Out of Africa

Out of AfricaWith Dick’s departure our journey in Africa has also reached its end. After more than 300 days on this beautiful continent we leave Africa. Although we could have easily travelled another year in Africa because there are so many beautiful things to see here, but we go to South America for a new part of our adventure. Though that departure from Africa is not easy. Not only because we have lost a part of our heart to this continent, but also because it is quite an operation to get the motorbikes in South America.

Out of AfricaWhen we were still in Stellenbosch on the Farm we looked for a possibility to ship the bikes from Cape Town to South America on a container ship. That is by far the cheapest option, especially if we could share a container with other travellers. With the help of Duncan we found three travellers who wanted to ship their bikes to South America around the same time: a motorcyclist from Spain and two riding doctors from South Africa. But five bikes was not enough to fill the container. To make the shipment worthwhile in terms of costs, we also needed a car. Both Duncan and we looked for that car for a few weeks, but unfortunately without success. The doctors were not able to wait longer for a car and the Spanish rider had also made other plans. That was the time for us to move to Plan B: fly the bikes.

It is possible to put the motorbikes in a crate and ship them by plane to South America. The costs are higher than the transportation in a shared container, but we had taken this into account in our budget. Moreover a flight is a lot faster. It is also worth something that we do not have to wait a long time for our bikes to arrive when we ourselves have arrived in South America. Out of AfricaWe asked for a quote for a cargo flight for the bikes from Windhoek in Namibia, where our journey through Africa would end, to Buenos Aires in Argentina. The price we got was far from crazy. It was certainly worthwhile to investigate this route from Windhoek a bit further.

Even before we arrived with Dick in Windhoek, we were in touch with the agent in Windhoek. The first quote had expired, so we asked her to send a new quote, this time both for a flight to Buenos Aires in Argentina, as for a flight to Santiago in Chile. It does not matter to us in which of these two countries we would start our South American trip. The agent in Windhoek responded directly to our emails and told us she would get started. That sounds good!


Out of AfricaAfter we have said goodbye to Dick, we visit the offices of the agent in Windhoek. We are kindly received and extensively discuss the remaining data that is needed for the new quotes: the weight of the bikes, the size of the crate, the destination, the time schedule and more. With confidence we leave the office and return to the campsite where we open the travelguide of South America. It can not be long before we are riding there!

The first few days after our visit to the office it remains silent. Obviously because she has to wait for information from the airlines. Moreover, it is now weekend. We make ourselves comfortable at campsite Urban Camp in the center of Windhoek. Peter looks at how he can make the bikes as small as possible for the flight and changes the oil for the last time. I use the fast internet and try out some new recipes for a change. The campsite is visited by many travelers who are on their way to other, even more beautiful places in Namibia. Out of AfricaSo we see again that there are many ways to travel through Africa. Alone on a motorcycle, with the family in a car with rooftop tent, with a group in a big overland truck or on foot with just a backpack. Most special are the Swedish Pink Caravan, where guests sleep side by side on the roof of an enormous pink touringcar, and the German “Rolling Hotel” where everyone has a bed in the trailer of a big truck. We also meet Walter and Marion, a German couple who could retire early and exchanged their house for a big MAN truck that has been turned into a mobile home. A great truck, with which they have already been traveling around the world for several years. When our work is done, we join them for a beer and a couple of travel stories.

After the weekend we contact the agent. The quotes are not ready yet, she is still waiting for information from the airlines. She promises to contact us as soon as she has new information, but we do not hear from her. Instead we contact her several times In the days that follow. Each time we are helped very friendly, but we get the same message again and again: the quotes are not ready yet. Before we not it it is weekend again and we are still in Windhoek, with no flight booked.Out of Africa

We try to make use of the time in Windhoek to arrange some administrative issues: extending insurance, paying bills and sending some much needed emails. After then months some of our gear begins to show some wear, so Peter uses the time also for some repairs. And besides all these chores, we also do lots of other fun things: we meet Nicholas (the traveler from Australia who we met in Cape Agulhas), we celebrate Peter his birthday with Walter and Marion, sleep in the hammock and watch movies from our bed.

After this second weekend has passed, we do not leave the agent alone any longer. We increase the number of e-mails and phone calls and also begin to think about a possible Plan C at the same time. Even though we are having a good time here, we want to leave at some point. In the end it takes until Thursday morning before we receive the first quote, for the flight from Windhoek to Buenos Aires. It is not what we had hoped for. The price has risen by more than 50% compared to the first quote and it does not even include all the costs yet! Out of AfricaMoreover the agent no also makes some strange requests, like draining the oil from the engine of the bike. We are definately not doing that. Disappointed, we discuss our options.

At that moment we can hear the tone of an incoming Skype call on the laptop: Duncan. We tell him about the agent in Windhoek and the disappointing quote. He proposes to request a quote for a flight from Johannesburg in South Africa to Buenos Aires. During our conversation he sends an e-mail to one of his contacts. Only fifteen minutes later we receive an email from Felicity, an employee of a transport company in Johannesburg. She asks us for additional information and asks exactly the right questions. In the next hour we send at least ten e-mails back and forth until Felicity indicates that she has enough information to make a quote. The day suddenly looks a lot brighter and Plan C seems to be born.

Out of AfricaThe next morning, less than 24 hours after the first email, we receive a fully detailed quote from Felicity! The price is very good and is even close to the amount for a shared container on a ship. The choice is easy, we will not await the second quote from Windhoek to Santiago, but will go back to South Africa to fly to Argentina from Johannesburg. It took too long in Windhoek, without any result. We use the Saturday to clean up and to pack the bags again. That evening we make a toast with Walter and Marion on the good quote, the departure from Africa and new adventures in South America.

On Sunday we start the bikes to begin the journey to Johannesburg, now really the last trip through Africa. Windhoek is 1.450km from Johannesburg, a distance we cover in four days. The first day we drive to a campsite just before the border with Botswana, where we arrive early the next morning to have our passports stamped. The second day we drive to Kang and the third day to the border with South Africa. It is still early when we arrive at the border, so we decide to complete the paperwork that day and find a place to sleep in South Africa.

Out of AfricaThe first time we came in South Africa, then from Zimbabwe, it was a very chaotic border crossing with long queues and closed counters. This time there are no long lines, but the difficulties begin at the counter. A big customs officer sits slumped in his chair browsing through our passports. Once he sees the stamps of South Africa, he says to our dismay that we are no longer allowed in the country! My face turns red and I have a knot in my stomach. Peter asks about the 90-day rule. As Dutch tourists we may annually stay up to 90 days in South Africa without a visa. The first time we stayed in South-Africa about 60 days, so we still have 30 days left. Right? The officer looks to us, mumbles something and then says he will give us seven days. The knot in my stomach is not gone yet, because seven days is very little. The only thing we have is a good quote, but that is all. We still have no idea when we fly to Argentina, because everything still has to be arranged.

Out of AfricaBy showing the stamps in the passports we try to explain that we really were only 60 days in the country and are entitled to another 30. He looks at our passports again and sighs deep. He does not really seem to want to calculate how many days he can give us. After he had another look at my red head, he stamps my passport. He writes a date next to it and it appears that he has solved the problem in a very simple manner. He has given us another 90 days, but says that we have to make sure ourselves that we leave the country before the expiry of the 90-day period. An African solution that suits us just fine! While the red color fades from my face, I follow Peter to the town of Zeerust where we find a campsite for the night.

The next day we drive the last 300km to Johannesburg, the big bad city where we warned for so often. We follow the highway and drive from Pretoria, a town 60km north of Johannesburg, along an uninterrupted area of buildings and houses. The two cities have actually grown together. Out of AfricaJohannesburg is a wide spread city, which is partly because there are hardly any high buildings. From one end of town to the other side is more than 100km! It is like a big city with tall skyscrapers is crushed and smeared across the country. We follow the road round the city to the east and easily find our hostel. We silently thank the GPS that he does not fail us in big cities like this.

During the drive from Windhoek we contacted Felicity a few times. We agreed that we would brig the bikes and part of our gear to the warehouse as soon as possible after arriving in Johannesburg. The sooner the motorbikes and the gear is weighed, the sooner she can book the flight. We send some of our gear along with the bikes, like the motorcycle clothing, helmets, the camping gear and most tools. The rest of the day we use to sort out everything and repack, so we only still have one bag and one carry-on bag for our own flight.

Out of AfricaThe next morning we drive to the transport company where we are literally received with open arms. In the doorway of the warehouse is a man with his hands high up in the air waving at us and pointing to a place where we can park the bikes. We meet Omar, who introduces us to his colleagues in the warehouse: Riaz, Patrick, Walter and Maria. After we are also introduced to Felicity, we go to work.

The motorbikes are transported in a wooden crate and the rule is: the smaller the crate, the lower the costs. So we have to try to make the motorbikes as small as possible. Peter takes out the front wheel and take off the fender, so that the motors only rest on its front fork legs. Now they are already much lower. After that, he starts working on the handlebars. He takes off most of the parts on and around the handlebar: the rack for the GPS and the additional lighting, the mirrors, the switches for the heated grips and the indicators and even the clutch. Out of Africa Now this is loose, the handlebars are also loosened and laid over the bike diagonally. Now the package is not only lower, but also much smaller. We had already emptied the fuel tank, which can be crated with the last drops still in there. When the battery is also disconnected, it is ready to be crated.

It takes a few hours to take both motorbikes apart. All the while Omar, Patrick, Riaz and Walter really do anything thinkable to help us. After they have helped to wash the bikes, they help Peter lifting it on the crate and taking it apart. They wrap all our belongings in plastic and also provide packaging for the individual bike parts. Meanwhile, Maria makes sure everyone has a nice cup of coffee. Super service!

Out of AfricaThe next day we are back in the warehouse early to be there when the crates are put around the bikes. We do not build the crate ourselves, but have it done by a company that specializes in packing and transporting ‘dangerous goods’. Our bikes fall in that category, because of the oil in the engine and the little fuel left in the tank. Yesterday, the men of the company already visited the warehouse to measure the bikes so that they could build a custom made crate. At mid-morning a big truck arrives with a huge pile of wood, a nail machine and large rolls of plastic packaging. That looks impressive!

Out of AfricaThe men lift the first motorbike on a pallet and attach it firmly with several straps. We put a wooden block under the engine and pull the bike well into the suspension so that it can not move anymore during the flight. Now the gear can also go on the pallet. The front wheel fits next to the bike, the helmet and the tent underneath it and some soft stuff on top. Then the packing begins: a layer of white plastic, a layer of transparent plastic, a piece of stiff cardboard and yet another layer of transparent plastic. This is advanced gift wrapping! On the outside you would not say that there is a motorbike in the package. Let’s just hope customs does not want to open the package to inspect the motorbike.

Then the wooden crate is built around the packed motorbike. With a nail machine the different sides are nailed together. They also use a lot of nails. Out of AfricaThey use so much packaging material and wood that we are starting to worry a bit about the weight. It looks a lot heavier than if we would have built the crate ourselves, using less wood. If the weight of the crate exceeds a certain limit, the value is not determined by the size of the crate, but determined on the basis of the weight. With our motorbikes and all the gear that can be quite a big difference!

The men eventually put some stickers on the crate and then the first motorbike is ready. The men start on the second motorbike and after an hour there are two large crates in the warehouse. With a forklift Patrick places the crates on the scales one by one and then it turns out that the crates had unfortunately become a lot heavier than we previously calculated. So heavy that they exceed the limit and the price will now be different. Felicity sees our terrified faces and says we should not worry, she will still try to align the price as close to the quote as possible.

Out of AfricaThen the work is done and we have to say goodbye to our loyal companions and leave them in the warehouse with Omar. Now the bikes have been weighed, Felicity can complete the paperwork and book the flights. One of her colleagues, Bryne, completes all the paperwork at customs and ensures that our Carnets de Passage are stamped. Then the crates will be taken directly from the warehouse to the airport. The next time we see them is on the other side of the Atlantic ocean. Exciting!

That afternoon Riaz takes us with our luggage to the train station. We take a train to Pretoria, where we booked a room at Pumba’s Backpackers for a few days. We are welcomed by Corné and plop down on the big bed. Out of AfricaWhat a week, with the journey from Windhoek and crating the bikes!

The next day we hear from Felicity that the customs clearance gave no problems and that she booked a flight for the bikes. They leave in three days from Johannesburg to arrive three days later via Istanbul in Buenos Aires! Great, just two weeks after we gave her a ’go-ahead’ the bikes will be in Argentina. In addition, she was indeed able to adjust the quote so that the price difference is minimal, what great service! Now the date of the cargo flight is known, we also book our flight. Two days after the motorbikes we will fly via Dubai and Rio de Janeiro to Argentina.

Out of AfricaThe last days in Africa we enjoy the nice weather in Pretoria and have a great time at Pumba’s Backpackers. We visit the Apartheid Museum and an exhibition on Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, use the local bus to get back to the train station and are happy that fate has brought us to Johannesburg after we had ridden past it after all the warnings.

And then, after 335 days of traveling, the first part of our adventure is over. With butterflies in my stomach about our new adventure in South America and a lump in my throat as we leave Africa, I fasten my seat belt and feel how the plane makes speed on the runway. The wheels come off the ground and through the window we see Africa become smaller. This was it, we are ‘Out of Africa’.

Click here to see the pictures

STATISTICS AND OTHER FACTS PART I: “Amsterdam to … .Johannesburg!”

335 days

21 countries

24 border crossings

70 days in South Africa, is the longest time in one country,

1.5 hours in Luxembourg, is the shortest time in one country

33,299km (20,706 miles)

7,000km offroad (estimate)

538km longest daytrip (in Libya Khoms to Ras Lanuf)

1.7km shortest daytrip (in Nkhata Bay in Malawi Mayoka Village to Aqua Africa)

150 different places to sleep (plus two times at Jungle Junction and twice at Aqua Africa)

211 nights in our tent

10 nights bush camping

120 nights in a house, hostel or hotel

4 nights on a boat or a plane

20 repairs to the tent (all tears by dogs, cats, beetles and termites)

0 punctures (!)

1 problem with the motorbike (leaking gasket of the fuel tank)

26,000km on the first set of tires

2,400 liters of fuel for the engines (approximately)

1 traffic ticket in Tanzania because of speeding

€ 0 bribe

10 crashes (each five times, once at the same time during our Italian duo crash)

14,678 photos

160GB movies

61 blog posts

0 days of regret that we left

Most extraordinary encounter: Hamad, one of our hosts in Libya

Most annoying (and scary) encouter: Agent of secret police in Sudan

Busiest traffic: Cairo

Friendliest country: Malawi

Most surprising country: Rwanda

The least pleasant country to travel: Ethiopia

Most hospitable country: Libya

Most difficult border crossing: Libya-Egypt

Most adventurous route: from Ethiopia to Kenya through Lake Turkana

Worst road: To Buyumbura in Burundi

Greatest motorcycle route: Kigoma to Gisenyi in Rwanda

Favourite snack: the Rolex in Uganda

Most beautiful game park: Etosha

Favorite animal sound: Hippopotamus (Peter) Zebra (Leonie)

Favorite animal: Leopard (Peter) Elephant (Leonie)

Coldest Day: Volksrust in South Africa

Southernmost Point: Cape Agulhas

Most expensive night: Hotel l’Eden, Neufchateau, France

Best Bush Camp: White Desert, Egypt

Most beautiful camping spot: impossible to only name one:Roberts Camps (Kenya), Mushroom Farm (Malawi), The Wildlife Camp (Zambia) and so we can keep mentioning other!

Previous story “Three times ‘water’” – Next story “Welcome to Argentina

| Leonie | AFRICA, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa

6 Reacties (Comments) - Out of Africa

  1. Marco Adams

    Wauw, wat een vette foto’s en verhalen (vele nog niet gelezen en gezien), maar nu al onder de indruk!

    Thijs (maatje) en ik hebben elkaar een avond gesproken in Marokko (Chefchaouen volgens mij). Wij waren toen met de Defender door Marokko aan het crossen. Mooie tips en landkaart nog gekregen van jullie! Dank daarvoor nogmaals.

    Ik ga deze site regelmatig checken. Gelijk weer zin in een trip!

    Succes en drive safe.



  2. Martin

    Wat supercool!

  3. Erik Keune

    Lieve schatten de mooiste slot opmerking vind ik deze “0 dagen spijt dat we zijn vertro
    kken” speciaal voor jou Leonie. Doet me goed dat te lezen. Xxx

  4. mieke

    Wat een geregel was dat zo aan het einde van dit deel van jullie reis. Het was allemaal geweldig om met jullie mee te beleven. Op naar het vervolg!

  5. Celine en Leon

    Gehehe, die rolex heeft wel indruk gemaakt he? Tjonge Leonie, ben je zomaar ‘bij’met je afrika blogs, goed gedaan! We zijn heel benieuwd naar jullie vorderingen met de spaanse taal machtig te maken en de soorten kolibries die jullie al voorbij zijn geflitst!! Dikke, dikke knuffel, xxx!

  6. Anna

    Ook ik neem met weemoed afscheid van onze, o nee, jullie reis in Zuid-Afrika.Ik heb met heel veel plezier jullie verhalen gelezen en de prachtige foto’s bekeken. Het is iedere keer weer genieten. Ik heb vooral erg genoten van de bezoeken aan de wildparken. Door jullie foto’s en verhalen hoop ik er ooit zelf een kijkje te kunnen nemen. Ik zie uit naar de verhalen over Zuid-Amerika en hoop dat het jullie daar ook zo goed zal bevallen. En dan nu op naar de pinguïns.