Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Last Days Under African Sky and Wonders of the World Aug 6

First class cabin on the extremely crowded ferry meant bunks with bugs. Cahit convinced the captain to deviate route towards Abu Simbel because he pretended honeymooning after he paid 20 camels for his newly wedded wife. In fact he was protecting young Julia. We got a glimpse of the statues in front of the temple just after nightfall.
After a crowded pushy disembarkation the pool in the hotel in Aswan felt like paradise and the campari orange like nectar after 2 weeks of forced abstinence! Took a whole day baksheesh to get bikes out of Egyptian customs plus local number plates and Arab drivers license. Petrol shortages everywhere, but good black market available for more baksheesh.

Proud of the Egyptian number plate!

Then onto Luxor over 300 speed humps with punctured tyre. Mesmerizing Karnack and Luxor temples, tombs of Valley of the Kings and Hatchesput temple. All some 3,000 years old with amazingly well preserved hieroglyphic carvings and paintings.

Hatchesput temple where massacre happened

Temple of Karnack, Luxor 

Just off the road
Temple of Karnack

Then hot ride to Red Sea coast and spent free time at Aldiana resort at Makadi Bay thanks to the generosity of Fusun and Cahit our Turkish friends. Further north towards Suez and onto dirty 20 million Cairo and Giza. Rewarded ourselves with the historic Mena House Oberoi hotel right next to pyramids and sphinx.

Pyramids over Cairo

Johannes doing a little shopping

View from our hotel, Giza!

Camel ride
Touts and hasslers trying to push their goods upon you due to Egypt’s run down economy and sparse tourism. Winding down at the end of our amazing journey through Africa. Looking forward to the next leg through Europe. We will take a ferry from Port Said to Turkey this week.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Gorillas, Never Ending Dirt Roads, Highlands and Desert July 3-24

Met Helge Pedersen (www.globeriders.com) at Sudanese embassy in Nairobi. Johannes blown away –his motorbike hero!

Managed to get last minute permits and flights to visit Gorillas in Rwanda-truly the best experience hiking two hours up through the jungle with our guide and tracker–then the most amazing sight, a huge male silverback gorilla only two metres away from us with a couple of young ones- so human like in their hand movements and expressions.
Our pensive Brother
Then suddenly he got up and walked right in front of us and rather elegantly pissed in front of our guide –I think he’d had enough of us watching him and snapping our cameras. We were so lucky to see about 12 members of the Kwitonda group of gorillas who live on the slopes of Mount Muhabara. Amazing hour with our brothers and sisters! 

Rwandan hills

Loved Rwanda –so hilly, lush and green and
extremely clean- no plastic bags allowed and
once a month all citizens must participate in
cleaning the streets of their communities
on their president’s order!
People lovely and seemingly gentle but most of them touched by the awful genocide when 800,000 people were killed in a 3 month period and 2 million people displaced- the Genocide Memorial Centre was a truly somber, heart wrenching experience.
Kigali is an orderly clean city trying to rebuild itself. Lots of motorbike taxis carrying helmets as these are mandatory.

Enjoyed Kenya and especially the people–presented by a bunch of flowers by our taxi driver.

Mount Kenya

 Passed the equator at Nanyuki

then continued north to Isiolo from where roads turned into a nightmare–under construction, sandy, heavily corrugated and gravel but in contrast phenomenal desert landscapes, occasional acacia and baobab trees, herds of camels, small desolate villages and people of the Sambura tribe clad in heavily beaded necklaces and colourful sarongs walking on the roadside.


Off road on end!

Road got worse from Marsabit to Moyale, sometimes we were only travelling 15-20 kilometers per hour due to heavy gravel.

Crossed border into Ethiopia, a country where people speak Amharic. People everywhere walking on the roads- many with their chickens, goats, cows and sacks of produce going to market or somewhere?

Difficult to ride and difficult to find a place to stop without being surrounded by curious children and people who suddenly emerged from nowhere?Many people waving from the side of the road but also children dangerously throwing rocks and cracking whips at us. Why? Rode through the central plateau which is predominantly lush fertile green highland country between 2000 and 3000 metres high.
Ethiopian feast
To Addis Ababa to pick up new tyres. Headed north through mountains to Monastery Debra Libanos. Stayed overnight at Ethiopian-German camp hotel with stunning views into the gorge. Poor villages nearby with hooded medieval looking people dressed in dowdy rags in various shades of brown and bare feet walking to the church for evening prayers.

North to Bahir Dar on Lake Tana, then on to mountain top Lalibela through amazing landscapes. In Lalibela spent the day visiting the 12 rock hewn churches with hand carved pillars, intricate designs on engraved walls with religious symbols, fading frescoes, religious paintings and connecting underground tunnels. They date around 700-1200 AD and took 200 years to complete and were built to allow the Christians to hide from their Muslim and other persecutors. Nowadays a blend of orthodox Christians and Muslims seem to coexist peacefully throughout Ethiopia.
Johannes after blessing
Road to Lalibela, Ethiopia
Rock hewn church-wonder of the world
Easy border crossing into Sudan. From here landscape became flatter and drier – men in their white dashdas and scarves and women in colourful thaws. What a peaceful place after stoning and whipping in Ethiopia! Stayed at Greek owned Acropole hotel in the capital Khartoum at the confluence of the Blue and White Nile.
Chris sharing photos with curious locals
About time boots were cleaned!
Headed north on the East Bank of the Nile- more and more desert but great new tarmac roads-dusty, windy, unbearably hot at 43 degrees through the desert, passing dusty villages as well as ancient sites of pyramids and temples.

Meroe Pyramids Sudan

Sick of being a pillion

1100kms of riding through the Nubian desert in three days during Ramadan when there are few places on the road to eat –however stopped at a few basic roadside huts-people lazing around, sleeping, washing their face, body and mouth with water to keep cool.

Nubian desert with nice road

Pyramids at Karima
Arrived in Wadi Halfa to get bikes on ferry to Aswan in Egypt. Stayed in “best”hotel in town which was totally disgusting and dirty but enjoyed connecting with a number of fellow bikers. It took a couple of days to get the bikes loaded and we had to build our own ramp.

Spot map