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Week Three Chapter: 18 October ~ 24 October 2005 - South Africa, Botswana, Okavango Delta, Zambia

National Flag of South Africa National Flag of Botswana National Flag of Swaziland

"Reminds me of my safari in Africa. Somebody forgot the corkscrew and for several days we had to live on nothing but food and water." - W. C. Fields (American comic and actor, 1880-1946)

"Everything in Africa bites, but the safari bug is worst of all." - Brian Jackman (British wildlife and safari writer)

"Guns have metamorphosed into cameras in this earnest comedy, the ecology safari, because nature has ceased to be what it always had been - what people needed protection from. Now nature tamed, endangered, mortal , needs to be protected from people." - Susan Sontag (American writer, activist and critic, 1933-2004)

Looking more like a computer-generated fractal image than any natural creation, an aerial image of the Okavango Delta, the world's largest wetlands game preserve, taken from an altitude of 17, 678 meters (or 58,000 feet), clearly shows the intricate whorls of this amazing area.  The riders will spend three days on safari here, home to over 40 species of large mammals.

(Image courtesy of  Google Earth)

Starting location for this week: Tzaneen, South Africa
Ending location for this week: Victoria Falls, Livingstone, Zambia
Planned mileage for this week: 1,280 miles 2,048 kilometers)

Howzit? (most common form of greeting I heard when in South Africa)

Goeie dag ("hello" in Afrikaans - southern Africa)

Hallo ("hello" Afrikaans - southern Africa)

Mwabonwa ("hello" in Bemba - southern Zambia)

Moni ("hello" in Chinyanja - southern Africa)

Bwino ("hello" in Chinyanja - southern Africa)

Mhoro ("hello" in Chishona - southern Africa)

Dhumilani ("hello" in Kalanga - Botswana)

Dumela ("hello" in Setswana - Botswana)

Muzuhile cwani ("hello" in Silozi - Zambia, Botswana)

Mwapoleni ("hello" in Bemba - Zambia)

Monire ("hello" in Chitumbuka - Zambia)

Moyo ("hello" in Chokwe - Zambia)

Mudi nahi? ("hello" Lunda - Zambia)

Luvale? ("hello" in Ngacili - Zambia)

Mwapoli mukwai ("hello" in Mambwe)

Muzuhile cwani ("hello" in Silozi - Botswana, Zambia)

Monire ("hello" in Chitumbuka - Zambia)

Ngacili? ("hello in Luvale - Zambia)

Mwapoli mukwai ("hello" in Mambwe - Zambia)

Muzuhile cwani ("hello" in Silozi - Botswana, Zambia)

The Africa riders are in Week Three of their six-week trek through the countries and kingdoms of southern Africa. As they did the week previous, they'll cross three national borders - it's almost becoming routine! What's most definitely not routine in anyone's book are the highlights of this week's ride! First, they'll park their bikes, board propeller-driven bush aircraft, and fly into the Okavango Delta for an incredible three-day safari, exploring the area by makorro (a native dugout canoe, poled by a steersman), powered, flat-bottomed aluminum skiffs, and canvas-roofed, open-air 4x4 safari vehicles.  Each night, they'll re-count the day at a roving encampment, complete with private bush tents, folding cots, white-linen dining, and fully-staffed camp kitchen.  Then, they ride an equally desirable destination, Mosi-Oa-Tunya, or "The Smoke Which Thunders", as Victoria Falls is known in the local language.

Welcome to the continuation of our rolling adventure in Africa!

Mike, Your Webmeister

* * * * * * * * * *

Unless otherwise noted, all photographic images on this page were taken by Helge Pedersen.

The many forms of "Hello" in over 800 languages and other useful words and phrases are courtesy of Jennifer's Language Page.

To find out what time it is there (or anywhere!), visit The World Clock.

To see where they are now, visit the Navigation Technology Chapter.

For more information about the countires in southern Africa that the riders will travel through, please visit the resources listed below:

- The World Factbook, maintained by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States:

- The Consular Information Sheets, provided by the Department of State of the United States:

- The web-based, free-content encyclopedia entries at Wikipedia, maintained by "GlobeWriters" everywhere":

17 OCT 2005 - Nelspruit, South Africa

From: Curtis Barnett

Sent: Monday, October 17, 2005 5:50 AM

To: Africa Live!Journal

Subject: Africa Rocks!

Hola Mike, World and Ships at Sea -

Curtis here. The people here are great! Today I am sitting alone in Nelspruit, South Africa (might I add, left to DIE by all my so-called new "friends" - they even repossessed the alcohol kitty from me).

Yesterday, the transmission went out on my new 2005 BMW F650GS Dakar. I mean BAM!!!. I got to a small town, downhill thank goodness, and the chase car picked-up my trusty steed and I and we headed for this place. It was Saturday about noon and phone calls began and the dealership waited on us. It is good to have such a famous rider with us (Helge also). After phone calls on Sunday, a parts bike was to be made available if needed by local riders, can you believe that!

Today the local dealer has been in touch with Germany and either a new engine will be installed from local stock or one will be taken from a new bike and replaced later from the factory.

Now I am sure most of you are like me, yeah yeah, these guys talk a good game, but the proof is in the pudding. This country has a very can-do attitude, they just might pull this off. I was not on the side of the road 5 minutes when a lady stopped to see if she could help or find someone to help us. She even offered a place to crash and said what time supper would be ready. WOW!

I am impressed. Put a foreigner leading a group of old men in a foreign country and good things are bound to happen.

Film at eleven and updates as they happen and I can type them.


17 OCT 2005 - Nelspruit, South Africa

From: Curtis Barnett

Sent: Monday, October 17, 2005 6:03 AM

To: Africa Live!Journal

Subject: Update, Monday 3:00pm

OK. Newest. I have a new engine and transmission assembly going on a plane in Germany in the morning. Under warranty. Next hurtle will be Customs.

I am in a Holiday Inn Express here in Nelspruit next to a Mall and Casino. All I have to do now is win enough money to pay these extras.

Mike, it really pays to have a famous biker from a foreign country on BMW riding here. And Helge has been helpful also.

Now does anybody know this guy Mandela to help with customs???

Curtis (alone and left to die)

17 OCT 2005 - Nelspruit, South Africa

From: Curtis Barnett

Sent: Monday, October 17, 2005 8:05 AM

To: Africa Live!Journal

Subject: Left to Die

Hola! -

Curtis here. This is shaping up to be a happening! Germany is sending a new engine transmission assembly in 7 to 10 days.

I told Hannes to advise Germany that this bike is scheduled to be ridden to Germany this summer with the GlobeRiders and my name is Curtis Pedersen YAH YAH.

NOW the engine will be put on a plane in the morning. So now you need to have Harry call Mandela and solve any customs problems. The dealership is concerned about delays in customs.

Every problem that arises, I just counter with "There is a very famous BMW rider on this trip and Helge Pedersen also."

Will advise if anything changes.

Holiday Inn Express Room 123 (really!).

This is Curtis signing-off and left to DIE in Africa.

17 OCT 2005 - Tzaneen, South Africa

From: Michael Kranefuss

Sent: Monday, October 17, 2005 2:55 PM

To: Africa Live!Journal

Subject: Musings in Africa

Hi -

I know, I know – I should have written sooner and I also should feel guilty, but I don’t. It’s been an experience beyond my expectations and I needed time to figure what it was I was feeling. South Africa is beautiful in so many different ways – as I’m sure everybody’s already been telling you. It’s a lot more civilized than I’d expected and, at least, initially I didn’t have the feeling of being in Africa – the roads are really too good for an adventure ride or so I thought.

Lesotho, Sani Pass – became for me an almost mind altering experience. I’d had a flat tire the day before and the plug got pushed out again on the way up. Helge fixed it and I was supposed to help – except when I started looking down the other side of the road I froze. I have a slight fear of heights and this was too much – after a short debate with myself and Helge I decided to turn around.

As it turned out I was the only one who didn’t make the top. Not something I do very often – quitting! And normally, I would have gone mad for days. Somehow, though, I felt it was the right thing to do and when I arrived down in Himesville I wasn’t mad anymore – well, not to my normal standards of being ticked off about failure, anyway.

This has to be the first time in my life that I have accepted that there are things in life I obviously can’t do – and it didn’t drive me nuts. What am I trying to say? Maybe you should emphasize in your future marketing approach the psychological or emotional impact GlobeRiders’ trips can have on people (you may use my experience as an example and we can talk about royalty later). So funny, huh?

We’re leaving tomorrow early for Botswana and I’m certain I’ll get my fill of Africa in the next few weeks.

Talk to you soon.


17 OCT 2005 - Hazyview, South Africa

From: Roger Kersch

Sent: Monday, October 17, 2005 2:55 PM

To: Africa Live!Journal


Pillsbury goes back for seconds while old Harrison tells his tale of leaving for Mozambique with young surfer girl (his now-wife Debbie) flapping on the back of his over-burdened Bummer. “Gotta get back before dark” she was known to say.

Helge described getting nabbed by the Swazi fuzz “At least I won’t get points transferred to my license” as he paid the huge R100 (rand, about $16 US) fine, he described, for going 30 KPH over. The guy let him ride, reduced from a go-to-jail sentence on finding he is the cause of much tourist dollars to be spent.

Curtis’ comedic continuous commentary was on hold, his bike having taken a complete dump on him going downhill from the remote Swazi border post, the transmission seized, lurched to a halt about midday. He was a pile of glum this night, the last, wondering about his immediate unknown fate with a U.S.-purchased bike needing a new engine/trans assembly while in its warranty period.

Earlier that day, much earlier, we had gone squeaking into Kruger National Park, seated in the back of a Toyota pickup for 6 hrs 30 mins, stopping every few minutes to look at turd-piles, and receiving detailed information about same. “This (kudoo, wildebeest, zebra, elephant, giraffe, et al) craps here and in this quantity because….” went the explanations. The closest elephant that came to our squeaky Toyota pushes out a huge bale-size turd that literally bounces off the pavement and we all ooohed and ahhhed our exclamations: “She’s gonna drop one for us!”, “Look at the size of that thing!”, “There’s MORE!”

It just wasn’t the same as ‘Wild Kingdom’ on the old Philco black & white that we remembered from our youths. “Sizes, shapes, locations and textures of turds could tell us a whole bunch about the who-what- where-why of park life” says our guide, choking it out in a thickly-accented Afrikaans English. And we managed to see lots of critters but no pussy-cats through the burned and dried out brush from one pile to the next. I was particularly impressed with the dreadful environment that these animals eke out their Darwinist existence, 50% of the area having suffered a ‘cold’ fire (obviously not as bad as a ‘hot’ fire) and at the tail-end of the seasonal drought.

Two nights in Hazyview gets us sharing our wonderful dinner buffet, served on a big patio, with a classically geriatric busload of Germans one night and a busload of likewise Dutchmen the next, getting along great with the staff, all speaking ‘choke’ languages, they could understand each other a little, Afrikaans a mix of Dutch sprinkled with indigenous and everybody has their “English”. We order more beer and talk about what the next day might bring, hi-lighting our illegible maps…..


17 OCT 2005 - Tzaneen, South Africa

From: Helge Pedersen

Sent: Monday, October 17, 2005 2:55 PM

To: Africa Live!Journal


Warning, Giraffes Crossing!

It does not get better than this, giraffes crossing the road in front of us and we spent the night in beautiful lodge that was just for us and Douglas, the beer salesman from Durban. Marius took us for a nature walk before a great dinner was served out in the open. Meat and sausages were grilled over open flames while we enjoyed the local brew. Stories of our visit to a local Zulu village earlier in the day really started to get us all in to the mood that we really were traveling in Black Africa. We had rain for some of the day, but with a temperature in the mid-70’s, we really did not suffer that bad.

The road has been good tar road all the way and only the last 10 kilometers into the lodge was dirt road. Bob were in front of me on his KTM. My visor kept fogging up so I could barely see the road, so when Bob came to an abrupt halt it took me by surprise. I opened my visor and there in front of us a handful of giraffes were eating their way through tree tops! I have no idea how to describe the feeling of joy and amazement a scene like this brings along. Bob smiled as he clicked off image after image with his new digital camera.

Next day I rode out of the park together with Harrison, Debbie and Michael. Once again we met up with a flock of giraffes, an amazing experience. Harrison told me later that he never would have thought that a giraffe could be that large and that is as we saw them from the saddle of our bikes.

We had been warned over and over again that in Swaziland the police are particular bad with their speed traps. As if this was not enough of a warning several cars flashed their lights to warn us. Being the first of 4 bikes I slowed down to 60 Km/h to comply with the signage.

Honestly, I thought we had passed the speed limit so I started to speed up, and that was when I saw a police officer jump out in front of me! I was presented with an instrument sitting on the ground showing that I had actually been riding at a speed of 92 Km/h in a 60 Km/h zone. My excessive speed warranted a visit in front of the judge I were told. Not a good proposition as we were to spend no more than the night in Swaziland!

As we kept talking and my US drivers license were presented, the officer wrote a ticket with a lowered speed to save my meeting with the judge. I paid Rand 70 (US $12.00) for the ticket, stating that I had exceeded the speed limit by 22 Km/h. Thank You! Mr. officer, you saved my day.

I was not the only guy that did a boo-boo that day, we had one fellow in the group forget to get a Swaziland stamp in his passport. Not a good thing to happen and only our exit at the next border would tell us the outcome of this boo-boo.

More about this next time!

Helge Pedersen

17 OCT 2005 - Fransicstown, Botswana

From: Helge Pedersen

Sent: Monday, October 17, 2005 9:50 PM

To: Africa Live!Journal

Subject: Story update from Helge

Topless in Swaziland -

Bad planning, that is all I can say, next time we will try to do better. Mike, a South African BMW rider living in Swaziland, tells us that next time we should plan the tour around the time that the king does his yearly choosing of a new wife. With laptop in hand Mike sits us down at our lodge where presents colorful pictures of thousands of topless virgins filling a football field as they advertise themselves in front of the king.

Well, perhaps next time can we coordinate a little better <g>.

For the most we had very good sealed roads even in Swaziland. The exemption was Joe, Bob and I, that did a little afternoon tour up in to the mountains on some great dirt roads. According to Mike the country is full of beautiful gravel dirt roads, and that is a lot of twists and turns in a mountains country as Swaziland is.

Leaving and heading for South Africa again brought us on to a small dirt road winding up and down mountains and valleys. Beautiful land, but if it had been raining I would have taken the alternative sealed road.

Remember the missing stamp in one person’s passport? Very fortunate for that individual, the customs agent never even noticed, it was a good day.

Riding this part of the world reminded me of Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, where I live. Big openings in hillsides were the result of trees being cut down and new seedlings planted. Not many people lived along the road so traffic was minimal.

I had just caught up with 4 other bikers from our group at an intersection to Barberton, when I learned that Curtis’ bike had thrown a fit. Apparently the gear box had exploded with what Roger and Curtis described as “two gears engaging at the same time”.

With Curtis parked next to the road, a local lady pulled up to check if everything was OK. As soon as she learned about our problem, she shared that her and her husband are BMW GS Riders and that they would be able to help whatever they could help with.

Throughout Southern Africa we have met nothing but wonderful people, she just added to the list. We thanked her for the kindness, but decided to get the bike to the local dealer in Nelspruit, a half-hour drive north. Unfortunately, this happened on Saturday, noon, so by the time we arrived, the dealership were closing. Curtis’ bike were off-loaded from our chase vehicle trailer and left for the weekend.

We spent the following day in Kruger National Park before returning to SJW Motors, where a lovely lady, Philippa Beith, Customer Service Manager, and Hannes De Villiers, Motorcycle Manager, took good care of us. We had to leave Curtis in town to wait and see if BMW can live up to its great reputation. Last news was that a new engine and gearbox is on its way from Germany.

The timing for this to happen is not too bad and we hope to see Curtis back with the group in northern Botswana.

We already miss you Curtis and we thank all of the good people in Nelspruit that are doing their very best to make a happy ending on a very unfortunate incident.

We are now heading in to Botswana, talk to you all later.

Helge P.

19 OCT 2005 - Seattle, Washington, USA

[Editor's Note: As you have read from Curtis Barnett's earlier posts in this chapter, his brand-new 2005 BMW F650GS has trashed its transmission, and was recovered by our chase vehicle and towed to SJW Motorcycles, the authorized BMW dealer in Nelspruit, South Africa. The email below is from GlobeRider David Wilde, who lives in Indonesia.  David is infamous for always bring a Kawasaki KLR650 on every tour that he's taken with us. Every KLR650 we've had with us has had it's problems, and David recently informed us that he was going to retire the Kawasakis, and buy a BMW F650GS Dakar.  This puts his post below in context.]

From: David Wilde

Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2005 9:09 PM

To: Africa Live!Journal

Subject: Kawasaki for rent

Hi Curtis -

Two Kawasaki's for rent in Dallas barn, one careful owner. You took the wrong bike with you!

Have just read the Live!Journal , and cancelled my upgrade to a Dakar .

Hope you get the engine and everything sorted soon so that you can rejoin the group .

Have a few swift ones for me and I have seen you in the Casino, you will probably make enough money to pay for the trip


20 OCT 2005 - Nelspruit, South Africa

From: Curtis Barnett

Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2005 2:16 AM

To: Africa Live!Journal

Subject: Still Here Dying Slowly

Howdy, Curtis here. Still in Nelspruit, South Africa. This is Thursday 11 AM. My new engine is in customs in Johannesburg, South Africa. Can't hurry them. Nowhere in the world does customs ever hurry. Just salarymen doing their job. If all is as reported to me, the shop is waiting and will work whenever to whenever and I will get out of here on Saturday.

I will have "a long way to go and a short time to get there", breaking-in a new engine and crossing several borders to catch this hard riding, hard drinking bunch. This should be fun. The main problem I have ahead is the short daylight hours. I have from 5 AM 'til 6 PM. Only 13 hours and low speed limits and lots of towns to go thru and a new engine will make for a unique challenge.

At home you just leave before daylight and ride some after dark. Not here. You are not just dodging armadillos and skunks, a water buffalo jack-knifed on the road in the dark is a tuff obstacle to miss at speed, when the rubber-neckers are other giant beasts, you will be just a bug splatter to them.

This hotel is getting tired of me. Seems they are not used to someone checking in and just staying. I stay in my room a lot in the evenings so that when the buses come in they can't give me any roommates.

So, another day at the mall. Think I'll look into getting a tatoo or get something pierced---NOT!

Curtis (dying alone in Africa)

20 OCT 2005 - Nelspruit, South Africa

[Editor's Note: This message was by Curtis (still "dying" in Nelspruit) to Helge (on safari with the group in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.]

From: Curtis Barnett

Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2005 11:12 AM

To: Helge Pedersen

Subject: Dying in Africa

Yo to the next to the most famous BMW rider in Africa ----- Mall Rat Curtis here. Still in customs.

I guess niether one of us is famous enough to grease that rail. Hannes said they will send a courier for it when it clears.

Not much else to say except I did hit the blackjack table today. I got to play on the big dog table. R25 min bet. What's that, about 4 bucks? Still couldn't win but it was cool while it lasted.

Dying alone in a mall in Africa,


21 OCT 2005 - Nelspruit, South Africa

From: Curtis Barnett

Sent: Friday, October 21, 2005 1:10 AM

To: Africa Live!Journal

Subject: Still in Customs

As of 9:45 AM today -------- still in customs. Man it is gonna really suck to spend the weekend here.

The dealership is very frustrated. But whatja gonna do? Customs is the same the world over. Bunch of Bozos with power. The faster they work the less job security they have. I guess it never occurred to them that if a shipment comes in by air--DUH--someone NEEDS it!

The bright side--at least I'm not stuck in Mongolia with this problem. I might just take a '78 Goldwing on the World Tour. It never let me down (although the new ones suck). I sold my 2002 model after the third recall, I got a fourth one after I sold it.

Every BMW I have had has let me down. The last four in a row. My '98 GS1100 transmission seal leaked onto the dry clutch in Fairbanks, Alaska, and I came home unable to pass an RV. My GS1150 Adventure transmission seal also leaked onto the dry clutch, fortunately I was almost home from an 8-week, 20,000 mile trip-this was repaired under warranty. My 2003 F650 Dakar blew out a rear shock in Peru - that sucked but got one shipped in by air - only missed 3 riding days. Now this has happened to my new 2005 F650 Dakar!

The local dealership says they have never had to replace a transmission seal, and I have had two in a row. Of course they also have never replaced a 650 engine either. When I get home I will have a distressed bike garage sale. "Everything must go".

Well, the maid is probably done my room by now, I guess I'll go do laundry in the sink.

Curtis---an inch away from going home early.

21 OCT 2005 - Seattle, Washington, USA

[Editor's Note: In spite of repeated attempts to contact the good people at SJW Motors in Nelspruit, South Africa (where Curtis' motorcycle is awaiting repair), their ISP's email servers are actively blocking us. Philippa Beith, Customer Service Manager for SJW Motors, sent us the following.]

From: BEITH PHILIPPA (SJW Motors, Nelspruit, South Africa)

Sent: Friday, October 21, 2005 3:48 AM

To: Africa Live!Journal


Dear Mike and Helge,

I am so sorry that you have had trouble getting through to us - I am now in the office with Curtis and feel totally upset about his situation - he and I have been in contact this AM with the TOP bike people in BMW - Rob Holder and Laughlan Harris - unfortunately, the engine is now in the country but awaiting customs and they do not work on weekends. As a result Curtis feels this is the end of the road for him, as he is now out of time to catch up with you.

He is busy trying to arrange a flight home and then to plan to get his bike home - our man Hannes feels that if we can get his bike up and running ASAP by Mon/Tues, he can maybe still catch you at the southern tip of Namibia, or at worst, at least save costs by going back down to Cape Town on the bike and waiting for you there or go home.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if there is anything more that I can do to help this poor man, who has had the rottenest luck imaginable, I feel SO sorry for him.

Kind regards and happy, safe riding to you all,

Philippa Beith

21 OCT 2005 - Nelspruit, South Africa

[Editor's Note:  I know the people at SJW Motors did all they could, but they and Curtis have been stymied by the international shippers, local customs people, and BMW corporate itself - here's a wholly justified rant.]

From: Curtis Barnett

Sent: Friday, October 21, 2005 3:54 AM

To: Africa Live!Journal

Subject: Enough is Enough

OK I give up. I have heard all the BS I want to. Intentions, even though good ones, don't get me out of this damn hotel.

Today, "Your engine is in Germany", "Your engine is here but has been is customs for 3 days", "Your engine arrived last night and customs does not work weekends".

You know what? Keep your BS to yourselves, I'm going home to Precious Darling. I am only away from her when I am riding and I sure as hell am not riding now. If I am sitting by myself in a hotel somewhere.......that is part of my life I can never get back. This trip is not worth wasting any more of my life.

I never thought these people could do what they said the could. But, what if they really could? So I stayed here to witness it happen. What a wonderful thing it would be to be involved in something as amazing as this engine replacement, under warranty, in a foreign country, parts from a different continent, and all in a few days.

Curtis-going home

24 OCT 2005 - Kasane, Botswana USA

From: Marlene Hutt

Sent: Monday, October 24, 2005 5:46 AM

To: Africa Live!Journal

Subject: Greetings from Kasane

Hello, all, and finally greetings from South Africa! We have been unable to get to emails since Cape Town, so I will use Helge’s computer and the Live!Journal instead.

As you already know, we have traveled along the coast since Cape Town before turning inland through Swaziland, traversing from 34 degrees south latitude to about 21 degrees south – equivalent to going from about San Francisco to Mazatlan, Mexico. The coastal areas were moist and thickly planted with non-native tree species for timber. We did pass through one tiny area of native forest near Knysna, and it looked to my eyes like it had been clear-cut about a month earlier. Inland, you might think you were in Mexico - dry, hot, thorny scrubland with an occasional tin-roofed house. EXCEPT that then you will see an elephant, or a zebra, or an ostrich and you realize….

It is especially disconcerting to drive through areas of planted bananas, papayas, mangoes (and a lot of the roadside trees in those areas are transplants from Latin America as well) and to see the black-skinned people instead of the shades of tawny browns of Latin America. It is all so familiar and yet not. One universal is the big smiles of welcome we see everywhere (and you should see the kids’ eyes light up when they see those motorcycles!!).

I have spent only a little time on the bike, because we have had the most extraordinary bit of good fortune – the driver of our chase vehicle, Marius Swart, turns out to be a naturalist masquerading as a driver! I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun it is to rekindle my old love of nature in a place like this with someone who can tell you what you are seeing!!! So we spend our days tracking birds with the binoculars from the speeding car, or abruptly pulling to the shoulder to grab a plant sample. The glove compartment has become a mini-lab. So far we have seen and identified 76 species of birds, 70 plants, 23 mammals, and a handful of insects, spiders, and reptiles. The insects have been disappointing, but only for lack of opportunity to scout them out. We will put up sheets and lights in the Okavango Delta tomorrow and see what we can scare up. I will publish full species lists when I get time, but I am having FAR too much fun to stop to do it now!


24 OCT 2005 - Kasane, Botswana

From: Marlene Hutt

Sent: Monday, October 24, 2005 5:46 AM

To: Africa Live!Journal

Subject: Greetings from Kasane

October 15, 2005

Greetings from PJS! I have just learned that my entry from October 12th has not gone through, so I will bring this journal up to date for those days.

On Tuesday the 11th we had a day made for nail-biting, even for those who have never been so inclined!!! We ventured up to the highest international border post in the world – 9,500 ft. above sea level. In order to get there we had to manage up through incredibly rocky, twisting, narrow little roads all around the mountains. It was tough enough for our “Bush Tracker” vehicle and nearly impossible for the bikes!! One bike was not able to make it up and another had to be towed to a dealer after making it down due to damage from a fall. No one was injured, thankfully! Steve’s bike came away with an injury (leaking fluid) that needed to be looked at, but he was successful in mastering that mountain! The drop-offs at the sides of the roads were straight down with no guard rails and you could occasionally see the remains or pieces of vehicles that had not made it up from past years. It was very humbling!

Once up to the top of Sani Pass and after a beverage at the world’s highest commercial pub (with the most spectacular views) Helge went into the small village to deliver a photo he had taken on a previous trip. It was regrettable timing because he learned that the young woman in the photo had just recently died. We were invited in to the only commercial business in the Sani Village – a sheep shearing facility. The building was probably as large as two one-car garages and was surrounded by a thin wire fence with a gate latched with a heavy paperclip. There were approximately 16 workers and they seemed to enjoy our visit. They would occasionally give a shout out and a whistle as they sheared the sheep with manual shears. Outside, the villagers were wrapped in brightly colored wool blankets as they tended the donkeys and goats. I was surprised that I could not see any types of gardens for vegetables or food source. But there were plenty of smiles and warm welcomes to go around. Although there were other tourists at the

On the way down, another bike had a brake problem so we followed behind and watched closely. Roger did a marvelous job of navigating and arrived at the bottom safely! It was a day I’ll never forget. I was so thrilled for Steve that he conquered this tremendous fete!

Tot weer siens . . . . . . . . . Pamela Smith

October 16th, 2005 Good Morning! Following up with the adventure from Sani Pass is the visit to the Tommy Johns BMW Dealership in Durban, South Africa on the 13th of October. Steve cannot stop talking about how professional and helpful Kathy Johns and her service manager, Mario, were to our group. They literally dropped everything to help us all and get us back on schedule. They worked on Harrison’s bike, Steve’s bike, found a new tire for Mike, and came up with extra spare parts for the rest of the journey. The bikes were up and running perfectly in no time. Helmets off to Tommy Johns!!!

We were on a two night stay near Durban and had a chance to rest up and unwind a bit. (Not to mention do a bit of laundry.) Departing Durban area was our first taste of what I had thought Africa would be like. . .wonderful animals! We saw zebra’s grazing and a tussel between two of them. Then there were the giraffes!!! A group of adults and two young smaller ones (one still had an umbilical cord attached – Marius said that he was probably around 8 weeks old.) We also saw two gnu’s lying in the brush. This is Africa!! I hope the guys on the bikes were able to catch sight of them, also. Of course along the way we also saw many new species of birds and trees and plants. The list is getting too long to include here.

I must mention the accommodations and the experience of being in the “Bushtracker” Land Cruiser all day. This being my first adventure of this type, I wasn’t sure what to expect. When your friends and acquaintances first hear about this trip you are taking, they share all sorts of stories or doubts with you. It had never occurred to me to be apprehensive about riding in a car with 3 other people all day for 35 days. But then when I heard comments, I began to wonder, just how WOULD it be. Well, this has been a fabulous ride (so far, anyway)! Marius and Marlene are Naturalists by education and are a wealth of information. We have put together our own library in the Bushtracker with about 8 reference books. We identify all of the birds and trees and plants that we see. Marius knows about the history of the land and the geology. We are never bored and always seem to have a “great day”. The bikers just shake their heads at us! The hotels and lodges that Helge and Mike Paull have selected for us have been better than imagined. They are beautiful, extremely comfortable and immaculate. The food is also very good! It’s an excellent adventure. If you ever have this opportunity, I highly recommend that you just
go for it!!!!

Good Night! Tot weer siens. . . . .Pamela Smith

October 18, 2005 Another beautiful day, although a bit cloudy, in South Africa! It’s been a few days since my last entry so I’ll attempt to catch up. Probably the highlight was the Safari through Kruger National Park. On Sunday, October 16th, two open air safari vehicles picked all of us up at 5:30 AM. We were lucky enough to see four of the big five, today! It was thrilling seeing those beautiful animals so close! Just a partial list of what we saw includes: impala’s, zebra’s, kudu’s, giraffe’s, elephant’s, rhino’s, warthog’s, steinbok’s, spotted hyena’s, a lioness and a cub, a Nile crocodile, hippopotamus, baboons, three enormous ground hornbill’s, battle eagle, and vervet monkeys and a snake eagle. Everyone enjoyed seeing these incredible creatures!

Yesterday, Monday, October 17th found us driving from Hazyview to Tzaneen, South Africa. On our way there we passed the Pinnacle, God’s Window and Wonderview (at 5,700 ft. above sea level). These are spectacular places in the mountains with the most unbelievable views! We stopped at Blyde River Canyon and saw the “Potholes” and the most amazing rock formations. Almost to the Lodge we saw the most beautiful sunset and stopped for a couple of pictures. A delicious dinner and a good night's sleep to prepare for a long drive tomorrow!

Tot weer siens. . . . . . .Pamela Smith

PS: I haven’t had very many opportunities to do e-mail, but I was able to open a message from our Grandson . . .We miss you, also, MJ and will have a lot of pictures to share with you. We took a movie of Zulu dancers for you, also! Ryan, enjoy Bono and travel safely. Brooke and Mike have a fun Halloween and stay well! Trooper, your homeland is beautiful you must visit one day!

Love to all!! S and P

25 OCT 2005 - Livingstone, Zambia

From: Helge Pedersen

Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2005 6:08 AM

To: Africa Live!Journal

Subject: Stories from the road!

Last Eden on Earth

Many years ago I read a story in National Geographic Magazine about the Okavango Delta. This vast oasis in the Kalahari dessert was described as the “Last Eden on Earth”. From that day I knew that this was a place that I had to go.

Situated in the middle of Botswana, it is not the easiest place to reach. Distances are large and roads are terrible. For this reason our group had chartered a bush flight from Kasane airport to take us in to the heart of the Delta.

We had reached Kasane after traveling straight north on good tarred roads through the flat vast countryside of Botswana. There is not much to it, a few farms here and there, but most of all brush and trees cover the landscape on both sides of the road. Just over 100 miles north of Francistown (where we had spent the night) we take a rest and fill the tank in Nata. Nata is a small town/village, a crossroads to the north of the country and to the west entrance to the Delta.

It was here that Bob and I met a couple from Idaho traveling by bus, heading for Maun, the entrance to the Delta. With sparkling eyes they told us some great fish stories where Tiger Fish was the catch of the day. At the same gasoline stop, an excited South African fellow came up and wanted to hear our story about our journey. He and his wife were heading for Zanzibar, Tanzania, with their trailer carrying two smaller motorcycles.

Wherever we stop people are curious and they all marvel at our great Adventure.

Talking about Adventure, on the last leg of the day as we got closer to Kasane, elephants in small groups were spotted along the main road. Joe Hutt told a great story about a huge bull elephant took him by surprise when it came running out into the road, right in front of him. It was a close call and a warning to take it a little easier.

The reward came when Joe took this incredible picture of the rest of the elephant group as they crossed the road right behind him. GlobeRiders is in the process of obtaining the rights to the usage of this unique picture on our web page. Our people are talking to his people and as soon as a settlement has been reached we will let you know the outcome. Joe has raised the bar of photography within the group and the competition is fierce within our group at the moment, trying to reach and possibly surpass Joe's level. Stay tuned.

Our bikes were securely parked at the Garden Lodge in Kasane, and riding gear and other non-essential luggage was left behind before we boarded our charted plane for the Delta. Having the opportunity to fly in to the heart of the Okavango Delta and then drive out gave us a good sense of the distances and the harsh environment we were traveling through. From the air we could look out the window of the Caravan plane, straight lines of sandy roads intertwined with tracks from hoards of animals making their way in between water holes. On the descent to the small dirt airfield our pilot, Mark, checked for animals on or nearby the landing strip before he safely landed.

For the next 3 nights we would spend the nights in tented camps as we worked our way back to Kasane.

More about the Delta experience next time.

Helge P.

25 OCT 2005 - Livingstone, Zambia

From: Harrison Christian

Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2005 6:08 AM

To: Africa Live!Journal

Subject: Stories from the road!

This is a wonderful trip. My overwhelming feeling is of gratitude. First for being fortunate enough to be here. I have traveled extensively and yet this is so great the other trips don’t count. Every day as I ride along I find myself thinking of friends, wishing they were here yet realizing most people would never do this, either because of economics, work related demands or unnecessary fear.

The good in all mankind is so evident on this trip. People are all so helpful and wish us well.

Climbing 10,000 feet to Sani Pass in Lesotho was more like riding a steep river bed than a road. Many people had low speed crashes including myself. My bike had to be hauled to Durban where we laid over a day for bike repairs. But alas, the BMW dealership didn’t have the parts we needed. No problems, they just borrowed enough parts from customers’ bikes to keep our group going. Normal scheduled work was halted and after “robbing” parts from 2 different bikes over the course of 2 hours I was set to go again. Total labor bill $14 plus a gift of 3 free shirts.

What a wonderful world we live in.

Children are waving and cheering us on beside the road like we are astronauts instead of dried-up old men in their second childhood (or maybe never left the first).

People really care, don’t think it’s lonely out here.

Harrison Christian

25 OCT 2005 - Livingstone, Zambia

From: Helge Pedersen

Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2005 6:08 AM

To: Africa Live!Journal

Subject: Stories from the road!

One, Two, Three - Many Elephants.

If one had counted all of the elephants we had seen so far on this journey, it would be hundreds, if not over a thousand. It might be because of the severe draught that the region of Southern Africa has experienced. All of the elephants have moved closer to secure water holes and rivers, and this has made the population seem so dense.

Another fact that we have learned from the visit to Kruger national Park, and now the Okavango Delta, is that South and East Africa’s elephant population has increased so dramatically that overpopulation is a real problem for the region. Never the less, every time we came close to one of these giant animals we were mesmerized by their gentle appearance and calm behavior. In some instances we came so close that we could almost touch the rough skin of the elephant.

Michael claims that he has found his new love for the elephants, and more than half of his pictures at this point are of elephants. It is an incredible feeling, sitting on your bike while a group of elephants relaxes under a tree next to the road. We are talking a distance between mammal and motorcycle to be no more than 40-50 feet. This is no Zoo and we have to remind ourselves that we are dealing with wild animals in their natural environment.

The highlight of our Delta visit was our boat trip through narrow water channels, hidden by tall weed and the occasional trees. The waterway we followed took us to a secluded island in the Moremi Reserve. At this secluded spot, tents with real beds, linen and portable showers were waiting especially for us to make our experience comfortable.

We saw all kinds of animals and the bird life was incredible. Not having the knowledge of the names of all the creatures we did see, I will not even do an attempt to repeat any of them. But looking at Marlene’s growing list of identified species, I was highly impressed.

Being the hottest period of the year, we had to face temperatures exceeding 100 Fahrenheit. The sun was relentlessly reminding us that we needed to drink vast amounts of water. Our second day in the Delta turned out to be a trying day for all of us. The heat, the bad roads, long distances and worst of all we, ran out of liquid at the end of the day.

To say the least, a few people in the group looked rather worn-out that day. As a surprise to all, we were not to stay in a “primitive” camp that night. The timing was perfect, a swimming pool, a bar, restaurant and very comfortable lodging greeted us. A shower and a good meal and life was good again. That evening, we all enjoyed the incredible sky, filled with stars that one only can experience far away from civilization.

We spent our last night in the Delta in another magical place, Savuti, this time roughing it again, “camping” in the wild. Savuti has attracted photographers and film crews from all over the world. If you have seen lions taking down large elephants, the likelihood that this was filmed here is very high. We learned that the local lions have adapted to hunt in large groups going after elephants. On our game drive that evening we encountered the main group of twenty-seven lions. They were relaxing in the shade just a few hundred yards from the water hole where elephants had come to drink. It would have been spectacular to see twenty-seven lions in action, hunting down an elephant, killing it. But on the other hand, I am glad we did not have to see this battle of life and death.

As the sun was setting, William, our driver, had parked the Toyota opposite the sunset so all we could see was the glowing sun and outlines of huge elephants. I had taken position on the ground, laying prone in dry elephant dung, aiming my big lens towards the elephants and shooting beautiful sunset pictures.

It would have been a wonderful experience had it not been for the next vehicle over. All I could hear was an obnoxious fellow with a thick New York accent speaking loud enough for the entire Delta to hear him. He was telling his local driver and servant what a terrible mistake it was that the US went to Vietnam and then he went on to share his opinions about the Iraq war. I have no idea why a person like this had come to this spot, he certainly did not enjoy the evening’s calm sunset and the elephants.

Back in Kasane we were happy to see that all bikes had rested well and now were ready to get back on the road. As a final treat from the Garden Lodge, we were invited to go out onto the river to enjoy a sunset boat trip. Being on the water and seeing wild animals close-up made for some good photographs. One picture in particular was almost a little to exciting! We had come face-to-face with a large crocodile when it decided that we had come close enough. I had just changed cameras to one with a wide-angle lens when the monster literally shot out from its resting spot and flew into the water. The picture that I grabbed of the action might be the best picture I have taken on this journey. Wonder if I can trade it for Joe's elephant picture?

Next, Victoria Falls and Zambia.

Helge P.

25 OCT 2005 - Livingstone, Zambia

From: Helge Pedersen

Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2005 6:08 AM

To: Africa Live!Journal

Subject: Stories from the road!

Curtis, we miss you!!!!

As you have read in earlier reports from Curtis he have had some real bad luck on this journey as his BMW 650 GS Dakar 2005 model broke the gearbox.

At first it looked like his bad fortune would be rescued by BMW in South Africa and BMW in Germany. Most certainly the BMW dealership in Nelspruit did all they could to have this happen. A new engine and gearbox was on its way from Germany we were told. The incident would be covered under warranty. Almost too good to be the truth, but all indications were that this was actually the case.

Did we expect BMW to grant an overnight shipment of spare parts and cover this under warranty? Not at all, but it sure would have been a great gesture to a fellow that had used all his savings to purchase a brand new BMW for his dream journey to Africa. So when the promises were made that BMW had actually shipped the parts expectations were high and we left Curtis behind knowing that he soon were to catch up with the group.

From the midst of the Okavango Delta I called Curtis on my satellite phone. The day was Friday, the day that he were supposed to have the bike fixed and then finally Curtis would be ready to head north to catch up with us.

But he had no such good news to tell us, no parts had arrived and the various stories about the status of the engine over the last week took all of Curtis energy of a happy ending to his story. When we talked he had just gotten of the phone with the travel agent that would arrange for his flight back to the US.

I can understand Curtis frustration after sitting around waiting for a week, why should he believe BMW next time around.

We thank all of the good people at BMW that tried to make this happen and we say shame on those at BMW that messed up this situation. So much energy wasted for nothing.

Curtis we truly miss your happy face and hope that next time around your fortune will bring you all the way.

Take Care,

Helge Pedersen

25 OCT 2005 - Texas, USA

From: Curtis Barnett

Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2005 1:44 PM

To: Africa Live!Journal

Subject: Out of Africa

Howdy, Curtis here. Home at last.

The adventure continued from my last contact. After talking to two BMW suits by phone from Philippa's office at the Beemer shop in Nelspruit and told two different stories, I stopped my participation in the game.

As I have said all along, these people are so nice and seem so sincere in their wanting to help me, that I decided against my experience in these types of problems and put myself in their hands. Wrong decision Curtis.

Now it is Friday afternoon and my stay in Hotel Incompetent has come to an end, they want me out. Miss Philippa has found me a B & B for the night here and has taken me to see a travel agent friend of hers to get me home. The agent has gotten me a "cottage" in Cape Town (the Breakwater Lodge is full) for two nights and wants me to go to Delta's office on Monday morning to plead for a ticket home. Seems all the flights are over-booked and my sad tear-stained face should be more convincing than her phone calls. OK. While I am waiting for my tickets to print, a gentleman-another agent in the office-comes over and tells me how nice the cottage is and close to everything and he had recently stayed there, great.

Philippa returns and takes me to the local B & B and says she will have me picked-up at 9:00 AM and taken to the airport in the morning for my 11:30 flight-the only flight to Cape Town tomorrow. OK. The B & B is "wow", really beautiful and I have dinner out of the minibar. I would love to stay at this place with Precious Darling sometime.

Now, Friday is over, and I change tense to report on the journey home. Unbelievable as it will sound, this is all true. So true I need only to report the facts to you, I don't think I could have dreamed this story-up if I was on drugs.

I went to breakfast at the B & B, again this place was great. I pulled my luggage, consisting of a pannier liner as a carry-on and my two Jesse bags loaded and packed in one large cardboard box I got from the Beemer place, out to the driveway of this place to wait for my ride. Remember I was to be driven by the Beemer people at 9. At 9:25 I asked the owner if she would call a taxi for me. The taxi company is called "City Bug".

At 9:45 she called them again.

At 10:15 no taxi, she had her husband call them again. At 10:40 here is City Bug. The driver asks me which airport. Huh? I gave him the airport code on my ticket and he did not know what that meant. He called in on the radio and they did not know. Then he guessed and took me to the Kruger International Airport. Even though the airport code on the ticket was NLP (Nelspruit).

When I told him to hurry (20 kilometers to the airport) he DID. I have never seen a speedometer register 160 before. It even feels faster when you are in a little Toyota. Got there at 10:50, wow! Got to the ticket counter to check-in at 11 and got a seat just before boarding started. At the gate area I saw a twin-prop plane like American Eagle uses, oh no, I have a long way to go. This tiny airport , If I had missed this flight, there are no more. The departure lounge-no phone-newsstand and snack bar combo is closed. This lounge is full and the shop is closed!! Correction, the turbo-prop just left and I wasn't on it. Now small jet pulled up. YEA. A 135 jet, I got the 2-wide side and the other seat was empty. Almost missing my flight today was the very last straw with the Beemer folks.

Now, Cape Town. The pre-arranged shuttle was there for me and took me to get my luggage from the Breakwater, then to the cottage place. The cottage turns out was a couple of blocks that were refurbished and rented out with full kitchens, two-story row houses. The driver told me that this was a "lively" neighborhood. After dropping my luggage in the crappy old house with no phone I walked to the office and phoned AMEX Platinum Travel Services collect. I was able to purchase a ticket out for Sunday and not have to wait to start planning on Monday. I took it, $2,100.00 coach one-way. The desk clerk could not refund me for the second night (no authority) but gave me an airport shuttle voucher and a breakfast voucher to credit to my account and would try to credit the rest to my card on Monday. OK.

Now, grub and a beer. Two doors down and across the street is a place called Manhattan, outside tables (I like that) so I took one. Too hot so I went inside, stool at bar, ordered a beer and a menu. Nice neat clean place. I looked at a poster on the wall but I could not make out what they were selling. It showed three young women topless standing front to back-very close to each other. I put my glasses on the read want product they were trying to sell, it only said "For women who love women". That's nice, friendly people here. Then I looked around the bar area, entirely too much eye contact. Then it hit me "lively area", the poster, GAY BAR! Check please. I'm a country boy, took me a while, I know. Walked another two blocks got a take-away and a six pack and barricaded myself in my old house.

Now the "lively" started. These gay types are not very quiet. Until 4:30 AM they partied and yelled and screeched tires and slammed doors and drunkenly looked for their cars and had loud discussions outside my windows continuously.

I waited until the 8 AM opening of the breakfast place that was written on my voucher and blearily walked there. Sorry we don't open until half past. There was already an angry mob there waiting to eat so I went to the Cottage office and got them to call the shuttle service to come earlier. Same guy, he was laughing. Now I know what lively means, I told him. He said Wed, Thur, Fri, and Sat nights were that way, the other three nights were quiet.

At the Cape town airport, which is small, I had to go to all the South African Airline windows to get my tickets printed and get seat assignments. Took over an hour but I got it done. Then they would not check my luggage because I was too early. Great, so I waited, walking around pushing my "trolley" until I saw a new clerk come on and got her to check my bags so I could go through security and get something to eat.

The rest of the trip to Atlanta was just the everyday normal experience of flying on that horrible long flight from Johannesburg to Atlanta. No service, no leg room, narrow seats. If you want something on that flight you have to get up and walk to a galley to interrupt a gossip session or newspaper reading to get some water or whatever. They don't even quit reading the paper they just reach up and grab a bottle and hand it to you with out ever looking up. It takes a lot of practice to do that. Did I mention that my seat back TV quit at the halfway point?

At Atlanta, I cleared customs and claimed the luggage and wheeled down to the baggage re-check area where there was a planeload of soldiers ahead of us. The Delta people just yelled at us to drop our bags and we all filled out hand tags for each of our bags and kept a copy, put the tag on our bags ourselves and left to catch our next flights. Guess whose bags were lost?

They got to the house about 6-8 hours after I did. No problem, my flights were over and the soldiers should have gone first anyway.

More on the BMW experience later. I have several for sale now.

Curtis-Out of Africa

Images from Africa, by Helge Pedersen

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