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Prologue -1 week before I was to start my trip from Edmonton To Vancouver, my bike got stolen. Well that changes the plan a bit.

Note - I kept a very small log book with very little details, most of the trip logs will be from memories.

2003

Peru

  • Aug 10-Sep 24 → Well, bike got stolen. That's life, gotta move on. I decided to take the bus to Calgary to see my friend Byron. I hadn't seen him for ages. It was time to move on after a few days. I still had a lot of unsettled issues to deal with. Mainly, I need a new bike. And my friend in Vancouver can get good deals on bike parts. So it was time to head down to Vancouver. Flew down to Vancouver and was greeted by Tony at the airport. After some research and with Tony's advice, I decided what I wanted to get. First came the frame, nice titanium frame by Airborne. Then all the parts came a week later. And low and behold, they send me the wrong fork. And they cannot get me the 1 that I wanted. Ok, back to the drawing board again. I went out searching for fork in Vancouver. I had so much problems getting the right stuff because all the bike parts in this city are gear toward extreme riders. Heavy duty, high travel stuff. Touring is not a popular pastime here. Finally, I bought a second hand Marzocchi 2001 Atom Race fork. It was the best I could do. My flight was leaving soon so I had to have something. Then I bought whatever necessities I need for this trip in Vancouver. The cheapest flight into South America from Vancouver was Lima. So, the decision was made for me. I am going to Lima!

  • Sep 25-29 → I landed in Lima Peru at around midnight with my bike box. My original plan was just to sleep at the airport, then next day put my bike together and ride into Miraflores. I had slept in many airports before, so I thought this would be a piece of cake. But when I got there, then I see that it was not the ideal place to stretch out and sleep on top of my bike box. Simply, that was not an option. So I tried to stay awake to the next day. That didn't work out too good either because I was getting very tired. So, finally I took a mini-bus to Miraflores and checked into the Flying Dog Backpacker Hostel. It was a bit expensive for me, but it was Lima and I was quite tired. For the next 4 days, I just hung out at the South America Explorer Club to acclimatized to South America. I was still a bit edgy. I had not travel for over 7 years and this is my first time in South America. But I had to go, Lima was boring as hell. No character and nothing to see or do.

  • Sep 30 → First day on the road. It feels so damn good. And the road heading south from Lima is quite flat and not much wind. A great way to start. Too bad at this time of the year, there is the constant fog.

  • Oct 1-2 → Rode to Pisco to see the wildlife reserve at Isla Ballestas and Peninsula de Paracas. Isla Ballestas were great, got to see something similar to the Nazca Lines in Nazca and there were birds, sea lions, etc........everywhere. It was definitely worth it. Peninsula de Paracas was quite boring in comparison. The wildlife are too far away and you mostly just sit in the mini van. In hindsight, I should've done Peninsula de Paracas on my bike. But the tour includes both locations. And you have to take the boat to see Isla Ballestas. Oh well, maybe next time.

  • Oct 3 → Pisco to Ica. I arrived in Ica in the afternoon. I was looking at a few things to do. Such as going to see the Oasis or do some sand surfing. But I decided it wasn't really my cup of tea.

  • Oct 4-6  → Ica to Nazca. The first part of the day was great. Nice and smooth. Then I had to repaired a flat. The last 40km to Nazca was a killer. It was my first taste of the infamous South America wind. It was a sign of things to come. Arrived at Nazca at around 5.30 pm. Then book me a flight for tomorrow to see the Nazca Lines. The Nazca flight starts at 9.00 am the next day. As with most thing South America, don't count on it being on time. Finally, we were up at the sky at around 11.00 am. The very first turn that the pilot made, I wished I was back on solid ground. I never been airsick before, but I was sick as a dog then. I was sweating profusely and very dizzy with a constantly feeling of throwing up any minute now. But I never did threw up on the flight. When the pilot announce anything interesting, I would just stick my hand up and take a picture. I did not had the power to look down from my seat. Every time I tried to moved my body, I wanted to throw up. So I gave up and just let my hands do all the work. After 30 minutes of this torture, I was relieved to be back on the ground. I went back to the hotel and slept the whole day. The Nazca Lines were very impressive, too bad I was only able to see a few of them with my own eyes. I was just too sick to see the rest. Went for a day trip on the 6th after I recover enough from yesterday's flight.

  • Oct 7  → Today, I learn my first trick in South America. Get up as early as you can, and get as much distance as you can before 9 am. Because the wind always picks up after 9.00 am. It was the same throughout all of Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. I was going along just fine for the first 20 km, then the wind hits and I had to suffered for the next 100km or so. Did not make it to my original destination of Chala, instead I stopped at Yauca.

  • Oct 8-9 → Took it easy on the 8th and only did 48.8 km. The wind was strong but not as strong as yesterday. The 9th brought another tough day against the wind.

  • Oct 10-12 → Original plan was to get from Atico to Camana on the 10th. But the wind said no, so I stayed at Ocona. Took it easy on the 11th and rode to Camana. Oct 12, the mountain roads begins about 10 km south of Camana. Now the real test begins. Then I had my first tailwind on the plateau at around 1000M. Then the road switch direction and it was like riding in a sand storm. I wanted to get to Reporticion, but once again I was too ambitious.

  • Oct 13-18  → Finally made it to Arequipa on the 13th. I was in bad shape. My skin was peeling everyday because I didn't want to use sunscreen. My legs were shot because I was not fit enough yet. The wind and sun were doing quite a job on my body. I had to recuperate. Also I had another problem. To get to Cusco from here, I would have to come back the almost the same way to get to Puno on the way to Bolivia. With me being sunburn, exhausted, not wanting to go and come back on the same road and just wanting a break. I decided to take the bus to Cusco. First, I wanted to relax. I booked a tour to the Colca Canyon. I would have to say the tour was ok, nothing special. There were a bit of llamas and alpacas along the way, but not that much. And then there is the Colca Canyon itself. It just did not had the wow factor. At the bottom of the Canyon is just a little stream. If it wasn't for that little stream at the bottom, this would've been like many other mountains that I have seen. We arrived at Condor cross and everyone was waiting at the same place. And me being me, I ran off far away to find my own place. Well, there was a reason why everybody were at the same place. Because below is where the Andean Condors nest. By the time I spotted them and ran back, the photo op was gone and would never appear again. Oh well, that's life. The hot spring and food in Chivay was nice. Everything was nice, but not spectacular.

  • Oct 19  → Took the night bus from Arequipa to Cusco. Arrived at around 5.30 am. I was given a list of cheap good places to stay by other tourists that I met on the bus. I couldn't find any of them. I decided to go check out the Youth Hostel. Before I can make it there, I got whisked away by a hotel owner that wanted me to check his place out. I wasn't interested till he told me the price, 10 sols per day. And that's where I stayed for the whole time I was in Cusco. A few days later, he make me another deal. 10 sols for 3 meals a day for everyday that I am in Cusco. I loved to eat out on the street. But the deal was too good to pass up. But as I learn later, maybe that wasn't such a good deal. Man O Man, they were lousy cooks.

  • Oct 20-24 → Inca Trails. On the 21st, I book a 5 day Inca Trail tour for $160.00 U.S. on the 22nd. Little did I know that you have to book at least 3 days in advanced. I also sign up for 4 weeks of Spanish lessons. I had so much problem communicating with the locals from Lima all the way to Arequipa. I decided that it was time. $270.00 U.S. for 4 weeks, a bit steep but Cusco is such a good place to hang out. I figured it would be worth it. I would come back on Sunday from Machu Picchu and school starts on Monday, perfect. We got picked up in the morning and driven to the square close to Plaza de Armas, where the cook will selected who will go as the porters. So many people competing for such a tough job with such low paid. The first stop on this tour was this village with traditional house where they raised guinea pigs for food. Now the moment of truth. My hotel owner never told me about the 3 days waiting period. While we were waiting in the plaza in Cusco, our guide explained my situation to me. So basically I am just taking over another person's spot who canceled his tour. For today, I was supposed to be Daniel Running, British and 26. My guide gave me all the details of this person and I was supposed to memorized everything. Of course I have to tell them I left my passport back in Cusco. But when the time comes when they ask me about my passport number, I completely forgot. Good thing he had the number on a piece of paper which was sitting on the table and I could read it. But I was detain for further questioning. I had no idea what my guide said to him. After about 10 minutes, he waved me through. For the first day we walked to Wayllabamba. Took about 4 hours. Arrived at around 5.30 pm. Saw 1 ruin along the way. Oct 23, Off and running at around 7.00 am. Walk through another checked point. Also today is the highest pass on the trail at 4200M. Group activities were never my strong point and I had no patients to walk slow. So most of the time, I would walk or run ahead and them wait for my group to show up. What was really fun was trying to keep up with the porters. Man, these guys are super fit. I had with me a very light backpack. I did not pack any toiletry stuff except for my tooth paste, tooth brush and toilet paper. I had only the very essential stuff for survival. The porters all had packs or propane bottles, etc.... that has to be at least 25 kilo. Yet they would walk or sometimes run up the hill. And definitely run down. So everyday, I would run with them. And they get a real good laugh out of it. But eventually, they would either get ahead or I have to wait for my group. The pass was cold and miserable. After my group arrived, it was time to run downhill again. Arrived at camp around 12.30 pm. Oct 24, arrived at camp at around 3.30 pm. Oct 25, woke up at around 4.00 am. That way, we can get to Machu Picchu before all the train tourists arrives. Finally we were at Machu Picchu, our guide Marco gave us a short tour of Machu Picchu and his job was done. This place is amazing. When I first arrived, all I saw was nothing but fog. I was wondering where had Machu Picchu gone. But as the fog dissipate, this incredible ruin hits you right in the face. The location of the ruin and the complexity of all the structure were a site to be behold. But I am never the one to sit and admired. Have places to go and things to see. First on the list is Wyna Picchu. It took me 45 minutes to get to the top and came back down. I was in a hurry, no time to waste. Next I had to run back to the Sun Temple. Earlier that morning when we were there, it was wet and miserable. Now I have to go back to take some photos. With that done. Time to head down to Aquas Caliente to say goodbye to my trekking group before they take the train back at this afternoon. Went to the nice hot spring at night to relaxed. At around 3.00 am, the water pipe exploded and our room was flooded. Luckily, most of my stuff were on the table. My roommate was not so lucky. Then in the morning, we went to get our friends so can take the train back to Cusco together. I guessed his story was much worst than ours. It was a windy night, and the glass fell off the window and landed beside his head, almost killing him. We laughed it off and went back to Cusco.

  • Oct 25 → Took the train, bus combo back to Cusco. Stopped at Chichero to see the Sunday market.

  • Oct 26-30 → Spanish school in Cusco.

  • Nov 1-2 → Day trip on the 1st around Cusco. And on the 2nd, day trip to Pisaq. Wanted to go to the ruins, but by the time I arrived at Pisaq, it was time to come back.

  • Nov 3-Nov 24 → Studying in Cusco.

  • Nov 25 → After over a month in Cusco, I was anxious to get going. Now at least I can communicate with the locals a bit. That made me much happier. Cusco cost me lots of money. It was a lot of fun, but it was also quite expensive in Peruvian standard. Now I will head south to meet up with Marlis in Copacabana, Bolivia. The first 100 km I had a pretty good tailwind, but the last 40 km was a killer. Arrived at Sicuani around 4.30 pm.

  • Nov 26 → Today I will come across the highest pass for me in South America. Abra La Raya at 4338M. It was 40km of uphill from Sicuani to the pass. Then it was smooth sailing for most of the day. I had a tailwind with me till the end of the day. Arrived at Ayaviri at around 2.30 pm.

  • Nov 27-28 → Nov 27 was one of those days again. Fantastic in the morning, then almost killed me in the afternoon. Nov 28, I went to the harbor to get on a boat to Isla Uros. Almost got scammed out of my money. I stupidly gave the man the money without receiving the ticket. Then when it comes time to board and I had no ticket, they refused to let me on. It was after some angry shouting that they finally let me on. These floating islands are truly fascinating. All the islands are made from the weed that grows abundantly in the shallows of Lake Titicaca. In time the weed will rot and sink to the bottom of the lake. So, new weed are constantly being added. There are spots on some of these islands that if you are not careful, you can fall right through. Living on these islands were an ancient tradition out of necessities. The people were trying to isolate themselves from the Incas if I remember correctly. But now, most of the islands are cater to tourists. There are other islands that are off limit to tourists. But you need a special permit to visit those. 

  • Nov 29-Dec 2 → Rode to Copacabana on the 29th. But Marlis missed the last bus from Puno to Copacabana. She didn't make it till Dec 1. Then on the second we went on a day trip to Isla Del Sol. It was just a nice quiet trip, nothing too exciting.

  • Bolivia

  • Dec 3-4 →  Riding from Copacabana to La Paz. I woke up nice and early and set off to La Paz. Marlis took her time and took the bus. The bus passed me as I was going up hill. And then it was gone. It was quite a hard ride, didn't think I was gonna make it to La Paz in 1 day. This city is definitely 1 of a kind. A real fishbowl of a city with houses hugging all around the rim. And the city itself is full of life. Always something to eat, to see, to do, etc..... Along with cities like Katmandu, I really enjoyed this place. The next day, we went on a day trip to the Moon Valley.

  • Dec 5-6 → La Cumbre to Coroico. Riding on the death road. Apparently this is the most dangerous road in the world. More people die in this road than any other road in the world. I guess with the combination of narrow single lane, sheer vertical drop, landslide and the crazy Bolivian drivers. This does make a potent combination. I had this crazy idea of using my own bike. I build this thing for touring. But I did have a set of knobbies that I used for rough roads. So I sign up with Gravity Assist in La Paz so I could ride with Marlis. The first part was my favorite. Nice and smooth and steep. I am much more comfortable in pavement than gravel. With that over we get to the juicy part of this trip. Everything was fine, I wasn't the fastest or slowest. There were a few times I got a bit nervous coming. But nothing unusual. All along this road, I kept hearing this hissing sound from these bugs. So when I heard this new hissing sound, I completely ignored it. Little did I knew that I had a flat. A puncture that was caused by my rim that I had been experience quite often lately. But I ignored it and kept going because I thought that was noises made by the insects in this area. As soon as I came to the corner. There were not enough air in the tire to keep the bike upright. Without a warning, I crashed hard to the ground. After some time, I recovered enough to get going again. I was hurting quite bad, but nothing was broken. So I was determined to ride to Coroico. When we checked into the hotel in Coroico, I knew that my riding days was over in Bolivia. No big deal. That was easy, now me and Marlis can take the bus together.

  • Dec 7-12 → Time to moved on. I had 1 day to recovered from the pain. Then we took the bus back to La Paz. Then the next day we took the night bus to Sucre. Sucre is like a small village compare to La Paz. So laid back, so boring. nothing ever happens here. If I ever had to study Spanish again, I might choose this place. There were just too many things going on in Cusco. I could never concentrate there. In Sucre, that's not a problem. Then we took the bus to Potosi, supposed to be the highest city in the world. There were also not much going on here either. There were 1 thing that kind of interest me. To go deep into the mines in Cerro Rico. But my legs were in too much pain to try to crawl through these narrow passage. So we just spend a quiet day climbing to the top of Cerro Rico.

  • Dec 13 → Took the bus from Potosi to Uyuni. This will be the last day with Marlis. She has to continued on with 4X4 into the Salar and then onto Chile. Then she has to go back to Switzerland to work. As for me, I was just trying to recover from my crashed. I also changed my semi slicks to my off road tires for this part of my journey.

  • Dec 14 → At about 11.00 am Marlis went on the tour to Chile. In the after I gave it a try to see if it hurts too much to ride. I rode to the train grave yard in Uyuni. Hmmm.....that didn't feel too bad. I think I am ready again.

  • Dec 15 → Woke up at 5.45 am. For me that's very late. I was used to getting up at 4.30 am everyday. But either way, I was gonna tried to get to Colchani. This road to Colchani was crap. Very sandy and huge loose gravels. Good thing that there is always another trail/road just right beside the main road. So there is always a choice of trying to find the road that is the easiest on my butt. Now here is a dilemma. By this time I was determined to get to Ushuaia by the end of February. If I were to go through the Salar and onto Chile like most people, that would add about 1 month to my schedule. Plus I didn't have any decent maps of the Salar. And I am just a terrible navigator. And I also talked to many people when I checked into Hotel Playa Blanca that just came from Chile on what they thought of the whole tour. Most of them told me that Isla Incawasi was the best thing. So I made a decision of what I wanted to do the next day. By the way, Hotel Playa Blanca wasn't really worth it. If you want to spend $20.00 U.S. a day eating spam and biscuits, then be my guest. For that same price I can get something pretty decent in Bolivia. But I guess I can brag to people that I stayed at the original Salt Hotel! Oh please!

  • Dec 16 → Woke up at around 4.30 am. The owner insisted to make me breakfast even tough I was getting up so earlier. I waited and waited, by 5.45 am he was finally up. He called me out o breakfast. I waited all these times for couple of crackers and some tea. Damn, I was expecting something a bit bigger. Anyway, beggars can't be choosy. I eat whatever I can get. This was the plan for the day. I would leave all my panniers here. Then ride out to Isla Incawasi, stay there for a bit to see what everyone's talking about. Then come back to the hotel and pick up the panniers and continued back to Uyuni. I left the hotel just a bit after 6.00 am. Took about 2 hours to get to Isla Incawasi. I had a pretty good tailwind to help me. And the people were not lying about this place. Truly amazing. Giant cactus growing nowhere else in this whole Salar except for this little island here. At least that's what I think. If somewhere knows another island that has the same thing, please tell me. I was so glad at least I did this little trip. It wasn't too much effort and it didn't caused me too much delayed on my plans to Ushuaia. And even the wind was going my way. I knew that the wind usually switch direction after 9.00 am. So I had a tailwind going to the Isla. Just as I was arriving, the wind started to shift direction. So when I came back to the hotel, I had tailwind all the way again. Just marvelous. The return trip to Isla Incawasi and back was about 125 km, then another 38 km to Uyuni, piece of cake.

  • Dec 17-18 → Uyuni to Atocha. The road around Uyuni was bad. And it gets worse as you go south towards the Argentina border. I kept thinking the road will get better eventually, but it never happened. So I struggled along not making too much progress. Many times I had to get off the bike and push it over stretches of road with deep sand. Then a kind gentleman stopped and ask me if I wanted a lift. I thought about for 5 seconds and said yes. If it serves my purpose by taking a ride, I am never too proud to refuse one. I offer to paid for my ride when we arrived at Atocha, the kind gentleman did not even want to hear that. After some thought when I was relaxing in the hotel. I decided to take the bus all the way to Villazon, which is on the border with Argentina. From Atocha to Villazon isn't that far, but with the road condition it would've taken me many days to get there.

  • Argentina1

  • Dec 19 → My first taste of Argentina was great. It was like you get 1st world service with a 3rd world price. Internet was cheap, food was great and the people were friendly. That kind of offset how pissed off I was about the bike. I had 5 flats today, all were cause by the rim. To be precise, they were all caused by the cheap rim liner and the fact that I always over inflate my tires. The Avocet Cross are rated at 80 psi, I always run them at 90 psi. The Lonely Planet book say that from La Quicaca to Humahuaca was gravel. What I found was a beautifully paved road with very little traffic. Time to put my semi slicks back on again. Even with the 5 flats, I had a very good day because I had a tailwind the whole time.

  • Dec 20 → Humahuaca to San Salvador de Jujuy. Today was quite funny actually. It was rainy last night. And where I was staying, I had to walk up these shaky wooden stairs to get to my room. In the morning as I was carrying my bike down and one of these steps flip. Then I lost all control and felt. My ass hit every step on the way down to the bottom with the bike still on my shoulder. I couldn't ditch the bike because this was a very narrow stair. Ouch, that hurt. Till this day, I still have scars from this little stupid episode. I had another 2 flats for the day.

  • Dec 21-24 → There are 2 ways to Salta. One way is take the road all the motor vehicles use. The other way is through this beautiful forest road with very little traffic. I chose the later and was rewarded with a pleasant ride to Salta. I decide to stayed in Salta for X-mas. Seems like a good choice. I was thinking of trying to catch up to Tim and Cindie from www.downtheroad.org. But they were just a little too far away.

  • Dec 25 → X-mas is over for me. I was anxious to catch up to Tim and Cindie. They were supposed to teach me the fine art of camping. I never liked camping much. I camped out of necessities, not out of pleasure. The main thing for me is to ride the bike. And with camping, it just takes me so much longer to get going in the morning. And with accommodations in South America at such affordable rate, I didn't see a reason for me to camp. But Tim and Cindie camp almost everyday. I was eager to learn. I left Salt with the intention of getting to La Vina. I couldn't find a place to stayed. So I rode 9 km further down at Terapampa to look for a place to stay. Could not find anything there either. I guess I had to camp now. So I went to a restaurant to get a couple of sandwiches for camping. And being X-mas day, everyone was still dancing and very much drunk. Next thing I know I got invited to Tango lessons. I was sweaty and smelly, but why not! After about an hour or so, it was time to go. I wanted to go as far as I could then find a place beside the road to camp. I was starting to think that I can actually make it to Cafayate. There was a very good tailwind on my back and I had a full stomach. Everything was fine till I hit the last 50 km to Cafayate. I had to stopped my bike to take some photos every 20 minutes. Or I had to go on a slight detour to see a rock formation. There were just so much to see on this stretch. Finally arrived in Cafayate around 8.00 pm. There I found Tim And Cindie. Their plans were to follow Ruta 40 all the way to Mendoza. That sounds fine to me.

  • Dec 26-31 →  Cafayate to 20 km north of Santa Maria. First day that I started riding with Tim and Cindie. We had such different styles. I like to be riding around 6.00 am or earlier. Cindie was the same way, but Tim like to take his time. We got going at around 8.00 am, which was quite late by my standard. But once we go, then we really go. Tim was an ex road racer. And I was just a bike commuter. The next day we ran into a sand storm. We were all taking turns riding in the front. But it was very tough going and it just wasn't very pleasant. I lost my appetite for riding for the day. So we decided the first suitable place we can find, we will camp there. What we found were these flood channels under the main road. And it was a great shelter from the wind. On the 28th, we arrived at Los Nociento and camp just outside the only restaurant we could find. And on the 29th, we arrived at Belen. We decided to stayed here for New Year. New Year celebration was very different than what I was used to in North America. Tim and I went out to have a look at around 10.00 pm on New years Eve. We could see fireworks all over the place but we could not find any people out on the street celebrating. We ask at the local disco when they are open, the owner told us to come back at 3.00 am. After about 30 minutes of this, we gave up and went back to the hotel to sleep. Just before midnight, I was woken up by the many explosions from the fireworks. I ran up to the roof to take some photos. Then I thought now there had to be some people celebrating out on the street. So I went out for a walk with the same result. There were nobody out there. So I came back at around 1.00 am to sleep yet again. Then at 3.00 am, two teenage boys came to my hotel to wake me up. What happened was that on the night before, I went to the plaza to eat a hot dog. And before I knew it, I had a group of people surrounding me asking me all kinds of question. And some actually spoke English. So I was just chatting away. And in the process I told them where I was staying. The teenage boys asked me if I would join them for New year's Eve party. I said I wasn't sure because Tim, Cindie and I had plans to ride the next day. They were very persistent and I told them I would think about it.  In Belen, New Year's Eve is a very important family affair. That's why you see lots of fireworks but nobody out on the street. By 3.00 am, the family part of this celebrations were over and the young folks were ready to party. And that's when they showed up at my hotel. By then I had lost all interest. They left and I went back to sleep for 2 more hours. 
         

  • 2004

  • Jan 1-3 We rode from Belen to the camp ground 14 km south of San Blas on the 1st. Then on the 2nd, Chilecito was the destination. Rest day in Chilecito.
  • Jan 4 We were all a bit sick this morning. I guess their was a little more serious than mine. They decided that they wanted to stayed and go see a doctor. I was still in a hurry to get down to Ushuaia. So, I was back by myself again. What did I learned from Tim and Cindie? I learned that you got to have a different attitude to enjoy camping and I am not that person. It just takes too long for all the different things you need to do to camp and I am very lazy when I am not riding the bike.
  • Jan 5-6 Villa Union to Jachal on the 5th and Jachal to San Juan on the 6th. Very hot days.
  • Jan 7-9 Going to Mendoza today. I was thinking that this would be a good place for me to get some new parts for my bike. Same problem as before, I couldn't get what I wanted. I had to wait for the special order to come by mail. Forget it, I didn't want to wait around, I've got a schedule to keep if I am gonna make it to Ushuaia. So I made my decision to cross over to Chile from here instead of keep going south on Ruta 40.
  • Jan 10 From Mendoza to Upspallata. The hostal where I was staying had a day trip to Poterillos and the owner offer to take me there. So it was a short day, only rode from Poterillos to Upspallata.
  • Jan 11 Upspallata to Las Cuevas. This is a very nice stretch indeed. Along the way there was Puente Del Inca, which is a natural limestone bridge with an ancient Inca bath house at the bottom near the river. And near by is the entrance to Aconcagua. Which is the highest peak in the Southern Hemisphere and the highest peak in the Americas. I wasn't too interested after seeing pictures and seeing it in person. I compared it to the other mountains that I have seen in the Himalayas and the decision was made not to go to the Basecamp. I didn't want to waste my time to get disappointed. So, I kept going to Las Cuevas. This will be the last town in Argentina.
  • Chile1

  • Jan 12 From Las Cuevas to Los Andes. From Mendoza all the way up had been a gentle rise. Nothing too exciting or strenuous. Nothing too major on the system. As soon as I cross over the border to Chile. The road goes straight down, all hairpins. I loved it, that's the kind of stuff that I like. I loved it when I just zoom pass all these vehicles. But all good things comes to an end. The road got less steep, then it was just a gentle descend to Los Andes.

  • Jan 13-14 → From Los Andes to Santiago. I ran into another biker last night and we decided to ride to Santiago together. We are the exact opposite. He likes take many breaks, smokes like a chimney and doesn't like to ride fast. Sure, I'll give it a try. It turned out to be a disaster. We would stopped and have some food. Because he didn't like the fact that the restaurant owner have a "OPEN" sign by the door and no food inside. He would bang on the door and scream at the owner. Damn, I sure didn't need that. He would yell at people because he thinks that's the wrong way. This is South America, that's how it's done. He kept this up and I had enough. Eventually, I just pulled ahead and went to Santiago by myself. Later on that day when I went back to the hotel. Who was there sitting at the lobby, it was none other than my old riding partner. Damn, I definitely didn't need that. On the 14th, I went to check some bike shop. The same old problem again. I would have to wait here for the stuff that I want. No thanks, I don't like this city much anyway. to me this place doesn't have much character at all. Just a big city with lots of cars and people. Time to head south.

  • Jan 15 → Santiago to Curico

  • Jan 16 → Curico to San Javier. Original plan was to do a 200 km day. I just want to go as fast as I could to Isla Chiloe. But at about 77 km south of Curico, I got pulled over by a man on a pickup truck. I thought this might be trouble, but all he wanted to do was to invite me to stay at his vineyard for the night. Ok, sure why not. Guess I won't be doing 200 km today. I rode to San Javier and found the vineyard. I waited for my host to arrived as I chatted to his mother. Then he showed me my room, which was huge with my own bathroom. Then my host "Ivan" and his wife "Loubna" invited me to go swimming with them. We came back after to eat dessert. Then 2 hours later, we ate supper. And just before I went to bed, he gave me 1 liter of ice cream to eat. And he offer to let me stay there for as long as I like. Such a genuine person. I will never forget his kindness. Unfortunately, I was on a tight schedule. I had to go tomorrow.

  • Jan 17-23 → I tried to ride as fast as I could from San Javier to Puerto Montt. My plan of doing 200 km everyday was shatter. About 300 km south of Santiago, the wind shifted again. The head wind was back. And I didn't ride straight to Puerto Montt either. I was tired and took some time off and rest. Arrived at Puerto Montt on the 23 and bought the ferry ticket to Ancud in Isla Chiloe.

  • Jan 24 → Had to rode a short distance to Pargua to take the ferry.

  • Jan 25-27 → Rain drops are falling on my head. That's what I was singing for 3 days in Ancud. Also very strong wind. Just had to sit tight and wait it out.

  • Jan 28 → Couldn't wait anymore. My boat leaves for Chaiten from Castro today. So I set off in the downpour. I had paid a lot of money for all my jacket, now I will see if it measures up. After about 4 hours in the downpour, I was soaked. I guess it didn't work as advertised. After 40 km, the pavement ended and I was in a construction zone. They were repaving this section of the road. Well, I was stuck. I had problem just pushing the bike, let alone ride it. Some kind soul offer me a ride on the back of his truck. He drop me off Dalcabue. I rode the rest of the way to Castro. The rain stopped just as I arrived at Castro. I took the 5.30 pm ferry from Castro and arrived in Chaiten at midnight.

  • Jan 29 → Another rainy day in Chaiten. But here I did not dare to set off. These gravel roads turns into a mud pool when it rains. So I just have to wait it out.

  • Jan 30 → Chaiten to Villa Vanguardia. My first day on the Carretera Austral. I had been waiting for this for a long time. I had spent way too much money from Santiago to Chaiten. Now all I wanted to do was to get back to Argentina as fast as possible and at the same time trying to see as much as possible. The first day was quite easy. The road had enough moisture from the recent rain to be nice and firm but not muddy. My first thought was this trip was gonna be a piece of cake. The first day was a gentle introduction, nice scenery but not too spectacular. Saw some glaciers, nice mountains and rivers.

  • Jan 31 → Villa Vanguardia to Puyuhuipi. The road got a lot worst here. All the moisture were gone and I was riding the real Carretera Austral. But the scenery also got better. Entering Parque Nacional Queulat, you ride along this road with a type of vegetation that I am not too familiar with.

  • Feb 1 → Puyuhuapi to Villa Amengual. This was the best day so far. I got to see the Hanging Glacier in Parque Nacional Queulat. Then  2 hours later, I found a place to hide my bike and walk through the forest to see a nice waterfall. Then I got treated to this very high waterfall coming from a glacier. Villa Amengual itself was also very nice with a superb view. But one thing was starting to drive me crazy. These damn Patagonia horse flies. These had to be the toughest and the most persistent flies that I had ever encounter. Once their radar is set on me. They don't give up till I killed them. And man are they hard to killed. I wouldn't mind them if they just fly around, but they always try to land and bite. Often times I thought I had them killed, then they just fly off from the ground and try to attack me again. Sometimes I would get so pissed off that I get off the bike and grab my fleece or whatever I had handy and started to swing away like a mad man. But it was a lost cause because other flies would come and it's the same thing again.

  • Feb 2 → Villa Amengual to Coyhaique. Just a bit south of Villa Amengual, I came across my first beautiful lake with mountain reflections. Then it was a history lesson of Chile's past. How the government reward people for clear cutting. The I saw something unusual in my opinion. I saw three windmills as I was near Coyhaique. I hadn't experience too much wind problem at all in Carretera Austral. And here were the first large size windmills that I had seen in Patagonia. I had experience wind condition sometimes over 100 km/hr elsewhere in Patagonia but no windmills. Coyhaique is the largest city in Carretera Austral with all the amenities. Here is the place if you want your fast food or your internet fix.

  • Feb 3 →  Coyhaique to about 30 km south of Villa Cerro Castillo. Another beautiful day. I contemplated about taking the ferry from Ibanez to Chile Chico, which is on the border to Argentina. That would save me a few days of riding. But I decided against it. That was too much to give up to gain a few more days of time. Today, I saw mountains with different color bands, nice little waterfall and of course Cerro Castillo. That's a very impressive looking mountain. I guess it does resembled a castle. But what really impressed me were these swamp like lakes. I guess this wasn't a lake before and the river changed course and flooded the place. So, what you get are lots of floating grass islands with dead trees sticking out in the middle. It was the first time that I had seen something like this. Needless to say, I loved it. I am not much of a camper, I am just too lazy to do all the work. But now it seems that I had no choice. If I want to get to Argentina as fast as possible, then I would have to ride from first light and stopped maybe I hour before sunset so I can see what I am doing to setup my tent and eat. And finding a place around this lake was not easy. It was wet everywhere, but I did finally found a dry place to camp that was not visible from he road.  

  • Feb 4 → 30 km South of Villa Cerro Castillo to Puerto Rio Tranquillo. Leaving camp in the morning, I get to see a nice sunrise and more of this fascinating lake/swamp?? There were a few more glaciers and waterfalls along the way. Then around 3.00 pm, I made it to Lagos General Carrera. This lake is amazing, the deepest lake in South America. Beautiful shimmering blue lake with an amazing glaciers mountains backdrop. And best of all, not a cloud in the sky.

  • Feb 5 → Puerto Rio Tranquillo to 20 km east of Mallin Grande. Another day, another beautiful blue lake and sky. I am speechless, this place is amazing. This was my favorite part of Carretera Austral. When I thought the road can not get worse, well it did. The part that goes from El Maiten to Chile Chico had to be the worst for me. Unbelievably steep climbs on loose sandy gravel road. And the road forever goes up and down. Found another place just beside the highway again and camp. This will be my last day in Carretera Austral and Chile. I will not not come back to Chile again till I am near Torres Del Paine.

  • Argentina2

  • Feb 6 → I rode really hard for the last 7 days. Today, the 8th I would be back in Argentina. I was proud of myself that I only had to push the bike maybe 2 times because with the combination of loose gravel, sand and very steep hills. But it was well worth the effort. The whole trip from the beginning to the end was just amazing. Hanging glaciers, shimmering blue lakes, brilliant skies, nice forest road, etc...... You name it, Carretera Austral has it. And it was not overrun with tourists because this was not an easy area to travel in. And best of all, you didn't need to make many detours. Most of the beautiful places can be seen from the road. But, it was time for me to get back to Argentina, the land of the cheap and delicious steaks. Or so I thought. I finally made it to Perito Moreno at about 8.00 pm. I had the shock of discovering everything is so much more expensive here than the north. I was expecting it to be more. But the reality was still a little hard to take. I went in search of my steak. But good steaks were not be found from now on all the way to Ushuaia.

  • Feb 7 → Rest day in Perito Moreno. I ran into a group of people driving in Land Rovers from San Francisco around the world in 9 months. I forgot what charity they were with.

  • Feb 8 → I ran into those same people with the Land Rovers again on Ruta 40. Spoke with them for a while and they were off. I continued on to Estancia Casa De Piedra. Arrived at around 4.30 pm. After I setup my tent and settle in. I was ready to head to Cuevas De Las Manos. The man that ran the Estancia was convinced that I didn't have enough time to go there and come back tonight. Or if I do I would be coming back very late in the dark. Perhaps 10-11 pm. I did my own calculation and I was sure I had plenty of time. Anyway, he convinced me to go with him on his pickup to save some time. Then I could ride my bike back. When we arrived then I understood what he was talking about. I misunderstood what he was trying to tell me. Where he drop me off, I still had to trek for 2 hours to get there and 2 hours to come back. Then I had to ride another hour or so to get back to camp. That was why he came up with this 10-11 pm time frame. I met couple of ladies that were waiting there and they told me a more accurate time. Maybe 1 and a half hour to get there because it was downhill and 2 hours to come back up. They told me when I get to the bottom to make sure that the river was on my left side and never cross it and just followed the valley.  I thought about it for a while and decided to go for it. I was sure I could do this much faster. But I had to really move my ass. So I started to run down the hill. I was in such a hurry that when I got to the bottom, I did not even see that there was another valley that branch off to the right. I kept jogging or fast walk till I made it to Cueva De Las Manos. Made it there with plenty of time to spare. I started to jogged back because I wanted to show off how fit I was. Fit in the body maybe, but not fit in the brain. All the way back I kept looking at my left for the trail that goes back up the hill. As I came to the place where I was supposed to go up, I went left to the valley where I didn't even knew existed, instead of going forward a little more and then up the hill. I did not even notice there were no damn river here on this valley. I went on like this for I am not sure how long. But it finally hit me that I wasn't in the right place. But damn it, I did not remember anything about the surrounding where the trail goes up the hill. So whenever I see something that looks like a trail, I would walk up and see. Then back down and run to the next point and go up again. I was completely brain dead that day. I kept going like that up and down and more running and more up and down. Then I started to remember the river. Now, I just ran till I find the river. And I had this vague recollection about 3 big trees at the bottom of this trail. When I finally saw the tress, then I saw how stupid I was. Then it was a quick scramble up the hill. It was starting to get late and I had nothing with me for survival. Only what I had on, t-shirt, short and a camera. When I got back up to the top, I was relieved to find my bike was still where I had hid it. Then it was time to ride back to the Estancia. Arrived back at camp at around 9.00 pm. Damn, I could've been back 2 hours ago and sucking down a beer. Instead I was too stupid, and now I was just exhausted.

  • Feb 9 → Estancia De Piedra to Bajo Caracoles. Today, I had the full force of the Patagonia wind. I had problem getting out of my right SPD for a while now. With the combination of fierce wind, narrow strip of road in which I can actually ride on and the fact I had problem unclipping from my right SPD. I felt over many times with the bike on top me. I would only fall if it was a cross wind from my left side. If it blows from my right side, I can always unclip my left foot and not fall down. Swearing and falling down on my ass was the name of the game today. I finally gave up and changed my SPD to my sneakers to ride. 50 very difficult km later, I arrived at Baja Caracoles. I couldn't go any further today. I was quite lucky, they had a camp ground which was semi-shelter from the wind.

  • Feb 10-11 → Woke up this morning and I couldn't' move a muscle. I really did it to myself this time. I rode for a long day to get to Estancia De Piedra 2 days ago, then I ran all over the valley trying to get back to the Estancia. Then the next day, I had to ride against a 100km/h wind for the whole day. Today, I was pretty much kaput. I had two options. Wait here in this wind swept barren outpost till I get better or take the bus to my next destination. I chose the bus option. It was already the 10th of Feb, to get to Ushuaia at the end of Feb wasn't gonna happened if I were to sit and wait here. The mini-bus driver overcharged me when the bus arrived. I just shut up and paid because I had no other options as that was the only bus. So off we went. We had the first flat, the drivers proceeded to changed the tire quickly. Then we had a second flat. But this time, it happened near a lake. So, one of the driver grabbed his fishing pole and was gone fishing at the lake. While his partner fixed the flat. The tired was fixed, but we still had to wait for the other moron to come back from his fishing trip. Then we had a third flat. This time we were screwed. After about 30 minutes outside, they came in the bus to informed us that they couldn't fix the problem. They were out of spares. Their plan were to walk back to the Estancia we just passed,  which was about 7 km back and called for help. They came back at midnight without any solutions. The next idea was to drive back to the Estancia with the flat tire. The owner was so gracious that it made the experience sort of pleasant. We went to sleep without a solution. Next morning, nobody knew what was going on. Then a truck arrived with a spare tire. But it was no inflated. Another tourist tried to tell them I had a air pump that can pump the tire up. They didn't listen and by the time I came out from the washroom, they were already gone. A couple of hours later and there were still no sign of the tire. Then another mini-bus came in. Some kind of deal were made and we all took that mini-bus to El Chalten. But it actually worked out ok as we arrived at around 6.00 pm on the 11th in El Chalten instead of very late last night.

  • Feb 12 → El Chalten was a great place. Fitz Roy and Cerro Torres are just around the corner so to speak. There are 2 free camp sites right in the town of El Chalten. Campamento Confluencia by the entrance and Campamento Madsen by the end of the town. Both are very basic, but more than adequate. Confluencia was quite a bit more noisy, so I setup camp at Madsen. Madsen was also close to the beginning of the trail that will take you to Cerro Torres and Fitz Roy. So for today, I walk counter clockwise first to Cerro Torres and then to Fitz Roy. Fitz Roy has to be my favorite mountain in South America. I can say this now because I was at Torres Del Paine later on and I thought Fitz Roy was 10 times better. I think it help that I had perfect weather as well. And as a added bonus, not far from it was Cerro Torres. And all the trails are free of charge. No entrance fee anywhere you go. The town of El Chalten was quite pleasant with a very laid back atmosphere. Everything were great, just don't use the internet. I think it was 6 pesos for 15 minutes, which was very expensive in Argentina standard. And the damn internet didn't work anyway, takes about 5 minutes to read a message. I loved this place, but was short and I had to go.

  • Feb 13 → Yesterday, I was trekking with 2 motorcyclists. One from Mexico and the other one from Canada. I ran into them again on the highway. Rode as far as I could and camp by the river.

  • Feb 14 → From camping by the river to El Calafate. This town was a major tourist Mecca. The main street was full of tourist shops, coffees, restaurants, etc........ Most tourists fly in, head straight to Perito Moreno. Then fly out the next day. Not exactly my kind of place.

  • Feb 15 → El Calafate to camp ground 7 km from Perito Moreno. It was an easy day for a changed, 50% of the road was paved in this stretch. Arrived at camp about 1.30 pm. After I settled in, I rode out to Perito Moreno. Got there around 3.00 pm. The first time I saw it, it just blew me away. I never seen anything like this in my whole life. Even from far away, I can hear the intermittent thundering sound of giant chunks of ice as it falls and makes contact with the lake. But there were a few things that I didn't like. First of all, viewing was limited to a very small areas that were overly crowed with tourists. There weren't much trekking possibilities at all. That's why most people fly in and do a day trip out here and then fly out to where ever. The other thing that really annoyed me was that there was a band playing extremely loud at the viewing platforms. I am sure these were great musicians and great people with good intentions. But come on, give me a break. I did not come all the way down here to listen to a damn band. I came to hear the crackling sound when the ice falls and hits the water. Too bad I could never get my digital camera in time to take a picture of the falling ice.

  • Feb 16 → From camp back to El Calafate.

  • Feb 17 → From El Calafate to 5 km after El Cerrito. Leaving El Calafate, the road was paved all the way to El Cerrito. Then I left the paved highway and turn right to go back on Ruta 40 to Puerto Natales in Chile. Back on good old gravel road again. About 5 km into it, I ran straight into a rain storm. About ten minutes later, I had to abandoned the ride. It was getting so muddy that I couldn't even push the bike. I quickly push through the mud to about 5 meter away from the road and set up my tent. After struggling for about 15 minutes in the fierce wind and rain, I had the tent up. By then, the inside of the tent was full of water. I spent the better part of the day and night shivering and trying to dry the tent.

  • Feb 18 → Finally, the rain had stopped this morning. I slowly gather all my gears in the freezing morning. The road was too muddy to ride. So I tried pushing my bike. It was too muddy for that as well. In the process of trying to push my bike through the mud, I broke my cadence sensor. There were two ways to get to Tapi Aike. The paved road and the gravel road. But the paved road was twice as long as the gravel road in which I was on. But I had no choice. I couldn't go forward and I couldn't go backward. So I hitched a ride that took me back to the paved road with the intention of riding twice as long to get to Tapi Aike. As I was getting off the pick-up, the driver then told me that the gravel road would dried up in about 3 hours.  Damn, I guess if I had sit inside the cab with him, he would've told me this bit of info sooner. There I was contemplating what I wanted to do again! So back I went to Ruta 40 again in the mud. But after an hour or so, I was stuck again. I was just pissed off now. So I tired to hitch a ride to Tapi Aike this time. I planned very poorly on this stretch as I didn't carry too much extra food or water. I hadn't expected that it would took me so long to get to Tapi Aike. I stopped the first pick-up that came by. Three gentlemen from New Zealand got out. I asked if they could give me a lift. But as I could see my self how packed the pick-up was, there was not a chance in hell that was gonna happened. What they offered me was food and water. That was a very welcome relieved as I was very low on supplies. In the excitement of seeing food and water, I forgot all about paying for the food. What an asshole I was. I sat down and ate and the two other cyclists that I ran into earlier on this same road went by me. We chatted a bit, then they left. By the time I finished eating, the road was a little better. The famous Patagonia wind and sun does indeed dry everything very quickly. With renew confidence and supplies, I set off to Tapi Aike yet again on Ruta 40. Found this restaurant 15 km south of Tapi Aike and the owner let me pitch my tent just outside.

  • Chile2

  • Feb 19 → From restaurant 15 km south of Tapi Aike to Puerto Natales. Once again, it was a fairly gentle rise to the border town of Rio Turbio in Argentina. Not far after I crossed the border into Chile, it happened again. The crazy engineers of Chile did it again. I guess they didn't really had a choice. It was not like Chile had a lot of land to play with. Either way, I loved it. It was a steep straight descent. This was the fastest speed that I ever recorded. I topped out at 84 km/h. And my baseball cap even stayed on my head, unbelievable. Arrived at Puerto Natales. Arranged to have my bike and panniers stored while I was trekking. Then I went out to find a rental backpack and get some supplies.

  • Feb 20 → I took the bus from Puerto Natales to Parque Nacional Torres Del Paine. The bus arrived at around 10 am. By the time I paid the outrageous entrance fee, it was already 10.30 am. It was time to go. My plan was to do the complete circuit counterclockwise with the W and everything in 4 days. I brought 5 can of spam, 5 loft of whole wheat bread, 1 bag of mix nuts and dry fruits, 1 box of granola bars, and a bit of water. I had tent, sleeping bag, waterproof clothes and some other very basic necessities. I didn't bring a stove, towel, soap, shampoo, etc....... I considered them to be luxury items that will slowed me down. The theme for the first day of the trek was the wind and not much else. On the first major pass, I encountered wind that I had never felt before. I guess if I lived in Florida in hurricane season, I would be familiar with this kind of wind. But for a city boy like me from a city like Edmonton, the power of it was just incredible. I was not sure how strong it was as I didn't have anything to measure it. For the rest of the day, it was pretty much boring with not much to see. I completely missed the free camp that I was looking for and ended up in Refugio Dickson. 3200 pesos to pitch my tent there. Damn it, I'll never do that again. And I did not had soap or towel and anything to use the facilities on top of that. But I completely disagree with people who free camp anywhere they want at Torres Del Paine. There are enough designated free camp site around that there is no need to camp anywhere they want and ruin the place. 

  • Feb 21 → Second day in Torres Del Paine. From Refugio Dickson to Campamento Los Guardias. Woke up this morning and my legs and feet were doing quite bad. I think I pushed myself too hard again. I am a cyclist which means I spent most of my time on my bike. The point is I have soft feet. And the rental backpack did not exactly help the situation. Well, at least it didn't fall apart like the 1 I had at the Annapurna Trek in Nepal. I was getting huge blisters. But as I started to walk, the pain got more tolerable and I pushed on. The second day was the highlight of my trek in Torres Del Paine. I got to see a type of glacier that I never seen before. It was quit small, but unique. Then when I arrived at Paso John Gardner and looking down at Glaciar Grey, I was quite speechless. I hadn't expect to see anything like that. The scale of this glacier just blew me away. Then I thought back to Perito Moreno. All I could thought about was that this thing made Perito Moreno looks like a small ice cube. This was by far the biggest glacier that I had ever seen in my life. Too bad that this glacier was receding. Spent a few minutes at the top and it was time to get going. By now, my shoulder and back started to hurt quite badly because of my ill fitting backpack. My legs and feet got even worse from too much running down these rocky trails. Especially my feet. I started to bleed quite badly from he bottom of my feet. Oh well, what can I do!! I had to keep going. I had to slow down a bit from my pace of yesterday.

  • Feb 22 → Third day of Trek. From Campamento Los Guardias to Campamento Italiano. According to my guide book, today would be the best day. I would get to see the jewel of Torres Del Paine which was Valle Del Frances. Arrived at Campamento Italiano, I setup my tent and put all my belongings in there. I took just my money belt and set off to the Mirador pass Campamento Britanico. When I arrived at the Mirador, I decided to go to the ridge just below Los Cuernos that was perhaps another hour away that should give me a much better view. When I got there, I saw there was a pass that will give you a view of Torres Del Paine from the top of Valle Del Frances. I had no idea how long it would take me to get there. But what the hell, I will give it a try. 45 minutes later, I was till not at the pass. I was getting hungry and I had no food. So I turned back to go back to Campamento Italiano. I was a little disappointed because it would be great if I can have a peek over from this side. But it was a cloudy day anyway, I wasn't sure if I would see anything at all. I don't know if I can agree with that statement about Valle Del Frances being the jewel of Torres Del Paine. It was a nice area, but it didn't not gave me the wow feeling like when I was back at Glaciar Grey.

  • Feb 23 → Fourth and the last day of trek. From Campamento Italiano to Laguna Amarga. My whole body was just killing me. I had put my body through a lot of punishment for the last 3 days. And it would continued for today. I think if I had to walk another day, I would've been in big trouble. I also miscalculated, I ate my last can of spam, my last slice of bread and whatever else I had this morning. I had to make a stop at Refugio Las Cuernos to have some breakfast and buy some food. The breakfast and a loaf of bread cost me 6000 pesos, ouch!!!! And I ran into people that I've met before on this trek, they fell sorry for me and gave me what they didn't need since this was also their last day. With food supplies taken care of, I was off again. By now, I had stopped carrying water. Why bother when there were ice cold glacier water to be had everywhere you go. The trail that me to a fork where if you go left, it will lead you to Base Las Torres. If you go right, it will take you back to Laguna Amarga. Somewhere around there, I found a suitable place to hide my backpack. And I set out to Base Las Torres with just my money belt. This is the moment of truth, the world famous Torres Del Paine. I mad my way up to the Base Las Torres to be greeted by Torres Del Paine cover in clouds. I waited for an hour and the clouds weren't going anywhere. Even if it was a beautiful day with not a cloud in the sky. I would still think Glaciar Grey was 10 times better than this. As for comparing mountains to mountains. Fitz Roy beats this hands down. I guess something like this is very personal and this was my personal opinion. Torres Del Paine was nice but I don't think it was the best South America had to offer. I've seen much better and much cheaper at the same time. Time to head back to Laguna Amarga to catch the bus back to Puerto Natales.

  • Feb 24 → Spent the day resting in Puerto Natales resting my sore body and do all my laundry. It would take about 2 months for me to completely heal from this little excursion. I was walking around Puerto Natales with a terrible limp.

  • Feb 25 → Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas. No time to waste. I had a few more days before my personal deadline for Ushuaia. My feet were killing me. But what the hell, I was only riding. There shouldn't be to much pressure on the bottom of my feet. 137 km later as I was eating by the side of the road, a pick-up with a trailer pulled up and offer to drive me to Punta Arenas. I had about 5 km to go for my destination for that day. I thought about the offer for 2 seconds and took it. The same gentleman invited me for supper. I thank the man and tired to find a place to stayed for the night after supper.

  • Feb 26 → Punta Arenas was suppose to be a duty free port. I thought it might be a good idea for me to stock up on things that I need. I needed a new mag light and I bought 1 here. That's super.

  • Feb 27 → Took the ferry from Punta Arena to Porvenir.

  • Argentina3

  • Feb 28 → Porvenir to San Sebastian.

  • Feb 29 → San Sebastian to Rio Grande. Wanted to get to Toulhuin today, but the Patagonia wind had other ideas.

  • Mar 1 → Rio Grande to Toulhuin.

  • Mar 2-4 → Toulhuin to Ushuaia. My oh my, I finally made it to Ushuaia on the 2nd of March. And I only missed my unofficial deadline by only 2 days. Of course, I had cheated along the way. I took the bus from Arequipa to Cusco in Peru. I had taken the bus in most of Bolivia. Then in Argentina, I took the bus again from Bajo Caracoles to El Chalten. But I am not so hard core to ride every bit of this trip on my bike. If it helps my cause, I will gladly to take the bus. I met people along the Carretera Austral that said Ushuaia wasn't really that exciting. But I just had to see it for myself. Plus I wanted to try to get on a Antarctica Cruise. When I arrived, the weather was miserable. And the cruise to the South Pole was out of the question. It was just way out of my budget. I had a rest day on the 3rd. Then on the 4th I rode out to Parque Nacional Tierra Del Fuego. It was a nice but not too spectacular park. That's how I would describe Ushuaia. it was nice but not too spectacular. I met many people that were just crazy about this place. As for me I was already bored and freezing my ass off here. Way back in Peru, I started asking people about the road between Ushuaia and Puerto Madryn. And all the people told me to not to do it. All I would see was short grass and lots of wind. I asked around Ushuaia from people that had gone on this road. Once again I got the same response. Lots of wind, lots of grass, lots of sweaty hard work and nothing to see. So, I made my decision to take the bus to Puerto Madryn.

  • Mar 5 → Took the 6.00 am bus to Rio Gallegos. Then switch to another bus to Puerto Madryn. This was one of the most complicated bus that I ever took. The driver made me dismantled everything on my bike. The normal routine with every other company was to find a place and stick the bike inside. Nice and simple. In the process of dismantling my bike. I discovered that the axle in my front hub was sheared in half. Damn it, more things to fix.

  • Mar 6 → Arrived at around noon in Puerto Madryn by bus. Put my broken bike together. It only had to last to the hostel anyway.

  • Mar 7 → Took the tour to Punta Tombo. I just wanted to take it easy and relax for a few days. Punta Tombo was supposed to have the biggest Penguin colony outside of Antarctica. So I had high expectation before I went there. What I actually saw was much smaller in scale. It was still nice, but not with the kind of numbers that I had in mind. And I skipped Peninsula Valdes completely, most people that I talked to told me if I wasn't impressed with Punta Tombo, then it would be a waste of my time to go Peninsula Valdes. Plus I was 3 weeks too early for whales watching.

  • Mar 8-9 → Rested and did nothing in Puerto Madryn. Also I bought a new front wheel.

  • Mar 10 → Puerto Madryn to Sierra Grande.

  • Mar 11 → Sierra Grande to San Antonio Oeste.  

  • Mar 12 → San Antonio Oeste to Carmen De Patagones.

  • Mar 13-14 → I was tired, I stayed in my hotel room eating and watching TV all day In Carmen De Patagones.

  • Mar 15 → Carmen De Patagones to Pedro Luro. Found a nice truck stop free camp site with free shower.

  • Mar 16-17 → Pedro Luro to Bahia Blanca. Took a rest day the next day.

  • Mar 18 → Bahia Blanca to Coronel Dorrego. Original plan for today was to get to Tres Arroyos. I was engaging one of my favorite pastime that I hadn't had much of a chance to practice. When I was cycling in China, I would find that perfect tractor to draft behind at 25-30 km/h quite often. Today was one of those rare opportunity as I draft behind this tractor for about 20 km. When I was near Coronel Dorrego to have lunch. I notice my rear rim was a mess. It was coming apart at the seams. So, I just rode to Coronel Dorrego instead of Tres Arroyos. Then I bought a bus ticket to Mar Del Plata so I could fix my bike.

  • Mar 19 → Took the bus to Mar Del Plata.

  • Mar 20 → Went to a bike shop and bought a French made sealed hub and a cheap rim to go with it. I spent 550 pesos. Could've had something lots cheaper, but I thought this might be what I needed.

  • Mar 21 → Relax in Mar Del Plata.

  • Mar 22-25 →  Mar Del Plata to Villa Gesell. Villa Gesell to Pinamar. Pinamar to General Conesa. General Conesa to Chascomus. The beaches in Argentina sucks. Well, I am not much of a beach person to begin with. And lying around the beach all day had never been my kind of fun except when I was 20 years younger. Hell, the older I got, the more active I became. If the water was crystal clear and I could go snorkeling, that would be fantastic. But none of the beaches in Argentina was like that.

  • Mar 26 → Chascomus to Buenos Aires. I thought this would be an easy day. When I got to greater Buenos Aires, I thought I had another half hour to go to get to city center. But I ended up riding for 3 more hours. It was a game of cat and mouse with me and the traffic police. I had always taken the freeway when I ride into the city, whether it was La Paz, Mendoza, Santiago, etc...... Now it was the first time that the police stopped me and send me back to the city roads. But I would get pissed off because it was talking me forever with all the stoplights, traffic and pedestrians. Eventually, I would make my way out to the freeway again. And yet again, they would catch me and send me back. I guess the the third time is the charm. I rode uncontested all the way to city center on the third time. Mind you, there were a few occasions I was a bit nervous. 6 lane freeway with traffic coming at you at all directions. But I still enjoyed that very much and I saved a ton of time also.

  • Mar 27-30 → Another well deserved rest in Buenos Aires. There wasn't too many major attractions for me to see. But the feel of the city was fantastic. It seems to be design for a good time. It was like a European city transport to South America. There was plenty of cheap ice cream and incredible steaks. The steaks are back since Mar Del Plata. But now I got a little tired of steaks and mostly eat all-you-can-eat buffet for around 6 pesos. And all the hostel seems to be just a big party place. Sleeping all days and  drinking all nights seems to be the norm. But people were just so easy going and friendly. It was hard not to have a smile on your face.

  • Mar 31 → Buenos Aires to Zarate.

  • Apr 1 → Zarate to Concepcion Del Uruguay. I had such a nice tailwind today that I decided to take advantage of it. Today was the longest day for me in South America. By the end of the day, I rode for 214 km.

  • Apr 2 → Concepcion Del Uruguay to Camping Arroyos Los Loros in Parque Nacional El Palmar. It was a nice place but not much to see.

  • Apr 3 → El Palmar to Concordia.

  • Apr 4 → Concordia to Chajari.

  • Apr 5 → Chajari to Curuzu Cuatia. For the first time ever, I had problems with the South American police. I had encounters with police a few times before. But normally, after they checked my passport, they would let me go. But this time, my passport wasn't good enough. They asked me to come in to the station to informed me that I was riding without a helmet and reflectors. All through South America, I had never seen any locals riding on the highway with helmet or reflectors. I was in a hurry to go and I didn't want to fight this. They wanted 30 pesos for the fine. I shut up and paid so I could leave. When I arrived at Curuzu Cuatia, I noticed that my watch was missing. The only place that I could think of that I might have lost it was at the police station. But I wasn't going back there. It was an expensive altitude watch. But I always hated it because it was so big and it stinks so fast when I wear it on the road. Oh well, it was my gift to my favorite country in South America, Argentina.

  • Apr 6-7 → Curuzu Cuatia to Mercedes. The bank machine ate my bank card on the night of the 6th. I had to stayed the next day at Mercedes to get my card back.

  • Apr 8 → Mercedes to Carlos Pelegrini (Reserva Estero Del Ibera). Crappy muddy road because of the rain. I didn't think I would make it to Carlos Pelegrini today. I tried to hitch a ride, but every vehicle that drove by were full. I gave up on hitching and just kept going. Camping was not an option,  we were in a swamp area. The only dry place was the highway when it doesn't rain. Made it to Carlos Pelegrini after a long hard day.

  • Apr 9 → I met some people at the camp ground and they became my friends. They invited me to go with them at about 5.30 pm to Largo Ibera. It was just a short boat ride, no more than a few hours. But I saw more in that few hours than what I saw in my  3 days Pantanal tour in Brazil a few weeks later. The variety wasn't as good as the Pantanal but the wildlife were abundant and accessible. I took lots of photos because this was such a beautiful place.

  • Apr 10 → My friends convinced them to go with them on the pick-up to Posadas. So now I had some extra time to relax. Just spend the day relaxing. Then around 5 pm, my friend took me on a drive to spot more wildlife. Drove all over the place and ended up at this ranch. On the way back to camp, you can see the caimans' eyes just above the water right beside the road everywhere. It was really too bad that my camera wasn't powerful enough to take that kind of photos.

  • Apr 11 → My friend drove me to Posadas on the back of the pick-up.

  • Apr 12-18 → Relaxing in Posadas. Eating huge barbecues was the theme in Posadas. This part of Argentina had very strong Brazilian influence. Huge chunk of steak was no longer the popular thing to eat. I was just trying to savior my last remaining days in Argentina before I had to bid my farewell. Spent quite a bit of time with my new friends. On the 17th, My friend drove me to Yacyreta Dam on the border between Argentina and Uruguay.

  • Apr 19-20 → Posadas to Jardin America. It was a nice easy ride with a tailwind. Went to Salto Tabay on the 20th. While coming back from the Salto to my hotel, my bike gave me more problems. By now I was having problems with my bike almost daily. It was starting to really pissed me off.

  • Apr 21 → My friend Leandro came to pick me up at Jardin America on his way to Puerto Iguazu. They were such genuinely nice people and they really wanted to drive me part of the way to Puerto Iguazu. So this was the plan we came up with. Arrived at Puerto Iguazu at around 5.30 pm. We had dinner together and the nest day he had to go back to Posadas.

  • Apr 22 → Today's goal was to get my Brazilian Visa. It took me a while to convinced the man behind the counter to at least let me try for a 3 month visa even though he think it was a waste of my time. 2 hours later, I had my 3 month visa for Brazil. By then it was too late to go the the waterfall, just spent the day relaxing.

  • Apr 23 → Catarata Del Iguazu. Wow, what an incredible place. Words or photos does not do this place justice. It was the best Natural Wonder of South America. It was better than Fitz Roy, Torres Del Paine, Perito Moreno, etc......... It is definitely something that you must experience once in your lifetime. I can't wait to get down to Victoria Fall in Africa if it is anything like this. I made the mistake of taking the Grand tour. What a crock of shit. On the Grand Tour. They load you up on the back of the Bedford, then drive you through this dirt road and let you off near the port where you take the speed boat. Hell, I had more fun brushing my teeth in the morning than that stupid ride in the so called forest. but the speed boat ride was quite fun. The boat driver tries their best to get you wet. And you can get fairly closed to quite a few of the waterfall. Most of Catarata Del Iguazu lies in the Argentina side. So, you get the up closed view of a lot of the falls. Plus you get to be almost at the same level as Garganta Del Diablo as it plunges down to Rio Iguazu. But prepare to get wet. Especially at the viewing platform at Garganta Del Diablo. Waterproof gear was a must or you can rent a plastic raincoat. There were also a lot more trails in the Argentina side. One of the option was to take the boat to Isla San Martin to get a closer view of Salto San Martin. 1 day was enough for me. Time to head over to the Brazil side and get the overview of the cataratas.

  • Brazil

  • Apr 24 → Puerto Iguazu to Foz do Iguaçu. It was already afternoon when I arrived at Foz Do Iguaçu. I wanted to have a whole day for the Foz. So I went to Itapu for the day, the world largest hydro electricity project. Before I came to Brazil, everyone was telling how dangerous Brazil was. Even my friends from Posadas told me the same thing. But when I finally cross over into Brazil, what I found were very friendly people that were full of life. Never once had I had a problem with Brazilian. In fact, the Brazilian highway police were the best, they never stopped or bother me even once. 

  • Apr 25 → Now I get to see Iguaçu from Brazil. Brazil was much better for taking photos You were always too close to the waterfalls in Argentina, but here you get the distance for great panoramic shots. What was also nice was the fact you can go on a helicopter ride if you got the dough. But best of all, you get your chance to get real close to Garganta Del Diablo. It was loud, it was wet, it was just awesome. It would be a mistake just to see the falls from one country, both countries has its own plus and minus. There weren't as many trails in Brazil than Argentina, so it was only a short stay at the Foz.

  • Apr 26-May 3 → Foz Do Iguaçu to Cascavel. Cascavel to Laranjeiras Do Sul. Laranjeiras Do Sul to Irati. Irati to Palmeira. Palmeira to Curitiba. I was trying to get to Rio De Janeiro as fast as possible because I wanted to learn Portuguese. After arriving in Curitiba and still having problems communicating with the locals, I bought a bus ticket to Rio De Janeiro. Thought that will be the best place to learn Portuguese.

  • May 5-12 → In Rio De Janeiro studying Portuguese. Before I arrived at Rio, I thought it would be even more livelier than Buenos Aires. In Buenos Aires, there were drinking and partying going on 24 hours a day. And that was just at the hostel where I stayed. The first hostel that I checked into was HI affiliated and it was ran like a prison. Spotless, organized, polite, basically very dull. I had to checked out a lot of hostel in Buenos Aires because most of them were full. And what I saw was none stop partying in all of them. Meanwhile in Rio, the party capital of the world. The atmosphere was much more laid back. It was very different than what I had expected. And Portuguese lessons was not going to good either, the method my teacher used just didn't get along with me. I wasted lots of money and I wasn't better at speaking Portuguese. Rio in off season was fairly quiet. Copacabana, Ipanema and most of the beaches were not crowed at all. You can have your own peace and quiet. Eventually, I got fed up with my progress in Portuguese and bought a bus ticket to the Campo Grande. I thought about riding to the Pantanal. But I just didn't have the time. To make this little detour from Rio to the Pantanal and back to Rio would add maybe 1 more month to my schedule. And at that time I stilled wanted to get to Venezuela in about 3 months riding along the coast of Brazil. 

  • May 13 → Took the night bus to Campo Grande with Jack the American.

  • May 14 → Arrived by bus at Campo Grande at around 6.00 pm. After some snooping around, we went with the Tour that was affiliated with the hostel. I can't remember the name, but the hostel was right next to the bus station.

  • May 15 → The bus left at 11.30 am and arrived at camp deep in the Pantanal around 8.00 pm. The first thing that I noticed were how many people were there. We were told there were about 30, but staring me right at my face were closed to 70 people. And the atmosphere was like a college party with bonfire, drinking, etc........ Damn I didn't come all the way to the Pantanal to see this. Our guide was introduced to us. He went over the itinerary with us. The most important was probably the "DING". When you hear the "DING", it was time to abandoned whatever you were doing and head for the kitchen. For the first night everyone was sleeping in hammocks.

  • May 16 → We were supposed to be ready at 7.00 am, as usually we had one of those time-was-not-so-important character in our group. He was just getting out of bed at 7.30 am. There lies my second problem. Back at Campo Grande, we were told that we could go with another group if our group did not satisfied our needs. Well, that didn't happened. I was stuck with the group that I came in with. That's another problem I had with a tour like this or tour in general. Quite a few folks likes to talk, and talk they do non-stop for hours. Damn, I guess that must be the best way to view animals. Make lots of noise so they want to come out and investigate, I think that must be their theory. No matter how many times the guide told them to be quiet, it just didn't register with them. And where the guide took us wasn't too exciting either. I saw maybe a couple of macaws, capybaras, these lima like animals and a armadillo.

  • May 17 → I wanted to go alligator petting but everyone wanted to go Piranha fishing. I guess we are going fishing then. Fishing for Piranha was a waste of time for me. These fish are not very good to eat as they are very small and has lots of bones. Everyone get a bamboo stick with a piece of fishing line at the end. You dip the line in the water and pull up when you feel a bite. I've had more fun at the dentist. In the afternoon, there was horse back riding. I want to see animals, I did not want to see a horse. But this is what most tourists want. But we did get to see a giant anteater. That was the highlight for the day. At night time our guide took us out for alligator catching, that was actually quite fun. Jack volunteer to help with the flashlight and out guide caught a medium size alligator for us to play with.

  • May 18 → Went for a short walk this morning. Once again, didn't see too much. Before we arrived, people told us that they saw pumas, anacondas, etc.....with this tour company. After my third day, the most exciting thing that I saw was an anteater. I was very disappointed with this whole thing. After we ate lunch, the truck took us away from Pantanal for good. And on the main room coming out of the Pantanal, there were alligators everywhere basking in the sun. I just had to ask myself, why didn't they ever took me here. It was easy to get to and lots of things to see. I guess if you are in a group, the majority rules. And my group had very different ideas than me. If I was with another group or another tour, I think I would've enjoyed the Pantanal a whole lot more. As it was I left the Pantanal with a pissed off feeling. My final comment on this subject is that if you want the party deep in the jungle atmosphere with a few animal here and there, by all mean come to the Pantanal. But if you want guaranteed wildlife viewing in the shortest period of time, Reserva Estero Del Ibera is a much better choice.

  • May 19-22 → Arrived back in Rio around 9.30 pm on the 19th. I waited till 23rd to leave. That was a Sunday, I figured that would be the best for traffic.

  • May 23-25 → Rio to Morica. Morica to Arraial Do Cabo. Rest day in Arraial Do Cabo. This would be great I thought, I would get to look at the ocean and ride on relatively flat land along the coast. As I learn later on, there is no flat land in Brazil. Maybe in the Amazon, but I never made it that far. This would be the only day where I get some peace from the constant hills. Actually, throughout my ride in Brazil, the only place where I didn't hit the mountains was this little stretch north of Rio. 

  • May 26 → Arraial Do Cabo to Carapebus. It was a good day till I arrived in Carapebus. I tried to go up this steep hill and my rear hub was toast just like that. The damn thing didn't even last 4000 km.

  • May 27 → Took the bus to Macae to get a new wheel. Spent about 70 Reals for a new wheel.

  • May 28 → Carapebus to Campos Dos Goitacazes.

  • May 29 → Campos Dos Goitacazes to Iconha. Strangest thing happened today. Normally I would eat a big breakfast as soon as I got up. Then perhaps at 9.00 am, I would stop to have another meal. The latest I can do is maybe 11.00 am. Today, I felt no pain till it was 2.00 pm. Till today I still couldn't explained what happened. I wish I could feel like that everyday, my trip would be so much cheaper. Instead I eat like a pig all the time.

  • May 30 → Iconha to Serra.

  • May 31 → Serra to Sooretama. Another day, another broken part. Today was my rear rack's turn. But I was very fortunate because it broke at a place where it was easily fixed. A couple of cable ties and it was almost as good as new, as long as I did not bounce too much on the bike.

  • Jun 1 → Sooretama to Pedro Canario. Ok, let see what do I want to see break today. Let that be a spoke! And maybe 2 flats also. I rode into the town of Sao Mateus to get the spoke fix. It was much faster this way and it was practically free. And the guy even trued my wheel at the same time.

  • Jun 2 → Pedro Canario to Teixeira De Freitas. As soon as I crossed over into the province of Bahia, the road just turn to shit. When there were no traffic, it was fine. But this was the main highway linking all the big cities on the coast. I often had to stopped my bike and let the traffic through because I had nowhere else to go. Mind you I thought Brazilian drivers were great. When they can see me, they always give me lots of room. But the problem is that in Brazil, you were expected to drive very fast and take lots of chance. Sometimes they just don't see me and would scared the crap out of me because they would get so close to me. Of all the countries in South America, Brazil was the least comfortable for me to ride on.

  • Jun 3 → Teixeira De Freitas to Itamaraju. Another flat today.

  • Jun 4-6 → Itamaraju to Eunapolis. Eunapolis to Camaca. Camaca to Itabuna.

  • Jun 7 → Itabuna to Travessio. Yet another flat today.

  • Jun 8 → Travessio to Valenca. Today, the bottom bracket went. 

  • Jun 9 → Valenca to Vera Cruz. I took the bike to the bike shop this morning to have it look at. When the man took out the bottom bracket, the damn thing was in a million pieces. Well, this can't be fixed here and I didn't feel like taking the bus. I told him to put the bottom bracket back on and I would ride to Salvador with it. I figured if I didn't make it all the way, I would just hitch a ride. Vera Cruz has a very nice view of Salvador across the ocean. It was a laid back and relax community.

  • Jun 10 → Vera Cruz to Salvador. Nice and easy ride to Bom Despecho and took the ferry to Salvador this morning.

  • Jun 11-14 → Salvador was one of the main attraction for me at this part of Brazil. Everyone told me it was different here, that there was a very strong African culture. I personally didn't feel that strongly about it. It was more like Brazilian culture with just a touch of African flavor. I stayed at Pelourinho which was the heart of Salvador night life. If you want peace and quiet, you better stay somewhere else. By now, it was pouring just about everyday. And when it rains, it rains dogs and cats and whatever else is there. Then it would stopped just as fast. And after a few days trying to find the real Salvador, I called it quite and move on north. I am not much of a big party person, and places like this just didn't hold that much to me. The bike fixing business wasn't going too good either. I had a tough time getting what I wanted. In the end I just gave up and buy a cheapo. The man also agree to fix my rear rack. I had my doubt about their ability to weld aluminum, he assure me they have done this so many times that they can do it with their eyes closed. I went back the next day, to pick up my bike. Then I saw the messed they made on my rack. I had it fixed perfectly fine before, now it was much worse after they tried to fix it. They also gave me a tune up and in the process split my shifter cable. But I didn't notice the cable until a few days later. It was time to go north.

  • Jun 15 → Salvador to Praia Do Forte. I rode there to see the turtles in small tanks at Projeto Tamar. It was quite educational, but not too exciting.

  • Jun 16-20 → Praia Do Forte to Conde. Conde to Itaporanga D'Ajuda. Itaporanga D'Ajuda to Propia. Propia to Teotonio Vilela. Teotonio Vilela to Messias.

  • Jun 21 → Messias to Palmares. I went completely mental today. I had 2 flat tire in the morning and I had 3 flat tire in the afternoon. All on the front tire. As I was going up this steep hill. I heard this hissing sound. I pull off to the side and was going to change the flat on the shoulder. Then I decided against. This section was very steep and it was only 2 lanes. From my experience, the slower trucks always drive right on the shoulder so the faster cars can pass. Almost as soon as I moved my bike off to the dirt, I had a big truck heading straight for me. I changed the tire and was ready to go. Then that one went flat as well. And I just lost it after that. I been having problems with the bike one way or another almost everyday now. And this one just pushed me over the edge. I took the wheel and threw it to the ground as hard as I could. The wheel bounced about 3 meter in the air. Then it hits the dirt and took a right turn. It roll right over this big gutter between the highway and the dirt. It went straight back on the main road. As soon as I saw that, I had to ran like a rabbit. I was extremely pissed off but I still needed that wheel to ride my bike. So I ran into oncoming traffic and start chasing my wheel. And the truckers had to dodge me and the wheel. Good thing that they were all crawling up this hill. Once the wheel was recover, I took that thing and threw it in the dirt. I made sure that I threw it flat and it couldn't roll. By then I knew I needed a break very badly or a new bike.

  • Jun 22-Jul 6 → Palmares to Olinda. My final chapter in South America. This was where I was gonna end my trip. The bike was pissing me off too much. I needed to completely rebuild my bike. I stayed in Olinda for a long time deciding what I wanted to do. My original plan was to ride all the way up to Venezuela through the Amazon. But I was just tired of dealing with this bike. And I wanted to visit Marlis in Aug. That didn't gave me lots of time to get up to Venezuela. Finally I bought a ticket to Zurich.

  • July 7-Aug 3 → Flying to Zurich from Recife. Then Marlis sister-in-law Katia drove me to Klosters. And that's where I've been staying since.

  • Aug 4-18 → Marlis and I went on a little Tour De Swiss. We took Veloland Route 2, 7 and 9 for a loop that starts from Klosters and finished in Klosters. The highlight of this trip was Rheinfall and Lucern. I thought maybe Interlaken would be something nice to see. But I wasn't too impress with it.

  • Aug 19-21 → Klosters, Switzerland

  • Aug 22-Sep 6 → My 2 weeks stay in London to visit my friend.

  • Sep 7-?? → Staying in Switzerland working on this web site and rebuilding my bike.

  • 2005

    South Africa

    I am writing this in Nov of 2008, my memory might not be so fresh as I am reading all the little notes from my log book.

  • Mar 30 → My flight landed in Johannesburg, then I took the connecting flight to Cape Town. Pottie picked me up at the airport, then he drove me to his house in Strand(about 38 KM E of Cape Town).

  • Mar 31-Apr 11 → Just Hanging around trying to do various task and also getting acclimatized to African life. I was quite nervous at the beginning. My original plan was to start riding from Johannesburg. But my friend convinced me otherwise, that would be too dangerous. So I decided to go to Cape Town(Strand) instead. But even that would be very dangerous. He basically said that if I were to ride my bike from the airport to his house. I would have nothing but my birthday suit no more than 15 minutes into my ride. South Africa in so many ways are so different that the other African countries from my journey. It is the only country that has enough money to put fence up around almost all the game parks. With many other countries, the wildlife goes where ever it wants to. It has a fantastic infrastructure, the roads are first class. Let just do a simple comparison. South Africa is a power house in Africa and Nairobi(Kenya) is the financial capital in East Africa. You would think that the roads leading to the capitals of both countries would be similar. As my friend was driving me around Johannesburg, I keep thinking I was somewhere in North America. Speed up to the future when I rode out of Nairobi. The road leading out of the capital was shocking. For around 70KM or so, the road(A104) looked like it had been carpet bombed. I heard the stretch going from Nairobi to Mombassa was even worst. In South Africa, everyone shop at the same supermarket. Except that the blacks usually carry out nothing but bags and bags of maize while the whites got all kinds of goodies such as chocolate, ice cream, etc... While the other countries, the rich and the poor shop at very different places. Anyway, a lot of my time was spent trying to get the rest of the equipments for my bike. Hiked up to the top of Table Mountain on Apr 3. It was nice but not spectacular. Normally, I would run all the way down. But I was in terrible shape after such a long lay off, my legs were done.  I missed the last train to Strand. Took a dorm bed at Long Street Backpacker for R70. Nice place to be if you want to be right in the action. The noise kept me up till about 4:00 AM. Did some dental work on Apr 4. It was a damn good price for a tooth extraction.

  • Apr 12 → Strand to Kleinmond. Had to get going, I was still a bit nervous from all the things that my friend told me. Original plan was to get to Hermanus. Then I ran into a film crew that told me no whales in Hermanus, this is the wrong season. Pottie's friend told me the same thing when I arrived at Kleinmond. He offered me a place to stayed and I took it.

  • Apr 13 → Kleinmond to Caledon. Reminds me a lot of when I was riding in Brazil. The road snakes up and down the mountain constantly with the occasional view of the ocean. As I was chowing down my lunch just before noon, the restaurant owner told me the bad news that N2 to Swellendam was closed. I have to take a 53KM detour to get back on N2. My butt was hurting a lot, it didn't take long for me to decide to stay. Found a place to stay for R100, that's a bit much for my budget, ouch!!!

  • Apr 14 → Caledon to Swellendam. The road was still closed. But what the hell, I wasn't going to take a 53KM detour to get back on N2. At 8KM past Caledon going E on N2, a section of the road that was about 30 ft wide was just gone. I pushed the bike down to the hole without much problems. Going up was a bit more difficult. I first tried to put my bike on my shoulder and just power up the slope. It didn't work too well, just too much mud and the slope was too steep. So I detached all the panniers from my bike and carry everything up individually. Arrived at Swellendam around 5 PM, found me a spot on a camp ground for R40.

  • Apr 15 → Swellendam to Riversdale. Mossel Bay was just a little too far with too many hills to get to in 1 day. Saw something interesting. 2 guys were walking on the highway. The first 1 were wearing a normal backpack and the second guy was dragging this huge cross on his shoulder. All of us locked eyes, but I just kept going. It is not my cup of tea to talk to fanatics.  Arrived at Riversdale around 3 PM, found a camping spot for R40.

  • Apr 16 → Riversdale to Mossel Bay. After about 15KM, the road finally flatten out a bit. My legs can really appreciate that. That nice tailwind was pretty cool too. The Garden Route isn't impressing me so far. Got to Mossel Bay around noon. Found a spot at the Mossel Bay Backpackers for R50(camping).

  • Apr 17 → Mossel Bay to Knysna. The hills were back with a vengeance.  At least the wind wasn't so bad. But the beauty of the Garden Route has eluded so far. I just don't see what the big fuss is all about. In retrospect, it was quite beautiful when you consider South Africa is such a dry place and you have this piece of greenery in this area. Arrived at Kynsa around 5 PM. R50 for camping in the Overlanders Lodge.

  • Apr 18 → Rest day in Knysna.

  • Apr 19 → Knysna to Storms River Village. Stopped a bit at Plettenburg Bay to have a quick look. Then onto the Grootrivier Pass to check out the Nature's Valley. It was nice. Next stop is the Bloukans Pass on N2 to check out the highest bungee jump in the world. Arrived at Storms River Village around 5 PM. Camping at the Tube and Axe for R50.

  • Apr 20 → Storms River to Jeffreys Bay. I was such a idiot at the beginning of my trip. Storms River was 1 of those place in South Africa to have lots of fun such as zip lining in the forest, black tubing down the river, etc.... But I was just a bit tight with my wallet. And that trend would repeat itself through out the entire trip in Africa. Took my bike to Stormsriver Adventures in the morning for a cassette adjustment and off to Jeffreys Bay I went. Nice tailwind for a change, I like it. Arrived around 3 PM. Found me a dorm bed for R50 at the Misty Lodge at Supertubes.

  • Apr 21 → Stayed in Jeffreys Bay to work on my blog and email. But the internet service around here is amazingly stupid. I spend an hour and all I accomplished was to checked 1 email. I couldn't post anything on my blog at all. About this time I gave up on the idea of a blog, it was just useless. And since I am not a surfer dude, I didn't have any urge to checked out what is supposedly the one of the longest surf break in the world.

  • Apr 22 → Jeffrey's Bay to Port Elizabeth. Arrived at Port Elizabeth at 1:00 PM. Found a dorm bed at King's Backpackers for R60. I tried calling Eric and realized that he was already in Cape Town. He was flying out Sunday morning. I phoned the bus companies. Basically, I have to be on stand-by to have a chance for a ticket for 7:30 AM tomorrow morning. And I will arrive at Cape Town at 6:00 PM at night. It just didn't make any sense to go back. I would arrived and say goodbye and a few hours later, he would be on the plane. Oh well, I will see him some other time.

  • Apr 23 → The people that were running Kings Backpackers were dicks. So I switch over to Helicharter Backpackers. R35 for a nice camping spot.

  • Apr 24 → Pierre, who was staying at Helicharter long term drove me , Katrina and Andrea(German girls working in Port Elizabeth) to Cape Recife for the day.

  • Apr 25 → Hooked up with an American couple to go to the Kragga Kamma Game Park. It worked out to be R300 split between the 3 of us for the taxi ride and R30 entrance fees each. We saw, giraffes, red hartebeest, cheetah, white rhinos, impalas, common reedbuck, springboks, bushbucks, wildebeests, waterbucks, burchell's zebras, nyalas, lechwes, warthogs, ostrichs. The American couple had already been to the Krugers National Park. They said that this little private park wasn't so bad. As for me, I just felt like I was in a giant zoo.

  • Apr 26-29 → Just waiting around to get enough people to go to Addo Elephant Park.

  • Apr 30 → The big day for Addo Elephant Park. We left at about 6:30 AM with David as the driver. Arrived at the Parkand found out that it was R80 for the whole car and not R80 each person, great!!! The park ranger told us to go to Carapur(Carol's Rest). It turned out to be an excellent waterhole. There were already a big group of elephants as we arrived. They weren't very active though. The we head off to various other waterholes. All in all, we must have seen about 100 elephants today. The variety of wildlife weren't as good as the little Kragga Kamma. But the sheer volume of elephants more than made up for it. The thing that ruin the wilderness feel was that a lot of the road was paved and the waterhole was man made. We left the park around 6:30 PM to go back to Port Elizabeth. It was still a fantastic outing and I had a great time.

  • May 1 → Rest day after the excitement of the Addo.

  • May 2 → Port Elizabeth to Grahamstown. Kind of a screwed up morning. Didn't leave till about 7:30 AM. By my standard, that's a very late start. The start was nice as it was nice and flat. I was averaging 20KM/H, which is quite good for a fully loaded mountain bike. Then I got pulled over by a cop. He wanted to see my special permit to ride on the highway. I came back with the answer that while I was in London, I went to the South African Consulate. And they told me that it was not a problem to ride on the highway. The cop seems to accept that and I was on my way again. Then I had the hills and the constant mist for the rest of the day. Before I knew it, it was already 4:00 PM and another 25 KM of hills to go. I was pushing hard to get to Grahamstown. My thoughts of camping out was not acceptable as I was still paranoid from what my friend told me back in Cape Town. About 10 KM from Grahamstown and it was around 5:30 PM. It was getting awfully dark with the crappy weather. A bunch of guys felt sorry for me and gave me a lift the rest of the way to town. I went to checked in at The Old Gaol Backpackers. Dorms were full and singles were R100. For R50, they allowed me to set up my tent on the concrete.

  • May 3 → Grahamstown to Hamburg. The manager at the Old Gaol Backpackers told me it was easy to get to East London in one day and that the terrain was quite flat. I guess when you are driving a landcruiser, the hill doesn't look so high after all. When I arrived at Peddie, I decided to stay there if I could. This looks like a lively place. But it was not to be. For a crappy B+B in this crappy little town, they wanted R120. It seems that all the cheap accommodation are only available in tourist areas. The further you get away from the tourist trail, the more you have to pay. So Hamburg was my new destination. Arrived around 5:00 PM. Checked into the Oyster Lodge And Backpackers. Got a dorm bed for R60. Went out shopping for supplies. The old lady was kind enough to open shop for me even though the place was closed. It had been raining for the last few days. everything I had was wet.

  • May 4 → Hamburg to East London. That was a much better day. Still quite hilly and a bit of headwind. Arrived at East London around 4:00 PM. Then checked into the Sugarshack Backpackers for R35 for camping.

  • May 5 → Rest day in East London. My legs were hurting a bit and I needed to do laundry. Sugarshack is quite the lively place, too bad it just wasn't my cup of tea.

  • May 6 → East London to Cintsa. Stayed at the Buccaneers Backpackers. This is another lively place. At another time in my life,  I would have really enjoyed this place. The setting is just fabulous and there are tons of activities.

  • May 7 → Met Anja the German girl. She was driving around Africa on a rental car. She agree to take me to Coffee Bay on Monday. I was feeling lazy, so why not. But first she wanted to fix her camera. Went out on the leaky canoe, wasn't much fun as it was leaking too much. Then tried the narrow kayak. It was just a little too unstable for me.

  • May 8 → Anja made some phone calls, but all the camera shops were closed. Went for a bike ride to Cintsa West.

  • May 9 → Tagged along to East London to shop at Pick N Pay.

  • May 10 → Went on the canoe with Anja and Makayla.

  • May 11 → Finally, we were off. We left at noon. Transkei is nice but nothing that I hadn't seen before. Arrived at Coffee Bay around 5:00 PM. Paid R30 for camping at Bomvo Backpackers.

  • May 12 → Day trip to The Hole In The Wall. It was interesting, something that I never seen before which is always nice for me. Bought some crayfish from local boys while on the beach. Gonna have crayfish for dinner tonite.

  • May 13 → Coffee Bay to Libode. The day started out not bad. The grading was not as steep as the road to The Hole In The Wall. I asked for direction everywhere I went. Then I stopped a pick up truck to ask for direction again. The guy told me that I already missed the turn off to the most direct road to Port St John. But he offer to take me to the general direction. I don't know if he helped me or screwed me. Because by the time he dropped me off, I was less than 10KM from Umtata and 85KM away from Port St. John. Found a place for R160 for a room, ouch!!! I hate the real South Africa, it is hurting my pocket. If you want a cheaper holiday, stay on the tourist trail.

  • May 14 → Libode to Port St. John. Left the hotel at 7:00 AM. The old man from the hotel told me that after the first hill, the road is virtually flat. Well, the hills lasted longer than what he told me. And then after, the road wasn't as flat as he described. Not much wind today, which makes it always pleasant. Arrived at Port St. John around 11:00 AM. Checked into the Jungle Monkey for R40 for camping.

  • May 15 → Port St. John to Flagstaff. I was contemplating whether I should take the bus. Going through South Africa on the trail less visit was costing me a lot of money. I decided to just go and see what happens. It was uphill from the start. About an hour into my ride, I got an offer for a lift to Lusikisiki. Thought about it for a second and declined. About 10 KM before Lusikisiki another truck stopped me. The guy wanted to know all kinds of questions about cycling. I put the bike on the truck and had a little chat with him. He dropped me off about 10 KM pass Lusikisiki. I only had 30KM more to Flagstaff. Arrived there around 2:30 PM. The first hotel wanted R250 for a room, shit!!! There was one other choice in town, a cheaper B+B. R80 for a room. No shower, no sink, no water and a outhouse. I don't mind outhouse except this one is ridiculous. It was a home made sit down toilet. There were crap on the seat. And the way they made this thing made squatting impossible. I couldn't even use it for peeing.  A hole in the ground would have been nice.

  • May 16 → Flagstaff to Port Edward. That was R80 not well spend. I left a little present for them in the cornfield in the backyard. I really had no choice. Right away, I saw a sign that said 130KM to port Edward. I thought it was shorter, oh well. Lots of hills to start the day. After Bizana, it started to get better as my average speed got better and better. Then finally I crossed into Kwazulu-Natal and into Port Edward. Checked into the Vuna Valley Backpackers. Camping for R40. Then got back on the bike to go shopping as the place was quite far from everything. Made it back just before it got too dark.

  • May 17 → Port Edward to Scottburgh. Finally, a stretch of road that was more manageable. It was pleasant as I got to see the ocean quite a bit on today's ride. Arrived at Scottburgh around 4:00 PM. Stayed at the caraven park for R80 for camping. Had a nice Borije that nite with a nice family.

  • May 18 → Scottburgh to Durban. A nice and easy day. Another enjoyable ride along the ocean. I alternated between R102 and the N2, depending which one is closer to the ocean.  I was expecting to see Little India when I enter Durban, but it was not to be. Most of the Indians are concentrated in certain areas. Checked into the Tekweni Backpackers Hostel. R50 for camping. A really nice place with very friendly staffs. Then went out and tried to buy supplies which I should have bought in Cape Town. And now I couldn't find it anywhere.

  • May 19 → Phoned Leo today(friend of a friend). And he happens to be flying to Cape Town today. He would be coming back on May 30th. I thought I might just go to the Drakkensburg and do a bit of trekking and then come back and pay him a visit.

  • May 20-27 → Instead of going to the Drakkensburg, I just hung around Durban. It just wasn't cost effective for me to go there and come back.

  • May 28 → Durban to Mtunzini. Got tired of waiting and left Durban. A nice tailwind for a change. If the road was flat, I could've done 200KM easily today. I stopped at a truck stop to get some food. Then a guy was talking to me about how he saw me on the road and he also wanted to tour on the bike. I mentioned that touring in South Africa is starting to get a bit expensive. Out of the blue, he gave me R200. Well, thank you very much. I wish it was like this everyday. Arrived at Mtunzini around 3:00 PM. During the nite, found out that the owner of Nature's Way Backpackers were going  to Hluhluwe tomorrow. Great, thought that would be a cheap safari. I asked if I could tagged along and to be dropped off at St. Lucia. R40 for camping at Nature's.

  • May 29 → We took off with the bike tie to the roof at around 7:30 AM. It was a long drive to get to Hluhluwe. I was a bit disappointed also that I didn't see many rhinos. This was supposed to be the place to see them in South Africa. Saw a few giraffes, zebras, impalas and some other animals. At 5:00 PM, we left the park. Arrived at St. Lucia just before 6:00 PM. I guess I should've ask for the price last nite. When he told me R200 for the trip, I was a bit shock. Oh well, lesson learn. Next time I'll do better. He dropped me off at Bloo Backpackers. R40 for camping.

  • May 30-Jun11 → Not sure what I did. I do not have any notes regarding these dates. I know that I stayed at St. Lucia for a few days. Hitch a ride to the wetland. Didn't see too much though. Walk around St. Lucia a bit and saw a croc really closed-up. I needed to with my dinky little 3X zoom camera. Hippos were supposed to wander the street at nite, but I didn't see any. Somewhere in there I rode my bike to Richard's Bay. While in St. Lucia, I decided not to go to Kruger National Park. And instead of doing Mozambique, I wanted to go to Namibia. Since I am on the other side of the country. And South Africa was getting a bit expensive. Plus the fact that there weren't that many things that was of interest to me along the way. I decided to bus it. Anyway, arrived at Richard's Bay and right away there was a bus leaving for Johannesburg. After a bit of negotiation, I was in. I phoned up Robert when I arrived at Johannesburg. He drove me to his place. That was my first real taste of the real South Africa. Great big beautiful thatch roof house with great big razor wires fences all around the house. Plus the mandatory maid, gardener, etc.... At least they had pretty decent housing. Then later on I was staying in another house, he was doing a bit of house sitting. Another big beautiful thatch roof house with great big razor wires. But this time, the gardener/helper only gets a dinky little wooden shack. I didn't go inside, but looks like it had no electricity, maybe it had water. Either way, it look horrible. South Africa is heading the right direction, but progress is painful and slow!!! I got a taste of the South Africa lifestyle when I stayed with my friend in Cape Town. But Johannesburg is way more intense.

  • Jun 12 → It was time to head toward Namibia. Robert drove me to the Park City Transit Center in Johannesburg. I was still bussing it to save money. Then at 7:30 AM, the bus left for Upington. Arrived at Upington at 5:45 PM. Then in the same nite, I talked to Johnny. He was staying in the same Backpakcers as me(Yebo). The problem was the vehicle. He only know how to drive automatic. R35 for camping at Yebo.

  • Jun 13 → Got up nice and early, got all stuff packed and ready to go by 8:00 AM. Johnny was still waiting for the phone call from the rental companies. We finally got the bad news at 8:30 AM. Nobody in town have a vehicle with automatic transmission. After about 30 minutes of talking, I convinced him to take a quick lesson from the Brits that was driving a landrover across Africa. They were also staying at Yebo. That way, at least he can drive out of the rental place. And I can take over from there. 3 laps around the block later, I pronounced him ready for the road. I have with me a driver's license that expired in 2003. With his new driving skill, we went in search of a stick shift. The car finally showed up. We did an inspection. He sign all the paper and forked out the money. The man gave Johnny the key and was standing in front of the car and wave goodbye. Johnny start up the car and almost ran over the guy. I can see the lady was whispering "Oh My God". The old man was nice enough to tell Johnny to put the shifter in neutral, press the clutch and start again. Meanwhile I was just holding myself back from laughing. I thought this was so funny, they obviously can see he had no idea how to drive this thing. But yet they don't seems to care. One block away from the rental place, I took over the driving. Shifting with your left hand wasn't that bad. And we were off to the Transfrontier Park. Arrived at Transfrontier around 2:00 PM. We did a small loop to get to Mata Mata. We saw 2 cheetahs and lots of herds of animals. Then we saw a group of probably over 40 giraffes. Arrived at Mata Mata around 7:30 PM, well pass curfew. The gate was closed. We went in search of people to open the gate for us. Then we checked into the chalet that was already reserved by Johnny. He was nice enough to let me stay there for free. And the place happens to have 2 beds, excellent. But the entrance fee for the park was R120, ouch!!! Day 1 in Transfrontier.

  • Jun 14 → We left Mata Mata at 7:30 AM, the earliest the gate would open. Then we had to go back because we forgot to pick up our registrations. And not much later, we ran into the find of the day. 2 lions sitting right beside the road laying under a tree with a fresh gemsbok kill. We waited patiently as the lions were marking her territories. Then slowly dragged the kill to where her mate was and slowly devoured the kill. A couple of jackals were doing their usual annoying bit. The lion gave a half hearted chase and went back to her siesta. Very nice indeed. We had our filled and were off again. Saw more giraffes again as we were driving toward the main gate. Lots of other wildlife on the way out of the park. At around 1:15 PM, it was time to head back to Upington so Johnny can take the bus to Cape Town. He was in a bit of a tight schedule. Arrived with plenty of time to spared. We returned the car. The trip cost cost me R200 plus another R120 for entrance fee. Considering Johnny paid closed to R1000, it was a real bargain for me. The thing that pissed me off was that the locals pay R30 and we pay R120 for entrance. Thanks Johnny for your generosity. He knew I was on a tight budget and he was going home anyway and didn't mind splurging a bit. Anyway, I had a fantastic time at the park. A real gem. Day 2 in Transfrontier.

  • Jun 15 → Left my bike and most of my stuff at Yebo. Then went to the taxi rank. Got there at 9:00 AM, as soon as the taxi were full, we were off. Then I had to go through the same routine again at Kakamas. It was 3:00 PM when I finally made it to the Kalahari Adventure Centre. Too late to do anything else. Just went to the shops to get some supplies.

  • Jun 16 → It was getting cold in this part of South Africa. I wanted to start walking to Augrabies Falls at around 5:00 AM, too damn cold. I got going at 6:00 AM. It took over 2 hours to walk there. No sunrise photos of Augrabies. I have to come back again after full flood which occurs about every 10 years. As it was, it looked a bit dry. It was kinda nice considering it's pretty dry all around. Then went the Dassies Trail. That was a waste of time, nothing really interest me on that trail. So I went back to the fall. As I was walking along, I found this gentle path I hope that it would take me down to the water below. But I had to gave up half way down as it was getting quite dangerous. At 2:00 PM, it was time to start walking back to the Kalahari Adventure Centre. This time I was luckier. After walking for about 4 KM, I got a lift to the turn off  to my hostel. I guess I must have looked very scary in the morning as no one would picked me up.

  • Jun 17 → Time to head back to Upington. The owner gave me a ride to where the taxi stops. Right away, there were a taxi leaving. Had to wait a bit at Kakamas for the second leg of the journey. Back at Upington before noon. Time to do laundry and get supplies for the trip to Namibia. I was planning to do lots of free camping to recover what I spend in South Africa.

  • Jun 18 → Upington to about 30KM to the border to Namibia on N10. I didn't get going till 7:30 AM because it was so dark. I ran into a headwind right away and the wind lasted all day. Around 4:00 PM, I had enough of this wind. I was still 30 KM from the border to Namibia and there was no way I could make it with this wind. So I found this nice little culvert under the road and pitch my tent. I hope this stupid wind die down tomorrow. All that running around Augrabies Falls, which I wasn't used to was making me extra tired. This was my first time at free camping in Africa. All the paranoia that I developed through my friend in Cape Town were almost completely gone now. South Africa was no where near as dangerous as he lead me to believe.

  • Namibia

  • Jun 19 → From about 30KM to Namibia to about 27KM to Karasburg. Slept like a baby last nite. I loved sleeping under the road. No frost or moisture in my tent what-so-ever. It was 7:30 when I finally hit the road. No choice as it was very dark. What a difference a day made. No wind at all today. Rode the 30KM to the border. 15 minutes later, I was out of South Africa. Then 17KM of no-mans-land to the Namibia border control. Took about 15 minutes to go through custom. That was it, I was in Namibia. The wind picked up a bit in the afternoon, but definitely manageable. Started to look for a place to camp at 4:00 PM. Found the perfect spot. It was a huge culvert. Tall enough for me to stand up. I was contemplating about sending my stove home when I was in South Africa. Good thing I didn't, it sure come in handy now as I was cooking my noodle.

  • Jun 20 → From 27KM to Karasburg to about 20KM after Grunau. Left at 7:30 AM again. When I was in South Africa, I had all kinds of advice on how flat Namibia was. As I would discovered later on, you are either ascending or descending in Namibia. It never is flat. Though the grade isn't too bad. The wind wasn't helping too much at all today. After 87KM of paved road, it was back to gravel. A nice gravel road. I had stocked up on supplies when I went through Karasburg. The people there told me there wasn't much to buy at Grunau. They were absolutely right. At Grunau, I filled up all my water, all 8 liters. Around 4:00 PM. I couldn't find that nice culvert. But I did find some massive boulders that shields me from the road. Rode on 20 KM of gravel today.

  • Jun 21 → From 20KM after Grunau to just outside Fish River Canyon on D601. Did I mentioned that I was camping ride beside the railroad track. I woke up twice last nite. The first time I was scared shitless as it was so loud when the train went by. The second time was better as I was used to it by then. I definitely had a crappy nite last nite. On top of the train, I had a couple of punctures on my sleeping pad. Not much sleep at all. I left camp at 8:00 AM. Too cold and too dark to do anything earlier. But it was only 7:00 AM because I forgot to adjust my watch when I entered Namibia. This was a nice gravel road(C12), had a nice tailwind as well. Even the minor gravel road(D601) wasn't that bad either. Just before the entrance to Fish River Canyon, There was the Canyon Roadhouse. I thought I would stay there cheaply(camping) and finally get my shower. N120 for a campsite. No, thank you!!! Time to moved on. It was another 14KM to Hobas(Fish River Canyon). I enquired about camping there, it was even worst. N150 for camping. Of course the campsite is for 8 people, but there was only 1 of me. Strike two, time to moved on again!!! But before I do that, I want to see a bit of Fish River Canyon, there was always the chance I might never come back here again. Dropped all my stuff at the park entrance office. Paid a reasonable N20 for entrance, then rode my bike to the Main View Point. Then I made the mistake of walking to the Hikers View Point. I would have saved a lot of time if I had bike there. I start running down to get to the bottom. As time was getting short and I had to come back up. If I had more time, there were plenty of places for me to go to get fantastic photos if I didn't get caught. You are only allowed to be on the official trail. It was time to run back to the Main View Point, pick up my bike and ride back to park entrance. It was getting late. So, I stocked up on another 8 liters of water and head back out to the desert. My bike was so heavy, I was struggling with some of the hills. Finally, I was out of the park area. It would be dark very soon. I made the decision of opening one of these gates that I saw on the road and camp on private land. I had no choice, there were fences everywhere. Just do it quick so no one would see me.

  • Jun 22 → From just outside Fish River Canyon on D601 to about 30 KM to Goageb on B4. Damned, it was hard to sleep good with the sleeping pad leaking air. Still haven't go time to fix the leak yet. Actually, I need water to find the leak. And out here in the desert, all my water were for drinking and eating. Will not use a single drop to find the leak. I was off by 7:15 AM. Just endless hills. Gentle hills that goes on forever. Then I was back on the C12 where it had been super nice so far. As good as it can get on a gravel road. Then I hit a terrible stretch with lots of ruts. Also, the grader was working on the road. Sometimes it helps me and sometimes it makes the road worst for me. I guess all it matters is that it always helps the motor vehicles after the grader go through an area. And the headwind wasn't helping either. After 95 KM of gravel road, I arrived at Seeheim. Original plan was to stop here at a campground so I can get my shower. But I decided to keep going to take advantage of the wind. Back on pavement now, I started to look for a place to camp 3:00 PM. By 4:45 PM, I still hadn't find one. It would be dark very soon. So, for the second day in a row, I have to camp in private land. And this time, I actually have to jump the fence. I waited till the vehicle passed me. Then I quickly made my way to the fence, took everything off the bike. Then throw everything over. Too late, another vehicle coming and I was half way over the fenced. In my haste to get over quickly, I landed on my ass. They saw me and they were gone, great!!! Put everything back on the bike with the exception of my backpack. It was just dangling loose on top of the rear rack. Then quickly push the bike away from the road as fast as I could. Found myself the biggest bush around and pitch my tent behind it. Before I could do that I had to clear an area. There were sharp rocks everywhere. After 30 minutes of clearing, finally got me a spot to camp. Every once in a while, I would get paranoid and come out have a look at the direction where I think people might be living. All was good, no one came for me at nite. Had to come out for a midnite pee and I had the most pleasant of surprises. The moon was magical. It was a perfect nite. It was so bright I could see the outline of everything. There were not a cloud in the sky. The last time I saw something this nice was in Tibet many years ago. Time to get back to bed and sleep on my leaky sleeping pad.

  • Jun 23 → From 30 KM before Goageb on B4 to 40 KM after Goageb on B4. Made a big pot of pasta this morning. Took a long time to eat. By the time I ate, packed and pushed my bike back on the main road and jumped back over the fence, it was just a little after 7:00 AM. Once again, too late. Car was coming in the middle of me and my stuff getting over the fence. This car didn't care what I was doing either, excellent!!! Back to the hills once more. A bit of headwind, but not enough to really pissed me off. Arrived at Goageb to get more water and gas for my stove. Then at 11:45 AM, this wicked headwind just whipped up out of nowhere. It was similar to the stuff I was facing in Patagonia everyday. By 1:00 PM, I gave up for the day. It was just too tough for me. I found my perfect culvert and pitch my tent. Awe, peace!!! I had some time so I tried to find the leak on my sleeping pad without water. Will see if I succeeded.

  • Jun 24 → From 40 KM after Goageb on B4 to another 43 KM on B4. Left camp at 7:00 AM. Another day, another hills, then another hills, etc.... And the not even 8:00 AM, the fierce headwind returned with a vengeance. It was even stronger today. I thought for sure I could get to Aus today. By 1:00 PM, I gave up and found me a culvert to camp. I figured I can save more money this way. If I made my way to Aus, I would have to pay for tonite and tomorrow nite for me to get all my things done. But if I camped here, it will be a short ride to Aus tomorrow. Then I have the whole day to get supplies, do laundry, fix sleeping pad, have my long awaited shower, etc....., then be on the road the next day. I would only have to pay for 1 nite. Damned, I was getting cheap. While I was setting up the tent, about 30 feet away, I saw a pick-up driving near the train track. That was too close for comfort. So I went out in search of dead bushes I can use to stuff the front of the culvert to hide my tent, bike, etc.....

  • Jun 25 → 38KM to Aus. I guess I must have spend less time on make-up or something today because I was on the road at 6:30 AM. My ideal time is still 6:00 AM and I will get there again. Arrived at Aus at 9:00 AM as the wind was starting to really picked up, lucky me, ha ha ha!!! It was a good thing that I was riding really hard this morning. Checked into the Namib Garage for N40 for camping. Then head straight to the shop to get supplies. The prices in this place was quite high, after all, we are in the middle of nowhere. Spend over N300 for all my food. Hope they will last me a week. Then came back and took my well deserved shower. My last shower was in Upington(South Africa) eight days ago. Next comes laundry. Then comes the most important job. I have to patch all the holes in my sleeping pad. I patched about 5 holes. Man-O-Man, I am gonna have a nice bed again!!! Namibia was amazing so far. I was so glad that I came here instead of Mozambique.

  • Jun 26 → Aus to about 100KM from Sesriem on D826. I felt super nice after the shower yesterday. Left Namib Garage around 7:00 AM. Rode for 5 KM on a paved road and then I was back on gravel. The C13 was no where as nice as C12. I can almost say that C12 was one of the best gravel road that I had ever been on. I had to push the bike over many deep sand areas. As the road was getting better, a German couple stopped me(Sorge+Suenja). I guessed they had seen me at Fish River Canyon doing my usual running all over the place. They said they also saw me somewhere else. After a bit of a chat, they offered me a lift. Originally, I wanted to take D407 to get to Sesriem. But Sorge and Suenja wanted to take D707, which was great for me as it was the more beautiful and remote of the 2 route. I thought it was a compromised to go with them. And they agree to dropped me off somewhere in the beginning of D826 so I could continued on to Sesriem. So off we went. The whole trip was just incredible. I was so glad that I went with them. One short cut after another and they got totally lost and we ended up doing both the D407 and D707. They even throw in a bonus and we went to see Schloss Duwisib. It was totally amazing to see all the green sand dunes. I was not sure what they were, but a lot of the dunes have some form of green (grass like) vegetation growing along the base. A fine pale green carpet along the base is the best I could described it. And as you drive, the intense sun cast amazing shadows and colors on the dunes. There were never a dull moment. And we weren't even in Sousouvlei yet. I couldn't wait to get there. Just as we agreed on, they dropped me off at the turn off to D826. I kept going toward Sesriem. After a few KM, found a nice spot to camp. No more culvert this time. And I didn't have to jump a fence either.

  • Jun 27 → 100KM to Sesriem on D826. The first 50KM was quite nice. Then it was on to the sand and the rough stuff. A South African family stopped and chat with me a bit and offer me water and take some of my panniers to Sesriem. I took the water but declined the ride. 8 KM later, I was at the camp site at Sesriem. Checked into camp headquarter, the whole place was full. I ran into the South African couple again and they said if I had problems getting a camp site, I can go and see them. 20 minutes later with no possibilities of getting a camp site, I went to see the family. And wouldn't you know it. All 3 families were staying in one camp site. They came as a convoy of 3 families. They didn't know how big the camp sites were. So they had reserved 2 camp sites for the 3 families. But each camping spot were so big that all 3 families with all their vehicles can fit in with plenty of room to spare. So they had this empty spot all paid for and just sitting there. So they offer the spot for me and wouldn't accept my money. I went over for a little barbecue. That was some tasty stuff, considering I had been bush camping most of the time in Namibia and eating noodle/pasta and can food. At about 10:00 PM, I could hardly stay awake anymore. Time to go to bed. Then I noticed that there were plastics bags all around my tents. Then I see a big hole on the side of my tent. On further inspection, I saw that my backpack cover was all shredded to pieces. Damn jackals ripped my tent open and tear apart my backpack cover to get at my food. And the funny thing was that all it was after were my trail mix that I made. I had apples, bananas, carrots, onions, eggs, pasta, can meat, bread and of course the trail mix.

  • Jun 28 → Day Trip to Sousouvlei and the drive to Swakopmund in the afternoon. Man, I was mad. I hardly slept last nite. The jackal kept coming back. Did I mentioned that the jackal left a trail of trail mix around my tent. The same jackal kept coming back and it would sniff around my tent. It would woke me up, I get out of the tent to give chase. But there were nothing to chase. Go back to bed and the damn thing would come back again, and I tried to get out a little faster to see if I can chase it this time. Nope, just another ghost. Then after that, I would tried to ignored it. But it was hard, I got no sleep at all from the constant sniffing. So this is the new plan for the day. Since I wasn't comfortable bush camping in the desert with my broken tent. With hindsight, I could have just patched up the hole with duct tape. And the problem with food in my tent. I guess I could have made a deal with someone to store my food. But I wasn't thinking like that while I was at Sousouvlei. It was a real shame, this whole area was magical and I would have loved to spend a few more days here. As it was, I made the decision of going with all the families to Sousouvlei and then hitch a ride with them to Swakopmund to fix my bike. We left camp at 6:45 AM. We drove by Dune 45, which was famous for sunrise. We were already a bit too late. So they decided to come back to it later. We head straight to Dead Vlei. To be honest, I was expecting something much bigger. The biggest of sand dune, which makes it the biggest in the world are a little further in the park in a much more remote location. But what they have here were plenty impressive. We all went up the big sand dune. Enjoyed the view, since I was with the family, I didn't go all over the place. By the time we all came down and start walking back to the car, it was already too late to go see Dune 45. It was time to head back to camp and pack. After I packed, I officially went and ask if anyone can take me to Swakopmund. I had all my panniers on the bottom and my bike on top of them and strapped them all down. This way, their car trailer was protected from whatever sharp object my bike possessed. We drove through some pretty amazing landscape on the way to Swakopmund. Much different than on the way to Sesriem. Arrived at Swakopmund around 6:00 PM. Checked into the Desert Sky Backpackers for N60 for camping.

  • Jun 29 → Staying in Swapkopmund to repair all my stuff. Couldn't find seam sealer to fix my tent and couldn't buy a backpack cover. So I bought some silicone and used some of my repair fabric for the tent. As for the rain cover for my backpack, I bought some garbage bag. I hope everything will stay in one piece. They say in the guide book that Swakopmund was more German than Germany. The place wasn't my cup of tea. I actually find it quite boring. Anyway, I have to get going so I can make it to Windhoek so I can sit on my ass to watch the Tour De France.

  • Jun 30 → Swakopmund to 67 KM NE of Swakopmund on B2. Told the lady that I would be leaving at 6:30 AM. So there she was at 6:25 AM trying to wake me up. I guess she didn't know that I had been up since 4:30 AM. Left around 6:45 AM. Steadily, I had been riding north away from the cold. I can finally take off my gore-tex jacket. Everything was going great. It was a steady climb, but definitely manageable. Then at around 9:00 AM, I felt the warm air in the air. And the headwind came back with full force. I struggled all day, by 3:00 PM I gave up and found a spot to camp not far from the road.

  • Jul 1 → From 67KM NE of Swakopmund to 38KM E of Karibib on B2. Another tough day with a very strong headwind. But luck was on my side. After 19 KM into my ride, I ran into Sorge and Suenja again. We chatted a bit and before I knew it, I had another lift. They just happened to be going to Spitzkoppe as well. I was getting really pissed off with the wind today, so this was a very pleasant break. Their plan was to get to Omaruru today. So they drop me off at the turn off between B2 and C33. I had my lunch at the intersection and was on my way. Rode for another 38 KM and found a not so nice culvert. I had rejected quite a few already, either because it was too dirty(animal droppings), too small, too exposed, etc.... So I did my usual look around and make sure the traffic cannot see me, then quickly push that bike down to the culvert. This one was a bit of work to get to. When I look closer, then I notice all the wasp nests on the roof. It would be dark soon, I was a bit tired. Didn't feel like pushing the bike back up and maybe not find anything better. What the hell, it will be alright. So, I gently set up my tent. Very slow motion. At the very end, I pissed off a couple of wasps and they went for me. I quickly got inside and start laughing and talking to myself. I thought that was quite funny. When the commotions die down a bit, I whipped out my stove and start cooking. The priming procedure produce quite a bit of smoke. That might have send them packing or it could have been the cooking itself. Because once I had the stove going, I never saw the wasps again. Anyway, today was a nice ride. Saw lots of warthogs and baboons just beside the road today.

  • Jul 2 → 38 KM E of Karibi to Windhoek. I thought perhaps finally I will get a day with a tailwind. Maybe on the section from Okahandja to Windhoek. No such luck. I had a cross wind all morning. Then when I turned south from Okahandja, for the first 5 KM, the wind was awesome. Then it was back to the cross wind again. I was determined to get to Windhoek today. I wanted a nice place to relax. I wanted a shower and I wanted good food. It was almost dark when I reach Windhoek. Checked into the Chameleon City Backpackers. What a great place. Close to city center. It had a nice swimming pool, I was never in it, it was still too cold for me. A great place to meet people and organized trips to all over Namibia. I paid for 6 nites and get 1 nite free for N240.

  • Jul 3-5 → Relaxing in Windhoek. Ran into Miam from Israel, who talked me into doing the 5 day Fish River Canyon hike. So, it was me, Miam and a Frenchman(Benjamin). I forgot the exact detail, but I remember we needed another person for some reason. And we found one in the form of a Danish woman(Annette). In the meantime, we have to get certified by a doctor, which is just another way to get money from us. The whole procedure consist of us going to the clinic. Then 1 by 1 we each go see the doctor. Then he ask us a few question and decide if we were fit or not. There were not a single test involved. We all passed as expected. Then we needed to rent sleeping bags and some other stuff for the group.

  • Jul 6 → I knew we were in trouble right from the start. Annette wanted to take the taxi to the train station. Damn it, we were doing a 5 day trek that needed a doctor certificate!!! So, we took the nite train to Keetmanshoop at 7:00 PM. A journey of around 480 KM that took 12 hours. Give new meaning to the word slow train.

  • Jul 7 → Arrived at Keetmanshoop at 7:00 AM. We found a B+B that the girls can leave a lot of their stuff. The girls will be coming back here to pick up their stuff and moved on to somewhere else. Me and the Frenchman will go back to Windhoek. We walked to a few gas station to ask people for a lift. We also went to the tourist office to ask for a cheap way to get to Hobas. It seems the only cheap way to get there was to hitch. So we started walking towards the outskirt of town. Not long after, we got a lift to Grunau. Ha ha, it seems not too long ago, I just went through the same town on my bike. Then we started to walk on the C12 trying to get a lift to Hobas. I thought we could walk to Hobas if we didn't get picked up. I was dead wrong. It didn't matter as we got another lift from a pick-up truck and dropped us off right at Hobas. The guy wanted some money and we gave him N50. He wasn't too happy, oh well. Then I got a nice shock. When I was here on my bike a few weeks ago, the entrance fee was N20. Now the price just shot up to N80. This little trek is costing me a lot more that I had expected. N100 for the trek permit, N80 for park entrance, N130 for the ridiculous doctor certificate and N67 for the nite train to Keetmanshoop. Too late, no turning back now. After some discussion, we decided to start the trek today since it was only 2:00 PM. We got a lift to the Main Viewpoint after about 30 minutes of walking. We had lunch and then walked down to the Hikers View Point to begin the trek down to the river in the canyon. It was problem again. Annette as too scared to walk down the hill. We would have to constant wait for her. Since I under estimate the amount of time it would take to get to the bottom, it was starting to get dark. And we needed to get to the river since I didn't carry any water with me. Then she didn't want to walk at all and wanted to just sit there. She was going to meet us in the bottom later. She wanted to walk in the dark with her heavy pack. I guess I should have been a bit more prepare to be walking in a group. I didn't carry water because it would not be hard for me to get to the river by myself and then I can drink right from the river. They probably have enough water to last the nite and we can camp, ok maybe not camp. But sleep somehow on the slopes. I wanted to be by the river and so did everyone else except for Annette. I had enough of the situation, So took her backpack and put it in my front and then I had my normal backpack on my back. I gave my small day pack to the Frenchman to carry for me. Good thing I was very fit from cycling. I just started jogging down the hill with these huge loads. Because I had this huge pack in front of me and it was getting dark. I would fall on my ass every once in a while. No matter, I was extremely focus on getting to the river. We finally made it down to the river in darkness. There were already a group of people there with a fire going. We set up tent, eat, relax and went to sleep. First day of hiking in the Fish River Canyon.

  • Jul 8 → We left camp around 9:00 AM. Annette was struggling again. After a while, I decided to run ahead, then drop my backpack. Then I would run back to where Annette was, and take her pack for her and run back to where I left my backpack and left her backpack there. She would pick up her backpack and walk for a bit and I would come back and repeat the process. I stopped after a few times because she didn't like it. We stopped and camp by a sandy area by the river.

  • Jul 9 → Annette was up and ready to go before we were even awake. She asked us if she could get a head start because she knows she was slower than all of us. I thought this would be a great day, she's finally coming into her own. About 20 minutes later, I set off after her. I thought I would catch up to her in 15 minutes. 30 minutes later, I still didn't see her. Then I see some nice short cuts. There were always short cuts around every bend in the river. So, I never followed the river, I was forever taking short cuts. While I was on the short cuts, I noticed a fresh set of foot prints. I could only guessed that it was made by Annette. But logic tells me that she couldn't have walked that fast. I finally decided to stopped and go back to the place where I can see if they come from the river or the short cuts. When they finally showed up, it was only Benjamin and Miam. So , we just kept going not knowing where she was. My best guess was she was ahead. It was past noon already. We made a decision that if we don't find her by 2:00 PM, we would drop our stuff somewhere and camp. Then one person would stay in case she shows up, one of us would walk forward and the other one would walk backward to find her. Luckily, not long after we found her by the river waiting for us. Man, she was flying today. We found another sandy spot to camp by the river.

  • Jul 10 → Benjamin and Annette were ready, so they left early. Then Miam and I got ready about 15 minutes later. After a bit of walking, we caught up with Benjamin as he was crossing the river. I left Benjamin with Miam. I thought they were taking the long way. As far as I could tell, the river bends right at the next corner. I thought it was funny that Benjamin was asking if I was crossing the river here. I was in a hurry to catch up with Annette as I thought she was ahead. I thought I would have a fun day finally, I can go as fast as I could for once. 15 minutes later as I took my last look down the river to reconfirmed that the river was indeed going right. I took the plunge down this trail to the right to what I thought was a huge short cuts as I was still maybe 500M to 1 KM away from the bend. I walked a hell of a long way without seeing a drop of water. Then the trail split and I went left. After climbing over the dry up waterfall, I had to do some dangerous climbing.  So I came back down and tried the trail to the right. Both trails end up in the same place anyway. I kept going refusing to give up thinking that I would be back at the river anytime. After spending an hour with this wild goose chase. The real smart thing to do was to head back to the way I came to the river. Man-O-Man, there was a lot of catching up to do. I was at least 2 hours behind them and probably even longer with Annette, I thought she was flying again judging by yesterday performance. I alternate between walking real fast and a slow jog on my way back to the river. At last I was back at the river. I looked down at the bend carefully and clearly saw that the river was bending left. What a moron I was !!! After less that 30 minutes of fast walking, I ran into Annette by the river drying her socks with all her stuff spread out. Apparently, she fell into the river and was drying up all her stuff. And this probably wasn't the first time she fell into the river this morning. And now we were in troubled. After yesterday's performance, everyone were convinced that she would be super fast. But she kept telling me that she thinks Miam and Benjamin were behind us. I kept telling her that when I split with them I was lost for 2 hours until I got back to the river. They just couldn't be behind us. They were probably trying to go as fast as they could to catch up with us. 20 minutes later, she was ready to go. I guess all those times falling into the river plus the fact she was getting a pretty good blister made her into old self again. She didn't want to move at all. I kept pressuring her to move faster, that was the only way we were going to catch them. She didn't even want to looked for them. I tried to explained again that we started out as a group, they were probably looking for us. We have a responsibility to stay as a group, therefore we have to keep trying to find them. Then for the second time today, I made the same mistake again. In my haste to catch up with them, I casually glanced down the river and assumed that it was going left. And there was another short cut again. Luckily I didn't spend two hours this time around getting lost. I just had a bad feeling about this trail after my experience this morning. Not long after we start, I left my backpack on the ground and told Annette to wait for me here. I ran ahead to have a quick look. Not a drop of water in sight. I ran back to where Annette was and told her that we were going back. She was not too happy at all with her blisters, wet cloths, etc.... By the time we were back at the river, it was starting to get dark. So we set up camp. We have to no choice but to try again in the morning to find Benjamin and Miam.

  • Jul 11 → We set off at 6:30 AM this morning in search of Benjamin and Miam. We thought it would be a tough day. Wouldn't you know it, we actually found them by 7:30 AM. I saw 2 little dot way ahead by the river and I started to yell. Finally, they heard me and waited for us. They were actually just finishing their breakfast by the river. I guess they took the wrong trail as well and ended up by a dry up waterfall with no water between the 2 of them. Finally, everybody together at last. From now on, no more splitting up. We walked for another hour or so and were running into people coming the other way. Hmm....that's strange. We also saw pipe works. Finally, we asked people where we were. They told us Ai Ais was just around the corner. Damn, we had no idea. We could have gone slower and accommodate Annette more. But nobody seems to know where we were. We all thought we would be walking all day today and all day tomorrow to get to Ai Ais. It was not even 8:30 AM. Miam wanted to stayed for the day and hang around the hot spring. None of us wanted to stayed. We all went to have a bite to eat. By the time we were finished, Miam had already organized a ride back to Keetmanshoop. I guess she changed her mind. In the back of the truck we went. Then at the gate, more hitchers were picked up. We all got dropped off at Keetmanshoop. Annette got a room at the B+B where the 2 girls left most of their stuff before we went to the Fish River Canyon for N280. And Miam decided she must go back to Israel. She wanted us to walk her to the caravan park so she can organized a lift. The she changed her mind and splurge a bit to share the room with Annette. I think Annette was very sad to see the 3 of us when she got back from the restaurant. She thought she got rid of us for good. Then at 7:00 PM, Benjamin and I took the train back to Windhoek. This time was a bit different. The ticket cost N60, but you can't sleep anywhere you want. To sleep is another N20 more. But it was alright, there was a door and the bed was quite nice.

  • Jul 12 → Arrived back at Windhoek at 7:00 AM. Checked back into the Chameleon Backpackers again.

  • Jul 13-24 → Watching Tour De France. During one of the days when I was transfixed on the tv watching the tour. I got a light tap on my shoulder and some girl said something about a good race. I barely noticed what she said. Then later on I ran into Marlis(ex girlfriend) at the Chameleon Backpakcers. Then it hit me, the girl that tap on my shoulder was Marlis. I had broken up with her while I was in South Africa. She was there with the German twin that was riding their motorbikes through Africa. I think all ended well as she was interested in one of the twin. And we left on good terms.

  • Jul 25 → Windhoek to about 98KM south of Otjiwarongo on B1. Left Chameleon at 7:00 AM. It was quite a pleasant day of riding today. Found a less than ideal culvert to camp. Had to take it, it was getting late.

  • Jul 26 → From about 98KM south of Otjiwarongo to about 38KM north of Otjiwarongo on B1. Left at around 7:30 AM. I thought I would be dropping down by now, but I was still in the plateau. The morning was quite good, had to slow down a bit in the afternoon because of the wind. Had a bit of a problem this morning. I had a rear flat this morning, which was not bad since I had log over 3300 KM before this flat. While trying to fix the flat, I realized the cassette was loose as well. It took about an hour to fixed both problems. I got pulled over by some South Africans. They were the owner of a company called "CTM". They gave me water and snack bars. Just as I was ready to go, Ferdie gave me N200 and wish me luck. Well, money is always good. Found a nice culvert to camp around 4:00 PM.

  • Jul 27 → From 38KM north of Otjiwarongo to about 30Km south of Tsumeb. The morning riding was quite nice. A lot of hills, but not much wind. The the wind picked up again close to noon. That slowed me down quite a lot. The plan was if I didn't find a nice culvert to camp, I would ride to Tsumeb today. About 30KM to Tsumeb, I found a nice dried up riverbed. It would be a short ride tomorrow.

  • Jul 28 → Ride the 33KM to Tsumeb. Arrived around 8:30AM. Made it to the internet cafe to clear my backlog of emails. Took the bike to the only bike repair shop in town(Cymot). Looks like I need a new cassette or a complete rear wheel. Will see how long it will last. Checked into the Mousebird Backpackers, N50 for camping. Meet several groups of people that were on the way to Etosha Pan. I should have been smart about it and ask if I could join them. I was still too cheap and decided not to go. History is repeating itself again. I was very closed to Kruger and I decided to skip that. As it was, I was leaving for the Botswana border.

  • Jul 29 → Tsumeb to about 70KM north of Grootfontein on B8. Strong wind and lots of hills for the whole morning. The going was quite slow. It was about noon when I got to Grootfontein. The stretch of highway on B8 north of Grootfontein was much flatter that C42. Plus I was getting tailwind occasionally. For the life of me, I couldn't find a decent culvert. I tried at Roy's Camp, that would made it 120 KM for the day, but they were full. So, I filled up my water and continued heading NE. My unlucky day again, no culvert and both side of roads all fenced off. I had no choice but to jump the fenced again. I picked a spot where I can hide my bike and myself. Then transfer all my stuff over the fence in between traffic. Found an ok spot and set camp. By the time I finished my pasta, it was already getting dark. The rear tire has a slow leak and I didn't feel like fixing it. I must stayed at Rundu a bit tomorrow to fix it.

  • Jul 30 → From 70KM north of Grootfontein to the Animal Disease Police Check Point(135KM south of Rundu). The going was quite slow because of strong headwind. The plan was to ride to the police check point and hitch a lift to Rundu. On the way to the check point, I saw lots of vehicles that would be perfect for a lift. So, I thought it would be easy. I arrived at the check point around noon. And for the next 3 hours, I didn't see anything that could take me. There were mini-buses too, but they were always full. At around 3:00 PM, I finally got picked up by an Israeli guy that was driving an armour plated landrover. He was in Angola training the locals to de-mine. He was getting supplies in Namibia and also taking a break before heading back to Angola. He dropped me off at N'kwazi Lodge which was about 17KM from Rundu. I tried to find Theresa, a girl I met in Windhoek. She had moved to Mayana Lodge. Will try to find her tomorrow.

  • Jul 31 → Packed up and ready to go at 9:00AM. Then started to talked to this guy that was full of info. Ended up talking till pass noon. Then made my way to Mayana Lodge to say hi to Theresa. Well, the owner told me she wasn't there. The group went out this morning and they would go to the N'kwazi Lodge for dinner. Then they would come back to sleep here tonite. Oh well, I tried. Guess, I will be moving on. I started to make my way to Rundu. As I got on to the main gravel road, I ran into Theresa as she was driving back to Mayana Lodge for her birthday celebration. We got invited for dinner at N'kwazi. Then came back to Mayana to sleep.

  • Aug 1 → At about 9:00 AM, Ann(co-worker of Theresa) drove me back to the main gravel road and I rode the 15KM back to Rundu. That was very helpful or I would have to push my bike through several KMs of soft sand to get back on the main road. Did some laundry, fixed my sleeping pad and repair another flat. Then I swapped the front for the rear. Right after the swapped, the rear tire had a flat. Had to repair the flat yet again.

  • Aug 2 → Lazy day today. I wanted to be in Botswana today. So I took the mini-bus to Bagani. Rode to the petrol station and got on a mini-bus. The bus left around noon. I was charged N50 and the bike N20. Arrived at Divendu around 3:00 PM. I thought I can make it to Sakawe. I changed my mind after a while as the info I got was crap. I went to the Mahangu Lodge. Crappy sandy road access, lots of pushing.

  • Botswana

  • Aug 3 → Mahangu Lodge to Sakawe(Botswana). Rode a little bit of the Caprivi Strip on the way to Botswana, didn't see any wildlife. I could only get a 1 month visa at the border. That's fine, I wasn't planning to stay in Botswana for very long anyway. Arrived at Sakawe, then went and got the key from Amanda(a girl a met in Windhoek and promised to visit on my way up Africa) and went to her place.

  • Aug 4-7 → Hanging out in Sakawe. Sly(a reporter friend of Amanda that works for BTV) showed up and stayed with her as well. During my stayed at Sakawe, I decided all the things I wanted to do were just too expensive in Botswana. So I was just gonna make this a visiting friend trip.

  • Aug 8 → Sly and his driver drove to Tsodilo Hills World Heritage Site to do a little reporting. They took me with them on the trip.

  • Aug 9 → Sly was done with Sakawe. He and his driver were going back to Maun, so I hitch a lift with them. And Sly offer his place for me to stayed in Maun.

  • Aug 10-13 → Hanging out in Maun. Here is another opportunity to do my stupid thing. I was at the best place to organized something affordable for the Okavango Delta. Yet, I didn't even go out and priced out any of the safaris. I had already decided everything would be too expensive.

  • Aug 14 → Took the 9:30 AM bus from Maun to Francistown. P38 for me and P30 for my bike. I didn't want to argue about the bike charge because it was getting late and I still have to ride to Tonata. Arrived at Tonata just before sunset. But Nicki(friend of Amanda, also met in Windhoek) was still on the bus on the way back from Gaborone. Waited for 2 more hours till she showed up.

  • Aug 15-20 → Chilling in Tonata and getting fat.

  • Aug 21 → Tonata to the Disease Control Gate about 6KM north of Dukwe. It was slow going from Tonata to Francistown, the strong cross wind was messing with me again. The late night last nite didn't help either. I was on the road around 7:30 AM. It feels good to be back on the bike again. When I reach Francistown and change direction toward north on the A3, I hit the jackpot and had a tailwind. But because I was carrying so much food and water, I was actually moving quite slow. Arrived at the Disease Control Gate around 6:00 PM. It was a tiring day.

  • Aug 22 → Dukwe Disease Control Gate to the Disease Control Gate 60 KM north of Nata. Dukwe to Nata was a pleasure. I was getting blown right along. As soon as I reach Nata to head north, the strong cross wind felt more like a headwind. Arrived at the Disease Control Gate around 4:00 PM all exhausted. The guards said it was no problem for me to camp there. But they did warned me about riding too early or too late as those are the hours that the predators hunts.

  • Aug 23 → From the Disease Control Gate to Forestry Camp 105, which is 105KM north of Nata. This road wasn't exactly flat. But it wasn't so bad except for the cross wind. If I had more favourable wind condition, I would've tried for Mpandamatenga. Instead, I only rode for 47KM today. So far, I have only seen a few birds in this road that is supposed to be full of wildlife. But I did see a road killed Hyena by the side of the road. 

  • Aug 24 → Forestry Camp 105 to Mpandamatenga. Damn, who was it again that kept telling me Botswana was flat. This stretch almost brings back memories of Namibia. I left at 7:30 AM because I was still worry about leaving too early and encountering wild predators. It was great for the first 2 hour as there were little wind. The wind picked up after 9:30 AM. Another encounter with wildlife today as I saw a road killed African Wild Dog by the side of the road. I guess this is as good as it was going to get for me as they are rare and would cost a lot of money to see them on a safari. Arrived at Mpandamatenga around 3:00 PM. Sat around and bought some food at one of the shop. I was gonna wait till it gets cooler, then I would head to the back to camp. Got tired of waiting. Decided to check out the town for a spot to camp. There it was, the Panda Rest Camp. Went in to check how much for camping. But the whole place was deserted. I waited and waited and still nobody showed up. So, I decided to set up my tent inside the men's shower. I thought I would be safe from wildlife since this place was deserted and I didn't check all the fences. Plus, maybe if someone did show up, I might be able to get away with it in the shower. Someone did show up and was all over the place. I couldn't stand it anymore after a while. Went out and introduce myself and paid the man. It was quite cheap, P20. This way was much better, I no longer have to hide.

  • Aug 25 → Mpandamatenga to Kasane. left Panda Rest Camp around 7:00 AM. It wasn't till about 3KM to Kazungula that I saw my first elephant. The stretch of road from Nata to Kasane was supposed to be full of lions, elephants, etc.... Then I continued on to Kasane. Checked into Thebe Camping for P35. Send a email to Jollyboys in Zambia for the visa waiver. Cheaper way to get visa for Zambia.

  • Aug 26 → Bike to the entrance to Chobe National park. On the way back, I saw lots a large herds of elephants running across the road not far from the entrance to Chobe. I tried to catch up to them. Man, were they ever fast. Not even close to being able to catch them. Got the conformation email back from Jollyboys. It's a go on Sat, Aug 27. Chobe has the greatest concentration of elephants in Africa. The entrance to the National Park is right in Kasane. So what do I do. Once again I was too cheap/stupid to spend a few bucks and enjoy one of the best National Park in Africa.

  • Zambia

  • Aug 27 → Kasane to Livingstone(Zambia). Left camp around 7:00 AM. Went through Botswana customs in a snap. Then waited for the ferry to cross the river. Arrived at the Zambia immigration, and it took forever to go through the queue. The customs didn't have my manifest for Jollyboys, but they let me in the country for free anyway. Then it was off to Livingstone. While trying to avoid all the glasses on the road, I rode onto the grass with tiny thorns everywhere. Immediately, I got a flat. Then I noticed there was quite a large bulge in the front tire, damn it!!! Good thing I was so close to the city. Arrived at Livingstone and checked into the Jollyboys. I changed the reservation from from 2 nites dorm to 3 nites camping.

  • Aug 28-31 → Hanging out at Livingstone. Went to Victoria Fall on the 29th. I was a little disappointed. There weren't much of a path in the Zambia side, I finished the whole trail in just over 15 minutes. I went for a little stroll on top of the fall. It wasn't that big of a deal. It was the dry season and there were hardly any water. But I was caught and was send back. Kept looking for new trails to go, but there were none. For a fee, someone will take you to the pool that overlook the fall. But I was too cheap to pay, so I didn't go. I imagined this would be mighty awesome in the wet season. As it was, I was so disappointed at how little water there was. I can see that there were a lot more water in the Zimbabwe side. So me and Chris walk over to customs and checked it out. We would have to pay for the visa, entrance fee, etc..... Yep, it was too expensive. On the 30th, went to buy a spare tire and tried to get a visa extension. The visa extension was a no-no. But did bought a cheap tire for $7 US. On the 31st, I was planning to leave. Had diarrhoea this morning. That kinda slowed my morning down a bit. Then rear tire was a bit low, so I started to pump that. The valve just gave and started to leak. So I replaced the tube. As soon I've done pumping the tire, the tube I had just put in went as well. Time to change again, no sooner had I had this one replace, it went flat as well. That's when I decided I should stay for another day.

  • Sept 1 → Livingstone to about 40KM before Choma. Left Jollyboys around 7:00 AM. Right away there was a headwind and lots of hills. The wind was much better in the afternoon. Had to fixed a flat in the front. Around 4:00 PM, I started to look for a place to camp. By 4:30 PM, I had a flat on the rear tire. I thought I would just walk into the bush and setup camp, then fix the flat. All I found was people everywhere. So I went back to the road and fix the flat. Just as I was about done fixing, A minister of health worker decided to gave me a lift to a lodge. I ask for the price and it was a little too much for me. I asked if I could camp there and the manager said yes and it was free.

  • Sept 2 → 40KM before Choma to Chisekesi. Left around 7:00 AM. More headwind for the day. There weren't much places to camp along the way, just too many people. Arrived at Chisekesi and went to checked camp ground just outside of town. It turned out be be a great choice. Q12500 at Mayfair Guest House for camping.

  • Sept 3 → Chisekesi to Mazabuka. Left around 7:00 AM. It was nice and calm for about 2 hours, then the wind whipped up again. When I got to Mazabuka, I decided to call it a day because I was pissed off at the wind. Tried to find a place to camp in town, no dice. And because so far on the T1 had been shit for free camping, so I didn't go any further. Finally found a room at the Canmil Guest House for Q25000.

  • Sept 4 → Mazabuka to Lusaka. More pissing-me-off headwind for the whole day. The rear cassette came loose again. I was already pissed off, so I just kept riding and ignored the problem. I met a group of local cyclist on my way in. A guy name Bruce gave me is phone no. I will phone him tomorrow and he will take me to his cycle club so I can fix the problem myself. Arrived at Lusaka around 4:00 PM. Checked into the Chachacha Backpackers for K19200 for camping.

  • Sept 5-6 → Fixing rear cassette. Getting Zambia visa renew and went to the theatres to watch movies.

  • Sept 7 → Lusaka to about 56KM west Rufunsa. Left camp around 7:00 AM. I am not liking these 7:00 AM start, my ideal time would be an hour earlier. Started to look for a place to camp around 4:00 PM. I saw a rural community clinic. But decide to keep going. Then the people told me the next similar place is 60KM away. Then I met the men that was in charge of a school complex. I followed him on his bike to the school. He told me I could sleep inside for the night. I sat inside the school and wait till school was over, then I settled in. I had several visitors while I was having supper. Then I thought I was in one of those situation that I hear all the time that people get into. I had people coming to visit me constantly. So I never gave it a second thought when these 2 girls showed up. Out of the blue, one of the girl told me how much she liked me. Right away, alarm bell was ringing in my head. This was a bad situation and I have to find a way to get out of it. I had to somehow get her out of here. During our conversation, I found out that she was in grade 8. Shit, I was in trouble. All I can think of was this was a setup. Any minute now, she would start screaming and her family would be there with machetes demanding money. But I had to be gentle with the situation. Maybe it wasn't a setup and if I force her to leave, she might get upset and scream and I would be in deep shit. It was getting dark now, I was in the middle of nowhere. I really had to think about what I was doing. After talking for a long time, I finally convinced her to find someone her own age. So they left. Immediately after, I locked the door and turn out the light. I didn't need any more visitors that night.  

  • Sept 8 → From the school to Bridge Camp on the Luangwa River on T4. More wind and hills. Lucky me, got a break after 4:30 PM as I was getting a bit of tailwind. Arrived at the Bridge Camp at 5:00 PM. K25000 for camping.

  • Sept 9 → Luangwa Bridge Camp to Nyimba. It was a quiet morning with not much wind. As usual, the wind picked up after 9:00 AM. Arrived at Nyimba around 4:00 PM. Found some crappy accommodation with no shower and shitter. Had to bargain it down from K30000 to K25000.

  • Sept 10 → Nyimba to Katete. Gentle hills and headwind. I ran into someone that I met before and he gave me a lift from Manga to Petanke. That gave me the confidence to be sure I can make it to Katete. Arrived at Katete around 4:30 PM. Found the Government Rest House. It was a shit deal once again with no shower and shitter for K25000. 

  • Sept 11 → Katete to Chipata. It was a bad day. I had the shits this morning, and the problem got worst as I rode along. Good thing this was a short day. Checked into the Cha Cha Cha Backpackers.

  • Sept 12 → Recovering from diarrhoea in Chipata.

  • Sept 13 → Chipata to South Luangwa(Flat Dogs Camp). The beginning was great. Niced and flat with a tailwind. Plus, the road remain tar for the first 11KM, then it was gravel. But it wasn't so bad, I could maintain a fairly good speed. Then the bad shit hit me. It was really sandy and crappy gravel road. From this part on, it took me forever to reach the next bit of tar road. Interesting enough, on 2 of the very steep pass, the government have those stretches paved. Finally, I hit the other stretch of tar road that stretches about 20Km to Flatdogs. Arrived at around 5:30PM. Decided to setup my tent on the platform that is closest to the river.

  • Sept 14 → I was hoping for excitement and I got my wish. Flatdogs is situated on one side of the Luangwa river. The other side of the river is the South Luangwa National Park. As you know, other than South Africa, very few National Parks are fenced in Africa. As soon as you arrived in camp, they laid out a bunch of rules. You cannot wander around camp, there are plenty of off limit places. Such as you are allowed to come within a certain distance of the river. Do not stored food in your tent or else it will be completely destroyed by elephants and baboons. When the elephants and hippos comes grazing at night or early in the morning, do not make noises, turn on your flashlight, come out of the tent, etc....... I had my tent setup on the slightly raise wooden platform that is closest to the river with an acacia tree providing shelter. I locked my bike on the same platform. I was woken up in the morning by giant stomps beside my tent. Excitement was filling my head. Now was my chance to get close-up photos of hippos. Or that was what I thought outside. I grab my headlight and put it on my head and have it turned on. Then I grab my camera and proceeded to open the zipper to my tent. Then it was on to the fly. As soon as I had the fly open, I saw an elephant trunk coming towards me. Oh fuck!!! So, I immediately closed the fly and the tent. Shut off my headlight and didn't make a sound after that. Then I heard some movement and then a bang! He was playing with my bike and let go. My bike snapped back at the platform from my springy cable lock. Then I could see that great big shadow coming over the tent. For the next 15 minutes or so, there were a constant stream of branches falling on my tents. All I could think of was he just torturing me before he decided to crush me. The camp guard would come over waving his flashlight and shouting at the elephants. He would chase after the guard and come back to stand over my tent again to chow down again. That happened a few times. Finally, he left and I was so relieved. I sat in my tent for a little while longer just to make sure he was gone. Then I heard this ripping sound coming from camp neighbours vehicle. By this time I had no desired to investigate anymore. This is what happened according to my neighbours. They saw exactly what happened to me from their vehicle but were unable to help me. The elephant was standing right over my tent while eating the acacia tree. Then the elephant went over to their vehicle. They thought they didn't have any food inside their vehicle, I guess they were wrong. The elephant had ripped a hole through the roof of the push up tent in their vehicle. As the trunk of the elephant was going inside the tent, they were slapping at the trunk. So he pulled it's trunk out. They immediately pull their tent down. Now that the elephant didn't had any fabric to break through. He decided to try to rip open the side panel of their vehicle. At this point, all I heard was this scraping metal sound coming from their vehicle. Once again, the camp guard arrived and do their routines to distract the elephant. After another 10-15 minutes, the elephant left. And the guard shouted its ok to come out now. We all had a good laugh after. The rest of the day was spend hanging by the river hoping to see lots of wildlife. No such luck. During the day, I decided to moved my camping spot from the ground to one of the many tree top platform. I wasn't really scared, I got over it sometime in the morning. But I really wanted a close-up photo of hippos or elephants in the dark without getting hurt myself. At about 3 in the morning, the hippos came to graze. I went outside the tent to take a few photos. Then I gave up when I saw the result from my compact camera and went back to bed.

  • Sept 15 → South Luangwa(Flat Dogs) to Chipata. Took a while to get going this morning. I didn't want to eat at my tent because of elephants, I had to bring all my cooking stuff to the storage place to cook and eat. As it turned out, the elephants never came that morning. Left at around 7 AM. I didn't realized Chipata was higher than South Luangwa because it was taking much longer to go back. I kept expecting to hit that one high point and then cruise down to Chipata. By 4:30 PM, I was about to hitch a ride back to Chipata. As a truck came pass me, I decided I had enough time to make it and push on. By now, it was pass 6 PM and getting dark. I put on my headlight and kept going. Luckily, I saw a truck and flag it down. The gentleman gave me a ride for the last 20KM in the dark to Chipata.

  • Malawi

  • Sept 16 → Chipata to Lilongwe(Malawi). It was quite a good morning as I covered a lot of distance. The road was relatively flat. Malawi was much like Zambia in that children were begging for money every village that I passed through.

  • Sept 17-19 → Relaxing in Lilongwe. I was worried that I had Malaria, so I stayed for an extra day. After talking to some of the campers that did contracted malaria, my worried was gone.

  • Sept 20 → Lilongwe to Salima. Headwind the whole day. Found a place to stayed for K300.

  • Sept 21 → Salima to Nkhotakota. Best start so far in Africa. Left at 5:50AM. Most of the way was quite flat except at the end. Arrived around 2-3 PM. Checked into the Rich and Pay Resthouse for R200 for a room.

  • Sept 22 → Nkhotakota to Kande Beach Camp. Another best day for start as I left at 5:45AM. It was nice and calm in the morning. The wind picked up around 8AM. Arrived at Kande Beach Camp around 4PM. The access road to the camp was in deep sand. What a pain in the ass to push my bike through that shit. They wanted K400 for camping, I was getting rooms in other places for much less. Oh well, I had to checked out the place because it is supposed to be some kind of legend among the overlanders in Africa. I was actually looking for a different set of overlanders than what they had to offer there. I thought there would be lots of individual adventurers driving landcruisers, cyclist, or other kind of travelers. Instead the whole camp were full of organized tours by big trucks. At least I came and saw, now I can go. I had to admit the setting was quite nice with Lake Malawi as a backdrop.

  • Sept 23 → Kande Beach Camp to Mzuzu. It was almost 7AM by the time I pushed my bike through the deep sand to get back on the main road.  From Kande Beach to the Nkhata Bay turnoff, it was nice and gentle riding. Then it was steep hills to Mzuzu. The only relieved was that I wasn't chased by mobs of kids up these hills. Tough day of riding. Arrived at Mzuzu around 4PM. Found a bed at the CCAP Resthouse for K300. Camping here cost K250, it was an easy decision.

  • Sept 24 → Stayed in Mzuzu to send some unwanted stuff back to Canada. Total cost: K1745 for the parcel. Gain a bit of space in my panniers.

  • Sept 25 → Mzuzu to Rumphi. What a day it was. Strong headwind, hills and diarrhoea. Nice combo!!! Had to find decent bushes a few times today. Arrived at Rumphi and found me a room with a shower for K300 for my special needs.

  • Sept 26 → Rumphi to Chitimba Beach Camp. Left around 6:15AM. The strong headwind started to die down as I near the mountain. The going through the valley following the river was totally fun. There was one major pass and then it was down to Chitimba. Once again it was an access road with deep sand to Chitimba Beach Camp. So I came back to the main road to find a different place with easier access. Try to find Mdokera's Beach Camp, but no one seems to know anything when I arrived. It looked a bit abandoned. I couldn't wait for answers anymore. So it was back to pushing through deep sand to get to Chitimba Beach Camp. By the time I had everything set up and ready for my ride up to Livingstonia, it was already 3PM. The guy at the reception told me it would take 4 hours to get to Livingstonia. Sunset around 6PM here, that might pose a problem according to him. But of course, I know I can do much better than that. I figured I will get to the top in 1 to 1.5hour. With time to spare to look around. So off I went. 15KM later of endless switchback, steep gravel road that was under maintenance.  At least all the steepest part of this road were tar. I arrived at Livingstonia Mission and were ready to head back down even though I haven't actually made it to Livingstonia.  After a short chat with a local, I changed my mind and push on. Finally made it, took a few photos and head back down. At was around 5:15PM by then. But because there were mountains all around and most of the road was cover by trees. it got dark real fast. I thought I would still have light after 6PM. As it turned out, I started riding in the dark by 5:45PM. I didn't think that I would be riding in the dark, so I didn't bring my headlight. I could've stayed in this camping place just a bit down from the top. But I was determined to get back down to the beach. It was quite freaky to be riding down in darkness in this gravel road. All those gravel piles for maintenance that was just a nuisance going up now becomes quite the obstacle course in the dark. Because I couldn't really see, I just went by feel. At no point I was in danger of riding off the side of the road, I could see the outlines. I just had problems seeing all the holes, rocks, etc.... There were one stretch near the bottom I actually had to get off my bike and push. The grade were just too steep and the rocks were too big to take a chance. I made it down to the main road by 6:45PM. Man, was I happy to see that beach. Ate at one of the restaurant by the road, then head back to camp. When I arrived back at camp. The owner of the place was giving me a hard time about not signing in and all that nonsense. I did everything they told me to do when I arrived in the afternoon with the paper work. I was tired as hell and just wanted to relax. To say the least I was a bit irritated. K300 for camping. Chitimba Beach Camp would not be on my list of recommendation for accommodations.

  • Sept 27 → Chitimba Beach Camp to Karonga. It was about 7:30AM when I got back to the main road after pushing through the deep sand. There were a bit of hills at the beginning. After that, it was smooth sailing all the way to Karonga. Much of it with a tailwind. Arrived at Karonga around 11AM. Checked into the Zgambota Resthouse for K250 for a double. Then went out to get supplies for the last time in Malawi. I wanted to changed all my Malawi Kwacha to Tanzania Shilling. But I guess they don't do that at the banks here. Plus, they wanted to see the receipt on where I got my Kwacha from. Huh.....got luck with that. I stopped early today thinking that this is a bigger town and I can get all my stuff done. I could've just kept going today.

  • Tanzania

  • Sept 28 → Karonga to Tukuyu. From Karonga to the border, it was quite flat with a tailwind. Once I was in Tanzania, the climb to Tukuyu began. Steep tar road. The first hotel that I saw wanted S2000. So I took it.

  • Sept 29 → Tukuyu to Mbeya. Got going at around 6AM. It was a nice drop first thing in the morning. Then it was back up to just before Uyole. And down it went to Mbeya with a strong tailwind. Checked into the Warsame Guesthouse. S4500 for a double with shower and toilet. I felt like I needed the luxury for a change. Then went out to get my cell phone working to get in touch with Sly. He was supposed to be in Tanzania on assignment with BTV. Plans changed, he was still in Botswana. Guess I will not be meeting him in Tanzania.

  • Sept 30 → Day off to recover.

  • Oct 1 → Mbeya to Igawa. Left around 6:20AM. It was a gradual climb to Uyole. Then it was all downhill for a while. 90KM later I arrived at Chimala around 10AM. Man, I was doing good today. All good things come to an end. It was all uphill to Igawa from Chimala. Plus I was getting a strong headwind in the afternoon. I got to Igawa around 2PM. I had enough for the day. Found a place with no electricity for S3000.

  • Oct 2 → Igawa to Makambako. Tough day. It was uphill all the way with Patagonia howling headwind. By the time I got to Makambako at noon, I had enough and decided to stayed. Checked into the Kibadamo Guest House(right next to the telecom tower) for S3000.

  • Oct 3 → Makambako to Mafinga. Vicious wind in the morning. Good thing it was downhill. Left at around 6:20AM. I was doing quite good till I hit the hills. Arrived at Mafinga at 1:30PM.

  • Oct 4 → Mafinga to Mbuyuni. Left around 6AM. That fierce wind was still there this morning. But I was still going downhill making good time. By 10AM, I was already at Iringa. So, I ate my lunch there and kept going. Then it was the big drop from the cool highland to the scorching lowland. I could feel the heat rises as I descend. By around noon, I had already done 93KM. Then my fortune changed and the headwind came back. It was a long day of riding, 10.5 hrs of actual saddle time.

  • Oct 5 → Mbuyuni to Mikumi. Today was supposed to be an easy day. Only 77KM to do. And half of it was supposed to be following the river down. Once again, the road goes up and down and all over the place needlessly. I am sure there were a good reason why they build the road as it was. But for the life of me, I just couldn't see it. Arrived at Mikumi around 1:30PM. Checked into the Kilimanjaro Village Inn for S3000 for a single. I was quite dirty as I hadn't had a chance for a shower for a few days now. But I had to wait a little longer as the water wasn't working.

  • Oct 6 → Mikumi to Morogoro. Today was the big day. I would be taking the National Highway A7 through Mikumi National Park on my bike. This was my chance at my own little safari as there are very few National Parks you can actually ride you bike in. Since this is a National Highway, nobody really cares. Left at around 6:20AM. No wind this morning, gotta like that. Then I saw the sign "Mikumi National Park/ DANGER/ Wild Animals next 50KM". Man I was excited. The first animals I saw were zebras, I weren't too excited as they are not dangerous. Then some warthogs, giraffes and elephants. Now it was getting better. If there were something I liked, I just dropped my bike and went for a walk. But I never get too far. You never know when I had to make that dash to my bike to make the quick getaway. Saw some buffalos next. Then I saw lots of vultures circling overhead on the left side of the road. In Tanzania, you drive on the left. My first thought was this is awesome. There should be something exciting to see underneath where all the vultures gathering in the sky. Every once in a while I would glance over to my right side as there was a solitary vulture sitting on top of this big tree. As I near the tree, I casually glance over to the tree. Oh fuck!!! There it was, 4 lions lying underneath the tree. I didn't see the kill anywhere, but I am sure it was there. My heart was beating quite fast now. I was scared at first, then when nothing happened I thought this was so cool. There was nothing I could do at that point anyway. If I had seen them earlier, I would probably hitch a ride with a truck to cross that tree. But since I was already there and they were no more than 5-6M away. I had to act natural and not doing anything foolish such as sudden movement. Still I couldn't help myself but to stared at them as I rode. Then one of the lioness went into a crouch, I wasn't sure if she was ready to pounce or not. I stopped staring and pointed my face forward and steadily increase my speed until I was going as fast as I could. At the same time, I tried to get my camera out of the handle bar bag to get a photo. I got a photo alright, a blurry picture of a tree!!! I stopped about 700M-1KM from the tree. I was debating whether to go back. This was once in a life time chance. Nobody was going to believe me without photo evidence. After some debating and non-stop talking with myself. I decided I like being alive than taking a good photo. So I got back on my bike and kept going. Normally, I am not too excitable. But I sure was hooting and hollering when I was in safe distance from those lions. The only other interesting thing after that was the vultures feeding on a road kill beside the road. Soon after that I was out of the so call danger zone. Then it was back to normal riding on the highway. Found a place with a double for S3500.

  • Oct 7 → Morogoro to Chalinze. Left around 6:15AM. I had wanted to a little further today. Perhaps maybe even to Dar Es Salaam. But the usual headwind changed my mind. Arrived at Chalinze around 12:30PM. Found a place for S3500 with no shower.

  • Oct 8 → Chalinze to Dar Es Salaam. For 40KM from Chalinze to Mlandizi, there were no shoulder as I tried to dodge traffic. Then from Mlandizi to Dar Es Salaam, it was nice and smooth with plenty of room again. Arrived at Dar Es Salaam around 1:30PM. Went to YWCA to check for a place. Cheapest room there was S8000. Next place I went was Pop Inn Hotel, a major drop in standard. But who cares, I can get a room there for S4000.

  • Oct 9 → Relax in Dar as it was Sunday and not much was happening.

  • Oct 10 → Went to the Canadian Embassy, but they were closed for thanksgiving. Then went to the Sudan and Uganda Embassy. Found some places for fresh sugar cane juice, I love it. This must be Ramadan because there weren't much to eat in the afternoon. As I was walking around the market. All the little street food stall had plates of food all laid out in all the tables, but no one was eating. As I was eating another Dar Es Salaam Delicacies, fruit salad. The loudspeaker came on and was bellowing out what must be the Quran. Then there were a mass sit-down and chow-down. Seems that the people were happy and relieve at the same time.

  • Oct 11 → Took the ferry from Dar Es Salaam to Zanzibar. Arrived at Zanzibar around noon. For some reason, the ferry just cruise around the port for a while. Finally, it decided to dock. Then I followed everyone and push my bike to wait to disembark. Ok, now everyone went to the other side of the ferry. Sop, I followed as well. Then everyone went upstairs. Now it get more difficult as these steps are very steep and I was having problem getting the bike up with everyone jam at the same place. Some good hearted soul gave me a hand to get the bike up. All of a sudden everyone went rush to the next level down. I was kinda stuck in the middle of the landing with nowhere to go till I get more space. I was getting quite pissed off by then. Everyone push and shoved their way pass me. But I wasn't going anywhere until I actually see someone get off the boat. And wouldn't you know it, we were actually getting off at my level. I just grab my bike and head to the plank and push that son-of-bitch off the boat. I followed everyone thinking that was the place to go. Then there were no where to go. There were a big fence right in front of me. Where the fence ends, there were a metal beam hanging in mid air 10M above the ocean. And that was how the people were getting out. I was too pissed off to find another exit by then. So with some help from another good hearted soul, I dangle my bike over the ocean and got it over to the other side. I checked into the Annex Malinda Hotel near the port for $10US. I just wanted a place for the night. 10 bucks was way too much for my taste.

  • Oct 12 → While looking for a cheaper hotel. Some one gave me an offer I couldn't refuse. I can stay at his house while his family was on vacation for S6000 per night. I thought that was about as cheap as I could get in this overpriced island. It was only bucket shower, but that was alright for the price. So I moved over there that morning. The rest of the day was spend riding around Stone Town. The place was ok, nothing special in my mind. But I did find some delicacies by the port. Freshly cooked, delicious octopus. The guy brings it out and cut it up in 2 different sizes pieces. You pay more if you want the bigger piece. I would keep going back to the same guy by the port, I thought he has the best tasting pieces.

  • Oct 13 → Day trip to Nungwi. The road was beautiful at the beginning. Nice and smooth all the way to Mahonda. Then after that the road alternate between good and crappy. More beaches at Nungwi. I am not much of a beach person these days, so I took a few photos and left. Oh ya, I took some sand for my temp landlord too. At Mkwajuni, I turned left to take the supposedly gravel road to Matemwe. Then the road followed the beach and was just a sandy mess. Lots of pushing and not much riding. It was starting to get late and I didn't want to be stuck here, so I turned back. When I reached Kinyasini, I was supposed to take a right to Mahonda. But I missed it completely. When I arrived at the next village and ask for direction to Stone Town. I was told that I was in Mahonda and Stone Town was straight ahead. It was a nice ride and I push hard all day.

  • Oct 14 → No more day trips as I was quite tired. Tried to get a ticket for the ferry to Dar Es Salaam. Bought a ticket for $15US for tomorrow.

  • Oct 15 → Just killing time so that I can take the night ferry at 8:45PM. I went down to the port. After dragging my bike up and down the stairs to where the first class cabin was. Then I was told the bike has to stay outside. Oh well, I stays where my bike stays. I paid for first class ticket but was sleeping outside. It was getting dark and I started to lay out my panniers and backpack on top of this big box. Then I put my Therm-a-Rest on top of all the stuff. I slept on top of all my stuff that night. It was the same deal as last time when I arrived at Zanzibar. No body seems to know anything. I just sat there and wait. There were 2 options to get off. Push the bike down a few steps, then lift the bike over the gap between the ferry and the dock through the openings in the ferry. Or get the bike to the upper level and walk off through the proper exit platform. I chose the first option. Put the bike on my shoulder and jump the gap to solid ground. Went back to Pop Inn Hotel. But they had no singles left, so I took a double with a balcony for S6000.

  • Oct 16 →  Relaxing in Dar.

  • Oct 17 → Went to the Canadian and Rwanda Embassy. I tried to do some research at the library. But here in Dar, you have to pay to use the public library. No thx, I'll skip.

  • Oct 18 → Dar Es Salaam to Msata. Left the hotel around 6:20AM. There were lots of traffic, but still manageable. I had a pretty good tailwind till Chalinze.

  • Oct 19 → Msata to Korogwe. Left around 6:00AM. The road wasn't as steep as I thought it would be. The wind was kind to me also today. Arrived at Korogwe at around 5:00PM.

  • Oct 20 → Korogwe to Same. Left around 6:00AM. Thought that I would be quite late in arriving like yesterday. But it wasn't so bad, the hardest part was near the end when I actually saw Same. It look so close, yet it took me quite a while to reach it. Found a hotel for S3000. Man, this place is rocking. The damn bar is just right outside my door.

  • Oct 21 → Same to Marangu. 5 KM north of Same, I saw the glacier peak of Kilimanjaro. I took a photo, but my 3X zoom was just no good. By the time I was close enough to take a proper photo, the clouds had rolled in and cover the whole mountain. The last little bit from the main turn off to Marangu was quite tough, quite steep. Checked into the Marangu Hotel for S4000 for camping. Damn, they have hot shower here, that's quite a treat for me. And it was raining quite good during the night. The last time I saw a good rain was just before I entered Namibia. I came here because this is much closer to Kilimanjaro than Moshi. But I have yet to be able to get a photo of this precious mountain yet. It's either fog, clouds, rain, etc.......

  • Oct 22 → Marangu to Moshi. Decided not to stay to get a glimpse of Kilimanjaro. Too cloudy. Arriving at Moshi in the wet as well. I guess I will have to leave the area without having a chance to get my photos.

  • Oct 23 → Moshi to Arusha. Arrived at Arusha and checked into the Masai Camp.

  • Oct 24 → Did some price checking in town for various packages of safaris. There happened to be a cancellation and a tour was going tomorrow. I told the guy to come at 8:00PM and I'll decide then if I would take that safari. Let's get this over with. So, this was a 5 days safaris that will take in Taragire, Lake Manyara, Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater for $450.00 US. What a present for my 40th birthday!!

  • Oct 25 → Packed my stuff up in the morning to get ready for the safari. Because I was coming back here after the safari, it was no problem to leave all my stuff here. I woke up very early, but I didn't get up to get ready till the last minute. I wanted to burn my pictures onto a CD. It was gonna be when I came back. I got picked up at 8:45AM like they said they would. We went to the office where I paid the guy $200 US in traveler cheques, $100 US in cash and S118000. Then we were off. It was quite a long drive to get to Lake Manyara. On the way there, I saw some giraffes not far from the road. Then we arrived at Lake Manyara. We saw a few more giraffes, elephants and the usual impalas, zebras and the lots.... There was a hippos pool as well, but it was too far away. It wasn't that impressive today. Camp at Panorama for the first night.

  • Oct 26 → Had breakfast, then we were off to the Serengeti. On the way there, all the guys in the landcruiser wanted to see a Masai Boma(a small Masai village). The entrance fee for the boma was S10000, just a bit much for me. So, I hung around till they came back. Then they wanted to see the Olduvai Gorge, supposedly the "Cradle Of Mankind". There was a small museum with some artefacts. But the whole site itself is just not that impressive to my eyes anyway. There was a glimpse of the Ngorongoro Crater on the way to Serengeti. It looked kinda surreal, can't wait to get down there. Finally arriving at Serengeti around 3:00PM for Day1 of 2 days in Serengeti. Then a short afternoon drive into Serengeti before returning to camp. Saw the elusive leopard on top of a koppe. Too bad I couldn't get a closed up with my 3X zoom.

  • Oct 27 → Day2 in Serengeti. Nice sunrise from the rim of the crater at camp. Today was much better. First things we saw were 2 young male lions. A little too far away to get good photos. Then a little later on, we saw a whole pride of lions. I counted about 10, maybe there were more. Then we went to a proper hippos pool with lots of hippos. That was nice. We all got out of the vehicle to get to closer to the hippos. Then we found a tree climbing lion. Yet more lions, probably from the same pride. We saw an unsuccessful hunt by 2 lioness. Then the drive back up to Ngorongoro Crater rim to camp for the night.

  • Oct 28 → Ngorongoro Crater. Got a nice visit from an elephant this morning in camp. When we first descended, all I could see was nothing. After a bit of driving, we arrived at the area where there is permanent water. I had to admit, that was something to see. Just like going to a zoo. Animals everywhere in close proximity. Then we saw hyenas that were a little too far for good photos. Then me and another guy were dropped off at Bikubo Camp and the rest of the guys were driven back to Arusha.

  • Oct 29 → Taragire National Park. Lots of elephants scatter all over the place in this park. It didn't make good photography. This park is more well know for its landscape which was a lot different than the other parks that I have just been to. I was a bit safari out by then also. The tour was over and time to head back to Arusha.

  • Oct 30 → Laundry day in Arusha and watch tv.

  • Oct 31 → Relaxing in Arusha.

  • Kenya

  • Nov 1 → I was feeling lazy. There happened to be a guy name Martin in the same camp that was going to Nairobi today in his vehicle. I hitched a ride with him. Took about 1 hour to get through customs. Then we drove straight to Upperhill Campground. Setup my tent in a nice grassy spot for S300. Maybe it was a good thing I didn't ride this stretch. There were just so much traffic and the road had no shoulders at all.

  • Nov 2-12 → Went to the Canadian, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Democratic Republic of Congo Embassies. Free internet at the Canadian Embassy!!! Went to the public library to read up on Newsweek and Times. Looking for bike parts in Nairobi, there weren't none to buy. Met a really nice South African couple that was in the process of writing a guide book for National Parks of Africa. Leon and Pitta drove up from South Africa. On the way up, they had just about visited every National Parks along the way. We had a little chat about their experience. I was really fascinated by them. I ask them if I can tagged along for the rest of the National Parks they wanted to visit. They said it was not a problem, they just had to make a little room for my bike and my other stuff. I thought this was an opportunity that I shouldn't miss. They don't do anything other than visit National Parks to look for wildlife. First I wanted to go to Uganda and see a few things there. Then I will come back and meet up with them somewhere in Kenya. They wanted to go to Sibiloi National Park on the edge of Lake Turkana, that was something that I will never do on my bike. It's the most remote and hardest National Park to get to in Kenya. That got me very excited.

  • Nov 13 → Nairobi to Naivasha. Leaving Nairobi, it was about 70KM of ascent before dropping 20KM to Naivasha. The climb wasn't that steep, just a bit tedious. I ran into slight problem today. I get annoyed sometimes when people yell at me all day, and in Africa it is a daily occurrence. As I was riding up this hill, these 2 boys started yelling at me. So I yelled back at them. It went back and forth for a while. Then I saw them running up the hill after me. People run along with my bike everyday, so it was nothing new. But I was not in a good mood that day. So I stopped the bike and waited so I could confront them. But as they got closer, I noticed they had something swinging in their hands. Shit!!! They were swinging their machetes while running up the hill. I casually started riding again, but I was trying to increase my pace slowly. I didn't want them to get the impression that I was scared. Eventually, they gave up and I was quite relieved. Arrived in Naivasha around 3PM. Didn't feel like camping in the rain by the lake with all the other tourists. Got me a room in town for S100. The toilet facility was definitely rustic even for Africa standard, as for water you have to ask to get some. But this is definitely the cheapest room I paid in Africa so far.

  • Nov 14 → Wanted to wake up early to go to Hells Gate National Park. But I was quite tired this morning. I left the hotel around 7:30AM. Hells Gate was not worth the $15US + S50 for the bike that I paid. The only thing that kept it from being a total waste of time was that I could actually ride in the park with my bike. One of the very few National Parks that you can do that in Africa. Although, I did get a nice meal at the canteen for S120. Saw some zebras and walk the weird rock formation. The rain was coming, it was time for me to go. I was waiting by the Olkaria Gate for the rain to let up. It never did, So I rode as hard as I could to get back to Naivasha. It was a wet ride because I didn't bring any rain gear.

  • Nov 15 → Naivasha to Nakuru. left around 6:10AM. Once again, it was up and down all day in the Rift Valley of Kenya. 20KM north of Naivasha, there was a toll booth. I cannot believe people actually have to paid to used this so-call road. It's like paying to get yourself tortured, I guess some people are into that kinda of thing!!! It was like 70KM of constant huge speed bumps. I had chosen to ride on the gravel road shoulder because that rode like a dream compare to the tarmac road. Quite a few vehicles were doing the same. I had to dodge them on the main road and on the shoulder!!! I heard that from Mombasa to Nairobi was even worst!!! Just to think that Nairobi is the financial capital of East Africa. I had no idea what the politics are leaving the road the way they are. Perhaps the politicians get a cut of all the repairs to all the vehicles??? Then I saw a lake with pink everywhere. I thought that must be Lake Nakuru. It was only Lake Elementeita. It was free to go down to the lake. I thought I would just ride down the grass a bit and take a few photos and I would continued on. Since I was almost half way there, I might as well go all the way down. Time to get back on the official trail so I can get to the bottom. There I was greeted by a sea of pink. As I moved along the shore, the flamingos moved out further in unison. Which means they were always too far away to get close-up photos with my 3X zoom camera. I was disappointed not to have better photos, but happy at the same time because it was a unique experience and it was free. Then came up the hill and continued on to Nakuru. Checked into the Hotel Hot Spring for S300 for a self contained single.

  • Nov 16 → Nakuru to Kericho. left around 6:15AM. The road from Nakuru to the turn off to Londiani was absolutely crap. Somebody is making tons of money off these roads. After the turn off and taking the B1, the road was much smoother and way less traffic. But still I haven't seen a good road in Kenya yet. Original destination of Kisumu wasn't even close. I was just happy to make it to Kericho by 4:00PM.

  • Nov 17 → Kericho to Kisumu. Left at 6:15AM. It was a bit chilly at this altitude. As I left I wasn't even thinking I had to take the secondary road road to Kisumu. Then I realized I had completely forgotten about the turn-off. Good thing that I only had to go back 1 KM. There were a couple more climbs before it drops down to the plains. I am still looking forward to that first decent road in Kenya. I might just stop for a bit and celebrate. Arrived in Kisumu around 11:00AM. Decided to stayed because my legs are a bit stiff plus it was another 130KM to Busia.

  • Nov 18 → Kisumu to Busia. left around 6:15AM yet again. Someone told me last night the road from Kisumu to Busia was quite flat. Found out today flat would not be a word that I would use. It was just as hilly as the last few days. Today was my first crossing of the equator. It was just outside of Kisumu on the way to Busia. Arrived at Busia around 1:30PM. I came here to visit Willa, an acquaintance that I met in Nairobi. I gave her a phone called, but there was no answer. So I checked into the Oasis hotel for S300 for a self contained single. Did some maintenance on the bike. Phoned Willa again and she was there this time. So I went to ICS to visit her. Then came back to do more maintenance on the bike and went back for supper at 8PM at the Chanma Hotel.

  • Uganda

  • Nov 19 → Busia to Jinja(Uganda). Custom was pretty easy but expensive. $30US for a visa. Since I wanted to keep my US dollars, I paid in KSH. And they wanted KSH3000, which was a lot more than 30US dollars. Checked into the Nile River Explorer Backpackers in town.

  • Nov 20 → Went to Bujagali Falls in the morning. Not much excitement there. USH2000 for entrance. Then went to the source of the Nile. Not much excitement there either other than a plaque that tells the story of the Nile. Then went back to town to get some food and ran into Willa.

  • Nov 21 → Jinja to Kampala. Not much excitement as I recalled. Checked into the Red Chili Camp for USH6000 for camping. Ran into Martin, the Swiss guy who drove gave me a ride from Arusha to Nairobi.

  • Nov 22-25 → Chilling out in Kampala. Using the free internet at the Red Chili to get email done. Saw another cyclist at the Red Chili. Lorenzo from the Basque Country. Toya from Israel showed up, can't remember where I met her.

  • Nov 26 → Kampala to Masaka. Left around 6:30AM because it was too dark any earlier. Red Chili was located on the east end of town, it took a while for me get out of it heading west. Up and down all day to Masaka. Crossing the equator in Uganda near Nabusanke today. I actually made a mistake. I stopped just before Masaka. Found a place for USH7000 for a single.

  • Nov 27 → Masaka to Mbarara. Got up a bit late again. Didn't leave till 6:30AM. Today was harder than yesterday as the hills were bigger. Arrived at Mbarara around 6:00PM. Went to the bank to get more cash. Did some calculation, the money is running down. Need to move some money around soon.

  • Nov 28 → Mbarara to Kabale. I thought this was going to be a hard stretch. As it turned out, the only hard part was just before Kabale where I had to ascent quite a bit before descending down to Kabale. I was trying find all the volcanos chain at the highest pass. All I saw was a bunch of mountains. I guess those where the volcanos!!! But there were some nice terrace mountains. Today was the end of the road for one of my Schwalbe Marathon XR tire as it developed a major tumor on the side wall. Now, I have to buy a cheap tire as a spare.

  • Nov 29-30 → Too damned tired to do anything. Slept till 1-2PM each day. My usual wake up time is 4:30AM!!! I did manage to get a cheap tire as a spare though. Trying to arrange something with my buddy to send me some stuff including the tire.

  • Dec 1 → day trip to Lake Bunyonyi. A damn fine lake I must say. You can spend days here relaxing. Had to come back to town sooner than I wanted because the rain was coming.

  • Dec 2 → Kabale to Butogota. Left around 6:30AM. It was a nice hard gravel road. Really good for speed. Then I reach the turn-off to Buhoma. My original plan was to take the shortest route which goes through part of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. But along the way, everyone told me to take the longer route which goes through Kanungu especially if it rains. I was riding in the fog for much of the  morning. When I finally emerged from the fog, I was treated to some pretty nice scenery. I was glad that I took the people's advice. The rain finally came and I was having a hard time moving as the mud was stuck to my tire. I could only imagine what the other road would be like. That other road was suppose to be much worse. I had to get out of the saddle and push the bike uphill because the gears that I need to ride would not work because of the mud. And when I did get a chance to ride, I was crashing all over the place. Sliding on the mud wasn't so bad, I hurt nothing much other than my pride. I was just glad to made to Butogota. Arrived at 6:00PM. Checked into the first hotel that I saw for USH5000. It rain hard for the rest of the night.

  • Dec 3 → Butogota to Buhoma(Bwindi National Park Headquarter). Left around 8AM as I thought it would be a short and easy day. But it was no easy ride. Lots of steep hills and bad gravel road. I lost my cool yet again. The children wouldn't leave me alone as they kept yelling at me at the top of their lungs. Before I knew it, I threw my bike down and gave chase. Then they all ran like the wind. I just wanted some peace, now I got it!!! Checked into the Buhoma Community Rest Camp for USH5000 for camping. Destroyed my earbud for my mp3 player today. Looks like no music till I get back to Kampala. I started riding and listening to my mp3 player since Zambia. It gave me peace while on the road. Everyone are still yelling at me where ever there are people, but I just don't hear them with my mp3 player blasting away. So far I hadn't ran over on the highway. So I will keep doing it till it gets too dangerous.

  • Dec 4 → Big day for gorilla tracking in Bwindi National Park. We were tracking the "H" group which consists of 2 silverbacks and 21 gorillas in total. The briefing was at 8:15AM where all the rules were laid out. Then the 5 of us got into a jeep and drove quite a way before we head out on foot to track the gorillas. Not much forest to begin with, then the forest got thicker and thicker. Then people were falling through branches because of the thick forest. Now we were having fun. Then the gorillas were spotted. We all dropped our backpacks and walk towards them. We actually got quite close, perhaps 6M away. Too bad they were all scattered all over the place. I was always looking for that perfect photo where all the gorillas gather in 1 place and do a pose for me. Well, that wasn't today. What a life, just lie around all day eating veggies with thousands of flies all over you everywhere you go. Later on, I heard that if you do the gorilla thing in Rwanda, you can get even closer as they are more lax about the rules. I guess that's good of you are a tourist. As for the gorillas........ Hope they don't catch too many disease from us humans!!! The 45 minutes was up and we had to go back. This was very expensive, but it was well worth it. Time to head back to Buhoma. Arrived back at the camp around 3:30PM.

  • Dec 5 → Buhoma to Kahihi. It was raining first thing in the morning. The alarm woke me at 3:30AM as usual. Hmmm....I thought I was getting up at 4:30AM to get ready for 6AM departure. I guess I was just too damned slow in the morning. I must have set the alarm 1 hour earlier at 3:30AM. Who knows when I started doing that!!! I felt the rain and I went straight back to sleep. It was around 6AM that I decided to get up and get going. I wanted to give the road a bit of time to dry before I rode on it. At 8:15AM, I left Buhoma. About 11:30AM, I reach the town of Kihihi. And I met my gorilla tracker there. He told me it takes about 3 hours for a vehicle to reach Rukungiri. I figured there was no way I will make that today. So I stayed at Kahihi. And tomorrow morning I will decide if I will take the back road through Queen Elizabeth National Park or take the mountain road.

  • Dec 6 → Kahihi to Kasese. I was up and ready by 6AM. But it was still too dark. Waited for another 15 minutes and left. About 7KM away from Kahihi going north, I saw 2 kids huddling by the side of the road. I thought, damned they must be cold because I was. Just a little further down in this foggy morning, I thought that's a big dog that these 2 boys have. But as I got closer and closer.......I slamed on my brakes. Shit!!!!Again!!!! It was a young lion. The sound of my screeching brakes startle it and went in the bush. Not as exciting as seeing 4 lions having no time to react, but this was pretty awesome because this thing was much closer than the lions I saw in Tanzania and was walking in the middle of the gravel road. I thought this would be an exciting day if I am seeing lion even before I enter the park. As it turned out, this was the most exciting thing I saw all day. I decided to take the back road between Ishasha to Katunguru that goes through Queen Elizabeth National Park this morning. But this road wasn't so good for viewing animals. There was actually quite a few people living within the park boundary and this was their access road. The vegetation was so thick on both side of this road that it was very difficult to see anything. Plus with the human presence, the wildlife had probably learn to stay away from this road. I saw some impalas and elephants. But they were very far away. This was perhaps my most peaceful riding day in Uganda so far. The non-stop yelling of "Muzungu" all day from the old and young was wearing me out. This was so peaceful. But no time to smell the roses as I made it to Katunguru and back on tarmac road going north towards Kikorongo(The Park Boundary). Still in Queen Elizabeth National Park, but no more signs of wildlife. Arrived at Kasese around 4PM. Checked into the Kogere Modernized Lodge for USH6000 for a single.

  • Dec 7 → Day trip to the park entrance of Ruwenzori. It was raining in the morning, so I was in no hurry to leave. Once I left the main road, the gravel got much worse as I ascend. Anyway, there weren't much to see. It started to rain again, so I made my way back to the hotel.

  • Dec 8 → Kasese to Ft. Portal. This supposedly tar had seen better days. But, construction crew are everywhere doing major upgrades. Checked into the Economic Lodge for USH4000 for a single. Some nice scenery on the way to Ft. Portal.

  • Dec 9 → Day trip to the Semuliki Valley. Originally, I just wanted to look down from the top for a quickie. But I wanted better photos, so I kept riding further and further down. As I was going down, I was staring at the steamy jungle of the Congo. The road actually goes back up the hill near the bottom to get to the other side. I kept going for a while longer. The scenery wasn't changing that much, so I made my way back up the hill.

  • Dec 10 → Day trips to the crater lakes. This gravel is definitely no where as good as the gravel road to the Semuliki Valley. Arrived at Lake Nkuruba and was told there was a USH5000 entrance fee. I bargained it down to USH2000. Went in to have a quick look. Nothing special there. Next up was Lake Nyinambuga. This lake was free and was nice enough. Then I saw the sign to Lake Lyantonde and Muhoma Fall. Not knowing that there was an entrance fee, I went down a trail. Then some guy came after me. I lost my cool thinking this was just another idiot that couldn't leave me alone. After some initial shouting, he established that he wasn't there to bother me. Instead he was informing me that I had to paid. By that time I had already lost interest and just wanted to get back to Ft. Portal. Still, I couldn't resist climbing the hills around the lake to get better photos before I head back.

  • Dec 11 → Ft. Portal to Mubende. Left around 6:20AM. Wasn't really sure how far I could get today. According to my unreliable map-book, this stretch was unpaved. According to my other map, this stretch was paved. As it turned out, it was a nicely tar road. Up and down all day once again. Gave chased to the kids a few times today to get some peace, nothing major though. Arrived at Mubende around 4PM. I was quite tired as I pushed hard today.

  • Dec 12 → Mubende to Kampala. A much tougher day than yesterday, bigger hills today. Made it back to Red Chili around 5:30PM.

  • Dec 13-14 → Hanging out in Kampala. Can't remember if it during this time when I met Blanca and Mark along with their huge landrover, Grommet. They were driving the landrover on a complete circuit of Africa. Met couple of German girls that were volunteers in Salem. I figured maybe that might be a good place to spend X-mas or New Year.

  • Dec 15 → Andy the Englishman gave me a lift in his truck all the way to Salem. He was a coordinator for the organization. Got a dorm bed in the complex for USH6000. It was ok as I was the only tenant. Even though it was bucket shower, I was used to it by then.

  • Dec 16-21 → Staying in Salem. Actually, on the 16th, I went on a day trip to Sipi Falls. Just had time for a quick look and was time to come back.

  • Dec 22 → Salem to Sipi Falls. I had wanted to stayed and relax and perhaps spend the holiday here. But Andy was getting all weir. And since he was like the big boss there, it was getting uncomfortable for me. Time to go again. Nice and easy ride except for the last little bit which was a steep and steady climb to Sipi. Checked into the Crow's Nest for USH6000 for camping. Toya, the Israeli girl was there also. Then went for a trek to the big water fall, the lowest one of the 3. USH1000 for entrance. Then tried to get to the 3rd water fall which was almost as high as the 1st one. Some guy with machete demanded entrance fee of USH1000. I wasn't paying nobody since there was no ticket, no office, no nothing...... The first water fall actually had a little hut as the entrance gate with tickets that you must purchase. He just said I had to paid and that was that. I told him to get lost and made sure there were no reinforcement coming. Did a bit more walkabout, then came back to Crow's Nest. I made sure to keep an eye on the guy on the way out. You never know, sometimes people get pissed off and do some really stupid things. Life is sometimes quite cheap in Africa. Just didn't want to be on the receiving end of anything unpleasant.

  • Dec 23 → Sipi to somewhere before the border to Kenya. Forget to set the alarm, plus it was very windy last night. I didn't sleep good at all. I didn't leave till 7:15AM, which was very late for me. From Sipi to Kapchorwa was 19KM of perfectly tar road. Sometimes a bit steep, but very manageable. After Kapchorwa, it was nothing but shit. Impossibly steep and very rough gravel road. The going was very slow. Chasing kids all day to get some peace. I had enough by 3PM. Found a place to stayed at a small village for USH2000. Quite the place I found. The lock for the door was a bend over nail, had to ask for water. I tried to wash myself in the river like the locals. Didn't like it too much as I could see there are cows, chickens and who knows what kind of dung there are in the river. I was so tired I had problem swallowing my food. Used the provided candles to do some reading. When that ran out, I jam all my gears against the door. At least I should hear something if someone decide to take my stuff. Hope I would make it to Kitale tomorrow.

  • Kenya

  • Dec 24 → To Kitale. Man, it was cold this morning. Delayed my departure to 6:30AM. This was one tough road to ride, The last time I had this kind of problem was in the Carretera Austral in Chile. With a fully loaded bike, I had more problems here than anywhere else on all my tours. All the vibration had shaken lose my front locking skewer. I couldn't find it on the road. I sat for a while waiting for a lift to the next town. Then I decided to push the bike up the hill to get a drink or a meal at the shack. 4 fantas later, might as well just push the bike to the border. Then it occurred to me as I was pushing the bike that I might actually have something to fix this. I got out my repair bag and start looking for the right fix. 4 washers and 1 locking nut later, I was on my way again. It was good to made it to the border. On the Kenyan side, the gravel road was very smooth. Gone were the ridiculously tough climbs. Then it was back on tar road when I reach Endebess. Arrived at Kitale around 3PM.

  • Dec 25 → Kitale to Eldoret. Left around 6:50AM. It was an easy day. Tar road all the way. My body needed an easy day. I needed to wash all the dirt from my body, clothes, panniers, etc...... I also needed to use the internet and I managed to picked something up for my front skewers from the hardware store. I didn't get any message from Leon for the trip we were taking together to see the national parks of Kenya and Ethiopia. I also didn't get any email from Tony about the bike parts he was going to send me. I guess I will have to get whatever I need from Nairobi.

  • Dec 26 → Eldoret to Kabernat. Left around 6:45AM. Not a good sign, diarrhoea first thing in the morning. It was a steady climb to Iten. Then it was the descent to what I thought would be the road that follows the valley. What a fool I was. It goes down one side of the escarpment and goes straight up to the other side. I was riding along nicely on the valley floor when I encounter some sheep, they were moving out of the way as usual as I got closer. Then one of the bastard did a 180 and headed straight into my bike. Boom, down I went, there was no time to react. Chased the damn sheep a bit just to get it out of my system. Maybe it was a good thing no one was around or I might have to pay-up for the pain and suffering I had inflicted on the sheep. This was my worse accident in Africa so far. Not too bad at all. Hope my luck would keep up. The 20KM or so up to Kabernet was tough. I thought I had plenty of time to Marigat or maybe even to Lake Baringo. By the time I finished my meal at Kabernet, it was already 3PM. So I stayed and got a single at the Valley Inn Hotel for S300.

  • Dec 27 → Kabernet to Kampi Ya Samaki(Lake Baringo). A fairly easy day. But it took me a long time because I was constantly stopping for photos. Arrived at Marigat, was considering buying fruit and veggies to take with me. But they sure seem awfully heavy. Finally arrived at Lake Baringo around 3PM. Checked into the Robert's Camp for S350 for camping. Nice setting as it was right on the edge of the lake. Did some repair on the bike. Tomorrow I would try to get a boat ride in the lake.

  • Dec 28 → 1 hour boat ride on the Lake Baringo for S600. The whole boat to myself.  Not really that much to see. The most exciting thing was the boat driver tried to stir up some excitement by trying to piss off the bull hippo. The bull would give chase to our boat. At the same time, my camera malfunction. I got the camera going, but was only able to take 1 photo of the chase. Came back to camp and went for a nature walk around the lake. Not much there to see. Never mind, I would just go to Marigat and get some fresh fruit and supplies. Took forever as there weren't much traffic on the road to hitch. Came back and did a bit of tune up on the bike.

  • Dec 29 → Lake Baringo to Nakuru. Didn't eat properly this morning. I felt kinda crappy this morning. I was better at 10AM when I ate some rice with potatoes and egg omelettes. A pretty uneventful day, gave chased a few times to the kids to get some peace. Crossing the Kenyan equator at Kampi Ya Moto. Arrived at Nakuru around 3PM.

  • Dec 30 → Nakuru to Nyahururu. Left around 6:45AM. What was supposed to be a beautiful scenic ride was not so much in my eyes. While I was getting near to Nyahururu, I got pulled over by Mark and Blanca. It was quite a pleasant surprised to get pulled over by the big blue machine. We chatted a bit while the locals surround us. I guess we were making quite the side show. They might be staying in Nanyuki. I will try to meet up with them tomorrow. I got to see Thomsons Fall. It was a pleasant little waterfall. Also crossing the equator yet again near Nyahururu.

  • Dec 31 → Nyahururu to Naro Moru. More equator crossing. I felt kinda funny this morning. But I never paid any attention to it, I thought it was just my reaction to the freezing cold. Left around 7:15AM. As soon as I left, I knew something wasn't right. I had no energy at all. I stopped at a small village around 10AM to get some food thinking maybe I was just hungry. Tried as I might, I could only finished half of the chapatti. And I was feeling worse by the minute. Somewhere along the way, I took the short cut to Naro Moru. It was short cut in name only, I think I was actually losing time using this road. Since I couldn't make it to meet up with Mark and Blanca. I thought it would be nice to hung out with fellow travelers at the Naro Moru River Lodge since this is like New Years Eve. The normal price for camping was S300. For X-mas and New Year, they slam on a S600 surcharge. S900 for camping was not ok with me. Went into town and found a place for S250 for a self contained single. I think the right decision was made for me. Not long after I had my meal and came back to the hotel, the diarrhoea began. I would paid a visit to the rustic toilet every 2 hour or so. Sleeping was hard to come by from my steady trips. Thankfully, I did manage a bit of sleep.

  • 2006

    Kenya

  • Jan 1 → Naro Moru to Nanyuki. Another equator crossing today. Woke up and few times in the wee hours of the morning for my diarrhoea duties. There was no way I could wake up at 4AM. There was no need as I only need to go 23KM for the day. Left the hotel at 9AM. I was riding super slow from whatever illness I contracted. Even with my condition, I still lost it today. All I wanted to do was to get to my destination and head straight to the toilet. As I was riding, some local caught up with me with his bike. Oh well, my peace was gone. I didn't have far to go, so it was ok. Then he started going faster, slower, getting in front, behind, etc...... I had to stop and start constantly to avoid hitting him. I told him to stopped, but he wouldn't listen. I got fed up and gave chased. There was a little trail that goes into the hills. This will work out after all. I would chased him into the trail and I would slow down to let him get away. Nothing ever goes according to plans. As soon as he turn into the trail, he jump out of the bike and just stood there acting scared. Damn it, the guy was much bigger than me. I sure didn't expect this turn of event. I didn't have a chance to let him get away. So I confronted him and acted very angry and told him to leave me alone. Got back on my bike and on my way again. Went to the River Camel Camp to look for Mark and Blanca. They weren't there. The place look deserted anyway. The next place they would be in would be Timau. But I didn't feel like riding another 25KM to meet them at my current condition. So I took a place in town for S200 for a single. Just relax and do nothing to let my body recover.

  • Jan 2 → Taking the matatu from Nanyuki to Nairobi. My little bike adventure will be put on hold for a while. I decided to go back to Nairobi to find out what was going on with Leon and Pitta. I had not had any communication with them for a while now. I arrange with the hotel to leave my stuff there while I went to Nairobi. Just to have peace of mind, I kept my room and paid for the full price. Then I got onto the Matatu and here I come Nairobi. Arrived at Nairobi and checked into Upperhill Campsite again. It was a nice place, I really liked it there. Right away, I ran into Leon and Pitta. When I went to Uganda, they did their thing and went to National parks. While setting their rooftop tent, Pitta fell off the ladder. They were staying in Nairobi while she recovers. That was why I never got any message from Leon, he was a bit preoccupy. This was also the first time I ran into Amanda Lindhout. It was very hard to take her seriously at first glance. My first thought was, man that is one high maintenance girl. She walked in with her manicured hands, immaculate skin, fashionable clothes, etc.... Just a gorgeous package. Then we started talking, and she had some pretty amazing tales. That's when I started respecting her. While I was relaxing in Nairobi and trying to get some good food. She and another girl went straight to the biggest slum in Nairobi. Walking over human waste with their little slum guide. Then later on I kept running into her in Ethiopia. Me with the South African couple and she by herself. It is so sad that since Aug of 2008, she has been held hostage in Somalia along with Nigel Brennan. I met Nigel briefly while I was in Addis Ababa. I am writing this as of May 4, 2009. So I am a bit behind in writing. Hope you come home soon, Amanda and Nigel.

  • Jan 3 → Leon and Pitta drove me to the Ethiopian Embassy to get our visas. Got there at 11AM, by noon we picked up our 3 months multiple entries visa.

  • Jan 4-5 → Relaxing in Nairobi. Didn't used the free internet at the Canadian Embassy anymore. There used to be a nice girl that was working there that would allowed me to use the computer as much as I wanted when there were no one else waiting. Changed of personnel this time around. This other lady was not so tolerant. There was a time limit regardless if there were any one else waiting.

  • Jan 6 → First day together with Leon and Pitta through the National Parks. The wheels were taken off the bike and were put inside. The frame were wrapped in garbage bags and strapped on to the roof. Our first park was the Aberdare National Park. The entrance fee was $30US for the vehicle and $10US for group camping. Most exciting  thing today was probably the hyena. Much closer than the one I saw in Ngorongoro. Also saw some buffalos, wild bush pig and elephants. But the best view of them all must be the view of Mt Kenya, the second highest mountain in Africa.

  • Jan 7 → 2nd day in Aberdare. We left camp at 9AM. I froze my ass off last night. It was the first time in a long time that I actually had to zip up my sleeping bag all the way up. But this was a good day sort of. We had a great clear view Mt. Kenya, some close up of elephants and buffalos. While I was taking out my camera from the case, one of the switch got caught and broke. Which means my camera was out of commission. We discuss our next course of action. I told them I would go back to Nairobi to get the camera fix and meet up with them again. They would have none of it. They insist we drive back to Nairobi, get the camera fix and we would come back to Aberdare. At 3PM, we left the park and start the drive back to Nairobi. Back at the Upperhill campsite at 6PM.

  • Jan 8 → No fixing camera. Everything was closed in Nairobi.

  • Jan 9 → The shop that was recommended for fixing my camera required me to leave my camera there for 4-5 days and they have no clue how much it would cost. That wasn't acceptable. So they told me to take it to the Canon House. The Canon House turned out to be Cannon House, an insurance company. Just a total waste of time. Went all over the place. Finally found a place that would fix it for S5000, ouch!!! Thought about it for 2 second. No choice, had to get it fix. Went back to the shop at 5PM and the camera was already fixed. Tried to bargain the price down a bit. He wouldn't go for it. At least I got camera again!!!

  • Jan 10 → Camera was fixed. Time to get back to the parks. Left Nairobi around 10AM and enter Aberdare National Park second time around at the Mutubio West Gate at 1:20PM. Then drove to the Karura Falls and Gura Falls, they were very far away. Not much good photos there. Then went to see Chania Falls and the Queens Cave. Not much animals for this afternoon's drive. Damn, it was cold there.

  • Jan 11 → Morning drive through Aberdare on the way out. Last night was damn cold but not as cold as the last time we were here. Not much to see this morning. Left the park around 1PM and drove towards Mt. Kenya National Park. Leon figured maybe we can drive inside the park a bit and look around. But there wasn't much of a drive inside the park. So we decided to stayed at the Naro Moru River Lodge. But they wanted to charge us $10US for being non-resident for camping. We found another place for S400 for a single. They got a double. 

  • Jan 12 → Left the hotel around 9AM and drove toward Meru National Park. Took a couple more good photos of Mt. Kenya. We enter into Meru National Park around 2PM. Saw a bunch of reticulated giraffes. That was nice. Couldn't find any black rhinos in the rhino sanctuary.

  • Jan 13 → Second day in Meru National Park. Left camp around 9AM and drove all day around the park. Didn't see much today except for some hippos, buffalos and elephants. Maybe the odd lizard here and there also. Crossing the equator again within the park was different. Tried to chase down the hippos at the hippo pool. They didn't want to come out and play. I still haven't learn from my encounter with the elephant in Zambia yet. Came back to camp a bit early, I had some time to do laundry.

  • Jan 14 → Left the public camp around 9AM. Drove to the hippo pool first thing in the morning. Not much going on there today either. Just before 1PM, we left Meru National Park on the way to Nanyuki. We went to Timau River Lodge to have a look. Leon really liked it and wanted to stay an extra day here to relax. Camping for S300.

  • Jan 15 → Relaxing in Timau River Lodge.

  • Jan 16 → We drove to Isiolo and stayed there. I paid a visit to another acquaintance from Nairobi. Took a taxi back to the Rangeland Hotel where we were staying that night. I didn't have my tent setup yet. It was cold outside and I was lazy. I talked Leon and Pitta into letting me sleep on their front porch in the banda. It was way better. I still paid S200 for camping.

  • Jan 17 → Left around 9AM. By 10AM, we were at the gate entrance to Buffalo Spring Reserve. We saw lions, elephants and a very dried up river and a very desperate looking croc. The drought in Northern Kenya were making the people and animals suffer perhaps equally. The grevy zebras was quite nice as they are slightly different than most common zebras in Africa.

  • Jan 18 → It was an all day drive to Maralal. Stayed at the Yale Club and Camp for S200 for camping. They wanted to charged me S100 for charging my batteries for my camera. So, screw them.

  • Jan 19 → Another all day drive to get to Loyangalani. Finally reached Lake Turkana. After driving on razor sharp lava rocks all day, it was nice to get a glimpse of the biggest desert lake in the world. Driving along the lake was amazing and sad at the same time. With the ongoing drought, yet there are plenty of water here. Except that the salinity level of the water is not suitable for drinking even though some locals drink it directly from the lake. We saw some hut along the way before Loyangalani, staying there was not possible because nobody had any idea what was going on. So, we kept going till we arrived at Loyangalani. Stayed at the Mosaretu Women's Group Camp Site for S350 each for a straw hut.

  • Jan 20 → Left around 7:30AM in search of Sibiloi National Park. We had some rudimentary instruction on how to get there. Like go such and such KM and turn left/right...... Our most popular activities for the day goes like this. We arrived at a fork in the road. The distance does not correspond to the instruction we got. Well, we will go with the direction we were told. Drove along for 50KM, finally deciding this was going nowhere. Then back track to the fork. Since driving in these razor sharp lava rocks are quite slow. We spend most of the day driving back and forth. Along the way we picked up a local. We didn't understand where he was going. It didn't matter, I guess we were going in the general direction. Since there were not much room left, he just climb on the roof and the way we went. Then the sandstorm hit, it was too risky to keep going. So we just parked it right on the road and setup our tents. I setup my tent just behind the landrover, it was just that little bit better as a wind shelter. As for our hitcher, he just took off down the road. Not long after we were setup. The sandstorm was over. By then Leon had decided Sibiloi was just not worth it. We still had enough food and water for a few days. But we had no idea where we were going and traffic on this road are non-existent. We decided to go back to Loyangalani and onto our next park which is Marsibit.

  • Jan 21 → We drove back to Loyangalani to the same camp ground. During the night, we encounter another vehicle that was actually going to Sibiloi National Park. It would had been nice if we had encounter them a few days back when we actually wanted to get there. It would had been nice to see this most remote of National Park in Kenya. I heard some of the biggest crocs in Africa are there. As it was, we were sticking to our plan of going to Marsibit.

  • Jan 22 → It was going to be an easy day or so I thought. Everything was going great. We were making great time to Marsibit. About 35KM from Marsibit, we heard a big bang. We stopped and came out to check it out. The drive shaft was history. I was no mechanic and neither were Leon. We discussed our options. I decided I had to go for help. I need to ride to Marsibit to get a tow truck. I put the bike together as fast as I could. Off I went to Marsibit. As I was riding along, I was hoping to see some wildlife since I was in the Marsibit Nature Reserve boundary. But instead I got something else. I was coming near a hut on the way to town. As I got closer, I noticed a naked man just lying on the ground. I thought if I rode very quietly, I would get by without him noticing it. No sooner than I thought I was in the safe zone, he jumped right up and ran after me NAKED and screaming!!! Oh, I didn't like that situation. I rode as fast as I could to get out of there. Up ahead, a huge climb looms. And I see a vehicle coming down the hill. Might as well ask the driver for help. I wasn't much of a negotiator. I only lower the price of the tow from S20000 to S8000. I had no idea how much a tow is at this part of the world. It was probably overpriced, I would pay for it since I did such a bad job of negotiating. But first they have to go fixed a big truck, then they would come back to tow us with that. So I put the bike on the back of the landcruiser and we drove toward where Leon and Pitta were. I explained to Leon about the negotiation and the tow price. He agreed to it. I wanted to make sure they were coming back, so I went them to fix the truck. Somehow I knew we were not in good hands. There were a lot of talking and not much fixing. In the end, they couldn't fix the truck. But they wasted a couple of hour talking about it. The sun was going down as we drove back to Leon and Pitta. It was completely dark when we reach them. Leon had misunderstood about the price. He thought I said S1000. After some arguing, he got the price down to S700(about $100US). Still overpriced, but our choices were pretty limited at that time. We tied a tow rope to our landrover to their landcruiser. We failed the first time as the landcruiser wasn't powerful or heavy enough to tow our vehicle. Then one of the mechanic was explaining to Leon that you can actually drive the landrover with DIF-LOCK on. We had no idea that we can still drive this thing with the front drive shaft completely broken or we would've drove out of there a long time ago. It wasn't a good idea, but it was only 30KM to Marsibit so it would've been ok. Since we already made the deal. We had to go through with it. When ever there was an inclined, Leon had to engaged DIF-LOCK and drive a little. When ever there was a down hill, Leon had to engaged in low gear and slow the descent of the landcruiser. We were making slow progress and there were a few close calls going down hill. Then about 10KM from Marsibit, it happened. The driver stopped his truck all of a sudden. Leon had no time to react and smashed into the back of the truck. I could smell alcohol on his breath. Oh shit, let's just get this thing to Marsibit and we don't have to deal with these idiots again. After some heated discussion, Leon just wanted to drive the landrover to Marsibit. We would just followed them to honour the deal. People get angry fast in these parts of the world. We followed the landcruiser all the way to Jey Jey Centre. Leon paid the guy and I got my bike off the landcruiser. Got a room for S250 at Jey Jey.

  • Jan 23 → Spend the whole day fixing the front drive shaft in Marsibit.

  • Jan 24 → Day trip with a local guide(Duba) to the crater and then the singing wells. I couldn't help but notice that the drought had been ongoing for a while now, the evil UN is nowhere to be found. If you have ever been to Africa, you will agree with me that UN is evil. Or just ask the locals what they think of UN!!! Or the fact that the nicest building in town is the immaculate church on top of the hill overlooking the city. While everyone down below had to endured all day wait to get water!!!

  • Jan 25 → Spent the day at Marsibit National Park. A bit of disappointment as there are not many trails. We had to keep going back and forth on the same road. We saw some buffalos at the Marsibit Lodge. We kept going to Paradise Lake and saw some elephants there. We kept going but only for a bit more. It was getting just too rough and dangerous to drive. Most of the afternoon was spend near Lake Paradise. We saw more elephants and buffalos on the way back to the gate where we will camp.

  • Ethiopia

  • Jan 26 → Marsibit to Yabelo. Left around 7AM. We wanted maximum time to get as far into Ethiopia as possible. Ethiopia immigration and customs turned out to be a lot easier than expected. Stayed at Yabelo for B20 for a single. Crappy toilet and no water.

  • Jan 27 → Yabelo to Jinka. Entering into the Lower Omo Valley, the locals do the most ridiculous tricks to make a buck. A lot of local kids would wait beside the road. Then the first sign of a vehicle approaches, They would jumped into action. Our first encounter was a naked kid doing a head stand. As we got near, he would get himself vertical with his hands extended waiting for some cash to be dropped into his hands. Our next performance was a man with painted body walking on stilts. Then we ran into a couple of topless local women just demanding money, hmmm.......not very original. A kid doing a rendition of the chicken dance. A group of women doing a dance, etc....... It was just endless entertainment all the way. Arrived at Jinka and setup up camp at Rocky's Campsite for B15.

  • Jan 28 → Drove to Mago National Park. Arrived at the gate around noon. The rule was that we had to take an armed ranger with us. Of course we had no room inside. He ended up sitting on the roof in the scorching heat. I think he was just a local farmer with a gun. Anyway, we drove around a bit. There weren't much to see. My guess is that most wildlife were hunted down already as there were a lot of locals living within the park boundary. It was time to go back to camp as animals were far and few in between and the man on the roof was complaining constantly.

  • Jan 29 → Went for another game drive in the morning. The ranger/farmer was complaining again. Leon lost it and shouted at the guy. We didn't stayed for too long. This park was a lost cause. Most people use this National Park as a home base to visit the local tribes such as the Mursi. The ranger might be a good idea because I heard the locals in those villages are very aggressive. We talked about going to the Mursi Village. But in the end, we decided that it was like a human safari and we wanted no part of that. Here are some of the rumours that convinced us not to go to the Mursi Villages. To get to any of the Mursi Villages, you must enter Jinka. At Jinka, there is an entrance fee for all foreigners. And very little of this money goes to the villagers. Another rumour was that the local tribes at the Mursi Villages were not allowed to leave since they generated a lot of revenue for the government. Every tourist wants to come here to see the tribes with the lip-plate. Since they felt exploited by the situation as they see very little of this money. All the locals had taken an aggressive approach. When you arrive at a Mursi Village, the villagers will demand by force that you paid them money so you can take photos with one of the locals. These were just some of the rumours that I heard over and over again. I don't know if they were true or not since we didn't go to any Mursi Village. But the whole idea of human safari really put us off. We left the park around 10AM to head back to Jinka. I was dropped off near the market. We needed supplies such as fruit and vegetable for our next park. I went back to the landrover with both hands full. The vehicle was surrounded by a mob of locals. So I ran to the landrover. It wasn't looking good, but I wasn't finished with shopping. I asked Leon if everything was OK? He said it was good, but please can I hurry up a bit. I dropped off the avocados and pineapple that I bought and went back to the market to get some mangos. Half way to the market, I saw an even bigger mob approaching the landrover. That's when I knew it was time to get da fuck outta there!!! I ran back to the landrover and push the people out of there, force my way back into the landrover and Leon put the pedal to the metal. Up until that point in Africa, when ever I confront the locals, they usually back down. In the Lower Omo Valley, they don't back down for nobody. We drove back to Rocky's Camp.

  • Jan 30 → Drove to Arba Minch. On the way out of the Lower Omo Valley, I ran into Amanda Lindhout again. She was trying to get to the Mursi Villages with local transport, hitching, etc...... Whatever it takes to get there. It was nice to see her, but we had to go. Arrived at Arba Minch and stayed at the Bokele Mola Hotel for B40 for camping. This place has a very nice view of Nechisar National Park down below.

  • Jan 31 → Stayed an extra day because Pitta wasn't feeling well.

  • Feb 1 → Went to Nechisar National Park. Not much in this park either. Some of the biggest crocs in Africa were rumour to be here. But as in most parks in Ethiopia, they were running scared. Once again, lots of locals live within the park boundary. Croc hunting is quite popular here or so it seems. We were driving along when we spotted the crocs down below on the beach. We drove down to the lake to investigate. I went for a walk to get good photos of crocs. I already knew that the crocs were very skittish in Ethiopia. So I moved inside the bush slowly trying to approach the crocs. I had no choice, 3X zoom camera sucks!!! As soon as I stick my head out to get a shot, all the crocs flew out of there like rockets. Shit, so I went back to hiding in the bush. After a while, I made my way near the beach again. I was just going to find an opening in the bush, so I can take a decent photo. But somehow they felt my presence and took off once again. Man, I had enough of this nonsense. So I waited by the bush again. When I saw there that they all came back. I just start running on the beach as fast as I could with my camera in my hand. I had to chased after them to get a good shot. I wouldn't called them good photos, but they were better than nothing.

  • Feb 2-4 → We drove to Bale Mountain National Park in search of the elusive Ethiopian Wolfs, the rarest canine in the world. We actually saw 2 of them. I was so proud of the fact that I spotted them. Leon had hired a guide to increase our chance of finding the wolfs. Once again, we didn't have much room inside. I volunteered to stay on the roof this time so I can get better photos. As we driving along, we had to stopped to removed a couple of huge rocks from the road. That gave me a bit more time to scanned my surrounding. Then I noticed far away, there was a tiny little animal that resembles a dog. Leon took out his binoculars to confirm. And there it was, the Ethiopian Wolfs. Pitta was overjoyed, she had seen lots of lions, elephants, hippos, etc.....in her lifetime. But it was her first sighting of the rare wolfs. We made our way on foot to get as closed to the wolfs as possible, there were actually 2 wolfs. Once again, my 3X zoom camera let me down. But Leon was kind enough to let me use any photos in his collection. Bale was damned cold, but it was a nice experience. I was glad to see the wolfs in person in their natural setting. On the 4th, we droved to Shashemene and stayed there for the night.

  • Feb 5-17 → The drive to Addis Ababa. Stayed there for a long time to relax at the Baro Hotel. It was an amazing place to meet interesting people. I first setup my tent by the little bit of grass by the front gate. But it was getting to be a drag to be woken up by the noise from the drunken guess coming back to the hotel at night. After a few days, I asked to see if I can pitch my tent at the hallway. The manager said it was not a problem. So, that was where I camped till I left. Our favourite activity must be the Sunday all you can eat buffet at the Hotel Hilton. It is a slice of western luxury in this not so rich capital. We would sit by the swimming pool and rub shoulders with the middle to upper class of Addis Ababa. The food was always of high standard plus the free champagne added a nice touch to the whole affair. I was always a big eater and I would stuff myself silly each time for the price of $15 US per person. All over Addis Ababa, smart little cafe abounds. As you may or may not know, coffee originated in Ethiopia. I am not much of a coffee drinker, but in Addis, I drink it everyday. My usual drink is macchiato. It is always served with the layer of milk and coffee clearly visible. Then you stir it up and just enjoyed it's rich taste. I went to a genuine coffee shop that was recommended by the locals with Leon and Pitta. We all order a real coffee. I must admit it was very good. But my system wasn't used to coffee this strong. Not long after, I had the shakes. Then I was incapacitated for the rest of the day with regular trips to the toilet. That was the last time I drink a real coffee and just stick to my macchiato. I would've love to have gone to a real coffee ceremony. The smell alone would be worth it. But it was pointless because the coffee in the ceremony is even stronger that the stuff that made me sick all day. Somewhere along, Amanda Lindhout showed up again. When I ran into her last time, she was trying to get into the Lower Omo Valley and we were on our way out. We sat down one night and she described what happened to her while trying to get to the Mursi Villages. She was staying in a hotel in a small village/town. Then she heard noises outside the hotel. Since she is the curious type, she went outside to investigate. Perhaps someone is hurt, maybe she can help. Before she has time to react, this man was on her trying to force his way into her room. Luckily, some passersby heard the commotion and force the man to leave. That was when she decided to leave the valley. It was always entertaining to listen, she has many stories to tell. In some ways, she is far more adventurous than I could ever be. And I have a lot of respect for that. I had some doubt with some of the stories sometimes, but then it happened. I saw it with my own eyes. A bunch of us were having a chat at night. Amanda were having diarrhoea all day and looking terrible. There was a man from South Africa visiting Addis Ababa. He kept asking me to introduced him to her. I thought that was weird because she is sitting right there, just talk to her yourself. And he did. Then it got surreal. He started saying how much he loves her. I was thinking to myself this cannot be happening. You just met her, how can you love her. She tried to just ignored him and continued talking to rest of us. Then he got very emotional and started saying things such as that he didn't want to live if she doesn't love him back. Wow, this was unbelievable!!! If I didn't see this first hand, I didn't think things like this happened in real life. As soon as he utter those words, a couple of backpackers got up and convinced him to go to the clubs with them. I didn't know how serious was his intention, but the change in his demeanour over the course of just a few hours was incredible. She just possess this hypnotic spell over a lot of men. The backpackers came back a few hours later and reported that they think he's ok. At the same time, there were a lot of overlanders driving various types of vehicles attempting to get a Sudanese visa at the consulate. Quite a few of them just gave up as it was going nowhere. They all bought tickets to fly to Cairo and tried to get visas there. Then they would fly back to Addis Ababa and continued on driving to Sudan. Amanda wrapped herself in what looked like to be traditional Sudanese clothes. Then went out and bought herself some pastries and presented them to the officials when she arrived at the consulate. By the afternoon, she had already picked up her Sudanese visa. Other people gave up after months of staying in Addis without getting anywhere. She is quite the resourceful girl. Then there was Scarlett Lopez Freeman, an American on a Fulbright Scholarship base in Addis Ababa doing a thesis on equality of women(I think). I can't quite remember. Saskia Kloezeman, she was working for an NGO in Southern Ethiopia. I believe it was near Jinka. Also Blanca, Mark and the accountant couple were staying in another hotel nearby. They were all landrover overlanders. It was nice to meet with Mark and Blanca. I tried to meet up with them in Kenya but failed. But here we were again. As we chatting along, we found out a little secret from them. There was another American that showed up at the Baro Hotel with some stories about the last hotel lost most of his possessions. The story was full of holes and didn't make any sense. That last hotel happened to be the hotel where Mark and Blanca were staying. And through the manager which they had became quite friendly with. This was the story that I learned. The American was caught with a young boy in his room at night. He was trying to explained to the staff that he was trying to teach the boy English. But at 10PM??? So the hotel kicked him out of there. My guess is that the hotel was going to keep his stuff in exchange they would not press charges. That part of the story I would never know. This is Africa and shit happens. That was why he showed up so late at the Baro with some ridiculous story. Then there were Tom and Janet. Originally from South Africa. Immigrated to Calgary, Canada. That's like my next door neighbours. They went to South Africa and bought them self a landcruiser. Their goal was to drive from South Africa to Egypt.

  • Feb 18 → It was time to leave. With it's endless supplies of crazy characters, it was hard to leave Addis. We wanted to get to Bahir Dir today. Due to the road closured for a few hours from the construction around the Blue Nile Gorge Bridge, we got only as far as Debre Markos. The hotel we found was apparently full, so all of us shared a single room. Janet and Tom showed up a bit later and stayed at the same hotel. I guess it wasn't full after all. This was one lively hotel, the party was going strong when we went to sleep.

  • Feb 19 → At around 2AM, Leon couldn't take it anymore.  As he was getting out the door to yell at the people to shut up, that woke up Pitta and I as well. Pitta got out of bed and chased after Leon to give him shit for making such a big fuss. He came back and went back to sleep. But after that, Pitta barely slept at all. She was making all kinds of movement and noises all night as I was sleeping quite lightly after that as well. Leon and I went to the lobby to get some breakfast. She refused to come down for breakfast with us. As we went out to the landrover, she had already locked herself behind the steering wheel. Something inside her snapped last night. She was driving no matter what. I can see the arthritis from her hand and know a little bit about the Huntington disease that she has. She was determined to drive and that was that. I had never seen her drive before, but I thought how bad can it be. In rural Ethiopia, it is a common practice that people greet each other in the middle of the road. For that matter, anywhere they want. Yet here we were cruising along at 80KM/H through all the villages on the gravel roads. She was not slowing down for nobody. Many times we would close to hitting women, children, cows, cars, etc........You name it, we were close to hitting it. While Leon tried to calm her down. She would just yell back and said "they should be smarter and walk on the shoulder". When she wasn't trying to kill us all, she was having a shouting match with Leon. And when we hit the rough roads, she would just let go the wheel completely because of her condition. I was just so happy that the rough stretch that I had to endured were still in relatively flat areas. Just imagine going around in a hairpin on rough gravel road!!! I had no idea what to do. I have zero experience dealing with situation like this. Should I intervene? And if I do, should I be forceful or gentle? I ended up doing nothing. But this was getting very dangerous. I made up my mind if this doesn't stop anytime soon, I might just have to force this thing to stop. I will get out and part ways. Finally, she either got fed up with Leon constantly nagging at her or some of her reasoning came back. She slam on both the brake and handbrake at the same time. Yell at Leon to take his fucking truck back. Just for good measure, hit him a few times first before they changed seats. I felt such relieved when Leon was behind the wheel again and I was still alive, not in jail, not in hospital, etc....... We drove to Bahir Dir with Pitta yelling at Leon whenever someone honk from their vehicles. It was something that Leon said that trigger this during the ordeal. Once we arrived, Pitta locked herself in her hotel room. Leon was sleeping on his rooftop tent and I was camping on the ground. Tom and Janet arrived a bit later. And I think Mark and Blanca also arrived the same day.

  • Feb 20-22 → We were so glad that Janet and Tom were there. Janet worked as a nurse in Calgary. With her expertise, she was able to convinced Pitta to come out of her room. Pitta started to eat better, and she was definitely looking better. She stopped taking her pills for Parkinson when she locked herself in her room. Janet got her to take them again. Tom and Janet and us were more or less going to Gondar the same way. While in Bahir Dir, we all went for a boat ride in Lake Tana to visit the various monasteries. The next day we all went to see the very dried Blue Nile Falls. Janet, being the kind hearted soul that she was, stayed behind to comfort Pitta. Then Peter Kay Forwood showed up with their Harley Davidson. They left Australia with their Harley in 1996 and has just about visited every countries in the world. As far as I know, they are still going strong.

  • Feb 23 → Janet did her magic, Pitta was calmed and happy again. We were good to go again. We wanted to get to Gondar today. It wasn't peaceful for long though. She had come up with the plan that they would take turn driving. Of course, nobody knew about this plan but her. More shouting between Leon and Pitta, but this time Leon stood his ground. The drive to Gondar was filled with yelling and screaming. As long as Leon was driving, I didn't really cared. Finally we arrived at Gondar, as we got to the gate of the Belegez Pension, Leon got out of the driver seat for some reason. Pitta got behind the driver seat in an instant and drove into the compound. Somehow, Pitta got it in her head that it was ok for her to drive. Here we go again, more shouting back and forth. She insisted that they would both take turns driving. I just wish I had a little more experience dealing with these kind of situations, but I didn't.  They stayed at the same room to begin with, then Leon moved to the rooftop tent again.

  • Feb 24-27 → Went to the Gondar Castle and not much else. Janet spend the time working her magic on Pitta and got her to admit she had Huntington disease. That was a good sign, she had refused to accept that she had the disease until now.

  • Feb 28 → Everyone was in a good mood. Janet and Tom stayed for a few extra days to help out the situation. Now, they were ready to move on. Everyone had agree that things will be different now that Pitta had accepted her condition. We all bid our good byes and they headed toward Sudan.

  • Mar 1 → We were in no rush to get moving, we just wanted to let the time set in. When the time was right, then we would go. In the morning, we decided to stayed today as well to get supplies for the trip to the Simien Mountain National Park. At around 9AM, Tom and Janet were at the gate of the Belegez Pension. And they were both crying. As I said before, driving in Ethiopia was quite tricky. Everyone congregate in the middle of the highway to greet each other. While the locals would tried to push their livestock in front of your vehicle, forcing you to hit them. A dead animal killed by a tourist vehicle is worth a lot more money than what they can get for it at the market. I had never rode my bike in Ethiopia, but I had met other cyclist that got hit by stone thrown by kids. He was injured quite badly. You just have to be extremely careful driving through villages. Anyway, Tom and Janet left for Sudan yesterday. I was happy to see them go as they were trying to meet up with friends. They were about 30KM from the border of Sudan, driving carefully through a village. Janet was driving that day, Tom was the navigator glue to the GPS and the laptop. Just like any other villages that they had went by, a lot of honking and slow driving. As they were about to pass another kid on the road, they did the usual honk. The kid was moving away from their vehicle. Then all of a sudden, he did a 180 and run straight toward the vehicle. They had no time nor the distance to react, and they hit the child. The impact wasn't that hard, but unfortunately the back of the child's skull hit the road first. Since Janet is a nurse, she jumped out of the landcruiser and immediately went into action. Before long, there was a big crowd gathering around the scene. The injury was too severed, so they drove the child to the hospital.

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