Facts and Figures
July 27th - Aug 13th 2009
Namibia Cont. & South Africa.
Sesfontein (Fig Tree Community Campsite) - Wild Camp
Today we have 115 Kmís of gravel ahead of us to Palmwag. I must admit, the gravel today was a slight improvement on yesterdays. There was one steep downhill with large loose lumps that caught us by surprise as we came over the hill a bit too fast, wishing we did not have intercom with Lorraine screaming all the way down! Still upright at the bottom, we carried on taking in 12 wet river crossings. Some were easier than others. Lorraine was the guinea pig for the deeper ones. She is glad to report that her Daytona boots are water proof, but not when the water comes over the top! We also had around 14 dry river beds to cross with very loose rock and sand, again some easier than others, the wider ones causing the most difficulty.
I sent road reports to Mike and Massa who were a day behind us.
We reached Palmwag early in the afternoon. We had thought of staying here a couple of nights, maybe even in a room, as it has been tough lately and tempers frayed. The only lodge / campsite in Palmwag charged way too much to camp, never got to the cost of a room. So I carried on, tempers frayed further, passed the only fuel station in the area too! It was getting late when we got to the turning for the Skeleton Coast, and still no sign of a campsite. We asked a local, who told us the nearest was 20 Kmís in another direction. We decided to go the 20 Kmís out of our way. We saw the signpost for the campsite - 13Kmís off the main road! The entrance road was awful, much worse than gravel and it was starting to get dark. We about turned, back to the Skeleton Coast road and looked for a spot to wild camp.
We found a spot eventually and set up camp. We still had no gas and emergency supplies were low. We had a nice tin of curried vegetables cooked on a fire between us and half a cuppa, leaving just enough water for another half cuppa in the morning. I slept fairly well, while Lorraine lay awake listening to the wildlife pass the tent. The dirty pot that we used to heat the veg was placed well away from the tent as we had no water to wash it. Lorraine heard what we believe was a Jackal from the paw prints we saw in the morning, lick the pot during the night.†
Wild Camp - Springbok Wasser Gate (entrance to Skeleton Coast)
Up with the birds, the kudu, the gemsbok and the ostriches this morning! Fire lit for that half cuppa. With the tent packed down and the bike loaded, we are on the road early. We worked out we had enough petrol to get us to the fuel station at Terrace Bay. Only about 20Kmís, on we reached the entrance gate to the Skeleton CoastÖ...which had a nice campsite! We went into the office to get our permit for the park. The permit clearly stated that it is illegal to take motorcycles into the park, but we kept quiet. The permit was only granted for one day, which meant we had to travel over 300 Kmís on gravel and sand to get to the next gate by 19:00 to extend the permit. Quite a task ahead of us!
We rode the first 30 Kmís which was on a decent surface. Then we reached the north / south coast road. Terrace Bay and the nearest petrol was north, the next gate and fuel was 160 Kmís south. We calculated again, and should have a teaspoonful of petrol left if we go south which will give us a better chance of extending the permit by 19:00. Two 4x4ís were at the junction and told us that the road south was not too bad with only a few sandy patches. So south we went. We only travelled about 15 Kmís before we gave up. Although the road was ďnot too badĒ for 4x4ís, it was too sandy for us to paddle all the way to the next gate if the road conditions stretched that far. So we about turned and came back to the same gate we entered. By this time we did not have enough fuel to get us anywhere near a fuel station. We camped at the gate where the site was free, the only highlight of the day, and waited for some kind soul to help us out on the fuel front. There was a caravan shop at the gate which sold no food, but did have beer, so we had to get our nourishment from that! We did have a little rice left that we added to a packet of soup and shared with the starving dog that wandered the campsite.
All the vehicles going in or out for the rest of the day ran on diesel, so no help there. The chaps on the gate were very helpful though, they made some phone calls and ordered us 20 litres from their supervisor who would be passing by later tonight.†††
Springbok Wasser Gate entry to Skeleton Coast - Khorixas (Gowati Country Hotel)
20 litres of petrol was delivered to us at 07:30 this morning, standard cost - no delivery charge. Thanks to the goodness of the staff on the gate, we can get back on the road and get some food tonight.
We packed up and were just having a full cuppa when a bike pulled up at the gate. It was Massa. He joined us for a coffee, and got an update on the road conditions. He is much hardier than us, and was going to give it a go. We still thought motorcycles were illegal, but they allowed him through too. We later found out that the rules had changed in April, but the permit had not been amended to show this. Mike had split with Massa at the junction for the Skeleton Coast and was heading through Khorixas, our destination for today. 171Kmís of gravel to go until we reach tarmac. I should have listened to Lorraine and taken the same route from Opuwa that we had gone up on, and entered the Skeleton Coast from the south where the salt roads would have been better for us to ride on. The last few days and 750 Kmís of bad roads has been very tough.
We stopped for a rest at the side of the road and saw a donkey cart with four donkeys coming towards us down the hill. It was all over the road. When it reached us, the lead donkey turned without instruction, causing the one behind to stumble on top of it, and the harnesses got tangled. It looked painful. We offered assistance. It seems the lead donkey got scared of the bike (which was parked up). First time we have caused a donkey pile-up!
The gravel on the C39 improved as it had been graded recently, and it was a scenic ride to Khorixas. As we approached Khorixas, we could see the start of the beautiful tarmac! We passed the entrance to the campsite we had stayed at last week and headed for the supermarket. There is another campsite opposite the supermarket which looked upmarket, but we thought we would ask. It was cheaper and much nicer, so we booked two nights to rest our weary bones in the Jacuzzi. We booked into the restaurant no matter what the cost, as a treat.††
Khorixas (Gowati Country Hotel)
A day of rest and catch up. We are still out of gas, so lit a fire for a cuppa. Two hours later, we had a nice cuppa! Got to the supermarket just as it shut. I wish they would have standard shop hours here!
Khorixas (Gowati Country Hotel)
Another day of rest, it is very nice here. I felt the ground shake as I was lying in bed this morning. I shouted to Lorraine who was outside, to find out what it was. She felt nothing. We later discovered it was an earthquake, 5.6 on the Richter scale. The biggest Namibia has ever had. Their previous limit of a possible earthquake was 5, they now have to raise it to 6. We were very near the epicentre.
Discovered that we could get boiling water at the restaurant, so no need for a two hour wait for a cuppa. Got the maps out to see where we were heading tomorrow. Although looking forward to tarmac, those roads took us a long way out. So gravel roads again tomorrow. Dined in the restaurant again tonight. There was a large crowd for a buffet dinner and towards the end of it, there was a group of local teenagers hanging around. Turned out they were the local choir and collecting money for their transport costs to their next competition. They were very good. We chatted to the barman and a waiter, who gave us some insight into local medicine and beliefs. One of the other guests came to the bar, saying he had been stung by a scorpion. We were about to squeeze an onion for him as we had just been discussing, but they rushed him off to hospital. It seems treatment is different for locals and tourists!
Khorixas (Gowati Country Hotel) - Henties Bay (Eagle Accommodation)
Ready for some more gravel after our nice rest, we were heading for Uis, 140KMs. If all went well, we would continue another 115KMs to Henties Bay. Either we are getting good on gravel roads, or the gravel is much better further south, because we went all the way to Henties Bay. We stopped at Uis for lunch, a lovely little town. As we neared Henties Bay, there was a bitterly cold wind. We were by the sea again. The last few kilometres was on salt roads. We had heard about them, but they were not what we were expecting, they were black for one thing! We found a campsite in Henties Bay, right on the front, so that bitter cold wind would get us all night! The guy on reception told us it was going to cost us N$100 each a night, they can stick their campsite!!. We found an en-suite room just down the road, with a fridge for beer, and a kitchen available for less cost than the camping - and no wind. We found a nice friendly bar where the barman buys the drinks. Great, might stay here a while!
Henties Bay (Eagle Accommodation)
Very misty when we woke up this morning, had to wait till it cleared before we went exploring. The morning mist is vital for the area, as it travels inland over the desert feeding the lichen which in turn feeds the animals.
We rode northwards on the salt road to Cape Cross and the protected seal colony there. As we approached, we saw a Jackal heading for his pick of the seals for lunch - not that protected then! Thousands of seals playing, sleeping and stinking, on the beach. We moved on northwards to find the shipwrecks. We stopped at Mile 108. We were hoping to get lunch. Mile 108 is the camp site we may have reached last week if we had made it through the sand road. It was lucky we didnít struggle on to get to this campsite as there is nothing there except camping on the beach and that bitterly cold wind. We could not even get a coffee, luckily we at least brought sandwiches. A bit further north and we still saw no shipwrecks. All the brochures implied there were several stuck in the sand, ĎPirates of the Caribbeaní style. We gave up and headed back to Henties Bay.
Henties Bay (Eagle Accommodation)
We were going to travel south on the salt road today, to Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, but Lorraine felt really bad when she woke up. Aching from head to toe, and bad throat, must have been that cold wind. So we made use of the cosy room, and just stayed local. We found the internet cafť, which was closed on Mondays!
Henties Bay (Eagle Accommodation) - Swakopmund (Swakopmund Municipal Restcamp)
The mist had not cleared by the time we left this morning. It made it a cold damp ride. Fortunately it was not too far, only an hour down the road. Still no shipwrecks on the way. We stopped for something to eat in town, then on to find the site we had been recommended. Still too cold to camp on the sea front, we decided on a chalet. We were pleasantly surprised for the price we paid when we opened the door, as it had a kitchen, dining area, bathroom and bedroom, with parking and braai facilities outside. We moved in, then walked to town for internet. Swakopmund is famed for seafood. I had been recommended a restaurant for crayfish, however refused to pay the ridiculous price they were asking. So we cooked for ourselves - and we found gas in the supermarket.
There was four other bikes in neighbouring chalets, we were obviously now getting into popular biking country.
Swakopmund (Swakopmund Municipal Restcamp)
We met the other bikers as we were about to leave for the day. We nattered for a while, then left for Walvis Bay. The road was alongside the sea and it was a very windy ride with sand blowing across the road. We did eventually see a shipwreck on this road. Walvis Bay is a shipping port. We had a very near miss while riding through. A car came out a side road without stopping, I had to accelerate to avoid a collision. Quite shaken, we stopped for a coffee and a calm down.
We rode along the sea front where flamingos, whales, pelicans, and dolphins are supposed to be abundant, and saw nothing. We then headed for Dune 7. This is the largest sand dune in the area. We rode through a sand storm to reach it. We parked up in the car park and the sand was still blowing everywhere. We thought about climbing to the top and rolling down, but if we left our helmets etc at the bottom, they would have blown away in this wind!†
Swakupmond (Swakopmund Municipal Restcamp) - Rehoboth (Aleenís B&B)
Heading for Windhoek today. It was a fairly cold start in the mist again, but soon warmed up as we headed inland. The scenery changed dramatically on the ride. We arrived in Windhoek about 15:00 and rode round and round the city for an hour or two looking for somewhere to stay that was not fully booked or extortionately priced. Tried to call Gary, the guy that gave us his phone number after our fall near Sesfontein, without success. He did say August was a busy month for him and might be out on a tour. We gave up and carried on south. We reached Rehoboth and it was dark and getting late and we had still seen nowhere to stay. We stopped at a petrol station and asked. The only accommodation in town is a B&B. They were very helpful in the petrol station and phoned for availability and got the owners to come and direct us back.
Rehoboth (Aleenís B&B) - Keetmanshoop (Caravan Park)
The last few weeks have been hard with one thing and another. Horrible roads, packing your life up and moving on is not easy. Fleeting thoughts of giving up and coming home, have arisen. Even thought of sending Lorraine home and me carrying on, as she seems to want more comfort than we can get at times.
Reached Keetmanshoop mid afternoon and found a camp site. Got supplies in town and thought we would try Chakalaka soup as the mouse ate the last packed in Maun. The soup was awful and ditched after one mouthful, hope that mouse suffered! I went to bed very early and didnít even start the beer supplies! I slept for thirteen hours! Maybe that was all we needed.
Keetmanshoop (Caravan Park)
I felt much better this morning and all thoughts of the hard times and going home had vanished.
Quiver Tree Forest is a local attraction and also the Giantís Playground. As supermarkets close at mid day on a Saturday, we headed there before going to the forest. Lorraine went in while I waited with the bike as all the locals seemed to hang out around the supermarket. One of them asked for money to feed himself and his family. We have had begging all through Africa, but we cannot help them all. Most of them have accepted No as an answer and disappeared. Namibian beggars are different, very persistent. This one threatened to rob me at gunpoint (without a gun!). It may have gone on for some time, if he was not thrown a couple of coins from someone else. He then immediately headed for the bottle store!
The quiver trees, given this name as the bushmen made their quivers from them, is not actually a tree, they are aloe. They usually grow solitary, so to have a forest of them is very unusual. We wandered around then moved on to the Giants Playground. This is huge rocks all stacked up in piles like kids building bricks that go on for miles.
Keetmanshoop (Caravan Park) - Noordoewer (Felix Unite Lodge)
Planning to stay near the border but still in Namibia for another day or two. We passed a Pan and a GS heading the opposite direction. At one of the picnic spots, there were two GSís parked up. Definitely biking country now. We stopped to chat at the picnic spot. They recommended a free campsite with good food, but it was towards a different border than we were planning to cross.
At the border, there were quite a few sites along the Orange River, we selected Felix Unite Lodge. We pulled up at the gate behind a Mercedes Sprinter with an 800 and a 1200 GS in the back. No doubt we will catch up with them later. Having no supplies, we decided to treat ourselves at the restaurant, very nice. At the bar we met Roly and Steve, the two guys that pulled in to the site just ahead of us. Roly lives just outside Cape Town and invited us to stay with him. He has dealings with shipping and flying film equipment around the world for his stunt business and might be able to put us in contact with someone who could help us with our next leg. Both very nice chaps, and a lucky meet for us!
Noordoewer (Felix Unite Lodge)
Roly and Steve left for Fish River Canyon today, we will take Roly up on his offer of accommodation so will see them again on Sunday in Cape Town. We decided to have an easy day today and took a little ride out along the gravel looking for some tracks to do to get down to the river. We found nothing after 20 kmís so turned round and went back to town for tonight's dinner. Braai tonight, we had a nice bit of lamb and worst with baked spud. We used up the rest of the wood on the Braai then burnt everything we could find that was burnable to try and get a bit of heat, itís a bit bloody cold tonight.
Noordoewer (Felix Unite Lodge) - Vanrhynsdorp (Caravan Park)
Only 20 minutes ride to the border, and we were through just as quick. This is the same crossing Charlie and Ewan took, as we recognised it from the Long Way Down. As soon as we crossed, the road was lovely. It had lots of bends through the mountains. Namibia and Botswana have very straight, boring roads. Another change, was colour. Namibia seemed to be one colour all over - the dry yellow of the grass. This region of South Africa had beautiful carpets of flowers along the roadside, even the shrubs were 40 shades of green! It was quite a windy ride, but beautiful scenery.
We stopped in Springbok for lunch, a lovely town. We had lost an hour with the time difference between the two countries, and started looking for accommodation about half way to Cape Town. We stopped in Vanrhynsdorp where accommodation was either full or pricey. We were told it was flower season (that would explain all the colour) and people travelled from far and wide at this time of year to see the flowers.
Vanrhynsdorp (Caravan Park) - Cape Town (Rolyís House)
Very wet and windy when we woke up this morning. It made packing up difficult. We did manage to get a dry spell to pack, but still windy. This weather kept up all day. We had short heavy showers, but were soon dried out by the wind.† It would have been a lovely ride if it was not for the weather. We stopped at Citrusdal for lunch and found a lovely little coffee shop - The Grapevine. We decided on the large English breakfast, but then read they stopped serving it at 11:00 and it was now 13:30. The waitress said not a problem, and sorted it with the kitchen staff. Breakfast was the best so far. We got chatting to the waitress and she couldnít believe we had ridden all the way. She asked us to sign her book and said it was delightful to serve us! Back into the wind and rain to Cape Town. As we arrived, Table Mountain, that can be seen from anywhere around Cape Town, was behind a rain cloud! We called the house to get directions, and finally found it. Very nice and welcoming.
If Roly is ok with us staying a while we think we are going to have a holiday from the road for a week or two.
Cape Town (Rolyís House)
Are we glad we met Roly in Namibia. The house is great and we have the whole top level for ourselves, looking out onto the Atlantic from the bedroom, and a view Table mountain from the TV/Games room.
It was great to have full use of all the facilities in the house. Lorraine washed and dried everything we own. We wandered into town to see what was around. I got the nose piece on my glasses fixed, more comfortable to wear now! Received a text from Ian. We had not heard from him for some time, and he had bad news. He had been robbed. His vehicle was broken into in Swakupmond and his camera equipment was stolen. His trip comes to an end soon, and he returns to the UK from Cape Town. Hopefully we can catch up with him before he goes back home.