The smoke that thunders

| Leonie | AFRICA, Zambia | 4 Reacties (Comments)

De rook die dondertThey are not the highest in the world, nor the longest, but they are the largest in the world: the Victoria Falls. On the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Zambezi river falls with thunderous force over a width of more than 1700 meter. The highest point is 128 meters. The falls are recognized as World Heritage by UNESCO and were named by CNN as one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Since the first tourists visited the falls in 1900 it has become one of the most visited highlights of Africa. A place that we obviously cannot pass without stopping. Lees meer (Read more)

Secret of Africa

| Leonie | AFRICA, Zambia | 6 Reacties (Comments)

Geheim van AfrikaWe lie in our tent in Lilongwe and hear the alarm buzzing. The city around us is already awake for a while now. Trucks drive back and forth and taxis honk at potential customers. With earplugs we tried to ignore the sounds of the city for a while, but even for us it is time to get up now. Today we first pass another border, from Malawi to Zambia, and then we still have a long drive ahead of us to South Luangwa National Park. We are going back to the bush to look for wildlife. Lees meer (Read more)

Lazy loungers

| Leonie | AFRICA, Malawi | 6 Reacties (Comments)

Op je luie haidewietsAfter our underwater adventure we do not get back on the bikes just yet. We heard about Likoma, a beautiful island in Lake Malawi. A tropical destination with a campsite on the beach, lounge chairs at the waterfront and dinner under the stars. From Nkhata Bay a boat leaves to Likoma twice a week. And that boat just happens to leave on the morning after we have completed our three-day diving course.

We can leave the motorbikes with Kelly-Ann and Simon in the garage of the diving school. Without our faithful steel steeds, but with the camping gear we leave early the next morning to the ship. It is already crowded in the small harbour. The boat is not only the ferry for the islanders, but also takes supplies to the island. At the quay are high stacks of boxes, bags and sacks that are carried onto the ship one by one.

Op je luie haidewietsWe make our way passed Coca Cola crates and sacks of dried fish and buy a ticket for the second class. The cabin is already quite busy. We find a spot and wait for the ship to leave. It looks like this might still take a while, because the high stacks of cargo on the quay are not getting any lower. An hour after we came on board, the horn finally sounds. As the sun rises over Lake Malawi the ship slowly starts to move.

Likoma is only 65km as the crow flies from Nkhata Bay, yet the crossing will take nearly eight hours. This is mainly due to the stopover on the adjacent island, Chizumulu. We lay at anchor there for nearly two hours while part of the boxes and crates is unloaded. There is no harbour on the island, so all the cargo has to be carried into small row boats that take it to the island. It goes in a typically African and none efficient way, but it is a good ’show’ to watch.

Op je luie haidewietsAfter two hours the horn sounds again and we leave for the last part of the trip. Peter and I are not the only tourists on the ship. We sit next to several packed backpacks and on deck are even three ‘travelling bicycles’ full with camping gear. During the crossing it appears all tourists are on their way to Mango Drift Camp. An hour after we left Chizumulu we arrive at Likoma. There is no harbour here either, so just like at our last stop all passengers and all cargo has to be taken to the beach in small boats.

After the first boats went back and forth a few times, we slowly move toward the exit. It is still very busy. We have to climb over the remaining bags of dried fish. Peter is the first to reach the small boat. While I struggle to remain standing on my two feet in the pushing crowd, I hand him our two bags. A scary crossing high above the water. I am one of the last passengers to get into the motor boat. Op je luie haidewietsWe are both still wearing our shoes, but quickly take them off when we see that we have to wade through the water to get onto the beach. With the laces tied together, we hang our shoes around our necks and we walk through the knee-deep water to the beach.

There is a pick-up waiting to bring us to the campsite. We climb with our bags in the back of the pick-up with the other guests and drive on a bumpy dirt road to the other side of the island. Just like on the mainland of Malawi there are huge baobab trees here, beautiful! The pick-up drops us off in a small village, where we start a hike to the campsite. Not long after that, we drop down our heavy bags next to a hammock that is hanging between two mango trees. As we pitch our tent, I cannot help humming happily.

Op je luie haidewietsWe end up staying three nights at Likoma and leave to take the next boat back to the mainland. In those days on the island we actually do nothing. Well, we read a book and swim. We chat with the other guests at Mango Drift. We meet Jevan, Roland and Leonard from South Africa who are on their way to Zanzibar on their bicycles (Facebook). We take another ride in the pick-up to the local bar to see how the Dutch soccer team only just beats Australia. We enjoy the delicious food served on the beach under the stars. We sigh while looking at yet another beautiful African sunset. And we remain ’lazy loungers’ until it is time to get back to Nkhata Bay. With the pick-up to the beach, with a small boat to the ship and with the ship back to the motorbikes.

It is already pitch black when we return to Nkhata Bay after a rough journey. I have spent almost the entire trip sitting in the wind being seasick and am glad that I can step onto the dry land again. Op je luie haidewietsTravelling around the world in a sailing boat will definitely be the last thing I will ever do! Kelly-Ann and Simon are already waiting for us in the harbour. After we have put our stuff in their guest room, we go to Kaya Papaya for a plate of delicious Thai red curry!

After a pleasant evening we take our motorbikes out of the garage again the next morning. Since the boat trip between Egypt and Sudan, this was the first time that we left them somewhere. It is great to see them again and to hear them start without any problems on the first try. It is nice to stay in one place a bit longer, but it is as nice to get on the road again after that! With fresh energy, the wind blowing in our faces and the gently humming of the engines below us, we drive along the lake towards Nkhotakota. We have already spent a lot of time on our trusty Hondas during this trip and today achieve a milestone: 20,000 km! Amazing how far our small motorbikes have taken us during this trip.

Op je luie haidewietsAfter a stormy night in Nkhotakota it still is a half-day drive to Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. We find a camping spot at a campsite in the south of the city. After dinner we take a look of the map of Southern Africa to take a decision on the rest of our route. In Uganda we responded to an ad to watch a campsite near Cape Town for three weeks while the owners go on holiday. A nice chance to look behind the scenes of a campsite but also a good moment to prepare our motorbikes for the second part of our trip. We still have a month to reach Cape Town and now need to make choices about the route we will take and the countries we will visit in that month. We decide to skip southern Malawi and Mozambique (read: save that for next time) and ride through Zambia and Zimbabwe to South Africa as of tomorrow.

Total distance to Lilongwe: 20,243 km! (12,578 miles)

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Malawi, above the water and underwater

| Leonie | AFRICA, Malawi | 3 Reacties (Comments)

Malawi, boven èn onder waterThe border between Tanzania and Malawi does not take much time and is perhaps the fastest crossing so far. Great, because this way we still have enough time to ride to the campsite after the delay of that morning (because of the fine). Today we are going to ‘The Mushroom Farm’ near Livingstonia, a campsite on the edge of a cliff overlooking Lake Malawi. Practically everyone we met so far advised us to go there. The steep road to the campsite apparently is quite challenging, but the priceless view alone would make the ride up more than worth it. Curious about this special place, we open the throttle and drive in the direction of Livingstonia. Lees meer (Read more)

In search of Livingstone

| Leonie | AFRICA, Tanzania | 7 Reacties (Comments)

Op zoek naar LIvingstoneFrom north to south, from east to west, clockwise or a ‘figure of eight’, there are a hundred and one ways to travel through Africa. Despite all these different ways, many overlanders take similar routes. Routes along the highlights of the different countries, with occasional trips to the left or right. “Beaten overland trails,” you might say. We are riding the long version of the “Cairo to Cape Town” route. From Uganda or Kenya, this beaten trail travels through the famous national parks in northern Tanzania towards the Indian Ocean and the tropical island of Zanzibar. A route that we have already followed with great pleasure in 2007. This time we leave the beaten overland trail and remain in the West of Tanzania where we will first be looking for Livingstone. Lees meer (Read more)

Very short visit

| Leonie | AFRICA, Burundi | 2 Reacties (Comments)

BliksembezoekJudging from the birds that are singing and chirping outside our tent, the sun is up. We do not notice any difference in our tent, because it is still dark as the dense jungle stops every sunbeam from hitting our tent. It is cold. The Nyungwe National Park is situated at 2500m. That is pretty good during the day, but at night it can be quite chilly. We have no desire to come out of our warm sleeping bag and certainly no desire to use the cold water in the shower. But we will have to, because today we have another long day ahead: crossing the border with Burundi. Lees meer (Read more)

Congo-Nile Trail

| Leonie | AFRICA, Rwanda | 4 Reacties (Comments)

Congo-Nile TrailAfter a few relaxing days in Gisenyi, we head further south. We liked our time on Lake Kivu, so we decide to stay close to the lake a few more days. According to the guidebook Kibuye, a town south of Gisenyi, is a nice place as well. That is were we will be going today. We heard about a direct road from Gisenyi to Kibuye that follows the shores of Lake Kivu. On our maps we cannot discover any road, but the owner of the campsite confirms the existence of the ‘Congo-Nile Trail’. Lees meer (Read more)