I recently spend some time with Desert Rose Racing Academy on an Enduro training day since I am planning to do the Dawn to Dusk enduro this year. Good fun and well recommended …

I also purchased a KTM 450 EXC and fitted some new plastics.Will fit my new tyres this week and hopefully get some practice in.

In a few years I would also like to compete in rallies like the Tuareg or TransAnatolia Rallye, but I first need to master some sand riding. I think a Moroccan tour with Desert Rose Racing Academy might just be the thing for that …

Below is a video of a failed little hill climb from the recent enduro training … so I need a lot more training, although I did manage it in the end 😉

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Ooooooh, and I have just ordered some nice new Kini Red Bull riding gear … nice 😉

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Posted: December 16, 2011 in Gear, General
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This blog was mainly dedicated to my London to South Africa expedition on my BMW F800GS, but I have decided to still use this blog for any other motorcycling tours/adventures I might do.

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I recently purchased a KTM 690 Enduro R from KTM in Cape Town. It is a bike they nicknamed the Oryx since they do a Rally Raid fairing and tank conversion.

I have also locally (in the UK) ordered some other Rally Raid products like the rear aux tank, tank bolts, GPS bracket, etc … which I plan to take with me to South Africa in Feb 2012 so that they can fit them before I take delivery of the new bike. I have also purchased the Rally graphics kit, so when I am done with it, it will look something like this:

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So, in the little mini-African adventure, I will be riding my new, what I like to call, KTM 690 Rally bike from Cape Town to Bloemfontein about a 1000km away. I am going to try and avoid any motorways and/or toll roads, planning to sleep over somewhere halfway.

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I had a quick look at Google maps and most of the roads I plan to take will be gravel or some form off “off-road”.

I plan to take my helmet cameras and document as much of it as I can, tweet and blog as well … so watch this space. I will depart Cape Town around 15 feb 2012.

Posted: December 16, 2011 in South Africa, Travels
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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, I guess you can call it the last border … that is the UK border, getting my bike back into the country and what a mission !

First of all, the scheduled departure has been delayed from South Africa several times. First of all, they had too many passengers and they couldn’t load the bike. Then obviously the dreaded snow in the UK and with Heathrow closed it meant another few days delay … but eventually it arrived in the UK on the 23rd of this month.

Eager to get back on the bike, I went straight to Heathrow’s Cargo section. On arrival I was told that the bike needs to clear customs first … no problem, done it about 15 times before. “Where is customs?”, I asked … “Their are no customs here” … what ? Heathrow that doesn’t have customs ? It’s all up in Manchester or somewhere apparently.

I was then told, I will need to use an agent and then and only then customs clearance may take about 2 days. The worst border in Africa, which is probably Egypt took about 4 hours … now they are telling me the UK customs take 2 days. Also, I can’t do it myself like I always did, I have to pay someone to do it …. just a way of making money I think.

Anyway, with no choice, I had to use an agent which charges £40 just to pick up some documents and another £45 for customs clearance. I was also told not to hang around as it wouldn’t happen on the same day, so very disappointed I went back to London again.

Luckily the next morning I got a call from the agent to tell me customs have cleared the bike and I am now free to go pick it up. Total charges were about £190 which makes this officially the most expensive border of the whole trip. For that price, luckily the staff at Virgin Atlantic cargo did uncrate it for me and disposed of all the packaging material (as seen in the photo above) …

Was good, but bloody freezing to be back on the bike again !

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: 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 went to Victoria Falls yesterday, but the security guard told me it was dry. I went to the information desk and they told me the same, still $20 to get in though. I didn’t really want to pay $20 to just watch a bunch of rocks, but I am sure it still would have been amazing ! I will just have to go back again one day ..

While I was there, the Zimbabwe border was just meters away and thinking about it, there is not much to see on the route through Botswana. Also, to get to Botswana it is about 60km from Livingstone and then you still have to wait for a ferry to cross the Zambesi river.

So yesterday morning I made the decision to go through Zimbabwe instead of Botswana. I have never been in Zimbabwe and with the recent political problems in Zimbabwe, which I was told is not a problem anymore, I was interested to see what it is like.

Zimbabwe border was easy, I think I had to pay $10 “road access” and $6 “carbon emission tax”. Everything stamped, gate pass on hand I headed for the gate and they let me into Zimbabwe. I made a quick stop in the town called Victoria Falls to get some cash … the ATMs here in Zimbabwe now dispense US dollars as everything is priced and paid for in US dollars. They do not have US cents or coins, so they would instead give you dollar notes and South African rand in coins as change when you purchase something.

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Garda Lodge, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

I headed straight for Bulawayo and to a guest house/lodge I quickly found on the internet yesterday morning. The name of the lodge is Garda Lodge, run by an Italian couple that have been in Africa for the past 20 years, but only in Zimbabwe for the last year. Very nice place and conveniently for me, about 6km out of the city. I like places outside the main city centers, because when I leave in the morning I hate sitting in traffic .. I am staying the night and then head off again in the morning.

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So far Zimbabwe is very nice, friendly people and also beautiful …

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 🙂

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 £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 🙂

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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 🙂

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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
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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 ! 🙂

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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 🙂

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 !! 🙂 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 ! 🙂 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 🙂

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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 🙂

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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.