Caprivi (S)trip

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by 1NiteOwl, Sep 6, 2012.

  1. 1NiteOwl

    1NiteOwl Office Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2007
    Oddometer:
    88
    Location:
    Southern Africa
    As at most of these places, boat rides are on offer. We arrange a mokoro trip the next morning, to take a closer look at the “waterfall”. Our guide Joseph, who tells us his father was a member of Koevoet battalion, and after the war they stayed in South Africa until 1996, when he decided to move back to his roots.

    The mokoro gets towed upstream by the camp’s cruising boat and we get dropped off a stone’s throw from the falls.

    [​IMG]


    The “beach” is really sandy, with rocks jutting out on the short climb to the falls. Close up, Popa Falls looks more impressive than before.

    Wildlife along the shore is limited to crocodiles and waterbirds like this reed cormorant.


    [​IMG]

    Local fishermen compete with both for a catch. The water is pretty shallow along the riverbanks- it’s the end of the dry season.

    [​IMG]

    Joseph points out a jackalberry tree and explains that our campsite has been named after the seeds (Nunda).

    Back at the camp, we reluctantly pack out bags. We’ve reached the furthest point of our trip, and now it is time to start the return ride home.

    [​IMG]

    It’s a short stretch from Nunda to the Botswana border, and after the formalities plus another 50 Pula road tax we soon reach the Mahango Game Reserve again (we passed through it last year on the way to Kaokoland). We get warned to stay on the main gravel road through the reserve after signing the register at the gate.

    [​IMG]


    After a “splash and dash” for fuel in Shakawe we cover the 10 km to Drotsky’s Lodge. Ikageng is at reception and waves us on down the road to the campsites after making arrangements to join in the sit-down supper.


    [​IMG]

    We end up next to site we had a year ago and take our time to set up camp before drifting over to the bar for a beer with Cyril, who is running the camp and has been around these parts for decades. We quiz him about the northern loop around the delta, which we considered doing, but he says its all reserves and not accessible by bike.

    [​IMG]

    After a great buffet supper We light up a fire - because we can!

    [​IMG]

    As we are enjoying breakfast I spot a familiar face cleaning out the fireplace: it’s the man who found my GPS last year (ripped off my bike by the monkeys)!

    [​IMG]

    Time to pack,

    [​IMG]

    Time to pay. Mrs Drotsky is at reception with Ikageng and offers coffee on the house before we go, while I photograph the carved pangolin anteater (“ietermagog”) behind the counter. It is unique in being the only mammal with reptile-like scales.
    [​IMG]

    We mention our interest in visiting the Moremi reserve and within one minute we are connected to Joyce and Simon Paul at Maun Rest Camps who say they can take us the next day- whoohoo!

    I did mention that the Dakar was needing attention the previous day, and as we try to leave Drotsky’s, it won’t start. Fortunately after a quick tow the engine bursts into life. I should have paid more attention to this…

    [​IMG]

    We ease down the road skirting the delta in a south easterly direction- we have been warned of speed traps. It’s a hot and boring ride.

    [​IMG]

    Even the cattle seek out the shady spots.

    [​IMG]

    After about 125 km we have a choice of two filling stations in Gumare.

    [​IMG]

    150 km further brings us to Lake Ngami.

    [​IMG]

    Our timing is spot on: the catch of the day is just being hauled in, while piles of fish are being scaled and gutted nearby.

    [​IMG]

    Bream, bream, bream

    [​IMG]

    All along the shore, Marabou storks stand watching for scraps while the fishermen keep a beady eye on them.

    [​IMG]

    One of the fishermen asks for help with his Chinese outboard motor and we decide to do our good deed for the day. After some stripping and fiddling it is obvious that the motor has seized. A sharp smack with a rock and spanner succeed in freeing the piston, but after two pulls on the starter it’s stuck again- we recommend a rebuild to the hapless owner.

    [​IMG]

    There’s another veterinary fence just outside Maun where we get a free Wash ‘n Go before proceeding.

    [​IMG]

    We reach Maun late in the afternoon and after getting some fresh supplies at the local Spar and a bundle of firewood en route we scan the side of the road for signs to Maun Rest Camp.


    We find it soon enough and find Joyce in the office, with a string of dogs in tow.
    There is a permanent tent available, but then Simon arrives in his Land Cruiser and suggests “The Green House”.

    [​IMG]

    Once we get there, we call it heaven.
    #21
    jorrie likes this.
  2. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,702
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Awesome! Great photos. I'd love to go there someday.
    #22
  3. capeklr

    capeklr Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2009
    Oddometer:
    361
    Location:
    Cape Town
    You have just added the Caprivi Strip to my bucket list.:D
    Thanks for a great report.
    #23
  4. 1NiteOwl

    1NiteOwl Office Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2007
    Oddometer:
    88
    Location:
    Southern Africa
    The Green House has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, fridge, fireplace outside, etc. etc. It’s like a home from home. After a great supper around the fire we go to bed early, as the departure for Moremi is at 05H30 the next morning.

    The canvas curtains around the Land Cruiser's seats get closed before we leave, but the wind still takes its toll and despite our initial rejection, the blankets get pulled out one by one. From the end of the tar the corrugations rock us around until we pull up at South Gate an hour later.
    [​IMG]

    The roads in Moremi are sandy two-tracks winding through a mopane forest.

    [​IMG]

    The forest looks stunted once we have covered some distance from the gate - the trees are no more than 3 metres high as far as the eye can see. The cause of this phenomenon is the overpopulation of elephants- according to Simon there are three times more of them than the country (Botswana) can support; something has got to give.

    Giraffe bow and scrape as we pass.

    [​IMG]

    Simon is in his element and chats away as we head deeper into the park and stop for breakfast.

    He has a theory about baobabs and elephants, believing that the animals are aware of the medicinal properties of this aloe-like plant….

    [​IMG]


    …..while ignoring the danger of the huge kigelia Africana pods dangling overhead.


    [​IMG]

    Although we fail to spot any predators, their prey abounds. In the bush,

    [​IMG]


    in the marsh as we approach the water,

    [​IMG]

    and obviously, below the water.

    [​IMG]

    Third bridge is the furthest point from South Gate. There is a rest camp with ablutions where we get a chance to stretch our legs before setting off for the pans and the return leg.

    [​IMG]


    Some oxpeckers hitching a ride see us off.

    [​IMG]

    It’s dark by the time we return to our Green House and everyone turns in early- it’s been a long day!

    We slowly pack up the next morning, and after scraping the cash together to pay our bill we say our goodbyes.

    [​IMG]


    There’s a great coffee bar at Motsana, as well as a few curio shops and a dance floor. We indulge.


    [​IMG]

    After refuelling in town we exit Maun and hit the road to Gweta.


    [​IMG]


    Halfway there we pass two motorbikes alongside the road: it’s Marko & Sylvie again!

    [​IMG]


    We stop to compare notes (and bikes). They go for the pannier look.

    [​IMG]

    I want to pass by Baynes Baobabs, 30 km from A3 road, but it is inside the Nxai Pans reserve and again, no bikes allowed. So it’s Planet Baobab outside Gweta for us instead, where we are welcome.


    [​IMG]

    There’s an open restaurant and well-stocked bar where we get something cold to drink.

    Old news photos and Drum magazine covers line the edge of the roof; in our corner are a few featuring a very young Winnie Mandela!

    [​IMG]

    We refuel and restock at Nata without much ado and I try to up the pace a bit to try to get to our destination for the day before nightfall.

    At Dukwi we turn west off the main road …

    [​IMG]

    … to Sua Pan, and Kokonje Island.

    [​IMG]

    It's mainly two-track stuff, with sandy washes every now and then.

    A momentary lapse of concentration through a dry riverbed results in the first crash of our trip. I should have paid more attention to this.


    [​IMG]

    As the light fades we still have 20 km to go, but this is not the time to discuss the distance to go. “Amper daar” is the best answer.


    [​IMG]

    We reach Kwadiba gate at last, and fortunatey it is still open. We sign the register and head straight for the pans. Under our wheels, the soil imperceptably turns to salt.


    The tracks start to criss-cross all over the place as we approach the island and begin searching for a suitable camping spot. We eventually locate a short gravelly track into the grass around the edge of the island, pitch our tents and prepare our last supper under the stars.


    [​IMG]

    By now we are down to our last packed rations. It’s a bag of "instant" fish pie and it looks as appetising as it sounds; everyone claims they aren't hungry, but the cold beer from Nata makes it palatable.
    #24
  5. Squily

    Squily Squily

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,699
    Location:
    Esperance WA
    :lurk
    #25
  6. Bendernz

    Bendernz Torrential

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2009
    Oddometer:
    567
    Location:
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Absolutely stunning.

    This is one of the reasons I love ride reports - to see a place I would likely never get to experience myself.
    #26
  7. poolman

    poolman Gnarly Poolside Adv.

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    807
    Location:
    Darnestown, MD
    Thank you for posting the wonderful ride report and pictures. This is a trip I dream of, and it is inspirational to see you accomplish it!

    All the Best,
    #27
  8. BergDonk

    BergDonk Old Enough to Know Better

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2010
    Oddometer:
    5,308
    Location:
    Snowy Mountains Oz
    Great stuff, reminds me of my only vsisit to Africa a few years ago when I went to Botswana to help train bush fire fighters for a few weeks. Great place and great people, I'll be back.

    Met a Lion at Chobe:
    [​IMG]
    #28
  9. Habibi Rocks

    Habibi Rocks Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2012
    Oddometer:
    58
    Location:
    Burbank Ca.
    Great Report !!!!!!!! :clap
    #29
  10. rabbitears

    rabbitears Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2012
    Oddometer:
    134
    Great ride report - really appreciate the time you took to take the photos and describe it to us. :clap
    #30
  11. SA Ranger

    SA Ranger Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2011
    Oddometer:
    13
    Location:
    Deep Dark Africa
    Magic !!!
    #31
  12. 1NiteOwl

    1NiteOwl Office Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2007
    Oddometer:
    88
    Location:
    Southern Africa
    By daybreak everyone surfaces to watch the sun rise over the salt flats.

    [​IMG]

    After a quick breakfast we break camp and saddle up to ride around the island.


    [​IMG]

    Time for a last team photo. All good things come to an end.


    [​IMG]

    We discover the “official” camping spot underneath a huge baobab on the opposite side, complete with chemical toilet- we’re the only visitors!

    [​IMG]

    There’s a road leading up to the highest point and we follow it to the top for a fantastic view.

    <IFRAME height=360 src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/OKkfnR7BbZg" frameBorder=0 width=480 allowfullscreen></IFRAME>

    Salt as far as the eye can see (sea?)

    [​IMG]

    The surface is firm and flat, but the tyres cut through the crust in places.


    [​IMG]

    It makes for great riding. Kubu island is only 45 km further!

    <IFRAME height=360 src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/MZk52PkTHGw" frameBorder=0 width=480 allowfullscreen></IFRAME>

    The way back along the fence to the gate is much easier in daylight- it’s like a highway.

    [​IMG]

    We go through the gate where Michael, who signed us in last night, is waiting.


    [​IMG]

    We have a chat while we pack out some of our left-over cans of food. He’s posted here for 6 weeks at a stretch, but is using the time to study! This is certainly a place to do it without much disturbance.


    Out of the gate, we continue south along the fence on a good dirt road.


    [​IMG]

    At the southern gate to the pans we meet Matare, but he does not have Michael’s level of ambition. Conversation is arduous, even after we give him a warm beer.

    [​IMG]

    A few kilometres further, we pass through Chwaa Tshaa village. Our last sweets are swiftly dished out once the kids realise that bikers aren’t as intimidating as they look. A well-meant gesture, but probably a bad precedent.

    [​IMG]

    The road back to the A30 is quite corrugated, so on the tar we take the long way home via Francistown.


    [​IMG]

    Francistown with the Wimpy!


    [​IMG]

    Our navigation fails badly in Selebi Phikwe but at least we pass by this impressive mosque- there must be a large Muslim community here.


    [​IMG]

    We carry on to the Zanzibar border post, but a niggling thought in the back of my mind insists we won’t make it in time.


    [​IMG]

    Indeed, this border closes at 16:00 and when we pitch up at 17:00, everything is locked up except the adjacent motel. Although my wife looks tired, I propose to carry on to Martin’s Drift border post, which is open till 20:00. It’s 85 km further south on a dirt road that soon gets difficult to ride against the setting sun and soft sand verges.


    I should have had the sense not to attempt this, knowing that we had been riding for nearly 10 hours with the sure knowledge that part of the riding would be in the dark, but that is hindsight for you. Mrs. Owl bravely pulls off with a “let’s get this over with” and soon I get a live view of the sort of action sequence you just don’t want to see from directly behind.


    By now our intercom batteries are flat and I can’t warn her of the developing danger as she rides in the right hand track, drifts down the camber, hits the sandy culvert and as the bike starts oscillating out of control the front wheel bites, taking her directly over the shoulder of the road to crash into the adjacent game fence. Fortunately the short and sandy climb has slowed down the impact, saving her from injury but the Dakar is considerably the worse for wear, with quite a bit of broken plastic on the front now matching the missing mudguard at the back.


    [​IMG]

    Errol and I are quickly there to lift the bike off her and roll it back onto the road. But for the first time after dropping a bike, we experience one that refuses to crank, never mind start.

    This is clearly going to take some time, so we rehydrate and unpack the tools and jump leads, but to no avail. In the end, even jamming my Africa Twin’s battery directly onto the Dakar’s terminals allows it to start, only to die the moment I remove it. It must be a dead cell and unfortunately fuel injected bikes need a good power supply to run.


    The Twin’s battery is too big to fit in the Dakar, so it goes back where it came from.

    [​IMG]

    Errol starts to phone around local lodges to see if a bakkie to come and pick it up, but most of the lodges in the area are across the river, i.e. in South Africa!

    God helps those who help themselves- I pull out our towing rope and tie the Twin's rear footpeg to the Dakar’s crashbar. We’ve charged the intercoms a bit while getting the rope out, so it’s possible to discuss the choreography through the rocky and sandy bits as we gradually build up a manageable speed...

    [​IMG]

    ....which turns out to be 40 km/h as I follow the right hand track with the Dakar close behind to my left and Errol sweeping. Mrs Owl’s LED torch bobs along in my rear view mirror and it seems odd that we now succeed towing where riding didn’t (succeed). But halfway to our destination it goes all wrong as I slow down in a sandy drift and the Dakar rolls over the tow rope. By the time I accelerate the Dakar gets dragged sideways and I feel a jerk as my wife gets ditched in a cloud of dust for the second time.

    Fortunately it’s the only incident until we finally arrive at the tar road and, 6 km further, at Kwa Nokeng. We successfully negotiate the twisty track behind the filling station and sneak into a camping spot near the ablution block. It’s close to midnight as we tiptoe around to pitch our tents, make a quick supper and clean up.

    [​IMG]

    The bike does not look any better in daylight and despite Kwa Nokeng’s reputation as a biking haven they cannot help with a battery of any description, so a lot more towing is necessary.

    Fortunately the border crossing proceeds smoothly and, once back in South Africa I decide to treat my wife to a functional Africa Twin while Errol tows me at more than double yesterday’s “manageable speed” to the nearest big town.

    [​IMG]

    We reach Ellisras (Lephalale) soon enough and locate the Midas shop. It’s Sunday but it is actually open and there is a whole array of batteries to choose from; we buy one that fits and proceed to top it up with acid.

    [​IMG]

    A bit of fiddling to connect the leads and it’s time to confirm that nothing else is damaged. After a few cranks, the engine bursts into life and we are on our way.

    We lose contact with Errol in the traffic through Zeerust, where he has to turn south while we carry on eastwards. Last year’s roadworks between Vaalwater and Modimolle (Nylstroom) are still a work in progress.

    [​IMG]

    Tankers are wetting the temporary roads to keep the dust down and mrs Owl learns just why BMW fit those funny “beaks” below the headlight. It’s part of the plastic that got damaged last night and removed this morning. Life without a mudguard turns out to be rather muddy.

    [​IMG]

    Soon the Sand River Mountains fade in the distance as we hit the Springbok plains and we’re on the home straight- the end of the trip is in sight and all is well. Until the next one!

    [​IMG]
    #32
  13. tshelver

    tshelver Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
    Oddometer:
    577
    Location:
    Beween here (SE Asia) and there (NH/VT)
    Excellent! Takes me back many years to time spent in Rundu, and trips through SA, Botswana and Namibia until we left in '96.
    #33
  14. ROYMACNIC

    ROYMACNIC Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2006
    Oddometer:
    67
    Location:
    Scotland
    Another superb African adventure,great stuff.
    #34
  15. whatsgnu

    whatsgnu Scheissekopf

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2009
    Oddometer:
    292
    Location:
    S. VT / W. MA
    Fantastic RR !! Thank you so much !! :clap:clap:clap
    #35
    jorrie likes this.