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!

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 😁