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 Gerdis 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.
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.
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
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.
wont 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:Thats so wrong,
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. Thats certainly too far for us but as it is Christmas
we decide to spend the Holy Evening together at a gorgeous farm
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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 wont be here in a
couple of years.
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.
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!
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 dont 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, its 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
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
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 hasnt 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.
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.
Walfish Bay, straight through the Namib desert, endless dirt
roads and a 50 m cloud of dust behind thats the
life I love!
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 SUVs.
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
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.
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
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.).
a consequence of the next heavy rain the ignition stops again, and
a friendly worker of the Namib Telecom tows us.
admire Gerdis good humor which she even does not loose
when sitting on a non-operating motorbike in the middle of
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.
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.
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 ...
big moment for us is entering South Africa, the last country of
They even give us cold cokes and let us use their phone to call
Gerdis 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.
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.