Kasulu, Tanzania 06.01.2009

Kasulu, Tanzania 06.01.2009


The inside of an African state-hospital is not something that I particularly wanted to see on this journey, but I guess the state of affairs could’ve been worse, considering that the x-rays revealed only a fractured toe, and a small one for that matter.

Back in Uganda we’ve been staying at Olaf in Kampala. He has gone out of his way to entertain and spoil us for the few days we were there. We haven’t had any luxury for a long time and indulged in it. Thanks again Olaf, we had a wonderful time in Kampala thanks to you. After long discussion at Olaf’s place we decided to cut Rwanda from our iternary. We had to win some days somewhere because the amount of miles we still have to cover is out of proportion with the time we have left. I was pretty reluctant to go with this decision but it became obvious that we had to sacrifice somewhere. Olaf also assured us that as far as the landscape goes, Rwanda doesn’t offer much more than Uganda’s green and tropical make-up. Timo, from “African Expedition Support”, who I’ve mentioned in some previous posts, who we’ve originally met in Egypt, then co-incidentally in Sudan, Kenia and recently on the Eqautor in Uganda, confirmed that we won’t be missing much that we didn’t see in Uganda. So we decided for Tanzania and made it to the border on the same day. I was much disappointed to discover, not for the first time on this journey, that my visa which cost 70 Euro’s back in Germany, and a lot of effort (understatement), had expired a week before. So again I tried the “South-African’s shouldn’t have to pay for the visa”, but unfortunately no success this time and I had to cough up another 50$ for the new visa, which leaves me with only two blank pages left in my passport, issued in 2005. (Can’t help bragging about it.) I guess I wont be so proud about it if I were to end up without any space in my passport before I reach South-Africa. Tanzania also offered green landscape and red gravel-roads which is great fun to ride with our machines. Speaking of which, I have to leave my plot here and dedicate a few lines in praise to my Beamer. The more time I spent on my GS the even more I love it. It’s absolutely amazing that a bike which offers such a 1st class ride on a normal tarmac can be so hard-core when it comes to off-road. Up till now I haven’t had one major problem (touch wood) although the bike has passed the 100 000km mark. Considering the conditions the bike are serving in, I find it astonishing. OK, back to the plot. We made it to a camping-spot on the Victoria Lake beach in a town called Bukoba. Beautiful spot. The next morning I was woken up by huge raindrops falling on my tent which was set-up without the outside sail, which means I actually woke up due to raindrops falling on my face. Although it was a little inconvenient having to move my tent and bike and bags out of the rain I welcomed the downpour. Those of you who’s brought up in Europe might not share my view on this matter, but I love rainy weather and welcomed it. This also allowed us to wait for the rain to stop, which gave me time to enjoy the “Jeffrey Archer” book I was reading then, without having to feel guilty about not pushing on. Eventually the rain stopped and we hit the road. The road eventually took us through a Game reserve in which we didn’t see any game, but was really beautiful. The roads had some pretty muddy and slippery stretches. Christoph’s bike slided on one of these and he’s pannier ended up being completely torn off the frame and disformed by the impact of the bike hitting the road. Luckily he wasn’t hurt. We spent an hour or so in the park straightening the pannier and strapping it back onto the bike. In all this time not one vehicle had passed us. Although this is the only road connecting the north and south part of Western Tanzania it was deserted. The last people we saw before Christoph’s fall was the police at the entrance who took all our particulars. This has not been uncommon on our travels through Africa so we didn’t give it a second thought. We have just learned tonight though, that this road, especially in the park where we were obliviously hammering away on Christoph’s pannier, is a no-go area which should seriously be avoided since it’s a hot-spot for bandits coming over the Burundian border, whom are known to be well active in this area and on this road. However, no-one robbed us and we eventually made it to the next town a little after dark. We camped in the backyard/parking lot of a hotel for 2000 Tanzanian Schillings per person, the equivalent of around $1,60. Next day was another beautiful ride. Like I’ve mentioned before, I absolutely love green and tropical scenery. It also always reminds me of happy childhood days on summer-holidays in Kwazulu Natal in South-Africa, where our family annually went to the family ACSV-camps. (Church-camps, in lame terms)

It was already late afternoon and we still had to cover around 90km when it happened. My attention was on the car approaching and I saw too late that the little bridge coming up a couple of meter’s away, starts with a concrete slab that was about 40cm higher than the gravel I was driving on. The traffic and wind and rain has obviously, with time, washed some of the gravel road away, bringing it to a lower level than the concrete bridge which is more immune to these factors. In simple terms, I was about to hit the equavalent of a high pavement at 60/70 km/h. I swerved to the left where the height of the concrete was less, and tried to break as much as was possible. I managed to avoid the worse of the concrete but was too hard on the front break which caused the front wheel to slide. The next few seconds happened in slow-motion. It’s a cliche, but it is amazing how unbelievably fast the brain works in distressed moments like these, hence the slow-motion effect: I first realized that I’ve past the point of being able to avoid the fall which was to follow. I also realized that I’m probably going down at too high a speed to avoid serious injury. The side of the bridge was lined with vertical metal rods that must have been the remains of a railing meant to prevent vehicles from going over the side in case of accident. We (me and bike) were now on our sides, sliding over the concrete, direction iron rods. Although I couldn’t see the rods anymore on this stage, I was fully aware of what our direction was. I knew it was going to be a hard collision. The final hit came after what felt like a very long time of sliding and bumping over the concrete. I remember feeling relief a moment after the collision because it was over and because I realized I’m ok. A moment after my relief another hit followed. This time it was the bike coming down onto my leg after obviously been lifted into the air due to the collision with the iron rod. I was now stuck under the 350kg of steel (and luggage). I realized my foot took quite a hit and wasn’t sure how serious. I tried to get myself from underneath the bike but it was too heavy. I looked back to see how far Christoph was behind me- too far. I then realized that the exhaust pipe coming out of the boxer engine was lying on my leg and knew that it’s going to start burning through my pants into my leg. The fright of this gave me enough strength to get my leg out of there. I got up. Quickly scanned over my body. Besides my foot I was OK. Immense relief. I became aware of the pain in my left foot and was relieved to see all five toes when I got the boot off. The one toe was pointing slightly in the wrong direction and the foot was badly swollen. I thought that the foot might be broken but I was mainly relieved that the accident didn’t claim more from me. What immense relief. I didn’t feel any shock. My brain was working as fast and clear as never before. I thought off the potential consequences, concerning the rest of our journey but removed my thoughts from that. I scanned round the bike still lying on its side to assess the damage. No serious damage to be seen. Christoph, and the guys who has stopped, eventually got the bike back on its wheels. I was expecting the pannier on the other side, which contained my computer, to be completely disformed. It was a little bent but nothing major. Was it possible that the bike was nearly without any damage? I tried the ignition and it started. The front break was the only thing that got damaged. (And a major dent on the exhaust and the tank and some marks on the steel frame.) Unbelievable this bike. It’s as tough as Hulk. We weighed our options. Since I couldn’t really use my foot anymore camping right there came to mind but it wouldn’t have solved our problem of being stuck in the middle of no-where. From a little climbing accident I had a year ago I also knew that my foot would be in an even worst state the following day. Christoph suggested maybe somehow calling medical assistance, or an ambulance, but that would’ve probably taken hours, and on top of that it would’ve forced us to leave my bike there which was simply not an option. I knew that I just had to get back on the bike to make it to the next major town where we could find a hotel and a hospital. The problem was that my left foot is needed for the gears. The second bigger problem was that I only had the rear break (which is used with the right foot) to bring the bike to a stand-still, which means that with every stop I would have to keep the bike up with my left foot since the right foot will have to be on the break-lever. My left foot was definitely not capable of doing anything, never-mind keeping the bike up. I eventually managed the gears, not without pain, and made sure to stop on an even stretch where the bike stops rolling by itself without having to keep my right foot on the break. After little over an hour we made it to Kasulu where we found a hotel. The staff was most-helpful and took me to the hospital with the hotel-minibus. The private hospital turned out to be a doctor’s office which was closed anyways. I eventually ended up in the state-hospital, waiting for about 2 hours before the doctor could see me. All I really wanted at this stage was an x-ray, but the “x-ray-room” was only to be opened on the next day again. After returning the next day and spending around another 7 hours at the hospital I finally had my x-ray and my foot put in cast. The only damage is one toe fractured, foot badly bruised and a couple of light scratches on my hip.

In retrospect I can only say that I’m immensely thankful that I didn’t suffer any worse injuries. It’s only natural to ask myself afterwards, “What if?” What if I went down on the other side of the bike, ending up between the bike and the iron rods? (of which two got disformed by the bike’s impact). What if I went through the gaps between the bars and went over the edge? If I look at the dents on the solid steel of my bike, and the damage on my helmet, I realize that I was extremely lucky to escape this one so lightly. I believe that the moment after I lost control the forces of vector and physics was not the only forces at work.

This now brings me to our next dilemma. What to do now? Although my foot is now in a cast and my front-break repaired I’m not really in the ideal state to drive a motorbike. Especially not off-roading. We are told that the roads is not getting better in Tanzania and to top that, it’s been raining the whole off last night and part of today and yesterday, which is not helping the road-conditions. We probably will have some rain in Malawi and Zambia also. We have a very tight schedule which leaves us with only three weeks to reach Capetown. We’re going to leave tomorrow and try to push it, but the reality is that if I don’t manage to cope with my injured foot, we might be faced with a tough decision. We also can’t wait too long before we make such a decision because Christoph has to be in Cape-town in 3 weeks. There are only three choices: (1) Christoph cancels his job and Nadine her flight, eliminating our dead-line, (2) I manage to do the rest of the journey with my injured foot, or (3) we part, and Christoph pushes on to make his deadline. On the one side I don’t know how wise it would be for myself to still try to finish the trip in such an extremely short time with an injured foot. Even if I could withstand the pain and discomfort it will take much of the pleasure out of the rest of my journey, and secondly, because I’m not able to stand anymore while riding (you normally stand on difficult or tricky terrain to increase balance and control) it increases the risk of worsening the injury, or having another fall. Besides the risk I’m also concerned about having to spent the whole day, nearly every day for the next 3 weeks, in a position where my foot will be under strain and in pain. The other side is that it would be a great pity to have to part with Christoph, especially now that we’re so close to the end. It would also leave him in the difficult position of having to complete the rest of the journey without a travel-partner. If you’re on your own and anything goes wrong, an accident or a technical problem, it could turn into a nightmare when there’s no-one helping you out. Because one cannot leave the loaded bike unattended, even small things like going into the supermarket or even just the toilet becomes a mission.

I’ve decided to give it my best shot to stay on schedule with Christoph but am having my doubts. You’ll know from the next post what the final outcome turned out to be.


Later today:


We noticed 2 days ago that Christoph’s bike seemed to be lower than usual. He has just discovered that the bolt which connects the top part of the shock-absorber to the bike has snapped. I won’t get into the technical details but lets just say that this has turned out to be quite a problem which is going to cost us at least another day on top of the 2 days that we’ve already lost due to my foot. The only positive things that I can mention now is that we managed to fix my front-break and also that it hasn’t rained since this morning which means that if it doesn’t rain tomorrow the roads should be in a better state than the muddy mess it is now, once we’re finally ready to leave.

There’s no internet here but my hotel-neighbor is apparently connected through a cell-phone network. I will ask him to email this post to Christiaan who will hopefully be kind enough to put it online for me. Emailing pictures will be too much to ask from him, therefore this post will be without.

Kind greetings out of Tanzania,


Tags: , ,

Hey you two! I am really sorry to read about the accident but at the same time I am relieved that you are OK Gideon. I hope you find an acceptable solution so that you can keep on together and still make it on time for Christoph. Best of luck!

cetin kiymet

cetin kiymet’s avatar

good luck

Michelle Butler

Michelle Butler’s avatar

Hey dudes! Jis, Gideon, dis nogal bad, maar so naby aan die einde sonder enige major probleme is nog steeds baie wel gedaan. Hoop nou net dat alles reg sal uitwerk, vir die beste. Teen die tyd dat julle hierdie post lees sal julle seker al op pad wees in die “rigting” wat julle gekies het. Ek hou tog duim vas aan hierdie kant, en hoop jy kom vielig saam met Christoph in die Kaap aan!!

hey gideon
stop being such a sissy. We cant stand your wining about your smelly little toe pointing in the wrong direction. “O my poor foot this, Oh my poor foot that”.

Minette Mare

Minette Mare’s avatar

Het jy die voet ge-elevate na die besering? ek stem saam met wouter….he he. grappie. jammer om te hoor oor die ongeluk, maar bly jy is nog veilig! ek hoop julle is gou weer op die pad - 3 weeks and counting!

Sjoe Gideon, so bly dat jy darem OK is en lewe! Dink aan julle, hoop jou voet is nie te seer nie en herstel gou. Hoop julle het ‘n oplossing gekry. Wees veilig!

HI, ek hoop alles werk uit en dat jy tog somehow die einde kan voltooi, kan nie maklik wees maar baie sterkte.

Jannah Wessels

Jannah Wessels’s avatar

Hi Gidoen & C

So glad that both of you are okay. Looks like both of you are being stretch in making decisions which is a good thing. You can only grow from this.

I pray that you will have favour with the weather, people and super naturally get to CT on time.

Sjoe Gideon eks bly jys darem okay! Ek kan nie glo daars nog net 3 weke oor julle het regtig GOED gedoen. Well done!!!

Bid vir wysheid & glo julle sal die regte besluit maak solank julle net vrede het met julle besluit. Sterkte vorentoe….

Adriaan de Beer

Adriaan de Beer’s avatar

Good luck Gideon, ek hoop watookal julle besluit is dat dinge reg uitwerk!

PS. Julle storie is so ‘n inspirerende een, dat ek plegtig onderneem om saam met jou, en ons twee GS’s (ek beplan om in die volgende 5 jaar vir my een aan te skaf) ‘n round trip deur die lande te doen wat julle gemis het, as dit wel uitdraai dat jy nie kan aangaan nie! Indien jy wel kan aangaan, sal ek seker moet soek vir ‘n minder ervare travel companion… Hoe dit ookal sy, as jy kan, hoop ek regtigwaar julle maak saam klaar, dit sal net hartverskeurend wees as julle nie kan nie!

Dit is moontlik om teerpad te ry al die pad van Dar Es Salaam tot in Kaapstad, plus minus 6000km. Ek stel voor julle kry die highway en kom terug huistoe. Jy behoort dit te maak in minder as twee weeke as julle 500km per dag “average”. Wees net baie versigtig vir die lorries en busse en bly af van die pad in die nag tensy jy n “deathwish” het.
Die roete mag dalk nie so romanties wees nie maar kyk na die alternatief en dit gaan beteken jy sal alles oor moet doen om te kan se jy het reg deur Afrika op n motorfiets gery.
Jammer om te hoor van die terugslag, ek gaan die fotos mis.

Holy Crap Gideon, glad you’re OK! Dont pay too much attention to Wouter. You cant take accusations about being a sissy seriously when they come from someone who has been beaten 3 times by a girl with one leg in a race he couldn’t even finish.
Good luck, and hope you find a way to complete the journey, even if you have to change your route!

Holy Crap Gideon! Glad you’re OK! Dont pay much attention to Wouter. You cant take accusations about being a sissy seriously when they come from someone who has been beaten by a girl with one leg 3 times in a race he couldn’t even finish.
Good luck, and I hope you find a way to complete the rest of your journey. Keeping the beers cold and ready in CT for your arrival!


Francisca’s avatar

Hallo Julle!

Jammer om te hoor van jou voet, Gideon. Ek het so 2 jaar terug my enkel baie sleg gebreek, en was vir letterlik ‘n volle maand afgeboek, been in die lug. As dit naastenby so seer is soos my enkel was haal ek my hoed vir jou af as jy verder gaan ry. Ai jong, ek hoop julle kom reg, en wat julle ookal besluit, ek is seker dit sal die regte besluit wees. Al moet die trip dalk eindig, was dit steeds ‘n onvergeetlike, pryslose ervaring - iets waarvan soveel maar net kan droom.

Baie baie sterkte!

Ons het familie iewers in Tanzanie, ek weet nie hoe hulle sal kan help en of jy eers hierdie boodkap sal kry nie, maar as hulle enigsings kan help, al is dit net vir slaapplek, sal ek jou probeer laat weet.

Mooi bly en pas julleself op!!

O no Gideon! In meiner beruflichen Meinung - Whiskey hilft für alle Schmerz! Viel Glück, wenn irgendjemand es machen kann, den Sie können!

Oh Gideon,
what a crap.
I feel so sorry for you and your foot and the decisions you two have to make now.
Be brave and look ahaed.
Feel yourself hugged.

Het ons so bietjie geval? ;-) Bly om te hoor jy is darem op twee bene. En om net op agterbriek te ry gaan in ‘n modderpad amper erger wees. Dit is amper geen briek werd nie. Dis miskien ‘n skoot geluk die anner bike het sy pin gebreek, want jy het nou nog ‘n dag of twee om die voet te rus. Maar as dit nou in gips is (as die cast gips is) kan jy nie jou boots aankry nie. En jou boots het seker baie ver gegaan om jou voet te red van erger besering.

Hoop julle kry julle dinge gesort. Goed om te hoor jou bike hou, gee my kwaai meer moed as ek myne op die grondpaaie moet gaan rondgooi. Hoop net al my ongelukke is so gelukkig soos joune! Lekker ry dude, en kyk maar of julle ‘n teerpad of 2 kan slaan, dit sal seker kan help om julle averages per dag bietjie op te bring. Cheers vir eers en groete - Tjaart

peer Ehlers

peer Ehlers’s avatar

Moin Jungs!
So ein Mist!

Gideon, how are you now?
I hope, it’s getting better!

Was macht Ihr jetzt? Schon ‘ne Entscheidung getroffen?
Wünsche Euch auf jeden Fall eine glückliche Weiterfahrt
und keine weiteren Zwischenfälle.

Viele liebe Grüße

claudia, detlev, phelix

claudia, detlev, phelix’s avatar

Hello guys,

so sorry to hear about your accident, Gideon, hope the pain is not too bad and you will recover quickly. Christoph, decide fast, it will be hard to find a replacement…..

we are in Falera - gorgeous conditions, blue skies, warm sun, swell skiing and my knee is holding up - yupee!
Be careful, our thoughts and prayers are with you,
claudia, detlev and phelix too!

Louis van der Watt

Louis van der Watt’s avatar

Hei Gideon
Nou pas eers gelees van jou Unfall. Ek is bly dit was nie erger nie. Hoop jy is nlu OK. Ek dink Altus se idee is baie goed- slaat maar die grootpad en kom so vinnig as moontlik terug (behalwe as jou voet al baie beter voel). Bel my - gee die nommer en kodes, en ek sal terugbel.
lekker wees