Cape to Kaokoveld and back KTM950 & AT.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by kamanya, Jan 18, 2006.

  1. kamanya

    kamanya Andrew to most

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,849
    Location:
    Southern Tip of Africa
    Here goes, will be in bits though;

    The most important thing is to set a date – and then tell everyone. After that everything falls into place. If you start working the other way around, as in go when you’re ready, well, you’ll never get it off the ground. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Craig and I used to live together as students and have been fast friends since. We used to be river guides at one stage too. When we lived together I used to have XT500’s and later a Honda CB900. I was always on his case about getting a bike as he used to be a courier in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:City><st1:place>London</st1:place></st1:City> for a while but drove a cage when we lived together. Then we moved apart and I lost the bikes, gained a car and he did the opposite. Now the shoe was on the other foot, he was the one ragging me. We had always spoken of doing a big African Bike Trip and in Jan of this year (2005) he sent an innocuous if a little sarcastic email; <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    So. <o:p></o:p>
    When are we going to set a date for our Great Namibian Off-road Motorcycle Expedition (GNOME ?) and who is invited? Okay, I guess there are certain entrance requirements - like a bike, for example - but since I know you are going to get one in the first half of this year that counts you in for sure. <o:p></o:p>
    What about planning something for 2006? <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    I was immediately very distracted and unproductive at work and mapped out a route to the <st1:place><st1:placeName>Great</st1:placeName><st1:placeName>Kunene</st1:placeName><st1:placeType>River</st1:placeType></st1:place> in <st1:country-region><st1:place>Namibia</st1:place></st1:country-region> – this being a section of the world that we had seen as guides but never on our own time. <o:p></o:p>
    And I set a date; <st1:date Month="12" Day="16" Year="2005">16<SUP>th </SUP>December 2005</st1:date> <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    I still didn’t have a bike; the only bike thing that I owned was an old helmet. <o:p></o:p>
    It took a lot to get organised. As a student for the 6 years that I rode, I hadn’t ever bothered with useless things like a licence and insurances. The bikes were built up and never registered. Getting a bit wiser and less stupid had changed my risk tolerance for that kind of stuff and if I was to get this trip off the ground I would have to get legal. So a frustrating time was had trying to hurdle the bureaucracy of becoming a legal biker. I suppose one of the pressures to become legal was also from my bank as they would be loathe to finance a bike without the necessary licences and nobody would insure me without one either. <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Almost a year passed and after many hours of internet searching, piles of bike magazine reading and lots of kicking tyres in bike shops irritating the sales people and with 3 weeks to go to THE DATE, I popped for a brand new silver KTM 950. My very understanding wife when I told her thought that I had bought a CD at first, “Weren’t you off to buy a bike? Katie M? I haven’t heard of them are they a local band?” <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    She at least agreed with me that the shiny Silver Dream Machine was a pretty good looking bike once parked in the garage. <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Late in the game I learnt that the trip was actually going to be the least expensive part of the adventure; it was the gear that was going to do the damage to the credit card. I read somewhere that; “if you can’t afford the gear, you can’t afford the bike” Isn’t that the truth? <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Things moved very fast from there, loads of planning, paperwork, packing, prepping and before we knew it D-day had arrived.

    <o:p>This is the account.

    <o:p></o:p>
    </o:p>

    Attached Files:

    #1
  2. kamanya

    kamanya Andrew to most

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    1,849
    Location:
    Southern Tip of Africa
    Day 1 ​
    Started off on a sour note, woke up late as the alarm on the new GPS didn’t go off, but worse than that I had been up most of the night with a dose of diahorrea. Kissed and hugged Berns, it really bought home to me that I would miss her more than I cared to admit and wasn’t quite prepared for the tug of emotion that I felt. Off to Craig’s with the bike feeling pretty heavy but comfortable. The weather was not the usual sunny summers day but overcast.

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    Still in Cape Town on the way to the N7 I stopped to get my visor cleaned at a petrol station and wanted a squirt of Mr Min, the lady in the shop said no, so I bought the can and on to the back of the bike it went. That can stayed with us for the whole trip, it appears on a few of the photo's stuck under the bungee on the back of the bike - looked quite out of place.

    The plan was to ride to a friend of ours, Carlos on the Orange River; he has a camp there and of course a bar. So that first day was going to be a 700km drag. But as we both know the road very well it shouldn’t have been a problem.

    On the way, Karoo veld, yep this is the stuff that tire gets its name from.

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    A headwind had started and was to stay with us till the end of the day.​


    Initially as Craig had done very little gravel and that was to be a big feature of the trip, I was keen to take a detour just to get a little practice time in. But as we had started late and the destination was now calling – that idea was binned. ​

    The bike was running sweetly and though I had been warned by that rabid pro-KTM-and-nothing-else-is-good-enough bunch that I would have to wait for Craig’s Africa Twin, he was not hanging around. We settled into a comfortable 135 -145kph cruising speed which puts the 950’s rev range just above the buzzy 5000rpm mark.

    I didn’t have a lot of "bum time" and I could feel that I was way off riding fit but the end was getting close, the camp was just a mere 180k’s on the GPS when Craig was no longer in my mirrors. I found him by the side of the road peering into his bike. He said it just sputtered and died. Not a good way to start the trip. We checked the fuel level, there was no issue there. So as Craig was very well prepared he had bought along his Hayne’s Manual and we dove into that. I felt that it had to be something with the filter system and could see us pulling the fuel lines out and having to check that. I had done a bit of reading and had heard that the AT’s fuel pump could give hassles.

    Before we did anything drastic we waited a few minutes and tried to fire her up. Would you know! She started and off we went. Well our first mechanical issue was dealt with very easily, but I could see from Craig’s body language that he was worried.

    50k’s on -just on the turnoff to Springbok we were cruising off the main N7 and had our helmets up, Craig cracked on the pace a bit and as I brought the flip- up down, I realised that I had lost the visor? Disaster! There is no way that I could ride the rest of the trip without a visor.

    It was a 800m stretch from the turn off and after riding back and forth 4 times on either side of the road I could not find it. Craig came back after filling up, he thought I was mucking around at the speedway circuit just off to the left but dutifully started looking when I told him what had happened. Almost as soon as he started looking I found it. The relief at finding it was great, phew! Potential disaster averted. The visor didn’t have a scratch on it. It had landed in a clump of roadside grass that was difficult to see. I was very lucky.

    On other trips as guides we had stopped just about 30k’s from the gorge on a plain that gently slopes down to the magnificent Orange River, so we had to stop and do it again.

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    And from there it was a nostalgic short trip down to the border post across the river and then on to the camp. ​


    Craig disappeared as soon as we arrived and before I’d gotten off the bike he was back with iced glasses full of ice cold beer – what a travelling partner!​



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    The camp was empty and it was good to relax and chat with old friends.​



    I had sent up a pair of TKC 80’s and it was not long before I was trying out changing tyres for the first time. It took quite a bit of beer and sweating to change the tyres. I don’t know how I would do it without another bikes side stand to rely on to break the bead. It took the full weight of Craig and his bike to get the rear tyres bead to break.

    The bear? His name is Snot, stands for “Seriously Nice Okes Touring”. Old joke from the paddling days. (Okes is vernacular for guys).

    There was a compressor to inflate the tyre but as this was a test run for the real thing in the bush, we used the bicycle pump… Jeez! To get to 300kpa took a lot of sweat, we were both dripping before the bead popped on. The front was very easy compared to the back one.

    Total for the day 753k’s

    Day 2

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    The previous night there was way too much tequila due to an old friend called Tanya and the morning was not the early start that we had planned. As this was both of ours’ first long trip, packing was still a new science and getting to
    grips with what went where best was still being formulated. Also, we had figured out that we had brought way too much stuff so we dumped a bucketful of kit at the camp to be sent back down to Cape Town with the tyres that I had taken off. I don’t think that we got away before 9am and with the sun beating down, off we went into the hugeness of Namibia, with the adventure starting proper.



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    It was 150k’s to Grunau before we turned onto the first gravel. Within the first 100 meters Craig stopped- very uncomfortable with the gravel. I had ridden behind him to see how he would do; he was too tense and had not mastered the idea that riding on the "middle mannetjie" (the middle bit of loose gravel that collects between the car tracks) was not really the place to be. This was a serious challenge to the route as 90% of the rest of the trip would be on gravel. Plus there was going to be (hopefully) the route next to the Kunene River which is very serious 4x4 track. ​

    I gave him a quick Gravel 101A and soon we were beetling along at a stately 40kph. Looking at the GPS with the remaining 5000k’s to go- this was going to be long trip. After 10 minutes or so I stopped him again and got him to practice crossing over the piled gravel in the middle of the tracks and to let the handlebars do their thing. The bike shimmies a lot doing this but if you trust the bike it will do your bidding.

    We were up to 60 now.

    I had to give myself a talking to about not trying to push him too hard too fast. We stopped again and I got him to practice emergency stops trying to feel for the point where the front locks and also to see how the back reacts to strong braking.


    The lesson shows just how much more braking you can do than you think with the front and also shows just how useless the back brake is in the same context.

    We were now just into the 80kph when he suddenly stopped and bolted to the side of the road and started puking?

    He said it was the tequila taking revenge from the night before. But it was also maybe as a result of the nerves needed to deal with the gravel. He put on a brave face and off we went again aiming for the Fish River Canyon. We were now into the 100kph on the straights, just quick enough for me to get onto 6
    th gear without the engine bogging down. This might just work! We took a snooze for an hour in the heat of the day to help with the last of the tequila and then off to the Fish River Canyon. (second largest canyon after the Grand one)




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    After the Fish we made our way north aiming for somewhere close to Windhoek. By now we were riding mostly side by side to stay out of the dust and Craig was doing really well. We were maintaining about 115 with a few visits to the 125 mark.

    The gravel roads in Namibia are remarkable for their consistency and width and are in amazing condition. 115 seems a bit quick on gravel but is a very safe speed to travel on these roads that are mostly 3-4 lanes wide. With 200k’s of gravel behind us and with the late afternoon sun we knew that we were never going to make Windhoek so we packed another 250k’s into the GPS before we stayed at a noisy camping site in Mariental.



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    Dinner was at a local restaurant – the steaks in Namibia are not small, they must grow their cattle very big here. I thought that we had climbed into our tents fairly early but it was closer to midnight.

    Total for the day 792k’s

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  3. kamanya

    kamanya Andrew to most

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Southern Tip of Africa
    Day 3

    For some reason I was up at 3am convinced that it was about 5am and even after consulting the GPS which also said 3am I thought that it was confused and had gone on some weird auto daylight saving jaunt. I was close to packing my tent and bed when sensibility kicked in as the sky was not getting any lighter and the birds where still all asleep. Idiot.

    Getting up &#8220;round two&#8221; was quick and though I don&#8217;t drink coffee I had Craig&#8217;s little percolator on the go and kicked him out of bed. We were on the road by 7am and soon met our first police check point. They don&#8217;t get to see too many bikes and were polite and inquisitive about them and us. Craig was a bit bemused with my antics of getting a photo with them.

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    On the long stretches one becomes bored. I had installed a very high tech throttle device, called a bungee. It enables the rider to set the throttle and then try doing goofy things with no hands on the bars like trying to see how much body movement affects the steering and such. Craig thought better of it, but it was on this stretch that I caught him using my idea. He was trying a new sport called Bike Karate Kata's. He would get pretty far through it when a car or truck would pass and affect his direction and he would have to grab the bars which is obviously not in the Kata and he would have to start again of course.

    I was also guilty of similar things, I was trying to see if wind resistance would turn the bike using hands and shoulders, helmets and boots. In about 6000k's I can't report anything conclusive. But it relieved the boredom.

    Lunchtime saw us at Windhoek and what a lunch! If you are ever in Windhoek go to Joe&#8217;s Beer House. It is ridiculous and takes ages to check out the place with all its décor. Also it would be a vegetarian&#8217;s nightmare.

    If you are offended by loads of meat, rather don&#8217;t go or stay away from the buffet table. One sign on the wall that deserved being mentioned was; &#8220;the only cure for a real hangover is death&#8221;. We had a good laugh at that one.

    My eyes were really sore for some reason. I think it was the sun cream that I was using so for the next leg to Omaruru I looked like this.

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    That stretch was boring, into the sun and a headwind again. It was not pleasant. Just miles and miles of this.

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    Late in the afternoon we pulled into Omaruru and filled up and after consulting the AA accommodation guide that explicitly said that there was none in Omaruru I pointed out to Craig the Omaruru Rest Camp almost opposite the petrol station! AA needs to get out a bit. It proved to be a great camp run by Moses who was very much a great camp manager and a source of info for food. We had a great burger at the Take Away Restaurant. We were getting into the backwoods of the world and it was interesting to check out the locals. I am sure we were just as interesting to them.

    Done for the day

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    Total for the day 458k&#8217;s












    Day 4

    First day with no tar at all, in fact we were not to see tar again for quite a while. After an hour or so as a bit of bum rest we stopped to try this out.












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    Boomerangs in Namibia? Nope this one was from Australia but Craig reckoned with the size and flatness of Namibia what better place to try and throw one? I was sitting on the road eating some Kudu Biltong watching Craig learning to fly a boomerang when I noticed his exhaust was cracked. So out came the baling wire and voila! High tech New exhaust bracket. (Picture taken only once home)

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    It was a great ride to the Twyfelfontein region and we made good time. Then after I missed a turnoff and was doing a u-turn, this happened.​









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    1 to me 0 to Craig.

    Jeez, they are hard to pick up and I found out that there is very little to hold on to other than the handle bars to pick it up. So off to the Burnt Mountain first. Very Hot and it looks like it has been in the sun way too long.






    Big Panoramic of Burnt Mountain

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    Then on to the engravings and rock paintings at Twyflefontein with its unusual formations.

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    A burger at the amazing lodge with an ice cold draught,​









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    A long time ago this part of the world was a beach and some big trees floated onto the beach and then stayed there for the next couple of hundred million years. They are facinating, you can see the bark and rings, it looks just like wood, only it has fossilised and is now stone. This was one of the smaller ones.

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    We had to get petrol and it was the longest stretch we had made between fill ups - 343km.

    Then it was off to try and get as far as possible to the Kunene River. You know that you are in Africa when you come around a corner and this is what you see;





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    The stretch of road west of Etosha that leads north to Ruacana is known as the big white highway. It is not that much fun, just straight and white and dusty and loads of wildlife, donkeys, goats and cattle wandering onto the road.
    We were not going to make it so we stopped at a great camp site called Hobatere Camp.












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    I knew that there are elephant around but it was only when I got back that a freind of mine had been in the exact same camp site and just past my right shoulder had been a lion kill. Good thing Mosquito repellant seemed to keep lion away too.













    There is not much there other than the great ambiance and the toilet facilities so we didn&#8217;t have much more to eat other than Provita and cheese, biltong and a bottle of Johnnie Red. (Being lazy and not wanting to cook the rice or dried food)​









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    Day 5
    There is a time lapse of us packing up, but that is on our server https://www.kamanya.smugmug.com/gallery/1183675/1/55363938/Medium and through to dscn0020 Notice the tent pole that was left out. On purpose of course just to practice repacking the tent.

    We headed out not long after 6.30 to finish the dreary road. Half way we stopped at what the locals call Kooka shops. They are the local equivalent of the corner store/grocer/general dealer/centre of the village type thing. They are pretty interesting if you enjoy people and don&#8217;t mind being stared at. But the locals are friendly, polite and inquisitive. Not a lot of English but you can get by no problem.

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    Children are the same all over, only the dress code differs. This is a local Himba tribe kid. I think the Himba can lay clame to the original G string

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    I had a great time with a toddler who collapsed in a fit of giggles when I showed him what the hooter button did. I managed to get him to push it but he had to stand on his tip toes to do it. This was high entertainment for him as, I tried to get a shot of the little chap but he was by that stage too interested in the camera to play with the hooter anymore.

    We did a lot of riding side by side as not only is it companionable but it keeps you out of the dust. This works well if the road is pretty straight but one of you has to drop back when a blind rise or corner comes up. It was on one of the dropping back bits that a big rock thrown up from Craig&#8217;s bike hit my left foot hard enough to bend the steel toecap. All the gear&#8230;







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    This is an idea of the road looking forward and backward;​










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    Finally we made it to Ruacana after Craig had a huge fright with a section of the road changing to shit just as he was overtaking a car. He had massive tankslapper and once I caught up with him he still had big eyes.

    The petrol station didn&#8217;t have any unleaded and after trying to convince the owner of the station to give us his unleaded out of his truck as it was the only unleaded around I phoned my dealer back in Cape Town and he said it would not be a problem. So we filled up with unleaded and headed into the part of our trip that really was what we had come here for. We knew that the good roads were behind us and it was 4x4 country from here on for a few days.

    We gave each other a nervous nod and savoured the moment of coming off the escarpment to get our first look at the Ruacana Dam and the Kunene River. This was the real beginning and we were off into parts that not many people go to.

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    The short section of tar road ends and the track starts. As you come off the tar you immediately get a very steep hill. Once we got to the top we had 50k&#8217;s to the evening camp. I waited a bit for Craig but then for the last 30k&#8217;s I couldn&#8217;t help myself and with the track being perfect for a spot of sliding into and out of the corners I raced through to the lodge. I was at times shouting into my helmet having such a ball. This was what I bought the bike for and boy does it make doing that kind of riding easy. Huge power to slide out of corners with no stress on the engine and complete control on the way into the corner on the brakes and letting the back come around on the compression and a dab of the back brake.​









    I overcooked a few corners but the scaring myself was half the fun.
    I arrived at the Kunene River Lodge Camp and was chatting to the owner when Craig came in. He was sweating and couldn&#8217;t wait to get a beer down him. It was pretty funny as when he got off he gave his bike a big bear-hug. He was sweating as much from the heat as well as having to ride the road with its ever changing surface. Also I think there was an element of the anticipation of what was to come ahead.

    Parked and changed out of the gear we settled into the bar on the river for a late lunch and a few Gin and Tonics overlooking the big Kunene River. You have to try this camp, well worth the effort of travelling all the way there.

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    Looking through our camp, river bank it right there.

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    Peter who is the new owner of the camp said that a couple who had left the day before was asking after us. Mark and Cathy are Cape Townians who offered to run backup for us but because of business had to leave two days after us.

    Our original plan had been to get to this lodge much quicker but once Mark and Cathy were not going t[FONT=Arial,Arial]o be ​
    coming and it was good to get Craig onto more gravel we took a slower more scenic route that put us a day later than planned. I also knew that they wanted to do a day hike in a crater further south so even though we had slowed I could not understand how they had got to the camp so soon. Ah well, we would meet up with them back in Cape Town and swap stories as they would almost certainly be in Epupa by now and we would never catch them.

    Peter mentioned that they had teamed up with a group of very experienced 4x4 guys and had all done the harder road to Epupa. I was glad for Mark as he has little 4x4 experience and no real recovery tools in his short wheel base automatic Mitsubishi Pajero.












    I had broken the GPS mount and had decided to bond it into place with some epoxy putty, it worked pretty well as it held up for the rest of the trip. The evening was spent chatting to the new owner Peter and a local miner Charles who was incredibly interesting and a bit eccentric.​









    Total for the day 305.87k&#8217;s

    Day 6

    The big day. This was it. We knew this road from when we ran the Kunene River Expedition, a commercial river trip that spent 5 days on river and had all the bells and whistles. But as we had always been more involved on the river side of the trip both of us had only driven small sections of the road with the back up team in the Landcruiser. But the bit that I had done was very hectic in places so the adrenalin was up.

    On the maps the track can be seen but has "Very Dangerous" written all over the place. As an effort to lower weight and space we had given away our Braai grid and I had taken some of Craig&#8217;s stuff as he carried all the cooking kit and food. His tank bag was too big and restricted his turning; his starter button would hit the bag at full lock, so there was a bit of repacking there. His tank bag is held in place with magnets but we elected to use bungee over his tank and bag to keep it firmly down and out of the way.

    In hind sight we should have left a lot earlier, maybe around 5 or 6 but with all the faffing we only got away around 10 am. We had about 15k&#8217;s of relatively good road before the Decision point.

    To get to Epupa you can take the direct route alongside the river which is the challenging one or you can go around via Okangwati. This route is longer but is graded gravel and the easy option.

    We stopped at the turnoff- and then we were off on the harder road. It was not long before we came to a large river bed. Crossing these is difficult as the sand is soft and with heavy bikes they tend to sink in. The access route into the river bed is often not easy either.



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    I went first and decided not to try and ride in the vehicle tracks and within 10 meters was stuck. I let my tyre pressures down and then started to try to get across the rest of the river bed.

    It was sweaty work with Craig pushing and me foot paddling to get to the other side. From nowhere one of the locals appeared and asked if we were going to Epupa and once I said yes he didn&#8217;t do my confidence any good by shaking his head and indicating that he was certain that we wouldn&#8217;t make it. I consoled myself with the observation that his opinion could be discounted as he was wondering around in the middle of nowhere in light blue ankle socks and no shoes?

    Craig had a good start electing to ride in the tracks of the last vehicle, he approached it with the same style he uses for Kayaking - brute force.








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    But he soon took his first tumble of the trip, suppose brute force didn&#8217;t work here either.

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    Craig 1, Andrew 1

    He did an elegant Judo roll into the sand but I could see that he was pissed off about having come off.

    I didn't think he had much to be pissed off about as he had never ridden in deep sand before &#8211; the 10 meters or so before he fell was the sum total of his experience, so this was a very steep introduction to the art.

    I helped him with picking his bike up and let down his tyres and then started to push him. I couldn&#8217;t understand why so much sand was getting into my pants and then from there into my boots just by pushing him? His bike was throwing up a lot of sand but I thought my gear was waterproof so sand shouldn&#8217;t have been a problem. Only once we were at the other side and I started to undress to get all the sand out did I learn a good lesson;

    Don&#8217;t try pushing a bike in sand with your fly down.

    Once we were at the other side out came the bicycle pumps to get the tyre pressure back up. It was here that I noticed that the crossing had done some damage to my back tyre. In crossing with the tyre spinning there must have been a sharp rock in the sand and this shaved off a bit of rubber from 3 of my knobblies. With so far to go and me having thought that these tyres were especially made for this kind of thing I was not amused.

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    Looking back at the GPS log getting across took us 30 minutes with all the pushing and pumping. Not bad I suppose. I would&#8217;ve hated trying that with water in the river bed.










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    #3
  4. kamanya

    kamanya Andrew to most

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,849
    Location:
    Southern Tip of Africa
    For the next 10km the track was exactly what I had envisioned.

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    It wound close to the Kunene River through the Mopane trees and the occasional Himba Village.

    Himba’s are an amazing race of people who are semi-nomadic cattle barons. They have a very rich culture that is expressed in their dress and customs. They smear themselves head to toe with a red ochre and butterfat mixture. It has a strong alien smell to us but I know that they think we stink just as bad to them. They have a complex and highly ritualized language that would make the French look uncouth. They are polite and friendly and never imposing or aggressive. A bad habit that some of the younger kids have learned is to shout for you to stop to give them sweets. Something that travellers to this part of the world have wrongly encouraged and it has eroded the image of the proud Himba nation a bit. It is better to trade tobacco, sewing needles or flour for photo’s and low value bangles.





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    Because they have all this ochre on them, everything they touch becomes red too and the stuff is very tough to get off, if you get it on your clothes well it ain't coming out end of story. So it would be pretty tough to have a roll in hay so to speak and then try to deny it.




    It was pretty easy going with a few places that would definitely be a challenging axle twister to a vehicle but were much easier for us being on bikes.

    It was a constant 1st
    and 2nd gear rideing and was great but at the back of my mind was the hard parts that were coming.










    20 kilometres from the lodge we came to our first real hill. I had, when planning the trip, decided to stop and scout each hill.

    The hills are the really tough part of this road that gives it its reputation. They are more like stony river beds at 30 degree angles than a road. They are heavily rutted with steps and holes often half a meter high or deep and it seems that where there aren’t these formidable obstacles there is loosely packed stones mostly between the size of tennis balls to bowling balls. It is easy to see where people in an effort to minimise damage to vehicles have tried to fill the holes with rocks.

    The picture doesn’t really do any justice to the road. Also from here on I unfortunately never took many pictures of this day when there was so much that was worth photographing. I think that we were more in survival mode and photographing didn’t feature in the thought patterns. Pity.






    [​IMG]

    The first hill when I came to it didn’t look so bad and as I didn’t have the precise co-ordinates for the GPS I wasn’t sure that this was one of the biggies. So I didn’t stop and though the bike jumped and slipped often I was at the top with no hassles.​

    I turned my engine off and just heard Craig’s bike puttering up the hill then a bang and the bike revving like crazy. It sounded like a heavy fall.

    It is not easy running down a steep rutted loose stone hill with Motocross boots but this was the scene that greeted me.

    [​IMG]

    Craig 2, Andrew 1 ​

    Fuel was pouring out his tank overflow tube and we blocked that before making any plans on how to get it out of the ditch.

    After getting the bike upright the next struggle was to get it out of the ditch. We walked all of his gear to the top and then we both needed a rest and a snack to cool down and calm the nerves. He wasn’t saying much and I think he must have been thinking, "how on earth did I let Andrew talk me into this?"

    He had been caught out pretty near the bottom and in trying to avoid some of the rocks had been ricochet into the donga. He said he had to vault the bike as he thought he was going to get crushed by it. He has very active imagination our man Craig! Unfortunately his windscreen was broken in the fall.

    When I look at the GPS it records that it took us nearly 2 hours from the start of the hill to when we carried on. The mistake of leaving so late now caught up with us as all this toil happened at midday.

    It was very hot (in the 40's and pretty humid to boot) and while the riding gear is cool on the move, it is very hot to try walk or work in.

    I was wondering whether or not we should continue as I knew that this was not the toughest of the hills. That maybe we should turn around and get to Epupa the easier way.





    His mind was eased when his bike barked into life and I mentioned to him that luckily his bike is way stronger and competent than he thought. With a push to get him going on the steep hill Craig made the rest of the hill with no mishap and it was good to hear him celebrating his arrival at the top with hooting and revving. The next hill was a confidence booster as neither of us fell off and with the stopping to check the route up it only took us 15 minutes. Maybe we were getting the hang of it?​



    [​IMG]




    This shot gives a little indication of just how steep the hills are and you can see a grapefruit sized rock that has just been shot out the back. What it can’t show is the ledges, steps and holes that are littered about the trail.

    The next hill took us an hour and it was here that I battled. I had stopped at the foot of the hill and Craig roared past, he was not stopping to scout. He was trying the brute force method again. It is amazing what a bike can do and about a 3









    rd of the way up he careened off the right hand side of the track, ramped over a huge step and landed on the other side of the track and then fell into a small tree right on the side of the track preventing him from falling over the side and down the hill.

    Craig 3, Andrew 1

    Getting his bike back up wasn’t so tough and with a shove he made it to the top.








    He had managed to bounce over the hardest part of the track before he came to a stop and walking back down I could see that it was going to be really tricky. In hindsight if I had lower gearing on the bike I would not have had so much of a challenge. ​

    The bike needs a 16 tooth sprocket to do this kind of thing. So when I came to the tough bit, speed was not going to work and by going slower I stalled the bike and then couldn’t hold it on the awkward angle and down I went.

    Craig 3, Andrew 2




    [FONT=Arial,Arial]

    Adrenaline and I managed to pick up the bike but I promptly dropped it again trying to start on the slippery angle

    [/FONT]


    Craig 3, Andrew 3






    [FONT=Arial,Arial]

    Adrenaline didn't seem so keen this time and I got it up, and again with less than a few meters being gained, I dropped it.


    [/FONT]
    Craig 3, Andrew 4


    By this time Craig was there to help me pick it up, [FONT=Arial,Arial]as Adrenline was taking a break.T[/FONT]wo 200kilogram dead lifts are pretty tiring. The blood was roaring in my ears and I was seeing stars. I couldn’t get enough air in and the sweat was pouring off me. I felt nauseous from the strain and it was made worse by the petrol smell as it had poured through the vent pipe while the bike was down. I had to take a break. I was gasping and sat under a small Mopane tree but that was not helping. I realised that I was probably close to heat exhaustion and needed to strip off. I got everything off and just lay down. I understood how Craig had felt at the first hill. This wasn’t fun anymore, this was serious shit.

    It took about 20 minutes to get composed and then without much hassle I easily made it to the top.

    Falling off tires both of you as one of you has to either walk down or up to help the other pick the bike up and help shove to get on the way again. It is exhausting.

    It was here that we did the tourist thing to get a shot of the unique mountains in that area – the Zebra Mountains so named because of the strips or alternating rock and forest. But to tell the truth the scenery was not what was catching our attention.

    [​IMG]

    We rode on until 3.20 and had decided that when we get to the next hill we would rest before we tried it. When we came to it, it looked a really tough hill, probably the hardest of the lot. Time to snooze.


    We lay on the bank in the shade and had some biltong and loads of water with re-hydration powder. I couldn’t really get a deep sleep going as I kept an eye out for the monstrous crocs that are in the river, they often take cattle and goats and occasionally people. Whilst paddling the river I have seen a few very, very big crocs – they are not conducive to deep sleep on the banks, regardless how stinky, sweaty and unappetising you feel.

    We both had a cup of water with lots of salt and sugar too. Craig said that he thought it tasted like Rum and Coke? Rather than ask him if he was losing it and he confirming it, I kept quiet so I could still hope that he wasn’t going off his rocker. While we were dozing a troop of monkeys noisily passed in the palm trees above us.

    It was time to go.

    The hill was a shocker. It was very steep and very technical with not much room for error. We chose our lines and packed the bigger holes and cleared the chosen line of the bigger of the rocks.

    Craig went first and had a perfect run right to the top, it was impressive.
    For some reason I didn’t feel confident and stalled and dropped it again at a critical point.

    Craig 3, Andrew 5 ​

    I was now angry and fortunately once we had picked it up I didn’t drop it again but the poor tyre and clutch took a bit of abuse trying to get going again. I had a mental picture of the knobblies just getting ripped off and the clutch plates getting fr[FONT=Arial,Arial]i[/FONT]ed trying to get up the big step.

    Once I was going again[FONT=Arial,Arial], [/FONT]I made it to the top but not on the best route and had to gun it to get over a huge hole that we had planned to miss.

    I had told Craig that I thought that there were only 3 major hills, we had already done 4 and we were only just passed half way. He did make a comment on this. I had to admit that I didn’t think we had done them all yet either.

    We crossed another wide river bed and I entered much faster than the last one and just managed to get to the other side with a bit of paddling at the end. Craig’s resolve was up and though he made it further than the last time he fell heavily on his arm.

    Craig 4, Andrew 5

    It didn’t take long to get him going again and with only a little effort he was through. My fly was up this time!

    It was getting late, 5.30, and the road leaves the river for a while. It was here that I managed to get the bike into more than 2nd gear.





    For the info nerds, top speed for the whole day is 62kph for 9 seconds. Average moving speed for the 90 kilometre track for the whole day was a blistering 24kph (remember that this average excludes time spent not moving).

    We stopped again to fill camel packs for the second time that day at the foot of another hill and took a brief rest with a wetting of the face and a few jokes. I was amazed that till then I had emptied my 6 litre camel pack twice already, admittedly I had run some water on my face and head on my big falls and Craig had had some during our snooze but I had probably drunk 8 litres already.

    I felt that we could make Epupa, it was still about 40km away, but probably would have to ride a little of it in the dark.

    This was taken just before we got back on the bikes, Craig looks how I felt.




    [​IMG]

    We didn’t scout the hill as the route looked pretty straight forward. Silly. ​

    I went first and almost at the top the road became a huge hole derby that was not obvious from the bottom. I have no idea how I made it up and it was too late to warn Craig who had by this stage learned that it was safer to trust his bike as it was way more competent than he was. He bounced through somehow. It was great to get through unscathed and with the drop in the temperature we felt pretty good, confidence was high.

    The track became a lot of fun, smaller hills, steep descents, deep sand, tight rutted sandy tracks and the odd Long Horn Cow. Craig was belting along and each time I stopped after a tight obstacle for him to get through he was grinning too. Maybe it was the cup of Rum and Coke tasting medicine?

    It was about then that around a corner close to a kraal there was a herd of cattle. One was between a wooden fence and me. It seemed to get a bit of a fright as I passed and I remember thinking that it could be a problem for Craig. Almost as if on queue, he came around the corner and the cow tried to bolt for the open side across him. In the mirrors it looked as if he was swapping his Africa Twin for a Cow. He stayed on and I am not sure who got the bigger fright him or the cow. I has to stop I was laughing so much.
    The one thing that was playing on my mind was that I knew close to Epupa the road gets very bad and also that there was still at least one hill to go. I didn’t relish doing these in the dark and hoped that wherever the last hill was that it would come before it got too dark.





    The sun was setting and it looked like the clouds were building to the south, it was pretty spectacular. It would have been for you too if Craig's hand had stopped shaking.






    [​IMG]



    On we pushed and it was getting darker. In our enthusiasm I do remember a hill but it was not an issue and both made it without stopping. The backside of the hill was very steep and would have been a pain if we were coming from the other side but going downhill on a bike is SO much easier than up. ​
    By now our lights were on and riding rough track at night requires a bit of a different calibration as you can’t see behind rises in the track.

    I was just able to make out the hills and I was sure we were very close to Epupa. There is one hill that I always used to look for as a marker while on the river, but from the road and almost dark it was confusing. The GPS is misleading because it calculates your distance to go as the crow flies and we were definitely not crows. At one stage I thought we were on the run into the camps and I started to celebrate with a few roosts and slides but the track soon turned and was off through a river bed.

    I aced the river bed and turned to see Craig get through with hardly a dab, he was all over the place though looking like a slowmo miracle highside recovery impersonator but stayed on and gave me a sweaty high five as he passed, not bad for a novice to sand only that day!

    The last section of the track goes away from the river around a hill and then comes back to the camps at Epupa. It is about 5 or 6 kilometres of very rough track and some deep and steep sections. Even though it was very dark now it couldn’t stop us now as our tails were up and we could smell the finish line.
    #4
  5. michnus

    michnus Lucky bastard

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,071
    Location:
    South Africa
    A great ride!!! Nice pics:clap :clap
    #5
  6. kamanya

    kamanya Andrew to most

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,849
    Location:
    Southern Tip of Africa
    It was a little funny at times as there are some upgrades if you could call them that, where the track has been improved and rerouted. But in the dark and not bothering to stop and work out which one was the better we often rode through the older and rougher choice that only became apparent once you were committed. ​

    Around the last bend and I could at last see lights of the camps. There are about 5 or 6 camps in Epupa. Before the trip I had phoned and booked us into the Epupa River Lodge Camp. Complete fluke saw us ride into that Camp first. And who should we meet straight off was Mark and Cathy!
    The elation of having conquered the road and then running into them was brilliant. Mark immediately thrust an ice cold beer into my hand and did the same to Craig.

    It was a special moment for Craig and I, well worth the sweat and toil. What a day! It was a great feeling of accomplishment.

    [​IMG]
    Fritz the camp owner and manager showed us where to camp and it didn&#8217;t take us long to get stuck into what his bar had to offer and then off to Mark and his new found Friends&#8217; camp fire for a night of story telling and re-riding the route.







    Craig got caught telling some story and was blatantly jacking up the figures and the size of the hills a bit. I am sure I must have been doing the same but I had the camera!​













    [​IMG]

    Adrenaline has worn off and the beer is kicking in.

    [​IMG]


















    Total for the day 97.53k&#8217;s


















    Day 7

    Rest day. Did little more than Sleep and swim and watch the locals play an ancient game that resembles backgammon.











    [​IMG]







    There were other bikers there, a pair who had travelled the same track we did the previous day. One guy was on a BMW f650 dakar and the other was on BMW 80R. The 650 guy never came off once but the other guy said he stopped counting after 30, he was exhausted. His bike had blown it&#8217;s fork seals and his clutch was starting to slip. Kudos to him for completing the trip. They had a buddy that had an 1150GS who had wisely elected to take the easier route.

    There were 4 other BMW GS&#8217;s from Austria, 3 guys and a girl. Two adventures an 1150 and an1100, they also took the easy route and one thing that they enviously had was bike to bike radio systems. Something we have decided would be a good safety factor on a trip like this. They had flown their bikes in for a Namibian adventure and were flying out in a few days time.


















    [​IMG]

    Epupa falls is an amazing set of falls, and to think that there was a plan to dam the river at this point. It would have meant that the falls would have been underwater and lost forever. Dams are not the easy answer for power and water needs. Apart from a host of ecological disasters the local tribes would have had their culture destroyed with the dam.

    What is interesting is that unusually for a major water fall, the main falls run in line or parallel with the flow of the river, so the river falls into a long slot. There is a small amount of flow that goes around the falls and creates great Jacuzzi type pools that are wonderful to laze in.


    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]











    [​IMG]






    That night was a big decision night. I wanted to do a section of the North of Namibia that goes through a famously bad stretch of road called Van Zyl&#8217;s Pass. It is so bad that there is strong advice only to tackle it from one direction and that makes the pass a mostly downwards affair. The reason is that going up the pass causes way more erosion and if you had to meet someone on the trail it would be next to impossible to turn around or get to a spot where you can pass each other.​













    I was very confident that if we had done the Epupa river road, the pass road was not any worse, possibly easier. Plus on a bike going down is way easier than going up. Having spoken to close friends who had driven the route I was absolutely certain that it was doable.

    The only hitch is that fuel is an issue; you need a range of 450k&#8217;s minimum to safely do it. Now that we had caught Mark and Cathy and Fritz did have the 50 litres that I had ordered by phone. Our bikes took about 17 litres to get back to full each and 20 litres could go on Marks roof, more than enough to see us through.

    The only issue was Craig, he had had his full of adventure and was not so keen. It is understandable as his introduction to off road riding had been a very steep curve. I let the issue wait till morning and then he could decide, I&#8217;d go with whatever he chose. So there was a fair bit of Rum and whiskey to throw back and hopefully lubricate his decision making processes.

    Total for the day 0k&#8217;s


















    Day 7

    Early morning, 10 meters from my tent. The falls are rumbling just to the left. Jeez! Lifes good

    [​IMG]

    Looking upstream

    [​IMG]

    "So Craig what&#8217;s it going to be?" He took a big sigh and said, "Ok, let&#8217;s just get this Van Zyl&#8217;s thing over with, but after that, we are doing it my way. I just want a cruizy trip after that"

    Cool! Here we go!

    The 60k&#8217;s to Okangwati are easy and fast, it is from there that you either turn left for the easier route or carry on straight to Van Zyl&#8217;s. Fritz had said that there was a touring group of 16 bikers from France I think that apparently had ridden up van Zyl&#8217;s on the way to his camp. We passed them on this stretch. Most of them were 525&#8217;s and 640&#8217;s and a big assortment of small calibre MX bikes, but there were 3 950 adventures too. I stopped the first guy who seemed to be the leader and asked about Van Zyl&#8217;s. He said that only 3 of them had done it and that it was very hard [FONT=Arial,Arial]and he was on a 640[/FONT]. He looked at mybike and said that I would probably suffer some damage. Hmm food for thought.

    I also flagged down the support vehicle, it was one of those monstrous Dakar looking things and he was really flying. He slithered to a halt just past where I was stopped and said much the same.

    I made my mind up just before Okangwati. My tyre was not wearing as well as I thought it might and seemed to have taken a real bashing on the track. Also we had had such a great time and got off relatively unscathed, it would be a pity to come to any grief now. It just didn&#8217;t feel right and gut feelings are not to be messed with.

    When I mentioned to Craig what I thought we should do the easier route he was impressively unemotional about the decision.

    Mark and the gang had just arrived and Mark was begging me to swap with him for a ride on my bike. He also has a 950 that was bought the same time as mine and he used to race enduro for quite a while. He is planning to do our route in April. He looked desperate, it must have eaten him when we came flying past him on this last stretch, and I know how I would have felt. He even offered me ice cold beer and the company of his better half! (her conversational skills of course!)

    Well as we were now no longer going to do the pass, he could stop begging as we would go our separate ways. We said our goodbyes and were back on the road to Opuwo. It felt good; we had made the right choice.

    In this part of world it is muscle power that gets things done. These herders are watering theri cattle, they are youg guys I guess about 12 to 16, they work hard!

    [​IMG]


    Life in this part of the word is very tough and you have to be a bit of a make a plan kind of person to survive, this chap certainly had to do that. His truck that was carrying 3 massive blocks of granite ran out of diesel on a small incline and though he had all of his braking systems on, the weight of the blocks dragged him back down the hill into the bush. Weight of blocks 18 and 19 tons each, capacity of trailer 16 tons. Therefore Gravity 1 trailer 0.

    He had already pulled the first trailer out with one of the blocks on and was back to get this one. You can see that the trailer is bent from the strain. I offered to attach my bike and help him pull it out. 950&#8217;s have more than enough power to do that kind of thing. I think he thought I was joking.

    [​IMG]

    Opuwo is a grim little town were we stopped to get some anti-inflammatory pills, (Craig&#8217;s shoulder and my knee), petrol and some lunch.

    Then it was a long haul to Sesfontein and onto Ongongo Springs.

    Here is an example of the type of riding you do in this part of the world;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bLoiWkmLjE


    The camp site is a community one and it shows but the spring is the attraction. The tricky bit it is getting across the small rocky stream to where the camping is. It is very slippery with algae and it was only seconds before I went down.

    Craig 4 Andrew 6!

    Craig made it look easy. I volunteered to go back the 10k&#8217;s to find the local guy who we had given money to to buy us a few cool drinks at the shop on the main road. We needed more than cool drinks and beer was going to do the trick.

    He took a video of me trying to cross the stream again. I don&#8217;t fall but it doesn&#8217;t look elegant. It doesn&#8217;t help the ego when you replay the video to hear him cackling in the background.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNA0AxySWcQ<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>

    [​IMG]

    On the subject of falls.

    Craig said that surely losing a windscreen, getting stuck in a donga and having a bike nearly crush you to death counted for way more than a piddly drop on a flat road?

    "Ah", I countered, "what you are not taking into consideration are the other variables like blows to the ego and embarrassment factors". Dropping it in front of a group of Himba&#8217;s for example while showing off would rate very highly too.

    He was in agreement immediately and on reflection actually started saying that my first drop was possibly capable of getting a higher rating than his donga bashing. In the end this is where our drop count ends; neither of us fell off anymore after this.

    So I won. 6 &#8211; 4. He&#8217;ll just have to try harder next time.

    Craig went to go soak his bod in the spring...

    [​IMG]


    ...while I went off to go find out about our guy and beer. He walked the whole 10k's way there and was about to come back before I found him at the Kooka Shop and told him that I was also going to need beer.

    We repacked the bottles and some bully beef in my tank bag and the ruck sack that we had given him for the walk and then in front of a now big gathering of locals, I headed off with our local guy hanging on grimly.

    One of the crowd, as I was getting on my bike asked if she could some too, to "visit"? Her meaning of the word and my understanding of it were two very different things. Apparently I would have to pay for the honour. "$50! cheap!"

    "Um... no space, another time, maybe?" was all I could come up with before I roared off.








    Once I returned it was into the spring for a good soak and a few beers and watch the bird life and the sun set.​




    [​IMG]





    That night was Bully beef and beans with the beer and a bit of whiskey.









    Why do the simple meals taste so good on trips like these?


    Total for the day 319.04k&#8217;s

    #6
  7. turkish

    turkish Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2002
    Oddometer:
    7,142
    Location:
    Gone fishin
    Fantastic report! More please!
    #7
  8. kamanya

    kamanya Andrew to most

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,849
    Location:
    Southern Tip of Africa
    Day 8 ​

    [​IMG]
    A dip in the spring to get things going and then it was off to Palmwag.

    Craig showing how to cross;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0moyGZeXSEQ

    Along the way I had to catch Craig to point out the elephant spoor on the road. Like its really easy to miss 18 inch spoor and turds that look like someone had to use a wheelbarrow to leave them in the middle of the road. He mumbled something about having something in his eye? An eyelid perhaps - I think he was sleeping and riding. As I said he's not good in the morning.

    There were some very big elephant judging by the size of the spoor. Desert elephants have a reputation of being a lot more aggressive that any other elephant as they are not in a park and do not often see people. It was a relief not to come over a hill and be greeted with a herd of them.

    The great burger at Palmwag was interrupted by the news that a big bull elephant was in the reeds not 50 meters from the bar where we sat, he was a big boy.

    [​IMG]




    A jump in their pool and it was time to make tracks again.

    We had planned to go to Henties Bay via the Skeleton Nation Coast Park. I had phoned the Namibian parks before the trip and they said that we could go through the park but that we would not be allowed to camp in the park. So the dismay at being told at Sprinbokwasser gate that we were not to be allowed into the park as lion could be partial to motorbike






    rs was not fun.

    That now meant that we had a 100km detour. I tried all angles with the official but he was not buying it. Nothing for it but to make tracks. We were still aiming for Henties but that was a hell of a long way and we decided to try a short cut so that we didn&#8217;t have to go via Khorixas. A short cut in Namibia can save 100&#8217;s of kilo&#8217;s but if you get it wrong it can be costly. Fuel and water were an issue. We managed to get fuel at a wrecking yard and again at a lodge and water from a windmill.

    Parts of the ride were very pretty. Huge open desert and massive vistas






    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]




    We asked directions from a place called Mountain lodge. It is a very beautiful hotel/lodge tucked away in the Twyfelfontein Mountains. But we only had time for a coke from them before we had to be on our way again.​


    Cruising towards Henties;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGw-s4uAetE




    For the last 100k&#8217;s as we made our way towards the coast the air grew noticeably colder and we were making our way towards a bank of low cloud that signalled the coast. Home for the day was not that far.

    At a point our vented jackets were just too cold for the cold sea air that we were riding into. We had to stop and put the removable linings back in. With the sun setting it was pretty eerie and beautiful at the same time.






    [​IMG]



    We finally made Henties at 8pm. I hadn&#8217;t booked any accommodation as I planned to camp at any of the many campsites along that part of the coast. Bad move, we tried two places but they were full.

    It was Christmas Eve and I didn&#8217;t really want to be buggering around looking for a campsite. So we made a decision, we had heard that there was a campsite 12 k&#8217;s out of town called Jakkalspitz. We then chose to fill the stomachs and get a drink in before we went off to find this place. If that was full after we had eaten then it would not be a problem to just ride into the desert and camp there for the night.

    I can&#8217;t remember the bar we went into but it was an absolute gem. The guy who offered to look after our bikes outside I thought at first was slaughtered, the Christmas spirit was definitely upon him, he looked like he was trying to act the part of the bouncer cum car guard. It was only after he said a few more words to me that I realised that he was a mentally handicapped chap earning his keep. Well, hopefully he scared others full of Christmas cheer from messing with our bikes.









    We walked into the bar; there was the obligatory bar flies and the lone guitarist belting out Neil Diamond one song and then regtige ou tannie treffers the next (local hillbilly stuff) . It was great, it had been a long day and double rum and coke was what was called for.​




    Long day in the saddle works up a bit of a thirst.
    [​IMG]

    The bar was big with very few people in the bar side, quite a few were on the resturant side. But it had a lot of local charater and it was pretty surreal to be decked out in gear, in a pub on Christmas Eve.




    Check out the old chap sleeping into his drink, classic stuff!​




    [​IMG]




    We couldn&#8217;t have looked more alien to the locals when we went through to the restaurant. There were families in there eating their way through Christmas Eve and us two uglies walk in. I had a great plate of Eisbien and Craig had the fish.









    Still there was the 12k&#8217;s to go so we saddled up and headed for a night cap of whiskey at what turned out the be the worst campsite in the world.​




    [​IMG]

    Total for the day 591.28k&#8217;s ​

    Day 9

    Worlds worst campsite...

    Imagine a beach that has nothing going for it, then a spit of sand 3 k&#8217;s long with every 10 meters a bay for a caravan or tent and then one stinking broken seat toilet for every 30 or so bays with a urinal made out of old plastic coke bottles. If you want a shower you had to queue for it at the main gate and then to add insult to injury they want to charge you double what you have paid for anywhere else. Typical government campsites!

    [​IMG]

    We went to go and pay and I had a word with the manager saying that I thought his site wasn&#8217;t even worth 10% what he was charging. There must have been a thousand people in the camp and their daily rate per person must be ringing up quite a stash of cash. Someone somewhere is pocketing it for certain. ​

    I told him that he could take my details but I was not going to pay his exorbitant fees and I wanted his manager&#8217;s number and then left. Craig noticed that not one comment in the visitor&#8217;s book said anything complimentary. He didn&#8217;t seem too phased and I suspect that I am not the first to refuse his shitty camp fees.

    We visited friends of friends in a unique place called Wlotkasbarken. The town by laws has only ever allowed 100 plots and you may not expand on your house without the whole community agreeing.

    Next was Swakopmunt where I completely by chance ran into an old friend. Swakop is a mix of some very Germanic architecture and holiday spirit, it is pretty quant. It is also apparently the quad bike capital of the world. We had stopped at a dune to eat some rolls. There was a huge quadbike adventure centre that took people out into the dunes and a little circuit for the youngsters. One young girl we saw who had obviously never sat on a quad before was given some instructions by a very young guy then before our eyes buried the throttle and shot over the tyres that mark the course, cart wheeling the quad and fortunately getting thrown clear. She and the young instructor who couldn&#8217;t have been more that 12 or so were certainly not going to give up so easily and she jumped on again. Craig couldn&#8217;t watch but the vulture in me had my camera out ready for the next death defying stunt.




    She had obviously learnt a bit better throttle control because she inched around the course after that. No helmet either. NOTGNOTT! (None of the gear none of the time)

    Walvis Bay is interesting in that it was a bit of South Africa until recently. The only attraction there was a well known dune called Dune 7. I had to have a go at it and made it to the top; it is a monster dune maybe 2 or 300 meters high. Coming down though was a bit tricky as the bike kept digging in places. That&#8217;s me the little black dot in the centre. Those other smaller black dots are people.






    [​IMG]




    I realised that to make it back to Cape Town on my tyres was going to be a finely run thing, so after trying to find a tyre shop open on Christmas Day, much like looking for the holy grail.

    I phoned the great lady who would have to send my tyres back to Carlos that I had sent back after the change. We finally stopped stuffing around and headed out to our next destination Sossusvlei.

    If you like your gravel desert cruising I don&#8217;t think that there can be a better place to do it. It was around here that I started to pick up some hassle with the gearbox. Every now and then it was tough to get from 5






    th to 6th and often it took a fair amount of boot to get it in, the rest of the gears being tighter than normal. It didn&#8217;t sound or feel like it was grating, just very stiff. I couldn&#8217;t see anything wrong and once in gear it ran smoothly but it was very worrying none the less.





    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]




    Some 250k&#8217;s later we arrived at the aptly named place Solitaire. Craig had hit the low for the trip as the gravel was not to his liking and he was pretty hot and bothered. Notice the old gas pump. (Not in use but nice touch, the whole place is like that)​





    [​IMG]




    Namibia has the oldest desert in the world and as such it has had some time to create some of the largest dunes too.

    This is what the next attraction was all about. A river used to run to the sea but over the years the desert swallowed it and now the end of the river is nearly 60km from the sea. It has fought a battle with the dunes but has lost and is losing by inches.

    The vlei where the river ends is just a dried muddy flat at the moment but every few years or so there is enough ran inland to make the river run and feed the vlei. There are successively older vlei&#8217;s over the dunes surrounding the vlei, some even prehistoric but they are slowly being covered by the dunes. It is a magical place. This is where we camped for the night, well were we were close to camping. The vlei and surrounding dunes are in the National park and the camp site is 60km from the vlei at the mouth of the dunes.






    [​IMG]




    It had been a long day and after a beer in the bar it was sleep time.

    Total for the day 430.64k&#8217;s

    Day 10

    4.45am alarm goes off to get to the gate to the park that opens at 5, and then it is a dash to the famous dune 45 to scramble to the top in time to catch the sunrise. Craig is not the best morning person and there was not much coming out of him has we got dressed. But the early rise is worth it.







    To be continued...
    #8
  9. toucan

    toucan dumb ass

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
    582
    Location:
    jhb, south africa
    awesome stuff.
    now i am got an itch i just have to scratch.
    thanks.
    :clap:clap:clap:clap
    #9
  10. kamanya

    kamanya Andrew to most

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,849
    Location:
    Southern Tip of Africa
    The dunes here average about 700 meters. That's 3/4 of a kilometer of sand high! They are truly mountains and it is difficult to comprehend. They are numbered as you drive in towards the vlei according to how many kilo's they are from the gate. This one that you climb is Number 45. What you can see is only the first bit of it. And of course it is two steps up one back. It is pretty chilly to start but not for long...
    [​IMG]

    A bit of cardio before breakfast? ​

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A camera just does not do it justice.





    Those are all dunes as far as the eye can see, and we weren’t even on the biggest of them.​




    [​IMG]



    If you have Google earth, you should go have a look at this part of the Earth, it is spectacular.

    The precise point that I am standing on is; (and you can see just how much smaller this dune is relative to the rest)

    24 degrees 43 minutes 46.73 seconds South
    15 degrees 28 minutes 21.36 seconds East

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Of course being a desert you can be forgiven thinking that nothing can live here. But if you look closely you can see a beatle on the right hand side of the dune (very small black dot at about two o'clock from Craig's shoulder). The moisture laden morning air comes in from the coast a 100k's away and just enough condenses to slightly wet the top meter of the leeward side of the dune. The beatles trek up every morning to the top to get a drop or two and then dive down before the sun gets too hectic. They in turn feed larger insects, animals and reptiles.

    [​IMG]





    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]




    It is truly a very beautiful place.

    That dune is about 45k’s in towards the vlei. At the vlei you can only get to a parking bay and then the last 2k’s or so are deep sand. This was the only place where my TKC’s came into their own. Craig got terribly stuck and had to turn around while I had a blast getting to the vlei and back more than a few times. Just get it into high second gear and beyond and that big KTM is unstoppable. It was a LOT of fun. I think Craig was disappointed.






    [​IMG]




    Both the bike and he are very hot and bothered.​




    [​IMG]

    Me? Cool as!

    [​IMG]





    Next stop was Luderitz some 500k’s away, another long day coming up.

    If you want big horizons, can’t get much better






    [​IMG]



    We had not had breakfast and by lunchtime we were feeling the heat and distance. There is fuel at a place called Betta; there is also a little store there. It is very modest and the lady who runs the store also has to run the fuel pumps, she does a bit of running in that very hot and dry place.

    The best meal we could buy was Beans, Bully beef, Pilchards, bread and Coke.






    Again why do the simple things in life taste so good when you are so far away from anywhere and hungry?




    [​IMG]




    Mmm!

    We stopped at Duiseb Castle, some German chap early in the 1900’s got it in his head that he wanted a castle in the middle of absolutely nowhere. He spent a fortune building it then World War 1 broke out while he was visiting his wife’s family in the USA. He made a grand effort to get back to Germany and was killed in the battle of the Somme. His wife never returned and stayed in the US. The castle is a national monument. Bit sad.

    Impressive little castle.





    [​IMG]




    Craig taking in all the castles touristy bits from behind his eyelids again.

    [​IMG]




    After that there was the inevitable more of… big sky.

    And a bit of time was spent taking it in and resting the bum








    [​IMG]



    By now we had decided that maybe Luderitz was a bit too far and to be saved for the next time. It was getting late and just having a rest seemed the more prudent move.

    The desert must do things to you as, in truly the middle of nowhere we passed this.






    [​IMG]




    It turns out the 70 year old chap who put it together - and lives in the house in the bottom right is not altogether there. Nuts he may be but this working sculpture thing has no welds and is only bolted together. It is has something to do with pumping his water. He apparently fell off of it once and broke his hip not so long ago. The mind boggles.

    It was great to roll into our campsite at Klein Aus it was peaceful and had solitude.







    [​IMG]



    Craig tried the new sport of tent flying as his crib had proved to be not quite what he had bought it for – light and small and he was determined to get it to do something useful. Maybe the old guy disease had caught up with hm?​




    [​IMG]



    That night we ate at the restaurant, met some crazy film guys. They had a makeup artist with them and she had used industrial eyeliner on them. This was two days previously and all of them still had a gothic look going.

    And of course we had a little Rum and Coke sundowners with a perfect meal and a long time later a whiskey night cap… again.






    [​IMG]




    Total for the day 530.68k’s

    Day 11

    Mmm... The Rum? Or the Whiskey night cap?





    [​IMG]



    Last part to home next...
    #10
  11. kamanya

    kamanya Andrew to most

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,849
    Location:
    Southern Tip of Africa
    We went to go and settle the bill. Somebody must have been drinking on our bill said the nice lady because she said she couldn’t be sure that we alone were responsible for 30 tots of Rum? ​

    No, we assured her, judging by how I felt that morning that sounded about right.

    Maybe it wasn’t the night cap that made me feel a little off!

    Back to our old Friend Carlos on the Orange river today via Rosh Pinah. The road to Rosh Pinah is being upgraded to tar. There are a lot of mines in that part of the world and they probably want a better road for the many trucks that move in and out.

    This [FONT=Arial,Arial]tree [/FONT]could have been a bit tricky if we had come across it while trying to overtake one of the trucks

    [​IMG]



    Once in Rosh Pinah Craig bought us lunch, he claimed it was a balanced meal, it had all five food groups. A pie, a bread hamburger, an energy drink, a coke and a chocolate? 5 junk food groups maybe?

    Finally we were heading into the Orange River Canyon, a place that both of us have spent many days guiding clients down the river on multi day tours.

    It was really special to be back

    [​IMG]




    We stopped for a swim in the Orange at one point.​



    [​IMG]



    And then headed for the chaos of Carlos’s Pre-New-Year camp (there is a massive party that he hosts for New Years, something to be tried at least a couple of times!

    Ahh beer and grass, hadn’t seen that for a while, the grass that is.




    [​IMG]



    My tyres were toast and I definitely didn’t think that it was safe to make it to Cape Town. I changed back to the Scorpions. More beer and swearing, this time we used the compressor though.






    Porn... The big girl without her skirts.​



    [​IMG]

    Very advanced safety measures were used while changing the skirts...
    [​IMG]

    The thinking biker, Rodin would have been proud. (Or was it the drinking biker, can't remember!)

    [​IMG]



    Total for the day 320.82k’s

    Day 12

    Ahh, get to see my girl today! This is what it looks like when madly packing to make it out of there to get to her!




    [​IMG]



    Here are the old and the new. The front held out well but the back was finished.​



    [​IMG]

    The drive back was crap. A strong headwind battered us the whole way. You'd think that the wind would play fair? It had howled on the way up and now just to piss us off it did a 180 and did the same? Craig ran out of fuel 5k’s from Vanrynsdorp as a result of pushing so hard into the wind.​


    [​IMG]



    It was a bit of a story as I had for the first time in the whole trip belted on ahead about 10k’s from Vanrynsdorp and when he didn’t make the petrol station that I was at I thought that he had gone on to the next one in Klaver which is 20k’s down the road.​





    When I pitched there and he was not there, out came the phone and that’s where all the confusion was cleared up. I rode back to him with fuel. And on we went. It was also at this time that when I was filling up I noticed an oil leak at the base of the rear cylinder. Now along with the gearbox that was definitely stiffening up it was not welcome. Damn! Was the old girl going to make it back to Cape Town? It is brand new bike only 7000k’s on the clock to that point. Well there was not much I could do, just had to keep an eye on it and the oil level and hope for the best.




    [​IMG]




    Finally home, back where it all started. It was fun and we learnt a lot. Can’t wait for the next one.​




    [​IMG]



    And the moment my wife saw me. ​



    [​IMG]

    I don't think she's squinting because of the sun, it's the smell!

    She phoned a friend soon after to tell her the good news but added, he’s furry, dirty… and stinky. I was immidiately banished to the bathroom. And my kit promptly turned the washing machine water black. ​

    The price of memories I suppose.



    Lessons learned?

    Lots but the biggest is; Just set a date.

    Total for the day 780.3k’s

    Worst consumption?

    About 9km/l on the Epupa road.

    Best?

    About 19km/l

    Total mileage 5886.9km


    Priceless!


    Cheers
    #11
  12. Ridemuch

    Ridemuch Ciao

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,287
    Location:
    GTA,Ontario
    Great report!!:clap
    #12
  13. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    67,171
    Thanks for sharing! :thumb

    :lurk
    #13
  14. Yellow Pig

    Yellow Pig Allergic to asphalt! Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2004
    Oddometer:
    9,014
    Location:
    SoCal -T.O.
    Excellent ride report. What incredible scenery!
    #14
  15. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2003
    Oddometer:
    16,288
    Location:
    Central NJ
    Very Nice report :clap :clap :clap :clap :clap :clap
    #15
  16. Fat Toney

    Fat Toney Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2004
    Oddometer:
    9,515
    Location:
    Washington State
    Amazing report, I am more than a little green with envy.
    #16
  17. HappyGoLucky

    HappyGoLucky Goeie Grys Giftige Gert!

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2005
    Oddometer:
    4,312
    Location:
    Displaced.ment
    Kamanya - Andrew old boy, wat n blerrie lekker report ou maat. Dis eintlik jammer dat die buiterlanders kan dit nie mooi verstaan nie... die ding is taai, lekker, en donders mooi. :wink:

    Well done on a superb trip. I know that riding is not easy and I love your storytelling ability, its funny and informative. Love the historical bits. For your inaugural ride report on ADVRider... I think its 5 star stuff. Well done boet. Lekker adventure.

    Now... I can see love is blind. Lovely lady you have there. How did you manage to pull that one off? :lol3

    Cheers mate, making us ZA proud.
    #17
  18. Slimie

    Slimie Long timer

    Joined:
    May 28, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,086
    Location:
    East Debon
    Out-bleeding-standing, looking forward to the rest:clap :clap
    #18
  19. BLUE(UK)

    BLUE(UK) Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2004
    Oddometer:
    3,442
    Am i jealous or what??!!:wink:
    #19
  20. Bafazane

    Bafazane Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2005
    Oddometer:
    232
    Location:
    Port Angeles
    In-fucking-credible! That is definitely a dream ride of mine! I'm very very very jealous. :clap
    #20