Date: Thu, 11 May 1995 15:25:55 +0200
From: Klaus Kreye []
Subject:  BMW: African Tour

I an currently collecting info on bike rental in South Africa
and will send it as soon as I have collated everything.

In the mean time herewith a tour repot to wet your appetite.
Hope all of you enjoy it.


Soon after the elections here in South Africa, 9 of us
ventured out on our first big ride into Africa. With the
apartheid government finally out of power it made cross
border travel very much easier. And what an adventure it was
-the highlight of the year. Three of us left Cape Town late
June and spent two days riding our bikes to Johannesburg. 
Here we rested for one day and then regrouped with a further
four bikes and a sidecar - all BMW's of course.  We left
Johannesburg early with the temperature 3 degrees C above
freezing!! Yes it was cold.  As we rode due north past the
tropic of Capricorn it slowly got warmer.  The first day saw us
crossing the border into Zimbabwe and what a fuss that was.
On the SA side it took approx. 15 min to get all the
paperwork done. It took THREE hours to go through the Zim
border. I must add that I had a carnet de passage and all
insurance for the bike ready.  All they had to do was stamp
the various documents. This required the standing in three
queues: one for immigration, one for customs and one for the
vehicle clearance. They simply could not cope with the
stream of holidaymakers. We spent our first night in Zim
camping at a place called Bubi River. We had a few beers to
wash down the border problems followed by a good steak, all
at very reasonable prices. The next day we cruised all the
way to the capital Harare. One the way we stopped off to see
a few sights as well as spotting some game. A giraffe stood
right by the fence next to the road! There were plenty
warthogs, a few monkeys, buck and of course cows and

We spent a day sightseeing the city of Harare and obtaining
the compulsory vehicle insurance for Malawi. Two nights
were spent at the municipal campsite at the exorbitant (!)
cost of Zim$ 6.20 (approx US$ 1.00) incl hot showers. It was
up early and on the road at 6 am the following day ; we had a
long ride ahead of us - 600 km and two border crossings. We
rode to Nyamapanda from where we crossed into
Mozambique. Leaving Zim was a piece of cake, stamp stamp
and go. There was a bit of waiting on the Mozambique side
and the usual filling out of forms. Although we had visas,
each had to pay R 20 and a further Zim$ 5 to get in. We got
a receipt for the R 20 but the rest went straight into the mans
pocket. And if you did not have the correct amount then
tough, they did not give change. Travelling through
Mozambique I could not help to compare it with Russia:
hardly any traffic on the roads and the city of Tete without
any colour. Everything was run down, and one could plainly
see how poor the community was. But they were friendly and
waved, especially when the sidecar passed.  I suppose the
last time they saw a sidecar was during the second world
war! Close to the Zim side the buildings next to the road were
all deserted and showed signs of being shot at.  The road
was surprisingly good with only about 10 km out of 250 under
repair. Later in the day we crossed into Malawi.  What a
difference. The border officials wore a crisp uniform and were
friendly and efficient. After dark we got to the Limbe Country
Club were we camped for the next two nights. It was quite an
experience driving after dark. Most of the locals don't bother
to switch on their headlights!

We slept late the next day, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at
the club before setting out on a day trip to Mt. Mulanje. The
road winds through tea plantations and through small
villages. We rode some way up the side of the mountain to
get a view of the lush green rolling countryside. Africa is not
all desert!

The tour now took on a more relaxed pace, with the daily
distances rarely exceeding 200 km. We camped one night
on the Mt. Zomba plateau on the way to Lake Malawi.  It was
quite cold on the mountain but I was well equipped. So were
the others except for Pierre. He had a small tent, cheap
sleepingbag and no insulating mattress. I found him at 4 am
having a shower - the only warm place he could find!

We then spent two days at the Livingstonia Campsite on the
western shores of Lake Malawi. It is a huge expanse of water
and one can't see the other side. Four of the party really got
lazy and goofed off and drank beers for the next four days.
Pierre had gone exploring and called us from Cape McClear.
He raved about this magic place with lots of girls. So Oscar,
Dave, Donald and myself packed up and left the rest behind.
An adventurous road, mostly gravel led us to a fishing village
called Cape McClear. I was told that in the years gone by the
flying boats used to call. Well we took "lodgings" for two
nights and relaxed on the beach, went for a boatride and had
many beers at the bar. This bar was crudely constructed of
reeds and bamboo and was situated on the beach less than
50 meters from the water. The sunset was absolutely
magnificent. The "lodgings" consisted of dormitory
type rooms, with two beds each, no electricity ( we were
issued with a candle) and an en-suite toilet and shower (cold
water only). The cost for two nights was 25 Kwatcha (about
US$ 4.00).

On our way back we spent one night at a game farm - and
saw nothing - one night at a youth hostel in Limbe before
heading back through Mozambique to Harare. This time each
of us was suddenly held liable for compulsory vehicle
insurance of R 80.00 per bike through Mozambique. We
explained that as this was the same price for cars the
premium for bikes should be less. After a bit of haggling a
value of R 50.00 was agreed upon.  After payment we
demanded our policy document. So the official took out a
scrap piece of paper from the whastepaper basket wrote
something on it in Portuguese and stamped it vigorously -
and hey presto we had a group policy document!!!!

On the return trip Pierre decided that this camping stuff was
not for him. So he bartered away his tent and sleepingbag.
The Africans made him put up the tent in the middle of town
and once it was up said that they did not want it. So Pierre
took it down again and prepared to leave when they relented
and offered him a somewhat lower price. So after some
haggling the deal was done and Pierre walked away with
some more curios. Most of us had purchased various african
curios at the side of the road, with Pierre and the sidecar
pileing them high onto their bikes.

On the way back through Zim some of us stopped at the
Zimbabwe, which was previously known as the Zim Ruins.
Quite impressive, the structures that were built an incredibly
long time ago - before the first white settler landed in
Southern Africa.

Well from there on it was a solid three day ride home. The
bottom line was that we had such a good time that the next
trip is already being planned and the bikes modified. I am
fitting a single seat with extra padding, a large luggage
carrier and an engine sump guard. The bike I'm using for this
type of travel is my trusty R 80/7.

The other bikes on a the trip ranged from a new R 1100 G/S,
a fairly new K 100 RS, a R 80 & 100 G/S, a new F 650, a
R90S with nearly 100 000 miles on the clock and the home
made sidecar pulled by a R 100/7.

Klaus Kreye