Riding around Southern Africa on an XT250 and CRF250

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by maria41, Oct 2, 2018.

  1. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    The backpacker place was full of people coming and going.

    We got to know the few who were hanging around a bit longer. Jordan and Malina eventually left, once Jordan had fixed few things on his bike. That is how we came across Twat Head and the Yah-Yah girls!


    The aptly named (by Alistair) Twat head and The Yah-yah girls turned up, a day after us, and it just seemed like they would be there forever as they did not seem capable of taking any decisions.

    At first, sitting at the table, reading a book, I thought there was a repeat of the comedy “The Windsors” on TV, and that we were hearing the parody of the british princesses Eugenie and Beatrice.

    I turned my head to check out on the TV, and I saw two girls of about 20, talking with exactly the same ultra posh accent upper class British accent than the TV series. (if you have not seen this program, make sure you do, it is a parody and is extremely funny!).

    Initially, I thought they were having a laugh, but no, they really talked exactly like princess Bea and Eugenie in the TV show.
    #81
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  2. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    Let me tell you more about Twat Head and the Yah-Yah Girls!
    The Yah-Yah girls also seemed to have the same single neuron to share between the 2 of them, :norton from what I gathered with their constant inane laugh and brainless comments. What a waste of and stupendously, no doubt, expensive education. But I guess, as one of my friend put out, most of those girls are just bred so they marry into money and never have to work in their life.


    Every comment they made seemed HI-LA-RIOUS to them. They were constantly laughing and giggling loudly. Very loudly. Irritatingly loudly! All. The. Time. :hair


    Alistair nicknamed them the Yah-yah girls, based (for non English readers) on the very posh way some people say “Yes” but sounds like yaaaaaahhhh.

    They hooked up with Twat Head. Again, nicknamed by Alistair.

    Twat Head was about 25 year old lad from New York. Difficult not to know he was from New York as he took great pride in it and kept saying it to everyone who would listen.

    He had a car, so he was very attractive to the other backpackers (including the Yah-yah girls) without car. Not easy to move around in Namibia if you do not have your own vehicle, or you have to get organized tours.
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  3. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    Twat Head was groomed and buffed to an inch of his life, like a cast out of Sex and the City or such rubbish - I am not much Au Fait of NY TV series), very carefully clothed to have just the right look as a cool backpacker in Africa. Maybe it’s a New York thing?


    Twat Head was loud. Very loud. In the communal living/ dining room and the kitchen, next door, you could only hear him. He loved the sound of his voice. He hold court in the communal TV / dining room, with The Yah-Yah girls, as well as two other girls, who I did not notice as much as they were more quiet.

    As you may guess, they were a bit irritating :2guns.

    There was no escape from them, and even putting the TV louder, they didn’t get the hint!

    We tried to find peace in our room, but temperamental Internet only worked in the communal room and our room was very cold. So everyone tended to gather in the large communal room.


    Some other characters we met were very interesting though. Like an 18-year-old lad from Oz, who seemed to be travelling around the world, working here and there to fund his way. Very impressive. A pleasant and very intelligent and capable chap. He disappeared some afternoons to skateboard into town with a mate. What a contrast between him and the loud crew!
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  4. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    On Monday 25th, we finally picked up the bike and we were ready to go.


    We were happy to leave behind Twat Head and the Yah-Yah girls! They may still be there, incapable of taking a single decision!

    We saw many Himba women in town, as well as on the road, riding north. I did not take any photo. I find that a bit creepy to take photos of semi naked women. You can always Google them. They were beautiful. But seeing topless women reminds me of the recent debate in the newspapers.

    There was that girl working at a McDonalds, making a huge fuss about being told to wear a bra at work and how it was her human right blah blah blah… Then lots of women coming out in support saying how it is so much better without a bra, blah blah patriarchy blah blah… You get the picture!

    Anyhow, I guess none of those women has ever seen a Himba woman beyond 25 year of age. Breasts are just a big sack of skin with fat inside. They probably never heard of gravity either. I guess by the time they get 30, they will need to get a boob job as their sack full of fat will then be hanging down by their stomach, if they permanently ditch the bra! Each to their own. I just think there are more important things in life than making a huge fuss about dress code. I don’t see men doing a massive fuss about wearing a tie.


    Anyhow, back to the RR!
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  5. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    Day 29 – Namibia, Uis 240 kms (Tuesday 26th June)

    From a chat with Yamaha, we realised that the mud from the salt road was pure salt, which is not good!

    To be fair, the 1st time we rode through it, it was dry, and looked like tarmac. We did not think much of it. So on the way back from Yamaha, We stopped at a car wash facility to give a rinse to my bike, as it was covered in salty mud.

    My electrics took a hit again though, I found out later!

    As we left Swakopmund (at last!) the digital display, which shows my speed, mileage, clock etc… was blank. Again. When we stopped for fuel, before leaving town, at first the bike would not start. Eventually I caught up with Alistair.

    Once we hit the little D1930 shortcut to Uis, we stopped few miles later. The road was badly corrugated and sandy.

    [​IMG]
    #85
  6. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    Alistair left ahead, and I could not start my bike. I made a mental note never to jet-wash my bike again. Ever!

    The last small wash, where I directed the lad to avoid the controls and remove the salt just from the lower section of the bike only, still seemed to have played havoc with the electrics.

    After 5 minutes, I finally got a response when I pressed the start button. Still, I was worried.

    60kms from Uis we stopped again and the problem repeated. The bike started eventually and I hoped it was just water and the humidity causing this.

    But this did not help my paranoia about my bike dying!

    We arrived early afternoon at Uis, and after buying some fuel, we rode to the Cactus Cafe and campsite.

    The facilities were amazing. Each campsite had its own shaded plot, with individual toilet/ shower, as well as a sink, Braai and tables ad chairs.

    At last we were back on the road!

    [​IMG]
    #86
  7. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    Once we had the tent up, Alistair put WD40 around my controls and electrics. Leaving the bike drying in the sun helped. I still had nothing on the digital display. This was very annoying. But at least the bike seemed to start when I was on neutral.

    We revised our itinerary. We had wasted 10 days on and off in Swakopmund and the gravel road I intended via Palmwag to Epupa falls was the main tourist trail. It was now full tourist season!

    The recent heavy rains had also caused heavy damage to the trail joining Epupa to Ruacana, which was impassable, at latest news, so we would need to do a detour south via the main road.

    We decided to ride straight north instead, to Ruacana falls. Going straight there would save us few days. Also, we did not fancy busy gravel roads and breathing dust and sand raised by the constant traffic. It was exhausting.
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  8. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    Day 30 – Namibia, Kamanjab – 240kms – weds 27th June


    After packing up, we had breakfast at the Cactus Cafe, attached to the campsite. They had nice pancakes. Have I mentioned the pancakes?!!!

    Elephants skulls are enormous:
    [​IMG]


    The staff was friendly, the café had wifi, and the wifi even worked! It was definitely a nice place for a night.

    We rode straight north, through yet more bad gravel roads. We did not see any wildlife. Just cars. We stopped in a small town for fuel. Lots of touts around, trying to sell us tat we didn’t need. We saw plenty of rented SUVs and tourists. It was on the turn East to Palmwag. We rode north. The track was much more quiet.

    By early afternoon we arrived at Kamanjab. There was no other spot on my map until Ruacana falls, over 300kms away.

    After stopping at the fuel station/ coffee/ shop, buying fuel and getting some tea, we tried to find accommodation. The GPS charger was dead from water and humidity, badly corroded. So we could not use it to find a campsite.

    Alistair was told about a B&B few hundred metres away. He walked there while I kept an eye on the bikes and finished my tea. They wanted about 100 USD for one night! How can accommodation be so bloody expensive in Namibia?

    It never ceased to amaze me. Even camping cost a good 15 to 25 dollars per person, in average! And they would not drop the price, even if the place were deserted. Surely, if you have a business, you would offer a discount to get customers over?
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  9. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    The owner of the cafe recommended her campsite and cabins, a mile out of town. It was half the price and we had a nice big chalet for it. The place was deserted.

    It was very hot, so I decided to make the most of the facilities (outside tap, garden chairs and table) to rinse my motorcycle gear, covered in sand. It would dry very quickly, hanging in the chairs outside.

    We cooked a tin of curry vegetables with instant noodles, in the small kitchen, for dinner.



    Day 31 – Namibia, Ruacana, ‘okapita ‘ campsite – 300kms - Thursday 28th June

    After breakfast of toasted bread and cheese, as well as banana with yogurt, we were ready for a long ride.

    We got back to town for fuel. We filled the 5l fuel canister as well, as the next fuel station was about 320kms away. Too far to make it with our fuel tanks alone.

    Then we hit the road. It was all sweet nice tarmac, with hardly any traffic. Unfortunately it was also a very boring long straight road.

    About midday, we stopped on a rest area to have a rest. Then we saw a motorbike passing going south. I waved. It was a large bike with panniers and top box. We had not met any bikers since the unlikely meeting with Jordan in Swakopmund, and Clark in Springbok.

    The biker saw us and did a u turn. We met Bruno, riding a huge new Africa Twin.

    We spoke bike stuff for a while. He mentioned he had a campsite near Ruacana falls, and to stop there. He was on his way to Windhoek and would be away for few days, but he would phone is wife to expect us.

    We could have a luxury tent for the price of camping. Nice! He mentioned that some time ago he had had a Deutsche couple on two bikes like Alistair (CRF250). It could only be Leonie and her husband. We met them in Wales last year. I checked and he confirmed.

    What are the chances? There are so few people over-landing by motorbike in Africa, and yet we either seem to follow on their steps, or bump into them!
    #89
  10. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    So we kept riding, and a couple of hours later we reached a T junction, and in front of us, beyond the river: Angola. We followed Bruno’s instructions and found his campsite, up a long very deep twisty sand track. Not fun on two wheels. We had a reception committee, with wet towels offered to clean our hands and a glass of apple juice. All very friendly and nice.


    We settle in the tented camp, which, as its name suggests, is a very large tent, with a double bed, and a nice shaded vestibule. We were the only guests so the centre of attention of all the staff.

    Safari tent with our own private shower block on the right:
    [​IMG]


    After a beer we were asked if we wanted the set menu for dinner. It was quite expensive so we kept refusing. As they kept asking we settled for the set menu. It was huge, enough to feed an army.

    The dinner had been set in a large dining room, just for us as we were the only guests. The lad serving with help of another girl, were just standing next to us throughout, watching us, which made it a bit awkward for us.

    I mean they were all lovely but their 100% attention on us all the time was a bit too much for me. Maybe British royalty is used to this but not poor old plain me!

    Then we were invited to watch them singing and dancing. Including all the kids. I am never comfortable with that sort of display. Especially as it was only for the 2 of us. It seems a bit like us lording over the peasants. But it was difficult to refuse.

    To be fair the campsite caters essentially to large organised tour operators so they don't deal often with independent travellers like us.

    After a long day on the bikes, we went to bed early. The night was very cold. Very cold!
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  11. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    Day 32 – Namibia, Etosha gate – 460kms – Friday 29th June


    We left camp early and rode to Ruacana falls. Before, we wasted some time, due to the stupid GPS, which somehow had revived, trying to get us through non-existent tracks to the fuel station.

    After finally finding the fuel station, we rode to the falls. They were at the border with Angola and we needed to actually get through the Namibian post border (without stamping anything, they wave us through!). Unfortunately, this was the dry season and the falls were dry! The dam controls the flow of water.


    But it was a beautiful ride there anyway.


    [​IMG]



    After that, we went back on the road. It was all tarmac but the stretch of road riding East was very busy with lots of towns and villages. The area was very green and there was a lot of water with plenty of shallow lakes and flooded land as well as a long river or canal.

    There were also plenty of donkeys, goats and cows grazing by the side of the road! After crashing into a charging cow in Kyrgyzstan, I am cautious around cows!

    Initially, I was thinking to find a camp on the way, but we found nothing obvious, and in the end, we decided to make it to Onguma camp, which was near the East entrance of Etosha National Park.

    We could not get into Etosha park with our motorbikes, but we could organise a drive inside from the campsite (Set outside Etosha) at reasonable price (about 45 USD if I remember).

    So we pushed on with the bikes, for most of the day and arrived at the gate of Onguma lodge (just next to Etosha National Park gates) rather late. It was nearly 6 pm and it was starting to get dark.


    The guard asked us if we had reservations! This is never a good question to hear! OF course we didn’t. The camp was full!

    We were on a bit of a pickle as the nearest campsite was about 100km away! We could not ride at night, as it would be too dangerous. :muutt
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  12. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    The guard phoned someone, and after some wait, he left us in and we camped next to the gate, on the inside.

    There was a small cement block with a toilet, a sink, and a cold shower, which were designed for the gates' guards, but we could use them. It would do for one night. There was space the next day.

    We had no water left but we could drink from the tap. Tap water is drinkable pretty much everywhere in Namibia, although sometimes it does not always taste very nice.

    We had very little food left too. Only some weird mix in a box, that Alistair bought
    few weeks before and had been lingering at the bottom of the food bag for a while.

    So we cooked the weird mix: a dry packet of vegetarian chilli (I kid you not!) in which we added some instant noodles. It was spicy, that is all I can say positive about it!

    After that, with nothing much to do and the night being cold, it was an early night.

    We had arranged, with the guard, to get into an early morning drive to Etosha, for about 50 / 52 USD per person. We had to pay in cash the driver. We also paid the guard in cash for the night camping. I don’t think the campsite will ever get any of that! But this is Africa, and we were in a bit of a trouble, so we were grateful we found a place for the night.


    With such a long ride we drank lots of water and dissolved a rehydration tablet. The consequences were predictable.

    #92
  13. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    Day 33- Namibia, Onguma campsite – Saturday 30th June – 3 kms

    I woke up around 3:30am…. the night was bitterly cold. I could hear lions roaring not too far.

    Obviously, I needed to go the toilet! I could not hold my bladder until daylight! :doh

    Alistair laughed because I was scared of the lions, telling me they could not be in the same section of the game reserve as we were; but I did not know where they were. We were, after all, camping in a private game reserve. They had lions. And the official campsite, I found out later, was fenced and we were not allowed to walk out!

    Anyhow, after careful exit from the tent and a watch around (it was full moon and it was like having a giant spotlight above the tent!) I managed my little expedition safely.

    We were up at 5am to be ready for the drive into the park. It was absolutely freezing. I put all my layers on as well as my waterproof insert jacket.

    We were told the car would pick us up at 6am.

    The car actually came into Onguma at 7, then it took forever to pick up 2 other tourists, who were taking their time having breakfast! Our breakfast was a cup of coffee, and the share of half a stale bread roll with peanut butter!

    Finally by 7:30 we got on the car. By then we were frozen! The driver handed us a thick poncho, fleeced inside and waterproof outside. We needed it, as the safari car was open on all sides.

    We paid the guard for our night camping and left, leaving our camp packed, except for the tent and all our motorcycle gear inside.

    We spent all morning driving with a guide around the national park of Etosha. We saw plenty: lots of springbok, impalas, kudus and other antelopes, giraffes, many elephants, ostriches, zebras, a black rhino, and what I really wanted to see, a lion! A magnificent lion!


    [​IMG]


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    [​IMG]
    #93
  14. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    [​IMG]


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    Later on, we asked the driver to stop at the national park official shop, as we thought we could buy some food there and we could not get there with the bikes.

    We paid the driver in cash for our drive. We were left with very little cash!

    At our return, there were some spots available in the campsite, so we moved there early afternoon. We had a nice spot with our own toilet, shower room, sink, kitchen area etc… really nice.

    As it was finally very hot, I washed some clothes, as my riding top did not smell its best!

    We then had a nice hot shower and some late lunch from the bar (just toasted cheese and tomato sandwich) and two nice cold beers!

    Once all the chores were done, we went to the swimming pool and lied in a sun lounger, trying to get a tan. The water was too cold to swim; it was not that hot around.


    It had been a very tiring day, mainly because of the intense cold in the safari car.
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  15. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer Supporter

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    Thanks for sharing....
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  16. Debak

    Debak n00b

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    Thank you for this great story, as I am thinking to make a long journey on my CRF 250L this inspires me a lot! Keep going :)
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  17. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    The couple who inspired us to go to Africa rode on two CRF250L for 3 years around the world and covered 130,000 kms (about 80,000 miles). Those little bikes are tough as nail, simple to repair and keep going, not much that can go wrong with them!
    You will have a great time :-)
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  18. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    Day 34 – Namibia, Grootfontein – Sunday 1st July – 170 kms

    I slept like a log, with my thermal shirt and wool socks on. The night, as usual, was incredibly cold. We emerged around 7:30. We were not in a rush.

    Our next destination was Grootfontein, only 170kms away. We were planning to stay there 2 nights to do some research on the next leg of our trip, do an oil change and get some provisions.

    We left the campsite around 9:30am after a coffee and some bread with peanut butter. Then we rode!

    We stopped on the way to buy some fuel and met there a mad polish guy on a big BMW800. He had ridden from Poland all the way to this fuel pump in 2 months! All across western Africa! I think my jaw dropped to the floor. He said “I like to ride”. He was planning to be in Cape Town in 2 days to pick up his girl friend at the airport (and he did). My jaw dropped, once again, to the floor!

    We arrived at Grootfontein rather early. The backpacker place that we had in mind was empty. There was no one around. We rang the bell, banged on the door, waited, but nobody came. After all, it was Sunday.

    We eventually found another place with a nice café/restaurant onsite, and we got settled. Everything was closed but Alistair went to have a walk around town while I worked on the blog.

    He found a kind of motorcycle shop (more like quad bikes stuff). Maybe we could find motorcycle oil. We decided to get there the next morning after the (included) breakfast.
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  19. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    Day 35 – Namibia, Grootfontein (Monday 2d July)

    The previous day, Alistair found a motorcycle / quad bikes workshop in town, but it was closed (as it was Sunday).

    So in the morning, after eating our B&B’s massive breakfast (cereals, boerewors sausages, bacon, toasts, 2 eggs) we walked there. The town was pleasant, clean with wide streets and avenues, and low rise buildings. It reminded me of American towns on the layout and wide avenues.

    We had a chat with the business owner, Johan, who invited us to do the oil change in his premises. Alistair talked mechanic stuff with the owner. He was worried about his clutch, as it slipped a bit.

    Usually, we always put specific motorcycle engine oil on our bikes. Sounds logical. But often, in our trips, it has often been very difficult to fine that.

    Johan had motorcycle oil, but he uses multi grade car oil in all his bikes, including his shiny BMW 1200 adventure. He said car oil is good quality, as long as we use a good brand. It is also much cheaper and easier to find. So it was good to know, for next time we needed to change the oil!

    After 5,000 kms, the oil from our bikes was black with dirt. We were told the fuel here was probably more “dirty” than in Europe and we should change it more often. Although our bikes manuals said we should change the oil every 10,000 miles, Johan told us we should do it much more often. Cheaper to change oil than something in the engine!
    #99
  20. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    After that, we did some shopping. Alistair got himself a hoody, as it was so cold, and we got some food for the next leg of our trip. Our staple food while camping was peanut butter and bread for breakfast, with coffee, and tins of curried mix vegs, tin of baked beans, bread, bags of instant noodles, salted peanuts and biscuits. All of this was small and easy to transport in a roll bag, strapped at the back of my bike, on top of the big Ortlieb bag.

    Talking of my Ortlieb bag, one of the straps had broken days in the trip. Quite disappointing considering the bag was new (and very expensive!).

    When we were riding we did not usually bother with lunch. Dried nuts or peanuts were found everywhere and were filling.

    In the evening we had dinner at the B&B’s restaurant and watched some football game (t was still the world cup!) with a glass of excellent south african red wine! As you can see, we were having a hard life!
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