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Author Topic: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola  (Read 62587 times)

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Offline Mr Zog

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #180 on: September 24, 2013, 01:35:37 pm »
I haven't partaken of this ride since I subscribed about 5000km ago.

And now I sit entranced... and the age-old question looms; shall I break this entrancement with herb, or with potion? Or shall I remain entranced and feast on the magnificence of this sojourn into the back of beyond?

Ah fukkit, I'll stay like I am... now get back to the writing, you good for nothing excuse for a camel's breath  :pot:  :ricky:  :drif:
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Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #181 on: September 24, 2013, 01:42:58 pm »
... and the age-old question looms; shall I break this entrancement with herb, or with potion?

Duh! Both...

Offline Tiger8

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #182 on: September 24, 2013, 02:07:39 pm »
Nooooooooo!!!


How can you leave us hanging right in the middle of ths mostest dramaticus part of the RR?  C'MON you mangy excuse for an Arabian Taxi.......... :pot:      (You mentioned that a light flogging is prefered to begging  :lol8:)

This RR deserves Legend Status.

My TAB's battery is dying as I read and drool. The Midget man is awesome, goes to show, don't need to be a riding god or have a blinged out fancy ride to have a bucket load of fun, he can even use said bucket to reach his desk to add some more insight to the RR.  :thumleft:
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Offline MechanicalCamel

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #183 on: September 24, 2013, 02:13:33 pm »

Fine videography splendifery there Maximilian. I’m ashamed to admit that I wasn’t hamming it up for the video – I really had no clue where we were most of the time.

I did have a GPS though. I told it to take me to the sea, and it did. Good thing too cause we forgot to bring a map.

 

Offline MechanicalCamel

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #184 on: September 24, 2013, 02:14:05 pm »
... and the age-old question looms; shall I break this entrancement with herb, or with potion?

Duh! Both...

but if you have to choose, herb please....
 

Offline MechanicalCamel

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #185 on: September 24, 2013, 02:41:44 pm »
So… back to the action. Where were we? We were on the beach. On the southern coast of Angola. With the mighty Atlantic to our left and a wall of formidable looking sand dunes to our right. And straight ahead? Well, straight ahead was our Stairway to Heaven. So off we went to climb those stairs, juiced up on the excitement of finally banging through the doodsakker and the fear of knowing that we were righteously, truly, and utterly screwed if we cocked this up. And we were running out of fuel.

After navigating the mess of Augustus Gloop, this riding turned out to be easy peazy lemon squeezy. We had (miraculously) got the tide sort of right so we had some nice hard sand to ride on and it was smooth and predictable. Almost straight away it was trivial to chug along at 70kph and enjoy the experience. And what an experience it was.

20 minutes into it we saw what was quite possibly the highlight of the whole trip for me. (I think I’ve used that sentence several times already). We were on a stretch that was quite straight so we could see 1 or 2 kms ahead. In the distance the beach looked black, like an oil slick, which I thought would be particularly undude for a spot as beautiful and unspoilt as this. As we got closer, the oil slick started to waddle, and then about 20 bajillion Cape Cormorants took off in front of us and flew out over the sea, but in the same direction as us. We must have been riding for about 5 minutes pretty much surrounded by birds. Remarkable.





I thought there wouldn’t be a single sign of life but the place was teeming. At times we were riding so close to the water that we could see fish darting into deeper water as the bikes disturbed them.

There were also more crabs than I knew existed on the planet. The Midget tried to rectify this situation by driving over most of them. To be fair they were hard to avoid – sea to dune was blanketed with the things.

We also saw some wild dogs on the top of the dunes, which was rather nice, and an unverified ostrich spotting. At one point there was a large black log in the middle of the beach. The Midget went round it on the dune side and I was about to complete the track symmetry by going on the sea side when the log-imitating-seal woke up, shat itself, and charged into the sea looking pretty unamused with the whole affair.

The riding was so mellow, and the experience so wonderful, that I almost didn’t notice when the beach abruptly ended. In its place was a large jumble of nasty looking rocks. We discovered later that 3 days before we got to the beach, a massive storm had crashed into the coast, bringing with it a sizable swell that had apparently dropped the level of the beach by 2 metres. This made sense ‘cause there were sections of riding where there was a cliff on our right hand side – not a steep part of the dune but a vertical cliff (still wet which is presumably what stopped it collapsing). In hindsight then, we were quite lucky that we had bumbled at the start of the trip and were a little behind schedule, because we would DEFINITELY have looked at this and thought “Hmm, sea looks a little high. Lets have a go anyway.” And the chances of us losing at least one bike would have been approximately 100%.

So lady luck smiled on us after all and we pushed and pulled and wiggled our way over the rocks without too much drama.



Some locals later told us that this is the key point that they look at when driving down the beach. If the rocks are exposed, then no 4x4s will have a go. Which you want to find out before you start cause it’s a long way to backtrack in reverse.

After that the dunes receded a little, the beach opened up, and for the first time on the trip we could open the bikes up and chug along over 100 without too much stress. One of the landmarks we were aiming for was this old wreck:





There are loads of shipwrecks along this coastline, which is a curious thing. It’s not like there’re any surprises right? It’s the bloody beach – the western edge of the country – it should be on your basic nautical map. Not like it’s a half submerged iceberg. The Titanic should have come south for its maiden voyage.

From there we were up off the beach, riding through an enormous flat area that looked like a salt pan. I forgot to mention that by this point we had already stopped once to siphon gas from my bike to Max’s and we were still a fair way from Tombua (aka Tombwa) so we weren’t completely home and dry.

The last obstacle of this whole stretch was a somewhat peculiar one, which may one day result in public ridicule. We had heard stories about these packs of nasty wild dogs that looked a little like those horrible things in the opening scene of No Country For Old Men. They weren’t the wilddogs of this forum fame, but ferocious beasts of canine domesticos origin that had gone feral and had bred with wolves and tigers and other things commonly found in the Angolan desert.

I was initially pretty sceptical of this. Tom wanted to bring a harpoon expressly for the purposes of defending himself from these creatures, so I assumed he was fuelling the rumour for the purposes of being able to satisfy his repressed gun fetish. Then Max got on the bandwagon and a few other folks we spoke to mentioned that this was something to be careful of. I know it sounds pathetic but by the time we got close to the town we were all pretty wired about these mutts.

So, when the pack of about 5 poorly bred poodle-looking things heard us coming, scratched themselves and joyfully ran out to sort-of-bark and half heartedly chase Max’s front tire, I felt kinda stoopid. The thrill of chasing Max was clearly to much for them so they were all lying on the ground asleep by the time I went past. If Tom had his harpoon at hand he would have had poodle kebab in no time at all. Nasty thought that.

And then we were there! Through the rubbish dump of course (and not for the last time either). The little fishing-soon-to-be-oil town is fairly unremarkable unless you’ve been in the bush for 5 days. It had cold cola’s, petrol, and something other than peanuts and raisins for lunch. It was all rather exciting.



Our excitement was nothing compared to these little self-appointed bike guards:


 
The Midget had no qualms fuelling that excitement by throwing some sweets into the mix:



Tissue anyone?



Most of the buildings are still scarred with bullet holes. Kinda harrowing but I was hungry and an empty stomach is no condition in which to contemplate world evils.



Tombua is a pleasant enough place but pretty basic and we were in no mood for cultural experiences. We had the smell of a shower in our nostrils so we found gas (no air for the tires) and headed straight out of town.

Our destination that evening was Flamingo Lodge – about 80kms north. Most of that was on a good tar road, through wonderful scenery of steep canyons and sandy flatlands. We were surprised (and some of us were delighted) to discover at the turn off to the loge that there was a good 30kms of really rough, sandy tracks heading west to the coast. What a cracking way to finish this!





It’s a really fun road – it’s very soft and the cars have made a right mess of the tracks so it requires a bit of a nudge. When I say it’s soft I mean it’s REALLY soft; the Midge had a few naps as he was battling to deal with the middle mannetjie and the softness of the sand. Then Max had a fairly harmless kapoof in a particularly tricky dustbowl.

Finally, we got here and we could see the sea:



We were spitting distance from the end of a fairly epic part of this trip. “I’m not going to fall once more” declared the Midge, and off he rode…



« Last Edit: September 24, 2013, 02:50:00 pm by MechanicalCamel »
 

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #186 on: September 24, 2013, 05:19:39 pm »
Don't believe a word he says. The dogs WERE wild and they were FEROCIOUS. All travellers to these parts know about these beasts. They are descendants of wild Andalucian shepherd dogs brought here to control the tiger problem in the Angolan steppes, and are a study in gene pools gone rogue. Tall, white, scraggy and very bad tempered. They hunt in packs and will not hesitate to attack humans. Rabies is a very real problem and they are known to control the dune section 30km to the south of Tombua.

Tom and I were both worried and deeply excited about this problem. We considered all possible solutions, including this:



and this...



(Tom thought arriving in Tombua, each of us towing the carcass of one of the wild beasts through the sand would be the making of our trip, and the local residents who are in fear of their lives for them would likely immediately grant us freedom of the city)

...but I think what we really wanted was this:



Of course, as you've probably guessed by now, none of us are responsible enough for gun licenses, and because Tom wasn't with us we hadn't procured a rogue AK47 immediately on crossing the border, so we were going to have to use guile, charm and straightforward speed to escape past them with our lives intact.

I was leading. Came sashaying in through the sand dunes behind Tombua. I'm bloody good at sand by this point, and I'm Coma-ing, slalom style, through the dunes with an eye out for the threat, a fistful of throttle just waiting for action.

I came over one of the big dunes, airborne, and on top of the next one, at 11 o'clock, sat sentry no. 1. He started barking and chasing towards me. What followed was a pincer movement Shaka would have been proud of. They are sneaky bastards. They were prepared, and were waiting for us, fanned out across various dunes and were in full attack mode. As one, they came at me, jowels flapping, spit flying and howling at full chat.

I got the fright of my life and accelerated hard.

Wouldn't you, when set upon by a combination of this:



...this:



a little of this:



... and












um





[cough]








...
.
.
.




this?


Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #187 on: September 24, 2013, 05:25:52 pm »
And.... just because I can... how about a series of self indulgent dirty 690 porn in the gorgeous barren wonderland of the Doodsakker?




















Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #188 on: September 24, 2013, 09:32:30 pm »
It was an overcast day, the horizon invisible through a damp curtain of mist that would lift and part according to its own vague logic, alternately revealing and hiding the route ahead. I expected the Doodsakker to be all valiant swashbuckling triumph or desperate defeat... actually it was more like being invited into the home of a famous person, and shown around by a curator to hushed tones and distant humming music. I felt contemplative all day, the Atlantic breeze fresh and wet on my skin.

I thought about how good it was to be here, and how few people would ever see these sights. And listened to the intertwined sounds of motorcycle and waves, as we sailed between huge sentinel dunes and the endless sea.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/C3NDR5EPPos" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/C3NDR5EPPos</a>

Offline Midget

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #189 on: September 24, 2013, 11:39:59 pm »
'So, when the pack of about 5 poorly bred poodle-looking things heard us coming, scratched themselves and joyfully ran out to sort-of-bark and half heartedly chase Max’s front tire, I felt kinda stoopid. '


ah - I beg to differ sir! - those dogs where terrifying - especially for someone not able to cross more than 50 metres of soft sand without falling

and although one  aging golden labrador  with hip problems snapping at max's heals was quite amusing to watch  (as he disappeared over a dune out of site leaving me alone) a pack of them could do some damage

i had visions  of  writhing around in the sand as those rabid miniature guide dogs tore me apart - slowly, over a period of about 4 hours - small pieces at a time

im proud to say the next 15 minutes of riding as i fought my way  around and over those feral labradors  was some of the most inspirational riding of the trip - and my first dune crossing without touching ground - my friends back at the circus would have been proud
« Last Edit: September 24, 2013, 11:41:31 pm by Midget »
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Offline lj111

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #190 on: September 25, 2013, 09:42:59 am »
Great RR!!!

Thanks :thumleft: :drif:G
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Offline Whyme

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #191 on: September 25, 2013, 11:46:10 am »
Very well documented RR :thumleft: thanks for sharing/inspiration.
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Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #192 on: September 25, 2013, 11:56:18 am »

...and although one  aging golden labrador  with hip problems snapping at max's heals was quite amusing to watch...

Midget - they were feral spaniels, not labradors, you two-bit half-pint little motorcycle monkey. And, as everyone who has owned an inbred spaniel knows, they can be vicious and extremely dangerous.

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #193 on: September 25, 2013, 01:05:18 pm »
this is undoubtedly the best ride report i have read in the last few years :thumleft: :thumleft:
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Offline Tiger8

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #194 on: September 25, 2013, 01:45:56 pm »
this is undoubtedly the best ride report i have read in the last few years :thumleft: :thumleft:

Agreed  :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:
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Offline lj111

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #195 on: September 25, 2013, 03:34:13 pm »
 :sip:
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Offline MechanicalCamel

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #196 on: September 25, 2013, 07:49:28 pm »

Miraculously, the Midge was true to his word. In a salute to the speed at which he’d picked up the riding gig, he blasted through ludicrously soft, lumpy sand sections and into the camp, coming to a stop very nearly inside the restaurant with an ear-to-ear grin plastered all over his sexy little mug.

Flamingo Lodge is a lovely spot. It’s well set up with basic but comfortable bungalows and a restaurant area set up on a cliff with a cracking view over the sea. The paths are marked out by whale ribs planted into the sand, and the pictures on the bragging wall leave little doubt as to the activity of choice; ocean plunder.  It’s arguably a touch expensive (I’m arguably a touch cheap) but they soften the blow with unlimited beer and great meals, typically consisting of fish caught that day. A Neil-Armstrong-Mankind-sized step up from After Life and peanuts.



Now, when confronted with a fridge full of free beer after wandering in the desert for 40 days and nights, one would expect a military sized assault on said fridge. So I ate my full and went to bed. I had the black lung at that point and wasn’t feeling too sparky.



It might have been viral, cause some of the locals had it too.



Not wanting to be a drag and keep everyone awake with my confounded hacking, I set about self-medicating with intent.



I had left the Midget and Max to discus the latest developments in fishing reel technology with the PhD students who were there doing fish research (and catching our dinner). Fortunately for the Midge, the beer wasn’t only on the top shelf of the fridge. I found him inside it the next morning.


« Last Edit: September 25, 2013, 07:50:26 pm by MechanicalCamel »
 

Offline Midget

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #197 on: September 25, 2013, 07:52:01 pm »

...and although one  aging golden labrador  with hip problems snapping at max's heals was quite amusing to watch...

Midget - they were feral spaniels, not labradors, you two-bit half-pint little motorcycle monkey. And, as everyone who has owned an inbred spaniel knows, they can be vicious and extremely dangerous.

you may have seen spaniels Max but I saw something  far more terrifying - eyes that where almost human with a ginger beard  - an unholy abomination
« Last Edit: September 25, 2013, 07:59:56 pm by Midget »
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Offline MechanicalCamel

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #198 on: September 25, 2013, 08:00:35 pm »
So a day of chilling on a beach leads one to a spot of reflection. So does writing about it. I found some little snippets on the interwebs about our gauntlet run that I thought would be worth sharing.

(Confession: I was actually researching where the name ‘doodsakker’ came from. Max professed that it was related to having had the bejesus bombed out of it in the war. Any thoughts on why a weapon wielding nutjob would drop an expensive bomb onto an uninhabited desert? Anyone… anyone….  Bueller??? I reckon it’s more likely named as such because there’s nothing there, it’s a wee bit dangerous, and you’s going to be dood if you balls it up. And your bones will be scattered over an acre by the wild dogs, birds and bone-eating crabs.)

Anyhoo, I’m pretty glad I only did any research on this post completion. Look at all the terrifying things people have to say:

“Doodsakker can and will be traversed.. it is the way it is.. but I've a moral problem with decisions taken here to expose women, children and the elderly to extremely dangerous and totally un-necessary risks”
Well, despite paying less for rides at the funfair the Midget doesn’t count as a child, so we were fine there, and Max isn’t THAT old… But unnecessary? WTF? What can be more necessary than a man (or woman) taking unquantifiable risks in the interests of having a tip top story to tell and feeling like a superhero? This may very well be the most necessary thing on the planet.


Then we have the sage advice of this punter:

"when it goes good it goes good.. when it goes bad it goes bad"

Really? Wow – new levels of insight there…

Tracks for Africa have apparently had all sorts of admin from people for showing that route at all. In my books, if you follow a route labelled “[Extremely Dangerous] and (totally insane)” you’ve given up your right to bitch at the mapping company giving you directions. They use two different types of brackets for crying out loud. What else do you need, an ampersand? Some hashtags?



Incidentally, the pic above nicely shows the sand spits that I was talking about a few days ago, proving that a picture really is worth 342 words. It's also worth noting that if you do cock it up, you should stop on the way back for some "excellent fish".

Given that we typically do no planning of our own, I thought this might be useful for others, although it’s probably more for the 4-wheeled brigade:

“It is strongly recommended to travel this route from NORTH to SOUTH i.e. from Tombua to Foz.. and not from south to north.  Due to the unpredictable problem of the sea exposing some rocks in the intertidal zone, transit by vehicles maybe impossible or very difficult. As this hazard occurs some 12km from the North exit point, the turning back is a 12 km trip to safety. Approaching from the south and discovering that passage is impossible means a 48km backtrack.”

As previously mentioned, that’s a long way in reverse.

The last contribution I found before slipping into a coma was this:

“I’m sticking my neck out, but I consider taking the doodsakker route to Foz to be an irresponsible action - and another example is travelling the backroads of Lesotho in the middle of winter -when you can quite easily get trapped by a snowfall and immediately be in a life-or-death situation”

So… who's up for a winter blast through Lesotho then?

« Last Edit: September 25, 2013, 08:04:46 pm by MechanicalCamel »
 

Offline MechanicalCamel

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #199 on: September 25, 2013, 08:02:38 pm »
.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2013, 08:03:48 pm by MechanicalCamel »