Adventure experience - motorcycle trip riding across Africa
It was a sunny winter day in 2011. I was sitting comfortably at the breakfast table while I was reading the headlines of a motorcycle magazine. Slowly, I stirred my coffee. Suddenly, an article drew my attention. Someone has started with his 30 years old Simson Schwalbe to ride through Africa all by himself.
Since a friend of mine travelled through Africa in his Unimog and had shown me some great pictures of his trip, I was dreaming of a Trans Africa trip as well. When I grow up. At this time I was about 16 years old. Now, ten years later, I decided that the right time has come to make my dream come true. My budget was 5000 Euro for two years. 700 Euro of this i spend to buy the perfect bike: a Honda XL 600V Transalp.
Click here to view the route in Google Earth or here to open the map in a new tab. Here you can download my GPS way points from the trip as *.xls document and here as a *.gpx file for further processing with Garmin MapSource.
After a few days of intensive research, I sent my passport, two photos and a stamped return envelope to the Syrian embassy in Berlin to apply for a days transit visa.
Since the strong vibrations of my motorbike had damaged my video camera during my last off-road trip, this time I decided to attach my camera directly to my helmet, so I could take smooth videos and watch the screen while riding. A GoPro would have been too expensive.
I used especially small screws so they will break easily of if I have an accident.
I took as many memory cards as possible and decided to use a camera which can use normal accus or even battery's because even in africa you can get them everywhere.
Of course, it would have been much nicer to take a SLR camera, but then I did not want to care about something expensive like that while travelling.
A Short time after I received my passport from the Syrian embassy, I immediately sent it together with 22 euros, a photo, a copy of my vehicle registration and the needed return envelope to the Egyptian embassy in Frankfurt. The visa for Sudan and Ethiopia, I wanted to get at the embassies in Cairo. We wanted to be there before the rainy season starts in March.
At the German registration office, I got a international driver's licence and an international vehicle registration. From the ADAC I got a health insurance and a Carnet de Passage customs document, after I had payed 210 Euro + deposited 3,000 Euro.
The next days my friend Thomas and I were busy in his workshop. There we installed stronger springs, a side stand plate and aluminum boxes and equipped them with a 230 V power converter to load the batteries of my cameras etc.
To be able to open my boxes, I had to replace the enormous, original turn signals with small LED ones.
I would advise you not to use an expensive BMW. Although even someone had even crossed Africa using a Harley Davidson, the price of a new 18.000 Dollar bike will fource you to work two years for it instead of travel two years. Used 700 Euro bikes sometimes can be sold for the same price after the trip. While the loss of value per km is smaller, old bikes are also much easyer to repair.
For my navigation system I installed a 12 volt plug at the cockpit of my motorbike. I decided to use a Garmin Nüvi 255 in combination with the maps of tracks4africa.com.
To transport spare tires we extended the back of the bike. In place of the Topcase we installed two jerry cans each with 5 litres capacity.
To transport 10 litres of drinking water, I wanted to use a foldable canister which, however, became leaky after the first use. From now on I used normal plastic bottles which I could get everywhere.
The sun was shining, when Willi and I went to pick up Ali at the train station in Innsbruck. There we met for the first time. We got in contact over the Internet because Willi and Ali wanted to do the same trip as I.
From Austria, on we went to Italy. On the way we slept in a pension. In the port of Ancona we booked the tickets for the ferry to Greece. The ferry from Venice to Alexandria did not exist at this time. Starting from Patras we followed the beautiful coastal road past some ship wrecks to Piraeus. From here, a ferry brought us to Kos, a Greek vacation island. We rented a flat and waited some rainy days, until the next expensive ferry brought us to Bodrum in Turkey.
To enter Turkey was totally uncomplicated. Willi who was the only one who did not have an insurance for Turkey, could get one for 5.- Euro at the border.
When it went dark, we decided to stealth camp / wild camp nearby the coast. Ali had to help Willi to build up his tent. Willi had never done this before ;-)
On the next morning we had nice weather. The sun was shining as we followed the coastal road toward Antalya. At night we camped behind a dune. I could hardly wait until the next morning to ride my motorbike in the sand, before we continued our trip.
In Alanya we drove past a hotel, where I had been a few years ago. A few kilometers further we got the permission to spend the night in the building of a company who produced palettes and wooden boxes.
The employees served us hot tea and showed me how to nail the crates together. As I gave my camera to one of them, he held the camera with the screen to me and tried to look through the objective. Obviously he had never seen a digital camera like this before.
On the next morning the rain was still pouring. It did not stop until we reached the Syrian border. I collected our passports and all the other necessary documents and went to the customs. It was a nightmare.
I had to run around the building with wet shoes to change money and get stamps here and there.
When we finally were allowed to enter the country, Alis Suzuki DRZ 400 did not start. Ali had not switched of his heating grasps while he was waiting outside.
We spend the night in a hotel and tried to dry our clothes. In the next morning it was still raining. When the rain became hail, the engine of Alis motorcycle failed and could not be started again. I pushed Ali and his Yamaha XT 600 Tenere to the next gas station. Here, we made a break, got hot tea and were allowed to warm up a bit.
15 minutes later, Willis motorcycle started again and we went on. At 1500m height the rain became snow. I asked some local people and they invited us to pitch our tent in their garage.
Ali did not want to stop so early so he and Willi went on. Because I did not want to travel alone, I had to follow them. The snow became stronger. Even the road was completely white, when suddenly my front wheel slipped away. I crashed to the side, turned around and slipped on the overhauling trace, where the motorcycle finally stopped. I jumped in to the ditches. Then I stood up and ran toward the approaching trucks, to warn them and get them to the other trace. It lasted eternally, until finally there was a gap which left me enough time to drag my motorcycle, which was still lying on the road, in to the ditches.
Near to Damascus, we passed a crashed touring bus with many injured passengers. A taxi showed us the way to a hotel, where we savely could park our motorcycles in the inner court.
The entry to Jordan was less complicated than the departure from Syria. We luckily had no diesel engined vehicles. However, I had fever and could hardly drive. My “waterproof” Jacked and my shoes were all freezing cold and wet. Because there were no hotels, we got the permission to camp in the store room of a small supermarket, until my fever was over and I felt much better.
While I was ill in my tent, Ali organized our “recommendation letters” for 20.- Euro from the German embassy. We needed them to apply for our Sudan visa.
A soft wind blowed over my tent, lots of stars sparkled and on the other side of the dead sea one could see the peacefully shining lights of a city called Betlehem. But the freedom was false. On the way to a hot spring which flew into the dead sea, we passed numerous military posts with sharp weapons. In the distance, we could hear the thundering of heavy artillery.
The coast of the lake, which layed -300 m under the sea level, was surrounded by thick salt crystals. The water was amazingly warm and carried me better than I had expected. While Ali and I made photos, Willi repaired his porter, bent after a fall.
For the night we found a campground hidden in the mountains, on a small hill. Before, Ali and I had to outvote Willi, who wanted to camp directly beside the road. I explored the environment and was invited for tea by native ones, who grew tomatoes on the stony sandy ground.
In order to be able to leave Jordan with the next ferry toward Sinai the next day, we had to hurry. We past beautiful mountains and canyons. Gladly I would have stopped there to take photos or even to wild camp. Unfortunately the two others wanted to continue, so I had to follow.
When it went dark, Willi and Ali drove to the next city to visit a camping site.
I did not want to sleep on a boring camping side after we had passed such a nice wild camp areas, so I left the city and went to the sea, where I pitched my tent beside the big trucks of other travellers.
In the morning, I wakened by the noise of a machine gun in the distance. After a bath in the sea I was invited to a delicious breakfast in one of the trucks. Unfortunately, I thought not having time for enjoying the meal and hurried up - But when I arrived at the camping place to pick up Ali and Willi at the agreed time, my reliable travel partners had not even have started packing their stuff.
Before we were allowed to enter the ferry, we were informed that after staying three days in Jordan we had stayed one day too long. Therefore, we had to pay 6 US$ each plus the big departure fees.
On Egyptian side a policeman helped us with the difficult and with 1145 Egypt Pound (160 Euro) each extremely expensive entry procedure. First they copied the chassis number of our motorcycles, then some Arab documents had to be filled out, before we finally got Arabic number plates. At least the Petrol here was cheaper then drinking water in Egypt. It only was 14 euro cent per liter.
We wild camped in a building ruin and the other day we drove to Gizeh with strong side wind and hail. Willi and I had told Ali, that we did not want to cross Egypt in three days without visiting the pyramids and the sphinx in Cairo.
In the big traffic, Ali who had the coordinates (GPS N29°57,832 E031°09,590) of a camping site in Cairo, nearly managed to get rid of us. He was riding like mad with numerous of risky overhauling maneuvers while we tried to follow him in the heavy traffic.
When it got dark, Willi who passed a lot of petrol stations which I have used, ran out of petrol. Even a 40 litre tank does not last for ever.
At night we could hardly sleep. The speakers of the surrounding mosques seemed to try out which is the loudest. The people who peacefully lived together with their chickens, donkeys and goats in a house, seemed to have an amazingly deep sleep.
Willi went to repair the side stand of his overloaded Yamaha XT 600 Tenere and paid with a big saw, which he had carried all the way from Germany for no reason. Ali and I went to see the Pyramids in Gizeh (GPS N29°58'30,8" E031°08'24,8"), right in the middle of the big city Cairo. We took many photos and had a nice meal with Macaroni and falafel along the roadside. Willi took a taxi to visit the Pyramids. For him the traffic in Cairo was to dangerous.
Later, we applied to the Sudanese Embassy ( was GPS N30°02'21,8" E031°14'02,5" now moved to 30°2'11.40"N 31°12'23.99"E) for our visas for $100 each. The next day we could pick up our passports again and leave Cairo with unwanted Police protection. At a police control we had to wait forever, until the officers who drove behind us had finally finished their tea. As we were waiting in the hot sun, Ali and I decided to go on without stopping at police roadblocks anymore. Willi did not like our behavior but had to follow. A few days earlier, a car bomb in Cairo went off and had attracted the attention of the world press. Whether that was the reason why we were constantly followed?
In the evening, Ali slipped at a gas station on spilled diesel. A short time later, he had a flat rear tire. While he changed his tire, the crowd of curious children around us was growing fast. There were about hundred people for sure. It was already dark when we finally went on, to search for a place to sleep.
On our way, the annoying police kept following us constantly. The driver gesticulated wildly. He tried to direct us to the next bigger city. Ali and I immediately switched off our lights and turned into the next lane. Since Willi followed us with his complete Christmas lighting, our pursuers could easily follow us.
The police told us in the dark that we have to ride 100km more to the next city. But we refused and set up our tents. In the middle of the night we were wakened by the honking of two police cars and told once more to ride on. Here, they said, it would be too dangerous. We refused again and managed, after a long discussion with the officials who could not speak English at all, that we could finally sleep on.
What kind of people earn their money by making life difficult for other people? Intelligent people do not work at the police. But it does not need intelligence to stupidly act as described.
At 6 clock we were wakened by sirens on time and off we went at temperatures around freezing point.
Around noon, I noticed a strong metallic noise coming from my rear wheel. One of my two 6203 bearings had stopped working. While our stupid companion shouted "you cannot stop here," I took out the back wheel. Ali disappeared with it in a taxi and came back after only two hours with new wheel bearings. For this, again, a big THANK YOU!
Slowly it went dark and again we were told "you cannot stay here" even though I, while Ali was away, had already organized a comfortable accommodation in a building nearby for us. They promised us we could camp for free at the closest police station. When we arrived, there was no one knowing anything about free camping. We were passed around from one patrol to the other and finally offloaded in front of an expensive hotel. At least, we could eat in town and go to an internet cafe to skype and to copy photos. Because most computers there were infected with a virus, I was glad to be able to have written a protection program for my SD card and had a Linux boot CD.
In the morning, Ali started to replace his clutch cable. Our security staff, which was waiting outside the hotel for us, protested loudly, but he continued his repairing before we went on with sirens and flashing lights. When we reached Luxor, suddenly no police followed us anymore. We enjoyed the new feeling of freedom and went on to the next campsite (GPS N25°42'41.1" E032°38'55.1").
The next day I went on a sightseeing tour, took many photos at a market place nearby and bought two double sealed wheel bearings for the rear wheel and two 6202 for the front wheel as a reserve. Meanwhile, Willi and Ali pulled off their half-worn street tires and mounted special offroad tires. Willi had surprisingly not only brought a whole tin special tire mounting paste but also a large brush with all his luggage. A little shower gel and using your fingers would have done as well ;-)
I sold the used street tires and organized two old tins to transport more fuel for an even greater range. After three relaxing days in Luxor, Ali and I went on to Aswan, where we wild camped in the vicinity of the now-closed camp "Adams Rest" (GPS N24°10'15.2" E032°52'03.4"). Willi who did not agree with Ali's dominance, still wanted to take pictures from Luxor, after he had spend the whole last days at the camping place. He followed later and spent the night in a fancy hotel.
Before we could leave Egypt, we had to go to the Traffic Court (GPS N24°03'41.6" E032°53'09.2") to let confirm we had no accidents in the country. Then we left our Arab number plates (GPS N24°05'02.6" E032°54'30.1") and drove on with our German number plates. I can't understand the Egyptian bureaucracy. In the ticket office we payed 286 Egyptian pounds per person and 372 for each motorcycle for the ferry tickets (GPS N24°05'56.4" E032°53'58.8"). The ferry left Aswan the next day with 6 hours delay. In Europe people have a watch, in Africa they have time. Our bikes were followed on a separate boat.
On board, our passports were collected. We exchanged money and camped with our mattresses on board underneath the shadow of a lifeboat. Our food voucher we use one the following day, after our supplies were running low. After arriving in Wadi Halfar, Magda Mahier picked us as up at the port (like agreed by telephone (+2499-18335149, +249-122380740 firstname.lastname@example.org www.tour-sudan.com bzw. 01217308855 oder 0122262060 email@example.com) and took us to his house (GPS N21°47'46.9" E031°22'50.7"). We got nice food and were allowed to camp in his yard, while we had to wait 18 hours until the ferry with the vehicles arrived.
In the meantime, Magda (at a cost of 15, - Euro for him) completed for a total of 197 Sudanese pounds, (74.- Euro each) all the paperwork and the registration at the police There is no insurance required for vehicles in Sudan. When the second ferry had finally arrived, we had great difficulty getting our bikes along a narrow plank off the ship. The captain had extra parked very bad so that it was impossible to get off the cars. This way he probably wanted to get more money to repark the ferry.
The entry procedure within the heat of the day took ages but was rather unspectacular. Finally, Ali and I could leave. Willi took the next plane back home to Germany, when he saw there was no tarmac road through sudan.
The perfect asphalt surface of the newly built road stopped after a few meters. Then we had to follow one of the many alternate tracks that ran partially in soft sand, but itsuddenly stopped or disapered. It was very hard to ride with all our water and spare petrol in sot sand. By now, the new tar road is finished. At night we camped in the desert under one million stars. Ali prepared delicious noodle soup with corned beef and pita bread.
After a relaxed but quite windy night, we decided to stay on the soft sand slopes until Dongola. It was much harder to go on and off the parts of the not finished road.
On one particularly hard corrugated section, my lower steering head bearing broke, because of the strong vibrations and all the dust. Now I could only steer abruptly with large effort. in the evening at the end of our strength, we received permission to stay in a mosque. By now, we got used to the maddening howling of megaphones in the morning (GPS N19°03'30.3" E030°27'36.8").
To get a new steering bearing in the capital city Khartoum, the next day we drove 520 km on perfect straight asphalt road through the red desert, passing by many camel herds and huge trucks with up to 44 wheels. It was hot and so bright that the white balance of my video camera did not work. I was glad to have brought my sunglasses. In Khartoum, we camped on the parade ground (GPS N15°31'25.8" E032°34'11.1").
In a large shoping mal, where Ali took me on the back of his bike, we had delicious pizza and could visit the internet again. Ali, who wanted to use the free W-Lan with his netbook, sat on the floor, until he was chased away by the unfriendly security personal.
After some searching in the workshop mile (GPS N15°33'41.3" E032°31'56.4"), we found a bearing with 25 mm internal centimeter, that fited into the bearing shell of my broken bike. We could get it changed to the required 26 mm (GPS N15°34'14.6" E032°31'33.3"). While I was taking photograph's of someone who removed the broken bearing with a flex of the steering head, my camera was suddenly taken by a police in civilian clothes. Since photography is generally not allowed in Sudan, I had to follow to the police station and was arrested.
After a long discussion I was able to finaly make the officials understand that there is no film in my digital camera and I did not want to destroy the memory card, but was willing to format it. Then I was finally allowed to leave the police station. Unfortunately, I did not manage to restore the deleted photos in the next internetcafe. Luckily, I had made a backup of my photos just the day before.
In the Ethiopian Embassy (GPS N15°34'54.6" E032°32'03.9") the following morning we got our visas within 4 hours, each for US$ 20, 2 passport photos and a copy of the carnet. Then we left Khartoum. In Gedaref, we wanted to eat lunch and caused a huge crowd, while searching for bread and fruits. You could feel we were coming closer to the Ethiopian border.
The exit from the Sudan country the next morning was totally uncomplicated. We almost missed the border. First, in an unassuming house on the roadside (GPS N12°56'33.3" E036°08'53.9") we got our passports stamped, then in another house (GPS N12°57'30.0" E036°09'01.8") they stamped our carnets. We did not took an insurance again. An insurance in Ethiopia was specifically required, but never checked.
In Galabat we found colorful life. People were very friendly and laughed a lot. Women were dressed sexy without a black caftan. Children were playing on the road together with chickens. There were only very few private cars but a lots of busses and trucks to transport people. I was happy that I did not have to hide my camera anymore.
While I was walking around between the many round huts, I met two Australians who travelled through Africa with a backpack using public transport. Both were fortunately unhurt when we saw their bus crashed a few hours later, stuck on the roadside in a hut. The track up to the highlands to Gondar was quite bumpy, with Fech Fech extremely dusty and a little rain suddenly made it very slippery. Everywhere people were walking by foot. To protect against the sun, many women used an umbrella. Most of the men were dressed in beautiful red or blue cloth and carried a long stick across the shoulders.
On a steep section my bike did not have power anymore. I could hardly go faster than 40 km / h or the engine cut off. Luckily, after riding through a lot of Fech Fech only the air filter was blocked.
Wherever we went, immediately children came running towards us screaming “Mosungu”, which is Kiswahili and means white man. They also screamd "ju ju ju" or "money money money". Here, helping organisations and numerous tourists before had teached them that one makes money not by work but by begging. In Ethiopia there are more young people then older because of the high risc of HIV.
Again and again, cattle, donkeys and goats crossed the road without worrying about traffic. We had to be really careful and used our breakes a lot.
On the gravel path to the Simian Mauntains, we used our petrol from Sudan. The gas stations which we pasted had either only diesel or did not function because of power failure.
Back in Gondar, I stopped to buy fruits at the marketplace. Like always I created a huge crowd of people. The mood tipped, as the group started to ask for 'money money money". I decided to disappear, protected the kill switch of my machine with my thumb from black hands who were everywhere at my stuff and tried to pull me off the bike. No one stepped beside as I started the engine.
The guy who was playing with my light, got the handlebar in his chest, the girl, whose hands searched my pockets for money, was brought down by one of the side cases. A little more gas and I was out of the reach of the flying stones. Save...
Because we found no undisturbed sleeping place, we camped in the courtyard of a hotel (GPS N12°36'37.9" E037°28'19.5"). On the way to Lake Tana and Blue Nile, we found a gas station every 200 km which was able to Sell some gas to us .
When we stopped for lunch at a nearby tank wreck in the shade of a tree, many children came running towards us again. They wore blue uniforms and some of them even brought their school books. Ali gave some lessons and later on he presented some pencils to the children who started to fight for them.
The route through the Blue Nile canyon, and across the Japanese-built bridge, way up to 3098m altitude and past numerous truck wrecks, was very spectacular. Even here, far away from the nearest village, many people and animals were walking on the road.
In Adis Abeba at 2500m altitude in the Simien Mountains, we changed our engine oil and bought the comesa yellow card, an affordable insurance that is valid in Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi as well. (Fast Internet, was available at GPS N09°00'20.4" E038°46'02.8°".) We went to Langano Lake (Camping GPS N07°32'54.5" E038°41'03.0") and to the Ziway lake. Here we admired many great Marabu birds, which life on the wastes of the fishermen. Of course, we were begged massively, until Ali wanted to leave.
After Moyale (Camping GPS N03°32'52.6" E039°02'55.9"), our path leded us through tropical vegetation in the land of the Masai. We saw a lot of traditionally dressed women on the roadside and bought our first pineapple. Starting from Kenya we had to ride on the left side of the road. For the 30-day visa at the border we had to pay $ 50 U.S. each. The price has now been reduced to alleged U.S. $ 25. The 250 km track to Marsabit was hell and took a whole day.
Never before I have seen a similar bad road like this. During rainy season it is impossible to cross The Chinese people are bussy building a new road. 2016 it should be finished. Then it is possible to cross Africa on tarmac only. Several times brand-new Toyota Landcruisers with big Unicef logos and fat, greasy drivers, who seem to life well from the money donated for starving children, dangerously raced past me.
Again and again, my loaded bike almost sank in the sand or has been shaken hard by big rocks. Then my front wheel slipped and the whole load tipped over. Then all my luggage and especially the jerrycans has to be offloaded to be able to pick up the the heavy motorcycle from the ground. My travel companion was nowhere to be seen.
If I would have known that Marsabit not only has slow Internet but also a gas station, I would have carried less fuel. It was a miracle that when we reached the campsite of a friendly Swiss man in Marsabit, only the exhaust pipe had to be welded (GPS N02°20'44.4" E037°57'56.6"). The people here in Kenya were friendly and did not beg at us as much as the Ethiopians. Still this part of the road is dangerous. On the following very hard 260 km to Isiolo the rear part of Ali's Suzuki DRZ 400 frame broke. (camping in Isiolo: GPS N00°17'30.9" E037°33'26.1").
While we fixed the the frame in the great heat of the desert, a Masai man asked Ali for drinking water. Instead of saying thanks for the water that Ali gave him from his rare resources, the man started to ask for money. He was really unfriendly when he got none, and we were glad that we were in the majority. To my delight, from now on Ali drove more slowly.
I transported a part of Ali's luggage, as we crossed the equator. In Nairobi, Ali welded his frame and the workshop at the Camp Jungle Junction. We stayed a few days to relax and use the provided free wireless internet in the lounge. Outside it was raining and raining.
Kenya made a much more civilized impression than Ethiopia. There were large shopping centers and many private cars. People were less interested in us. They were friendly but not bothersome.
On the way to Tsavo National Park a car suddenly turned right without blinking or looking around as I passed, to follow Ali, who was riding much too fast with his repaired frame in the heavy traffic. Luckily, on both vehicles was only a little damage, so we saw no reason to wait for the corrupt, racist cops who had arrested other tourist for things like that.
At the Red Elephant Camp (GPS S03°22'16.4 E038°35'39.5") we had the good fortune to see the rare, red elephants walking by. The elephants are red because they life in the red dust of the savanna. On the way through the Tsavo National Park, we had already seen wild zebra directly at the roadside.
After a refreshing dip in the pool, we observed a variety of antelope and birds at the waterhole. Unfortunately we saw no more elephants. Due to the heavy rains of recent days, there was even enough water in the Savanna so they did not have to come to the drinkingwater spots.
The next morning, we illegally followed a small trail into the park. There we had the fortune to see monkeys, impala and buffalos.
On a small dirty road on which we drove around Mombasa, Ali waited until I had caught up and told me that he was not willing to wait for me anymore. He wanted to go ahead to the Twiga Lodge Campsite at the Tivi Beach (GPS S04°14'24.1" E039°36'03.8").
I was pleased with his decision, because now I could visit many small villages along the way, talk to the people under palm trees, take some photos and eat delicious fried fish with vegetables and chapati in a small local restaurant. This way of travelling was much more fun for me then just rushing through.
"In 200 meters please turn left." I did as my Garmin Nuvi 250 in combination with the map of Africa tracks4africa.com had told me. On the small dirty road, where in the past many tourists were attacked. I drove four kilometers between palm trees to the Indian Ocean. The sea itself I could not see until the last corner.
A wonderfull view like opening a travel magazine overwhelmed me. Blue sea, white beach with coconut palms, and in front some cars of other travellers. Never before I had seen such a beautiful beach. Unfortunately Ali did not like this place. He wanted to leave the other day. My willingness to rush through Africa with his speed was over. I had just made friendship with other passengers and wanted to stay at least one week after all the trouble we had. Ali then flew back to Germany. To travel alone through Africa would be suicide he said.
I organized a big barbecue and invited all the other campers. Everyone brought a delicious salad or fresh fish. During the meal we talked about all our different experiences and about our previous trips. It was really exciting to hear what all the other people had seen so far. Among a lot of other people here I meet a nice french family and another nice family with children from Switzerland, who had sold their house to travel with their children in a colorful Iveco base motor home through Africa, India and South America while searching for a new home.
On the ferry to Sudan, they had made friend with a small family from France, who traveled with a Fiat Ducato camper. Wim and Chantal from Belgium and Holland travelled with a Land Rover Defender called Dagobert. The German couple of www.kroksafaris.de already lived for several years in Africa, while Stefanie and Stefan have come to Kenya only to work.
When they ordered their fish and chips for lunch the next morning, Stefanie and Stefan made the mistake to give some money to the local beach boys without keeping a deposit from them. So of course they did not get their lunch this day.
A little later I met Birgitt and Sigi from www.wuestenschiff.de with their Mercedes G and a cool couple of www.ourwildjourney.com in their Nissan Patrol.
Shortly before Easter we all went on. I drove 80 km along the coast to the border of Tanzania. Then I followed a nice route to the campsite Peponi Gravel (GPS S05°17'14.4" E039°03'56.7"). Here I could use the pool during the low tide and filled my empty battery with distilled water, before I went on to Dar es Salaam.
Since I knew the capital already from my journey with a 12 tonnes fire fighter truck, it was easy to find the way to the ferry, which took me to South Beach. Unfortunately, there was little change at the traffic management. Just before the ferry, a policeman stopped me with a wide grin and informed me, that he would charge me and I had to follow him to the police station. I have been driving the wrong way trough a one-way street (like many other vehicles as well).
I asked him to show me the sign that I have overlooked. As he pointed to a total bent piece of metal almost laying in the bush, I laughed and parked my bike in the queue in front of the ferry. The honking of the people waiting behind me, finally went on the nerves of the unfriendly policeman. I was allowed to continue without having to pay. Lucky. With my 14 days transit visa for $ 30, I was not allowed to ride to Dar es Salaam because it was not on my route. A 30-day tourist visa for Tanzania would have cost $ 50 U.S. at the border.
At the campsite Sunrisebeach (GPS S06°50'59.0" E039°21'30.6"), I spent the Easter holidays together with much too loud music in the middle of a large crowd of Indians. Here I also met Avishai from Israel, who hitchhiked alone through Africa. We went to the nearby village to eat delicious local food, which you actually eat with your fingers, in a small restaurant. For breakfast, they served sweet tea, pancakes and baked beans with sugar. At noon, we got ugali: corn flour with pieces of meat, In the evening, we ordered Chipsimaiei: potato pancakes with bits of egg. To find tasty food was really never a problem on this trip.
Avishai told me that he had met a motorcyclist at the border from Kenya to Ethiopia who had not applied for his visa in advance. The poor guy was nearly crying. He had to go the whole track to Isiolo back again, because you can not get the visum for Ethiopia at the border. He could only get the visum in Nairobi. By chance, I met Avishai again on the roadside in Mbeya and again in Mzuzu in Malawi. We agreed to meet again in Nkhata Bay in Camp Butterfly (GPS S11°36'43.6" E034°18'17.0" www.butterfly-space.com) next to Mayoka Village (www.mayokavillage.com). But in sequence.
From Dar es Salaam, I took the main road, which passes through the Mikumi National Park near Morogoro. Because I was hoping to see some animals in the park, I followed a roadsign to a lodge. Since the barrier was open and no one around was seen, I followed the slope deeper into the game park and went on safari.
After a few kilometers I saw the first Giraffes on this trip. Shortly afterwards, I met an elephant. I stopped at a safe distance and shut off the engine. The elephant slowly came closer. Finally he left the runway and disappeared in the undergrowth. As I approached the place cautiously on foot, I saw more elephants. As one of them began to trumpet loudly, I decided to give up taking photos and better leave them alone.
I spent many hours in the park, followed different paths, which were listed in my GPS and enjoyed the beautiful area with lots of Impala herds, zebras and giraffes. When it got dark, I went back to the lodge. As I arrived, a black man with a light machine gun came running and pointed it towards me. I did not understand what he said, stopped but stayed on the bike, because this way the front of the machine covered a large part of my body and I did not trust the guy to be able to shoot very good.
More and more figures came running, closed the gate and blocked my path. One of them spoke broken English and wanted 100 US$ as I have stayed illegal in the park. I laughed at him and lied that I did not have so much money. He then asked how much I have. I told him a much lower amount and asked how I should know that the road is not free, if there is no sign at all. While we were negotiating, it was getting dark. Slowly I pushed my bike forward, I approached the barrier and opened the chain.
With a loud noise the gate opened. I immediately pushed my bike on a meter further, so the barrier could not be closed again. The evil guy pointed the gun towards me and told me to go back. I refused. If the guy wanted to shoot me, he would have done it long ago. When it was so dark that he hardly could see me finally he drop the weapon and disappeared.
I drove the 10 kilometers almost in total darkness back to the main road and left the park on the way I had come. Since it was too dark around the wooded area to search for a hidden place to camp, I asked the oldest man in a small village, if I could set up my tent next to his mud hut. To thank him for his permission, he got paid by me with a baseballcap. The next day very early in the morning I followed the main road through the Mikumi National Park.
Many monkeys were playing carelessly on the street. Again I saw many giraffes, zebras, impala, water buffalo and even elephants beside the road. To see animals, a ride in the park is not necessary. Behind Iringa I pitched my tent at dusk hidden in a dense forest. Two cyclists from the United States had told me about the forest 50 km before. The exit and entry from Tanzania to Malawi the next day was free and lasted less than 5 minutes. I ignored the numerous illegal money changer.
When I met Avishai at Camp Butterfly at Lake Malawi again, he told me how he wanted to change money at the border, because he was offered a good rate. After he had received his money it turned out it was not the agreed amount. Suddenly the rate was much worse. Avishai gave his money back and the guy ran away instead of returning Avishais US$.
Hint: If you need money at the border for example to take out insurance, you should use the office money change office on the Malawian side. The first ATM you will find in Karonga.
In the steep and therefore not suitable for cars Camp Butterfly, we spent some wonderful days at the lake. In the nearby village, we got delicious food. I snorkeled while Avishai practiced driving in the canoe. The canoe I had already tried a few days before, when I camped near Karonga in a small fishing village on the lake under the prying eyes of many children. The fishermen treated me very kindly and respectfully.
Claudio and Ruth were the first motorbike riders I met on my journey. He on his Africa Twin and she on here Transalp were heading north. We exchanged experiences and GPS way points before I drove on towards Chitimba Strip. As it had rained heavily at night, some rivers were overflooded. In such a place, children were waiting and showed me the way I should go. However, I was already long enough on the road not to trust them. The water at the place they showed me was much quieter than anywhere else .
With a one-foot plant, I tested the depth, but could not reach the ground. If I would have followed the laughing children, the engine would have drawn water and my trip would have been over. Now I looked for a flat place and finally reached the other side. When I stopped at a beautiful location to oil my chain, the son of a large local family invited me to camp on their ground (GPS S12°08'18.5" E034°02'08.7"). I was well fed with Nsima, grilled corn and freshly baked bread. When I left towards Cool Runnings at Senga Bay they were happy because I had given them a new mosquito net. In the Camp Cool Runnings, there was a well-filled book swap, a shelf of books, of which you're allowed to take one if you bring one in exchange. In this way, one always has something new to read even without much luggage (GPS S13°43'50.6 E034°37'08.3").
Here I met two midwives from the United States, who have been working in a hospital in Mzuzu for several months. They told me about the bad conditions in the clinic. Women even came all the way from zambia to this "good" clinic. Frightening is the fact that one of three woman in childbirth were HIV infected.
Towards Monkey Bay, I traveled on a new asphalt road from GPS S14°25'44.1" E034°35'52.4", although the sign posts point to a very bad dirty track. From Monkey Bay, a 20 km gravel track was leading to Cape Maclear. I pitched my tent on the Camp Fat Monkey, after I had met Robert, the new owner (GPS S14°01'25 firstname.lastname@example.org" E034°50'29.5"). Here I left my black box with the reserve fuel canisters, because I no longer needed them.
I swam 1.9 km (GPS) to the offshore Lissard Iceland and back, Then I was pretty hungry. I cooked pasta with tuna sauce when Petra arrived. Petra is leading a project in Luchenza and traveled 300 km squeezed in between 22 people in a minibus. Spontaneously, I invited her for dinner. Together, it just tastes better.
On a walk to the nearby village the next day, I was attacked by two dogs. The two mongrels suddenly ran loud barking from a mud hut towards me. Since I was only wearing flip flops, I could hardly defend myself. While one pulled on my trousers, the other bit me until the owner, who was sitting outside his house, finally whistled. Fortunately, the wound was not deep and healed well after being disinfected.
In the evening a family from Germany arrived with its high mounted, all-terrain Iveco Campingbus. After a great breakfast the next morning, with pan baked, fresh bread and even fresh strawberries, they showed us pictures of their journey along the west coast with many water crossings.
Later on, we had a common boat tour to Otter Point and a barbecue while we planed our further trip. I decided to give Petra a lift back to Luchenza and to stay there for several days. Continue to next page.