Muppets have made it! (Hero status achieved)

Posted on June 5th, 2008 by siteadmin.
Categories: 18. South Africa.

After just short of 5 months and 24 000km’s the Muppets finally rode into Cape Point last Sat for the welcome home party. A number of friends and family had gathered to welcome us home: Dans folks from NZ, his girlfriend Catherine from the UK, my folks from Maritzburg, my sis Carey from JBurg, my mates from Durban (Ryan, Sarah, Numzane, Rich, and Vikki), and Dylan and Catherine from Cape Town. It really was special to be greeted by so many familiar faces at the end of our arduous journey!

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It was a strange feeling knowing that our adventure was at an end – after 5 months on the road, the activity of riding a bike everyday is simply ‘what you do’, the thought of normality brought on a sense of trepidation! The ride into Cape Point is absolutely breathtaking, and fortunately the winter Cape rains kept at bay – with tears in our eyes we wheelied up to the car park, the moment we had daydreamed about for so long was upon us, and it felt twice as good as imagined!

After a gi-zillion photo’s and a GP podium style champagne fight we headed back to the folks accommodation at Sea Point for some quality family time, then hit the bright lights of Camps Bay where the cane train carried us (plus more local friends who joined the festivities) well into the night.

After having some time off in Cape Town to see the sights (incl. hiking up Table Mountain and Lions Head), we jumped on the bikes for the last official leg of the Muppets trip, to the southern most point of Africa, Cape Agulhas. Arriving at L’Agulhas the sense of relief and accomplishment was huge. With the welcoming partying out of the way it was an opportunity for Dan and I to soak up the moment for ourselves and reflect back on what an epic adventure we have completed. But like most things on this trip, there was one last twist in the tale, there sitting on the Cape Agulhas point sign were 2 other overland bikers?! Turns out these 2 lads had not 15min earlier completed their Trans-Africa motorcycle ride – riding Ducati Multi-Strada’s down the east coast starting in Italy. An incredible coincidence, and a fantastic moment as 2 sets of bikers who had collectively circumnavigated Africa share stories and a cig. Well done Robin and Matteo, was awesome bumping into you guys and look forward to catching up when guys are home.

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The Muppets are now officially on holiday, the bikes are on the trailer and we are enjoying a well earned holiday up the Garden Route to Maritzburg and The Berg with our families. We of course will don our MX gear to tear up my local enduro trails in PMB and scramble up Sani Pass – but for the most part it’s now a break from bike riding.

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Dan and I will be in Jburg for a huge welcome back party on Tuesday the 10 June at My Grill My Bar, Fourways from 6pm. We are hoping to get the bikes onto the main foyer, and have a slideshow of our favourite pics running while we party the night away!

There is still plenty more to come on this website – once settled back home each of us will write up a trip summary, along with detailed reviews of the bike, bike maintenance, camping gear, and any other pearls of info for future West Africa bike overlanders.

Thank you all again for your support throughout the course of the trip – courage to fall is easy when you know there are loved ones to pick you up!

Cheers
Jody

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Location Update: 24th May 2008

Posted on May 24th, 2008 by siteadmin.
Categories: 18. South Africa.

Trip done – arrive safely at Cape Point, Cape Town  !!!

 

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Location Update: 21st May 2008

Posted on March 21st, 2008 by siteadmin.
Categories: 18. South Africa.

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South to South Africa!

Posted on March 20th, 2008 by siteadmin.
Categories: 18. South Africa.

Before I start, thank you for all of the guestbook posts for the entire duration of the trip. Getting these messages is so cool, and it’s also great to have so many messages from people we’ve met enroute, and others like Mark who’ve also finished a similar bike tour. Hopefully we’ll deserve some congratulations messages shortly! Also, for those of you too busy/lazy to read to the bottom of the posts – check out the photo gallery so you can make up your own story of what’s been going on!

It’s been a while since our last post, and I know that a few people at least are eager for a last update before we reach Cape Town (mostly our Mothers and families!). Since the last month has been pretty much a holiday for us there are no exciting “and then they pulled guns on us” stories, so hopefully this should be fairly short and sweet… But then again once I start writing it’s sometimes hard to stop!

Firstly, I’ll very quickly finish off our Angolan adventures. After leaving the heavenly retreat of Les’s work house in Lobito (couches and satellite TV!), we headed south to Lubango and the famous Leba Pass and Christo Rei. The Leba Pass is an astounding piece of road that covers something like 5kms distance over about 18kms, with some of the most spectacular corners known to man… Nough said really, check out the pics below for an idea.

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Probably self explanatory to anyone who knows us but we went both down and then straight back up this pass at full pelt, after drinking a Windhoek Draught at the top! (only one Mum I promise!)

Next was the Christo Rei statue. Lubango has the smallest of the 3 that were erected by the Portuguese, the other two being Lisbon and of course Rio de Janeiro. Nice piccies again.

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Last snapshots for Angola are from our ride south towards the border. The road that heads south is an absolute disgrace. Dry, but with potholes that you could hide a house in. It made for difficult riding, but finished with a brand spanking new tar section, that we were just so happy to hit that we decided that we’d finally stop and take some wheelie photos that we’ve been talking about! There you go Jon!

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I’m aware that we’ve kind of brushed over Angola and not really done it any justice it terms of explaining what it was really like. The truth is, we actually thought it was a stunning country, with an incredibly varied landscape – a bit of everything, and for the most part, the locals were vibrant and friendly. Our “waveometer” was registering in the upper percentiles!

The difficult things to deal with in Angola were the landmines and the astronomical cost of food and accommodation. The country is riddled with landmines lain during a long civil war, which included the involvement of the South African army, which we have been told actually dropped landmines from planes. It’s difficult to tell how accurate the stories are, but we were told numerous times not to stray from the road. This makes for miserable lunch stops! Food and accommodation… ridiculously expensive. Over US$20 for two beers and two G&T’s!!! No idea why it’s so expensive, but I won’t be going back there in a hurry! Anyway, that’s Angola done. I’m getting through this eh?

Namibia. What a country! We entered Namibia and headed straight across to the Himba regions in the north west. The Himba are a bit like the Dogon in Mali, but even more so. Whereas the Dogon men wear the most traditional clothing and adornments, here it’s the women who are most often adhering to traditional garb, or lack of. Topless, with their bodies and hair covered in what appears to be an ochre mud and oil combination, they wear a leather ‘skirt’ along with numerous bracelet adornments.

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Jody and I decided we wanted to meet some of these people on our own, so took a 50km ride north of Opuwo, to see what we could find. Unfortunately like all too many traditional cultures the all too sure place to find people to interact with is the local bar. We purchased a few beers and some cigarettes for everyone and spent an hour or so drinking and conversing with a group of the locals. It was a good craic, but we thought it was time to go when one particularly gregarious lady kept offering Jody money, and was repeatedly told “go home you’re drunk” by a young chap who had become our translator! I think she was trying to pay Jody to take one of her 5 year old twins as his wife!

Following from Opuwo, we headed to Palmwag Lodge and Camping for a full day of R&R relaxing by the pool. Here we met a couple of lovely girls from Zim, Millie and Julie, who are effectively doing ‘work experience’ at various different Wilderness lodges and campsites. We had quite a good night with them drinking at “The Gatehouse”, the local shebeen, but really felt very sorry for them when they had to work the next day while we lazed around the pool and slept it off! Ha ha!

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Next up was Brandberg Mountain for Jody to indulge his interest in rock art. Yawn… One interesting thing on the way there was that we followed a track that wasn’t on any of the maps and ended up riding about 40kms of the most ridiculously hard twin rut sand track, down a river bed. We both really struggled, and when we stopped under a tree to take a breather in a dry river canyon I was for all intents and purposes done in for… That is until Jody came back from a wander around to tell me that he’d just spotted a pretty large cat spor and prints following the same track that we were following… Nothing like being totally stuffed, knowing there are big cats around and riding a motorbike on the hardest track you’ve ever ridden to make you wish you’d done the trip in a ‘Cruiser after all!

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Arriving in Swakopmund on the Namibian coast was like a sock in the guts return to civilization. Wide streets, KFC, traffic lights, bars, hotels, and the biggest damn pharmacy that I’ve ever been into! It’s a beautiful little town, bracingly cold due to it’s location right next to the Atlantic, and with sand boarding and quad biking in the nearby dunes on the menu it pulls in a regular stream of overland busses even in the wintertime. We spent a week there killing time till Jody’s starter clutch could be fixed in Windhoek, drinking too much, playing pool and darts, and watching the Super 14 games on DSTV. We didn’t even visit the dunes! We did however learn to “do the Britney”, and all about Afrikaans long arm dancing! Good times, and it was very hard to leave.

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After a brief sojourn to Namibia’s very sleepy capital Windhoek to get Jody’s bike fixed, we continued south, to take up an offer from the Zim girls to stay with them at the lodge that they’d been transferred to, near Sossousvlei. The ride down was unbelievably beautiful. As a Kiwi it was difficult for me to take in the immensity of the plains here. Grasslands and ochre desert stretch as far as the eye can see, too often distracting our attention from the dirt roads and bringing us back to earth with a frightening high speed wobble as we strayed into the gravel drifts that sat alongside the well worn hardpack. Shit, that one was close! Ha ha, back up too 110km/h! We’re getting far too comfortable on these bikes!

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With the permission of Jen, the manager at the very exclusive (we’re guessing 4000 odd Rand per night?) lodge where the girls were now working, we stayed in a guide room, were treated to an excellent 3 course meal, and drank with Millie and Julie at staff prices for the night… Sometimes you have to take the smooth with the good eh?! Thank you everybody at the Little Kulala Wilderness Lodge for making us feel very welcome!

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Our next adventure was a visit to the Sossousvlei dunes, but not before we both ran out of fuel on the way there, with Jody having to hitch to the next town and hike back 5 kms with 10 litres of petrol while I watched my bike (his bike had run out 15 kms back, on the private road out of Little Kulala!). Refueled, we bush camped for the night, and hit the dunes as the road in was opened in the morning.

WOW! The red dunes are monumental in size, and with the morning light providing stark relief across the sides of the dunes, are simply gorgeous. I don’t really get emotional about this kind off stuff (it’s just more sand right?) but these dunes are something else… Jody and I of course bit off way more than we could chew, and just about broke ourselves climbing the dunes to about twice as high as anyone else had! The reward was definitely worth it, with open vistas of the surrounding area, and of course the carves that we could turn running back down!

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Location Update: 18th May 2008

Posted on March 18th, 2008 by siteadmin.
Categories: 18. South Africa.

Stop off at Felix Unite Bungalows and Camping on the Orange River before hitting South Africa!

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Location Update: 14th May 2008

Posted on March 14th, 2008 by siteadmin.
Categories: Contact Us.

Sossousvlei Namibia for the Dune Experience!

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Location Update: 17th May 2008

Posted on March 14th, 2008 by siteadmin.
Categories: Contact Us.

Overnight Stop: Keetmanshoop, Rock the Planet!

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Location Update: 11th May 2008

Posted on March 11th, 2008 by siteadmin.
Categories: Contact Us.

Quick trip to Windhoek to get Jody’s Bike repaired

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Updates En-route: 4th May 2008

Posted on March 4th, 2008 by siteadmin.
Categories: Contact Us.

Week long Stop Over: Swakopmund, Namibia

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El Adventuradors!

Posted on January 8th, 2008 by Jody Forrester.
Categories: 02. Spain.

As we’re preparing to leave Spain for Africa tomorrow both Jody and I have a sense of regret that we’ve not really scratched the surface of this country – we haven’t made an impression, and neither has Spain made much of an impression on us. The vibrancy that we’d expected in the people hasn’t been there, instead there seems to be a general apathy in most people we’ve met. I think perhaps if we’d had more time we’d have found our niche here, but warmer climes beckon… Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all been bad – travelling through the country on bikes has been an almost ethereal experience. You aren’t isolated from your surroundings by a cocoon of climate controlled air, so you brutally experience the climates and smells of the places you pass through – passing chicken farms has become a firm favourite! Far off mountain ranges are reached in minutes, and plains give way to beautifully sculpted twisties, Jody and I transforming instantly from overland voyagers to Valentino Rossi’esque speedsters, before reminding ourselves that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and dropping back to more sensible speeds. We just can’t help ourselves sometimes. One thing that has been of very mixed value here has been the GPS navigation. All the auto routing has been next to useless because there has been so much road building done recently. Whether the EU development fund is financing this I don’t know, but whoever it is, we’d like to thank them for building some very nice roads indeed! Jody and I have also been using this initial time as a period of “teambuilding”. We’ve spent virtually 100% of the time together on other trips (such as the hike to Base Camp), but this is a bit different. After a long day in the saddle tempers sometimes get frayed when navigating endless un-signposted one way streets to find a hotel is a classic. I tend to vent by having a massive bleat then am right again 5 minutes later. Jody now knows this, but was justly shocked the first time!

We’re also getting the routines down pat with unpacking and repacking the bikes – we’ve already sent some gear home, and also had a throw out on the ferry, but Jody’s bags are still bulging. He insists that it’s all essential stuff, but I’m not sure that the range of cosmetic products that he’s brought should really need to fill an entire one of his panniers! I’ve got loads more stuff that I want to say (riding with your own thoughts all day gives you plenty of time for introspection), but I’ll be merciful and wrap this up here as I’m sure that the experiences in Africa are going to be more interesting to read about. Tomorrow we leave for Morocco, and the start of the real adventure. We are ferrying to Cueta in the morning. For anyone worried about the cancellation of the Dakar rally, and the reasons for this (i.e. was it due to terrorism?), Butch and Jill Forrester have done a lot of research for us, and spoken to officials in the embassies of Morocco, Mauritania and Senegal, and we’re confident that the risk in no higher than usual for the area. We’ll take every precaution possible when riding through these areas, and will be updating the SA’n embassy contacts every couple of days. Take care everybody, and thanks to everyone who turned out to see us off, and especially our Support Team of Butch, Jill and Carey Forrester, and Catherine Mallik! Thanks so much for all the support in getting us out of London on time! Mum and Dad I know you’d have helped too, but there’re more pressing things to do, like spending time out at Lang’s Beach! © Dan

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