Joined: Jun 2005
Location: Eastern Cape, South Africa
A last word
I almost did not write this report.
We had good pics but it is difficult to make it interesting because all you can really say is “"we rode the best tracks, and then some even better ones, and then we rode some more that was mind blowing, and then we rode some fantastic paadjies, and then we rode a track even better than the previous one"” and on and on.
I made a big fuss about the day we travelled up the Corridor road, because it was the worst day of riding I have ever had. But it is insignificant, it was one day only.
Every one of the other days was fantastic. I have never had so much quality riding condensed into one trip.
This trip is for the kind of bikers that thoroughly enjoy riding. It's a rider's trip. I can highly recommend it. Also, if possible, do it at the same time of year. The fact that we had to deal with swollen rivers and washed away bridges and roads and mud, all contributed to the enjoyment. Timing is everything. If we came three weeks earlier of course, we would not have been able to do most of the trip. When I come again, I will do it at the same time of year.
This trip had many firsts, crossing rivers that, if anywhere else, I would have said‘'no way', the pontoon thing, cotton soil, grass that tower 3-4m into the air, being wet for so long etc. I learned quite a bit about fine throttle control. I learned a lot about hunting operations. It's also the first time I have been called Bwana.
Zambia combines some rare things, water available everywhere, friendly people, and the highest quality riding.
We had both traveled through Zambia before but only using it as transit. This time we spent enough time to form an opinion.
I was surprised to find the northern side of Kariba totally unutilized, I would think that there is massive tourism potential. It is very different from the Zimbabwean side though, no wildlife to speak of.
The people are great. A large proportion speaks English very well. We found Zambians to be courteous, interested and very helpful. The one thing that really stood out for me is that they are joyful. As a people, they are generally happy, you can see it in the faces and hear it in the singing and it is obvious when you speak to them.
We felt very safe, while bush camping we were always in the vicinity of a village or people. Only one night did I sleep with a knife in my tent, and that was more a general feeling of unease caused by the wildlife situation.
Alcohol seems to not have much popularity. On the whole trip we saw one, only one drunk. That is extraordinary.
The place is missionaried to death. Mud huts abound with signs of Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists etc etc. A noticeable proportion of Land Rovers and Cruisers were missionaries. We were asked whether we were missionaries.
The country is very low on infrastructure. I think that is what sets South Africa apart from a lot of other African countries.
I was asked by a local what he had to do, to be able to afford a bike like mine. The man was very earnest, he wanted advice on how to be able to make the kind of money that would allow the purchase of such a machine. I looked around, and the best I could come up with is“"it is easier to make money in South Africa". Not very helpful, I know.
The village he stays in has two small shops selling the absolute basics. I was thinking he could build a couple of huts or shops and let it to others. But there is no need for commercial or residential rental accommodation. If people need a structure they build one. They grow and raise their own food. In any event, the disposable income in the village must be almost nothing. It is a subsistence lifestyle. The only way to make any useful money would be to leave and go to a city. And in these communities, you will be leaving behind all your friends and family, your home since you’ve been born, your support structure. I do not think that it would be a fair trade.
Although there is enough land and water to raise probably a variety of crops, there was no way to get those crops to a market, the road was only barely useable when we were there, by November it will be useless again until next year April/May.
The way I see it, the rainy season shuts down most of the country for a good part of the year, there are basically just a handful of paved roads, the main routes. If you are not positioned next to one of them, commerce is not for you. So 90% of the population lives a rural lifestyle like it has been lived in Africa for thousands of years. Imagine being the government of a country with a population that can not be taxed, because they have no money.
I can see why South Africa is seen as a land of milk and honey by these people, hell, I see South Africa as a land of milk and honey. Roads, electricity, shops, industry everywhere you turn.
Travelling brings perspective.
Just a couple of pics to end off. This is the first time we ended a trip with a small getaway with the girls and it was well worth it.
Chobe Safari Lodge
Botswana has the tourism thing down to an art form. The staff at this lodge were perfect. Imagine the perfect reception staff, waiters and drivers; they are here.
The game viewing by boat is also really excellent.
Hennie got some Tiger fishing in.
And the chef prepared it for him at no charge.
This trip was a bit hard on the wallet, what with flying back and forth, lodges and so on, but damn, we got repaid many times over.
metaljockey screwed with this post 06-23-2010 at 03:08 PM