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Offline caconcepts

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #40 on: May 19, 2016, 01:28:33 pm »
Great read and awesome photos.....you lads have got balls of steel.
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Offline lj111

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #41 on: May 19, 2016, 02:09:28 pm »
Epic trip guys!!
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Offline bud500

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #42 on: May 19, 2016, 03:25:06 pm »
May the bridges I burn light the way...
 

Offline 0012

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #43 on: May 19, 2016, 03:43:45 pm »
loving this!    :thumleft:      :ricky:


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Offline Straatkat

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #44 on: May 19, 2016, 05:06:07 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.

That was my thoughts exactly, those guys were properly stuck, and then their buddy also with trailer tries to rescue and the he also gets stuck, and I am talking down to the axles stuff! When we passed them they were using the services of the local rangers and were furiously wielding spades and snatch straps in an effort to get out...well I suppose it was an adventure for them too, and how were they to know that it would be so wet.
One thing they all said to us was that it is so easy on a bike, I bet they have never ridden a bike under those conditions!
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Offline exkdx

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #45 on: May 19, 2016, 06:49:24 pm »
Great stuff so far!
Gooi (deliver) more please  :biggrin:
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Offline wildside

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #46 on: May 19, 2016, 08:16:09 pm »
Oh my word....you guys experienced one hectic ride.
 Boy, am I glad we took Jon's (owner of Makgadikgadi Adventure Camp) advise and didn't take that route. When we spent the night at M.A.C  we heard about the bikes and 4x4's stuck on the pans. I have been looking forward to this RR for so long...wanting to hear all the gory details. Thoroughly enjoying this entertaining report. Such a pity we missed each other.... apparently by about one hour.
Despite all these mishaps I'm sure you guys had an awesome adventure. Well done.
Super photos..... Looking forward to reading the rest of it. :ricky:
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Offline Xpat

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #47 on: May 20, 2016, 12:16:29 am »
Day 4
 
In  the morning we had a breakfast of whatever each of us could find in the bags, packed up and set-off after few sage advices (ignored straightaway) and farewell to Jacques and Stein (they made it out fine, though only few hours after us and then decided to use remaining 3 days to get to Windhoek via Kasane and Caprivi strip – I was lobbying in vain for shorter Maun route with day off in Maun for rest and some game viewing). We were keen to catch up some of the lost time - Straatkat was now one day late for work and his boss (which would be him) was not happy about it. He is very strict with himself – if I would be my own boss I would have been by now found mummified in my bed with face eaten by neighbour’s cat and Sopranos or some such looping on my laptop nearby.
 
My original plan was to turn west at the veterinary fence gate next to the Adventure camp and head north-west across Ntwe-ntwe pan to Gweta.   By now of course even I have figured out that the pans may not be such a dandy idea and the guys in the campsite did confirm that the route heading north close to Nata is the only way to go – I think they formulated it as ‘easy’. I have expected the same as I have ridden the route before and knew that it runs on the high sandy ground dividing the Sua and Ntwetwe pans – so no more skidding on snot and aardvark dodging. So north it was.



 
It didn’t pan out that clear cut. Within a km or two we run into swamps with big pools of standing water and were back to foot pedalling gingerly through the mud (well Straatkat was, my Maxxis and I just cruised through unperturbed). I was trying to scout the easiest route upfront for Straatkat to avoid another Husky trouble and we proceeded at much more cautious pace, than I initially expected.   
 






After few of those swamps the situation improved noticeably and we were now riding on mostly hard-pack double track running through the bush, with occasional puddle thrown in here and there, running into few little settlements:













We got lost for a bit and went bundu bashing looking for the right track:





 
The bush track eventually turned into the long expected sandy double track flowing through the grassy plains overseeing wet pans on both sides. It was great to be able to pick up speed again without worry and I immediately opened up and settled into pretty brisk cruise. Not brisk  enough though. Straatkat, the self-confessed speed addict, tired of the humiliation dished out for the past two days by that unholy coalition of T63 and snot, shot past me in the column of dust like a man possessed. I tried to keep up for a bit but when the high berm hidden in the grass next to the track snatched my luggage and almost threw me off for a second time, I settled back to what I consider a brisk pace and let Straatkat get it out of his system on his own. Once he did he waited for me  and afterwards he somewhat moderated his pace while I increased mine and we were cruising together him leading upfront. He clearly didn’t moderate enough when he overshot one fast corner, flew across the middlem…. (central divide) and into the grass on the opposite berm. Luckily he saved it, but I have to say - sometimes it does take quite a bit of grown up patience from us forty somethings to watch over fifty somethings and their little antics. 
 












Straatkat and his shenanigans:


Offline Xpat

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #48 on: May 20, 2016, 12:17:15 am »
Day 4 - part 2

Then we came upon a river - 20-30 meters wide with flowing water, properly established riverbed and stuff. Now, I have been there only once 2,5 years ago, but I'm pretty sure there was no river whatsoever, especially not one with proper current. When I walked across the water wasn't higher than my knees so I just checked correct line, and with Straatkat walking along downstream to give me hand should run into trouble rode across without a glitch.

Straatkat not keen to get stuck again just few dozen km away from tar decided to err on the side of caution and duck taped the airbox (inside under filter as well as outside) and put a cloth over the outside of the spark plug (as I said earlier for some reason his bike had tendency to die if the plug got wet from outside - that was probably bigger concern riding through the water than risk of drowning the bike as water was mostly shallow) and then we pushed the bike accross with engine switched off.
 





 
On the other side he reverted whatever changes he dis and we continued our smooth meditative flow on the plains and through the bush.
 



















That is, until we reached the dense bush flanking the pans on their northern shores. There, to our (mostly Straatkat’s who understandably wasn’t interested in any potential problem only few km from tar) dismay, water ruled supreme again.  As on the Lethlakane side when we entered the pans 2 days ago, the track was in places under water for 100 and more meters and we also had to navigate a sizable (few 100 meters) swamp or three. All attempts to bypass the water through the bush were sooner or later thwarted by dense bush or swamps and we resigned ourselves to push last few km through the waterlogged tracks and plains, with me upfront scouting the best possible route.
 






















And then finally at about noon the bush opened and we found ourselves at the main tar road between Nata and Maun. This was the place where we will part our ways. Straatkat turning right towards Nata 20 km away and then slabbing it on tar all the way (with sleepover in Itumela) home where he arrived safely next evening. Myself turning left and slabbing 280 km it to Maun - starting point of the Okavango delta circumvention.

It was a real pleasure to have Straatkat for company. He was real trooper, positive and upbeat throughout the problems we have run into, and - from my perspetive most importantly - seemed to really enjoy the trip. I am sometimes a bit of spoiled grumpy sod, as I have ridden this and other similar areas number of times before and therefore tend to forget how lucky I am to be able to experience freedom of riding these remote areas. So it was very refreshing to be around somebody who really enjoyed what Makgadikgadi has to offer. Thanks for the company Bertie and I'm sure we'll ride together again.

After the farewell, I slabbed it to Gweta where I was unpleasantly surprised to find the Shell garage out of business (how the hell you run out of business in place where next petrol station is 100 east and 200 km west is beyond me). I didn't have enough petrol to make the remaining 200 km to Maun and for a while grudgingly contemplated backtracking 100 km to Nata. But I knew there must be way to get petrol here and indeed locals directed me to a house on the outskirts where local guy sold petrol from jerry cans. It was Super and 93 and I wasn't sure about quality, so I have closed off and filled only one tank just to make it to Maun - which was probably good move, because the bike seemed to run like crap with whatever I have put in there. I was told afterwards that there is a South African owned camp with petrol station somewhere in the village, but don't know if it is true or not (I hope it is as this is major problem if you are crossing Makgadikgadi using Gweta route through Ntwentwe pan).

With that sorted I contemplated for a bit if I should what route to take to Maun. You see there is a cutline running north from Gweta along the eatern border of Naipen NP and then connecting to the east west cutline running to the dirt road between Maun and Mababe and Khwai village. But by now it was late, I was tired and I would most probably have to sleep out in the bush among big 5 and still would lose another day as I would have to backtrack to Maun for to fill up on fuel. So the cutline got discarded and I slabbed all the way to Maun where I settled in luxury ten in audi campsite. It was a misunderstanding - I asked for a luxury tent which I thought is a 2 bedded tent I usually use, but they actually have big luxury tents with bathroom and stuff which I didn't know about. A bit of luxury never hurt anybody (or as British army adage says 'any fool can be uncomfortable') so I just settled in.  

Route ridden:

 
« Last Edit: May 22, 2016, 05:49:39 pm by Xpat »
 

Online Ian in Great Brak River

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #49 on: May 20, 2016, 02:12:04 am »
Simply classic stuff, Xpat, thanks.
1978. It's 6am, mid winter...two up on a XL 185S ... off to my first casino ever with all of R40 and we've got a full tank of fuel, so enough to get there we reckon.... that's determination...

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Offline Koet

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #50 on: May 20, 2016, 08:46:59 am »
Another classic RR
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Offline Xpat

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #51 on: May 20, 2016, 12:59:21 pm »
Thank you all for following and comments.

I just wanted to make a note regarding what hard core mothers we are:

Not really. It probably looks more dramatic  than it was (at least that is my POV - Straatkat, please comment if you feel differently). To be sure - it was as wet and muddy as it looks. But it was about perseverance to push through mud, water, heat, tiredness and discomfort and not about facing mortal dangers. The only life threatening risk I can think of there (as opposed to inconvenience like broken bike - no matter how annoying it may have been) was a heatstroke - and we paced and watered ourselves properly to avoid that (at one point I had to lay down for an hour or so in the only available shade under bike to cool down a bit). We were not exactly alone - there quite are people and water there in lets say 20 km radius, which is perfectly walkable in the pinch, the terrain wasn't technical requiring really risky moves (like trying to get a bike up rocky staircase, or having to ride too fast in deep sand just to be able to make it through) - just slow slog through mud, water and grass. I'm sure mine and Straatkat's view will differ, but I really believe strongly solely on account of tyres and that potential wet spark plug misbehavior on Husky that probably sat heavily on Straatkat's mind making him try to avoid the deepest water, which is usually also the most stable place to ride in the mud as it is lowest and hardest.

With my tyres (which I had on purely as lucky coincidence when I gave in to Runners persuasion, not because of some clever foresight - I notoriously ignore season when going for these trips) I would have literally cruised through no problem. I would have most probably had to spent night at the Makgadikgadi camp and not make it through in one day as we planned, but that is about it. And I'm very sure that the whole difference between us was that front tyre - I would say Straatkat and I are very even riders - he is way faster on quick bits, I'm probably a bit more stable in the slower technical stuff.

So to sum up, it was hard work, but I don't think we ever contemplated  turning back (of course apart from when Husky wouldn't start). And the cultines up north around delta are completely different ball-game in terms of risks. When riding there I have constantly this nagging voice in my head trying to make me turn back. There is no one there in some instances for 100 km, and you are slap bang in the middle of big five territory. So should something go wrong, the conundrum you face is whether to try to walk out during heat of the day through deep sand (I was told grown man can do about 30 km a day in that sand), or rather walk in the cold of the night and face prowling predators. Those kind of potential choices really screw with you brain even if nothing happens. You don't have any of those pressures in Makgadikgadi.

Offline Rough Rider

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #52 on: May 20, 2016, 02:07:12 pm »
Apart from the stupid airbox design the 610 has one other flaw with regard to water which came to the fore on your trip. There is no water drainage hole in the side of the cylinder head next the spark plug insert like on most other bikes. This results in it filling with water and causing some of the issues you had. 

Example on a DRZ





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Offline alanB

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #53 on: May 20, 2016, 02:41:39 pm »
I've been waiting for this report!

Nice ride guys  :thumleft: O0 As usual Martin plans stupendous trips and then does a great job of writing them up!  :ricky:

Love this chirp:

Quote
Once he did he waited for me  and afterwards he somewhat moderated his pace while I increased mine and we were cruising together him leading upfront. He clearly didn’t moderate enough when he overshot one fast corner, flew across the middlem…. (central divide) and into the grass on the opposite berm. Luckily he saved it, but I have to say - sometimes it does take quite a bit of grown up patience from us forty somethings to watch over fifty somethings and their little antics.  

 :biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin:
« Last Edit: May 20, 2016, 02:48:32 pm by alanB »
Husqvarna '09 610TE - Great Bike!

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Offline RobC

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #54 on: May 20, 2016, 02:45:53 pm »
What an adventure! Lekker! :thumleft:
 

Offline alanB

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #55 on: May 20, 2016, 03:00:56 pm »
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!

Must admit I was pretty worried about you guys stuck out in the middle of no-where!

I'm glad you got going again! It can be so frustrating when nothing works, when it really should, and you start second guessing yourself.

A thing I learned on the 4x4 forum is more vehicles  are damaged in water than any other type of terrain. So it doesn't really pay to be brave in water. And the Husky's stupid air cleaner doesnt help at all!  >:(
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Offline Bigsix

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #56 on: May 20, 2016, 04:45:32 pm »
Quite an adventure!!
 

Offline Straatkat

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #57 on: May 20, 2016, 07:24:50 pm »
This ride report has waaay many pics of me, I think I should balance it out a little with some of Xpat, as he took most of the pics it is a bit difficult to take the pics and feature in them. (unless you have one of those selfie stick jobbies)



Apart from the stupid airbox design the 610 has one other flaw with regard to water which came to the fore on your trip. There is no water drainage hole in the side of the cylinder head next the spark plug insert like on most other bikes. This results in it filling with water and causing some of the issues you had.  

Example on a DRZ








The Husky 610 (Mine was named The Cricket after I gutted the exhaust, and it is rather loud, Danakil was responsible for the name)
These are wondrous machines, we were riding through very wet mudlands and Xpat would be ploughing deep furrows with his 690 and I would be following him and the Cricket just potters along like there is firm ground underfoot and I am sure it wonders what the drama with the 690 spinning like that was all about. Riding through the grassland you can use 1st and go so slowly you can almost count the compression strokes or 2nd gear and go a little faster, it just potters along and there is so much bottom end grunt, I just opened the throttle and jumped over many a aardvark hole which I only saw at the very last minute. And on the faster bits and even the blacktop you can do a comfortable 130. Here the 690 has probably got longer legs. Don't get me wrong, the 690 is also a marvellous bike, but for me the motor is a bit peaky at slow pace and the gearing is not as sorted as the Husky.
A major Husky drawback is the inability to do water, I sealed the plug with silicone, but after having to remove it after the first deep water episode it was left exposed to water ingress. Water gets into the plug and try as you might it will not start. Then there is the airbox that has the vents at the bottom, just a stupid design.
But then again after 1889 km's start to finish for this trip, other than me drowning the Cricket, it ran faultlessly.
Looking at the AJP PR7 with its air intake on top of the tank, now that is thinking! I am so jealous!

« Last Edit: May 21, 2016, 09:30:46 am by Straatkat »
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Offline Straatkat

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #58 on: May 20, 2016, 08:59:45 pm »
Some pics of Xpat
« Last Edit: May 20, 2016, 09:04:59 pm by Straatkat »
18 till I die.
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Offline Straatkat

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #59 on: May 20, 2016, 09:10:14 pm »
There was a comment that we have balls of steel, I can't speak for Xpat, but I checked and mine are definitely not steel!
18 till I die.
If hard work pays, show me rich donkey.