Touring Ted

2 wheels & no sense. My Motorcycle travel blog.

Archive for January, 2011


After leaving our hosts in Blantyre, James and I headed to the border of Mozambique. We were almost there when I got pulled over for speeding… I might have been speeding, I’m not sure. The dodgy cop didn’t know either but he thought it was worth a punt.

The usual routine of bartering for bribes was avoided as I faked a case of Malaria and my desperation to get to a clinic for a test.  They let me go immediately and luckily couldn’t see James laughing under his helmet..

The border was smooth and easy like usual now. No problems at all once you get used to the hoards of money changers and hawkers…

We got to the town of Tete a couple of hours later and crossed the infamously crowded Zambezi Bridge in no time at all and looked for accommodation. As the only campsite was shut down, we ended up pitching our tents in a bar/motel car park!! Nice!!

We spent our first night battling with our Portuguese (yes they speak it in Mozambique) and getting used to the insufferable heat… Mozambique seems so much more developed than the rest of Africa. The signs of getting South I guess. ATMs are everywhere, internet, good food etc etc. And the prices were rising too.

Another days ride and we were in Chimoio and the “pink Papaya” hostel. Nice, but nothing special… The same old routine of wandering around town, doing some shopping etc etc.

At this point mine and James’s plans differed. I really wanted to head to the coast, the Indian ocean and all its spectacular glory. James wanted to stay inland and head to Zimbabwe. We shook hands and agreed to meet up in South Africa.

So off I set, 300 miles to my first coastal destination, Vilanculo.  A fantastic beach town and stunning coastline. I checked myself into “Boabab” campsite/bar and got comfortable. I met so many cool people, hung out on the beach, learnt to Scuba dive, chilled out of boats eating Calamari, partying in “Afrobar”  and getting back into running on the pristine white beaches. This was the life and a well deserved break from all the riding.

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Ten days later, I finally managed to drag my arse out of there and head 200 miles down the coast to yet another beach location. More touristy and “backpacker” than the last place but equally as pretty. I booked myself in for a Scuba dive and it true “me” style, I got some faulty equipment, ran out of air 20 metres underwater and had to so an emergency shared air ascent.. Life is never easy when you’re me. LOL!!  On the dive I met a great bunch of South Africans who treated me to my first “braii” and good South African wine.. Ahhhhhhh Life is good!!

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Alas, I had to move on eventually as I was meeting James in South Africa in a few days. Off I went and headed to the Mozambique capital, Maputo.

The road was smooth and modern and the miles fell away. The ony disruptions were the rain storms which completely soak you through in 30 seconds! Still, I am British and used to the rain on two wheels.

Rolling into Maputo I thought I was going to hate the place. The outskirts were dirty and derelict with lots of traffic. I headed straight to the centre and to “The base” backpackers where things changed quickly. What a lovely city. Very European and cosmopolitan with just enough African dirt and chaos to keep it different. You could really see the Portuguese money and influence there. It’s a shame the Africans have left a lot of it to go to shit once they kicked out the Portuguese.   I spent three great days hanging out with the guys I met at the hostel, watching Jazz bands and exploring the city. I could of spent a good while longer there but time was ticking on and I had a border to cross…

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So, after a few toll roads, long lines at the border and multiple passport stamps I made it through the border to South Africa..

BLIMEY! What a transition. I was in the west again.  Modern structures, working ATM’s, good fast roads, KFC’s, etc etc!!

I’m now in Nelspruit in a very modern hostel. They have a large LCD TV, hot water and a toaster. WOOOO!!! I bought a good bottle of red wine for £3 and sat down to watch the FA Cup games on a large TV. I realised I hadn’t seen any TV in five months which wasn’t a burnt out 14” portable TV with 50 other people huddled around it…

So, this is it … I’m in South Africa. I guess it’s all easy now!! Although, knowing me, there will be plenty of surprises to follow.

After a fantastic New years party at Cool Runnings, me and James headed to Cape Mclear; a little village into a peninsular in the South. On our way out of town, we were dissapointed to find out that there was no fuel.. We checked out tanks and decided we could make it and were counting on getting fuel at our destination.. We cruised down the nice tarmac road. We almost had the road to ourselves which really helps you to relax a little and absorb the always fantastic scenery… 10 miles short of our destination, we were faced with rutted and corrugated sand to get to the village.  To add to the fun, there was no fuel in town so we were going to be stuck there for a couple of days at least, preying for a fuel delivery. Malawians are all pretty friendly so I swapped phone numbers with the pump attendant so he could let us know when fuel was back in town…

We rattled, skidded and slid in the sand and finally made it to “Fat Monkeys” campsite, right on the beach. Sweeet !!!

There we met a great bunch of South Africans who were on their way North. We chilled out with them for a days and exchanged details. They gave us their addresses and demanded we stay in their houses while they were on the road. Brilliant.. That’s a common trend occurring with all the South Africans I’m meeting on the road. They’re bloody hospitable.

So as usual, I spent the next few days lazing on the beach, swapping stories with other travellers, walking into town and amusing the local kids with my white skin and watching the football with the locals in the beach bar. (Being an LFC fan is a little depressing though and boy, they love to take the piss).

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Alas, all good things come to an end. With a phone call to the petrol station, I was told fuel was once more available so we packed up and head off the next morning..

The rain had been hard the night before and the road had turned into a muddy swamp.  I was ok on my DRZ but James’ BMW with road tyres couldnt hack it and he had a topple which broke his “fisherprice” BMW plastic panniers…

After an hour of banging, hacking, screwing and bolting around on the muddy road his panniers were again usuable and we were on our way to blantyre… The last stop until Mozambique.

We spent the next couple of days in a bleek hostel in Blantyre. In that time we managed to get fined/bribed by local cops for not carrying out insurance documents with us, I managed to pay £90 for a tent I thought was £50 (and that was overpriced at that) and also meet up with some friends that we met at “Cool runnings” at New years. We went out drinking and then they offered to put us up in their house for a couple of extra days… Two days of creature comforts, BBQs, clean beds and country walks was just what the doctor ordered…

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We were ready for Mozambique…….


Author: Ted Magnum

Christmas Eve…..The border crossing from Tanzania to Malawi was straight forward as most of Africa is. We were in and out within an hour which was just as well in this new tropical heat.  What was different was the tenacity of the money changers. We were literally mobbed by 30 guys all waving money in our faces.. I was almost pulled off my bikes by these guys desperate to make a little commission.

When you’re dealing with hundreds of thousands in local currency with people throwing numbers and cash in your face it soon becomes very confusing ! Even me with my shrewd cash handling skills usually gets talked out of a few quid… You are just so keen to get rid of them, you lose your cool head.

Alas, we were in Malawi and finally heading to the lake !!  The scenery is lush, green and tropical. I have to constantly remind myself how lucky I am to be riding through such fantastic landscapes.  I guess I’m just used to it now. I don’t know anything different. It’s going to be a depressing shock to be back on the grey, dull, wet roads of the U.K.

We picked a campsite recommended to me by a guy I met in Egypt, Andre !! Barely 100 miles down the highway and a few miles down a sandy , rocky dirt path and we were at Singilo Sanctuary lodge, right on the lakeside…..  WOW!!!!

Lake Malawi was not what I expected. Beautiful, clear, still water and white clean beaches.  Little wooden lodges, candle lights and palm trees.  We were the only guests and had the place to ourselves. Mark, the Brit owner chatted to us and told us how Ewan and Charlie had stayed there on their “Long way down”… The stories he told us were quite amusing but hardly surprising… That’s another story though.

Anyway, we couldn’t hang around as we were looking for a cool place for Christmas.  In our minds was Nhkata Bay… An American girl on a bike that we met in Mbyer told that if there was a party on the lake, it would be there and she wasn’t wrong.

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60 miles south on the lake and we cruised into Nhkata bay and into really cool hostel spread over the lake front. Full of travellers, peace core volunteers and ex pats, it was really a great mixing pot. The next few days were spent drinking, eating, lounging about on the beach, swimming in the lake and hanging out with the local beach boys. Malawians are just SOOO friendly; anyone could be a friend for life.

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Christmas dinner was steak and chips in the Mzungu (white folk) bar in the town and plenty of cocktails followed by a Hawaiian fancy  dress party and lots of local cane spirit back at the hostel. As usual I got rather drunk and had a great time partying with people from all over the world… Boxing day (after the hangover had subsided) involved slaughtering a pig and hog roasting it over a fire pit ! And of course, a fair few more beers. (when in Rome)..

ta bay, we headed for another must stop spot called “kande beach”.  Being on the beach, we fumbled our way down the sand road but were rewarded with a fabulous camping site and bar literally on the beach…

So what have I been doing. Well, just cruising my way down Lake Malawi staying at beautiful beach side lodges.  Swimming in the warm, still waters, working on my tan and drinking cheap beer. It has been such a fantastic experience. The scenery is all gorgeous, green tropics, Mountains, lakes etc etc.

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For new years eve we ended up in “Cool Runnings” lake side lodge. Hosted by the WONDERFUL Samantha, we relaxed even further and partied with the local ex pats and worldly travellers. I even came second place in the Hippie fancy dress party and won a boat trip out to one of the lake Islands for Scuba diving and other frolics…Fabulous !!

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Next stop is Blantyre and Mozambique… South Africa is getting closer !