Noob in Namibia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Three Dawg, Apr 8, 2009.

  1. Three Dawg

    Three Dawg Into Africa

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    604
    Location:
    The Highlands of Scotland
    Ok, here is my first ride report on this forum.

    In January 2009 I did a fly-ride trip, trading the lovely Scottish winter for something a bit warmer in Southern Africa. I can't really get away from Scotland during the summer because of my job, so this is the type of thing I have to do to get my fix of riding in the sun. And anyway, 'er indoors isn't too keen on the pillion seat of my 1977 Jota...

    Here's my normal ride:

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    Anyway, we'll scoot quickly through South Africa to the interesting bits in Namibia.

    Here we are in the rental company's bunker in Cape Town after travelling for 18 hours or so from northern Scotland. Mmmm, what a nice shiny clean 1200GS. We were joined on this trip by my buddy The Bear on a GS800.

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    Our first overnight in the small town of Tulbagh, north of Stellenbosch, so a pretty undemanding first day. Lots of lovely Cape Dutch architecture here.

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    The next day we continued north to Clanwilliam along the Olifants River. You can do this on tarmac on the western side of the river, but the route on the eastern bank is far more interesting. This was our first day off tarmac road, and although the 1200 was a bit of a lump two up on the loose stuff, and The Bear is well out of practice, we kept it shiny side up.

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    After Clanwilliam we headed further north on dirt roads, which were generally in pretty good shape and easy to ride up over the Botterkloof to our overnight stop in the settlement of Calvinia. It was in the middle of this that I discovered the treacherous nature of GS fuel guages; show full for ages, then drop to half full, pause just long enough to clear town and then plummet to one bar. I sweated along this road, and not because it was warm out...

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    #1
  2. Dessert Storm

    Dessert Storm Dances With Drunks

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Off route, recalculating
    Hooked.

    More please!
    #2
  3. Three Dawg

    Three Dawg Into Africa

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    604
    Location:
    The Highlands of Scotland
    Saw some camels along the way. Somewhat unexpected...

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    Anyway, moving swiftly on, accommodation in Calvinia was in old servants quarters with a distinctly rustic (but clean and tidy) feel. Lighting was mostly by oil lamps. Don't knock one reaching for a drink 'cos you'll grab it and the glass bit gets farkin' hot. Nineteenth century technology, and I can't cope!:rolleyes Dinner was in a restaurant so dark you could barely see the plate. Still didn't order the curried gizzards!

    Next morning, ready to rock and roll. Hey, one day on dirt roads, no offs, got this adventure riding sussed.

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    Just before we leave Calvinia; shouldn't every town have something truly daft in it?

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    Next stop, Augrabies Falls. This was mostly on tarmac so quite straightforward but it was very hot. The rest camp at the falls is excellent, although the paperwork at the gate was tedious and I really needed to get under a cold shower and take on more liquid so I wasn't too impressed by the delays. At the end of it the guard asked for ten rand. 'Er indoors asked why and the guy smiled and said "It is for me" At least he was up front!

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    Elton John as a lizard?

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    Next day, onwards to the Namibian border and our stop at Fish River Canyon. This is one of the most exciting road signs I've ever seen on a bike.

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    Border post humour...

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    This is more like it. Once through the border we stopped at the town of Karasburg. Dirt main street, people everywhere chattering away, hanging out, finally real Africa! I was so surprised at the difference in the feel of the place compared even to dorps in the sticks of SA I clean forgot to take any photos. DOH!

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    Amazing riding on our first day in Namibia. Good graded roads generally, but with some tricky wee bits to keep us on our toes. Next stop, the Canyon Roadhouse, yipsiree.

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    The Fish River Canyon is supposedly the second biggest after the Grand Canyon, but that's tomorrow. Today we tie the bikes to the bikes to the hitching post (is that what you call 'em?) and hit the bar.

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    #3
  4. aidanK

    aidanK Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    17
    Location:
    Hills, Sydney
    Nice report.

    As an ex Sth African now in Aus I love seeing ride reports from Africa. Namibia is a special place.
    #4
  5. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    61,694
    Thanks for showing us a seldom seen part of the world :clap

    :lurk :lurk
    #5
  6. Digger Deep

    Digger Deep Keep 'er Lit

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    206
    Location:
    in an ever deepening hole...........
    great report and pics - but then I am biased towards African reports :D:D
    #6
  7. Three Dawg

    Three Dawg Into Africa

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    Cheers, chaps. Didn't take too many pix on the way to the border, so hopefully the best stuff is on the way.

    Namibia has a fantastic laid back feel to it, the people are just brilliant.

    Cheers

    Three Dawg
    #7
  8. Narri

    Narri Unlimited

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2007
    Oddometer:
    43
    Location:
    East London, South Africa
    Nice pictures. I like !!

    Awaiting the rest
    #8
  9. Saeed

    Saeed Life-long learner

    Joined:
    May 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    285
    Location:
    UAE Dubai
    :clap
    Excellent riding and great scenery.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    #9
  10. Three Dawg

    Three Dawg Into Africa

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    The Highlands of Scotland
    OK, onwards.

    See it really is a hitching post!

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    Next day we headed out to the canyon before breakfast. It's about 1/2 an hour on a graded road. It's pretty bloody big, and difficult to do justice to- much like the Grand Canyon. Hardly anybody there apart from a rather odd family in a very trick but very shiny Land Rover. Did they clean it the previous day? They regarded us with some suspicion. Probably jealous, you'll never outcool a dusty adventure bike.

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    Back at the Roadhouse, we gas up and go, next stop Aus.

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    Many riders this way come- stickers on the gas pump

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    Back on the road- plenty of space here. The only thing faster than a big adventure bike are well used BMW 5 series.

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    I'm an adventurer me, you know...

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    #10
  11. Three Dawg

    Three Dawg Into Africa

    Joined:
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    Location:
    The Highlands of Scotland
    Next stop Aus, and Klein Aus Vista. Reasonably easy day, maybe 5 hours or so all on graded dirt roads. Nice cabins, restaurant and ice cold lager on tap. What's not to like?

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    Few of these little buggers about though... Sorry the pic's not very sharp, but it was dark and they're quick!

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    Ever get bored of an African sunset? Nah, me neither. Thanks to The Bear for this one, take while out jogging. Yep, jogging. No, I don't understand it either :D


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    Aus is famous for its wild horses. We went off early in the morning (again, I though this was supposed to be a holiday!) to a hide about 20K down the road and waited...

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    Real horse, iron horse. We actually saw three horses come down to the water trough. They were left here by the German Army before the first world war. The population is slightly shakey because of the hash conditions, but these seemed well enough. An oryx appeared as well. No other humans in sight, just the way I like it.

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    Time for breakfast, and then off to Sossusvlei where the big dunes are (and a day off the bike).
    #11
  12. Lance Hardwud

    Lance Hardwud Long timer

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Hinckley/Wheaton Illinois
    Looks like Arizona....really enjoying the ride report!! :clap
    #12
  13. zeroland

    zeroland Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    Oddometer:
    30
    Location:
    Sydney, AU
    Lovely... always better on a bike than stuck working...
    #13
  14. Three Dawg

    Three Dawg Into Africa

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    604
    Location:
    The Highlands of Scotland
    Yeah, we like Arizona too. Flew into Phoenix and rented a Mustang for that trip. Loved it, but too cold for a bike and the Mustang was fun especially on Route 66. BTW, we met a couple on that trip from NYC who had never heard of the Mother Road. Bankers, I think:evil

    Anyway, back to Namibia. This was a tough day, lots of ground to cover and very hot- somewhere in the very high thirties celcius. It was all a bit much for this tyre it seemed. These (Italian) blokes were going to change the tyre and then drive THROUGH THE NIGHT to the next town. Mental.

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    Don't care what you're selling, as long as it's ice cold...
    I did wonder wether buying one of those Camelbak things (actually a Kriega one) was a bit Ewan MacBoorman wanabe, but boy, was it needed. The heat and the effect of the breeze as you ride cannot be underestimated- it is SO easy to get dehydrated


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    I was mighty glad to reach the camp at Sossusvlei. Funky half tent things to stay in, much cooler at the front under the canvas. A dip in the pool shortly after we arrived was mighty welcome.

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    The view from the verandah was pretty good.

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    OK, the next morning (at six am AARGH!), Ghandi and his mate go to look at the sand dunes.

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    Into the reserve. Dunno if bikes are allowed, but anyway we were told there were lots of sandy bits, and Si Pavey I ain't.

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    The dunes are amazing, these stretch right to the sea about 100 miles away.

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    #14
  15. Klondike 5

    Klondike 5 Not even close

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
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    10
    Location:
    In the Zone.
    :lurk
    #15
  16. Three Dawg

    Three Dawg Into Africa

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    604
    Location:
    The Highlands of Scotland
    Dune 45 is the famous one- 45k from the main gate, but they are all beautiful. I took more pix of the other ones 'cos they hadn't been walked on.

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    A short walk took us to Deadvlei. The river sort of got squashed by the dunes, diverting it and leaving the trees without water.

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    We did a 'sundowner' drive later on in the day, On the way we came across a 6 foot long black mamba. You can perhaps see its head poking up looking at us. Our driver/guide Cliff wasn't going to risk going anywhere near it; they are very agressive and are not to be messed with.

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    And another African susnset. That thing is based on a Landcruiser. Crude, but effective.

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    #16
  17. Three Dawg

    Three Dawg Into Africa

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    The Highlands of Scotland
    Back to the biking. We had to head north again because The Bear had to drop his bike at the BMW dealer in Windhoek and fly back to London for work. Me and 'er indoors would ride back to Capetown.

    This is more like it...

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    Met this little fellow in Rietoog, a no horse town in the middle of nowhere. His mum ran a shop which had the essential cold drinks, some oil lamps, tin mugs and not much else. They were very friendly and we chatted for a while.

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    Not much to say about Windhoek, although we did find a funky bar called Joe's Beer House (I think) just around the corner from where we stayed. It was full of gigantic Germans. We dumped The Bear's bike at the BMW dealership in town and he flew out the following morning. We got back on and did the return trip properly. This next about 160km or so south of Windhoek. Another exciting sign!:D

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    Kids at a gas station on the edge of the Kalahari.

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    More to follow...
    #17
  18. Three Dawg

    Three Dawg Into Africa

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Next stop, a lodge on the edge of the Kalahari. By now we were back on tarmac so cruising speeds were upped considerably, but I was also gassing up twice as often. The lodge, near Mariental had a 2km sandy road leading to it which was bloody difficult. I didn't drop it, but more by luck than judgement.

    This fella dropped in for lunch. EEK!:eek1

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    Went out for another game drive in the afternoon. Rain in the Kalahari desert? What?

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    I haven't mentioned the wildlife- apart from the scorpions, deadly snakes and scarily big bugs that is. There was plenty to be seen, springbok, gemsbok, zebras, baboons, jackals and later on cheetahs, warthogs and meerkats were all spotted (and sometimes eaten) Some of these beasties were on the large side and equipped with armour piercing horns. If I'd had my Jota at least they'd have heard me coming...

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    OK, one last one. Sunset over the Kalahari. Man, this place gets under your skin.

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    #18
  19. Silver King

    Silver King Maita'i roa ae!

    Joined:
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    Saint Rosie, California
    :lurk Fack! I miss being in southern Africa. Great pics!
    #19
  20. Three Dawg

    Three Dawg Into Africa

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    604
    Location:
    The Highlands of Scotland
    Me too! Can't wait to get back, love to see more but have to avoid the wet season.

    Last few. Last stop in Namibia was Quiver Tree Forest near Keetmanshoop. These guys had three tame-ish cheetahs (one would tolerate a scratch on the head), warthogs and meerkats. Is there a more entertaining creature than the meerkat? I think not.

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    After Keets it was a straightforward run back town the B1 to the border and then the N7 to Cape Town via Springbok, Clanwilliam with a quick detour back to Tulbagh to retrieve my copy of Sam Manicom's Africa book from the guest house there.

    I developed a grudging respect for the BMW during the trip. I don't think the engine is particularly inspiring (but then my 180 Laverda has a very charismatic mill) but as the advertising says, it did feel unstoppable and I had absolutely no complaints from my pillion, worth the price of admission alone. Namibia is so easy, it's safe and the people are amazing. And we had no problems at all in 4261 km over two weeks.

    Cheers

    Three Dawg
    #20