Wild Dog Adventure Riding

Riding: Plan, Report and Racing => Ride Reports => Topic started by: Xpat on April 28, 2019, 09:25:51 pm

Title: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on April 28, 2019, 09:25:51 pm
Introduction
(GPS tracks of this trip are attached here: http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=236580.msg4245285#msg4245285 (http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=236580.msg4245285#msg4245285) & here: http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=236580.msg4252672#msg4252672 (http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=236580.msg4252672#msg4252672))

Simpson desert is probably the most iconic dual sport ride in Australia, crossing the biggest parallel sand dunes desert in the world - at least that is what my google-fu says. Depending on track the ride is about 550 to 700 km long.

The rest of Australia - at least from what I have seen on interweb - cannot match the riding we have available here in Southern Africa.  But then all I have ridden in Oz is tar road from Sydney up to Blue mountains on GSXR1000 and riding 180hp bike up the most speed trapped road on the planet patrolled by one of the most overzealous police force and pegged mostly to 60 - 80 kmh is a true mystical experience, as by the end of it one is hallucinating from excruciating frustration. But that Simpson desert kept me awake a night or few, slurping up whatever youtube videos of its crossing I could find.

Here few images of Simpson desert I stole from interweb:


(https://s1.at.atcdn.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/100-Things-To-Do-Before-You-Die-32-Big-Red-Simpson-Desert-Featured-Image.jpg)


(https://i.pinimg.com/originals/f8/89/7c/f8897cbf357b6b975432113ca154f494.jpg)


(https://i.ytimg.com/vi/hLuHqakeQJE/maxresdefault.jpg)


(https://cdn.exploroz.com/images/Pages/343__TN1000x800.jpg?gid=48598)


So over the years I have kept my eyes open for something similar down here (I should probably say up here as I think we may be above Australia actually). Now there are candidates here that can probably at least to an extent match Simpson desert - the most obvious being Kalahari and Namib desert, but most of them are off limits for riding due to being on private property or part of protected areas off-limit to bikes. 

But eventually I stumbled upon south-west Botswana and my focus shifted there. It started many years ago when I was trying to figure out interesting dirt worthy route from CT back to Joburg. I just happened to read something about annual Desert run going from Kuruman to Swakopmund, initially following the Molopo river along the Bots border. They even had a ‘red’ route (that is the one following the Molopo riverbed), so I thought what a heck, rode up to Molopo lodge and took the Molopo track next day east. It turned out to be massive disappointment - basically riding in very shallow dull riverbed along the Bots border fence and most of the time within 70 meters from perfectly good tar road on the Botswanian side. In other words, it was like riding 200 km on a tar road shoulder - not sure why that was deemed to be ‘red’ by Desert run organizers by any stretch of imagination.

To add insult to injury, the boring riverbed was running in a valley of beautiful Kalahari red dunes for most of the ride - but those were off limit as the ones to the south were on private property, and the ones about 100 meter to the north in a different country. But I filed away image of those dunes in my brain.

That image got triggered few years later when one of the inmates here said something to an effect that there is ‘no good riding around Kathu’. WTF, I thought as Kathu is right in the middle of Kalahari, cranked up my google satellite images and sure enough struck gold straight away. I knew there was no point looking at South African side due to private property. But I also knew that Botswana - one of the last outposts of freedom in this increasingly incorporated world - with its predominantly public land is my better chance. And sure enough, what I found on those images looked very promising. Here some random examples:


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


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


What was seen couldn't be unseen and within a month I was heading there. The problem was the 690 with rally kit was way too heavy for proper exploration in unknown territory and I ended up failing miserably (that failure is documented here: http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=211633.0 (http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=211633.0)). On the positive side, the failure gave me the final push to get real dual sport bike - enter KTM 500 - as the big bikes became liability way too quickly while exploring unknown and potentially risky territory.

Well, I had to go back. So, when my plan to go ride Lesotho with few mates over Easter fell through mostly because last minute they opted for more exciting stuff (plumbing - heya Tony), I immediately switched my attention to Bots and after day or two of plotting whatever tracks I could see on the satellite images, I was ready.

And boy, have I struck gold! How comes nobody rides there is just incomprehensible to me. This place is just magic and as far as I’m concerned easily matches the best riding places in Southern Africa like Kaokoland or Makgadikgadi. Yes it cannot match the size of Simpson desert - it is about 250 km across from Bokspits to Tsabong. But - unlike Simpson which I think is a park and one has to stick to tracks), you can ride wherever you want, i.e. completely off-piste (as long as you stay out of Kgalagadi NP to the north of course). So you can zig zag all over the place and I have done over 750 km of proper sand riding in three days of riding.

On another note it rates favourably to Simpson at least on my ‘adventure’ scale in one aspect: ever since Crocodile Dundee, Australians cannot stop talking about what dangerous animals one can bump into down there. Now, while I think their Salties are marginally bigger than our Nile-iis, I’m not sure what else are they referring to. Are those jumping goats they have poisonous, or have electric tail? Or are those stoned tree teddy bears masters of death touch? Really not sure.

What I do know though, is that there are stray cats running all over our version of Simpson as the Kgalagadi park is right to the north and of course there are no fences around Bots parks. So one may come over the dune and be greeted by something like this:


(https://wildplanetphotomagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Jakes-De-Wet-issue-52-from-the-hide.jpg)


In my deranged mind I actually hoped to bump into one or few of these.

The location of the treasure:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46804953745_d0912316e4_b.jpg)


And few teasers to whet the appetite:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47707381771_40f2f17406_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40744358303_f81c5fbff1_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47710956751_27af883531_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on April 28, 2019, 09:57:32 pm
Commute Midrand to VanZylsrus


Annoyingly I was feeling under weather for about week with some kind of bronchitis or something that wasn’t letting go, so I self medicated with some probably expired antibiotics I saved up in one of my prior brushes with death, packed up and set-off in bakkie day before Easter holidays heading for Van Zylsrus. I have made it only to Kuruman by the time it got dark, and still feeling sick decided to sleep over and get to start next day.

Next day I was feeling even worse, so I decided to move over to Van Zylsrus, take a rest day there (rest day even before I started - pathetic!), get all mybike  luggage sorted and ready for departure the following day, as at home I just threw anything that I might possibly use into the car with the plan to sort out the real stuff at Van Zylsrus. I also got two Coke bottles to carry spare petrol as petrol availability is a problem in parts where I was heading. The only reliable petrol is in Tsabong, which I wasn’t going to get to until day 2 or 3 and I was hoping that I may be allowed to Two River camp in Kgalagadi to refill. If not I would have to jump the border and fill up in Molopo lodge, as Bokspits is completely dry.

I spent lazy day in Van Zylsrus picturesque hotel and finally felt that the bacteria or virus or whatever was eating me from inside is starting to lose against the Indian generic antibiotics - a good omen for next day.

No pretty pictures of N14 unfortunatelly  :biggrin:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Kerritz on April 29, 2019, 07:02:35 am
Gooi nog asseblief!  :thumleft: :happy1:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: JustBendIt on April 29, 2019, 07:04:57 am
wow

sub
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Amsterdam on April 29, 2019, 07:14:07 am
You have my attention, especially as there are no rivers in sight.
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: sidetrack on April 29, 2019, 07:17:24 am
I really enjoy the Oz ride reports (Riding with Tom etc.), they always get quite excited when seeing a Kangaroo or Emu but heck you cant match a Lion or Elephant for some adventure ! Following keenly  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Vis Arend on April 29, 2019, 07:32:12 am
 :sip:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: ClemS on April 29, 2019, 07:35:21 am
 :sip:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Malibu on April 29, 2019, 07:41:02 am
 8)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Noneking on April 29, 2019, 07:47:46 am
sub
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Sheepman on April 29, 2019, 08:05:36 am
Here we go again 😁
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Dwerg on April 29, 2019, 08:19:01 am
 :sip:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: ClimbingTurtle on April 29, 2019, 08:25:15 am
Sub - and now F5 gets hammered again.....

 :thumleft:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: onderbroek on April 29, 2019, 08:41:37 am
HArd Sub
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Tabasco on April 29, 2019, 09:42:48 am
sub

"these 500's is busy to grow on me"
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on April 29, 2019, 09:43:56 am
Thanks  :thumleft:

I will get to it in the evening - back at work unfortunately...
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Breekbeen on April 29, 2019, 10:15:04 am
 :patch:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: I&horse on April 29, 2019, 10:23:10 am
sub
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: wilfwalk on April 29, 2019, 10:29:34 am
Well done Xpat - the super discoverer of new routes ! Looking forward to this for sure.
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: katana on April 29, 2019, 11:23:44 am
Big sub  :ricky:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: m0lt3n on April 29, 2019, 11:44:36 am
As the inmate from Kathu....
SUB!

Lets see if I can be convinced to rather get a 500 than a 2T!
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Crossed-up on April 29, 2019, 01:12:14 pm
That's an amazing area! Spent time there with Alexander Nel scouting for the 2015 Amageza. The area west of Khawa is a paradise for adventurous riding. To the east the country is becoming fenced off which is a great pity. It was quite a mission getting through from Khawa to Tsabong but it could be done, as you probably have also found.
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on April 29, 2019, 01:17:41 pm
That's an amazing area! Spent time there with Alexander Nel scouting for the 2015 Amageza. The area west of Khawa is a paradise for adventurous riding. To the east the country is becoming fenced off which is a great pity. It was quite a mission getting through from Khawa to Tsabong but it could be done, as you probably have also found.

Yes, there are ranches and fences closer to Tsabong, but i have found a way through. Did you guys also explore east of Tsabong?
That will be my next focus - already started plotting tracks on sat images. Just not sure about fences there, cannot be seen on sat images...
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Grunder on April 29, 2019, 01:21:07 pm
Thanks  :thumleft:

I will get to it in the evening - back at work unfortunately...

I was about to ask you what the hell it is you do because you are forever out and about on your bike and writing RR's while I am sitting at my office desk

Pi$$es me off!!  :lol8:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Crossed-up on April 29, 2019, 05:35:39 pm
That's an amazing area! Spent time there with Alexander Nel scouting for the 2015 Amageza. The area west of Khawa is a paradise for adventurous riding. To the east the country is becoming fenced off which is a great pity. It was quite a mission getting through from Khawa to Tsabong but it could be done, as you probably have also found.

Yes, there are ranches and fences closer to Tsabong, but i have found a way through. Did you guys also explore east of Tsabong?
That will be my next focus - already started plotting tracks on sat images. Just not sure about fences there, cannot be seen on sat images...

East of Tsabong there were several possibilities, but from there the rally went north.
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: ernies on April 29, 2019, 06:15:15 pm
Subscribed :ricky:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Highsider on April 29, 2019, 06:23:07 pm
Subscribed!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on April 29, 2019, 06:57:40 pm
Day 1 - Middelpits - Two Rivers - Molopo Lodge
(240km, 180 km of sand)

I woke up feeling better and finally fully keen to hit the desert. During the night there was a heavy storm, which I took as a good sign as the sand would be compacted and easier to ride.

I settled the bill, jumped into the car and drove 30 or so km to Middelputs border post, where I arrived just as they opened for business at about 7:30 am. I crossed the border without too much hassle and drove into the Middleputs town looking for the police station which I found after an enquiry or two. Police chief kindly agreed that I can leave my car there for the next few days and I parked under awning in the fenced police parking lot. The reason I took the car into Bots was the lack of petrol available in the area west of Tsabong (if you get lucky you might get petrol in Middelputs - but it's not guaranteed, so I decided to leave my car with two ful jerry cans positioned roughly in the center of my area of interest, which gave me convenient temporary base for the exploration.

Cops helped me to unload the bike and I geared up and set-off. I was quite chuffed with my progress so far as it was still before 9:00 am, and in all mu chuffness forgot to take my bike documents, which I realized withing first 10 km just as I was to turn off tar and into dunes. Grudgingly I turned back - I needed the papers with me in case I may need to cross back to SA to get petrol in Askham or Two Rivers - gunned it back, grabed the papers and was on my way again about 20 minutes later.

The objective for the day was Two Rivers, which is a big camp at the entrance of the Kgalagadi NP, about 180 - 200 km away over the dunes. The camp is part of the NP so off limits to bikes, but I hoped to be able to sweet talk my way in for an overnight, and more importantly to fill up at the petrol station they have there. It was a long shot, but worth a try.

Here is the route I ended up riding - the blue line in the map:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32790634447_34a091dc6c_b.jpg)


Here is it again on satellite image:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32754472997_416eae5879_b.jpg)


First 10 - 15 km from Middelpits was on tar until I came to village named Khuis, where I turned off tar and onto a dirt road, that very quickly morphed into sandy double track. I settled very quickly into the swing of things and cruised comfortably heading west. The track run across  low dunes and flat plains, and the sandy landscape alternated between light red and yellow/white, with scrub bush providing spatterings of green:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33820281518_592fcc1806_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33820291958_33abf27a8e_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32754508647_0c55c27a52_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47697790711_0ee3a0d883_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46781682875_50529a363f_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33820328998_838d495658_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47697823761_f5fc02b8cc_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40731429653_7b14daa040_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40731498793_1633081b47_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40731521043_636ef61e87_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40731527803_31d56bd67e_b.jpg)


About 20 km in I came upon cattle post, which I diligently marked in my GPS for an emergency - the guy there had water available. For some reason all the cattle posts I found were situated on big sandy plains - I suspect that for some reason that is where the water is easily available.


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40731560223_e88b82868f_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47697952901_c127d3cd7e_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on April 29, 2019, 07:21:26 pm
At the cattle post I have to decide on direction. When I plotted the routes I could only see track running north from the post eventually taking me to Khawa, which is a village in the center of this area. I have been to Khawa before and was going to ride through it next day, so for now I was keen to rather push west. I couldn't see any track heading west on the sattelite images - most of the tracks here head north/south, because the dunes are situated in the north/south direction and the tracks usually run in the valleys between the dunes. But I knew that sooner or later I will hit one of the north-south tracks I have seen further west, and suspected that there is double track going that way anyway.

You see, this satellite image plotting business is not that straighforward. On some colour of the sand - lide deep red - it is very easy to follow the tracks, while lighter sand hides them really well and one has to more or less just intuit them. On top of it some of the areas have very high level of resoltion while all of a sudden the adjacent tile is very low definition. Here two examples - first of highly visible track in red sand (which actually wasn't there when I arrived there next day  :)), and second of contrast between high definition and low definition tiles in the images:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46817462445_eb5615cd39_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33856885628_aec2f9988d_b.jpg)


Anyway, I decided to push west off-piste if necessary. And while I floated over the plains free form for first few km, sure enough eventually I bumped into double track heading west and took it for another 10 - 15 km until I hit the north/south track I wanted to connect to:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47698023121_afe32e1f3d_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32754734627_60635b7fd7_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47644877832_1aefe816ac_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40731608923_fa50764852_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47698041071_d33265cef7_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46781917855_b2f41d73ca_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on April 29, 2019, 07:44:30 pm
Eventually I came upon the path I was after and turned north. Further north the dunes gradually grew with vegetation became more sparse and the sand more pronounced. It was amazing how the scenery changed every few kilometers:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33820590538_25f2cf33a3_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33820598848_42d273b78a_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47698087331_5371121c7d_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47644933132_f64cbc83af_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47698113841_4e6c68959f_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40731696373_6a8fa904e2_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47644971302_001ec79663_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47644982092_ca7e47a0a8_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40731725243_cd3b55126b_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46782052195_3502a6cb24_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47645016642_9ba175b241_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33820711438_d88dd18b1b_b.jpg)


The riding was just sublime, I was smiling like the happy idiot I was all the way:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47698210571_f077765c60_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47698221631_57ab5653ea_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33820753368_eb1fd22222_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on April 29, 2019, 07:57:43 pm
The dune sections were alternating with flat areas where I often went bundu bashing just for the heck of it. It was great fun except for one thing - the dugouts, some of which would easily swallow whole wheel. Especially in vegetation these weren't easy to spot and I had to gas it through one or two just to make it to the other side with clenched butt-cheeks.

Here is an example of porcupine dugout waiting in hiding to break my leg:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47645065872_b266b6c0b8_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40731815143_4964099ee9_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47698244271_46361df585_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40731853023_0a20546449_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33820852358_3cd85384cd_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40731953773_08132dcda8_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40731958343_613be73833_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Ian in Great Brak River on April 29, 2019, 08:57:10 pm
I am amazed at the time you make to do these trip ... and most gratefull that you do.

 8)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on April 29, 2019, 09:29:56 pm
When the track I was turned decisively north east towards Khawa, I just turned left and sailed across increasingly higher waves of dunes off-piste for the next 20 or so km. The freedom of riding this place gives you is unparalleled anywhere I know of. Yes, one can ride freely in Lesotho as well, but the terrain there will very quickly limit one to very few options, which is fun in its own way as one has to solve the puzzle of terrain to get wherever he wants to go.

Here, one can ride in whichever direction he wants, without any limitation (apart from strategically concealed hyena dugout of course  8).

The off-piste dune section:

(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47698383001_6f8477637e_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46782315925_cac2e7d055_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47698442581_c2dd80849f_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46782356905_2457aac00b_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40731985293_9c83996a69_b.jpg)


After dozen or few dozen km of that I have arrived at yet another completely different set of dunes and at that point connected to the main track between Khawa and Two Rivers. There was another cattle post with water there, where I greeted the two herboys there and marked the spot in GPS to know where to head to should I run into trouble.


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33821116228_23819a7a90_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32755324787_8a5a7818a3_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47645431732_738ed6ddc2_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47645438782_876e84f171_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47698602561_7b8e14eb56_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47645445772_9af234da8f_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47645452792_08530e1d0c_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46782486585_c828d9bcfb_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47645466382_d5c24f9650_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Buff on April 29, 2019, 10:36:59 pm
Wow, that looks incredible  :thumleft: I spent 2 weeks in the Kalagadi last year and all I could think about driving up there was how cool it would be to ride a bike in those dunes... and here you are, making it happen   :ricky:

Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: IanTheTooth on April 30, 2019, 12:53:46 am
Does this mean we're doing the Simpson?

PS WimC wants to come too!
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: MRK Miller on April 30, 2019, 04:47:36 am
You must be a really good rider. I won't do 10km a day in that sand.  Awesome pic though. Thank you for sharing
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Amsterdam on April 30, 2019, 08:00:19 am
I am looking forward to read how you end up satisfying your "inner gourmet" in a place like this.  It looks somewhat limiting in the catering options.
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on April 30, 2019, 08:55:26 am
Oh dont worry, i will manage my way to medium rare fillet just fine - you will see... 😁
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on April 30, 2019, 09:56:19 am
Does this mean we're doing the Simpson?

PS WimC wants to come too!

Well if I would be living where you are, I would be already planning for that!  ;)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on April 30, 2019, 09:59:42 am
You must be a really good rider. I won't do 10km a day in that sand.  Awesome pic though. Thank you for sharing

Just get light DS bike (KLR does not fit that) and your problems in sand will go away. Either one of the modern 450/500s or old school thumpers like XT500/600 or XR650R. It is simple, the lighter, the better. Just ask people like Straatkat who was also terrified of sand before, and now, once he switched to light-weight DS, cannot get enough of it  8)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Offshore on April 30, 2019, 10:47:19 am
 :sip: :thumleft:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: RobC on April 30, 2019, 10:48:54 am
Superb RR. :thumleft:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Oubones on April 30, 2019, 10:56:03 am
Riding with and although the Klr did alright on my trip, I agree that the 500's and aircooled 650's seemed more competent in the soft sand.
Enjoying the RR :thumleft:
Whenever I see one with your name I just know it is going to be good!
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: cocky on April 30, 2019, 11:13:39 am
Awesome reading
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Kerritz on April 30, 2019, 12:40:03 pm
Brilliant as always so far thanks. Looking forward to the rest.  8)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on April 30, 2019, 09:32:28 pm
By now it was getting afternoony and I still had about 40 km of dunes to navigate to Two Rivers. I didn't know when they close the gate, but judging by other border posts (the entrance to Kgalagadi NP is also a border post), I suspected they may close at 16:00. So I jumped on the main track and pushed on to make it there before that time.

I knew I am being somewhat stupid and should have rather ease up as by now I was nursing proper headache from dehydration and heat. It was pretty hot and I was riding apart from few photo stops more or les nonstop since 9:00 am. Since then I have done about 140 km of sand and dunes and - because 500 made it deceiptively easy - I stupidly drank probably less than liter of water (I was carrying about 7 liters). I know dehydration when I feel one, and I knew I am being stupid, but I was keen to get to Two Rivers before the gate closes so after few gulps from my camel bag I just pushed on.

The rest of the track sailed up and down sets of paralled dunes all the way to the Two Rivers - the more west I got the more reddish tint they became:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47698640391_0ab72336bb_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47645479972_7e47f9f46b_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47698652431_5b375d6278_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46782519455_cbd94f22c4_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40732263383_0453667543_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47645521492_902f71a788_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40732288953_8a72d5f66d_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40732297963_584d58f1e6_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40732318803_a85c57da96_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46782614385_e292776a7d_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40732351483_92b1ddf7ed_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47645597072_fb45e96af0_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47645604022_48299319b0_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46782665545_95b506b556_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40732416263_fb410dd399_b.jpg)


Few km shy of Two Rivers I came upon my first fence and gate. I found gate in 180 km of sand and dunes an acceptable score, though of course I would have prefered not to find one at all.

I have made it to the gate at about 5 to 4pm. My original plan was the following: the top priority (minimum) was to talk them into letting me in to fill-up my bike at the camp petrol station. Second priority was to talk them into letting me sleep in their campsite, as that way I would also have access to the restaurant in the camp - bingo. If I could get petrol and but not be let to camp there, I was to backtrack into the dunes and bushcamp.

Hasty enquiry at the reception desk confirmed what I expected - the campsite was full, so no go. They wouldn't let me go on the bike to the petrol station either, but they offered that if I have a jerry can of a kind I can walk there to get petrol. I didn't - I took one of the Coke bottles with petrol in the morning as spare, but it fell off somewhere in the dunes. Plus, it would take quite a few trips there and back with 2 liter bottle to fill up my bike. No bueno.

My head was killing me by know, so I went into full autopilot mode - i.e. my inner gastro tourist took over. He argued that without petrol I'm toast anyway as I wouldn't risk trying to get over dunes back to my car and possibly running out, so the only option was to jump across the border and ride down to Molopo lodge, where they had petrol. Of course there was another option - backtrack to Struisedam about 20 km south, buy some bottles there (or even better, just buy bottles at the camp), fill-up and go sleep in dunes as planned originally. But there was one massive problem with that plan - no medium rare steak to be had this side of the border. I eat only once a day in the evening, but then I have to eat properly and while I came prepared with variety of possibly expired cans (as I have been carrying the same cans for past 2 years or so) in my bags, I felt that it may not fully satisfy the gastro tourist after 180 km of sand.

In other words, I went full tourist retard mode, thrown away any adventurer/outdoorsman pretenses and begged them to let me through the border, which they were about to close. Nice people they were they obliged and at about 16:05 I have made it across the border and after short break I rode remaining 50 km of tar south to Molopo lodge, where they were out of petrol. But not out of steak, so I booked into an A frame challet and rushed into the restuarant for a 4 course dinner of variety of meats and cold beverages. Petrol will have to wait till morning - I knew there is petrol station in Askham about 15 km away, so that should take care of that.

Molopo lodge ground:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40732458963_a012311708_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40732430283_454d591389_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on April 30, 2019, 09:42:15 pm
Day 2 - Molopo lodge


Plan for the day was to get petrol in Askham early in the morning, cross the border at Bokspits as soon as they open at 7:30 and then hit the dunes this time starting near Bokspits and making it through Khawa all the way to Tsabong about 250 km away.

It didn't work out. I didn't manage to sleep much because of that headache and - worse - because of swarms of mosquitos in the challet. In my minimalistic packing I forgot to take the insect repelent stick and the buzzing around my head ensured that I got at max 3 hours of sleep. In the morning I felt pretty raw and decided that I wasn't in the shape to take on 250 km of lion infested sand. So a rest day it was - at the end of the day I was right at the source of the high quality meat and cold drinks.

I have managed at least to go to Askham and fill up so that next day I would be ready to hit the road right away.

Throughout the day there were big clouds and storms passing by making for some nice scenery:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47698889181_84534a264b_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32755635497_d1ec4550a8_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46782760415_deda259ab3_b.jpg)


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(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40732511193_16846bb567_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47645761102_a622f0f27e_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32755681557_e56ffdcd4b_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46782813605_84ed90c55c_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47698972511_c88ccb6411_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32755707397_6933b4a4ce_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46782835095_a7c8590653_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33821521298_336d92be40_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on April 30, 2019, 09:49:54 pm
Thanks for following and comments  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Highsider on May 01, 2019, 12:10:11 am
Quite an adventure so far.  I do admire how you “wing it” and mostly emerge unscathed on the other side.  As for you pics, great as usual.  The rainbow and blue sky is quite special.
Keep it coming.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Vis Arend on May 01, 2019, 09:55:56 am
Thnaks for sharing, once again a great report.   :thumleft:

This one is copied and pasted in my mind and on my to do list.   :deal:   Great pics that reminds me of the D503 and parts of my friends farm in the Kalahari, Nam, albeit 180km's apart as the crow flies. 

Molopo lodge is the place to go if you want decent food. Price is right and good food, the best T-Bone steak I had  was there, twice.   :biggrin:

Sorry for the hi-jack with the pics attached.    Photo's from mt friends farm. 



Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: wilfwalk on May 01, 2019, 10:51:57 am
Thanks once more Xpat for an amazing story and the photos of those clouds, majestic !
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 01, 2019, 11:46:46 am
Thnaks for sharing, once again a great report.   :thumleft:

This one is copied and pasted in my mind and on my to do list.   :deal:   Great pics that reminds me of the D503 and parts of my friends farm in the Kalahari, Nam, albeit 180km's apart as the crow flies. 

Molopo lodge is the place to go if you want decent food. Price is right and good food, the best T-Bone steak I had  was there, twice.   :biggrin:

Sorry for the hi-jack with the pics attached.    Photo's from mt friends farm. 

.

Thanks Vis Arend and don't worry about the hi-jack, it's all good. At the end of the day you clued me up about the D616 which is in the vicinity of this area and may be potentially used to extend this ride further :thumleft:  :thumleft:  :thumleft:

I would love to extend this ride further and will be looking east of Tsabong with possible start in Bray, first as there is biggest chance in Botswana not to get cornered by private property. But the truth is, the proper red dunes worth of Simpson analogy only tuch this area in the very west (i.e. just east of the SA/BOTS border between Bokspits and Two Rivers), but extend hundreds of km north west through SA and Nam. It would be fantastic if one could continue riding the red dunes in SA, but I believe they all may be on private farms unfortunatelly. And if one could then continue to Nam, that would be perfection. That side are farms for sure but at least one can nride about 130 km of D616 that you actually pointed me to few years back.

Here is the sat image of the area and as you can see, the red dunes only lick the area I have ridden (blue rectangle). I have also highlighted D616 which gives similar kind of riding over dunes, although on public road, and with few gates. ANd it would be fantastic if one could continue even further north through the dunes and circumnavigate the Kgalagadi park completely. But the area north of C15 are private farms I believe. But maybe one could talk to farmers and get permission for passage. I stayed twice at the Terra Rouge farm and owner Pieter was happy for me to ride on his farm.


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47695308822_1b1e478530_b.jpg)


The big question mark is if there is any public land that can be ridden on SA side to connect Bots dunes with the Nam D616, or if it is all private farms. Anybody here knows a nice offroad path that would connect Molopo lodge with Rietfontein border? And then idealy take one from Rietfontein to beginning of D616 off the main roads?  Maybe Rickus will know - will check with him.

Just for the ones who don't know the area, here are few pictures of D616 - you can do 130 km of this on public road:

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/949/27241891047_89338bbe5d_b.jpg)


(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/955/27241974557_e12a2260df_b.jpg)


(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/975/42066599882_be1cbef9e8_b.jpg)


(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/905/42066615282_d755e448bc_b.jpg)


(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/976/40305501140_556a0a8f3e_b.jpg)


(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/953/42066674332_2abb268d2e_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Amsterdam on May 01, 2019, 12:03:16 pm
Looks like some very nice riding around there.  Kaokoland at the end of May and then maybe have ago at this area afterwards.  Most of these tracks look very doable on the 701 as well, do you concur?  Maybe I can convince my son to come with for a bit.
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Vis Arend on May 01, 2019, 05:18:48 pm
Yip, the red block is unfortunately farms and some game farms, so you will most probs only be riding on the public road (read tweespoor) in that area.  However, there is a network of these dune tracks in that block, the D1119, D1032, D1022, D503, D616, D1033, D579 and a couple of other.  This will be 2nd or even 3rd or 4th price compared to your blue block though. 


"The big question mark is if there is any public land that can be ridden on SA side to connect Bots dunes with the Nam D616"  I don't think so but hope here is someone that can prove me wrong.

 
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 01, 2019, 05:54:03 pm
Day 3 - Molopo lodge to Khawa to Middelputs (291km, 5 km tar, 35 km dirt road, rest sand)


This time I wised-up, got Tabbard insect spray at reception and the used almost all of it to spray my chalet inside out before I went to bed. It worked and I slept like a baby through the night. In the morning I settled, packed up and set-off. I have made it to the border post at Bokspits about 4 km away just as they opened for business at 7:30 and as the only customer made it through without a glitch.

The plan for the day was to hit the dunes just north of Bokspits, free-ride over the dunes north east to Khawa about 130 km away and from there continue east for the sleepover in Tsabong. The first bit to Khawa I felt confident about, but I wasn't sure whether I will be able to make it to Tsabong, as I was told tha there are few ranches somewhere west of Tsabong, with fences, so I didn't know if I will be able to find my way around those (I didn't have a clue where those ranches are).


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47743975401_d66a043cef_b.jpg)


I was particularly keen on the initial dune section starting just above Bokspits as I knew from satellite images, that this is the home of the big rolling red dunes. Further east the dunes recede gradually a bit and became lighter in color. Further west and north the real red dune sea starts, but that is unfortunatelly on private land in SA or in Kgalagadi NP. So this was as good as it was going to get.

I was worried a bit about the weather as the forecast expected storms around the area and indeed there were clouds covering the sky for most of the day. But that turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it kept temperature in check (actually riding in T-shirt, body armor and Leatt jacket, I was quite cold for most of the day and drank again probably less than liter of water, and yet didn't suffer and heatstroky/dehudration symptoms), and the rain ahead of me compacted the sand nicely which made for great and easy progress over the dunes.

The coulds and sand made also for some stunning scenery and I have way too many pictures for this day. Yes, I have selected the best ones, but there are still too many so you will have to deal with it  8).

Here we go: from Bokspits I have taken dirt road north heading to Two Rivers on Bots side of the border. The landscape looked very promising:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47654200042_19e6712bc0_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33829806918_97da5998a7_b.jpg)


After 15 km I came upon turn off to a track that I plotted at home. There was actually an end of fenced off area, but no track to be seen. So I just turned East and followed roughly the fence free riding (rather sailing) across the undulating deep red sand sea of dunes. The dunes were running mostly in the north-south direction so I was hitting the mostly straight on as any sailor worth his salt would.


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47654203872_5c77dd657f_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32763959547_94d9458f76_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32763967527_f91a8f9e05_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46791099925_26c7640e67_b.jpg)


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(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47707381771_40f2f17406_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 01, 2019, 06:18:02 pm
The fenced area eventually ended after few km and I just continued free-style east. The track I have plotted seemed to be long gone. Almost each valley though had track following the valley in the north-south direction, so should I get into trouble it would be easy just to turn south and make it to the tar road running to the south along Molopo river from Bokspits to Middleputs and Tsabong. But there was no need. I was flying and this was the best riding I had done in a very long time.


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47654366752_47da3cb351_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33830009788_d5e79ffe2b_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46791284285_857ed6a15d_b.jpg)


I was free-riding in whatever direction the vegetation opened up best without a care in the world, except for this one:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32764310607_b6a0ab0baa_b.jpg)


And onwards East I flew:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47654389082_30b461b155_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32764137147_2d40903169_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40741013603_9e650749a7_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33830078688_73125a2e37_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33830085288_77338e5217_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33830123388_83f3e5a7d6_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33830133688_0b595bb7b2_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47707539341_e8d26414b2_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46791434725_2b1b8a4f57_b.jpg)


I made it up all the dunes without a glitch, until this one, where I had to dodge and grass knoll and didn't make it all the way. But nothing that another try wouldn't sort out:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32764263717_a1b5d55d29_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46791459675_09dfc5ba15_b.jpg)


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(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47707584911_05b91a8086_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47707597001_a537922192_b.jpg)


After about 20 km of this pure nirvana, I have came upon the track I wanted to join heading up one of the dune valleys and turned north:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47654579612_033507a065_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 01, 2019, 06:35:13 pm
Looks like some very nice riding around there.  Kaokoland at the end of May and then maybe have ago at this area afterwards.  Most of these tracks look very doable on the 701 as well, do you concur?  Maybe I can convince my son to come with for a bit.

Very nice riding doesn't capture it - it is right up there with the best Southern Africa has on offer, and in some aspects - particularly freedom of riding - The Best.

I believe it is doable on 701 (ideally one with extended fuel range, but without windshield - none of that rally nonsense), but there are few caveats I'd like to stipulate:

If I split the tracks I've done into 1 km sections, there isn't one section I wouldn't be able to ride on GSA1150 (with possible exception of some steep dunes, but I would find way around, as one can ride wherever they want). Join them together into 130 - 180 km section of sand and it is a very different story.

I think you know the drill - the ligther bike takes all the benefits, the heavier all the downsides - there is no trade-off. On 500 I was able to ride sitting for 99% of time conserving energy. At the same time I was able to keep speed up (somewhere betweeh 40 - 80 kmh), which helped with ventilation and colling, especially on day 1 which was hot.

If I would be on 690 (I have ditched the rally kit by now so it is equivalent to your 701), or heaven's forbid that 1150GSA, I would most probably have to ride standing way more often (probably most of the time) which would exhaust me more and put me at higher risk of dehydration and heatstroke. This would be further exacerbrated as I would be ridding slower getting even more tired and less ventilation. But you are bigger guy then I am so you might be able to throw that heavy 701 around with more ease than me.

I was also lucky with regards to weather. There was a storm every night (and on some days during day) that compacted the sand and made it much easier to ride, and on my second and third riding day also kept the temperatures in check (as I said, I was actually pretty cold on day3). I have been there before when weather was just brutally hot and dry, and I think I would have battled much more - as I did when I attempted it on my 690 few years back.

Your biggest risk by far here is dehydration and heatstroke, which bigger heavier bike make more pronounced. But with a bit of preparation I think this can be mitigated and 701/690 (even bigger bike for people with strong determination) would be doable. The key point is to pace yourself right, know where the water is (I can tell you about the cattle posts I found and there is water there), and not get overtly ambitious in terms of distances. I got lucky and was able to do 290 km days, but if the sand would be softer and or weather much hotter, I would have merrily stopped at Khawa about 130 km in, slept over there and finished next day.

But overall - go for it, it is one of the best riding you can get! I can help you to plan it in a way that will mitigate the risks as much as possible.  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: BiG DoM on May 01, 2019, 08:03:22 pm
Great stuff  :thumleft:  :ricky:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: JonW on May 01, 2019, 08:28:53 pm
Awesome riding  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: OomD on May 02, 2019, 07:22:40 am
This is just brilliant! You have balls, riding these routes alone. Do you carry a satphone? :thumleft:

Following keenly. :ricky:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: m0lt3n on May 02, 2019, 07:37:59 am
xpat would you care to share the GDB files as well?
Seems like its possible to do some of this riding over a normal weekend, and that chicken routes are available if/when I fail with the bigger bike
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Vis Arend on May 02, 2019, 07:47:25 am
xpat would you care to share the GDB files as well?
Seems like its possible to do some of this riding over a normal weekend, and that chicken routes are available if/when I fail with the bigger bike

I told you to do the D503 on your route back from Damaraland when you did it in the cage.  I think you ran out of time on your way back.  Would have given you a good idea for future use.   :deal: :thumleft: :biggrin:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 02, 2019, 08:13:50 am
This is just brilliant! You have balls, riding these routes alone. Do you carry a satphone? :thumleft:

Following keenly. :ricky:

Thanks  :thumleft:

I do carry satphone.
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 02, 2019, 08:14:28 am
xpat would you care to share the GDB files as well?
Seems like its possible to do some of this riding over a normal weekend, and that chicken routes are available if/when I fail with the bigger bike

I will post GPX tracks at the end of the RR.
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: m0lt3n on May 02, 2019, 08:33:34 am
xpat would you care to share the GDB files as well?
Seems like its possible to do some of this riding over a normal weekend, and that chicken routes are available if/when I fail with the bigger bike
I did manage to do part of it. My navigator slept on the job a little, but we did manage a part of D503 and some other route which was as good.
My problem is more the time to go do this, and I have never really considered riding in Bots, never before, that is. So Xpat is 'awakening' me nicely. Hopefully I can manage something next weekend. Either this or Bray area is the plan.

Not a lot of riders here willing to push the limits so not a lot of info on these routes, like Xpat explained, the annual desert run's red route being the case in point, the red should be orange, its more about the Brandy than the riding.
I told you to do the D503 on your route back from Damaraland when you did it in the cage.  I think you ran out of time on your way back.  Would have given you a good idea for future use.   :deal: :thumleft: :biggrin:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: ROOI on May 02, 2019, 08:46:49 am
Brilliant as always  :thumleft: :thumleft:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 02, 2019, 08:57:36 am
xpat would you care to share the GDB files as well?
Seems like its possible to do some of this riding over a normal weekend, and that chicken routes are available if/when I fail with the bigger bike
I did manage to do part of it. My navigator slept on the job a little, but we did manage a part of D503 and some other route which was as good.
My problem is more the time to go do this, and I have never really considered riding in Bots, never before, that is. So Xpat is 'awakening' me nicely. Hopefully I can manage something next weekend. Either this or Bray area is the plan.

Not a lot of riders here willing to push the limits so not a lot of info on these routes, like Xpat explained, the annual desert run's red route being the case in point, the red should be orange, its more about the Brandy than the riding.
I told you to do the D503 on your route back from Damaraland when you did it in the cage.  I think you ran out of time on your way back.  Would have given you a good idea for future use.   :deal: :thumleft: :biggrin:

As I said in my last report, IMO probably the best/safest way to introduce yourself to the area is Khawa dune festival - a bike rally - that is held next weekend on 10th of May:

http://www.botswanatourism.co.bw/khawa-dune-challenge-and-cultural-festival (http://www.botswanatourism.co.bw/khawa-dune-challenge-and-cultural-festival)

Khawa is slap bang in the middle of the best dunes (still getting there in the report) and is easily accessible on dirt road - it is abou 70 km from Middelpits. Border at Middelpits opens at 7:30 am, so if you start early you can be there just as it opens and be in Khawa comfortably by 9:00 am. Ride your fill of dunes, and can be even back at SA by the evening, as long as you make it to border before 4pm.

There are Saafers from the area (like VanZylsrus) participating in that rally regularly (and even former Bots president likes to race). You seem to like organized events, so this may be good start.

Edit: and if you don't want the event, you can come other time - Khawa is great base for big bike for the first try, unless you want to tackle the whole routes straight away, but then all the caveats I have listed to Amsterdam for big bike apply (in his case it is only 701, in the case 1190 those precautions need to be ramped way up).
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: m0lt3n on May 02, 2019, 09:16:55 am
thanks xpat.

Not a lot of info on this event, but will try to be there. Like you say, even if the event is a let down or not, there is nice roads from there further on.
And I realise the big bike is not the optimal bike, so wont go alone and will bail out if its a flop.
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 02, 2019, 10:26:23 am
thanks xpat.

Not a lot of info on this event, but will try to be there. Like you say, even if the event is a let down or not, there is nice roads from there further on.
And I realise the big bike is not the optimal bike, so wont go alone and will bail out if its a flop.

Barman at VanZylsrus hotel told me he has done the rally on his dirtbike. If you cannot get more info, give them a call. I'm pretty sure somebody at the hotel will have more info or be able to point you to somebody who will.
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: TK on May 02, 2019, 11:46:26 am
Thanks  :thumleft:

I will get to it in the evening - back at work unfortunately...

I was about to ask you what the hell it is you do because you are forever out and about on your bike and writing RR's while I am sitting at my office desk

Pi$$es me off!!  :lol8:

Don't ask.......it's just very upsetting.
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: chopperpilot on May 02, 2019, 12:00:22 pm
Great riding area Martin! ;)

Sure it's heaps of fun on the 500! :biggrin:

Twist Berties's arm (oh shit...that has been done!) for us to go riding there...the sand should be soft for a fall! :o :peepwall:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: TK on May 02, 2019, 12:04:47 pm
Hey Martin
Yeah.......I was not a happy man with having to have bailed out on this one. Especially now having read this RR.
Some wise words to take into consideration when a trip comes up.........SCREW THE PLUMBING.

Nicely done Martin.
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 02, 2019, 07:27:52 pm
Soon after I turned north, the scenery changed once again. It was still heaps of sand, but this time of much more orangy hue. No idea why there are so many different varieties/colors of sand in this relatively small area, but they make for very scenic riding for sure.


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47654585532_2a1bd55771_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32764333437_02e277c1fb_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46791524775_c58980b980_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40741248563_8e7307ee9d_b.jpg)


There were lots of horses running around. Initially I though I bumped into one of the last herds of wild mustangs, but no - they were just early sign of a nearby cattle post:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33830363608_d582a43918_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33830385008_649955bbf2_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47707741071_cd3842e7bf_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40741322333_785ae68604_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40741331973_7508f1d68d_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46791647905_522699f2c8_b.jpg)


After km or two I came upon quite sizeable post - it even has a name in T4A - Drieboom. I marked it on GPS as another source of water and then rode up to the huts with about 10 locals sitting around for a bit of chit chat. Surprisingly most of them spoke very good English and I enquired about the track to Khawa and such. After short exchange I bode my farewell and was on my way again:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46791656355_5744960c40_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46794589445_faef018150_b.jpg)


After another dozen or so km I came upon yet another unique set of dunes and stopped for few pics. The colorful sand in combination with low clouds provided for some delicious scenery (yes I know, I'm repeating myself - get used to it, it's going to get worse):


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33833476848_e08aca3798_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46794598265_93149a9e55_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46794600995_576d6c98f1_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47657693502_dbd1ebd41a_b.jpg)


After that the track turned more north east and I was yet again going mostly across the dunes, instead of following the valleys:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47657704612_d8866a50a1_b.jpg)


The rain - or rather the electric storm - ahead made me a bit nervous, but it seemed to be moving away so I pushed on keeping and eye on it. It was actually blessing, as the rain was keeping the sand wet and heavy, making for much easier progress:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47657711662_a35c742545_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47657718802_3938f7914e_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33833524628_d1cc6dd9f1_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47710804651_b6d59c4a6e_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47710808041_c7ae3f8803_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 02, 2019, 07:48:56 pm
This path took me to yet another set of spectacular dunes:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46794677345_dd122ebed8_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33833557348_39d3808df3_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33833578008_6ec16205d0_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47710835741_99a42b1683_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47710847561_d7e8d28c15_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47657791882_a60f8bcede_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32767459507_c831c99ecf_b.jpg)


At these dunes I re-connected the the main east-west path running from Khawa to Two Rivers/Stuizedam, which I have rode yesterday in the oposite direction. I turned east and pushed on towards Khawa:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32767462107_6dcea28bda_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32767468317_214cbefd8b_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33833606318_8745ec98c9_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40744398113_b2699c56ea_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47710881681_d69e907c17_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40744410063_fc6d747fea_b.jpg)


After another couple of dozen km I arrived at the cattle post where I have connected to this trail two days ago, that time coming from Middelputs in the south east:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40744414833_2411286118_b.jpg)

Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: JonW on May 02, 2019, 07:59:29 pm
Loving these pics Martin  :thumleft:

Us Kzn guys never get to see sand like this :ricky:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Vis Arend on May 02, 2019, 08:00:22 pm
No words, that scenery is just awesome.  Brilliant stuff.  My mind is made up, these dunes will be ridden in my lifetime.   :deal: :deal: :thumleft:

Once again, thanks you for this brilliant RR.   :thumleft: :thumleft:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 02, 2019, 08:25:03 pm
This cattle post is probably the prettiest of them all, sitting at the bottom of the impressive dune. I don't quite understand why there are these islands of just sand, while just few hundred meters away there is plenty of vegetation growing on seemingly the same sand. Also there invariably seems to be water available at these sand islands:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46794766075_34e11ca3b4_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47657859122_50cca503cb_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32767517247_0047360f62_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47657867982_10893b2bcc_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47710952761_56b09599c5_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47710956751_27af883531_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40744470783_c5b47e6d26_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33833718668_64d1c1d8d8_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33833726348_d385329abc_b.jpg)


I checked the living quarters, but unlike two days ago, there was nobody home.


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46794863565_2a7eb86348_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47654183152_7920e6d47b_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46794872505_3f368deb18_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 02, 2019, 08:37:20 pm
And onwards, east, I rode heading for Khawa, still about 50 km away:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32767602607_724236545c_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33833759748_b0f9459f58_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47711018931_35e07532d5_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33833772318_bbdefdcc03_b.jpg)


And another set of out of place dunes:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47711045051_727abd4e1c_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33833791658_a0b35b6e41_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33833796718_b72e108f5b_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40744556533_af9e18d078_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32767660697_90fa6e856f_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47658026562_41c2599454_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47658031622_5c4b480fc3_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47658036542_2253f79412_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47658040522_6730d57d8a_b.jpg)


Tracks often crossed the dunes where they often disappeared completely and it took quite a bit of guess work and riding around to find them again on the other side:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40744582523_eb7029643d_b.jpg)

Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 02, 2019, 08:49:03 pm
There really isn't much anywhere in Southern Africa that can match beauty of this track. Hoanib river between Amspoort and Sesfontein, upper Huarusib north of Puros in Kaokoland and Valley of Desolation in Damaraland. That is probably it.

And this still wasn't the end - I still had at least 30 km to cover just to Khawa (and from there another probably 140 km to Tsabong). Not that I was complaining, this was the best day of riding I had for a very very long time, and this is after coming off 2 years of sabbatical which I mostly spent riding the best destinations within 3000 km of Joburg.


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47711088321_3e5780ed7f_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33833834498_4e7502272b_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40744605643_f6183d4364_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47711108551_b8229336f4_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32767732807_d876177363_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47711148351_7b486f2dff_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47658116072_8718923fcb_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40744661683_cc8d0ce29c_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46795038625_4361ed10da_b.jpg)


And another kraal - last one before Khawa, which was still about 15 km away:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33833904358_1e74c6a609_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47658133932_91657c7411_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32767767257_ae0f013219_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32767770147_1e09780210_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32767774317_6030066ca4_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 02, 2019, 08:59:02 pm
Great riding area Martin! ;)

Sure it's heaps of fun on the 500! :biggrin:

Twist Berties's arm (oh shit...that has been done!) for us to go riding there...the sand should be soft for a fall! :o :peepwall:

Yes, this one is must Henk.

I will chat to Bertie once he is up for it, but he seems hell bent on sabotaging every ride we take him on  :peepwall: :pot:

At least at the beginning he tried to sabotage the trips just by breaking his bike. I have actually already taken him to ride in these dunes about 3 years ago and he promptly seized his Husky engine just short of Bray. And before that he drowned it at Makgadikgadi. Since he bought 500 the things took darker turn. As the bike is too reliable and easy to ride for him to break, he started breaking himself instead. He tried his best on our Kaokoland trip hitting a tree at about 80 kmh just few km further from where he crashed on your trip. Then he broke a leg in Lesotho - which he managed to grow back on his own without any medical assistance, and then the latest incident on your trip. It seems to escalate - I'm worried what he is going to try next time  :peepwall: :pot:

Just pulling your leg Bertie  ;). Which at current circumstances is much better than the arm twisting suggested by your Nelspruit matey  >:D

Heal fast, and we will ride again soon - the sand is the safe bet :thumleft:. Heck, we may even distract Tony long enough from plumbing that he may come along... Henk is cleary already in.  :ricky:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 02, 2019, 09:00:37 pm
Hey Martin
Yeah.......I was not a happy man with having to have bailed out on this one. Especially now having read this RR.
Some wise words to take into consideration when a trip comes up.........SCREW THE PLUMBING.

Nicely done Martin.

Well, hopefully you have learned your lesson and got your head straight. Now let's just wait for Bertie to grow back together and I know of a good place to ride....
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 02, 2019, 09:02:41 pm
Loving these pics Martin  :thumleft:

Us Kzn guys never get to see sand like this :ricky:

May I suggest this Jon (not exactly the same, but much closer to you and not bad either, if you haven't seen it yet): http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=233639.0 (http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=233639.0).

Or just head west...  8)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: gmac on May 02, 2019, 09:28:42 pm
Wow this is proper riding


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Dwerg on May 03, 2019, 06:32:14 am
This is great stuff  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: JonW on May 03, 2019, 07:26:10 am
Loving these pics Martin  :thumleft:

Us Kzn guys never get to see sand like this :ricky:

May I suggest this Jon (not exactly the same, but much closer to you and not bad either, if you haven't seen it yet): http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=233639.0 (http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=233639.0).

Or just head west...  8)

Hey Martin, followed your Moz ride report closely.

One of the first rides I ever did was to Moz,  http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=2513.0

closer than Botswana but still a full day's ride to get there  :)

Our closest sand riding is here: http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=233075.0
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Amsterdam on May 03, 2019, 08:02:53 am
No words, that scenery is just awesome.  Brilliant stuff.  My mind is made up, these dunes will be ridden in my lifetime.   :deal: :deal: :thumleft:

Once again, thanks you for this brilliant RR.   :thumleft: :thumleft:

Yes this does look very attractive.  Will plan to do this soon.  This must get stinking hot in summer so probably July/August/September should be a good time for this?  In the very hot months the sand probably also gets a bit more energy sapping to ride.

I am pleasantly surprised not to read about endless punctures.  I would have imagined that there are lots of thorns around there.  You are not using moose, are you?

@WildWood @JAmBer - can you guys tear yourselves away from your day jobs for a bit?

Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 03, 2019, 09:19:56 am
It can get very cold at night in winter, so come prepared for that. Good insulation mattress and good sleeping bag is must - unless you plan to sleep only in prearranged accommodation (there is very poor choice of accommodation in Bots west of Tsabong though, and camping is probably preferred in that area).

Edit: and for the most ride-able sand I would look to months when it rains - now it seems to be pretty good.
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 03, 2019, 10:35:14 am
Forgot to answer - no I don't use mousses. I use Tubeliss. Worked fine. I think I have slow puncture on front wheel, but as the inner tube holds the tyre on the rim its no biggie and I didn't bother to fix it, just pumped up the tyre once I got back to car.

There aren't actually that many thorns, with big exception of some plains which are overgrown with this hard bushes with thorns. It is less of a problem if you stick to tracks, but I went off piste for dozens of kms and sometimes I couldn't avoid these plains, so it is a bit of a luck that I didn't get flat.

Without trying to start the whole tube/tubeless/Tubeliss discussion, I'd rather take the risk of puncture, than not be able to alter the tyre pressure. When you are tired and the sand is very soft, being able to ride at basically 0 pressure as you can with Tubeliss is great asset, compared to fixed pressure of mousse. And puncture with Tubeliss is easy to fix with plug. Unless the inner fails of course. And I now carry spare inners (as well as spare tubes for last resort), so this doesn't bother me.

I understand the attraction of comfort of mousses, but I think they also give false sense of security. Both, Chopperpilot's as well as Straatkat's mousses  failed in Kaokoland after less than 2000 km of riding. And if you are on your own and don't have spare tube and tools to put it in in the middle of those dunes, you're quite screwed. You can try the cable ties trick, but I have seen that fail as well.

That is my take at answering Amsterdam's question - please let's not hi-jack this thread with tubed/tubeless discussion. I'm sure there are dedicated threads for that.  ;)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: chopperpilot on May 03, 2019, 11:49:28 am
Hey Martin
Yeah.......I was not a happy man with having to have bailed out on this one. Especially now having read this RR.
Some wise words to take into consideration when a trip comes up.........SCREW THE PLUMBING.

Nicely done Martin.

Well, hopefully you have learned your lesson and got your head straight. Now let's just wait for Bertie to grow back together and I know of a good place to ride....

Yes please.....slow on Bertie!  ;)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: P.K. on May 03, 2019, 01:03:11 pm
Awesome pic`s Martin.

I think that might be on the list for a trip....looks fantastic.
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 03, 2019, 03:47:37 pm
Awesome pic`s Martin.

I think that might be on the list for a trip....looks fantastic.

Go for it Pete, highly recommended 👍
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: exkdx on May 03, 2019, 07:10:04 pm
Wow Martin!
Awesome riding terrain :ricky:
and your photos is just plain stunning!
Your ride certainly added another "must do trip" to most of our lists :biggrin:
Thanks for sharing your ride :thumleft:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 03, 2019, 08:40:40 pm
With only about 15 km to Khawa to go, I somehow managed to lose the track after that last cattle post. As said, the tracks often disappeared in the sandy islands the posts were usually located at, or there were too many disapearing in many directions. I didn't spent too long looking for the track, but rather picked the easternly direction and drifted over the dunes free style for few km until I bumped into the track by luck again. The scenery was more or less the same all the way to Khawa:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32767793397_14ecf1b811_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47711216351_36c8139864_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33833945148_5fa3196161_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47711230211_73fe854004_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47658192772_774a684ee3_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32767827457_0652d413e0_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33833976088_b806d25b6e_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46795098675_391f870af3_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40744767043_833ea69a15_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40744772123_39ea35ea80_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46795126505_ae0e8f2a20_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47711289081_624250b7c3_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40744790583_a6baea26bf_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32767880927_0cce397dd1_b.jpg)


Eventually after 130 km of the most spectacular dunes one can wish for, I arrived at Khawa and stopped at the first house that had car parked next to it. I asked if I can get petrol anywhere in Khawa, but got the negative answer. Tried once more at anothe house with car, but the owners just confirmed that there is no petrol to be had in the village. I had a bit of a dilema. I was keen to try for Tsabong through the bush, but it was at least 140 km away - if I don't run into any fences, which was unlikely as those ranches were sitting between me and Tsabong somewhere. Or I could just ride down to Middelputs about 70 km away, fill up from the jerry cans in my car, sleep over somewhere in the bush (there is no accommodation in Middelputs) and try again next day.

The problem was that I didn't have a clue how much petrol I actually had. The 19 liter tank I have is transculent, so one can see level of petrol, but the problem is that the tank is pretty uneve in its volume with majority sitting up above the engine and only smaller portion sitting in the narrow side pockets. So just looking at the level is quite misleading, as while the tank may look half full from outside, by that stage it is probably already way past that mark. I was a bit pissed of that I didn't mark the levels for different volume on the tank as Justin (JustBendIt) did on his - would come handy now. I still had 2 liter Coke bottle of petrol so I poured that one in and it looked like I may be about half full, so I decided to give Tsabong a bash.

Here is the shebeen in Khawa which I didn't have good memories about since my last visit, when I layed there in the shade badly heatstroked, while being pestered by drunken local bushmen. This time, there was no such a problem as unlike last time I was in a top form ready to take on anybody, but alas it wasn't necessary. The drunks were nowhere to be seen (strange as it was weekend) and I used up only about 1 liter of my water, so there was no need for refill, so this time I gave this upmarked establishment a miss.


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33834017668_29d5c41946_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33834021528_c19ed8cbee_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 03, 2019, 08:42:29 pm
Hey Martin
Yeah.......I was not a happy man with having to have bailed out on this one. Especially now having read this RR.
Some wise words to take into consideration when a trip comes up.........SCREW THE PLUMBING.

Nicely done Martin.

Well, hopefully you have learned your lesson and got your head straight. Now let's just wait for Bertie to grow back together and I know of a good place to ride....

Yes please.....slow on Bertie!  ;)

Henk, I was talking to Tony, referring to his unhealthy obsession with plumbing... :biggrin:

But yes, Bertie slowing down a bit would definitely be a good thing  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 03, 2019, 08:44:14 pm
Wow Martin!
Awesome riding terrain :ricky:
and your photos is just plain stunning!
Your ride certainly added another "must do trip" to most of our lists :biggrin:
Thanks for sharing your ride :thumleft:

Yes, Andre, I'm repeating myself, but this one is a must for any self respecting DS aficionado :thumleft:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: gmac on May 03, 2019, 10:52:48 pm
This maybe a stupid question

But considering you were alone how fast were you riding - because I would l could only imagine riding this flat flat out with a few mates


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Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Amsterdam on May 04, 2019, 08:12:06 am
There aren't actually that many thorns, with big exception of some plains which are overgrown with this hard bushes with thorns. It is less of a problem if you stick to tracks, but I went off piste for dozens of kms and sometimes I couldn't avoid these plains, so it is a bit of a luck that I didn't get flat.

That is my take at answering Amsterdam's question - please let's not hi-jack this thread with tubed/tubeless discussion. I'm sure there are dedicated threads for that.  ;)

Thanks for this.  Definitely not trying to resurrect the old debate but just trying to get some info, as you gave above, to make sure I am correctly prepared for when I try this.
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 04, 2019, 09:29:33 am
This maybe a stupid question

But considering you were alone how fast were you riding - because I would l could only imagine riding this flat flat out with a few mates


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Probably between 50 - 70 kmh - sometimes a bit less, sometimes a bit more. IMO when people don't know the area they are usualy much more hesitant to ride flat out - the unknown makes one much more tentative. This is different riding from your weekend enduro loop - you don't know what is behind each dune - be it bush, massive dugout, or a lion, so - at least with normal people - that plays on ones mind and keeps them a bit more conservative.
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: gmac on May 04, 2019, 10:00:09 am
Yes I would’ve done the same being alone - my biggest stress would be the lions


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Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: gmac on May 04, 2019, 10:00:31 am
Truth be told I wouldn’t have had the balls to go alone


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Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Hondsekierie on May 04, 2019, 06:01:17 pm
Awesome read, thanks a lot for the effort. Will ask some questions once you're done with the report as this sounds like really doable trip in very unspoiled area  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 04, 2019, 07:46:55 pm
From Khawa I took the main dirt road heading south-east to Middelputs. After about 15 km I came to an suitably good looking turn-off heading more or less in my desired easternly direction and jumped on. The landscape changes past Khawa. It is sitll sand underneath with small rolling dunes for many km, but this time overgrown with vegetation and looking much more Serengeti-ish/savanah-ish. One can almost feel the lions staring at you from the tall grass.

Unfortunatelly I had no luck in flashing any cats out, but I did run into plenty of game - mostly ostriches and variety of big boks, such as oryxes and sabre antelopes (I think). I didn't score almost any presentable photos of them as they tended to duck fast and by the time I got my camera out they were too far. So you will have to just believe me...


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40744822113_4570b51742_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32767896477_30c8160773_b.jpg)


Here crap picture of some of what I think were sabre antelopes:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40744835113_7579f59f03_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40744839703_b35e41db4f_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32767915627_937871d217_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40744847843_39ba60d8cd_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47711335931_30a85dddf3_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47711339381_4f175c24e4_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33834079678_11c321cd8f_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47711352031_f1059ae714_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32767945567_1a7343481c_b.jpg)


Looks like small buffalo to me, but I may be wrong:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33834101468_63e2d6bf56_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47711367221_9af56d61e3_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47711370531_0c116abde9_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47711373091_63aa7525a3_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46795253025_2eca305276_b.jpg)


After about 70 km from Khawa I came upon the dreaded fence. By now it was getting late with sun slowly setting in the west and looking at my petrol level I realized that I don't have enough margin to go looking for a track around the ranch, as I didn't have a clue how big it was. So I run out of the options, turned south and headed for Middelputs about 70 km partly off-piste and partly on one of the numerous tracks I randomly came about. The setting sun make for some stunning colors and surfing the winding tracks trough the bush was yet again out of this world - sadly I was in a hurry to outrun the setting sun so didn't manage the really good photos underpinned by deep red sand background. On the positive note - I could focus fuly on the riding and really savoured every second of it.


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47658369602_afae4a6e68_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47658375902_c6da93bdb0_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33834176318_72e6994c3e_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47658399342_533cf7f8e5_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46795278615_bf069b34bb_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47711421131_f33bc2b36b_b.jpg)


I arrived at Middelputs just past the sunset at about 18:00. It was completely dark by then. I made it to the police station and told the police lady at duty that I will be taking my car. There is no accommodation (and more importantly steak) in Middelputs. So I decided to pack the car and head for overnight at Tsabong about 100 km away, where I knew a guesthouse with restaurant (kind of). It would also position me better for exploration next day, when I wanted to try to find connection from Tsabong side to the point where I had to turn around today - i.e. the route around the ranches. Plus the base would be closer to Joburg for the return leg home.

Driving in dark in Botswana is never great option, but admitedly much easier in bakkie than on bike (that is plain stupid with all the animals milling around). I made it to Tsabong at about 7:30, got room and was even able as the only customer to score pork ribs (the 'restaurant' has basically one course for night offer - no menu).

I'm repeating myself, but this was one of the best days of riding have done in a long time, probably ever. The combination of freedom of big open space, magnificent dunes, smooth wet sand and spectacular cloud cover made for a very very memorable experience.
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 04, 2019, 08:09:49 pm
Day 4 - Tsabong to Tsabong
(total 265 km, out of which 25 km of dirt road)


In the morning I got the bike off the bakkie, packed up and set-off at about 8:00 am The plan for the day was to explore west and try to find track through those ranches/fences I run into yesterday. If successful, I wanted then explore the bush north ideally as far as the cutline running along the south-east boundary of Kgalagadi NP. And I wanted to have it all wrapped up and be back ideally by 16:00 as I wanted to cross back to SA the same day via McCarthy's Rust border post, that was open till 18:00.

I have succeeded in all those, except reaching the Kgalagadi boundary. Here is the loop I have ended up doing (the highlighted red one):


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32827924207_88cc87440f_b.jpg)


I will save you the suspense - this day's riding, while great by any standards wasn't to live up the prior day's nirvana, because some portion of it was spent ruding along the ranch fences. Still good 240 km of prime Botswanian bush with crickets running all over is nothing to snub my nose at, just the prior day set the standard extremely high.


Straight out of Tsabong I have hit tracks that looked very promising with no fence in sight and morning light made for some nice bush scenery:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47770812121_9ae7114f5b_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46981642944_29384627fb_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33893834528_c94ce25d08_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33893839848_1af9b4a9f3_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33893844678_b65938bab6_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46981665614_21607358dd_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46981679304_85f30a4218_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47718461222_13d15e5308_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32827376227_9295f61fa5_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Hondsekierie on May 04, 2019, 08:38:39 pm
I see your tyre tracks mostly on top of the middle man.  Do you actually prefer riding there and not in the tracks?
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 04, 2019, 09:05:57 pm
I see your tyre tracks mostly on top of the middle man.  Do you actually prefer riding there and not in the tracks?

Yes it is easier - until you have to backtrack  :imaposer:

But of course this works mostly when the sand is at least slightly compacted, it may be trickier if it is extremely soft. But while it works great for me on solo ride - I suspect it may not work for you as you ride in pair, so only the first rider has the advantage of undisturbed sand.

That said, on 500 it really is no big deal riding in the tracks either, just somewhat easier on that central divide.

And to be honest in this area it is no biggie - if you battle riding in tracks, just ride next to them (i.e. go bundu bashing), the sand is extremely easy to ride anywhere there and probably only marginally slower than following in the tracks (if at all - the only thing that will slow you down is that you may need to ride around obstacles)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 04, 2019, 10:08:48 pm
The further west I went, the less used the track I was on was, until there were no recent tracks of vehicles at all - the tracks were used just by animals. There were number of tracks branching to the right which I assumed is north and made a memory note to look for those when on the back as I planned explore to the north. But actually I got a bit sloppy on navigation and it was my track that veered off south and those diverging tracks were actually going in the right direction. I found out too late.


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33893871938_5b72a1ef99_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47718477422_9fc526b8fb_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47718482622_42062e6065_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46981699804_731d1b0be1_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40804729323_1996634729_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47770874711_bc89f4b54d_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47770888571_3cff9bed2c_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 04, 2019, 10:27:13 pm
Eventually about 30 km from Tsabong I did come to the fence and gate to one of the ranches. There were actually two ranches - or at least fenced of areas, but there was a gap of about 150 meters of bush between them, which created natural channel heading north west. That was more or less direction I needed so I took it.


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33893927478_aeea513df6_b.jpg)


Again I bumped into quite a lot of game - mostly larger variety of boks, but didn't score any impressive pictures. At one point I came upon an Oryx that run away from me on the track I was on following one of the fences. I stopped and switched the engine off and waited until he got over the horizon.


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47718529922_7b543c85fb_b.jpg)


Once out of sights I set off again. Of course the stupid goat stopped as soon as he didn't see me, and as I came over that crest he started running again on the track. Not keen to repeat this for next 10 km I tried different approach. I gunned it right behind the animal trying to squeeze myself between the animal and the fence in an attempt to make it run off the road and away from the fence. That was quite hairraising as the fence was unfomfortably close and a misstep woud probably turn me into minced meat, but the stupid goat just wouldn't do the logical thing and veer to the left into the safety of bush. I was riding literally within 2 meters of the thing watching its big balls swing right - left and getting sand kicked in my face by the hoves (the joys of open face helmet...). And yet, the animal just kept running on track - after initial spurt he clearly couldn't keep up with 500 so slowed down, and I had to slow down in turn in order to not run into it. After what felt like kilometers he finally got a brainfart (or rather heart collapse), turned left and I opened up and was out of his hair.


After few km I came upon remnants of another Oryx that probably didn't veer off and died of overheating or something. I contemplated for a bit taking the horn with, but it was too big and heavy and anyway I'm sure it is ilegal so just left it there.


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33893941918_5de11563e6_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40804791153_5c570a5e32_b.jpg)


Later on I came upon a jackal that was suriprisingly unpertrubed and let me take few shots:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46854554205_658edfcdbf_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46854564545_428eedec77_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33893961688_3a16976cf8_b.jpg)


Further on I found these - dead animals were all I could get as the plenty of live ones were too fast for me to get good shot of:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47718591162_f05d6199bf_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47770939981_c928d637d7_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46982196514_010d275b0a_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46855057745_cfa9a0241d_b.jpg)


I was glad that Justin (JustBendIt) and Bertie (Straatkat) with whom I did Kaokoland last year, weren't with me as for some reason they like to put dead bones in their mouth and stuff.... (for further detail on this yummy topic check this: http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=222953.msg4037363#msg4037363 (http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=222953.msg4037363#msg4037363))



Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 04, 2019, 10:58:16 pm
There was surprising maize of fences I had to navigate with few dead ends, but after about 90 km I finally connected to the prior day's track at the point where I turned back day before. So I have sucessfully found completed track from Tsabong to Khawa and now turned my attention to trying to get to Kgalagadi boundary to the north.

For a bit I followed tracks from day before west and then veered of on another set of tracks to the north west towards the cutline, which was still about 40 km away. The area was typical African bush and I kept my eyes open for possible feline sighting, as it's been a long time since I bumped into lions on the bike, and was keen for another encounter. But it wasn't to be this time.


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40804823103_c5aa58d011_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33893992088_9f6a99ca47_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33894053218_e68ef59ae5_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40804885553_d54bd49c61_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47771025641_456f5b2e9f_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47771053681_f5479bfdcb_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33894098598_211e6425d9_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32827573527_fbd8da0057_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47771095941_a9c8726ee8_b.jpg)


I came upon couple of pans. On the first one I spooked big herd of Oryxes:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47771109931_e37ef18a9d_b.jpg)


The track eventually disappeared and I just cruised off-piste in the general north-west direction. But I was starting to worry again about my petrol situation as I couln'd figure out how much petrol I still have left). I took a break to dwell on that for a bit.


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40804982953_549ac5eabd_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46981924394_1812cccf5a_b.jpg)


Not sure about the petrol I decided not to push my luck and turned back. Right before the pan I came from I was surprised to come upon this sign:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46854742695_18109f2c8d_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/32827660447_6b6f548885_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40805047443_606119c3e4_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/33894233708_b67c41d628_b.jpg)


Seemed weird to find sign like this in the middle of nowhere. I also found this nest next to the sign and wondered what creature can get into it without ripping its skin/feathers off as it was made out of very thorny branches:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46982020754_0c2505db7c_b.jpg)


Anyway I made it back to the pan and then noticed another set of better defined vehicle tracks heading north. Forgetting immediately about my petrol situation, I decided to go investigate and see if I can make it to the cutline.


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40805110953_e90e7c94f3_b.jpg)


Again to my suprise I came upon this water point and marked it diligently in GPS. I couldn't figure out why it was here as this was much more remote than other places I have been to and there was no sign of cattle post or even domesticated animals around.


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/46854901705_b4c0bc2a2b_b.jpg)


The answer came about 100 meters past this sign:


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47718930432_63b27923d6_b.jpg)


There was a little camp with a Lancruiser parked under a tree, and its crew of two ladies and one gentleman from South Africa. I stopped to find out what is what. They told me that this is a Khawa community concession and strictly speaking nobody is right now allowed in as Khawa people are not bringing tourists in for some reason. They got permission in Khawa to use the camp as they hepled the community with some charity project (water pump or something like that). They also told me that the track ends there and doesn't continue to the cutline.

They were nice about it and didn't say anything explicit, but even I figured out that I'm probably not supposed to be there. I asked what are the boundaries of the concession, but they didn't know, just mentioned generally that north of Khawa (which is where I was riding even yesterday). I haven't seen any signs anywhere and when I enquired day before in Khawa about passage to Tsabong the locals didn't seem to be pertrubed by it at all and didn't mention any concession, so I'm going to assume that the passage to Tsabong I plotted is fine. I have talked to quite a few people about where I am going to ride, including policemen in Middelputs and people in Khawa, and nobody seemed to mind.

So, while I don't want to piss off locals unnecessarily and tresspass, to be honest with lack of solid information I will probably venture that side again, though I'm not going to go to that particular camp/pans, but rather try to get to the cutline further west (probably straight from Khawa after checking if that is fine, which I believe it is as there is track demarcated there even on T4A connecting to the cutline and then following it west to Two Rivers).

If anybody has any concrete information about this mysterious Khawa concession, please let me know.
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 05, 2019, 12:05:03 am
So I backtracked all the way to the fences, and then continued north east along the fences. When I came to the point where the tracks  turned south-east into that gap between two fences through which I came, I decided to continue along one of the fences north east instead in order to find another approach to Tsabong. The fences went on and on and when I was about to turn back I came to the end of the ranch fence. However there was another much smaller and more rickety fence continuing north east. I assumed that this is just some kind of community attempt at keeping domesticated animals from wild bush. After few km the track along the fence almost disappeared, yet the fence continued. Finally I came to a gate that wasn't locked, just secured with little wire loop. I passed through the fence securing gate behind myself and turned east agai as no I was way more north than Tsabong. After few km I came to a little set of huts, where I stopped to check if I'm tresspassing or not, but there was nobody in sight so I continued on double track east. After another few km I came to another fence and gate. This one had actually chain around with lock. By now there was no way I'm going back, so I started looking at dismantling the fence and reassembling it back once I pass.

But then I had a brainfart and realized that the chain can be just easily lifter over the gate posts and just put back afterwards, which is what I did and I was out. There were still about 15 km of track heading east when I came to more and more settlements until I hit the main dirt road running from Tsabong north along Kgalagadi to Hukuntsi (the one that was used in 2015 Amageza). I turned onto the dirt road and headed south to Tsabong about 20 km away.

This is my video from quite a few years ago when I rode that road and some more areas north of Kgalagadi on Tenere, since I don't have any pictures left:



I arrived there with enough time to load the bike on bakkie, pack up and make it to the border at McCarthy's rest comfortably with about an hour before their closing time. As usually I was the only customer and everything went smoothly. Once through I hit the dirt road south to Hotazel, where I hit the tar and made it to Kuruman in time to still manage steak at Spur. I slept over in the same guesthouse I slept on the way up and next day made it back to Joburg.

That is it - I had high expectations from this trip, and it delivered (well, except for the lion encounter - will be back for that).

I will post tomorrow the GPS tracks and some suggestions about other possible routes in the area.

Thanks for following and comments  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: JonW on May 05, 2019, 12:42:22 am
Thank you Martin that was awesome
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Vis Arend on May 05, 2019, 07:38:57 am
Awesome stuff, thanks for sharing.   :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:
Title: GPS Tracks
Post by: Xpat on May 05, 2019, 09:30:45 am
Attached are the GPS tracks ridden on this trip. I have split day 2 & 3 into two parts as they were too big to upload here.

I have plotted many more possible routes on satellite images just in the area between Middelputs (called Bogogobo on some Bots maps) / Khawa on the east and Two RIvers / Bokspits on the west, so one can spent quite a bit of time exploring just in that rectangle. Below is the map showing all the tracks I was able to spot from the images. You can view and zoom the images in the following link:  https://drive.google.com/open?id=1rIaUxrU6NcTamsklqLGpqEk8_VWWgr3o&usp=sharing (https://drive.google.com/open?id=1rIaUxrU6NcTamsklqLGpqEk8_VWWgr3o&usp=sharing)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47725361712_6cccb50708_b.jpg)


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47725363152_e1cb10e355_b.jpg)


In the link above you should be able zoom in and out (and change the map you want to view - e.g. satellite images or googlemap), but also download the staked out paths in KMZ format and then you can convert them using one of the online converters to whatever format you want. You will not get tracks though, as I didn't plot the tracks (too much work) only staked those routes out on the satellite images. That is good enough for me as I just need to find the track and then I follow it on the ground physically, but for those of you who use navigation functions in GPS and follow the arrows blindly, this will not do. But then I suspect that those kind of people wouldn't want to explore this area anyway...
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: ChrisL - DUSTRIDERS on May 05, 2019, 10:49:54 am
Looking at your photos I am wondering how they would have looked like if that area had normal rain.
Normal meaning starting in Nov and getting more towards Feb. Guess the grass would be so tall  you'd be on the pegs to be able to see!! :thumleft:

Thanks for posting all these photo's. :thumleft:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Minxy on May 05, 2019, 09:04:00 pm
Another incredible ride report, thank you for all your effort in compiling it Xpat, epic stuff yet again! :)

HSK and I can't help but wonder though, where all these tracks/roads in the middle of nowhere come from? Are they tracks connecting remote villages? Tracks that poachers, or game rangers use when looking for animals? Some of them maybe even used for border patrols? Hmmmm
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 05, 2019, 09:43:53 pm
Another incredible ride report, thank you for all your effort in compiling it Xpat, epic stuff yet again! :)

HSK and I can't help but wonder though, where all these tracks/roads in the middle of nowhere come from? Are they tracks connecting remote villages? Tracks that poachers, or game rangers use when looking for animals? Some of them maybe even used for border patrols? Hmmmm

Thanks Minxy  :thumleft:

I sense a conspiracy theory brewing your side  :patch:

It is much simpler and less sinister. First of all it is a big area and the maps may make it look smaller. North - south at the narrowest point from Two Rivers to Bokspits it is about 50 km and east -west from Bokspits to Middelpits it is about 120 km as the crow flies (150 km on the tar road running along the border). Tsabong is then another 100 km to the east, but the tracks past Middelpits are way less frequent - so let's focus on the area between Bokspits and Middelpits as that is where most of those tracks shown above are.

So we are talking area over 6000 square km big. Those waypoint markers I used to stake the tracks on the pictures above are too big at that level of zoom and create impression that the place is coveredy by highways. It is not. All of them are double tracks (with exception of dirt road from Khawa to Middelputs) and most of them are at least 10 - 15 km apart, even though it doesn't look so on the pictures above.

Why are they there? Simple, they are shortcuts to Khawa from the western side. They are definitely not border roads as there are perfectly good roads following the border all along on Bots side ( dirt highway from Twee River to Bokspits, and great tar from Bokspits to Middelputs and onwards to Tsabong. All these tracks basically veer off the tar at different point and head for Khawa or one of quite a few cattle posts that are spread across the whole area.

And they are not patrol roads for the NP - there is perfectly maintained wide cutline running along the whole length of Kgalagadi NP - that is the northernmost staked straight line running east that further east veers a bit more north east.

Here is simpler map where you can clearly see where Khawa - the biggest village in the dunes (the only one apart from cattle posts) - is situated:

(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47782208551_2b9f0b5634_b.jpg)


If you want to get to Khawa from Twee River/Struizendam or Bokspits on the main roads, you have to drive between 220 (Bokspits) and 270 km (TR). So it just make sense that many people rather take 90 km drive through the dunes on well established track (somebody told me that there are every 8 km water sources along that main track (the one I connected to on Day 1 and followed to TR - and sure enough I have seen some either in  Cattle posts or on their own). And the tracks heading up from south are just people taking shortcuts. Most of the dunes run in north-north-west / south-south-east direction and it is quite easy to follow the valleys - at lteast when the sand is not too dry. And many of those tracks are just shortcuts people took in between other tracks.

The sand - at least when wet is very easy to drive/ride and even if you go complete bundu bashing you can comfortably cruise most of the time in 4th or higher gear. Compared to Lesotho - where one is also allowed to ride wherever they can but rarely gets out of 2nd gear and riding there is more like sitting on a jack-hammer whole day - this is very different and much more relaxing/meditative experience - more surfing/off piste skiing than dirt biking. Don't take me wrong, I love Lesotho, but after 3 months of intense riding there, this was a nice break.

So no, I wouldn't expect anything sinister there. I mean there are lions there, but you like cats... >:D
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 05, 2019, 09:54:38 pm
And I'm already busy plotting tracks east of Tsabong towards Werda (that would extend the riding area by another 100 or so km east) and Bray, and it looks very promissing. Next time I will probably leave my car in Bray, jump across the border nearby, and then follow Molopo river on the Bots side crossing what looks like tons of read dunes - and they are there, I have seen them years ago while passing through Molopo reserve (which I think you did too).

Here is what I found so far and I like what I see. And I haven't yet looked north of the tar road properly - big area to explore, though the red dunes are all centered on the Molopo river valley.


https://drive.google.com/open?id=1pUf1NOBC_rGPa1jCc5OS8Mg6jv7ahC-s&usp=sharing (https://drive.google.com/open?id=1pUf1NOBC_rGPa1jCc5OS8Mg6jv7ahC-s&usp=sharing)
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: billy-joe on May 05, 2019, 10:12:42 pm
sheesh i need a 500!  loving the rr as usual xpat.  inspirational as always.  how many hrs on the old girl now and do you feel the need to renew?
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 05, 2019, 10:21:46 pm
sheesh i need a 500!  loving the rr as usual xpat.  inspirational as always.  how many hrs on the old girl now and do you feel the need to renew?

It has 410 hours and 17k km on now. I don't envisage getting rid of her any time soon. There were fixed done over time - new fuel pump, because I dropped plastic cap into tank and it blocked the old one - which didn't die mind you just didn't pump fully in high revs, and Runner changed rocker arms at about 14k km because he felt that the bearing on them is slowly going the way of dodo. And I'm on third clutch, but that is because I installed the second one at about 12k km and screwed it up.

The bike is set-up perfectly for my use (lowered suspension with appropriate springs and valving done by Hilton Hayward), power point and two aftermarket tanks (19 liters for general use) 12 liter for Lesotho duty, so no need to change. Let's see when the rebuild comes, but if Runner is to believe, it isn't going to be any time soon.

I will probably buy another 2016 one later this year (to be able swap all the accessories like tanks easily and because it has kick-starter, which came handy few times), but that one will be an addition, not replacement of the current one.
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: billy-joe on May 06, 2019, 09:15:58 am
so the piston/rings are still original?  if so that is v impressive for a 'ready to race' machine. any major oil usage between services and what are your intervals.  sorry if youve mentioned this before elsewhere but im thinking of selling my 950 and getting a 500 to go play with 2sd somewhere!
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 06, 2019, 09:23:07 am
so the piston/rings are still original?  if so that is v impressive for a 'ready to race' machine. any major oil usage between services and what are your intervals.  sorry if youve mentioned this before elsewhere but im thinking of selling my 950 and getting a 500 to go play with 2sd somewhere!

Piston and rings are still original. And as I said, Runner who services bike doesn't see the need for them to be replaced any time soon. I will be surprised to be honest if it comes before 30k km.

The bike doesn't use a drop of oil, between oil changes, which are done after every trip, roughly at 1000 - 2000 km intervals.

That said, I use the bike as it was intended to - i.e. for riding off the beaten track, varying from slipping clutch most of the day in 1st and 2nd gear in Lesotho to faster double/single track riding such as this one, Moz or Kaokoland. I rarely go faster than 100 kmh, because the terrain I ride doesn't allow it and on main roads dirt or tar (which I do very little of) I cannot be bothered to try to go fast as I'm fully saturated from my offroad riding.

If you want to use the bike for commuting (as some people strangly do) or for easy peasy high speed dirt like Tankwa Karoo and such, I'm not sure it will last as long. But then Adam Riemann did multiple 10k km trips a pop most of which I'm sure involved fast dirt and some tar, and the bikes seemed to hold up well. There are couple of people on advrider doing RTW rides on 500s, so you can check their threads if you are interested in longevity of this bikes when used for DS and not racing.
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: ChrisL - DUSTRIDERS on May 06, 2019, 09:31:09 am
 varying from slipping clutch most of the day in 1st and 2nd gear in Lesotho to faster double/single track riding such as this one, Moz or Kaokoland.

Xpat do you change front sprockets when doing a trip like this or Lesotho?
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 06, 2019, 09:42:56 am
varying from slipping clutch most of the day in 1st and 2nd gear in Lesotho to faster double/single track riding such as this one, Moz or Kaokoland.

Xpat do you change front sprockets when doing a trip like this or Lesotho?

I change rear sprocket. I ride 14/50 for general purpose DS riding like the one in this report (i.e. most of the time), but for Lesotho I always gear down and use 14/52.
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: ChrisL - DUSTRIDERS on May 06, 2019, 09:49:46 am
varying from slipping clutch most of the day in 1st and 2nd gear in Lesotho to faster double/single track riding such as this one, Moz or Kaokoland.

Xpat do you change front sprockets when doing a trip like this or Lesotho?

I change rear sprocket. I ride 14/50 for general purpose DS riding like the one in this report (i.e. most of the time), but for Lesotho I always gear down and use 14/52.
:thumleft:
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Kaboef on May 06, 2019, 12:08:39 pm
so the piston/rings are still original?  if so that is v impressive for a 'ready to race' machine. any major oil usage between services and what are your intervals.  sorry if youve mentioned this before elsewhere but im thinking of selling my 950 and getting a 500 to go play with 2sd somewhere!

Or do like me and just have both.
Together they cost less than a new bike.

I havent done a trip on the 500 yet. Only used it so far for Zone7 and Quarry duties.
But I am itching to slap the long range tank on and disappear into the Richtersveld for a couple of days.
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: m0lt3n on May 06, 2019, 03:28:18 pm
xpat how thorough were those border posts? any inspections on your bike? require anything other than passport?
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 06, 2019, 03:42:17 pm
xpat how thorough were those border posts? any inspections on your bike? require anything other than passport?

You need bike papers - certified copy and I would have original license disk if you don't have it already on the bike (I have copy on bike as it gets destroyed).

You will be most probably the only customer there, so it will be fast on one hand, but on other hand they may be relatively thorough if they are too bored. Have papers and there will be no issue.
Title: Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
Post by: Xpat on May 18, 2019, 12:51:50 pm
Forgot to attach the water points I found riding those tracks. Here they are, attached as gpx waypoints.