Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Angry Elephants

From Ouagadougou we went in search of some real African wildlife in the form of elephants, we went to a park where there was supposed to be elephants sightings every day but of course sure enough once we arrived they decided not to show! So it was further south into Bukina Faso we headed to see some Hippos and they did not disssapoint, we took an early morning pirouge(dug out canoe) trip and saw quite a few, although we felt we were in Africa already it was good to finally see something unique to this vast continent.

After visiting some amazing rock formations which are only found here and in Australia, the Bungle Bungles and taking a refreshing shower in a beautiful waterfall it was time to head for Ghana.

One of the more friendly thirsty elephants.

Finally we got our elephants, we first headed to Mole National park in the north and along the road there I saw something moving through the trees and after a second take I could not beleive my eyes....5 huge African elephants moving through the bush!! Mole was a treat with lots of wart hogs, baboons and elephants, we chilled out there for a few days waiting for Leo and Dereck to catch us up, once they arrived we all decided to head out on foot into the park to get up close to the elephants......and boy did we get more than we bargained for. Along with our guide PK who had an elephant gun we watched about 6 elephants playnig in
a lagoon then an elephant began to circle around behind us, PK was cool and slowly tried to dter the elephant away by throwing a few sticks but the elephant did not retreat but only became more angry, PK all of a sudden was using more haste in throwing his sticks at the elephant, we could not go in the water as it was full of crocodiles and of course to our front was a huge angry elephant, the elephant was flapping its ears and started toward us, at this stage I thought what the hell and started picking up sticks myself and throwing them but what were we thinking these sticks were nothing to this animal.
Nothing was going to stop this charging elephant so PK loaded his rifle and let a round go above its head, it worked the elephant turned and ran with its tail in the air, all our hearts were beating fast and the adreniline running, we could not beleive that an elephant had just charged us. So back to the park headquarters we went to buy our new mate PK a beer, we learnt there that in 20 years he had never fired his rifle in such a circumstance.

This is cool PK before the elephant charged.

From there we headed for the coast for some much needed relaxation by the beach, then onto Accra the countries capital. So next we have Togo, Benin then Nigeria which still is said to be such a bad place to go but soon we can have our own opinion. Also at the moment Angola is not giving out visas so thats going to be another problem to solve as we get closer, they do give 5 day transit visas but the country is almost 2000 kilometers in length and the roads are said to be in a state, plus the rainy season has begun, fun fun fun in Africa. I think the adventure has yet to really begin.
Beach on the Ghana coast, Green Turtle Lodge

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Give me a Honda anyday

Upon arriving in Bamako we met Dereck, an English man aboard a KTM and Leo a Spaniard aboard a BMW which we all decided to head north together for the ride to Timboctou.

Xmas Day on the banks of the Niger river.

Before leaving Bamako we all fitted new tires, well I fitted my spare rear that Fraser Wolley kindly gave me back in Banjul and the the other lads got hold of some good second hand ones as well, amazing what you can find out here, and during the process one of my tire levers went missing, I was not happy, whilst of course Amys bike will make it to South Africa on her tires! Also we managed to get our Nigerian visas ther as well which had been a big question hanging over our head, where the bloody hell to get them as its supposed to be very hard but we got them with very little hassle, still everyone tells us we are mad to go there and that its the worst place in the world....all a bit daunting really but time will tell hey.

We left Bamako Xmas eve and headed north and camped on the banks of the Niger river for the night, a nice day riding but for Dereck he complained of heavy stearing, we all thought nothing of it.

Xmas day was spent negotiating some sandy tracks on our way to Djenne, the famous mud Mosque, the going was slow with Derreck having more trouble handling the KTM. We finally reached a good road and all stopped for a drink and here we dicovered problem number one......Leo spotted something sticking from Derrecks tire, holy shit it was my tire lever, no wonder he had trouble controlling his bike he had a 300 mm tire lever in his front tire, so merry Xmas to me I had my lever back but poor Dereck had 2 huge holes in his newly fitted front tire!!

Merry Xmas Robbo one tire lever in the front tire of a KTM!

On the clay pan for Xmas dinner.
We got it patched up best we could and used zip ties to stop it from opening up more, on we road and spent Xmas night in the middle of a huge claypan in the middle of Mali, we had german meat and spaghetti for dinner.

Djenne Mud Mosque
Boxing day was spent with a quick visit to the Djenne mud Mosque, quite a specticle and then another camp in the bush near an old dried up river. Sunrise saw problem number 2 with the KTM, a quick engine oil check found the engine to contain more like milk than lubricating black oil, his engine was full of oil!! And I must add Honda still going strong. With nothing we could do onward we road changing his oil out as often as we could but there was a huge problem somewhere. Before heading to Timbuctou we pulled the head off and it looked as if the water pump seal had gone so Dereck left his bike in Douentza as Leo, Amy and I road to Timbuctou and Dereck via 4WD. The road was awful, the worst sandy corrugations I have ever seen but if it was easy why would we go to Timbuctou hey!!

The road near the Niger river.
We took the ferry accross the Niger to put us in Timbuctou, where the dust blew and gave us a real sense we were in the middle of nowhere, met Feltus, a South African chap there flying survey planes over the Sahara who gave us a bed for the night in his house which was fantastic.

Bored small child waiting for the ferry.
We headed south again the following day and camped the night in the desert, the next day we picked up Dereck with his KTM still full of water and headed for Dogon country, which is an area in Mali where the people have very unique villages in high on a plateau, like nothing else in the world. On our way was problem number one with the BMW, a bearing failured on the shaft drive, but of course of all people to meet in the middle of the dusty desert was a Frenchman called Frank who was participating in an ultra marathon, and he only had one leg but the best thing was he was a motor cycle mechanic, anything is possible in Africa! Using a HONDA wheel bearing he was able to replace the BMWs broken one and see us on our way. New years eve was spent, alcohole free but with enough dust and wind during the night to make us wake feeling like we had had a huge night on the turps. Took a walk into the heart of the Dogon peoples villages and was amazed at the ancient worlds we saw, by mid afternoon we decided to get a move on, after going only six Kilometers disaster struck again in a big way, Leo's drive shaft casing completely broke in half after hitting a dip on the track.....that was it nothing we could do would get us going now. But have to say the Hondas are still going strong.
So the only solution was to seek help from a village nearby in the form of 2 donkeys and a cart which took the BMW to the following town the next morning, quite a laugh loading this great machine of a BMW onto a donkey cart in the middle of Mali! From one town to the next we managed to lift the BMW and KTM via utes and trailers all the way to Ouagdougou, yes thats right such a name exists, its the capital of Bukina Faso, pronounced Wag-a-doo-goo.
The Beamer aboard the donkey express!

Its never a dull moment out here, the challenge is simply getting from point A to B, A been London, B been Cape Town. Its not easy thats forsure but as Feltus said back in Timbuctou...¨in the end it will be alright and if it aint alright its not the end¨.....so so true. This is Africa and tomorrow is another day.