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Author Topic: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola  (Read 52624 times)

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Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #80 on: September 16, 2013, 01:49:14 pm »
What The Camel never mentioned is that the garage shop at Ruacana is, in fact, the world's best-stocked store, rivalling Harrods and the entire Dubai airport. Look (in addition to fishing rods and crocodiles):





Seriously?? Hex tool sets and ZIPLOCK BAGS???? At a garage store!

Since I had bought the 690 only two weeks before we left (from a trusted friend, mind you, not a trusted gumtree friend, like Tom) I had a bit of a rush kitting it out. All well and good to stick in top notch Powerjet sockets etc. but if you don't check that your old hella-USB cable is still working it's all a bit of a waste. So I wired in Tom's now-unneeded cigglighter-usb cable and when it blew its fuse I assumed I'd just connected it wrong and bypassed the fuse with tin foil. Cough.

Bad idea - battery shorted and flat as a dodo within 15 minutes - or as long as it takes to ride from Ruacana campsite to the Ruacana fuel station. You can imaging my anxiety when my bike is - out of the blue - so flat I battle for 15 minutes to tow-start it behind a truck, and we're only 10km away from Angola. So ya, I took out all lights and accessories fuses and hoped for the best. Turned out to be just my dodgy wiring.

She's pretty though:


Offline Kaboef

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #81 on: September 16, 2013, 02:04:10 pm »
So I wired in Tom's now-unneeded cigglighter-usb cable and when it blew its fuse I assumed I'd just connected it wrong and bypassed the fuse with tin foil. Cough.


The mind boggles.   :biggrin: :biggrin:

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #83 on: September 17, 2013, 07:04:41 am »
Stunning writing and wit :thumleft:

By fluke or by design, we can all get there in the end. Those getting there by luck makes for much better reading though :thumleft:

Btw....you okes know we are doing our annual bash this weekend at Kei River Mouth?  Make a plan....

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Offline Vis Arend

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #84 on: September 17, 2013, 07:47:46 am »
HEEHAA, 5 pages and we are in Angola.   :thumleft:

Please don't stop now.   :thumleft:
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Offline Beserker

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #85 on: September 17, 2013, 08:23:04 am »
The only thing slower than getting yourselfs across the border, is this RR.   ::)
My Ride  :ricky:  Angola   Namibia  Northern Cape  Kids
 

Offline Fuzzy Muzzy

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #86 on: September 17, 2013, 09:35:41 am »

Sure Max could dig up some more pics with our improved efforts from this year...


Don't tempt me.

I am tempting you.. please start a different thread for that.. I missed last year, I can't miss next year.

Are we in Angola Yet??
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Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #87 on: September 17, 2013, 09:52:29 am »
The only thing slower than getting yourselfs across the border, is this RR.   ::)


Godammit Camel!! Where are you??? These lovely people are waiting!!

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #88 on: September 17, 2013, 10:51:40 am »
Anyone who has ridden a camel knows that they are foul smelling, bad tempered, uncomfortable and generally deeply antisocial creatures... but that doesn't even begin to tap their most fundamental characteristic, which is a deep, utter and profound laziness. (That probably does make them still more reliable than a poorly looked after five-year-old KTM 690, but let me not heap more fuel on Tom's fire.) So... in the face of the extreme laziness our own Camel, let me chip in with a little sidebar to keep the punters interested.

So we were three:







A good friend had been on a previous Angolan expedition, so we had an idea of the distances and remoteness involved. I spoke to Beserker and discovered that although we probably had only 700km between fuel stops, the nature of the terrain meant we should plan for more like 1000km under normal conditions. As I said previously, two out of three of the remaining bikes were new to us. Since Tom had thought it a good idea to invite a complete biking novice on one of the continent's wildest, roughest bike trips, I thought it a good idea to equip him with the simplest, most reliable motorcycle known to human kind. And it had to be small (remember: midget). Enter DR, stage left. R32k, spotted on Gumtree in Durban when I happened to be there: 2008, 10,000km and in mint condition. I rode it that morning, called Gaza and told him to buy it on the spot, which he did, beating a queue of 30 people to the prize. It was shockingly, startlingly bright blue, but Topbox ordered a transparent Acerbis 20 litre tank from Italy. 'Natural' actually meant bright yellow, and the beast of burden was immediately christened: 'Buttercup'.

The Midget instantly developed a deep, intense, man-and-his-mule bond with Buttercup. So you can imagine his disappointment whenever we stopped and all the locals - children and adults alike - immediately ran up to the two KTMs and started oohing and aching, and utterly ignored Buttercup:





And when I say ignored, I mean not even the time of day. Out in the cold. Part of the scenery. That's Buttercup behind all of those kids, but none of them are even looking in her general direction. Angola is a bike-mad country. There are 'moto' style bikes everywhere, and their owners are obsessive.





We bumped into hundreds of these little fellas, just about everywhere. So Angolans understand bikes and biking. But they didn't give a shit about Buttercup.

1000km means around 45 litres, even on these economical rides. I'd just come off four years on a lovely BMW X-Challenge that had taken me on memorable trips all over the country. The X, with Touratech tank, carries 27 litters and that Rotax is the most economical engine known to humankind. I reckon it might have made those 700 with a light wrist... or an extra 5 litres somewhere. But my 690 only had the standard 12, so who you gonna call? Rally Raid, that's who. The downside of the X in that configuration is that it's really heavy on the front wheel, and quite top heavy when fully loaded. Part of the move to KTM was the decision that it was time to try something lighter and more nimble, so I went for the little 5 litre rear tank, which only gave me 18 or so, but in a tiny, slim package. So where is the extra 28 going, then?

Carrying a lot of extra fuel is always a challenge on very remote trips. I really don't know how one would manage the 60 liters or so you'd need on a 950. In retrospect, we should have filched the custom aircraft thingies Beserker and Pete made up for their trip. But we decided those R700 green fuel bags were the way to go, and it turned out they are an almost perfect fit for Michnus' ATG pannier bags, with the added advantage that when we weren't using them they would take up next to no space.



So what you're looking at here is a 690 carrying about 44 litres of premium unleaded. Somewhat amazingly, the bike still rode incredibly well. My X was a fantastic bike - possibly the best rough road tourer on the market. Its forte is long, fast open dirt - it's better than the 690 hands down. When the 690 feels skittish, unstable and overexcited, jerking its head left and right like a lively untrained stallion trying to break free from its master (and that's WITH a steering damper) the X simply puts its head down and storms away at speed. But the 690 has an ace up its sleeve. In the tighter stuff it's simply the best, most exciting and racy off-road beast I've come across. I'd specifically set up the bike with all of the weight in front of the rear axle, and despite a slightly nervous start with the extremely light front wheel, after 3 days of the trip I was having the time of my life.

Offline MechanicalCamel

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #89 on: September 17, 2013, 11:23:51 am »
C'mon Camel. Get off those lazy fat humps and do some postin for the people.

Yeah, yeah, I iz but a sedate camel. This sand is soft and my hooves are heavy.

On second thoughts, does anyone know if a camels sand-striders are called hooves?

 

Offline MechanicalCamel

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #90 on: September 17, 2013, 11:24:46 am »
When one thinks of the main road out of a border post one might think of a tarred, double-laned path. Given a rural location, once might even think of a graded, if corrugated, decent dirt road heading into the hinterland. In the case of Ruacana, one would be wrong. For starters, bumbling buffoons that we are, it took 3 attempts failed attempts before we found the road over the Kunene (all of 500m from the border post).  There's a bloody great big damn wall there which my front wheel seemed magnetically attracted to. Max had to come back and herd me out of there like a sheep dog managing a dim-witted goat. Bit embarrassing.

And then were over the geographical landmark that we had talked about for 4 months and actively headed towards for 5 days. Halle-fkn-lujah. The emotion was pumping high - ecstasy at finally being in Angola, disbelief that Captain Thomas wasn't with us, relief at not driving into that damn dam and delight at the state of that road!



To call it a donkey track would imply a country of fairly agile ponies. It's a delightfully rough, bumpy track that would be hellish slow going in any 4 wheeled vehicle. Oh happy days.

We had initially thought of trying to find a really tiny track that we had got wind of that wiggled its way down near the river (the 'main' road West runs a fair way north of the river). It quickly became apparent that there was no need whatsoever to put any effort into finding a fun road. This was a hoot and we bounced and ramped down the road with the previous few days drama quickly fading from memory. Max was exploring the upper ranges of his rev counter on his new steed and rapidly removing the D-rings from his luggage in the process. Matters not Ė this was glorious stuff.



We came across this character who had lots to say, despite carrying that beast over his shoulder while strolling up the road. Shortly after this pic a local dood pulled up on a bike and he hopped on the back with beast round this neck. As they disappeared in a dust cloud we had some disagreement about whether it was a goat or a cow. No, we werenít drunk.


We clearly werenít going to make Chitado, the town we were aiming for, so we stopped a few kilometres short. We rode until just after there was enough light to see anything while sorting out the camp, and then bumbled up a river bed through the largest collection of thorn bushes we could find. Cause that makes things more exciting.



It was the first night of proper camping. Unremarkable. Unbeatable.

Sleeping out in the open without a tent is fantastic. But is not without a few surprises, as we discovered the next morningÖ


 

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #91 on: September 17, 2013, 11:33:37 am »

We came across this character who had lots to say, despite carrying that beast over his shoulder while strolling up the road. Shortly after this pic a local dood pulled up on a bike and he hopped on the back with beast round this neck. As they disappeared in a dust cloud we had some disagreement about whether it was a goat or a cow. No, we werenít drunk.




It was without doubt, and definitely, a sheep. look at that fat tail! He even tried to sell it to us, for R700. Nice fellow. When we claimed we had nowhere to put it, he looked at us, exasperated, in total confusion. Reasonable, I suppose, considering he had been carrying it around his neck... and he promptly jumped on the back of a tiny moto, with rider and sheep, and rode off into the sunset.

Offline MechanicalCamel

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #92 on: September 17, 2013, 12:20:57 pm »
Well, it had an udder. Which definitely put it into the goat/cow department in my books...
 

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #93 on: September 17, 2013, 12:34:49 pm »






Just saying. Perhaps we should have tried the goat test?

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Offline MechanicalCamel

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #94 on: September 17, 2013, 02:55:08 pm »
Holy smokes! Are those balls or udders? Looks pretty uncomfortable either way...

And that top one is definitely a goat. 




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Offline Whyme

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #95 on: September 17, 2013, 05:30:28 pm »

1000km means around 45 litres, even on these economical rides. I'd just come off four years on a lovely BMW X-Challenge that had taken me on memorable trips all over the country. The X, with Touratech tank, carries 27 litters and that Rotax is the most economical engine known to humankind. I reckon it might have made those 700 with a light wrist... or an extra 5 litres somewhere. But my 690 only had the standard 12, so who you gonna call? Rally Raid, that's who. The downside of the X in that configuration is that it's really heavy on the front wheel, and quite top heavy when fully loaded. Part of the move to KTM was the decision that it was time to try something lighter and more nimble, so I went for the little 5 litre rear tank, which only gave me 18 or so, but in a tiny, slim package. So where is the extra 28 going, then?


My X was a fantastic bike - possibly the best rough road tourer on the market. Its forte is long, fast open dirt - it's better than the 690 hands down. When the 690 feels skittish, unstable and overexcited, jerking its head left and right like a lively untrained stallion trying to break free from its master (and that's WITH a steering damper) the X simply puts its head down and storms away at speed. But the 690 has an ace up its sleeve. In the tighter stuff it's simply the best, most exciting and racy off-road beast I've come across. I'd specifically set up the bike with all of the weight in front of the rear axle, and despite a slightly nervous start with the extremely light front wheel, after 3 days of the trip I was having the time of my life.

Great RR gents, great pics :thumleft: I have to say have been waiting for you to say something about Xchallenge ;D Well simply because I own one and fact that I too would like to own 690 in future.....so coming from man who have ridden both :thumleft:
« Last Edit: September 17, 2013, 05:33:03 pm by Whyme »
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Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #96 on: September 17, 2013, 05:45:36 pm »
Camel - we need to show them some maps! Like this:



That's where we were going in total.

Irritatingly, Basecamp removes the place names when you zoom in... unless you REALLY zoom in. What's with that?

This was our bungled attempted trip out of Opuwo, and then our pussy-route to Ruacana after retracing our steps:



And here is the bit Camel has just told you about:



Honestly, I think he has it completely wrong. I think we passed Chitado on our first day of riding. Anyway, either way, we were going past Oncocua today:



Some pretty squiggles but I suppose that map is utterly useless without place names. Oh well.

The fun and games Mike was talking about was this. Nasty little f-cker:



That is the inside of the Midget's riding jacket, on which he was sleeping. Close call! We made ourselves feel better at the close shave with the first and last pig of the trip.



Camel-man Mike working on his dreads:



A fine specimen of a man, but nothing compared to this young buck who impressed us with his prowess in the first settlement we came to.



The 'road' was sensational... pictures don't do it justice. A smorgasbord of jeep track, sand and rocks, winding between trees and an ever changing landscape. Occasionally it opened into a small plain where a settlement of a few huts would be dotted about. We weren't alone, being accompanied by the ever-present mottos, some of which were ridden by expert pilots who careered between the rocks and holes as if they were born doing it (which, as you shall see below, some of them were!).



Nobody was in too much of a rush to stop for a chat.







We also came across our first baobabs.



And not a little fella!



The Midge was super excited. He loves baobabs and started going on about how we had to camp under one of them. I'm going to show you an awful lot of trees on this trip. They were one of the stand out features, and although I know nothing about them and have just exhausted my genus and species knowledge, I was finding them really pretty.

Here's a few shots of village life. South-western Angola, we were to discover, was in the grip of four years of drought. It didn't show on the peoples' faces, however, who were universally warm and friendly, and loved having their pictures taken.











And in video...

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/xC8x9hiVkTU" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/xC8x9hiVkTU</a>

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #97 on: September 17, 2013, 06:06:10 pm »
Each of us had been tasked with a special job for this trip. Tom designed a bivvy and had it made. We cut half it off before night 3. The Midge got the medical kit - a bulging sack of drugs and potions which missed the thing we really ended up needing. I bought the tool kit, which weighed about 5kg and had the vital circuit tester, but no 2.2k ohm resistors, and The Camel had to bring lunch. None of this idiocy should surprise you if you've been following along.

But back to lunch. Camel is a Very Busy Man, so spent his 4 minutes of preparation time at Pick & Pay buying up their entire stock of peanuts and raisins, and left it at that. It was a job so well done that Tom and I had to make a detour to buy the Afterlife cereal that would keep us alive, and due to the fact that we had a severe packing space problem, we almost ended up leaving all the peanuts and raisins in the car.

Thank the lord of motorcycling that we didn't. Those nasty little snacks kept us alive. Put simply, there is nothing to buy in South Western Angola. Despite Michael's strident complaints, a solid Afterlife breakfast would keep us going strongly till about 12pm, at which point we'd like down under some shade and gorge ourselves on peanuts and raisins.

Like here:



A couple of pretty trees growing in the dry river bed:





After another hour or two's fantastic riding we arrived at Oncocua, where we were surrounded by curious children, who ignored Buttercup and coo'ed at the KTMs. For some reason, the national obsession was the fuel tanks. We were inundated with questions about the size, the distance we could go and other marvels we couldn't make head or tail of.



But we were celebrities, and the camera LCD was an endless source of fascination.







This was our first encounter with N'gola. Around R7 a dinky little 310ml bottle, and typically ice cold. We were accosted by a drunk school teacher taking the afternoon off - a shameful trend in Africa, apparently - who badgered us into buying him drinks in return for his translation services.



Mike was sick, having smuggled a bit of flu with him into Angola illegally, and the Midget was in a perpetual state of exhaustion from trying to keep Buttercup upright and on a tight rein, so I, somewhat uncharacteristically became the trip beer hound. And why not. It's a shitload cheaper than water, which we were forced to buy a few bottles of in this town at something like R40 a litre.

As it turned out, the drunk teacher earned his beer by guiding us to his mate the local 'Engen' owner:



Petrol is dirt cheap in Angola - approximately R6-7 a litre in the cities. Every little hamlet has someone selling it in 1 litre bottles at R10/litre. When you consider that it is carried there on the back of a moto it looks cheap at the price. But we were heading off into severe wilderness, so replenished the 10 or so litres we'd used up.



The proud teacher.




Offline MechanicalCamel

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #98 on: September 17, 2013, 06:22:49 pm »
Before I got to Angola I thought pretty much all the local folks we would come across would be ethnic Himba. Apparently Iím no anthropologist. The majority of the Himba population is actually in northern Namibia. Theyíre easily recognisable by their rockstar hairstyles, like these doods:




The local folks we came across up here, in the shade of that glorious baobab were actually Ndimba. Theyíre a small and very localised ethnic group in the south of Angola but they outnumbered the Himba in that particular village so dominated time in front of the lens (itís pretty competitive stuff). Their local dress is distinct in that it looks like theyíre just wearing braís, but you sound like a tit if you say that out loud.



« Last Edit: September 17, 2013, 06:27:31 pm by MechanicalCamel »
 

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #99 on: September 17, 2013, 06:24:46 pm »
In many of these pictures the road looks smooth and flat. I can assure you, as my bike is orange, that it was not! It was the kind of torturous, cratered, rough, rocky, sandy, undulating, broken, vile track that dual sport biking wet dreams are made of. Well, unless you're a Midget on a brand new DR on your first ride with 45kg of petrol plus food, water and the world's largest medical kit strapped to your bike. The Midge is a talented surfer and allround coordinated sporty fellow - think monkey handstanding on a rolling barrel while spinning it backwards and singing the national anthem in Chinese... but although he was having the time of his life, he was also crashing. A lot. It was knocking the stuffing out of him, good sport that he is, and even though Buttercup shrugged it off and neighed for more, her rider was broken.

Leaving Oncocua in a trail of dust we started immediately looking for a campsite. I was a little drunk, but being a talented campsite spotter, I rode in front and sniffed out this glorious little nest. A far cry from the thorny scorpion pit of the previous night, this was 500m up a glorious, wide river bed, surround by Springbok.





A inspired stroke of genius led to us stewing our last bag of braai meat from the Ruacana Ultracity Harrods shop. What had been an inedible, stringy, chewy mess from the night before was a gorgeous, soft wholesome meal. Either that or we were desperately hungry.

We were starting to feel that beautiful ride rhythm swinging in. You know when you haven't showered in three days, have sand in your hair and sore bones from sleeping on the ground, but everything feels at peace with the world. Slowly the stresses of home, jobs, responsibility,commitments receed, and nothing seems more important than watching your front wheel, staring into the fire and listening to the silence. Angola had welcomed us with open arms, and we were happy to be here.

Coming up. Waking up WET?????????