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Old 03-31-2009, 06:47 PM   #31
Frgich
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One more of MJ's great RR for us to feast on the real adventure, real Africa.

Thank you metaljockey for taking us along, waiting for the next instalment
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Old 03-31-2009, 07:19 PM   #32
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Metal Jockeys ride reports..........Simply The Best
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Old 04-01-2009, 01:07 PM   #33
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The next morning dawns slow and peaceful.










Brianís spot.




Ablutions




We hit the road, we are going to be passing through Lichinga again on our way east.







Everybody is feeling perky today.




And we get the right kind of roads too, nice and fast.




Many of the villages we pass through have specially made structures for shade.







When we hit Lichinga again we have lunch and as chance would have it we meet Warrick, an ex-South African. He farms in the area that we are going to be travelling through today and we are invited to stay over on his farm.

This is very fortunate as Lichinga is our last fuel stop for the next 600 odd km. He will cart our fuel drums to the farm.

Leaving us to pick up the pace without all that dead weight.




This river later cuts through the farm.




When we pull up at the farm we introduce ourselves to his wife, Fenn, who immediately offers us something cold and sends us to the river to swim with the kids. This river is right below their house, and it supplies their drinking and irrigation water all year round.




We spend most of the afternoon in Fennís lovely company, Warrick only arriving at about 21H00 from town with our beers.




A couple of years ago Mozambique invited commercial farmers from SA and Zim to relocate to underdeveloped areas of the country. The basics were that you get the land for free as long as you create a farming enterprise from scratch.

Warrick and Fenn came here to an area of complete wilderness, and have turned it into a sizable, well developed farm. Hectares have been cleared, irrigation installed and thousands of cashew trees planted. Still some years to the first harvest, but I am mightily impressed by what Warrick is creating here by himself. I certainly have neither the skill nor the tenacity required.

For instance, he has a generator and irrigation pump running off a Land Cruiser engine 24 hours a day. Except this engine is not running on petrol or diesel, it is running on wood. Check this out.




The first cylinder is burning the wood, the suction of the engine pulls the gases down so that there is no flames or smoke, just glowing coals. These unburned gases then moves through the next cylinder which uses water to cool it. What the third one does I do not remember, but this gas then goes straight into the inlet manifold where the carburetor normally would be.

Like so.




Amazing stuff, a $2 400 a month diesel bill sent packing.

Like I said before, on every trip I learn some new shit.

Hopefully Fenn will follow her dream to have a guesthouse here, it will be the only one in a radius of several hundred km. They are wonderfully hospitable people and a treat to talk to.




On top of eating like kings, having cold beers and sleeping in a proper bed, we are also lucky enough to be joined by some professional hunters that will pass through Mavago the next day. We also are to travel through Mavago and they offer to drop our fuel at the government office there.

Most excellent, this takes our fuel far enough that we will now certainly have enough to reach the next fuel quite comfortably. One of our main obstacles sorted.
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Old 04-01-2009, 01:17 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kktos
Mein Herr, mj, das mann needs an haircut !
I figured 'use it or lose it'. Last chance to have long hair, I'm going bald at a fast rate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdon
How did the 800's do?
They did very well, the only problem was that one had that coolant leak on the pipe/motor connection.
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Old 04-01-2009, 01:30 PM   #35
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Today is the day that we get to Reservo do Niassa.

Reservo do Niassa is the reason we came on this trip.

The reserve is massive. Twice the size of Kruger National Park. It’s northern boundary is the Rio Rovuma, the border between Moz and Tanzania. It’s western and southern boundary is the Rio Lugenda. Around the park are what is called buffer zones. These zones are hunting concession areas. Check it out.



Aerial surveys have shown it to have 12000 elephants, 6000 lions etc.

It has always just been wilderness and was only proclaimed in the 90’s. Tourists are rarely seen. The ones that do come here get flown in from Pemba by the hunting concession holders. The reserve has only one official entrance, coming up from Marrupa. We are not using that entrance.

The riding is easy, nice hardpacked track with the odd rut. The only thing that upsets the cart are the bridges. Every couple of kms we cross small streams that cut across the path. The bridges are made of raw logs suspended lengthways. Like this.




Of course, I have to be the first schmuck that gets it wrong.




I’m thankful for the axle nuts though.




Every one is different and I have to inch my way across. The bloody logs does not have a flat top, it is round and tend to not only go up and down but also bend from side to side with knots sticking out here and there.




Just like every where else in Moz that we have ridden to date, the miombo woodland has been burned and clear cut in vast areas. The locals build their houses and then start clearing the forest around it until they have to travel about 30km to get to the edge. Then they abandon their homes and move to start the cycle again. What I do notice is that the trees are cut off about a meter above the ground. Presumably so that it can regenerate for the future.




On this picture you can see how the trees are cut higher up.




This is what the virgin bush looks like. Miombo woodland, no thorns, just like Nardus said it would be.







When we get to Mavago we create quite a stir. The moment I remove my helmet a general shout goes up : “Chucky Norris, Chucky Norris!”

I’ve been called Vincent Van Gogh before but never Chucky Norris.




We fetch our fuel drums from the government offices and fill the bikes and 20l containers each.




We try to sit down to enjoy a warm to hot beer but we get crowded so badly that we can’t seem to breathe in the stifling heat. I am very used to drawing crowds in rural areas, but here it is just extreme. Kids crowd right up against us. It seems the only white people that come here are people on organized safaris and they don’t step out of the Land Cruisers.







We are just about halfway through our beer when a local policeman tells us to put it down and follow him to the office. We get ushered into the office of what I gather to be the regional head of the police. Here we are interrogated on what our mission is and which one of us is the leader. Again we find it next to impossible to explain that we are just friends riding bikes because we like to. This goes on for quite a while and I am concerned about our bikes standing in the village unattended. It turns out that they are concerned that we have come to abduct their children! Freaky.

Finally after taking down all our passport and vehicle details we are released and we part on friendly terms. Not wanting to spend much more time in Mavago we hit the road.

When we stop for a break some time later there are hundreds of little midges trying to force their way into our mouths, noses, eyes and anything that is wet.




I find it easier to bear the heat and give the midges the finger.




And the log bridges continue.




I get the feeling that most of them are rebuilt every year after the rainy season. This is what the construction looks like.




Some are better than others.




Late afternoon and we are now well into the park. We start looking for a place to camp, but it is difficult to find an open area.




Hennie is still dealing with the remains of his stomach bug.




And we still cross one log bridge after the other. On the sparse ones like this I walk next to the bike.




Brian though, rides many of them at speed and seems to get away with it. I try to follow suit and I pay the price. As I am just about across the bridge my back wheel slides off a log and gets thrown sideways. I stamp down hard with my left foot to avoid going down and I save it. Unfortunately this move exceeds the design specification of my foot and I am the unhappy recipient of a blue ankle. Brian’s wife had packed some serious painkillers though, and I remain indebted to her.

When we finally make camp in the dark, my hammock comes into it’s own. I have progressively trip after trip become obsessive as far as weight saving goes. Every trip I have paired down and paired down until I am so lean on packing that I have excess space left over.

Look here for instance, that black bag on the rack carries everything except my tent. It has my clothes, personals, food, water, bedding, spares and tools. When on a trip where fuel is not an issue, the saddle bags would have been empty. Here they carry only fuel, 10l a side.



I read a ride report of a solo Trans-Africa traveler once. He mentioned that his hammock was the single piece of kit that gave him most pleasure. That stuck with me and on this trip, seeing as I had loads of space, I packed a hammock and a camp stool. Believe me the hammock is heaven. Especially when you have a sore foot. I will include one on all future trips where possible.

We finally go to sleep in a burned area of forest. Bright moon and deathly silence.





metaljockey screwed with this post 04-01-2009 at 01:36 PM
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Old 04-01-2009, 01:56 PM   #36
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Another classic run. You RR's are the best in my humble opinion.

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Old 04-02-2009, 06:34 PM   #37
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Oh my dear god!
The group of crazy and fearless South African are back!
And this time with vomit&diarrhea.
Perhaps, again, we must review RRs standards.

I'm in!
Go MJ!

AbraÁos,
CP!
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Old 04-02-2009, 09:57 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by metaljockey

We finally go to sleep in a burned area of forest. Bright moon and deathly silence.


Judging by the picture and the way you described the Reserve it sounds like you're the only humans for many miles. At night like that how concerned are you for safety? You mentioned lions, but hyenas, snakes, spiders, etc.?
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Old 04-03-2009, 04:07 PM   #39
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This report reads so well, and the pictures are fantastic. Can't wait for the next installment. Keep up the good work.

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Old 04-05-2009, 10:28 AM   #40
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Well???



Your loyal fans are waiting - impatiently, I might add.

Great report - keep it coming.
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Old 04-05-2009, 11:41 AM   #41
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Originally Posted by metaljockey

Can be used to power motorcycles also:



Maybe the way to go since the fuel prices keeps rising.

/Johan
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Old 04-06-2009, 01:01 AM   #42
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Like I said, we go to sleep in deathly silence.

This is because there is no wildlife. I mean NO wildlife at all. We donít see a living thing, there is not even some droppings to show that something is around, no spoor at all and not even birds. It is like riding in the bush, but the only living thing is humans. Every hour or so we would pass one or two solitary figures pushing a bicycle.

The riding is still easy and pleasant.




And the bridges still gives us trouble.
















Someone is going to ask, so I might as well tell. That red thing on Nardusís bike is an air horn. Why it is there is a long story.

When we planned for this trip I researched as much as was available re Niassa and Cabo Del Gado Provinces. One of the things I came across was a news item about two women who had been caught and eaten by lions in Cabo Del Gado. This was not good.

It was three months before the trip. Further research confirmed that these two women were victims number fifteen and sixteen in the same area. Sixteen people eaten by the same lions in a period of six months! Bloody hell! Why does the whole world not know about this? Here is a pride that preys specifically on humans; it should make international headlines.

Further research brought me to a research paper by Craig Packer. The mind blowing data is that from 1990 to 2004, in the Southern Tanzanian / Northern Mozambique area, lions have attacked over 800 people and killed over 500. What the fuck man? Eight hundred people! Several prides of lion and more than one generation of lions are eating people like they are a food group.

The methods followed by some of these lions was even more upsetting. They climb up the walls of the mud houses and then come crashing down into the house with the roof. We were on bikes, fast-food you know. And we were going to sleep out in the open. Tasty snacks just lying about.

I was less than comfortable with the whole idea I can tell you.

We were going to have to take some sort of preventative measures. Which measures was the question. When you are sleeping in the open you do not have any real options, if a lion is intent on eating you, heís gonna do so.

Here is the funny part. Our prevention plan was first up, air horns, to scare the bastards with noise. That is where this hooter on Nardusís handle bars comes in.




If we happen upon a pride of lion lying in the road unexpectedly, hit the hooter and ride straight at them. Except that about twenty km after fitting this magafter, Nardus is suddenly overcome by acute cold finger syndrome. The canister wore through against the mirror stalk and released all the compressed air onto his hand.

At the risk of ridicule I have to tell you about our other measures.

Our first line of defence is some fire crackers that Brian brought. Little bomb thingies that we can throw at them when they circle the fire. Sounds like gunshots.

These lions have also shown themselves to be unafraid of fire, so Brian got hold of an electric fence that are energized by six batteries. I carried this in my bag.

Should the lion just get pissed off by being shocked by our fence, I also had an air horn with me. I would wait for the big boy to be sniffing my tent and then scare the piss out of him.

The noise can of course just excite the bastard, and in light of a hut not being a real obstacle, my tent was never going to be much of a deterrent.

So I was also going to sleep with a can of mace. I could not find anything on whether it is effective on lions, but it is effective against bears and American mountain lion, so the odds are in my favour.

These are only effective at close range though. Studying many videos on the internet of people being mauled by lions, I have noticed that more often than not, the first bite is across the shoulders and chest, where the lion then holds on until the person dies of suffocation or what not.

That is why I will wait until he has me in his jaws and walks away with that cocky walk that they have when they caught something good. Then I will use my good arm to get the mace from my pocket and let him have the full shot straight up his nostril. That will sort him out. There is of course also the chance that he might clamp down on my head, but thatís what helmets are for. Iíll still get him up the nostril with a blast of hell fire.

Lastly I have my leatherman. Should the mace prove ineffective and things take too long for my sensibilities, Iíll just cut my own throat, you donít want to piss him off more by irritating him with a pocket knife.



Nardusís finger having defrosted, we continue, still with no sign of any life.







And of course still dealing with these confounded bridges. The biggest problem with these things are that should you try to cross normally, and your wheels do slip in between two logs, you are going to come off pretty fast. This is OK, but if your rider-less bike should topple over, your rims are going to be destroyed. Spokes all over and trip over.




Some leftovers from the war probably.




And some sign of life (or death).




We also move into an area where these beautiful rock domes come straight out of the veldt.




We also come across one or two small villages. In the park. All of them draw water from boreholes like this. And even in the park they still harvest wood.




These granite domes fascinate us.













Finally after 265km of riding in the park we come across the first antelope.




At the same time the terrain starts getting sandy. Lovely. This is more like the Mozambique I know.




Brian likes the sand so much, he lies down in it repeatedly. But he is up as quick as he goes down. He takes that Ďopen upí thing to a new level.




You know the riding is good when you have blood on your face.




We also now pick up a lot of animal spoor, including elephant. The reason, it appears, is that we are now near the Lugenda river. This being the dry season, the game congregate around the rivers.

When we get to Mecula, the only town in the park, we also drop in to the ranger station. They focus mostly on anti poaching it seems.

The reason we drop in there is that we intend going into the concession areas. Contacting the concession people proved fruitless from South Africa. It also proves fruitless by radio from the rangers. We donít want to be rude and crash through their area unannounced, but the ranger (another ex- South African) says he will keep trying to raise them on the radio.

We figure it thus: in these concession areas are villages, so it is not a case of a sole right of use thing. They do have the sole right to hunt and put up lodges, but we are not conducting business within their area, we are just passing through, so they lose no revenue.

On the way from Mecula to the Lugenda Bridge I have my first off at speed from a DS bike. I came off from the plastic many times at speed , but to date all my offs from a DS was at 30km/h or less.

I am the last rider and as the road is a well made, wide, fast one I sit at a relaxed 100-110km/h. I come upon a tributary with a cement causeway, so I donít back off the throttle. The causeway is low on the river and both the approach and the other side is cut down into the river bank. Too late I notice that my line ends about half a metre above the causeway. All I can do is whack the throttle open and pull to try and get the nose up.

When I land the bike bottoms really hard and it gets thrown back up into the air. In this fashion we fly across most of the causeway and come down right where the other bank rises up with a little 30cm step.
Coming down from the sky the suspension can not deal with this either and we again get thrown into the air going up the bank.

This time my backend comes around to the right, quite far, so I can see my saddlebag. This is the bag that is carrying ten liters of fuel, the other one is empty. I still have hope that I can save it if I can just keep things upright when we hit the ground in this sideways position at speed. I almost make it, managing to stay on top and get the backwheel behind the front.

Unfortunately we are pulled off line so much that we leave the road. This being a river bank the side of the road has a drainage ditch and a wall. When we go into the ditch I know that this is not going to end well. All I can do is try to stay on top as long as I can so that we go down at as slow a speed as possible. I believe we went into that ditch at about 80km/h.

Twice I use my right foot against my better judgment and twice it gets ripped past me and mangled between the ditch and my saddle bag. Then we go down. When the dust settles, it appears that there is no real damage except my right ankle that is good and well sprained. I am lucky.

When I get to the others on the Lugenda Bridge Hennie tells that he got caught out in the same way. He and Nardus was riding abreast with Hennie on my line when he also bottomed, flew, bottomed again and then rode most of the uphill balanced over his front wheel.

Our plan is to turn left just over the bridge and follow the Lugenda through Hunting Area C and Hunting Area B.




This is the bridge.




Itís late afternoon and we want to find a place to camp asap. Here we come across, or rather, are seeked out by tstetse fly. Phenominally quick, painfull, aggressive little fuckers. This is what they look like.




These things have evolved to follow and feast on herds of game. They sit patiently and wait for as long as it takes until something kicks up dust. Then they go mental.

Hennie is in front and his dust raises clouds of these things. I can see him surrounded by easily 50 tsetse fly. Behind him I have about 30 travelling with me. He is riding without a shirt.

When you stop you are swamped, they come in under the helmet. The only skin showing on me are a couple of centimeters between my glove and shirt. I get bitten here repeatedly while Iím riding at 30 odd km/h. The only times they sit still long enough for you to slap them is when they are feeding. And they bite hard. Remember, they are equipped to go through buffalo hide.

As we look for a place to camp it slowly becomes clear that when you stop and the dust settles, so do they. Thatís a good thing, otherwise we would not have been able to stop.

We finally make ourselves at home on the river bank.










That night it feels like being in the bush for the first time. Loads of animal spoor and a hippo that crashes around our camp site during the night.

Sort of ironic, the only place with animals are the hunting areas.

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Old 04-06-2009, 01:51 AM   #43
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Amazing story.

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Old 04-06-2009, 05:40 AM   #44
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Fantastic! Thanks.
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Old 04-06-2009, 06:48 AM   #45
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my goodness, the fearless South Africans - you guys rock!

Amazing what you do - thats real Adventure!
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