Kalahari Desert - Southern Africa

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Hellhound, Aug 15, 2005.

  1. Hellhound

    Hellhound Rider

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2005
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    It was with imense antisipation that we awaited the planned start date of our week long trip to the Kalahari. Finally it was time, and now it is gone. Herewith a short review of the trip.

    We started planning the trip about two months ago, but with most things, it is usaully only in the last week that most of the things are done and organised. The group consisted of seven bikes, 3xKTM 640 Adventures, 650 Dakar, R80 GS, Honda XR650 R and a XT660 R. The planned route was from Pretoria,South Africa into the central eastern side of Botswana, down to southern Botswana and back into the Northen Cape in South Africa and back home. Obviously dirt roads where possible were part of the plan. Two of the KTM's were to join us when we leave Botswana.

    Just a short bit of background about the Kalahari - The Kalahari desert is part of the huge sand basin that reaches from the Orange River South Africa up to Angola, in the west to Namibia and in the east to Zimbabwe. The sand masses were created by the erosion of soft stone formations. The wind shaped the sand ridges, which are so typical of the landscape in the Kalahari.

    Only in recent geological history, 10 to 20,000 years ago, were the dunes stabilised through vegetation, so the area should actually be called a dry savannah. Unlike the dunes of the Namib Desert, those of the Kalahari are stable and not wandering.

    Day minus 1
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    Everybody was still working frantically to get their bikes equiped to take all the stuff along. All the tools, tents and whatever was needed were distributed and packed. Around midnight things settled down and the last beers were consumed.



    Day 1.
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    We left Pretoria and headed up towards Lephelale (Ellis Ras), mostly on normal dirt roads. Unfortunately we were not able to upgrade the XR's fuel tank to something bigger due to the lack of commitment from a supplier, and were forced to carry 2x2L Coke bottles. This was already a problem on the first day, and with the lack of regular fuel stations in Botswana, the problem was going to become bigger.

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    Day 2

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    Made for the Stockpoort/Parr's Halt border in the morning. The weather was excellent as usual. Was a little bit cold the previous night. XT 660 R rider took a tumble before the border as it was his first time in thick sand (not too mention most of his dirt experience was aquired the previous day). Fortunately only the stand and handebar had to be bent back.

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    Unfortunately the thck sand were up to its tricks and the XT had another tmble. This time a little bit more severe, completely destroying tyhe new high rise screen on the 600 km bike, as well as bending the one front shock, and putting several dents in the frame and tank. But it was repaired (sort of) under one of only a few shaded trees, and the bike was ready to rumble.
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    Thick sand was becoming a common occurance.

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    Enjoying a cold one in one of the many small villages before the end of the day.

    Day 3
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    We slept in the bushes, about 20 KM east of Lephepe, the previous night. Once again it was very cold at night, and all our water and petrol was finished.

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    Fortunately we got some water in Lephepe and petrol from the chief of the village. Unfortunately it was not enough petrol and we decided to head down to Molepolole via the tarred road where we made some extra repairs to the XT.
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    Late the aftnoon, after some thick and twisty sand roads from Molepolole, we reached the Trans Kalahari road, with a "Bush pub" sign staring us in the face.
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    Ahh, refreshing beer and a place to stay for the night.

    Day 4

    We had breakfast in Jwaneng and then headed up to Sekoma via Samane. At first the road was very twisty with very thick sand. Thorn bushes lined the edge of the track and plenty of new racing stripes were carved into the tanks. We then got onto a straight sand track which we could do around 120 - 140 Kmh on - loads of fun:D .
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    We took a sand road from Khakhea south to Werda. On most maps the track does not exist and we were soon to find out why.
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    The track dissapeared in a patch of grass. Underneath the grass the sand was still thick and there were fallen branches and holes which you could not see. To maintain forward motion you had to keep it above 90 Kmh but most of the time you could not see the track. Bushes with 3 inch thorns sometimes grew into the track and most of the time could not be avoided because hitting the grass unsettled the bike. But worst was that the grass lodged in the radiators and where ever it could get into. So some cleaning was necessary to avoid overheating or avoid grass that was stuck somewhere against the exhaust pipes from igniting.
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    Took a small tumble when the track veered left but could not see it. Right side mirror lost somewhere against a tree.

    Day 5

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    We had a good nights sleep around the fire at Berry Bush near Tsabong.
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    The entrance to Berry Bush was one of the thickest sand tracks and we had to do it in the dark. Although not very long, it provided endless entertainment by means of people shooting off into the bushes without much control over their machines.:lol3

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    Lovely sand area near Tsabong. We were waiting for the other two KTM riders to join us in Tsabong, but they had problems at the border control and in the end we decided to cross over to the South African side and made for Van Zylsrus.
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    Ahh, the watering hole in Van Zylsrus where we could replenish all the vital vitamins and minerals.:1drink

    Day 6

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    We took the road west on the border between Botswana and South Africa. This road is also travelled yearly by the guys going on the Desert Run. Most of the time the road surface was hard with the occasional thick sand to catch the unweary.


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    Having a snack near our turn around point.
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    Heading back east on our way home.
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    Day 7

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    Second last day on the trip, but unfortunately the last picture. One of the KTM's had about 3 teeth on the rear sprocket left when they joined us at the border to Tsabong. Needless to say they were soon to be lost along the way and we were forced to stick to the main roads on our way back.

    We covered a total distance of 2800 KM and have seen some of the most beautiful places on this earth, but it has only awaken an apetite for more.

    Hellhound
    #1
  2. Thinc2

    Thinc2 Paciugo

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
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    Wow! Keep it coming!
    #2
  3. k7

    k7 Retired or retarded. You decide.

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    Aridzona

    Yeah.... looking forward to this one!
    #3
  4. Sanam

    Sanam Dare to Win Well

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    OUT THERE
    more more more :D
    #4
  5. Red Stripe

    Red Stripe Church of the High Desert

    Joined:
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    290
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    SLC, UT- bastion of free thinking
    :lurk keep going
    #5
  6. maverick

    maverick Lost South-African..

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2002
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    562
    Location:
    Prince Albert, South-Africa
    Stupid smugmug busy with maintenance so can't view the pics :baldy I'll be back.... :D
    #6
  7. Hellhound

    Hellhound Rider

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    Sorry, I will upload the rest of the trip as soon as I get access to Smugmug.:dunno
    #7
  8. GSGIRL

    GSGIRL Neither here nor there

    Joined:
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    :lurk

    Maybe someday I will be a good enough rider to attempt a trip like this.
    #8
  9. Hellhound

    Hellhound Rider

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    The rest of the ride report has been added.
    #9
  10. maverick

    maverick Lost South-African..

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2002
    Oddometer:
    562
    Location:
    Prince Albert, South-Africa
    Nice trip report dude and sure make me miss the nice hot weather of Africa :thumbup
    #10
  11. HappyGoLucky

    HappyGoLucky Goeie Grys Giftige Gert!

    Joined:
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    Nice Report boet,

    Well done. Makes me "lus" for a trip - sooooon

    Shotto. Sand is fun huh? especially when you are loaded, makes it feel like a fat big mamas ass on the back

    Cheers :thumb
    #11
  12. BigDogAdventures

    BigDogAdventures Fart Letter Supporter

    Joined:
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    Nice--wide open---remote riding ---thanks !!

    I use to be able to ride in sand--but have since gotten "old". :D
    #12
  13. LavaBull

    LavaBull Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Awesome report and pics, I love the desert.

    Keep it up guys..
    #13
  14. Welshman

    Welshman B.U.F.F.

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    I doubt if your GF will appreciate being referred to as a "fat big mamas ass on the back".

    Welshman

    If at first you don't succeed, avoid skydiving.
    #14
  15. HappyGoLucky

    HappyGoLucky Goeie Grys Giftige Gert!

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    bit of personal baggage projection there welshee? already replied for you in OC.
    #15
  16. SGB

    SGB Learning Always

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    Nice job Hellhound - looks like you guys had a great time out there. Did you record the route in a GPS tracklog? Would be nice to have for future trip planning....:ear
    #16
  17. Hellhound

    Hellhound Rider

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    Unfortunately not, but everything is still in my head. I will see if I can put a track together this weekend.

    Hellhound
    #17
  18. SGB

    SGB Learning Always

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    Free State, South Africa
    Thank you - looking forward!:D
    #18
  19. macduff

    macduff Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2005
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    38
    excellent report :D

    just traced the route on a rough map here...
    flippit, you guys are rather daring !!!!!!

    well done :1drink
    #19
  20. Hellhound

    Hellhound Rider

    Joined:
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    We are more like amatuers, daring people would be those who tackle the Dakar as privateers - they are the best. Have a dream - ride it!
    #20