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12.5.2004 - Pyramids of Meroe

Unfortunatley, I can't tell something about the history of the pyramids of Meroe since I don't have a travel guide with me about Sudan and there are no guides at the site either. But this also makes it a very unique experience.

But let me tell you the whole story. I only got off the camp site at 8:00 am since I had to pack my tent and the fact that I only had to ride 230km on tar to the pyramids. The temperature is still fine at that time of the day, but the morning traffic of Khartoum is on its peak. This time lots of  bridges of Khartoum become one way roads. But the police allows motorbikes to use the pedestrians sidewalk during these times - that's only working in Africa. To find your way out of Khartoum is difficult since there're no road signs at all or they are in Arabic. Fortunately, I had a very good description of Mithat and found my way out of the city, which is about 20km, within a short time. I get to the first of four road blocks immediatly when I reached the outskirts of town. One had to present the travel permit at this road block in former times. This is changed now and the officers only want to know where you are travelling to. At one of the road blocks futher on my way the officers even invited me to have a snack with them. I realize the change of the vegetation while I'm riding North. Khartoum, situated on the banks of the nile is green. But the further North you get the more spares the vegetation becomes and within a few kilometers there are only thorn bushes and later even only sand left. The track is sometimes as dreary as the strech to Swapokmund in Namibia. But there's a small difference. The distance I have to ride here is 5 times longer than there and it becomes hotter within each kilometer into the desert. The KTM's temperature is permanently about 20 degrees higher than in Ethiopia and I'm happy about the head wind since it helps to have a more efficient cooling. But I can't realy explain why it works since the wind is as hot as if it is generated by a 1000W blow-dryer. The wind is really hot and the bare skin is highly irritated by it and it causes pain. The atmosphere is somehow scary and wouldn't it be for the tar strip and the kind of truck stops every 20 to 30km one could really feel uncomfortable. Since I expected these conditions I started off with 6l of water instead of only 2l.

I had a break in Shendi, situated 40km south of the pyramids. I had something to eat and waited in the nice brise of the nile for the hot afternoon tempertures to come down again. I get to know Faitz, an Egyptian guy owning half of the village. I'm invited by him and his nephews, all shop owners, for lunch and they help me to lots of water, Pepsi and tea during the next few hours. It's impossible not to accept these invitations. They even try to convince me to stay over for the night at their house. But I really feel like spending the night in the desert.

The area I'm riding through to get to the pyramids is even hotter than before and I pass by countless, partly mumified carcasses of camels, sheeps and donkeys. Bones are lying all over the desert even if the road is in a maximum distance of 10km to the Nile. The frightening feelings one gets here are intensified by the heat giving the horizon a dull appearance and the wind blowing sand over the road or high into the air. Being in this mude I believe having a Fata Morgana seeing two red BMW motorbikes appearing in front of me. It is Manuel and Denise I already heard of in Khartoum. They are on their way to Jemen and have from there still a long way to go. They also planned to stay over at the pyramides but the sand and wind made them going on to Khartoum. We decide to meet again in Khartoum and spend some nice days there before we have to go on in different directions.

At about 3pm I can see the pyramids in front of me. It is an unreal picture and I feel like being in a movie.  Who builds 50 pyramids from stone in the middle of the sand desert? Since there's no road leading to the site I decide to cross over through the sand. If it wouldn't be fore the fence made from barbed wire I would belief having done a step back in time of about 3000 years. Nowadays you have to pay 10 Dollars to be allowed to visit the pyramids but you get an unforgettable and unique experience - the lonelyness of the desert in the world of the Pharaones. The warder is leaving at 6pm and Kongoni and me are back all on ouer own in between these pyramids and mumies. While wandering around in this almost intoxicating world I decide to spend the night in front of one of these pyramides even having an open door and inviting me to have a look inside. I get stuck with my bike trying to reach my home for tonight. The expierience I got in Namibia helps me to get started again. I prepare my dinner while I'm waiting for the light of the evening. I enjoy the silenceness which is only disturbed by the wind. Unfortunately, this wind is also responsible for some sand in my dinner of spaghetti, tuna and onions. I'm wondering around again in this site of the dead kings in the light of the evening and I can't get enough of the signs on the pyramides and also the dunes trying to swallow these buildings. But this is not going to happen even if these pyramids are much smaller than the Egyptian ones. I guess the highest are about 20m in hight.

I pitch up my bed for the night while the sun sets and look in direction of the upcomeing stars. I wish Heidi could be here to share this moment with me. The wind throws me back into reality - it constantly covers me with sand. This makes me going inside the pyramid to spend the night there. The moon gives a nice light inside through the open door.  I wonder who's the king having his grave here?

I awake before sunrise even if there's nothing distrubing the perfect silence out here. I climb up one of the dunes and wait for the sun to give the pyramides a stunning orange color again. This can't be described by words - pictures might be able to. I enjoy the silence and the impressions of this mystic place for an other hour before I leave again since I promised to be back to Shendi for breakfast at Faitz home. While having a Kebap for breakfast with Faitz I get to know more of his relatives. I wouldn't mind sitting here the whole day watching the things going on at the market. But the rising temperatures make me leaving soon and saying Good Bye. I'm not allowed to leave without a present and Faitz gives me a cassett with Sudanese music. This will always remember me of my time here. The ride back to Khartoum is nothing to tell about and hot. I try to ride with the right speed to avoid the cooling system of the KTM to "boil" and wish I could have a cold shower. Manuel and Denise are already waiting for me in Khartoum and we have a nice time together. Especially on Friday. Kamal invited us onto his boat and to come along to the Crocodile Beach together with his two suns and his wife. There are no crocodiles at all but lots of nice beach. More and more people are comeing to the beach during the day and while the Sudanese people are in their classical dresses on land are the members of the embassies enjoying themselves in bikinis on boats and Jetskis. There's no discrepancies between the different traditions and everybody seems to have a good time. We enjoy the cooling water of the Nile, delicious Spaghetti prepared by Kamals wife and sweet Melons and Mangos for dessert. Who would expect something like that in Khartoum? Towards the end of the afternoon we try our luck with some waterskiing and we have fun.

Now you know all about my last three days and I will come back to you with new stories soon.

 

12.5.2004 - Khartoum

Let me tell you a bit more about the local administration procedures. It all started at the boarder where I was informed to have a wrong visa (Visitors instead of Tourist) and not having the motorbike documents translated into the Arabic. The first didn't matter any longer after a while and the second I could get at the boarder for 5 Dollars. Now I'm the proud owner of a Arabic document for the KTM - with a quote. Then I had to register again my passport but I didn't have enough money. The guys at the black market wanted to cheat again with me. Therefore I tried to convince the boarder officer to allow me to get registered in Gedarf. This is what I wanted to do yesterday morning before I have to hand in my passport at the Egyptian Embassy to get my next visa. The address in the Lonely Planet wasn't up to date. Therefore I had to ask several times in town to get to the right office. It is a small office you reach after passing a construction site. I wanted to ask the officer at the counter what I have to do now in order to get registered but this guy obviously wasn't in a working mude and he asked me to sit down and wait. I did so while he was yawning, chatting to the officer next door and reading newspaper at the counter. I lost my patience after 45 minutes and asked one of the young collegues in civil dresses for advice. He told me to get a copy of the passport and of the last visum and he can do this for me for some Dinar. Then is only a form left that needs to be signed by a Sudanese or the Hotel I'm staying at. Well, I could have had this information already 45 minutes ago! I took the form to the Sailing Club but until late in the evening nobody was around allowed to sign it. At 8pm I had the necessary signiture and immediatly went to the police again (open 24 hours a day!). I was happy to see that an other officer had taken over by now. He was really helpfull and I had my registering stamp in the passport within 5 minutes. The fee was 3000 Dinar (12 Dollar) without getting a quote for it. Now I wonder if they just want to make money with this registering story or if they all still have problems with their new currency. Everybody is still calculating and thinking in Sudanese Pound and make a lot of mistakes. If they tell you 6000 they mean 600 and the other way round. It drives you mad! But, I'm officially registered now.

I also wanted to inquire for my visum for Egypt yesterday. I found the Embassy by the help of the local XR600 driver Mohammed (I was chaseing him through the city!). When we got there I was shouted at in Arabic by an angry guy and the door was shut in front of us. Mohammed translated and told me to go to the windows at the side of the building and inquire there. There were two windows - one in the sun and one in the shade. I jostled at the window in the shade an got to know that the officer is inside at the moment. Well, I wasn't in the mude to wait for hours and decided to go to the garage first and come back the next morning early.

I was there again at 8 am only to realize already 20 people in front of the window in the shade. I already wanted to join the queue frustrated when a guy started to talk to me. He informed me about the opening time of the window to be only at nine and to have a prefered foreigners treatment I should queue at the window in the sun which is only opening at 11am. O.k. - back to the camp site to have breakfast and at half past ten back to the embassy. I wanted to join the queue at the sun window when somebody told me again that tourists have to queue at th window in the shadow - what now? O.k. - back to the window in the shadow. And then I got a real surprise - one of the police officers asked me to come to the front. Oh no: the guy shutting the door in front of us yesterday was the officer I had to inquire with. But after he heard that I'm a German citicen everything was easy. I got a form and he asked 60000 Dinar (240 Dollars!!!). On my way to the bank trying to cope with my anger a young guy started to chat to me again. I told him the story and he said that this must be a misunderstanding. It can't be that expensive. I went back to the officer, gave him my passport, two photographs the letter of recommendation of the German embassy and 6000 Dinar. And it was enough - I couldn't believe it. And even better he promised the visa to be ready next morning.

When I went there this morning I was really wondering what's going to happen since I didn't believe everything going fine. But there were no queueing people and my visum was ready!!! Now I could get off to Wadi Halfa. But since I didn't see much yet of Khartoum I'll spend some more days here before I go on North again.

 

08.05.2004 - Khartoum, Sudan

I felt really excited about reaching Sudan when I left Gondar after I spent there an additional day. The tar ended after 12km out of Gondar and a corregated track was leading me down from 2100m to 700m. Each meter the track lost in hight the temperature was rising. I felt happy about my decission to pack additional water to my luggage. Approx. 40km before one reaches the boarder to Sudan there's a village where also the Ethiopian customs office is situated. I planned to cross the boarder todaz and stay over at a filling station as an other biker did I met in Addis. This plan was destroyed already 20km before I reached this described village with the Ethiopian customs office. Suddenly I recognized a strange sound as if something breakes and the position of my seat changed. When I checked the bike I realized that the back frame was broken beneath the seat. Even a "Hard Enduro" doesn't seem to be strong enough for the north of Kenya and the whole of Ethiopia. It would have been possible to ride further on if it wouldn't be for the air filter which wasn't in the correct position to the carborator any longer. My mind is spinning around thoughts of "this was it!" or "should I catch a plane in Addis or Khartoum?". But this wouldn't be a practical solution considering my current position between these two cities. I start the bike again and ride carefully to the next village only hoping that the engine doesn't get too much of unfiltered air.  All the residents of the village seem to wonder why I stop in the shade of the first tree I reach with my bike. What now? I unpack and take off the seat to check the damage of the bike. A screw is broken on the left side and on the right side the whole frame!! There's nowbody in this village having a welding torch but in the boarder village. I fix the back part back into it's original position by packing straps and the help of some farmers instead of trying to organize a transport for me and the bike (Kenya!!). After the luggage is packed back to the bike everything stays in it's supposed position but Ican't sit any longer and have to ride the remaining 20km to the boarder village standing. Getting there I first check into a lousy hotel. The people are really friendly and helpful but if I don't have flees after staying there I won't get flees at all I guess. The important thing is that there's a garage able to weld my KTM's back frame for 35 Birr (4,5EUR). I can't really stand looking what these guys are doing but they manage to fix it making it possible to continue my travel to Khartoum. I could leave in the afternoon but I decide to stay over and have some more "Good Bye Beers" before I get to the dry Sudan. The atmosphere in this village is unique for Ethiopia and might be influenced by the Sudan. The whole village is sitting on small benches having tee or coffee prepared by one of the woman. The tee is prepared in a very sweet way but it tastes delicious. I have a Doughnat freshly prepared in a pan over charcoals next to the road. I sit in between all these locals and they all star at me and my motorbike pants. English is only spoken by some kid but I enjoy this situation a lot. I get excited about Sudan even more!

In order to be at the boarder offices as soon as possible I get off the next morning at seven. Already now I realize the rising temperature and I still have about 420km to ride to reach Medani. The officers at the Sudanese boarder are friendly but a bit complicated. I get to know that some papers for the motorbike are missing and that the guys in Addis issued the wrong visa for me. I need a Tourist Visa and not the Visitors Visa I'm having. Fortunately, after some mouning, loughing and small talk I'm able to convince the officers to accept my visa and the papers for the bike are issued directly for 5 Dollars. This whole procedure only takes about an hour and this is a new record to get the paperwork at the boarders done.

The road into Sudan is even wors than the one comeing from Ethiopia and I have to go to side tracks every now and then to avoid the corregated ground and rocks. Each 50km I get to a road block with officers wearing civil clothes. I believe them and allow them to write down the necessary data of my passport. Later I get to know that the official dresses of the officers are just too hot for the present conditions. After an other two hours I manage to reach Gedaref and look forward to ride along the new tar road leading to Khartoum. I get lost in the small roads of Gedaref. The GPS helps to find a kind of centre of the city and a bank able to change Euros. The guys at the bank are very friendly, chatty and offer cold water. You get water everywhere here and I start to believe it's clean and drinkable even by me. One of the employes describes me how to find a Kiosk to have a snack. I do as the locals do and order a Pepsi and have a sandwich which is prepared with fish, sheep or chicken. The only thing I can't copy is the dress since all the men are dress in their traditional Kaftan and a Mobile Phone. The difference is almost unbelievable - the Sudan looks backwards but is in comparison to central Africa definitly High Tech. The only thing I'm missing is more people able to communicate in English and english road signs - if there are. The GPS shows me in the end the correct way out of Gedaref an suddenly I reach the tar strip leading almost straight to Khartoum. The KTM feels happy to have good petrol out of a proper filling station again and then we start to ride through the bush veld getting more and more sparesly. Here is the heat responsible for the dearyty and not the people. I think that all the fields are used to farm if there is some rain. I guess so due to the lots of agricultural machines I recognize along the road. Each 10km I have a sip out of the camel bag and I count the  Truck Stops along the road being the only change. In the middle of nowhere you suddenly find huts offering cold drinks and food. This is really a different world again. This feeling is intensified by the Mercedes, luxury buses and Roadtrains coming across. I again realize the poverty of Ethiopia.

I manage to reach the Blue Nile and Wad Medani in the early afternoon. All the hotels are expensive but I'm successful in bargening with one of them. I can't take a bad place again! My room is equiped with a fan and the room service offers cold water in a thermo. Besides that I enjoy the cold shower and the first Kebap I have at the bank of the Nile. It tastes fantastic but is rather expensive - Ethiopia also had it's advantages. And one shouldn't forget about the longing for beer! Would it be nice to have a cold beer now!

The strech to Khartoum is rather boring and with lots of traffic. The vegetation is sparesly except of the fields irrigated by the Nile water. I'm shocked because of the loads of rubbish along the road blown with the wind coloring the bank of the Nile. And then I realize a sweetish smell in the air - countless dead animals along the road are causing this horrible smell. I get riminded of Botswana but here it's much worse. I wonder if they are all victims of the traffic or just not getting enough water. I feel happy reaching Khartoum and seeing green allees or the bank of the Nile. I try to imagine how green the landscape at home might be at the moment. I pitch up my tent next to the river bank at the Blue Nile Sailing Club where the High Society of Khartoum meets. Everybody is friendly and a short while later I'm invited by the president of the Club for a Pepsi. I'm sitting there in the shade chatting to all these Sudanese men dressed in their friday Kaftan and sun glases. Due to the fact that I get to know the Polish photographer Richard I experience the unique dance of the Derwische. These are people belonging to a islamistic sekt meeting fridays to dance themselves into trance. This is really nice to watch and attended by a lot of visitors. The dance isn't extreme and gives a rather peaceful and funny impression. Who's not attending is watching and having a tee or coffee in the shade. Again I'm surprised by the Islam. While I'm sitting there young men come along to chat with me. They want to exercise their English. No begging Kids, nobody wants to sell you something! It's just the opposite. I'm invited for ice and coffee. If it wouldn't be as hot I could really enjoy Sudan.

 

04.05.04 - Gondar

I reached Godar by now. It's really nice and relaxing in this town and I'm going to stay another day since it doesn't make much sense to be in Karthoum on a friday when everything is closed. This might enable the dutch couple I met in Bahir Dar to catch up with me. And Dirk and Beate in Addis informed me about a German Biker on his way North! Would be great to meet him and to travel with him up to Egypt.

But now to my adventures since I wrote last time. I already described Lalibella. I made my way from there to Mekele via a little side route. This route was supposed to be shorter. This was the truth but it was also a tough ride. You should really always wonder if the GPS shows only half the distance shown on the map. The track was winding through a stunnign mountainous world in various off-road conditions. It would look like Lesotho in this region if it wouldn't be much more dry than there. The track was leading up and down between 1000m and 3000m altitude and I met only a few cars within the distance of 180km. Unfortunately, the front tyre was damaged by a flat tyre - again. I hoped to get to Mekele without repairing it, but the stability of the bike was badly affected by the loss of pressure in the front tyre. Therefore I decided to change the tube at a site where I had only a few spectators. The guilty one was a little thorn! Riding with sufficient pressure in the front tyre was much more fun again and I got awarded by a really nice, green valley leading back to the main route. This main route was tarred again only a few kilometers later - nice!! I can imagine that it's possible to ride through Ethiopia on a Goldwing in ten years time. But I feel happy to see tar as well by now due to the fact that it safes tyres and time.

The next day I made my way from Mekele to Adigrate and the Coffee - that's also where the tar ends again. The landscape between Mekele and Adigrat is flat, even more dry and quite warm. Camel tracks can be spotted along the road again and again - I almost felt like being in Sudan already. The road to Axum leads into the mountains and the number of camels is decreasing.

The monastery Debre Damo is situated on a table mountain just before Axum. Only men are allowed to visit it and you have to climb up 15m along a leather rope to reach it. I couldn't resist visiting it. While climbing up the rope I got company of an american guy called Bruce. He's on his way already since ten months by back packing. He got to the monastery by bus and bicycle. The bicycle was a quite useless idea since he had immediately a puncture - the 12 km to the monatery are really tough!! We tried to fix that puncture but we were not successful since the tube bursted. How he made his way in the end to Axum is a story on it's own!

On our way to the monastery was a police block. Theykept my passport until I was back. By checking the map I got the explanation for that strange order. A side track leads directly into Eritrea - well, I wasn't interested in going there.

Axum is quite a nice village but stacked with guides again. The Steles are nice but not as impressive as Lalibella. I really enjoyed a visist in the small museum of Axum. I got a private tour by one of the Archeologists there. She brought the history of Ethiopia to me much closer. It is really stunning that not all the secrets are known yet. There are at least 10 graves left not examinated yet - they just don't have enough money. One of the Steles was removed or stolen by the Italiens and it (23m and x tonnes) can be seen now in Rome.

Riding from Axum to Gondar one passes the Simien Mountains. The road is the worst in whole Ethiopia and not even as impressive as the track leading from Bahir Dar to Lalibella. The map shows the Wokefit Pas with 3200m hight. The GPS showed only 3011m - but one always hears about the problem of erosion in Ethiopia. The road was winding up really high inside the National Park. I missed the first camp by "coincidence" - the road was too nice riding a bike.

I found the KTM and me at the end at a hight of 4300m - not to bad considering the highest mountain in Ethiopia to have a hight of 4630m. The KTM didn't complain at all but I had a bad haedache because of the high difference of altitude within a short time. Therefore I decided immediately to turn back to the first camp and pitched up my tent lonely at 3200m. My only company was a Scout with a Kalachnikov sleeping besides my tent. It wasn't really to protect me, rather some job creation. We had a walk together in the evening and discovered a bush fire. To inform or alarm the other scouts the guy next to me was shooting some times into the air. This was somehow shocking and also showing the functionality of these guns - they are working and loaded!! I managed to spot a Klippspringer and a Bushbock for my scout on our way back to the camp. He was deeply impressed and invited my for a coffee ceremony. This was my third one and I think I had enough now. I also always feel ashamed afterwards. The scout made a fire for us later in the evening and I payed at least for the wood.

I fell asleep early that evening, while he was sleeping outside. I felt really sorry for him when it started to rain during the night. I gave him one pair of my socks. They might be too big, but he definitly needs them more than I do.

I got really afraid on my way out of the mountains in direction to Gonder because of my tank controle indicator. I only made 400km and the bike was already using of the reserve. Well, the altitude, the mountain roads and a diry air filter cause definitly some increase in petrol consumption. But since I was sure that Kongoni (my KTM) is using all qualities of petrol I didn't worry too much. I managed to buy some 4l on the black market and that was enough to reach Gondar.

Well, here I'm sitting now, thinking about the amazing and unique Ethiopia. Would I come back? Maybe in 10 years time when they have catched up with the rest a bit more. I think until then I'm going to visit the Alpes or Lesotho and study the european history. But I am really deeply impressed about Lalibella. And the palaces of Gondar. One feels put back into the middle age with its castles. But the really amazing thing about them is the lonelyness in the morning hours - you rarely find this in Ethiopia.

Now you know again what was going on the last few days. I will come back to you again in Sudan.

 

28.04.04 - Mekele

Due to the bad influence of a crust of a fish fillet on my tummy, I had to spend an additional day in Bahir Dar. But finally I managed to get on the road again on my KTM. My next destination was Lalibelle with its impressive churches and monasteries. Lalibella was unbelievable. I haven't spent as much time in churches during the last ten years than I´ve spent during the last two days. The churches with all their corners and hallways are absolutly amazing, especially visiting them in the morning when all the priests are singing and burning incense. Lalibella is for sure the nicest and most impressive experience for me in Ethiopia so far. As impressive is the landscape I was riding through today. The road is winding up and down in a hight of 1900m to 3100m. It's quite challenging and time consuming. It took me 8h of riding to do 320km - well, you have to take one flat tyre I had to repair in consideration. You might not be able to believe it but here in Ethiopia I'm happy to have a tar road from time to time.

I'm in Mekele by now. This is a town, characterized by Industry, situated between Lalibella and Aksum, not really nice but with internet access. I thought it would be nice to let you know what happed during the last few days. You will read again more of my stories in a few days.

 

23.04.2004 - Bahir Dar

Today I visited the Monasteries of Lake Tana. These churches somehow don't look like churches as you have in mind at all. Only the very colorful decorated walls inside these buildings remind you of churches again. To describe the architecture without pictures is really dificult. These churches are in general round huts of a hight of 6 - 7 m and a width of 1 - 12 m. Inside is a square room containing holy items which are only allowed to be seen by the priests. The colorful paintings are decorating all four walls of this room. The colors give a very impressive contrast to the building made from wood and soil. As amazing as the churches are their warders - the seem to have the same age! It's almost frightening if you look at them, standing in front of the entrance of the church with the rifle in their arms. It's even more impressive than the crown of the king which is supposed to be a real old one. This visit made me really excited about seeing Lalibella. I plan to reach it tomorrow. The roads from Bahir Dar to Lalibella are supposed to be the worst on my way through Ethiopia. This is the information I got from two bikers travelling south coming from Bavaria. I just hope that my tyres will not be stressed too much to have some "nobbles" left for the sand in

Sudan. Since I don't expect to find internet access in the North of Ethiopia it'll take some time until I'm able to send my next report.

 

22.04.2004 – Bahir Dar

Don't wonder, I'm not any longer in Addis. I managed to get on the road again yesterday and reached Bahir Dar by a real monster trip of 530 km. I didn't want to stop since the hotels on the way only offered fleas and running water out of a bucket. The trip was sometimes relaxed ( 200 km of new tar build by the Japanese, opening ceremony when I passed by, big cars, military parade), sometimes tough (tracks like around Marsabit, nile valley down to 1090m from 3100m and back to 2900m again). But I managed to be at Lake Tana just in time to pitch up my tent before the sun went down. I met the dutch couple again we saw already at Rangis Camp in Nairobi while I had dinner. In general they are travelling slower than we did but they reached Ethiopia when we were on our way back to Nairobi. They heard about us in Marsabit – you can never hide in Africa.

We want to visit the monasteries on Lake Tana tomorrow.  The day after I plan to travel to Lalibella and the dutch couple is flying home for a short period. But we might catch up again in Sudan by coincidence. That would be nice! I also discovered two Honda Dominator from Germany on the campsite of the Hotel. I didn't manage to speak to the drivers yet, but I already know that they are comeing from North. I guess to get a lot of the latest informations about north from them.

The sun was rising over the lake and a swarm of Pelicanes were flying over it while I was waking up this morning. Weavers were sitting next to me on a chair while I had breakfast on the balcony of the hotel. Nectar birds were sitting in the flowers and a Tucane was sitting in the tree above me. He was chased away by a sea eagle having a fish for breakfast. Yesterday on my way I stopped to have a snack and about 10 m away I saw 40 vultures sitting in the fields.

The landscape is not as pretty as Lesotho and it is strongly influenced by agriculture. But the population of birds and the people are almost intoxicating. The people here further in the North along the road are different from the ones you see in the South. Here in the high plateaux, 2500 m – 3200 m, people are dressed in thick cloths reminding you of  a monks cowl. The dresses are not as colorful as the ones in the south – most times a dark green or purple. The woman often wear robes made of heavy cloth decorated with rough embroidery in green and purple. Really refreshing are the white cloths with the ethiopian colors. Woman are often shaved and kids are allowed to have some hair tufts left. This looks really funny – lots of little Punks along the road.

Bahir Dar is quite civilized and starts to be prepared for Tourists. That might be the reason for the four  Internet cafes in a row. But I already got to know that Lalibella, my next destination, is the complete opposite. No Internet, no filling station and fleas in the rooms.

I visited the nile falls this morning. But it wasn't as impressive as I expected it to be since there's a huge hydroelectric power plant since 2 years. 80 % of the water falls onto the turbines by now and the falls only show their full capacity during the rainy season or night. That looks like the Victoria Falls falling off  from half of their hight. But it was anyway nice to have been there since the nile is going to be next to me up to Cairo from now.  And there were the 60 km of nice off-road without luggage – that was fun! I really don't have enough yet of enduro riding!!

 

19.04.04 – Addis Abeba

This is my, Kay, first travel report, written after Heidi catched a plane in Nairobi back to Germany and I’m travelling further on my own. I reached Addis by now, meaning that I managed to ride through the northern desert of Kenya this time successfully. But I gonna be a bit more detailed now.

I brought Heidi to Nairobi airport in the evening of the 05.04. and returned to Rangis Camp after she’d left. We had some rain that night in Nairobi but luckily the weather had changed until the next morning and I got on the road again in direction Ethiopia in dry conditions. I felt really lonely on my way between Nairobi and Moyale. This feeling was most probably intensified by the danger of robberies along this way. Unfortunatly the stories you hear about such incidences are comeing up again more and more. I got a lot of rain in Marsabit, the village almost causing nightmares for Heidi and me. The whole ride to Moyale was really tough but tis time luckily without robberies, flat tyres and getting stuck for any reason. I had an overwhelming feeling of happiness when I finally reached Moyale safely.

Ethiopia presented itself immediatly as a completely new world to me. The music sounds indian to me. English is rarely spoken. Food is good and cheap while accomodation is bad and expensive. The people are friendly and no one was throwing stones at me, yet. The „you you you“ screams, discribed as really nerve wrecking by other travellers we met, was only comeing up seldom so far.

The strech between Moyale and Arva Minch is an interesting ride leading down the Rift Valley. The landscape presents itself in a typical African look and seems to be very fertile. Only a few people are on their way along the road. But a lot of different tribes can be found in Ethiopia and their clothes and huts are as various. I would have liked to visit the region of the Mursi, most probably the best known tribe of Ethiopia. But the detour which would have been neccessary and the rain didn’t allow it.

Arba Minch is situated nicely above the adjoining lake. I’m really happy about sleeping in my own tent again. Unfortunately, the trip to the crocodiles didn’t work out since I was once again stood up by the buisiness owner and the track to the harbour was in such a bad condition causing already a Land Rover to get stuck in the mud. Instead, I enjoyed myself in the Patiserie of Arba Minch together with Alexander (German) and his Italian wife Carla. They are travelling on a Zong Shen 150. In the Hotel, the campsite is belonging to, I met as well a very nice German couple, Dirk and Beate. They’re teachers at the German school in Addis Abeba and they immediately invited me to stay with them while I’ll be in Addis. I obviously can’t resist this offer. We spend Easter without the „Easter Eggs“.

I’m traveling on a good tar road together with Alex and Carla in direction Lake Langano. First we have to extinguish a fire of the electric system of their bike. A short time later we realize a punkture – o.k. we have to repair it and we are accompanied by lots of locals. They are really friendly but they don’t smell too good. Due to these problem we only manage to reach Lake Lagano in the evening. The lake is brown caused by the high soda concentration of the water. This high soda concentration doesn’t allow Billharzia to be spread in this lake. Lake Lagano is the only Billharzia free lake in Ethiopia. We only have time for a short bath the next morning before we get on the road again aiming to reach Addis Abeba that day. This time it’s me beeing unlucky on our way – the KTM’s tyre gets a punkture and I have to fix it – again! Since the Desert Tyre which I used until now is really worn down (11500km) I exchange it with the MT21 which I bought in Nairobi and carried up to now. A farmers family helps me a lot and this is a very nice experience.

I catch up again with Alexander and Carla and we decide to have a short break in Sashamene. We have some fresh fruit juice and some „tipps“. One of those delicatesses is responsible for my bad tummy the next day in Addis Abeba – I had to fetilize the flowers in Dirk’s garden several times.

I stay with Dirk and Beate in Addis Abeba and they really become good friends during my stay at their house. The show me a lot of sites in Addis and I get to know this city as a dirty, chaotic place with the advantage of offering everything one needs. Countless restaurants, lively nightlife with lots of prostitutes (I can control myself!!!), luxurious supermarkets, Muezins, boutiques and patiseries. Looking at the cultural side the visit of the Historical Museum is a highlight. Luci, the ancestor of the modern human beings, is lying there.

The process of issuing the visa for Sudan takes 72 instead of 24 hours. This enables me to get a really deep insight into Addis and also to cure my bad tummy completely.

I let you know in a short time how my journey in Ethiopia is proceeding.

 

13.04.2004 – Oberbergen

For all not informed yet: I’m back home in Germany since Tuesday 06.04.04. Kay is travelling on and reached Arba Minch in Ethiopia safe and without any trouble in the northern desert of Kenya this time. He only managed to call me once so far but I’m sure he’s fine and enjoying himself.

After we got back to Nairobi I was completely sure about my further travelling – I wanted to get to Germany as soon as possible. I realized that my psychological condition wouldn’t allow me to go on. I was far too demoralized by all the bad luck we had during the las three weeks and I couldn’t manage to motivate myself again. Kay was fighting with himself for about three days to come to the conclusion not to fly home with me but to continue the journey in the way we planned it. I felt really happy for hime since I believe that he would have deeply regretted not having continued once he would have been back to Germany. We also decided to spend another week together in Nairobi before we separated our ways – obviously only for the rest of this journey! This week was somehow filled again with organisation. We had the head bearing of the XR in the KTM garage repaired. This time we stayed there watching the guy repairing it and I learned a lot. We organised the transport of the XR and myself and bought some essentials for Kay’s further travel. Besides that we tried to enjoy our time as much as possible and tried to avoid as much stress as possible.

We were both really sad that Monday evening I catched my flight to Zuerich but we both knew it’s only for the best the way we decided. It was somehow good for me to see some more ladies sharing my flight sitting there with „red eyes“. We all looked much better the next morning when we reached Zuerich.

By the time we saw the lights of Zuerich I realized: now it’s over. I leave Africa behind and have to deal with Europe again. It was a strange feeling to me. I won’t be back to Stellenbosch in four weeks. I won’t be in some dessert or rain forest in a few days. No kids begging for money. No street markets with tomatoes, onions, maize and Nyama Choma. But I will have a safe home, seeing all my family and friends and a more quiet style of life. No searching for a place to sleep almost each evening. No truck drivers trying to make as much money with you as possible, no horrible toilet in the Jey Jey Centre, no unreliable garages messing up the motorbike (fortunaltely, my brother is a professional and is obviously able to sort out some stuff himself).

My parents were already waiting at the exit of the International Departure Gate and I guess I don’t have to describe the happiness on both sides.

While we were driving on the highway to my parents home I realized the need for me to give myself time to aclimatize again. It was almost frightening. Cars and trucks all over the place. Narrow roads. Thousands of road signs – in Nairobi wasn’t even a sign to show which route to take to get to the International Airport. And maybe the most serious difference is the landscape. I told my parents that I have the impression that even the gras and the trees seem to grow according to a DIN Standard. Everything looks so regulated, organized and clean! Well, I guess that impression is normal after spending more than two years in Afrika.

I got a warm welcome by my family and I also managed already to see some of my friends here back home. It is so nice to realize that it feels as if you’ve been away for just a long holiday. But I guess that is also what I really needed now. If everything would have changed here as well it would have been really hard for me to calm down and be happy again.

There’s only one thing that is missing now: Kay! But I keep my fingers crossed for him to have the journey of his life further on. Once he’s back home I already look forward to listen to his stories and look at the pictures about Ethipia, Sudan, Egypt and all the other countries he might visist until he reaches Germany.

 

27.03.04 - Getting to Ethiopia?

After we were finally able to sort out the XR, we started our journey through the Northern dessert of Kenya to Ethiopia on Monday 21.03.04. The way from Nairobi to Isiolo, the first stage of three to get to get to Moyale, the boarder of Kenya and Ethiopia, is all tar road - easy going. We were lucky enough to get a very nice view of Mount Kenya - very impressive. It looks strong with rough edges and snow fields. The road reaches an altitude of over 2600 m above sea level. It was pretty cold up there. On the other side of the road you're view is over wide fields ending on the edges of some hills. This is really a beautiful piece of Kenya. Reaching Nanyuki we obviously took the photograph at the sign board showing the Equator. Additionally we had a lesson by "Peter the teacher" about the  directions the water drains in the Southern and the Northern hemisphere and at the Equator. If you think we were able to reach Isiolo without troubles - you are wrong! The XR got a kind of a cough. Well, it behaved as if there's not enough petrol. Maybe the jet is blocked by dirt or what ever? It was only for a very short period and then everything was fine again - but what was that? Reaching Isiolo, we booked into the Bomen Hotel - a nice place to be with a good restaurant. By 9:00 the next morning we were ready to hit the rough dirt road in direction Marsabit. With the motorbike it was actually pretty much o.k. - we were going with a good speed. Two and a half hours later we've done already 160 km. We had a short rest at Laisamis Mission before we went to do the remaining 100 km. But only 20 km later it happened - the back tyre of the XR got flat. A huge nail was the reason. There we were sitting in the middle of the desert - hot, no shade and afraid because everybody tells you stories  about the bandits in this region. 3 hours later we had tried to fix that puncture twice but not successfully. The third truck passing by finally took the XR and me for a decent money, and not 100 US$, to Marsabit. I was just happy we got out of there. After three hours exposed to the sun and heat you start to get dizzy ant it was scary - no doubt about that. I was also happy to see Kay again in perfect condition in Marsabit. The journey on top of the truck, sitting between soap containers and sacks of maize with about 12 locals was really interesting and fun. We had the tyre and all the tubes fixed and were prepared to go on the next morning. We stayed over at the Jey Jey Centre. A nice place except of the toilets - they were in a condition letting me ask myself if this might be a health risk now. Maybe we were just unlucky, but I never asked myself this question before on this trip and you become not really about the toilet you use any longer. The next morning we had a good breakfast and by 10:00 we were on the road again, looking forward to see Moyale in the evening. But we only got 40 km out of Marsabit. A sand storm made it impossible for me to continue. The track consists of fist sized marble. That would be tough but manageable. But the wind had such strength, I had the impression I'll be thrown over every second. My arms got tired and that's obviously not advantageous for safe riding in such conditions. We found an acacia tree giving some shade to sit under. We wanted to wait for the wind to calm down before we continue. We were sitting there with a cloth covering the mouth and the goggles to protect the eyes. An hour later it was rather worse that better. We decided to turn around and give it a try the next day again. But that was not the end of this day's disaster. We were probably going for 2 km back when the XR started to "cough" again. It wouldn't stop until we were back to Marsabit. You might be able to imagine how riding was - sometimes I felt like sitting on a wild horse loosing control. But we made it back - somehow. And then I got a big surprise. Kay said: "That's it; I can't take that shit any longer." As you know, I was at that point already in Nairobi but now Kay was also there. It was too many things in a short time - you can't take everything! The next mission was the organization of a truck to load the bike on to get it to Isiolo or Nairobi to sort it out again. The offers started at 200 US$. After hours of negotiations and the help of Duba we got a deal for 3000 KSh = 43 US$ to Isiolo the next morning - together with goats that need to be loaded half way at Laisamis Mission. Fine, so we were able to pitch up our tent at the Catholic Mission to rest for the night. The next morning at 6:30 another guy came along offering a transport - without goats loading in Laisamis and straight to Isiolo and we could start now. But we told him we already have a deal and we will stick to that, because we would feel bad letting the other guy down. At 13:30 the same day we found out that other people don't care about deals - he didn't even come along to tell us that the truck wouldn't go - he sent Duba. I called myself stupid several time sand asked myself how often I still have to learn that lesson not to trust anybody and just be selfish. An other hour later we also knew that there wouldn't go another truck today neither tomorrow. We came to the conclusion that the only way out of Marsabit is to ride the "coughing" XR. We filtered all the petrol through the tank to the KTM hoping that it has a better petrol filter than the XR and that this would help to get at least safe to Isiolo - back to civilization. In case it wouldn't work out we decided to leave the XR behind wherever that might be ant try to organize a transport from Isiolo. But while we were packing the miracle happened - two Kenyans, John and Ali, doing developmental educational courses in Marsabit, realized us having a  problem and offered to pack the XR in their Land Cruiser since John had to go back the next day to Isiolo anyway. That offer was almost too good to be true - but it was for real. We loaded the bike already the same evening since we wanted to start the next day at 6:00 in the morning. We stayed again at the Jey Jey Centre and I hoped that nothing would go wrong now the next hours until we are supposed to leave. I was awake a long time before the alarm went off to get up since I anyway didn't sleep much that night. By 6:30 am we were ready to go: John, Henry the driver, another Lady and Gentlemen, me and the XR. Kay would ride the KTM and follow us as soon as it was daylight - we started before the sun was up. 2 hours later we stopped at a small village to have a tea and Chapati. By that time Kay had catched up with us but decided to continue and wait for us at Isiolo. Not even half an hour later we were ready to go again and hit the road to do the remaining 130 km. When we had done approx. 30 km a truck came from the opposite direction and stopped us. The driver told us to turn around - there are Shifta - Bandits. The truck was just attacked and robbed. I thought: that must be a strange nightmare but it's not possible to be true. But Henry turned around and we were going in direction Marsabit again. Marsabit, here I come again. Luckily Kay passed the truck before they were attacked, meaning he should be fine - thank goodness! We didn't go back all the way to Marsabit but to the little village we had breakfast at. Unfortunately none of the police officers was around - we couldn't get an armed guard to continue. Since all of us needed to get to Isiolo or Nairobi urgently, John decided to take the chance and continue - we all would have to cross our fingers that the bandits made already enough money today to be satisfied. Usually they would have buggered off then - that is how they normally operate. The chief of the area arranged some guys and the Land Rover of the village to accompany us for some way. O.k. we got on the track again and you might be able to imagine the mixed feelings we had about doing this. We were lucky enough that everything was fine in the end and we reached Isiolo safe and healthy. Kay was already waiting. He couldn't believe the story but told us the same time, that he had a very pleasant ride, stopped every now and then for some pictures and even passed by a guy carrying a Kalashnikov. Kay just greeted him and carried on riding. Was that one of the bad guys? What would have happened of we would not have had breakfast on the way being the first to pass the bandits? I think - I don't want to know! Now I definitely had enough trouble and adventure. I don't have to think again about continuing - I want to get to Europe!! Kay still struggles to decide for him what would be the right thing to do.After cleaning the carburetor, getting rid of the bad petrol, cleaning the petrol tab and filling up with BP Super the engine of the XR was running again and also the exhaust has a white color again - proper burning characteristics. We made our way to Nairobi the next day and got again a stunning view of Mount Kenya. We booked into Rangis Campsite again and felt almost as coming home. Unfortunately, I also had to realize that the head bearing (Lenkkopflager) of the XR is damaged.I wonder when this string of bad luck ends?

 

20.03.04 - The "shitty" days in Nairobi

This morning and yesterday afternoon were my most nerve wrecking times so far on this trip. It all started with the fact that we finally got to know that the ADAC wouldn't cover the cost to have new tyres posted to Khartoum. We wanted to get new ones here in Nairobi but unfortunately there is a major shortage of motorbike tyres at the moment suitable for traveling. There is a kind of acceptable one for Kay, but for my XR there is only a motocross tyre available. That not really bad - but they don't last. To have tyres posted by DHL - well, we got a rough estimation by the office in Nairobi and they were talking about 300US$. That would be even more expensive in the end than the tyres here - by the way they cost twice as much as at home and you still don't have what you want. We were prepared to pay a lot because we knew that, but we were not aware of the shortage. But whatever that would not have been really bad if not two more things would have com up in addition. We gave the XR to a garage known to be good with Hondas and I believe there's no doubt about that. But they had this little accident with the specially made Screen - one of the workers broke it. Fantastic, now the part of our journey when I really need it is coming up. To find a solution for that problem we agreed to meet the next morning to exchange ideas how it could be fixed best - obviously there's no way to have it replaced for sure not on the garages expanses. We got over that but the next disaster came up the following morning when we wanted to fetch the bike. First of all, it was still not finished and they only wanted to clean it since yesterday afternoon. Second was the reinforced side stand. We were convinced to have that done because of the fact that they have the experience that they tend to break easily. We agreed on having a small metal strip fixed to the back side and enlarge the plate at the end of the stand a bit to make it more usable in sand. Instead of the small strip they welded a whole piece of tubing of what ever around the stand and on the bottom a 4x6cmx3mm metal plate - you might be able to imagine that this piece was far too heavy. But my stand - pretty much in order before and not even a year old is fucked!! I still can't believe what they did to my bike. The worst part is again, that I trusted somebody, wanted to support them by giving a job to them that would not even have been absolutely necessary - and you learn again you just shouldn't trust anybody! But the worst par of the whole story was the behavior of a white older man in this whole scenario. He gives the guys of the garage part of his property to work on. He came up with the weirdest kinds of solutions for the side stand. We obviously tried to explain that we want to see a compensation for the damage to the bike and that it's also dangerous to ride with a side stand that is too heavy. And always the feeble excuse that this is Africa - well, guys do you rally wonder why you don't get somewhere with this kind of attitude. In the end he kind of gave me to understand that me a white, riche European don't have any idea of how it is to work on an African salary and he told me the amount he earned last year - well it's more than the double of my last years bursary. And in addition he's the one owning a big house and a property in Nairobi, big enough to build at least five huge houses on. The discrimination came from the white guy - I always expected to have such a situation with a person of another color than mine. But with those we were able to discuss everything in a calm way so that we were able to sort everything out in the end.But this story didn't allow me to gain some energy while staying in Nairobi for the rest of the trip. No, my nerves are kind of "blank" now. But we'll continue even if I was close to catch a flight already.We let you know how the story is going on!

 

16.03.04 - Nairobi

Leaving Arusha in direction Nairobi one first rides through a mountain range. It was covered with intensively green grass and gave an amazing contrast to the sky and the dark soil. The Maasai were strolling around in groups - do they also know something like Sunday is a relaxing day? They were also dressed up in their bright red and purple cloths and their various items of jewellery - I hope they keep that tradition, it makes them so unique.The road starts to lead down and the vegetation becomes more and more dry and also less dense. The acacias outnumber other trees. We are again in an African Savannah. The road is almost empty, but that changes as soon as you get to the junction where you join the highway coming from Mombassa. I couldn't believe it - these guys in their buses and Matatas are crazy - but we survived it!Getting closer to Nairobi you start to realize the size and advanced stage of that city. We were deeply impressed. None of the African cities except of Cape Town we saw so far can anyhow keep up with Nairobi. Everything looks much better maintained and also more massive than somewhere else. There are lots of new luxurious cars. But Nairobi is also very green. Many parks can be found all over the city and also in the different residential areas people put a lot of effort to have a nice garden. - especially now it's particularly beautiful since a lot is flowering. Shopping Malls, Supermarkets, all sorts of dealers and Hotels are huge! Even only traveling through Southern Africa - not even Northern Africa yet - this is really deeply impressive. People you see driving around in the city centre are all dressed well and very Western style. We constantly feel underdressed in our "travel clothes". Even the poorest people I saw so far wear much better clothes and shoes than they did in the other major towns in Africa we traveled to so far. Obviously, I don't know if I was confronted yet with the poorest people there but that is my impression so far. Something else war very remarkable - people are much friendlier and open than in Tanzania. This might be because of the fact that everybody seems to speak decent English. Even the Maasai women just after we crossed the boarder spoke a very good English and not only their "business terms" - amazing! And again we realized - you cross a boarder and you are in a completely different world.

 

04.03.2004 - 08.03.2004 Serengeti / Ngorongoro Crater

Luckily the prices for a 4 day safari are not as enormous as for climbing Kilimanjaro. The same day we started to look around for offers we got a very good one. After paying, everything had to go very fast since we were catching up with a group that started in the morning. We got to the campsite the stayed over that night by public transport - a new and adventurous experience for us. For the money you pay everything except of alcoholic beverages is included - even pitching up the tent for you. That was new to us as well and I felt a bit useless just standing around and waiting for everything to be done for you - but that's the way it works. The next day we started a long drive through Ngorongoro Conservation Area into Serengeti National Park. After climbing up the crater wall with our Defender we got a first view int the Crater. It's a magnificent view. I somehow had the idea of the crater floor to be covered in forest. But that's not the truth. There is a forest, but only covering a small part of the crater. The rest is an open savannah covered by gras since it is raining season. The road goes along the crater rim for the next few kilometers. You get a view into the crater from there every now and then. On the way you also meet lots of Maasai covered in their bright red and purple cloths. Some of them are wearing beautiful jewellery made of beats preferably white, blue, red and yellow ones. The men carry a head jewellery done from iron. They look really interesting and beautiful. Besides taking care of their cattle they also realized that one can make lots of money with tourists. A picture of them can only be taken after paying them and a visit to a Maasai villge is 50US$ per car! We found it quite sas that they sell themselves for 1 or 2 US$ a picture - where did their pride go? The closer you get to the Serengeti, the flatter the landscape becomes. Only at the horizon the one or the other hill is comeing up sometimes. They also had already some rain and the gras is high enough by now to cover a sleeping lion. I looks exactly as you expect an african savannah to look like. Some bushes and Acazia trees spread in the wide field. Here in teh south we saw lots of Zebras, Wildebeast, Thomson- and Grants-Gazelles. We never saw such huge herds before - amazing. Further north in the park the herds got smaller and Zebras and Wilderbeast were spotted only individually. But over all we were really lucky. We saw: Lions, a Leopard, Giraffes, Elephants, various Gazelles and Antilopes, a Crocodile, Hippos in the water and on land, Buffaloes, various birds including Kori Bustard, Redbilled Storck and obviously Vultures. Not to forget about the Hyenas, Schakals, Warthogs and troups of Baboons and Vervet monkeys. During the night you hear the lions calling and the hyenas shouting. Since there are no fences around the campsites you make sure not to have to go to the toilette during the night too often.I almost forgot another exotic species of mammals - the Japanese. They seemed to be really afraid of the "dirty air" in Serengeti and all the tremedously hazardous germs - I only can think so because the were wearing mouth-nose masks and gloves!?! The Simba Camp at Ngorongoro Crater is also right at the rim of the crater wall. Usually there's not much action in the camps but that wasn't true this time since a huge elephant bull visited us. He decided to have a sip out of the water tank and then wondering around the campsite until he found his preferred tree to feed on - I was just speachless sitting in the entrance of our tent watching im - that was something else for a change! Our Game Drive in Ngorongoro Crater was stunning. The descent road goes through a forest consisting of a kind of aloa trees. Driving through Lerai -
Forest we saw lots of Elephants all of an impressive size. The open fields were covered with Wildebeast, Zebras and Buffalo on their migration. We were lucky enough to spot 7 Lions with 2 cubs, Hyenas, Schakals and Black Rhinos - that completed the sighting of the big five for us - we were happy and our guide as well. The crater gave us the impression of a little paradise. It contains various ecosystems what makes it possible to provide the right environment for all these various animals. Amazing to see how nature works out such a balance. Over all these four days of safari were stunning and also really touching. We think not to have been there the last time - it was too nice!

 

04.03.2004 Arusha

The last two days were kind of rough. After we left Peponi Camp, situated  between Tanga and Pangani on the coast of Tanzania, we wanted to take a route through the Western Usambara Mountains on our way to Moshi. The map made us estimating max. 50km for that little detour. But we got to know better! First of all to find your way through the mountains a 1:50000 map would have been perfect. Asking the locals how to get to the next village that is schown on our map doesn't help much since most of them have a very  strange way in describing directions. Therefore we had to find the ones "speaking our language". If we would have planned this day as it turned out to be it would have been very nice. But instead we couldn't enjoy the really nice landscape because we thought we got lost and don't get anywhere. Riding was not too tough but all these little tracks in the forest get tyring after a while. The most beautiful parts wer were actually not supposed to ride through if we wouldn't have lost our way. We crossed a tea estate, some areas of thick natural forest with huge trees - I don't know the species. It looked like a completely different world up there. By 4pm we finally reached Soni. A little village shown on our map and approx. 15km from the main connection to Moshi. By that time we did more than 100km through the Usambaras and stopped the first time that day to eat something. Since we anyway wouldn't make it to Moshi we carried on up the mountain to Lushoto. A little town only connected by a tar road because one of Tanzanias Prime Ministers is situated up there. One of our travel guides describes "Irente Farm" as a pleasant place to stay. To find this farm turned out to be the second mission of today. I won't give any further details but Kay said, when we finally got there, that he's physically and psychologically at the end ot what he can take. I felt the same. The farm turned out to have a nice spot for our tent under a roof. Showers were cold but we didn't mind. As soon as the sun was down it cooled down a lot - nice temperature for sleeping.The descent to the main connection road to Moshi is amazing. For motorbikers it's heaven - one turn after the other. If you travel on a supermoto it's even more superp!You see villages far up the mountain and you realize what an effort it is to get something there. All by foot - no road to see and the people here don't use donkeys. Looking at the steep foot paths all over the mountains I wonder how often pople leave their villages. But as I already said - beautiful valley! We reached Moshi without any troubles. Approx. 80km before we got there we saw the first time part of the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. The rest was covered in the clowds. When I realized this is it, I got goosepumps - can you imagine? Every now and then these small visuable pieces of the top would disappear again behind the clowds but now we knew - there it is ant it is as high as the clowds are. Shortly after that amazing feelings most probably one ot the most sverer drawbacks of our trip came up. We didn't book a hike to the top of Kili. We found out that a 6 days trip with a desent company is round about 900US$ a person. Most of it are actually the horendously expensive park fees. A five day trip would have been 800US$ a person. The informations we had were 500US$ a person  - but these prices are substantially higher. Well, we had to reconsider our plans - we are not Rockefeller and we want to see some other things as well. I think I don't have to describe our sadness! Later in the day we got to Arusha where we pitched up our tent at the Masai Camp. To compensate our disappointment we had a nice steak in the Restaurant at the campsite.

 

24.2.2004 - 26.2.2004 Zanzibar Island

Since we thought w might not come back for Zanzibar alone we decided to go there for 2 days. Lynne dropped us off at the ferry harbor of Dar Es Salaam. The ship left at 7:30 am and a good two hours later you step on the island at Zanzibar harbor. Zanzibar insists on its autonomy to Tanzania. Therefore
you have to go through the immigration procedure once you get there. As soon as you're through that you are surrounded by taxi drivers, tour operators and owners of guesthouses. We managed to get rid of them but one. He followed us until we sat down pretending to rest and not to move for a while. But it took a seriously spoken: just leave us alone now we won't take any of your services to finally be left on your own.We've just entered Stone Town when it started to rain. Luckily we found a dry place to sit down and wait for the rain to calm down. After we walked for another 5 minutes I realized that it'' just impossible not to get lost in Stone Town as a foreigner. Kay asked a guy just standing nest to us for directions. He was a kind of "official" tour guide. He didn't ask any money from us. He claimed to be paid by the government. Maybe he also gets some money from the guesthouses as soon as we registered. But anyway he was really helpful and showed us various places until we were satisfied and
finally signed in at the "Heaven Guest House". Kay also booked a "Spice Tour" with him for the next day.After getting rid of our luggage we went to explore the market and shops. The market is amazing. I know, for the locals this is all just common but for us - stunning. The variety of fish and seafood you get there is overwhelming. The meat market was a bit tough. To provide confidence for the customer, the butchers put the head of the slaughtered animal next to the rest of the body hanging there to be cut into pieces and sold. Since Zanzibar is a Muslim island you obviously won't find pork there but plenty of beef and goat. Wondering around the fruit and vegetable shops makes it impossible to resist buying something. The combination of the colors of the products and also the spices are really tempting to spend much more than you're actually able to eat or what you need.Since Kay's trousers were damaged by a bar chair in the last camp we've been we were looking for a new Zip Pant for him. We already spent half a day in Dar Es Salaam looking for such pants. But even with the guidance of Lynne
who knows all the good places to go and how to organize things in Dar we were not successful. But almost unbelievable this type of pants is available in various colors and styles on Zanzibar and are called "Pentagons". Kay owns now a "Diesel" for 6500TS - equalizing 6US$. We thought that it's definitely worth to buy them even if the old one is to be repaired in Dar. After our successful shopping tour we had a coffee - a real spice coffee - very nice! We both got to the conclusion that Stone Town is a lively, different, colorful and interesting place to explore.We went to a dance show of some local guys in the evening. The first dance was interesting but further on there wasn't much change in movements. When the dancers started a money raising tour and got rather annoying we were not the first once to leave before the show was finished.Kay felt hungry and we went to Forodoris Garden. Each evening there's an open-air food market. There are a good variety of foods on offer. Mainly prepared on a barbecue and then served with chips or the local chipati (kind of salty pancake). There's beef, tuna, other fishes, octopus, muscles, prawns and crayfish - everything for a very reasonable price. Zanzibar pizza is a kind of omelet. I didn't try it so I can't tell what it tastes like. Kay enjoyed the food and his tummy was all right the next day. The Spice Tour is a tourist thing but we enjoyed it and learned a lot. I can't remember all the spices and fruits we saw and were explained to us - maybe if I read about the most exotic ones again. The day ended with an hour at the beach - the nicest beach Kay and me ever saw. White sand, blue water, palm trees and a local dhow in the bright afternoon sun. It would have been perfect if we would have been alone. We watched the sunset having a cocktail at the bar of the African House. If you would see this kind of sunset on a picture you would call it trash. But if it's for real it's sooooo nice. Since our ferry only left at 1pm we wanted to spend the morning with visiting some of the historical sites. We didn't get too far! Kay liked the little white breads you get on Zanzibar in Stone Town a lot. When we passed by a shop offering this bread we wanted to buy two of them. But we again had the problem not to have change and the shop owners never have. A young guy pretending to belong to the shop "assisted" us what ended up in his disappearance with 5000TS once belonging to us - now obviously to him! But we got some help and an over two-hour mission involving us, three policemen, the thieves' dad and a witness started. We were walking to the police station, several times to the father's house, to his working place and everybody knew in the end the two "Wazungus" running around in Stone Town with the police. But - we got the money back. - from the thieves father. Since we reported to the police and they opened a case he was afraid to find his drug-addicted sun in jail soon. By handing over 5000TS to us the police offered to forget about the incidence - aha, that's how it works. I still wonder if I should mind about this practice or not - but at least we got our money back. By the time we got to the ferry we didn't have the history lesson we wanted to have but a story of present life in Stone Town - also not too bad! When we passe d by the police station on our way to the harbor the policemen all greeted very friendly - I wonder why?!? Now we are in Tanga and we spent the last two days with our friend George and his family. On Tuesday we'll head to Arusha to organize our hike to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.

 

22.2.2004 Dar Es Salaam

Crossing the boarder to Tanzania was again without any troubles. There were many guys offering to change money at the boarder. Although it is officially illegal, neither Police nor Customs seem to care and it is pretty common to change money with them. So far they were not really pushing you. They just
asked and if you said you're not interested they went away. The guys at the Malawian/Tanzanian boarder were different. They almost jumped on the motorbikes and held on to you while shouting their exchange rates. At one stage I couldn't take it any longer. I shouted back that I don't have the money and that they should leave me alone. I speeded up and just hoped that this would help me getting rid of them without injuring somebody. Again we realized major differences between the two countries. I still don't really understand what a line on a map and two buildings with two gates make people being and acting differently even if they stay just some hundred meters apart. Houses in Tanzania are much bigger, have wooden framed windows and lots of them even roof tiles. People look busy - especially in the first section between the boarder and Mbeya. Agriculture is done there in a much bigger scale than so far. Seeing the fields you can imagine that they yield more than just the locals around here need.  Once the road starts climbing into the mountains (Kipengere Range) between Matema and Mbeya the number of banana palm trees increases constantly. They grow as high as the houses. Next you will spot huge tea plantations. You get this picture you usually find in travel books or travel magazines. Women
dressed in their colorful sarongs carrying baskets and sometimes even a child in addition are standing in the tea fields picking the leaves. Everything looks deep green and fertile. It's beautiful. The road winds up a pass reaching its highest point at approx. 2300 m above sea level. Since it was drizzling by the time we reached there you can imagine that it wasn't too warm any longer. I think that only the close distance to the equator prevents snowfall at that altitude. I would say that this peace of road and the 50 km before Mikumi (coming from Iringa) were the most beautiful parts we've ridden so far. Talking about Mikumi: it is very fortunate that the main road to Dar Es Salaam leads through that National Park. That gave us the opportunity to have a Game Drive on our motorbikes. We got to the beginning of the park at approx.7:30 in the morning. Even the crazy bus and truck drivers of Tanzania drive at a reasonable speed through the park. Since we saw lots of wildlife I think the animals must be used to the road - we would have never expected that. We saw several herds of Impalas, Zebras, Elephants, Giraffes and Warthogs right next to the road. That was really amazing. But on top of all a Lioness came
walking up the road just in front of us - unbelievable but it was for real. After the two hours of riding through Mikumi we didn't even consider wondering any longer if we misses something by not visiting Ruaha National Park. I think I will never again be able to see that much wild life that close on my motorbike. We made our way to Dar through kilometers of rain. That was the first time on our trip that we felt the water level raising in our motorbike boots. But since Lynne and Luiz, the landlords of our flat in Stellenbosch, gave us a warm welcome and also a room to stay at their house, the rain and the wet boots were forgotten after a short time. Thanks a lot to Lynne and Luiz for that!! After five weeks on the road it felt like coming to a home - a very good feeling. Kay and I have to make up our mind now what to do further on - Zanzibar, Kilimanjaro, Serengeti? We'll let you know. By the way: at the moment it is pouring again outside. I can't even express properly how happy I feel that we can stay with the Correia's at the moment and don't have to be in our tent in this weather.

 

22.02.2004 Summary of Malawi

That was Malawi for us:

People: very friendly do not greet you while riding along the roads as much as before everybody along the lake seems to have a kind of business dealing with tourism - therefore you will be approached everywhere but not as annoying as in Zambia good English
very high population density; people are all over the place

Landscape: lots of mountain ranges covered in a dense green fauna the lake is stunning beaches are very nice and kept clean in the North: amazing mountains; agriculture is done even on the steepest slopes

Roads: main connections and along the coast of the lake are in a very good condition off-road detours are in conditions varying between maintained and totally forgotten and only used by bicycles from Chitimba to Livingstonia Mission: very rough, lots of rocks, only for 4x4 vehicles or bikes Food: Lilongwe has at least two shopping centers next to each other where you can get everything markets in the villages and towns stock everything fruits and veggies along the road are very good

Camps: many along the coast of the lake of various standards some like to cater for overlander trucks and as a individual traveler you feel less welcome

Climate: rather hot not too humid Heavy rains in the morning while we stayed there

 

16.02.2004 Moyaka Village; Lusaka to Nkahata Bay

Lusaka is as very quiet place on a Sunday. But as sson as Monday morning is reached it chages into a busy, lively place. We liked it a lot. Seems to be very good organized, clean and safe. The local ladies were not afraid of showing their jewellery in the main streets of Lusaka. If you once get there you should treat yourself to a bread and some sweets prepared by "Le Pattiserie" or the "Sweet D'Or" both found in Cairo Raod. The Coffee they serve is also very nice. The baguette is almost as in France - said Kay. The piece of road from Lusaka to Chipata, the boarder to Malawi, is very scenery and exceptionally beautiful. It goes in turns up and down. We think it was definitly planned by a biker - the turns have just the right radius. You pass all the local villages. Every now and then there are patches of
banana palm trees. These bananas you buy along the road are just delicious - although, one is a bit small but two is exactly the right portion. It was really fun riding along that piece of Zambia. Crossing the boarder to Malawi was quick and easy. We reached Lilongwe by lunch time, already. After crossing the boarder the housing of the locals chaged in comparison to Zambia. They build "Stone Houses". The bricks are made at the place where the house is supposed to be built. Some have a reet
roof, some irrigated iron, some have roof tiles. The Malawians seem to be very busy agriculturists. Each patch along the road and around the villages is used to grow maize, tabacco or other things.Main transport seems to be the bicycle, as it was in Zambia. They are a bit more advanced - the seat for the passenger in the back is equiped with a peace of foam - looks quite comfortable for a back seat of a bicycle. Something you also immediately realize is the much higher population density. They have a seventh of the size of Zambia but the same population. People are all over the place and along the road. That really slows donw your average travel speed - but you are anyway supposed to drive with a max. speed of 80km/h. If you think Zambia was beautiful - as we did - Malawi puts another piece on
top. Sometimes the views we got driving from Lilongwe to Senga Bay was breath taking. And then Lake Malawi - amazing, what more can I say!! Looking at it, you can't believe that this water is carrying something like Bilharzia. The lake has a stunning blue color and the beaches are really superb. Unfortunatly the rainy season semms to have catched up with us or the other way round. After two sunny and relaxing days at Senga Bay we sarted to have rain. Every morning at about 4am the storm is comeing up and it starts raining. So far it was always calming down during the morning and then the sun shows up and you think that it's impossible to have rain here. We'll let you know how this is developing further up North. By now we are in Mayoka Village at Nkhata Bay. That is an amazing spot. Very relaxed and a bit of a "Hippie-Feeling". The chalets are very nice and only about 7EUR/night/double (900Mkw) at the exchange rate we got. Today we're going to spend there and then continue up further North to Livingstonia Mission before crossing into Tanzania.

 

16.02.2004 Summary of Zambia

That was Zambia for us:

People: in general friendly In Lusaka and Livingstone dealers who were rally annoying Good English

Landscape: beautiful Mountain ranges , very scenery; Very green and fertile Blooming trees and bushes

Roads: interesting and good roads Except of 80km past Petauke in direction to Chipata the main south
connection is in avery good condition; No cattle along the road but many people Main local transport is the bicycle

Food: Shoprite in main villages and cities; Street markets offering all basics: bread, tomato, onions, eggs, fruit etc.

Camps: very nice and clean; Approx. 5US$/person/night; Found along the south main connection in a sufficient number

Climate: hot during the day, Cooling down nicely in the night

 

06.2.2004 Livingstone, Sambia

Livinstone is a small city that provides everything a traveler needs. We chose the Maramba Lodge as our place to stay for two nights. The Victoria Falls are just stunning. Reading some travel guides I thought it's going to be a horrible touristy place that rather puts me off. But that wasn't the truth at all. The two hotels situated next to the falls one can hardly see from the road leading to the National Park. And inside the park you don't even realize them. The amount of water in the Zambesi was just about right to take some nice images of that natural piece of art. Walking along the trail of the Eastern Cataract one gets various stunning views. The only thing that could stop Kay taking photos was the spray of the fall that steams up from the gorge. You get soaking wet until you covered the whole trail, but we didn't mind. The view is that fantastic rather being completely wet than missing one spot. The fauna is also distinct. The grass grows high, thick and in an intense green. In between you find different blooming flowers in yellow, purple and orange. By now it is 10US$ per person to see the spectacular but I think it's worth it and before the Zimbabwean side was making the money. In addition we were really lucky to see a second view of the falls. Since it was full moon we were told to go there in the night again. I wouldn't believe it but I saw it with my own eyes. There is a rainbow coming up created by the light of the full moon. I had no idea that something li8ke that is possible. Therefore, plan your journey according to the moon! I would say that this was definitely one of the highlights of our journey!
Talking about Zambia, what can we say so far? Immediately across the boarder you realize that the vast majority of the people are very poor. Life seems to be much more traditional than in the countries we've been before. While we were waiting for the ferry over the Zambesi we had time to watch the locals. Kids were bathing in the river, cars were washed in the river, ladies came with containers to fill up water and carried them home on top of their heads. The same we saw for teenage girls and boys. By the way, the locals drink the water directly from the river - no treatment, nothing. I'm not really brave enough to try that myself! There was a lot of pedestrian traffic across the Zambesi but hardly any
vehicle. The Zambians try to sell to you any type of curious and you can't escape them - they are everywhere you stop. That can be annoying after as while but it's their way of making a business. The roads were described to be really bad. But nothing is left of the "pothole collection". There are 20 km between Shesheke and Livingstone left to be finished. All the way to Lusaka is a very good road. Fortunately, Zambia's roads are more interesting than Botswana's. There are turns and "up's" and "down's". There are no cattle along the road but many people. Their preferred transport is the bicycle. The landscape is green and trees grow much bigger. All in all - so far we think it is beautiful!

 

04.02.2004 Summary of Botswana

That was Botswana for us:

People: initially a bit skeptic and rather not too talkative once you start to chat to them they are very friendly, helpful and also curious all speak a good English - their education system seems to be good they have a very open and shiny smile even the poorest people or kids didn't beg; we were not asked for money or food a single time

Landscape: flat bushes grow from very dense to rather lightly spread salt pans are just amazing trees grow taller the closer you get to the North "Male" of Tsodilo Hills is highest point (1390m) whole country is approx. 1000 m above sea level

Roads: 95 % tar roads, which are in a very good condition all main connections are tarred only in the parks and salt pans off-road - always deep sand passages involved

Food: everything available in all main towns small shops keep a reasonable stock rather expensive since everything is imported from SA

Camps: max. we paid: 40 Pula (8EUR) a night per person all had hot showers good abolution facilities

Climate: very hot in summer had little rain sometimes high humidity

 

04.02.2004 Katima Mulilo

We didn't blow our budget by booking a Mokoro Trip. Unfortunately the water levels were still too low to start such a trip at Maun. One would have been first driven for 2 h into the Delta and then set off for the trip. People told us that the conditions further up in the North are already much better. Since we anyway wanted to head there, we thought of doing the Mokoro Trip later. But we couldn't resist booking a Scenic Flight over the Delta to get an idea of the landscape and the wildlife there.Kay enjoyed that flight a lot and saw more animals than he would have expected. Now you might wonder: what about Heidi? Well, I managed to see some Elephants, Hippos, Zebras and Buffalos but only for a second. Most of that hour the flight took, I was busy throwing up!! The pilot said I broke the record up there. Seems as if my stomach is not made for flights below 500 feet. I got an idea what's down there in the Delta, but most of my memories are around these white bags you look into while. The owner of the Nguma Lodge in the Northwest of the Delta also didn't want to take us for a Mokoro Trip - water level too low. The river was pushing in strongly already, but to give a high enough water level for a trip it would have taken another 4 or 5 days - that is what he estimated. O.k., we decided to come back to Botswana fro that, once we will be "grown up" and rich enough to stay in one of these lodges inside the Delta - I just wonder when this is going to be!?! Tsodilo Hills is a magnificent spot in that flat Botswana. From top of the "Female" one has a view over the flat Kalahari up to the horizon. We spent a night at the campsite there and experienced our first thunderstorm. Wasn't really raining much but it cooled down the heated up air nicely and helped us to a relaxing night - not sweating for a change.Caprivi Strip showed us its rather boring side. Signs in an average distance of 20 km are warning to watch out for the Elephants. But in the middle of the day they also know where the shady sides are - definitely not next to the tar road running more or less straight to Katima Mulilo. At least some small animals were around - thousands of butterflies. Already for the last two days we were riding through these colonies of butterflies - small yellow, bigger light yellow, white and red/brown ones. Really beautiful but also sad, because some of them are obviously killed by our bikes, helmets, cooling grids etc.On our little detour - the gravel road to Katima - it was almost as quiet - besides a herd of monkeys crossing the road in front of us. Now I'm sitting at the riverbank of the Zambesi on the campsite of the Zambesi - Lodge in Katima. While I'm writing this report for the diary, a hippo is blowing his nose every now and then.For me it's still a bit unreal that all these animals are there - always!

 

30.1.2004 Maun, Botswana

We met Edmund, a Canadian guy living since two years in Serowe as an environmental consultant, at the Citi Camp in Gaborone. He offered us a game drive in the Khama Rhino Sanctuary, if we would get to Serovw. Taht sounded like an excellent opportunity and therefore we changed our route and made our way to Serowe via Molepolole and Shoshong. The landscape in Botswana is flat - really flat!! The GPS never showed a difference in altitude more than 20m from Gaborone to Serowe. The Shoshong Hills were a pleasant different view on our way. We filled up petrol in Shoshong and Queen Samuel came along to ask how we are and wanted to have our contact details in Germany. I'm not so sure about her real name, but we had a nice chat anyway. Reaching the Rhino Sanctuary, Edmund managed to organize that we were allowed to drive our bikes to their camp site and also stay there for the night. The game drive was successfull as we saw not only Rhinos, but also Giraffes, Impala, Wildebeast and lots of different birds. The camp site is a very pleasant spot. Far away from any road or other noise than the wild life in the park. The next day we made our way to Nata. We drove along the longest rad construction side I've ever seen. Approx. 80km from Palapye to Serule one could see all the various stages of a road construction. And by the way, did I already mention that Botswana is flat - really flat!?! There are no mountain or "hill" ranges in your view to the horizon - amazing! Francistown was only good for filling up petrol, food and a snack before we carried on to Nata. The Nata Lodge is a really good treat. For 30 Pula per person a night you get absolutely nice abolutions, a pool and a shady spot on the camp site - we must admit, we stayed for two nights. But, not only to
spoil ourselves, also to have time to chnage tyres. We wanted to ride to Kubu Island through the salt pans and therefore we wanted to have the good tyres on and not the already worn down. There is a Garage in Nata that has "pressured air" - by the way that is something that isn't readilly available
in Botswana. The guys there allowed us to change the tyres in their workshop and also had a helping hand if necessary. The following day we were ready for the adventure to Kubu Island. As it is rainy season at the moment we were not completely sure that we would make it. But we were lucky. The conditions were o.k. and a detour was available around the most severe mud holes. It's an amazing view coming from the flat, white, wide pans and then having the island covered with Baobabs in all different shapes and sizes in fron of you. Any way, riding throgh the pans is an experience that is quite unique, I think. Sometimes, looking over the flat pan you could think that there is water at the horizon. But it's only the air that is heated up by the hot Botswana sun giving this impression. If you can manage to get to Botswana - drive through the pans - I really found it stunning!! Unfortunatly there was a major draw back at Kubu Island. We had to pay 22 Pula per person and bike (makes 88 Pula = 17EUR in total) to visit the island. That is only for pick-nick not including camping. That would have been an other 27.50 Pula per person a night. And there is nothing - not even water available. I think that was the most expensive pick-nick I've ever had - with self brought food, not to forget. By the time we reached the tarr road in direction to Motopi we made 200km of rough off-road that day. I must say, some of the deep sand passages were not too easy with the luggage and my arms felt a bit like pudding. We made another 80km until we pitched up our tent that evening. I was really tired bit it was definitly worth the effort! By now we are in Maun and we'll see if a mokoro trip to the Delta is going to blow our budget - we'll let you know later!

 

24.1.2004 - Gaborone, Botswana

We spent our first night in Botswana, in Gaborone.From Upington we had a pleasant ride out of the desert through the farm land between Kuruman and Mafikeng. Everything is green and looks really fertile. There are endless fields of maize and also sun flowers. Some streches were almost boring - we experienced that wer are touched much more by the desert. The sky was constantly overcast and just before Kuruman we were riding through a thunder storm. Fortunately, it wasn't really cold, therefore the rain didn't iritate us. At the boarder post to Botswana wer were asked to volunteer for an interview by a guy employed by the South African Tourism. That was almost as giving a summary of our two years in SA. What did we find really positiv? - well, people were friendly and helpful. What was the most impressive? - the diversity of the country in terms of landscapes and also cultures. Waht was the worst experience? - a stolen MTB and wallet. Did we enjoy our time in SA? - Yes, a lot!!Crossing the boarder to Botswana was quick and easy and after 30min all the formalities were done and we got on the road in direction to Kanye. We hoped to find some nice gravel roads after we were riding on tarr for the last one and a half days. But the roads here in the south of Botswana are excellent - no sign of gravel if you don't want to take major detours.
Immediately after crossing the boarder I realized to be in another country. Only part of the land is used for agriculture. The rest is covered with various types of trees - trees I'm not aware of that I saw them before. The soil is dark brow/redish and gives a very nice contrast to the green leafes. The villages are small and most families live in rondavelts covered with a reet roof. Fences, if there are, are made up with strong branches or even small stems of trees and they therefore don't look as "serious" as they do
in SA. Cows and goats are preferably found along the road. If felt wonderful to start to discover something new again. At Kanye we met an ealderly couple and had a nice chat with them.Towards Gaborone the road got more and more busy. Gaborone itself looks quite moedern and in the City Centre some impressive buildings are showing off. I have the impression, that people here are in general a bit less open initially but once you start to talk to them they open up and show a very heart warming smile.Yesterday we only managed to pitch up our tent and we had some nice conversations with other people at the camp site. Today we want to explore more of Gaborone and the XR needs an oil change...I'm already very excited about riding further into Botswana and see more new things.

 

17.1.2004 to 20.1.2004 - on the Road (ZA)

We finally made it - we got started on our "Big Trip". After finishing packing and bringing the boxes to the shipping company in Cape Town on friday afternoon there were only those belongings left to be carried on the bike and necessary for our journey. On Saturday morning we had a last breakfast at "Java Cafe" in Stellenbosch and it was nice to see how many of our friends here came along to say "Good Bye". Even Susanne and Max - the Austrian friends of Sven - weren't missing. Thanks everybody for that nice guesture!After some intensive hugs we got on our bikes and disappeared around the corner.We started our trip by travelling to "Cape Point" to take the start photo. A lot of people started to chat to us about the trip and we were almost a bit ashamed that it was only the first day and we didn't have exciting stories to tell. But on the other hand we got such a lot of good wishes for the trip - amazing! We spent the night at Laresas and Tonys place and besides "Chinese Take Aways" we had a lot of "Bike stories" to discuss - shame thy didn't decide to come along as we thought some time ago.The next morning when it was about time to leave I couldn't hold back the tears - somehow all excitement, fear and a whole lot of other feelings got released. I still wonder how this szstem of the body is induced.During that whole day while we had a lovely trip through the desertous region of the "Big Karoo", I was struggling to get rid of a feeling of lonelyness and fear about what 's coming up. But alrady the next day after we spent a night in a very niche B&B in Calvinia these feelings were gone and the excitement for the trip took over again.On our way to Augrabis National Park we had already an amazing experience of wild life. An Oryx family was running in the bush field besides us - and not in a game reserve - just like that in nature.Reaching the National Park, we decided to stay a day - seems we start off quite lazy - but this park offers more than just a pleasant camping site. We had an interesting hike that teached us lot of new things even "Mr. Cryzmek(?)" Kay didn't know. And to be honest, the two pools on the ground were also very welcome in the heat of the Northern Cape. Very cude was the little pet we had in the park. A "Klipspringer" raised by bottle is around the camping site and as wer were the only residents it adopted us as parents - even during the night it had its rest right next to our tent - when ever we got back there it was waiting for us.The only draw back of this place were the mosquitoes. Various species were trying to get one or the other of our body fluids, but I guess this won't be the last place it is like this.Road wise we can't complain yet. But that is something one can expect in SA. So far we did approx. 50% on tar but nothing challenging yet - just enjoyable!!

 

15.01.2004 - Stellenbosch

Our last days in Stellenbosch
After we had a very nice and enjoyable New Years Eve and New Years Day in Cape Town together with Claudia and David the feeling of having to manage the "home run" started. Besides finishing writing publications for the University, cleaning up the bench in the lab and start packing at home we wanted to spend as much time as possible with our friends here. So you maybe can imagine what this means - yes, long nights either in one of our favorite restaurants or around the "braai" (for not South African English: Barbeque) in our or some friends garden. But for sure a "Farewell Party" couldn't be missing!! Therefore we gathered most of our friends together at our place last Monday evening and after having had a very pleasant night we fell asleep at 4:00 in the morning. Thanks a lot to all our friends coming along and spending that evening with us - we really enjoyed it!!
So now it is 8:00 Thursday morning and I'm busy writing the last report for our diary on our own computer. Soon it will be packed in one of our boxes which will be brought to Cape Town tomorrow morning and will hopefully be shipped back to Germany. That also means that we postponed our departure for one day. Do you know "Murphy's Law" - it showed up two days ago. As if there is nothing else to do, Kay was busy sorting out software problems: the Palm didn't want to accept the waypoints Kay collected on the PC - somehow the communication didn't want to work. As this is a quite essential part of our preparations for our trip there was no way of neglecting this problem. Thanks to the FAQ site on the homepage of "QuoVadis" we found the answer to the problem. All the waypoints and routes are saved now on the palm ready to be sent over to the GPS if needed.
What is left for today, is the final packing of basically everything. And by tonight we hopefully are ready to say that everything fits on the bikes and nothing is missing - well, I guess that is most probably something we'll only find out on our way. Fortunately people say that there are shops all over Africa - what a surprise - there is a chance to get the one or the other missing thing.
By now I really feel like getting off for the journey. After basically more than a year of preparations and planning I'm a bit tired of organizing. We experienced that it is not easy to start from another country than the one you have your citizenship with. Somehow for everything you become an exceptional case and that means a lot of discussions and e-mails to sort out everything. But I must say everybody was really helpful and made it possible in the end -Thanks for that! I'm sure it is worth the effort in the end - we'll know soon!
For our departure on Saturday we plan to have a last breakfast in our favorite coffee shop in Stellenbosch: Java Cafe. The destination for that day will be Calvinia and Laresa and Tony our friends form Cape Town will come along that way and will stay over with us to say Good Bye on Sunday morning when we'll be heading for Augrabis Falls near Upington.


11.01.2004 - Stellenbosch

You probably know the feeling, that over the time your motorbike developes from just a vehicle to a friend. We are sure that the same will happen to us again during the next four month. And as a friend needs a time to talk to him and to talk about him, we decidet to baptist our motorbikes, already before the first adventures. Like it is supposed to be, we've used good Stellenbosch sparkling wine and our friends Nele, Myrte and Juergen served as god parents.
If in future we will talk about "Kongoni" or "Pongo" you should know whom we mean. Kongoni is the silver Wildebeast from the Austrian Mountains and Pongo is the little agile Bushbock from Japan! (Both names are Swaheli)


29.12.2003 - Stellenbosch

Instead of writing Christmas cards, buying presents and decorating the tree, we used the festive days to sort out last formalities. Kays washed passport is exchanged, the Carnets are ordered, insurances are signed and a company is found to move our houshold back to Germany. We've decided to aply for all visa once we are on the way and for lybia we made first contacts.
Today.
In person of Heidis parents we brought our last visitors to the airport today. Now the time has come to pack, to say good bye and to finally hit the road, what everybody is waiting for. The most common question we get is "When do you start?". If the Carnets arrieve in time we now have the answer " 16th of January"


20.11.2003 - Stellenbosch

Testride: Stellenbosch - Baviaans Kloof - Addo - Montagu - Stellenbosch
(08.11.2003 - 13.11.2003)

It felt already almost as an eternity since we last hit the gravel with our Motorbikes. But this weekend we were lucky enough to get away again and there were three good reasons for this trip. First of all, we still had a gift voucher for a night drive in a private game reserve near Addo. Second, we wanted to test our bikes packed with the luggage and the new racks in the way we want to go with them on our trip through Africa. And third - we finally managed to find a weekend, which also suits the time schedule of our friends Laresa and Tony to go for a trip.
We packed the bikes on Saturday morning and got off at a decent time. The destination for this day was Laignsburg. We were riding happily on farm roads to the Breede River Valley and at Montagu started to cross the Little Karoo to Laignsburg.
After a good rest in the Grand Hotel we got on our way to the Baviaans Kloof on Sunday morning. As Tony knows this region as good as the pockets in his jacket you can be sure that we had our fun on the bikes. We had to share the roads with tortoises, snakes and bush bocks. Late in the afternoon we reached the farm where we stayed in "The Caves". A fantastic idea of this farmer couple to build a very rustic accommodation around a rock cave on their farm at the entrance of the Baviaans Kloof Nature Reserve. We also enjoyed the fantastic "Afrikaner Bure Braai Kos" that evening - just delicious!!
On Monday we went on through the Baviaans Kloof. That was just stunning!! Well, if you ever manage to get to the Eastern Cape of South Africa - ride through Baviaans Kloof - one has to see it and on a bike it's really just what you are waiting for. And on top of this stunning experience we did the night drive at Scotia Game Reserve that same evening. A day filled with such a lot of impressive views and experiences - you really start to ask yourself if you really deserve it. We spent the night in our tent - what we enjoy more than a hotel room - and after a quick breakfast in Addo we hit the road in direction to Steytlerville - yes on tar - bad excuse I know, but we wanted to make a lot of kilometres that day and this was definitely the most direct connection. But from Steytlerville onwards we found an exciting farm road along the backside of the mountain range enclosing the Baviaans Kloof. Again we had to share the track with some massive tortoises but at least they didn't complain too much when we carefully carried them out of our way. We found a nice little house for the four of us in Prins Albert and the shower was really welcome after the long, dusty and hot day. The steak we had for dinner gave us the energy back for the next day.
As we didn't really feel like getting back to work again we decided to prolong our trip for another day. Therefore we agreed on stopping over at Montagu. We started again to cross through the Little Karoo on all the enjoyable farm roads. A beautiful strip of track - very narrow and lots of little river crossings carrying just enough water to get a refreshing shower - was supposed to lead us more or less directly back to Montagu. Unfortunately for us bikers nowadays there is a new private game reserve on this way. The electric fence and the sign "Beware of dangerous animals" made us taking a major detour via Barydale and the R62 to Montagu. But it was still a very pleasant ride.
When we got home to Stellenbosch the next day we made the consumption that: we really enjoyed that trip, that we definitely should do this more often (luckily this is going to happen soon) and that the way we want to pack our luggage and the racks are working properly. All in all: it was a successful and very enjoyable trip.


20.10.2003 - Stellenbosch

Slowly we are getting ready for the testride and the big trip. how we often call our way home. Wyn-Tech a local company which is specialized on production of stainless steal parts for the Stellenbosch wine industry, produced a nice holder to fix the GPS onto the KTM and a rack for the two 10l Jerry cans for the XR. In addition the KTM got some fancy Neoprene socks to avoid leakage of the fork sealings and for the big luggage we fit the panier system from Touratech. It didn't fit perfectly but that might still be in the tolerance levels. However, as a little time bomb the rack had contact to the exaust leving first marks after a few kilometers. A few extra washers could solve the problem.


11.10.2003 - Stellenbosch

Today is a day to party - finally the KTM Adventure arrived! After endless delays the transport company finally rang the bell to our flat, to deliver a promising box with the lettering "KTM Sportmotorycles". It is like Christmas to receive a new bike from the grate and it's exciting to remove the straps, to assemble the handle bar, to give it the essential juice and to kick it to live with the left leg, to leave it into freedom. Our first ride to us to one if the nicest mountain passes in the western cape, the Franshoek pass. The few from there is stimulating and makes one dreaming of future adventures.
A little remark to the KTM importer of South Africa: F...ing service, horrible spare prices (It's cheaper to have it sent from Germany by TNT). You wish to be back home at your local KTM dealer!


03.10.2003 - Stellenbosch

Today is a sad day. We had to say good bye to our beloved BMW because we sold it. Hopefully the grief won't last too long as the KTM is already ordered and supposed to be delivered soon. The XR refused to work, presumably due to loneliness. But a comprehensive cleaning of the carburetor could convince her to start again.
Soon we want to start the applications for the visas. What wasn't really fortunate just now - to wash Kays Passport in the washing machine. Let's see what the German embassy thinks about it.


07.09.2003 - Sinsheim (D)

Kay: Today is the day for our web page! Together with my friend Wolfgang I put the first and unfortunately not completely finished version of our web page on the net. We still have to prepare the English version and the guest book is not working yet. But this is the start and we keep on working on it.


06.09.2003 - Schwarzach (D)

Kay: Today I reached Germany for a three weeks stay. This enables me to see family and friends and to inform them about our plans to gratify their curiosity and also to reduce their doubts. Besides that I will organize some equipment and try to convince the one or the other sponsor to support us. The equipment I am looking for are small and comfortable sleeping bags, functional clothing, rain gear, a case system for the KTM and saving media for the digital camera and the Palm Top. That might be less expensive and easier to get than in South Africa.


13.08.2003 - Stellenbosch

Heidi and Kay: We initiated this side just now. It is 22:07, the fire is crackling in the clay fire place of our South African flat, while it is cold and rainy outside. This and a bottle of wine provides the perfect atmosphere to plan our big adventure
Unfortunately, there is not much exciting to tell you right now, but during our trip we will fill this diary with our experiences we make on our way through Africa.