Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sun 10th May to Tuesday 12th May

10th Sunday - Today we woke very early as we had a 650 km journey ahead of us. We rode from Baobab Camp in the Rua Valley to Moshi in the North of Tanzania; Moshi is at the foot of Mnt Kilimanjaro. Unfortunately due to heavy rain and mist right down to the ground we did not see the mountain.

On route we rode through the Mikumi National Park. All of us rode with eyes wide open. We had been warned that there are Lions, Buffalo and Elephant in the park. On a motorcycle it’s not a very good idea to bump into any of the above. We did see a lot of antelope and giraffe and as we were getting to the end of the park and starting to relax we rode around a bend and there in front of us was a herd of elephant with their young. They seemed relaxed and not to disturbed by us on our bikes so we stopped to take a few pics then headed on.

As we got closer to Moshi the traffic volume increased and one driver of a Toyota Land Cruiser (I think had had a good Sunday lunch) He came hurtling up behind me and overtook at a great speed almost taking me and my panniers with him. About 100 meters down the road he did the same to a local fellow who was lifting his girlfriend on his motorcycle, this poor guy was not so lucky and was knocked clean off his bike. The two of them ended up in a ditch and the driver of the Cruiser did not even slow down or stopped! Jaco pulled over to check on the riders and except for a few bruises and bumps and very shaken up they where ok. Made us very conscious of the dangers of driving in outer - Africa.

After 8 hours riding in weather that alternated from hot to very cold and wet, we arrived in Moshi and headed for the Keys hotel where we checked in to a room, All three of us sharing one very small “rondavel” then headed to the bar for a well earned Kilimanjaro (Beer) then headed for bed and a good nights sleep.

Monday we hit the road with the intention of making it through to Nairobi where we are due to fit new tires to the bikes. on route we stopped at the Pannar office in Arusha to say hi to Zak the area manager, While we were at the office Zak phoned to check where our tyres were and was told that they only left KZN on Monday morning and are only expected to land in Nairobi today.

We then decided to find a place to stay over in Arusha as accommodation is a bit cheaper here than in Nairobi. Zak offered to take us around in his car to find a place to stay. Now this is the first time we have been in a car since leaving SA three weeks ago, Hurtling around in someone else’s car amongst all the maniac drivers in this place is something I would rather do without.

Anyway we survived the trip and found a very comfortable camp site about 20 km’s out of town at a snake park owned by an ex SA couple, Ma and BJ . Ma is Kork and Dozi Ballingtons sister and was very happy to see us bike riders stop over at there place. Apparently my mate Mike Grant was here last week. Sorry to have missed him. Mike used to be my sponsor when I was still racing motor moto cross for his Kawasaki team. This site is on the road to the Serengeti and is a stop over for all the overlander tourist trucks on there way south or north.

Tuesday - Today we are relaxing and using the time waiting for our tyres to service bikes and change oil.

Talking about the tyres, we have been amazed to see how well our tyres have held out. We are on TKC’S and run at 3 bar pressure, except on the sand roads and gravel. We have so far traveled 6800 km’s on the tyres and looking at them we could possibly do another 2000 km’s.
We are not going to chance this though and will sit here and wait for our new tyres. Hopefully they will be here this afternoon, this sitting around waiting is very frustrating and we are itching to get back on the road and continue north.

Tomorrow we head for Nairobi fit tires then start the long haul to Ethiopia.

7th May – 9th May

Thursday 7th - today we left Nkhata Bay heading up through the Malawian town of Nzuze. We left Nkhata in fantastic clear weather perfect for motorcycle riding. 300 km’s from Nkhata we stopped at the frontier town of Karonga, Where we had a quick lunch. Flat chicken all round, we where looking forward to a lovely succulent chicken, yea right!!!! After a 45 minute wait our lunch arrived. We all agreed that the chicken must have been the last surviving chicken in town and could run the fastest, Never had we eaten a tougher chicken. Anyway food is food and this is Africa. (Not for sissies)

After Karonga it is a short ride to the Malawi / Tanzania border, the border formalities where fairly quick and painless. But the money touts where a complete pain and a bunch of rogues. I changed R500 to local Tanzania Shillings, only to discover that evening when we arrived in Mbeya that I had been ripped of to the tune of R300. Lesson learned.

From the border we rode up and over the highlands heading for Mbeya , The last 100 km’s was ridden in freezing cold pouring rain. Arriving in Mbeya at 5:30, cold, wet and wanting a hot shower, We met up with Johnson Mayo, The local Pannar representative, He gave us two options for over – knighting. Ride another 50km’s to the coffee farm, where we could camp or go 600 meters down the road where a Swiss priest runs a monastery where for the equivalent of R 60 per person we could get a room and a hot meal. No debate here. The monastery was the place of choice.
After a basic dinner we had a comfortable nights sleep and woke in the morning woke and with a prayer of thanks looked outside to see a clear sky and perfect day for riding.

Friday 8th - After a visit into town to exchange money ( at a proper Beareu De Change this time ) and a quick haircut, We stopped off at Johnson’s, Pannar office to say our goodbye’s, We then headed out of Mbeya for the 450 Km ride to our next stop off point. Baobab Lodge, Situated on the banks of the Great Rua River.

The road to Baobab is the main route from Dar es Salaam to Zambia and Malawi and is very busy with huge trucks and busses heading in both directions. The drivers of these vehicles seem intent on wiping motorcyclists of the road. We had to ride keeping our wits about us the whole way. There where a few near misses where busses would overtake other vehicles with scant regard for us heading towards them, We had to get of the road and out of the way a number of times to avoid being run over.

Arriving at Baobab Lodge we were welcomed by the owner Darren Coetzee. He showed us to our chalets and after a good shower we retired to the bar over looking the Rua River for a few cold Killimangaro’s ( A fairly good beer ) The cook got busy with preparing dinner for us and at about 20h00 we sat down to a very large plate of beef stew each.

After dinner we headed for bed and as soon as the generator was switched off the camp is in complete darkness and dead quite. Perfect for a good nights sleep.

Saturday 9th - This morning we have decided to take a rest day here at Baobab Lodge and do some washing of clothes and basically recharge our batteries. But having said that, straight after breakfast this morning what do we do? We jump on our bikes and go for a ride into the bush and off the beaten track to have a look around. The valley down here is dry bushveld with the River running through it. I have never seen so many Baobab trees growing in one area as there are here. It is absolutely beautiful, and wild.
Tomorrow we head off to Moshi and hopefully get to see Mount Kilimanjaro. On the way we will be riding through the middle of the Mikumi National Park where sighting of Buffalo and Elephant are common, that should be interesting on a bike.