all went to Stiggy's where we found the best meat in town! Bill Clinton and some other celebs have dined there with the Aussie Chef.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
There are about 3 overland trucks here and they spent a rowdy night in the bar. They are filled with Aussies and Europeans. Two buses from the Pink Caravan full of Swedes are also here. We spent the morning typing up our blog on word as there is no Internet connection so with a bit of luck we can publish it soon.
KENYA: Vote K for Korruption
Last night a landrover from the
We took a walk to a small shopping centre (the Junction) close by JJ's. We had breakfast at a coffee shop and it felt really strange to be surrounded by lots of whities! They were there discussing the week's events over their strawberry waffles and bacon and eggs. Most of the vehicles we saw had embassy plates. We are definitely back in
Just before leaving the climbers let us know that their insurance has given them permission to climb the mountain. Good news for us and them! Other friends have also let us know that all is quiet in
Apparently there was about 15 people trapped there at JJ's and although all is quiet now they had shooting directly outside their gate and people tried to get in. We were glad we missed it! Immediately after putting up the tent Charlie drained the oil out of the bikes while the engines were still hot. Just then Clive and Denise pulled up. They had a horrible last leg on "The Road of Death". They spent 3 days doing Marsabit to Isiolo and just before Isiolo had a fall which broke the luggage rack. Fortunately a lodge owner took them in and welded the bike back together again. JJ's is full of broken bikes from the "
So early this morning we were woken up by nature: the local flock of tarentale, peacocks, ducks, chickens, geese have made themselves known around our tent. There are lots of other travelers stranded here including an overland truck. www.climbhotrock.com The truck is a hop on, hop off tour around the world stopping at every potential climbing spot in every country. These guys must be very frustrated sitting right below
At 07h30 with the absence of clouds of mist we headed off on the second leg of "the Road of Death". The road started off good and we made good progress, at times doing 60km/h. Henry said that the Chinese had graded the road closer to Isiolo and we reckoned we should be in Isiolo by . On the way we saw very colourful and interesting Samburu people but didn't stop. There were no signs of trouble anywhere. Out in the desert plains the road was a bit more rough but not that bad. We reached Liasimis at about and looked forward to the "good "road. The road became progressively worse and the corrugations deeper and wider – like riding on a whale's ribs. We don't think the Chinese have ever graded this road! At about lunch time we saw the big red MAN truck with the Austrians coming north and after we said our hello's topped up our half tanks and filled every other container we could find to relieve them of 27L of petrol they bought for us. So there we headed off EXTRA slow with 15L of petrol strapped to the back of Charlie's bike. Thank you Chris at JJ's!!! Due to our slow pace and riding in first and second gear due to the bad road the whole time our petrol range had decreased from 500km to 300km and with the lack of petrol in the area this fuel stop was essential to get us to Isiolo. The corrugations were intensely frustrating and closer to Isiolo a few HUGE potholes were thrown in for good measure. Our bottoms were aching! Just before Archer's Post we saw the Triumph's tyre tracks but no sign of Clive and Denise. Approaching Isiolo we could see that the road has recently been a mud trap but now has fortunately dried out. At last we reached the TAR road just outside Isiolo at about 17h30. We both opened our throttles and blasted down the road to which Rensche's coughed, spluttered and died next to the road. We took out the airfilter (which was clogged with dust) and limped further. It went back to normal after a few kilometers so we assumed some dirt was sucked into the carb. We headed up the side and around
Thanks to a call for restraint to the people from both the president and the ODM it seems that the violence has subsided. At about 10am Adam, our petrol sourcer, arrived and said that he had found petrol and that we should follow him into town. We followed him through the dusty streets ducking chickens, children, goats and dogs and stopped outside a small store room. People selling Chat (stimulant leaves to chew) next to us. Soon half the town gathered to look at us and almost knocked Rensche off her bike a few times. At last the petrol seller arrived and we filled our tanks with 40L of petrol at 200 shillings (US$3.75) per litre. Yes that is US$150! Each election and government official was issued with a 210L drum of petrol or diesel for their vehicles just before the elections which they are now selling for a huge profit. At the camp site we moved our tent inside boma to avoid the wind for at least one good night of sleep and start packing for an early start tomorrow. We paid up and Henry let us pay half price as we were there against our will. The protest march is still on tomorrow in
All Kenyan TV and radio broadcasts have been suspended. The army and police have been deployed and some towns have 24h curfews. 140 people are dead. News have come through that 30 people have been burned alive in a church in Eldoret. (on our intended route to
In the morning Charlie went into the dusty town and still no petrol. He met Adam, a local, who said he would try and locate petrol for us on the black market and let us know but he didn't sound hopeful. Rensche put her phone on to do the necessary New Year texts but received a VoiceMail from Barclaycard asking her to phone them. It appears that the Visa card that was reported lost/stolen by Barclaycard by mistake in August before our trip had an outstanding balance on it which now almost left her in receivership. The transaction was funny enough for Card Protection but because the card was reported lost/stolen she did not receive any statements or could access it on the internet. What a stupid system. After spending about 50 pounds trying to contact them and close the account she was told to phone back on Tuesday. We really want to get moving to Isiolo and finish the "Road of Death" but after listening to BBC World we are thank full for being in this quiet town. Apparently there has been looting and houses burnt in Kisumu in the west and
In the morning we were engulfed in low clouds and icy mists. The Spanish headed off early and Clive and Denise decided that they would also head off. So at after going into town to check the petrol situation we said our good-byes and they disappeared into the mist. The afternoon was spent listening to BBC World Service on our little SW radio. At about lunch time the TV announced that Kibaki was the winner of the elections and he promptly had himself sworn in as president. This sparked immediate riots and claims of vote rigging and corruption. We lay low at Henry's. We also heard on the radio that Benezer Buto (
As foretold the road became really, really rocky and corrugated. The rocks were sharp and big and we went air-borne a few times at low speed not having a choice but go over them. Poor Clive and Denise were battling to keep afloat. We joked that Denise should strap a few bungees to her to keep from bobbing off the bike. It was horrifying for us to ride behind them seeing the bike bounding all over the place and we were praying that they wouldn't get injured (they don't wear any protection except their helmets..). We found large rock avoidance maneuvers to be a funny phenomenon: the more you try and avoid them, the more they find themselves directly in front of your front wheel. About one hour after we left Clive and Denise had a puncture. Denise promptly put Woody (small piece of wood carried all the way from
We left this morning after another restless night (due to the town's generator, next to the camp site) to do "The Road of Death", although last night we decided to call it "The Road of Joy". We started of well on hard gravel with a few short sections of corrugations. We even had time to appreciate the local wildlife and saw tarentale (guinea fowl), dik-dik (buck), loads of camels and even a big fury (hyena) crossing the road in front of us. There are lots of herders (with long spears and traditional weapons) herding goats, cattle and camels. Slowly the road became progressively worse. We were grateful for the faint breeze and the clouds overhead and also grateful for not having any rain which we saw in the distance. Now and again a truck would pass us at high speed full of potential voters. At lunch time we were going at about 20km/h due to the road conditions. We stopped at a shop and bought the sweetest cool drink known to mankind with lots of E's and ended up diluting it with our 2L water bottles. Kids were staring at us like we were from Mars with our helmets and funny clothes. It doesn't look like people stop here often! The road then became really bad and turned more rocky with black sharp rocks and really bad corrugations. At about 15h30 we stopped at Turbi and decided to camp at the army base as it was another 100km to the next town. We were really glad not to have rain as signs of previous mud and agony were evident all along the road. We rode behind Clive and Denise all the way, at times we were down to 5km/h with Denise bobbing all over the place on the back of the Triumph and walking some bad sections. At the army base a friendly officer, Jonathan, helped us to set up camp and when we asked him who is going to be the winner of the election he flashed a sparkling set of white teeth and replied in true democratic style: ' the Winner will be the Winner". He also said that Steve and Rocky, two Saffas on KTM's, riding from
End of Ethiopia
We popped into Yabello town and managed to find bread rolls and then we got back on the road south. The scenery stayed bush veldt all the way to Moyale and the tar road was in a poor state. It was interesting to see the changing of the sand from red to white. We stopped off to take a photo of a HUGE termite mound that dwarfed Clive. The aren't that many beggars in the south and there is very little sign of You-You's. Arriving in Moyale we immediately filled up with petrol, stopped at a hotel for drinks, and then went to book out of the country. Rensche and Denise met a Greek couple coming up from
We left Jana's this morning. It was really nice staying there and it's a shame that it looks like it will be closed by the end of the week. On the road the vegetation changed from tropical with pineapples, bananas and coffee to jungle to dense pine forests and then to dense African bush veldt with red sand, thorn trees and termite mounds. Throughout the day a
Today was a slow day – Charlie went to the shops and we had the Ethiopian coffee ceremony preformed for us. It is a slow process of roasting the coffee beans, grinding them and then letting it simmer. The smell is wonderful. According to the New Africa magazine which Jan and Jo had we found out that
Toby arrived today. We met him at the Baro Hotel in Addis and he also caught a lift on the OverlandMissions truck in