Africa Overland by Motorbike from South Africa to Egypt

28/06/2020 Off Por juliana Costa
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Published: June 28th 2020

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Nanyuki The EquatorNanyuki The Equator

OUR 2019 AFRICA TRIP

Riders:

Tommie Mentz: [email protected] +27760901362

Achmet Ackerdien

The Bikes:

Kawasaki KLR 650 2007 Model

BMW GS 800

Mytb.org/adventurebiker

Why :

I can’t tell you how many times we have heard that question….

For me it was always a lifetime ambition..I was always reading all books available about this Africa overland trip as well as following all the riders that have done it before on social media. I think every adventure biker wants to do it at least once in their lifetime. I have planned it twice before, but every time something came up. So this time I was adamant to do it. Achmet my travelling partner, I met about two years ago, but it was on our Botswana trip in 2018 that we started to plan this Africa Trip for 2020.Achmet has previously backpacked through Europe in his youth days and wanted to explore Africa more. I have travelled extensively through the southern part of Africa and absolutely love Africa and its friendly and helpful people. We originally wanted to travel through Africa to Europe…leave the bikes in storage and then do Europe at a

My sister Marilse's  design for our tripMy sister Marilse's  design for our tripMy sister Marilse’s design for our trip

later stage.

This also changed when we realised how expensive it is to travel in Europe at the moment. Our original plan was to get to Cairo, service the bikes and then if time allowed, ride the bikes back to South Africa and then the return trip include countries like Uganda and Rwanda.

We were both lucky to have partners at home supporting us all the way and looking after all our interests at home and work.

A year earlier than planned in 2019 the opportunity arose to get away from work for both of us and the planning started in earnest…Big decision was which bikes to use…I have a Super Tenere and a KLR and Achmet had a GS 1200, that he bought a few months before.

When we realized that we must pay 200% of the Bikes value in cash to the AA for the Carnet de Passage that is required for Egypt and Sudan, my mind was easily made up. Definitely the smaller and older bike with a lower value. Achmet also decided to purchase a second hand BMW 800GS with a much lower value.

Then the preperation started. We applied for

KLR loaded and readyKLR loaded and readyKLR loaded and ready

the various visas- South Africans need visas for Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. Check lists were drawn up. We carried a comprehensive medical kit that includes a malaria testing kit and malaria treatment kit. Also went for all the necessary injections, from the British Travel Clinic, most importantly the yellow fever injection that they will required on some border crossings as well as our international driving licences from the AA. Motorbikes checked, re-checked and serviced. Outsurance insured my motorbike for most countries.

Medical aid was from Discovery Health. They have got different options for coverage in Africa.

We decided on the Heidenau Tyres because of the possibility that we would travel back and then would do in access of 20000 km. Although it’s a long lasting tyre, it can be slippery in wet conditions and a bit harder on the road. We consulted with various experienced Adventure Travellers like Uwe Schmidt, Michnus Olivier and others. Matthew and Herold from Bike Gear in Port Elizabeth provided us with the gear and necessary assessories . Tony Schwartz was our backup in South Africa. By backup we mean he is the guy to keep everyone updated on the progress of the journey,

Sent off by all our mates in GrahamstownSent off by all our mates in GrahamstownSent off by all our mates in Grahamstown

give advice on problems arising with the bikes.

Route planned. We decided to basically travel straight through to Kenya from where we would explore more and then do Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt in more detail. Starting through Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania. We reckoned that we can always do the countries closer to us at a later stage and because of time constraints, we decided to do the top three countries in detail. I have also done up to Tanzania on a previous trip already.

I left Kidd’s Beach outside East London on Friday the 2nd of August to King Williams Town, just around the corner from me for a farewell braai and then a few mates travelled with me to Grahamstown where we met up with Achmet and some of our friends from Port Elizabeth…After coffee the two of us departed for the Gariep Dam for our first stay over. We played for time because I was still waiting for my Egypt Visa that was delayed. From Gariep Dam to Christiana via Bloemfontein where we stayed on my friend Danie Verwey’s farm and then on towards Rustenberg. In Rustenberg we did a final check on our luggage and filled

Packed and ready to go-with Tony SchwartzPacked and ready to go-with Tony SchwartzPacked and ready to go-with Tony Schwartz

one bag with duplicated equipment and clothing. This excess luggage we decided to sent back. The Egypt visa came through and Peter a friend fetched it from Visa Unlimited and met up with us in Brits, where we handed our excess kit over to him and collect the Egypt Visa. After coffee we left straightaway for Gaborone, crossing the Border without any incidents, arriving at Makolodi Backpackers our accommodation for the night….Leaving early the next morning towards Francistown our next stayover, then on towards Kasane where we stayed for three nights, camping next to the Chobe River. A sunset river cruise on the Chobe River is an absolute must. From Kasane we pass through the Botswana Border and took the car ferry to Kazungula. The car ferry will soon be a part of history because a new bridge is being built possibly by the Chinese. The Chinese presence and influence can be seen all over Africa. They are involved in all the major infrastructure projects all over Africa.

Once through the Border we passed though Livingstone and eventually reaching Moores Landing Camping Terrain. We set up camp, made fire and had a braai. Next morning it was onto Lusaka.

Our first stopover- an ice cold Gariep Dam CampsiteOur first stopover- an ice cold Gariep Dam CampsiteOur first stopover- an ice cold Gariep Dam Campsite

After spending a few days in Lusaka, camping at the Wanderers Campsite, and meeting up with a number of expats and locals, that I met on my previous trip, we headed north.

Outside Lusaka on the way to Serenje we encountered a massive dust storm. That combined with heavy traffic, mostly buses and trucks makes for scary driving. We eventually reached Serenje where we stayed over at Mbanandi Lodge. Next day we rode north towards Tanzania, turning off on a gravel road to Kapishya Hot Springs belonging to Mark Harvey. What a great place to stay. We swam and bathed in the hot springs and enjoyed Mark’s hospitality.

After spoiling ourselves at Kapishya we left the next morning towards the Tanzanian Border taking the Great North Road to Kalungu, but the road was extremely bad. Numerous road works, trucks, buses with kamikaze drivers, massive potholes, gravel detours, and dust clouds turned the riding into quite a challenge.

We eventually arrived at King’s Highway Rest Camp at Kulungu, where we overnighted.

We left early the next morning to reach the Zambia/Tanzania border early. The border crossing went smoothly against all expectations. We exchange some money on

Close to Hertzogville in the Free StateClose to Hertzogville in the Free StateClose to Hertzogville in the Free State

the border 2100 Tanzanian Shillings for 1 US Dollar. The road into Tanzania is in good condition but once again hectic with all the trucks and buses and also road detours and the ever present potholes.

Here we also get our first speeding fines. Fines have to be paid on the spot. Negotiating with the officers, we paid a much reduced fine.

We reached Iringa, our first overnight spot, well into the evening, where we booked into the Nam Guest House. I stayed here on a previous trip. The place has deteriated since my last stay and especially the bathroom is a mess. The TV is enclosed in a steel cage. Obviously a few rough people passing through here! I just close the bathroom door, got into bed and slept.

Next day we moved onto Dodoma the previous capital of Tanzania and from there onto Arusha where we planned to stay a few days and visit some game reserves. Roads to Arusha are excellent and scenery is beautiful, from savanna fields and dry landscapes to mountainous areas. Reaching Arusha we decide to camp at Masai Camp for a few days.

Next day we travel by taxi

Meeting up with Pete in Brits collecting my Egypt Visa and getting rid of excess luggageMeeting up with Pete in Brits collecting my Egypt Visa and getting rid of excess luggageMeeting up with Pete in Brits collecting my Egypt Visa and getting rid of excess luggage

into town, our regular mode of transport to town, in most cases packed in like sardines. While walking around town we also enquire about tour prices for the game reserves. Incredibly high prices for the various trips mostly priced in US Dollars.Once again realising how weak our south african rand is. We decided on a day trip to the Ngoragora Crater.

The next morning we got picked up at the 05h00 at Masai camp. We joined some other tourists and we continued onwards to the Crater in a small mini bus. Reaching our destination they made us a nice breakfast and we got transferred to safari vehicles. We drove up the mountain and then entered the crater. It was an incredible experience. Worth every cent. You see all the main species in this crater. From elephants, lions, hippo’s and so many more. Our guide was really outstanding getting us to the best viewpoints and some fantastic photo opportunities. We got lunch in the crater and after a few more drives we headed back to Arusha arriving quite late into the evening. But what a day it was.

The next day we left our tents and most luggage at

Makalodi Backpackers in BotswanaMakalodi Backpackers in BotswanaMakalodi Backpackers in Botswana

Masai Camp and travelled to Marangu Gate via Moshi to see Killimanjaro. After reaching Killimanjaro we met some ladies who were just embarking on their climb.

The mountain was engulfed in mist. We couldn’t even see the foot of the mountain. That was quite a disappointment, going all the way there without seeing this famous mountain. Apparently at that stage the mountain had not been seen for weeks. We did however take some nice photos at base camp.

In Arusha is also the Clock Tower, supposedly to be situated midway between Cape Town and Cairo.

We had a great time in Arusha but it was time to move on.

We travelled from Arusha into Kenya to our first overnight stop in Nairobi, camping at Jungle Junction, the famous overlander stop. Jungle Junction is the ideal stop. You can service your bike here. Chris the owner has got a fully equipped workshop on the property. You can also store your bike here for your next adventure. The perfect base from where to explore the surrounding countries like Uganda and Rwanda. Chris being an overland biker himself knows the needs of the travellers, so this is a good

Tropic of CapricornTropic of CapricornTropic of Capricorn

place just to recoup and recover a bit.

We ventured into Nairobi quite often visiting some sites, great coffee shops, very similar to South Africa. We also met up with Grace Mrawi, a dynamic lady that does bike tours in and around Nairobi and even across border tours. She rides a KTM790. She also travels solo and does a lot of adventure trips on her own. In Nairobi we also visit the Giraffe Centre where you can feed the giraffes and the proceeds go to the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife in Kenya.

In Nairobi I also visited the Peace Memorial Site, where the embassy bombing took place in 1998. It basically flattened the whole complex next to the embassy and hundreds of people lost their lives.

From Nairobi we travel north looking forward to cross the equator at Nanyuki looking for Mount Kenya on the way but also covered in mist.

Kenya is a beautiful country, but you need more time and we will do it more in detail at a later stage. Now we are pushing to get to Ethiopia. We push north towards Marsabit, where we overnight and enjoy the most delicious fried

FrancistownFrancistownFrancistown

chicken and chips.

Next morning onwards towards the Kenya/Ethiopian Border.

We entered Ethiopia with some trepidation. Stories about stone throwing put a bit of a damper on travelling through this beautiful country. But I have also seen and learned that it’s better to look at the situation first hand before jumping to conclusions, and making assumptions. We entered Ethiopia at Moyale. The Border crossing went quite smooth. First time on the trip where our luggage gets checked properly but it all gets done in a professional way. Even the engine and chassis numbers get properly checked. On entering the border we only realised then that in Ethiopia everybody travels on the left hand side of the road. Moyale is quite a big border town. People are friendly but not really a place where I will walk around alone at night. Because it was getting late, we stayed over in Moyale at some dodgy accommodation that also included a tavern and eatery.

Next day we load the bikes and leave Moyale heading north. We encounter a lot of police and army check points on the road. A checkpoint consists of a piece of rope that stretches over the

Supporting the local hawkersSupporting the local hawkersSupporting the local hawkers

road, being pulled up and blocking the road. So after your passport is checked and they are happy, the rope gets lowered and you continue on your journey until you reach the next checkpoint and repeat the same procedure. Some checkpoints consist of a boom over the road , with a weight on the one side to make the lifting of the boom across the road easier. At quite a few checkpoints we just got waved through.

On an earlier Botswana trip we spoke to a couple that crossed Africa on their bicycles. They hated Ethiopia because of the constant attention and harassment by people on the road. People on the roads are very into your face, but I think they are mostly inquisitive and trying to be helpful, but don’t know how to express themselves to you and then there is also the language barrier. The herdsmen all carry sticks and whips and it’s mostly the youngsters that are the naughty ones, trying to hit you with the whip or throw stones- actually it’s more like gravel at you. But i must stress that the above only happens in isolated cases.

I never once felt threatened or

Beware of the wild lifeBeware of the wild lifeBeware of the wild life

unsafe , but I can’t imagine myself travelling through Ethiopia on a slow moving bicycle. It must be a daunting task.

Travelling in Ethiopia is difficult. The villages can be quite intimidating. Lots of people and children on the roads, shouting and whistling, creating a real buzz. In the mixture on the roads are different animals, but mostly donkeys transporting something and dogs. On the roads you encounter any mode of transport imaginable. You can’t take your eyes off the road for an instant. You need to concentrate all the time. Then combine all the above with some potholed roads, road works, road diversions and then rain on top of everything. So we found the first about 500km’s into Ethiopia difficult and quite depressing.

After going so well the last 40km’s to Dina turned into a nightmare again and quite a challenge with rain and road works. The Bikes took quite a beating. We arrived very wet and dirty in Dina for a well deserved rest and after a few coffees we feel refreshed again! Later on a few beers and I forgot about all my sorrows. Next day in Dina after loading the bikes, securing all our

Relaxing in KasaneRelaxing in KasaneRelaxing in Kasane

luggage, we were hardly on the road and then got stopped at a roadblock. Here they conducted a proper search of all our luggage. Frustrated, but one of those things, just take it on the chin, act friendly and move on. We were just on the go when Achmets chain came off in quite a crowded street. Surrounded by onlookers, being offered some tools from the locals and getting help from them, we put the chain back on and tighten it, which saved us time by not having to unpack our tools that’s right at the bottom of our luggage. So off we go again through villages and villages full of people. On the way we stop for coffee at this beautiful Awassa Lake in Awassa. Eventually we arrived in Addis Ababa, tired and emotionally drained. Found place in a crappy expensive hotel. Not worth the money.

Addis Ababa is a vibrant city where a lot of infrastructure development is going on. Literally hundreds of new buildings are being erected, mostly by using bamboo scaffolding.

In Addis Ababa we did some tourism things. Visiting some sites. We visited the National Museum where we saw the famous “Lucy” skeleton

Achmet in front of his pozzie in KasaneAchmet in front of his pozzie in KasaneAchmet in front of his pozzie in Kasane

and we visited the Saint Mary Church Minilik and Taitu’s Memorial located on a hill in Addis Ababa.

Parking for the bikes was always a priority and to secure them and our luggage left for the night. Most places where we stayed had armed guards outside and they also then looked after our bikes for the night. It’s basically impossible to offload the bikes at every overnight stop. So as you travel, you sort your valuables and most essential stuff out and keep that in one bag that you take off. Plastic packets became a luxury. The rest of the stuff stays behind in your panniers on the bike and you secure it as best as you can and you hope for the best. Not once on the trip did they steal or fiddle with our bikes or luggage as we travelled through some really difficult areas.

Sometimes I even had a full petrol container strapped on during some overnight stays, but not once did anything go missing. Imagine leaving your bike with some luggage overnight in central Joburg. There will be nothing left the next morning. Your bike and luggage will be gone. Ethiopia is beautiful and

Wash Day in KasaneWash Day in KasaneWash Day in Kasane

green. At the time of our journey through Ethiopia all the rivers were in flood. The Grand Renaissance Dam that is getting build on the Blue Nile is causing diplomatic tension between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia, because of the possibility that that will lead to a water shortage in their respective countries. Predictions are that it can lead to a major conflict in the region.

For all the challenges of Ethiopia, the coffee made up for it. Coffee was excellent and something to look forward to after long days in the saddle. I was getting used to the traditional Ethiopian coffee served black in a small cup and saucer. Coffee making in Ethiopia is an art form and the ceremony that goes with it.

We left Addis Ababa in quite a ‘dark’ mood. Not knowing what to expect and not looking forward to travelling through busy villages again. We were pleasantly surprised. From barren and dry country side now its turns into beautiful mountainous areas and better roads. The villages and towns are quieter. Travelling was now definitely easier. We went over a beautiful pass, a horrendous tar road full of potholes, long ruts in the road, but

Local Traders in KasaneLocal Traders in KasaneLocal Traders in Kasane

absolutely worth it. Amazingly there are baboons all along the road collecting food from all the cars and buses. They actually ran next to the buses, waiting for the passengers to throw food out of the windows to them. It’s unreal to see. I actually saw one small baboon getting trampled by a bus. Police and Army stops also less frequent and less intimidating.

We arrived in Debre Marcos, finding great accommodation. Clean and with Wi-Fi.

The local Ethiopian food is great and their Cold Gold Babesha Beer is absolutely my favourite.

Northwards we went until we arrived in Gonder where we planned to stay and visit some sites.Gonder is a lovely city in the northern part of Ethiopia and comprised of quite a few historical sites. We went to the Fasil Ghebbi Fortress and palace compound.We also visited the Debre Birhan Selassie Church as well as the Fasilides Bath site.From Gonder to Metema on the border we really experienced a week’s adventure in one day!

We decided to leave early so that we could make up good time and arrive early at the Ethiopia/ Sudan Border. We got up at about five in the morning,

Entering Zambia from BotswanaEntering Zambia from BotswanaEntering Zambia from Botswana

packed our luggage, strapped it on the bikes and at 6am were ready to leave. Rain Coats on and prepared for the rain.

The KLR was dead. Frustration is not the word. The previous day we had the bikes washed and something must have gone wrong. Now I had to unpack the bike again, loosen the side panels and the seat to get to the battery and electrics. The battery was completely dead. With some help from a local “mechanic” we found that one of the fuses was damaged and hopefully that was the reason for the dead battery. We could not find jumper leads and so I bought a blue electric wire for 100 Birr to try and jumpstart the bike assisted by a local’s pick-up truck, but with no luck. We push start the bike and it takes and while bike is idling repacked everything and off we go ,hoping that the battery will get charged on the next 200km’s ahead of us to the border.

Leia Também  Revisitando um 'Film Noir' censurado que abordou as décadas de PTSD antes de ser reconhecido

Eventually three hours later we are on our way. Now in peak traffic, muddy roads packed with people and animals again. Scenery is beautiful and on some mountain passes we

Kazungula FerryKazungula FerryKazungula Ferry

took some great photos. We get worried now about our fuel situation. It’s a bit further to the Border than what we expected.

Eventually we reached a petrol station but there is no petrol in the pumps. Luckily they are selling petrol from containers. We buy some petrol or benzene as it’s known, al 5 litre jug at a time and then pour it into the bikes with some type of funnel. I try to start the bike but no luck. The guys at the petrol station push start me again and off we go towards the Border of Sudan. Just before reaching Metema the border town, at one of the many police control points that consists of a rope across the road, some money exchangers approached us offering us Sudanese pounds for birr or dollars. One guy stood out from the rest. He was wearing short yellow soccer shorts and introduced himself as Dave.

I explain to him that I have already exchanged some money in Gonder and won’t be needing more.

He was quite pushy and by this stage of the trip we were quite weary of anybody offering his services or help because in

Kazungula Ferry 2Kazungula Ferry 2Kazungula Ferry 2

most cases money is expected in the end.

Reaching the border and still concerned about the starting problem I decided to rather get it checked out before entering Sudan. Out of the blue a Tuk-tuk appears and out climbs Dave in his yellow soccer shorts. I tell him about the starting problem and he says he knows a good bike mechanic next to the road that can assist. In the meantime I still kept the bike idling. I decide to follow Dave and not far from there we reached a mechanic repair shop set-up next to the road.

Once again side panels and seat is off and the mechanic starts checking the wiring and battery again. The battery is totally flat, so myself and Dave, now my fixer, decide to take a taxi 30 km’s back to charge the battery while Achmet waits for us at a “guesthouse” until we are sorted.

After the battery was charged we return with a taxi again and the battery was fitted back into the bike. In the meantime the idiot mechanic decides to take the bike for a test ride to see if it is charging now. Instead of just

New bridge being built at KazungulaNew bridge being built at KazungulaNew bridge being built at Kazungula

taking the bike up the road he, turns right into town probably to show off.

Now worried, we wait for his return but as time passes we expect the worse. News from town reaches us that there was some sort of accident in town involving a motorbike. Now stressed out, Dave and I took a Tuk-tuk to town. As we get closer to the central part we saw the bike standing in the middle of the road on its side stand surrounded by local people, police and army guys. It was a two way lane road and it was standing in the middle of the right hand side lane.

There was no sign of the mechanic. The motorbike seems fine and we don’t really understand the situation. With the crowd around the police decide that it is better if I take the bike and meet up with them at a later stage. They were worried about the crowd getting rowdy.

We fetched Achmet and while on our way to alternative accommodation that Dave has arranged for we got stopped by the Police and told to meet them at the Police Station. We followed them and they informed

Entering LivingstoneEntering LivingstoneEntering Livingstone

us that we will have to leave the bike at the Police Station because it’s now evidence in a hit and run case. Only then did we get the full story. The mechanic had hit a small child and then just left her and the bike in the middle of the road and run away.

Now while the Police are out looking for the guy, we can only get the bike back when they catch the mechanic and he has resolves the matter with the girl’s family. And now, on top of everything it’s Saturday, so we must come back the next day.

So the KLR gets left and off we go to our accommodation. During the night the rain comes pouring down and I am constantly thinking about my poor bike standing out in the open at the Police Station.

We were very worried and just hoping that the child was not too seriously hurt.

At least the bike was not badly damaged, but still not starting.

The Sunday morning, we arrive early at the Police Station, just to be told that we must return an hour later because they are occupied with the

Moorings CampsiteMoorings CampsiteMoorings Campsite

prisoners. Dave organises us some breakfast and coffee and afterwards we return to the Police Station again.

Dave organised another mechanic and we worked on the bike at the Police Station. He got the bike going and after leaving the bike idling it seems that it is charging the battery now. After switching it of it starts on its own. Some good news at least. In the meantime we consult the police commander on duty and explain to him our predicament and our urgency to leave and to get to Sudan and also state the fact that we weren’t involved in this matter at all. We state the fact that the mechanic used the bike without permission and then after the accident, ran away. There were also about thirty witnesses seeing the mechanic driving the bike and hitting the child. He told us that he could not make a decision on his own to release the bike and that we must return the next day, Monday.

So the whole day we just spend loafing around, frustrated and not knowing what to expect the next day.

The Monday we are off early to the Police Station arriving at

Moorings CampsiteMoorings CampsiteMoorings Campsite

08h00, just to be told to return again after 30 minutes because now they finally got the family of the child to come to the police station as well and meet up with us and the police and decide on the way forward. In desperation to get the bike back we decide that this is the best way forward, even if we have to contribute towards the medical costs of the child, just to get the bike back and carry on with the trip. Achmet is a good negotiator and tells them that we are actually also victims in this incident and that all of these delays are costing us a lot of money. The mechanic the actual culprit is still on the run. Luckily the girl was not badly hurt, only her wrist was bandaged up, or so we heard.

We explain to them that we will contribute 1000 birr to their medical expenses. But they are not happy with the amount but eventually after some more negotiations we settled on 2000 birr. The police officer really tried to resolve the matter for us and eventually after he got signed statements from the family, they said we can

Enjoying a cold beer after a long dayEnjoying a cold beer after a long dayEnjoying a cold beer after a long day

take the bike.

Now the bike is not starting again! Some police guys pushed us out through the mud and eventually I got it started again. Off to our accommodation to pay our bill and load the bikes we then leave for the Sudan Border. In all the madness of the last few days we never checked our Sudan visas and when reaching the officials we got informed that with all the delays our visas have expired and they can’t allow us in.

The nightmare hasn’t ended. The only place where we can renew the visas is in Addis Ababa, over 1000 km back.

So we hit the road back. No option than to go back to Addis Ababa. Miserable weather on the way back to Gonder.

Outside Gonder with dusk approaching fast we start to look at alternative options. Not looking forward to travel in the dark on dodgy roads which are already risky in the daytime never mind night time. At the Gonder Aiirport about 30 km’s outside Gonder we decide to take a chance and see if it will be possible to leave the bikes at the airport, fly on an internal flight

LusakaLusakaLusaka

back to Addis Ababa, renew our visa and then fly back to Gonder to continue our trip. That will save us quite a few days on the road and save us from travelling the same road back and forth. So as we enter the airport we had to go through security, miserable and wet still dressed in our rainsuits, taking off our dirty boots and other stuff. We eventually book tickets to Addis Ababa for the next morning at quite a cost but in no mood to really think about the other options. The lady at the booking office was really helpful and tried to phone and assist us with accommodation close to the airport but the only place available was something like 80 Dollars a night, which by now is completely over our budget.

We plan to sleep at the airport but are told that the whole airport closes down. So she phoned and found us a more an affordable option in Gonder. She even arranged a lift for us with their company vehicle into Gonder that dropped us off at our hotel. The security officer arranged parking for the bikes right inside the airport premises and asked

Camping at KapishyaCamping at KapishyaCamping at Kapishya

soldiers to look after the bikes for the night.

The next morning the hotels courtesy vehicle transported us to the airport to fly to Addis Ababa.

Same day as we arrived in Addis Ababa we rush to the Sudan Embassy only to encounter massive queues of people waiting to enter the embassy offices. We push and shove and eventually entered the offices and after some wait we eventually got noticed, only to be told to bring copies of our documents to the embassy the next morning.

We returned early to submit our forms and documents, paid another 68 Dollars each and expected to receive it back the same day. No chance, we can only fetch them the next Monday because the next day is the Ethiopian New Year and with all the accompanying holidays it will only be ready on Monday at 14h00. We tried to object but no discussion, so we left. Spending nearly a week in Addis Ababa with all the other expenses really hurt our budget and cost us a lot of valuable time.

Eventually the next Monday after finally receiving our passports we flew back to Gonder, finding our bikes still safely

Soaking in the warm pools at KapishyaSoaking in the warm pools at KapishyaSoaking in the warm pools at Kapishya

parked and well looked after. Once again the friendly staff at Ethiopian Airlines assisted us with transport to our hotel. Early the next morning we were back at the airport thanking and saying goodbye to all the friendly staff, packed the bikes and departed for the Sudan Border again, hopefully to cross into Sudan this time! We ride with extra caution to prevent anything from going wrong again. Outside Metema we met up with Dave again and he accompanied us to the border. Immigration went smoothly except for the custom guy that took two hours to return from lunch. But we are grateful it’s only two hours. While waiting for customs we had lunch with Dave for the last time in Metema.

On the Sudanese side after a long wait we continue. By now it was after five and we had a long way to go to Gedaref. We decided to push through and get to Gedaref travelling well into the night bending our own rules not to travel at night.

The first 60 km’s was a real bad potholed road. We arrived late in Gedaref after a nightmare ride at night dodging potholes and other traffic.

Aghmet's Bike taking a napAghmet's Bike taking a napAghmet’s Bike taking a nap

We were really looking forward to Sudan, because all the previous reports by overland bikers were positive and stressed the fact of the friendliness of the local people. We noticed it straightaway. There were also less people on the roads. The opposite of Ethiopia’s crowded roads. We encountered a lot of police, army and security police check points. But they were always polite and friendly and in most case just waved us through.

After the green in Ethiopia we expected a dry and barren Sudan, but were pleasantly surprised. From the Border to Khartoum it was green and lush. They must have had a lot of rain. There was water in pools all over in the fields and lands. Agriculture is definitely booming and farming is being done on a relatively big scale. It reminded us a bit of some farming areas in South Africa, even with some big silos, same as back home. The road after Gedaref became much better.

As we got closer to Khartoum it definitely became hotter and drier, as we headed north to the desert areas towards Egypt.

When entering Khartoum we looked for the Half Moon Hotel that was recommended to

Zambia ...close to KapishyaZambia ...close to KapishyaZambia …close to Kapishya

us. We were totally buggered from the heat, it’s like a furnace and you are constantly sweating. After some searching we finally find the Half Moon Hotel, only to discover that it’s fully booked! Don’t be fooled by the “Hotel”. It’s basically a room that hasn’t seen any maintenance since its inception. No towel, furniture from a previous era and if you are lucky a shower that works 50%, but it’s cheap and it suits our tight budget.

One more mystery is to be told that the place is fully booked, but you only see a few occupants around the place, most of the keys are at the reception. It happened at quite a few places. Maybe what we thought is that to save costs they only maintain a few rooms out of peak times.

Anyway, now the Half Moon Hotel is fully booked and after looking around for ages we find the Dubai Hotel which is situated in downtown Khartoum. There is sewerage water flowing in the streets surrounding the hotel. At least there are a lot of local food places around.

In Khartoum we visited two museums of which the Sudan National Museum is the

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most impressive. It is really well maintained and entry fee was 20 Sudanese Pounds. About R7 in our currency.

We also visited the Sudan Natural History Museum that houses an amazing collection of stuffed birds and animal species but is in need of some TLC. It must have taken many years to collect all these different species. Entry fee was for free. The taxi’s work out quite expensive, but worth the while because we can’t imagine still riding and sightseeing around the city in the traffic chaos and extreme heat, so we left the bikes at our accommodation and do the tourist thing.

Quite a few times, after reaching our destination we were told by some local taxi drivers to pay them what we think. Maybe it’s a mind game by them. Maybe well intended, but we couldn’t really figure it out. I think you usually pay them more than what is actually due.

Within three days after entering Sudan you must register yourself with the police. We register ourselves at the Khartoum Airport. It costs about 530 Sudanese Pounds but I can’t see the purpose of this exercise. Perhaps, just another way of making an easy

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buck. Then you must also get a photo permit but we never got to that. It’s still an issue. Some travel sites says it’s no more needed. Some says it is still required.

In Khartoum the Police and Military are quite paranoid. There is definitely a negative vibe. In the city you see army guys in their military pick-ups parked all over.

While travelling in a taxi next to the Nile River, I make the honest mistake of trying to take a photo of the river while in the back of the taxi. Achmet is sitting in front with the taxi driver. While trying to take the photo of the Nile in the back seat, a motorbike passed us with two riders. They probably though we took a photo of them because they went ballistic, riding in front of our taxi, weaving from left to right shouting at our taxi driver to pull over. Our taxi driver stops and these guys debark off their bike and approach us, still shouting and screaming at our poor taxi driver. One of the guys approached us on the passenger side with his weapon, a pistol drawn. He demanded our passports and

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we hand them over. They really carried on with our driver. He stood his ground against these two bullies who eventually handed our passports back to him, walked back to their bike and disappeared. The taxi driver explained to us that they were security policemen. A crazy experience. Imagine them disappearing with our passports .

The average person in Sudan is extremely friendly.

In Khartoum we went for our first boat cruise on the Nile to see where the two Niles met.

There is a definite fuel shortage in Sudan. Where there is petrol available you see long queues of people waiting to fill up. On the morning of our departure we got up early and were lucky to be first in line, using the opportunity to fill the bikes as well as our extra containers and fuel cells.

From Khartoum we headed north towards Karima situated next to the Nile. Basically the whole area is a Unesco World Heritage Site. The Gebel Barkal lording over the town. We arrived from Khartoum, hot and overheated. Luckily we were not dehydrated because we made a constant effort of drinking a lot of water along the way. The

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water is as hot as anything from the extreme heat along the way. We were exhausted, riding in extreme desert heat, sometimes up to 44 degrees. It’s like riding in a furnace with heat waves hitting you all the time. When arriving in Karima we start looking for accommodation. First place wants to charge us 30 US Dollars for a really crappy room. At least with an air conditioner but way too expensive for us. But this same place was selling ice cream in a cup. Totally unexpected! Strawberry, vanilla and a chocolate mix for 50 Birr per cup. Totally unexpected but worth every cent. It was absolutely at the right time for us. We needed to cool down.

Then off we go looking for cheaper accommodation. In this dusty town of Karima there are not too many options. Second option is also a dump and we decided to look for the well known Nubian House, now running out of options. On the way while asking for directions we encountered a tuk tuk driver named Achmet Moosa and coincidentally also the owner of the Achmet Moosa Homestead. We saw the accommodation recommendation somewhere, so now our fortunes are changing!

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His homestead is basically bordering the Gebel Markel Mountain. He escorted us to his place, At that stage we were now totally exhausted and overheating. He was really a caring old man. We settled down, taking cold showers and after drinking sufficient water we settled down onto beds outside under a shade structure, watering ourselves down all the time. He went to town to buy us more water and checked up on us regularly. By now stripped down to our undies, it felt really like the heat was coming out from our bodies. We really felt cooked or boiled.

We were excited to see the Pyramids of Takarka at Nuri. My first pyramids ever!

At about 5PM he fetched us and took us with his Tuk tuk to see the Pyramids and the famous Gebal Markel Mountain. What a unbelievable site and definitely worth seeing and worth all the effort. He dropped us off and we walked to the foot of the Gebal Markel where we looked at the old ruins of the old temple/city and afterwards we took a walk back to his homestead that is bordering the mountain. After a while he picked us up again

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Eating a massive chicken leg in DodomaEating a massive chicken leg in DodomaEating a massive chicken leg in Dodoma

in the tuk tuk and off we go to the evening market in town. It really looks like all the people in town are here, eating together and just enjoying each others company. We had some delicious chicken with sauce, flat bread, buns and the most unbelievable smoothie freshly made from guava or mango. The Sudanese is really a friendly nation.

Afterwards back home, we tried to sleep, soaked in sweat and still bloody hot with some hungry mozzies around.

In this extreme heat it’s a big no no to pour cold water over your head when you are hot and want to cool down. Twice after seeing me doing it we got told by the locals that it’s very dangerous. We are still trying to figure that out, because we are so used to doing it back home.

Next morning looking for petrol in Karima we encountered a long queue, but Achmet Moosa negotiated with the people and they let us bypass the queue to fill up. We left towards Dongola. On the way we encounter some Sudanese in an old Toyota that ran out of petrol. We assist them with some of our spare petrol,

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but would regret it the next day when we ran out of petrol.

On the outskirts of Dongola on the way to Wadi Halfa we passed one fuel station, but there was already a long queue and we decided to push on until the next one, except that there was no more fuel anywhere. Numerous times we asked people on the road, even police at the roadblocks for directions to fuel and everytime were told “next town”.

Eventually out of desperation we decided to buy petrol from a local guy that siphoned petrol from his vehicle an old Toyota, and he sold it to us at an astronomical price. Probably five times or more than the normal price. But it’s like take it or leave it and we needed to get to Wadi Halfa and we don’t want to get stuck in the desert with its extreme heat. How did we now miss the petrol that we gave away the previous day to the guy in need.

We reached Wadi Halfa, and the first petrol station had fuel, so we filled up. We made contact with Mazar the famous fixer on the Sudan/Egypt border. Without these guys

Beautiful SceneryBeautiful SceneryBeautiful Scenery

it’s basically impossible to cross these borders. Without them you can be delayed for up to three days at the Border. They are worth every cent, handling all your documentation and bureaucracy.

The next day we left for the border and Mazar met us and handled all the documentation for customs etc on the Sudan side. He was very efficient and after about three hours we entered the Egyptian side where we met up with Mohammed, who was also arranged by Mazar.

For 50 US Dollars he handled everything, sorting all documentation out and even obtaining the Egyptian number plates for us.

Finally we were on our way to the ferry crossing to Abu Simbel. We road onto the ferry and soon were on the way to Abu Simbel.

Reaching Egypt after a challenging Ethiopia and Sudan this felt like paradise to us.

Entering Abu Simbel after the ferry ride from the Sudan border it was really like entering a different world for us. More organised , neat and clean streets, coffee shops and just a feeling of being closer to home for us….Mohammed our fixer on the Egypt side of the Sudan/ Egypt crossing

Camping at Masai Camp in ArushaCamping at Masai Camp in ArushaCamping at Masai Camp in Arusha

took us out for supper and he really made an effort to make us feel welcome in Egypt.

We visit the world famous Abu Simbel Temple. I had my second hair cut of the trip…what a treat.

After your haircut, which includes a wash, you also get a shave, ear hair removed. A delicate art practised by the barber using a string of nylon/rope. In between all the pampering we get coffee. Treatment carries on…lotion in your hair, cologne on your face. Quite a treat for a dirty and tired biker..haha. Feeling refreshed after the Sudan desert heat and sand we are ready for the rest of our journey.

Going slowly again on the road to Aswan. Passing through villages and regular police road blocks. In Aswan we had a great time. We did some river cruises on the Nile on both a felucca, a small sailing boat and also on a motorised boat, visit historical sites, museums and even a ride on a horse cart through Aswan. Most significant sights are Elephantine Island, the Nubian Museum, the Aswan Museum and the Botanical Island on Kitchener Island. We also visited the unfinished Obelisk. Aswan, like all the

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other towns in Egypt, came alive at night with people visiting the markets, eating out and just socialising with one another until late into the evening. There are bargains galore in the markets but you must be thick skinned and be a firm negotiator and be able to say NO!

From Aswan we took a beautiful road to Luxor. I reckon Luxor is really the epicentre of historical sites in Egypt. Here you need a few days to visit all sights. Also here, we discover that as a South African Citizen, we qualify to pay local entrance fee at most sites. That was really a big issue and we saved a lot on entrance fees and it also enabled us to visit much more of the historical sites. We visited the Luxor Temple that is also a World Heritage site. The temple is beautiful especially at night with all the lights on. The Karnak Temple is incredible and a world heritage site as well.

We did a tour to the Thebes to see the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut and from there we went to the Valley of the Kings where as South Africans we also payed only the

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On top of the miniature KILLIMANJARO..It was so misty we could not see the mountain after travelling there all the way from Arusha..

local entry fee. That enabled us to visit more tombs than other tourists at a fraction of the cost. We actually returned for a second day to see more tomb sites. The most famous is the Tomb of Tutenkhamon. His famous golden mask is in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. We also stopped at the Colossi of Memnon.

From Luxor we left early for Cairo expecting about a four hour trip on this amazing highway. Just outside Luxor at a police roadblock we got pulled over and told to wait while the police contacted their superiors. We got offered tea and were really welcomed by the police.

Later we were told that we are going to be escorted all the way to Cairo for our own safety. A distance of about 680km. A Toyota Landcruiser with a high ranking officer, a driver and armed guards arrived. They introduced themselves, welcomed us to Egypt and we were told to follow them. So off we go behind them. Blue lights on and sirens going through the towns. After about 30km’s we got handed over to the next police escort. Goodbyes to the previous guys and welcome by the next became

With some ladies embarking on their Killimanjaro climbWith some ladies embarking on their Killimanjaro climbWith some ladies embarking on their Killimanjaro climb

our routine for the day. We encountered many different police vehicles, mostly Toyota bakkies, Sprinters, Armoured Cars, Toyota Landcruisers and Cars…each with its own driver , commander and most times accompanied by two armed guards. At one stage we had a Black Sprinter in front, our two bikes behind and another Police Car following behind. Where we used to battling through towns, now there was no stopping. Everybody just moved out of the way. We stopped twice to fill up with petrol. The petrol jockeys couldn’t believe their eyes when these two bikers arrive with a full armed police escort. So the service was always great! It was like a big relay race. It was all done in good spirits. On the handovers they bought us water offered us food or coffee. All this took a lot of time and also we were taken on the tourist route that circled through the towns and ran parallel to the Nile. We wanted to be on the Express Way that is much shorter and quicker but after enquiring we were told that all the contingency plans are already in place and can’t be altered at this late stage. So we endure and

The clocktower in Arusha-apparently the exact point between Cape Town and CairoThe clocktower in Arusha-apparently the exact point between Cape Town and CairoThe clocktower in Arusha-apparently the exact point between Cape Town and Cairo

made the best of it, seeing it as a new adventure. On one of the sections there is a detour through some mud and also some white stuff mixed in. It was extremely slippery and my front wheel just gave way and I fell into this white crap! So now myself and the bike was covered in this white stuff. We only arrived outside Cairo at midnight and were allowed to proceed on our own now. The traffic in Cairo was hectic. Just on the outskirts we lost each other. The city is massive, rumoured to house 25 million people. Now each of us was on our own, looking for our accommodation somewhere close to the Giza Pyramids. Achmets GPS was not working properly, the pins of our accommodation on Google Maps completely wrong, He was now completely lost and eventually summoned a Uber Driver to assist him to find our accommodation for the night, eventually arriving there at four in the morning. I was also completely lost. By that time my phones battery was flat, so I was unable to use my Google Maps app. I stopped at a garage on the outskirts of Cairo, met some guys and

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asked them to charge my phone. There was a complete communication gap. They can only speak Arabic and myself English. So sign language it was. They even made me some tea, gave me food. Chicken, pasta and some salad.

Eventually my phone was partly charged and off I went, thinking that I was basically in Cairo. I realise now that I am still 40km’s plus from the city centre. Traffic was chaotic and the directions made no sense at all. I arrived somewhere in the centre of Cairo. Battery flat again. I stopped at a coffee bar in my dirty state where I asked them to charge my phone again. I sat outside and while waiting had a cooldrink. Off I go again, realising that there are two different pins for our destination on Google Maps. I got to the first but it was completely wrong and there was no sign of the place. I got to the second pin, but it was in a back alley and the surroundings looked really shady to me. I turned and left again. I circled the area but once again it brings me back to the same place.

Now my phone

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battery is flat for the third time and I have run completely out of patience. I decided to wait it out until daylight. I went into a coffee shop to have a drink and charge my phone again! Early the morning I met up with a local guy and he phoned our host. I was right on the corner across from the place. Our host immediately sent his manager to fetch me. Where I actually had turned around during the night was the correct place. There is a big door outside but no signage. The rooms are on the 8th floor, so I eventually arrived there after 6H00 in the morning.

Our expected six hour trip turned into a 24 hour trip and a bit of a nightmare, but those are the days you remember. Cairo is an incredible mad city with the most amazing markets and sites. The traffic is an adventure on its own.

In Cairo we visited the Egyptian Museum where the famous King Tutenkhamon’s golden mask is exhibited. There is so much to see in the museum, that you need a day to go through this impressive museum. A new museum is being built

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and all the artifacts are being packed up and in the process of being transported to the new site.

The Citadel housing the Police Museum and the Mohamed Ali Mosque is incredible.

The Pyramids of Giza with the great Sphinx, 57 metres long and twenty metres high, in front of them, is definitely the best known and almost 5000 years old.

Then unknown to me there are more pyramids around, and we visited Sakkara to see the Step Pyramids that is the oldest pyramid in the world.

From Cairo we went to El-Alamein where we visited all the war memorials. The Italian War Memorial, The German War Cemetery and the El-Alamein Allied War Cemetery, and it’s really a pleasure to see how well maintained all the monuments and graveyards are. It’s unbelievable how many people were killed in the war. In the Allied War Cemetery are quite a few graves of South Africans that made the ultimate sacrifice.

From El-Alamein we went to Alexandria , expecting a smallish harbour town, but were pleasantly surprise with the size of the city.

In Alexandria, reaching our destination, we could really enjoy ourselves. The motorbike’s were being

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shipped back to South Africa. We plan to take the train back to Cairo and from there to fly back to South Africa after two and a half months on the road.

Alexandria is a beautiful city. We visited the markets, ate local food and walked around till late at night.

We met up with Ali Abdo and his manager Agmet for coffee. He is the Guiness Book of Records Holder of several motorbike records. What an incredible and humble guy he is. He is attempting a new record next year crossing Egypt, doing 25000 km’s in 100 days.

We took the train back to Cairo and after spending a few more nights in Cairo, we flew back on Egypt Air to South Africa.

Challenges and interesting observations of the trip:

I really take my hat off to the guys that have done this trip years ago when the roads were mostly gravel and I can only imagine the condition of those roads after heavy rains. In some areas you can still see the remnants of the old roads next to the new road. Especially the road between Marsabit and Moyale must have

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been tough! Punctures must have been a regular occurrence. Respect to them!

You can still do this trip on an old bike, as long as it is well maintained and prepared.

The trip cost us much more than we expected, with a lot of hidden costs along the way.

The deposit with the AA FOR YOUR Carnet De Passage is huge, but you get back from the AA when the bike arrives back in South Africa and the Carnet is completed in detail.

Try to reach your destination at 16h00 in the afternoon so that you can be settled in by night fall.

Avoid travelling at night.

You must have a positive attitude at all border posts and during the trip in general.

Arrive early at a border post and put a whole day aside for the crossing.

Get all your documentation together before entering the border post.

Try to get hold of some local money because some border fees can only be paid for in local currency.

Information from other overland bikers is extremely valuable

We had a lot of valuable information from Uwe Schmidt, Michnus Olivier and

Plenty of LionPlenty of LionPlenty of Lion

Harold from Bike Gear in Port Elizabeth. These guys are very experienced and extremely helpful.

You need a capable person back at home to refer problems to, and keep everybody informed back home. We had Anthony Schwartz.

Carnet de Passage makes your life much easier at Border Crossings

The Comesa is a must and saves you plenty of money at the Border Crossings.

Pack lightly. We got rid of luggage twice. One bag in Pretoria and then another in Nairobi. And we didn’t miss any of those items along the way.

If you can afford a satellite phone it can make life much easier.

A good phone and an updated GPS is a must.

Eat local food. You save a lot and the food is mostly delicious.

Negotiate with local taxis, don’t just accept their fees and ask for the price before you leave.

You can buy a local sim card on or close to most border posts.

Petrol is widely available now, except in Sudan and Zimbabwe at this moment.

Toyota bakkies are king in Africa. The oldest models imaginable are still getting used.

WI-FI…..We were constantly

With Chris the owner of Juncle Junction in NairobiWith Chris the owner of Juncle Junction in NairobiWith Chris the owner of Juncle Junction in Nairobi

looking for places to stay where at least we can get WI-FI…your only real contact with people back home, trying to keep them up to date with details of your trip, loading photos on social media, planning the way ahead on google maps, google search for accommodation ahead, things to see in that particular area etc. When asked if they have got Wi-Fi in most cases the answer will be ‘YES’ just to find out later that it is either not working, very slow or that it will be fixed the next day.

US-Dollars…. the.only currency that you can use in any part of Africa and in huge demand. I didn’t take enough with and had to purchase US dollars at a ridiculous rate in Ethiopia because i needed them for the Sudan/Egypt Border crossings. You can’t get it legally from any bank, so have to buy it on the black market.

Detailed version of each country

Ethiopia

Next morning onwards towards the Kenya/Ethiopian Border.

We entered Ethiopia with some trepidation. Stories about stone throwing put a bit of a damper on travelling through this beautiful country. But I have also seen and learned that

After a heavy day in the desert in SudanAfter a heavy day in the desert in SudanAfter a heavy day in the desert in Sudan

it’s better to look at the situation first hand before jumping to conclusions, and making assumptions. We entered Ethiopia at Moyale. The Border crossing went quite smooth. First time on the trip where our luggage gets checked properly but it all gets done in a professional way. Even the engine and chassis numbers get properly checked. On entering the border we only realised then that in Ethiopia everybody travels on the left hand side of the road. Moyale is quite a big border town. People are friendly but not really a place where I will walk around alone at night. Because it was getting late, we stayed over in Moyale. Me and Achmat got a room each on the second level of the building.with steps leading up to our rooms. The lower level also included a tavern and eatery. I enjoyed my first taste of a local beer at the tavern. The people were very welcoming especially an older lady and her daughter. I think their son was the guy that organised our accommodation. We took a walk to town where we enjoyed our first Ethiopian coffee served black in a small cup. We enjoyed it with some locals.

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They make it in the traditional Ethiopian way. We also bought some refreshments for later in the night and on the way backed I tried a mealie braaied by a hawker but found it hard and tasteless. We parked off on the steps while a function took place on the ground level.

We discover some free Wi-Fi from somewhere in the vicinity, but was quickly cut off…hahaaaa.

Next day we packed the bikes. The old lady not so friendly anymore, maybe worried that we going to drove off without paying, looking at me and showing me with her fingers that she wants the money.

We quickly arrange payment with the ‘Son’, took some photos with them.

After leaving Moyale we head north. We encounter a lot of police and army check points on the road. A checkpoint consists of a piece of rope that stretches over the road, being pulled up and blocking the road. So after your passport is checked and they are happy, the rope gets lowered and you continue on your journey until you reach the next checkpoint and repeat the same procedure. Some checkpoints

The famous Grace in NairobiThe famous Grace in NairobiThe famous Grace in Nairobi

consist of a boom over the road , with a weight on the one side to make the lifting of the boom across the road easier. At quite a few checkpoints we just got waved through.

On an earlier Botswana trip we spoke to a couple that crossed Africa on their bicycles. They hated Ethiopia because of the constant attention and harassment by people on the road. People on the roads are very into your face, but I think they are mostly inquisitive and trying to be helpful, but don’t know how to express themselves to you and then there is also the language barrier. The herdsmen all carry sticks and whips and it’s mostly the youngsters that are the naughty ones, trying to hit you with the whip or throw stones- actually it’s more like gravel at you. But I must stress that the above only happens in isolated cases.

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I never once felt threatened or unsafe , but I can’t imagine myself travelling through Ethiopia on a slow moving bicycle. It must be a daunting task.

Travelling in Ethiopia is difficult. The villages can be quite intimidating. Lots of people and children on the roads,

Coffee with the dynamic Grace from NairobiCoffee with the dynamic Grace from NairobiCoffee with the dynamic Grace from Nairobi

shouting and whistling, creating a real buzz. In the mixture on the roads are different animals, but mostly donkeys transporting something and dogs. On the roads you encounter any mode of transport imaginable. You can’t take your eyes off the road for an instant. You need to concentrate all the time. Then combine all the above with some potholed roads, road works, road diversions and then rain on top of everything. So we found the first about 500km’s into Ethiopia difficult and quite depressing.

After going so well the last 40km’s to Dilla turned into a nightmare again and quite a challenge with rain and road works. The Bikes took quite a beating. We arrived very wet and dirty in Dilla for a well deserved rest and after a few coffees we feel refreshed again! Later on after having a few local beers, I forgot about all my sorrows.

From Moyale to Dilla

Next day in Dina after loading the bikes, securing all our luggage, we were hardly on the road and then got stopped at a roadblock. Here they conducted a proper search of all our luggage. Frustrated, but one of those

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things, just take it on the chin, act friendly and move on. We were just on the go when Achmets chain came off in quite a crowded street. Surrounded by onlookers, being offered some tools from the locals and getting help from them, we put the chain back on and tighten it, which saved us time by not having to unpack our tools that’s right at the bottom of our luggage.

So off we go again through villages and villages full of people. On the way we stop for coffee at this beautiful Awassa Lake in Awassa.

Awassa to Addis Ababa

Eventually we arrived in Addis Ababa, tired and emotionally drained. Found place in a expensive hotel. Not worth the money.

One of the managers went out of his way to assist us. Direct us to the local eateries and also organise a taxidriver at a fair price to take us around in Addis Ababa.

Not far from our accommodation within walking distance, is a local hangout, the Canvas Restaurant. A modern place. Achmat go for the pizza! Good service and a nice place

With fellow Aussie Bikers David and BeverleyWith fellow Aussie Bikers David and BeverleyWith fellow Aussie Bikers David and Beverley

to relax after a few hectic days.

Addis Ababa is a vibrant city where a lot of infrastructure development is going on. Literally hundreds of new buildings are being erected, mostly by using bamboo scaffolding.

In Addis Ababa we did some tourism things. Visiting some sites. We visited the National Museum where we saw the famous “Lucy” skeleton and we visited the Saint Mary Church Minilik and Taitu’s Memorial located on a hill in Addis Ababa.

Parking for the bikes was always a priority and to secure them and our luggage left for the night. Most places where we stayed had armed guards outside and they also then looked after our bikes for the night. It’s basically impossible to offload the bikes at every overnight stop. So as you travel, you sort your valuables and most essential stuff out and keep that in one bag that you take off. Plastic packets became a luxury. The rest of the stuff stays behind in your panniers on the bike and you secure it as best as you can and you hope for the best. Not once on the trip did they

Browsing aroundBrowsing aroundBrowsing around

steal or fiddle with our bikes or luggage as we travelled through some really difficult areas.

Sometimes I even had a full petrol container strapped on during some overnight stays, but not once did anything go missing. Imagine leaving your bike with some luggage overnight in central Joburg. There will be nothing left the next morning. Your bike and luggage will be gone. Ethiopia is beautiful and green. At the time of our journey through Ethiopia all the rivers were in flood. The Grand Renaissance Dam that is getting build on the Blue Nile is causing diplomatic tension between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia, because of the possibility that that will lead to a water shortage in their respective countries. Predictions are that it can lead to a major conflict in the region.

For all the challenges of Ethiopia, the coffee made up for it. Coffee was excellent and something to look forward to after long days in the saddle. I was getting used to the traditional Ethiopian coffee served black in a small cup and saucer. Coffee making in Ethiopia is an art form and the ceremony that goes with it.

We left Addis Ababa

Feeding the giraffes at the Giraffe Centre in NairobiFeeding the giraffes at the Giraffe Centre in NairobiFeeding the giraffes at the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi

for Debre Marcos in quite a ‘dark’ mood. Not knowing what to expect and not looking forward to travelling through busy villages again. We were pleasantly surprised. From barren and dry country side now its turns into beautiful mountainous areas and better roads.

The villages and towns are quieter here than to the south of Addis Ababa. Travelling was now definitely easier. We went over a beautiful pass, a horrendous tar road full of potholes, long ruts in the road, but absolutely worth it. Amazingly there are baboons all along the road collecting food from all the cars and buses. They actually ran next to the buses, waiting for the passengers to throw food out of the windows to them. It’s unreal to see. I actually saw one small baboon getting trampled by a bus. Police and Army stops also less frequent and less intimidating.

We arrived in Debre Marcos, finding great accommodation. Clean and with Wi-Fi.

Debre Marcos to Amanuel, then onto Bahir Dar where we enjoyed a coffee break next to Lake Tana.The Tuk-tuk driver that took us to the lake then direct us out of town and the we carry on towards Gonder,

The Giraffe Centre in NairobiThe Giraffe Centre in NairobiThe Giraffe Centre in Nairobi

Gonder

The local Ethiopian food is great and their Cold Gold Babesha Beer is absolutely my favourite.

Northwards we went until we arrived in Gonder where we planned to stay and visit some sites.Gonder is a lovely city in the northern part of Ethiopia and comprised of quite a few historical sites. We went to the Fasil Ghebbi Fortress and palace compound.We also visited the Debre Birhan Selassie Church as well as the Fasilides Bath site.

Gonder to Metema

From Gonder to Metema on the border we really experienced a week’s adventure in one day!

We decided to leave early so that we could make up good time and arrive early at the Ethiopia/ Sudan Border. We got up at about five in the morning, packed our luggage, strapped it on the bikes and at 6am were ready to leave. Rain Coats on and prepared for the rain.

The KLR was dead. Frustration is not the word. The previous day we had the bikes washed and something must have gone wrong. Now I had to unpack the bike again, loosen the side panels and the seat to get to the battery and electrics. The

Aghmet feeding the giraffes in NairobiAghmet feeding the giraffes in NairobiAghmet feeding the giraffes in Nairobi

battery was completely dead. With some help from a local “mechanic” we found that one of the fuses was damaged and hopefully that was the reason for the dead battery. We could not find jumper leads and so I bought a blue electric wire for 100 Birr to try and jumpstart the bike assisted by a local’s pick-up truck, but with no luck. We push start the bike and it takes and while bike is idling repacked everything and off we go ,hoping that the battery will get charged on the next 200km’s ahead of us to the border.

Eventually three hours later we are on our way. Now in peak traffic, muddy roads packed with people and animals again. Scenery is beautiful and on some mountain passes we took some great photos.

Petrol at Maganan with friendly Mohammed

We get worried now about our fuel situation. It’s a bit further to the Border than what we expected.

Eventually we reached a petrol station but there is no petrol in the pumps. Luckily they are selling petrol from containers. We buy some petrol or benzene as it’s known, al 5

Bargaining with the localsBargaining with the localsBargaining with the locals

litre jug at a time and then pour it into the bikes with some type of funnel. I try to start the bike but no luck. The guys at the petrol station push start me again and off we go towards the Border of Sudan. Just before reaching Metema the border town, at one of the many police control points that consists of a rope across the road, some money exchangers approached us offering us Sudanese pounds for birr or dollars. One guy stood out from the rest. He was wearing short yellow soccer shorts and introduced himself as Dave.

I explain to him that I have already exchanged some money in Gonder and won’t be needing more.

He was quite pushy and by this stage of the trip we were quite weary of anybody offering his services or help because in most cases money is expected in the end.

Reaching the border and still concerned about the starting problem I decided to rather get it checked out before entering Sudan. Out of the blue a Tuk-tuk appears and out climbs Dave in his yellow soccer shorts. I tell him about the starting problem and he says

Chris from Jungle JunctionChris from Jungle JunctionChris from Jungle Junction

he knows a good bike mechanic next to the road that can assist. In the meantime I still kept the bike idling. I decide to follow Dave and not far from there we reached a mechanic repair shop set-up next to the road.

Once again side panels and seat is off and the mechanic starts checking the wiring and battery again. The battery is totally flat, so myself and Dave, now my fixer, decide to take a taxi 30 km’s back to charge the battery while Achmet waits for us at a “guesthouse” until we are sorted.

While waiting for the battery to charge, Dave take me around the town wher we enjoyed some local food. We shared an injera with different kind of meats on it. Dave is a real character, we feeding each other, as is the local tradition.The Ethiopian people are very friendly. As tradition, upon entering a local eatery, in most cases the locals invite you to join them or offer you some of their food.

After the battery was charged we return with a taxi again and the battery was fitted back into the bike. In the meantime the mechanic decides to

At the equator in Nanyuki, KenyaAt the equator in Nanyuki, KenyaAt the equator in Nanyuki, Kenya

take the bike for a test ride to see if it is charging now. Instead of just taking the bike up the road he made a U-turn riding passed us again right into town. probably to show off.

Now worried, we wait for his return but as time passes we expect the worse. News from town reaches us that there was some sort of accident in town involving a motorbike. Now stressed out, Dave and I took a Tuk-tuk to town. As we get closer to the central part we saw the bike standing in the middle of the road on its side stand surrounded by local people, police and army guys. It was a two way lane road and it was standing in the middle of the right hand side lane.

There was no sign of the mechanic. The motorbike seems fine and we don’t really understand the situation. With the crowd around the police decide that it is better if I take the bike and meet up with them at a later stage. They were worried about the crowd getting rowdy.

We fetched Achmet and while on our way to alternative accommodation that Dave has

Nanyuki, KenyaNanyuki, KenyaNanyuki, Kenya

arranged for us, we got stopped by the Police and told to meet them at the Police Station. We followed them and they informed us that we will have to leave the bike at the Police Station because it’s now evidence in a hit and run case. Only then did we get the full story. The mechanic had hit a small child and then just left her and the bike in the middle of the road and run away.

Now while the Police are out looking for the guy, we can only get the bike back when they catch the mechanic and he has resolves the matter with the girl’s family. And now, on top of everything it’s Saturday, so we must come back the next day.

Metema

So the KLR gets left and off we go to our accommodation. During the night the rain comes pouring down and I am constantly thinking about my poor bike standing out in the open at the Police Station.

We were very worried and just hoping that the child was not too seriously hurt.

At least the bike was not badly damaged, but still not starting.

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The Sunday morning, we arrive early at the Police Station, just to be told that we must return an hour later because they are occupied with the prisoners. Dave organises us some breakfast and coffee and afterwards we return to the Police Station again.

Dave organised another mechanic and we worked on the bike at the Police Station. He got the bike going and after leaving the bike idling it seems that it is charging the battery now. After switching it of it starts on its own. Some good news at least. In the meantime we consult the police commander on duty and explain to him our predicament and our urgency to leave and to get to Sudan and also state the fact that we weren’t involved in this matter at all. We state the fact that the mechanic used the bike without permission and then after the accident, ran away. There were also about thirty witnesses seeing the mechanic driving the bike and hitting the child. He told us that he could not make a decision on his own to release the bike and that we must return the next day, Monday.

So the whole day

On our wat to MarsabitOn our wat to MarsabitOn our wat to Marsabit

we just spend loafing around, frustrated and not knowing what to expect the next day.

The Monday we are off early to the Police Station arriving at 08h00, just to be told to return again after 30 minutes because now they finally got the family of the child to come to the police station as well and meet up with us and the police and decide on the way forward.

In desperation to get the bike back we decide that this is the best way forward, even if we have to contribute towards the medical costs of the child, just to get the bike back and carry on with the trip. Achmet is a good negotiator and tells them that we are actually also victims in this incident and that all of these delays are costing us a lot of money. The mechanic the actual culprit is still on the run. Luckily the girl was not badly hurt, only her wrist was bandaged up, or so we heard.

We explain to them that we will contribute 1000 birr to their medical expenses. But they are not happy with the amount but eventually after some more

Fascinated to see our first camels.Fascinated to see our first camels.Fascinated to see our first camels.

negotiations we settled on 2000 birr. The police officer really tried to resolve the matter for us and eventually after he got signed statements from the family, they said we can take the bike.

Now the bike is not starting again! Some police guys pushed us out through the mud and eventually I got it started again. Off to our accommodation to pay our bill and load the bikes we then leave for the Sudan Border. In all the madness of the last few days we never checked our Sudan visas and when reaching the officials we got informed that with all the delays our visas have expired and they can’t allow us in.

The nightmare hasn’t ended. The only place where we can renew the visas is in Addis Ababa, over 1000 km back.

So we hit the road back. No option than to go back to Addis Ababa. Miserable weather on the way back to Gonder.

Outside Gonder with dusk approaching fast we start to look at alternative options. Not looking forward to travel in the dark on dodgy roads which are already risky in the daytime never mind night time. At the Gonder

Camels next to the roadCamels next to the roadCamels next to the road


We were so exciting to see camels next to the road………

Aiirport about 30 km’s outside Gonder we decide to take a chance and see if it will be possible to leave the bikes at the airport, fly on an internal flight back to Addis Ababa, renew our visa and then fly back to Gonder to continue our trip. That will save us quite a few days on the road and save us from travelling the same road back and forth. So as we enter the airport we had to go through security, miserable and wet still dressed in our rainsuits, taking off our dirty boots and other stuff. We eventually book tickets to Addis Ababa for the next morning at quite a cost but in no mood to really think about the other options. The lady at the booking office was really helpful and tried to phone and assist us with accommodation close to the airport but the only place available was something like 80 Dollars a night, which by now is completely over our budget.

We plan to sleep at the airport but are told that the whole airport closes down. So she phoned and found us a more an affordable option in Gonder. She even arranged a

Achmet busy with public relationsAchmet busy with public relationsAchmet busy with public relations

lift for us with their company vehicle into Gonder that dropped us off at our hotel. The security officer arranged parking for the bikes right inside the airport premises and asked security to look after the bikes for the night.

Back in Gonder

The next morning the hotels courtesy vehicle transported us to the airport to fly to Addis Ababa.

Same day as we arrived in Addis Ababa we rush to the Sudan Embassy only to encounter massive queues of people waiting to enter the embassy offices. We push and shove and eventually entered the offices and after some wait we eventually got noticed, only to be told to bring copies of our documents to the embassy the next morning.

We returned early to submit our forms and documents, paid another 68 Dollars each and expected to receive it back the same day. No chance, we can only fetch them the next Monday because the next day is the Ethiopian New Year and with all the accompanying holidays it will only be ready on Monday at 14h00. We tried to object but no discussion, so we left. Spending nearly a week in Addis Ababa

On the way on the Marsabit-Moyale RoadOn the way on the Marsabit-Moyale RoadOn the way on the Marsabit-Moyale Road

with all the other expenses really hurt our budget and cost us a lot of valuable time.

Eventually the next Monday after finally receiving our passports we flew back to Gonder, finding our bikes still safely parked and well looked after.

Once again the friendly staff at Ethiopian Airlines assisted us with transport to our hotel. Early the next morning we were back at the airport thanking and saying goodbye to all the friendly staff, packed the bikes and departed for the Sudan Border again, hopefully to cross into Sudan this time! We ride with extra caution to prevent anything from going wrong again.

Outside Metema we met up with Dave again and he accompanied us to the border. Immigration went smoothly except for the custom guy that took two hours to return from lunch. But we are grateful it’s only two hours. While waiting for customs we had lunch with Dave for the last time in Metema.






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