Archive for the ‘africa overland’ Category

Well, I have posted anything for ages and a lot of people still seem to find my blog mainly because of my trip from London to South Africa. It has truly been one of the best things I have done in my life, my journey starts here in London back on 21 Sept 2010. One of the most popular videos is the one of Malawi, not sure why, but it has over 80,000 views already

 

 

Recently I have just been mainly focussing on practicing for the Dawn to Dusk Enduro next month. I have been into this Enduro racing now lately and really enjoying it. I am competing in my first 12hour Enduro race down in Wales over the August bank Holiday weekend. Below are some of my latest Enduro videos. I am still a beginner, been riding enduros for only a few months now.

 

 

… and some not so good ones πŸ™‚

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This morning around 7am, I left Strand in the Western Cape heading for Ceres. I took the R44, through Stellenbosch over the N1 highway to Wellington. I filled up all my tanks at Wellington, about 13L including the fuel that was in there already.

I headed straight for Ceres via the Bain’s Kloof pass, beautiful scenery, sweeping bendy roads through the mountains.


While taking photos, I noticed the rear Rally Raid aux tank is wet, looked like it only seeped through the cap. I have noticed though, that when you fill the two front tanks, the level drops quite quickly and it pushes up the level of fuel in rear tank. I opted for the clear tanks, so you can easily see the fuel levels which is a big help.

I soon arrived in Ceres and then headed for Sutherland. The tarmac soon stopped and it was pretty much all gravel from there on until I reached Sutherland.


In Sutherland, I filled up again, stopped at the local butchery for some “droe wors” and a coke. I then noticed fuel dripping from the rear tank, it looks like it is leaking from the top mounting holes.

I will have to check out the leak when I get to Bloemfontein, in the meantime, I will not completely fill it. So far, it is difficult to judge how much I can get out of all the tanks, but after 250km, I only filled up around 11L, so I am sure you can easily reach over 500km with the tanks.

After reaching Frasersburg, I decided to change my route again, instead of doing 250km of gravel to Victoria West, I got on the tarmac road for Beaufort West. I am currently sleeping over at Haus Holzapfel, heading to Bloemfontein tomorrow morning.


So far, I am very happy with the KTM 690, it easily sits at 120km/h and with the new seat from Guts Racing, Rally Raid fairing and the extended range with the Rally Raid tanks, it makes a great travelling bike. It’s also feels very agile and light to maneuver on the gravel roads!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Beaufort West,South Africa

It’s been a few months now since I have returned to the UK after my trip down Africa. I have now finally settled down in Kent and all my computers are set up and stuff … so when I’m bored I’m slowly doing some videos of the trip … the two most recent ones are Ethiopia and Malawi … others will follow soon, enjoy !

Well, it almost feels like it. Back in London, UK and I am absolutely freezing. The bike is still in sunny South Africa due to board a Virgin Atlantic flight on Monday night, so should have my wheels back my next week. I also ordered some handlebar muffs, I do not care if it looks stupid, I am not going to have freezing fingers again this year !!!

I still don’t have a place to stay in London, living with friends at the moment, but as soon as I find something, I will start editing videos of the trip. I have in the meantime, uploaded all the photos which can be found here:Β http://bit.ly/fFoGVB

I have also uploaded some “unedited” clips to Youtube …

for more … check out my Youtube channel : http://www.youtube.com/user/andreels

I left the lovely Madidi Lodge in Lilongwe, Malawi for only a short little 140km ride to the Zambia border.

Upon my arrival as usual, you get overwhelmed by all the money changers, this time, I am ready and equipped with an iPhone app with all the currencies, bargained with them and changed my 11000 Malawi Kwacha to Zambia Kwacha.

After they eventually left me alone, I walked over to immigration, stamped out of Malawi, got my Carnet stamped and rode off into Zambia. Same process, immigration, passport stamped, but this time it took a little while to get the carnet stamped. Mostly due to the fact that this is now African time, the customs official is there, but he doesn’t seem to be bothered to do any work.

He finally came round to stamping my carnet, 50000 kwacha please … what ? why, what for ? “Carbon emissions tax” he said … hmmmmm, first I have ever heard of this, but then again, what do you do, pay up and get the hell out of that hot smelly office.

As I rode off into Zambia, I noticed quite a few changes. Kids do not really wave, they just stare … goats and chickens everywhere. Chickens must be the dumbest animals in the world. Instead of running off the road, they always decide with little wings flapping to run straight out in front of you over the road … stupid ! Only good for eggs and chicken burgers πŸ™‚

Very first town you get is Chipata, BP petrol station, Shoprite and Barclays bank ATM … decent town. I stopped for some cash and then headed straight for Mama Rulas, a camp site and B&B just outside Chipata.

I was the only one there … friendly staff, especially Raphael at the bar. Also the first time I could find a Black Label .. so immediately went for a Schweppes Granadilla (also first time I had this in ages) and a Black Label. Set up my tent, got changed and back at the bar for some more drinks …. ohhhh Fanta grape as well, yummy !

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At Mama Rulas in Zambia, bar in the background and about to pitch the tent

Just as I thought I got the whole place to myself, a big overland adventure truck pulled in with 21 foreign “teenage” passengers … damn !!

While these overlanders prepared their own food, I ordered a Rump Steak and Chips from the menu … massive compliment to the chef, probably one of the best steaks I have had in my life .. and massive portions as well … all for only around Β£10, good value ! Great camp site, big place, so was well away from all the other campers, lots of toilets and hot showers ! Definitely recommended !

Next morning I set off for Lusaka, the Zambian capital. I normally use my GPS to find places to stay at my destination using Tracks4Africa. One place that caught my attention right away was Southern Sun Hotel, so I thought I would go check it out.

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At the hotel in Lusaka

Arrived in Lusaka and again, nice city. They also have a few malls with the normal shops we are used to in South Africa .. they also had an Ocean Basket, I knew where I was having my dinner that night …. As programmed, the GPS took me to Southern Sun Hotel Ridgeway. They were willing to do me a discount at $130 per night. Quick glimpse over the shoulder of the check-in staff, I saw their normal rate is $280 … what the hell, you only live once, Do you accept VISA ? Ok, I’ll take it .. in fact I ended staying for 2 nights πŸ™‚

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After a swim at the Hotel

Next morning, I went to Munda Wanga Park (http://gpslog.cc/-15.5609,28.2719) , a local Wild Life Sanctuary, most of the animals are rehabilitated and released into the wild. They said 14h00 is feeding time, so wanted to check that out.

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Some of the animals at Munda Wanga Park

Last night in Lusaka, I decided rather to go out for dinner (Ocean Basket and some Windhoek lagers like last night), I will stay and have some food in the hotel bar … not the best I have had, but ok … I also enjoyed a few Mosi’s, local award winning Zambian lager which is not bad. I like to try all the local beers wherever I go.

This morning I got up early, went for breakfast at 7am, packed the bike and set off for Livingstone. Good roads, nice ride, although I was a little tired, sometimes struggling to stay awake. I was watched a movie the night before as the hotel had all the DSTV movie channels. Stopped halfway at this “unfinished” but still inviting lodge next to the road near Choma for some chicken and chips, coke and a muffin … and then pushed on towards Livingstone. They also did a brand new road just before Livingstone … beautiful and smooth, so thought I would stop and take a photo for you guys … and to change the playlist on my iPod πŸ™‚

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The beautifully smooth road to Livingstone

I headed for Fawlty Towers (http://gpslog.cc/-17.8545,25.8545) backpackers in Livingstone, nice location on the main road, but yet still very shielded and behind guarded gates. Right opposite are a few shops, a Shoprite and most importantly an Ocean Basket again which I will definitely visit for dinner …

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Fawlty Towers Backpackers, Livingstone, Zambia

I will stay here for about 2 nights … and then head off towards Botswana … update later.

F800GS Problems

Posted: November 20, 2010 in africa overland, f800gs, General
Tags: ,

Looking at my blog stats, I have noticed the many readers find my blog by searching for “F800GS problems” …

I would just like to say, apart from the problems in Egypt and Sudan … which was only a faulty side stand switch, most probably because it once fell over its own side stand in Egypt, this bike has been absolutely brilliant !! It was only my own fault that I didn’t eliminate the side stand switch earlier.

It just goes and goes, eats up african roads for breakfast … I love this bike and my confidence has definitely been restored. It has now almost taken me to South Africa and I am 100% confident it will take me back up again if I wanted to …. great bike … and it looks better dirty ! πŸ™‚

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The beast

Sorry for the long post .. going to cover Malawi in one post …

Tanzania – Malawi border was easy going … except for all these money changers at the borders, but I have found a way of dealing with them now. It is not me who wants the cash, they want to get rid of their cash, so I tell them, I will do them a favor and take it off their hands, but at my rate or leave it … they are not sure what to do then πŸ™‚

Anyway, Malawi was windy … as soon as I entered Malawi, on a detour off the main road due to road works, I spotted a white pick up with a South African, CEY registration .. I stopped next to the tinted window and they stopped as well. It turned out to be a Dutch couple traveling up from South Africa to Kenya, assuming they bought or rented the South African registered pick up.

They asked me how many liters of petrol I have left as there is no petrol in Malawi .. no ways … What the heck, Malawi ?

With this in mind, I tried to keep my petrol consumption as low as possible, but the constant head wind made it a little difficult. I stopped at the first town, Karonga, to get some cash from the ATM. I went to both petrol stations in town, none had petrol .. but I was approached by some guys selling on the black market .. almost double I had to pay per liter, I think almost £2 per liter, Malawi is going to be expensive !!

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I made my way to Sangilo Lodge (http://gpslog.cc/-10.5173,34.2174) run by Mark Stephenson and probably known by some adventure motorcyclists from Long Way Down as Ewan, Charley and the gang all stayed there as well. I initially only went to check it out and for some lunch, but upon my arrival, Winston, the barman, made me feel so welcome. With the beautiful setting and great service, I ended up staying 2 nights.

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View from the bar at Sangilo Lodge

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Lunch at Sangilo Lodge .. everything is home made.

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View from my balcony

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Watching the sunrise at Sangilo Lodge

Mark, who is also an motorcyclists said that if I wanted a good ride, I should go over the gravel mountain pass towards Rumphi via Livingstonia, instead of taking the tarmac road down to Mzuzu. I was convinced … so when I left after my second day, it was exactly what I did. The pass consists of 22 tight turns with straight drops down the mountain side (http://gpslog.cc/-10.6082,34.0926) … exciting and beautiful stuff.

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Riding over the pass towards Livingstonia

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Livingstonia, Malawi

The coming down on the other side, was not so good though … loads of tight bendy bits, but instead of rocks, mostly sand and some thick sand … as you all know sand is my favourite !! πŸ™‚ 70km of this all the way to Rumphi (http://gpslog.cc/-11.0210,33.8631) only to find out they have no petrol as well … c’mon Malawi. I had 66 miles of petrol left, so if I ride carefully, I can make Mzuzu where I should hopefully find petrol.

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Having a Fanta at the petrol station where there is no petrol, Rumphi, Malawi

No petrol in Mzuzu … all of 6 petrol stations, nothing, I had to get petrol, I will not make it to any other town with the little I have left … I mentioned the “black market” to one attendant at a BP and she immediately said she can call someone .. so I waited with a Carlsberg in hand .. yes they sell ice cold Carlsberg on the petrol station forecourt.

She came back within minutes saying the guy is behind the station, riding around I found a man, with several 20liter containers with petrol. He even wore a BP cap …. even though he promised he doesn’t work for BP and was just passing by .. whatever ! πŸ™‚ anyway, he sold me 20 liters for 8500 kwacha .. again almost double, but what can I do.

I left Mzuzu on the M5 along Lake Malawi .. what an awesome road .. loads of sweeping bends, wonderful ride. I stopped at Chintheche Inn (http://gpslog.cc/-11.8822,34.1689) for lunch, very nice cheese burger and chips topped off with a chocolate cake for desert. The southern hemisphere is definitely better than the north, at least in Africa πŸ™‚

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At Chintheche Inn

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Desert

I got an SMS from Lindsay, saying they are at Kende Beach only about 10km from me, so after lunch I went over there … thick thick beach sand .. dropped the bike 3 times in probably only 20meters. No photos, but have it all on video … will post all the videos one day.

I decided to stay the night, it was so hot and sticky … I could not even bother pitching my tent .. so I got a beach cottage instead. Again, early the yesterday morning, I packed up and headed for Lilongwe, the Malawi capital.

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View from my Beach Cottage, Kende Beach, Malawi

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View of Kende Beach from the Lake

I arrived in Lilongwe … quite a long push, but when I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised how nice it is. I also found petrol all the way from Kende Beach to Lilongwe, so I guess southern Malawi is ok with petrol. While at Sangilo Lodge, I saw an advert for a lodge in Lilongwe, but it wasn’t on my GPS, so I stopped at the local mall, again to get some cash and asked a security guard where this Madidi Lodge was, it wasn’t even 1km from the mall, great location, with good directions from the security guard, I was there in no time.

I arrived at Madidi Lodge (http://gpslog.cc/-13.9777,33.7510) around late afternoon, from such a friendly smile from the security guard (Bester)at the gate to a warm welcome by barman, I felt right at home. Beautiful place with en-suite rooms, the price I paid included dinner and breakfast, well worth it … had a lovely stay. Bester, the security guard also washed my bike during the night πŸ™‚

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Room at Madidi Lodge

This morning, I quickly went to Game (it’s a South African store chain which seem to be all over Southern African countries as well – www.game.co.za), bought some chain cleaner, shower gel and injector cleaner … filled up at the local BP station, came back to the Lodge to clean the chain, pack up and head for the Zambia border …. Malawi is a beautiful country, but Zambia awaits.

Last leg of Tanzania … the road the Tunduma, where tarmac starts again all the way to the Malawi border.

Again, as usual on this trip .. up early, packed everything, had some scrambled egg on toast and Africafe instant coffee in the restaurant of the country club.

I set off, but the road is all tarmac … can’t be .. or they just didn’t know what I meant when I asked them if the road was bad. About 20 miles later, I stopped next to a group of locals, but they directed me back to town and another road … which, yes, is gravel. I think my GPS got a little confused.

The road was not that bad … I can see it had rained, maybe the day before and then it can be nasty, I’m sure .. but today it was good ! The first 120km or so was great fun, some good fast sections, enjoying it, but then the last 70/60 km to Tunduma was just horrible .. rocky and stoney, bike feels like it is rattling to bits.

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First section was beautiful, if a little corrugated

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You got to see my ugly smug at some point

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I reached Tunduma in one piece and immediately set of for Mbeya … only about 100km from the Malawi border. It is good to get an early start every morning … gives you loads of time and by around lunctime you have covered some good distance.

As I was riding into Mbeya … there was something brewing in the air … it was pitch black clouds, wind like hell, sometimes it felt I had to ride at a 45 degree angle. I could see heavy rain hanging over the mountains surrounding Mbeya, so I diverted to the nearest hotel/restaurant that my GPS could find. It just happened to be on the same road .. it’s a place called ICC (IFSI Community Center). It is set on massive grounds … and very decent, they have a hotel, guest house and restaurant. I decided I will try their fish and chips while I wait for the rain to pass. Very interesting .. not sure what fish, but it was good, maybe a little thin on meat.

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Fish and Chips at the ICC (IFSI Community Center)

I also took this photo of an ancient telephone exchange I think that is in their lobby … and they still use it till this day, perfect working condition.

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The old telephone exchange they still use at ICC

Ironically enough, it never rained. The strong winds must have blown it the other way … so I set off to the Utengule Coffee Lodge (http://gpslog.cc/-8.8852,33.3205), a place I found on the internet. It is run by a British lady and her husband .. very welcoming, great bar and restaurant staff that looks after your every need. A little pricey … think my room was $80, but had a great stay. Off to Malawi tomorrow !!

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Photos of Utengule Coffee Lodge

I have divided this road down Tanzania into 3 parts, first day would be to Mpanda, second day to Sumbawanga and the last day before I cross the border into Malawi would be to Mbeya.

The first day is from Kigoma, down a very small and unmarked road to Uvinza and then down the B8 to Mpanda. The road the Uvinza was beautiful … flat red hard packed roads … awesome, sometimes cruising at 100kph, was just loving it !

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On the way to Uvinza

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Beautiful road … hard and fast gravel track

Then turning the right onto the B8, south towards Mpanda was just as good. Lindsay and Delilah was traveling slightly slower due to some problem with Delilahs bike … think the pannier frame was loose and rattling all over the place, so I went ahead on my own.

Brilliant roads, but hard work … all different terrain, hard pack fast gravel tracks, rocky roads, sandy roads … good fun.

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Some of the sandy bits to Mpanda

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Beautiful scenery on this road ..

I eventually reached Mpanda with little fuel left, but the GPS said there is a petrol station in Mpanda … the bad thing then is, when you get there and they say “no petrol” … what the hell now, will never reach the next town. I had a words with the manager in the office and said I only need about 10 liters after which he said “wait” … they started taking the pump apart and then slowly they could pump some petrol. There was petrol, I think they were just too lazy to fix the pump itself.

Filled up and ready, I waited for Lindsay and Delilah, soon becoming a tourist attraction … attracting all the locals πŸ™‚ … almost 2 hours later, still no sign. Damn, did one of them fall .. maybe broken leg or arm .. maybe even worse. Sent a SMS message, no reply. I waiting about another 15 minutes, so I decided to phone. Delilah did have a few falls in the sand, she is ok thought, but the bike, especially that pannier frame has seen better days. They said they are 19km from Mpanda so I decided to ride back up north hoping to see them very soon.

Found them eventually, we returned to Mpanda for them to get some petrol. They decided to stay in Mpanda and maybe organize a truck to take the bike to Tunduma .. the first town where you get tarmac again. With the sun setting fast and a camp site about 35km away, I left them there to reach the camp site before sunset while they stayed the night in Mpanda.

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Camping at River Side camp … with my beers in a cooler box.

The camp site was a complete dump …. run down and no one in sight. So I came to a camp next door called River side camp. The only one here, but it’s decent .. toilet and cold shower. The only downside, it stink of Hippo crap. When I say hippos, I mean hippos .. and lots and lots of them, only about 10 meters from my tent. They look like big rocks in the water.

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It’s all hippos …. no, not rocks, Hippos, 10m away from my tent

The local guy also offered me “bush meat” and chips … for … wait for it … $80, crazy … maybe he said 18 .. not sure, but still, no bush meat for me, he promised it is not baboon, but you never know. I just ordered 3 beers instead which came in a nice cooler box with ice πŸ™‚

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Tomorrow part 2 … one I am looking forward to as I am just above Katavi National Park, so tomorrow I ride through the park … there could potentially be lions next to the road, you never know. Looking forward to it … good night !

We arrived in Kigoma a few days ago and whallah … Visa ATM machine πŸ™‚ Lindsay said we should maybe go to the port first to find out how much a ferry would be, then we know how much money to get, so off we went …

At the ferry port, we found out there is no ferry, but sometimes there are other cargo boats going up and down the Lake which might be able to take us. They said we should come back tomorrow again to find out if there are any boats going …

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Waiting at the ferry/marine port

We went back to the bank, I drew some much needed cash, then we set off for a place called the Hilltop Hotel. Very nice place, but pricey, room for double are $90pp and single $75, if I remember correctly. They also do not allow you to camp on the grounds. We decided to have lunch instead and then off to a beach camp site. Lunch was good, I had a full 3 course, Soup, Salad for starters, Chicken curry for main and Banana custards for desert.

Someone also told us that the owners of this Hilltop Hotel have their own boat and should be able to take us and the bikes to Zambia .. we went to see the manager and after a few phone calls, they came up with a lovely sum of $6500 to take us to Mpulungu, Zambia. He must be out of his mind !!! We kindly refused the offer and off we went.

We set off to a camp site a few kilometers away, called Jacobsen Guest House and Camp … nicely tucked away and what a beautiful little place. We were the only ones there … they provide lanterns and firewood for you at night … very lovely hosts from Norway … great setting, right on the beach, our own private beach to ourselves.

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Camping at Jacobsen Guest House, Kigoma, Tanzania

The water is so clear, you can walk in with water under your chin and still see your feet.

The next day, we packed up all our gear and headed back to the port. Lindsay then found out, there is a boat running to Congo and then we can catch another boat from there down to Zambia. I was not very keen on that idea. They also told him, there is a boat running the next day to Zambia, a cargo ship, so we might have to sleep on the deck somewhere, but they are willing to take us for about $50 each. So with this in mind, we went back to Jacobsen to spent another night, waiting for the boat the next day.

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Some photos of our private beach

Later that day, a South African couple arrived at the camp site with a massive Mercedes overland truck. They are retired and spending some time travelling .. very nice. They told me that they are also taking that B8 – Western route down Tanzania … so I then decided on my own that I am riding down Tanzania, screw the boats and ferries. If anything really bad happens to me, at least I know that this couple in their big truck will be a few days behind me.

This morning Lindsay said they are leaving at about noon … assuming to the port to catch the boat to Zambia, so I told him, they can go, I am going to ride after which he replied they are also riding … they’ve apparently decided that yesterday already ? We go no real communication going on anymore πŸ™‚

My plan was to leave early tomorrow morning, just incase the roads are really bad, so I can reach the first town Mpanda about 350km away. I now assume they have decided the same … as they seem to stay another night as well .. haven’t packed up yet.