Buya Ikhaya (Come Home)

Charlie and Rensche are coming home by riding motorbikes from London to Cape Town.

We hope that our stories from the road will motivate you to give a donation to our chosen charity Beautifulgate who are a Christian organisation helping Aids orphans in Southern Africa. Please follow the link in the column on the right.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Where are we now?

Nothing came of the interview in Swakopmund for Charles so we went back to Plan A and have found a flat in Port Elizabeth and are just about to start job hunting. We are trying hard not to be sucked into the day to day mundane rat race. We also hope that we have learnt form this trip what little you can get by with without being sucked back into the world of competitive commercialism….we have decided not to buy a TV (for now).

PS we will be loading more photo's onto the blog over the next few days as our Photo album had expired and we are unable to renew the contract as their system does not have a payment option for South African post codes. But it still seem to be accessible at the moment so have a look while its still active!! (Namibia and SA are updated). Also we are working on the embarrassing spelling mistakes on the blog....we can only blame dodgy key boards and fast typing due to expensive Internet Cafe's...!?!

These are some of the people we met on the road in Africa and their relationships to each other.

South Africa - The End...and The Beginning

19/03/08 - Bellville - Cape Agulhas THE END

So the final leg today to Cape Agulhas. We said our good-byes to the family and headed off, us in our bakkie with the two bikes on the back. Along the coast the scenery is again spectacular. At Cape Agulhas we did the photo standing on our boxes as we weren't allowed to ride the bakkie to the Southern most point of Africa. And with that Buya Ikhaya has come to an end. It still hasn't quite hit us and we do feel a bit sad that this wonderful experience of 7 months has now finished. But with that the new exciting adventure of setting up in South Africa begins. In due course we will be updating the blog with some interesting stats and helpful hints and tips so please pop in again. Cheers for now.
Rensche's final thoughts: It never really occurred to me ever to do a trip like this. But one thing I know: if I could manage this then anyone can. Being in my 30's I did not really have a burning desire to get a motorcycle license and even when I got my license in 2006 I was what you would call a "nervous fair-weather rider". Which meant that I did not really get a lot of miles under my belt in the UK before this trip!! I suffered countless cruel jokes at the motorcycle dealers when looking for a bike for me telling Charlie to hang me from the ceiling, break my bones, or trade me in for someone taller as I am 5 foot 1 inch and only have a 28 inch inner leg. But Charlie was determined to hammer and fiddle with each bike I owned (3 in total) so at least I could get my big toes on the ground. (Why are there no bikes for us short bikers ?). I had no off-road experience except a few falls in Salisbury Plains on "fair-weather" weekends in the UK. We decided to let my heavy BMW go for a much lighter 250cc scrambler. It did have hassles on the way but was easy to fix...and pick up in the sand! And it did make it to Cape Point in the end even after all the problems it had and all the "experts" telling us it won't make it. We had no sophisticated equipment as we had no space for it and no formal mechanical training. All you really need to do this trip is a bit of common sense, a bit of humility, lots of prayers and a good sense of humour. And after doing it on a bike I think there is just no other way of doing this trip. It was amazing. The only problem I had on this trip that caused us untold stress and anguish was the continuous hassle with banks and paying bills due to modern systems and procedures that seem to be aimed at catching you out. The only way I can see to avoid this problem is to leave someone you trust with all your bank passwords and a few blank cheques. (Down with Barclaycard!!!) ****Rensche finally managed to close her Barclaycard account in June 2009. The fraud that occurred in September 2007 was sorted out but Barclaycard insisted on honouring transactions on a closed account and persistently charged her interest on a 0 balance.****

So now the preparation begins for our next trip...

18/03/08 - Green Point - Bellville

7 months on the road today!!! Organizing insurance for our new car was a big shock. SA is expensive. We picked up the bakkie in the afternoon and spent another beautiful day in Cape Town with the family. We spent quite a while dismantling the bikes and fitting them in the back of the bakkie under the canopy! (Carmen flew back to Germany this morning)

17/03/08 - Sea Point - Green Point

In the morning we headed across to Stellenbosch to test drive the bakkie. It was a bit stressful riding on the National road at 90km/h while cars sped past us at 130km/h+. After test driving two bakkies we bought a Isuzu (Vauxhall) KB 240 LE 4X4 single cab for a good price as informed by Rensche's family. We decided to collect it the next day. With that we headed across to the bank to organize finance for the bakkie and then headed back to Cape Town to Ashanti Backpackers where Carmen was waiting for us. We set up camp and took a taxi to the V&A Waterfront for a stroll around. We spent the evening at Beluga's with Carmen, Katja and Alex (we met them in Tanzania), a German couple who Carmen met in Sudan and the backpackers we met in Peponi Beach. Small world again! 16/03/08 - Bellville - Sea Point – 100km

The wind died down a bit this morning and it was a clear sky so we decided to set off for the obligatory photo at Cape Point. Along the way we stopped off at Rensche's Grandmother. It was a beautiful sunny day and it seemed the whole of Cape Town was on their way to Cape Point! There were traffic queues everywhere as there was a Naval Festival in Simon's Town. We managed to get to a very windy Cape Point at about lunch time. Hanging on to the bikes in the strong wind fighting for a gap between the loads of tourist buses we eventually got the opportunity to pose at the Cape Point sign. WE MADE IT!!! The Odometer reading read 42,862km. We left London on 17,100km. So that makes it 25,762km start to finish WOW!!!We took a beautiful road back along the coast to Chapman's Peak where we met Jan and Jo (last saw them at Peponi beach in Tanzania). They arrived in Cape Town 3 days ago. After a lovely chat overlooking the splendid view across to Hout Bay we headed for Sea Point. Paul and Zoe, who had come down West Africa 2 years ago on two Transalps 650cc and had done a loop of Southern Africa recently on two 250cc Baja's, had offered us a bed for the night. So we spent a lovely evening at a local restaurant exchanging "tales from the road". Thanks guys, you were our inspiration from day one. 15/03/08 - Paternoster – Bellville – 168km

The notorious South Easter was blowing this morning at storm strength. To avoid being blown off the road we took the Malmesbury road through the back to Bellville via Durbanville and so avoided the stormy coast. It was throwing us all over the road and at one point we were going at 60km/h in the hard shoulder. At last we got to Bellville where another one of Rensche's uncles, Uncle Exul, lives and had another lovely braai. We spent the evening contemplating our "next trip", telling stories and laughing at their travel stories through Southern Africa.

14/03/08 - Gekko Backpackers,Citrusdal – Paternoster – 160km

We made our way down the West Coast today to go and visit Rensche's Uncle Jannie in Velddrift where we had a light lunch at Port Owen. We then battled the strong south easter down to Paternoster, stopping at Vredenburg for some Droe Wors (dried beef sausage). We finally arrived at another uncle, Uncle Daantjie. There we had a nice a braai and caught up with all the family happenings. Paternoster used to be a little peaceful fishing village on the West Coast but foreign buyers have pushed property prices up to the point where you pay R2million for a postage stamp size plot where you can only smell the sea.

13/03/08 - Algeria,Cederburg - Gekko Backpackers,Citrusdal – 25km

It was a really chilly morning and after a quick breakfast we set off on the gravel road to Citrusdal. The scenery was beautiful. At last we got to the tar road and after 10 km we came across the Gekko Backpacker's sign. It looked nice and we knew that Carmen had stayed here a few days ago. We spent a nice afternoon chatting to the owner who was very optimistic about the "New" South Africa. This is really refreshing after all the negative talk we've had with other South Africans after the latest low: "No more major development in South Africa due to power shortage". He also mentioned that Clive and Denise were here 3 weeks ago. Great news since we haven't heard from them again since leaving Livingstone. Hopefully we will bump into them again before they leave South Africa. We stayed the night in our tent and paid the cheapest rates in Southern Africa at R40 per person per night.

12/03/08 - Springbok - Algeria,Cederburg – 367km

For breakfast we had the best omelet in the world (and the cheapest) at the Springbok cafe. It is an institution to have a meal at this stop-over and have a look at their extensive rock collection and books. After checking emails and buying a SA sim card we headed off towards Vanrhynsdorp. The south east wind picked up and we were hanging onto the bikes for dear life while making way for fast cars overtaking us. We had a head wind all the way leaving us exhausted. We stopped in Vanrhynsdorp and while having a snack two guys came over and we got chatting and soon we determined that one of the guys (Michael Hare) had been in the same school (Woodridge College) as Charles although in different years. Mike recommended a campsite in the Cederberg so we headed to Clanwilliam and took the gravel road to Algeria campsite run by Cape Nature Conservation. Although a bit pricey at R215 we set up camp in very beautiful surroundings.11/03/08 - Noordoewer,Namibia - Springbok,South Africa – 144km

The Canadians left this morning on their way north up the West Coast of Africa. We spent the morning hanging around the campsite on the banks of the Orange River overlooking South Africa. Having finished the washing we both agreed that we were bored out of our minds and decided to break camp and head across the border. Immigration was straight forward on the Namibian side. We crossed the Orange river into South Africa - home at last! After a warm welcome by a police officer we were quickly processed by immigration. We then went to Customs and informed them that we want to import the bikes. They immediately asked for our purchase invoice which we didn't have. Fortunately Howard at Conquest Motorcycles had provided us with a letter valuing Charlie's bike between 650 and 750 pounds just before we left the UK. The letter with letterhead was acceptable as an invoice. They then informed us that the bikes would have to be processed by a forwarding company of which there were two a kilometer up the road. Charlie had to leave Rensche as surety while he took his bike to the forwarding company where they prepared the worksheets and importation forms at R100 per bike. Back at the customs office Charles were told he had to pay import duties there and then and they only accept cash in Rand. As returning residents one of the bikes could be imported for free but the other was 0 duties or excise but 14% vat. (zero duties because below 250cc bike). We had no cash on us in Rand and there is no ATM's on the South African border. So Charlie had to cross back into Namibia to draw cash and exchange it for Rand at the petrol station in Noordoewer again leaving Rensche as surety. Fortunately the Namibian officials let Charlie through without going through passport control again. Back in SA the custom officials said all was OK except that our carnets had to be stamped out by Namibian customs. So Charlie headed back to Namibia again with the carnets. There he was informed that carnets are not processed at this border because it is not an exit point from the Southern Africa Common Economic Zone. After some pleading the official was happy to oblige and stamp our carnets. RELIEF!!! We are not certain but our understanding now is that if you want to import your vehicle to South Africa you must get your exit stamp before entering and pay duty at the point of entering the Economic Zone (in our case exit stamp in Zambia and import duty at Kazangulu border in Botswana). All payments made and paperwork in order we headed for Springbok where we booked into the Springbok Cafe and had the nicest and cheapest burgers since starting our trip.

Wonderful Namibia

10/03/08 - HelmeringhausenNoordoewer – 461km

Today was a really long day in the saddle. We got on the road at 08h30 and quickly got to Bethanie where we enjoyed a short stretch of tar road. Turning off at Seeheim the gravel road had two large signs: Road Closed. But a car approached us from ahead and said the road was fine. 1km down this gravel road we came to a drift that was very muddy. Charlie went first and got bogged down to such an extent that he had to walk alongside the bike while riding it with Rensche pushing. The rest of the road was very straight and boring with a bit of excitement at the Holoog River concrete drift where we rode through a strong current of ankle deep water. We finally made it to Grunau where we stopped at the Shell truck stop to convey a message from Heino to the owner. After a brief chat we took the long and very boring tar road down to Noordoewer. We booked in at Felix Unite Adventure Camp (recommended by Rene back in Ethiopia) where we bumped into the Canadians from Cool Runnings Backpackers in Malawi. They made it all the way down to Cape Town down the East Route and are now on their way up the West Coast, circumnavigating Africa. We spent the evening exchanging GPS points and information about good campsites etc.

09/03/08 - NeurasHelmeringhausen – 246km
We had about 20 water crossings today so the novelty has worn off a bit. But at least no mud baths just muddy boots and a few curses. After a lovely breakfast we said our good-byes after a lovely visit with Allan, Sylvia and Andrea and took the D850 to Maltahoe, crossing at least 10 muddy drifts along the way. We then headed south towards Helmeringhausen. The landscape after the recent heavy rains is stunning with all the hills green. This is a wonderful and rare opportunity to see Namibia at its most beautiful. Along the way Charlie came a cross a 2m long Cape Cobra which reared its head to bike seat height as Charlie rode past and then promptly slithered off the road before Rensche arrived on the scene. We booked into the Helmeringhausen Hotel Campsite.
08/03/08 - Neuras

We joined Allan after breakfast with some tourists on another wine tour. It is amazing what they accomplished here after 10 years. We lounged around in the afternoon and in the evening we had a potjie (South African stew made in a big cast iron pot on the fire).

07/03/08 - Solitaire – Neuras – 105km

This morning we had another slice of Apple Pie for breakfast while watching the overlanders leave. We had a restless night of thunder and lightening and strong winds but the tent held out. And at least the overlanders surrounding us were tuck into bed early. The scenery along the road was spectacular with green hills and white flowers blossoming. In desert Namibia!!! We took the C14 via Bullspoort to Neuras Wine Farm which is owned by Allan and Sylvia Walkden-Davis. Allan is an old school friend of Charlie's dad. It has been reported that they own the driest wine farm in the world on the edge of the Namib desert. Along the way there we had to cross a few rivers. At the farm Allan and Sylvia welcomed us along with their daughter Andrea. After a quick lunch we went for a tour of the wine farm. The vineyard is supplied by water from 5 fountains on the farm. Twice a month they flood the vineyards from dams fed by the fountains. They don't use any fertilizer - the water in the dams contains all the nutrients the vineyards need, mostly from bird droppings. The reeds surrounding the dams help to cool the warm eastern winds which creates an ideal micro-climate for the wine yard. The grapes are Shiraz and Merlot and the wine contain no chemicals or histamines, colourants or flavourants. Allan only add a little Sulphur Dioxide to stabilise it. Due to the small size of the vineyard Allan only produces about 2000 bottles a year and currently only supplies one restaurant in Windhoek where it sells for about R800 a bottle. Anybody else who wants a bottle must go and fetch it at the farm (after tasting this wine we would recommend the trip!!). Allan and Sylvia have hosted a number of specialists including Oz Clarke from the UK who were all impressed by this little wine farm in the desert which is miracle in its own right. In the evening we sampled a few bottles of the last 3 years harvests with some other visitors and fresh Kingklip fish.

06/03/08 - Swakopmund – Solitaire – 296km

After a restless and very hot night we were on the road at 07h30. We followed the newly upgraded gravel road behind the dunes between Swakop and Walvisbay narrowly missing a thunder shower. The road was in very good condition and it felt really good to back on the road again. The landscape was very beautiful and the further inland we went the greener it became. Passing through the Kuiseb and Garab passes was also very impressive with interesting rock formations.We arrived at Solitaire at 14h30 and immediately bought two legendary apple pies from Moose MacGregor. (not family of Ewan although Moose mentioned that Ewan and his whole entourage stopped by very briefly before heading off again in a cloud of dust). We were advised to camp in the first few campsites as the overlander trucks tend to camp further back. We set up tent and went for a swim and watched the first overlander truck, Nomad Tours, arrive and pull in directly in front of our tent, obstructing the washing area and completely annexing the ablution block! And using our braai area!Shortly afterwards another truck, Africa Travel Co, arrived and set up camp next to and behind us, against our bikes, leaving us totally surrounded. This while a whole area has been set apart for them! These truck are mostly filled by 18 to 24 year old drunken loud mouths. Not good company for long term travellers. With that we walked to the bar and had a beer...

05/03/08 - Swakopmund

We are planning to leave early this morning for Solitaire but not before stopping at the Swakopmund Christian Academy of which Phillip, Liza's husband, is the owner and headmaster. They started the school a few years ago. Just before finishing packing the bikes we noticed that Charlie's back wheel is flat again! And then when we looked at our spare tubes we noticed that they looked a bit perished from being strapped to the front of the mud guard all this time. Charlie decided to take Rensche's bike quickly to get some new tubes at Suzuki in Swakop. Just before leaving we noticed that Rensche's front wheel tube has moved and therefore also a risk for the valve being torn out. So off with Rensche's front wheel to try and twist the inner tube back to the correct position. We are obviously not leaving Swakopmund today! After struggling with Rensche's tube Charlie at last set off to get new tubes at Suzuki. At this time it was about 9am already and we were sweating in the heat and humidity. After changing the tyre we at last managed to get to the school at about 11am. There the kids climbed all over the bikes and listened to our stories of our trip. 04/03/08 - Swakopmund

Charles got a flat tyre right in front of the hospital in Swakop today. The valve was torn out again just like in Malawi. We think he might think he's still on his 900cc Yamaha Diversion from the UK and try and pull away too fast at traffic lights causing the inner tube to move over time... Carmen let us know that she managed to get to Cape Town safely today. She has taken her bike to BMW in Cape Town where they fixed her bike and will be fitting DAKAR plastics to her bike to replace the broken fairings.

29/02/08 - 03/08/08 - Swakopmund

Rensche's parents, Ryk and Anita and brother, Francois, are visiting over this long weekend. Her sister, Monica, had to stay behind in Johannesburg to work on university assignments. They have been trying to meet up with us on our trip for months but every time something came up: Kenya's problems, expensive flights to Vic Falls or bike problems. Its quite difficult to meet someone en-route since you can never plan more than a week or two in advance on a trip like this! We spent the whole weekend going through 6000 photo's with added commentary reliving our trip. It was quite a shock for us to see all our old photos of Sudan, Middle East and Europe again. It felt like it happened in another life time. Rensche's parents were pleased to see that we suffered no ill effects from the trip, we were healthy and happy, looking forward to the next trip. They could not believe that we managed for so long with so little on such small bikes. Anything is possible!! The weekend went too quickly chatting and spending time in Swakop's coffee shops. But we will see them again in a couple of weeks when we have to go up to Johannesburg in a BIG pick-up to fetch all the boxes we sent from London to Johannesburg via ship in August 07.

26/02/08 - 28/02/08 - Swakopmund

Lazy days in Swakopmund. Going for breakfasts, playing with Ian and Isabel (Liza and Phillip's kids) and catching up with the family. Charles has an interview for a job in Namibia tomorrow