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Offline Xpat

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #240 on: May 07, 2018, 11:29:46 pm »
Day 9 - part 4
(pictures from this episode can be viewed in higher resolution here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmhwPdbH)


We hit the Hoanib riverbed and straight away encountered quite a lot of game. Mostly bucks though (giraffe is an overgrown buck, right?), with some old elephant dung and spoor thrown in, but still a welcome change from that snakepit Hoarusib.









































































The scenery was just breathtaking, but so was the sand in the riverbed. This was the trickiest sand we have encountered on this trip and for the first time we had to pay attention a bit on what we were doing in sand even on ligthweight 500s, especially as we had to also keep our eyes up checking for potentially dangerous criter we may about run into:

































































































Die Poort - a gate out of the Amspoort section. Ganamub river joins Hoanib river right before this point. The narrow section is less than 100 meters long, but I always approach it with caution should I run into an ellie traffic jam - which this time we didn't, sadly:


« Last Edit: May 14, 2018, 02:35:12 pm by Xpat »
 
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Offline Xpat

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #241 on: May 08, 2018, 08:18:43 am »
One year when we did Puros Canyon with the Landy, must have been around 2013/4, we also found lots of cattle. I believe the locals keep track of the movements of lions/elephants and graze this part only when deemed safe.

Yeah, I hope it's the case and not something more menacing like locals eliminating the animals, which they sometimes do to lions. It was just weird without animals.

Offline armpump

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #242 on: May 08, 2018, 08:27:39 am »
ellie traffic jam could be a little daunting.

Can test your canyon wall climbing skills :)
 

Offline Padvinner

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #243 on: May 08, 2018, 09:00:20 am »
Awsome - added to the bucket list
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Offline Xpat

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #244 on: May 08, 2018, 09:19:29 am »
Day 9  - part 5
(pictures from this episode can be viewed in higher resolution here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmhwPdbH)


Right after Die Poort one can take two different ways - continue east in the Hoanib riverbed or turn north and follow Ganamub river that eventually crosses the D3707 route that Bertie took. We followed Hoanib and even though we were out of Ampoort gorge now, we still continued in narrow valley through the mountains.

View up the Ganamub river that I still have to do some time in the future:




And good old Hoanib:




Few km later I spoted Justin ahead running around in the river and got a bit worried:




And sure enough, it was a carcas - this time particularly enticing zebra one. I was too far behind to make sure that he didn't eat any of it by the time I arived, but at least once there I made sure he didn't put any if it in his mouth, though he may have played with few bits.







Yummy:




Once the child in Justin was suficiently entertained, we rode on through increasingly wet and green riverbed valley:






































There was so much vegetation and water at the top of the valley before it opened to much wider plain, that we battled to find the way through. There were couple of tracks on T4A, but they all have been flooded or overgrown and it took us quite a while to scout a way through. Justin also started complaining about the pain in his carpal tunneled hand and asked if there is an easy way to get out and onto the road. Which there wasn't, or rather it required backtracking more than it would take just to get there on the route we were on. Again as two days ago, it was quite a bummer. I know I'm repeating myself here, but we were riding through the best scenery of the trip so far, which was made even more special by the rare occassion here - clouds, shadows of which emphansized even more the start beauty of the place. And Justin just couldn't wait to get out of there and be done with it due to the pain. Although, he is not the one for scenery anyway and he had a great luck with the zebra carcass, so maybe not a total waste of the day for him...

He clearly was out of shape and lost it here and there while trying desperately to find the way out of the reefs and bushes, which provided many dead ends frustrating our efforts:






















Justin almost losing his dignity again:













Just to get caught out by another dead end:



















Eventually we found a way out of the valley and onto the wide plains leading up to Sesfontein:











« Last Edit: May 14, 2018, 02:34:44 pm by Xpat »
 
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Online Ri

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Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #245 on: May 08, 2018, 11:21:07 am »
Ah man, such a shame Justin and Bertie were in so much pain they couldn't enjoy this trip fully at the end, after your careful planning.

Thanks again for the beautiful photo's and humorous writeup.  Can't wait to see these places in reality :drif:

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Offline Stroke Her

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Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #246 on: May 08, 2018, 01:45:47 pm »
Reading this brings back memories...good ones :thumleft:

It was where you exited the Haurisib riverbed that I had my Ellie roadblock during my Nam trip last year.

It is amazing looking at your photos how certain parts of the route and landscape gets jolted from my memory.

Lekker trip boys :thumleft:
« Last Edit: May 08, 2018, 02:04:24 pm by Stroke Her »
 

Offline isiTututu

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #247 on: May 08, 2018, 04:40:06 pm »
Superb trip report Xpat, Bertie and Justin - Thank you!

It makes me want to go back and do it properly, and to see all those epic scenes that I missed after I came to grief on MaxThePanda's trip.

And it's quite obvious to me now where I went wrong: Bike too big, bike overloaded, lack of sand skills, and above all, lack of fitness. The look of exhaustion on Bertie's face brings back palpable memories for me.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2018, 04:41:32 pm by isiTututu »
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #248 on: May 08, 2018, 10:18:08 pm »
Day 9 - part 6
(pictures from this episode can be viewed in higher resolution here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmhwPdbH)


When we emerged from the Hoanib canyon onto the open plain we had about 25 km to go  - last 10 km on D3707. There is a random free standing gate at the end/beginning of the canyons with little hut to the side and information table with fees one is supposed to pay for the permit when passing through. On my prior trips I just rode through as there was noone there, but this time two guys came rushing out the the hut when I stopped at the gate. Justin was already about 100 meters or so past the gate - he stopped at the gate, but noboty came out, so just pushed on keen to get to Sesfontein and off the bike asap.

I paid R200 (R100 per person - nothing for vehicle as they had only 4x4s specified so I argued my way out of it) for both of us and we were off again. No sure what is the permit for - if I remember correctly for Sesfontein conservancy and as far as I know payment of this permit doesn't bear any validity in the Palmwag conservancy we just came out of (or rather northernmost border of which we followed in Hoanib), but I paid without raising any questions as I was keen to leave good impression of bikers. It probably is not going to beat Wilderness Safaris, but I believe every little thing may help to keep the area open for bikes as long as possible.

The landscape on the plains was quite different to the canyons with dramatic clouds overhead (very unusual here) and strong wind blowing dust around, which made for eerie and yet stunning scenery:














































Justin posing with giraffe in the background. Perspective makes him look much bigger than he really is, the otherworldly googles making him very personable fiting right into the Mad Max like scenery:













We had about 10 km to go to the D3707, last 5 or so of big fesh fesh plain with tracks running all over the bush looking for best place to avoid the annoying sand. I have lost Justin in the bush somewhere there and when I came to D3707, he was nowhere to be seen. I assumed he just hit the road and gunned it to Sesfontein to get off the bike, so i set-off as well, but when I arived in town, he was nowhere to be seen. Eventually he arived after me - he had a bit of hard time in the fesh fesh and I have overtaken him on one of the alternative tracks. We have stopped at the shop to get some drinks and restock on condensed milk and then rode down the road to Sesfontein Fort. Bertie was already there and got each of us our own room, with airconditioning and such. Good stuff!





































This thing was chasing me for few km and I even got a bit worried as it looked pretty powerful, so I opened up and outrun it eventually:










Justin having a hard time in fesh fesh:







Sesfontein shop with the usual suspects:




And reminder of what Sesfontein Fort looks like:










We have spend the afternoon with some high intensity sleeping and chilling in the pool. In the evenining we reconvened for dinner where Justin asked me what are the last two days about. I knew what is coming, but didn't see a point to sugar coat it and gave him realistic picture. While there was still one of the highlights left - Valley of Desolation, the truth was that he has seen already very similar scenery on the first day north of Brandberg, as our track that day run in places parallel to that track only km or 2 apart. And seeing that his hand pain doesn't allow him to enjoy the scenery much anway, there was no point to try to extend his agony. I think his mind was made up already anyway and he decided to join Bertie next day and bail out on the dirt highways back to Uis. I will finish the planned route on my own.

As I've said few times already, I didn't envisage this ending and it was a bit sad as I do consider this the absolute best riding one can get literally anywhere on this planet and they were not able to enjoy it to the end. But it was what it was and there was no point dwelling on it. We had a good ride together, and until they got caught up by the exhaustion snowball and carpal tunnel ailment they both seemed to really enjoy the trip. Even though they weren't to finish the whole route, I dare to say they still managed to ride more juicy and intense tracks than almost anybody I have seen riding up here in many years I have been following this place. So at the end of the day, they still had great trip and I will be leaving with good memories.

With that sorted, I have spent way too much time on wifi annoying people on the 'Adventurise 500' thread by posting some pretty images of 500s in Kaokoland and got to bed only at about 1 am.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2018, 02:34:13 pm by Xpat »
 
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Offline Xpat

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #249 on: May 08, 2018, 10:21:09 pm »
Reading this brings back memories...good ones :thumleft:

It was where you exited the Haurisib riverbed that I had my Ellie roadblock during my Nam trip last year.

It is amazing looking at your photos how certain parts of the route and landscape gets jolted from my memory.

Lekker trip boys :thumleft:

Good thing you have good memory considering you didn't bother to bring camera on the trip  :pot:

Later on in Valley of Desoation I have tried to spot those desert rhinos you bumped into, but annoyingly all I found was a spoor. And I had proper telephoto camera ready...
« Last Edit: May 08, 2018, 10:21:38 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #250 on: May 08, 2018, 10:24:23 pm »
Superb trip report Xpat, Bertie and Justin - Thank you!

It makes me want to go back and do it properly, and to see all those epic scenes that I missed after I came to grief on MaxThePanda's trip.

And it's quite obvious to me now where I went wrong: Bike too big, bike overloaded, lack of sand skills, and above all, lack of fitness. The look of exhaustion on Bertie's face brings back palpable memories for me.

Thank you. How is the leg?

Funnily enough, I'm actually going for surgery tomorrow with my leg - getting pin removed from my tibia (or is it fibia? - both of them were broken) I got inserted 2 years ago in Nelspruit when I broke it in fall in Swaziland.

Offline Xpat

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #251 on: May 08, 2018, 11:15:33 pm »
Ah man, such a shame Justin and Bertie were in so much pain they couldn't enjoy this trip fully at the end, after your careful planning.

Thanks again for the beautiful photo's and humorous writeup.  Can't wait to see these places in reality :drif:

Good move Riana, I'm sure you will really enjoy it. I have this hunch that there are forces working behind the scene trying to control the area and get normal mortals on motobikes banned, so going now will allow you to avoid disapointment later.

Also going on organized tour with all the support is a right move IMO for vast majority of people (not me, but I'm an outlier). There is plenty of grind involved on trips like this that one doesn't see behind the pretty pictures and having support helping with camping and good food makes for much more enjoyable experience. Just having a camping chair to sit on at the end of the day makes big difference. We have spent quite a few camping eventing squatting on hard rocks or trees after long days on narrow 500 seats - and it gets old quickly.

That said, I will venture few recommendations to get maximum out of the trip. Basically they all center around not just following the tour blindly, but be ready to be a bit independent in case of emergency (it is unlikely, but you might get lost in dust and multiple tracks you will sometimes encounter) or just in case you want some alone time on a rest day or even on normal days (terms and conditions of the tour operator allowing of course).

- Navigation: Get the tracks from the guides upfront and load them into navigation tool you use. If you don't have GPS, make sure you have offline maps in your smartphone (I used mostly iphone with MapOut application on this trip - GPS on handlebars was just to record the route)  and load the tracks there, so that you know where you are. There is obvious advantage in this if you get lost or want to get explore on your own a bit, but even if there is no emergency and everything goes smoothly, just knowing where you are riding and your where-abouts will make for much richer experience, than just following blindly a guide without having any clue. Also every day before you set-off make sure you know where the destination for the day is and mark it in your navigation tool.
- Luggage:  I would strongly recommend to bring some minimum bike luggage and not fall for the trap of depending completely on support cars. The best are the backbone luggages like Giant Loop, but if you don't have them get saddle bags to keep your stuff low and upfront (top rollie bags are not my favourite) on passenger footpegs. I think you will breathe much easier if you know that you do have stuff to get you out of emergency (like getting lost) such as extra water, some emergency food, tools and spares to fix flat tyre, etc. Of course leverage support vehicles for stuff that is not absolutely necessary for survival like clothes and reading books and such, but I would recommend to have basic survival kit on the bike to give you that bit of independency for emergency or solo exploration. If you will feel that you don't need it, or it is hindering you in tech terrain such as VZP, you can always leave it in the car, but have the option.
- Camera: I would strongly recommend some high quality compact camera with good zoom range that can fit into the pocket of your jacket. If you don't have / cannot borrow one, then the second best for quick access is probably tankbag, but get the smallest one you can find - otherwise it will hinder your movement on the bike and that gets unpleasant quickly. You will have to be able to move on the bike freely to really enjoy the riverbeds and tech sections (the area is just two things - rocks and sand).
- Get proper knobbly tyres, none of that 50/50 nonsense. I don't know the route Hardy has in mind, but I'm sure it will involve quite a bit of sand and rocks. Make your life easier, every little margin of advantage counts out there in terms of being able to ride tougher sections and more importantly in terms of energy conservation. If your current tyres are still good, you can always put them back on once back for the Karoo highways.

My 2c
« Last Edit: May 08, 2018, 11:17:02 pm by Xpat »
 
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Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #252 on: May 08, 2018, 11:23:45 pm »
I got inserted 2 years ago in Nelspruit when I broke it in fall in Swaziland.

Cannot be two years already?!! :o
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Offline armpump

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #253 on: May 09, 2018, 05:23:12 am »
Good luck and speedy recovery
 

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Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #254 on: May 09, 2018, 05:41:12 am »
Xpat, out of curiosity, what tyres did use on this trip? 


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Offline Straatkat

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #255 on: May 09, 2018, 08:59:31 am »
Both Xpat and myself were on Maxxis Cross IT on front and Mitas CO2 Stoneking Cross.
In my opinion the best tyres for the job, if you ride a 500, and we have been through a few tyres to find these.
I had 2 new tyres on my bike and they are still more than 50% after the trip. Martin had done a Lesotho ride on his tyres and they also lasted well with still some left on the back tyre after we got back.
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Offline Stroke Her

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Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #256 on: May 09, 2018, 09:10:52 am »

[/quote]

Good thing you have good memory considering you didn't bother to bring camera on the trip  :pot:

Later on in Valley of Desoation I have tried to spot those desert rhinos you bumped into, but annoyingly all I found was a spoor. And I had proper telephoto camera ready...
[/quote]

Yes I knooooow...I need to get my photo shit sorted out :o

Must be the bark of that 500's exhaust that scared of the rhinos for you... :lol8:

For those interested in the "what tyre" debate...dont forget the humble Dunlop D606.
Quite a capable tyre with a nice stiff casing...and about half the price of the Mitdas, Maxxis etc.
On my Ten last year I had plenty drive in the sand on the D606 rear and no punctures...and the Ten is a bit of a pig. I reckon on something light like a 500 these Dunlops will be quite good.
 

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Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #257 on: May 09, 2018, 09:18:46 am »
Both Xpat and myself were on Maxxis Cross IT on front and Mitas CO2 Stoneking Cross.
In my opinion the best tyres for the job, if you ride a 500, and we have been through a few tyres to find these.
I had 2 new tyres on my bike and they are still more than 50% after the trip. Martin had done a Lesotho ride on his tyres and they also lasted well with still some left on the back tyre after we got back.
Great thanks!


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Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #258 on: May 09, 2018, 12:14:06 pm »

Good move Riana, I'm sure you will really enjoy it. I have this hunch that there are forces working behind the scene trying to control the area and get normal mortals on motobikes banned, so going now will allow you to avoid disapointment later.

Also going on organized tour with all the support is a right move IMO for vast majority of people (not me, but I'm an outlier). There is plenty of grind involved on trips like this that one doesn't see behind the pretty pictures and having support helping with camping and good food makes for much more enjoyable experience. Just having a camping chair to sit on at the end of the day makes big difference. We have spent quite a few camping eventing squatting on hard rocks or trees after long days on narrow 500 seats - and it gets old quickly.

That said, I will venture few recommendations to get maximum out of the trip. Basically they all center around not just following the tour blindly, but be ready to be a bit independent in case of emergency (it is unlikely, but you might get lost in dust and multiple tracks you will sometimes encounter) or just in case you want some alone time on a rest day or even on normal days (terms and conditions of the tour operator allowing of course).

- Navigation: Get the tracks from the guides upfront and load them into navigation tool you use. If you don't have GPS, make sure you have offline maps in your smartphone (I used mostly iphone with MapOut application on this trip - GPS on handlebars was just to record the route)  and load the tracks there, so that you know where you are. There is obvious advantage in this if you get lost or want to get explore on your own a bit, but even if there is no emergency and everything goes smoothly, just knowing where you are riding and your where-abouts will make for much richer experience, than just following blindly a guide without having any clue. Also every day before you set-off make sure you know where the destination for the day is and mark it in your navigation tool.
- Luggage:  I would strongly recommend to bring some minimum bike luggage and not fall for the trap of depending completely on support cars. The best are the backbone luggages like Giant Loop, but if you don't have them get saddle bags to keep your stuff low and upfront (top rollie bags are not my favourite) on passenger footpegs. I think you will breathe much easier if you know that you do have stuff to get you out of emergency (like getting lost) such as extra water, some emergency food, tools and spares to fix flat tyre, etc. Of course leverage support vehicles for stuff that is not absolutely necessary for survival like clothes and reading books and such, but I would recommend to have basic survival kit on the bike to give you that bit of independency for emergency or solo exploration. If you will feel that you don't need it, or it is hindering you in tech terrain such as VZP, you can always leave it in the car, but have the option.
- Camera: I would strongly recommend some high quality compact camera with good zoom range that can fit into the pocket of your jacket. If you don't have / cannot borrow one, then the second best for quick access is probably tankbag, but get the smallest one you can find - otherwise it will hinder your movement on the bike and that gets unpleasant quickly. You will have to be able to move on the bike freely to really enjoy the riverbeds and tech sections (the area is just two things - rocks and sand).
- Get proper knobbly tyres, none of that 50/50 nonsense. I don't know the route Hardy has in mind, but I'm sure it will involve quite a bit of sand and rocks. Make your life easier, every little margin of advantage counts out there in terms of being able to ride tougher sections and more importantly in terms of energy conservation. If your current tyres are still good, you can always put them back on once back for the Karoo highways.

My 2c

I saw the rumblings in the last few Nam-related RRs, so I'm very grateful I'm able to go now.

Main benefit of a tour for me is not so much the luggage/camp/food thing (nice to haves), but the guided aspect; the operator has a wealth of knowledge of the area and is very keen to share. I don't usually join groups because I'm convinced I'm a slow rider, cautious in technical terrain, slowing down the group (I'm assured I won't ::)) and my introvert tendencies. If not for this tour, I would've gone bare bones with a small group next year. Hope we still do.

- Independence - Don't know whether I'd have the cajones to go riding off on my own, but I'll try put on my big girl panties if the opportunity arrises.

- Navigation: I tried Sygic on a recommendation, works well, but will check out MapOut.

- Luggage: My tool bag with tubes, patches and very basic first aid kit is permanently on the bike (probably not good for the meds :o) I'll add some emergency food to it. I carry salted peanuts and raisins in my backpack(only Simba brand use salted peanuts). Might try riding with pannier bags and see.

- Camera: Don't have one that would meet your definition of high quality, and can't borrow. I was gifted a nice Panasonic Lumix, and wind the straps around my handlebars, like so:

- Get proper knobbly tyres, none of that 50/50 nonsense.  I was wondering about this. Bike has a full knobbly on the front, and a 50/50 on the back. I have full knobbly for the back, but I'm riding to Loxton for the start, and back home afterwards. 4 days of tar and gravel, don't want to waste the knobbly :o  If a few days won't make a difference, I'll have the full knobbly fitted on the back.

Thanks for the recommendations Martin, most appreciated!  :thumleft:
« Last Edit: May 09, 2018, 12:17:33 pm by Ri »
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Offline Xpat

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #259 on: May 09, 2018, 02:46:42 pm »
@Ri : by day three you may see the camp/ food aspect as more than nice to have. In fact i believe Bertie could have been able to finish the trip with some of those amenities available. Again riding for two weeks in hot sun and kaokoland terrain is very demanding, and energy margins are thin. So every little bit matters much more than on weekend trip to cederberg.

I remember reading interview with Birch after his Dakar, where he didnt exactly excel. He said the terrain was easy peasy - nothing to compare to roof. But the day in day out grind for two weeks was what made that race really tough. This is similar - of course relatively speaking. Energy preservation is everything and will be deciding factor between enjoying the trip and/or just pure suffering and bailing out early.