Posts Tagged ‘Africa Overland’

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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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, 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:ย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ยฃ10, 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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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.

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ร‚ยฃ2 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 !! ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ! ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚ … 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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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 !

I left the campsite (adrift) in Jinja quite early the next morning, knowing that I have about 500km ahead of me to get to Kabele, just north of the Rwandan border.

I sat off and mistakingly, but maybe unavoidable, the GPS routed me straight through the Uganda capital, Kampala … what a mess. From now on I will make a point to miss all major cities and or capitals on my journey if possible.

Anyway, through Kampala and off I went .. the road wasn’t the best, roadworks in the middle of nowhere with no signs, the road just disappears all of a sudden and this went on for quite some time, maybe the majority of the 500km. The worse thing was hitting thunderstorms around 100km before Kabele and going through the mountain passes, the temperature dropped to around 15c. I couldn’t see anything, I was wet and cold and maybe a little irresponsible, I sped up just to make it to my destination, dodging potholes as much as I could in the pouring rain.

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Veiw from the restaurant at Lake Bunyonyi Overland Resort

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I arrived at Lake Bunyonyi at a place ironicly called Lake Bunyonyi Overland Resort. Very nice place .. cold and wet I decided to take a bungalow instead of pitching my tent … all I wanted was a hot shower, food and straight to bed I went .. I think around 19h30.

Beautiful sunshine the next day, so I hanged all my wet clothes from the thunderstorms the night before to dry out. I got word from Lindsay and Delilah that they are heading my way. When they arrived, we decided to stay one more night at Lake Bunyonyi, but I pitched my tent the second night as it was considerably cheaper.

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In an attempt to get them dry again …

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Our tents next to the lake

The next morning, we had breakfast and headed to the Rwandan border. I was amazed at how developed Rwanda was … especially the capital Kigali. We reached Kigali around lunch time, so we stopped, had some lunch at a very nice coffee shop … some bickering in the camp with no one able to make up their minds were to go next, we just headed straight out of Rwanda again .. all in one day. Did not see much of Rwanda, which is a shame as it looked awesome, maybe one day I will go back ๐Ÿ™‚

We reached the Rwanda – Tanzania border just before sunset … which none of us really like .. never nice to reach a place so late at night. Immigration done, passports stamped, we walked over to customs to get our Carnets (Motorcycle “passports”) stamped and to our disappointment, they were closed already … maybe 5 minutes too late. Lindsay asked if they could phone the customs official to just stamp our carnets so we can get on our way, but no luck … they just refused. We couldn’t go anywhere.

Stuck in “no mans land” between two countries was probably not something I would have imagined on this trip. I love the idea of going into a new country, but I hate borders … and some how all the dodgy people hang around borders and now we were forced to camp there until the next morning so we can get our carnets stamped. No facilities, no toilets, nothing … I should have taken a photo.

Next morning we found out that the customs official actually lived directly opposite the border post, but I assume being a clock watcher, 7pm he was out of there.

Carnets stamped, we headed into Tanzania … not sure if we should go down the western route, the B8 or head east towards Dar Es Salaam and then go down towards Malawi. One thing I didn’t have, was money ! With only $5, 50EUR and very little Tanzanian shillings, we headed for the first town Kibondo, but found out I couldn’t use my visa card to draw money or exchange euro anywhere in town. Stuck again !! Luckily Lindsay had some cash, so I could get around 6 liters of petrol, which should hopefully last me to the next town where there is supposedly a bank which accepts Visa cards. This town was Kasulu which was down the B8 (western route) …. maybe our minds were made up for us … western Tanzanian road down to Malawi it is then.

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Beginning of the B8 route going south in Tanzania

I was actually quite glad as that western route was the way I wanted to go from the start. Some of it you actually ride through a National Park .. with potential lions and other wild animals next to the road … was looking forward to it. The others were not so keen on this road … they probably didn’t say much, but I could see it.

As we reached Kasulu, I found out it was the same bank which doesn’t accept Visa, dammit ! … Tracks4Africa (GPS maps) have it sometimes so wrong … Luckily they agreed to change the euros for me. While I was waiting in the bank for countless papers they have to fill in just to exchange some money, a massive thunderstorm was brewing outside. Money in hand, we quickly headed for the Kasulu Motel just outside the town in pouring rain and yet again, soaking wet.

That evening the discussion came up about the possibility of taking a ferry from Kigoma in Tanzania to Mpulungu in Zambia, skipping the whole western route. Like I said, not my first choice, I came to ride my bike in Africa, not spend time on ferries. Slightly to my relief, we found out that the ferry does not run this week, maybe only in 2 weeks time, so that meant we had to take continue down the B8. I think by this time we realized that what we wanted out of this trip is slightly different from each other.

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At Kusulu Motel, Tanzania

Anyway, still wanting to try their luck … we are off to Kigoma tomorrow to try and find out if there is a ferry or maybe if they can organize one .. at least I can get some cash in Kigoma as they promised me there will be a bank which accepts Visa cards ๐Ÿ™‚

We left Jungle Junction in Nairobi today and did a massive 100km to Lake Naivasha in Kenya ๐Ÿ™‚

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We were the only campers I think

We came here to Camp Carnelleys on recommendation from Mark we met at Jungle Junction for a change to see some hippos and stuff.

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Bar and chillout area

Great place, HUGE camping area, great chill out bar/restaurant with some beers and great burgers.

We went on a boat ride out on the lake for some hippo watching which was quite cool.

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Some Hippos from the boat

Didn’t do much else today … tomorrow we should hit Uganda, I’m sure ๐Ÿ™‚