Lake Malawi

After leaving Zomba we decided to meet up again with Matias, the crazy Argentinian. He was staying in a hostel in Senga so we rode there and spent the evening walking along the shore watching the locals go about their daily activities.
Life by the water appears a lot easier than life in the dusty villages and everyone seems a lot happier – especially the children. Here children get to play together in water instead of pumping water and carrying it to the village. They spend the day running and laughing and apparently love holding hands with ‘Zongas’ (white people).

Men spend their days making canoes out of tree trunks and the evenings out fishing in the lake.

We had over 12 children fighting over holding our hands, jumping on our backs 2 at a time and screaming at us with beautiful smiley faces in a language we couldn’t understand.

Yesterday the 3 of us left Senga in the morning and headed to Nkarta Bay aiming to arrive in time to see Australia play Denmark.
The scenery riding north has changed from dry and dusty to green and tropical which has been lovely.
We arrived at a cool hostel overlooking the beautiful Lake Malawi – another little bubble to loose ourselves in for a couple of days.

Due to an electricity outage they had to start the generator for the game which then stopped 5 minutes before kick off after they filled the tank with water instead of petrol.

Luckily with Matias’s fuel and Dean’s tools they managed to fix it and have it back on 20 minutes into the game. Not a great result but at least they played well 😁

Zomba Plateau

We said goodbye to Matthias today and headed out from the safety of the backpackers and into Malawi, headed to the Zomba Plateau.

It turns out that this is where the original capital of Malawi was, the Queen mother even visited years ago!

After putting up the tent we headed to the top of the plateau to see some of the view points, but it turned out that the sights along the way were more worthy of a photo.  The plateau at 1600m has now been turned into a pine plantation, and teams of men work unbelievably hard to cut down the trees and saw them into planks.


It felt like being on the set of a film with the men organised into small teams, some singing, all sweating hard and pushing their saws back and forward, and trucks being (over) loaded (also by hand) for the crazy descent from the plateau on rough dirt roads that had Betsy working hard.

If you’ve ever pushed a handsaw for 5 minutes this will really hit home, and these guys are doing this all day, every day.

In our world of electricity, running water and instant everything, I cant really make sense of how it’s come to pass that people still saw planks of wood for a living.

Goodnight all xxoo





So we’re in Malawi! Everyone we’ve met has raved about this country so we’ve been looking forward to getting here.

The border crossing was pretty painless despite costing over $200USD for the three of us 🤯

Malawi is considerably poorer than its surrounding countries and the poorest county I’ve ever visited.

We rode through villages towards the capital, Lilongwe watching young children and women pumping water and walking for miles with litres of water on their heads back to the village, everyone stopping and starting at us as we pass by. What was once interesting and intriguing is now becoming uncomfortable and almost embarrassing as it’s so evident how much we have and how little they have.

We arrive in Lilongwe for the night and spend about two hours riding around trying to find a place to stay. Everything was a lot more expensive than we’d expected and it got pretty tiring riding in circles trying to find a good price. We realised pretty soon that paying for things on our credit card was not going to be an option here so we then had to try to find an ATM that accepted MasterCard and didn’t charge a fee to withdraw money – this we didn’t find so we had to swallow the $5 fee to withdraw a max of $100.

The cheapest place we found to stay was $20 AUD – still more expensive than we’d hoped but our patience had worn thin.

The electricity had gone out by the time we checked in which gave the place a more dreary feel that it may have otherwise but it was a good indication of what was to come…

We were given a choice of two rooms, both very basic with concrete falling off the walls. We chose one, unloaded and got changed. The toilet seat was cracked which gave me an interesting pinching feeling on my thighs but at least it had a seat. It was when I heard the mosque start it’s call to prayer (I can’t believe I’m hearing this so soon into the trip…) that I realised we were missing a window. Usually this wouldn’t be a problem however malaria is pretty rife here and I apparently have really tasty blood.

So we decided to move into the other room that was offered to us. We move our gear – 2 helmets, 2 bags, 2 pairs of boots, 2 riding suits and my clothes bag…it takes two of us a couple of trips.

The guy working at ‘reception’ then tells us the toilet doesn’t work in this room so he wants us to go to another room however it wasn’t clean so he needed to call a cleaner (presumably a woman because it’s not a man’s job to clean here).

We wanted to go out for some food so asked if we could leave our gear in the room until we got back.


This is where we should have asked if the lock worked.

‘the lock is broken’

‘ohh…’ some fumbling with the lock….a but more fumbling…

‘its broken…you won’t make it work…’


‘is there somewhere else we can leave our stuff?’

‘yes, follow me’

So we move all our stuff again to another room that look exactly the same as the others.

‘great, why don’t we just stay in this room? It looks fine to us’

‘erm….the toilet doesn’t work’

Of course it doesn’t. We go to leave and lock the door. The lock worked however due to someone forcing the door open one to many times you could just push the door open.

‘excuse me, this door doesn’t lock either’

‘ohh….’ fumbles with the lock

‘the lock works, the door just doesn’t stay closed’


‘can we just put our stuff in the room you want to put us in and you clean around it?’ (as if the floors were going to get cleaned!)


We decided to check the lock, door and window situation before moving all our gear into the room.

The door didn’t really close but if you forced it we made it lock. Success.

4 rooms in one ‘hotel’!

We found somewhere local to drink and eat and watch the world cup. We got befriended by a local policeman who was off duty and insisted on eating some bbq with us. We don’t think he actually paid for anything however he quickly accepted a beer from us. He gave us his business card which looked like it had been hand cut and sat with us and answered any questions we had about Malawi.

It had been a long day so we declined going out to drink somewhere else with our policeman friend and returned to our room.

We slept.

We got bitten by mosquitos.

There was no toilet seat.

And, despite being told there was, no hot water…no water in fact.

Yesterday we rode to Cape Maclear, a peninsula on the huge Lake Malawi and found a cool backpackers to relax, wash some clothes and watch the world cup for a couple of days 😁

South Luanga NP, a hard ride to get here

Tough going to get here on 200km of crappy African village tracks, some of it had me thinking I was back in the Congo (Paul will know what I mean!), but after turning back the other day we were pretty determined to push through this one.

The last 50km of the ride was literally through the South Luanga National Park, where we even met an armed anti poaching guard…

“hello, I am policeman, antipoaching”

“ah great, so are there animals in this area?”

“well… you are in open savannah, there are lions, leopards, elephants…”  it went on.

“so… is it dangerous?”

“ah yes, when you come across a lion, you rev the engine, the lion will scare away”

Very comforting.  It occurred to me that while I’ve been worried about being shot, kidnapped, frozen and dehydrated, I’ve not actually been concerned about being eaten by an animal before.

Tick that box then!

The road here did the usual transition from bad, to worse, to basically single track with bits of tree continuously hitting us in the face, sandy sections, rocky ascents and slippery descents into mostly dried up rivers.  There was even a water crossing that I heard a warning shout of “DEEP DEEP” from some women nearby – just a second too late!  Lucky Sal offered (demanded) to get off and walk that bit!

Fortunately the last bit though the park was much better going so we could keep moving fast enough to avoid a lion pride on the hunt… although we did see lots of other animals that a lion would usually eat… hmmm.

Arriving at the campground we were greeted with the most amazing view of the river with the sun setting on the horizon, hippos grunting a snorting in the water only metres away, and a group of elephants for company next to the tent!

We went into town and stocked up on some food for dinner and a few refreshing drinks 🙂

Sitting at our little campsite taking it all in, I got to thinking about all the people we’d passed during the day in tiny villages with mud houses, men pushing bicycles loaded with firewood, 5 year old kids hauling water from a river and women walking with baskets loaded with fruit or cassava on their heads.

We are just so lucky.

Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes, we were in small towns for a few days with no wifi or phone service but I got all your messages today.





Happy Birthday to Me!!

“Please boss, dont steal the bottle”

“I won’t steal it. I don’t even want it. I’ll bring it back in two minutes!”

I’m sitting up in bed in a small room, the floor is painted a dark red colour, the walls are pale yellow with lots of red stains that we originally thought were blood (quite concerning), but later realised were just bits of the red from the floor that the painter got on the walls.  It’s all falling apart.

There are bits of either mud or shit about the size of a tennis ball stuck to the warped ceiling in random places, there’s a cracked pale blue door that doesn’t shut properly, and a curtain in stained but bright green chiffon, strung from a piece of matching green electrical wire.  Our gear is spread out across the small bit of floor that the bed doesn’t take up.

Betsy is parked in a room without a door across the yard, she has a badly dented rear rim, more on that later.

There’s music pounding into the room from several ‘clubs’ across the unlit dusty street.  These clubs consist of a some old speakers, some neon coloured led lights, and a counter where alcohol is served.  Further down the road there are a few stalls selling the same hand woven baskets, a few stalls selling the same local food (goat or fish or chicken with cassava) and a few stalls selling the same collection of soap powder, salt, oil and rice.

This bit of road is only about 100m long, and for around another 200km in either direction there’s nothing but tiny african villages with mud houses and stick roofs, people, goats, bicycles and trucks… and potholes, really fucking big potholes.

So i guess you could say it’s quite remote.  Actually it is remote, it’s so remote that we didn’t think there would be anything here at all, and we were genuinely excited when we saw lights off in the distance because that means electricity, which is a prerequisite for cold beer, which at the end of a day like today is very important.

And yes it was dark when we arrived, which is breaking the no 1 Commandment in Africa “Thoust shall not ride at night time”

We’re here because it’s halfway to where we want to be tomorrow, and there was a waypoint marked on the gps called “Kent Guesthouse”, which seemed like something to aim for.

This morning started out with a 75km ride down a bad dirt road, that turned into a worse dirt track, that ended (for us) at a near vertical off camber ascent that i might have made it up one in ten attempts.

We really hate turning back.  In our last trip we turned back once in India due to a landslide, the trip before that I turned back once in Argentina after breaking a brake line trying to ride up a river bed, and the trip before that we turned around once in Mongolia after submerging Betsy, and once in Siberia on a remote mountain pass that was iced over.  Not that I’m counting or anything.

So we turned back, which turned a 250km day into a 550km day, and hence we arrived here in the dark, shortly after almost being swallowed by a pothole about a foot deep and 4 feet wide which left the afore mentioned dent in Betsy’s rear rim.  We hit it so hard that I thought something must have broken off the bike, but no, just a badly dented rear rim. Poor old girl.

Sally improved things by buying me a cupcake and singing me happy birthday which was very sweet :))  And anyway, the rim will get us home, we’re both alive, and there was a cold beer and food here, which makes it all ok at the end of the day.

Strangely, all the “clubs” here (all three), REALLY want their empty bottles back.  So much so that a guy followed us down that road and had a go at us while we were eating goat and rice in once of the road side stalls.  He seemed to think I was going to steal the bottle. We returned it a minute later and it was smiles all around.

I’ve just hit a wall so will wrap it up.  We’re in a town called Luangwa Bridge, it’s my birthday, I’m 44.  The music is still going, sounds like an african version of Enrique Eglasius.  I cant keep my eyes open. It’s only 9:30pm. Poor betsy.

Goodnight xxoo


Lake Kariba

After 6 consecutive nights of sleeping in a tent in lows of 4 degrees, fully clothed but still freezing I waited for dean to wake up and insisted that the next night I wanted to sleep in a building.

I didn’t really care where in a building, just as long as it was built of bricks.

My wish came true.

We left Livingstone that day after two hours on Skype to Telstra trying to find out why we don’t have any coverage in Africa – it left us with that familiar angry/frustrated/bemused feeling you always feel after dealing with them 😬 and no result yet, made more frustrating by them asking for a phone number to call us back on…’WE DONT HAVE PHONE SERVICE!!! Can you please email the information to us?’

‘sorry we can’t do that, the file is too big’

What the?! Are we really dealing with a first world huge Australian company?!

Anyway, following this we had a long boring uneventful day of riding to arrive in a dusty town for the night.

We did the usual rounds and decided to spend extra money on a room with hot water as opposed to the cheapest with cold only.

We’re clearly still a little rusty and need to remind ourselves of the questions we need to ask:

‘do you have hot water?’

(A very slight, under the breath) ‘yes’

‘really? Do you have hot water?’

Same response.

After we had paid and got to the room I went straight to the shower to check the water and realised the error of my ways. I should have asked:

‘do you have any water?’

The toilet was dripping more water from the cistern than the shower.

Dean said we’d get more hot water if we urinated on each other instead…

We should also remember not to pay before checking these things.

We’ve learnt that when we ask if they have wifi, we then need to then ask if it works.

Oh the joys!

At least the room was clean and warm and I had the best nights sleep in months.

Today we have come to Lake Kariba, a huge man made lake which was recommended to us by our friend Will from Neispruit. There isn’t loads here to do, but it’s a very nice place to stay and really relaxing.

We have a great spot to camp here so decided to cook some food ourselves and went into town to check out the local market. There was loads of fresh produce and we bought some beautiful red tomatoes and some eggs (fresh with chicken shit on them!).

We got back to camp and I went to wash some clothes. When I got back dean ashamedly told me he had accidentally cracked all of the eggs….they were still usable though, only small cracks….

He then stepped on one of the tomatoes…

I reminded him where the eggs were (on the ground in the shade), kind of joking….

5 mins later he stepped on two of the eggs.


Lucky it’s his birthday tomorrow and I slept in a building last night!

We’re in the tent again tonight (yay!), next to the lake with signs everywhere warning us of crocodiles and hippos – it could be an interesting night!

Hopefully it’s not too cold!

Chobe National Park

We just came back from a short safari in Chobe National Park in Botswana, what an awesome experience! This was organised for us by Raf and Cisca from African and Oriental travel company ( who have been an incredible source of information for us and we highly recommend.

It started out a little ho hum after we were picked up at 6am and transferred to the Botswana side of the border for a boat trip down the Zambezi river. We’re not really people people so all the cameras and american tourists were a little irritating, we did however see a few pods of hippos, like about 100 of them all in one spot which was really cool, no G&T’s on this boat trip though 🙁

After lunch our trip into the park in a 4×4 began, where we were to stay for the next two nights. It was just us and another couple in the truck (with seating for 9), so much nicer!!

We saw so many animals, I’ll let the pics do the talking, but the highlight was finding a female leopard with two cubs, just after she’d killed an impala. The mum was keeping guard while the cubs tore into the impala in a thicket, and eventually emerged still licking the blood from their cute little faces!

mum keeps watch

while the little ones eat

Staying in the park made it all a bit more special as we were able to stay out until after dark when all the animals are more active, and also get up and hit the road super early (yes Sally, at 5:45am!) to see them before they settle down for the heat of the day.

Our camp was really simple, just a few tents in a clearing. There were some strict rules for going to the toilet at night to make sure we weren’t eaten by anything, like going in pairs so one can keep watch… which Sal forgot in her tired state, and then also forgot which direction our tent was in and started walking half asleep into the forest before realising she was lost… All’s well that ends well huh!

The food was simple but quite good, and we sat around the camp fire at night chatting about the amazing things we’d seen in the day before going to bed early and trying not to freeze overnight when the temp got down to around 5 deg just before dawn.

Aside from the Leopards we saw the usual animals, giraffes, elephants, hippos and buffalo, but they were in really big groups in Chobe, and in such an untouched setting it was pretty special.

We were also lucky enough to find 4 lion cubs playing in the grass 🙂

The sunset and sunrise were also phenomenal, especially with all the animals that were around at the time. I cant really do it justice, but the pics come close…

Being with a guide also meant that we learned lots about the park, the animals and their interactions, like how certain animal calls tell you that some predator is around the place. One of our favourite moments was seeing a group of Guinea fowl (a bit like a small chicken) chase a pride of lions out of their territory.

The lions didn’t seem too put out, but the we have new found respect for the Guinea fowl, they’re much braver than we are!

We’re back on the road tomorrow, headed towards South Luwanga National park, which we think might be the last park we visit.

Love to all at home xxoo

Lost GPS…

I just rode away from a park with the gps on a pannier, and only realised a few km down the road where we stopped for lunch.


Swearing, I left Sal at the restaurant and rode back to town not really thinking I’d find it, and not even sure where I’d lost it. I asked around the carpark, in a couple of shops I’d been in and eventually gave up and went back to where I’d left Sal about 2km away.

We started brainstorming ideas to get a new one delivered into remote Zambia while eating goat and veg with pap, when an out of breath african guy ran up to the table holding the gps!

“You dropped it in town and I took it because some other people there wanted to keep it, but I thought you might come back, then I saw you again riding past and I shouted and waved but you didn’t see me, so I just kept walking hoping to find you”

We were speechless!

“Thank you so much, you have no idea how important this is for us.”

We gave him ten kwachas for his trouble, which he was pumped with.

Sometimes you get lucky. We like Zambia 😁


So we’re in Victoria Falls and have managed to score a super cheap camp site for $14 a night. Everywhere else was $60+ so we were pretty pumped! We are the only ones camping as it’s getting as low as 7 degrees over night but we’ve found sleeping in all our clothes seems to get us through…the things we do to save money!

Saving money on things like accommodation means we have more money to spend on experiences, which is the way we justified booking on to the champagne and sushi sunset cruise last night 😳

This is not the kind of thing we usually do but it was $12 and 14 people difference from the basic sunset cruise.

‘how many people are on the cheaper boat?’


‘how many on the super luxo one?’



We were the first to be picked up in a bus from our campsite and we proceeded to pick up the other 14 people from their luxury majestic hotels…it was pretty funny to think all those staying in the most expensive hotels in town were doing the cheaper boat and us two doing the luxo boat were staying in a tent!

Once we got to the river we were seperated on to the two boats and were greeted with champagne and snacks and taken to a beautiful old English style boat with leather couches and carpet while the rest had to cram onto a standard boat and had no champagne…they were all looking at us with envy and slight confusion. We were both in our puffer jackets and I had leggings, my trusty camo skirt that’s been around the world twice and motorbike boots on.

It was a really nice experience and we saw hippos, not much else but the sunset was beautiful. There was an open bar so we made the most of that although Dean did a much better job than me with and is suffering the consequences today – he even announced ‘NTD’ with a big grin (night time dean for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him) which was concerning as it was still day time… I don’t think the staff on the boat were used to having Australians on board and were a little shocked when we kept accepting more drinks…they actually stopped asking us so Dean had to go up to the bar for more…we put a good dent in their gin supply..!

We spent the day visiting the falls which I think were really beautiful except the spray/rain from the plunge pool was so heavy we couldn’t really see anything.

We got totally drenched despite having rain jackets on but I was very brave and didn’t try and run away from the rain like I usually do (there was nowhere to run!)

Today we head to Livingstone, Zambia where we plan on doing a safari in Chobe National Park. We have loved our short experience in Zimbabwe. The people are friendly and smiley and we have felt totally safe and welcome everywhere we’ve been.


I guess it’s time to start blogging! With lack of internet and motivation it’s hard to get my head into the space to write but I’ll give it a go!

From Johannesburg we headed straight for Nelspruit, a town near Kruger where we could rent a car. Seeing as we couldn’t ride Betsy through Kruger (as much as we’d love to!) we decided to hire a car and do a ‘self drive’ safari. It’s one of the only parks you can do this in Africa and also the cheapest way.

As we were doing it on the cheap we took our tent and booked a couple of nights in a couple of different sites in the park.

We were pretty excited driving into Kruger and over the two days we saw herds of elephants, giraffe, zebra, impala, wildebeest, buffalo, warthog and antelope.

We also saw rhinos, hippos and the best of all, a lion!

It’s amazing seeing these animals in the wild, I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t in a zoo! Prior to going to Kruger we had been told that it was over run with people and whenever you see an animal there will be at least 10 other cars there with you. While this was true at times we were also totally alone on many occasions… we decided to veer off the main road at one point and take a dirt road to our campsite. Whilst travelling at the usual 20/hour looking from side to side I glanced at the road ahead and saw a lion laying in the middle of the road. I was so excited and speechless I just started hitting Dean and pointing.

We both screamed and dean quickly closed our windows. I was hoping to see a lion but having one on the road in front of us with no one else around seemed like a dream! He just layed there watching us, looking around and yawning. So so cool! It was so tempting to lean out the window to take a photo but I couldn’t risk being one of those stupid people you read about… We had no way of getting past him and he seemed pretty content lying there so we just stared and waited. He eventually got up and strode away. We felt so lucky to have experienced that moment totally alone with a lion.

We made it to the camp just as the gates were closing for the night and ended up staying in a round thatched cabin. The next day we set out at 6.30am and drove until 5.30pm😳 We had another private interlude but this time with an elephant. We saw a lone elephant by the side of the road so I pulled over to watch him…. he then started walking straight for us…in hind site it was possibly a dangerous situation which I should have reversed out of but it was too exciting to leave so we stayed there with the windows down staring…as he got closer and closer we got a little nervous as he could have easily crushed the car or nudged us out of the way but luckily he decided to walk past…again, we were totally alone 😁

There was so much amazing wildlife in the park, and we had a fantastic time. We saw more than we expected to see and all up it cost us less than $300. We have a few other safaris pencilled in over the next couple of months so it will be interesting to see the difference of doing it on our own versus being guided.

Feeling very blessed 💕