Wednesday, April 20, 2011

To Jungle Junction

Hussain woke me up for prayers, and by this time we were really tired have not slept well for two nights.  We continued on and were lucky that our GPS map had the location of Jungle Junction "JJ".

We got to JJ around 10:00 am and started to unload the bikes, and get our things in order. The bikes were damaged from the transport so our parts list got bigger fast. We cleaned out things from three days of dust, and managed to get a flight booking for the same day at night since it made no sense to spend our vacation waiting for parts to arrive.

We would leave our bikes and things in storage at JJ and came back with the parts to continue once they arrive. Chris was a great help and went to through the damage in preparation for the spare parts list. This was also a good opportunity to send back two of the Helmet cams since they were faulty and needed to be repaired.

We should arrive tomorrow morning in Kuwait.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

On our way to Nairobi

We spent the night about 40 km form Marsabit at Bubisa where Ali took out his mattress and sleeping bag, and Hussain and I slept in the truck cabin.

When we reached Marsabit we bought better rope, and had breakfast at a restaurant. Then around noon we continued on to Nairobi. At this point we had made our phone calls and contacts and realized that the spare parts would take a long time to reach Nairobi. Also there was only one place for us to go and that was to Chris and Jungle Junction.

We reached tarmac by 3:30 pm and continued stopping briefly for dinner and prayers. at one town we stopped and realized that the truck was in bad shape, for one there were problems with the brakes, and one of the injection points on the engine was leaking diesel , and the front suspension strut was loose.

The driver wrapped the injection point with tape and moved on until about 50 Km from Nairobi were we stopped on the side of the road at 2 am to sleep, as usual Ali took his mattress and sleeping bag and slept under the truck while Hussain and I slept in the cabin.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Oh No Moyale Road

We loaded our bikes early, and then had breakfast so that we can make use of the daylight. We left Moyale on the gravel road with plenty of water with us just in case we don't make the 250 km to Mersabit and have to camp. Although we were told there would be villages on the way that sold water.

We started slow, and then I began to pick up the pace going 60 to 70 kph , it was great on the knobby tires standing and having the suspension to the work. Occasionally I would slow down and wait for Ali and Hussain to catch-up. I saw blue birds that were running across the road as well as camels and some sort of midget dear.

About 44 km in Ali stated that his bike is smoking so I made a U turn and saw the smoke. It turned out that his suspension was leaking fluid onto the exhaust pipe. Hussain also mentioned an alarm on his bike ( It turned out to be the anti-skid) but his bike also was leaking and smoking.

We waited a while to see if we can get a truck to take us to Nairobi since ridding the bikes long distance was not an option. A truck going into Moyale (Opposite the direction we wanted) He stopped and started to help us , he made phone calls and directed us to go back to Moyale and get a truck tomorrow since all the trucks have left for the day.

We rode back to Moyale and on the way I saw a baboon in the middle of the road then started to feel some knocking, and when I stopped I realized that my bike also started leaking suspension fluid.

When we got to Moyale we were able to rent a truck to take us all the way to Nairobi, we loaded the bikes and then left Moyale at 2 pm. On the way we stopped several times because the bikes got loose and fell on each other, especially since the ropes were not good quality and not enough, and the road was very bumpy.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

We left after having breakfast consisting of a few eggs and some tea and realized after leaving that the tall shapes we have encountered yesterday are in fact termite mounds. So we decided to take a picture with one.

After stopping near a village where one of these mounds was the villagers came to right to us to see what we were doing, we wanted the village in the back ground but the villagers refused to let us take pictures unless we paid them. So we left and found another mound with no claims on the right to take a picture.

When we arrived at the border we had some trouble with getting fuel since one of the stations started to change the price once we arrived, and after Ali spoke to him he refused to fill our bikes so we went to another station to fill up.

We got to the border around 12:30 pm and were told that since it was a week end the lunch break is until 3:00 pm so we went to a nearby Mosque to pray and rest. The locals showed us were to have lunch and at 3:00 pm we were at the immigrations office getting our passports stamped and changing money.

When we went to the customs office to stamp our Carnet we found out that they were closed and would not open until tomorrow. Luckily Ali met a truck driver who knows the customs officer so he called him to come in with the promise that we would pay for his overtime.

Once we were out of Ethiopia, the Kenya side was straight forward and took only 20 minutes. We then went to the only Hotel in town that we can see from kilometers away since it was at least 5 stories high. We wanted to rest since tomorrow is going to be a long day traveling 250 Km on a gravel road from Moyale to Marsabit.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

To Yabello

We left Awassa knowing that we will not be staying at another place like it in a long time. We continued on the somewhat nice roads though many villages and hills, and stopped briefly for some pictures and dates.

When we arrived at the crossroads to Yabello we noticed a nice hotel on the road, Ali went to ask about their prices while I continued and asked some of the locals who stated that there was a motel nearby but when I asked which had the better accommodations it was the Hotel.

There were many mosquitos so we had to use our bug repellent to make sure we were not bitten to death.

It was a small town with nothing there. Tomorrow we go to Moyale Kenya and cross the border.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Lovely Awassa

We left after having a god breakfast, and briefly visited the Kuwait embassy before fill up with fuel and leaving for Awassa. In the beginning there was too much traffic with many trucks blowing dark diesel smoke everywhere, when we got out of the city it was better with many hills and prairies to see.

Hussain saw a mosque so we decided to stop and pray, we met the locals and they recited some Quran to us since it was also a Quran school. When we wanted to leave we had some trouble starting the bikes. The sound is one I have not heard before it was as if the engine was turning without any combustion. Only when I had the throttle fully open that I sensed the engine coming alive. We believe that the fuel in Addis was not good or was mixed with something else.

We continued another 30 km to Awassa and entered the biggest resort that overlooked the lake it was named "Haile" after a famous marathon runner who owns it.

There were many types of birds there, and people were fishing. We had fish for dinner and rested for the next part which is going to Yabello.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dinner Show

Husain and Ali started the day by changing the tires while I worked on updating the blog. There is much footage to look at and the HD video takes a long time to transfer.

Hussain and Ali were so overwhelmed by the chaos at the tire installation shop that they didn’t notice that two tires were installed the wrong way , so after lunch they went back to the shop to get them done right.

We installed the tires in about 30 minutes which is not bad for three sets. Later we met the Ambassador and his staff at the local restaurant and witnessed their local music and dance.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Changing Tires

In the morning; Ali and Husain went to look for a place to replace our tires, while I worked on the blog and video editing. Mr. Adel Haider informed us that we would be having lunch with the Ambassador Mr. Ahmad Al-Whaib at his house where we also met Mr. Mohammad Al Alati.

After lunch we took Ali's rear tire to make sure that the place we found knew what to do. They never changed Motorcycle tires before so we had to be there when they did the rest tomorrow.

The Ambassador also invited us to a folklore dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant tomorrow night to get a flavor for their art. We spent the rest of the evening removing all the tires from the bikes to save time tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The twisty road to Addis Ababa

After a good breakfast we left Debre Markos for Addis Ababa the capital of Ethiopia and the landscape continued to be very nice with farm land everywhere you see with workers still plowing the land manually with animals. The road was nice and twisty with only minor construction at some sites.

We got to the Hotel that has a slow internet connection so I don't know how much I can actually upload for all to see. The internet in Africa is not very accessible, and I don't expect to connect again until we reach Nairobi.

Mr. Adel Haidar took us on a tour of the city and informed us that our Metzler Karoo tires have finally passed customs here for us to install in preparation for the 450 gravel road into Kenya from Moyale.

Monday, April 11, 2011

To Debre Markos

We hadn't filled any fuel since Sudan and we needed to fill up to reach Debre Markos which is only 255 km from here. It turns out that there is a shortage of fuel in Ethiopia and that in Bahir Dar it is getting rationed which meant that we had to go to a government office to get a slip to get some fuel and we were only permitted 10 liters each.

At the station Ali and I fill 10 each, and then when Hussain went to the pump it was out of fuel, so we went to another station and got only 5 liters for Hussain before it also went dry. We were told that there would be fuel after 84 km from here but we discovered it was after 170 km.

At this point the landscape was beautiful it was as if we were riding in France or Switzerland only the people were much poorer and had a darker complexion. The donkeys and livestock were all over the roads and in all directions which made our pace slower even though the roads were very good.

We left Bahir Dar around noon, and arrived in Debre Markos at 4 pm.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lake Tana

We took a tour of the town and a boat ride to the start of the Blue Nile and the Debre Mareyam Monastery on one of the islands of the lake.

We then went into town for some ethiopian coffie and then dinner at the Hotel.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

To Bahir Dar

After another breakfast of Dates and Digestive, we packed our tents and sleeping bags and headed out of Sudan and into Ethiopia. We started at 9:00 am and finally got the letter faxed to an Ethiopian town 35 km. from the border, then waited for the fixer to go get it and got into Ethiopia by noon.

We also discovered that the Ethiopian Calendar is 2003, and Ethiopian Time is 6 hours ahead. Once we left the border it was 39 deg. C and didn't get any cooler until we started getting into some elevation about 120 km later.

The terrain started to change and we started seeing mountains. I saw a snake cross the road and we all saw some monkeys.

We all didn’t get the proper rest from the border town so we rested along the road; however the locals are always curios and kept Hussain up while Ali and I rested.

We reached the town of Bahir Dar and decided to stay an extra night to see where the Blue Nile starts at Lake Tana.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Way to Al-Qallabat

We left the hotel around 9:30 am and headed to Al-Qallabat which is the border town between Sudan and Ethiopia. We had to stop several times at check posts since all foreigners need to register entry and exit. We passed several villages that are starting to take a different look than the ones we had seen in the past.

After a few hours we stopped for fuel but the petrol station didn't have any so we headed to Gedarif to fill up. On our way towards the border right before Doka we passed a couple riding bicycles from Spain who started from Sharm Al-Shaik in February. We said hello gave them our contact email in hopes that we keep in touch.

When we reached Al-Qallabat we were told to register at the local authorities, and then a fixer mentioned the need for a guarantee letter for our bikes from the embassy to enter Ethiopia. After finding a "Hotel" yard to sleep in Ali went with the fixer to the Ethiopian side to inquire about this letter since we hadn't heard of it before. It turns out it is a new rule that any foreigner needs a letter from his embassy stating that he will not sell his vehicle in Ethiopia. It is Friday, and tomorrow the Kuwait Embassy is closed for the weekend. So Ali called Mr. Adel Haider from the Kuwait embassy in Ethiopia to see about getting the document faxed to us by tomorrow when we enter Ethiopia.

An hour later the letter was ready but we needed to wait until tomorrow to get it faxed.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Nile

We took a taxi to where the white and blue Nile comes together, unfortunately we couldn't see much since there is nowhere to view it from unless you are in the car on a bridge.

We take the rest of the day off to rest for the ride tomorrow to the border.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Visit Kuwait Embassy in Khartoum

We visited the Kuwait Embassy in Khartoum where we met Mr. Khalid Al-Harbi, and Mr. Nawaf Al-Nemran, we also got interviewed by KUNA and Kuwait TV Channel 1.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

To Khartoum

After waking up for prayers and breakfast consisting of a few dates and cookies we set off on our way to Atbara with a distance of about 400 Km. We passed many villages with old mud houses and rode along a railroad track that looked abandoned, however we did hear a train last night so may be it is still in use.

When we reached Atbara we didn’t like the hotel there so we decided to move on to Khartoum, but before we did we had lunch at a local restaurant since Hussain wanted to taste Nile fish.

We moved on to Khartoum and reached there near sundown where we stayed at the Rotana Al-Salam Hotel. When we wanted to register we found out that credit card companies are not operating in Sudan, and that our ATM card would not work here either. Luckily we have our cash to relay on in such situations.

We were very surprised by the weather; it was 36 to 37 deg. C with a nice breeze

Monday, April 4, 2011

We are in Africa

We woke up to the sound of prayers waiting for the arrival on Africa soil. We were told that the ferry will travel for 12 hours which made the arrival after 1 pm. By this time I am not feeling well I think I have a cold. It took us more than 3 hours to finish customs and leave Suakin.

We were told that the weather is nice and cool in Sinkat so we headed there which is just 60 km. We stopped at a local shop to fill up with water in preparation to camp for the night, when the local authorities requested to see our papers and took their good time deciding what to do.

By the time we could go, it was too late it was almost sundown and we don't ride at night. So we managed to spend the night at the police station and head to Atbara tomorrow.