|01-06-2012, 11:57 AM||#1|
Africa 2011: South Africa,Namibia, Zambia, a scanty italian biker
HellÚ, my name is Maurizio (aka Momi) and during last summer I've travelled in Africa on two motorbike, with one I had some mechanical problems in Namibia. In Italy I own a Suzuki DR 350, but ship it to Africa is too much expensive and I had no time to reach South Africa and Namibia overland.
This are two vacation I made with my Suzuki
and last year in India with a rented Royal Enfield
why Africa ? Cause I've never been there: always a good reason for visit a country. What I've known about Africa before to start ? Some memories of my childhood, one in particular: two lions (Ras and Lea) that I liked to watch in the public park of my city in Italy, Modena. What a sadness: the king and the queen of the jungle in a prison. The movies with Tarzan, the comics, some tv sequel, documentary ecc... here some link..most of them you can know just if you're born in Italy
Zulu a 1964 movie with a young Michael Caine
Vianello and Mondaini two comic actors of Italian Cabaret on TV
at the time this movie was forbidden to under 18 and so
I had other countries in my mind but suddendly a wonderful offer for a fly Italy - Cape Town went on my screen: Milan-Madrid-Johannesbourgh-CapeTown 600€ (760$). Just a minute and I decided: ok Africa. After some research I understood that just renting a bike in South Africa I will be able to travel in other african countries. Due the help of this forum (http://www.wilddog.za.net) I was able to find a rent shop with very good fee and not too much big bikes. Even after 3 years I'm not very good with my little Suzuki, and so big BMW were out of my mind.
Craig, the owner of this little company in Somerset West http://www.motorbikehire.co.za/xt660rrentals.htm# has helped me in any way possible, with fee, suggestion and local support: I heartily reccomend him. Thanks Craig
In Italy I've watched a public slideshow about Namibia and I asked about weahter, because my vacation day will be from last week of June to mid July, so winter time: no problem told me people, is Africa, at minimum 22į C ( 71,60 F). This time will be low season, so less pices and dry season: is easier to watch wild animals at the watering place. A think that I'll never forget about Africa is the cool...dam'n some night in Namibia, with my light tent..unforgettable !!
Here I'm ready to go to the train station to reach Milan Airport
Stuff I 've brought with me in my bags and rucksack
helmet, light tent (I'm going to Africa, always hot), rucksack...yes light, pc ASUS, a pile, 2 jeans, a wind stopper jacket , my usual grey t-shirt, waterproof pants bought in India in my last vacation...ok not really waterproof, but for 3 $. The big news in my equipment is this waterproof suit bought just the night before the start: it was a special offer 60€ (76 $)
as guidebook one on Namibia and one on Botswana, plus one of my personal series, the "JUMP TO" probably the worst in the world
map, bought on Amazon.co.uk, used 4€ (5 $)
The flight has taken 19 hours and at the airport of Cape Town Craig was waiting for me to bring to my hostel in Gordon Bay The Wonkey Donkey: me and Craig
In my room ther's a men divorced, but wife has kept house, so he was looking for a cheap apartment. Another guest was "rebuilding" his life: at the moment he's sleeping in a tent in the garden, cheaper instead the room. The third guest was a young guy, a street artist that likes cigarettes without tobacco, but with a good dose of marijuana. His 8 pm, tomorrow I'll got the bike: now I'm going to buy some food at the Pick'nPay supermarket
the manager of the hostel has 2 little dogs always ready to play 24/24 hours
After dinner went at the hostel 4 non-white guys guides that had finisch a touristic tour. Obviously they sleep in a room themself. Ok formally apartheid does'nt exists no more in South Africa, but during my vacation in Africa I always perceived the presence of an invisible barrier between non white and white population. There are 2 worlds completely separated that both ignore each other. Maybe is necessary wait one or two generations to can see some change. I don't know. Is a situation a little bit similar to the Tibet, between the Tibetan and Chinese population.
One of the guide teach to me how to prepare a very popular food, a kind of mush: the super Maize
after dinner some tv and in the bed.
21 of June
I wake up early in the morning and immediatly I recognize the young street artist: 2 cops had brought him back to the hostel. The manager says no problem, the cops know him.
I go around Gordon Bay, is winter low season very few people
In the afternoon Craig comes to bring me at his home to give me the bike, a Yamaha XT 660, the most littel that he rent. A stop in a shop just to buy a more detailed map of Namibia: is necessary, mine isn't enough for the off-road.
a stuff for girls and womens in camping
finally I'got the bike, with lateral panniers: compared to my Suzuki 350 DR this is a starship
Two suggestion of Craig: remember keep left when you're driving in Africa and never, never drive in the night. Now is late afternoon, but i try the bike: big 8for me), but semms I can manage it
I spend almost 3 hours to fix my stuss in the two panniers and in the rucksack: put in the left pannier, no better in the right : sure ? maybe in the jacket, why not in the rucksack ? Ok is midnight, time to go in the bed.
On the road
to reach the border with namibia is simple. follow the N7. Is very difficult at the gas station lose the key of the WC
is a little bit cold, but who cares ? I'mgoing to Namimbia, always hot
The bike is more powerful than my DR, but my travel speed remain the same 90/95 km/h ( 56/59 miles/h)
In Springbook I decided to find a bed. The first cheap motel is scary: 25$ ( 19 €), out of my budget. Often during a travel you must face some "difficult situation, as Calvin, the 6 years old kid of the comics, that in trouble situations become Spacemen Spiff: I'm the same
after half hour I find the Cat Nap just 11€ ( 14$) in the common room ( a former garage) 8 beds, but I'm the only guest.
my first day on the road in Africa is terminated.
|01-06-2012, 06:16 PM||#2|
Joined: Jun 2006
I've followed your previous RR and lovin it . Looking forward to this one.
'85 xr350, XR440, '99 RD07X, 01 XR650R
|01-07-2012, 07:40 AM||#3|
...soon or later
Joined: Jul 2005
Location: Manchester...but from Rome!
Piu' foto...piu' foto.
|01-07-2012, 12:18 PM||#5|
Her's the second chapter ...ok your smiles are great
The day starts with a little bit of sun and the break of the only key of the panniers...obviously with all the stuuf packed inside. No panic this is a Spacemen Spiff situation
I find a harware shop and the owner take out the piece of the key and "creates" without the original two new keys that fit the looks of my panniers: incredible.
Around noon I reach Vioolsdrif, border between South Africa and Namibia. The african borders are fantastic: they look like markets. people everywhere, employees dressed in a very informal way, forms all around the office: a relaxing caos. The change between ZA$ and Namibian $ is equal: 1 ZAR=1NAD. I don't have enough cash to pay the entry tax: I've cash just US $, but ther's not exchange office at the border. No problem tells to me an employee: I can drive as far as the first gas station ( half mile) and gtet money from the bancomat. Ok, but when I was arrived I see that bancomat works just with VISA. I've got one VISA credit card, but I don't have with me the code to withdraw. Very close (less one mile) to the gas station ther's a bank, but is 5 pm, probably closed.
The bank is open..the time zone has saved me: in SA is 5 pm, here in Namibia is 4 pm. The problem is that even here the bancomat works just with VISa and they can't take out money with credit card and passport: can you change my cash dollar ? Yes. Finally I've got the NAD, back to the office border I pay the entry tax and after I can start my travel in Namibia. My first spot is the Fish River Canyon, okay tomorrow, to sleep I need to reach the camping in Al Ais
I reach the crossing between B1 and C10 around the sunset: what told me Craig ? "Never, never drive in the night in Africa: dark, cars truck animals, too dangerous". But the camping is my only chance to sleep, so I keep going. Perfect my first off-road with the moon light. After one hour I see a thing that reassure me, power and telephone wires: ok I'm driving in the right direction.
I reach the camping when is completly dark ( 20Ä= 25$) the tent place. I meet a SA family in vacion and they allow me to prepare my dinner with their fire.
The father is a former karate athlet.
I wake up and take a lokk at the landscape in the morning
now I start to the Fish River Canyon ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fish_River_Canyon)
my first wild animal a baboon, I think
what you can do if during a motorbike tour in Namibia you meet a biker with the flag of your country ? ( Italy in my case): take a picture. This guy is a scuba intructor that was working in Cairo (Egypt). Due the reason his contract with a touristic village was expired, he decided to take a breack. He has never rode a bike, so after bought one decided to reach Cape Town. Great idea. Now he's travelling with two french bikers met in Nigeria.
I reach the entry of the park and after a while the Canyon: wahoo amazing
a sandwich for lunch
next stop is Sossusvlei a place well-known for the red dunes ( again cultural breack if you like it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sossusvlei), but for a driver like me is impossible reach it tonight. The road is unpaved and I can drive at the maximum speed of 50 km/h ( 31 miles/h)
whaoo my first ford ( the dry season is helpful)
in my map this place is a city...ok just a motel
I don't know but this motel remind me something
the dried meat is delicious
in the late afternoon i reach the city of Bethiane, just one motel with place for tent
the owner tells to me that the place is very safe since he placed a barbed wire fence with electricity, and around live a lot of policemen: ok I'll sleep more quiet now
in the evening the owner's wife offers to me a soup
temperature is going down quickly and I ask for a blanket...she give me 2. Good idea, one on the ground of the tent, me in my rucksack and over the second blanket..I'm in Africa, but is winter
|01-07-2012, 05:09 PM||#7|
Joined: Dec 2011
Location: Tampa fl
Kinda new to the site but one can only imagine the scenery riding around Africa. Be safe and enjoy. Sounds like you have already met some very nice people. You really get around, I one day would like to ride around in Italy myself.
|01-07-2012, 07:05 PM||#8|
Joined: Mar 2009
I was just at that roadhouse three months ago! Enjoy the ride! Thanks for posting!
I will be going back to Africa as soon as I can swing it.
Be nice or go away.
|01-09-2012, 06:59 AM||#10|
Joined: Dec 2006
I'm on a front-row seat!
Backcountry Byways Journal
Leave No Trace
Heart of the West Adventure Route (a.k.a. Forever West)
|01-09-2012, 02:34 PM||#11|
The depliant of my hotel/camping
Sossusvlei (or Sossus Vlei) is a pan in the Namib-Naukluft National Park
this couple of bikers ( heís from Holland and she from Japan) are travelling from Holland to Japan: a fall but nothing serious happenend
Namimbia is a former German settlement
is very difficult get lost on the Namibian off Ėroad
the change of the landscape colors are amazing
around 4.30 pm sun is going down and I decided to stop at Lodge Hammerstein (http://www.hammerstein.com.na/)
luxury place, camping place is about 12 Ä ( 15$), but here will be probably colder than Bethiane and so I get a room without dinner for 23Ä ( 29$), the most expensive room of my whole vacation. Yes a luxury place therís even a trained springbook
the room has electric blanket
place is very nice
in the hall I see a table with coffee, tea and cookies: Iím a guest and I can take it...ok 5 slice of cake are enough
for dinner rice and tuna
In the morning Iím the first tourist ready to go, coffee ...3 slice of cake and I take a shot with retainers that with shift work of 12 hours ( night and day) can guarantee a full customer care to the fearless tourists that dare to sleep in this wild place
ok Sossusvlei, just 80km ( 50 miles) far, but a strong trasversal wind allow me to drive at the maximum speed of 30 km/h ( 19 miles/h)...I know Iím a very turtle biker
at the entry of the park bad news: due the fact that some bikers has driven outside the road on the dunes, at the moment motorbikes arenít allowed to go inside the park. To reach the pan Iíve got to take a shuttle: 46Ä ( 58 $) ahhhh !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
But maybe hitchhiking will be possible ?
Iím lucky a nice man travelling with a boy is happy to can help me, and so Iíve got to pay just the entry
The man is a very nice person: the boy isnít his son, but his nephew. The real father (his brother) died some year ago and so he adopted him. Since he was child the boy was a live wire and for this reason the family nicknamed him Kakoo , a little animal that never rest.
dune 45 the most famous
finally we are just 5 km ( 3 miles) far from Sossusvlei, but from here just veichle 4x4 can go forward: Iím confident. The Kakoís uncle is a former military, with experience of operation in the desert. First deflate a little bit the tires ,so grip will be better
...indeed afterwards 5 minutes we are stop in the sand !
a jeep of the rangers try to tow our weichle, but no way, so the ranger brings us to Sossusvlei, we will get the jeep late.
this is another common specimen of all Africa: the ďTourist Dressed Like Indiana JonesĒ
In almost 25 days Iíve never seen one african dressed in this way, even similar
This year rain was exceptional and even now, during the dry season, is possible see the water
on the jeep to come back therís a couple of italian tourists and I listen while they are speaking about the fact that in the capital Windoek they had meet people less friendly than in Walvis Bay. Iíd like to try to explain them that probably a plumber of Windoek has a lot of problem as work, loan, children, wife ecc.. and if you ask something he could result ďless friendlyĒ than the 24/24 h smiling waitress of aresort, but I hadnít said nothing.
At the end a friend of Kakooís uncle bails us out
At the entry of the park we greet and I begin to drive on C19 and I rest in Solitaire, not really a city, but a Gas Station with a mechanic, a camping, a little resort and a market
after dinner I take a namibian beer, really good
|01-09-2012, 03:26 PM||#12|
A family in the camping didínt speak good about Etosha Park and suggested to spend more time in the natural parks in Botswana. Ok Iíll use one day for the Etosha, reaching Tsumeb, sleep there at the Mousebird Hostel and buyng an half day trip in the park
Breakfast with a fantastic strudel: I reccomend the bakery of Solitaire
now Iím driving to reach the B1, the big paved road that will bring me to Tsumeb
ok is the dry season, water at minimum, but Iím at the minimum from the point of view of driver abiliy and so I had to check trowing a rock in the water...Iím really a joke biker
always use the map
here the off road was finished and has begun the paved road
Windoek, just in time to go in the bank to change some US dollar...last minute
Sun is going down and so I had a stop in Okahandja and I found a room in the GH Auberge Omulonga. The owners make an exception: the GH is closed, cause tomorrow is theirs silver jubilee . Ok I can rest, but tomorrow at 7 am iíve got to go.
for dinner I get some fish in a take away inside a market
7,30 am Iím driving, beautiful day, sun is rising...but what a cold.
This roadsign remind me the movie Madagascar, but after some minute I saw a real warthog: too fast to can stop and take a pic
9,30 am temperature is going up
petrol station and this meat is delicious
Iím lucky, right at the entry of the city the signal to my hostel
Iíve got the map of Tsumeb in my bookguide, 4th street. After half hour Iím not able to find the street and the city is so little. A very nice police patrol helps me: the fact is that last year the city council changed all the name of the streets
The Mousebird hostel is runed by a german couple Arno and Monika Rahn, really nice people. The hostel has inside room, a little 4 bed place in a little wooden house in the garden and tent places: i reccomend this place to everybody
I need petrol for the bike: looking for a gas station I notice a playground outside a school, where a teacher is training kids to a little bit strange play. They are doing strange exercises: looks like volleyball, but they grab the ball. Another teacher explain to me that this is a play planned from the National Ministry of Education: is a mix between volleyball, basket and handball. You just need of two basket, one ball and some rocks to draw the paly field: cheap just one ball and a lot of children can play all togheter, male and female. Therís a national championship between schools and you can go to play the Finals in the capital Windoek. Is a way to teach to the children to play/work togheter to reach something (a victory) and maybe will be possible take the children away from the streets.
beside the playground therís a soccer field. The team with the soccer shoes win
a german biker thatís riding for 6 month
|01-09-2012, 07:31 PM||#13|
Ride to Fly
Joined: Jun 2006
Great RR. Thanks again for taking us along to amazing places.
"God does not deduct from one's time on Earth, that which is spent in the air"
|01-09-2012, 11:36 PM||#14|
|01-09-2012, 11:55 PM||#15|
Joined: Sep 2007
Location: Groningen Province - Top of Holland
I really enjoy reading your travel report. It reminds me, that I have to put something on paper - eh, screen... - for the yourney I did down there. Southern Africa (Incl Naminia, South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland) is a great area for motorcycling!!! Great people, great scenery, great roads.
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