Author Archives: Jonathan

About Jonathan

Cycling from UK to Kenya in aid of Computers4Africa

South Africa: Cape Peninsula and Cape Town

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Little nesting huts provided

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Costal Road on the cape

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Fish Hoek
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Family meal with Robert Martin. I am inspired by him, he has made a journey in life the makes my cycle trip feel like a stroll in the park.

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Cape of good hope

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Table mountain

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Much of my fuel through South Africa consisted of fish and chips! When it’s £1.20 for a good size portion, why not..

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Camps Bay

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Oh dear, not a good look!

Cape Town

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Noon canon firing ceremony

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Attractive Dutch style architecture

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Male choral Orchestra. The Wiffenpuffs! The were great.. They sang at the hostel I was staying at.

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Climbing table mountain.. Up in 1 hour, cable car down. Not a breath of wind on top. Beautiful.

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The Vineyard Hotel
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Cedric kindly invited me for lunch at this fancy hotel / restaurant. We met in Hermanus a few days before, he was playing golf and DIVING WITH GREAT WHITE SHARKS! Glad to see the limbs intact.
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Cedrics son, Blake, who also amazingly kept his limbs and can still count to ten using his fingers.
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The vineyard hotel, I spent some time exploring the former governors residence when European influence in South Africa stretched as far as a refreshing station and some farms in Cape Town to supply ships sailing the spice route

Sylvia and Mirek
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We me in Namibia at Ai-Ais the day before their 5 day hike down fish river canyon. I was kindly invited to stay and helped with the logistics of getting me and the bike on a plane back home in London.
Walking on the “snake” in the Botanical gardens. It’s a treetop walkway.
Merik is a walking encyclopedia of plants and birds. I could not be better informed about what there is to see – or furnished with funny stories..
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Flower and brid
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I would have never had spotted this fellow unless it was pointed out to me. Even then, it took a little time to find!

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Rhodes Memorial. Good views of the city
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Last meal in South Africa
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Dropped off at the airport
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How to take a bike on a BA flight.. Add on extra item of checked luggage. This is the bike. £60 extra charge.
Remove handlebars and pedals.
Deflate tyres. Wrap to avoid getting scratched.
Then wrap the two rear panniers and tent using the film wrapping service. This is checked in.
Empty both front panniers, place on inside the other. Fill with all the heavy items. This is hand carry.
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South Africa: Friendly farming country

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Riebeeck Kasteel. Wine and fruit growing region

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Riebeeck Kasteel again. Richly fertile area.

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Groenberg Nature reserve, on the mountain pass towards Worcester

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Bains Pass

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Early morning view from a veranda I was invited to camp under, lucky as it really rained that night.

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Vineyards in the area near Rawsonville

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Cycling out of Bonnievale at dusk I was flagged down by the Jonker family and kindly invited to stay at their cottage for the night. The nighttime temperature dropped to a few degrees. Next day we motored to the top of a nearby Hill for some picturesque views across the countryside to watch the morning mists clear.
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Good cycling roads look like this..

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The Oaks Farm, Greyton

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Gert and Marianas Ehlers (centre) surrounded by farm administration staff, house keeper and gardener.
I met Gert outside Peter Beckers farm in Namibia, we swapped contact details and a promise to visit should I pass by. On my second evening there I gave a talk about my cycle trip to invited neighbours and friend of the Ehlers.
The next day I was given a whole tour of the farm operations and administration covering drainage clearance, fruit farming, cattle farming, feeds, pasture irrigation, invasive tree clearance, damming, worker training, some hands on experience, family meal and more besides.

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Pruning the fruit trees on the farm. Although cattle is the traditional family business, with the new farm they inherited a sizeable pear plantation, which is proving to be quite profitable.

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Nguni cows, indigenous cattle to South Africa. Although lower weight they are more drought and disease resistant than other breeds

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Game drive with Gert up into the mountains at the back of the farm. The mountains provide a reliable water source in addition to the river that runs through the valley below.

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Finished by tossing pancakes in the farmhouse kitchen for our evening meal. I didn’t tell them it was my birthday that day. Given the circumstances I couldn’t wish to be with better people in a more beautiful place to celebrate it.

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Lovely rooftop apartment where I lodged

South Coast towards Cape Town

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Fisherman’s cottage

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A Cape fur seal that owns the place, just don’t get in his way..
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Cape Agulhas
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The southerly most tip of Africa. From this point on its all back home!
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Protea, the national flower of South africa
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Short days means long shadows
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Lynx with a kill
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Hermanus, invited by Paul and Yvonne to their home for a chat, dinner, beers and a bed for the night. We bumped into each other 3 times in Namibia and swapped contact details. Fun and kind people. Another rainstorm passed over that night..

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Chased by rain stories and squalls

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South Africa: West Coast

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First sign to Cape Town.. Nearly there..

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Invited to stay in a farmers old house.  Him and his wife live in a new construction next door. A giant Gecko in the room ensured and absence of spiders and flies!

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Couple who flagged me down to chat and fed me chocolate, nuts, fruit and encouragement..

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Chatted to a friendly truck driver

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Met another cyclist, Regis, travelling south to North on his way to France. He gave some useful tips for my journey ahead.. I also gave him some tips for the months ahead. (head wind!)

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Doringbaai, a small West coast fishing village.

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Moby Dick!

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Pigeon fanciers. The fed me soup and we talked about bikes and birds..

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The train was nearly 4km in length, 10 engines and 470 hoppas for iron ore

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Springbok pasty. Delicious

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With a rainstorm forecast I camped the night in a warehouse used for fruit packing

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Namibia: Gorges and hot water springs

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Wild camping in dry riverbeds is the best way. Soft ground, shelter and plenty of dry wood.

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Cookery program being filmed at the roadhouse
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Robert Martin, no a motorcycle tour from Cape Town to Namibia
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Fish river canyon. Second only is size to the Grand Canyon. The river is nearly 500 meters down below
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Layers of Mica in Quartz, some of the fascinating geology of the region
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Ai-Ais, hot water springs. A perfect for a winter warmer.
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Breakfast with my fellow campers
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I’ve found a way of carrying extra food supplies
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Orange river used to irrigate a massive wine growing region in the South near the border
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Housing built by the vineyard workers. Next door is a massive airconditioned Spa supermarket, after all this time in the desert I thought it was a mirage!

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Namibia: Namib desert national park

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The first ‘Warning, Chameleons’ sign I’ve ever seen

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Desert lichens, nourished by the occasionally morning dew

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Sand and more sand. away from the coast the temperature climbs

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Kuiseb Pass

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Wild horses

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Begging for water.. the road is 3 days of cycling without any habitation. Nothing, no farms, houses no water!

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Solitaire

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Its a collection of buildings that makes up a garage, petrol station, bakery, bar, lodge and campsite. After eating apple pie, the birds help me finish the last few crumbs

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Sunset over the campsite

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Jackel

Sossusvlei
Deep in the Namib desert are the dunes. Following a dry river a road leads right into the centre

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The dune peak behind is 250 meters above the base

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Footsteps on the ridge of the dune. Looking down I could see the ridge line shift a few millimeters as the position of the dune moved slowly.

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View forcthe top. Surrounding dunes are hundreds for meters high

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Namibia: Beckers (junior) and the Skeleton Coast

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Leopard print on the road. They are very common around these parts, even considered a pest by farmers

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Dinosaur tracks preserved in ancient sandstone

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Mountains make a pleasing change for the eye. Since Southern Kenya the terrain has been very flat and fairly uninteresting.

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Game

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Two nights stay and Peter and Birgit’s house in Omaruru

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On the road with Peter to setup an troubleshoot a solar installation

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The farm with the solar panel has a tame orphaned young giraffe and a comprehensive game butchery

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Visit to Brandberg, the highest mountain in Namibia. A short pretty walk leads to ancient rock paintings. I arrived just as the staff where leaving. “Camp up there and you can visit tomorrow morning at 7”

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White lady rock paintings, said to be thousands of years old

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Scramble over granite boulders

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leaving the mountain behind me I head for the coast

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changing landscape becoming less bush and more desert as I approach the sea

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I can see the sea!! first time since Cyprus.
Strong prevailing south westerly winds means if your engine fails you’re going to end up here..

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Salt is extracted by evaporating sea water. Even the coast road is made from salt. They run trucks that pour concentrated saline solution onto the road where it quickly evaporates filling in any holes

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After 3 days on salt roads, anything made with iron turns to rust. Locals complain how it corrodes their vehicles

Cape Cross seal colony

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Cape fur seals. The first thing that hits you is the smell, a mix of urine and rotting pilchards. Then the noise.. its an assault on the senses

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Called Cape Cross after a 15th Century Portuguese explorer erected a cross claiming the territory for the king of Portugal. Its was carried all the way from his home country. I imagine him sailing for weeks down the skeleton coast seeing absolutely nothing except sand dunes. Finally he sees some rocks and seals and says “quick, get rid of this thing and lets go home!”

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If you fancy a picnic on the moon..

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Swakopmund, a touristic seaside town. Cold an misty with sea too cold to swim in.

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Interesting museum

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With medals that matter!

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German first and second world war memorial

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Cold morning mist rolls in from the sea

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Pets of the Fisherman’s inn.
Ate a delicious marathon meal of fresh fish and chips (first main) followed by 1/2 kg steak with chips and a side order of an extra large portion of chips. It took 3 beers to wash it all down! Staff could not believe their eyes.. “How can someone so skinny…?”

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Namibia: Life on a working farm

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Okavango river at Rundu

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Namibian sunsets are some of the best

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Jan and Elmaria, met at the campsite in Rundu. Spent a rest day with them.

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When unsuccessfully looking for a wild camp spot I happened upon Mathews farm. He patiently answered questions and described life on a large farm that gets little to no rainfall. Kindly made sure I was well fed and watered!
Mentioned that I was visiting a friend I used to work with in England. “I know a Beckers.. I bet you its the same one..”
Sure enough a phone call was made and the connection confirmed, he also knew his father! He passed me the details of Beckers senior and an invite to stay on his farm.

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Baobab tree

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Amarulla tree with the fruits used to make the famous alcoholic drink

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Mamba, seen a few live ones but never hung round to take photos as they lift their head and flatten their neck when you stop and stare..

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War cemetery in Grootfontein

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What a hairstyle. Any twitchers who can identify?

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Standing on a giant meteorite made mostly from iron

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These giant crickets are everywhere. They crawl up your leg, in your bags and are ferocious cannibals, not even waiting for the other cricket to die before chomping away. its quite disturbing to watch.

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So do I go left or right??

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Caution, dogs with moustacheos

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This is a Namibian horsefly.. very annoying

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Gravel road in the north. A pleasure to ride on.

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Was kindly hosted and fed by the family who run a campsite / guest lodge. Talked about and questioned over the trip by the youngsters at the dinner table. A fun social evening with great people. Sadly lost the group photo.

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The Beckers family. I worked with Peter at HiTek Power in England (second from left).
Peter Beckers (senior) gave me an interesting tour of the farm. As a biologist he can provide many fascinating insights. Very well fed on the best cuts of game and an array of dishes to cater for the hungriest of cyclists.

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Main family farm house

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Rigging up a pump to use an engine due to lack of wind

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Animals spotted on the farm. Bird is a bustard, the heaviest flying bird in the world.
On the second day Beckers (junior) and Birgit joined

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Botswana: Cycling with lions, elephants, hyenas!

Crossing the Zambezi river at Kasangula using the floating pontoon two white  truck drivers we on hand to give me advice. “You are crazy, you’ll be eaten by lions for sure”. Then followed numerous gruesome stories told by other truck drivers about other trucck drivers. It reminded me of the Python story told to me by an aid worker who assured me it happened to her colleague. Guy walking in bush attacked by python who managed to retrieve his phone from his pocket and call someone. He came with a machete and cut its head off. “Don’t they just crush you”, I asked. “No, they wish to avoid breaking the ribs of large mammals as they can protrude which makes swallowing difficult they wait for you the breathe out then quickly tighten their grip”. I’d love to see a transcript off that phone conversation.
Armed with this information I set off into the park having identified having identified the village of Lesoma to stop off at that evening.

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all picnic spots come with a disclaimer

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On the road that very evening I saw 30 elephants. Completely ignoring trucks and cars they just stand in the road like donkeys. When I approach they run for the bush and hide behind a tree where they watch me curiously.

The advice is find a secure place to spend the night to avoid lions and hyenas. The police compound accommodated me by giving me a fenced off area where I could pitch for the night. Talked to a interesting lady who told me about a government youth scheme for new business where free land and matched funding is given on submission of a suitable business plan. She was in the process of setting up a brick factory under the scheme. Slept that night to the trumpeting of elephants charging through the bush.

Next night I camped up with a Zimbabwean overland tour operator who had broken down. Lit a fire and camped next to the road. He had waited for 2 days of a clutch part to be driven up with a mechanic 1000km from Johannesburg. Caught up with him later in a supermarket, they’d arrived with the wrong part!

Made a common mistake. On seeing a shop sign with pictures of donuts and cakes I walked in all excited.. seeing only the usual tat of candles, washing powder, padlocks, salt, miscellaneous creams, biscuits etc, I enquired.. “I’m looking for cakes, like the ones on the sign?” They laughed at me, “That’s just a sign, we don’t sell them!”

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Wild dog. Apparently very very rare. sadly recently made even rarer after this one go hit by a car.

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as big as a horse.. big game Ealan?? or something like that?

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Found under my tent. the rule is small pincers and big tail mean its a nasty one… Been told this one accounts for a handful of fatalities each year amongst the young and the old.

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Francistown resembles an out of town shopping centre which is rather fortunate as I came there for just that purpose.

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Kindly hosted by a farmer in his compound. “The dogs will keep the hyenas away”. Shared pumpkin and stories by the fireside that evening.

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Neil (from Yorkshire!), Barne and John. Flagged down on the road by John. “Where you going to tonight”, a quick glance and the map “Rakops”, I said.
“Thats where I live!”. We all greatly enjoyed a conversation, BBQ and camp fire.

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Wild camp under the stars

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Okovango river. Pretty, but mosquito city!

Categories: Africa, Botswana | 1 Comment

Zambia: Lusaka, Mongu and Victoria falls (Livingstone)

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The tail end of the rainy season turns a stretch of the road into a mudslide.. Crew are on hand with a bulldozer to push lorries through the worst of it..

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Not bad tasting.. Deep fried catapillers.

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Typical scene on the road to Lusaka.
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Roadside vendors, guess what’s in season?

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Self repairing bicycle! After an inconvenient puncture I was given lots of assistance and kindly fed. Very generous family.

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Water pumps are common place and provide water for whole communities. Occasionally the water tastes a bit rusty though..

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Entering Lusaka

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Helpful crew in the phone shop who helped out with technology related matters
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Central Lusaka

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Lusaka has an Eastern European feel explained by its partnership with countries like the GDR (German Democratic Republic) in the 70s
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And I though I carry too much stuff! This is a common way to transport charcoal used in many homes for cooking

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Someone got there before me..
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Crossing Kafue National Park I was warned about lions and hyenas at night, so I spent it at a ranger post. Spent the evening sharing campfire stories.

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I don’t know what these are called, I refer to them as ‘lion food’

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My first wild elephant spotted in Kafue National Park.

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Western Province contains swamps and flood planes that feed into the Zambezi river.

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Liz and John, friendly and interesting couple met in Mongu, provincial capital of the western province
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Vaginia, the owner of the Guesthouse (red top) hosted me brilliantly during my stay in Mongu.

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River activity

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Temporary solution until the bridge is completed.. Only it wasn’t signposted so I found out when trying to cross the bridge!

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Not seen one of these before..
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Condition of trucks on the road is a common cause of accidents. Its usual to only replace tyres after a blowout.. Or in this case until your truck snaps in two.

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Nature, I don’t know why butterflies like licking me..?

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Crossing point from Zambia to Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe. This is the queue waiting to cross the floating pontoon. Many of these are carrying 30 tons of copper. Who much money is tied up in this queue!

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This picture shows 4 different countries.. I’m standing in Zambia, behind me is Botswana, to my left is Namibia and to my right Zimbabwe

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The Obama pen!

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Is this truck empty? No.. Its fully loaded with 30 tons of copper. The truck is unable to any carry more. Copper is a big earner for Zambia (when it’s not sitting in big long queues to cross a river!)

Victoria Falls, Livingstone

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End of rainy season means the highest flow rate, and near zero visibility due to mist!

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Bungee jumper from the bridge.. No, I didn’t feel the need..

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Victoria falls Bridge. The line was deliberately routed so it passed through the spray from the falls, as specified by Cecil Rhodes

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Grooming Baboons in the Falls park
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Meal out with Vicki and Simon, met on the bungee jump (yes they did)
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Classic Livingstone
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Livingstone market

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Tanzania: Tzetze fly, tobacco and 500km of dirt road

Despite being relieved of 50 dollars the border crossing at Namanga is an entirely painless affair.

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The impending rainstorm required some accommodation to be found quickly in the small village of Lariboro. I was lead to the Catholic mission where to my surprise a group of 20 French volunteers were on their last day of classroom construction. To mark the occasion a picture slide show was shown to the assembled school. Then the BBQ started and the drinks started flowing..

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The day after with the father

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Road to Arusha

Arusha
Stayed with a contact, Erik, who runs a company providing data bandwidth to businesses in the area. The next day I headed into town to do some shopping and sort out a SIM card and kept on bumping into cyclists..

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Tour D’Afrique has arrived at the Massai Camp in Arusha. Its a ‘race’ of 1200km over 122 days, some of which are rest days.. Its quite an operation with a multitude of support vehicles. Most of the cyclists I chat to confide my way is much better and they would be doing the same if it wasn’t for work / family commitments back home. I regale adventure stories from the road and spend the evening drinking beers with the support staff.

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Massai village

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Road to Singida

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Typical Street scene in Babati with Mt Kwaraha as a backdrop

Singida

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Stopped at the train station to get some information for Thorston, the office is open but the tracks long overgrown with grass. Four security guards keep watch over the empty building..

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Kim from Singida took me on a tour of the town, eateries and shops. Enjoyable evening of chatting.

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Honey sellers line the roadside

Road to Mbeya

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The turning for the road to Mbeya.. 519km of dirt track..

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Very pretty stretch, passing 3 national parks with elephants and leopards.. Didn’t see any elephants, but saw lots of elephant shit!

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Wildlife I could have done without are the swarms of tzetze. That thing sticking out of its mouth is a needle to   pierce the skin and drink your blood. They don’t seem to inject anaesthetic judging by the pain.. Swarms of them followed me for hours, without liberal applications of DEET the outlook would not be good!

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Tobacco is a profitable cash crop. The guest house I stayed at is attached to a community centre build for tobacco farmers where the hold meetings and training session. I chatted for hours with the community head. My first of many questions was “if tobacco is more profitable than maize, why isn’t everyone growing tobacco?” answer, “because it’s very difficult to grow”. So discussion about smoking bans, cost of cigarettes in the UK and other topics followed until it was time for bed.

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School children conducting a road measurement survey when I arrived. Needless to say, all work was suspended until a photo was taken..

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It’s a spider in case you are wondering

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To Mbeya

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Sunrise, it was an early start. Rain can cause a clay road to stick like glue to the wheels and they grow bigger and bigger until they stop turning. In this case I couldn’t go back or forward so at 3pm I camped in a wood and set off early before the rain started again..

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Bikes are widely use in Tanzania. They are used to transport bundles of sticks, goats, sheep, whole families, unfeasibly high stacks of bottled drinks, bundles of charcoal, bundles of live squawking chickens tied to the rear rack.. Funnily enough none of these get a second glance.. But a muzzungo (White man) on a bicycle gets jaws dropping and a regular hearty laughs! Where’s the logic?

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Pepsi V’s Coke battle is in full swing

Categories: Africa, Tanzania | 4 Comments

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