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Offline Dustman

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #20 on: May 18, 2016, 04:39:41 pm »
 :lamer:
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Offline Oupa Foe-rie

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #21 on: May 18, 2016, 04:57:25 pm »
 :sip:  Xpat it's always nice to read your interesting reports .................  :thumleft:
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Offline westfrogger

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #22 on: May 18, 2016, 06:11:17 pm »
Looking good. Looking forward to more, red wine in hand and all.  :thumleft:
 

Offline Straatkat

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #23 on: May 18, 2016, 08:48:14 pm »
Yeah an epic trip allright. Xpat does not give himself enough credit, he rides very well and did not drop his heavier bike than mine not once the entire trip I was with him. That in itself is incredible. I was thinking afterwards that maybe because he was riding in front, the water was clear and he could see the track better and me following in the muddy water sometimes ran into the side of the track and that caused me to topple over in the snot.......oh well I have to think of some excuse! The halfway worn T63 could also be part of the reason, but I did not have the worst tyre for the conditions as we will learn later!
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Offline Straatkat

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #24 on: May 18, 2016, 09:07:09 pm »
The track, or should I say ditch that caused all the trouble looked like an innocent track on the side of the large puddle in the road, and as soon as I got into it I sensed here was trouble as it immediately went from about 150mm deep to over 400mm deep and it looked like it is just getting deeper, so I tried to climb out of the rut, and remembering what Xpat said," if you are going to fall, make sure it is on the left side as the airbox is on the right" so I dropped the Cricket on the left side after losing my footing and down it went. It was so deep that the exhaust gulped in all the slimy water it could, and this had us, (and I wanted to avoid this, but both Xpat and me are mechanical engineers), stumped for the rest of the afternoon.
18 till I die.
If hard work pays, show me rich donkey.
 

Offline teebag

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #25 on: May 18, 2016, 09:17:49 pm »
Did the transit road route around the top of the delta in a landcruiser in 2006, it was very wet. Look forward to the rest of your report.
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #26 on: May 18, 2016, 10:08:14 pm »
Day 3 - part 1

Despite the threatening clouds the night before it didn't rain and we woke up to the beautifull morning on the pans:



First order of the day was to try start Husky. It didn't even when pushed, so the last option was to try to pull start it with Katoom. Straatkat assembled Hussy together (it was in pieces after our prior day fixing efforts), while I broke and packed my camp and scouted flat dry place without grass big enough to pull Husky. I then pulled Straatkat over there through the grass in Neutral and once there he just kicked in second (I think) and Italian donkey came to life at first try. Straatkat's relief was pretty clear thanks to his ecstatic shouts and him trying to rev the Italian valves off.

With that sorted Straatkat headed back to camp to pack up, while I rode 2 km back to the veterinary fence to refill on water. At the gate I bumped into two bikers who just arrived through the lake from the south and greeted me with 'Hey Xpat', or some such. Which frankly stunned me for a moment as I'm usually not being recognised by people I've never met. They were of course Wilddogs - Jacques (pienaarj on WD) on Africa Twin (the only good one - XRV650) and Stein (sorry, didn't catch his WD name) on 800GS. They were newbies on their first trip - long way around to a wedding near Windhoek and then back to their respective homes, Cape Town and Pretoria and got somehow inspired to take this route by one of my reports. I couldn't help to not feel a bit sheepish about luring these newbies into a swamp, which my reports presented as mostly flat white plains worthy of 100 kmh and more. On the other hand they were young and this was proper character building adventure, so teh way I prefer to look at it now is that I contributed to the personnal growth of two fine young men  ;D.

And quite frankly, so far they've made it as far as the two senior adventurers and were about to get ahead. Which was even more remarkable looking at the tyres they had on and - how should I say - unsophisticated way of carrying luggage (though I've seen surprisingly many supposedly experienced riders using the same approach). I will come back to those later.

After short chat they rode off on the track I just came back on. I told them about Straatkat, but somehow they missed 1.9 meter tall dude 50 meters off the road on flat plains. I guess the ditch that cost us half a day commanded their full attention.

I in the meantime headed to the deserted shacks on the hill - for some reason the gate wasn't manned - to fill up our water pouches from the big green drum. Just to be sure I've put in water purification liquid. I felt quite relieved to have full stock of water again - I'm paranoid about dehydration since I almost expired from one combined with heatstroke in northern Kenya. It's stuck in my head and I believe make me consume unnecessary quantity of water (compared to other people I ride with), but I just cannot help it - I've already consumed about 8 litres of water out of 12 I have taken at Lethlakane (Straatkat was much more economical with his). And it was already hot which was exacebrated further by lack of any kind of shade within 10 km.

With that sorted I returned to the camp, packed up and we set-off again, now chasing the youngsters before us. Initially, the track was good with only occassional puddle here and there:




But then we hit the pans again:


And the inevitable snot:


Which eventually claimed its victim:




From there we took it easy trying to avoid wettest parts, Straatkat using often his legs to compensate for the lack of traction (not that muddy boots provided any kind of traction):





Eventually we came upon the stuck 4x4s who had to spend the night there (including, we were told later, lady in a wheelchair), where we also caught up with the youngsters. The 4x4s were already attended to by local rangers or some such in a bakkie who passed our camp in the morning, so we just pushed on (they made it out eventually and in the evening passed through the Makgadikgadi camp). At this stage we already opted to ride on the grassy plains rather than the snotty mud, and seemed to make much better progress than youngsters who we soon left behind. I didn't ask them later why they didn't go for the grass, but I suspect it had something to do with them not having GPS, so they rather stuck with the track.




Youngsters pushing on:


And us trying to be smart up on the grass:


Straatkat carrying some war paint:






Offline Xpat

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #27 on: May 18, 2016, 10:09:44 pm »
Day 3 - part 2

This is where the tables turned and it was me having a hard time scouting the route through the grass upfront, while Straatkat cruised sitting comfortably in 2 or 3rd gear with his wonderfull wide ration gearboxs. I battled with the stupidly tall 1st and 2nd on 690s (I had sprocket sizes 16/48 equivalent to the OEM 15/45 as I was keen to preserve range for Okavango and didn't expect much of slow technical riding) as I was forced either to slip clutch a lot (being already on 2nd clutch in less than 10k km) or ride too fast for comfort. You see the problem  was not the grass - that could have been ridden reasonably fast, but hundreds and hundreds rabbit and aardvark dugouts, that were very difficult to spot and will stop you dead if you hit them, or worse could easily break your leg if you would stop next to one (or better pair - one each side of the bike) and try to put your foot down.

I had many close calls, and got caught out only once. I managed to stay upright and didn't even bang my jewelry on the handlebars, but came close:




Straatkat in some kind of emergency...


...oh I see - a photo opportunity:


He just loves those - here in a fashionable hat (which I came to envy a lot in this shadeless place):



The second problem of being a scout was trying to spot the marshes soon enough, which few times I didn't, resulting in hard work of getting unstuck again:






The heat got better of me for a bit so Straatkat took a helm - that way!


Or maybe there?


Bloody joker:


We pushed on toward what we guessed is a high ground (kind of like trying to find a high ground on sea) making slow progress running into marshes again and again:


I guess you get the idea.

So we were really stoked when we hit finally firm ground and found shade:


And soon afterward the youngsters emerged from the pans - so much for our smart detours:


Jacques - check tha ATGAT, particularly the shoes, ideal to provide support on the snotty ground:


Stein, better shoes, but check those tyres! All I can say is - respect!


Straatkat introductions:



By now it was an afternoon and we decided to stay at the Magkadikgadi Adventure camp about 20 km away - and so did youngsters. We decided not to visit Kubu island - which was a shame for Straatkat who hasn't been there yet, but we were too knackered and late.

But the water wasn't done with us yet and we had to negotiate number of water pools. We tried to find alternative routes through the bush, but it never worked so we sucked it up and swam all the way to the camp:










We finally made it to the campsite in the late afternoon and booked their stationary tents. I was surprised to see fresh bike tracks - the guys told us 3 bikers stayed there the night before. As I found out much later, it was our own wildside and family - you can see their reports here:

http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=192841.0

http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=190584.0.

Pity we didn't meet them - I'm sure youngsters would get along just fine, while us adults could have discussed grown-up things like whether Honda really is the biggest force of evil in modern motorcycling, or whether it indeed is BMW  :peepwall: :pot:.

Anyway, we settled in, followed about an hour later by youngsters. Stein by now was showing worrying signs of heatstroke and exhaustion and had to have a lay down in the shade with lots of soft drinks to recover. Once recovered, we all organized whatever dinner we could scramble from the variety of cans we were carrying on us and then proceeded to finish all the beer available in the bar. Which doesn't say much - they were just badly low on stock. We spend the rest of the evening talking the usual bikers crap involving brands, gear and routes and once the darkness fell hit the sacks.

Straatkat and his casa:



Straatkat and I in unflattering photo from Jacques:


Check tha packing - they really didn't try to make their life easier. But hey, they made it - oh just to be young again!


Some local paraphernalia:


Little WD Makgadikgadi bash:







Offline Xpat

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #28 on: May 18, 2016, 10:14:08 pm »
Yeah an epic trip allright. Xpat does not give himself enough credit, he rides very well and did not drop his heavier bike than mine not once the entire trip I was with him. That in itself is incredible. I was thinking afterwards that maybe because he was riding in front, the water was clear and he could see the track better and me following in the muddy water sometimes ran into the side of the track and that caused me to topple over in the snot.......oh well I have to think of some excuse! The halfway worn T63 could also be part of the reason, but I did not have the worst tyre for the conditions as we will learn later!


Bertie, I'm 100% positive it was the tyres. I have done since another 5 day trip through Limpopo and Tuli block as well as couple of weekends in De Wildt and didn't fall once. My normal score on E09 on the same terrain would be at least 5 - 6 falls. Like so:

« Last Edit: May 18, 2016, 10:33:45 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #29 on: May 18, 2016, 10:17:12 pm »
Did the transit road route around the top of the delta in a landcruiser in 2006, it was very wet. Look forward to the rest of your report.

Fantastic - finally somebody with hands-on experience!

Teebag - do you remember if there is a bridge over Selinda river, or did you have to wade through the river?

Offline Straatkat

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #30 on: May 19, 2016, 01:26:16 am »
After we struggled for a few hours to get the Cricket started to no avail, Xpat hauled out the satellite phone and we  phoned one of the 3 Husketeers, AlanB to ask for advice (another Mechanical Engineer...oh no!), to be fair he did come up with some stuff we could try that we didn't think of. Nothing worked as the exhaust was full of water unbeknown to us, so every time we cranked the bike it would let more water into the chamber and of course it would not start. We were
probably very lucky the piston didn't hydraulic. Drowning a bike so far from home is a nerve wracking experience. That night I did not sleep well, playing all the different scenarios out in my head. Eventually the penny dropped and we picked the bike up vertically and drained the water out of the exhaust and the header pipe. I am going to have some plugs welded onto the lowest point of the headers so that one can remove them and drain the water should this ever happen again. I must thank Xpat for his patience during this whole ordeal as he normally travels alone and now he has to put up with this scenario. Not once did he complain even though it probably caused him to be a day late and had to abandon his plans to circumnavigate the Okavango Delta due to time constraints.
A better adventurer to ride with you cannot ask for, his skill in dealing with problems along the way is also top drawer, I don't think there is anyone on this forum that has done nearly as many solo miles as he has. Definitely seen it all and got the T-shirt!
18 till I die.
If hard work pays, show me rich donkey.
 

Offline Ace Venture

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #31 on: May 19, 2016, 03:11:16 am »
 :thumleft:
 

Offline OOOOMS

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #32 on: May 19, 2016, 07:55:23 am »
Awsome report, waiting for te next  :biggrin:
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #33 on: May 19, 2016, 10:38:35 am »
:thumleft:

Ace, since you are in Botswana - do you by any chance know if it is legal to ride dry riverbeds outside the parks? I have seen lots of nice dry riverbeds to the west of Tuli block around Bobonong (outside of the park or private reserves of course) that looked very enticing, but then I have seen on the T4A map indication that it is ilegal to drive in Motloutse river. Do you know if it is true and if that applies also to other riverbeds?

Ta

Offline ROOI

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #34 on: May 19, 2016, 10:58:36 am »
:thumleft:

Ace, since you are in Botswana - do you by any chance know if it is legal to ride dry riverbeds outside the parks? I have seen lots of nice dry riverbeds to the west of Tuli block around Bobonong (outside of the park or private reserves of course) that looked very enticing, but then I have seen on the T4A map indication that it is ilegal to drive in Motloutse river. Do you know if it is true and if that applies also to other riverbeds?

Ta
I do noy know about other rivers but the Motloutse is definately illegal to drive or ride  :xxbah:
FTS
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #35 on: May 19, 2016, 11:05:18 am »

Ace, since you are in Botswana - do you by any chance know if it is legal to ride dry riverbeds outside the parks? I have seen lots of nice dry riverbeds to the west of Tuli block around Bobonong (outside of the park or private reserves of course) that looked very enticing, but then I have seen on the T4A map indication that it is ilegal to drive in Motloutse river. Do you know if it is true and if that applies also to other riverbeds?

Ta
I do noy know about other rivers but the Motloutse is definately illegal to drive or ride  :xxbah:

That's a shame. Hopefully it is not the case for all of them. If those rivers can be ridden, it would open whole new playground within easy reach from Joburg, Limpopo and North West.

Let's see what Ace has to say.

Offline african dust

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #36 on: May 19, 2016, 11:18:44 am »
what a blast. thanks for sharing. look forward to the rest. keeping me out of work you are.
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Offline Frog

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #37 on: May 19, 2016, 11:52:42 am »
Wow - RESPECT!
Some of those paths are a handful when dry.
I think I would have turned around just looking at those wet pans!
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Offline popipants

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #38 on: May 19, 2016, 12:37:31 pm »
Thanks for sharing. Very good read...like always. :)

But I have to wonder. Who would take a caravan and 4x4 to the pans in rainy reason?
That surely is looking for trouble.
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Offline Steekvlieg

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #39 on: May 19, 2016, 01:11:33 pm »
 :drif: