The Final Push To Cape Town

Having been extremely well looked after by various members of the Jonson clan over the last few weeks, we continued on our final leg of the trip towards Cape Town. By now More »

South Africa Part 1 – The Big Easy

Completing our final border crossing of this trip and entering South Africa was such an emotional experience. This time I was experiencing the sites and roads of my country of birth on More »

Zimbabwe

It has been 25 years since my family left Zimbabwe; I was about 8 years old at the time. With all the negative press I was quite nervous about returning back for More »

Riders for health

Ah yes, it’s easy to forget there’s a whole world of problems out there when you’re on an adventure of a lifetime. Actually, we’re in Africa, who are we kidding – we More »

DRC and the curse of the Angolan visa

The plan was to head straight down to Matadi on the DRC border, where we would pick up our Angolan visas, but we had heard that people had recently been turned away More »

 

The Final Push To Cape Town

Having been extremely well looked after by various members of the Jonson clan over the last few weeks, we continued on our final leg of the trip towards Cape Town. By now we are very much on the main South African tourist trail. Roads are good, accommodation excellent and the food even better.

Our first stop was Jefferys bay, the world famous surf destination. We rode down to Island Vibe backpackers, which is described by a local guidebook as “lively”. Full of surfers and bikini clad surfer groupies, the later outnumber the former by about 3 to 1. And so we checked in, for 3 days. At Island Vibe they partied hard, all day, every day.


The view from our room at Jefferys Bay

South Africa Part 1 – The Big Easy

Completing our final border crossing of this trip and entering South Africa was such an emotional experience. This time I was experiencing the sites and roads of my country of birth on a motorcycle, a mode of transport I had only become passionate about after leaving South Africa over 11 years ago.

We stopped in the small border town of Messina for some supplies. This town is nothing special by South African standards, but for us it felt like they had lined the streets with a welcome party. We walked into a Spar supermarket and stocked up on nostalgia. Brands we knew from our childhood filled our basket faster than you can say “howzit my bru”.

Zimbabwe

It has been 25 years since my family left Zimbabwe; I was about 8 years old at the time. With all the negative press I was quite nervous about returning back for my first time.

From Blantyre, Malawi we made a quick blast through Mozambique via the Tete corridor into Nyampanda, Zimbabwe. Border formalities were painless, the usual immigration and customs followed by a final once over from “Interpol”, plain clothes police who check all your documents.

Zamawi

Yes, I’m doing it again. But Zambia and Malawi would do well to join forces. Zambia is empty, but has potential, whereas Malawi is overpopulated, and could do with some more uncultivated wide open space.

After our unbelievable turnaround in the DRC, overnight we found ourselves on practically the other side of the continent. During the planning stages, we optimistically thought we might make it to Zambia, but realised quite early on that this was unlikely. Suddenly there we were.

Riders for health

Ah yes, it’s easy to forget there’s a whole world of problems out there when you’re on an adventure of a lifetime. Actually, we’re in Africa, who are we kidding – we are regularly exposed to the problems these people experience as part of their every day lives.

And so on a quiet day on a lonely Zambian highway in the middle of nowhere we zoomed passed yet another local motorcycle putting along merrily. One thing made me give this particular rider a double-take. Aside from the fact that he was actually wearing a helmet, I thought I recognised the logo on his backpack. I came to stop and asked him to do the same as he approached me. He obliged and after confirming the logo of the backpack was for Riders For Health, I rather redundantly asked him if he worked for Riders for Health. He did indeed and he introduced himself as Kenneth. We shook hands and I told him how we were supporting his charity for our trip. I gave him my card with my email address and told him about our website.

DRC and the curse of the Angolan visa

The plan was to head straight down to Matadi on the DRC border, where we would pick up our Angolan visas, but we had heard that people had recently been turned away and told to return to Kinshasa. So we decided to stay in Kinshasa and try to get the visa there. This would mean a few more days in one of the world’s most dirty, dangerous and expensive cities.

During our previous unsuccessful Angolan visa attempt in Brazza, they had asked for a typed letter of application, colour passport photocopies, yellow fever certificates and sworn statements that we would not stay on in Angola (unlikely). They also wanted copies of our onward Namibian visa, which we said was not required for UK citizens. Clearly not enough for them, they then asked for a letter from the Namibian embassy saying we did not need visas. Basically they just did not want us there.

Do the Congo

After our session in the mud, our trip from Kinkala to Brazzaville was over in a flash. The road was excellent, and being a weekend, relatively quiet. We made straight for Hotel Hippocampe, where it is known they offer refuge to weary overland travellers such as ourselves. The owners Olivier and his wife Catharine let us stay despite the hotel being closed for renovations, and we gladly accepted.

Rep of Congo and the notorious Dolisie-Brazza highway

Immediately after entering Congo the gravel road deteriorated, it’s clearly not maintained like the road on the Gabon side. Mud puddles quickly became the norm. After the first village we come across a truck stuck in waist deep mud, completely blocking the road. Some locals had cut an alternate track and wanted to charge us 5000CFA ($10) each to use their diversion. After an bit of haggling we agreed on 5000CFA for both bikes. They pushed Adrian through with such enthusiasm that he could have cut the engine and still made it through. It might seem like a con but these diversion cutters provide a valuable service, without them the traffic would stop completely, like the truck found out.

Gabon-Bon

Sweet, sweet Gabon, how we loved your roads: smooth, new and awesome!

Gabon was one huge surprise for us. Reading other travellers accounts of this place did not paint it in a favourable light. Unfriendly people, especially if you couldn’t speak French, bad roads, poor facilities and amenities, the list of grievances went on. And so armed with this knowledge we entered into Gabon with much trepidation and caution. It was all for naught. Other than having to progress some distance into the country before having our passports stamped, the border crossing from Cameroon into Gabon was seamless.

Russ

Cameroon

The roads entering Cameroon, if you can call them that, were an absolute mess. The 30km of rutted mud tracks from Ekong to Etu took us 3 hours and this was the dry season. It would have been completely impassable in the wet.

The road improved marginally as we continued to Bamenda in the western highlands. We rejoined the main route from Nigeria and hit the motorway, brand new tar with awesome twisties through mountain passes and tropical rain forest. Amazing riding

Brand new tar in the Cameroonian Highlands