Wild Dog Adventure Riding

Riding: Plan, Report and Racing => Ride Reports => Topic started by: Xpat on June 26, 2017, 12:51:07 am

Title: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on June 26, 2017, 12:51:07 am
Ö asked m0lt3n in one of the threads here few months back. Now, I know nothing about Kathu - only passed through the place once or twice on the way somewhere else - but still found the statement very odd. For number of reasons:

 
I have ridden bits and pieces of the area before so felt pretty confident about my position, but just to be sure I cranked up Google maps and checked the satellite imagery of the southern Botswana between Tshabong and Botspits - south of Kgalagadi NP, where I suspected the best riding potential may be. And I struck gold straight away - just two of many great samples here:

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4233/35363920792_9f9ed81aac_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4254/35367427502_0ff19a10ba_b.jpg)

 
 
Basically, there are 100s of kms of dunes waiting to be ridden that at least from satellite images closely resemble that Ozzie dual sport benchmark - Simpson desert. Except these may have lions running about. Satisfied I replied to m0lt3n in detail outlining wrongness of his position, and moved on.
 
But what was seen cannot be unseen. Plus, I sorely needed to get out of the house as I havenít ridden since last July when I broke leg in Swaziland. So those dune images were all I needed to mobilize for a trip and within day or two I was plotting double tracks through those dunes on the Google satellite images. I wasnít keen just to ride to the dunes from Joburg and then retrace back the same way (though the ride on the dirt along the Bots border and Molopo river is alright). So I decided to push on further west and finally ride the Namaqua 4x4 Eco trail (which I always wanted to ride and tried for before, but failed, when my bike died on me in Pofadder) to Vioolsdrift. From there I would explore around Richtersveld a bit and then return back through southern Namibia, and then retrace back on the dirt along Bots border. Something like this:
 
(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4213/35363835792_ed2e83cf54_b.jpg)

 
I gave a shout to my usual riding compadre Bertie (Straatkat here on WD), and he was keen to join as he hasnít been on a proper DS trip for a long time either. Not being particularly superstitious we agreed to depart on Saturday, 1st of April, which as these things work turned the departure into a bit of a April fools joke. I was more or less ready on Friday, when Bertie called that the radiator on his TE610 leaked from the accident almost a year ago when he tried to park his bike in the garage, and somehow ended up with the bike stuck under his Subaru. Luckily our other Husky riding buddy TK had a spare radiator, but Bertie needed Saturday to get everything ready. So we postponed departure till 12:00 pm on Sunday 2nd. On Saturday evening Bertie called again - the bike was ready, but the license disk was expired. So no chance to leave on Sunday as he wouldnít make it across the borders.
 
We moved departure again to the Monday April 3rd. Bertieís wife Melinda will sort out the license disk in the morning and bring it to the meeting point, and we will be off after that. That finally settled it - or so we thought.
 
Few pics to whet the appetite:
 
(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4176/34414602575_3d188ca7c4_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4175/34414661395_db916bdc24_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4175/34029653600_0e307b8e73_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4219/34205002923_5bef4f0f21_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4253/35498026395_4edb9bd762_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4214/35108090850_a619a76e38_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4229/35494337685_56d5c0237d_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4206/34683951713_15162ba97e_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4255/35454163356_13f0f62d13_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4207/35107213050_c60c1882fe_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4289/35453882386_0326c850c4_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4263/34652342884_ff3d139f5a_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4206/34652238954_99fb149bd6_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4264/35362260411_0330e7d865_b.jpg)

 
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: TinusBez on June 26, 2017, 05:19:14 am
 :sip: time to get settled in for another great adventure.

Roll on Martin.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: skydiver on June 26, 2017, 07:31:09 am
Very nice photos  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: MaxThePanda on June 26, 2017, 07:38:14 am
A lot of Amageza memories right there. Why no lion pics????
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Tony the Boney on June 26, 2017, 07:39:05 am
Great report and class photos!
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: sidetrack on June 26, 2017, 07:46:07 am
Looks good  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Splash on June 26, 2017, 08:13:10 am
Tell us more - looks fantastic.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: RobLH on June 26, 2017, 08:39:02 am
Giddy up
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Mikie on June 26, 2017, 08:40:40 am
 :ricky:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: woody1 on June 26, 2017, 09:03:21 am
 :ricky:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: CUZZY on June 26, 2017, 02:20:05 pm
You got some great pics going there! Stunning.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: SlŠinte Mhaith on June 26, 2017, 02:36:20 pm
 :ricky:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: m0lt3n on June 26, 2017, 03:23:10 pm
I feel like people should be thanking me for being such an inspiration!!!
Haha


I have been wondering when this ride report is coming, looking forward to hearing more, especially how the Botswana dunes were?
And just for the record, I was quickly convinced that the area is good for riding, and inspired, and then proceeded to break my bike and bench it for 2 months. Mobile again now so very keen to grab some route ideas here!
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: THROTTLE JOCKEY on June 26, 2017, 04:45:11 pm
 :sip:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: P.K. on June 26, 2017, 06:53:27 pm
And like any great storyteller, he pauses at the right time to build up the ANTICIPATION......
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on June 26, 2017, 10:31:11 pm
Day 1
 
First two days were technically liaisons to get to the dunes in Bots. Most or the planned route was dirt getting to and then following the Botswana border west. First day we planned to sleep over in Bray.
 
I arrived at the meeting point - Wimpy in Magaliesburg - 15 minutes late and found both Bertie and Melinda already there, which I took to be a good sign. It wasnít. Post office rejected to give her the new license disk as it was expired and according to some kind of new procedure, once the disk is expired one has to go to sort it out directly at the Licensing Department, with all the attendant hassle.
 
I knew that they like to check the license disks on the borders, so it didnít seem worth it to try to wing it without the disk. We contemplated the situation for a while over breakfast and eventually came up with solution where Bertie and I will head off on our trip and poor Melinda will spend most of her day getting the new license disk in the Licensing Department. Once she gets it, she will email photocopy to Bertie and we will get it printed out somewhere in Bray, before we head for Bots border crossing next day. All I can say is that Bertie married really wellÖ
 
With that settled, Bertie filled up and we set-off west, initially on tar. Barely outside Magaliesburg I got hit hard on lower lip by what I assumed was a big rock (I ride open face helmet). The Ďrockí must have had a sting with poison in it as the left side of my face soon ballooned to the size of grapefruit and stayed like that for next 3 days. That is what real teamwork is about - if your buddy is in trouble, you should find a way to fuck yourself up too, so he doesnít feel at disadvantage!
 
50 km later, Bertie and the elephant man arrived at Koster. That is where I suddenly realized that I better fill-up or will not make it to Zeerust on the front tanks. I do not like to use fuel from the rear tank if it can be avoided as I have to take luggage off to fill-up it up. Somehow this thought completely eluded me in Magaliesburg while watching Bertie filling up and wondering why he couldnít come fully ride ready like I did.
 
Once filled up, I headed to the nearby general store looking for the one critical desert riding item I was still missing - soft rimmed hat. I tried to get one in Joburg, but I couldnít find one despite checking all the specialized stores, as well as Mr Price flea market. Koster is clearly better supplied and I got lucky straight away. The only problem was they only had a hat with the digital desert cammo pattern, so I ended up looking like out of shape middle aged Navy Seal wannabe with elephantiasis. But hey, where I ride I encounter mostly hyenas, and they donít seem to care one way or another.
 
With that sorted, we headed out and hit the dirt right out of town. I sent Bertie ahead as he is a speed freak and doesnít have much control over his throttle hand and I followed at my more leisured 100 - 120 kmh behind his dust cloud. Iím normally not a big fan of farm roads, but did  actually enjoy riding again in the open space after 9 months forced break. The road was very quiet - I believe we met only one or two cars in 100 or so km to Zeerust, which added to the enjoyment.
 
Zeerust, a typical African crossroad town was its usual busy hustle and bustle so we just filled up and headed straight out. We hit the dirt road heading west along the border towards Ramatlabama border post, where we run out of road heading in our direction, so just found some doubletrack heading roughly west and pushed on. Oh the freedom of public land!
 
(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4170/33604918983_63ed81b160_b.jpg)


Bertie had a look at his itallian stallion and wondered - how can I improve it? Engine modifications? Suspension? No! The looks:

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4193/34414655365_94087e057b_b.jpg)

 
The weather was good and we settled into a nice groove - it looked like the morning curse has been broken finally. Until few dozen km later where we hit a village and a puppy run into Bertie and sadly didnít make it the other way. More sombre now we took 20 or so km of tar to Disaneng where the tar turned back to gravel (or rather compacted sand). We pushed on as we were trying to make Bray before sunset - we lost quite a bit of time in the morning trying to figure out the license disk solution.
 
Way too soon I came upon Bertie on the side of the road humping his TE from behind. While this may alarm uninitiated, us in the know, know that this is Bertieís version of rain dance when he has run out of petrol in his front tank. Bertie fabricated himself a rear subframe tank, but didnít put in electric pump so when he runs out upfront, he uses air pump to push the petrol into the front tank. And I caught him pumping of course. The worrying bit was that he run out of petrol way too early - indicating unexpectedly high consumption. At this rate he wouldnít make Bray. We werenít too worried about that as I had more than enough petrol to get us there both, but the high consumption may have indicated some other hidden problem.
 
(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4176/34414602575_3d188ca7c4_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4192/34255490212_87c526974b_b.jpg)


Well no point dwelling on that there and once he Ďthrustedí all the petrol from the rear to the front, we were off again. Soon we hit Kalahari proper which announced itself by the red dunes along the track, as well as crossing the track in the in regular intervals in the form of red sand mounds. So we were transiting from white cement gravel to long sections of red sand track and back. Which can get tricky as one has a tendency to gun it on the white gravel and then hit the sandy tracks way too fast, with inevitable Ďoh shití moments. Being rusty from 9 months of basically horizontal cave existence, I took it rather easy. And so did Bertie, whom I found stationary again asking if my bike also snakes around as his does. To deal with this he decided to lower the tyre pressures - right strategy, up to a point of course. While I lowered my pressure to conservative 1.5 bar or so (there was gravel between the sand bits with potential for snakebite), Bertie took more cavallier rule of thumb approach.
 
So it did not surprise me completely when I found him stationary again in a small village few km further on with flat front tyre. I went to source some cold drinks into the nearby shop, while Bertie took out the tools he needed to change the tube. He came prepared - while he prides himself on packing light (and laughs at my somewhat sloppy packing), he did manage to bring with something called No Pinch Tool, or some such. Which is half a meter or so long piece of metal weighting by the look of it about 5 kg, which Iíd bet one can use effectively in a pinch as self defence against pissed off bull elephant. Itís no use for getting the tyre off, but it did help (after few clumsy attempts caused by lack of experience) to get the tyre on, so I guess it works as advertised. I will stick with my trusty tyre irons though, as I prefer things simple (despite the flat tyre fiasco that screwed up with my trip through Okavango delta last year).
 
(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4165/33604911593_d269892251_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4186/34284060531_e6b0cbd9f0_b.jpg)

 
With new tube in, we pushed on again racing against the setting sun. By now we were getting confident in the sand and were gunning it even through the sand usually upwards of 100 kmh. Things were going well, but I was expecting to find Bertie out of fuel stationary again any moment now. And so I did about 50 km short of Bray. His bike died on him unexpectedly at high speed and he barely managed to pull the clutch in and come to a standstill without landing on his face.
 
We siphoned three litres of petrol from 690 to TE, which should get him to Bray. But when he tried to start, we just heard single blank clack and that was it. It took us a while to really admit that the TE engine have really seized out of a blue - never heard about anything like that before (I also have younger brother TE630, so did quite a bit of research on the bike in its time). We were quite perplexed how that happened. We could see some oil on the bashplate, but the oil level in the engine was fine. The fuel pump was priming no problem so the issue didnít seem to be electrical. But when we tried to push the bike even in high gear, the rear wheel was just stuck. The high consumption now started to make more sense - though pretty late.
 
We contemplated our options - we were in the middle of nowhere and the sun was setting fast. Luckily we had a mobile signal, so we called poor Melinda with a cry for help again. She googled a phone number for the lodge in Bray. Bertie called and asked if they can send a bakkie to fetch him and the bike back to the lodge. The guy on the phone was helpful and confident they should be able to organize something. So we waited trying to figure out what could have caused the seizure.
 
Unfortunately, the guy from the lodge called back about half an hour later saying he couldnít find anybody willing to drive out that far. So we contemplated other options. I remembered from my prior ride here that there should be small settlement with a spaza shop further on - not sure how far but definitely before Bray. One option was for me to pull Bertie there and try to find some support/base there. But we were both skeptical regarding safety of the whole pulling business. While we were getting more confident in the sand, me pulling Bertie, who didnít have the benefit of throttle to get himself out of trouble in sand seemed like disaster in waiting.
 
The only other option was for me to leave Bertie behind and ride out trying to find somebody who could help us get Bertie and the bike into safety. So that is what we settled on and I rode off. By now it was basically dark and I struggle properly in the sand - my eyesight is dodgy at the best of light and the lights on 690 Rally Kit are more of a decoration than functional feature. I had really hard time to see in the sand what is the track and what is that middle divide (middlemanÖ..) and often find myself getting it wrong with inevitable scares.
 
Eventually after about 10 km I came to the junction with the main Vryburg - Bray road, where I found that shop I talked about.  It was closed and no-one in sight anywhere around. However I could see some light across the road so I rode up to the close gate with house with lights on in sight about 100m away. I wandered if they would start shooting if I open the gate and ride/walk up (it was completely dark now), but luckily there were people outside who saw me and a gentleman jumped into Hilux and came to meet me at the gate. We introduced ourselves - his name was Renier and this was his farm. I asked if he could help us get Bertie and bike out of the bush to which he readily agreed - score! I parked my bike in front of his garage and introduced myself to his wife (whose name shamefully eluded me in the excitement of the moment - maybe Bertie can chirp in), jumped into the bakkie and we were off to fetch Bertie.
 
We found him exactly where I left him, loaded the bike and drove back to the farm. Bertie and I asked if it would be OK if we camp in the courtyard, but Renier and his wife would have none of that and put us up in one of the rooms on the farm. Renier then fired up braai and within half an hour we were having delicious dinner of steak and pap and beer, swapping stories about life in the bush (they really liked the area, there is no crime there and good farmers community).
 
I always feel awkward and sheepish when faced with this level of generosity from strangers, wondering if I would behave even remotely similarly  to strangers stranded for example on the Allandale road in Midrand. I was pretty sure that they will not accept money for their hospitality, so I tried to plot some kind of donation to the lion breeding program they were involved in. But when I suggested it, Renier flatly refused and that was that. I would have to deal with my feelings of inferiority on my own.
 
Bertie in the meantime organized with Melinda to come and fetch him next day with trailer all the way from Magaliesburg. Melinda, together with Renier and his wife definitely deserves some kind of DS Medal of Honour, for dealing with the fallouts from our - letís face it - very self-indulgent hobby.

Here is Bertie's thread explaining what went wrong with his TE610: http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=208294.0 (http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=208294.0)
 
The route:
 
(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4255/34721474663_e7b793d72c_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: ChrisL - DUSTRIDERS on June 26, 2017, 10:46:37 pm
Sub :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Dwerg on June 27, 2017, 08:01:51 am
 :sip:

Awesome riding country! Looking forward to the trip proper  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: 2StrokeDan on June 27, 2017, 08:08:54 am
With that start, the most exciting part of the trip seems to be over. :pot:

I am watching.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Kortbroek on June 27, 2017, 10:03:37 am
Going to enjoy this one  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Slim Jim on June 27, 2017, 10:09:24 am
 :sip:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on June 27, 2017, 07:22:19 pm
Day 2 & 3

In the morning I packed up, thanked Renier and his wife for the hospitality, and bode my farewell to Bertie. It was real bummer that his trip ended abruptly so soon. I know he would really enjoy what was to come - even though his refusal to stand on the bike would certainly come to bite him hard in the ass. But Iím sure we will do it or something similar again. There is nothing we cannot do - as long as Melinda watches our back from the base.

Speaking of Melinda, despite the early start she has spent better part of the day getting to Bertie (it turns out it is much slower going on those sandy roads in Subaru with trailer then on two DS bikes) - they got back home in Magaliesburg only at about 1 am next day.

My objective for the day was Tshabong in southern Botswana - jump off point for the exploration of the Kalahari dunes south of Kgalagadi NP. It was only 250 km or so on dirt roads, so no biggie, but I was keen to get there relatively early to get some rest in the afternoon before I hit the Kalahari proper.

I stopped at Bray to refill and have a quick breakfast next to the general store and then took the dirt roads on SA side towards McCarthyís Rest border post, passing Molopo Nature reserve from the south.

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4157/33572761404_51fb177f5a_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4175/34283924991_bcd5d4070b_b.jpg)


The border was the usual sleepy easy affair (no other customers there) and I was through in no time - though they did make sure to check the license disk and bike papers. On to Tshabong another 20 or so km further, where I the first chore was to withdraw Pula from the only ATM in town (I was greatly relieved there were only 2 or 3 people waiting in the line - in Botswana outback one usually finds 100 meter long queue as government uses ATMs to distribute social security and government salaries, which people usually cash out at the first opportunity).

With Pula in hand I bought some junk food supplies for the planned afternoon siesta and then headed to my favourite haunt in the town (outside actually) - Berrybush farm - for an afternoon of chilling and hydration. The farm where I stayed on my first visit here in 2014, was situated about 8 km east of town on tar where one turns into the bush and finds the farm about 4 km deep in the Kalahari wilderness.

I wasnít sure if it is still in operation as it used to be run by Jill and her brother, both of whom were in their late 70s, possibly even early 80s when I was there last time. There was a relatively newly looking billboard at the turnoff from tar so things look good. However 4 km of deep sand double track later I arrived to the closed gate. It wasnít locked so I rode through but to my dismay the place was abandoned and slowly falling apart, with roof on the main building already collapsed down. It was a sad sight - Jill and her brother through their perseverance and resourcefulness built up the place over many years as a real oasis in the vast Kalahari vastness - complete with solar panels and water supply (they were completely off the grid), and it was frequented mostly by the university students from Europe who came regularly to do research on Kalahari beatles or some such. I spent here only one night in 2014 and still felt strange kinship with Jill, who had some crazy stories from her years living all over Africa.

Hungry and tired of the heat, I made a picnic in the shade of the slowly collapsing lappa and then promptly fell asleep on the ground in my gear trying to fend off the ants and flies - a bit of a compromise of the siesta I had originally in mind. I woke up and hour or two later to even more intense heat, geared up and headed out. To my immense irritation I found the gate locked now, meaning I was trapped inside the farm in Bots midday heat with not much water left. I tried to dismantle the gate, but it was hanging properly on solid pylons, so no luck. Remembering the track continued on the other side of the farm heading deeper into Kalahari I retraced back to the farm and found gate on that side not locked. I pushed on deeper through 2 or 3 next gates looking in vain for a track that may turn back in the direction of tar of Tshabong, until I bumped into a bakkie coming out of the bush in the opposite direction.

They were a jolly local couple and indeed it was them who locked the gate. Thank goodness, as I was getting a bit panicky worrying about dehydration and heatstroke. They werenít angry about me trespassing and actually seemed genuinely happy to see me. They bought the place from Jill, and were planning to operate it again as guesthouse. According to the gentleman they were just waiting for electricity to be brought in from the main line on the tar road.

I wish they can make something out of it, but quite frankly am very skeptical. I remember Jillís brother told me that it would cost about 1.5 mil Pula to get the electricity in, so instead - being man of reason - he made alternative plan with solar panels and batteries. Now for some reason the new owners considered absolutely necessary to get the electricity in before even contemplating opening the place for guests. They will never get that 1.5 bar back anyway (I suspect they were given kind of government grant or something - otherwise it just didnít make sense). And in the meantime they were leaving the place to fall apart slowly. I guess that is the African way.

Anyway, I was glad to be let out and gunned it back to Tshabong contemplating grudgingly which of the not very attractive accommodation options to take. While I may appear to some as hard core adventurer who likes to ride tracks less travelled in remote areas fending off dangerous animals, the reality is Iím actually a gastro tourist, willing to alternate my route and pay a lot of money for comfortable room and some warm food. None of which is readily available in Tshabong. Eventually I bumped into a modern guesthouse with air conditioned rooms and restaurant, and booked in. I suspect it was one of the government guesthouses they build out in the outback for their government officials - the personnel attitude was definitely all government - lazy and disinterested. It was way too expensive for what it was, but by that point I would probably pay double just for the air conditioning.

It wasnít even end of day 2 of so far very easy riding and I was already properly knackered. After nursing my leg for 9 months and not getting out of house or office much, the exposure to sun, heat and wind wore me down properly. So I spent rest of the afternoon sleeping stiff in my room with air-con blasting at full power.

Next morning I contemplated for a minute or two those dunes, and then just turned on the other side and kept my eyes shut more or less until the dinner.

This concludes the boring liaison bit (excuse the lack of imagery, but there wasnít much to photograph) and in next episode we will finally see some of that Kalahari sand I came for.

Route on Day 2:

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4289/35144069520_04cde765f5_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Koet on June 27, 2017, 08:33:39 pm
Sub!
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: MaxThePanda on June 27, 2017, 09:00:29 pm
Gloriously dramatic start (sorry Bertie)!!! Kind of reminds me of an ignominious day in Opuwo and abandoning one desperately miserable Englishman at the start of our Angolan adventure. Horrible way to start a trip but looking forward to the solo journey through the dunes - that's a bit of an adventure.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Kaboef on June 27, 2017, 10:49:27 pm
It is so sad to hear that Berrybush and Jill is no more.

Me, Luckystriker and Butch stayed there on our Botswana trip 10 years ago or so.

I fondly remember Jill with her woolen poncho welcoming us and giving us a warm bed. My bed had a hen on top of the "karos" who just laid an egg.
Trip report here: http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=8530.msg114604#msg114604

I have always had plans to take the family there to experience the place, but now sadly they will never see it the way it was.

Great ride report. Shame about Bertie.
And he has an awesome wife indeed.

Please continue. I am hooked.


Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on June 27, 2017, 10:54:51 pm
It is so sad to hear that Berrybush and Jill is no more.

Me, Luckystriker and Butch stayed there on our Botswana trip 10 years ago or so.

I fondly remember Jill with her woolen poncho welcoming us and giving us a warm bed. My bed had a hen on top of the "karos" who just laid an egg.
Trip report here: http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=8530.msg114604#msg114604

I have always had plans to take the family there to experience the place, but now sadly they will never see it the way it was.

Great ride report. Shame about Bertie.
And he has an awesome wife indeed.

Please continue. I am hooked.

Yep, pretty sad indeed. Here are the only two crappy shots I have of Berrybush, with Jill in the second one:

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-HbDAYrClIGs/VN5-kHQc_8I/AAAAAAAAD5I/ZGUc9ylRE_Q/s1024/P1010147.jpg)


(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-nrcFF1TTeRg/VN6EetxNKEI/AAAAAAAAD-A/dfSAbEXDYB0/s1024/PH000006.jpg)


I've ridden through there in December 2014, documented here:

http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=168377.0 (http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=168377.0)
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on June 27, 2017, 10:58:39 pm
@MaxThePanda & 2SD: Yep, the biggest part of the drama is over. But there is still a little drama left thanks to my lack of fitness and judgement.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: lone riderer on June 28, 2017, 05:59:52 am
 :ricky:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: m0lt3n on June 28, 2017, 07:34:42 am
Quick question, why did you not take the Bray, Verda, Makopong, Phepeng, Khisa road? (I don't know it, but have been eyeballing it)
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on June 28, 2017, 09:13:45 am
Quick question, why did you not take the Bray, Verda, Makopong, Phepeng, Khisa road? (I don't know it, but have been eyeballing it)


Why would you instead of all the lovely sandy roads in the area chose the only tar for 100s of km around?

I prefer dirt to tar.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: ClimbingTurtle on June 28, 2017, 09:26:29 am
Quick question, why did you not take the Bray, Verda, Makopong, Phepeng, Khisa road? (I don't know it, but have been eyeballing it)


Why would you instead of all the lovely sandy roads in the area chose the only tar for 100s of km around?

I prefer dirt to tar.

Because I ride the Ultimate Fuel Bowser crossed with a Scaffolding Selection and an Arm Chair.....

But I too prefer sandy roads to tar, so an uprgrade is on the horizon....

RR is inpirational, as always - waiting with bated breath for the rest....
 :thumleft:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: m0lt3n on June 28, 2017, 09:32:45 am
Quick question, why did you not take the Bray, Verda, Makopong, Phepeng, Khisa road? (I don't know it, but have been eyeballing it)


Why would you instead of all the lovely sandy roads in the area chose the only tar for 100s of km around?

I prefer dirt to tar.

Shows what I know. I always assumed that is gravel actually. good thing I asked
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on June 28, 2017, 12:44:48 pm
Day 4 - part 1

To give myself a fighting chance I skipped the breakfast (as the government employees couldnít be bothered to accommodate early breakfast request) and was ready to roll at 6:00 am, still in complete darkness. I filled up at the petrol station and set-off.

My original plan was to hit sand right outside of Tshabong and surf it all the way to Botspits about 250 km of deep sand and dunes away. Given how tired I was just from riding easy dirt roads prior 2 days, I started to have doubts about feasibility of this plan (which of course looked perfectly doable just a week before on my Apple screen in the shade of my house). The saving grace came from a chef at the dinner night before, who came for a chat. He was from Bokspits and while not sure about the tracks, he told me there are two private ranches just west of Tshabong, that I may possibly run into. I wasnít keen to ride possibly dozens of km of deep sand just to run into a fence, so I decided to skip the first half of the sand on tar to Middlepits about 100 km away, where I would hit the sand and join the originally planned track. This way I will save up time and energy and focus on the dunes, which start proper in Khawa village about 70 km north-west of Middlepits.

Initially I stuck to about 40 kmh an hour to avoid many of the animals milling around, once the sun came up I reverted to my normal cruising speed. I made Middlepits still early at about 7:30 am and hit the red sand double track north straight away, keen to make as much as possible of the lower morning temperature. After a long break I was initially little tentative in the proper sand, but soon got in the groove of things and got to cruise at respectable (for deep red sand double track)  40 - 50 kmh.

The track I plotted initially followed a fence of some kind of estate for about 10 - 15 km and then started weaving through open bush and across low dunes in the general north-westerly direction

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4175/34414661395_db916bdc24_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4194/33604877503_484370067f_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4187/34029766280_c44cb132b0_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4161/34373200966_7feb5313ff_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4175/34414652645_56f77fe414_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4176/33604429533_6241570de8_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4167/33572278004_1f3d961350_b.jpg)

After initial hesitation I was getting bolder and bolder, enjoying the sand and speeding up considerably trying to get as much distance under the belt as possible early before the midday heat. So naturally - after such a long break - I eventually overcooked it, came a bit too hot over one small dune and noticed too late that the tracks turns sharply right behind small acacia tree. By the time I noticed I was way too fast to make it. I made half assed attempt to turn into the tree like a downhill skiing racer I used to be, but it is difficult to muster a will to stick you face in open face helmet in those thorns. So I got thrown off the track straight onto another small acacia tree, which I hit head on. Luckily it went down readily and I went down right after that:

You see that small acacia right next to the track on the right - the one behind which track disapears? Well that is the one I tried to turn around:

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2879/33572286884_2bc6194ee0_b.jpg)


Right behind it is another one - this time left of the track. That is the one I am about to mate:


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2848/33572292194_195eca4d14_b.jpg)


And the act itself:


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4157/34029389050_c3ba75a24c_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4189/34414214385_797273e482_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4171/34372835636_7155523e81_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4188/34255066302_0fa743fe18_b.jpg)


The aftermath with the poor tree on the ground - felt actually bad about wasting a tree:

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2884/33572598854_624667f728_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4169/33604902793_ac838a77e1_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4178/33604908903_d9ba554345_b.jpg)


The fall was no biggie, but I was worried about any damage bike may have suffered. I inspected it and to my relief everything looked fine, nothing seemed to be broken. So after a break I set-off again this time at a bit more conservative pace. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the crash will come to bite me in the ass later.

I continued through few dozen of km of bush passing few cattle post/kraal along the way. Eventually I came to the biggest kraal, where I run out of track. There seemed to be no tracks where I plotted them based on satellite images, and the tracks that were there headed in north east direction, while I needed to start turning west.

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4182/33572404054_4c34b24c13_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4159/34255109702_60bbbe8171_b.jpg)


Getting lost:

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4177/34029545020_1a1fd97f69_b.jpg)


After flapping around for a while I retraced back to the kraal, where I asked the local dude for direction to Khawa. He didnít speak English, but got the gist of my question ĎKhawa?í and just pointed west.

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4171/34255175852_fc9fd48bf4_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4160/34414425925_4b81b84bfc_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4171/34255229552_84f9b17e6a_b.jpg)


I followed his direction across a dune but couldnít find any track, and flapped a bit more.  So he come rushing up the dune on the horseback re-iterating to this dumb-ass mzungu, that he really will have to bundu bash to the electric line visible few km away on the horizon.

So with some hesitation in my gastro tourist heart, I followed hit the goat trails heading west. While I prefer riding remote tracks, bundu bashing through a tall grass is not my favourite, as one needs to ride conservatively (i.e. slow) should there be any lurkers there and at the same time the seeds clog oneís radiator. Together these two make 690 (which with the rally kit is prone to overheating at slightest provocation anyway) to overheat double quick. To be fair, I consider overheating already when the fan comes on, which I know is not right, however my mechanical sympathy doesnít allow me to ride the bike in the heat slowly with running fan for too long, so I tend to stop a lot to let the bike cool down a bit. Which means that I start to overheat pretty soon.


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4174/34255232542_268a8bbe5a_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4166/34029627510_0a3e5ceb76_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4163/34029630640_4c55e7f97c_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4160/34029633840_c5ea111b5c_b.jpg)

Anyway about 5 km of grassy plain and small dunes later I made it to the electric line, where to my relief I found a small one car width cement track following the line in the direction of Khawa. I stopped there and cleaned the radiator guard, which by now was clogged solid.

Once the bike and I cooled off sufficiently I followed the track west towards Khawa. After the last yearís horrible drought, it was nice to see Kalahari all green with hundreds of springbok and ostriches rushing across the track in all directions.

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4179/34373055316_e9c0682fe7_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4183/34255250842_0440b05e96_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4165/34029637970_7a6e455864_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4169/34255254062_bb92d62f01_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4182/34255265772_a8ba32d231_b.jpg)


The track eventually brought me to the main sand road between Middlepits and Khawa, and I headed to Khawa about 10 km away.



Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Mikie on June 28, 2017, 01:03:28 pm
Damn I love reading your ride reports
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Matewis on June 28, 2017, 01:40:04 pm
sub
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Crossed-up on June 28, 2017, 04:00:53 pm
Enjoying your RR.

Camelman and I spent some time trying to put a track together between Khawa and Tsabong for the 2015 Amageza. We succeeded, but it was far from straightforward. By now I guess the game farms have probably closed off the route.

Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: slicknick on June 28, 2017, 04:13:14 pm
sub :thumleft:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on June 29, 2017, 12:18:56 am
Day 4 - part 2

I arrived at Khawa at about noon. To get some local intel I stopped next to a officiously looking Landcruiser and asked two dudes in about the tracks across the dunes to Botspits. They looked at me funny and said that there are lions all over the show and that I should retrace to back to Middlepits and take tar to Botspits from there like any normal person would. Just as a test I explained that Iím not heading north across to the nearby Kgalagadi NP, but they reverted straight away that the lions have moved in considerable numbers south of the park following the abundant game there. I like to get a bit broader picture (plus the lion thread on its own wasnít going to dissuade me - I have expected as much and I have bumped into lions on the bike before and knew that loud pipes are usually enough to send them packing) so I thanked them, asked where the shop was and headed off to replenish my water.

Khawa - set-off point for the dunes:

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4222/34627468210_acd4dc17cd_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4270/34627472410_fb70c97288_b.jpg)


Ladies at the shop they didnít have water so over a bottle of Coke I asked again about the tracks. They looked me even more funny and basically repeated story Iíve already heard. Eventually a guy stopped by and he at least confirmed that there are tracks across the dunes - actually number of them . One heading more or less straight south and connecting to the tar road between Middlepots and Bokspits. Another one, the longest going down diagonally south-west to Bokspits. And a third one heading west to Struizendam village right on the border of SA about 20 km north of Bokspits on the dirt road running up to to the Twee River gate of Kgalagadi NP. I knew already about the option 2 & 3 from my work on Googlemaps. But even he didnít seem particularly encouraging so more intel was clearly needed :-).

I still needed water, so the ladies directed me to the local shebeen (or bar as they called it) situated on the opposite dune about 200 meters away:


Shebeen:

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4225/34627476870_40a8c8d696_b.jpg)


Despite being Thursday lunch time, the place had all the local alkies (basically most of the male population of Khawa and few clearly disreputable woman) lazing around - the typical sign of dead-end communities living off the social security payments. I was of course the biggest excitement they will have till next payday and was invited by all of them one by one to buy them a beer (which by the sight of it they already consumed few since the morning). I kindly declined, got my water and in exchange for my kindness asked for the information about the track.

I got lucky and an officially looking (though properly greased by now) older guy introduced himself as some kind of local Trust apparatchik in charge of tourism (I think his name was Gustav, but I may got mixed up) and invited me to his office about 100 meters away. To get the intel exchange going I did buy him one beer and then proceeded to his office, which to my surprise really was a tourist office with real maps of the trust area and similar tourist officy paraphernalia.

Gustav:

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4252/34627391780_2af19a5687_b.jpg)


Although a bit greased and slurring his words noticeably, he was very enthusiastic about the tourist potential of the Khawa trust and wholeheartedly recommended the tracks across the dunes as Ďeasyí, and no, donít worry, there are no lions. He also said that every year at the end of May they have a rally there where people from all over the world - including Botswanian president - come and ride the dunes on quads and dirtbikes. My later research on the net confirmed that this was actually true (here the link:
http://www.botswanatourism.co.bw/event/khawa-dune-challenge-cultural-festival-2 - m0lt3n, you like these organized events, there is no excuse now!) and I was surprised that I never heard of it before, as Gustav stated that a lot of riders from SA and even Europe participate. He said that many of the riders make it during the race to Struizendam and back (a total roundabout distance of about 200 km) in one day. He didnít expect the track to take more than 3 hours (so I thought I have a chance to do it in 5).

Despite the fact that he was drunk and two other sources contravened what he was saying (and some other stuff he said was clearly bullshit), I trusted Gustav, because what he was saying was what I wanted to hear. I took his number in the case I got into trouble (I carry satellite phone on these remote trips) and buoyed up by his upbeat message geared up and headed up the first dune in the general western direction slap bang at the peak of the midday heat at about 1pm.


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4268/34204201493_e771d54d13_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4196/34627410280_77e9b57946_b.jpg)

And I got immediately lost. I have staked out the tracks I have seen on the Googlemaps satellite images and had them loaded on my GPS, but I knew these will be tentative at best as the imagery is usually few years old and the tracks in the sand probably shift a lot. I also had a T4A track in my GPS, but when I zoomed in, it said something like ĎUnconfirmedí or ĎUnriddení or some such and proved useless.

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4271/34627427520_5bbd25ffec_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4274/35015034685_c0069830f8_b.jpg)

Without clear direction I headed in the general westerly direction and eventually I bumped into a double track, actually quite a few of them. Which became my next problem. I would be riding as fast as possible along a track to keep afloat and trying to provide some airflow to cool the engine and would come upon a fork in the track where I had to take split second decision regarding the direction. Somehow I always ended up on track that eventually veered off the direction I wanted to go and was clearly abandoned quite some time ago. So I had to backtrack or bundu bash across the grassy dunes to connect to that other branch number of times.


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4199/34627434430_c72d121c38_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4204/34627437840_085e62d910_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4251/34882868961_5ae25a26b5_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4195/34627444390_3329b9f65c_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4220/34627450350_a7faa3715b_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4200/35015058535_5599d964ab_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4221/34171223444_61b2a4c462_b.jpg)


It was tough going. These were not the nice clinical dunes like the ones for example in Swakopmund with long run ups and nice smooth sand that one can ride across even on GSA (well I did long time ago anyway). The uneven and often long time abandoned track was weaving through the dunes, where one had to keep momentum/speed going at at the same time change direction all the time, including on the run up the dunes. The dunes were also overgrown with those grassy bushes so it wasnít possible to just go off-piste and keep necessary momentum to make it up the dunes. While I was making progress, I couldnít get up to speed where the bike would stay cool enough without the fan running constantly.

Pretty soon the snowball started to build up. It was hot - very very hot -  and I navigating uneven and winding track I couldnít ride fast enough to keep bike and more importantly now myself cool enough. Stopping didnít help much as it was like stopping in the oven with the heat radiating from both air and the surrounding sand. I was still making progress, but it became quite clear that Iím fighting losing battle.

About 10 km into the dunes (and about 90 km still to go) my good old buddy - heatstroke - called in by starting to play with my guts. I was getting dizzy and vomity. It was a high time to call it a day before my overheating mind gets too far astray. I managed to find shade under a rare acacia tree, where I cooled off a bit and decided to retrace back to Khawa, where I would sleep over and try again in the morning, when the temperature is still manageable.


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4187/34414687695_c2b6bf7ac5_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4170/34414658035_c39e31de2b_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4175/34029653600_0e307b8e73_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4189/34255356332_239b9efaa5_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4183/33604906583_e5dcc0bb5c_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4165/33604915843_6087026efd_b.jpg)


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4275/34171226224_583fa96679_b.jpg)

Once I cooled off sufficiently to be able again to control the bike in the sand I jumped on the bike and gunned it back 10 km in one go. By the time I was back I was again little delirious, so I just dragged myself to the shade of the shebeen verandah and spread myself on the ground desperately trying to cool down. I tried to swallow down some cold drink, but almost vomited so just used it as a cooling bottle.

This sorry sight provided once again welcome distraction to the village alkies, who gathered in size arguing at the top of their voices about what is happening to the hapless mzungu spread across the ground. Iím sure they were full of concern or compassion, but I have to say that drunk San people are about the rawest specimen I have encountered yet with no consideration in their arsenal whatsoever. I had a sense that if I make a sudden movement my inner temperature will exceed the tipping point and it will be lights out. But I still considered for a while that it may be worth it as long as I take one particularly annoying scrawny piece of shit with me.

Eventually Gustav arrived and assumed the role of the protector, or rather circus impresario, who explains at top of his voice the rapt audience about his exotic monkey. Keen to find some refuge I asked him to arrange a guest house room for me (he told me there is one), but he said we have to wait for the accommodation commissar (or whatever they call themselves there) of the trust. After what felt like eternity a lady official arrived and told us that we just need to go fetch a key from another guy and Iím sorted. I was pissed of on Gustav for holding me up, but not strong enough yet to just told him to fuck off, so he accompanied me to the key manís house. I was glad to fuck off from the shebeen, but more importantly riding those 300 or so meters to the guy on easy sand I realized that by far the best way to cool down was actually to ride the bike - the faster the better of course.

I asked the key guy (one of the few sober people in the village) about the guesthouse, and he honestly say that it leaves a lot to be desired (I have slept in one of these establishments before and had an idea about stifling hot bug ridden rooms with no water). I knew by then that even if I stay, I will be probably pestered for the rest of the day by Gustav and the gang, and I will most probably not be able to recover enough from the heat exhaustion/stroke in the hot room to be ready for the ride next morning. The gastro tourist in me took over and set a new exciting goal for the day - to try to make it to Molopo Lodge with private air conditioned room and quality food, that I do not have to cook myself.

So I thought - ĎFuck it dunes, you win - until the next time!í, said so long to clearly unhappy Gustav, who was losing the only act in his circus, jumped on the bike and gunned it out of the village and onto the sand road heading to Middlepits 70 km away. Riding at about 100 kmh did quickly wonders to my internal temperature and soon I was out of the red zone and feeling alright again.

Back in Middlepits the gastro tourist in me was really keen to make it for dinner back to SA to the Molopo lodge, but I wasnít sure if I have enough petrol to make it there. In the morning I was told there is no petrol station in Middlepits so I waved down a bakkie that seemed to be carrying jerry cans and asked if they may not spare some for me. They didnít have any, but told me that there actually is petrol station right before the SA border crossing. I gunned it there and got lucky.

With that sorted I gunned it on tar towards Bokspits about 130 km away. It was almost 4 pm by now and I didnít know when they will close the border. It turned out I never had a chance as the border closes at 4:30. So when I arrived at Bokspits all I can do was ask around for some kind of accommodation. The only place I found was ĎBDTí guesthouse, which I suspect is the same category as the one in Khawa, though not so remote. Stiflingly hot room, dodgy bedding and no water. The only two other guests were two young nurses who opened the gate for me in bathrobes opened down to belly button, which did confuse me a bit for a moment, but then in my sorry state I just let it slip and retreated to my allotted cave.


BDT guesthouse in Botspits:


(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4189/33604913293_f4a9276203_b.jpg)


It was a fitting end for the day of frustration - staying in stifling hot cave about 2 km away from air conditioned chalet and medium rare fillet steak. I sweated myself to sleep after dinner of biltong and lunchbar (the only food for the whole day).

Lately my trips seem to follow Clarksonís moto ĎAmbitious, but rubbishí. I plan some nice juicy route (circumventing Okavango delta via cutlines last year, dunes in Bots this year) while disregarding the fact that I havenít ridden properly for almost a year and am not remotely fit enough with my leg barely recovered from the fracture. So naturally I end up seeing my ass.

As for the reasons I concocted to rationalize the failure in the dunes - the lack of fitness played a role, but the key were probably lapses of the judgement on the day: I should have made sure that I have eaten proper meal before lunch and I should have skipped the morning sandy tracks from Middlepits to Khawa and rather gun it all the way up to Khawa as quickly as possible on the main sand road and then focus solely on the dunes. That would give me early fresh start in the dunes in bearable temperatures. Well, next time I will be more clever.

I was bummed out, but frankly once I have eaten I was already plotting how Iím going to try to take those dunes in the opposite direction on the way back from Namibia a week later.

Route for the day:

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4236/35530782775_f2912e420b_b.jpg)


Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on June 29, 2017, 12:24:37 am
Enjoying your RR.

Camelman and I spent some time trying to put a track together between Khawa and Tsabong for the 2015 Amageza. We succeeded, but it was far from straightforward. By now I guess the game farms have probably closed off the route.

I'm sure something can be figured out - at worst one can ride up to the southern border of the Kgalagadi NP and then take the cutline running along the southern border, from which one can probably easily bundu bash to Khawa (it is not far from cutline and I have seen tracks there).

I have plotted my own route from Tshabong on the satellite images, and if I would have had few days to expore the area I would definitely give it a go. But my main objective were dunes west of Khawa, and I wanted to save up some energy and time for those, And as you can see from the latest episode, I should have shortened my detours even more to focus only on the dunes in one day - I'm clearly no Amageza warrior.

That said if one has a time or lives close by like m0lt3n, there is no excuse to not explore the area properly. I'm sure I could find nice roundabout track through the whole area given more time, even if there may be few private ranches.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: m0lt3n on June 29, 2017, 07:33:46 am
I am focusing, catching some tips. Good info that petrol is available before Bokspits. I am trying to figure out how far I can go and be back home on a day trip.
(excuse is browny points, they are few and far in between!)

Title: Back at it!
Post by: Osadabwa on June 29, 2017, 10:57:13 am
Hey Xpat, glad to see you back on 2 wheels. You're envy-laden comments to my glorious year of riding in Kenya has made me pity you a bit, but no more! Those tracks look great, and even though you got schooled by the heat, you had a better few days out that most of us mopes!

So much of your skewed view of riding/Africa/navigating sounds like my own internal monologue on these kinds of rides, especially this comment: "Despite the fact that he was drunk and two other sources contravened what he was saying (and some other stuff he said was clearly bullshit), I trusted Gustav, because what he was saying was what I wanted to hear." I laughed my ass off on that one. Sometimes I ask half a dozen people before somebody tells me what I want to hear and therefore justifies my decision!

Anyway, fun RR!

Cheers
 :snorting:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Ian in Great Brak River on June 29, 2017, 04:16:57 pm
Neva Evva a dull moment following along in your RR dust.

Excellent read as usual, thanks!

 8)
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Fransw on June 29, 2017, 06:43:32 pm
Neva Evva a dull moment following along in your RR dust.

Excellent read as usual, thanks!

 8)

Ian, sal jy daardie paaie met jou AT kan doen?

Nice RR Xpat, I'm glad your leg is fine!
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: onderbroek on June 29, 2017, 08:30:28 pm
Always a joy to read your reports
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on June 29, 2017, 09:06:19 pm
Day 5

The moment border opened at 8:00 am the gastro tourist was there impatient to make it the full English breakfast at Molopo lodge couple of km down the road. There were only two cars waiting, but for some reason it took quite a while to get through.

Once through I gunned it to the lodge, where I filled up the petrol first and then settled for the breakfast where I annihilated all pigs in blanket on the display followed by a bowl of yoghurt and whatever fruits they had on display. Then I had a breakfast. After that I relaxed a bit drinking all the fruit juice on display to recover from the dehydration day before. Eventually, at almost 11:00 am I reached the point of saturation and it was time to move on.

The objective for the day was Riemvasmaak. It was kind of liaison, but to make it bearable the plan was to get there on the double tracks heading south-west across the dunes and salt lakes and then continue on the little farm dirt roads Iíve spotted on Googlemaps.

From the lodge I took what was the signs called ĎRed Dune Routeí, which is a dirt/sand highway heading south west towards place called Noenieput.


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4253/35458742156_c23754ffbd_b.jpg)


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(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4282/34688358563_afdff4394f_b.jpg)


Red Dune highway is nice and scenic and all that, but not what I came for. Few km down that route I wanted to turn west on a track Iíve seen on Googlemaps and cross the sand and salt lakes south of Hakskeen pan all the way to the main dirt road heading from Rietfontein to Noenieput along the Nam border. To my annoyance when I arrived to the turnoff point, it was a locked farm gate with no-one in sight. Grudgingly I continued down the Dune route, until I spotted on T4A few km ahead a nice loop of about 50 km heading deep into the pans.

When I arrived to the turn-off, it was an entrance to another farm, but this one was open. I rode up to the farmhouse to ask if it is OK to ride there and the nice lady of the house said sure and even provided me with printed map of the track with designated main highlight. Score.

First 10 km was a sand double track running in the valley between two long dunes. At the end of the valley was a sizeable red sand dune with a covered seating area for sundowners (I think the farm had campsite and rooms for rent). I rode up and took a lunch break in the shade.


Sundowner viewpoint:


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(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4242/35367369861_d77e3666e6_b.jpg)

I then continued to a small salt pan I could see in the west, which I crossed and run up the dunes again.


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4258/35458601676_39fdbbfbca_b.jpg)


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From there I continued through the dune fields until I eventually arrived to another high red dune, which the map called ĎThe best viewpoint of Kalaharií, or some such.


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4255/34688240853_e986568d64_b.jpg)


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The 'Best view of Kalahari' dune - I didn't make it all the way on the first try and as knew I will be turning back, I didn't bother trying again:


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4253/35498026395_4edb9bd762_b.jpg)


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(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4254/34688154283_d7fb19ab37_b.jpg)


The Ďbest viewpointí was about two thirds of the loop and I could see on the map that the remainder of the loop just follows farm boundary and crosses many gates, so I just turned back and re-traced back the the farm the way I came.

Back at the farm I asked the nice lady for some water and drink, assuming they have a bar as part of the lodge. They didnít have a bar, but she gave me 5 litres of water and bottle of some soft drink, which she refused money for. I felt like a true asshole for unwittingly abusing her hospitality - though to my defence I really thought they were selling drinks for the guests in the campsite and rooms.

By that time it was way past 3 pm and I still had about 180 km of dirt to cover, so I gunned it down the Red Dune route trying to outrun the slowly setting sun. The route was pretty corrugated at places and riding mostly upwards of 120 kmh, I have noticed horrible racked from the fairing of the bike. I stopped and inspected everything I could, but couldnít find any fault, so just pushed on.


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4215/35458480816_c6a562639b_b.jpg)


In Noenieput I filled up and turned off onto a small very sandy farm road heading south, which I found on Googlemaps as a very convenient shortcut to Riemvasmaak about 100 km south as the crow flies. By now very comfortable in sand I was racing the setting sun as fast as I could, but I got quickly frustrated as I was running into closed gates every km or two.


Eventually it was obvious that I had not a remote chance to make it through all those gates with any light left, so I took another dirt road east which after about 30 km connected back to the main dirt road heading from  Noenieput to Upington.


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4265/35458469256_7838293154_b.jpg)


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After few dozen km I turned off the main road south and rode down to Lutzputs. There I turned west straight into the very low sun and rode completely blinded ( sunshield on my trial helmet is too short and completely useless) few km until I came to the right turn-off towards Kakamas 50 km south. Completely blinded and trying to focus on the road sign at the crossing I turned left and next thing found myself on the ground. Some bloody illuminati has graded 5 - 10 cm of new gravel on that connecting road, which ended at the edge of the road I was coming from and blinded I missed the edge I tried to get on at way too shallow angle.

Properly pissed off, I picked up the bike and gunned it down south - it was clear Iím not going to make it with any daylight left, but I wanted to ride as little as possible in the dark - especially as I noticed that my short beam wasnít working.

The turn-off to Riemvasmaak another 40 km away was at the outskirts of Kakamas and as I closed in in the darkness I  was met with a gale force wind caused by electric storm brewing ahead. So it was a no-brainer to call it a day in Kakamas. Especially as my inner gastro tourist was lobbying for this all the way from Lutzputs, as I didnít know if there is any restaurant in Riemvasmaak (there isnít), but I knew great - albeit expensive - one in Kakamas. Vergelegen Country Gueshouse where I made it just before the storm caught up.

Route for the day:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4256/35144067600_c201330f11_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on June 29, 2017, 09:10:39 pm
I am focusing, catching some tips. Good info that petrol is available before Bokspits. I am trying to figure out how far I can go and be back home on a day trip.
(excuse is browny points, they are few and far in between!)

The petrol availability in MIddlepits and Bokspits is unreliable - I just got lucky. Do not rely on it - but maybe you can call them and ask on the day you are heading there.

As a day trip this is nonsense IMO. If you cannot do at least two days, rather do something else. I saw somewhere that you might have few days for Lesotho. This is fully on par with Lesotho in terms of technicality - especially on a big heavy bike like yours. I think your chances of expiring in those dunes if you screw up are significantly higher than in Lesotho (where you have higher chance to break a limb).
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on June 29, 2017, 09:19:41 pm
Here are few more screenscraps from video of that dune loop:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4246/34975413786_41fecce808_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4203/34204790183_c4acbff111_b.jpg)


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(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4247/34171758054_4c109b9684_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Ian in Great Brak River on June 29, 2017, 09:28:41 pm
Neva Evva a dull moment following along in your RR dust.

Excellent read as usual, thanks!

 8)

Ian, sal jy daardie paaie met jou AT kan doen?

Nice RR Xpat, I'm glad your leg is fine!

Natuurlik ... die AT ... geen problem ... Eke? haaikonna.    ;)
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Kaboef on June 30, 2017, 08:45:05 am
Jeesh Expat, the photos of the dune loop are stunning!

The Kalahari is beautiful after the rain! Just look at the green grass!

I was born in the Kalahari and seeing those red dunes and camelthorns always brings a lump to my throat.

Excellent, please continue.

Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Slim Jim on June 30, 2017, 10:53:08 am
Loving this RR , awsome ,That sand doesn't look like it's for sissies, especialy solo! , Dude you must of sweated propper!
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: 0012 on June 30, 2017, 11:19:12 am
awesome RR so far, as always, thanks Xpat   :thumleft:  :thumleft:  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Maganything on June 30, 2017, 11:59:55 am
great report, really enjoying it!
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on June 30, 2017, 01:22:08 pm
Thanks for following and comments  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: frankmac on June 30, 2017, 03:39:16 pm
You have a way with words  :thumleft:

What camera were you using?
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Buff on June 30, 2017, 04:35:44 pm
Reading your RR's always makes me wish I lived closer so I could join you on some of your trips, they look absolutely amazing. Thanks for sharing  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on June 30, 2017, 09:54:41 pm
Day 6
 
Day 6 was supposed to be a liaison - getting to Klein Pella, start of the Namaqua 4x4 Eco trail. Technically from Kakamas it is 120 km west on N14 past Pofadder and then about 30 km north on easy-peasy dirt highway to Klein Pella. All in all about hour and a half of easy work. But of course that is not what I had in mind.
 
I wanted to see if I can follow Orange river ideally all the way to Onseepkans border crossing on the little dirt road/tracks I have plotted on Googlemaps. From Onseepkans I would then divert down to Pofadder as there wasnít any connection directly west to Klein Pella. Initial part of the route would take me through Riemvasmaak for a little flower smelling pretty scenery gig, and then - after crossing Orange river - I hoped to follow along the river as far as possible, first along the wine farms in the area and then continuing on one of the dry riverbed dirt tracks I could see on Googlemaps. Runner told that the farm road is a dead end, but I thought I will give it a shot to see if I may get lucky.
 
I set-off after relaxed breakfast, retraced back to the turn-off to Riemvasmaak I have passed day before and off I went. The scenery was the usual Namibia desert highway framed by rocky outcrops on all sides. If you want to experience Namibia without having to cross the border, Namaqualand is the place to go.
 
 
(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4230/35330804922_cecc7b8bef_b.jpg)


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For some reason I expected Riemvasmaak to be tourist town with souvenir shops and such (kind of like Clarens), but it turned out to be small local village inhabited mostly by San people. There werenít any hotels or any other tourist paraphernalia - the only accommodation on offer was the campsite next to hot springs on the outskirt of the town. The scenery is very nice and well worth the visit, but come prepared for self-catering.
 
In town I turned west on the dirt road towards Orange river, passed the hot springs and entered the main scenic attraction here - beautiful valley surrounded by colorful rocky outcrops all around:
 
 
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(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4284/35497737165_9a377db784_b.jpg)

Further down the valley towards Orange river:


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4262/35330576982_77420f5635_b.jpg)


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I descended down to Orange river and crossed the bridge to the other side. The whole valley was occupied by vineyards and orchards as far as I could see. After bridge I turned right and took the main dirt road following the edge of the green belt along the river.
 

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4205/35366844621_0347975f15_b.jpg)


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I rode slowly along the vineyards - there was a strict speed limit to prevent too much dust affecting the crops - looking for a turnoff to one of the number of riverbeds branching inland. To my annoyance, for some reason there was an electric fence following the along the whole valley. Not sure what for - they have probably some T-Rexes crazy about wine living in those wadiís as it was a proper heavy duty fence and must have taken quite an effort and expense to build as it had to frequently bypass or run up and down the rocky outcrops. I made it all the way to the end of the road about 30 km away from the bridge and sadly had to turn back.
 
On the way back I spotted one dry riverbed with no fence in sight which I must have missed on the way up. I jumped into the riverbed full of hope and rode about km up the river, but sure enough the bloody fence did stop me eventually.
 
 
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Defeated, I retraced back to the bridge and then took one of the D roads heading west towards Pofadder. On the way I passed this sign - sadly behind a fence so I couldnít go to explore. I suspect this is the reason why the whole area is off limits for the normal riding, which is quite frankly unfortunate, as this place would provide some of the best riding in SA.
 

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4282/35109372000_b7da870f76_b.jpg)

I continued on the D roads with annoying unhealthy rattle coming from the front end on the fast corrugations. I suspected revenge of the acacia, but for some reason just couldnít figure out lose part causing the rattle.
 

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(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4253/35364820701_82c84d181e_b.jpg)

 
I arrived to Pofadder at 3 pm with time to spare to make it leisurely to Klein Pella. I filled up and had a sandwich at the garage. That is when the inner gastro tourist called in again. I knew there is a guesthouse and campsite in Klein Pella, but I didnít know if there is any restaurant. The garage believed there isnít one. Of course I could have just take the food with like a real man, but the gastro tourist argued it is better to save up as much food as possible for the 4x4 trail as I didnít know how long it will take me to navigate the whole trail (the estimates varied from 9 hours Kamanya took, to 4 days it took Michnus and Metaljockey - with their wifes and a kid at the back). Gastro tourist also used the Khawa fiasco to emphasize need for proper breakfast in the morning.
 
Well as Iím sure you figured out by now, the gastro tourist won and I headed around the corner into the Pofadder hotel for the overnighter highlighted by copious dinner and full English breakfast in the hotel restaurant.
 
Route for the day:

 
(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4242/35400158891_97c0dfa1c7_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on June 30, 2017, 10:01:35 pm
You have a way with words  :thumleft:

What camera were you using?

Thank you Frank. Main camera was Fujifilm X100F, and I had also Olympus OMD EM1 with WA and telephoto lens. ANd of course the crappy quality images are screenshots from video from my Drift HD Ghost.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: frankmac on July 01, 2017, 07:46:26 am

Thank you Frank. Main camera was Fujifilm X100F, and I had also Olympus OMD EM1 with WA and telephoto lens. ANd of course the crappy quality images are screenshots from video from my Drift HD Ghost.

 :thumleft: Now to go and read up on them

Edit; Just gone through your latest stunning pics and they emphasise the advantage of carrying a decent camera (and of course getting the right composition)

This one stood out for me 
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: aka.Goliath on July 01, 2017, 10:47:11 pm
:sip: this brings back some awesome memories of my Amageza in 2014. Particularly looking at that large sand dune and remembering this

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wyZpNL3bvF0
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 01, 2017, 11:10:47 pm
:sip: this brings back some awesome memories of my Amageza in 2014. Particularly looking at that large sand dune and remembering this

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wyZpNL3bvF0

Yes I remembered that dune from few videos I've watched. To be fair, none of the dunes I've done on this trip were anywhere close to the size of the one in the video.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Ri on July 02, 2017, 06:18:55 pm
 :sip: Beautiful photo's! Enjoying the storytelling too  :biggrin:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: MaxThePanda on July 02, 2017, 08:04:38 pm
The tubular steel fairing frame on those Omegas are known to break under heavy conditions - several of them did on Amagezas. That wasn't the rattling was it?
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 02, 2017, 10:33:36 pm
Day 7 - part 1

 
The objective of the day was to explore Namaqua 4x4 eco trail. Deemed by the initiated as one of the best, if not the best desert trail in SA - and yet for some unfathomable reason very rarely ridden by people on this supposedly Ďadventureí biking forum.
 
I didnít have clear idea of how far am I going to make it on day 1. The whole trail is about 250 - 300 km from Pofadder to Vioolsdrif, and from what Iíve seen not more difficult than Damaraland/Kaokoland riverbeds - with exception of little trial section detour called somewhat melodramatically ĎRoad to Hellí. The 4x4 people said it takes normally 2 days, but the Amageza warriors do the whole trail and much more in one day. Tentatively, I expected to sleep over at the top/bottom of the Road to Hell about two thirds of the way to Vioolsdrif.
 
I loaded GPS track of the trail from Kamanya at home, but somehow couldnít find in my GPS list of tracks in the morning in Pofadder. I found it eventually in the list of Routes, which Iím guessing are navigable tracks. I donít use any automatic GPS navigational functions and use GPS only as a map that shows me where I am - that way Iím in control and always cognizant of where I am. Not being smart enough to use the GPS route that way, I just reverted to T4A tracks, which seemed to follow more or less the same route.
 
I set-off early after breakfast. First few km I took N14 until I reached the turnoff indicated on T4A about 20 km later. Annoyingly at the turn-off I found shiny new fence, that - barring cutting the fence - I couldnít get through. So I continued on tar another 10 km to the turnoff to the dirt D road heading to Klein Pella.
 

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(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4206/35366935361_3242c16159_b.jpg)

I took the sandy D road all the way to the Klein Pella date farm. The scenery was the trademark namibian landscape - desert with scenic rocky outcrops framing the horizon on all sides.
 

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In Klein Pella I got through the boom to the estate and got directed by a gentleman I bumped into to the 4x4 trail, heading west. I took the trail and cruised west on the sandy double track, which after few km connected again for a bit to a big dirt D road.
 

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4280/35454990636_713f29142b_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4256/34653530094_f914b98621_b.jpg)


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(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4290/35454892916_d652281cae_b.jpg)

Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 02, 2017, 10:40:50 pm
Day 7 - part 2


There are many tracks in the area and if one is not careful, they may end up riding all the way to Vioolsdrif on big dirt D road. While the scenery is great, my objective was to get to the remote rough stuff. I was aiming to get as soon as possible to the little tracks following the Orange river and stay with the river as far as I could without going completely off the trail bundu bashing (which I assumed wouldnít be appreciated by the locals).
 
So I took first turn right to the Orange I could find, made it to the orange river about few km east of Witbank village where I turned west and followed the river for the next 80 - 90 km past the next village - Goodhouse. The riding was fantastic, Iíd rather let the pictures tell the story:
 
 
(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4214/35108090850_a619a76e38_b.jpg)
 
 
(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4230/35454858456_b221a0da1f_b.jpg)
 
 
(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4284/35454851836_36b5bd3a4c_b.jpg)
 
 
(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4261/35108036640_eab741cfc2_b.jpg)
 
 
(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4283/34684490343_44a5996018_b.jpg)
 
 
(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4237/35494456155_255b88cc44_b.jpg)
 
 
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(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4284/35107796780_9abec2089e_b.jpg)

 
Eventually at about a lunch time past Goodhouse the trail turned inland and there was no way to continue along. The trail followed for few km dry river bed with that somewhat tricky grainy river sand, which for some strange reason was also corrugated. I stopped for a break and finally found the cause of the rattle from the front. The right bolt fastening the fairing and right radiator to the frame has sheared off in the frame. I have checked that before and didnít notice anything, so I assume it either got loosened or cracked on that tree impact and finally broke off on the trail. The radiator was hanging on the broken bolt stuck in the fairing frame (which was hanging loose) and the bottom bolt. Iím no mechanical engineer (sadly actually I am by education just because my father was I didnít have any idea what else study at the time, but never done an hour of real mechanical engineering work), but I didnít fancy potential radiator collapse here in the sticks. Especially not on my next objective - the Road to Hell - which is basically a dead end route that only very few suckers for punishment visit, so I would be completely on my own. Here are few images of the road stolen from Internet:
 

(http://www.leisurewheels.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/The-road-to-hell.jpg)


(http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=94064&stc=1&d=1303894559)

Disappointed, I decided to play it safe and decided to pass on Road to Hell this time (this is second time it eluded me - first time my Husky wouldnít even start in Pofadder). I contemplated where to next - the options being Steinkopf where there is nothing interesting, but they have petrol and most probably mechanic who will be able to drill the broken bolt out, or to Vioolsdrif, where there isnít much more than couple of camps and farms - not even petrol on SA side. I decided to stick with Vioolsdrif as I assumed there must be a mechanic fixing farm implements and tourist vehicles.
 
It was about 40 - 50 km on the Namaqua dirt roads to tar and then another 40 or so km on tar up to Vioolsdrif. The scenery and riding up to tar was stunning and helped to dissolve some of the disappointment.
 

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4232/35327170442_935899180e_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4257/35327166452_be137d8789_b.jpg)


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(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4241/34684227883_9f3177231b_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4264/34653101014_3554acf5c7_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4215/35454488636_8f420da6b2_b.jpg)

I arrived in Vioolsdrif in the late afternoon and booked into a chalet in the Oewerbos River camp. Later on I exorcised any remaining disappointment by somewhat pissed with owners and 3 friendly locals I bumped into in the bar.
 
To sum up Namaqua 4x4 Trail: It definitely is the most scenic desert track I have seen in SA. Maybe it was because of the season, but I found it quite a bit easier that I expected (that is minus Road to Hell of course) - the Damaraland & Kaokoland are a notch or two higher, and Kalahari tracks (either cutlines or those dunes) are in a different league in terms of difficulty and especially risk factor.
 
Not to take anything from Namaqua 4x4! It is fully on par or better with most of the stuff one will find in southern Namibia (that is up to Swakopmund). I believe that it is perfectly doable even on big adventure bike (sans RTH) if one can handle a bit of sand. So a perfect destination to experience ĎNamibiaí without a need for passport or travelling long distances.
 
M0lt3n, I think you should be able to do it on 1190 in one day no problem - if you start early with your iron butt credentials, you can even gun it back to Pofadder for overnighter (probably even Kakamas). I would say with 2 days for a ride, this (and the dunes I rode in SA south of Askham) are your safest bet for a good ride out from Kathu.
 
 
Route for the day:

 
(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4241/34721472003_ae85becb1e_b.jpg)

 
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 02, 2017, 10:59:18 pm
Day 7 - Video screenshots


Here are some video screenshots to give you better idea about the type of terrain one crosses on the Namaqua 4x4 trail - stationary pictures in the prior posts do not illustrate it that well:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4210/34623819383_bae0548904_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4232/35433670115_5f0a7f69f0_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4248/35267213692_e8eee358c0_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4243/35267212632_b2f8f724c7_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4208/35267209732_9bb44ee5e5_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4208/35433652445_a3c5cf22a5_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4199/35433649585_4f9ce39176_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4282/34623782223_97217e437b_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4286/35433621925_215c6bd7fc_b.jpg)

Witbank:


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4280/34591827524_fc4cc27240_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4275/34591826794_f6e9821bd9_b.jpg)


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Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 02, 2017, 11:01:52 pm
Thanks for the comments  :thumleft:

The tubular steel fairing frame on those Omegas are known to break under heavy conditions - several of them did on Amagezas. That wasn't the rattling was it?

I just posted the answer in the Day 7 installment. It wasn't the tubular steel, but the bolt that fastens it to the KTM frame (and holds radiator) on the right that broke. And I found out later in Joburg that also brace that attached fairing to the steering neck was broken.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Tom van Brits on July 02, 2017, 11:25:42 pm
I need to come back to this RR at a later stage to see the pictures, subscribe  :bueller:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Kortbroek on July 03, 2017, 11:46:22 am
Very nice RR Xpat. The area along both sides of the orange river between Kakamas all the way to Alexanderbaai I know very well as I spend a lot of time there for work. To date I haven't been out there on the bike and reading your RR is making me even more keen to do so. If you know where to look there are some true gems in that area in terms of riding.

As to your lament about the "electric fence" you ran into in the Blouputs area next to the orange river, that is a boundary fence of the Augrabies National Park. I have been privileged to visit just about every corner of that park and you are right, it would make for amazing riding. It is however a good thing that it is closed of as the largest part of the park has been closed of from public access which allows for amazing conservation efforts to succeed with almost zero human influence.

I look forward to the rest of this RR  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: MaxThePanda on July 03, 2017, 12:02:50 pm
Thanks for the comments  :thumleft:

The tubular steel fairing frame on those Omegas are known to break under heavy conditions - several of them did on Amagezas. That wasn't the rattling was it?

I just posted the answer in the Day 7 installment. It wasn't the tubular steel, but the bolt that fastens it to the KTM frame (and holds radiator) on the right that broke. And I found out later in Joburg that also brace that attached fairing to the steering neck was broken.

PSP in Cape Town developed a very structural and clever CNC brace and fairing support for the KTM Cape Town version of this conversion (the high end one using the rally tanks, not the cheaper version). Worth a look to replace the tubular thingie if you plan on keeping the bike.

I've ridden through that Pela/Namaqua 4x4 area about five times, including two Amagezas and a few other trips, and there are technical areas that one can sniff out, including a bunch of routes up river beds and canyons, but I agree with your sentiments about it being less technical than the other areas you've mentioned. Down to not many mountains and not many dunes, I guess. There's also much more technical riding across the N7 in the Richtersveld Conservancy, if one ventures off the well worn T4A tracks.

The Road to Hell is a bit of a different matter. I took our crew down there about 2 years ago - I was on a 450 and it wasn't too bad, but some others on 690s and DRs in our group battled getting back up.

Andrew/Kamanya was in that area in Jan and hoped to go down the Road to Hell in his Pajero, but apparently things have deteriorated substantially:

(https://photos.smugmug.com/Cars/2016/12-Faces-of-Namib-Tour/i-MNgDdMw/0/f6d06102/L/IMG_0385-L.jpg)
 http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=209213.msg3835248#msg3835248 (http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=209213.msg3835248#msg3835248)

Lovely pix -thanks - enjoying the memories!
Title: Yessir
Post by: Osadabwa on July 03, 2017, 01:29:04 pm
Doing it right, Xpat!

For what it's worth, I think you made the right call on skipping that horrible section of the "road" to hell. One little drop on that same bum radiator and you could have been building your own funeral cairn.

I'm itching to ride now... dammit. Maybe I can squeeze in a day ride this week...

 :snorting:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 04, 2017, 05:42:11 pm
Day 8
 
This was a rest day - or rather a repair day. The priority being mending the broken fairing subframe. The night before I have asked Neville (I hope my useless memory of names serves me right here), owner  of the Oewerbos River Camp, whether there is a mechanic who could help with the broken bolt. As one would expect, he directed me to the Post Office. You need any mechanicing done in Vioolsdrif - drilling out a broken bolt or complete rebuilt of the Golf engine - Post Office is the place to go!
 

Orange river at the Oewerbos River Camp:


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4257/35327084052_afb0f7d1c3_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4206/35494036515_0e6005d44b_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4253/35107654240_5f9cee8506_b.jpg)

After breakfast I headed out to seek out the Post Office based on Nevilleís directions and got lost immediately. Which is quite a feast in a place with about 50 buildings spread few km along one dirt road. Eventually I stopped at the Bangladeshi stop (my local drinking compadres swapped few funny stories night before about the Bangladeshi, plot of which eluded me, but I was drunk enough to laugh along anyway) where I bought few things and asked about the Post Office. He said it is right next door, so I walked around the building but no luck.
 

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4077/35676995356_e2e14bebc2_b.jpg)


 
At least I gathered from the conversation in which direction next door is and rode back km or so until I spotted the place.
 
It indeed was a Post Office franchise run from a rented house by a family who seemed to fall on a hard times. To get by, apart from running Post Office branch, father and son were doing car and bike repairs - any mechanicing work really that came their way. In the course of the morning I learned that for 11 years before they settled in Vioolsdrif they used to travel the length of South Africa in a van as a music group, playing various gigs at weddings, casinos and such.
 
They were nice people, but a walking reminder of the risks of motorcycling - or rather road motorcycling. Father - who attended to my bike - basically didnít have one knee and could walk only by holding his thigh and calf together with his hand, otherwise his leg was prone to  collapse in unnatural direction - result of a motorcycle accident. Mother had part of her skull replaced by metal plate and various complicated fractures (healed only up to a point) from when she went under a truck at 180 kmh on Hayabusa or some such contraption. She explained to me little bit of their family history and I think there wasnít one member of the family - female or male - who didnít ride motorbikes. Mind you, they considered as motorbike only something upwards of 1300cc and 300 kmh top speed.
 
We stripped the rally fairings and the tanks off the bike, and they set-off to drill the broken bolt out of the frame. It was quite a mission - their drill wasnít the most powerful, the access to the bolt wasnít easy and the thread got damaged in the process and had to be re-threaded. Iíve spent better part of the morning there helping here and there, chatting to the family (little interesting fact apart from the medical history - they do complete overhaul of Golf engine for R2500 - parts included), and watching soldiers from the local base sent their weekly parcels to wherever their families lived.
 

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4290/35547503772_7e849c9ee7_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4048/35716359415_3f40a1866d_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4082/35547516842_2b359b824a_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4034/35547499902_cbc10af9bb_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4102/34875078344_d73388be31_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4206/35547518622_810ff77359_b.jpg)

 
Eventually they managed to get the bolt out and a put a new one in. It looked to me like the bolt is not completely in, but we couldnít get it any tighter, so it will have to do.
 
Feeling guilty about my easy peasy existence compared to their lot, I paid about triple of what they asked (still nowhere close to what I would pay in the sunny Joburg) and was off to the River Camp to indulge the gastro tourist for the rest of the day.
 
 
Title: Re: Yessir
Post by: Xpat on July 04, 2017, 05:44:16 pm
Doing it right, Xpat!

For what it's worth, I think you made the right call on skipping that horrible section of the "road" to hell. One little drop on that same bum radiator and you could have been building your own funeral cairn.

I'm itching to ride now... dammit. Maybe I can squeeze in a day ride this week...

 :snorting:

Don't worry, I'm itching as well. In Europe now, busted my leg again - why do you think I play at Hemingway here?
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 04, 2017, 05:50:38 pm
...
As to your lament about the "electric fence" you ran into in the Blouputs area next to the orange river, that is a boundary fence of the Augrabies National Park. I have been privileged to visit just about every corner of that park and you are right, it would make for amazing riding. It is however a good thing that it is closed of as the largest part of the park has been closed of from public access which allows for amazing conservation efforts to succeed with almost zero human influence.
...


I'm all for conservation, but I think opening one nice pass through track similar to Namaqua 4x4 would make too much damage. Namaqua 4x4 is freely accessible to public and I have met nobody there. These areas are for connoisseurs and I doubt it would attract huge crowds that would cause real damage. At the end of the day, one can access it anyway - at least on 4x4, but probably on bike as well - but only from Augrabies and have to come back the same way if I understand it correctly. If they would make anothere entrance from those grape farms in the north, it would make for nice loop with no more damage  that is caused by an occassional 4x4 that ventures that way today.

But the fact is that I know nothing about that area, so may be completely wrong on this - and of course I have a vested interest here   ;)
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 04, 2017, 05:56:56 pm


PSP in Cape Town developed a very structural and clever CNC brace and fairing support for the KTM Cape Town version of this conversion (the high end one using the rally tanks, not the cheaper version). Worth a look to replace the tubular thingie if you plan on keeping the bike.

I've ridden through that Pela/Namaqua 4x4 area about five times, including two Amagezas and a few other trips, and there are technical areas that one can sniff out, including a bunch of routes up river beds and canyons, but I agree with your sentiments about it being less technical than the other areas you've mentioned. Down to not many mountains and not many dunes, I guess. There's also much more technical riding across the N7 in the Richtersveld Conservancy, if one ventures off the well worn T4A tracks.

....


Thank you - I will have a look at that PSP brace once back in SA.

Just to reiterate - I wasn't critcising the Namaqua 4x4 in any way - it is fantastic riding with no match in SA (for desert riding). It was more an answer to a different conversation I had with m0lt3nelsewhere, where he was asking about how difficult the Namaqua 4x4 is - or rather how long it takes. At the time - before I rode it - I assumed it takes two days (even without RTH) to navigate, so I just thought to give an update after I have actually ridden it.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Kortbroek on July 04, 2017, 06:50:31 pm
At the end of the day, one can access it anyway - at least on 4x4, but probably on bike as well - but only from Augrabies and have to come back the same way if I understand it correctly. If they would make anothere entrance from those grape farms in the north, it would make for nice loop with no more damage  that is caused by an occassional 4x4 that ventures that way today.

The entrance to their road through the park, which is where that sign is you saw, is at the park offices. All of the roads and tracks accessible to the public restricts you to the eastern and southern parts of the park. This leaves the valleys and plains to the north and west untouched. It is quite amazing how nature is reclaiming the park. Some of the areas I visited in there have ruins of old farm houses and roads that once were major gravel roads that have now pretty much disappeared.

The riding to be had in the park is also only about 5-6km of riverbeds for the valleys leading down to the Orange river. The rest would be on gravel roads in the park. One big issue from bikes would be the noise unfortunately. I think we are spoilt for choice both for riding and proper nature reserves in South Africa.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 04, 2017, 06:57:56 pm
At the end of the day, one can access it anyway - at least on 4x4, but probably on bike as well - but only from Augrabies and have to come back the same way if I understand it correctly. If they would make anothere entrance from those grape farms in the north, it would make for nice loop with no more damage  that is caused by an occassional 4x4 that ventures that way today.

The entrance to their road through the park, which is where that sign is you saw, is at the park offices. All of the roads and tracks accessible to the public restricts you to the eastern and southern parts of the park. This leaves the valleys and plains to the north and west untouched. It is quite amazing how nature is reclaiming the park. Some of the areas I visited in there have ruins of old farm houses and roads that once were major gravel roads that have now pretty much disappeared.

The riding to be had in the park is also only about 5-6km of riverbeds for the valleys leading down to the Orange river. The rest would be on gravel roads in the park. One big issue from bikes would be the noise unfortunately. I think we are spoilt for choice both for riding and proper nature reserves in South Africa.

Fair enough, I can always get my fill in Botswana  ;).

I actually feel that this kind of riding is pretty limited in SA due to prevalence of private property. Sure there are plenty of nice and scenic dirt roads for adventure bikes, but for proper dual sporting  - apart from few areas usually on the fringes of SA, one usually needs to head across the border.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Kortbroek on July 04, 2017, 07:18:07 pm
Ja true. We do have less public land than many other countries, especially Botswana. But that is a whole other debate.

Still, if you look in the right places there is some amazing riding to be had
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 04, 2017, 09:35:37 pm
Day 9 - part 1
 
My original plan from Vioolsdrif was to circumvent Richtersveld to Sendelingsdrif, cross to Namibia and turn back east for a return trip to Joburg. After the Khawa dunes fiasco I was eager for re-match so I decided to turn back already in Vioolsdrif to save day or two for another attempt at the dunes crossing. The new plan was to cross to Nam in Vioolsdrif, turn east and try to follow Orange river as close as possible - basically trying to follow equivalent of Namaqua 4x4 track on the other side of the Orange river. After that I wanted to surf Kalahari sand along the Nam/SA border back to Bokspits.
 
Before the trip I have started a thread on WD asking if anybody knows tracks along the Orange river on the Nam side, but the feedback Iíve got wasnít very encouraging. Basically, there were few D roads that ventured to a settlement or two from the north, but they were all dead ends and didnít allow for an interesting route off the beaten track. However, looking at the satellite images I could see tracks going along the river east from the farm right opposite Goodhouse (the farm - lines of trees across the river - is in one of the pictures I posted in Day 7), which after few dozen km turned into Hom river and followed the riverbed all the way to Warmbad. That looked properly off the beaten track and interesting.
 
The only problem was that the route crossed something called Sandfontein Lodge & Nature Reserve, and I didnít know if it is OK to ride there. According to Neville the place was a high end luxury lodge (not a good sign for riding), but he wasnít sure if I would be let through. So in the morning of departure I got my lazy ass into gear finally, look-up their phone number and called them up. And sure enough, unfriendly lady on the other side told me that Iím not welcome.
 
Not keen to run into a dead end, I switched back to Sendelingsdrif plan. To save a day the plan was to make it all the way to Ais-Ais (all the way around Richtersveld) for overnighter, and from there to gun it next day on D roads as close as possible to Koes close to SA border, without any detour to the Orange river.
 
With that settled, the next problem was petrol. Last time I filled up was 300 km ago in Pofadder as in my modified original plan (the second one) I would fill up in the petrol station on the Nam side of the Vioolsdrif border. Luckily Neville had some spare petrol, so I bought it off him and was ready to go.
 
By the time I sorted all this out it was almost 11:00 am, so I set-off with gusto to catch up some of the lost time. First part of the route is rocky dirt following eastern boundary of Richtersveld Reserve to Eksteensfontein. On the way to Eksteensfontein I passed 4 - 5 4x4s which made this remote road feel almost busy.


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From Eksteensfontein I contined west along the Richtersveld boundary. It is a nice route, but I got eventually bored of the main dirt road and started looking for alternatives. Iíve noticed on T4A track heading up into the Richtersveld community conservancy (or some such), which didnít seem to be off limit (there was no barrier and a sign saying welcome). The track initially just along the heel of the mountains, but after few km it split with one leg connecting bag to the road circumventing the conservancy, and other longer one heading into the mountains and exiting at Kuboes. Intrigued I took the turn to Kuboes.
 
The route was a double track crawling up the mountains crossing numerous dry riverbeds. Eventually after about 10 km it took a turn north into a steep valley and followed along or through dry rocky riverbed.


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The riding wasnít particularly technical, but combination of the rocks and the heat did sap my energy a bit. I have made it up into the mountains, where the track still climbing up followed wide valleys across the mountains.
 
 
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About two thirds into the track I came upon a barely readable sign saying Richtersveld National Park - No Entry Without Permit. So I had a dilemma - to turn back or push on and face the music should I get caught. I wasnít too keen to backtrack through the rocky riverbeds as by this stage it was getting late and yes, the bolt holding the subframe was broken again with radiator half hanging in the air. It was also getting late and Kuboes was only 20 or so km away - probably a quarter of what  it would take to get there backtracking. I also could see on T4A that the track follows the boundary and doesnít veer off deeper into the park. So I decided to push on.
 
 
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Surprisingly the track continued to climb up and up and wasnít getting any smoother either - not a good sign for my fairing. Eventually I climbed to the top of a mountain that overlooked the flat plains below. That is where I came to my match. There was very steep and eroded downhill section that stopped me in my tracks. I walked it down and up and contemplated my next move. I wouldnít ride it as the risk of injury was just too high. But with a bit of effort I figured I should be able to walk the bike down. The problem was I didnít know what is the track like ahead. Should I run into similar section going uphill, I would be properly stuck as I wouldnít be able to get the bike up, nor be able to backtrack - so would have to walk out for help and who knows how keen they would be considering I was there without permit.
 

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The tricky bit:


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So for the second time on the trip I choose to chicken out and turn tail. I guess I should rather stick with the gastro tourism.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: billy-joe on July 04, 2017, 11:42:53 pm
shit, that last bit does look gnarly!  fun on a plastic but not so lekker on your own on a bigger scoot!  really enjoying the rr, keep it coming pls.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Ian in Great Brak River on July 05, 2017, 12:10:27 am
Wow! I will never get anywhere near where you get to.

 :thumleft:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: frankmac on July 05, 2017, 05:47:40 am
Wow! I will never get anywhere near where you get to.

 :thumleft:

Too true for me.

I read earlier, you said you had broken your leg again whilst in Europe?
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Slim Jim on July 05, 2017, 07:55:41 am
WOW :thumleft: :drif:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: m0lt3n on July 05, 2017, 08:00:51 am
Wow! I will never get anywhere near where you get to.

 :thumleft:

Too true for me.

I read earlier, you said you had broken your leg again whilst in Europe?
Ja, whats up?

Great trip, keen to hear the next dune instalment!
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: MaxThePanda on July 05, 2017, 08:01:43 am
Day 9 - part 1

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You just got unlucky! That downhill stretch is the worst on this road -  there's one other big descent coming down out of the mountains but not as technical. So you would have been fine - but kudos for trying it alone! That's some properly remote territory and if you'd got stuck you would have had a very long, lonely walk out. You're braver than I am!

Sorry to hear about the leg - what a bummer!!!
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 05, 2017, 10:53:46 am
Thank you  :thumleft:

The leg is not broken - I just twisted it badly on a hike and the metal pin probably saved it. I have been out of commission though for the last 2 weeks hobbling around in my parents house waiting for it to mend itself.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: sidetrack on July 05, 2017, 11:16:26 am
Day 9 - part 1

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You just got unlucky! That downhill stretch is the worst on this road -  there's one other big descent coming down out of the mountains but not as technical. So you would have been fine - but kudos for trying it alone! That's some properly remote territory and if you'd got stuck you would have had a very long, lonely walk out. You're braver than I am!

Sorry to hear about the leg - what a bummer!!!
That is crazy, would even be a mission on the 500
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 05, 2017, 12:30:08 pm
Day 9 - part 2
 
I back-tracked taking much less time than going up and down on the plains connected to the main dirt road between Richtersveld village and Sendelingsdrif. The ride down the mountains with the setting sun was quite dandy, except for one scare when on a winding sandy double track clump of grass pulled my left foot off the footpeg and held onto it for a meter or two twisting it much like I twisted it when I broke my leg year ago. For a moment I thought I broke it again, but luckily it was just temporary shock and it returned to the normal. From then on I kept the toes tucked in at all times like a shy little virgin.
 
 
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By the time I reached the main dirt road the sun was just about to disappear behind horizon and I still had about 60 km of badly corrugated sand roads to navigate to Sendelingsdrif. I set-off keen to get to the camp as soon as possible, but was distracted constantly by the stunning scenery colored beautifully by the setting sun. I had to stop few times to take pictures and as a result ended up riding last 30 or so km in the dark.


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I arrived at Sendelingsdrif in complete darkness with everything already shut. Guy at the checkpoint 20 before the town told me that the lodge is fully booked out so I went in search of campsite. The place is small and the campsite is about 150 meters from the main park office in the centre, yet it was so dark and quiet that it took me about half an hour of walking around before I found it - and it was actually pretty full, go figure.
 
I put up a tent for the first time on this trip and after breakfast of one can or another I dived in. The night in the tent was a miserable affair. It was bloody cold and my super-duper minimalist sleeping bag just couldnít cope. I was OK ish when laying at the back as my back was warm from the air mattress, but I canít sleep at the back and as soon as I turned the kidneys got unpleasantly cold very quickly. I put all the thermals and warm clothes on, but only to marginal improvement. The experience almost made me see the merit of booking decent human accommodation upfrontÖ
 
 
Route for the day:
 
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Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 05, 2017, 01:02:46 pm
Wow! I will never get anywhere near where you get to.

 :thumleft:

I don't know about that Ian. Which section you are referring to?

I have seen your videos from Namibia, so I know that you can ride big heavy bike in tricky sand at speed. Now while I wouldn't recommend to attack Kalahari sand on big bike, I'm sure on a lighter 650 DS bike you would do just fine.

As for that Richtersveld track, it wasn't that technical (I will post later today some screenscraps from video which will give better idea about the terrain). Yes, there were rocks, but it was more tiring than leg/character breaking (apart from that section I chickened out - but then even I didn't ride it). I am pretty sure you would do just fine on 650 bike, there. I would venture a guess that you would make it up there even on AT, seeing that you are pretty tall (long legs help a lot in rock riding) and seeing what type of terrain Losper rides in Lesotho.

Ultimately I think in your case it is matter of choice, not skill. If this kind of riding is something you would like to do, just get yourself cheap 650 bike (doesn't need to be 690/701, DR 650 or XR 650 or TE610 would do just fine) and I'm pretty sure you can do anything I can - I'm genuinely very average rider at best.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 05, 2017, 04:10:56 pm
Day 9 - Video Screenshots


Here are few snapshots from the video to provide better feel for the terrain on Day 9.

Vioolsdrif to Eskteenfontein:


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South of Richtersveld past Eksteenfontein:


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Mountain shortcut to Kuboes:


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Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: P.K. on July 06, 2017, 09:01:38 am
Very nice ride with your usual excellent pics.
How did the Mosko Moto gear perform?  ...I really rate that luggage system.
Title: Lekker
Post by: Osadabwa on July 06, 2017, 02:31:56 pm
Man, if you just had somebody else there as an insurance policy, you'd have made it down that rocky section (and back up if need be). Smart move though, to back out while solo.

I don't get why you don't just take a thicker sleeping bag and bush camp in places like that. It's stunning scenery, and sitting there under the stars would be wonderful... if you can keep warm that is... and of course gourmet food is not likely to be on offer.

Sorry to hear about your hurt leg... just further proof that hiking, not biking, is dangerous.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 06, 2017, 09:24:49 pm
Day 10 - part 1

Next morning I slept in a bit  trying to catch up on the sleep I missed shivering in the cold of the night. By the time I got up, most of the campers were busy packing and leaving. So with an utmost urgency I went scavenging for a new front fairing bolt (I lost the broken one on corrugations night before and the radiator and subframe were just hanging in the air) and managed to bum one off a gentleman in 4x4 from Gauteng.

With that sorted I went shopping for a breakfast, broke the camp and went in search of somebody to hand over money to in the hope that they will fix the broken bolt - again. Yep, modern consumerism got the best of me long time ago. I managed to locate a National Park guide who claimed to be also a mechanic on the side, but he wasnít much of a help. Out of options I had to turn my attention from finding someone to make the problem go away, to fixing it myself - always the last option with me. I stripped the fairing and contemplated my line of attack.


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I didnít have means (tools and more importantly ability) to drill the broken bolt out. So I came up with the following ingenuine solution: I put a bolt through the loose fairing frame and radiator holder (or whatever it is called) to fixate the radiator to the loose fairing frame. I couldnít screw the new bolt into the bike frame (thinking about it now I probably could use screw on the other side instead), so I fixated the new bolt in place using couple of cigarette butts and duct tape. I then weaved myself a new cable tie subframe connecting the loose end of the fairing frame to the bike frame. Like so:


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Chuffed with the result I basked in the sun for a moment admiring results of my inner genius. Once I had my fill, I put the fairing back on, packed up and set-off - by that time it was almost 11:00 am.

Iím sure the mechanically perceptive among you can already see the problem, but I didnít. My first stop was the petrol station and as it happened getting there all the turns were left. I cruised nonchalantly past throngs of lycra clad cyclists (for some weird reason there was a cyclo race in the middle of the desert with the finish right next to the immigration post) to the garage, filled up, turned around (left), cruised back to the immigration post, turned right to parking and to the amusement of the lycra-ists and two officers hanging about (they all watched - I have Wings on my 690) almost face planted, barely saving the fall with my leg stretched way too far away exactly at the tipping point, so for a second or two it could have gone either way. Yes, the right fork snagged on the weave.

Anyway, I saved it and avoiding any eye contact walked briskly to the immigration office. I considered potential improvements to my design, but couldnít find any so decided to push on with my current fix. The fork didnít stop hard as the cable ties gave way under pressure so I could still turn right fine, the only problem being increased resistance from the cable ties. All I had to do was to recalibrate my expectations and I should be fine.

Once through the border I bought ticket for the ferry across Orange river and rode down to the river to wait for the operators to return from their lunch break.


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On the Nam side I rode to their border post few km away, and dealt with the formalities. in the vehicle register I have noticed 4 bikes from Gauteng (2x 1190, 990, KLR) that have crossed earlier that morning heading for Ais Ais. Which is where I was going so I figured I may hook up with them for a little pow wow.

By the time I was done, it was about 1 pm SA time - i.e. 2 pm in Namibia (why that country with minimum change in the daylight throughout the year goes through the hassle of different summer and winter time eludes me completely). Ais Ais is about 140 - 160 km away so no big deal, but I rather start moving.

The road along the Orange river and northern flank of Richtersveld is one of the most scenic in the Southern Africa, so I had to stop quite a few times to take pictures. Iíll let the pictures show the scenery:


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4236/35326565582_6c480b3c35_b.jpg)


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Half way through I noticed many tracks running up a dune to the left with no ďNo Entryí sign, so I assumed there is a view point and gunned it up the dune for few photos. Kortbroek here on the forum afterwards told me that it is indeed off limits and if caught one can get in serious trouble, so donít try at home what you see here:


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4289/35453882386_0326c850c4_b.jpg)


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After the dune I continued cruising east in the Richtersveld scenery:


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4264/35493411725_174d817182_b.jpg)


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Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Pistonpete on July 06, 2017, 09:37:57 pm
Great stuff...thanks for sharing!  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 06, 2017, 09:41:58 pm
Day 10 - part 2


Eventually I came to the exit gate at the end of the Richtersveld protected area and within a km or so turned left onto a double track shortcut heading up the Gamkab riverbed. Unfortunately It is only about 10 - 15 km long, but the scenery and especially riding got even better. As it was getting late I managed only 2 pictures with real camera, so will have to pad it up with screenshots from video:


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4263/34652342884_ff3d139f5a_b.jpg)


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By the time I connected to D316 the sun was very low so I gunned straight it up to the Ais Ais. At the entrance boom I full of trepidation asked security guard if they have rooms and restaurant and he said sure, they have luxury rooms and restaurant. I almost kissed him and gunned it to the reception. The receptionist told me that they are under reconstruction and whatever rooms they have are fully booked out. Somewhat deflated I went to cruise packed campsite looking for the 4 Gauteng bikes. I didnít find any, so I just found a spot in the less populated far corner and set-up a camp.

The good news was - they had a restaurant, where I spent rest of the evening protein and carbo-loading. Later I got approach by a guy - Stefan, who was actually one of the missing bikers and he invited me over to their table. They were a 4 guys from Gauteng on a 7 day round trip. They started from Gauteng, rode N14 and a bit of dirt in two days to Hondeklip Bay, from there rode up to Sendelingsdrif (unlike me, they booked their accommodation so stayed in chalet like normal human beings) and today to Ais Ais. Now they were on a 3 day commute back to Joburg, mostly on N14. I felt sorry for the dude on KLR chasing 2 1190s and one 990 on those boring long roads.

Actually I felt sorry for all of them. They were a good bunch of guys and hopefully enjoyed their trip, but I couldnít help thinking what a huge missed opportunity this was. I understand they had families and 7 days was all they could get but I felt one could squeeze so much better riding into 7 days up in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Swaziland or even Mozambique. Heck, even on this trip they could have included in that timeframe Namaqua 4x4, the route around Richtersveld and even some sand in Kalahari. But of course at the end of the day my feelings are irrelevant - the important thing is that they enjoyed the trip. Still, to make myself feel a bit better I recommended a ride through Riemvasmaak on the way back (as they were planning to head for Augrabies on the way back to N14) to get at least something out of that horrible commute.


Route for the day:


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4212/35400155701_0f03d2177a_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: m0lt3n on July 07, 2017, 07:58:42 am
comments! this thread needs comments to stretch the photos over more pages. My pc or internet or cache cant keep up :(

Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Namakwalander on July 07, 2017, 08:38:20 am
comments! this thread needs comments to stretch the photos over more pages. My pc or internet or cache cant keep up :(

So m0lt3n... Xpat has gone through all this effort to write this amazing report with photos to help the debate along....

Can we now hand you a tissue to wipe the egg of your face?  :pot:

Just joking.



Xpat, thanks for this amazing report and the time spent to do all the writing and posting photos  :thumleft: Also time spent during the trip to take photos.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Stroke Her on July 07, 2017, 08:53:42 am
XPat...stunning report! Thank you for taking us along :thumleft:

Quick question: Have you ridden the Namaqua Eco 4x4 section from Vioolsdrif to Goodhouse on a previous occasion? I am interested in your comparison of difficulty of Namaqua with Kaokoland hence the question.

Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Kaboef on July 07, 2017, 10:18:45 am
I am enjoying this report very much.

Thanks Xpat.

That road from Sendlingsdrift to Gamchab canyon is probably my second most favourite road in Namibia.

Did you find anyone bushcamping in Gamchab canyon? Most of the times people camp right under that massive cliff halfway through.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: ChrisL - DUSTRIDERS on July 07, 2017, 11:34:30 am
Xpat every time I see a pic of your revcounter it looks as if it is broken? Way off to the right every time or am I mistaken?
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 07, 2017, 11:35:35 am
Very nice ride with your usual excellent pics.
How did the Mosko Moto gear perform?  ...I really rate that luggage system.

Mosko Moto Rekless worked great - I'm complete convert to the backbone holster type of luggage, as it hugs the bike closely affecting minimaly handling of the bike (it is almost if you don't have a luggage) and at the same time addresses things I didn't like on the original backbone type systems like Giant Loop, which are difficult to get in and out of, and restrict riders movement back (especially if the luggage sits upfront as it should for centralization of COG). After yearch of searching, I believe this is the ultimate luggage set-up and will stick up to it.

Just to be sure, - I'm not saying Mosko Moto is the ultimate (though the best I'm aware of right now), but the backbone holster system in general. Few things I would consider changing on Mosko Moto is get rid of that fancy beaver tail (the middle section designed for holding rolliebags on top) and just replace with some simple D rings to attach rock straps. While I understand somewhat the logic of the beaver tail in enduro bikes like 500 (but then D ring would work just as well), on big bike (690 is my biggest bike) I would prever simplicity of D rings as I put my rolliebag way too far back for the beaver tail anyway to allow freedom of movement. And I would provide straps on the bottom of the saddle holsters to allow attaching something below. There are compression straps and I used them to attach waterproof bag underneath (the red thing on the right side), but while this worked fine, they were not designed for it and their positions are not ideal (too close to each other).

THe biggest disadvantage of Mosko Moto is the price and that one has to import it (they sell only directly, no distributors right now) with prohibitive custom charges and VAT adingi almost 50 % of the price on top (without shipping). I can live with the price, but those surcharges make them unfeasible economically in SA for most people except for extreme enthusiast like myself (and even I put on hold buying Rekless 80 I was thinking about for longer trips - right now I have Rekless 40)

That is why I was lobbying hard with you to look into producing something like this. I do not understand complexities of producing something like this (I mean backbone holster system, not complete ripoff of this specific luggage, which I do not condone), but I believe there may be good sales potential if produced simpler and cheaper (and if you can sell overseas as SA is just way too small market).

Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 07, 2017, 11:39:47 am
Xpat every time I see a pic of your revcounter it looks as if it is broken? Way off to the right every time or am I mistaken?

It is KTM, so naturally the whole instrument cluster or whatever it is called - including rev counter, packed up already on my first trip through Moz (the bike was second hand but had only about 2k km on it from new). The new one is over R4k and will probably last another 2k km so I never bothered to replace it.

I actually find it better not to know what speed I'm riddin at, as I get childish on occassion and try to get up to certain speed for example in deep sand and it becomes too much of a distraction and risk.
Title: Re: Lekker
Post by: Xpat on July 07, 2017, 11:51:00 am
...
I don't get why you don't just take a thicker sleeping bag and bush camp in places like that. It's stunning scenery, and sitting there under the stars would be wonderful... if you can keep warm that is... and of course gourmet food is not likely to be on offer.

...

As for the thicker sleeping bag - I did not expect to run into the problem with the current one, never did before (but yes, I camp only in self-defence).

Regarding wild camping up on the mountains/ in the bush, I generally have no problem with that despite all my 'gastro tourist' yapping, with one big caveat: I am very paranoid about water. Since I almost expired from heatstroke in your neck of woods - south of Loyangalani riding down from Omo valley in Ethiopia along Lake Turkana, I always carry and drink way too much water - normally if riding even in remotely remote parts (which most of these were) I take 12 litres with me - 3 in camel bag and 9 in water bag in my luggage (my whole right pannier was taken by water). I know it is more psychological problem than real physical one, and I rarely actually even get into those 9 spare litres on the day.

The thing is - even though I never use the water, I always carry it for emergency as I ride mostly alone. SHould I need to walk out 30 - 50 km from the mountain / in the desert in hot sun (of course here I would walk in the night, but I wouldn't probably dare to do that in Bots cutlines with hyenas and lions on the prowl) I want to have enough water with me.

And if I camp for the night in a place where I cannot replenish water, I would be inevitably starting in the morning with less water, which makes me immediately unnecessariy anxious. I am perfectly happy to wild camp next to stream/spring where I can replenish the water. The food I can get without for few days. Right now I'm in Europe and the plan was hiking about 900 km around Slovakia, and before I twisted my leg on day 2, the plan (and reality for day 1) was wildcamping in the forrect - but right next to a small spring, of which there are many here in the mountains.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: ChrisL - DUSTRIDERS on July 07, 2017, 11:56:14 am
 I take 12 litres with me

That is a lot of water but a good idea.
I once bought a small sleepingbag rated as -5. One night in the mountains close to Rosh Pinah convinsed me that the -5 was the temp you will die not the temp it will still keep you warm at. :biggrin: :eek7:
Now I have a -9 down sleeping bag that takes up a lot of space but I am warmer.
Title: Re: Lekker
Post by: Ri on July 07, 2017, 12:07:36 pm
And if I camp for the night in a place where I cannot replenish water, I would be inevitably starting in the morning with less water, which makes me immediately unnecessariy anxious. I am perfectly happy to wild camp next to stream/spring where I can replenish the water. The food I can get without for few days. Right now I'm in Europe and the plan was hiking about 900 km around Slovakia, and before I twisted my leg on day 2, the plan (and reality for day 1) was wildcamping in the forrect - but right next to a small spring, of which there are many here in the mountains.

Whoa, I would love to hike around Slovakia! Once visited there for a week, what a beautiful country (although a little run down and expensive). Pity about twisting the leg, hope it heals up quickly. How are you traveling now?
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 07, 2017, 12:08:04 pm
...

Quick question: Have you ridden the Namaqua Eco 4x4 section from Vioolsdrif to Goodhouse on a previous occasion? I am interested in your comparison of difficulty of Namaqua with Kaokoland hence the question.

No, I haven't ridden it before, but I have ridden it on this trip just in opposite direction. Or are you talking specifically about Road to Hell?

I think in my summary of Namaqua 4x4 (the whole trail witout RTH which I didn't do) I did mention that Kaokoland is significantly more difficult (if one includes Van Zyl's Pass) from technical riding perspective. In terms of 'adventure' factor (i.e. risks), Kaokoland is a different league. In Namaqua 4x4 there are very few rocks (again sans RTH - but that is only about 1-2 km or so long), there is alternative D road running along few km away from the river, so if one finds it too difficult they can chicken out easily, it is densely populated (relatively speaking) - both Witbank and Goodhouse are proper village, while in Kaokoland, except maybe for Purros you might actually ride through a 'village' without even noticing it. And of course in Kaokoland there are proper African critters walking around, so if you need to walk out in emergency, you might face of choice of walking doing the day and cooking yourself, or walking at night trying to dodge whatever is lurking out there.

That said, if you combine N4x4 with proper exploration of the adjactent Richtersveld as MaxThePanda mentioned, at least in terms of tecnical rriding difficulty, they would be roughly on par with Kaokoland. In terms of 'adventure' factor, Kaokoland still rules. Quite frankly, in the forgotten early days of this forum, Doodsakker in Angola was considered gold standard. I still have to do that, but I suspect Kaokoland may beat even that, because of the animal factor. MTP is going there in September and he has done Doodsakker, so it will be interesting to see his opinion (Doodsakker is much more remote so may win on that). For me the only place that tops Kaokoland in terms of 'oh shit' factor are Botswanian Kalahari tracks - there you are really alone and feel distinctly not on top of the food chain.

But as usually I digres - to sum up: Kaokoland is in a different league, but within SA, Namaqua 4x4 is one and only and as far as I'm concerned a must for anybody who travels that part of SA  IMO - especially as it is not as risky as those other areas we discussed.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 07, 2017, 12:19:23 pm
I take 12 litres with me

That is a lot of water but a good idea.
I once bought a small sleepingbag rated as -5. One night in the mountains close to Rosh Pinah convinsed me that the -5 was the temp you will die not the temp it will still keep you warm at. :biggrin: :eek7:
Now I have a -9 down sleeping bag that takes up a lot of space but I am warmer.


I was looking into sleeping bags now for hiking, and it seems the answer is not a bigger sleeping bag (unless you are climbing Himalayas of course), but layers. You can buy these thermal bags, that are small and waight nothing (e.g. SOL Escape bag), and bivvy bags - smaller and lighter - and yet in final result more warm sleeping solution.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 07, 2017, 12:23:27 pm
I am enjoying this report very much.

Thanks Xpat.

That road from Sendlingsdrift to Gamchab canyon is probably my second most favourite road in Namibia.

Did you find anyone bushcamping in Gamchab canyon? Most of the times people camp right under that massive cliff halfway through.

No there was no-one camping there. I'm not sure how known the canyon is - the 4 bikers I met didn't know about it and missed it - even though it is a shortcut to Ais Ais
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Stroke Her on July 07, 2017, 12:25:20 pm
Thanks XPat...I must have gotten your map and your narrative mixed up as it looked like you left the N4x4 at Goodhouse on this trip.

I have only done Vioolsdrif to Goodhouse (albeit in mid summer) and it was tough like a cheap steak. We got lost and I got a front wheel flat in Kamgab kloof. Being 45Deg in the shade...and there is no shade >:( we decided to leg it to Klein Pella on the main dirt road (me riding the still flat front wheel). I will go back again to do the whole N4x4...lovely part of the country.

I am leaving for Nam tomorrow morning to do my own comparisons :biggrin:. Thank you for your good ride reports on Nam and Kaokoland...I based alot of my trip research on those :thumleft:

We will see how far I get on the XT660Z...
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 07, 2017, 12:44:46 pm
Thanks XPat...I must have gotten your map and your narrative mixed up as it looked like you left the N4x4 at Goodhouse on this trip.

I have only done Vioolsdrif to Goodhouse (albeit in mid summer) and it was tough like a cheap steak. We got lost and I got a front wheel flat in Kamgab kloof. Being 45Deg in the shade...and there is no shade >:( we decided to leg it to Klein Pella on the main dirt road (me riding the still flat front wheel). I will go back again to do the whole N4x4...lovely part of the country.

I am leaving for Nam tomorrow morning to do my own comparisons :biggrin:. Thank you for your good ride reports on Nam and Kaokoland...I based alot of my trip research on those :thumleft:

We will see how far I get on the XT660Z...

I have ridden past the Goodhouse (i.e. west of Goodhouse) along the river all the way to the place where the track veers off the Orange River and followed from there. It is true that eventually the track turned into big dirt road, so I may have missed some other smaller track (though the only one I was aware off was the dead end detour to RTH). I doubt you would have struggled on that main dirt road, so I must assume that I may have missed some juicy sectio between Vioolsdrif and Goodhouse. Oh well - next time.

Assuming you can ride sand, you should be fine on XTZ in Kaokoland. The only really tricky section I can think about is VZP and getting to it (that is actually the most tricky and tiring bit, VZP itself is very short, only 3-4 km). I have driven it in May in 4x4 and the tracks were very erroded (There was a lot of rainfall there this year). Take it easy there.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 07, 2017, 12:58:55 pm
I had a look at the map now and see that I have missed that whole Kamgab kloof section. Will have to go back...
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Stroke Her on July 07, 2017, 01:10:01 pm
Kamgab is down this kloof ;)

Its a dead end though...but lekka riding :thumleft:

Thanks for the heads up...I will take it easy as I will be alone. Hopefully there is enough of those Gucci 4x4 driving Saffers around seeing its school holidays. They can pick up the pieces should I come unstuck.

As for my ability to ride sand...well lets put it this way: I assume I suck at it and then I am very relieved when I dont :)
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 07, 2017, 01:22:08 pm
Kamgab is down this kloof ;)

Its a dead end though...but lekka riding :thumleft:

Thanks for the heads up...I will take it easy as I will be alone. Hopefully there is enough of those Gucci 4x4 driving Saffers around seeing its school holidays. They can pick up the pieces should I come unstuck.

As for my ability to ride sand...well lets put it this way: I assume I suck at it and then I am very relieved when I dont :)

Just to be sure - go VZP down, not up as I attempted in that ride report.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Stroke Her on July 07, 2017, 01:41:00 pm
 :thumleft: Yes I am going from Epupa Falls down Van Zyls to Marienfluss.

Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: sidetrack on July 07, 2017, 02:02:42 pm
You seem to be quite happy with the 690, any pros or cons ? I still think the whole fairing setup is not really needed. Aftermarket stuff always tends to fall of it seems.
Title: Coooool cleear waater, WATER!
Post by: Osadabwa on July 07, 2017, 02:36:50 pm
I'll be the last guy to tease you for worrying about water, especially where you are. I think you saw on my last ride up to Turkana that I and two other guys went too far without water one day and it was bloody rough. Alone and it could have been deadly in no time if just one little problem properly strands you. So, yeah, carry water. I hear you.  Alternatively, ride with a friend!
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: aka.Goliath on July 07, 2017, 04:48:13 pm

 For me the only place that tops Kaokoland in terms of 'oh shit' factor are Botswanian Kalahari tracks - there you are really alone and feel distinctly not on top of the food chain.



I can attest to this. It's is an amazing feeling riding those cut-lines. You can see the millions of elephant spoor and smell them but I never actually got to see them - thankfully some of the tracks I've ridden (some of which Xpat had done) have not seen anyone else in many years.

I now look forward to my trip to Koakand and doodsakker in January.



Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: P.K. on July 07, 2017, 06:32:53 pm
Thanks for the reply and input.
I am working on what you want but it is taking time...I don`t have the luxury of doing this fulltime as I have another business to run and I`m also rather dictated to by the surf conditions as well as riding opportunities [I find work is generally overated]....but we are getting there and I will send you one  when ready and you can do a product review for us.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 08, 2017, 12:05:45 am
You seem to be quite happy with the 690, any pros or cons ? I still think the whole fairing setup is not really needed. Aftermarket stuff always tends to fall of it seems.

Yes I am happy with the bike and quite frankly don't see anything else on the market right now that provides the same balanced capability for the long distance dual sporting (except for 701, which I consider basically the same bike). I can get wherever I want on the bike and at the same time easier stretches, like long straight dirt liaisons are not too much of a chore thanks to the power and higher weight of the bike compared to something like 500. I like its revvy non-thumpery nature - it makes riding liaisons as well as sand riding much easier than other reasonably powerfull thumpers like TE630. On the other hand the revvy short stroke engine produces high frequency vibrations which are much more annoying (and hand numbing) than normal thumper vibes - at least for me.

But of course I'm very diligent with maintenance (or at least I hope Conrad is) and willing to pay for it. I have rectified everything I could upfront (I have Mosfet regulator up in the fairing in the cold air, Perun Moto subframe bolts, Unifilter, grease airbox religiously, appropriate springs and valving, etc.) and I carry spare fuel pump and injector (though I do not fancy trying to fit those in the middle of that dune field). The only thing I couldn't find any remedy for is rocker arms and they do bother me as the bike sounds distincly unhealthy at 15k km. It does sit on my mind a bit when heading into remote sticks, especially as I couldn't establish yet if they can lead to catastrophic failure, or not (as long as I can get out of the stick even on sick engine I'm OK with it). It seems the only solution will be 701 with the latest engine, but I'm not even sure if they got rid of those rocker arms in the new engine.

It is costly girlfriend, but for me worth it - as a dedicated long distance DS tool. So far it didn't leave me stranded and for some reason I trust that bike much more than for example TE630, which I always felt a bit iffy about (even tough it should be the other way around). Funnily enough I trust it more than Tenere, but to be honest that is not fair - Tenere left me stranded on VZP because of worn clutch plates which is not the bikes problem, and behaved erratically on my trip through Bots cutlines - but that was kinked fuel line, so not the problem of the bike but somebody fucked up when putting the tank back on (but then it takes 6 weeks to get new fuel line from Japan).

The simple fact is, there is nothing else like 690/701 on the market right now (and I"m afraid nothing on the horizon). I've spent too many of my trips riding unsuitable bikes (crossing Africa including 1000s of km of deep sand on 1150 GSA, riding Bots cutlines and Kaokoland on Tenere) constantly wondering - what this trip would be like on bike really fit for the purpose. And I never have that thought on 690 - I just know I have the best available tool for the job. When I say job, I mean trips like this one, and I'm fully aware that most people are not looking for trips like this, and for them 690/701 is not the right thing.

Of course if there would be something apparently more trustworthy- e.g. modern fuel injected and electric start XRR with let's say 65 HP instead of 701's 75 (well mine is more like 68), I would have a very close look at it and most probalby switch (after proper test ride - the fact is I don't get along with Japanese bikes, they just don't tickle my fancy at all for some reason - too practical and subservient)

Regarding the rally kit - I got great deal on the bike with the kit, and quite frankly I liked the look of it (except for the racy sticker kit, but I couldn't be bothered yet to change it). So far it works actually really well despite many falls - you cannot blame my issues on this trip on the kit as I have really flattened a small tree with the fairing and still managed to get back home in one piece (I should have fixed it myself first time with the cable ties instead of gettin other people to sort it). That said, if I would be doing this again, I would most probably not go for the Omega kit, but rather get the Safari tank (ugly as it is) and then may (not 100% sure I would) get that new plexiglass fairing that aka.goliath put on his with the Safari tank. The main reason is that I feel a bit iffy with the Omega tanks in the rocks (not sure if it is warranteed, but I just dont tnik that carbon fibre and rocks mix that well). To be honest I wasn't sure I would attempt RTH  on this trip - I wanted to go there and have a look, but felt that should I drop it there and crack a tank, I would be in real trouble. In comparison, the Safari tanks are basically undestructible and can take horrible abuse. So that would - at least in my mind - eliminate one weakness of my current kit.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Straatkat on July 09, 2017, 12:04:02 pm
Martin your ride report is excellent as always, I just wish I was mentioned past day 1 when my bike died.....I was really looking forward to the trip.
And to all the guys who made comments about Xpat and his solo trips, this is one trip where he really had no option, we planned on doing the trip together, but fate intervened, not once but several times! (I don't give up easily) But it is difficult to argue with a seized motor! I overcame a leaky radiator, licencing issues and a couple more smaller things......... Next time! Sounds like you missed a few places, we need to go back!
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 09, 2017, 09:48:36 pm
Day 11

Concerned that I will freeze my balls off in the tent, I put on all the thermals before going to sleep the night before. The temperature turned out much warmer and I woke up in the middle of the night cooking in the sleeping bag, and had to take all the clothes off again.

The first thing in the morning was once again a bit of problem fixing - trying to figure out how to reattach broken handguard. The day before when I made it up the viewpoint dune I stupidly dug the rear wheel into the sand and when I needed to turn around I had to pull the bike down on the ground and turn it there, breaking the handguard in the process. This annoyed me no end as handguards are absolutely critical accessory for bush riding, which I still planned to do quite a bit on the way back. Here is why - my handguards after the Bots bush section:


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4211/34944053543_d53f6a95a7_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4283/35584499712_f46e67c529_b.jpg)


This time my inner genius didnít visit, so I just took the broken handguard off and threw it away. Will have to stick to the right tracks from now on - I still had right handguard. After that I went for breakfast, packed up and set-off.


Ais Ais camp:


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4263/34944055593_9d2dc0b96e_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4154/34944056373_7aef1f3b6b_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4263/35493305315_7aa87b0dcf_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4283/35106974220_1f218c2f6e_b.jpg)


This was again a liaison day trying to make decent distance on the way back to the Bots dunes. The tentative objective for the day was Koes - which is a bit off to the north from the shortest route back to Bokspits, but I wanted to have a look see around there as Vis Arend and Rickus here on the forum told me about some very juicy looking dune tracks around there. I picked random D roads heading in that direction and set-off. I stopped at the Canyon Roadhouse to fill-up petrol and then continues east.

The roads I picked were not particularly scenic farm roads, but Namibia is OK even in its ordinary disguise:


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4215/35493299205_b8877c65a1_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4261/35106956570_d65c7a6b6a_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4215/35453728586_0d50b4cafa_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4279/35106934200_41b21ebdd1_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4240/35493252605_1bc60ae852_b.jpg)


I was following a massive storm, which became clear when I reached Kalahari proper again south of Koes. Big swathes of land on both sides of the elevated road were flooded. I just hoped the storm reached Bots again as it will make those dunes so much easier to ride.


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4206/34652238954_99fb149bd6_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4241/35453705296_a936cbba26_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4232/34683241193_d6c7760f78_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4289/34652241564_bfb6215f49_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4237/34652237064_541772ab76_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4232/34652229184_0928c83db4_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4216/35453675916_d0f7f44467_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4257/35106892310_294ea44312_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4229/34652216834_01f9272812_b.jpg)


Flooded Koes pan:


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4238/35362487201_008a0faec3_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4265/35493178865_c867ff7a8b_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4282/35106856570_780f27f9c5_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4210/35106827030_c39438bccf_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4290/35453593446_2ec1cb4fe4_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4232/35362405731_ab95a77612_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4230/35362398331_2875750857_b.jpg)


I have arrived to Koes at about 1 pm. It was hot and the place was very quiet - it turns out they close most of the businesses for lunch break. I headed to the garage to fill up and asked about Rickus (WD and main organized of the Koes Pan Rally - happening right this weekend if Iím not mistaken), who I knew was the owner. He was on a lunch break so I just filled up, parked in the shade of the nearby tree and bought some drink and snack from the nearby supermarket that was already open.


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4284/35493103115_a98ae19b2f_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4255/35493079365_79fc3ae1d8_b.jpg)


Sitting in the shade munching on the snacks I conversed with the local kids who were clearly in for some handout, but not pushy about it. I gave them whatever I didnít finish and just as I was about to move on - I was considering riding some dirt road to Twee Rivier in the search fo dunes - I was approach by a giant of a man. Sure enough it was Rickus and after short chat he took me into his house to show me where exactly are the dunes (incidentally, they were exactly where I was going to go) and booked a chalet for me with a farmer he knew up near Twee Rivier. I was a bit concerned about time - it was almost 3 pm (it gets dark there way before 6) and I had 40 km to the start of the dunes and then about 70 - 90 km loop through the dunes to navigate, but Rickus felt confident that with the current rain I will manage just fine. So I set-off.

The first 40 km was a good gravel running across one big dune field - that vintage Kalahari up and down roller coaster you can often see on the pictures from the Desert Run (which just passed through there day or two before me). Then I came to the turn-off to the dune detour, which I took straight away as the sun was getting low. The tracks was fantastic - that vintage red sand double track running along and across the Kalahari dunes. And Rickus was right - the heavy rain made riding the sand a cheating. After tentative start I was soon gunning it in the 5 - 6 the gear close to 100 kmh and enjoying every second.


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4255/34683042133_fe5f49a4f8_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4262/35106692890_cbe7df387f_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4213/34652012424_93e6578ef9_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4280/34651994474_49f4960a83_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4233/34651988284_289b4441e8_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4277/35326053452_3f45eecaaa_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4259/35326043682_97cbebf81b_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4264/35362260411_0330e7d865_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4263/35453444066_5b1006ea4d_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4287/35362248841_e837c7fe2e_b.jpg)


The sand dune route was basically U shaped run 30 - 40 km south east, then 10 km or so north east and then return leg north west of about 40 km. The riding was fantastic until I arrived to the turn back north west. I knew Iím going to run into problems once I will have to ride deep sand double track against the setting sun, but still it was rough. I couldnít see anything (I have sunscreen on my trial helmet, but it is too short to be of any use), so trying to stay in the track was almost impossible, I had to slow down to just lugging 2 - 3 rd gear and still had Ďoh shití moment every 100 meters or so. I was basically riding blind trying to feel my way through in the absence of vision. It took me forever to navigate those 40 km and by the time I reached the dirt road connecting Twee Rivier to the Mata Mata border post and gate to Kgalagadi NP, it was completely dark and I was knackered. After short break I rode towards Mata Mata on a long beam (my short bean didnít work) looking for Terra Rouge - the farm Rickus booked me in. It took quite a while to get there, but when I was already considering bush camping on the side of the road, I finally found it.

Owner - Peter if my memory serves me right, has a sheep farm there surrounded by red dunes sea and rides XT660Z. Rickus even mentioned that he is considering inviting bikers to his farm and taking them for the trips through the dunes - if anyone here may be interested, you definitely will get your sand fill there.

Peter provided me with one or two complimentary beers, took me to the chalet and I settled in chuffed to have finally roof over my head after two days of freezing/cooking on the ground. I was so elated that I even cooked. Chilli con carne (can of Texas bully beef with chilli + can of beans).


Route for the day:


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4242/34689464294_c95e2cd790_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Straatkat on July 10, 2017, 11:54:55 am
Nice part of the world to be riding in. Enjoying your report.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: funacide on July 10, 2017, 03:33:14 pm
XPat

Loving the ride report as usual.

Finally got through it all.

Post the next day already  :biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 11, 2017, 09:23:06 pm
Day 12 & 13

Objective for the day was to make it to Molopo lodge about 300 km away for an early stopover - I wanted to take most of the afternoon off to rest before the second attempt at the Bots dunes. The much shorter and more interesting route would be to cross Kgalagadi NP, but it is off limits for bikes so as a second best I chose to hit again sand dune road D503, part of which I have ridden the day before.


Terra Rouge farm:


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4258/34651954114_4cb59b1bfb_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4264/35492947035_a9d503d474_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4217/34651939224_18fda85902_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4239/35362199841_7404f9744b_b.jpg)


After leisurely breakfast I packed up and rode 10 or so km on the main dirt to the turn-off onto D503. I hit the sand with the gusto and enjoyed immensely the next 90 or so km of the red sand dunes. The 30 km section that took me last night about 2 hours against the sun was dealt with in half an hour and I continued another 60 or so km to the sharp right turn, where the road turned into a cement road heading south-west to connect to C11 20 - 30 km away.


Note two parallel double tracks on D503 - one for each direction:


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4238/35325918222_cba932a7dc_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4242/35492888155_49543ff890_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4227/35393409816_667ace133c_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4249/35393407116_c64ae8c00f_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4224/35432921895_3027ac423a_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4214/34590969754_80daf1f4f7_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4274/34623162443_e6acb6cabf_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4215/35393400146_b5ed1218e6_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4268/35303268431_a2df2bae25_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4275/34623130113_dda0d2a5ae_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4234/35266362932_31c5f0f74e_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4236/35432875845_e52a9dfa60_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4274/34623097373_edd34aec2b_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4226/34623094653_9edfe94a2e_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4234/34623092663_7f139de4ae_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4277/35303203361_6d8159b350_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4269/35266332672_e33d3cb7ba_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4248/35393319726_bc141d6de1_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4242/34590891474_9a55520803_b.jpg)


The cement section of D503:


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4282/35492872755_40f9720c08_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4241/35362159111_b3a0d9919a_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4214/35492854975_69a6990f93_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4232/34651862934_7744f12f30_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4255/35325865652_da0062513c_b.jpg)


When I connected to C11 the dunes gave way to flat plains and I cruised down to Aroab, where I stopped to fill up. From there I headed east to Rietfontein border post. SA policeman on the border gave me hard time because I didnít have original of the licence disk - just a copy. He let me go after earful and I cruised another 70 km or so on tar to the Molopo lodge, where I arrived in the early afternoon. Annoyingly all the chalets were booked (it was Easter Friday and there were many people staying on the way up to Kgalagadi NP), so I had to camp - not the best option for relaxation (too hot in the tent during day - too cold in the night as it turned out). They still had chalet available for the next night though, so I decided on the spot to take the next day off as well.


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4256/35325850202_ebd612f943_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4241/35049384503_4c3bb798b0_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4278/35818192036_cebcfea20c_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4264/35470915380_bc95e99666_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4210/35018758314_88dc3a32c4_b.jpg)


I spent rest of the day carbo-loading at the bar and restaurant, and then spent another miserable night in the tent. I thought I have left the cold front at the coast, but the night at Molopo was even colder. Even with all the clothes on I didnít get much shuteye and couldnít wait to get into my chalet in the morning to catch up on the sleep. Annoyingly there was a liquor shop nearby, where the local alkies gather and they were there in force with that stupid duc-duc noise blasting from a subwoofer. I contemplated for a while if I can take them all, but eventually after lunch they dispersed and I could catch on some sleep.

Route for day 12:


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4238/35400153501_292766b8c6_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 11, 2017, 09:25:46 pm
Nice part of the world to be riding in. Enjoying your report.

Thanks Bertie. I will be back in SA only sometimes in October, so - unless you want to wait for me - maybe you can organize that ride with Tony or Henk. Going in winter or early September will help a lot with the temperatures in the dunes - just bring warm sleeping bag. Let me know if you want those GPS tracks (I may have sent you the tracks already before we set-off).
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 11, 2017, 09:26:28 pm
XPat

Loving the ride report as usual.

Finally got through it all.

Post the next day already  :biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin:

There you go  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 13, 2017, 01:32:39 am
Day 14 & 15

The main objective of the day was second attempt at the Khawa dunes in Botswana - the original reason for this whole trip. I woke up, packed up and went for early breakfast, now wiser from my prior failure - plus the border up the road was to be opened only at 8:00 am anyway.

However munching on scrambled eggs I finally admitted to myself that the will to tackle the dunes is gone - I had no oomph left in the system. I was low on energy nursing a little cold from the freezing night in the tent day before and just didnít feel up for the challenge.

I made peace with it knowing the dunes are not going anywhere and there will always be another opportunity to ride them. All that remained to do was a long commute back home to Joburg. Of course, even in the state I was in the tar was out of question. That is one of the never mentioned benefits of real DS bike - as in contrast to general Ďadventure bikeí - it sucks on tar, so even in the moments of weakness people still go for dirt as the bike is much more comfortable there.

The objective for day one was to get to Bray for overnighter, following the Molopo river track to Van Zylsrus and from there follow the sandy roads along Molopo reserve to Bray . Molopo river track follows as its name suggests Molopo riverbed along the border fence between Botswana and SA. It used to be the Ďredí route for the annual Desert Run from Kuruman to Swakopmund. While I would dispute if it ever deserved Ďredí designation (Iíve ridden it few years back on return from one of my trips), I guess it is sad sign of times that even this - quite mild to be honest - track has been eliminated from the latest edition of the Desert Run (or so I was told by somebody). Quite perplexing to me to be honest, but on the plus side, the track is much less used now, which provides for more outdoorsy Ďadventureí kind of experience.

Here are few pictures from Molopo river track following for many km as a reminder the red dunes that defeated me:


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4258/35689432782_ec52f43eb1_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4285/35018691004_19994389b7_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4213/35470883360_28655ee1df_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4290/35470876980_1d415779de_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4326/35717048222_4a87f9e26c_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4309/35717050582_ffeb05569d_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4304/35717051962_cd17420d21_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4323/35717054232_d85cfd3e29_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4239/35046636154_94f617a628_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4302/35498329110_f4b3095a14_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4317/35498333410_707d0430b4_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4307/35498338620_1a32e16666_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4236/35498341780_14b1613636_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4211/35717079992_e87fc21f12_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4205/35754926971_bc118a4166_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4255/35076999603_10f7867504_b.jpg)


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4305/35077000493_233c712367_b.jpg)


I have made it to Van Zylsrus before lunch, filled up and stopped at the hotel for quick bite. Well, it was Easter Sunday and all the farmers from the area brought out their families for lunch. So after ordering I waited in vain for about hour and a half, cancelled the order (I was being spoiled anyway - I do not normally eat during the day when I ride), geared up and pushed on east towards Bray - still about 300 km of sandy dirt roads away away.

I arrived at Bray with the sun setting behind horizon and made it up to completely dark and deserted Tapama lodge fearing the worst (camping). Luckily for me the owner showed up, gave me room and opened for me as the only customer the restaurant where he himself prepared three course dinner for me. And then the breakfast in the morning. I was really impressed!

From Bray next day I continued on the dirt roads along Bots border to Mafikeng, where I filled up and took farm roads to Magaliesburg and tar for the rest of the way to Midrand.

To sum up: It was a good trip - especially as this was the first trip after 9 months of basically just laying around waiting for my broken leg to mend itself. But of course I failed on the main objective - Khawa dunes - twice. I guess Clarksonís description of the Top Gear trio exploits - Ďambitious, but rubbishí - fits very well for some of my latest trips. But I donít mind really - I am starting to run out of new exciting tracks to ride in the vicinity of SA anyway, so saving few juicy parts (such as Khawa dunes, road to hell, or circumnavigation of the Okavango delta from north I failed at last year) for later, will keep me occupied for a bit longer. At least that is my excuse anyway...
 

Route for day 14:


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4260/34689462944_5847856a73_b.jpg)


Route for day 15:


(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4213/35530766285_aff287e27e_b.jpg)



Thanks for following and comments.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Mikie on July 13, 2017, 09:26:04 am
Big balls is all I can say, Nice one XPat
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Beserker on July 13, 2017, 09:51:27 am
Queue ACDC Highway to Hell ....   :ricky:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4238/35325918222_cba932a7dc_b.jpg)

Kalahari and Botswana now officially on the bucket list after having to endure the anticipation for the next installment.

Thanks for the effort XPat,

Dave
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: m0lt3n on July 13, 2017, 12:59:14 pm
From my side also big thanks for sharing Xpat. I will definitely be taking a lot of tips from this RR and plan some short trips with it.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: ChrisL - DUSTRIDERS on July 13, 2017, 01:03:54 pm
What a lekke RR. :thumleft:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: P.K. on July 13, 2017, 02:10:28 pm
Phew....epic trip. Xpat ..what a legend.
PROPER trip, great report,stunning pics.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Ian in Great Brak River on July 13, 2017, 02:46:32 pm
Excellent ride Xpat, great to see the effort you have made and for sharing it all here..

Thanks!

 8)
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: CUZZY on July 13, 2017, 03:10:35 pm
Hardcore!  Excellent RR. Just talking of your luggage set up, do 690s have issues with cracking sub frames ?
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 13, 2017, 03:23:24 pm
Thanks for the comments  :thumleft:

@CUZZY: Once you replace the OEM subframe bolts with aftermarket ones (Rally Raid or Perun Moto - but quite frankly you can probably get them made localy and I think somebody even did) I have never heard of subframe failure on 690 - and I have looked wide and far for any evidence I could find before I bought the bike. So much so that right now I'm convert to the virtue of the plastic tank subframe as very elegant solution to save weight while not sacrificing structural integrity of the bike (at least for single rider).

But you must replace the bolts (which as far as I know almost everybody does anyway) - the standard are crap and there were number of cases when the subframe did collapse with subframe bolts - or rather the bolts sheared off at the frame (once the bottom bushings developed play). Shame on KTM for not fixing this issue, especially as the bolts cost peanuts.

And as far as I know the same problem pertains to 701, so this would be my first modification on that bike as well.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Bernoulli on July 13, 2017, 04:48:50 pm
Thank you, another riveting read as we have come to expect of you ! :ricky: :ricky:

Now please head over and complete the Africa photoreport :peepwall: :imaposer:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Goingnowherekwickly on July 13, 2017, 10:58:37 pm
Brilliant report as always!!
You seek and find some of the best routes, thanks so much for sharing
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: MaxThePanda on July 14, 2017, 06:09:15 am
Once you replace the OEM subframe bolts with aftermarket ones (Rally Raid or Perun Moto - but quite frankly you can probably get them made localy and I think somebody even did) I have never heard of subframe failure on 690 - and I have looked wide and far for any evidence I could find before I bought the bike. So much so that right now I'm convert to the virtue of the plastic tank subframe as very elegant solution to save weight while not sacrificing structural integrity of the bike (at least for single rider).

Yes, it's a tough thing, that fuel tank. I crashed heavily in Angola and thought I'd done it in, but turns out the threads in the tank just needed cleaning. One thing I'd be cautious of - I've seen people bolting fuel tanks on top of racks behind the seat to deal with the range issues. Any rear rack is simply screwed into the threads mounted into the tank - to me it would be foolish to cantilever heavy weights off those threads and then bash it around offroad. The tank is bloody expensive if you did need to replace it. But with the style of luggage Xpat has got here, no problems. The tank is designed to support the weight of a passenger, afterall.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Gee S on July 14, 2017, 11:46:41 pm
Thanks for a great RR Xpat.  :ricky:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: funacide on July 17, 2017, 08:03:59 am
Very cool ride report as always Xpat.

Stunning part of the country. Definitely need to put some of your route on our next trip.

Thanks for sharing
 :thumleft: :thumleft:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: aka.Goliath on July 17, 2017, 12:39:13 pm
Xpat. Have you ever looked at a way to go along the boarder from Twee Rivier to Rietfontein avoiding the main routes. I see there is some sort of track there.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on July 17, 2017, 02:17:53 pm
Xpat. Have you ever looked at a way to go along the boarder from Twee Rivier to Rietfontein avoiding the main routes. I see there is some sort of track there.

No, I haven't. Chances are those tracks are on private land - Namibia is as bad as SA in terms of public land. But I don't know that for sure and if you find out they are public, please let me know.

P.S. Ask Rickus (that is his name as well as his WD name) - he is from Koes and knows the area very well. I believe he is the main organizer of Koes rally.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Rickus on August 09, 2017, 12:41:49 pm
Xpat. Have you ever looked at a way to go along the boarder from Twee Rivier to Rietfontein avoiding the main routes. I see there is some sort of track there.

No, I haven't. Chances are those tracks are on private land - Namibia is as bad as SA in terms of public land. But I don't know that for sure and if you find out they are public, please let me know.

P.S. Ask Rickus (that is his name as well as his WD name) - he is from Koes and knows the area very well. I believe he is the main organizer of Koes rally.

We have contemplated this route before....it will be doable with some prep work and some organizing from the farm owners, luckily I know quite a few of them......this terrain is very harsh though and some of the BIGGEST dunes of the Kalahari are found along this piece of the border.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: armpump on October 30, 2017, 07:19:13 am
Awesome read thanks for sharing
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Tampan on November 05, 2017, 04:08:32 pm
I grew up, and still farm between Van Zylsrus and Askham, not too far from Middelputs. Well done Xpat and all I can say is that you have GUTS man, taking that part of Botswana on like you did! :thumleft:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Dustdevil on November 05, 2017, 11:54:34 pm
Day 2 & 3

Route on Day 2:

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4289/35144069520_04cde765f5_b.jpg)

That road north out of Tshabong is another great adventure waiting.
It runs parallel to Mabuasehube nature reserve and finally reaches Ghanzi.
It is a sand track of the double version and goes through some real lion country.
Have been trough there in a 4x4 but would love to do it on a bike.

Great read on the rest of the story. Love those remote tracks but would not recommend riding them alone.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on November 06, 2017, 03:14:59 am
Thanks 👍


That road north out of Tshabong is another great adventure waiting.
It runs parallel to Mabuasehube nature reserve and finally reaches Ghanzi.
It is a sand track of the double version and goes through some real lion country.
Have been trough there in a 4x4 but would love to do it on a bike.

Great read on the rest of the story. Love those remote tracks but would not recommend riding them alone.

Been there and have done it 3 years ago on the way to Kaokoland. Here is the report: http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=168377.20 (http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=168377.20)
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: andrew5336 on January 15, 2018, 11:23:16 am
I take 12 litres with me

That is a lot of water but a good idea.
I once bought a small sleepingbag rated as -5. One night in the mountains close to Rosh Pinah convinsed me that the -5 was the temp you will die not the temp it will still keep you warm at. :biggrin: :eek7:
Now I have a -9 down sleeping bag that takes up a lot of space but I am warmer.

You also get silk liners for inside your sleeping bag - a) adds about 5 degrees' warmth and b) a lot easier to clean than the whole bag

I was looking into sleeping bags now for hiking, and it seems the answer is not a bigger sleeping bag (unless you are climbing Himalayas of course), but layers. You can buy these thermal bags, that are small and waight nothing (e.g. SOL Escape bag), and bivvy bags - smaller and lighter - and yet in final result more warm sleeping solution.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on January 15, 2018, 11:39:29 am
Yes, that is what I do now - use lightweight sleeping bag rated for relatively high temeperatures and then use layers. That said, just the thermal liners are not good enough - you need one of those survival bags to snug into. And in my experience, much more important than sleeping bag is mattress. No sleeping bag is going to insulate you from cold ground because your weight will eliminate the insulation layer underneath you.

I have tried it now eve in freezing temperatures in summer sleeping bag and without tent, and it works 100. Here is the report about that test:

http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=217872.0 (http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=217872.0)

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4529/37885156634_46e398d126_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Spearo on January 15, 2018, 12:56:55 pm
Hi Xpat,
                       I must say all your ride reports are amazing, did you ever finish the one from Europe to SA.
                       If you don't mind, may I ask what you do for living.
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on January 15, 2018, 03:21:47 pm
Thanks Spearo  :thumleft:

Yes, that African report is big sore in my backlog, just cannot find a drive to finish it. But one day I will try...

Right now I'm on extended riding sabatical (well right/right now I'm on idling sabatical doing what I do best - procrastinating as you can clearly see from this post), so I don't work. I made living mostly implementing big IT systems in banks. Not sure what the correct name of the position is - something between business architect (designing solution) and project manager (managing the implementation). I came from background where those two go hand in hand, but in this modern specialization world people believe (wrongly IMO) that they can be separated.

One of the objectives of the sabatical is to figure out what next - not making big progress on that so far. Well actually I know what next - get my ass in gear and go for another trip pronto  :biggrin:
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: P.K. on January 15, 2018, 03:38:28 pm
Thanks Spearo  :thumleft:

Yes, that African report is big sore in my backlog, just cannot find a drive to finish it. But one day I will try...

Right now I'm on extended riding sabatical (well right/right now I'm on idling sabatical doing what I do best - procrastinating as you can clearly see from this post), so I don't work. I made living mostly implementing big IT systems in banks. Not sure what the correct name of the position is - something between business architect (designing solution) and project manager (managing the implementation). I came from background where those two go hand in hand, but in this modern specialization world people believe (wrongly IMO) that they can be separated.

One of the objectives of the sabatical is to figure out what next - not making big progress on that so far. Well actually I know what next - get my ass in gear and go for another trip pronto  :biggrin:

Well if your sabatical brings you to the epicentre of civilization...set aside a day or two and I will attempt to make you  the holster-type of luggage you wanted....no charge!
I`m no expert, but have learned a few tricks in the last couple of months.
Will ideally need whatever bike you want to fit it to as well as I don`t believe in the `one size fits all` theory.
Even have accommodation for you .
Title: Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
Post by: Xpat on January 15, 2018, 03:48:21 pm
Thank you P.K.  :thumleft:

I am focusing more north now, so will not make it there this time. But will let you know when I'm heading that way some other time.

And for sure, there is not one good luggage solution for all. Everybody has their own needs, and you seem to be doing quite well making what majority of people are asking for.  :thumleft: