Return to home page. The Last Great Adventure

Cape to Cairo Adventure 2017

Home  | Bike's & Bio's | Chapter One  |  Chapter Two | Chapter Three | Chapter Four


Dispatch Three from Nick Gudewill

Day 28, Sat, Feb 11th


Ango Hotel, Babati to The New Arusha Hotel, Tanzania, 175 km.


Short trip in on a picture perfect road. Passed untold numbers of safari vehicles crammed with tourists heading for camps for their sanitized view of Africa.


Speaking of sanitized, I am not far removed myself, maybe a bit ahead of the folks flying over at 35000 feet. Yes, I have seen and learned a lot but the complexity of these societies as I drive by means that I can only scratch the surface.


They work in myriad ways. Take the Masai tribesmen I pass early in the morning in the middle of nowhere minding their herds; no canteen, no back pack, just a stick, their machete and a colourful robe. Where do they sleep? What do they eat? Don't know.



Compare that to our stressed out societies at home all trying to keep up with each other and chase the almighty buck. Many are unhappy, up to their necks in debt and feeling good about treading water. These tribes seem at peace with themselves and the environment around them. They may be poor monetarily and with regard to asset accumulation but they may be far richer in other ways. Don't know the answer to that one either.


Witnessed many, many starving livestock driving in to Arusha as a result of the water drought which has to be affecting the wild ones too.

Saw Mt Meru on the way in all 14,000 feet of it and thought it was Mt. Kilimanjaro so will have to wait for that one!


In the afternoon Waan and I visited the African Cultural Center art gallery. There should have been a cover charge, it was that good; apparently the largest art gallery in Africa.



We oogled Mike Ghaui's beautiful paintings and sculptor exhibits all for sale. It is so expensive you have to inquire in person.



Day 29, Sun, Feb 12th


New Arusha Hotel to The Wild Frontiers Lodge, Serengeti National Park by 4X4.


After a 2 hour plus ride departing at 6 am we get to the Ngorongoro Crater which is an approx 20 km diameter crater with 50,000 animals living in very rich grasslands. The short and skinny is that we saw 4 of the big 5 - elephants, cape buffalo, rhino (6 of 26 in the area) and lions (7 of approx 60 comprising 5 prides) missing only the leopard.




A few words about the Ngorongoro Crater (NC) which is responsible for all of the savanah grasslands in the Masai Mara and the Serengeti. Many millions of years ago 7 volcanoes created 7 peaks over different time periods. This one is called a 'caldera' for the reason that it is the only major non water filled volcano area in the world. It has collapsed into itself and unlike most others has not filled with water thus creating the rich diversity of wildlife we are seeing.


dtg g


In addition, during the eruptions the magma ash, sodium bicarbonate which is alkali based got spread over a huge area. In time it became brittle, rock like and encouraged the growth of grasslands and prohibited large forest growth (hard for roots to grow) so vast plains ensued allowing the harvest of grazing opportunity for so many species.


The NC is a magnificent flatlands surrounded by massive hills 2000 and up to 3000 feet high from base elevation; some animals even migrate into and out of this crater! Why they would ever want to leave given the richness of the grazing opportunities I do not know. As opposed to being out in the flatlands, the viewing of the surrounding area with its topographical elevation variations is simply stunning especially in the later afternoon with the sun creating shadows everywhere.


Day 30, Mon, Feb 13th


The Wild Frontiers to Flycatcher Camp, 4X4.


Our lodgings and viewpoints at Wild Frontiers on the side of the crater were stunning and so they should be as the rack rate is expensive and includes three meals and I guess that includes a tour of the crater.




We re-traced our route back through the crater and up the other side to the steep, steep exit. I actually buckled up with the dangerous drive and the road was built with paving stones to accommodate the elevation climb. We worked our way through hours of dry, dusty grassland outback towards the Serengeti Planes. We saw lots of Masai tribesmen and enjoyed the village life as we proceeded. While we worked for our sightings, there were many and sometimes we were just plain lucky. We ran across a small pride of 4 lions relaxing under some Acacia trees and stopped for quite awhile to observe their antics with what looked liked full stomachs. We also enjoyed watching the interactions and eating habits of many giraffe.


Speaking of Acacia trees, it is an indigenous tree to Southern and Central Africa and extremely hardy, also quite lovely to look at with its large canopy interlocking with other Acacia canopies. The tree is also very smart. Low down it is thorny as hell and I have inadvertently scratched myself numerous times on thorns that are far sharper than a sewing needle. Higher up, past a giraffes reach for instance it no longer needs to protect itself and dipsenses with the thorny part.




Speaking of hardy animals, take the Thomson Gazelle and Giraffe. Both elegant creatures, they can exist for long periods without water due to their adaptation to the vagaries of nature. They also find moisture in the most elusive places. The giraffe feeds on Acacia leaves which is hard to fathom due to the thorny nature of the tree. Their long, long tongues snake out, wrap around the greeny parts and suck it off while eluding the thorns, amazing to watch.


Though I did not fully understand the significance of the sighting of a Caracal cat I was soon updated by our excellent guide Simon. It was his best sighting of this animal ever and he only sees a creature like this 1 in 40 outings. This animal, about 50 lbs is characterized by the most interesting pointed and large ears.




The highlight of the day involved a sighting late in the afternoon. At the 11th hour there was a low shriek from the front left hand seat from my wife. Leopard sighting so we got the last of the big 5. It was a special moment and privilege to be able to see this sleek animal in its habitat. Simon told us later that leopards are in fact far more numerous than lions but just much more elusive, so we were all surprised to hear that.




Day 31, Tue, Feb 14th


Flycatcher Camp to Sopa Lodge, Serengeti National Park, 4X4.


After breakfast we proceed through a ranger check point into the Serengeti (actually called Serenget which means plain without trees). It is dusty and rather uncomfortable due to the drought and lack of rainfall for a long period. The Serengeti is 15,000 square kilometres as comapred to the NC being 8,000 which also includes a large area outside the crater. The big deal was the Cheetah sighting, a mother and two offspring one male and the other female. To make it even more special they are on an extended walk, watching us closely and quite unafraid. We are transfixed. Later in the morning we see a solo cheetah under a shaded tree.



While the second part of the day was a bit anti climatic, it is judged a success by those far more experienced than me. We see a total of 31 lions in 9 visitations; most were lying lazily about with full stomachs and none reached the drama of the leopard or cheetah sightings. We reach this stunning 6* hotel called Sopa Lodges later in the afternoon all pretty dusty and ready for a swim, shower and good hair shampoo. It is on the side of a sloping hill looking down over the Serengeti plains. There are signs all over warning of wild animals and we are in a true Shangrai La.



Day 32, Wed, Feb 15th


Sopa Lodge to The New Arusha Hotel, 4X4 and charter flight.


My favourite animal to look at is the Impala, pure beauty and symmetry, the colours along his flank imply speed and agility; the horns have an interesting shape and usefulness; the big chief, the alpha male is stronger and obviously more muscular than the rest. This morning we watched an amazing exercise. The dominant Impala, maybe the most majestic animal for me in all of Africa was herding his females maybe two dozen into an area getting ready for one of them to come in to heat; at the same time he was chasing down and separating the horny younger and smaller ones, working quite hard actually for his conquest.




We have about a 3 hour ride through lots of wetland areas resulting in many animal sightings to finish off a splendid time with Simon K (Siburro in Swahili); we say fond and sad goodbyes.



Day 33, Thur, Feb 16th


The New Arusha Hotel to Merrueshi Maasai Village, Kenya, 266 km.


We leave Arusha in convoy due to traffic and an uncertain waypoint. Out of town it becomes an enjoyable ride away from the traffic and working through some great twisties , likely the best yet. We skirt counter clockwise around Mount Kiliminjaro which is 19,000 feet rising from a floor of about 5,000 feet, pretty impressive. We get to the turn off and head right on a dirt track to the Maasai camp where we will be staying for two nights. It is a bit of a hairy ride and I am feeling tired when I come to a largish kids boarding school of 400 aged 8-14. I have an extra ball so stop on my goodwill mission; lots of excitment, the head guy all dressed up and waving a scary stick all over the place. It is a nice interlude.



I keep going and discover that the slippy slidy stuff is getting a bit easier and actually make the camp without incident. The camp is headed up by a U.S. educated (Washington State)Maasai man called Kakutu and his brother Tom who are good friends of Helge's from 16 years ago. They cater to groups like us interested in Maasai culture. We get a general run down of stuff and head out for a two hour late afternoon walk to scout out the local animals, very interesting. We return for dinner and drinks and walk out again around 10 pm to check out the local swamp only to get skunked.



Day 34, Fri, Feb 17th


Merrueshi Maasai Village, 0 km.


Up at 6 am for a quick snack and out again for a 3 hour walk; it is exhilarating to be on a walkabout, no noise, tracking the animals with the Maasai guides, learning about animal habits, the local bird life, really cool stuff after the noise of a vehicle safari. We return for breakfast and then all get motorcycle tire tread sandals made by a local expert for $10 each plus tip; zero gets wasted. The guy is a real craftsman and can make three pairs out of one tire. Following that we have a long session with two tribal elders we guess to be in their mid 70's via an interpreter.



Following lunch we get visited by 10 lady elders all dressed up in their garb; there is not enough room here to go in to detail suffice to say that both gatherings were insightful and a learning experience about their complicated culture.



Evening walk to a Maasai village, most interesting; we go into 4 little homes, take pics, ask questions and generally get a great insight into their lifestyle. Helge has lived right here in this village for a month back in 2001. While we are first time visitors and a little taken aback by the rudimentary way of life he has a different perspective from long years of experience travelling in Africa. He feels that the people are doing just fine, they are coping well, living simple but happy and uncomplicated lives. He is an enthusiastic supporter of their lifestyle.



Serious problems could be on the horizon though. The terrible years long drought is eroding their ability to make a living which is based on raising cattle and goats and the more the better. However, it is very difficult to continue this tradition in the present circumstances. To make matters more difficult, the tradition of having as many children as possible is coming in to jeopardy because of the demands and costs of education. While a Maasai's wealth is measured in how many cattle and kids you have (but you can't ask them how many of each or what their ages are because it is bad luck and they apparently don't know!!??), this whole concept will be undergoing a profound change in the next generations.


One last neat little anecdote. Out of nowhere comes this sweet, sweet little girl, 12 years old (she will be married off at 15-18 for goodness sakes to a much older man) speaking near perfect english. Mister, are you the soccer ball man, yes, well we need another ball, why, because the big kids have gone off with the one at the school and the little kids need one too. How do you say no to that so my second to last ball was donated right there. She was a precocious little thing with great eye contact, determined and has a future in sales for sure.



Day 35, Sat, Feb 18th


Merrueshi Maasai Village to Serena Mountain Lodge, Kenya, 319 km.


Clutch out at 7:30 to navigate the sandy stuff at the start. I am getting better with the slippy slidy bits. The journey is not long but we hit traffic like you wouldn't believe, bumper to bumper and a Saturday to boot. You get good at maneuvering up the center lane or taking the the pedestrian side when things get really slow. Circling Nairobi and thank goodness we did not have to go right in, we kept running in to these huge speed bumps right on 3 lane divided highways for petes sakes! Vehicles have to slow down to a crawl on 70 mph freeways which is crazy with huge back ups and my panniers are too wide to negotiate in between lanes.


The Serena Mountain Lodge is an idyllic place way up in the mountains and we will be here two nights and explore tomorrow.


dtg g


We have had a superlative time with the piped in girls who have meshed very well with our group. Danielle (Aaron), Carolyn (Mac), Lisa (Helge) and Waan have really added to the joy of our trip and given poor, out numbered Debbie (Harrison) a good break from all of the male fellow travelers! I cannot really describe in words how important it is for a team to jell well together. We were doing great before they arrived and they just added immeasurably to everything.


Day 36, Sun, Feb 19th


Serena Mountain Lodge.


After breakfast we went on a nature walk until just before lunch. We were treated to all sorts of fascinating insights into the rain forest surrounding us right below massive Mt. Kenya- fig trees and how they germinate and slowly strangle their inside tree with its massive vines; all sorts of dung droppings and how various insects make use of it. Our leader was very well informed and accompanied by a guard armed with a high powered weapon for protection.


g g


The rest of the day was relaxing and pleasant. Late in the afternoon my very good friend from Nairobi Chris Banks, our chase vehicle guide Simon Peterson and I were sitting up in the viewing area having a beer and chatting. Simon at 29 is wise beyond his years, gifted really. Chris has an encyclopedic knowledge of wildlife and all things Africa. For over an hour I was enthralled listening to them trade stories and ideas back and forth. It was a special moment for me.


Then, suddenly, there were two (giant eagle) owls in the trees at a distance of maybe 200 feet; then they were mating, wow and we were the bystanders! Simon has this Canon 65X zoom camera and I was able to look at them close up. The crowning moment was when one of them flew closer down to the waters edge of the pond. He had a large frog in his mouth! Then, simple as can be, he flips it lengthways in his mouth and swallows it whole! It was a another neat moment.


Last thing. Early morning about 4 am we awake to hear and watch 14 elephants at the watering hole outside our bedroom window. There they are all grumbling, eating, drinking and one or two roaring at each other, pretty cool.




Dispatch Three from Steve Smith

While composing this chapter of my personal account of our travels through this magnificent continent, I do so in a luxury hotel in Ethiopias capital city, Addis Ababa. I cannot praise Helge enough for his flawless choreography of routes, sites, and accommodations!

Back to Tanzania. 

The opportunity to go on safari while traveling through Africa on two wheels was a big draw for me. Dropping into the Ngorongoro Crater via a side hill dirt road provided an opportunity to slowly breath in the protected landscape, home to numerous species quintessential to savanna life. Nearly all of the species never leave this expansive Petrie dish. During the daytime hours  antelope, zebra, Cape buffalo,  and, rhino  and wildebeast to name a few, graze the manicured grasses, by need to consume, with too little rainfall to abundantly meet demand. But Acacia thrive in this seasonally arid landscape, and the giraffe and elephant provide a visual glance into the back pages of evolution, and the opportunistic dance of one species attempt to survive and the others adaptation to capitalize where others have not. The acacias thorns are abundant as well as menacing, yet the giraffe and elephant manipulate the high reaches of these thorn Leiden canopies like a kitten lapping up milk.

The plains of the expansive Ngorongoro are under seige  by draught, not like anything witnessed in decades. The wildlife while far from abundant, welcomed us instead by rare sightings of leopard, cheetah, serval and caracal cats.  The "big five" viewing was achieved by the end of day two, and just as the sun was in its colorful departure on this prosperous day, we pulled into our safari camp greeted by an exuberant smiling staff, full bar, and chairs encircling a camp fire. Can it get any better.

In Kenya, we spent two days in an environmentally cohesive camp within a Masai village, learning from village elders of both genders, about Masai life, in separate Q & A sessions, followed by a visit to a nearby compound where we were able to view firsthand the simple living space of hut life. We arrived minutes before the daily return of the families goat population herded by one very young boy, out all day in search of all things green and edible. 

Northern Kenya further unveiled the continuing struggle of species dependent on rainfall, in order to end the relentless  search for all things green, atop a muted palate of brown and red.

Children thinned by lack and struggle, share the equally thin shade of tress dwarfed by location, with their life's possessions of goat, cattle and camel, all worn by lack, in an ever present meditation of wonder, hope, and surrender. 

Children line the arterial roadways in all of Africa, but in draught challenged reaches, smiles are replaced by looks of despair, and eyes that reach out in the silent message of hope to passers by, leveraged by out reached arms waving empty water bottles in a language all understand. 

Harrison's flat tire provided pause, and Debbie and I were given the opportunity to pass out our remaining water to a couple of young brothers that had hoofed it from their nearby compound distant on the horizon. I dug into my snacks and offered them as well, and the smiles we've all come to admire and adore, soon returned to the two youthful brothers, and we were showered with gestures of gratitude. 
I remain humbled by the labor life demands as a prerequisite for survival along this long stretch of land connected by borders and struggle. Nothing living escapes this demand. And abstractly speaking, even that which lacks life form struggles under the burden of weight and measure. 

Streets and highways alike are shared by donkeys yielding carts with splayed wheels and a persistent wobble, earned by measures of capacity beyond design and life expectancy. When bicycle, cart, or a stretcher of tree limbs drug behind by the persistence of human power lack, the posture of a bent back make platform for bundles of firewood, multi liter water jugs, grass, long lengths of steel and wood alike. 
I am overwhelmed by the tenacious pulse of struggle by both beast and human alike, that continues day to day without reprieve or end. 
When entering a township, it's like a visual chorus of chaos. The roads, dirt spaces in front of and around buildings, and all space in between pulse with movement. Cattle and goats stand as if petrified in the road. Donkeys burdened with jugs of water walk unattended, navigated by habit and a likely awaiting meal at their destination. Large buses, mini busses, cars, three wheel taxis and motorcycle taxis weave a pattern around and through livestock. The pedestrian is lowest on the food chain, and patience is mandatory in the desire to cross these pulsing arteries. Businesses are packed tightly, and the rainbow colored merchandise mixes and competes with this chaotic movement for our passing eyes and brains to process. 

This is the mixed media of the "art of life" in developing countries. I've had one or two moments when I questioned, "will I tire of this daily scene of struggle and surrender'. The answer remains a foreboding 'No". 

We are sharing the color of life both visually and conversationally with those that welcome us to their countries and villages, and home has no mention within daily thought. I am fully consumed by Africa and its gravitational pull. 



dtg dtg
dtg dtg dtg


Dispatch Three from Gary Schmidt

To me Africa means ANIMALS. I love the safaris. We had a couple of great ones in Botswana and we have had our 3 day safari in Tanzania. There is no way to describe the thrill of seeing large wild animals in their natural habitat. Not a zoo!


We spent a day and a half inside the Ngorongoro Crater. The next day and a half were spent outside the crater in the Ngorongoro Park and the Serengeti National Park. As far as I’m concerned we saw more than could ever be expected. My thing is cats and we saw around 30 lions, leopards, cheetahs and a Caracal. Naturally there were plenty of hippos, giraffes, jackels zebras, wildebeest, wart hogs, cape buffalo, hyenas, etc.. Plus birds that we would never see in the USA.


dtg dtg
dtg dtg
dtg dtg
dtg dtg
dtg dtg
dtg dtg
dtg dtg
dtg dtg
dtg dtg


In addition to all the animals we saw we were also introduced to the Maasai. In fact our guide on safari was a Maasai. He was very knowledgeable about all the wildlife and had a great sense of humor. It was a joy to spend our time with him. We also spent a couple of days at a Maasai village and learned a great deal about these very proud and beautiful people.



dtg dtg
dtg dtg



From Kenya we entered Ethiopia. Northern Kenya and Ethiopia although on the African continent have a completely different feeling than the Africa we are used to. It’s quite a change in geology, culture, and people. However one thing is constant. The people are very friendly and helpful. My impression of Africa so far is that this continent is filled with great people. Poverty is almost everywhere but the people seem content and are very friendly.


We are in Addis Ababa today and will take a city tour tomorrow. That should increase our knowledge of this very different country.




Dispatch Three from Tom Botz

We parked our bikes in Arusha for 5 nights and went on safari.  The map in my gallery below shows the general area, including highlights Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti NP. Entering Ngorongoro, there are visitors from around the world and there is that sense of excitement that you see when you’re about to enter a world-famous natural wonder.


Entering Ngorongoro, there are visitors from around the world and there is that sense of excitement that you see when you’re about to enter a world-famous natural wonder. We then spent a night at a campground and our last hotel overlooked the Serengeti Plains.


Watering hole: the zebras and wildebeest are nervously trying to drink while constantly looking around for the lions.


We spend two nights at a Maasai camp surrounded by Maasai villages. We take a morning nature walk with Maasai guides, with Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, in the background.


We meet Martin who has been making sandals out of used car tires for 30 years. He came to the camp to to turn our used motorcycle tires into sandals. The finished product, made out of Continental TKC 80s, I’m bringing home for Peter!


We met with the male and the female elders of the village to learn about their culture. The women are looking at photos Helge brought them as presents; these are photos he took of them when he last came through here 2 years ago.


dtg g g
dtg g g
dtg g g
dtg g g
dtg g g
dtg g g
dtg g g
dtg g g
dtg g g
dtg g g
dtg g g
dtg g g
dtg g g
dtg g

Helge's Dispatch Three Photo Gallery

dtg g g
ddg dg dbg
dbg gb gbwb
gb gb gb
gb gb bgbw
gbw wwb arg
ardg g tbg
terbg tgt rtg
btb btrb tgert
rtegret ertg teg
ergeqrtg ertg rteg
ertg arg qerg


Home  |  Bike's & Bio's   |  Chapter One  |  Chapter Two | Chapter Three | Chapter Four


Copyright © 2009 GlobeRiders, LLC ®.  All rights reserved.