Archive for December, 2010

Ghana

Posted: December 22, 2010 in Africa Orbital, Ghana

Russell writes 20/12/10:

Back on the road, well, more dirt track, sweat and grime encrustation! We had another big day to the border of Ghana and we were looking forward to an English speaking country! Crossing the border was again very laid back and friendly with no hassles, the benefits of choosing the more remote, smaller crossings.

Our laid back oarsman

 Camping in the bush that night we had our first camp fire and set the hammocks up, this was how to do it, and without an audience! We should write a bush camp recipe book as some of our creations really hit the spot. That night we launched into baguettes filled with tomatoes, onions, garlic, Moroccan spices, soft cheese, mayo and finally – hot dogs. Washed away with a carton of red wine! Next to our fire after a long day on the road – this was a slice of bliss!

Filtering our water

 

The next stop in Ghana was the Hippo sanctuary in the north-west. Here they have set up a protection area for Hippos and the smart thing we liked was that the idea was locally initiated and the money used for employment and building local roads and schools. So before 1998 there wasn’t a school, which kind of shows when you talk to some older folk (above 14 that is)! Here we stayed the night by the river at the Hippo hide and enjoyed G & T’s by the fire, no ice, but still it was nice.

Center of attention

On the road south we tried to bush camp again but were guided to a rural settlement along very narrow footpaths buy a Ghanaian who spoke no English. We turn up and are suddenly stars of the village show! So much for a quiet bush camp! They agreed to let us put up our hammocks for free, but we had to watch 3 Chuck Norris Delta Force movies with all the kids cheering at every explosion and high kick!

Some of our fans

As we travel south in Ghana we can see the countryside grow more tropical and the humidity rise, but that makes for hot work finding our way through Ghana’s second city.

We’d not washed for 4 dusty, sweaty days and our clothes for even longer, so when we turned up at our next stop we discovered our next slice of bliss – a campsite on the edge of the beautiful crater lake Bosumtwi.

A slice of bliss

 At 86 metres deep, 30 km in circumference and surrounded by tropical hills, this was a great way to relax on the way to Accra. Time for a swim.

Lake Bosumtwi

Burkina Faso

Posted: December 22, 2010 in Africa Orbital, Burkina Faso

Russell writes 19/12/10:

Back on the road

After our stop-over in Bamako it felt good to be on the road again and away from the craziness of a big African city. With some good roads to the border and some very laid back, friendly border controls we were over in a day and heading down a dirt track to our eastern BF campment by night fall. Arriving to our campsite tired and dusty we were greeted warmly and offered solar power chilled beers! The simple things are becoming such treats!   

A change of scene

We were in this region of BF as a Brit called Elizabeth we’d met in Bamako recommended we see this area, and we were keen not to just ride straight through a country only to see roadside.

Troglodyte village

Banfora Cascada

Sindu Peaks

So we enjoyed a few days going to the tourist sights and finding some time to relax. There was an old abandoned Troglodyte village up in the only large hill for miles, you could see Cote d’Ivoire and Mali from here. They had built a village under enormous cliffs and fashioned dwellings and food storage out of mud wrapped round sticks in the shape of domes. Sindu peaks was our next tourist stop. This is a national park home to a ridge of rocks with lovely stack formations and great views across the plains, which are now growing ever greener.

Banfora Domes

Our final stop in BF was at the beautiful Cascada or water falls near Banfora. Here we relaxed for a couple of days to enjoy a shower in the water falls and take a hike to see some pre-historic looking dome rock formations.

Thanks for your bithday wishes

Posted: December 7, 2010 in Africa Orbital

Guys sorry this is a general message to you all but HEY THANKS FOR ALL YOUR GREETINGS. Very nice to get… Supper

Mali

Posted: December 7, 2010 in Africa Orbital, Mali

7/12/10 Russell writes:

Arriving into Mali was a very laid back affair, although we did try and make it harder on ourselves by refusing to pay for an official, legally required document for the bikes. Sometimes you can try too hard, and of course we paid in the end. Police and customs usually put extra charges at borders, but are rarely official and with determination are avoidable. The following day was Darren’s birthday, and what did he get? Vomiting, diarrhoea, a trip to the hospital and a dose of Typhoid! Happy birthday!

Going on the drip

So with a French army ration pack to keep us company we waited in the hospital while they injected him, lots, and for a drip to be drained into him. But otherwise he was not too bad, sleepy and keen to get out of a pretty smelly and filthy Mali hospital. The poor lad in the bed opposite was in a very bad way, he wasn’t fully conscious, severe gurgling in the chest and had occasional fits. I couldn’t stand buy as a Muslim outside went through his prayer ritual while this poor lad wasn’t getting prayer, so I asked the father and prayed for the sick man. Feel free to add your own prayers.  We managed, as soon as Daren was off the drip and fees paid, to ride out of town and set up a camp for the night, and in hammocks we slept till the sun woke. A tiring 4oo mile ride in the mid 30’s took us the next day into the Mali capital, Bamako.

A smoking goat herder

While fighting through the dust and traffic we were pulled over by cops on a scooter, apparently we’d failed to stop at his whistle and was angrily demanding around £200! He had his cuffs out ready to take us to the station at one point, but after much pleading we gave him all we had, about £25 and he eventually let us go. Genuine? Who knows? We doubt it, but are trying not to let this taint or Malian experience. We are now staying at a catholic mission with some very friendly nuns. Four or five days here should be enough to sort out our onward visas and washing.

The Gambia

Posted: December 7, 2010 in Africa Orbital, Gambia

7/12/10 Russell writes:

We arrived into the Gambia on 22nd November after a hefty drugs search at the border, it seems the drugs squad see a white face and fly into action! On the way into the camp site my bike continues its over-heating problems, not helped by the fierce heat at the ferry crossing to Banjul.

Smoke from a rubbish dump

 Also most of my right fork oil is now spread over my trousers collecting as much dust as it can. So our bikes and ourselves are in need of a bit of R & R. Limping towards the camp site I was praying “Lord, lead me to someone greater than I – at bike mechanics!” Arriving at our destination we were met by a great Aussie couple, Billy and Trish, who have been over-landing on their motorbikes for the last 4 years.

Billy the bike whizz

 Billy immediately offered his considerable bike expertise and skill, not to mention enthusiasm! The Lord Provides is living up to his name yet again! So we set about finding out what parts we needed before placing an order over the internet with a BMW parts specialist in the UK. After that we set about looking for service fluids, engine oil, break fluid, coolant and fork suspension oil – this should be easy, it’s the Gambia, an ex-British colony, surely? This is where we discover the phrase ‘the Africa run-a-round’.

A Gambian lady

A ‘kind’ person offers to show you where to get things but doesn’t really know, and wants payment for his ‘kindness’, you go from shop to shop and no-one has what you want, and they all sell similar things anyway. Finally Darren stopped a guy on a bigger motorbike and he gladly took him to get all the fluids we needed, at no charges, at last, a genuine Gambian!

Relaxing at the beach

Phase 2 of our planned stop was to relax, give our ankles, backs and ribs time to recover after the hammering they took in the desert. It was nice to eventually find the beach and time to make a new friend at the camp site, a very kind and generous lady from the Netherlands called Marietta.

Marietta

 It’s such a blessing to meet kind and generous people who help us fix our bikes saving us many headaches and a week’s extra work, and buy us beef fillet meals at nice restaurants! So a huge thanks to Billy, Trish and Marietta!!!

After a week everyone moved to the other German camp site over the road as it was a bit cheaper and a lot more relaxed! The kitchen actually came with utensils, fridge/freezer and complimentary bread in the mornings. It’s a nice place to put your 55p bottle of beer in the 300C daytime temps! Going out in the evening was a lot more expensive, especially if you went for some of the ‘optional extras’ at most touristy bars! You also get a fair amount of hassle from the locals who are very friendly, but then you discover you’ve bought them a drink, usually the most expensive one! Eating out can be done very cheaply if you find a place where the locals eat, 44p gets you a plate of rice and fish which is actually very nice. The same dish in a touristy place will be £3 more! So whenever we bought something we made sure to ask for the Gambian price not the white man price. Buying an empty rice sack to use for laying tools and parts on started at £2.12 and ended up being 44p. Needless to say we didn’t like what tourism had done to The Gambia and how it had impacted the locals, but when you do find a genuine Gambian, they are very friendly and generous.

Phase 3, the parts have arrived! With the help of Billy we had done all the service work to the bikes and were now ready to fit the parts we needed – cooling fan, gear selector oil seal, gear actuating arm and front fork oil seals. Everything went smoothly and the parts soon fitted, Billy had even taken it upon himself to solve my front break problem – warped pads! What a star! The day we were leaving we managed to lose the GPS which was a bit of a blow and quite disappointing – lost, stolen, fallen out of a pocket, we’re not sure but on we must go. So back on the road again which felt good, the bikes felt happy and we were on our

The Gambian drumming experience

 way to Mali.

Go Africa Orbital!

Posted: December 5, 2010 in Africa Orbital

Kris writes

Just to remind Da and Russ, that we all think of you, support you, follow your adventures and pray for your safety!

And HAPPY BIRTHDAY DARREN!!! Hope you’re having the bestest time ever!!! You’re my hero and I’m very proud of you! Lots of love, Kris.