Hitchhiker's guide to afrika

Well, here goes the story so far we start outside the gates of Onderstepoort. Our beloved University for the last 5 years. Bags packed and thumbs up. Our first destination, Eclipse trance party in Mamalule. Four days of 24 hours trance music, pseudo hippies (pseudo people) sucking on hippy crack, expensive drugs and food - was all enough for us. Not finding what we actually came for - to network a lift - we decide to hitch out of here as it all became a it much. We head for Beit Bridge and into Zimbabwe .Here we meet friendly starving locals and get offered to stay the night with Garth, a local white ostrich farmer in Chupinge. Free booze and food. Typical Zimbabwean drinking, we left in the morning hung over. We travelled through Zimbabwe in two days. The people optimistic, friendly but desperate and famished. Drought-stricken and their country broken.

Here we hit Northern Mozambique. This is a place I shall go back to. The potential unbelievable. The people brilliant. We crossed a small border into Marica, where we caught local transport to Chinio. We stayed the night in a -2 motel room for the night, for only R10. The hospitality and vibe great. Next morning we head to a small village in Dod Dado. Here we need go get to Craia to cross the Zambezi. The road is rumoured to be bad. We manage to convince a truck driver carrying flour to take us. He agrees, for a small price and we sit on the top of his load through natural forests, land riddled with mines - warning sticks pegged into the ground painted red. We see areas that have been and are being cleared. Here there are small villages in the middle of nowhere, functioning by candlelight at night. A lot of the forest is being chopped down in Northern Mozambique to make charcoal as well as to supple timber to overseas companies. Big Brother bullshit, beautiful wood being taken from the land not even for the people.

Our Dado journey too 2 days for 300km. A long drive but amazing experience. Our first touch of wild Africa. Meal in a village at night, meeting a truck driver, forest road all amazingly scarred by war with derailed trains, ghost tanks in the forest. Ciaro the ferry crossing, we arrive just in time. Here a South African growing sugar in Mozambique offers us a lift in the back of his bakkie. Andre, his brother with girlfriend now become our ride for the next 2000kms or so. We stay the night in Napula. Stop over. Andre gives us a lift to Manapo road to Ile de Mozambique. An island filled with poverty and history. It contains a church which is the oldest building in the Southern hemisphere. We see amazing architecture and meet locals not used to tourists. Colonial Portuguese buildings have now become squats for the people from the mainland and the beaches have become the town lavatories. No swimming. Even though the city was dirty, the history and the experience were amazing, as were the people.

Our next destination, Nacala, a diving spot owned by Arthur, a South African. Here we meet up with Andre again. First time we can swim in the sea. We leave our stuff on the beach. Stolen, my shoes, my only shoes. So now I am barefoot and will be for the next two and a half weeks. We stay a night and head to Pemba. This is where we separate from Andre and his crew, who have fed us, bought us beers and allowed us to drive on the back of his bakkie for the last 2000kms. Good people, this is what this journey is about. Pemba surprisingly very touristy, For the first time the locals become almost rude, influenced by tourist handouts, treating them like monkeys. Moral - don't feed the monkeys.

After Pemba we go to Pungani. Isolated white beaches with no tourists but a few villages with coconut palms growing and crayfish, 3kg for only R30 from the local fishing boats. Amazing, relaxing, our broken Portuguese just getting us by.

Three days later the itchy feet tell us to move. We manage to organize a local Dow (sailing) fishing boat to take us to Matware in Southern Tanzania. Here we meet professor Masourno and his crew with his 15m fishing dow all made from wood and sail from cotton. We head off into the ocean against the wind. This was a four day journey into oceans of untouched coral reefs surrounded by hundreds of isolated islands and villages on the mainland untouched by tourists, just living from the ocean and land. The journey was four days in total of tacking against the wind, waking at 12:30PM to catch the wind and tides, sleeping on hard boarded wet floor, the captain and his crew unable to speak a word of English. All this but there is always a way to communicate. The willingness to share and the hospitality of the captain and his crew was amazing. We had made a friend without even being able to talk. Dolphins rose out of the ocean in the early morning. Me still barefoot, hungry, tired, everything was just perfect.

We arrive in Mutware. Our plan to fly through to Tanzania, it is expensive as are all the game parks etc. - international (dollar) prices. Something we cannot afford. In Mutware we stay a night in a local village with the professor's family. Amazing whites (Masango's) a novelty. The hospitality incredible. Next morning in Mutware town we meet Jan. He helps us out but the moment the line "Just between us do you know Jesus?" within a two hour conversation of the same life metaphors I had heard so many times. Even though they were very hospitable, fed us, we had to get the fuck out. We catch a bus to Daar Es Salaam. 26 hour journey in a bus overloaded on roads not even 4X4's want to go on, stink of baby nappies. I was happy to reach Dar Es Salaam. Here a big city is a big city. Especially third world. We stayed the night and left.

Our next destination Kenya. From Dar we catch a bus out of town to the Kenyan border. Here we manage to hitch a ride with a taxidermist who has seen the world, done the drugs and now is a Tanzanian alien but who was born here. He takes us to Arusha. From here we will get to the Kenyan border.

After 6 hours of trying to hitch from Arusha Ed gets itchy feet to move. We catch a taxi to the border, as usual packed with as many people as possible. Our next destination will be Nairobi, a place we have heard is something to compare to Johannesburg in terms of vibe. Ed says "don't worry, it can happen anywhere, you hear the rumours but the chances of it happening are slim". We're alert. In the taxi we meet John. He helps us across the Kenyan border with no visas and organises another taxi to Nairobi with him. Kenya now the vibe jubilant as the country starved by the previous president is now changing presidents for the first time in 40 years. History in the making. The plan is to get an Ethiopian visa and then get out.

John convinces the taxi, loaded with people to take us to our campsite as it is on the way to town. We get lost and stop at a restaurant (which we later learn was only a block away) to ask for directions. The driver and John walk in, walk out with someone new. The new man carrying an AK-47 shouts "This is an AK-47" and tells us to get out. I'm unsure whether it's political or a robbery, my heart beats and my breathing rises as the gun is stuck to my head and I'm asked to look down. I look down and we are all directed into the restaurant. Here I realise we walked straight into a hold up as there are people lined up getting checked by five other men holding 9mm's dressed in suits. They take some of our money, the money we hadn't hidden, total of $710, cameras, cellphone (our only means of communication up to now) and direct us into the kitchen where the rest of the restaurant are on their knees. They hit me on the back of the head with the butt of the gun and tell me to get down. The man with the AK's last words "Money is not worth your lives ey." "Where you from Massingo [white man]?" to Nikklaus, reply "Joburg", gunman "Ay, so you know this. There they have submachine guns. It is more dangerous than here." Nikklaus "I don't know about that".

Material goods lost, still have our passports and enough money. We carry on, Nairobi next day, jubilant but unsure. The handing over of presidency from Moi to Kibali, history and hope, we shall see. Shall the usual African trend be followed. We organise our visa to Ethiopia and we had New Year's Eve in Isiola. 4 people, us and the campsite manager drinking beer and chewing the bark of a plant they call Miraa - every local seems to chew in Northern Kenya. The affect much like a cocaine buzz. New Year's quite but memorable. Next morning Isiola town to catch a taxi convoy to Margarat. Isiola a crazy town. People a mix of Somalian, Kenyan, Ethiopian and Maraai Ranche tribes and mixed breeds. All seemed to have madness in their eyes. Crazy madmen all over. A true frontier town where trucks convoy to Marasibi last town before Mialo at the Ethiopian border. From here on it is all convoy as the roads are isolated and wild There are Somalian bandits in Isiola we manage to find a lift with armed soldiers to Margabit. The road a true feeling of absolute wild - barren desert lands with Maraai Ranche tribes scattered throughout. A tribe dressed much like Massai only a lot brighter with beads, feathers and flowers coming from their braided hair, red painted chins, necks and hair, carrying spears, pangas and sticks. Truly primitive as they dress in traditional gear as they are uninfluenced by Western culture, unlike the Massai who dress in traditional wear to supply the tourist trade in Tanzania and Kenya. A trip of desolation, wild animals mixed with cattle and sheep. True Africa like the TV tells us, but no tourists.

We get to Margabit. Here we await a truck convoy. It is unknown when the next will come, it sounds as though we may be stuck here for the next four days until we can get a lift to the Ethiopian border. One of those things. With a lot of our money stolen our budget is low so we must try limit ourselves. We wait.