Pet Movement through Southern Africa

Pet Movement through Southern Africa

July 27, 2017

We'd had issues entering South Africa from Namibia due to the dogs, but it was easy enough to overcome. What was needed was an animal import permit. Once issued this document could be used to import an animal into any of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) countries and was valid for 30 days. Getting the animal import permit in Namibia had been straight forward. We visited the state vet near the South African border and they checked our paperwork and produced the permit on the spot. But our stay in South Africa had extended beyond the 30 days, which meant we'd need a new permit to continue travelling through the customs union. Obtaining the permit in South Africa proved to be a little more bureaucratic than Namibia. We visited a local vet who explained that they would normally conduct a preliminary examination and then send off the documents to Johannesburg for the permit with a turnaround time of up to 3 weeks. The local vet suggested that if we had time we could walk the doc...

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Vineyards & Wildlife, South Africa

Vineyards & Wildlife, South Africa

July 25, 2017

We spent two fantastic months in South Africa. But it almost didn't happen, sorting out paperwork problems for the dogs took us three attempts to cross from Namibia into South Africa. Tensions were high for two very important reasons. Firstly, we'd sent Janell's motorbike ahead to Pretoria after its breakdown in northern Namibia. And secondly, Janell's mother (Pauline) was flying into Cape Town on 11 June to spend 5 weeks travelling with us. So we needed to cross into South Africa one way or another. The most direct route to Janell's motorbike in Pretoria was via the Ariamsvlei Border Crossing. We arrived at the border and started processing our checkout of Namibia and then into South Africa. We were almost through when the customs official asked us for the Animal Movement Permits for the girls. We didn't know what they were and simply showed the EU PETS Passports. The official explained that we should have obtained the permit in Namibia before attempting to cross the border, we beg...

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Namibia

Namibia

May 24, 2017

The Republic of Namibia reminded us of central Australia. There is so much untouched country, desert left to the animals that can survive there.  It was the first time in Africa we really felt remote, away from people and infrastructure. Namibia is a large country but with only a small population of 3 million yet it's in a better economic situation than its northern neighbour Angola. I think what we enjoyed so much was the 'western' luxuries in towns and cities but then being able to leave those behind to be in the wild. The best of both worlds. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Namibia, even with the breakdowns we experienced. Welcome to Namibia Elephant Poo We did a lot of camping in Namibia and we seemed to have the campsites to ourselves. Using iOverlander for recommendations/reviews we chose campsites set up near known waterholes where wild animals would frequent at certain times of the year. We were again on the lookout for elephants. There were plenty of road signs indicat...

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Open Heart Surgery in Central Africa

Open Heart Surgery in Central Africa

May 07, 2017

The first night in Mainland Angola was spent in Quibala, about 4 hours drive from Luanda. Quibala was inland and over 1,200m, so a little cooler than the coast. Luis had read something about the town being a tourist destination, but it didn't seem like much to us. We found a campground and pitched our tent before going for a drive into town for something to eat. We found a bar serving food and sat down at a table. It wasn't a typical bar, it was full of women, young women, almost girls. There were all drinking and giggling with older women walking around to make sure they looked like they were having fun. It was quite obvious what these girls were, it wasn't our first experience witnessing the sexual exploitation of young girls at the hands of men and women with no moral compass. A culture that accepted abuse and showed no respect for girls and the financial incentives for the orchestrators of the abuse from local and foreign workers. What we had seen was horrific, it started in Sen...

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Hitchiking with the Angolan Air Force

Hitchiking with the Angolan Air Force

April 27, 2017

Mar and Luis, our new friends we'd made in Pointe Noire, where much more organised than we could ever be. They'd begun their journey with all the visa's they'd need through Africa so while we were often stuck waiting around for a consulate to produce our visa they were able to move on. After meeting us in the Republic Of the Congo (ROC) they were supposed to head through the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (yes, very much a different country and neither very democratic). The DRC is fairly lawless, it's not necessarily any more dangerous than its neighbours, but it is more chaotic. The government doesn't have great control over its military or police and so they don't fear retribution for their actions, short of any serious offence that is. So while checkpoints throughout Africa will often ask for a bribe they will quickly move you on from fear of who you might know. But in the DRC this is not so much the case, if an official asks you for money and you don't want to pay then y...

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Bongo in the Congo

Bongo in the Congo

April 24, 2017

We arrived at the Gabon Immigation in Ndende nice and early to check out. Nobody was around so we opened the gate ourselves, this certainly drew attention and some military staff appeared and called us over. They were friendly enough, recorded our passport and motorbike details then we stamped out of Gabon. We left the sealed roads in Ndende, it was then 50km off-road riding to reach the Republic of the Congo Customs and Immigration. So far the road wasn't too bad, we only saw a couple of big puddles. Surely this would have to be the worst of the road. Countries often maintain their roads up to the border post pretty well but don't want to spend money beyond this point. How wrong we would be. Stamping in to the Republic of the Congo was fairly straightforward. We supplied a photocopy of our passports and visa for immigrations and then on to customs to import the bikes. The customs official checked all our papers against the bikes VIN's and produced the Temporary Import Permit. Befor...

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Shadow enters the Southern Hemisphere

Shadow enters the Southern Hemisphere

April 13, 2017

We passed through Cameroon rather quickly. The wet season was imminent (April through June is the heavy rain) and we needed to get at least to southern Angola soon to avoid the heavy rains. We crossed into Cameroon at Ekok and spent one night at the Azi Motel on route to the capital Yaounde where we needed to purchase our visa for Gabon. The Azi Motel (4.629379,9.441828) was a great find. We paid 11,000cfa for an airconditioned room, no negotiation required the staff simply stated the price and were fine with the dogs in the room with us. The quality of air conditioning can seriously range from excellent to terrible, with terrible being hardly any cooling effects, loud noises and intermittent power issues. The a/c here was weak to start with but only due to the power supply, once businesses closed at around 9pm there was more power available and the a/c worked well. The staff explained to us that the internet was down in the region due to political problems. Next day we rode through...

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Kidnapped in Nigeria

Kidnapped in Nigeria

March 29, 2017 2 Comments

A few days before leaving Benin we ran into a biker who told us about the motorcycle clubs in Nigeria and gave us the contact details of Queen, a prominent female biker. We contacted Queen to get some information about the border crossing into Nigeria and tried and organise a meetup. Queen was very responsive, but being located in the capital Abuja was well off the main route through Nigeria. However, she asked a friend and the president of the Lagos club, Paul, to reach out to us. Paul messaged us straight away and told us that he was unable to meet us at the border but would make sure we were taken care of by his friend Blessing. Once through the border we were to head to our accommodation and Paul would meet up with us after work. The exit from Benin was pretty straight forward, apart from the immigration officers asking for a €10 exit fee each. We normally know when a fee is simply made up because the legitimate fees are easy to find online and the fake fees are also commonly me...

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Sindou Pics and Python Temples

Sindou Pics and Python Temples

February 24, 2017 1 Comment

We crossed into Burkina Faso at Koloko. It was very quick and easy. We passed a Police checkpoint then in a few hundred meters we were outside the Mali Douane. The Police recorded our vehicle details, checked our visas and stamped our passports. No money requested. The Burkina Faso Douane we stamped in on our Passports and paid 5,000CFA per motorbike for the Temporary Import Permit (TIP) and a receipt. We rode to the town of Orodara from the border. The whole day was hot riding so we took regular stops to hydrate us and the girls. We didn't have much of a plan for Burkina Faso so we stayed for a couple of nights in Orodara at a lovely local hotel. The owner explained to us that he had built the hotel and all the huts which were simple but very comfortable and we paid extra for air conditioning (16,000CFA per night) for Weeti and Shadows comfort; it's important they get a good night's sleep or they can get grumpy the next day. Orodara was a good location to do day trips to Sindou Pic...

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Senegal and Mali

Senegal and Mali

February 09, 2017

Mauritania to Senegal was another difficult border crossing. We chose the sleepy border crossing of Diama instead of the more popular Rosso border crossing. The road to Diama takes you through a national park. Its a dirt road, heavily corrugated, but fun to ride. There are plenty of warthogs to see and local birds. We lost a few screws, shaken loose from the corrugations, and Janell broke a fuel line about 15km from the Senegal border. She only realised because the fuel was pouring on to her foot and it got really cold and stopped to investigate. The broken fuel line had to be addressed asap. The rocks from the gravel road were flicking up and had cracked the plastic connection for the Touratech auxiliary tank. We've had this part damaged before so its no surprise and we were carrying one spare connector which we simply fitted on the spot. To protect the connector however we grabbed an empty 500mL coke bottle, chopped the end off and fed the line through the bottle to act as a prote...

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Snow in the Sahara

Snow in the Sahara

December 09, 2016

The Pack Track entered Africa with great excitement and trepidation. There is so much to see in Africa, such different cultures to explore. But it is a challenging continent (roads, climate, poverty) and a volatile continent (conflict). We had rested enough in Europe and felt ready for the next adventure, not to mention warmer climates! We took the Trasmediterranea ferry from Algeciras to Tangier Med. This is the slow, run-down looking ferry and coincidently the cheapest option at €77 for 2 people and 2 motorbikes.  We'd checked the prices online which indicated a cost for dogs but decided not to book online after our recent ferry debacle in England resulting in a missed ferry, additional 600km+, hotel expenses and more riding in the cold, wet, England rain. So, when we turned up to the ferry terminal in Algeciras we were happily surprised the dogs were allowed on for free and when we were on the ferry, motorbikes tied down in the parking area, the girls were allowed to sit inside ...

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United Kingdom 2016

United Kingdom 2016

August 28, 2016

It was a big decision to take a break from travelling and to work in the UK. To this day we debate whether it was a good idea or not. Janell felt she needed some stability, to know where she was going to sleep every night, buy food for more than a few days and have some routine in our daily life. It could also be an opportunity to make some money for Africa and money to spend enjoying ourselves exploring the UK. Stu wasn't so sure about this plan, by his calculations we had enough money for Africa and wasn't keen to be sticking around in England through the cold months. It would give him time to work on the Pillion Pooch design and run a kickstarter campaign, an idea he'd been playing with in the US but just never had the time to really sit down and work on. It was agreed, we'd spend 6 months living and working in England. Janell was happy to get a job, she knew she'd enjoy the social aspect of work as well as the routine and exercising parts of her brain that hadn't been used in a ...

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