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Author Topic: Christmas Safari 2 - 2014 Edition (Bots & Nam)  (Read 45236 times)

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Offline Xpat

Re: Christmas Safari - 2014 Edition (Bots & Nam)
« Reply #60 on: February 24, 2015, 10:52:57 pm »
:peepwall: BEFOK Love the report what camera did you use, and did the powercomander work this time in the bush?

Thanks. I use Olympus OMD EM5 - I find the Micro Four Thirds system the best compromise in terms of good image quality and small compact size.

Powecommander stayed at home this time. To be fair, I blamed it for fuelling issues that were actually caused by kinked fuel pipe. As far as I know now it probably works great. But I'm happy with the power now and most probably will not put PC back to not create potentially another fail point in the system.

Offline zetman

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Re: Christmas Safari - 2014 Edition (Bots & Nam)
« Reply #61 on: February 24, 2015, 10:58:49 pm »
We need to talk send you a pm
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Re: Christmas Safari - 2014 Edition (Bots & Nam)
« Reply #62 on: February 25, 2015, 09:19:27 am »
Love that campsite especially that big tree one walks through at reception. On my visit 14 ellies walked through the camp at sundown
with about 15 tourists running after them with clicking cameras!!!! :eek7:
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Offline Sardine

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Re: Christmas Safari - 2014 Edition (Bots & Nam)
« Reply #63 on: February 25, 2015, 03:53:51 pm »
 :drif:

Beauts!!!

Offline Xpat

Re: Christmas Safari - 2014 Edition (Bots & Nam)
« Reply #64 on: February 26, 2015, 11:48:42 pm »
Day 8 - Part 1

In the morning I got up still in the dark for an early start so that I would hopefully be out of the tough part before the midday heat. The plan for the day was to ride up the Ugab river along the northern boundary of Brandberg, then turn north-west over the plains next to Doros crater to the Twyfelfontein about 70 km away (the tough bit), and then jump on the highway to Palmwag for overnighter in the lodge.

The elephant show night before left me feeling still pretty tentative about riding the Ugab river, but I decided to give it a try. Worst case Iíll backtrack to the campsite and take the desert double track going over the elevated ground few hundred meters further north from Brandberg.

So I packed, geared up and set-off without breakfast at sunrise to save some riding time while the sun was still low. I rode cautiously through the campsite ready to open up should I came across a pachyderm behind many of the bushes in the camp. Despite having the track on the GPS I got a bit lost as the campsite is huge and there are many crisscrossing tracks. Iíve found my bearings quickly and made it to the riverbed without any other drama.











The track from campsite joined the riverbed at the point where it was wide and open and I set-off up the river at about 50 kmh riding mostly off the double spoor left by safari cars. About km up the river I came across a thicket overgrowing most of the riverbed, and sure enough about 150 m ahead on the other side of the thicket there was the elephant herd spread along the both sides of the river. The only way through the ticket was a deep sand double track on the left hand side, but with the river turning right behind the ticket I couldnít see if there isnít an ellie behind one of the many bushes flanking the track. I could see that the elephants were heading also up the river, so I waited till they moved off a bit and crept forward off the track through the ticket as that way I had a line of sight on the animals. The thicket was sitting on a very deep and uneven sand with roots lurking all over the place. With wound up engine I was able barely to walk the bike making horrible racket and it look like Iíll get stuck any second. The elephants up front didnít seem too bothered, but I was painfully aware that there is usually a straggler bringing up the rear and was constantly paranoidly scanning the bush all around me, half expecting the dreaded sound of breaking bushes and branches.























Eventually they all moved to the left bank and I crashed through the rest of the ticket and back onto the open riverbed where I gunned is as close as possible to the right bank. The elephants were clearly aware of me and the last two males (I think)  were walking with raised heads and tails, and arched backs to let me know to keep clear, but there was not trumpeting or other aggressive displays. Elephants finally moving off the way:


I hugged the right bank, while the rear guard on the very left kept an eye on me:


See, how you cannot see even a bloody elephant in the shade?:



Relieved to leave the elephants behind I floated up the river navigating occasional narrow passages without any incident. About 3 - 4 km further up I came upon a camp with a Landcruiser under a anansi tree on the right bank. This clearly wasnít campsite anymore, so I stopped to check if everything is OK. It was a namibian gentleman Volker (I hope that is the right spelling) with two young lads (sons or grandsons, donít remember), who was bush camping just for the kick of it. We chatted a bit - I told him about the elephants coming up and he said that the elephants went down the river past their camp last night and ate the apples they left out for them.










Volker & his campsite:





Seeing that everything is good and keen to put some distance between me and pachyderms I bid my hasty farewell and pushed on. For the whole 150 meters or so -  until I realized that the mushy feeling up front that I was experiencing for a while is not just the soft sand but indeed a flat. Looking for safety in numbers and hoping Volker will let me into his Landcruiser should the elephants arrive, I backtracked under their tree camp and frantically unpacked the tools.





Luckily the puncture was small and the TyreFix spray blocked the whole so there was no need to take the wheel and tyre off. So I packed up quickly, said farewell to Volker and his gang who were already packed and starting down the river, and set-off up the river again. I made it only few dozen meters further than for the first time when lost traction and I dug the rear wheel completely in. I tried to walk the bike out but the clutch started slipping badly, so I had to manhandle the bike on its side, drag the rear wheel over the flat surface, and pick-it up. Just to dig it in about meter later. I had to repeat the whole dance 2 more times before I got to the double track about 4 meters from the first dug in.





By this stage my heart wasnít in it anymore - this just wasnít my day to ride Ugab. The riverbed upfront was again overgrown and there were bends so I couldnít see far enough to be able to avoid emergency. And, should an elephant come for me and I will dig it in - highly likely if I have to make turn in the confined space, Iím a toast. So I decided to backtrack to the point where I entered river and take the double track crossing the desert about km or so north. Sure enough as soon as I turned back, there was the elephant family spread across the river coming up about 200 meters away.


After a mild panic when I realised Volker and the refuge in his car were gone, I started thinking straight again and realized that there is a big red stone kopije to my right (left as I was coming up the river), so I started off towards it and tried to ride up a steep fesh-fesh covered embankment. I would probably have made it, if it wouldnít be for a step at the bottom of the embankment that forced me to slow down and didnít leave me with enough momentum to clear the top. So almost at the top I just put the bike down against the side of embankment and settled on the nearby kopije for an elephant walk-by.

Heading for the riverbank with an elephant in the left opening:


Desperately trying to make the last meter:


And the resulting mess:


Parked Tenere:


Elephants moving up the river:




Where I was fixing the flat about 15 min ago - with my in and out spoor:






Tenere waiting in the hiding:



After about half an hour or so the elephants moved up the river I left my gear on the kopije and went to manhandle the bike back to river for the return leg. I stopped on the firmer ground in the river to go fetch my gear and when I looked up to the anasi tree where the camp was, I thought I see an elephant standing there in the shade about 100 m away. My eyesight isnít what it should be anymore and the light was playing tricks with my brain so I stared intently trying to figure out if it is ellie or a bush. That was until few tense seconds later when the elephant stopped solid probably by my racket started to feed off the tree again. That woke me from my stupor and leaving the bike in the riverbed I legged it back to the safety of kopije. This was the straggler I luckily didnít run into in the thicket. The elephant eventually continued peacefully up the river and didnít show any interest in the bike.

Tenere not hiding anymore:






Once the bull was safely away, I geared up, got on the bike and rode much more calmly (with elephants being up the river) the 4-5 km back to the place where I entered the river and where the desert double track started on the other side of the river. I have dropped it once in that narrow deep sand track in the thicket where I met the ellies first time, but no biggie.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2015, 11:30:27 am by Xpat »
 

Offline mtbbiker

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Re: Christmas Safari - 2014 Edition (Bots & Nam)
« Reply #65 on: February 27, 2015, 12:38:07 pm »
What an experience, we have camped a few times in Moremi and Savuti with ellies around. It is an experience to be so close to these gentle giants. I am marking this as my next place to visit with the bike. (Been there with the 4x4 - but didn't see one desert ellie  :'() Thanks for sharing and making me extremely jealous
« Last Edit: February 27, 2015, 02:04:56 pm by mtbbiker »
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Offline remmie

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Re: Christmas Safari - 2014 Edition (Bots & Nam)
« Reply #66 on: February 27, 2015, 12:48:37 pm »
WOW, what a trip!
Thanks for this excellent RR  :thumleft:
 

Offline Damaraland

Re: Christmas Safari - 2014 Edition (Bots & Nam)
« Reply #67 on: February 27, 2015, 02:00:53 pm »
Absolutely loving this RR, also the photos are a real treat.  Ugab can be a bit of a monster but that area is absolutely my favourite part of Namibia.  Cannot wait to read about the Doros section!  Riding the gravel highways is fun in it's own way, but adventures like these are what keeps my engine running :thumleft: :thumleft:
RR - Angola (https://goo.gl/BzFy7Y) / Video RR - Kaokoland (https://youtu.be/-c-Zespa2No)
Video RR - Messum & Ugab (https://goo.gl/Uhd1vb)  / Video RR - Southern Namibia (http://goo.gl/WpRdRE)
Video RR - Ugab (http://goo.gl/dr57i9) / Video RR - Omaruru River (http://goo.gl/RCTajv)
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Christmas Safari - 2014 Edition (Bots & Nam)
« Reply #68 on: February 28, 2015, 03:12:55 am »
Day 8 - Part 2

Iíve done this desert double track once before in the opposite direction going from Twyfelfontein to White Lady Camp 9 years ago coming from Europe on the fully loaded GSA1150. So I felt pretty confident on much lighter and dirt worthy Tenere. What I somehow forgot is that it took me literally whole day to cover those 70 km on GSA - I literally arrived in the dark after 8:00pm. And I still remotely remembered long red sand dune field that I couldnít get any traction on the GSA until I lowered my tyre pressure to about 0.1-0.2 bar.

By the time I started on the double track it was getting pretty hot - Iíve spent probably 3 hours in the riverbed between the tyre fixing and elephant dodging. The track initially is nice one car width sandy road with hard foundation underneath. I stopped after few 100s meters to inflate my tyres to avoid further rim damage on the hard surface.




























At one point the track splits - one sandy going back down to the little herdsmen settlement on the river and then up to the elevated ground, and a rocky one staying up on the elevated ground. Idiotically I decided to go and check the settlement. Going down wasnít a big deal, but getting out of settlement proved to be huge challenge as I was riding basically up a dune of yellow sand where getting a traction was almost impossible. Without the traction I couldnít get the bike floating and had to resort to the extremely tiring duck walking, which Iím first to ridicule my mates for.

Settlement by the river:






And riding up the dune from the settlement back to the elevated desert:


This sand doesnít look like much, but believe you me - it does not provide any traction at all:






So to get up I had to eventually most of the time ride off the track:







I have eventually made it up to the top again, but was knackered - the reality of one rest day not being enough started to settle in. It was properly hot now and there is no shade on the plains. Doubts started to pop up in my head as Iíve made barely 15 - 20 km from the campsite and I didnít expect this to be such a hard work. The red dune field raising from the yellow plains in the distance ahead didnít cheer me up either.


The red dune field raising up ahead in the distance:


Well there was no point dwelling on it there on the hot sun - I decided to give the dunes a try and should they prove too tough, return to the campsite for the night and try again next day. The double track to the dunes alternated between little rocks and deep sand - which was annoying as I couldnít get my tyre pressure too down.

When Iíve made it to the dunes, as Iíve expected riding the track was almost impossible. Tenere has tubes so I did not dare to go down with tyre pressure under 1 bar - and I knew from experience on GSA that it just wouldnít do. I tried to ride off the track, which was doable, but only with totally wound up 2nd or rarely 3rd gear, constantly being thrown off the line by hard grass bushes and looking out for numerous animal dugouts.







Eventually I had enough and threw the towel off to fight another day. I retraced back to the campsite - this time sticking religiously to the higher ground and booked myself for another night in my chalet.







At the lodge I bumped into this KTM 950 S rented in Windhoek by a German guy named Ralph. He had some vintage Moto Guzzi or something at home and almost no dirt experience (he was sticking strictly to the dirt highways), so Katoom was quite handful for him. Especially as it was very well used specimen with leaking fork seals and the bike already broke twice on him on this trip(with owners rushing up to different corners of Namibia with new regulator or something:



It was still before lunch and the chalet wasnít ready yet for me to move in, so I jumped on the bike and rode 30 km or so to Uis to restock on provisions. When I arrived back the receptionist asked me if I have ridden the bike in the riverbed, which I admitted. She said - and she was surprisingly nice and apologetic about it - that a biker had ridden through the riverbed between the elephants next to their safari vehicle and the pissed elephants keen to get their back attacked viciously the vehicle for about an hour or so , with the safari guide inside. The tourists were luckily at the time sitting up on a kopije as the truck was actually broken and they were waiting for other vehicle to pull them out. She said the vehicle was badly damaged (I assume it was one of those little trucks they couldnít turn over, rather than just a Landcruiser), but luckily the guide - who also worked as barman in the evening and related the story to me later - came out unscathed.

Naturally I felt very bad about it, but wasnít aware of me passing in between elephants and passing any safari vehicle, so I asked when it happened and she said in the afternoon. So I was off the hook as I was there between 7 and 10 in the morning. Ralph it wasnít either so it must have been somebody who didnít stay in the camp. Even though I didnít do anything, I felt bad anyway as I these kind of accidents may end up with bikes being banned from those areas. I wasnít there so Iím not sure to what extent the biker could be blamed. I know from experience that it is quite easy to overlook elephants next to the riverbank if they are in the shade, the sun is in the right direction and you are focusing heavily on your line in the deep sand track. As I said, even before it was clear that it wasnít me the lady there was very nice about it and stressed that bikes are indeed allowed in the riverbank, so hopefully no repercussions against the bikers from this accident.

The rest of the day Iíve spent just lounging about.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2015, 08:11:48 am by Xpat »
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Christmas Safari - 2014 Edition (Bots & Nam)
« Reply #69 on: February 28, 2015, 03:14:10 am »
Thanks again for nice comments.

Offline mtr89

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Re: Christmas Safari - 2014 Edition (Bots & Nam)
« Reply #70 on: February 28, 2015, 09:46:07 am »
Your ride reports are f%#@en awesome!
Those ellies woulda had me damn nervous too.
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Offline Xpat

Re: Christmas Safari - 2014 Edition (Bots & Nam)
« Reply #71 on: February 28, 2015, 11:44:23 pm »
Day 9

Another morning in the Brandberg White Lady campsite:



I woke up knackered again. The unfinished ride through Ugab and the dunes day before didnít help, but it was mostly the accumulated fatigue from the initial push through Kalahari, and the day rest I took clearly wasnít enough to bring me back to full strength. I had two options:

One, chicken out and ride the main dirt highway up to Twyfelfontein and Palmwag. I didnít like that, as that would leave me defeated by that desert track, which would fester in me like an unhealed wound and eventually draw me back to get event with Damaraland - mind you a great excuse to come back though.

Two, try again the desert track to Twyfelfontein (sans the Ugab river shindig). I was particularly keen on this track as I just couldnít reconcile myself with the fact that Iíve rotten so far that I cannot make on lighter Tenere what Iíve done 8 years ago on fat ass GSA 1150 (albeit after travelling for a year through Africa, so in great riding shape). Here is the proof:







On top of that, not making it would seriously question my ability to make it through the routes Iíve planned up in Kaokoland, as they were way more remote and more challenging than this comparatively easy one. It was enough that my elephant paranoia already made me to chicken out  from the Ugab river route.

As Iím sure you can see now, there really was no choice  - the desert track it was. But I was knackered, so decided to take another day off in the campsite to shake off that stupid fatigue as much as possible. So I spent again most of the day just sleeping, lounging at the pool and eating. Here are quick highlights of the day:

The elephants hit the campsite that morning in force. I was back at my chalet after breakfast, when the whole herd came by on their way to the green bushes around the lodge. Ralph in the KTM unaware of them was about to hit those bushes close by on his way out, so I called him over to wait them out at my chalet.




ChrisL, here are your 14 or so elephants:


As usually there were stragglers. An ellie tried to stare down Tenere:


Eh, sissy - chickened out:


Or maybe not:


Time to leave Tenere to fend for itself once again:


Uff, didnít come for the bike


Shit, but there is another straggler I didnít see tailing the first one:




Still keeping a nose on us, but a happy end for all:






At which point Ralph as a real German decided that he has to stick to his plan - he had an epic ride all the way to Palmwag about 220 km away on dirt highway to go and he better make it before sunset (it was about 8:30 in the morning). That is what he planned and that is what he is going to do! So he set-off on the track going slap bang through the middle of the elephant herd, and he really wasnít close to being a fluent dirt rider. I tried meekly talk him to wait another 15 minutes, but plan is plan and off he went. Well, he seemed to make it - at least I havenít heard about any casualties.


In the afternoon I bumped in the campsite into an elderly swiss gentleman Fritz (I didnít ask, but I would guess he was about 70) on this beauty.





Seeing Aprilia RXV doing proper Africa ride really lifted my heart, as this bike is very unique and a bit of a unicorn - the only performance twin in 450/550 dirt category. Built by crazy Italians who go ahead and do things that other more rational companies shy away from, it has a reputation to be probably the absolute fun you can have in dirt - but also extremely unreliable, so it flopped in sales horribly and sadly has been discontinued. Its nice to see that with proper care these bikes can go anywhere.

Fritz didnít speak much English and my German is extremely rustic, but somehow I gathered that he was part of a supported tour group that started about a month ago in Mombasa, Kenya. They were on their way to Walvis bay to pick a second group of bikers who will join them for another month riding through Namibia and SA. I havenít seen any other bikes from his group in the campsite and figured out later that Fritz was  riding mostly on his own (even out in the sticks) and liaised with the group every night for sleepover - except probably here, where he was on his own. I didnít know it at the time, but Fritz was to save my ass later up in Kaokoland.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2015, 11:08:55 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline JMOL

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Re: Christmas Safari - 2014 Edition (Bots & Nam)
« Reply #72 on: March 01, 2015, 09:49:45 am »
I enjoy every moment of this epic RR.

Thanks again for sharing.
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Re: Christmas Safari - 2014 Edition (Bots & Nam)
« Reply #73 on: March 01, 2015, 10:59:05 am »
Iíve rotten so far that I cannot make on lighter Tenere what Iíve done 8 years ago on fat ass GSA 1150

In all fairness to the Tenere you cannot compare it to the 1150 can you? ;) >:D :peepwall: :pot:
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Offline popipants

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Re: Re: Christmas Safari - 2014 Edition (Bots & Nam)
« Reply #74 on: March 01, 2015, 12:02:13 pm »
Iíve rotten so far that I cannot make on lighter Tenere what Iíve done 8 years ago on fat ass GSA 1150

In all fairness to the Tenere you cannot compare it to the 1150 can you? ;) >:D :peepwall: :pot:
Amen
« Last Edit: March 03, 2015, 02:58:10 pm by popipants »
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Offline Xpat

Re: Christmas Safari - 2014 Edition (Bots & Nam)
« Reply #75 on: March 01, 2015, 03:30:14 pm »
Iíve rotten so far that I cannot make on lighter Tenere what Iíve done 8 years ago on fat ass GSA 1150

In all fairness to the Tenere you cannot compare it to the 1150 can you? ;) >:D :peepwall: :pot:

Well, it's true that 1150 was the last honest BMW adventure motorcycle.

But as Long Way Round conclusively proved, it's not an offroad bike ;D. Even Russian two stroke beat it ....

Offline Mev Vis Arend

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Re: Christmas Safari - 2014 Edition (Bots & Nam)
« Reply #76 on: March 01, 2015, 03:49:26 pm »
Ek het nie woorde nie.  Dankie vir die deel. 
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Offline Xpat

Re: Christmas Safari - 2014 Edition (Bots & Nam)
« Reply #77 on: March 02, 2015, 10:22:53 pm »
Thanks for comments.

Offline Xpat

Re: Christmas Safari - 2014 Edition (Bots & Nam)
« Reply #78 on: March 02, 2015, 10:23:56 pm »
.

just need to get to the next page as there are already too many pictures on this page

Offline Xpat

Re: Christmas Safari - 2014 Edition (Bots & Nam)
« Reply #79 on: March 02, 2015, 10:24:34 pm »
.

again - a comment to get me on the next page