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Offline frankmac

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Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #300 on: May 14, 2018, 07:34:52 pm »
What an unreal trip, Martin. Your narration was full of good humour and easy to follow

Your 2nd to last pic is my favourite especially on flickr
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #301 on: May 14, 2018, 07:52:33 pm »
What an unreal trip, Martin. Your narration was full of good humour and easy to follow

Your 2nd to last pic is my favourite especially on flickr

Thanks Frank  :thumleft:

Offline Sheepman

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #302 on: May 14, 2018, 08:04:21 pm »
High res. pics even better than the best - thanks for that  :thumleft:
 

Offline Minxy

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #303 on: May 14, 2018, 08:16:32 pm »
I started with your ride report last night and did not stop reading until I finished up to your newest update! I have enjoyed every second of your adventure, laughed out loud at your shenanigans, gawked over your 500's and just felt inspired by all the amazing photos. Some of the places also familiar and special to me as we visited them with Honda Quest. Wow I miss Namibia sooooooo much now, there is no other place like it. I do admit though, there was a couple of times riding down the riverbeds (and those damm red dunes near Brandberg...) on the Africa Twin that I was thinking I would have given what to rather be on a 500! :P Anyway I know I will go back, hopefully sooner than later and would love to follow your route.

Awesome RR, thank you again for taking the time to share your journey with us :)

Thanks Minxy  :thumleft:

Didn't I read somewhere that you guys are joining Hardy there in June? Maybe this RR can give that extra push in the right direction as I suspect it did to Ri  8)

While most of the routes can be (and has been) done with strong determination on big adventure bike (except maybe Robbie's pass), I doubt anyone apart from superathletes would be able to ride this loop in this time frame on one. That is where the smaller bike is important - to conserve energy and get maximum enjoyment out of the trip. I have seen first hand and described here, how exhaustion can ruin this trip, so the smart move is to go for energy conservation as much as possible, and proper bike is cruicial in that.It doesn't need to be 500/450 bike, your 701 will do just fine.

We were very close to joining Hardy in June, but sadly, we only recently realized that HSK's passport is expiring! He has applied for a new one, so hopefully we can join for the next trip, otherwise who knows, we might even wing it and go alone, or with small group. All i know is, I will go back. I have already been looking at starting in Hentie's Bay and going up the Omaruru riverbed towards Spitzkoppe and then following a similar route to yours the rest of the way. Robbie's pass I'd love to include as I have also been eyeing that one for a while and it's great to see you guys have done it :D Those rocks look hectic though! :o But yes, there is so much to do and see it is exciting just planning a trip like this! :)

As we speak I am looking at second hand KTM 500's and Husky 501's... You made a very good choice with the bike :) I rode my friends 500 and I did not want to give it back... When I fetched my 350 the other day I had a long chat with Hilton Hayward and he told me a bit about your setup and suspension, he also spoke very fondly of your 500 adventure bike :)

Anyway, let me not hijack your thread! I will send some more 500 questions your way soon though >:D :ricky: :biggrin:
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Offline Xpat

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #304 on: May 14, 2018, 08:41:51 pm »
@Minxy: my advice would be to not get overambitious with the route - i.e. do not try to squeeze in too much, unless you have more time than we had (12 days of riding, 4 day commute to and back Joburg/CT). If you have about 2 weeks (16 days) I would recommend to start from Uis as we did. Even with that shroter route and being on small bikes, a I was the only one out of three who actually finished the whole route, and that is while I skipped one planned rest day. I felt fine, but I wouldn't want to squeeze in more.

MaxThePanda's gang had 2 days more if I remember correctly and they started from Usakos/Spitzkopfe, which is kind of equivalent distance for starting from Hentie's Bay. And they had to start cutting stuff out (Epupa Falls, they rode up to Opuwo on C43) and still were properly knackered at the end. So unless you are approaching this as some kind of race/competition (not recommended - you've already done that there on Honda), I would recommend to rather be conservative, and if there is any time left there are areas within this loop that you can explore (for example we skipped Marienfluss, there is Hartmans pass, that loop up the Huarusib river to D3707 and down that noname river to Puros, also Huab river needs proper exploring). That Omaruru river anyway didn't look as good as Huab, Huanib and Huarusib (but i haven't done it - just seen pictures and videos)...

Of course that recommendation holds only if you have about two weeks (i.e. 16 days ) to do the trip, including communte to and back to Gauteng. If you have more time, go crazy - just take the necessary rest days to avoid exhaustion, as that can really ruin the trip.

Offline Minxy

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #305 on: May 14, 2018, 09:24:38 pm »
@Minxy: my advice would be to not get overambitious with the route - i.e. do not try to squeeze in too much, unless you have more time than we had (12 days of riding, 4 day commute to and back Joburg/CT). If you have about 2 weeks (16 days) I would recommend to start from Uis as we did. Even with that shroter route and being on small bikes, a I was the only one out of three who actually finished the whole route, and that is while I skipped one planned rest day. I felt fine, but I wouldn't want to squeeze in more.

MaxThePanda's gang had 2 days more if I remember correctly and they started from Usakos/Spitzkopfe, which is kind of equivalent distance for starting from Hentie's Bay. And they had to start cutting stuff out (Epupa Falls, they rode up to Opuwo on C43) and still were properly knackered at the end. So unless you are approaching this as some kind of race/competition (not recommended - you've already done that there on Honda), I would recommend to rather be conservative, and if there is any time left there are areas within this loop that you can explore (for example we skipped Marienfluss, there is Hartmans pass, that loop up the Huarusib river to D3707 and down that noname river to Puros, also Huab river needs proper exploring). That Omaruru river anyway didn't look as good as Huab, Huanib and Huarusib (but i haven't done it - just seen pictures and videos)...

Of course that recommendation holds only if you have about two weeks (i.e. 16 days ) to do the trip, including communte to and back to Gauteng. If you have more time, go crazy - just take the necessary rest days to avoid exhaustion, as that can really ruin the trip.

Really enjoyed Max's RR too, and you are 100% right.
It is a reality that things can go wrong, exhaustion etc playing a huge part and we saw that happening first hand at Quest. Some people were affected more than others, but when it hits you, it hits you hard and it just becomes downward spiral. And of course one also must consider mechanical breakdown, accident, evacuation plan etc. I really do take my hat off to you, especially for having done trips like this solo!

Oh and we did a bit of Omaruru riverbed when my arm was broken two years ago in 4x4. I'll forward you some photos via pm :D I think it is well worth it and something to do maybe on one of your next trips.
But yes, you need time. I would stay in Epupa for days if I could, it was one of the highlights for me on our trip, but yes. There is just so much distance to cover, things to see and so little time. Logistics with fuel/food/water must also be a nightmare? Traveling with Hardy's Specialised Adventure group is therefore first choice, especially in terms of safety, structure and accessibility. But... there is always that attraction to going off and exploring on your own... ::)
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Offline ClimbingTurtle

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Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #306 on: May 15, 2018, 07:28:14 am »
Stunning Trip Martin - thank you again for the inspirational RR.

An off-topic question - was there anywhere that you went that you couldn't take a kitted 4x4 (low range etc.) - reason is, I have a large, overweight GSA that I have no intention of riding in that area, but I know the wife would love to go in the 4x4.... Might be an amicable solution.....

Cheers,

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Offline LRFan

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Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #307 on: May 15, 2018, 08:37:18 am »
Great report, very envy you guys. How much of this route will be doable in a 2x4 bakkie with diff lock, except those rough passes?
 

Offline Slim Jim

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #308 on: May 15, 2018, 08:44:00 am »
Awsome XPAT, in a way I'm glad this RR is done , now I can get back to work. :thumleft:
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #309 on: May 15, 2018, 10:36:39 am »
Thanks all for following and comments.  :thumleft: I will post one more short 4x4 episode from return home with Bertie

Regarding drigin car on these tracks - I'm no 4x4 or even car boffin (have done probably 2 - 3 car safaris in 12 years I lived here), so take whatever I say with that in mind (and I'm sure there are tons of threads about this are on 4x4 forums, as this is the main highlight of Southern Africa - or rather Africa, for them as well). I do have semi-kitted Hilux 4x4 - mostly for my family and friends as I use bikes for travel - and have done Damaraland & Kaokoland in it last year as a support driving shotgun to my father.

I would say this: Most of the tracks we have ridden are easily doable in 4x4. The only places where it gets technical is Robbie's pass (I personally wouldn't go there in 4x4, but I'm sure proper 4x4 affecionados looking for technical driving would and have) and VZP - that one we have done in my Hilux, and it requires focus and strong determination in places, but is doable by normal driver who is not complete moron in 4x4.

Is it doable in 4x2? I don't know, most of it probably yes, but there are usually few places every day that may catch you out, and you might not be able to get yourself out of those without 4x4 and low range. I personally wouldn't go there in 4x2 (that is the routes we have ridden - I can suggest route that would be perfectly fine in 4x2) even though I drive 99% of time off tar in 4x2 mode in my Hilux. I use 4x4/low range only for tricky bits and to recover the car if stuck in mud or sand, but on those occasions I find it indispensable.

For example I wouldn't want to go down VZP without low range, as it gets really steep and uneven and without low range you will have to be very good with your breaks and they will have to be very good as well. Low range gives you much more control of the car in tricky situation like that. Here are some pictures of the tricky sections on VZP (most of them are 20 - 30 meters long max, but some of them require to rebuild the road);






















Also I believe 4x4 and low range are crucial to recover the car once is stuck, like here (Puros canyon):










But in some cases even 4x4 and low range may not be enough - so come well prepared with stuff to get yourself out of the pinch, like shovels, towing ropes, metal/plastic plates for foundation and I would recommend high jack (I have no experience with winches that to me seems a bit over the top). And of course 2 spare wheels, 1 may be pushing it (at least if you are driving solo like we were). For example we came upon this Patrol stuck in mud in the reefs in ugab river. It took us over 3 hours to get him out, and that was with Hilux available for tow. I couldn't believe my eyes when we hitched the patrol to Hilux and tried number of times to rip it out (low range, high range, steady and slow, with run up, etc.)) from both front and back, and the bloody Nissan literaly didn't even flinch (and yes we dug trenches all around the car). It seemed like it was just a top of huge concrete block burried deep in the ground.

They had tons of kit on that Patrol, but one thing they (and us) didn't have was high jack. What eventually got it out was when the guy dug a hole under the rear diff, put his normal jack under the diff with some plate underneath it and managed to jack it up a bit. Hilux was then able with run up to rip it out of that mud hole. So immediately after the trip I bought High jack, which I didn't see a point of till then. It was fun (there were lion spoor all over the mud we were working in so walking through those reefs looking for some wood to put under wheels was exciting to say the least), but I wouldn't want to do it in a hurry again:







As far as 'kitted' 4x4 goes - as with bikes my recommendation would be go as minimal as possible. I have aluminium canopy and roof tent and shit, but this time my father (who used the car there before with all that crap on) insisted on going minimal - i.e. no canopy, no roof tent, just tonnal cover to hide spare wheel and jerry cans from preying eyes, and all the crap packed behind the front seats (take rear seats out). The only stuff you absolutely must have is that stuff I mentioned above to get yourself disentangled from tricky situation, and of course camping gear and lots of water - that one my father was a bit cavallier on, but I was nazi on that - have water not only for your expected route if things go well, but also for non-sunny day scenario if you have to sit it out there for few days, or walk out.

My 2c - take it with big grain of salt.



Offline Xpat

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #310 on: May 15, 2018, 10:45:49 am »
Oh yes, one more thing: For 4x4 trip I would use sligthly modified route - that is using the route we did as baseline. Assuming you don't want to do Robbie's pass in 4x4 (most people don't I believe), I would follow the same route we did with these modifications:

Day 2/3 - instead of going from Palmwag up through Little Serengeti and Kowarib gorge (I would do those on the way back as I did again on Day 11), I would rather go up to Puros (with sleepover on the way) via Crowther trail (couldn't do that on bike because it is part of Palmwag conservancy and bikes are not allowed), Amspoort gorge and Puros canyon.
Day 4- from Puros I would drive up the Huarusib river all the way to D3703, on which it is a short hop to Opuwo. (that upper Huarusib may not be driveable sometimes - it was not when I was there with my father in May, it was when I was there now in March - check my ride on Day 8)

After that I would basically follow the same route - maybe including drive up Marienfluss.

Edit: Here are some pictures from Crowther trail - it resembles quite a bit upper part of Valley of Desolation (that is why I recommend to do it on the way up as if you do it on the way down you would have two-three days of the same scenery) with starkly otherworldly red rocky landscape:























































« Last Edit: May 15, 2018, 11:28:20 am by Xpat »
 
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Offline ClimbingTurtle

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Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #311 on: May 15, 2018, 11:14:01 am »
Thank you Martin - i will start he thread again and plot the route.

Much appreciated.

Steve
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Offline armpump

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #312 on: May 16, 2018, 09:47:09 am »
@Xpat

I know you not big on water crossings but perhaps think of one of these for iphone



 

Offline Ri

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Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #313 on: May 16, 2018, 10:04:49 am »
iPhones are splash resistant and can withstand a quick dunking. Just don't go swimming with it.
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Offline Xpat

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #314 on: May 16, 2018, 09:57:45 pm »
Conclusion

I have attached gpx routes we have done to the first post in this RR.


We took different route back to Joburg, bypassing Botswana and heading south instead. There were two reasons. First, to let Bertie drive some dunes north Koes to get his spirits up and break the monotony of the long drive home. Second, I wanted to debus with 500 in Molopo lodge to ride the dunes between Kgalagadi NP and Molopo river in Botswana and then back to Joburg - Bertie would be driving Hilux home on his own. I have tried and failed those dunes last year on heavy ass 690 (RR here: http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=211633.0) and was keen to settle the score.

The only problem was my 500 needed a bit of maintenance. I came ready with new oil and filters for basic service in my car, but by the end of this trip, the sprockets and chain were shot and in the need of replacement. We called Basil and he kindly ordered new set, and by the time I rocked up in the lodge it was waiting for me. By which stage I had another problem - quite pronounced oil leak from the front sprocket - an o-ring or seal behind the sprocket had to be replaced. It was Friday afternoon, and there was no way to get that in Uis or on the way in Windhoek, so I figured I will try my luck in Upington - relatively short 130 km hop south from Molopo lodge - on Monday.

With all that sorted, we packed the car, loaded the bikes and went for last dinner in Brandberg Rest Camp, reminiscing about the trip.

Next day we set-off after breakfast and took the shortest and mostly tar route to Terra Rouge farm near Twee Rivier close to the start of the dunefield we came to drive.

Next morning we hit the dunes and Bertie had an hour or three of fun until the dune road hit the C road heading to Rietfontein border crossing. Here are too many pictures of that 120 km of dune drive stringing together 4 different D roads - D503, D579, D 616 and D615.
























































































Once the fun was over, we crossed to SA in Rietfontein, drove over Hakskeen Pan and arrived in Molopo lodge in the early afternoon. We went for lunch during which I contemplated my plan. It was unbelievably hot and the forecast didnt promise much improvement. I would have to wait till Monday and then hope that I will be able to get right O-ring/seal in Upington, where there is no KTM dealer. And my exploration drive was saturated. I guess you see where Im going with this. The dunes will wait - I was going with Bertie home.

After lunch we hit the dirt highway R31 to Van Zylsrus where we wanted to sleep over as it was getting late. When we arrived there to my surprise the hotel and restaurant seemed to be completely deserted, so we just pushed on Hotazel, where we found a B&B to stay over. Next day was just a commute home to Gauteng.







Route home:




In conclusion: I was told once on this forum that one of the most important criteria for bike selection is what your mates ride. Being the self-indulgent bastard I am, it didnt make any sense to me, and still doesnt. Id rather buy new mates.

Luckily, there is a better way to get a real quality trip done with company: figure out what is the best bike for the riding you like to do, then find some sucker with similar bike - or even cajole your existing mate to buy one, and then just come up with highly attractive trip they cannot refuse.

Which is what I did here and it ended up just great. Best of all my northwest Namibia excursions so far as we managed to squeeze in about the most juicy and dense route possibly could through this unique and one of the best (if not THE BEST) riding place on the planet. Yes, exhaustion and health issues prevented Bertie and Justin to enjoy the trip all the way to the end, but they still have seen more of the area than most before them, and Im sure will remember it for a while. Personally, I enjoyed Berties and Justins company and Im sure this wasnt the last time we have ridden together. Provided of course they stick with 500...
« Last Edit: May 16, 2018, 10:05:06 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #315 on: May 16, 2018, 10:00:05 pm »
@Xpat

I know you not big on water crossings but perhaps think of one of these for iphone


I had something similar - at home in forgotten unpacked plastic bag somewhere. I have put it on after the trip.

Offline Straatkat

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #316 on: May 18, 2018, 04:36:04 pm »
Martin neglegted to mention, as the van Zylsrus hotel was closed, we pushed on to Hotazel...and we had to drive in the dark, Martin was driving at about 100 when a Warthog ran straight in front of us, we missed him narrowly and then he turned around and wanted to run back, which he aborted on the last minute and we missed him VERY narrowly. This sort of just re-inforces of how dangerous it is to drive at night through such animal rich country. After the episode he drove waaay slower for the rest of the way!!
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Online billy-joe

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #317 on: May 18, 2018, 07:55:33 pm »
Thanks XPat for an awesome report and inspiring pics and thanks to Justin and Bertie for chipping in every now and then.  I think 3/4's of us that have read this are searching gumtree and the likes for 500/525's for our next scoots!  Do you think a +-150kg scoot would make it through there (except maybe Robbie's pass) like a 690 or even a X-challenge?  Lastly, have you sold your 690 yet due to the type of riding you are currently doing? Lesotho is one of my favorite places in Southern Africa, def need to go back there soon.

Thanks once again!
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Offline Xpat

Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #318 on: May 18, 2018, 08:29:16 pm »
Thanks XPat for an awesome report and inspiring pics and thanks to Justin and Bertie for chipping in every now and then.  I think 3/4's of us that have read this are searching gumtree and the likes for 500/525's for our next scoots!  Do you think a +-150kg scoot would make it through there (except maybe Robbie's pass) like a 690 or even a X-challenge?  Lastly, have you sold your 690 yet due to the type of riding you are currently doing? Lesotho is one of my favorite places in Southern Africa, def need to go back there soon.

Thanks once again!

Thanks.

650 150kg bike like 690/DR/XR/X-challenge, will do just fine there. With strong determination even over Robbie's pass. But it is going to be more tiring and if you have ambitious route on tight schedule, you might have to start cutting things out due to exhaustion snowball. But if you get fit before the trip by riding regularly you might offset that.

Still, 500 (or some such like WR450 etc) will - at least for me - provide for by far the most enjoyment out of this trip. The heavier you go, the more effort it will take.

Lesotho is different kettle of fish. There the heaviest reasonable bike is 500 (and even that is stretch) - if you want to go explore off the beaten tracks for more than just a day/weekend trip. 690 IMO is useless there for that (it is perfectly fine for main roads of course). And yes, I still have 690 and will keep it as long distance tourer. I had the rally kit removed and better forks installed and have to say that I quite enjoyed about week long trip I did to KZN even though a lot of it was on tar (I was chaperoning my friends from Europe in Hilux). And another big advantage of 500 is, that after 2 weeks on that seat, 690 standard seat feels like a lounge chair  8). Seriously I cannot fathom why some people bitch about comfort of that seat - it is literally the case of TTFU  >:D.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2018, 09:05:43 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline Scribble

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Re: Capie and Vaalie taken for a ride by dodgy Russian
« Reply #319 on: May 28, 2018, 10:27:57 pm »
thanks so much for sharing.
some of the most spectacular pics I've seen in ages
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