Flat Nicolas has been right with us on this journey. He spends most of the time in my camera backpack, but now and then we take him out to introduce him to new places and friends along the road. Here you have a few samples of Nicolas encounters this past month, enjoy.
From left to right, Dan, Nicolas and Helge having a good time around the campfire in Tanzania
Nicolas tasting the local brew in Tanzania.
The cook in the Hadzabe village in Tanzania have a talk with Nicolas.
We crossed the Equator for the first time in Uganda
It was a long and strenuous hike to see the mountain Gorillas of Uganda.
North of Nairobi, Kenya, we cross the Equator for the last time on this
journey as we head due north to Nicolas home outside Paris.
Cape to Paris 2014
Keywords for our border crossing from Malawi in to Tanzania looked something like this: Big trucks, fixers galore, moneychangers, fight with moneychangers, let’s get out of her – Now!
The ride in to Tanzania was a pleasant ride as soon as we had the chaotic border crossing behind us. Rolling green hills with large tea plantations on both sides of the road greeted us and so did several police checkpoints. Friendly enough as long as you kept to the speed limit.
For the first time on this journey we were tied to arrive in northern Tanzania at a certain date to visit with the indigenous group called the Hadzabe. Simon was our guide and we would meet him at a Lutheran mission in a small village way in the backcountry of Northern Tanzania.
Normally one would say that it is all about the journey to the destination and not the destination that makes the adventure. In this case we got rewarded at both ends I would say. We had some great riding both on and off-road. To navigate we had good tracks on our GPS units, but even then we needed some help from local people guiding us back to the right track when the road disappeared in to an unfinished stretch of road and a flooded bridge. It was riding like this that made for the good stories at the end of the day. We had used all of our skills to tackle the road and perhaps even fallen a couple of times. The bikes we ride are big and heavy and not the best for some of the conditions we were going through, but in the big picture they are perfect as long as you know how to control and use your clutch, accelerator and brakes. I have seen riders more capable than me do some incredible stuff on a big GS bike. With that in mind I keep improving every day and it feels very good to concur obstacles that at the first glance might look to be impossible to pas.
The idea was that Simon would meet us on his bike and we would ride our bikes to the Hadzabe village. But the heavy rain that night put a lid on that idea and we ended up parking our bikes at the local police station and load our luggage on to a Land Rover for the journey to the village.
Isolated from the rest of the world the Hadzabe people lives as close to earth as I ever have seen any indigenes tribe live. They are hunter-gatherers collecting what they need for food when they need to eat. Very little food, if anything, is stored for future use.
The three days we spent in the village gave us a good insight to their culture and we had some great conversations about life and their way of living. Bow and arrow hunting is a major way of getting food and they are good at it. As you will see in the below photo gallery they have several kinds of arrows. Some are wrapped in poison while others are without poison. Every time they needed to start a fire either for a smoke or to cook food they used two sticks and friction rubbing the one stick with their hands, very impressive.
One morning we were accompanying the village as they went out to collect roots that they dug up, cooked over a fire and ate on location. Everything was consumed there on the spot and nothing was collected for later use. They just dug up what they needed and left the rest in the ground for next time.
We also had several opportunities to be part of honey gathering where they spotted a particular beehive, cut it out of the three and consumed the honey on the spot, sweet.
The time we spent with the Hadzabe people will be one of our highlights on this journey. We learned so much from them and at the same time could feel their struggle to survive as an indigenes group in a world where there is little room for their way of life. We thank Simon for his excellent guidens and as a mediator for our visit, great job.
After a short visit to Burundi and Rwanda we ventured in to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda. Here we had some rather muddy roads to deal with riding our bikes and again more mud and slippery trails as we hiked steep hills and deep valleys to see the mountain gorillas. Not many people will ever have the chance to see these magnificent creatures in the wild.
On the way our small expedition of 8 tourists, the quota allowed, escorted by two armed guards and a guide we started to understand that this is not a hike for anyone. Fortunately we had employed porters from the local village to carry our daypack and camera gear. This and a good walking stick made the slippery track a little easier, but still this was no easy hike at all.
All the hardship was forgotten when we finally came upon a group of 14 gorillas literally eating their way through the forest. There were young gorilla kids climbing the trees looking for plans to eat, while the larger adults and Silverback would stay on the ground eating plants. Branches would brake and down came this black gorilla kid screaming and making a scene, behaving like any teenager.
The forest was rather dense, not the ideal place for pictures, but never the less just being in the presence of these magnificent animals was quite a trill and such a privilege.
We crossed the Equator for the first time in Uganda and when we reached Nairobi, Kenya, we had come about half way through the journey. So much had happened and still we were just half the way to Paris. As we had been riding text messages would come from Nicolas commenting on our track, the speed we sere going at or where we were going. It is still painful to think that Nicolas never made it further than Namibia. Personally I would have loved to have Nicolas meet our Maasai friends in Kenya, our next great experience of this journey.
We had come to visit the village of Kakuta for three days while visiting Amboseli National Park one of the days. But before the Maasai experience we stopped for a couple of days in Nairobi where our bikes had a set of new TKC80 tires installed as well as new oil and general maintenance done. We did this with Chris at Jungle Junction, and excellent place for all over landers while in Nairobi.
I have known Kakuta since we first met in Seattle about fifteen years ago. Later my wife Karen and I spent a month with Kakuta in Kenya when he transitioned from being a Maasai Warrior to Junior Elder, a colorful ceremony I will never forget.
Being back in the village again and this time by motorcycle was a great experience and such a proud moment to see what Kakuta had achieved helping his community build their village. The new school can now take over 700 student, many of them coming from remote villages so kids are in a boarding house. A clinic has been built, the only one in the area. We stayed in Maasai Simba Camp built specifically to host tourists like ourselves where a selection of cultural and nature programs can be chosen depending of the length of your stay. Among all of our activities we really enjoyed our conversations with the elders of the village. First evening we talked with the men and second evening with the women. Questions went both ways and there were a sense of curiosity from both sides of the table. We had several good laughs when the topic of marriage and sex came up and more serious talks when the discussion evolved around the future of the Maasai.
If you like to learn more about Kakuta and his village please visit their web page here and perhaps you too can visit them one day. Thanks so much Kakuta for your village warm reception and hospitality, this was a memory for life.
Amboseli National Park sits at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain. The park is famous for it large elephants and that is what we will remember more than anything from our visit to the park. The best moment came when Kilimanjaro snow-covered peak peaked out from the clothes while a large group of elephants where grazing under acacia trees. It does not get more classic than this, just like the poster and we got the pictures.
The road north to Ethiopia has for a long time been the Achilles heel in any overland journey and we were wondering how it would treat our expedition. Armed with new knobby tires and serviced bikes we were ready to tackle the beast. The road is still under construction and for every year it is getting better, but still there are some rather rough parts. The road also leads through an area where there have been several tribal clashes with killings that has forced the road projects to stop at times. For this reason we had consulted with locals and travelers coming from the north to make sure we would be safe. Our timing was good and fortunately our journey ended up being less dramatic than we had thought. The roughest part was as we approached the border town of Moyale where the resent rain had transferred the road in to a muddy mess.
As you will see from the below photo gallery we have seen a lot, more than I can put words to. We still have two more months of the journey with two more chapters so stay tuned for the latest updates from GlobeRiders Cape to Paris Expedition 2014.