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With a bit of negotiation we managed to steal our daughters 125cc motorbikes - a quick trip to see the sewing fundi at the office and he whipped us up some fine saddlebags. Then we started loading it all on..and on..and on This was to be a totally unsupported trip so we had to take everything for 5 days. The obvious tent and food but also petrol for the bikes, drinking water and of course plenty of wine!. By the time we left neither of us could lift our bikes if they fell over and we putt putted our way precariously up the road ...the extra weight took some getting used to as it made the bikes really top heavy - we decided we would need to drink extra wine that night to reduce the load!. The Massai Steppe is a vast area criss crossed with footpaths and animal trails and the occasional rough track but no tarmac, no power and few people. We headed due south with no particular destination in mind ... just following our noses down ever smaller tracks ... amazing how liberating it is not to have a destination! .... we bumped into a few massai and stopped for a chat ..... lunch ...all very pleasant ...then the dark clouds began to gather. In no time a torrential downpour was upon us .... riding after that was a little more treacherous and less carefree. A few more downpours and we stopped in a Massai boma to ask directions back to a track as the off road ground was turning to liquid mud and wouldn't support our over laden bikes - the bare breasted lady of the house called her husband to lead us to the track a few miles away ... despite our protestations he insisted (or had been told?!) in running ahead of us all the way to show us the track - great people. Then half an hour further on the light began to fade so we found a spot for the night and built up the fire... and cracked open the premixed magaritas!!!
Next day dawned brighter and after breakfasting on the night before's leftovers and fixing the first puncture we were off!! .. deep sand and over laden / underpowered motorbikes are a poor mix and we made heavy going of it so were gratefully when we finally pulled into a small village ... with a bar! .. we passed an incredible couple of hours sipping cold Kili beers, munching on fresh chapattis and watching the massai world swirl around us .. an amazing insight into pastoral life from the market guy who brought his produce in on the bus to the delight of the bartering mamas to the strutting warriors with the long spears over their shoulders who would cruise through ... With the cloud building to the west and south we decided to head east and had a great 50km run on smooth trails (no loose sand!) towards some massive granite mountains. Swinging round them we bumped into more massai herding their cattle and stopped to pass the time of day again. The area was arid - no sign of the earlier rain - and the massai we herding their cattle huge distances to get water. That night we found a huge baobab tree to sleep under - no tent - just banked up the fire and listened to the calls of Africa - one of the best nights camp ever!
Onwards and upwards ... but not before a few bacon and chapatti rolls ..then more biking - more tracks - more roads ... stopping for lunch en route and just enjoying the freedom of the bush... so timeless.
Later in the trip as we swung back north we passed through Melerani - the 'wild west town' where the Tanzanite gemstones are mined - we sat and had yet another cold kili and watched the rough tough miners swagger through town - racing back and forth on their rather larger motorbikes! - have to say the place was a bit of a let down through with no gun fights at the OK corral! Then back on tiny tracks and footpaths as we threaded our way to a clear spring for the night. Next day we hopped on the railway track for the route back towards Arusha (pretty much as bumpy as you would imagine!) and met up with the ladies in our lives for a late lunch - knackered and dirty but satisfied!