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.
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!
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.
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.
1-2 → Rode to
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
→ 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.
4-6 → Ica to
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.
→ 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.
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.
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.
13-18 → Finally made it to
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
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.
19 → Took the night bus from Arequipa to
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.
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
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.
→ Took the train, bus
combo back to Cusco. Stopped at
Chichero to see the Sunday market.
26-30 → Spanish school in Cusco.
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.
3-Nov 24 → Studying in Cusco.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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!
→ 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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
to Jachal on the 5th and Jachal to San Juan
on the 6th. Very hot days.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
→ 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.
→ Santiago to
Jan 16 → Curico to
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
Montt on the 23 and bought the ferry ticket to
Ancud in Isla Chiloe.
→ 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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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 to San
29 → San Sebastian to Rio Grande. Wanted to get
to Toulhuin today, but the Patagonia wind had
1 → Rio Grande to Toulhuin.
Mar 2-4 → Toulhuin to Ushuaia. My oh my, I
finally made it to
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
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
Mar 13-14 → I was tired, I stayed in my hotel
room eating and watching TV all day In Carmen De
Mar 15 → Carmen De Patagones to Pedro Luro.
Found a nice truck stop free camp site with free
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
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
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
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
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
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
→ Puerto Iguazu to
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Jun 8 → Travessio to Valenca. Today, the bottom
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 →
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
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
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
→ 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
visit my friend.
Sep 7-?? → Staying in Switzerland working on
this web site and rebuilding my bike.
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
Cape Town. Pottie picked me up at the airport,
then he drove me to his house in Strand(about 38 KM E of
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
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
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
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
Apr 18 → Rest day in
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
Day 1 in
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
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
Jun 16 → It was getting
cold in this part of South Africa. I wanted to start
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.
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
→ 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
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
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.
→ 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
→ 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
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.
→ 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.
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.
→ 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
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
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
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.
→ 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.
→ 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
→ 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.
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
→ Sly and his driver drove to Tsodilo Hills World
Heritage Site to do a little reporting. They took me
with them on the trip.
→ 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.
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
→ 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.
15-20 → Chilling in Tonata and getting fat.
→ 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
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ Hanging out at Livingstone. Went to
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.
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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.
5-6 → Fixing rear cassette. Getting Zambia visa renew
and went to the theatres to watch movies.
→ 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
→ 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.
→ 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.
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.
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.
12 → Recovering from diarrhoea in Chipata.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
20 → Lilongwe to Salima. Headwind the whole day. Found a
place to stayed for K300.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
30 → Day off to recover.
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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
→ 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
→ 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.
→ Relax in Dar as it was Sunday and not much was
→ 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.
→ Took the ferry from Dar Es Salaam to
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.
→ 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
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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
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.
→ Relaxing in Dar.
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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.......
→ 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.
→ Moshi to Arusha. Arrived at Arusha and checked into
the Masai Camp.
→ 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
→ 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
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.
→ Had breakfast, then we were off to the Serengeti. On
the way there, all the guys in the landcruiser wanted to
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
→ Laundry day in Arusha and watch tv.
→ Relaxing in Arusha.
→ 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.
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.
→ 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.
→ Wanted to wake up early to go to
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
→ 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
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.
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ Went to
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.
→ 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.
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.
→ 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.
→ 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
→ 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.
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.
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ Day trip to the
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.
→ Day trips to the
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.
→ 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.
→ Mubende to Kampala. A much tougher day than yesterday,
bigger hills today. Made it back to Red Chili around
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
→ 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.
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.
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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
→ 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.
→ 1 hour boat ride on the
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
→ 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
→ 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
It was a pleasant little waterfall. Also crossing the
equator yet again near Nyahururu.
→ 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.
→ 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
→ 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
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.
→ 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.
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.
→ 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.
→ 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
→ No fixing camera. Everything was closed in Nairobi.
→ 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 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.
→ 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.
→ Left the hotel around 9AM and drove toward Meru
National Park. Took a couple more good photos of
Mt. Kenya. We
Meru National Park
around 2PM. Saw a bunch of reticulated giraffes. That
was nice. Couldn't find any black rhinos in the rhino
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ Relaxing in Timau River Lodge.
→ 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.
→ Left around 9AM. By 10AM, we were at the gate entrance
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.
→ 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.
→ Another all day drive to get to Loyangalani. Finally
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.
→ 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
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.
→ 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
→ 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.
→ Spend the whole day fixing the front drive shaft in
→ 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!!!
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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
→ 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
→ 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
→ Stayed an extra day because Pitta wasn't feeling
→ 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
→ 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.
→ 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.
→ 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
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.
→ 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.
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
→ 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.
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
→ 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
→ 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