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Old 02-06-2012, 02:54 PM   #151
mrwwwhite OP
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Ziua/ Day 21 - 12/01
Km: 0
Vremea/ Weather: 26°C, ploaie alternand cu soare/ rainy with periods of sun




Our tent pitched ar the Kamina catholic mission becomes play house for the kids


The Rover is sheltered from the rain, next to his big brother


But our hosts boost an infectious optimism, so we forget for a moment about our troubles


Observam…/ Cameleon






I take some time to tend to my bike. In a nearby shop I find a welder to fix my brake lever and someone who own an old Honda. He agrees to sell me for 20 bucks his used chain (only 104 links), an insurance for me for the road ahead, as there is no way I can replace my broken part here, or even in Kolwesi.

We find out that there is a train station in Kamina and we start dreaming to finish the last stretch to Lubumbashi by train. Alper senates us some text messages and the situation of the road through Sokele is not really easy; the constant rain made some parts really difficult, there are two river crossings, one is impossible with the Tenere as the water is more than 1m deep the current is really strong and there are big stones all over the 50-60m long crossing. Could the train be our way out?


We start investigating at the Station. Feels like Sunday, a laid-back atmosphere, and we have fun taking pics of the guards.





We lose a whole day going back and forth, visiting different offices, trying to find a solution. Everything from the interior decor, to the rusty dialogue with the socialist managers remind us of communist Romania; same bureaucracy, same "meaningful" wording, same approach. Finally we get the whole picture: 1350 dollars to rent a merchandise open platform, the minimum fee for a 7 tone load (even if we have 3.7). And the prospect of 4 to 7 days by train to Lubumbashi, unless there is a serious, but quite possible power cut, in which case we would be waiting for a diesel locomotive to pull us out.

Ziua/ Day 22 - 13/01
Km: 0
Vremea/ Weather: 26°C, ploaie alternand cu soare/ rainy with periods of sun

We are still in Kamina, negotiations for the train alternative going strong. We scale down the options to tree: 1. send the wone, kids and bike by regular train and make an all men team to drive the Rover to Lubumbashi; 2. share the ridiculous cost for the train with another car and travel by train up for 400 km for 500 bucks; 3. continue by road. For us, the train option is an uncomfortable option: pitch the tent on an open moving dirty platform, exposed to rain and sun, not a lot of room to move about. But it could work. So we decide to take this chance and skip the bumpy nightmare that claimed Alper's suspension and nerves. We pack up and fill the car with supplies: beer, goat black pudding and sausage, goat steak, deep fried manioc, veggies, bread. We have butterflies in our stomachs, but we puled by the train station in high spirit. In a few days we will arrive safe and sound in Lubumbashi!

But life in Africa is a certain uncertainty: the train has been delayed… maybe for tomorrow, on some other day, they'll let us know. And the price has changed, 550 bucks, up from the 500 quoted in the morning (not to mention the 480 promised). What a blow, but in a way, what a relief! We are overlanders, so we must overland. We will hit the road, then, but as the day comes to an end we go back to celebrate our reclaimed courage with black pudding, sausage, caramelized pineapple, rice and whisky, together with the lovely people from the Catholic mission.










Ziua/ Day 23 - 14/01
Km: 55
Starea drumului/ Road: nisip tasat/ good sand
Vremea/ Weather: 29°C, soare/ sunny


Once more, we said good bye to Gaby

And we drove away. Where the road became a narrow path lined by vegetation and stumps, the car hit a tree with the upper luggage support. In the impact, one of our aluminum boxes was totaled, along with our 5l jerrycan! What a nightmare…we collected our stuff in plastic bags and wondered how we would fix this new problem. We could not ride with only one box, but alu is hard to weld and a new set would be too expensive, if not impossible to buy or ship in the next town. But we had no time to mourn our box, we had to keep moving.


50 km further we hit a new low: the right rear wheel of the car gets stuck in some trench and we discover what was the strange metallic noise that Jacques heard during the morning drive. The winch is not working, again.




We scramble to find a way out, at some point a 4x4 arrives and the dudes pull us out, but then we get stuck again, 1 meter down the road. One of the dudes start shoveling away and punctures a tyre, and in the heat of the moment they decide to take off and leave us there. This was a new challenge: the day had started with the car stuck in a trench, and it would end in yet another. Rain pour over, rivers of dirt flooding the trenches, but we no longer care. We are tired, dirty and have had enough. Our French friends decide to sleep in the car as it is, the roof tent impossible to lift. We pitch our tent in the wet grass. And try to sleep.

Ziua/ Day 24 - 15/01
Km: 65
Starea drumului/ Road: nisip tasat/ good sand
Vremea/ Weather: 29°C, soare/ sunny




The uncomfortable rest worked: in the morning we realize that we can use the winch after all. A truck has arrived in the evening and is waiting 100m down the road for the rainwater to dry off. We borrow a chain from them and we manually winch ourselves out of the hole using th Hi-Lift.


In the meantime my Tenere is ready for new adventures


And the girls watch some Disney character's adventures under the shade


What we left behind, after 24 hours of hard work


My quick African fix is still holding pretty well


We arrive at a river crossing, where we wait for the trucks to pass. The truck people have been working for days to fix a huge hole right after the bridge: sand bags, wood, the works. Later we find ourselves at yet another river crossing, but this time there is no bridge.


Too tired to attempt the crossing, I suggest to set camp on the soft sand some 200 m off the river. It's one of the loveliest camping spots so far, almost like a bai, where you would imagine elephants passing by.
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Old 02-06-2012, 03:06 PM   #152
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EPIC!!!!!!


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Old 02-08-2012, 02:25 PM   #153
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And more epic-er by the page!

Thank you lovely Romanians for trudging through such amazing hardships and still taking the time to shoot gorgeous quality photographs and write up such an enthralling Ride Report!!! I can count only a handful of other RRs that even come close to yours.

Felicitari! Multumesc! Dumnezeu sa te aiba in paza!
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Old 02-08-2012, 02:45 PM   #154
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Originally Posted by nicholastanguma View Post
And more epic-er by the page!

Thank you lovely Romanians for trudging through such amazing hardships and still taking the time to shoot gorgeous quality photographs and write up such an enthralling Ride Report!!! I can count only a handful of other RRs that even come close to yours.

Felicitari! Multumesc! Dumnezeu sa te aiba in paza!
+1....they even took the time to answer bike questions mid ride/dig.....in great English lets not forget too. True ADVriders and inmates


Cheers
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Old 02-11-2012, 07:29 PM   #155
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A truly magnificent adventure!!
Where's the destination and what is the route to it?
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Old 02-13-2012, 03:09 AM   #156
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What a great ride!!!!! How come i missed this thread? I dont get it.
Wish you all the best, stay safe and enjoy every moment of this trip!!

Greetings from Poland
piotrek

PS: Romania is actually one of my favorite countries.. i have been there couple of times and i love it
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Old 02-15-2012, 06:41 AM   #157
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Ziua/ Day 25 - 16/01
Km: 30
Starea drumului/ Road: nisip tasat cu grope si balti/ good sand with potholes
Vremea/ Weather: 29°C, soare/ sunny






Crossing the river was easy, but the heavy part was yet to come!


The road is all potholes filed with a murky pus of stagnant waters and sand. We are told to follow the deviations, the deep holes can be fatal.


Suddenly we are out of the woods, where an incredible scene unfolds:


Welcome to infamous Sokele! Lovely warm weather, a mild breeze, a pleasant summer rain about to fall. Take a seat in the shadow, and if you're still hot, soak your feet in the cool waters. Hungry much? There's plenty of sweet bananas, 3 for 100 francs. Cheap food, beautiful scenery, sensual rumba music in the background. An enchanting place, if you can ignore the flooded river, the 2 trucks stuck in deep sand and the 20 people desperately working to build a passage and to get their vehicles out.




There are dozens of trees missing from the picture, cut since 3 days ago to level the river bed and allow passage. One truck driver tells us he knows Alper, whom he towed out of a pothole about a week ago.


Up to our knees in the infested waters, the Defender defenseless in the sticky sand, the kids hungry and bored to tears, we have to get our shit together and find a way out of this. At a closer inspection, Jacques discovers that we can fix the winch after all. And we get the job done, this time in the blind, feeling with our hands under the water. The kids get a cheese sandwich and cartoons for desert, and we know how lucky we are to be able to do this. Life is tough in Congo, and even after living on the road and in the bush for weeks, we are far from understanding what life is like for the ordinary truck drivers with whom we shared food, hope and tools. We may feel pity for ourselves at times, we may consider this adventure some kind of martyrdom, but, seriously, how can we even compare our own misery to the black and white reality of this place?


Filtered water, Bear Grylls style

Once the winch is fixed, we tow ourselves out of the river in no time. But we soon find out that the real crossing was ahead of us. The dreaded river was 2 km before Sokele. The villagers have built a passage for the cars: stones piled on the river bed, so that the depth of the crossing is about 1.2 meters. Impossible by bike, indeed. But I am told there is a collapsed bridge where I could pass, and some kilometers away I find it. No problems, I quickly reach the other side, only to arrive in time for one of the most spectacular moments of our adventure. Unfortunately there I was with no camera, watching the incredible: hood covered by strong current, the Defender swam over. If it wasn't so scary even the idea of taking another shot at this, I would have suggested to go back and cross again for the camera.


Luckily Alper snap the river crossing right before he went for it



Ziua/ Day 26 - 17/01
Km: 7.5 !!!!!!!!!!!
Starea drumului/ Road: noroi/ mud
Vremea/ Weather: 18°C, umed, ploaie/ humid, rainy


Ah, the smell of freshly baked bread in the morning! The Vidal bakery delivers once again, this time a wheat, soy and maize bread.


Anticipating the daily rain, we set off in a hurry.


But we hardly drove some 7 km from the bush camp, when the infamous road teaches us yet another hard lesson. The Rover is once again trapped in the mud. We figured this time we were not in very deep shit, so we chose to not double the cord, as we normally would. And something went wrong: the winch broke, leaving us with almost nothing left to do.




We tried to dig, desperate to do something, anything.




To make things even more difficult, the car would not start. We were out of diesel. Because the car was sitting at an angle and with the secondary tank mounted before the principal, the injection pomp was failing. This time we were unable to take fuel from the secondary to the principal tank, as we had done before. This time even the secondary tank was empty. I had no other choice but take my bike and start searching for a village where I could buy diesel. I was risking a broken chain, and the radios were no longer effective since we were rolling through the forrest. But as the rain kept going, we knew no trucks or other vehicles would dare the lava of soaking mud for days. We could be stuck in this place for a long time, and that was not an option.




Guacamole on maize pita while I go shopping

11 km towards Sokele I strike gold: a village where they have diesel, and at a reasonable price, just 40 dollars for 20 liters. I return to the sunken Defender, and everybody is relieved. In the meantime Jacques kept digging, so after we fill up the tank we finally get the car out of the mud. Congo is Congo: minutes later a heavy storm starts pouring its furious waters upon us, drenching us, freezing us. I appreciate now more than ever the comfort of a car: the frenchies seek refuge in the heated car and get to change the wet clothes for dry ones. After a short wait we decide that we've got to set camp, and we drive just a bit out of the road, onto a field of high grasses. And the car is swamped, we feel stupid, incapable to dig more, to winch more.




There is nothing to do. It is raining too much, we are too cold and it's just too late. One more night with the car stuck and the tent soaked, the coldest, darkest, most terrible night so far.

Ziua/ Day 27 - 18/01
Km: 120
Starea drumului/ Road: laterita/ clay
Vremea/ Weather: 29°C, soare/ sunny


Seriousely, this photo is taken the next day. Look at the glorious sun, at the green meadow! Who cares how we got out of that doomed place? Jacques fixed the winch - it just needed some cleaning and some grease - we dug a bit, and we got out. The swampy roads behind us, 36 km later we hit the solid laterite of N38.


Bugs




Where history was made


And the parking of the Kolwesi catholic mission where we camped at 17 degrees. Brrrrr!


Ziua/ Day 28 - 19/01
Km: 306
Starea drumului/ Road: laterita, apoi asfalt/ clay, then tarmac
Vremea/ Weather: 25°C, cer acoperit/ cloudy


This is the only photo that counts from the 28th day of our trip. We had stopped by chance in front of that supermarket in Kolwesi, we actually crossed the street to shop for some veg at the market. The guy in white tshirt next to my right is John, and he would be instrumental for our subsequent happiness. He spotted the bike and the heavily loaded car and he knew something was off. So he came to meet us. John and his friends were the first whites we were seeing in weeks. And these white people were different: they offered us the true reward at the end of a hard and testing adventure. They assured us their friends in Lubumbashi would help us find a place to camp and one to fix the vehicles. Even the supermarket owner came to hand us a bag of snacks for the road.


But the road was too easy, even under the cold rain. Just 150 km left of laterite, and after Likasi we were back on tarmac.


the night was epic; we were wonderfully received by the Belgian community, with a gourmet dinner of shrimps and beef..

[
…with moelleux aux chocolat and bordeaux. And to top the feast, Caramel Votca, the latest in fancy drinking straight from the pubs of South Africa. People were disputing where to host us, and Champs, John's wife, won. Late in the night we arrived at the house: a real house, with real beds. A home. We were at the end of the road. Our Congo adventure was over.
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Old 02-15-2012, 06:47 AM   #158
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Lubumbashi 19-22/01 Home Away From Home



We had plenty to do in order to get our vehicles to run properly. Luckily we were in the best place for the job: Amze car shop (Toyota specialist), where together with Patrick and his team of mechanics we would launch a 24 hrs major operation. I fitted the bike with a new Tsubaki chain, I replaced the gear change lever and the back wheel bearings, I repaired the deformed shield and handlebar mounting piece, I cleaned the air filter and did what we could to fix the damaged aluminum box.


I am still in awe that our makeshift chain link held over 700 km of hard roads!








The alu box hammered back into an approximative shape that would allow us to kind of close it.




And the final fix: now we could mount it, but it was no longer water proof, just like some of our camping gear.




Patrick's garage occupied by the Romanian/French team. Jacques replaced all oils, fitted the spare tyre on the rim and put the Defender back in shape.






With the staff


And with Patrick - the owner - and his garage manager. Thank you, guys!

Friends

We had found in Lubumbashi not just the needed help to fix our bike and the car. We had regained here the warm feeling of belonging - even for a brief while - to a community, a family.


Madi, the head of the Belgian Club and moto club, who welcomed us in the place that became for a while our own meeting spot.


A beer with friends


…Congolese beer nevertheless


Ana & John


Dinner at John's place


And preparations…we had been invited to give a conference at the Belgian club that night.


The conference was fun. There is quite some interest in cross biking in Lubumbashi, where even a competition is held yearly. John's boys are always there on their Kawasakis. We discussed a lot about our adventure and maybe our story would fuel the idea to organize a rally in Congo.


24 hrs later the French were already in Zambia, their RD Congo papers renewed thanks to Champs. We had spent together quite intense, tough moments. Thank you and see you soon. Bon voyage, les amis!


We were still in Lubumbashi, partying at the best place in town, Bush Camp, with our gourmet gang. Feasting on local Chanterelle mushrooms, so delicate and fragrant, sausages, barbecued beef, grilled andives, veggies, even the green salad we had been raving about for months.


But the star of the show was indubitably the amazing beef steak.


The world renowned Congolese beef, a melt in your mouth piece of perfection



The delicious food was completed by an aromatic Bordeaux, Belgian chocolate mousse and vanilla float in kahlua. We had a hard time saying good bye to Patrick, Carine, Doc, Gilbert, John & Chams. Thank you, friends, and hope to see you again, in Europe, even Romania. Or, why not, in Congo.


Reborn and ready for new adventures.


Good bye, Congo. Zambia, here we come!
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Old 02-15-2012, 06:51 AM   #159
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Lusaka - Everything Is Perfect And Nobody is Happy

Zambia 23/01- 04/02


It was just weird: we were trying to fall asleep in our tent in Lusaka, and instead of crickets and bush sounds, there were mobile phones beeping in our fellow campers' tents. SMS coming in or a call that got rejected. It was a black night, we were lying in our tent as usual, but this was no African bush. We had found a backpackers camp to pitch our mobile home and it was a fine place: friendly Irish staff, a clean lawn near a small pool, communal kitchen with fridge and real showers with hot water. Utter luxury. They also had a book swap shelf with plenty of interesting reads and most importantly of all, decent wifi for a reasonable price. But trust us brothers and sisters, we were anything but relieved to be there.
I could not say we were disappointed. Confused, maybe. After weeks of toughening up on the road, we were hungry for more. More trucks, more sand and mud, more downpours, more nasty bug bites, more villages and villagers hauling at our arrival and subsequent crashes. We could do with not showering for days, wearing the same clothes over and over, sharing an avocado, 3 tomatoes and 4 pieces of corn among 6. That was just fine. But Zambia was a whole different ball game. Straight from the Chingola border the roads dramatically improved, even compared to the good tar in Lubumbashi. We needed no visa and the papers for the bike were free. We only had to pay a small carbon tax, then we were off towards the capital. The first provincial town had a shopping mall and people dressed in fancy clothes. But gas was almost as expensive as in east DRC and for lunch we had to settle for a fast food, as we could not spot any local restaurants or mamas with corn or any other stuff that we knew from West Africa. This place could just as well be in Romania or U.S., no way we were still in Africa, were we?


We had to lunch on fast-food "pies": pastries filled with meat or veggies. In this small provincial town we found a shopping mall, but no local cheap restaurants or food stalls.






At the franciscan mission in Ndola, where we stayed for the first night.




Custom carpet in our room. I wonder where can you order this stuff.


So the second day of Zambia we had arrived in Lusaka, after sleeping the previous night at a franciscan mission. The US dollars keeps flying our of our pockets at alarming speed. Everything was expensive, everything was foreign to us: american brands, south african brands, lots of weirdly colored juices, crisps, chocolate, margarine…processed foods and shiny packaging. Water was hard to find: no pomps, tap water in fast foods was yellowish, even in villages there were only 500 ml plastic bottles on sale. What a crazy waste of disposable junk, and the junk was being disposed all along the sides of the roads indeed! Even the toilets in gas stations were not free. But we were not disappointed. We just felt a bit lost. In front of the many shelves of Shoprite supermarkets we wondered at the many kids of tooth paste available. We were back hey.

The bush drive had been hard. It took a toll on us, our relationships and our vehicles. Yet somehow a sense of nostalgia was lingering. It felt as if we had survived a difficult test, only to arrive at the finish line and be handed a wheel chair. Life was too easy. Even bread - widely available - was already sliced and so soft it needed no chewing. We were prepared for another kick in the gut, but we we got a soft hand shake.


Zambian staple: nshima (similar to Romanian polenta) and fish


Perfect tar to Lusaka


A Zambian dude goofing around. They love to do it.


Rolling a big one.

Zambia looks like a brand new country, a nicely greased machine that runs properly, a stable, safe system that just works. But somehow, magically, in this highly modernized place, the African megafauna still thrives, unlike in the Congo for example. After living in the wild for so long, after camping in random places that felt like the most remote corners of the planet, only now we were hoping to spot some wildlife. The elusive creatures we were dreaming about long before our departure, our childhood stories heros.




We spend 3 nights in Lusaka, resting, washing, blogging, taking a dip in the pool, cooking the big round tomatoes and mushrooms that filled the markets, shopping at the giant African corporation Zambeef.


Take 1: rabbits love bikes


Take 2: moto magic, the rabbit has become …Sam

Then we left in search for the giraffes, zebras, monkey, elephants, we went south. We were struggling with this new found comfort of driving on perfect tarmac, unable to find a resolution of this absurd dichotomy. Should we feed our hunger for adventure, should we enjoy the civilization? In Lusaka we had met with the second pair of bikers since we had left. James and Bryce are from Cape Town, and they rode their BMW F650 GS from London - where they've been living and working for many years - to their home in Africa, via Europe, Turkey, the Middle East and the east coast. Finally we had things to learn from others like us, we had stories to tell, tools to share, bolts to screw. We ate the same foods, we packed the same gear, we flaunted the same uninhibited swagger. James had had a problem with the clutch and had been towed by Bryce for miles, so in Lusaka we went to the same shop to rebuild brake pads. I also had to fit a new chain lock as the original one had already fallen off since Lubumbashi - so much for the cross chains reliability! - replace a lost shield screw and repair the broken right mirror, now necessary because of the driving style in Zambia.




It was logical and fun to ride together on our way to Vic Falls and on their way to Kariba Lake. But after being stopped for the second time for speeding by the same police car and after making them go so we could enjoy our lunch of roasted chicken with salad and corn, Bryce discovered that his chain was damaged. It was like it happened to us in Morocco, the chain was extremely stiff, with many frozen links. So they went back 50 km to Lusaka to find a new chain, and we drove south on the straight road until we felt we would fall asleep from boredom.


But this is the heart of Africa, and it comes with the most incredible sunsets. We were tripping in this surreal light that was scalding the vast plain. It was all ours, to bathe in, to make our temporary shelter on. So no wonder we arrived the next day in famously named Livingstone with high expectations.


Chicken with leafy greens, similar to spinach


Beef stew


Both dishes served with nshima, the Zambian must eat staple




The small town was founded in 1905, but has been developing as tourist hub only for the past 5 years, and today it offers 2 shopping malls, many supermarkets, petrol stations and innumerable lodges and camps. The offer for the adrenaline junkies is mind-blowing: white water rafting, bungee jumping, paragliding, helicopter rides, safaris, fishing in the canyons. In Livingstone, you name it, and they have got it. Actually the insane over-development has urged the international committee to consider removing the World Heritage Site status of Victoria Falls. Since World Cup the entrance fees to the waterfall have doubled and a parking fee was introduced. The 20 US dollar ticket and the 5 US dollar parking tax are dumbfounding. We felt robbed, and right across the ticket counter there was a ridiculous display of shops selling kitsch replicas of African art. It was like we had to do this only because it was a famous landmark that we came across. It felt weird. We took our camera and walked in the direction of the roar. And there it was.





The Smoke That Thunders







Upper Zambezi is a gentle, wide body of water dotted with islets, washing the shores of green pastures where animals roam undisturbed. It calmly collects rivers and springs, rain making it stronger. But at this 1.7 km long 108 m deep crack in the black basalt, the river turns wild. A dormant beast wakes up and roars. Before you can lay your eyes upon it, you hear its voice, you see smoke coming from its mouth. Mosi-Oa-Thunya literally means in tonga "the smoke that thunders", the inverted rain clearly visible from miles away, as it raises high in the sky like geysers. Immense, alive. The force of Victoria Falls pounds mercilessly, over 500 tones of water a minute strong. In the perfect afternoon light we wondered at the incredible power of this delicately intricate structure of falling water. It balances for a moment on the sharp edge, then it jumps into the abyss, while dissolving in an erotic dance, a thrusting see-thru body that disappears below, in the mist. An almost 360 degrees rainbow, droplets on our skin, sounds of another world, and we felt transported, transfixed. Whatever the price some mercantile people put on nature, we abandoned ourselves to being present, alive, feeling it, smelling it, drinking it.



















It is beautiful, this waterfall. After exploding at this wide edge between Zambia and Zimbabwe, Zambezi can no longer longer let go, and it twists into narrow gorges, whirlpools in turbulent rapids. Right on the edge of one of these gorges, at Rapid 14, we found what we were looking for. A peaceful spot to relax and collect our thoughts while planing for the itinerary ahead. Free wifi included.

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Old 02-15-2012, 07:51 AM   #160
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Un-frickin'-believable!
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Old 02-15-2012, 07:52 AM   #161
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Incredible contrasts.

One day... stuck in a mudhole in a Congo plain.
Another day... 'free wifi included'.
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Old 02-15-2012, 08:04 AM   #162
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I am loving following this report. Awesome trip guys.
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Old 02-15-2012, 08:51 AM   #163
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WOW - Trans-Congo accomplished!

Well done guys! You made a very good team with the 4x4 - can't imagine doing this 2-up alone eating only Congo food all the time. Must be a hell of an experience in retrospect.

Now you'll have a lot smoother going, take your time to relax and enjoy some South-African goods (wines, cheese, biltong!, sweeties)

Ride safe and keep those posts coming,
Margus
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Old 02-16-2012, 12:49 AM   #164
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Originally Posted by tsiklonaut View Post
Well done guys! You made a very good team with the 4x4 - can't imagine doing this 2-up alone eating only Congo food all the time. Must be a hell of an experience in retrospect.

Now you'll have a lot smoother going, take your time to relax and enjoy some South-African goods (wines, cheese, biltong!, sweeties)

Ride safe and keep those posts coming,
Margus

+ 1

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Old 02-16-2012, 03:22 AM   #165
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I hate you!! Stop this report immediately
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Finally the BMW R/GSW ....... My Videos - YouTube


I live more in 5 minutes on my motorcycle than some people live in a lifetime...
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