2022 - Big Red Pigs in Kenya - Season 7... The Re-Oinkening

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Osadabwa

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Well, you win some, you lose some. Fortunately for bikers, unless you bite the dust completely, even a bad day in the saddle is better than a good day at work. So it was for me today. Aiming for a distant track I vaguely remember not having ridden but wanting to, I took off and was only an hour or so from home before this happened.

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Above: Meh. A puncture. Nothing spectacular, but annoying. It took me far longer than I care to admit to get the damn bike propped up so I could remove the front wheel. The pile of stones on the left is from my first utterly inept effort. I finally managed to hang the bike from a sad little tree and get the job done. I’ve changed so many flats on the trail, it’s not a challenge, but anything that ain’t riding is a ballache.

Now I was in a pickle. I’d left an hour late and was delayed another by this puncture. My target track was miles away and I now had no spare tube. In the back of my head is always the question: did I leave a nail or thorn in there that’s going to sabotage me in another hour? So, being a sensible lad, I turned back and picked a few other tracks to spice up my retreat to the roadside bar.

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Above: Noonish and in the mood for a White Cap before toodling back home.

While I sat at Vitis having my noonish beer, one after another wazungu on Kibos rode by on the tar. They were not exactly ripping it up (positively puttering), but it was clear they had plans to camp somewhere. Probably Suswa. I chuckled a bit at the convoy, since the bikes are so underpowered and they had chosen tar instead of the myriad brilliant trails that are out there to ride. But then, I was sitting there solo and they were off with mates on their idea of an adventure. I can’t begrudge that. My mates are fucking useless lately, so I’m always riding alone!

Anyway, another day in the books, another day in the dirt.

I hesitate to say so, lest it jinx the plan, but I should be riding for 5 days at the beginning of December. I can't believe that will be the longest trip of the year, but it is a fact! Fingers crossed.
 

Osadabwa

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Nairobi, Kenya
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In 2019, Wry and I rode our XR650Rs out of Kenya into Tanzania. Our mission was to climb Oldoinyo Lengai, the 2km high “Mountain of God” near Lake Natron. We were blown away by the scenery and topography of the place (check it out HERE), but because inclement weather stopped us from climbing, we vowed to return. In October we finally got our acts together and made a plan. It was time to start getting fit for the climb, but in true muppet fashion, Wry and I both promptly went out and injured ourselves. I smashed my foot against a rut riding in the Valley and Wry had a proper off coming back from a training climb up Mt. Longonot. With a pair of dodgy ankles between us, neither of us would be healed enough to climb Lengai, but with the aid of heavy boots we could certainly braaaap! It wound up being a 5 day, 2000km journey in Northern Tanzania that took us to lakes, deserts, forests, fields and mountains. We stumbled upon a 120 year old church and the ruins of a WWI German fort, Macgyvered broken bikes and laughed our asses off. Lets go!


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Ok, I'm working on it. This was just a teaser. Give me a couple days.

Oink
 

Osadabwa

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Location
Nairobi, Kenya
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Honda XR650R
It had been gloomy in Nairobi. Rainy even. But it’s no longer even worth talking about just how poorly the weather in Kenya’s crowded capital predicts the situation elsewhere in the country. By the time we were in Namanga at the border with Tanzania, the sun was breaking through the clouds and it was warm enough to shed the windbreaker. It had been a 150km tar slap, but our ambitious plan to cross the border then hug it all the way to L. Natron and down to Kitumbeini meant we needed to make time.


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Above: The Namanga Shell is kind of cooler than your usual Shell… Oldoinyo Orok and a mosque in the background


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Above: We had an unexpectedly long wait at the border despite having hired the services of a fixer. Apparently there’s only so much you can do when a huge influx of trucks hits customs at the same time. It was enough time for a cup of sweet tea and a mandazi, so not all bad.

Exasperatingly, we didn’t get tyres on dirt until noon, which was just about the max delay I thought we could handle if we were going to make it to Natron and explore the tracks I had planned. So with no further ado, we got to it. Aiming mostly due west, we rolled below Orok, through some hills (there) and into some rather deep bush. Mostly the tracks were decent doubletrack, but more than once we were bushwhacking through the thorns.


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Above: Orok from the TZ side

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Above: Wry enjoying the flowy little bush tracks

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Above: Until they stopped being flowy and just became bushy

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Above: And then they kind of disappeared altogether

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Above: I got a good chuckle out of watching Wry fart around getting the bike under this tree…

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Above: …until I tried it myself! I’d tipped too far with my full-sized tank and Wry had to lend a hand (but not before taking this lovely snap).

To be continued...
 

Osadabwa

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After a couple of hours of solid riding, we were starting to catch glimpses of Mt. Gelai which sits on the Eastern shore of L. Natron. Our track would aim for its northern tip, taking us out the back of the bushy tracks and onto some funky plains of pumice and rubble. We found a large dry pan which I couldn’t help braaaaping at full throttle for a bit (see vid at the end of the report). After goofing around enough we eventually crested the hill and could see up the lake to Mt Shompole to our right and Oldoinyo Lengai to our left. The lake level was quite low, so it was never actually possible to reach the water, but since it’ll practically burn skin, there was no great desire to take a dip anyway.

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Above: Wry heads toward Gelai (hey that rhymes)

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Above: Bush and sandy tracks. XRR heaven

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Above: The pebble plains! Next time I’ll go have a closer look at that mesa in the distance.

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Above: Gelai from the north looking south. From here you can see all the little volcanic vent pimples it wears on its northern flank

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Above: Wry thought this anthill was cool… later I find a much better one. It’s kind of a theme… whatever Wry can do, I can do better!

It was blazing down there in the 3pm sunshine and we were looking for a mysterious route down the eastern edge of the lakeshore. It’s tough because it looks nice along the shore, but it hides a very grabby type of mud below a crust of salt. So moving closer to the shore means riding over stones. After riding over a km or two of babyhead and bigger stones, we decided that it would be wiser (and more enjoyable) to curl back around Gelai and race to Kitubmeini that way. We took some pics at the lake, had some biltong and sardines under a shady tree and lit out for the other track.

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Above: My XRR got too close to the water… which was still a hundred meters away

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Above: Yes, it’s a lake… out there somewhere. If I kept going I’d never have made it out again!

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Above: A shady spot in the 38C heat, but perfect for biltong and a sardine feast. This place is very remote, hardly anyone around. Not even the miraculous appearance of a Looky-Loo

Having lunched, it was time to hit the road. We were getting on toward 4pm and had miles of uncertain tracks to cover. First order of business was climbing back out to the first rise. We’d come in on a faint track, but I thought I knew a better way. I didn’t. It turned out to be a riverbed of stones. But in a happy accident we did spook a large tower of giraffe who rapidly became a journey of giraffe, getting all gangly and goofy the hell outta Dodge.

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Above: A trundling journey of Giraffe making tracks

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Above: Wry over the gravelly plains

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Above: I’d made one more attempt to follow the first ridge south, but it seemed to dead-end, so it was time to move further east

Giving up on one track meant it was time to try Hatariman’s track. Hatariman lives in Moshi and has explored every inch of Tanzania, even going to the trouble of making guide books for the place (sorry most of you, they’re in German). So he knows things… but he’s cheeky. I asked him to send me the tracks for this area, and instead he sent me screenshots of his GPS! No real indication either whether the tracks I was looking at existed or were just a figment of his imagination. He’s been in TZ a long time… the line between reality and fantasy could very well be blurry by now!

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Above: Following a track that Hatariman had given us… well, sort of given us… and it was only sort of a track. Hatariman later told me that going to this area you have to be a pioneer. No kidding!

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Above: After some bushwhacking, we were still quite far from our goal and approaching what looked like a major obstacle, so we decided to show Hatariman’s track our ass and go find the one I’d made with Google Earth!

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Above: On the way, I upstaged Wry’s puny little anthill with this absolutely amazing specimen. I’m sure I’ve never seen one taller. Industrious little ants out here in Tanzania it seems.

We connected with the double track and headed south. It was probably in somebody’s hunting block because there was game everywhere. We saw giraffe, eland, impala, gazelle… I nearly hit a kudu that jumped out from behind a tree, and Wry almost clipped an Oryx. After that we slowed down and took in the late evening light. As we got closer to Gatab Bomba, we kept passing wooden power poles strewn along the road. Soon enough electrification would come, changing the character of the place and ruining all the roadside photos. It’s the price of development, and TZ needs it sorely. It’s one of the 13 countries making up 50% of the world’s population growth by 2050… maybe it’s about time they have some stuff.

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Above: Out of the hunting block back onto the big dirt. Kitumbeini mountain in the distance.

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Above: After checking out Gelai Bomba’s options for accommodation, we decided that we’d rather ride 40 more km of lovely big gravel at dusk than sleep there. Hell, I'd rather iron my sack. So back to Kitumbeini town we raced.

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Above: And we enjoyed ourselves doing it. It was a quick one.

The digs in Kitumbieni were perfect and the food was top notch. They had fans in the room and the beers were reasonably cool. Wry was feeling all tuckered out, yawning like a pooped pup, so he turned in early. But it was just as well, we had another 400+km day on tap for tomorrow and none of that would be tar!

Oink
 

Osadabwa

Pack Dog
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Nairobi, Kenya
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Wake-up and departure discipline is required on such rides. That, or being unable to sleep in after raising kids also works. We were up at 7am and on the bikes at 8, ripping back toward Gelai and onward to have a look at our White Whale – Oldoinyo Lengai, the Mountain of God. That buggar of a mountain… we’ll climb you yet!

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Above: I don’t know when it happened, but suddenly there are really wide, well maintained dirt roads all over Tanzania. Guess this is why Big Steve and Ajax shifted to BMWs and Africa Twins (or they’re just getting too old to ride proper bikes).

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Above: Speaking of proper bikes. The jack of all trades. The perfect weapon!

We were riding toward a junction near Lengai and I climbed up a little knoll with great views all around. Unfortunately, Lengai’s head was in the clouds, but she’s still a beautiful and imposing sight. On the hill we debated whether to go over to Shimo la Mungu (God’s Hole) which is a collapsed crater nearby. We hemmed and hawed, but eventually had to agree to go see it again. It’s a very scenic spot.

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Above: Wry crests the knoll

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Above: Just a couple of nguys riding pikis in Ngai’s Country

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Above: Lengai behind… steep, mean mountain she is

From our grassy knoll we were not far from Shimo la Mungu. You just bee-line it across the grassy plains, past Masai and their goats until the world falls out beneath your wheels. It’s pretty breath-taking over there.

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Above: They call him Rimjob Wry

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Above: Henjoying the view

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Above: not a bad place for a bike meet-up

Sightseeing complete for the time being, it was 0-Braaaap-30 again. We needed to get to Mto wa Mbu (Mozzie Creek) ASAP so we’d have time to descend into the northern part of the Yaeda Valley by mid-day. Last time I was in the area I was leading a flock of 9 KTMs like the Honda version of the Pied Piper and we only made it from Karatu to Babati (check it out HERE). This time, with only one other rider, and him on a BRP, we’d add 100km to that day’s total. But we had to move.

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Above: Wry climbing the last hill before Lengai disappears from view. He thought I was making a video and gave it the beans… with a drift as a result that certainly puckered his sphincter!

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Above: The last straight run to Mto wa Mbu…

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Above: Down in ol Mozzie Creek we stopped at a well-equipped petrol station for a smoooooza and a beer… or cup of tea. I swear, Wry has fallen far from his Dar Biker roots. I assume Big Steve will put him in his place when he sees this.

Now to make new tracks for a bit. Rather that tar it into Karatu, we pulled left off the main road just after climbing the escarpment. Up there, the terrain is red dust cruising though fields and hills. It was relaxing and beautiful. Really enjoyable, but I was itching to get down into the Yaeda Valley where a large sand riverbed awaits. I later learned that Hatariman has explored further south in Yaeda where the Hadza still roam, but that expedition will have to wait until the next time.

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Above: Wild eyed biker in the hills below Karatu

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Above: Same nguy

At last we turned downhill. The big tracks disappeared and we were on lesser used tertiary roads. Eventually they would disappear as well into the sand riverbed where we would let the Pigs rip. Surprisingly it wasn’t very hot down there, which made it all the better riding.

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Above: Cruising down, down, past some of mungu’s funky stonework

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Above: Something about this scene tickled me at the time… that little tree archway maybe. Or the yellow signpost… we started seeing these everywhere. Must have been presidential decree. All roads must be marked with yellow arrows and labled. It’s kind of cool. Some of them point absolutely nowhere.

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Soon we were in the valley, but not yet on the big expanse of sand. I looked over and saw an absolute unit of a baobab tossing shade down from an eroded ledge and had to go check it out

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Above: Pigs in the sand. They like playing in the sand. Me up against the 1000 year old baobab

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Above: After lunch, we continued down the track… this bridge tells me TZ has plans to de-funify this track by adding bridges and widening it. This is why you ride today, not tomorrow. Tomorrow everything will change! Big roads and power poles oh my!

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Above: Soon it was baobab alley. Great fun drifting around these big fellas

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Above: At last! The wide sandy sea!
 

Osadabwa

Pack Dog
Joined
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Location
Nairobi, Kenya
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Honda XR650R
Having finally hit the sand, we braaaped down a ways looking for a cool spot to chill and have some lunch. This time we dug into the hard salami I’d brought with me in addition to the tuna and sardines and parked up beneath a wide-reaching old tree. After lunch we slammed the sand. It is a huge riverbed and very soft. Made the bikes buck and weave I tell you. All of that is in the video at the end it seems. Half way back up to the track we stopped to check out the water wells people dig into the sand. They’re amazing. Perfect circles a meter across and 2-4 meters down and still no water. Farther up there were people drawing water from them, but I’ve long ago stopped bothering them for a pic while they’re busy.

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Above: Looks like Wry already has enough sausage in his mouth… ahem

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Above: Hello there little girl, want some candy? Dammit. Touche, Wry.

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Above: Our shady lunch stop. Brilliant. I hate how photos don’t do any of it justice, but it will stir memories when I’m old.

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Above: Here’s one of those circular water holes. Check out the foot holds. When in use, they put a couple of logs over the hole to grab onto and to help pull up the bucket. This one was dry and over 2 meters deep. Normally they have a mound of sand around the outside like a volcano that erupted, but not always, as Wry found out later. He nearly went in at 90kph!

Back on the bikes, it was time to make tracks. We’d ripped up the riverbed, now it was time to climb. We had to get out of the thorny valley to Dongobesh where green agriculture prevails. Stopping only briefly for fuel, we moved on higher to the forested edge of the escarpment down to Babati. Thankfully everything was dry… last time I was here I took a swim with my lovely Pig. You can check that out HERE.

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Above: Baobab boulevard

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Above: Architecture tells you a lot. A flat roof tells you it’s fakking dry and the wide verandah tells you it’s fakking hot. Trying to maximise shade is the goal. Mind you, some air flow would be my choice as well, but who am I to judge? Also the thorn fence might be an indication that there be beasties about.

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Above: How much cooler would this overly saturated pic be if I had managed to get my thumbs-up up in time?

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Above: Away from the thorns and dust where the green grass grows

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Above: It was December 1st. That’s Panic’s daughter’s birthday. Apparently, that’s why he couldn’t join us on the ride. And what do I find at the top of the track above Dongobesh? One of those suddenly ubiquitous yellow road signs with his daughter’s name on it. What are the damn odds?

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Above: And even better… this is what Tara St turns into! It was tricky going for a bit. Quite eroded and steep. We later saw that there was an easier way in, but why should everything be easy? This was a blast

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Above: The track took us deep into the forest

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Above: Little orange detour shows where I drowned my Pig a few years back (immortalized with a star because I’m motivated by awards). Blue line is our more sensible 2022 option. We were into the forest proper now.

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Above: Wry stopped to photograph that red explosion of a flower. Then later wondered why I was smirking when taking this picture. I’m always thinking ahead, Wry.

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Above: Me chewing it up

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Above: Check out those palms! What a beautiful place.

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Above: Can't beat those colors

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Above: And the escarpment is steep in spots. Next time I go to this area, I’ll see if there is another track down off of there… I have some likely candidates in mind

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Above: Because of Wry’s Deus ex Vaghina jersey, people kept thinking he was from France. That must hurt.

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Above: I mean, come on! Yaaaas!

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Above: The evening light and the views down the valley made us stop to take it in…

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Above: I was suitably moved

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Above: Coming down the hill now, almost to Babati. At the bottom of the valley it was straight roads through fields of sugar cane. Quite aglow in the evening light, yes old chap.

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Above: A parting shot of yet another of Ngai’s amazing arboreal creations… look at the size of that tree!

That night, Tanesco didn’t turn on the lights until 7PM which meant our first two beers were pounded in the dark on world’s least comfortable chairs. But at least dinner was good and the rooms were great. We had a few sniffs of Auchentoshan single malt under the bright moon and then called it quits. We had another 400+ day ahead, and we didn’t know what was in store for us.

Oink
 

Osadabwa

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Morning. Up at 7. Out at 8. Already fuelled up and on the road. The Ango Tree Lodge had done us fair and we were very well rested. Honestly, the past 2 days had been a lot of riding, and we just kept braaaaping. Now it was time to race toward Mt Hanang, hang a right, climb the escarpment up to the plateau, cross the fields and villages and check out Haydom before descending to Lake Eyasi where we’d turn North again for Karatu, making a loop from the day before. Jesus. Run-on much? Let’s go.


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Above: The Ex Vaghina getting prepped for what he would say was the best day of the ride


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Above: A bit of tar took us to this amazing dirt highway chasing Mt. Hanang ahead through the valley

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Above: And then up the switchbacked road above it. It was almost too much to take in. Seriously beautiful. It would merit another trip just to explore that valley, and then we climbed up and found there was more to enjoy.

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Above: This is a very Tanzanian view. The vast majority of the country looks like this. Shimo la Mungu and Lengai are outliers. The good thing is, this is everywhere, very beautiful, and really nice riding.

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Above: Clearly this road needed a signpost…

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Above: We rode a long time on these red dust tracks. Villages, fields, scrubby trees just passed by. Saw a hedgehog at one point too… but he was dead as a spiky hackysack, so I kicked him at Wry and bid him farewell.

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Above: Some black cotton soil to round out the colours on Terra’s mineral palate

Pretty soon, things got really funky. After all the fields and bigger roads, we ended up on a smaller track that climbed through thicker bush and piles of rocks, like a giant’s bag of marbles got dumped out. And before we knew it, we’d trundled into a little village that just had a different vibe. A few of the buildings were built of stone, not the usual mud brick. They looked older. We suspected early colonial times. We were right. Isanzu village is home to a 121-year-old church built by German Lutherans. And the place was just stunning and a bit surreal.

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Above: Starting the climb to Isanzu, we already felt something was different

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Above: The rocks and the bush everywhere, plus the little track

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Above: And then we found this cross on a pile of rocks

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Above: And a clearly old colonial stone building with flame trees imported from far away. Also, sadly, a new church being built, which I say is sad because they had a 100 year old specimen they could have repaired instead...

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Above: We stopped at the church and asked some women. Most relaxed people in the world. Happy to tell us about the age of the church, or we could just read the plaque. In the distance a school was at recess, making a ruckus.

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Above: Plaque celebrates the 100-year Jubilee of the Kati Dioces. (Now that I look at it, it might say that the church was built in 1934, but that’s still a damn old thing in Tanzania)

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Above: The cross had been bent, but not broken

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Above: looking back at the cross on the stones.

We were definitely touched by that village. I could have stayed and chatted with the people all day, but we had gritty biker shit to do. Still, even as we left, we were both constantly stopping to take photos of an uncommonly beautiful and unique area. Some of them are below and they all fail to do the place justice.

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I coasted with the engine off in neutral for much of the descent out of Isanzu, just looking around and enjoying the view. Eventually I lost momentum and had to give her the beans down to Mkalama where yet another surprise awaited. I’d arrived to a crossroads and looked to my left and saw… ruins. Ruins like you find all over rural Spain or Italy. Some decrepit old buildings on a promontory lording over the plains. Obviously we had to explore. We walked around for half an hour in awe. This, too was old German we figured. At first we thought it was a church, but it didn’t have the right look. Later we found out it was a fort set up during WWI. These are some of the pics.

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To be continued...
 

Osadabwa

Pack Dog
Joined
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Location
Nairobi, Kenya
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Honda XR650R
Hiking back down off of the ruins, Mkalama wasn’t done with us yet. I was in the mood for a soda and just around the corner a place gave me a good vibe. There was a little brick shop that looked like it had Cokes and it not only had them, but they were ice cold! Then the spot where we sat was just a hive of activity with a heap of cheeky women joking and teasing us and trying to get us to marry one of them. It was all in Kiswahili and mine is piss poor, but we laughed a lot and I ended up finding my soul mate. Just a local gal with a bunch of local veggies on her way back home. Oh, my darling I’ll think of you often! As I was about to fall for her Rubenesque Renaissance gaze she hits me up for a Pepsi. That broke my heart, and with a tearful goodbye we parted ways. Farewell my plump Mkalama mama! Tutaonana tena, mpenzi yangu!

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Above: Mkalama mama, you made my day!

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Above: Good ol’ Wry… always the bridesmaid, never the bride. You’ll find that special someone someday, probably, maybe… or maybe not… twat! (hey that rhymes too!)

After Mkalama, we were officially on the descent to Lake Eyasi. Or to put it more accurately, we were on our way to the basin where Lake Eyasi is… we couldn’t see the water. We rode for 40km in the dusty white plains nearby before finally turning in and bee-lining it for the shore. The dust was bone white and blinding and seemingly endless. We were following a practically extinct track that joined and escaped a newer road that will certainly change the character of the place when it’s finished. Hot down there. Africa hot.

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Above: My phone camera won’t recognise that stuff for what it is: bone dust. It was glowing white.

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Above: And thorny in spots… even today, several days later I’m feeling the punctures on my bruised biceps from passing too closely. I’m pretty sure the long white acacia ones have poison on the tips!

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Above: The cacti were in bloom. Those dark purple flowers are like gothic corsages for vampires

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Above: Finally at the lake shore, or near to it. The mud just under the surface is like grease and glue. You wouldn’t play games with it unless you wanted to stay there permanently.

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Above: Wry takes a Vogue shot for the Gram

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Above: Not sure… maybe a constipated flamingo impression? I was unimpressed.

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Above: Speaking of looking like constipated waterfowl... Just to test my theory in a low-stakes environment… if you rode out there, you might make it to the next dry spot. Or you might still die digging yourself out in the direct sun. We gave it a miss.

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Above: On any ground that wasn’t supersaturated with goop, these ridiculous little grassy rooty things grew. For all I know, the move around at night and form intricate lacy patterns and pray to the moon god.

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Above: manoeuvring around a bit more, we went up to the water’s edge. Soapy stuff. Alkaline. Not a place to hang out long if you enjoy being melanoma free.

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Above: I think the heat got to us

Having satisfied our curiosity down at the lake shore, we jumped back on the road again and headed toward Karatu. Then I got bored of the road and jumped back off it again out into the flats. Surprisingly, after a beautiful toodle through the sand, we ended up in an agricultural scheme complete with irrigation channels and a big ass churche. Populations of humans living down there. Who’d a thunk it? But since it was getting late and it was absolutely pissing up on Ngorongoro Crater, we thought we ought to make tracks.

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Above: Rain on Ngorongoro Crater from Lake Eyasi shore

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Above: Wry in the agricultural scheme

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Above: All of these windmills were spinning… none of them facing the same direction. There's a metaphor in there somewhere...

Back on the main road, it was time to make time. I took off in the lead and roared up behind several vehicles billowing dust everywhere. Passing them can be a mission, so when I didn’t see Wry behind me, I assumed he just got caught up behind one. Then it became clear he was not there, so I turned back and found him roadside with the rear wheel off. I thought: ah, just a puncture. I love punctures, me. So no sweat. But lo… he was instead inspecting his left side engine housing. Once I got my earplugs out, I could hear him saying that the strap holding his luggage on had got caught in the chain and twisted around the sprocket. That seems to have damaged the countershaft seal. He wouldn’t have noticed it either, but dumb luck had his bike stall for lack of fuel and he fell over trying to restart it (muppet!), which gave him a chance to see the mess of oil splattered everywhere.

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Above: Wry realises that he doesn't have a countershaft seal, even though he is supposed to have one and Panic told us to carry one, and I thought I had one… but I didn't have one, so now neither of us have one and to put it simply, we didn’t have one.

No choice then. Time to tow. But first, I sent Hail Mary WhatsApp messages to both guys in Arusha we knew who rode XRRs and lo and behold, Wry had a saviour! Kuduslapper had one and before we even got the rear wheel back on Wry’s bike, he’d put it on a matatu bound for Karatu. Only in Africa! That was a boost for morale because without it, Wry would be sitting in a pickup bound for home. So, with good news under our belts we set off. Me towing and him being towed. It was hard work for both of us even though the road was fairly smooth dirt. Steep hills were sketchy. There were a few hairpin turns on inclines that had us weaving and bobbing, dabbing and roosting. It was a lesson in patience, but we made it and checked into the first place we could remember the name of, the Flamingo Safari Lodge.

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Above: Wry ready to be towed to Karatu by yours truly.

Thanks to a very switched-on manager (Kenyan lady from Eldoret), the arrival of the spare part went flawlessly and we had it in our hands by 9pm. A few drams of whisky later and we were dead to the world. It had been an epic day, but we’d have to be clever bikers in the morning to continue with the ride.

Will we manage?

Guess we'll see...
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Yes, of course we do.
 

Osadabwa

Pack Dog
Joined
Nov 8, 2012
Messages
473
Reaction score
66
Location
Nairobi, Kenya
Bike
Honda XR650R
Slept brilliantly in the cool air of Karatu. Up at 7, MacGyvering by 8. Panic and the interwebs confirmed that the way to remove the seal was to push a self-tapping wood screw into it and pull it out with pliers. So, I removed a screw from the bathroom door and gave it a go. With the trusty travel hammer and a screwdriver, I banged in the screw, gave it a few turns and pulled that crappy seal out in no time. It worked a charm. In no time we had the new one in and we were out of there!

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Above: Screw extraction and our spare part upon arrival (Pig Riders take note… keep one of each in your travel kit)

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Above: Wry cleaning up the work area

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Above: Me doing the rest of the operation

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Above: Chuffed at the results. We get our bush fundi merit badges this trip for sure!

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Above: Wry making 100% sure lightning won’t strike twice in the same place. Tape up those loose ends!

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Above: Adios Flamingo Safari Lodge… and your ugly assed concrete swans with Farmers Choice sausages for beaks

Back in the saddle, we went off in search of a track that Dar Biker Ajax made in 2016. Both Wry and I have ridden for years with Ajax and know full well that his “tracks” are often more like buffalo runs and often end with everyone slashed to death by thorns. In this case, it was more like an illegal game of cat and mouse through the bush. The track dived into the bush just before the entrance to a controlled game management area and proceeded to dodge lodges and main roads for two hours, finally spitting us out in the middle of nowhere half way to Lokisale. We passed a delivery truck and even a safari car full of guests who kindly let us by, clearly assuming we had some right to be there. Faksake… my heart was in my throat the whole time. Dammit Ajax!

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Above: Crapped out on the other side of the private land. Guess we got away with it. Pole to anyone we might have offended. Once we were in, it was too late to turn back and became a case of don’t ask permission, but beg forgiveness.

Anyway, on to Lokisali for a soda during a market day and beyond. I knew it would be a long slog, and it was. The tracks down here and the scenery too are a bit big and lifeless. Big dirt, scrubby bush, not a lot to see. Since we’d had a late start anyway, we were happy to just make time. To be fair, if you have to blast big dirt in Africa and complain it’s not cool enough because you’ve been to the coolest places in Africa, maybe you’re a spoiled baby and should just zip it!

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Above: Aiming for Lokisale

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Above: Out in the great wide open. Under the skies so blue.

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Above: Speaking of blue. Dear Said Salim Bakhresa, owner of AZAM, you dickhead! Whatever the hell you put in this fucking Energy Drink bottle is really catching on with the I-don’t-have-anywhere-to-put-my-rubbish-and-wouldn’t-put-it-there-if-I-did crowd. There is literally (and I don’t abuse that word), literally not 10km of the countryside we traversed that didn’t have one or one hundred of these blue bottles littering up the world. Shame on you, you dirty bastards. I hope you and your dynasty choke on your money. I hope you sink on one of your dodgy assed Zanzibar ferries. End rant.

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Above: A quick stop in the shade of another massive baobab reminded me that there was a chips mayayi joint just down the road, so we packed up and blasted for it. Seems wrong to go to Tanzania without their quintessential roadside dish and a beer.

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Above: At the dodgy as hell spot I chose for a really delicious chips mayayi at the corner for the Oljoro military base. For the Spaniards out there, it’s basically a tortilla de patata but with more steps. (Just as delicious by the way… don’t tell my wife!)

At the chips joint, we made a decision to blast all the way through Arusha and around Mt. Meru to a little place called Mountain’s Hug, a little guest house that’s started up south of Ngarenanyuki. It was a flat-out blast getting there. We bypassed Arusha on the new ring road and ran up the tar overlooking the territory we’ve ridden as far as Kitumbeini. Once on the dirt going around the mountain it was a race against the clock and the rain and we almost made it. Got to the place just as the rain hit.

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Above: North of Mt. Meru

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Above: Alive at Mountain’s Hug, time for a hot shower

That night we finally let loose. After a great meal of veggies and rice and a few beers, we retired around the hot coals of our outdoor fire in comfy chairs and hit the Black Label. Then we started. One stupid comment led to the next and before we knew it we were both gasping for breath, laughing so hard our abdomens were cramping. It was hilarious. Just remember Wry, watch out for heavy dew on the lawn and don’t eat the sweets they’re all chewy as hell and taste the same. Strawberry my ass!

Oink!
 

Osadabwa

Pack Dog
Joined
Nov 8, 2012
Messages
473
Reaction score
66
Location
Nairobi, Kenya
Bike
Honda XR650R
Up a bit groggier than usual, but still punctually around the breakfast table at 7. The plan was for Kuduslapper and Bwana Hatariman to pass by to meet us, so we were in no rush. Kudu showed up in time for a cup of coffee and we shot the shit until Hatariman pitched up in his G-Wagon. Then we packed up and took off out of town on tracks Hatariman made on my phone with waypoints that would lead us back to Namanga and onward to home.

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Above: Our digs with Mt. Meru behind

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Above: A breakfast scene with fresh bread and delicious coffee at Mountain’s Hug

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Above: A yellow birdie in the thorns

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Above: Kudu, Wry, me and Hatariman… plus Kudu’s XRR that has been pre-Per-ed by a local legend who sadly left the country sometime back and once bailed me out with a clutch cable. Honestly, look at that… brilliant. I have also broken my frame, but in Nairobi just had somebody weld it back together. In TZ that’s not an option, so you get all Terminator with it.

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Above: Sending a selfie to Panic… kind of looks like a weird boy band cover photo… only for old folks

Kuduslap, Wry and I took off out of the Hug aiming for the dusty Kenyan border. We stopped for a bit of fuel and then I started following the digital breadcrumbs Hatariman had made for us. He couldn’t join because his bike is in pieces and he needs to sort it in advance of a ride with Panic the following week. The idea was to drop Kuduslap on the track to Longido so he wouldn’t run out of fuel (he’s on an OEM XRR tank… they don’t go very far).

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Above: My pig and an artsy backdrop at the petrol station

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Above: The roads started out rocky, lovely double tracks. This is Hatariman’s daily commute when visiting his camp near the Kenya border.

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Above: I paused to wait, but there was no sign of Kuduslapper. Trundling back I find the two of them can’t get the bike started. Wry, having learned something from our first trip to Lengai, suggested unplugging the kill switch wire. Sure enough, she fired right up after that. If that didn’t work, it’s time to drain the float bowl. That’s all that stops the XRR most of the time.

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Above: It was a lovely green area and we saw a large herd of giraffe

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Above: The tracks were small, then big, then disappeared totally. Many of the points Hatariman sent us were on tracks that hadn’t been used in a long time, but we were trying to avoid nosy wildlife guards and the like, so we followed them closely.

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Above: Sadly, Mt. Meru and Kilimanjaro were hiding in the clouds. It must be spectacular when both are out!

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Above: Kuduslap and I out in the bundu

We bid farewell to Kuduslapper who roared down the road to Longido while Wry and I continued to hunt and peck our way toward Hatariman’s bush camp. We should have known, but it was the height of luxury in the desert. The interior was like some Arab sheikh’s harem-to-to getaway hut! And also typical of Hatariman, the road up to the little knoll where the camp sits was properly steep and rocky. Adventure right to the doorstep!

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Above: Approaching the camp mess

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Above: Down below where we were headed, a sand storm was brewing

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Above: Some shots of the interior. Very cool place, Hatariman!

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Above: Wry navigates down off the knoll

From the camp, the riding became surreal. It was dust storm time! In places, I couldn’t see Wry just 50m behind me. The dust was fine, white and somehow disorienting. I kept following the track, which was mostly feshfesh at this point, and eventually popped out the other side. We eventually found the exit gate which had it’s boom down… so I rode around it over some thorns. Ten minutes later I was riding on a completely flat front tyre. Good thing I love changing punctures in the bush!

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Above: A giraffe sighting before the dust storm

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Above: Feshfesh everywhere made the going very tricky, but the Pigs eat it up

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Above: Witness me!

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Above: Puncture repair. Wry was a lot of help, making videos and sending it to my “friends” on WhatsApp who promptly took the piss… and would continue to do so all afternoon because…

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Above: Just outside Isinya, I had another puncture. This time a cut in the rear tyre finally made its way through. I used 4 bacon strips (it’s TuBliss in the rear) and took off in glory. Very quick repair it was… but…

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Above: The bacon strips pooped out, so I had to do it again. This time I remembered to add a heavy duty zip tie to hold the bacon strips in place.

After the repairs, we were golden, the light was golden, the trip was golden. Home in time for a lovely dinner at the neighbour’s and in bed almost immediately thereafter.

Once again an epic adventure with the Piggies. Tanzania impressed me a lot this time. Now that I have a multi-entry visa, maybe I’ll make it a habit of riding down there. And Lengai is still on my list of must-do’s for 2023.

And for my text-averse friends - Here's the moving pictures.


Until the next braap!

Oink!
 
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