Day 6. 17th December 2013. Full Day of rest.
I had been so tired that I decided that day I would not even look at my bike. We took a boat ride and were able to see two big beautiful fish eagles named Condoleezza Rice and Tony Blair! Our boat ‘driver’would just whistle for a while, then throw three small fish on a stick into the lake and the Eagles would hear him and very quickly locate and fish them out and fly with them onto a tree for a feast
We then had fun jumping off a cliff into the water, played beach football with some local kids and generally had a good time.
Day 7. 18th December 2013. Nkhata Bay, Malawi – Katete, Zambia
Malawi is a very poor country. I must say it’s the poorest country we’ve been to. Very beautiful but very poor. We did not even see a single bodaboda. From my interaction with the locals, the AIDS scourge really wiped out a large part of the working population. A lot of Malawians, once they move to the cities looking for a better life never return to their home in ‘shags’ except to be buried. I think the greatest resource is the big Lake Malawi. In fact it felt like half the country is the lake. It has beautiful hills and roads from which we caught fantastic views of the lake.
We crossed into Zambia at a town called Mchinji. The plan was to go as far into Zambia as we could before dark. We stopped briefly to fuel at Chipata, a very modern looking small town in Zambia. Zambia is an expensive, very expensive place to live. Apparently the government has just recently revalued their currency, basically knocked off three zeroes from the Kwacha. 1 dollar was now 5.5 Kwacha.
We stopped for the night at Katete, another small sleepy town about 500km from Lusaka. I had an Airtel Malawi line that seemed to work, but it was very difficult and expensive to top up. It was very important for me to talk to Victor our last born son who was turning 11 in the 19th and I was not sure how long the Malawi line would be usable in Zambia. After quite a struggle I managed to talk to both my sons and I wished Victor happy birthday in case I didn’t manage to talk to him the following day.
Day 8. 19th December 2013. Katete to Lusaka
We set out early, around 7am for Lusaka. Zambia is clearly a richer country. Must be from the copper mining industry. Though it was a very long ride to Lusaka, the pace was good and by about 1pm we were in a town called Chongwe about 10km from the city. There we saw a very interesting delicacy on sale; caterpillars
I tasted about 2mm of one and decided it was enough experience!
We stopped for a while to regroup so that we could avoid anyone getting lost. The support cars could not be reached so we decided to find a mall and get food while they catch up. It is amazing how God works. We set out to look for a mall and when we turned left into a smaller road which one of us thought was the way into a mall he knew, it turned out we took a wrong turn and traffic moving in the opposite direction was heavy. We decided to try and ask one of the drivers for directions. I’m not sure how the discussion went, but the driver asked “are you the Jubilee Riders? I’m from the Kenyan High Commission and I was looking for you! ” how amazing is that?
We went with them to the High Commission and they were prepared to meet us. Though the High Commissioner and many of her staff were away on home leave in Kenya, we were very well received by the acting High Commissioner Mrs. Karugu and Sally Tanui and Mr. Kinoti. It really felt like home.
We met a Mr. Kariuki who runs a motel in Lusaka. The embassy people were very kind and generous. They hosted a dinner reception in our honour at the motel and we spent the night there.
Day 9. 20th December 2013. Lusaka – Harare
The embassy vehicle was at the motel at 6am. They wanted to show us the way out of the motel so that we could proceed to Harare which is just over 500km from Lusaka. We reached the border town of Chirundu into Zimbabwe. That was so far the most troublesome and complicated crossing. But even through all that, God still hooked us up with a Zimbabwean called Sean who is a biker, heading to Harare. He gave us his number and asked us to call him on arrival so that he could hook us up with a place to sleep and a garage where I could get my bike looked at. It had developed an oil leak that I needed checked. How amazing is God? That in the midst of a complicated border crossing he was still working things out for us.
We arrived in Harare around 7pm in a lot of rain. I think this was the most we’ve ever been rained on. We stopped at a deserted mall called Westgate where we had some tea and made contact with Kenyan Embassy officials. Once again they were expecting us and had prepared a dinner for us. We were so wet but had fun and lots of food. Another interesting coincidence is that in the same compound was a bikers club and there we met Sean and a group of Zimbabwe bikers. We made arrangements for the next day and decided to make it another rest day. I could then get my bike sorted out.
Day 10. 21st December 2013. Full Day rest in Harare
We couldn’t do very much on the bike as most spare shops were closed till January but we did a bit of diagnosis and first aid.
Day 11. 22nd December 2013. Harare – Lion & elephant lodge.
We handed them a Kenyan flag and they led us through the best route out of Harare heading out towards Bulawayo.
Remember how I said you learn a lot when you travel with John? Well, do you know why the country is called Zimbabwe? John knew and he took us to the historic site of an ancient stone city called the Great Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe means Stone House.
After the detour to the monument we ended up doing our first night ride since we had about 200km to cover so that we could spend the night at lion and elephant lodge which was 80km away from Beitbridge, the border crossing into South Africa. We got to the lodge around 12:30am. We were so tired but felt fulfilled! It was only the 2nd full day riding with no rain since we left Nairobi.
Day 12. 23rd December 2013. Lion and Elephant lodge – Midrand South Africa
This ended up being the longest yet the fastest ride we’ve had. We covered close to 600km. God is good and though the border crossing took long, for me, it was not troublesome. None of the problems we anticipated cropped up.
So many posh expensive cars all over the place. We had lunch at Polokwane about 300kms from Johannesburg and I was able to talk to my wife on phone. She had just arrived from Nairobi. I couldn’t believe that in a matter of hours we would be together. Again God hooked us up with a two bikers who took care of us all the way to Midrand where we had booked rooms at a nice inn called Sun1. We got here around 11 pm and it was wonderful to meet Carol and two other “biker wives”
The plan is to hang around Pretoria and Joburg till 27th then head out to Cape Town
Day 13. 24th December 2013.
Felt great to sleep in. Woke up around noon. Rode around the area. Had lots of fun and later in the evening had dinner with two more “biker wives” joining us.
I’ll upload all these pics and lots more on Facebook as soon as I find cheap (free) internet!