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July 13th - July 26th 2009

Namibia Cont.

 

13/07/2009

Kongola (Namushasha Country Lodge)

09:30 and the maid is banging on the door to clean the room, she didn’t understand that we were moving over to the campsite today and we had to go to reception first, we were hoping though that we would be told to stay in the room as we had already dirtied the linen and towels but no luck. Still, it’s a good site, a bit worrying when we saw the sign on the toilet wall warning of Elephant and Hippo movements during the night, surely they should have their own facilities??????

Tent up and another remount of the pannier after yesterdays fall, we then have a repack of the panniers and bin some gear we have been carrying since leaving home that is not going to get used, some of the guys working at the lodge gladly took it off our hands.

We found out the price of last nights dinner, $N160 each, now we feel bad we didn’t take all the courses, twice. Not paying that price for dinner again tonight we go into “town” to buy some supplies. The road we came in on last night is very different in the daylight, loose sand up to the gravel road then very loose gravel in patches all the way back to the tarmac. Could have been messy last night!!

“Town” is just the post office and fuel station with a small shop attached which was very limited on stock. We fuelled up and bought a pack of pasta, tinned tomatoes, tin of mixed veg and a tin of corned meat, don't know what meat it was but the label said in big letters “NO PORK”.

Got some stamps from the post office and posted off the cards we got in Zambia.

Back to the site and cook up our culinary delight, tasty, accompanied by grunting Hippo’s in the background just over the fence.

 

14/07/2009

Start Mileage-14559

Miles-160

Kongola (Namushasha Country Lodge) - Divundu (Popa Falls)

Pack the tent, coffee and back on the road. Lorraine is complaining she didn't get much sleep last night, scared that the Hippo’s would get into the campsite, I never heard a thing.

We had been told about a nice camp site at Divundu to head for tonight before dropping back into Botswana to visit the rock art at Tsodilla Hills.

Met a Swiss biker going in the opposite direction and stopped for a chat.

The run to Divundu was ok until we hit the turn for the Botswana border and the campsites. More gravel but very loose and a couple of inches deep in places, easy does it! We found the turn to the campsite which was another 4 Km’s down a very sandy road. Making slow progress we plod our way through getting stuck every now and then until the inevitable happened and over we go. Back on two wheels we try to continue with not much luck, the sand is getting deeper and no sign of the campsite. Deciding to turn around and head back to a site we had passed back down the road, Lorraine has had enough and walks back to the “main road”. Once more the bike wants to lie down, “bugger this”, there is a football field and a bit of grassy looking land running alongside the sand road so I decide that is a better option. Ploughing through the local kids football match and a couple of gardens I make it back to the road and wait for Lorraine.

Popa Falls camp site is just off the road and has easy access, sold! Don't know why it is called Popa Falls as it is more rapids than falls. Not expecting much sleep tonight with all that running water nearby. We wont be going back into Botswana either.

 

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15/07/2009

Start Mileage-14719

Miles-287

Divundu (Popa Falls) - Grootfontein (Die Kraal)

Not very happy with my crapness on the gravel roads and sand, and even after being on charge for hours last night, neither the boogie box or the tracker had charged. We had a quiet run to Grootfontein!

Stopped off in town for beer and food, on the way back to a campsite we had passed on the way in, we got pulled over by the Police just for a chat and to look at the bike.

Die Kraal is a nice camp site with restaurant and bar run by a German couple, the guy was an ex Mercenary Soldier with some interesting stories. He was involved with the incident that the film “The Wild Geese” was based on.

16/07/2009

Grootfontein (Die Kraal)

Slow start today with neither of us feeling too good for some reason. All ok by lunchtime though so we set off in search of the largest known meteorite to hit earth which was supposed to be 20 Km’s away along a “nice” gravel road. Not looking forward to this! After a few Km’s I got a bit of confidence back and started to enjoy the ride. About 30 Km’s down the road we realised that we have missed the turning when we get to a junction and the meteorite is signed 24 Km’s back the way we have come. About turn and back down the gravel, this time with a sign at the turning we should have taken before.

At 50 tons, 3 metre square x 1 metre deep and 80,000 years old it was an impressive sight. What we thought were entry marks and scars from landing we were later told were made by people cutting bits off as souvenirs. If it was back home in the UK the Pikies would have had the whole lot away before it had cooled down.

Next we go in search of Kalkfontein guest farm which we had been told has a lion. Just back up the road we find it. After a coffee in the restaurant we pay our N$5 each and the staff call the lion over. A huge cat plods across the field towards us, right up to the fence then flops onto it’s back, legs akimbo waiting for it’s belly to be rubbed. At last we have seen a lion albeit a tame one.

Back to the camp site and not feeling like cooking tonight we book into the restaurant. As we are late booking in, the fillet steak was still frozen but we could have pork chops instead. If they hadn't told us there was a choice of fillet steak we wouldn't have been as disappointed, but very nice all the same.

 

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17/07/2009

Start Mileage-15083

Miles-43

Grootfontein (Die Kraal) - Tsumeb (Mousebird Backpackers)

Just a short hop today as Tsumeb is the only place near to Etosha National Park where we can hire a car. Decided to get a room rather than camp tonight so that we can have an early start to Etosha in the morning without having to pack the tent away. The first Hotel we came to we were quoted N$240 for a double, not bad, but when we go back in to book we are told we were given the wrong price, should be N$350, move on. Next Hotel had a special weekend rate of N$650 a night, no thanks, but they told us about a backpackers around the corner, more reasonable price but full. One more try before we head for a camp site. More luck this time, a Safari tent ready made with proper beds for N$95 pppn, that’ll do nicely. Next we have to sort the hire car, not as easy as we thought. There is only one hire company in Tsumeb, they only had one car and spookily enough it wasn't the cheapest on the books! We could have opted for the cheap car but it wouldn't be delivered from Windhoek or Jo’burg for a day or two, they had us by the short and curlies! Then they try to palm us off with a checklist that wasn't for the car we were hiring, no accident damage or scratches, dents etc. recorded on the card but the car we were getting had lots. Also they tried to tell us that the mud splashes and splatted insects were caused by the strong winds the had the other week!!! Card updated we get the keys two hours later.

Supermarket next for supplies and back to the backpackers to cook up ready for tomorrow. While cooking we met two German girls, Antje and Heike, who were thinking of hiring a car to go into Etosha. We told them that we had the last car in town but if they wanted they could jump in with us and share the cost. They had no tent but when I suggested they could sleep in the car if they wanted they agreed, so we arranged an 06:00 start for tomorrow.

 

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18/07/2009

Etosha National Park

Surprisingly we are up on time and leave the backpackers at 06:00 on the dot, must have been the German efficiency!!

My turn for an easy life in the passenger seat as Lorraine is driving.

Arrive at Etosha at 07:05, collected the permit and tried to arrange camping for the night. We had thought Halali would be as far as we would get but the girls had been told the best area was at the far western gate. Halali was the only site with space so no argument. A slow drive through the park visiting water holes on the way, some with water but a lot of dry ones. Saw lots of animals again, some different from Kruger, a better Leopard sighting and two lionesses in the distance.

Got to Halali at 17:00, tent up and seats down in the car for the girls then dinner. We went to the water hole at the campsite which has a deck and lighting for night viewing where we saw Warthog and Rhino.

 

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19/07/2009

Etosha National Park

Antje and Heike were up early to see the sunrise at the water hole and to catch the early animals, we can’t do two early starts on the trot so didn't bother with the sunrise. The girls came back disappointed not to have seen anything other than Impala, glad we had the extra kip!

Working our way back to the gate via different roads we saw fewer animals but got to see some of the 4700 square Km’s of the Etosha Salt Pan.

We had planned to leave the park by 14:30 at the latest in order to get the car back and fuelled on time. Etosha staff had other plans for us, as we tried to leave we were told that the permit was only valid for 24 hours (this was not mentioned when we entered) meaning we should have been out of the park gate by 07:05  this morning, impossible as the camp site gates don't open until 06:30 and we were over 30 minutes from the park gate. Now we have to pay an extra days permit back at the main office 10 Km back into the park. After a lot of arguing and time wasted we had to pay up to get out, we weren't the only ones caught this way as there was a French couple at the main gate also arguing the fact with the staff and holding us up more. We are now pushing it to get the car back on time and face an extra days hire charge for the privilege. We worked out that to have any chance of getting the car back on time we would have to do an average speed of 180 KMH. It’s Lorraine's license. It would be cheaper for us to pay the charge for returning the car with no fuel rather than another days hire, so no fuel it is. With the low fuel warning light flashing for the last 50 Km’s we made it back to the office with two minutes to spare, I needn't have bothered winding the clock back! Car checked back in by security with no problem, we will have to wait for the email from the hire companies head office to see if they try and bump us for extra charges. With all our gear still in the car the guard offered us a lift back after proudly showing us he had a driving license and he was able to drive. Stalling it three times before leaving the office then nearly ripping off the exhaust on the curb we got back to the backpackers and unloaded.

 

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20/07/2009

Tsumeb (Mousebird backpackers)

Lazy day recovering.

Into the car hire office to make sure everything was ok but as mentioned earlier we will have to wait for the email from head office, expecting a fight! A bit of internet then wander around town. Found a barbers but when it got to my turn I was told she could only cut hair African style with electric shears, decided to give it a miss after the last time. Found another barbers that said he could cut European hair which as I found out too late he could, but only in the African style….. Not again!!!!

I’ll be wearing my hat for a while.

Good night at the backpackers with the people staying there.

 

21/07/2009

Start Mileage-15126

Miles-241

Tsumeb (Mousebird Backpackers) - Khorixas (Khorixas Rest Camp)

Tarmac all the way today. A good ride through some nice countryside with a stop for lunch at Otjiwarongo. More nice tarmac and some wildlife alongside the road. Riding at 100 KMH mostly uneventful until some Warthogs that I had not seen at the side of the road came in to play. By the time Lorraine had remembered what they were called and blurted out that they were close it was too late, three of them ran into the road in front of us leaving me no room for manoeuvre. Clipping one with the front wheel and spinning it round onto my right boot I saw it in the mirror spin round a couple of times and then run off into the bush, hopefully with nothing more than a sore ass. Could have been a nasty off for us.

Arrived in Khorixas and pitched the tent, Hansa on tap.

 

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22/07/2009

Khorixas (Khorixas Rest Camp)

Visit to the Petrified Forest today about 50Km’s away.

Just after we turned onto the main road out of the Rest Camp the tarmac disappeared, gravel again. Deep joy. After a few Km’s we settled into it, the faster we went the better it got but trying to keep a steady 60 - 80 KMH was hard, I kept imagining the outcome of a fall at that speed. The roads wouldn't be too bad if the “Dust Monkeys” (4x4 drivers who can’t drive without a big plume of gravel dust behind them) slowed down so we could at least see after they pass and also it wouldn't ridge the gravel all along the road making it difficult to change line.

We arrived at the forest and needed a coffee before doing anything. The tour was not what I expected (a forest of trees still standing) but interesting anyway. The trees were Pine washed down 3000Km’s 180 million years ago in the ice age from central Africa and settling here buried in the silt. Quartz, Iron and Manganese penetrating the wood and replacing it to form perfect petrified trees. After the forest we carried on down the gravel to look for Burnt Mountain but gave up after 20 Km’s and not seeing any signs, you can only do so much gravel in one day.

 

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23/07/2009

Start Mileage-15446

Miles-230

Khorixas (Khorixas Rest Camp) - Opuwo (Oreness Bar and Campsite)

We decided to go north towards Himba and Herero country as it would be a shame to miss out on seeing these African people while we were in Namibia. Turning off the C35 onto the C41 we once more ran out of tarmac! With no plan as to where we were heading tonight we stopped at Kamanjab at 13:00 for a coffee and a think. There were a couple of camp sites signposted not far off the road, so we may give one of them a try even though it is still early. Talking to the waiter we found out that the road from Kamanjab to Opuwo was tarmac all the way. Now we might go on a bit to a lodge further up the road. While we were sat at our coffee the phone rang, it was the French family, they were about 100 Km’s west from us at Palmwag and heading to Opuwo hopefully arriving tonight. Decision made, we will punch it out to Opuwo to meet up with them.

We arrived first and sent Mark the co-ords of the site we had found. They arrived while we were out stocking up and sent us a text to get more beer as the site had run out!

Good to see them all again and catch up on the last three months.

 

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24/07/2009

Opuwo (Oreness Bar and Campsite)

Spent the day mostly catching up and updating websites. Opuwo is a mixture of different cultures, Himba people wandering around supermarkets, banks etc. semi naked, Herero people in their traditional costume other local Namibian peoples and a small amount of white settlers. Unfortunately, taking photographs is not looked on very kindly by the locals and those that will allow pictures want to charge. A trip to a local Himba village was investigated but the cost for car hire and a guide was too prohibitive for us, so you will have to Google Himba and Herero to find out more. Two other bikes pulled up at the site; Mike from the UK and Massa from Japan. Mike only got his licence for the bike 6 months before leaving on his trip through the west coast of Africa down to Cape Town. Massa has been on the road for just over one year and has ridden from Japan across Russia, Kazakhstan, Europe and down the west coast of Africa. They met up in Congo and have travelled to Namibia together. Well done both of you!

25/07/2009

Opuwo (Oreness Bar and Campsite)

The French family; Marc, Clo, Hugo & Jo left this morning. We are travelling different directions now and will not meet again in Africa. We said our sad farewells and wished them luck for their trip home via the east coast.

We studied the map for our route to the Skeleton Coast. We got advice from the French owner of the site who is also a biker. He told us not to go the route we had planned, too dangerous and advised another one. As we were cooking up, there was  two new arrivals; Antje and Heike, the Germans girls we went to Etosha with. They moved on to a different hotel though, so we only got time to say a quick hello. Back to the cooking, and the gas runs out! Had to try to light a fire using bits of wood from the hedge that were lying around. Success eventually.

 

26/07/2009

Start Mileage-15676

Miles-91

Opuwo (Oreness Bar and Campsite) - Sesfontein (Fig Tree Community Campsite)

Can’t start the day without a coffee and we have no gas to boil the water. Went to the bar to see if they sold coffee. Yes they do, but the girl with the key has gone off site! However, they opened one of the bungalows and boiled a kettle for us. Loaded up the bike and needed another coffee before we set off. The key had returned, so we sat in the bar chatting to the owner over a nice cup of coffee. Plan was to head for Sesfontein today, over 150 Km’s of gravel. We swapped phone numbers with the two other bikers who will be travelling the same route but leaving tomorrow. The first stretch of road was quite rough, but the second leg improved slightly, except for …….The Corner. We approached the corner down hill over some lumpy rocks and ruts. Lorraine saw what was coming and opted to get off and leave me to manoeuvre through myself. I started well, then rode over a large rock and had no ground under my feet, lost balance and down I went on the left hand side this time. We both tied to lift it up but it was lying at an awkward angle. We waited for any other traffic that could assist and none appeared. So we unloaded the kit to lighten the load. Again we struggled, but managed to get it upright. We were just holding it upright getting our breath back when a 4x4 came round the corner. Two big strong chaps and a lady helped push it to flat ground and moved all the kit down for us. Loading it all back on the bike when another 4x4 appeared, they are like buses - never one when you want one then 3 appear all together! The second was an Ex Pat from Manchester, now running a tour business based in Windhoek. They invited us to “crash out” at their house when we get to Windhoek. They also gave us a phone number of  a friend of theirs who rides a GS. They left saying they had to “hit the road”. Some bad choice of phrases after our little incident!

We arrived at the campsite in Sesfontein and had trouble getting the tent up on the stony ground. The campsite was nicely laid out, each area had their own toilet, sink, shower, washing up/cooking and fire area. The promised hot water in the shower was not so hot in our space, but the Dutch couple next door had piping hot water! The luke warm water washed some of the dust off Lorraine, I opted to keep mine for another day. We had not been able to source gas yet, so did not have much option for dinner. We were going to head for the restaurant up the road, but Moraine and Brechia, the Dutch couple offered to boil the water for our dry pack meals, and supplied the wine and Amarula. Thanks guys.

 

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