Monthly Archives: April 2019

12 April: Rest day 2 in Livingston

I need to put the mosquito net down tonight as I have been bitten during the night.

After breakfast, where we did our best to hold onto the crockery and utensils long enough to eat, Brett and I walked down to the travel office to find out if there was any word on the helicopter. The guy in the office didn’t know so we said we would leave it until tomorrow, and we thought he was going to book us in at 10 am tomorrow.

We got a taxi along with another rider called Steve to the Zambian border.  Steve works as a physiotherapist with disabled children. This is Steve’s first TDA tour but he has done lots of self-supported tours all round the world. Steve has a 13 year old Chihuahua called Shirley.

We had paid for a double entry to Zambia so we can visit Zimbabwe for the day. The taxi driver then took us through no man’s land to the Zimbabwe border.


Crossing Vic Falls Bridge into Zimbabwe

Getting through was pretty quick and from there it was a short walk to the Victoria Falls. The falls are one of the 7 natural wonders of the world and they are amazing. We spent about an hour and a half walking around looking at the falls from different vantage points.

We had a phone call while we were there from the helicopter company, who advised they were on the way to pick us up at camp. The man at the travel company had not passed on the message. Hopefully we have arranged it now for 10am tomorrow!

After the falls we went by taxi to the Victorian Falls Hotel which was originally the lodge where the engineers who built the bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe stayed while they were building it.

The Victoria Falls Hotel is a lovely old hotel and we had a drink on the deck of the restaurant where you had a great view of the bridge.


Victoria Falls Hotel, G & T before lunch

The components of the bridge were constructed in England and shipped in parts to Mozambique and transported overland to Victoria Falls. The bridge was designed by Sir Ralph Freeman who also designed the Sydney harbour bridge.


Vic Falls Bridge


Victoria Falls Hotel, view from the back deck

We had arranged for the taxi driver to come back and get us and he dropped us back to the Zimbabwe border. In hindsight we should have got him to wait while we went through Customs and take us to Zambian border. In the 2 km of no-man lands we were constantly harassed by locals wanting to sell us wooden animals, plates, copper bracelets and paintings. We were told they would have no money to feed the wife and family if we didn’t buy from them. I managed to get away with only buying 2 wooden animals and 4 copper bracelets. It was a relief to get off the bridge and through the border back into Zambia.

At 4pm we were picked up to go to the Elephant Cafe. We went there by water jet, 14 km up the river.


Jet boat up the Zambezi River to the Elephant Cafe


Jet boat up the Zambezi River to the Elephant Cafe

When we got there we had an hour interacting with a mother and son elephant feeding them pellets and we were able to stroke them. I was amazed by how hard the skin on their trunks was, and how soft their ears were.

IMG_7942IMG_7943IMG_7946IMG_8046All ten elephants who live here are rescue elephants. They are not ridden and the money from the cafe generates the income to feed them. They range in age from 4 to 35. Elephants live in the wild up to 65 but in captivity they can live longer. This is because when they are born they have 6 sets of teeth. Each set lasts about 10 years. Once their last set wears down they can’t chew their food, and they die from starvation. In captivity they are given soft food that they can eat.

We got to see all 20 elephants coming in from the fields going to their night enclosure.IMG_7957IMG_7953The restaurant can take 24 people but we struck it lucky tonight and there were only two other guests, Shirley and Terri who are both from USA and volunteering at a local school. They have been here for 3 weeks and tonight is their last night. Tomorrow night the restaurant is fully booked for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The staff are very friendly and the meal was amazing. We started off with a glass of bubbles and then an amazing butternut soup and homemade bread and butter, with a glass of Chennai’s Blanc. Chicken on a post o sauce* with potato gratin and salad with a nice glass of merlot, finished off by a wild fruit crumble, yum!


The setting was fantastic, right by the river, white table clothes, candles and lovely glasses.

After dinner we went back by road to the hotel.


Victoria Falls Hotel


Victoria Falls Hotel


Steve at Victoria Falls Hotel


David Livingstone Statue above the Falls


Victoria Falls Hotel*


Vic Falls Rainforest*

* Editor’s note: I don’t know what “Chicken on a post o sauce” is meant to be, and I don’t know why these pics are so small, that’s how they were sent to me 🤷

Categories: Tour d'Afrique | 3 Comments

11 April : Rest day one Victoria Falls

I woke up at 5am still, despite it being a rest day. It has been pouring all night, the chalet has a straw / thatched roof which has been leaking. We put towels on the floor where it was leaking.

We had breakfast which is a buffet. The moment you finish, your plate is whisked away – including your saucer when you raise your cup to drink.

We had to be at reception at 9 am for the helicopter ride. We waited at reception until 9 am, no message and no pick up. We got reception to ring the travel agency to find all flights postponed for the day.

We got a taxi into the shopping centre to get a few supplies and got some cheese, crackers and a bottle of rose for lunch.


Livingston Township

Got back to the hotel to find the roof still leaking, but the towels had been removed! We asked at reception if they had an umbrella for getting to and from the room, no they have run out. The chalet is about a 3 minute fast walk in the open.


Rest Day at Chrismar Hotel. Wet, wet, wet


Chrismar Hotel

We must have dropped a few crumbs on the floor, as after lunch I was sorting a few emails and Brett said to look down – I had black ants totally covering my feet.

The hotel is about $400 Australian a night – everything is very expensive here but I thought it was a bit much when I found to use the swimming pool you have to pay about $20 each time.

Just after lunch we had a phone call from reception asking why we weren’t out of the room, so Brett had to go back to reception to show them the booking information again!

When the pick-up for the sunset cruise arrived, the receptionist had just finished assuring the driver that weren’t guests in the hotel! Luckily we came out 10 minutes early. We sat in the van for about 15 min, I thought we were waiting for another guest from the hotel. After 15 minutes the driver said “we need to go as otherwise we would miss the boat”. Yes we said. He then asked when the third person with us was arriving – there wasn’t a third person so off we went.

The sunset cruise was fun even though it was pouring with rain, and there was hardly any sunset. The staff were very friendly. We chatted to a bunch of motorcyclists who were doing a motor bike ride tour. They have a tour leader and they hire the motorcycles.

We didn’t see much – a crocodile, and an elephant through the trees. The meal was chicken stew, sausages with a bread roll and coleslaw.


Sunset river cruise


Sunset cruise


A bit of sunset out of the gloom


Sunset on Zambezi river cruise


Crocodile on the river cruise


Categories: Tour d'Afrique | Leave a comment

10 April: Ruze Chalets to Livingston

During the night the bed got more and more saggy and by the time I got up it was like sleeping in a nest.

Today we have 153 km to ride, we were told 490 of climbing (actually was over 850 metres up). The profile of the day showed a steady down profile but actually it was lots of climbing up hills with down hills. We have done over 500 km in 3 days riding and am feeling pretty tired.

At lunch there was a very skinny, very nice natured young dog about 9 -12 months old, sitting quietly amongst the riders at lunch waiting patiently and hopefully for donations. I spoke to Lulu later who said that by the time the lunch truck left he couldn’t eat anymore and she had given him a container of sausages that he had taken and buried for later.

Once we got into Livingston the traffic in town and to camp was very busy, and a few times I had to get off the roads for trucks.


Getting close to Livingstone and Victoria Falls and 3 rest days

I wanted to get to the camp quickly as there was going to be a bike donation. Every time you register for a TDA ride you pay USD $150 that doesn’t come off the total but is donation to TDA that is used to buy bikes in Africa. Today they are giving away 23 bikes to a mixture of schools and health clinics. The presentation involved speeches and dances by local youths, it was pretty cool. There was also some pizza.


TDA Global Cycling Foundation Bicycle Presentation

We have booked four nights in the Chrismar Hotel which is 700 metres from the camp. Before we left the camp to go to our hotel, we went to the travel office and booked a helicopter ride over the falls for the next morning, and a sunset cruise on the Zambian river.

700 metres is not reasonable to get a taxi so we walked. A bit of mission carrying two bags and we had to stop twice.

When we got to the hotel they couldn’t find our booking, luckily Brett had it printed. Finally got sorted and got to the room which is very nice. A bedroom with separate bathroom and sitting room.

We cleaned up and went for dinner, the service in the restaurant was extremely slow – over 90 minutes from ordering till arrival. I was very pleased that I had had a couple of slices of Pizza at the bike donation. Brett had Grecian steak which was tough and chewy, it had olives and feta on top. I had a whole fried Bream fish which was very nice.

Categories: Tour d'Afrique | Leave a comment

9 April: Soccer field camp to Ruze Chalets (40 km from Choma Town)

Today we have 181 km to ride with 720 metres up and about 200 metres down. The longest ride I have done previously was 176 km on South American ride.  There is a slight up gradient most of day but nothing steep.

I rode from 30 km with Fitz and Carl. They stop more than I would on my own and it’s good to have the company. I am not 100% comfortable popping into the bush when by myself, so it’s much easier to ride in a group.

The dog Fitz has is called Lucy, and Lucy is 11 years old. The plan when Fitz retired in 2016 was to live in both China and Hong Kong, but this wouldn’t work with Lucy so they stay in Sanya in China. Sanya is by the sea and Fitz says it’s like living in paradise.
There are no places to buy water before lunch at 85 to 90 km, so I drunk a bottle of water before leaving camp.

Before lunch there is not a lot of climbing but after lunch there are lots of rolling hills that I try and get as far up each one for free as I can.

We stopped at 93 km for a drink and I had my first experience of Wildcat energy drink. As I am very sensitive to caffeine I didn’t drink much of it but put it in my apidura (bag on the back of my bike) to have more later.

At 137 km we stopped at the next town and had a ginger beer. It’s really hot and I’m getting tired and a bit daunting to think there is 40 km to go.


Zambian Railways

As usual the locals, especially the children, have been smiling and waving as we pass.

The clouds are starting to look ominous, getting blacker and blacker and sure enough 25 km from camp it starts to pour down again. I am really not looking forward to getting to camp to a tent in the rain. The last 25 km seems endless and my speedometer stops going at 165 km so it’s hard to judge how much further to go.

I got into camp about 4:45pm and was delighted to find Brett has got a chalet. When it was built it would have been nice but once again no maintenance has been done for years. The bath doesn’t work, the mosquito netting was torn, and randomly as well as two large couches there are two double mattresses pushed against the wall. However, it is dry, there is a toilet, and you can stand up inside.

The power went out in the whole complex from 5:30 pm until sometime during the night. I noticed because the room ceiling fan came on.

The dinner was wraps with avocado, salad, cheese, vegetarian meat, and tomato which was very nice.

We went to the bar after dinner, Brett was thinking about a whiskey and I thought a brandy and ginger would be nice but the bar will only sell you spirits if you buy a whole bottle! Needless to say we didn’t take up the offer.

There is no cellphone service on my phone.


Drying out at Ruze Chalets


Drying out at Ruze Chalets

Categories: Tour d'Afrique | 4 Comments

 8 April: Lusaka to soccer field camp

Today we have 170 km to ride, with 770 metres of climbing and 990 metres of descent.

To start off with we have to go back down the horrid dirt track, of which 2 km is not rideable then the 3 km bumpy sandy stretch to the main road. This 5 km took nearly three quarters of an hour. Then we were straight into the rush hour traffic. The Lunch truck left camp at the same time I did and I caught up with it at about 22 km traffic was so bad.

There were cars and vans everywhere, plus other cyclists, trucks and buses. Cars and vans came darting through lines of traffic and the shoulder kept disappearing! There were lots of fumes, overall not at all an enjoyable two hours to get to 30 km and out of the traffic. After this it was easy riding until 70 km with good shoulders and pretty flat.


Riding out of Lusaka morning peak hour traffic

At 70 km there was a tight turn and the road surface was much rougher plus there were a few climbs until lunch at 90 km.

I have not mentioned so far but the whole time I have been riding in Africa there are numerous police checkpoints, where trucks and vans are stopped. They cause a problem as you have to navigate through the line and hope no vans suddenly pop out. They are checking that vehicles have insurance, you have to show your policy, and that drivers are wearing appropriate footwear, plus I am sure driver hours and other things.

The other common sight is where there are broken down trucks, rows of branches are put across the road to warn the oncoming drivers. Often you see the drivers lying under the truck to keep cool while they are waiting for parts.

After lunch I found it very tough going 100 to 120 km with climbing.

After 120 to 155 there wasn’t much climbing but not such a great surface and lots of big pot holes. It was very hot and a couple of trucks came way too close. There was the usual over taking vehicles on both sides of the road coming straight at you, and I had to get off the road a couple of times.

I caught up with Carl and Fitz in a town at 138 km and had a drink with them and rode with them to Camp.

Carl is from Perth, this is his first TDA ride but he has done numerous self-supported rides around the world and this is his 6th trip to Africa. Carl was born in NZ.

Fitz lives in China with his wife and their golden retriever, Lucy. Fitz has a son and a daughter, so far no grandchildren. Fitz is originally from Canada. This is Fitz’s first TDA ride but he has also done numerous self-supported rides around the world.

The plan when Fitz retired in 2016 was to live in both China and Hong Kong, but this wouldn’t work with Lucy so they stay in Sanya in China. Sanya is by the sea and Fitz says it’s like living in paradise.

Fitz and Carl drink Wildcat energy and have been nicknamed the Wildcats by Jerome, one of the other riders, and the name has stuck. Wolfgang rides with 2 other riders and they are nicknamed the Wolf Pack. Two riders Phil (NZ) and Tom (Thailand) have number 2 haircuts, they are nicknamed the bald eagles, and finally Alex, Lucy (from England) and Nick (from Ireland) are called the Adventure Club as they go off on side trips for a day or two here and there.

At 160 km it started to pour down, thankfully I always have my wet weather gear packed. It poured all the way to camp and until just after dinner.

My gloves are soaked as I didn’t think to take them off, and my shoes are also wet.  Brett showed me a great trick of how to put up the outside awning of my tent up first, and then the inner awning second to keep it dry. A very handy trick in the pouring rain.

The locals are not deterred by rain. There are numerous children splashing about on the paddock with a ball, and a group of locals selling beer and chippies (potato chips).

Dinner was vegetarian lasagna which was delicious, followed by a nice hot cup of tea.

Hopefully it is fine tomorrow.

Categories: Tour d'Afrique | Leave a comment

7 April: Rest day in Lusaka

I had a great start to the day, had a messenger call with the family who were all at a Kelly’s for dinner. Plus, got to sing happy birthday while Lucy cut her birthday cake. I chatted to everyone except Jig, Sienna and Thalia who weren’t there.

Nice buffet breakfast down in the restaurant, then off to the nearby Manda Mall to get a few supplies, plus a Brett needed to get a SIM card.

Lusaka is the capital city of Zambia and it is quite a big city. The mall was big, not as enormous as Dubai, but as big as the malls in NZ.

We had room service again for lunch, I had a margarita pizza and Brett had steak and veges, plus the bottle of Rose we bought at the mall.


Rest Day at Radisson Blue Hotel

All too soon it was time to catch the taxi back to camp.

When we arrived back, clearly there had been issues with food as TDA had organized a barbecue with riders to bring their own meat, but as we were not in camp we hadn’t got the message. However good for us as far as the camp restaurant was concerned.

After collecting the washing and packing for the next 3 riding days, we sat in the bar with Shirley and Dan and had Pizza (again) and red wine.

I am not looking forward to the start of the ride tomorrow, first the dirt and then the crazy traffic. I got to sleep ok but woke in a panic in middle of night thinking I had left my purse with both my credit cards in the restaurant, but thankfully they were tucked in one of the tent pockets. It did take a while to go back to sleep.

Background info on Zambia

Population 17.09 mil up from 2.34 mil in 1950
49% under 15
54.5% live under the poverty line which increases to 83% in rural areas
Poor health including aids pandemic, other diseases, and hunger makes the average life expectancy 37.5 years, the fourth lowest in the world.

The Top Five of the largest causes of poverty in Zambia


A fancy picture of the hotel from their website

Categories: Tour d'Afrique | Leave a comment

6 April: Jehovah school camp to Lusaka (Pioneer Camp)

Today there is only 100.5 km to ride, with 820 of climbing and 750 down. I am feeling good and back to riding full days.

It was actually chilly when setting off but the climb soon sorted that out.

The surface was pretty good and there were climbs up and down all the way to lunch. Mostly I was able to stay in the big ring of cyclists and get a good run up to all the hills.

I was at lunch at 60 km by 10 am. After lunch there was not such a good surface, it was busier, plus often no shoulder. I had to get off the road on a number of occasions for trucks and buses. The road rules don’t apply as far as cyclists are concerned.

Plus, a number of local cyclists ride on the wrong side of the road so they can see the oncoming traffic. They frequently have big loads and no brakes and you have to avoid them as well.

The last 5.5 k to camp was gravel. The last 2 k was not rideable.

1 km before the camp gate, they have chosen the day they are expecting 43 cyclists to arrive, to re-cement the gate. The workers doing this have to lift our bikes over the gates and there is a small gap for us to squeeze through the fence.

The camp is ok but it’s 45 min from town, with one restaurant which will have all the problems of trying to cope with a large group.

We have booked a nice room in town. Going by TDA routes we were given at the start we thought we would be 2km from the hotel – not 45 min by car. The TDA staff on this trip were unaware that the GPS route we have is different, so it was good that it was picked up otherwise riders may have ended up not at camp.

Shirley and Dan have also booked accommodation in town so we shared a taxi with them. We had quite a long wait for the taxi to arrive – nearly two hours. Over an hour of that was the delay in the camp staff actually ordering a taxi.

The Raddison Blu is a nice looking hotel. Our room is very nice with a shower and a bath. It is advertised as pool view, which it is if you peer around the corner of the window.

However, it had one towel, plus hand towels. The room service menu wine list was comprehensive until you tried to order, then it was “we have two wines – one white and one red”. We ordered a Caroline Bay White and burgers. The meals which were nice but came with one set of knives and forks and one napkin. The bottle came with one glass.

I had a sleep until 8 pm and then we went down to the restaurant for dinner. I was tired and too full from the hamburger to eat (you would think I would have learnt from last rest day), so I had butternut soup which was nice. I also ordered a salad which I just couldn’t eat. The staff kept coming over and asking if my meal was ok, to the point where every time I saw them look at me I picked up my fork and played with a couple of the tomatoes.

Brett had soup and oxtail stew plus my salad. The rose wines on the menu were all out of stock so we stuck to a castle beer each.

We have a late check out tomorrow – 3pm 😀 than back to camp  😬


Road to Lusaka


Market on approach to Lusaka

Categories: Tour d'Afrique | Leave a comment

Lost Photos Update

Below are a random assortment of photos that missed going with their original posts:


Mar 3: Packed and ready to depart Wellington


Mar 4: Arrival in Dubai


Mar 4: Dubai view from the hotel room – not too hard to take


Mar 8: Large baboon herd, don’t like you getting too close

31 March view from the road

March 31: view from the road

31 March view from the road (2)

March 31: view from the road


March 31: Local kids at the lunch stop. If you expand the picture you can see one of the babies has plaits (Editor’s note: This is the “baby with dreadlocks” from an earlier post)

2 nd April Border crossing Sam and Stephanie TDA staff waiting for the riders to clear through customs

April 2nd: Border crossing, TDA staff Sam and Stephanie waiting for the riders to clear through customs

Categories: Tour d'Afrique | Leave a comment

5 April: Luangwa to Jehovah school

Today there is 124 km to ride, with 1720 of climbing and 990 down.

There is quite a steep climb out of camp which I decided not to do and rode the lunch truck to lunch at 60 km.

As I am over the gastro, I am able to help preparing lunch so I spent awhile doing this before leaving to ride the last 64 km.


Sunrise departure from Luangwa Bridge Camp

I had filled up my water bottles before I left but it was very hot and there was a lot of climbing and I ran out of water. I stopped at what looked like a shop, but it was a bar with the option of gin or coffee, neither of which were a good option. I rode for another couple of km and thankfully Tallis came past and filled up both of my water bottles for me.


Inside the Chicago Bar. Only rough spirits, no cold beer.

Same as every day, mostly friendly locals, and smiling and waving small children.

Once again we are staying on a school field. It is very hot and dry putting up the tents. The children are very well behaved standing and watching with great interest but not pushing and demanding.

After I had put up the tents I got out a couple of skipping ropes that I had bought and gave them to the children. I had to demonstrate what to do but they picked it up very quickly. One of the school teachers – Elisabeth – came over to see what the story on the ropes was – whether they were just a loan for a few hours, but I assured her they were for the school to keep. The children were so pleased with them I wished I had bought more.


Talking to the teacher Elisabeth

No showers but there are toilets (the hole in the ground type). Dinner was Vegetarian Cottage pie, which was really nice.

Camp is nice and quiet, and there are not many bugs about.


Luangwa Bridge Village


Rolling hill country plenty of climbing


Village near Jehovah School Camp

Categories: Tour d'Afrique | 2 Comments

4 April: Petauke to Luangwa bridge camp

Today there is 171 km to ride, with 1410 to climb and 1990 down.

I am still getting the asthma under control so am not planning to ride the whole day.

The bike ride to lunch at 95 km went pretty quickly so I decided to keep on riding after lunch until the lunch truck came past. From lunch the next 20 km were pretty hilly and it was very hot. Then there was a great downhill which I was 5 km into when the lunch truck came past. I decided that even though I was feeling good I would still get in, as the aim is to be fully recovered before the next set of riding days. As it turned out the downhill continued most of the way to camp.

On the steep and windy downhills there were a few crashed trucks, plus evidence of places where there had been crashes.


Still good road but overturned semi up ahead


Overturned semi

Instead of going straight to camp I went with Lulu and Jen (TDA) into the town and to the market where we bought potatoes, tomatoes and bananas. There was only one seller of potatoes but a number who were selling tomatoes and bananas, and I wondered how this was going work.

Lulu counted the number of sellers. got an agreed price and bought the same amount from each (which comes to a lot for 53 people!). Then across the road for 15 loaves of bread.

4 April at the markets

The Markets

4 April at the markets 2

The Markets

The camp has a beautiful view of the Luangwa river. Over the other side of the river is Mozambique.

Mozambique the other side of the river

Mozambique on the the other side of the river

It is very hot and humid at camp and lots of mosquito, flies, and other bugs.

The camp does have run down chalets, with stained beds and ripped plastic on windows, with bug screens broken and so badly maintained that not a single rider thought they were a better option than the tent. There were hot showers which was great. Although with only four there was of course a queue.

Up at the bar was a pool which badly needed a paint, a clean, and a change of water. A few of the riders did go swimming in it.


Camp on Luangwa River

Dinner was pumpkin curry, it was very nice, with a bit of spice.

There was also carrot cake for Ashleigh’s birthday. Turned out it was a day early, his birthday is tomorrow. Ashleigh is from England and is 28 tomorrow. He is a geologist and it’s his first TDA trip.


Along the Luangwa River

Categories: Tour d'Afrique | Leave a comment