The Hole(y) tyre expedition – Namibia in a Makalani nutshell*

TheoFS's picture

Points: 19

Pre Prologue / Disclosure

For the people who like to read, I’ve tried to scribble down my recollection and experience of my trip in extensive detail.

For the people who don’t like to read, I tried to include enough visuals and simple info that might be helpful in a future trip.  I’ll also happily share route files upon request.

Prologue

Gerhard and I started planning on a bucket list trip to Namibia around about the beginning of the year.  We would utilize our SA public holidays in March to its fullest, put in leave for three days (Me being in serious negative leave after starting a job at a new company close to the end of last year), and take a bike trip for 10 days into Namibia.  We knew we were going to be doing long distances during the day and therefore decided that it might be a better option if we do the trip on our own instead of inviting the whole world.  During the next months from January, we planned and re-planned our routes and packed it to the brim with what we believed to be the most important places to see in the South of Namibia.  We had a rough target of 5000 km in mind for the whole journey and I then set forth planning our routes around the destinations.

[Planned route]

With the route finally planned and the camping bookings made, Gerhard informed me 2 weeks prior to departure that his passport might not arrive in time (He had gone to Home affairs well in advance of the trip).  There was a mismatch of his fingerprints on record and thus, the application process came to a complete standstill.  I posted an invitation on the club forum here, in case Gerhard’s passport didn’t come in time:

http://www.bmwmotorcycleclubcape.co.za/open-invitation-join-namibia-adventure-18-28-march-2016

Keeping a positive attitude, we decided to hope for the best.  Luckily, the Tuesday before we had to leave, Gerhard’s passport arrived!  We started gearing up and planning our packing for the Friday departure.  Because we were camping (except the first and last night), we split our gear between the 2 bikes and planned for easy setup and takedown of camp every day.  I would be the rolling kitchen with the food and cooking gear while Gerhard was the tent courier and I would be the moving kitchen and tool carrier.  Below is a basic list of what we took with.

Tools

 

Cooking

 

Sleeping

 

Clothes

 

Various

Allen Keys

 

Braai Grid

 

Mattress

 

Socks x 10

 

Headlamp

Hex Keys

 

Klapspaten

 

Sleeping Bag

 

Undies x 10

 

Tent Lamp

Wheel socket

 

Gas Cooker + Pot

 

Dry Bag

 

Shirts x 4

 

Chair

Zip ties

 

Fork+Knife Combo

 

Tent

 

Swimming Shorts

 

Sunscreen

Compressor

 

CRKT Knife

 

Ground sheet

 

Shorts

 

Sunglasses

Puncture repair

 

2 x Bottles Rum

     

Fox Top

 

Phone Charger

Tyre Levers

 

10 x Instant Coffee

     

Warm Top

 

GoPro Charger

Patch kit

 

6 x Instant Oats pp

     

Cooling Vest

 

Tyre Gauge

Basic spanners

 

Stainless Cup

     

Jacket Inner

 

Camera Charger

Shifting

 

Folding Cup

     

Rain suit

 

Camera

Towing Strap / Rope

 

Blitz

     

Slops

 

GoPro

Spark Plug spanner

 

2 x Pasta Mate

     

Sneakers

 

Phone

Cargo Net

 

Biltong

         

GoPro Mounts

   

Cooler Bag

         

Leg Bag

   

Lighter

         

Trip Documents

   

Snacks

           

 

 

Day 1 – Cape town to Citrusdal

-A quick sprint to Citrusdal

-What you see is not what you get

170 km to http://elephantleisureresort.co.za/ (R250 pp)

After what felt like the longest day at work, Gerhard and I eventually set of at 17:00 the Friday on the first short leg of the journey.  Lisa (My girlfriend) and Ilse (Gerhard’s girlfriend) would accompany us the first night.  I planned an easy pre-set campsite at Wolfkop camping villages for the first night, so that we could get an early start for the second day, sort out any packing issues on the bikes and to just unwind after some hectic weeks at work.  Lisa and Ilse left earlier (both took half day’s leave) and would take a slower scenic route to the campsite.  We stopped at Kardoesie on the top of Piekenierskloof pass to phone the ladies and find out if they were ok at the campsite.  Things were not ok…  The pre-set campsite ended up really being in the bundus with a really rocky and sandy road leading towards it.  Not what I had in mind as our first relaxing evening.  We would meet the ladies at the tar road leading into the campsite and then discuss it further.

[lovely dinner evening]

Reaching Elephant Leisure resort just after sunset, it became quite apparent that there was a huge miscommunication between what was advertised on the website and what was offered.  The really well organised Bedouin tents which I saw turned out to be quite an unreachable, unserviceable, bush-wacked camp.  I explained to the duty manager (who ferried the ladies from the main reception to the camp site because the roads were so terrible), that this was not how I wanted to start the trip.  Certainly also not with a sandy road leading towards the first camp (where I bought my first plot of the trip)!  After a discussion stating obvious facts of miscommunication, Elephant Leisure resort then offered us one of their chalets for the night to make up for any discomfort caused (which we later found was exactly the same price as the tented camp! Quite bizarre pricing if you ask me).  The chalet was absolutely stunning!   It had 2 separate rooms, divided by a really cosy kitchen and living area. 

When we finally started to unwind and relax, the clock had already ticked over to 20:00.  We braaied, and had a really full meal with loved ones and just before heading to bed, we shimmied a few things on our luggage and left an odd thing or two behind which we felt we won’t need.  The evening turned out to be amazing and really set us in the right mood of excitement for the next day and to top it off, we could start day 1 away from the city!

Day 2 – Citrusdal to Kammieskroon

-Exploring caves of travels past

-Unexpected 2X1-ing on a 4x4 route

-Entering Namaqualand

-Paarl mountain explosion in Namaqua

-Wrestling a tent

-Wrestling a Garies lamb

423 km to http://www.taaiboskraal.co.za/ (R100 pp)

[the next morning, we could see the chalet and surroundings]

We left Elephant Leisure resort at about 7:30am, filling our tanks at Citrusdal.  We took the gravel road that snakes next to the river, parallel to the N7 to Clanwilliam.  It was quite a cloudy morning and the cool air and amazing portion of road was welcome as the start of the day. 

[the side road between citrusdal and clanwilliam]

From Clanwilliam we took the tar road and headed west towards Lamberts Bay and eventually turned off at Graafwater onto gravel heading north.  We came across a sign indicating historical monuments and stopped to investigate.  No indication was provided as to what this historical monument was.  After a short walk up the hill in bike boots and kit we found the remains of what were early forms of Graffiti.  Some dating back to oom Simon van der Stel in 1685! In Afrikaans, theres a saying: “Gekke en dwase skryf hulle name op mure en glase”.   The Heerenlogement Cave was a stop-over for early settlers traveling north and it serves as a very primitive record of travellers.  Quite fitting for a stop-over on a journey to the North perhaps.

[heerenlogenment cave at the top]

[yesteryear's graffiti]

[parking next to the road]

After the cave exploration, we saddled up and headed towards Doringbaai and Strandfontein.  I saw a 4x4 track on my gps and it immediately peaked my interest.  We decided to have a tiny peak at the road conditions and then decide from there if it was worth it.  The 4x4 track snaked next to the coastline along cliff-sides.  It was really manageable on the big 1200 with panniers and the views were just spectacular.  We stopped on a few lookout points for photos along the way and decided that a cold beer in Strandfontein would be quite wonderful at this stage.  Strandfontein is a quiet little coastal town, but the camping grounds definitely peaked our interest for a future weekend trip. 

[4x4 track next to the coast]

[labyrinth close to strandfontein]

From Strandfontein we headed inland again towards the gravel roads of Namaqualand and onwards to Garies.  The roads were really stunning and perfect for long distance gravel travel.  Perfect for singing in your own helmet, doing the invisible slalom on a straight road and entering cruise mode.  We found the odd settlement here and there, but for the most part it was us, the bikes, gravel roads and no one in sight!

[namaqua roads]

[small namaqua settlement]

We stopped in Garies to refuel (food for the humans and food for the bikes).  The town was really quiet on a Saturday afternoon and after a quick chat with loved ones to put them at ease that we were still in one piece, we headed for the back road portion between Garies and our overnight farm close to Kammieskroon.  When I planned the route, I had a look on google earth to see what we could see in Namaqualand and it seemed that the particular road we chose, was quite mountainous and twisty.  A perfect end to gravel highways.  What we found was a whole bunch of mountains that looked similar to Paarl Mountain.  Perhaps the birthplace of the pearl!  The roads snaked through the mountains and it really felt like one could disappear without a trace in those mountains.  The perfect hideaway if you need to run from the law!

[groenkloof pass]

[paarl mountains everywhere]

[entrance to taaiboskraal]

We arrived at Taaiboskraal farm late the afternoon and had a long chat with Sulene (hostess) about the surroundings.  Oddly enough, the farm has a tea garden, restaurant and guest rooms.  We were the only two travellers there and I couldn’t help but wonder what might justify the tea garden and restaurant.  The camp site was about 2 km from the farm house on a koppie that made it feel quite isolated.  The amenities were basic (shower at the main farmhouse, no power and a veld toilet with a stunning view!), but that was how we wanted to experience this trip.  The wind started to pick up just as we stopped to pitch up our first night’s camping, and above it all, this was also the first time that Gerhard would pitch his new tent!  Shoving three poles through sleeves with the wind blowing when you don’t really know which pole goes exactly would have made for one of those typical youtube videos where a few drunk guys try and pitch a tent. The rum wasn’t even touched at this stage.  After an extensive tent wrestling, we managed to eventually calm down, start the fire, dig into rum and enjoy the absolute solitude in the bush.  When the sun set, the full (or close to full) moon rose and this would set the stage for each evening or morning throughout the trip.  We returned to braai and enjoy a peaceful evening.  The lamb we bought in Garies turned out to be the toughest piece of meat that we would ever eat in our life!  The thoughts crossed our minds to take it into Namibia as self-defence weapons, but we decided against it because of the “weapon declaration” red tape at the border.

[campsite set]

[double barrel rum]

[veld visitor]

[sunset in the valley]

[that damn lamb!]

Day 3 – Kammieskroon to Sendelingsdrift

-Slow start to a long day

-Bowesdorp “Spookdorp”

-Smooth roads and wildlife in Namaqua National Park

-Where did the road go?

-Civilization (Wimpy) in Springbok

-Unexpected gravel highway

-Where did the road go? part II

-Unexpected gravel highway part II and some poor souls in the middle of nowhere

-Sandstorm!

-Camping in forbidden territory

422 km to http://www.richtersveldnationalpark.com/campsites_potjiespram.html (R110 pp)

After a very “tough” evening of trying to wash down Garies lamb with some rum and flat coke, we managed to pack up camp fairly late (9:00), including a quick shower at the farmhouse.  We set off for Kamieskroon and on to explore the “Spookdorp” of Bowesdorp about 10km North on the N7.  When I planned the trip, I looked on google earth for some scenic content along the way.  I usually check for high concentrations of “Panoramio” photos and then try and find out what might be worth seeing.  Bowesdorp’s church ruins intrigued me, and we decided to investigate.   The little settlement was just off the N7, but unlike the status suggested, some life still existed.  We managed to ride until the dead-end farmgate that had a large plate with handwriting stating “private property. no entry”.  We could see the church ruins in the distance.  After almost throwing in the towel, an old lady in a house peeked out of her door and pointed that we could go ahead through the gate.  We left the bikes and headed off the the church ruins.  The church ruins had the most beautiful stone and brickwork around the arches, but nature was taking its toll with the now exposed, unplastered stone walls.  All around the church, remnants of the former settlement could be found.  Old cars were scattered all around.  A gold mine of yesteryear’s junk.  We saddled up after the exploration back towards Kamieskroon to refuel for the long stretch through Namaqua National Park.

[name the car]

[old church ruin at Bowesdorp]

[old car junkyard]

The road going into Namaqua National Park started out quite bumpy with badly maintained corrugated roads leading up to the park entrance.  As you cross into the park through a uninspiring steel gate, the road smoothened out and a seemingly endless stretch of the smoothest gravel we’ve come across spanned out in front of us.  It was a welcome relief after the teeth shattering corrugation.  The road just begged for a speed test, but just as I was about to crank open the throttle, I saw the first wildlife on our trip.  A group Oryx saw us in the distance and started to make way for us in the road (Bonuspoints for the person who can provide me with the collective noun for Oryx).  I think they were somewhat uneased by these strange green and white noisy beasts that were coming at them at speed.  We went past a few groups of Rooi Hartebeest, Springbok, Oryx, Zebra and an ostrich or two on the long stretch leading towards Wildeperdpass.  The views on Wildeperdpass  was spectacular!  It was almost as if you could see right up to the ocean. 

[namaqua park entrance]

[red hartbeest]

[view from top of wildeperd pass]

[gerhard on his wilde perd]

​​​Wildeperdpass led up to another surprise of the “not so nice” kind.  We soon realised that our shortlived smooth road gave way to sections of road washed away.  In some sections, it was REALLY washed away with thick sand followed by rocks or vice versa.   It was just imminent that the heavy beast of an Adventure with its “slick” tyres would submit to the sand and throw me off for my second side stand incident of the trip.  Luckily, Gerhard caught the whole event on camera behind me and was there to help me pick up the bike.  The bonus of putting down a fully loaded 1200 Adventure in the sand is that it really does not fall over that far with the panniers.  I’d even go as far to say it was easier picking up the heavyweight than Gerhard’s 800 later in the trip.  We made slow progress on this stretch and eventually met up with the N7 again just before reaching Springbok.  By that time we were both hungry as heck because we didn’t have much to eat with the morning rush.  We opted for a bit of civilization at the Wimpy in town.

[self explanitory]

After refuelling ourselves, we asked the manager where the best place would be to buy our meat for the evening.  We didn’t want to have the Garies lamb experience again!  The manager must’ve given us the most detailed route info for what was basically just “3 blocks down the road, on the way out, at the OK with HUGE signage”.  With daylight fast running out, we decided to cut out a piece of gravel road connecting Springbok and Steinkopf and make up a bit of time on the N7.  We would still experience the beautiful rock formations of Springbok, but be less rushed later in the afternoon.  The 260km to go of unknown road conditions through the Richtersveld was a concern, but we knew we still had enough daylight to make it in time to set up camp.  After a “splash and dash” in Steinkopf, we headed for the start of the Richtersveld Circle route.  The road conditions which I was concerned about turned out to be a gravel highway with a hint of sand to just keep you on edge.  It was a really great ride with a wide enough road that Gerhard and I could ride side by side.  We reached Eksteensfontein in the middle of nowhere and one couldn’t imagine what would make people live there except the sheer beauty of the Richtersveld.  From Ekteensfontein, the road disappeared somewhat again with really rocky and really sandy sections.  I had my third and final sidestand incedent of the trip in a sandy riverbed crossing.  Gerhard was quite a distance behind and it meant that this time, I had to pick up the bike by myself.  Luckily, the high sandbanks meant that the bike only really leaned over and rested.  This also turned out to be the last stretch of rough road before a newly graded, really long stretch of gravel superhighway.

[on the richtersveld circle route]

[last stretch of bad gravel towards main road]

 Two Baja racers were stranded at an intersection and after 3 days of not seeing many bikes on the roads, I pulled off for a quick chat.  The two guys had been sitting in the treeless spot for most part of the day, waiting for the backup vehicle to arrive and pick them up.  I couldn’t imagine any bike riding up into the mountains in the middle of nowhere with not a soul around.  Respect to the Baja-ers!  While we were chatting, a huge bus came past at speed and we decided this was our cue to move.  I told Gerhard that we should try and get past the bus so that we’re not stuck behind its dust cloud for the rest of the way.  Boy, how wrong I was!  We weren’t exactly troddling along, but it seemed that the bus was in the Baja race too!  We saw it go over one or two rises and then just disappeared in the distance.  I can just imagine being in that bus as a passenger on somewhat twisty gravel highway!

[baja racers]

In the distance on the way to Sendelingsdrift, we could see the makings of a sandstorm.  There was no time for waiting and no side routes that we could take to avoid it.  The only way was through it.  Definitely a first for me on the bike.  I’ve been through thunderstorms and hailstorms, but a duststorm was not that far behind in horrible weather to ride through.  The sand blew into my helmet with the visor closed and with limited visibility; one can only crawl through something that you just want to get over with. 5km of this was enough on the last stretch for the day.  We regrouped in Sendelingdrift before our last 10km to the campsite to let loved ones know we were safe and still in fairly one piece.  Part of the stress during this journey was always going to be to not let other people stress about where you were.  I used the BMW Navigator V’s “Follow me” app to keep family and friends up to date with progress, but this only worked when my cellphone had reception to send updates of my position.  After the updates, we set off to set up camp at Potjiespram and relax after a tough day of riding.  I have to mention that motorcycles aren’t usually allowed into the Richtersveld National park past Sendelingsdrift, but I managed to get hold of the park manager and arrange for an overnight at Potjiespram.  We weren’t allowed to progress further into the Richtersveld.  The road to the campsite was absolutely stunning, with a very stark contrast between moon landscape rock formations of the Richtersveld mountains and the lushness of the Orange river.  Our campsite was beautifully located between trees next to the Orange river.

Day 4 – Sendelingsdrift to Alte Kalkofen

-The red tape of border crossings

-Road hogs of Namibia

-Moon landscapes and contrasts

-Hoa-baas!

-Namibian Hospitality

472 km to http://www.altekalkofen.com/ (R150pp)

[potjiespram campsite]

[the road back to sendelingsdrift]

We woke up early with the intentions to be at the border post at 8:00 am sharp.  While packing up, some neighbours came past, offered us coffee and enquired about our journey.  They were quite green with envy (Both father and son being adventure bikers) and were surprised that we were allowed to go through the Richtersveld (or small part of at least). We set off towards Sendelingsdrift to be once again amazed by the stunning scenery that the Richtersveld had to offer. Once we finished checking in at the park, we proceeded with what was the start of a very long process of documentation.  We had to go to the SA border official to get forms, then to the police officer, (which was not on duty yet ; Africa time), then back to the park office to get the documents for the Pont crossing.  At least all the officials were friendly!  We headed to quickly fill up and then head to the Pont crossing.  We made it just as the Pont pulled in, accompanied by some other Capetonians in a lesser mode of transport.  The Pont, unlike the Malgas pont is powered by two outboard motors, which makes the crossing super quick.  Again, another list to sign on the pont!  Finally, we set our wheels onto Namibian soil!  We were kind of in no-man’s land, a 2km stretch between the border posts.  The Namibian border post had no less forms than the SA side, actually even more extensive.  You have to fill in 2 forms, one as general immigration and one for the road usage.  Then these 2 forms have to be captured by unfriendly border officials with “chicken method” typing skills.  All in all, our border crossing took us an hour and a half.  Definitely not what we had planned!

[pont crossing]

[namibian border post]

Luckily, the border frustration led to the most amazing piece of road that snaked all along the Orange river towards Aussenkehr.  The road conditions just increased by 500% suddenly!  The roads were wider, smoother and almost didn’t have any kind of corrugation.  We also quickly found that this was perfect driving conditions for the local Kalahari Ferrari (Land Cruiser).  Land Cruisers are the idiots of Namibia.  They usually go at 140km/h with sometimes a trailer or caravan added for increased dust and stone flinging effect.  We made peace with the fact and just gave them right of way.  We were guests after all.  At the bridge with the Fish river, we stopped to take in the scenery.  I decided to stop on the bridge for a photo, but pulled off to the side as much I could.  This did mean that I had to pull some mission impossible manoeuvres to get past the bike and in this process, my glove fell into the river.  Luckily it wasn’t flowing really and I waited on the side for the stream to just push it into my direction.  Wet glove in hand, we set off again for Aussenkehr.

[the road to aussenkehr]

[fish river]

[glove in water]

​​​​Aussenkehr had a really stark contrast between a very rocky mountain which had NO greenery or sign of plants and really green vineyards next to the Orange river.  We had a quick look at the town, but decided that Ai-ais was our next stop to refuel and refuel(beer).    Being pushed for time, a quick dip into the hotsprings of Ai-ais were trumped by hunger and thirst at the restaurant. Our next stop would be the Fish River canyon lookout at Hobas, something that both Gerhard and I looked forward to as a trip highlight.  

[control gates on the way]

[aussenkehr winelands]

[towards ai-ais]

We were welcomed to Hobas by a very friendly and curious gate guard.  Entrance of R60 per person was paid and we set off towards the viewpoint.  Boy, was our breath taken away!  The most stunning vistas lay in front of us.  With time ticking away, we strategically chose a few viewpoints on the map and made the most of it.  Just before we left, we parked at the main viewpoint (in a tiny bit of shade) close to the building.  This is where we met the first of 2 unfriendly people in Namibia.  A Namibian-German tour-guide pulled up in a bus and snarled at us for parking behind bollards in the shade.  As we were on our way out, we didn’t really take notice of this unfriendly behaviour and continued casually onwards.

[first sightings of the canyon]

[fishriver canyon]

Canyon Roadhouse was our next stop on our way.  We heard about the collection of old odds and ends and were curious to see what it was about.  I really believe that if anybody wants to build an old hot-rod, Namibia is the place to go search for old cars. A large collection of old cars, bikes and tractors were to be seen all over the outside and inside.  I had a quick chat to the hostess to ask about the roads towards Seeheim and she warned me that the road was washed away from the where the C12 and D545 splits up until Seeheim.  The detour would set us back with more distance to cover and not a lot of daylight left. 

[canyon roadhouse]

The last stretch of road leading into Alte Kalkofen lodge was the main tar road between Keetmanshoop and Luderitz.  We pulled into the lodge and were greeted by a very friendly oom Frikkie Mouton.  We proceeded to set up camp in Shackity City and decided that it might be a good idea to unwind a bit and have dinner at the restaurant.  This proved to be the best idea yet!  We were treated with starters, a main course the size of Namibia itself, really amazing desert, coffee and to top it all, oom Frikkie was the waiter!  How is that for running a lodge and looking after your clients.  We could really recharge here and also for the first time in Namibia, after buying a Namibian sim-card, phone our loved ones back home.

[even namibian roads can disappear]

[camping at shackity city]

Day 5 – Alte Kalkofen to Luderitz

-Taking it slow-ish for a change

-Aus Neus

-Sanblasted

-Celebrity status in Luderitz

-Worse wind than Gouda!

-Hol(e)y number 1 and 2

-The only green patch in Namibia

362 km to http://www.nwr.com.na/index.php/resorts/shark-island (R136pp)

[alte kalkofen treasure trove]

[campsite during the day]

[the alte kalkofen]

The previous night while we were indulging in Namibian hospitality, we decided to cut a portion of the route the next day, take a breather and rather head for Luderitz and maybe take in more sights there.  We had  planned a whole route of 550 odd kilometres for the day, but after a few days of long distance riding, some relaxed riding and having the time to see more of Luderitz sounded more enticing.  Both our fuel levels were relatively low at this stage, but after the hostess’s suggestion of a fuel stop at Goageb, we decided to rather fuel up on the way than at Alte Kalkofen lodge.  We soon found that the fuel stop at Goageb no longer existed.  So we headed for a detour town of Bethanie instead.  The road up to Aus was really bland in comparison to the rest of what we’ve seen and we really thought we might have made a mistake in choosing to cut out the section.  We reached Aus just before mid-day.  Our gps-fingers quickly flicked through points of interest that Tracks 4 Africa suggested and our first stop was the Aus “neus”.  Ok, so this was the scenic attraction of Aus?? A rock on the side of the road?  Really?  Some other POI included WW1 ramparts, which were on the Klein Aus Vista nature reserve.  We found the gate leading in, and no sign saying we couldn’t enter.  We headed a short distance in, found the ramparts, some wildlife and what we thought were the wild horses of Aus.  These, we later found out were not the wild horses of Aus. We continued on towards Luderitz on what seemed to be the longest straightest piece of tar in the world.

[aus neus]

[what we thought were wild horses]

[klein aus vista]

Just out of Aus, we found the first portion of an abandoned world.  We were so eager to see abandoned buildings, that we pulled off at the first abandoned railway “station”.  Naturally, we had pumped up our tyres to tar-status for the tar stretch.  The rock-hard tyres on the adventure proved to be no match for the sand next to the road and subsequently the bike got stuck. I parking the bike with no side-stand needed to egress.  We took some cool photos. Gerhard, the sand king, had some fun in the sand and showed off for a photo.  He helped me out of my sandy predicament and off we went further.  The rest of the road took us deeper into the dessert.  With every passing kilometre, plant-life became less and less and sand became more and more. 

[dessert graffiti]

[stuck in sand]

[gerhard showing off]

​​​20km From Luderitz, the wind started picking up and we could see swatches of sand blowing across the road.  Gerhard eventually stopped to take his action cam off his helmet, not because of the sand at that stage, but more because of the wind speed.  I left the camera on the bike, thinking nothing of the sand wafts hitting it.  Big mistake.  The GoPro lens received severe punishment with all the sand hitting it.  We reached Luderitz with a slightly emptier tank than anticipated by Gerhard.  The wind caused fuel consumption to increase drastically and he made the fuel station with a few kilometres left in reserve.  Food was our only thought when we reached Luderitz and we began searching on our GPS for a favourable restaurant.  We tried Barrels, but was unfortunately closed, so after a few criss crossing of streets, we found ourselves at the Ritzi’s Restaurant at the Waterfront.

[railway building 20km before Luderitz]

[Luderitz waterfront]

Being a Namibian-German town, Eisbein was at the order of the day for me.  What a meal!  True to Namibian hospitality, the food was more than what you bargain for.  While enjoying our beer and eisbein, a Reporter for the Republikein (Namibian newspaper) noticed our bikes and overheard us talking of the journey so far.  He approached us to find out about the journey and where we’re headed to next.  After a description, he took some photos of us at the bikes and posted it on his facebook page. It was quite bizarre for us that it’s not a common occurrence in Namibia to see guys on touring bikes…  This we also found out later with some curious locals at Helmeringshaussen. 

[Luderitz architecture]

Having quite a bit of daylight left and with the wind still pumping, we decided to wait a bit later to set up camp and explore the peninsula and surroundings of Luderitz.  When I planned the trip, I wanted to camp on Diaz point, but it seemed that it was closed for business.  This warrented for an investigation!  The wind + loose gravel combination was quite tricky towards Diaz point…  Scary at times.  At one point, we saw a shortcut of what we believed to be what seemed to be dry lakebed.  We went for the shortcut soon to realise that it was quite soggy and soft.  With nothing else in the way, we opened up throttle, leaned back and hanged on!  At times, the bike really sunk into the muck, but luckily, the power was enough to pull us through.  Gerhard was in his element, criss-crossing over the soft stuff with ease.  Diaz point was abandoned.  Everything was closed and we went walking around and up to the point to see the stone that Diaz layed on his journey around the Cape.

[diaz point]

[shortcuts]

On the way back to Luderitz, Gerhard wanted to see the kite-surfing speed strip in Luderitz where they set speed records (perfect wind conditions for speed).  We stopped next to the “drag strip” and he went walking to photograph the strip in detail.  While waiting on the side on my bike, I just heard a call and saw Gerhard knee deep in sand!  The soft sand almost swallowed half of him and I just couldn’t waste the opportunity to document this funny sight.  I helped him out and we headed back into town to set up camp and relax for the evening.

[shipwreck in a bay]

[gerhard's sand encounter]

On the return, I managed to pick up my first puncture of the trip.  A piece of metal had punctured my ture in two places, requiring 3 plugs to fix.  It was a slow puncture, so I limped to the Shell garage in town to fix with the help of some very friendly petrol attendants.  This was the first punctures of what eventually made up my “Hol(e)y” tyre.  Luckily, by the time we fixed a puncture that I got on the way back, the wind had died down and we were able to set up camp on the only piece of green grass we camped on in Namibia.  The sunset and evening turned out beautiful and we ended the evening off with our Rum and coke on the rock-chairs around our campsite. 

[camp for the evening]

Day 6 – Luderitz to Namib Naukluft

-Documentation of Kolmanskop

-How do horses survive in the desert?

-What the heck kind of gravel is this?

-Best apple cake in Namibia…apparently

-Long roads with not a soul in sight

-Scenic distraction

-Naukluft

550 km to http://www.nwr.com.na/index.php/resorts/naukluft-campsite (R162 pp)

[rise and shine]

The morning saw an early start with the full moon setting in the West just as the sun rose.  We packed up with the aim to be at Kolmanskop at 8:00 when they opened.  It seemed that the we got up before the wind picked up, and were quite glad to have a bit of windless biking (shortlived after the Kolmanskop visit!).  We reached Kolmanskop just after 8 and proceeded to explore the town on our own.  The guided tours would only start an hour later.  I thought that time-wise we could afford to spend about an hour there if we wanted to take it easy for the rest of the day (Today being our longest stretch yet).  It quickly became apparent that moving through the town would not be a quick task, and with Gerhard’s careful documentation of each house, an hour would just not be enough.  So in the end, an hour became two.  This was really one of the highlights of our journey.  Exploring all the houses and just seeing what power desert sand has on our human interventions was an eye opener.  With the few German words in my vocabulary, I could translate the house signage to Gerhard and with my Architecture background, a little bit about the history.  After an extensive exploration of Kolmanskop, we headed back on the same long stretch of tar.  The wind picked up again, and for some bizarre reason, the direction was partially from our front again. 

[also self explanitory]

On the way back, we made a quick stop at Garub Pan where the watering hole was for the wild horses.  It was just amazing to see those horses living in the most hostile environment possible.  Where they find food is a complete mystery.  Luckily, they have plenty of water, although they sometimes have to walk quite far to reach the pan.  We left Garub and from Aus, we turned off on gravel again towards Helmeringshaussen.  A few kilometres in on the gravel, it started feeling really weird.  Every so often, the bike would just start fishtailing and you really needed to keep within the tyre tracks that the previous vehicles left.  At 80 – 100km, the gravel didn’t really look abnormal.  Nature called, and once we stopped, we could eventually see what was causing the fishtailing.  The loose gravel was made up of small stones and was quite deep, the result being deep grooves that weren’t too keen on your front tyre leaving it for another.  Every so often I would tense up as I hit a wiggle, but as the day went on, you learn to just live with it and open up the throttle to break the osscilation.  So when you ever encounter a similar road, just remember to sit back, relax and whistle “wiggle wiggle wiggle” in your helmet aloud! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YqT6EsEvBk)

[the actual wild horses of the dessert]

[the road to helmeringshaussen]

The first sign which I spotted when we entered Helmeringshaussen, was one stating that they had the best apple cake in Namibia.  This had to be tested!  We parked in the only tiny bit of shade we could find and entered Helmeringshaussen Hotel for apple cake and beer.  Having not tasted any apple cake in Namibia before, I couldn’t really say that it’s the best, but it certainly was the best I’d ever had.  It really filled a cake gap that I’ve had since leaving Cape Town.  We left the one horse town without the horse after Gerhard filled tank and headed for what was the longest stretch without civilization we would have during our trip.  The road was straight, long and wiggly, but every 100km or so, the colours of the landscape would swop,  red road, green mountain, blue sky to white road, red mountain, blue sky and so on.

[soft gravel roads]

[straight roads into the horizon]

[more soft gravel]

The road was long for this stretch, but after a tough day of long distance, we finally reached Namib Naukluft with 15km to go to the campsite.  The road snaked into the kloof and with sun busy setting, Gerhard almost had an encounter with some bushes and rocks while admiring the scenery.  We checked in at reception, booked a table for evening dinner (as we did not find any meat to braai along the way) and went to set up camp.  Naukluft campsite was spectacular.  It was re-done about a year ago and all the facilities were still brand new and very well set out.  A warm shower and some freshening up felt like heaven after a tough day.  At the restaurant, as sole patrons of a very empty camp, we ordered Kudu and beer as usual.  This turned out to be the best idea yet, with a chef that prepared an amazingly tender Kudu steak!  With dinner sorted, we headed down towards the campsite to turn in for the evening.

[gerhard's distraction encounter]

[campsite at naukluft]

Day 7 – Namib Naukluft to Sesriem

-The SA taxi hog equivalent of Namibia

-Northernmost tip of the journey – Solitaire

-No bikes in Sossusvlei!

-Some good luck

-Some bad luck

-Camping bliss!

160 km to http://www.sossus-oasis.com/ (R180 pp) + 132 km to Sossusvlei and back

[naukluft campsite]

With Gerhard’s tank empty, we bargained with the park manager the next morning for a can of fuel.  Luckily, he sympathised with our lack of fuel and gave us 5 litres that meant that we could fill up in Solitaire.  The park manager also confirmed our fears that we heard a while back that we would not be allowed into Sossusvlei with our bikes.  With the fear of not seeing one of our highlights, we set off and decided to cut a piece of road to rather get to Sesriem early and try and negotiate our way into the park.  We were on adventure bikes after all and not scramblers which would go and try riding through the dunes.

[naukluft reception]

We went from seeing hardly any cars the previous day to a sudden explosion of 4x4’s today.  The particular hog of the road seemed to be Land Cruisers, coming from the front at about 140km/h and shooting rocks out the sides that would make an Allied soldier hit the trenches.  It became apparent very quickly that they disregard any motorcycle and you make way for THEM! So road hogs in Namibia are the complete opposite of SA’s taxis.   The explosion of 4x4’s origin seemed to be Solitaire, where it seemed that the whole of Namibia’s 4x4 communities had gathered for the weekend.  We refuelled between the chaos of 4x4’s, Gerhard explored the deli, took some photos and made tracks for Sesriem.

[bushplanes at solitaire]

[more soft gravel]

[towards sesriem]

The red desert sands guided us towards Sesriem; gateway to Sossusvlei.  We reached Sesriem early afternoon and decided to quickly check into our campsite and then try and bargain our way into Sossusvlei.  We got stopped at the park gate of Sesriem by the gate guard.  We explained how far we’d come to see the vlei and that we were on touring motorcycles, fully loaded and wouldn’t even dare to veer off the road into the dunes because we’d get stuck in an instant.  The guard allowed us to go into reception to plead our case to the manager on duty.  This also failed.  Luckily, a good Samaritan overhear our story from the gate to reception and offered to give us a ride in his double-cab Isuzu to Sossusvlei.  We scrambled to get our gear, cameras etc, left our bikes and jumped into his bakkie.  Some good luck was on our side!  With 60km to go to Sossusvlei, we soon got to know a bit of Oom Hugo.  He was a Walvisbay local, who used to be the head of Sasol’s pension development and now lives as a retiree between Kempton Park and Walvisbay.  The added “small world” effect was that he was a quantity surveyor, and studied in Bloemfontein.  I studied under a student friend of his, Basie Verster, now the head of the Quantity Surveying department at the University of the Freestate. 

We eventually reached the end of the tar road into Sossusvlei and continued on the last 5km sand road stretch.  This proved to be a little tricky and subsequently got stuck.  Luckily, a cliché was in the making with a Toyota pulling up for a rescue attempt.  With the Isuzu stuck on its belly with 4 wheels spinning, even the mighty Toyota was no match for friction.  We hitched up the winch of the Isuzu and with the Toyota as anchor, pulled ourselves free from the stricky situation.  Freed from the sand-trap we stopped at the dead vlei to take in the scenery.  Oom Hugo went to the back of his bakkie and surprised Gerhard and I with an ice cold beer from a fridge!  AMAZING!  Ice cold beer in the middle of the desert!  We walked around the dead vlei, beer in hand, took some photos, posed for some photos, and headed back towards Sesriem. On the way back, we stopped at dune 47.  Oom Hugo, tourguide for the afternoon, explained that a dune that was numbered, meant that it did not move (unlike normal sand dunes); a fact that I did not know, and probably wouldn’t have known hadn’t it been for Oom Hugo.  We headed back to the park entrance to go our separate ways.  Oom Hugo still had quite a way to go towards Walvisbay for the day.

[stuck in the sand]

[cold beer in the dessert]

[the dead vlei]

[dune 47]

[mirages in the distance]

Firewood and meat in hand at the Sesriem fuel station next to Sossus Oasis, we set off to enjoy the rest of the evening by poolside and campfire for probably the best equipped campsite that I’ve ever visited.  Sossus Oasis had a ring of private campsites with a roofed shelter, own kitchenette and ablutions.  To top it all, a lovely sparkling pool was at the center of the campsite!  The sunset reflected off the beautiful red mountains and created a picturesque sunset that one sees in travel magazines.  The perfect end to a really adventure filled day!

[oasis at sossus-oasis]

Day 8 – Sesriem to Keetmanshoop

-Turning point

-Pulled over by Nam-Police

-Helmeringshaussen take 2

-Some back roads

-A really terrifying water-crossing

-The most unfriendly person in Namibia take 2

477 km to http://www.quivertreeforest.com/ (R130pp plus fine-print R50pp)

[nature's alarm clock]

A cold front had caught up with us through the night and the morning revealed a stunning sunrise.   I felt a bit sad that we were heading back, but I was also missing everyone back home.  We decided to head towards Maltahohe and then do a quick pitstop in Helmeringshaussen, then head for the back-roads towards Keetmanshoop.  The only scenery planned was the quiver tree forest at our destination for the day.  The morning was cold and cloudy and it followed us for most of the way towards Maltahohe.  It also seemed that we were moving away from the Namibian weekend rush as the roads were much quieter.  We didn’t see a soul the whole morning until I saw what looked like police-vans in the distance at a T-junction close to Maltahohe.  We were stopped by Namibian police officers who were quite interested in the motorcycles and where we were headed.  After the “interrogation”, they asked us to keep a lookout for a prisoner that escaped the previous night from Maltahohe.  Now my common sense would say that if I was an escaped convict, I would certainly NOT be anywhere close to any sort of road!  I took the inpector’s number and we continued on.  To be honest, I really don’t know how you would find someone in that vast country without a very skilled Bushman tracker.

[on the way to maltohohe]

We stopped in Helmeringshaussen again, but this time decided to visit the general store instead of the Hotel.  We bought some sweets and supplies for the road and Gerhard looked for the most expensive cookies he could find!  Something different than what you get in SA I suppose.  Fully fuelled, we headed onwards towards the back roads.  We heard somewhere that the main gravel roads were graded once a month and the secondary roads, once in three months.  We didn’t really know what to expect.

[N$40 cookies]

As we turned off onto the back roads, it was quite apparent that even secondary roads in Namibia is still far better than most of SA roads.  The road was a single lane and snaked through the countryside, revealing different scenery almost at every corner.  Along the way were small little settlements, farms that sometimes looked half abandoned and rock formations that were jaw dropping.  You’d get savanna grasslands and then arid rock around the next bend.  The day progressed quite smoothly and we were making good progress… until…

[back roads]

Coming down into a gorge, we could see a water crossing at the bottom.  The first one we’ve seen the entire trip!  Not wanting to take a risk in the middle of nowhere, I stopped just before the stream.  I looked around for a stick to poke into the water and just as I found one, I heard Gerhard toppling over.  We had a bit of a chuckle, having a side stand incident just before the crossing.  Obviously, a photo had to be taken of this occasion!  When we turned around, my bike was starting to tip over with its sidestand disappearing into the wet gravel.  We jumped and rescued her just before she leaned over.  So the water crossing was really just chin-deep and we laughed at ourselves being over cautious. 

[the enourmous river crossing]

We finally reached a bit of civilization in Keetmanshoop, and decided that we would rather get a bite to eat in town before heading to the campsite.  What we found was that Keetmanshoop really was quite dead in terms of any activity and decided to choose the Spur as our patch of civilization.   It was kind of nice to eat somewhere familiar.  After a burger and beer, we headed towards the Quiver Tree Forest camp about 13km out of town.  We reached the farm, followed the signs to what looked like the reception.  As we walked towards the house, I felt that we were out of place or not expected.  No one came to greet us and the lady at reception was quite uninterested.  She was probably the most unfriendliest person in Namibia, and to crown it all, the camping tariff of R130 pp still needed another R50 to access the Quiver Tree forest.  It was in the fine print apparently that you it is compulsory to pay the R50 extra regardless if you wish to visit the forest or not.  I really couldn’t understand why everything is just not included in one price, even if it is R180 pp. I paid her and we headed to set up camp.  What we found were an enormous campsite with probably enough space to have the whole of Namibia camping there with only 5 people camping there in total.  So we each had our own personal ablution block!  We set up camp and went off to explore the fineprint forest.  Although a really well equipped campsite, I’d rather avoid it in future because of the experience.

[quiver tree forest camp]

Day 9 – Keetmanshoop to Augrabies

-Kudu’s at last!

-The worst town in Namibia

-Warmbaths? Where?

-Border admin take 2

-The straight road to Augrabies

-Laat hy val waar hy wil

-Puncture take 2

507 km to https://www.sanparks.org/parks/augrabies/ (R110 pp)

It seemed that the cold front had followed us from Sossusvlei as the morning air had quite a chill to it.  We packed up, headed to Keetmanshoop for a refuel and split of on gravel towards Klein Karas and the Grunau.  Again, the road was absolutely stunning, with a magnitude of uphills, downhills twists and turns along the way.  We finally had our first sight of Kudus just as we came over a blind rise.  They quickly split off the road and just jumped effortlessly over the farm fences.  The scenery changed again at Klein Karas and mounds of piled rock were scattered all along the countryside.  From Grunau, we climbed onto tar towards Karasburg.

[the road to grunau]

So we ended up in Karasburg probably at the worst time of the month.  Month end payday and the whole community were shopping in the only decent place in town… the Spar!  We were quite hungry and decided that each of us would have a turn to go in, and get what he wants while the other kept an eye on the bikes.  With long queues, it really ate up a lot of our time.  We eventually finished and headed towards Warmbad.  With such a familiar name, I was intrigued on what we’d find in this small town.  Warmbad was dead.  The only remnants of what might have been a spa town centre, was now a museum which seemed unmanned and closed.  Slightly disappointed, we decided to rather try and get to Augrabies earlier so that we could enjoy the waterfalls.  From Warmbad, the scenery started getting alive again.  We could see stunning rock formations closer to the Orange river.  The last stretch of road as you head down to the river was absolutely stunning.  The road snaked through small valleys and dry riverbeds towards the border crossing at Velloorsdrift.

[the museum at warmbad]

[towards the orange river]

With the reminder of the inward border crossing, we hoped that this time, it would be smoother.  Again we had to fill in forms and paperwork and finally submit our road tax slip before being let out of Namibia.  The border crossing bridge was only big enough for 1 vehicle and I couldn’t help wondering what happens when 2 vehicles cross from opposite sides at the same time.  It’s a really long way to reverse!  The SA side were quite friendly to see us locals and with a prefab office and our country officials adorning the walls, we knew we were back in SA!  The border Officer suggested we take the gravel back road towards the N14 seeing as we had adventure bikes. Being back in SA, I was unsure if his advice was sound, but it turned out to be sound in the end.  It was a massive changeover from smooth gravel surface of Namibia to our SA corrugated roads.

[border control]

The N14 was trying.  It was a challenge to keep awake on the straight tar.  Luckily for me, the Adventure has oodles of buttons to fiddle with, and cruise control!  With cruise control on, I tried every seating position that I could on the bike.  Sideways, on the back seat, kicking my feet up onto the crash-bars and lying back, etc. (In retrospect, it might not have been the smartest thing to do as there are buck that frequent the area, and with reaction time from the back seat quite a bit slower than normal).  We reached Augrabies early afternoon.  Finally, I could use my SA sim-card again and phone Lisa again to hear her voice!  After a catch-up on events, we headed to explore the waterfalls….  In bike boots!  So I do suggest that if you want to go explore the Augrabies waterfalls, put on some comfortable shoes at least.  When we finally got back to the bikes, Gerhard’s back wheel was completely flat.  He had a very slow puncture the whole trip, and it seemed that it finally switched over to a fast one.

[augrabies main falls]

[suntanning]

[you know you're back in SA when you see this]

[up river]

We stocked up on braai supplies and a few beers at the park shop and proceeded to set up camp and do the tube change.  With a little bit of luck on our side, the tube had lasted until we had nice grass and shade to change it.  Braai fire was lit, tools were laid out and we started with the multitasking job of setting up camp, braaing and changing a tube.  We must have looked quite comical in the VERY busy Augrabies campsite.  It took us about 2 hours for the tube change, with the Mitas tyre proving to be very difficult in breaking the bead, even with the weight of the adventure pushing down and two guys pulling it down.  It was quite strange that with a whole campsite of 4x4’s, nobody offered to assist… except a kid on a bicycle, who was more interested in the commotion.  With Gerhard’s wheel fixed, I noticed that my back tyre plug from Luderitz was also leaking again.  I decided to call it a night and sort it out in the morning at the park fuel station while refuelling. 

Day 10 – Augrabies to Calvinia

-Washed away roads

-Awesome jumps with a million farm-gates

-That dark gravel is quite sharp

-Stranded in the middle of nowhere

-That’s why you have a traveling companion

-A million more farm-gates

-Coldest ride ever!

482 km to https://www.lekkeslaap.co.za/akkommodasie/maku-tuis-selfsorg (R 225 pp)

[augrabies campsite]

With another chilly morning, and the cold-front still hot on our tail, we layered up and I headed to fuel up and re-plug my tyre.  By back tyre ate up the last two of my “string” plugs, but I didn’t think to replace them because I still had the “figure eight” types (which I have never used before).  We headed for Kakamas, Kenhardt and then entry to Verneukpan.

I must say, very quickly on our return to South African roads, I really missed the smoothness of the well maintained Namibian roads.  The road between Kakamas and Kenhardt were really washed away in sections and we found that with almost every downhill, the road was washed away completely.  Progress was slow, but with an early start, we had a nice day of riding ahead.  We stopped in Kenhardt to grab breakfast at probably the only café open.  Really cheap toasted sandwiches were quite amazing at this stage.  Our next stop would be verneukpan to explore the Campbell speed strip.

[the road to verneukpan]

[campbell speed strip]

The road to Veneukpan gave us mixed feelings.  There were awesome stretches with little jumps all along the way, but every 2km or so, one had to break momentum for a farm gate.  And ALL of them were closed.  I think by day’s end, we probably went through more farm-gates than most people would go through in a lifetime.  We finally reached the pan and the entrance towards the speed strip.  I knew there were a bell somewhere on the pan, and with some fencing lying flat, we proceeded to explore the pan and speed strip.  It’s a different feeling when you have no road to guide you and have complete feedom to go pretty much in any direction at speed.  We swerved and snaked towards the center of the pan (where I thought the bell was).  All along the pan were dark patches of “gravel”.  I didn’t really pay much notice to it, as it didn’t really look alarming.  Right in the middle of nowhere, my back tyre lost pressure.  My heart skipped a beat, knowing that I might be in trouble.  The dark patches of gravel turned out to be the sharpest slate I’d ever seen in my life and made mincemeat out of my poor hole(y) tyre.  I remembered the figure eight plugs, and thought it might do the job.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to insert the figure eight and wasted a whole pack trying.  I was now completely stuck.  The only way we were getting out, was if Gerhard went back to Kenhardt or the nearest town to try and find plugs.  We plotted my location on his gps and off he went.  I knew that I’d have to stay with my bike and wait it out.  It’s the eeriest feeling when your friend rides away, leaving you behind in a very barren place with a 360 degree view of pan and mirages.  This was testing my sanity.  I thought that his rescue attempt would take about 2 hours, and with 2 hours going by, and still no Gerhard, I was slightly getting worried.  The other worry was that Lisa might be worrying and with no cell reception for probably kilometers, I had no way of putting her at ease.  When it reached the third hour, I left a note on my bike with GPS co-ordinates of a farm I found on tracks 4 Africa.  I decided to head out the way we came and then towards the farm.  15 minutes into the walk, in the distance, through the mirages, I saw Gerhard’s bike!  It was an amazing sight!  Gerhard had found a farm eventually, nearly ran out of fuel and then headed back with a packet of strings. 

[stranded]

[plugged!]

I asked Gerhard where the farm was, so that we could repay the farmer, but it seemed that it was in the opposite direction.  With daytime running out, we headed for Brandvlei to refuel.  I decided to contact the farmer when we got back and then transfer him money.  On the way to Brandvlei, Gerhard pointed to a farmhouse.  It was the same farm!  So he had made a circle route around from the other side.  We stopped at the farm, explained our ordeal to the very friendly famer.  I gave him the money we owed for the fuel and strings which he reluctantly accepted.  We still had about 200km to go to Calvinia, but with the sun setting soon, and more farm-gates on our path we set off again.  When we reached Brandvlei for refuelling, I immediately phoned Lisa to explain to her what had happened.  With the sun setting and 150km to go, we jumped back on and proceeded on the very long tar road towards Calvinia.  The air temperature dropped drastically.  My aim was to get to Calvinia and I wasn’t stopping for ANYTHING.  Not even warm clothes.  The heated grips were on full, but even that was no match for the really cold air.  We shook our way into town, found the guest house, unpacked in frenzy and jumped into warm showers.  With this the last night of the journey, it was seemed like a good idea to stay in a warm soft bed before the last day home.

[lovely accommodation for the evening]

Day 11 – Calvinia to Cape Town

-Misty morning

-Smooth ride home

-Wine farm surprise

-Home

464 km to HOME

[maku tuis guesthouse]

[tyre holding, but nearing end]

With the cold experience of the previous night, we layered up again with the cold front keeping up with us.  We originally planned to head back through Tankwa, but with my 7-plug hole-ridden tyre, we decided to not push our luck further and head back via the tar roads.  The morning started misty and cold until the Van Rhyns pass just past Nieuwoudtsville.

[the red postbox in calvinia]

[van rhyn's pass]

The smooth tar roads and the chance to relax was a welcome change to the journey.  Even on tar roads, the scenery was magnificent riding home.  I wanted to end off the journey on a high note onn the way back and Lisa had planned to meet us at Cloof wine estate.  Ilse would join, but Gerhard had no idea of this plan.  We had a quick bite to eat at Piekenierskloof Farm stall and proceeded for the meetup at Cloof.  I told Gerhard we were going for a quick detour.

[feels like home again]

It was just amazing to see Lisa again.  Lisa, her mom and Ilse met us as we stopped at the wine farm.  We ended our journey with wine tasting and tapas, true to Cape Town form!

Conclusion

Routes might stay the same for journeys, but what makes a trip worthwhile is the experience.  Everyone experiences something new and unique in a trip.  That’s what makes adventure motorcycling so special.  It somehow tends to follow us all whether you go for a quick day trip, breakfast run, month long journey or just a 10 day bucket trip.  Namibia was always one of the places that fascinated me, and after a quick tour through the South, I feel like I just scratched the surface of a country that was created for adventure motorcycling!  I hope this trip report might inspire some people to go and explore our beautiful country.

*Winner of trip-report of the month prize

fish_man's picture
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Joined: 2016/06/16

Great read!!!

Andyman's picture
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Joined: 2007/06/22

Wow Theo  278 photos- that was a marathon session, just reading it. Imagine how long it took to write and load photos.

 

Thanks for the effort.

We did tha route, or similar in September last year.

 

Thanks for sharing a great ride.

 

Andyman
Anyone can ride a bike fast....   But can you ride your bike real slow???

Craig SexyChef Milne's picture
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Joined: 2016/03/22

Hi Theo

Awesome report. We are doing an almost identical trip and route in September (8 days) so the info and pictures you shared has so much value for us, thanks. It's got us all even more excited than we were, if that's even possible.

3 words for you mate: Awesome!Awesome!Awesome!

OOOOOOOOOOORAAAAAAAAAAH! yesyesyes

 

Craig A Milne

US Embassy, Basrah, Iraq

You only live once, but if you do it right

That's all you need

TheoFS's picture
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Joined: 2015/05/27

Thanks guys. Hope I didn't bore anyone to deathlaugh

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Joined: 2007/06/25

Good photographs make for an excellent trip report, thank you. December here we come, again.

Think before you ink.

Trust is the most valuable asset.

I have the rest of my life to get old.

Kevin Charleston's picture
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Joined: 2011/09/09

Great report & Pics.

Thanks Theo. A couple of routes that are my todo the list.  I'm planning to visit Verneukpan in the next couple of weeks - I'll keep an eye out for that shale. smiley

TheoFS's picture
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Thanks Rene. Lovely comment.

Kevin, Verneukpan really is amazing if you want to feel solitude.  You should ask Zanie about the bell... I know it's there somewhere.  If you're doing it solo, add a LOT of extra time for all the gates.  It's a real pain.

Lance's picture
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Joined: 2014/01/22

Thanks for the effort of telling your full story. I'd still like to see your track as it looks very similar to what we did.

If you think it's hard finding the bell during the day then for an extra challenge try finding it at night. It took about 10 of us 15 minutes to find it at night

 

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Mervyn's picture
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Joined: 2016/03/09

Theo. Great report. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it especially as I have been to a few of those places although not on a bike.

Am I right that those were Anakees on your bike? Do you think you would have faired better with another choice of tyre?

Merv
Froggy's picture
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Joined: 2014/01/15

What a great report, it was like reading a novel.

well done for taking the time and effort to share your trip with everyone.

 

cheers,

Froggy.

 

TheoFS's picture
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Hi guys, thanks for the comments!  My aim was mostly to share and provide info for people planning to do a trip like this in future.

Mervyn,

Yes, they were Anakee 3's.  I've been riding with either Anakee 2's and Tourance V's on my old bike and with the new LC that came with the Anakee 3's, I was quite impressed.  I still need to find a road where I can't go through with more road orientated tyres.  Having said this, I recently put on a set of Heidenau's.  It's a world of difference.  On-road above 80 km/h it's a pig in terms of noise and handlebar vibration.  Off-road it's quite stunning! Front tyre grips well and rear tyre is quite playful.  This being my first set of knobblies, I'm still not sure what "normal" is in terms of them.  So in retrospect, with all the dirt we did on the trip, a 50/50 tyre would have been a lot easier and might have saved me from a few punctures.

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Theo

What tyre pressures did you run on/off road, sand etc?

Merv

Merv
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Joined: 2015/05/27

Hi Merv

Bearing in mind that it's tubeless tyres:

With long-distance,  I don't really like to fuss around with tyre pressures the whole time, so I kept it at 1.8 bar front and back (happy medium for me).  The short (2-5km stretches at most) patches of sand were short enough not to warrant deflating to 0.9 bar in my opinion. The only time we really inflated to 3 bar from day 2's deflating, was the tar stretch on Day 5 and Day 6 until we hit gravel again. And of course the last stretch of tar we did for the trip from Calvinia to home.  

To keep it simple for myself, I usually do:

sand 0.9 bar

tar 3 bar

gravel 1.8 bar

 

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