From Mombasa to Johannesburg,
16. December 2005 till 15. January 2006

I leave the lodge early in the morning when it is still dark, just to be at Mombasa International Airport at sunrise. It feels funny because I came here 6 years ago by plane. I would had never thought that I would really travel here overland on two wheels. Second sunrise is Gerdi’s arrival and both of us are more than happy to see each other again. We celebrate her birthday with delicious fish food and a nice bottle of champaign at full moon on the white sands of Tiwi-Beach.

Some days on the beach and a visit at Wasini Marine Park for snorkeling give us a nice tan and also some time to sort out luggage for the trip as well as to put on new tires.

Gerdi manages to put all her gear in one backpack that we strap on top of the other baggage. After a test ride with the fully loaded bike I know that this trip will also work with two persons.

The enforced Oehlins rear shock and the progressive White Power front fork springs are worth every single cent! These days, 40 horse power are not too much for a motor bike. But they come from a 600 cc one cylinder 4-stroke engine and the torque is sufficient to accelerate to 100 kph travelling speed. More than 110 kph on African roads are not recommendable and definitely a question of personal risk management.

We won’t forget the words of the local parking guard at Fort Jesus, Kenya, who shook his head when he heard that the bike has travelled all the way from Europe to Mombasa City:“That’s so wrong, man!“

Tanzania welcomes us with 50 km medium bad dirt road. We see black storchs and have lunch at the Road Kill Caffee. The inviting advertising slogan is “You kill it – we grill it” or “From the grill on the grill”, not to mention the menue offering “Flat Cat” or “Chunk of Skunk”...

Riding through Mikuni National Park we see giraffes, antelopes and elephants resting in the shade. We meet a German couple Felix and Marion who ride their KTM LC4 bikes from Nairobi to Santiago de Chile. That’s certainly too far for us but as it is Christmas we decide to spend the Holy Evening together at a gorgeous farm lodge.

It is a wonderful cristalclear warm night and we have never seen so many stars and so close. The fancy and romantic Christmas dinner includes french onion soup, beef, baby potatoes and vegetables. Even breakfast is served more in a swell colonial style with fully loaded tables on a lawn in the morning light with a fantastic view over the surrounding landscape.

At the border to Zambia I finally manage to get the Comesa Yellow Card, an official liability insurance for the Southern African countries. Good thing we did this because only 10 minutes later we had to show it to the police during a street contol!
Riding through Zambia is like riding through an endless green ocean. Also Gerdi drives and I relax and count trees when suddenly a child with a funny umbrella shows up.

When taking a closer look we recongize that this is not an umbrella but an enormous mushroom with at least 75 cm diameter! I had not seen any nuclear powerplants on the way and also nobody mentioned a nuclear catastrophe, MCA. But the wet warm weather and soil seem to offer perfect growing conditions. The villages and towns in Zambia look cleaner and more organized compared to others on the African continent. By the way – a local speciality are fried caterpillars!

Travelling overland through Africa is almost impossible to do withouth hitting a rainy season somewhere. Punctually at 3pm the rain starts when we are having a lunch break at a guest house. It is not raining but pouring cats and dogs, streets get flooded and we decide to stay where we are.

Going straight through Zambia is not too exciting. After three days we enter Livingstone, hitting rain only once in a while. Charming Gerdi manages to get us a chalet for the price of a camping fee and even an invitation to the luxury buffet of Fringilla Lodge with the best cuisine you can imagine. They also deliciously prepared the mushrooms we bought along the road.

The Victoria Falls are one of the most spectacular sights of Africa, probably of the world. The falls are several kilometers wide and the waters fall down some hundred meters in a gorge where the waters form the Zambesi river again. We watch the dramatic scenery for hours.


Mildred, the owner of the guest house, cooks a delicious river fish for us and we leave for Namibia.

Namibia has a strong German influence and you can see German shops etc. everywhere. We get invited for coffee and warm selfbaked German cake by the family of a German doctor working for an AIDS project with the German Developing Service (DED). He tells us many interesting background stories about his work and the difficult battle against Aids. 43% of the local population are infected, which means that almost every second person you see on the street won’t be here in a couple of years.


We start late and reach the Ngeri Camp at the Okawango river at night. The road is an extra challenge because heavy rain falls have created deep and long puddles.

At night they look like endless deep holes in the ground reflecting only the dark sky in the spot light! The muddy ground surface contributes to making it a thrilling experience, but we made it without falling off!


The Okawango area was beautiful but totally wet, damp and moist. We would have loved to stay longer but we want to escape the rain. We need to decide what we want to see from Namibia. The only reasonable flight home for Gerdi departs from Johannesburg, RSA. That means we don’t have all the time in the world. Originally I wanted to see the Himbas in the Kaokoveld, Northwest Namibia. This tribe is one of the last natural tribes in Africa but I learn that not only big crowds of individual travellers go up there but also the first travel agencies offer trips to their clients. Bottom line: the cultural heritage of this tribe will get lost since they will have a better living from tourism than from cattle – just like it happened to the Mursi tribe in Southern Ethiopia and the Massai in Kenya. We conclude that a trip up there would come close to a safari or a zoo visit with human beings -certainly something we could not identify ourselves with.

Anyway, it’s still rainy season and the dry and hot Namib desert sounds inviting. But before leaving we have a quick lunch – but what is that? They serve fried chicken throats with potato salad! How delicious the side dishes were...

The gravel roads in Namibia are in a phantastic condition. Compared to the pists in Sudan, Ethiopia etc. there are no potholes or rocks. So it is easy to ride more than 100 kph without risking our lives. Gerdi even falls asleep but wakes up when she almost falls off the bike!

We celebrate New Year in a nice hotel in Grootfontein. Especially after getting soaked in the heavy rain a bath tub is like heaven! Since most of the local inhabitants left town to spend their vacation at the beach, there are just a few strange locals left as well as three Chinese combat pilots and engineers who work at a military base.


Apart from rain there is just heavy rain and we wait till 1 pm before we dare to continue our travel. We visit a meteorite that weighs about 60 tons, the biggest one that ever hit earth. In the evening we reach a bed and breakfast where the owner welcomes us, soaked as we were: „You are so lucky, man, it hasn’t rained here since April!“ Thanks a lot!


Swakopmund is a small German community that looks like a mixture of a small Northern German, Dutch and American town. It is located right where the Namib sand dunes hit the Southern Atlantic Ocean.

Again we attract the public attention and give an interview to the AZ (Allgemeine Zeitung), the oldest German newspaper of Namibia. Then we practice perfect work sharing: Gerdi goes shopping and I change the oil! As we are good in loading the bike we manage to store a set of curtains and three additional pair of shoes. The Kudu leather shoes are so increadibly comfortable to wear that I decide to buy a pair and to give my old sneakers to a street kid who was ever so happy and probably thought I am Santa Claus.

Via Walfish Bay, straight through the Namib desert, endless dirt roads and a 50 m cloud of dust behind – that’s the life I love!

Once in a while an ostrich runs with us. Those birds can run up to 60 kph! Having a lunch break aside the road we become the tourist attraction for some Italian tourists that tour through the country in 3 SUV’s. Then again – it starts raining. Within the shortest time, the heavy rain falls create rivers that need to be crossed and then, suddenly, the engine fails to operate for the first time on this trip.

In the pouring rain the ignition stops working. The Italians show up again. Gerdi jumps into a car and they tow me 50 km to the next camp ground. I take these river crossings as a phantastic opportunity to practice getting towed on a motobike. I make a drainage for the carburator and the bike works fine again. We put up our tents and invite our new friends for beer and get invited for dinner.


The giant sand dunes around Sossusvlej are impressive! They are said to be the highest on earth. The entrance fee of 30 US$ for the 60 km road is also impressive. Not to mention the lousy road condition. But, without having told us in advance at the entrance, when we reach the end of the road, the park management has the impudence to ask for another 30 US$ for a 4x4 taxi for the last 5km. What a rip-off!

Same day I fall with the bike for the first and only time on the whole trip. A long field with deep sand is just too difficult to manage on a 2 person fully loaded motorbike with regular tires. Fortunately we have good protection gear and were not too fast when we were rolling in the sand. No injuries. We spend the evening drinking beer at an open fire under the African night sky with some guys playing guitar and singing songs from Rodriguez (sugar man etc.). Unforgettable!

As a consequence of the next heavy rain the ignition stops again, and a friendly worker of the Namib Telecom tows us.

I admire Gerdi’s good humor which she even does not loose when sitting on a non-operating motorbike in the middle of rainy nowhere.

At least it is a nice story to tell afterwards but that evening I am fed up and build a mud and water protector for the coil. I find an old oil tube just perfect for this construction. It seems ironic that after that we have almost no rain anymore.

We turn Eastward towards Johannesburg and travel through the Southern parts of the Kalahari desert. One night we camp in a Quivertree forest at a place called Giants’ Playground named after the big rocks that just look like some has played with them.

The owners of the camp have founded these National Parks and are also a refuge for orphan animals like the cute meercats, one geopard, parrots and many more ...

A big moment for us is entering South Africa, the last country of this trip.


One last heavy rain hits us for two hours but the water protector for the coil seems to work. Chain and sprockets are wear and tear parts on a motorbike. Mine have been put on in Turkey and meanwhile the front sprocket is completely worn off and the chain starts “jumping”. Fortunately I kept the old sprockets that are still ok and a truck garage lends me the heavy 30 mm wrench needed to change that part.

They even give us cold cokes and let us use their phone to call Gerdi’s friends Annette and Willie in Pretoria who take us out for a phantastic dinner buffet and even offer us to stay at their beautiful place. They also show us the impressive Union Building where the inauguration of Nelson Mandla took place.

At Johannesburg International Airport Gerdi flirts with some policemen and we are allowed to park the bike for free right in front of the departure hall, protected by policemen. Anyway, it is a sad moment to say good bye to Gerdi. She was a perfect partner on many thousand kilometers through Africa and I will miss her a lot.


4. report: Mombasa-Johannesburg | 16.12.2005-15.01.2006 | Wolfgang Niescher | www.globebiker.com -------------->> see 5. report

1. Reisebericht: Wien-Kairo. 5500 km, 04.-20.10.2005 | Wolfgang Niesc–––––––––––––––her | ww w.globebiker.-<< back to africapage