We have had some seriously tough riding over the past few days since entering our final country on the Joburg2Kili Expedition, Tanzania. But before updating on how things have been going in Tanzania, as we haven’t had much luck with signal the past week here is just a quick update on our final days in beautiful Malawi.
We had one rest day at Chitimba Camp by the Lake and decided to go check out the town of Livingstonia (Derrick also wanted to go to the hospital there to get a doctor to check on his knee which was troubling him). We had been warned that the road up to the town has 21 hairpin bends and you definitely need a 4×4 so we all jumped into the Jeep. The road was hectic with lots of rocky patches and narrow bends but the further you get up the mountain the more spectacular the views. We finally got to the top and found the local hospital which was quite an eye-opening experience. Unfortunately, the doctor wasn’t able to help Derrick with his knee pain so we headed back down the treacherous road. On our way down the mountain we stopped at the Mushroom Farm which is a lodge and campsite with incredible views looking over the Lake.
The next day we cycled a relatively easy 80km to our last stop along Lake Malawi called Mikomo Beach Lodge which is just before Karonga. As the only campers we were able to take the prime spot on the beach to camp for the night. It was then time to say goodbye to the Lake and make our way to Tanzania. We had an early start as we had a 60km ride to get to the border post. The ride was relatively flat and we made it to the border much earlier than we expected. Bryan had stayed behind at the campsite to fill the water tank on the trailer which can take up to an hour and so he was still behind us when we got to the border so we had to just sit around and wait for him. We then headed over to the Tanzanian side and we all thought things were going quite smoothly until you have to start the whole car registration process. We ended up waiting for 3 hours to get both cars and the trailer processed including travel insurance so we were all feeling quite exhausted by the time we had to start riding again.
One thing that has been so interesting to note on this journey is that as soon as you cross over a border you instantly notice you are in a new country as the people, vegetation, signs, houses and advertising are all different. Crossing into Tanzania the terrain changed from dry savanna to tropical forests. The last 50km were really tough for us all not only because we had already had a long day waiting at the border but because we ended up climbing over 1000m in elevation. The day was running away from us and we only got to the turnoff point to the Rungwe Avocado Company where we were staying for two nights as the sun was setting. Bryan met us at the turnoff and we loaded the bicycles onto both the Jeep and Ford and drove up to the farm. Warrick was put in touch with Rob who owns the farm and we were all very grateful to both him and his wife Petra for letting us stay at their amazing farm.
The next day we had a rest day and decided to go and check out the Ngozi Crater Lake which Warrick had read about online. Derrick’s knee was still troubling him so he decided to give the hike a miss. The rest of the team jumped into the Jeep and we made our way to the start of the hike. Rob had mentioned to us that we must make sure to pay the entrance fee and to try get a security guard for our car as the place is quite remote and there had been incidences in the past. We got to the turnoff and noticed that there was no guard at the hut so we waited around for a bit and eventually two locals arrived who we negotiated with on the price and one of them called First jumped into the Jeep with us to be our security guard. We had to drive down quite a rocky and narrow road to get to the parking lot at the start of the hike. The hike took us about 30 minutes which takes you through a beautiful forest to a viewpoint looking into the crater lake which was really spectacular and untouched.
We then headed back down to the Jeep and found our car guard had done a runner which was very annoying. As we drove back up the rocky and narrow dirt road we came across a Toyota vehicle with some hikers we had seen on our way up that were stuck in a rocky section of the road. They were locals and didn’t speak any English but through some hand signals we managed to explain to them that we would try get them out with the Jeep using a tow rope. The first challenge was to get the Jeep past them as they were stuck in a gorge. They managed to reverse down and make just enough room for the Jeep to sneak past and then we got the tow rope all setup. The Jeep managed to hurl the Toyato out of the rocky patch it was stuck in with ease and we then said our goodbyes to some very grateful Tanzanians. To view a video of the Jeep pulling out the Toyota, click here.
We then headed back to Rungwe where we picked up a few supplies and Bryan sorted out some sim cards for the team which took a couple of hours. We got back to the Avocado farm just in time to enjoy the sunset. Derrick was not feeling at all well and had slept basically the whole day. Luckily Rob’s wife, Petra, is a doctor and she did a few tests which indicated that he might have malaria but she wanted to do some more tests at her practice in the nearby town Mbeya the next morning.
The next day, Gareth, Cam and Warrick headed off on a really tough 128km cycle to a place called Riverside Campsite with Bobby in the Jeep following behind them. Derrick and Bryan went ahead to Mbeya so Derrick could get some more tests done and Bryan could get a few supplies. The ride was seriously tough with close to 1500m of climbing. The last 60km were also on a really bad road with plenty potholes and big trucks and buses flying past. We also had quite a few mechanicals on this leg having to replace both Warrick and Gareth’s back wheels and Gareth getting a flat tyre. We eventually got to Riverside campsite which doesn’t have much in terms of facilities but is a beautiful location on a river. Derrick got the results of his tests which had come back that he didn’t have malaria but was just burnt out and needed to take it easy for the next few days.
The next morning, we planned to ride close to 90km and would then hopefully find a suitable bush camp to stay at for the night. Derrick received more results of the tests that were done and it turned out he does have malaria but luckily he had continued with the treatment and was already feeling a lot better but would not be riding for at least another 2 days. The cycle was once again really tough with over 1000m of climbing, a headwind, busy roads that were under construction so we often had to ride on these dirt road diversions which were super dusty with all the trucks and buses driving past. Bryan went ahead to find a place for us to setup camp but unfortunately the best he could find was Amana guest house in a little town called Makambako where the team decided to take rooms rather than camping but Warrick and Cam setup their trailer tent in the car park. We were all feeling really exhausted and decided to find a restaurant for dinner which ended up being very average.
Today we had a short but really hilly 65km ride to Ngwazi Sailing Club with over 700m in climbing. It was also really misty and cold when we left town, which also made the start of the day more challenging. We had our first near accident as Cam braked suddenly as it seemed as though a truck was about to drive in front of her which caused Warrick to come off his bike but thankfully he has no injuries. We will be staying here at Ngwazi Sailing Club for one rest day tomorrow, which happens to be Warrick’s birthday.
Annabel Mills27th Sep 2016 at 1:29 pm
Hi Cam and Warrick,
Annabel has followed the blog and kept me abreast but thought with your parents /inllaws on the way I would catch up on the last episode. What a terrific trip. I should put you in touch with people we went to Scotland with. They had just finished the Appalachian trail in USA all 2000 plus Km of it. Only 4000 have ever hiked through in its 100 year history. You are certainly in that league – and well out of mine. I will just concentrate on making pots and raising money for Sierra Leone Water wells. Incidentally we will be giving Cha a contribution to your funds – so escaping the exchange rate/bank charges.
Keep on going.
Kili is great or it was when I did it (3 days up 2 down in those days) some 38 years ago. Less ice and snow at the tp now i believe. Watch Derrick’s knees on the way down!