Lusaka to Maun, Stages 68 to 75
Three days cycling, two rest days in Victoria Falls, then five more cycling days. A total of 1206km, 4000m of climbing all on paved roads and to be honest it was really boring scenery !!
Out of Lusaka we had 158km to go, our destination was a soccer field, not great but it would have to do ! The first 30km through the town was very busy with traffic and unfortunately one of our riders had an accident with a local cyclist. The local ended up with a broken arm and our guy, Jan, had a broken collar bone and dislocated shoulder. We never saw him again as he was taken back to Lusaka hospital and all his kit and bike were taken to him the following morning, as soon as he could, he flew home. It was such a shock to everyone as he was a very popular guy and never got to say goodbye !
To be honest we were all dazed after the accident and the rest of the day was just a blur. The camp was as we expected, basic, no toilets or showers so it was back to digging your own hole again
Day two, 183km and 777m of climbs, another tough day, as I said before the scenery was tedious, just the same thing all day, trees !! Even the climb didn’t have a good view although it did brake up the monotony
The camp was called Ruze Chalets, despite trying very hard to get there early so I could get a room, I was to late and therefore pitched my tent. Plenty of space and at least there were toilets and showers this time !
The bar was also good, beer for only 5 kwatcha, a bargain, we supped a few of them and after the day we had we deserved them !!
Day three, my legs are feeling the pace and today we have 150km and 500m of climbs, it doesn’t get any easier
Tonight we’ll be in Victoria Falls, so looking forward to that and two rest days, my legs, especially my knees are in need of a rest !!
To be honest the day was ok, I made lunch fairly early and then cruised in the afternoon, the hardest part was getting through the town and out to the hotel and camp ground, I picked up a couple who’d started from lunch just before the town and we navigated our way through together. We finally arrived at the Waterfront Hotel and Camp at about 1.30, a good day !!
Naomi and I had reserved a room in advance and despite having trouble finding reception at first, I was soon in my room and even better, in the shower !!
When Naomi arrived I was in the bar, my third beer I think ! Any way TDA were just about to donate another 50 bikes, this time to local schools. Having bikes available makes it easier for kids who live far away to get to school on time. The kids even put on a short play about how having bikes affect there lives, they were brilliant
Rest day 1, there’s so much to do in Victoria Falls and no shortage of ways of relieving you of your hard earned money, top of the list was white water rafting but the river was to high so this wasn’t available !!
Next up is to go and see the Falls, the guide book says its better from the Zimbabwe side so Naomi, Inge, Katie and myself got a taxi to the bridge, got a visa in our passports and then walked across the bridge to Zimbabwe
Now what do you think they’ve got on the bridge ? Yep it’s a bungee jump, 111m over the river with the falls behind you, how could I resist !! Within twenty minutes I’d signed up, was strapped in and standing on the edge waiting for the final countdown, it wasn’t until this point that I was finally nervous, I’ve done six jumps before but this was the big one. Maybe I’m getting older and wiser but as I stood there waiting to jump, I finally questioned why I was doing this !
I took a deep breath and dived out into this huge void and within a few seconds the bungee had me recoiling back up, now I remember why I do this, because its scary, because it makes you feel alive and because I can !!
Jump complete, video and photos paid for, we continued to the park entrance and the falls, a quick stop for coffee and cake first, excellent food and great service
Next stop the falls, there’s a two kilometre path that takes you pretty close to the edge, the falls are opposite at all times and they are incredible, I knew they’d be good but this was beyond everything I could of hoped. Within seconds we were soaked, the spray falls like rain here and everything is lush and green. The water thunders as it cascades over the falls, it’s almost deafening, fortunately the sun was shining so we were wet but warm, our clothes stuck to our bodies as we desperately tried to keep our cameras and passports dry !!
I must have taken hundreds of photos, many to be deleted later. When we’d finished we headed back to the cafe for lunch as the prices were reasonable and the food looked good, it also tasted good, fortunately !
Next stop was the town of Victoria Falls, this is actually on the Zimbabwe side, Livingstone is on the Zambian side. We walked into town, had a look round this heavily tourist orientated town, stopped for a beer and icecream then headed back to the hotel .
Rest day 2, we’d bit the bullet here and splashed out on micro light flights, basically for $160 you get a pilot, two bucket seats, a cloth wing and a fairly powerful engine !
Naomi, Eerin and a guy called Mike all went together, we each took a ticket and waited our turn, Eerin was first up followed by Mike. I was next to go, I was strapped into the seat, helmet and coms on and with a quick “all set” to Grant the pilot we were of. The micro light sped down the runway and in about 100m we were airborne, we banked left and climbed into the bright blue sky, the falls were over to our right and you could see the spray / mist and a myriad of rainbows. We turned towards the falls, lining up with the ravine they fall into, just then Grant mentioned that it would get bumpy, to be honest I thought it was great fun and put my arms out like a big kid flying
We banked right now heading back down the river, Grant pointed out pods of hippos, there were quite a few, they tend to stay on the sand banks so they can put there heads up to breathe.
Next we banked hard right and lined up for the landing, again Grant said it could be rough but with over 4500 flights he was up to the task. On landing he did put the micro light straight into the hanger as he said the conditions were now to windy to fly !!
I made it back in time to see Naomi land, her pilot had no qualms about flying in the wind !!
I should have mentioned that Naomi doesn’t like heights, so the idea of her up in a micro light in strong winds is almost unthinkable !!
She arrived back almost dumb struck, terrified, bless her though she held herself together long enough to collect the photos and get back to the hotel before she went to pieces, but pieces is what happened !! It took the rest of the day for her to get over it, I’m proud of her for actually doing it and not asking the pilot to land immediately !!
The rest of the day was all about food, beer and rest, we rested most of the day then took a taxi to a very posh hotel for a Royal High Tea, basically you pay $20 each and you get a glass of sparkling wine, then drink as much tea or coffee as up you like, the choice of both was overwhelming !! And also eat as many cakes and pastries, both savoury and sweet, as you like. The surroundings were beautiful and very posh, the staff were courteous and friendly and the cakes and pastries were to die for, all in all, a brilliant afternoon.
We then went to dinner with about 16 other people, it was Inge’s last day so this was her fair well meal, the food was good and the company even better but as per usual we hit the sack early as we had plenty of miles to cover the next day
Riding day 4, 81km, 450m of climbs, destination Kasane in Botswana !
Yep we cross another border and cycle into yet another country and to do this we get to take a very short ferry ride, the border is literally on the other side. It was a very quick process and we were quickly on our way for the last 10km to camp. It’s so good to get to camp and find a bar and swimming pool, first things first though, a quick trip to town and the ATM !!
Riding day 5, Kasane to a Road Camp !, 172km, 571m of climbs, on paved roads !!
I left first, quite glad I did because after about 7km I came across two elephants on the verge. I stopped about 70m away to take photos then waited until they started to move away. As they turned to go back into the bush I crept forward slowly but one of the elephants turned towards me so again I stopped and withdrew until it was completely safe to continue !!
After about 5km, I was stopped by a car coming towards me. The driver explained that there was a heard of elephants further on. I proceeded cautiously until I saw them, they were on the righthand verge, about a dozen of them. I took photos then I clapped my hands just once but hard, the result sounded like a rifle shot and the elephants turned and walked away, phew !!
The last 20km or so was on some very bad roads, they were building a new road to our left so we were sharing what was left of the old road with some very large construction trucks, lots of dust and noise ad some very close calls !!
Finally we made camp, literally in a lay bye, not a great camp but tree was nothing else !!
Riding day 6, Road Camp to Nata, 146km, 488m of climbs, paved roads
Naomi took a day of here, the 172km day had tired her out, I road the whole day and again saw a few elephants, just as well because the scenery was boring, I struggled after lunch but was saved by Jared, an 18year old lad from Canada, he road in front all afternoon and sheltered me from the headwinds, we stopped for coke about 10km from camp and as we were about to leave we met Rob so we all cycled in together.
Another great camp, swimming pool, great showers, bar, food and rooms, the rooms were expensive so we camped instead and used the facilities. The TDA crew had organised a quiz in the evening and I’m happy to say that the team Naomi and myself were on came joint first
Riding day 7, Nata to Bush Camp, 185km, 200m of climbs, on paved roads !
The started badly as one of our riders had an accident less than 10km from camp, he was struck by a truck and the resulting fall meant that for the second year running he would not complete the tour due to a broken hip !!
After that it was a day of headwinds for the riders, Naomi and I had organised a trip with Darrel in his safari jeep, we were hoping to be shown some wildlife but due to Klaus’s accident we couldn’t as his vehicle was now needed as a water carrier. The Hilux normally does this but it was taking Klaus to hospital !
We arrived at camp early and set up our tents, it was yet another basic camp, no showers or toilets and lots of thorns. I don’t think we missed much in terms of scenery during the day and it also helped Jared as the bike he was due to ride had a flat tyre, he used mine for the day and seemed to get on with “Kylie” just fine
Riding day 8, Bush Camp to Maun, 133km, 241m of climbs on paved roads.
Destination The Sedia Hotel in Maun, first though the small matter of a 70km race to lunch. Naomi decided that she’d have a go at this as the shorter distance might suit her. We left together, me in front trying to spare her from the wind and keeping the pace high, sadly after about 44km one of the other female riders passed us and Naomi knew that it was all over. We still tried hard until lunch and I think Naomi eventually came third, not to shabby on a heavy touring bike
We cycled together for the rest of the day, mostly into a strong headwind with nothing much to look at, in fact the scenery was so bad we ended up taking photos of dung beetles and crickets instead
Finally we were in sight of the hotel and fortunately there was a small shopping area with an ATM, we stopped and got drinks and money before heading to the hotel, we were fortunate to have arrived quite early as we managed to get a room, a rest day tomorrow, it’s been a tough week with long miles and strong headwinds. We’ve also lost a rider and this really makes you think just how crazy this trip really is.
Oh well, time to sort laundry, blogs, email, Facebook, bike maintenance and shopping and if there’s time left we’ll relax and chill out !!