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metaljockey 04-08-2007 09:19 AM

Mozmalzambots, Southern African Loop
 
In 2002 I joined an unofficial Africa Safari trip from South Africa through Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and Botswana back to South Africa. It was a pretty interesting experience (7 starters and 3 finishers) and it introduced me to lake Malawi. I was much impressed and had been wanting to take Mrs Jockey there since.

Well, the universe finally aligned, and the two of us were able to embark on an unassisted trip in September 2006.

The planned route:

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/142025382-L.jpg



We left Johannesburg with joy and fear in our hearts respectively. I can never get away from that place fast enough.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99905737-L.jpg



We thought we might as well check out the Mozambique beaches while we're at it. I have a religious objection to toll roads and with the Komatipoort route infested as it is, we therefor headed for Swaziland en route to Maputo, the Mozambique capital.

Karma being inherently vindictive, we still had to deal with three toll booths on this day.

The only thing worth mentioning on the run to Ermelo is that i saw a roadsign warning of owls. I thought it pretty strange, but not less than two km's on I saw an owl sitting on a fence. Go figure.

In Ermelo we stopped at the Wimpy for a brekky and a view of the locals. Strange folk that emerge on Sundays dressed up for the Wimpy lunch. One well-meaning leech regaled us with unsolicited stories of how horrible the road was that we were to take from the Swazi border to Maputo. Just sand and holes and how he heroically made it to the border after hours of getting stuck in his 4x4. (I knew from research that the road in question should be tarred.) He then declared that in Maputo the roads are fine but 15km north the tar stops and its just sand tracks. WTF? The tar continues another 600km. He certainly does not own a 4x4, he has probably not been further than the Wimpy in the last 15 years, and he feels happy to lie through his teeth with his powdery wife sitting right there. I never cease to be amazed.

Moral of the story, always take advice from strangers as to road conditions with a healthy spade of sceptisism.

Anyway, so we hit the Swazi border and I am delighted to experience the quickest border crossing ever. Less than 10 min and we've cleared both sides. Helluva friendly people and regretfully we didn't have small change to buy a raffle ticket to support the local school. The prize.. a pig.

It's my first time in Swaziland and my impression is that it isn't the prettiest place I've ever seen. Granted, we made a beeline to get to the other side and may have missed some gems but I won't go out of my way to visit again. The people are very friendly and curtious though.

I crest a hill and get pulled over for speeding. Damn, this trip isn't even a day old and I get caught.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99905830-L.jpg


69km/h in a 60 zone. Very friendly cop fines me R20. Yes, that's right, twenty rand, equals about $2.70. I almost tip him. We part on friendly terms.




We ride through a game park and I see this interesting sign. (apologies for the quality)


http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99903847-L.jpg

Good to know the authorities care about the wellbeing of pedestrians.



We get to the second border post and things take a great deal longer on the Mozambique side. The official language is portuguese. We make it through to Maputo unscathed and book into a backpackers for the night, only dorm accomodation available. In the yard is parked a 4x4 under a tarpaulin. The rear is riddled with bullet holes. I didn't ask.

Maybe I must point out here that Moz had been consumed in a brutal civil war that lasted 18 years and only came to an end in 1994.


We go out for dinner and get one massive bill.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99905921-L.jpg

Back at the backpackers we've been upgraded to a room. Excellent. Not so excellent is that this establishment does not list hot water as one of their benefits. The double bed is an unexpected pleasure though.


Day two to follow.

GalacticGS 04-08-2007 09:27 AM

Interesting so far...and awaiting more...

:lurk

Fin 04-08-2007 09:36 AM

More please. :D

Fin

metaljockey 04-08-2007 09:53 AM

Ok I'm back. Impressions of Maputo..

Many, many blocks of flats in bad condition. Slum type thing but 20, 25 stories high. In some buildings the first floor tenant put up burglar proofing to enclose his balcony. The crims then must have used his burglar proofing as a ladder and forced the second floor tenant to also enclose his balcony, and so on and so forth. I saw some where this burglar proofing growth have reached the 8th floor already.

The majority of the buildings have some architectural merit, when they were built someone clearly did give a damn.

Now almost all the buildings show cracks and fungal growth and has clearly not been painted in the last 10 years. I am told it's because you are not allowed to paint your house/shop/building unless you have permission from the local governor! Keep in mind that the Government was socialist and supported by the Russians. Here's a picture taken in 2002 showing the National Emblem.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/42196632-L.jpg



There is also a rich suburb where all the properties are appr 2000 - 4000sqm with extensive gardens and mansions on them. Still unpainted. All these have 24hr guards at the gate or on the premises.

There are some no-go areas as in any city.

The condition of the roads are not good. Not good. And the traffic is heavy, every man for himself. One thing that caught me out more than once is that where we have a traffic light on each corner, they only have one. On the left closest corner. If you are lucky enough to see the damn thing, you also cannot stop next to it because then you won't see it change again.

I'm not sure whether helmets are required by law. About 60% of bikers don't wear it.

Maputo is like Havana, same climate but rougher people. When planning the trip I had visions of hanging out in discos frequented by young, sultry, sweaty, dark-eyed, world wise, wild haired, wild tempered, voracious portuguese beauties. Unfortunately we spent half the night riding around looking for a place to get some grub.
Next time I'm scheduling more days in Maputo to get to know the place better. I did get to ride around town late at night with a helmetless wild haired beauty on the back and felt like quite the man. Got her into my bed too, but she wasn't into faking a portuguese accent.

Last note on Maputo; we left town on the EN1 to the north. Fourty minutes later we were still leaving town on the EN1. It's a big place and the traffic was horrendous. We left in a light drizzle, the last rain we would see on the trip.

Oh, I almost forgot, let me gooi some pics.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99906552-L.jpg




http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99906955-L.jpg


Our target for the day is Tofo beach near Inhambane. We don't make it. The 10hrs of the previous day has taken it's toll on on our asses and the veritable herd of traffic cops we have to pass through forces us to keep to the speed limit. Breaks your spirit it does. We get some good scenery in though. I think this is at Cuissico.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99907698-L.jpg


http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99907816-L.jpg



So as we sit and drink a beer at one of the roadside stalls, Mrs Jockey decrees that we stop at the next resort we see. I strongly support that notion and we take a sandy stretch in to Chidenguele Paradise something or other. The road skirts an inland lake where there are other places offering camping. Might be worth checking out.

It's Mrs Jockey's first trip on the 1200 and it is really too heavy a bike for her. However on this track I twice see the bike buck and twice she rides it out on the throttle. I'm proud as punch but there's no-one else to see. We make it safely to the lodge and get a very nice room with an excellent view. A little on the expensive side but having fresh sheets makes it feel justified.

The next morning we are at it early and negotiate the sandy track easily. Mrs Jockey is full of confidence and I don't want to break her high by pointing out that sand is tightly packed in the cool early hours.

We stop here and buy a can of chilli sardines for lunch.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99908065-L.jpg


The language barrier is a bitch, but the shop owner brings us plates and cutlery when she sees us sitting down to eat.
There's a turkey with a peacock complex chasing the ladies around.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99908292-L.jpg

That's the thing with turkeys and Maltese poodles. Why is it that the ugliest bird in the world and the most useless excuse for a rat always see themselves as peacocks and rottweilers respectively?


I can't help myself and take another pic of the bikes. Notice how the ground has been swept clean. We find this in every country we pass through. When we were stopped at the beer stall the previous day, the lady in charge was cleaning out the bar area from the previous evenings excesses. To our surprise she walked about 3 meters away and just chucked everything straight onto the ground. Then proceeded to sweep her immediate surrounds. Very strange.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99908390-L.jpg



On the road I notice that things have changed in the four years since I've been here.

In 2002 the one thing that struck me was that there was never any roadkill left on the road by the time we got going an hour or so after sunrise. That was a level of poverty I hadn't encountered before then. Now I'm glad to see that roadkill is making it's proud return.

The second thing that has changed is the amount of people, it's like the whole of Mozambique is gathering along the EN1. Seriously, for over 500km there was never a space of 100m without people walking, riding bicycles, standing sitting and so on. On our way up we must have passed a million pedestrians. And if there is one thing I'm afraid of it's knocking over a child in black Africa. I know two people who had the misfortune, and they had serious trouble.

We pass through Inhambane, turn right at Bar Babalaza and get to Tofo beach. We want to stay at Bamboozi. Bamboozi is right at the end of a sand track that winds through palm trees. It's deep sand and in 2002 one of our party had a less than pleasant get off on this road. We stop before the sand begins and I tell Mrs Jockey to not be ashamed to go first gear and paddle when it gets too difficult. This is what it looks like on the easier stretches.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99903882-L.jpg



I jump on the pegs and make it through to the camp. I wait. I wait some more, she may be slow because of the paddling. It's too long and I go back to look for her. I find them lying down. She didn't paddle. The confidence she found at Chidenguele this morning has led to her hitting a palm tree whilst trying to recover from a wild fishtail. At least she went down on the throttle.
When I get there she is trying to get control over the pain and calm down. Her knee hit the tree. The knee is bruised and left some skin on the inside of the pant leg. The crashbar lost some paint but otherwise the bike is fine. Good thing we scheduled a rest day here. That knee is not going to bend so lekker for a day or two.

Bamboozi is a most excellent spot. Killer pub overlooking the beach.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99912952-L.jpg

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99912569-L.jpg

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99929108-L.jpg


Huts with beds, bedding and mozzie nets. And mosquito nets are essential, this is prime malaria area.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99929164-L.jpg


Open at the top.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99928712-L.jpg


Nice patterns.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99928771-L.jpg


Also some bigger chalets

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99928647-L.jpg


We spend a lekker couple of days doing holiday things and just sleeping and reading and drinking and eating and buying sarongs and having hair braided and taking hot showers.
At Tofo there's more lodges and camps and you are welcome to just walk off the beach into any bar and hang out.

But all good things come to an end and we still have three countries and several thousand kilometers to attend to.

metaljockey 04-08-2007 10:09 AM

Just a last pic from Tofo. Good sized fish being brought in by the locals in little row boats. Could be tuna.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99929058-L.jpg



Our next stop are to be Inhassoro, north of Vilancoulos. I choose to skip Vilancoulos because on the previous trip the place had a bit of an iffie feel to it security wise. I can't put my finger on it and it was probably just in my mind.

I did get good pics at the time though. I love the feeling that the sight of dhows always elicit. That 'old man and the sea' feeling of sun, salt stains, bleached wood and worn canvas. It's like looking back into the time of Ali Baba.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/42196523-L.jpg



Early one morning, before sunrise,I sat at the waters edge looking out to the Bazaruto islands. The scene was just plain breathtaking.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/42197604-L.jpg





http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/42197647-L.jpg





http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/42197827-L.jpg





http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/42198131-L.jpg





http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/42198034-L.jpg






Bypassing Vilancoulos turns out to be a mistake. Inhassoro is a decrepit little place with only one resort to stay at. It's a lovely hotel on the beach with chalets, rooms and camping, with a bar and dinner and staff..................and no guests.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99932509-L.jpg



Even the trees are trying to make a slow getaway.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99932630-L.jpg



We drink a lonely beer in the bar, eat dinner under the trees (served by the most beautiful waitress) and have to turn in early. We didn't want to turn in early.
Because the hotel is too expensive we have to camp. We are the only people there, it is quite far from the hotel, the fence have mostly been stolen and the ablutions do a scary imitation of 19th century insane asylum hose rooms.
Luckily my impressive survival skills ensure that we take a shower while there are still some hot water from the sun baking the rusty pipes. I have a strict rule that I live by; no hot water, no shower. My roommates in the army did an admiral job toughening it out from time to time.

I also have the first opportunity to use my superfast self erecting tent. (come to think of it, now I have two, both come straight up, you just need to pull a wire.)

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99932577-L.jpg



We try to get a good night's sleep in because tomorrow we turn away from the coast for the first of three long days of riding.

GB 04-08-2007 10:11 AM

Wow!! Fabulous journey, report and pics. I see you've wisely avoided riding through Mugabeland...

Thanks for the detailed report and pics... keep it comin' :thumb

:lurk

E-man 04-08-2007 10:20 AM

Nice pics...

metaljockey 04-08-2007 10:30 AM

The route for the day takes us inland, but instead of going through the Tete corridor we want to bypass most of Southern Malawi and enter right by the lake just above Mangochi. It will be a three day ride to get there.

Crossing the Save river.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99932963-L.jpg



Flour still gets made the old fashioned way here.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99904356-L.jpg



The road surface keeps you busy. For an hour we try and keep to 80kph whilst dodging these.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99904228-L.jpg

Every so often you hit one that you just couldn't miss. I have to to give it to BMW, they know how to make rims. Not one dent.




There is a shortage of fuel stations on this route though and between today and tomorrow we are going to need three tanks of fuel each. When planning the trip I was aware of this problem and considered taking containers with, but it's a bit impractical to carry an extra 40l on each bike.
Anyway, as long as there are cars and a demand there will be someone supplying.

At the last available fuel stop we buy beer and canned chicken viennas and stop next to the road for breakfast. I cannot recommend canned chicken viennas.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99933021-L.jpg


We stop at the Beira - Chimoyo crossroad to buy a bunch of bananas and to look for fuel. Turns out I'm one hell of a popular guy in these parts.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99933101-L.jpg


While I'm waiting for the fuel to be fetched Mrs Jockey takes a walk around and find this place. You'll never guess it, but it's the local cinema.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99933063-L.jpg

It also turns out that selling fuel out of containers is illegal. So we ride some way off, chasing our supplier with the container strapped to his bicycle so that we can refuel with less crowding. Note the bananas.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99933167-L.jpg



Some roadside scenery.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99933219-L.jpg



The road around Ngorongosa National Park is newly built and excellent riding. Also for the first time there are no pedestrians on the roads. The scenery changes to a dry bushveld type thing.

We stop to buy fuel from the roadside again. Now, one has to bear in mind that in order for these guys to supply you with fuel, they need to drive about 300km to get the fuel to where they sell it. So there has to be a mark up. At a filling station 20l will cost about 400 000 MT. The fuel I bought at the crossroad I bartered down to 800 000 MT. Thats double! After much scribbling of figures in the sand these bastards won't take less than 1mil MT. Caia will be the next town where I might get fuel and I'll either just make it or just not make it, so we leave.

As it happens I don't make it, but gets helped with 5l by a friendly South African tour guide at our overnight stop at James White's place. Here's the hut we slept in.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99933274-L.jpg

metaljockey 04-08-2007 10:43 AM

We reach the Zambezi river nice and early after having refuelled from containers again in Caia. Here you have to cross with a ferry and like always bikes can move to the front of the queu. Cost us something like R11 to cross. Bargain.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99913900-L.jpg



Unlike any other ferry Iv'e been on this one is as orderly as a military parade. Mostly because the biggest Idi Amin on steroids I have ever seen is in charge. One hell of a speciman. I would have taken a picture but I was too scared.
On the ferry you have the trucks first, then the cars, then bikes, then people. No driver is allowed out of his vehicle. Mrs Jockey got of her bike to take this pic and quickly learned that she too aren't allowed to leave her seat.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99933472-L.jpg

When the ferry docks the pedestrians wait where they stand untill all the vehicles have disembarked and they are given permission to get off.



There's some large mokoro about.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99933401-L.jpg


http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99933435-L.jpg



The one bad thing about a trip like this, where you are doing long distances, is that you can seldom stop and take pictures of the interesting people and things you pass by. And you see some amazing things. Every couple of km you see something that you can ponder on for an hour. But you don't get an hour, you get a couple of minutes or seconds before you see the next thing. It's actually a bit of a sensory overload.

The third time we pass woman washing clothes on the main road we stop to get some pictures though. It's the only flat hard surface in this country of sand.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99933510-L.jpg



And in just this short interaction we find that regardless of their circumstances they can still have fun.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99933593-L.jpg


We ride for some time and stop in a town to get a bite to eat at a tavern. They only have cheese rolls, so that's what we order, cheese rolls and beer. Unexpectedly the green fungal growth is on the bread, not on the cheese. We swallow it down none the less.

We turn off the main road after Mocubo heading up towards Gurue. The road is good.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99933712-L.jpg

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99933805-L.jpg


We are some way off the tourist route now and start to see rock domes pushing up into the sky.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99933859-L.jpg


With the landscape changes so does the soil. Even the people appear more well-off and the towns look like something.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99904580-L.jpg



The road starts winding up and down which is just heaven. The scenery improves around every corner. Coming into Gurue we find the valleys covered in lush green tea plantations.

We are to sleep over in Gurue but I have no clue where. Like I said, it's not on the tourist route. After checking out the options the Pensao do Gurue turns out to be the most upmarket establishment. This is it.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99934049-L.jpg

We have dinner in the cafe down below.


The main street. It is not paved because Gurue is where the tar stops.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99934003-L.jpg



The view from our room.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99933954-L.jpg



We don't sleep well, there's a disco under our room and our window frames have come undone to the extent that they cannot close.

We never see a single white person in the town. We feel a bit far away from home. At least tomorrow night we should be at Lake Malawi.

Air0ne 04-08-2007 10:51 AM

Awesome pics and nice report...

It's a pleasure to read you

:ostrich

Kapp555 04-08-2007 10:54 AM

Great report. You and your wife are real adventurers.

MetalJockey Question. We of course here about the horribleness of most of Africa with the rape, disease and AIDS epidemic there. How safe do you feel with your wife in midst of the locations you went?

Jacpod 04-08-2007 11:40 AM

:clap:clap Keep it coming, or as you say, "gooi" some more photos and comments. Did a similar trip recently, but in a cage, longed to be on the GS. Thanks!

metaljockey 04-08-2007 12:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kapp555
MetalJockey Question. We of course here about the horribleness of most of Africa with the rape, disease and AIDS epidemic there. How safe do you feel with your wife in midst of the locations you went?

200% safer than in my home country. In all the countries that we travelled through we must have interacted with hundreds of people. We only had one, ONE, less than pleasant interaction.

These people are poor. I'm not talking no job but still live in an apartment and get welfare poor. I mean really poor, no shoes, sleep on the ground poor, yet they are the most friendly, inquisitive and genuinely interested in you people you'll ever find.

Of course in the cities it will be a different story, but we avoid them.

In Africa one cannot take anything (such as safety) for granted, but life tastes a lot sweeter when it's not for free.

metaljockey 04-08-2007 12:05 PM

Like I said, the tar stops at Gurue. We hit the road and for the first 100km it follows a train track, crossing over every now and then. Problem is, the tracks never cross at a 90 degree angle. It crosses at something closer to a thirty degree angle. When I hit the first one I compress the suspension just before so that it unloads when I go over. I look back expecting to see my wife rolling in the dust, she makes it however. Hmmmm.
When we take a break later on I mention that I got quite a fright when I hit the first track. She appears not to be aware that there was a problem. Ignorance is bliss. And a good bike will forgive some of your shortcomings.

The route we follow on the day does not appear on our maps and for the first time I need to use the GPS. The road gets more and more interesting as the day progresses and later we're following a single vehicle track that connects small villages.

Taking a break under a Baobab tree.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99934129-L.jpg


The further we ride the more we find that the locals here are not used to motorcycles. I ride in front and as I pass bicycles they flee the road, several fall off. Mrs Jockey behind has a difficult time as those who stay on their bicycles look back at me and then swerve all over the road as she approaches.

The trusty GPS leads us unfailingly right to Cuamba. This is the last town on the border of Malawi. Here we have lunch in a nice open cafe and are surprised to find it is Sunday.

Church goers.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99934165-L.jpg



We draw just enough money to pay for fuel as we will be passing through the border post soon. We take a pic at the Madonna statue, all roads to and from anywhere leave from here. If you want to ever leave Cuamba, you had better find her.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99934211-L.jpg


The market.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99915051-L.jpg



Sunday is washday. This kind of scene plays itself out at every river we cross.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99934294-L.jpg



We finally make it to Malawi and after fucking endless hassles with money changers in the blazing heat we head down to the lake. As the sun heads to the other side of the earth, we pull into the first resort that looks clean and get our sore asses out of the saddle.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99934490-L.jpg



I'm elated to be here again and we immediately order two Carlsbergs.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99934346-L.jpg



It has been three hard days riding. Across the table from me the eyes are not smiling.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99934450-L.jpg

The message is clear. There had better be a rest day coming up and it WILL be tomorrow.



The money changer thing is actually quite interesting. Every single African country has it's own currency. For instance South African Rand, Mozambiqeu Metical, Malawian Kwacha, Zambian Kwacha and Botswana Pula.

Many of these currencies are useless outside of their country of origin, as other countries refuse to buy the currency.

This means that by the time you get to a border post you need to have spent what currency you had or keep it for ornamental value. Also, as soon as you enter a new country you need to pay all kinds of fees such as temporary import duty, road tax and third party insurance. Sometimes payment will only be accepted in the currency of the host country.

This is where the informal money changers come in. Bureau de Change are normally in towns, and you need to clear immigration and customs before you can make use of their services. The informal money changers renders a service at these border posts. They will exchange your now worthless currency (and /or dollars) for substantially below the current exchange rate. They have you by the balls after all. You deal or you don't enter.
In every country this informal currency exchange is illegal, so you are forced to deal with criminals. They have a large arsenal of cons worked out over years of preying on tourists. I have been caught out before. Properly. But so you learn.

Basically the bottom line is that every time you use their services you lose. There is one exception though. Zimbabwe. This poor country have been driven over the financial cliff by it's President, Robert Mugabe. It's economy have been in freefall for several years now with annual inflation in the 1000th percentile. It's official exchange rate is about 200% lower than the black market rate. It's a heartbreaking country to visit. We avoid it on this trip.



Sunrise on the lake the next morning.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99934524-L.jpg


http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99934561-L.jpg



Where we stayed.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99934596-L.jpg



We pack up again to do the 80 odd kays to Cape Maclear. Cape Maclear is close to Monkey Bay and is a small village on the lake surrounded by a nature reserve.
We pull into Fat Monkeys. I'm glad to be back.

We get a room for R65 per day ($8).

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99934633-L.jpg


We stay three days doing very little.

The bar.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99917438-L.jpg


The view from the bar.

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We rent a kayak and explore the islands.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99917018-L.jpg


http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99916844-L.jpg


Snorkelling here is quite an experience. The water is clear as glass and when you are thirsty you just open your mouth and drink. There are thousands of different species of cichlids here (colourful aquarium fish) and they have no fear. You can watch them up close as they feed on the rocks. Some species only feed on vertical surfaces and others only on horizontal surfaces.
It's like swimming in an aquarium. I even had a small shoal following me around for a bit. If you are interested in this kind of thing the south end of the lake is the best place for it.

There are fish eagles all over.

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The beach in front of Fat Monkeys is kept clear and the villagers are not allowed to approach guests to do business here. This helps quite a bit because every single person is either an artist or a jeweler or wants to take you on a boat trip or wants to sell you carvings or prepare a meal for you or just about anything else you may think up. The best way to get some peace from these hawkers is to stay more than two days so everyone gets a chance to try to sell you something once. They are always friendly and courteous and will still leave you with well wishes even if you buy nothing. They just want you to have a look before saying no.

The people are really exceptional, very poor, yet peace loving, kind, soft spoken. And this is one of the countries in Africa with the highest population density, 105 people per km2.

I get the local painter, Richie, to do his magic and add some flavour to my bike.

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Here's a close up.

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The part of the beach that is not in front of a 'lodge' has the normal villlage life scenes of washing, mending nets, drying fish etc.

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On our last night we have a kampango braai on the beach. Kampango is a catfish species, but unlike our barble it doesn't live in mud and tastes pretty good. Chamba and Simon are our hosts.

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We are also subjected to the local school band. Check out the instruments.

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We have an interesting conversation with an afrikaans woman who settled in Monkey Bay and now owns a backpackers. She's been there seven years. She says she can live on R10 (less than $2) a day which includes her electricity. Good to know that if push comes to shove one can retire here on an income of less than R500pm.

We hit the road again and move up the lake. It's a long lake, 560km. Have a look at the size of these carvings.

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We pull into Makuzi Beach Lodge. On the way in Mrs Jockey loses it in the sand again, luckily no trees close by this time.

It turns out to be the most wonderful place. Private, far from any towns or villages and the most beautiful beach.

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What's interesting about the lake is that it does have crocodiles and hippos, but they only keep to certain areas. So generally you can safely swim without worrying too much.

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The view from our room.

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Our dinner table.

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Fresh fish for dinner being brought in.

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Taxi ?

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And so another tough day in Africa comes to an end.

metaljockey 04-08-2007 12:53 PM

We keep going up the lake and stop in Nkhata Bay to check out the beers and the view.

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We stop over in Mzuzu for a day or two and then start the return journey early in the morning. And you know how return journeys are. No fannying about.

Our target for the day is Luangwa River Valley in Zambia. It means riding, and for the whole day I have not a single pic to show. Notable is that the roads in Malawi are in good condition, in Zambia, on the other hand, I find that what was potholed in 2002 is now potholederer.

Late in the afternoon we start dropping into the Luangwa valley. I recalled it to be maybe 12 km or so but no, the descent continues for 70 km. It's a series of continuously twisting, dropping and turning tarmac with every sharp turn littered with truck debris. All around is just wilderness, the villages have been left behind.

It turns into a weird experience. It's an exceptionally hot day and we are are riding straight into the setting sun. The sun and landscape are turned into a orange red glow by the the smoke in the air. The smoke covers hundreds of square kms. As far as the eye can see the surrounding bush have been burned, no green stuff anywhere and the smouldering stumps contribute to the heat. It is a wasteland.

It's almost unbearably hot. An hour before we already had to pull off as Mrs Jockey had started feeling lightheaded and nauseous. My jacket is zipped up to keep the searing air of my body. The front of my jacket is so hot it still burns my skin. With smoke in our nostrils this wonderfully twisty road is pulling us down into hell as darkness closes in.

In my head Chris Rea is singing;
"On your journey cross the wilderness
From the desert to the well
You have strayed upon the motorway to hell"

Damn, check it out, it still gives me goose bumps.

We get to the bottom of the valley in darkness. I drink two beers. We pitch tent and shower. I drink two more beers. The next morning as we are packing up I realise I haven't had a pee since Malawi, and I still don't have one. Four beers just plain absorbed. I have to wonder how many times I am going to have to relearn this dehydration lesson.




Another day of hauling awaits. We want to stop at Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe border tonight. Or rather Livingstone. As we crawl through Lusaka I again get caught for speeding. Eighty in a sixty zone. This time it's not cheap. I'm so pissed off that when I see a fly, I ram my head up it's arse.

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This time we get to our destination in daylight and we pull into Maramba River Lodge and treat ourselves to tented accomodation. A mattress can be a lovely thing.

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We go to town for dinner and get ripped off royally. The waitress is so lovely though it makes it all feel better.




The next day was supposed to be a rest day. Mrs Jockey says no, lets go. http://wilddogtours.co.za/forum/imag...s/icon_eek.gif : Siriaaas?

Well we are here and we haven't yet seen Vic Falls from the Zambian side so we go early.

Some pics.

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To put the scale into perspective, here's the top of the previous pic with people on the edge.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99921531-L.jpg


It gets tropical around here.

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The backside of the falls.

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As we leave camp on our way to the border we are held up for a while.

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I was hoping they didn't piss her off too much. There were elephant in the bush on both sides of us.

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Once again we do the border post shuffle and wait for the ferry to come.

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And a week or so later and a thousand km upstream we cross the Zambezi again at Kazungula.

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Botswana here we come. We stop for a quick beer at Chobe Marine Lodge in Kasane and damn, that is a most excellent spot.

Then comes the long straight roads through Mopanie scrub. We come across three herds of elephant on this stretch.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99923787-L.jpg


We fuel up for the second time at Mpandamatenga. Now let me tell you, Mpandamatenga cannot be called a town; in fact I doubt a real town can use Mpandamatenga to wipe it's arse with.
Yet, it has a Traffic Force with laser equipment, chase vehicles etc. We just pulled off from the fuel stop and Mrs Jockey gets caught at 137km/h in an 80 zone. &%$#! (that means 'fuck!'). Wev'e now been caught in Swaziland, Zambia and Botswana. Every time it gets more expensive.

Difficult not to speed on these roads.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99923582-L.jpg



As we turn towards Maun the bushveld reappears and we stop for a Baobab pic. Unfortunately the sleek lines of the GS excites the tree so that we have to leave hurriedly.

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Once again we ride into the sun until it dissapears and pull into Planet Baobab. Sore assed, but it looks to be my kinda place. Check out the chandelier.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99924172-L.jpg



I wanted to come here after seeing Krazy Eyes' report on the South African adventure bike website. It's a 180km detour but what the hell, anyone can make a calculation mistake.

Here's our pozzie.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99924225-L.jpg


The ablutions.

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Sunrise Baobabs

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99924343-L.jpg



http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99924399-L.jpg



And a freaky one on the road.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99923419-L.jpg


A last nuzzle from the local wildlife and wer'e off to the good old RSA.

http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/99924665-L.jpg



The last thing worth mentioning is that we left the SA border post with the fat, arrogant, lazy, South African Border Police running after us shouting and whistling. They never caught up with us, I think they were too tired to run back to fetch a vehicle.



And that's the ball game. It's not the ideal trip because there is such a lot of riding, but it opens your eyes to the diversity and unity that makes up this continent. You learn so much in such a short time. I can write volumes about what I learned about people, poverty, happiness, myself, my relationship with Mrs Jockey, life & death, inevitability,transiency etc.

I will travel in these countries again. But seperately and more slowly, so I can taste all the flavour.


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