Cape Town To Cairo by motorbike. Done!

We need to admit this upfront: Cape Town to Cairo by motorbike was a fast ride. It’s been hard to wrap our heads around it, with countries changing sometimes on a weekly basis. The East route is arguably considered The Easy One. Partly because you can basically drive a fully automatic city car all the way. It’s tarred, except for the Moyale-Marsabit stretch, hailed as the suspension-killer of Africa. Frankly, the dreaded stretch was a bore. The Turkana route sounds far more adventurous and rewarding. We eluded a few times the asphalt curse, to pamper our Yamaha in some dirt and our souls in open horizons. The East Route is also The Expensive Route. No more pricey visas, but less rice’n beans mamas, more ‘budget’ campsites, more temptations (safaris etc). Few of us out here manage to do the road and trek $500/hour gorillas while at it. Sometimes it’s like spying from the street through the windows of a posh mansion where $25 per bottle bergamot-scented sea salt is a staple. A bit frustrating. Until you meet the people. East Africans are more mellow. Smiles flow, bush camping is a treat and hospitality paramount. Besides a sense of accomplishment, we note our only regret that we didn’t linger.

The highlights of this segment of ITW have been:

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The uber hospitable motorcycling community of South Africa & [highlight color=’#393939′ background_color=’#ccff00′]the Jones family from the vibrant Johannesburg

Exploring Lesotho and Ethiopian [highlight color=’#393939′ background_color=’#ccff00′]highlands[/highlight]

Flying over the [highlight color=’#393939′ background_color=’#ccff00′]Okavango Delta in flood[/highlight]. Made us want to go back to school and fulfill childhood fantasies of becoming naturalists.

Coming ‘home’ @ Zambia’s [highlight color=’#393939′ background_color=’#ccff00′]Rapid 14[/highlight]

Destination we’d most like to return to: Mozambique[/highlight]. The friendliest people, a chilled afro-latino vibe and lots of wilderness to get lost into across the little visited northern provinces.

[highlight color=’#393939′ background_color=’#ccff00′]Zanzibar[/highlight]. Truly a thing of beauty. In spite of all human mischiefs, the archipelago retains its allure. Natural beauty, amazing people, edge-of-the-world tranquility and (in our book) the best foodie destination across the continent.

[highlight color=’#393939′ background_color=’#ccff00′]Sudan, tamam![/highlight] Desert and desert people simply speak to our hearts.

The most surprising city: [highlight color=’#393939′ background_color=’#ccff00′]Cairo[/highlight]. Because of its diversity and superb architecture, reminiscent of Paris.

Best food: Zanzibari octopus; best drink: guava & lime in Sudan; best pudding: Zanzibari [highlight color=’#393939′ background_color=’#ccff00′]jackfruit[/highlight].

To conclude, here are the statistics for this leg:

[highlight color=’#393939′ background_color=’#ccff00′]Journey [/highlight]

• Countries visited: 9 (South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt)

• Number of days spent on the road: 136 (12.03.2012 – 25.07.2012)

• Nights in the tent: 57 (minus 1 on ferry, 78 in real beds – of which 59 couchsurfing in South Africa)

• Distance covered by bike: 21,200 km

• Distance covered together with other overlanders: 0 km (encountered plenty of them in Nairobi)

• Fuel burned: 1060 l

[highlight color=’#393939′ background_color=’#ccff00′]Records[/highlight]

• Highest daytime temperature: +54C (129.2F) (Nubian desert, Sudan)

• Lowest daytime temperature : +7C (Ethiopian Highlands)

• Record continuous riding (km): 730 (Abu Hamad – Dongola, Sudan)

• Record continuous riding (hours): 14 (Addis Ababa – Lalibela, Ethiopia)

• Highest altitude reached by bike: 3,251m / 10,666ft (Tlaeeng Pass, Lesotho)

[highlight color=’#393939′ background_color=’#ccff00′]Maintanance[/highlight]

• Engine oil used: 9 l

• Engine oil filters used: 3

• Air filters cleaned: 5 times

• Front tires used: 1 (Heidenau K60 Scout, bought in Windhoek, totaling an astonishing 25,000 km)

• Rear tires used: 2 (1 Heidenau K60 Scout from Windhoek to Durban, proved faulty, replaced; 1 Michelin Anakee 2 from Durban to Awasa, Ethiopia, where I switched to a second hand K60, a give-away from JJ’s Chris)

• Punctured tires: 2 (both in Nairobi)

• Front brake pad sets used: 2 (new sets from JoBurg with the new discs, thanks to Linex Yamaha)

• Rear brake pad sets used: 2

• Rear brake disks used: 0

• Sprocket sets used: 2

• Chains used: 2 (1 from Cape to Cairo, where we bought a new one from the Yamaha dealer)

• Biking gear washed (times): 5

• Bike washed (times): 2

• Tent washed (times): 1

• Mattresses washed (times): 1

• Haircuts: 3

[highlight color=’#393939′ background_color=’#ccff00′]Problems[/highlight]

• Offroad crashes: 7

• Onroad crashes: 0

• Crashes with other vehicles: 0

• Stops by the police: 1 (excluding as usual military posts). In Cairo it was the first time our panniers got searched, medicine packaging broken and mechanical bits spread in the street, making sure that the suspiciously shabby looking motorbike terrorists would not harm the egyptian people.

• Fines for speeding: 0

• Breakdowns: 0

• Minor technical issues: 2 (gear lever replaced with moped bit – Mozambique; exhaust pipe cracked – Egypt)

• Damaged gear: 9 (broken prime lens – Tanzania; broken laptop – Tanzania; broken GPS – Sudan; tankbag torn – R.S.A.; duffel bag proven faulty – Tanzania; several clothing items disintegrated)

• Health issues: 2 (food poisoning – Ana @ Ethiopia; scorpion & Tse Tse sting – Ana @ Mozambique)

• Stolen items: 0

• Lost items: 2 (glove – Lesotho; sunglasses – Egypt)

[highlight color=’#393939′ background_color=’#ccff00′]Money & Visa [/highlight]

• Most expensive fuel: 52 Meticais/l (1,5 Euro/l) – Mozambique

• Cheapest fuel: 1,8 Egyptian pound/liter (0,24 Euro/l) – Egypt

• Local SIM cards bought: 2 (RSA, Egypt)

• Countries with Vodafone roaming available: 8 (South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt)

• Countries not requiring visa for Romanian citizens: 3 (Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania)

Oricum, in timp ce punem pe hartie toate astea, planuim deja urmatoarea miscare. Mi-am cumparat cu 1 euro ( 5 lire egiptene) casti noi pentru shuffle, si ascult Staff Benda Bilili. Cantecele sunt triste si vesele deopotriva – congolezii au talentul de a gasi ironia, si chiar umorul, in situatii fara de speranta, si fac muzica din asta. Coco imi sopteste in ureche despre sora lui ramasa in cealalta Congo, si fara sa vreau zambesc, pentru ca acum am macar o vaga idee despre ce e vorba in cantecul lui. Imi amintesc cat de frusta era viata noastra in jungla din inima Africii. Roger imi intrerupe sirul gandurilor cu inconfundabila sa ‘chitara’, fabricata dintr-o conserva de lapte praf. Ritmul e irezistibil. Ochii mi se umezesc, si simt ca [highlight color=’#393939′ background_color=’#ccff00′]inimile noastre au ramas cumva in aceasta alta Africa, cea corupta, cea dezordonata, cea greu de inteles si de traversat. Cea usor de iubit.[/highlight]

In any case, we’re well into planning our next move as I write this. I bought new earphones for my shuffle with 1 euro ( 5 egyptian pounds) and I’m listening to Staff Benda Bilili. The songs are both sad and joyful — the Congolese always seem to find the irony, and even the humor in often hopeless situations, and make music about them. As Coco’s unmistakable voice sings about his sister, I smile and I nod, now I am able to understand a little of what he’s talking about. I remember how raw our life in the open bush of central Africa has been. Roger’s impossibly delicate string attached to a milk tin interrupts my recollection. My limbs struggle to resist the beat. As my eyes wet, I somehow feel [highlight color=’#393939′ background_color=’#ccff00′]our hearts remained with this other Africa, the corrupt, the messy, the difficult to understand and to cross. The easy to love.[/highlight]