2 Into Africa - Ride Report - South Africa - Tanzania
2 into Africa - Ride Report by Tracy Havinga
Departure: Johannesburg via Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia until Tanzania
Return: via Malawi, Zambia & Botswana
- I was not a very keen off-road rider, in fact was scared of gravel/dirt.
- My husband is Frans (we weren’t married at the time, we got married in March this year)
- We ride our own bikes, both 1200GS
- R (ZAR) is the South African currency
The idea to do a trip to Tanzania, on bikes, was born sometime in August 2016….sure it was fueled by too much whisky as well. Nothing concrete was discussed but Frans started some planning and lots of research.
When Ulysses Jo’Burg North suggested we attend the Ulysses International Indaba, hosted by the Zim chapter, it was decided that this would be the start of our trip.
And so it started……!
We were to leave on 21st June 2017 and head back whenever we felt like it – Frans had to be back at work on the 31st July, so there was a time frame.
The Monday before we were due to leave (19th June), Frans found that a few of his spokes were loose, off to BMW Clearwater to have them tightened. At this point, bearing in mind that the bike had just been services (by said dealer) and new tyres fitted (Bavaria), there was no real concern. It turned out that the rim was cracked (not picked up by any said dealers) and a new rim was to be ordered. By Tuesday lunchtime, the bike would be ready except a call was received to say sorry, incorrect rim was delivered! Anyway, long story short with much irritation & frustration, Craig offered Frans a “loan” wheel from a demo bike.
All accommodation paid to UJN (Martin’s Drift; Northgate Lodge & Lorrie’s Lodge = R7060-00)
21st June 2017
Due to meet UJN at Northgate to leave by 10:00. Because of the delay with BMW, we only left about 16:00, obviously not going to meet up with the others today! N1 traffic through Midrand was crazy (as per normal) but being on 2 wheels & loaded, even more scary than normal. Traveled on N1 until Modimolle, it was dark by then. Decided to stay in Vaalwater for the night.
Vaalwater Hotel – R600-00 p/n sharing. Clean but very rundown.
Distance = 360km
22nd June 2017
Awoke to NO water! Departed Vaalwater at 07:00. Wouldn’t be able to meet up with UJN at Martin’s Drift Border (SA/Bot). We got through immigration & customs quite smoothly. After filling up, left for Francistown about 10:30. Roads were lovely and in good condition. We stuck to the speed limits unless we could tuck in behind a local! UJN were supposed to leave Francistown at 13:30 – we arrived slightly after that so decided to push through to Nata. After an uneventful ride, barring a few sections of badly potholed road) we arrived in Nata, some 2 hours ahead of the UJN crowd. Once reunited with UJN, drank some local beers – St Louis and dinner. I had a very early night, left the others to kuier.
UJN Group – 12 bikes; 16 people – 2 lady riders (Joanne & myself)
Northgate Lodge – okay but not great, cold showers!
Distance = 630km
23rd June 2017
Departed Nata just after 08:00, headed toward Kazungula Road Border (Bot/Zim). A few stops along the way – saw some elephant on the side of the road. Riding with a group is very time consuming! Entering Zimbabwe was another story all together!!! Even though we had a “facilitator”, paperwork was incorrect or missing. After a stressful 2 hours, we were cleared to go. Due to confusion with Frans’ paperwork, he didn’t pay the US$36-00, so basically we received a 50% discount as only I paid!
Met up with the Zim riders where we stopped under a tree, given welcome drinks and a rally pack. Off to Indaba site for a coffee (1st since leaving home, only Ricoffy was available previously!!). Booked into Lorie’s Lodge, Victoria Falls, settled in then headed for the pub. Few Zambezi’s were consumed then back to the site for some socializing and a braai.
Lorrie’s Lodge – friendly and clean, shared ablutions.
Distance = 378km
24th June 2017
REST DAY – after breakfast decided to go see the mighty Victoria Falls. Frans “misplaced” my bike keys (in his pocket), so after much searching they were found and we headed off. Stopped at Lookout Café, overlooking the Zambezi Gorge. The Falls are absolutely amazing, no words can describe them. Got totally soaked in the rain forest but was worth every single drop!! Had lunch in Zambia, walked across the bridge (you can get a “bridge pass”). Went back to Lorrie’s where we watch SA vs France and were served a “home cooked” meal.
25th June 2017
Mass ride arranged by Zim….stopped at lookout point where the Falls are smoking in the distance and had a group photo taken. Next stop – The Big Tree, a Baobab that is between 1000-1500 years old). At the boat club, bit of socializing then decided to visit the Vic Falls Safari Lodge, there’s a watering hole with some buck around. We arrived in time to witness feeding of the vultures, what a spectacular sight! Back to the lodge to get ready for a night of fun – Indaba Gala Dinner. The Lady Riders were each presented with a bottle of wine, only 5 out of approximately 100 riders!
26th June 2017
Left our UJN friends at 08:00 and headed for the Vic Falls Border – VERY slow, just over 2 hours to get through. Lots of people wanted to exchange money for us, took US$ & ZAR, had no option but to use them as there are no ATM’s around!
All fees paid at different counters.
Toll Fees – US$25-00 (R325)
Council Tax – ZK 25-00 (R36)
Insurance – ZK 223-00 (R325)
Carbon Tax – ZKW 70-00 (102)
Encountered an obnoxious horse lady, no wonder the whites are hated!
In Livingston, drew some cash and finally got on the road to Lusaka at 11:30. Road very good, speed limits range between 60-100km/h. Many police check points but no problems as we were waved through. The road between Mazabuka & Kafue was badly potholed, broken tar and some places you just had to ride slowly through the trenches. Arrived in Lusaka (it was dark) at 18:30. Good to note: Bikes are not subjected to paying Toll Fees at the Plaza’s!!!
Eureka Lodge – ZK500-00 (R730) double, clean and pleasant
Distance = 478km
27th June 2017
Ginty Melvill (Ulysses Lusaka/Zimbabwe) joined us for coffee before we left at about 09:00. Lusaka CBD was much better than anticipated, lots of trucks but manageable. Stopped at the infamous Frigillia for lunch – apparently have the best pies, sorely disappointed! Again, lots of check points but fine. Arrived in Mkushi at 16:00. Lovely gem of a place, highly recommended. A lovely day’s riding and decent roads. After dinner, retired to the room for a few glasses of wine (bottle of Nederberg Baronne ZW170 = R250)
Forest Inn Lodge – ZK600-00 (R880) double
Distance = 278km
28th June 2017
Departed at 07:45, roads quiet and very good condition. 1st time we were asked for our passports at a police checkpoint – once everything was locked up, another official decided to ask for our Toll receipts!! 2 Europeans cyclists passed us in the opposite direction – quite loaded too! Frans “now that’s the way to do it”…Tracy “Hell NO!!”. Imagine carrying all that gear and pedaling?? Stayed in Mpika – had our first homemade lunch, bread, tuna & crisps! Sat and chatted to the owner, German fella about life in Zambia etc. Frans had a very dubious looking T-Bone steak.
Bayama’s Lodge – ZK250 (R365) double very clean & spacious
Distance = 374km
29th June 2017
Left at 08:00 – decided against Kapishe Hot Springs (500m sand & no fuel stops). Headed to Tunduma Border (Zambia/Tanz). WOW!!! Hectic place, absolutely crazy with people, cars, trucks everywhere and no order what so ever. “Helpers” assisted with TIP; Insurance and immigration. Frans’ ATM card swallowed by machine, so had to retrieve that! But still had no cash!! Over 2 hours later, we got on the road. Leaving the border was scary – traffic was chaos, hundreds of tuk-tuks, small bike (150cc called piki piki, used as taxi’s), busses, trucks and pedestrians. Battled through the traffic and headed toward Mbeya. Had dinner but got totally screwed on exchange rate as we only had US$.
ICC Hotel – TSH 70 000 (R406 but paid R520) double
Distance = 458km (9 hours)
One must note that in Tanzania – distance is measured in time, not kilometers!!
30th June 2017
Left at 08:30, went into Mbeya to sort out Frans’ banking issue. Took 1 hour to travel 34km, the road was in shocking condition with a big stop/go before town. Serious off-road stuff, dodging traffic…the busses and trucks just go! Garmin strikes again, detour through dodgy residential are. Finally found the bank, card still wouldn’t work so Frans had to call Standard Bank in SA – thanks to MTN’s stuff up, he had roaming. Probably cost R500 for the call though. Filled up with fuel and headed off towards Iringa. OMG, the road was terrible. More than 50% of the way was dirt, major deviations.
Drove through Mikumi National Park.
No idea of the speed limit so stopped to ask a traffic cop and was promptly, “when you see the 50km sign, that’s the limit, anything else you can go as fast as you want, 100; 200; whatever!” Though it was impossible most of the time.
Interesting toilets – squatters! Friendly lady at fuel station, gave her some Allsorts, she was extremely happy.
Arrived in Iringa at 17:30, 1.5km dirt road, not too bad, just one section of rocks. Fast asleep early, before my head hit the pillow!
River Valley Lodge - $25 for a tented Banda (small chalet), shared ablution, including breakfast
Dinner - $12, buffet
Distance = 362.5km (9.5 hours)
01 July 2017
Breakfast, 1st since Vic Falls! Heading to Morogoro, had to negotiate 1.5km of dirt first thing in the morning, not so bad! Morogoro was not appealing so carried on towards Dar Es Salaam. Beautiful morning ride, nice twisties and winding roads. Gorgeous scenery with lots of trucks/busses – hectic! Also a lot of trucks lying on their sides in the mountain pass.
Again Garmin strikes, supposedly 42km to Bagamoyo on TAR…SURPRISE!!! 35km of dirt. Most not too bad, traffic light but oncoming don’t move, so had to stop a few times. One very sandy patch, nearly rear ended Frans as he stopped midway. Fortunately, I shouted at him to get moving and he did. Luckily no falling – miracle!!
1st and only time camping. Very uncomfortable, sleeping with luggage. Showered in a chalet. Dinner was so-so. Mosque prayers at 4:30 – very loud.
Traveler’s Lodge - $8 each (camping)
Distance = 463km, 35km dirt (9 hours)
02 July 2017
Breakfast, then decided to head to south of DSM. Packed up the tent and hit the road. Traffic light but still very busy (Sunday). Took ferry across the harbor (TSH500 each), interesting to say the least. Very crowded and hot. Arrived at Kipepeo Beach – absolutely stunning! Tropical beach setting. Handed in laundry but had to wash our own underwear, this was done in the shower. Met a Zimbo & Aussie (Manager), proceeded to have a great evening with lots of drinks.
Kipepeo Beach Resort - $30 p/n for chalet
Distance = 90km (4 hours)
03 July 2017
REST DAY – spent the day on the beach reading. Had a swim, water 21/22 degrees.
04 July 2017
REST DAY 2!
05 July 2017
Left about 09:00, back to DSM via the ferry – traffic was okay. Rode towards Bagamoyo, onto Lushoto – very good riding. Encountered mini Sani Pass, narrow, cliff edge, animals & traffic – scary stuff! Steep rocky entrance to hotel. Special at bar – double G&T for TSH5000, same price as beer. We were upgraded to a $60 room – it was lovely.
Lawns Hotel - $35
Distance = 365km (7.5 hours)
06 July 2017
Left at 10:00 – Piki piki rode into the back of Frans as he waited on the tar road for me. Pannier bracket badly bent, top box lock broken. In the end, had to pay the guy TSH15000, big crowd had gathered and needed to get out ASAP. Rode back via “Sani Pass”, much better than the previous day. Easy going. Arrived at our lodgings, Frans panel beated his bracket. Nice place to stay, very pretty. Arranged to meet a guide for a walk to see Kilimanjaro the following morning at 7:00. Great staff, very friendly (welcome juice). Charles, the barman was fabulous.
Babylon Lodge - $70 including breakfast
Distance = 248.5km
07 July 2017
Met our guide at 7:00 – couldn’t see the mountain, too much cloud. Walked through the village, went to the Changa underground caves. Toured a bit, +- 3km walk there ($10), very informative. Went back for breakfast, left the lodge. Glimpsed part of the mountain but the cloud covered it quickly. Decided to go to Moshi (were originally planning to go back south), might get another chance to see Mt K. Arrived at Lutheran Uhuru Hotel late morning. Walked to The Kitchen Flavour Coffee Bar & Restaurant. Had a light lunch and coffee, used their wi-fi. Decided on Masai Camp in Arusha for the following night, booked online….so here’s hoping.
Nelson – chef at Green Bamboo BBQ – very friendly. Claims Mandela (then President of SA) came to Tanzania, visited the hospital he was born and held him. Mother wanted to name him Gerard but NM said he was to be called Nelson. That’s his claim to fame.
Northern most part of our trip = 4488km.
Lutheran Uhuru Hotel - $55, including breakfast
Distance = 40km
08 July 2017
Off to Arusha. Very slow going, traffic crawling. Pleasantly surprised at Masai Camp. Cosy but clean room, friendly service. Booked via Tripadvisor – easy and efficient. Spokes on both bikes loose, Frans not a happy camper! Still haven’t been able to see the mountain, wearing its cloudy jacket! Weather overcast and cool. Interesting bar/restaurant – ordered out for our dinner. Met a Swiss girl backpacking – proud she killed a chicken & goat. No water for shower. Good night – own vodka!
Masai Camp - $25, room
Distance = 78km
09 July 2017
Early start – 07:00, good traffic and roads. On our way to Dodoma (capital of Tanzania). Small but clean room. Walked around town, beer at the local pub – CV Joint Pub. Braaing goat on the pavement!! Found Nav’s Bar & Restaurant. Vagrant hassled us – manager (Hindu) took him outside and beat him with a stick. Had Indian for supper and lots of beers. Took a Tuk-Tuk back to the hotel (TSH2000). Great shower, early night.
Vidia Vision Hotel – TSH30000, double room
Distance = 570km (8.5 hours)
10 July 2017
Early start again – looked for fuel and headed towards Iringa. Very nice riding, including challenging mountain passes. Stopped at gate before dam, had to sign the bikes in. The guard was hungry, so Frans had to give him some money for Foody. Lodging rustic & slightly expensive for chalet and shared ablutions. Drank own wine and ate bully beef rolls.
Old Farm House - $50
Distance = 311km (hours)
11 July 2017
Left at sunrise (06:50), gravel road to wake me up. Not long, hit 1st deviation. Camelbak leaking – very cold and wet bum! Was 4 degrees!! Stopped at fuel station to check and filled up. Totally soaked by then – dropped the bike doing tight uphill turn out of fuel station – so not impressed.
Deviations = 160km, very tiring and taxing. Stopped in a village outside Mbeya, bought smokes, interesting. Police stop to check driver’s license – very bad place – lots of stones and uneven. My feet barely touching the ground, on a slope. Cop had to take my wallet out of my jacket for me & Frans had to help me get on my way again.
Shongwe border post – not too bad, lots of people wanting to exchange money, very disconcerting. Again, 2 hours to get all the paperwork done. Okay ride to Kongwe. No ATM’s working, had to use US$. Staff very friendly. Malawi Lake is absolutely stunning. Left tip for waiter and chef, very grateful and came to thank us. Very humbling.
Mikoma Beach - $56, including breakfast
Distance = 239km
12 July 2017
REST DAY. Handed in laundry. Woke up to bikes being washed. Breakfast was alright, sat on the beach and watched the water. Local washing in the lake. Frans went into town for cash, water and beer. Met some Saffa pilots, had dinner with them.
13 July 2017
Departed for Hakuna Matata, managed the sand and gravel leaving (+- 80km away). Road was great but access roads had lots of sand. Missed out on Livingstonia. Continued onto Nkata Bay. Road was shocking, lots of potholes on mountain pass and tons of monkeys. Roadworks were also a nightmare. Arrived at Mayoka Village – stunning, stunning, stunning! Chalet overlooking the lake. Owner’s SA & UK, very friendly. Decided to stay 2 nights.
Mayoka Village – $35
Distance = 259km
14 July 2017
Walked into the village, went to Dive Centre, had a chilled lunch. Had an afternoon nap then braai buffet for dinner. Youngsters very noisy!!
15 July 2017
Left for Senga Bay about 08:20. Road conditions good, very nice ride. Planned on staying at Cool Runnings but road was a bit too sandy. Stayed at Sunbird Livingstonia Beach Hotel – VERY pricey. Bargained down from $203 to $150 (UNESCO rates). William – room cleaner was very friendly. We swam in the Lake – had to do it!! Last night in Malawi – heading to Zambia in the morning. Tuna for lunch….and beer!
Great buffet dinner – dodgy tummy though, bum burning!! Finished our wine and whiskey.
Sunbird Livingstonia Beach Hotel - $150, including breakfast
Distance = 326km
16 July 2017
Left 10:00 – headed for Lilongwe, then border. Easy, pleasant ride. Border crossing easy and relatively quick, only 1 hour all in all. Friendly staff both sides of the border. Stayed at Dean’s, clean and staff very friendly. Shared ablutions but clean and sufficient. Looking forward to a cold beer. ZKW10 each. Gravel riding again, getting more comfortable every time but I always seem to stop in the wrong place and Frans has to move the bike for me. 26 days on the road so far!
Dean’s Hill View Lodge – ZKW250
Distance = 264 km (5.25 hours, including border crossing)
17 July 2017
Set off at 07:30, headed to Lusaka. Stunning roads – faster pace and lots of windy sections. Crossed the river, decided not to stay at The Bridge Camp – carried on to Pioneer Campsite. Obviously Garmin took wrong route – ended up in some guy’s back yard. All gravel….started off okay but got very bad, uphill, lots of rocks and sand – dropped the bike, lost my footing. No damage done. Tented chalet very expensive, as was the food and drink (R90 for toasted sandwich). In bed by 21:00, fast asleep,
Pioneer Campsite - $88, including breakfast
Distance = 560km (7.5 hours).
18 July 2017
Late start, 10:30 – back down sandy, rocky road, managed to paddle through the sand – no falling!! Easy ride through Lusaka, roads being cleared for Presidential motorcade. Stopped at shopping center for coffee – too early to go to Ginty’s. By chance, he met us there. Bought some beers and vodka (cheap R75). Followed Ginty home – put us up in his lovely cottage. Rolls for lunch and a beer. Quick shower, then off to meet his friends – Hans – Classic Cars and Julie – KTM shop. Andy, another Ulyssean, came to visit later.
Distance = 35km
19 July 2017
REST DAY (not) – 360km round trip to Lake Kariba to see the dam wall. Went to the “club”, had a few drinks and ordered dinner to take away.
20 July 2017
Ginty’s to Moorings Campsite, tough going between Kafue and Mazabuka, otherwise good ride. Dinner was really dodgy.
Mooring’s Campsite – $25 each for chalet
Distance = 167km (3 hours)
21 July 2017
Headed to Botswana. Kazungula Ferry crossing, very interesting, if a bit scary. Nice ride, good roads. Stayed in Pandamatenga. Lovely setting with friendly SA hosts. Saw giraffe at the watering hole. Had oxtail for dinner and red wine.
Touch of Africa – P750 + VAT
Distance = 467km
22 July 2017
Went to Elephant Sands, road not too bad, just the last section with lots of sand. Frans took my bike through the bush to avoid the deep sand. Tented chalet very nice – great view of watering hole with quite a lot of elephant around – careful where you walk! Food was alright, if overpriced. Very cold at night – wind comes up through the floorboards. Shower also very temperamental.
Elephant Sands – R1290, tented chalet
Distance = 152km
23 July 2017
Took wrong road from elephant Sands, VERY deep sand. Frans turned my bike around and got onto the right road….so much better! Lunch in Francistown (Wimpy). Stayed at a lodge in Selebi Pikwe, very big chalet – 2 x double beds. Met Jon, Ulysses Botswana – had dinner together, lots of chatting, wine and Irish coffee. The food was GREAT!
Phokoje Bush Lodge – P820
Distance = 379km
24 July 2017
Time to leave Botswana. Went to Cosy Lodge in Ellisras, had lunch at Machauka Lodge. Stunning ride – road was great! Border crossing – Martin’s drift, 20 minutes, both sides. So quiet, quick and easy (if only they were all like that!) SAP at gate made me stop next to Frans and did a mock race start….was very funny. Great to see a cop with a sense of humour.
Cosy Lodge – R870, including breakfast
Distance = 255km
25 July 2017
Sadly, time to head home. Very mixed feelings. Road was fabulous….until N1! But not too bad. Home safely about 12:30.
Distance = 342km
AWESOME TRIP – EPIC!!
Total Distance : 9 469km
Distance North : 4 488km (17 days)
Distance South : 4 981km (18 days)
Ave Fuel Cons : 4.6km/100km
Ave Speed : 68.2km/h
Days Away : 35 (5 weeks)