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Messages - Xpat

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There is petrol station in Tsumkwe on top of Nye Nye and bottom of Khaudun. There is also country lodge with camping there. I havent ridden that area on Nam side extensively,  but have plotted some tracks around khaudum from Tsumkwe to Divundu. Can send them to you in a week once back to my computer - but beware, it is very remote and i have no idea if the tracks are passable or even exist - i did them on satellite images.

I have ridden extremely juicy tracks on the bots side along border from tsodilo hills to dube. Highly recommended, but tough - heavy sand, and risky (remote, heatstroke, heavy sand, big 5 all over the show). Can send them if you want, but again proceed with caution on heavy 990 - this is very different level compared to eg Kaokoland, which is easy peasy in comparison.
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Depending on the riding style - if you are touring you will get 400 km out of that 20 liter tank, if you gun it probably less than 300. But generally the consumption will be less than 5 l/100km - I haven't done any scientific testing though.

I have 2016 that I bought new, Better suspension - not sure about it. For my riding it is perfectly fine, and mine was lowered by Hilton which makes it more stable and manageable in technical terrain (i.e. rocks). But I don't race. And I deliberately went for cheaper open cartridge suspension instead of more expensive CC one on 6 days version, as that is supposedly bitch to maintain and set-up, but better for racing.

I genuinelly don't believe you will see big difference in suspension, unless you are going to race it. And if that is the case, you might lookon Husky 501 as that has better suspenders even older, plus it has linkage, that makes it even better - or so I was told, never have ridden one.
The following users thanked this post: Minxy

Ian, you left the country code out  :).

Here is thread with contact details for variety of biking dealers in Namibia, including Duneworx:

The following users thanked this post: Ian in Great Brak River

Also - rather open new thread in Planning a Ride section, it is much more frequented. This one is a bit abandoned - not many people come here.

And one more thing - in Namibia they have very tood overnight delivery service to major towns. So if you for example locate KN oil in Windhoek, but are not going there but rather to Swakopmund, you can ask them to send it there. It will be there overnight.
The following users thanked this post: maria41

Hi everyone,
We are making our way to Namibia. We will be in Sprinbok tomorrow.
We shipped our bikes from England. We noticed that the shippers removed some essential items from our luggage.
We need to replace that.
Most important will be the K&N air filter oil. We also need a mini can or WD40 ( or local equivalent) and good quality chain lube.
( so far this is what we realised is missing  :xxbah:

Can we find that in valwys bay or Keetmanshoop?  We were not planning to go to Windhoek, but if we must, kindly let us know of your suggestions.

And if by chance any wIld dog-er is in sprinbok, let me know. Although we do not have local SIM card yet, so we rely on WiFi for communications.

Thanks a lot in advance.
( and sort for typos, my iPad is knackered!)

You will get WD40 in every hardware shop - you should be able to get one in Springbok or any bigger Nam town without issue. I believe you should be able to get chain spray in Springbok as well, but you might need to ask around a bit. K&N airfilter oil - not sure. Ask around in Springbok, and you will probably get foam airfilter oil, just not sure if it will work on K&N.

You could get lucky in Windhoek or Swakopmund (there is official Yamaha dealer in Swakop, there are BMW, Yamaha, KTM and other dealers in Windhoek). I would recommend to call them upfront and they will be able to tell you if anybody in Nam may have something like that. They will for sure have foam airfilter oil - but you might get that one alread in Springbok.
The following users thanked this post: maria41

General Bike Related Banter / Re: Honda CRF450L is coming
« on: May 27, 2018, 11:21:57 am »

how big is the adventure bike spectrum? are there any key things adv bikes need to have, be able to do?

There isn't any hard and fast rule about where does DS bike end and adv bike begin. They occupy the opposite ends of continuum of road legal (or rather plated, as quite a few DS including mine wouldn't probably pass the roadworthy test  :peepwall:) bikes that have some kind of dirt riding ability engineered into them (yes I know Peterhansel can ride R1 in dunes, but you know what I mean). On the spectrum of offroad (double/single/no-track) - offtar (dirt roads) - tar, the DS will lean towards offroad end with some offroad/tar capability (i.e. one can grudgingly ride hour or two on dirt roads, worst case scenario tar, if on the other end they can spend many many hours doing offroad). And vice versa, adv bike will be much better on tar and good dirt roads, but you are not going to enjoy yourself in 100km of deep sand (apart from few masochists).

Generally, adv bikes are geared towards long distance comfort on tar and dirt roads (i.e. they are heavier - which is good for comfort, have windshield, big load carrying capacity, passenger allowed), while DS for maximum dirt enjoyment (lightweight - good offroad, not so good on tar and good dirt roads, no windshield to break your neck or nose, can carry some minimum luggage, but really minimum, no passenger allowed whatsoever).

Of course where is the line between the two is subjective. I guess it is somewhere in the spectrum 690 - Tenere (XT660Z or T7 or 790). For most people 690 (without rally kit) is probably considered too dirt focused and hence DS, for me now that I'm conditioned on 500, it feels like intercontinental cruiser. My personal rule of thumb would be - windshield = adv bike, no windshield = DS (and yes there are many exceptions to that).

I talk about it here only because if the released info is correct this new 450 is at the very extreme DS end of the spectrum  - as I think you will agree. I think it is important for people to realize that, otherwise they may end up buying wrong bike for their job - if the job is adv touring.  If they are looking not so much for touring, but dirt enjoyment in their plated bike, this looks like very interesting alternative (once the 25 hp choke is removed by aftermarket) to currently the only option on the market 500/501.
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General Bike Related Banter / Re: Honda CRF450L is coming
« on: May 27, 2018, 12:03:49 am »
Is this WR sold here like this? Can it be plated here? http://www.cyclespot.co.nz/bike/Yamaha/WR450/999516453

The following users thanked this post: Motties

Oh yes, one more thing: For 4x4 trip I would use sligthly modified route - that is using the route we did as baseline. Assuming you don't want to do Robbie's pass in 4x4 (most people don't I believe), I would follow the same route we did with these modifications:

Day 2/3 - instead of going from Palmwag up through Little Serengeti and Kowarib gorge (I would do those on the way back as I did again on Day 11), I would rather go up to Puros (with sleepover on the way) via Crowther trail (couldn't do that on bike because it is part of Palmwag conservancy and bikes are not allowed), Amspoort gorge and Puros canyon.
Day 4- from Puros I would drive up the Huarusib river all the way to D3703, on which it is a short hop to Opuwo. (that upper Huarusib may not be driveable sometimes - it was not when I was there with my father in May, it was when I was there now in March - check my ride on Day 8)

After that I would basically follow the same route - maybe including drive up Marienfluss.

Edit: Here are some pictures from Crowther trail - it resembles quite a bit upper part of Valley of Desolation (that is why I recommend to do it on the way up as if you do it on the way down you would have two-three days of the same scenery) with starkly otherworldly red rocky landscape:

The following users thanked this post: wilfwalk

Thanks all for following and comments.  :thumleft: I will post one more short 4x4 episode from return home with Bertie

Regarding drigin car on these tracks - I'm no 4x4 or even car boffin (have done probably 2 - 3 car safaris in 12 years I lived here), so take whatever I say with that in mind (and I'm sure there are tons of threads about this are on 4x4 forums, as this is the main highlight of Southern Africa - or rather Africa, for them as well). I do have semi-kitted Hilux 4x4 - mostly for my family and friends as I use bikes for travel - and have done Damaraland & Kaokoland in it last year as a support driving shotgun to my father.

I would say this: Most of the tracks we have ridden are easily doable in 4x4. The only places where it gets technical is Robbie's pass (I personally wouldn't go there in 4x4, but I'm sure proper 4x4 affecionados looking for technical driving would and have) and VZP - that one we have done in my Hilux, and it requires focus and strong determination in places, but is doable by normal driver who is not complete moron in 4x4.

Is it doable in 4x2? I don't know, most of it probably yes, but there are usually few places every day that may catch you out, and you might not be able to get yourself out of those without 4x4 and low range. I personally wouldn't go there in 4x2 (that is the routes we have ridden - I can suggest route that would be perfectly fine in 4x2) even though I drive 99% of time off tar in 4x2 mode in my Hilux. I use 4x4/low range only for tricky bits and to recover the car if stuck in mud or sand, but on those occasions I find it indispensable.

For example I wouldn't want to go down VZP without low range, as it gets really steep and uneven and without low range you will have to be very good with your breaks and they will have to be very good as well. Low range gives you much more control of the car in tricky situation like that. Here are some pictures of the tricky sections on VZP (most of them are 20 - 30 meters long max, but some of them require to rebuild the road);

Also I believe 4x4 and low range are crucial to recover the car once is stuck, like here (Puros canyon):

But in some cases even 4x4 and low range may not be enough - so come well prepared with stuff to get yourself out of the pinch, like shovels, towing ropes, metal/plastic plates for foundation and I would recommend high jack (I have no experience with winches that to me seems a bit over the top). And of course 2 spare wheels, 1 may be pushing it (at least if you are driving solo like we were). For example we came upon this Patrol stuck in mud in the reefs in ugab river. It took us over 3 hours to get him out, and that was with Hilux available for tow. I couldn't believe my eyes when we hitched the patrol to Hilux and tried number of times to rip it out (low range, high range, steady and slow, with run up, etc.)) from both front and back, and the bloody Nissan literaly didn't even flinch (and yes we dug trenches all around the car). It seemed like it was just a top of huge concrete block burried deep in the ground.

They had tons of kit on that Patrol, but one thing they (and us) didn't have was high jack. What eventually got it out was when the guy dug a hole under the rear diff, put his normal jack under the diff with some plate underneath it and managed to jack it up a bit. Hilux was then able with run up to rip it out of that mud hole. So immediately after the trip I bought High jack, which I didn't see a point of till then. It was fun (there were lion spoor all over the mud we were working in so walking through those reefs looking for some wood to put under wheels was exciting to say the least), but I wouldn't want to do it in a hurry again:

As far as 'kitted' 4x4 goes - as with bikes my recommendation would be go as minimal as possible. I have aluminium canopy and roof tent and shit, but this time my father (who used the car there before with all that crap on) insisted on going minimal - i.e. no canopy, no roof tent, just tonnal cover to hide spare wheel and jerry cans from preying eyes, and all the crap packed behind the front seats (take rear seats out). The only stuff you absolutely must have is that stuff I mentioned above to get yourself disentangled from tricky situation, and of course camping gear and lots of water - that one my father was a bit cavallier on, but I was nazi on that - have water not only for your expected route if things go well, but also for non-sunny day scenario if you have to sit it out there for few days, or walk out.

My 2c - take it with big grain of salt.

The following users thanked this post: wilfwalk

@Minxy: my advice would be to not get overambitious with the route - i.e. do not try to squeeze in too much, unless you have more time than we had (12 days of riding, 4 day commute to and back Joburg/CT). If you have about 2 weeks (16 days) I would recommend to start from Uis as we did. Even with that shroter route and being on small bikes, a I was the only one out of three who actually finished the whole route, and that is while I skipped one planned rest day. I felt fine, but I wouldn't want to squeeze in more.

MaxThePanda's gang had 2 days more if I remember correctly and they started from Usakos/Spitzkopfe, which is kind of equivalent distance for starting from Hentie's Bay. And they had to start cutting stuff out (Epupa Falls, they rode up to Opuwo on C43) and still were properly knackered at the end. So unless you are approaching this as some kind of race/competition (not recommended - you've already done that there on Honda), I would recommend to rather be conservative, and if there is any time left there are areas within this loop that you can explore (for example we skipped Marienfluss, there is Hartmans pass, that loop up the Huarusib river to D3707 and down that noname river to Puros, also Huab river needs proper exploring). That Omaruru river anyway didn't look as good as Huab, Huanib and Huarusib (but i haven't done it - just seen pictures and videos)...

Of course that recommendation holds only if you have about two weeks (i.e. 16 days ) to do the trip, including communte to and back to Gauteng. If you have more time, go crazy - just take the necessary rest days to avoid exhaustion, as that can really ruin the trip.
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Day 12 - part 7
(pictures from this episode can be viewed in higher resolution here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmbM3o6j

Once I reached Ugab reiver, the track followed riverbed for few km west. As usualy I kept my eyes open for any wildlife I may encounter, and again - as usual by now - all I got was elephant spoor:

After few km the track turnes south east away from river and run through the Zebra hills on the other side of river towards D2303:

Eventualy I came out of the Zebra hills and hit the D2303 which was to take me along the southern reaches of Brandberg all the way to Uis about 110 km away. This was basically the end of the good part of the trip. By most adv riders' standards this would still count as full on adventure ride (D2303 is quite remote and sparsely used road that probably doesn't deserve 'dirt highway' slur), but after what I have seen on that day, let alone the prior 11 days, this was just commute and I could chillax reminiscing about what I have seen on this trip. Commute or not - the scenery was still vintage Damaraland though:

I arrived at Brandberg Rest Camp at about 3pm. Bertie, who has returned that day from his three day shoping adventure in Swakopmund, was waiting and after a bite and little nap, we have packed up and loaded the bikes onto the bakkie for return trip to Big Smoke.
The following users thanked this post: wilfwalk

I wasn't entirely happy with how the pictures are coming out on WD site (there is clearly some downsizing happening behind the scenes) so I added under each episode heading a link to the original flickr album, where you can view the pictures in higher resolution and better color. There you can go  go full screen for best results.

So far I have done it backwards only from day 7 onwards - will add links for days 1 - 6 later on.
The following users thanked this post: wilfwalk

Honda CR / CRF / Africa Twin 1000 / Re: CRF250 Rally/DS
« on: May 14, 2018, 12:30:33 pm »
Anybody wants a free crashbar or pannier racks for their Rally? Surprised nobody jumped at this yet (the heading is not very clear though)

The following users thanked this post: sidetrack

Day 12 - part 5
(pictures in this episode can be viewed in higher resolution here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskB5oLf7)

After about 15 km in the Hoab river, the track turned south towards Brandberg and Ugab river and I hit an open desert for next 70 km. The ever changing nature and scenery of this track is one thing that makes it to stand out from the other routes we have done on this trip (or anywhere actually), with the possible exception of ride from Puros to Sesfontein through Huarusib and Huanib river. So far I have done about 60 km and I have already done 40 km of barren red rock mountains, about 20 km of sandy and green Huab riverbed and now was about to enter open plain desert with views opening dozens of kms away. And there was still more to come...

Turning away from Huab river heading west to the Skeleton NP and Atlantic ocean (I'll be back):

I have lived in Africa for 12 years, travelled it's length, as well as other continents, and yet this is the very first time I encountered a scorpion. And a dead one at that - not much of a consolation for the elusive elephants, but hey - better than nothing:

After short stop at the turn-off, I hit the track heading south towards Brandberg across the open plains that were descending gradually west towards Atlantic:

About noon-ish I stopped and feasted on a Tex bar, before pushing on south:

Eventualy I crossed the plains and reached high ground above Ugab river with Brandberg dominating the landscape behind the river. Just when I thought I saw it all, the landscape changed its colors and came up with whole new set of abstract shapes. This whole area is like something out of Salvador Dali painting or Pink Floyd album cover - in fact I suspect that those people must have ridden through the Valley of Desolation or at least seen the pictures and just plagiarized it:

Zebra hills craddling Ugab river in this section. Basil from Brandberg Rest Camp directed me to this particular track (the one I plotted at home followed different route) and I'm very grateful for that:

Welwitschia and double track heading down to Zebra hills and Ugab further on:

The following users thanked this post: wilfwalk

Day 12 - part 3
(pictures in this episodes can be viewed at higher resolution here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmjqufPE)

From the house the track turned south west and was to follow Huab river for another 20 km. But first I had to get to the riverbed at place called Huab swamp.

Mountain range overlooking Huab swamp:

And the dunes to the east of the range and south of the river:

As I approached the river I kept my eyes open for animals, especially the rare desert rhino. But again, all I've found was a spoor - both elephant as well as rhino one. That is if rhino has three toes on its feet - sorry no picture.
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Day 12 - part 2
(pictures in this episodes can be viewed at higher resolution here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmjqufPE)

After first 20 km covered in the previous part which headed more or less west, the track turned south and followed a valley down to the Huab river swamp another 20 km away still covered in the morning fog at the bottom of impressive mountain range:

A short break at Krone canyon running down towards Huab river:

Abandon ruin overseeing the Huab swamp valley below:

The following users thanked this post: wilfwalk

Thanks Ian, appreciate that  :thumleft:

And yes, if you really want to get under the skirt of Namibia, I would recommend to get bike in the lightweight 500 category - doesn't need to be KTM, can be WR450 or KLX or some such if you have Jap preference - to do it. I think it may even get your riding buddy Alan to ride some of these places despite of his busted knees. Basically these kind of bikes will allow people who may be older or not 100% physically OK, to explore places they came to believe are off limits to them.

And if you buy second hand cleverly, you can probably sell it with very little financial loss after the trip. So you may consider to get the bike just for a specific trip like this one, and then sell it afterwards if you don't have more use for it.

Not selling 500s (or similar), just pointing out that with a right bike, one can get to ride places they may have thought are way out of their limits. Especially older people (which I'm not saying you are, just using an example) who sometimes have this attitude that that boat has sailed for them already just because they are too scared to take their 1190, AT or GS into sand. I have seen some people in their 50s here acting like the life is over, when most of them are perfectly capable of trip like this - just get the right bike and maybe get yourself on one of those guided tours for a bit of safety net and comfort. And if they need big bike for easy peasy touring they normally do, just keep it for that and sell the small one once not needed.
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Day 12 - part 1
(pictures in this episodes can be viewed at higher resolution here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmjqufPE)

Last day of the trip. The objective was Uis about 200 km away. But those 200 km promised to be one of the absolute highlights of the trip, including exquisite sceneries of Valley of Desolation and Zebra mountains.

I knew that to get full hit of the beauty that is Valley of Desolation I better start early while the rising sun provides for the most beautiful display of colors of the breathtaking Damaraland landscape. Damaraland camp being the upmarket establishment obliged readily and provided early breakfast at 6:30 to allow me to get going just as the sun started colour the eastern horizon.

Iím not even going to apologize for the number of pictures in this episode. I tried my hardest to select the absolute best, but there are still way too many I just couldnít leave out. So unless you are into pretty pictures of rocks, or have limited bandwidth this episode may not be for you.

As I set-off the sunrise just about started coloring the surrounding mountains in dramatic shades of red:

Later on with sun above horizon now, the colors turned orange and yellow, giving the whole scenery very otherworldly feel:

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Day 11 - part 2
(pictures in this episodes can be viewed at higher resolution here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmhKKvFT)

After 15 km in Ombonde river the track turned out of rivebed and hit the Little Serengeti plains. It was very dry with very little game to be seen. The only animals I bumped into were turned into biltong already.

After dozen or so km the Serengeti plains gave way to the mountains with rocky trails winding south through thorny bush. I have seen few springbok and elephant spoor, but no pachyderm itself unfortunatelly:

I eventually made it to Erwee - little settlement on C40 at about 2pm, where I stopped for a cold Coke at the local spaza shop. Once done I hit the C40 for the 50 km or so west to Palmwag, where I stopped at the garage to fill-up. By that stage it was 3 pm and the gastro tourist was lobbying strongly for sleepover at the Palmwag lodge, with pool, restaurant, bar and stuff. The alternative was to bush camp somewhere along the Valley of Desolation track. I have prevailed as ithere were still good 3 hours of daylight left and I was keen to still get some km under the belt, as I had quite a long route planned next day.

So I hit C43 south for next 50 or so km, until the turn-off to Valley of Desolation. By now the sun was getting low and it was a time to start looking for campsite. As far as I knew it is not allowed to bush camp in Damaraland, so I started looking for secluded place not easily visible from the main track. Which was difficult as the landscape is very barren and open and I didn't want to go just bundu bashing across the plain with attendant new tracks and stuff. So when I saw a sign for Damaraland camp about 13 km away, I decided to go check it out. I had a hunch that it is a trap, but witout obvious alternative went to check it out anyway And yes, it was a trap. By the time I came around rocky escarpment hiding the camp, I knew I'm not going to beat gastro tourist on this one. It was one of those luxurious establishments in the middle of nowhere catering mostly for the high net worth fly in clients. there was still a chance they will not let the dirty ride-in biker in, but no - they were happy to have me, and I just gave in.

Now, it was expensive and not somewhere a self respecting adv biker should be seen, but the only other clients were an elderly aristocratic couple from UK, so as nobody would see me anyway, I just settled in. The cost didn't bother me - it was reasonable IMO for the excelent service provided (it was one of those experiences with your own personal butler). Where I did feel guilty was that it was the establisment owned by the biker's arch enemy in Kaokoland - Wilderness Safari company. But I didn't have a spine to reject the lovely challet, white linen and three course dinner, so I sold my soul and settled in for the night, including intriguing discussion about degenerate and despicable nature of communism and land grabbing/nationalisation with the aristocratic couple over candle light dinner, pretending that I also consider 6 bar house in Western Cape an interesting opportunity to park spare cash.


Damaraland camp:

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Day 10

Despite going into bed very late last night, I was up in the morning still in the dark and headed out for breakfast as soon as the restaurant opened at 7am. To my surprise, both Bertia and Justin were there already, in their full riding gear and with bikes packed up and ready to go in the front yard. Let me get this straight: for almost two weeks I tried my best to get those two to start early in the morning to get a good start on a days when it really mattered without much success. But now with only couple of hundreds of km of dirt highway commute left, they just couldnít wait to hit the road and be done and over with the trip!! I must have done something wrong somewhere. But hey - I enjoyed the trip immensely anyway and was keen to make most of the remaining 2 - 3 days of proper riding left.

We said our farewells after breakfast, and the other two set-off towards Uis about 300 km away with gusto. Even on an easy peasy commute like that Justin still managed to squeeze in a bit of drama. He rode way ahead of Bertie (due to Bertieís shorter sprockets and mousses keeping him within 100 kmh speed) and ignored my advice to fill up at Palmwag as he keen to get to Uis as soon as possible. He then got lost taking wrong turn to Burnt mountain few km from Twyfelfontein, and as a result run out of petrol few km short of Uis. Where he was saved by Bertie who did fill-up in Palmwag and siphoned few liters for Justin to make it to Uis.

They were both so keen to put this trip behind them that they didnít even chill in Uis, and instead packed up (Justin) bakkie and set-off home straight away, making it that day to Windhoek for sleepover. Bertie was stuck waiting for me, so he left his bike in Uis took my bakkie and drove down to Swakopmund for a shopping.

Justin on the way home:

And the chicken route for the day:

I on the other hand got again snagged in the Fortís wifi network on my return from breakfast, and by the time I disentangled myself it was almost 10am. With no obligations, the gastro tourist took over and I decided to have a first rest day that I have spend chilling in the shade of the courtyardís palm trees and the cool water the lodge pool.
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