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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #40 on: November 05, 2018, 04:30:37 pm »
Then we made our way to Keetmanshoop, the biggest town (and only one) in this part of Namibia. Short of 30 kms, it was all gravel road. We usually try to stay on the small back roads, much more pleasant on our little bikes.

Although the gravel roads were in good condition, it was still very tiring for us, as it required 100% attention. At this early stage in our trip, we were still very much out of shape for long days riding. It usually takes few days to get into the Zone.






We had to get into town to get enough cash as well as find a supermarket to buy enough food to keep us going for few days in the desert. We did not know what to expect in term of food and cash, for the itinerary I had in mind.

My paper map was showing the fuel stations dotted around the desert, but I had no idea whether they would accept card payment or if they would have a shop attached to it! So, a town was useful for that.  It was early days in Namibia and I still didn’t know what to expect. 


 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #41 on: November 05, 2018, 04:31:30 pm »






In town, we found a place to stay by following signs for a B&B. The landlady told us that it was not safe to walk out at night, so we went out for a very early dinner. Usually after a full day riding, we don’t like to get back on the bikes. And also, if we ride to some place for dinner, we can’t really get a beer or some wine if we are riding.
The B&B owner told us how to get to a restaurant, not too far, and it was near some ATM machines.

Lots of local guys seemed to just hang around the ATM machine. Young, relatively well dressed, but just standing around doing nothing. I don’t like that. It makes me feel nervous! If they don’t use the machine, why are they hanging around like that?

Anyway, we got cash, found the restaurant, which was empty, and we got a really nice spicy pizza, washed down with local beer. After that we walked back to the B&B, before nightfall.



 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #42 on: November 05, 2018, 04:32:38 pm »
Day 9 – Luderitz   – 370 kms – weds 6th June

After breakfast, we packed up and rode to the supermarket. In a strategy that would turn routine, I would stay with the bikes, while Alistair would make an "executive decision"  :biggrin: on what to buy. Obviously we had a list of essentials like bread, tins, instant noodles and peanuts.

We debated whether to do the detour to see the Quiver tree forest. We got on the way but the gravel road was insanely busy for some strange reason, and we were in a constant cloud of sand. I couldn’t see the road and got fed up. All that to see few trees that we could see form the side of the road in the region!
So we turned round, got back to Keetmanshoop and picked up the main road to Luderitz, the first coastal town in southern Namibia.

It was a long way but it was all tarmac. The weather was good and I removed some layers.

After 240 kms we stopped in Aus. In between there was not much! Aus is a very small settlement in the middle of nowhere. There is a fuel station, a large posh hotel (for some mysterious reason!) with a very nice big restaurant there, and a small village.

I was on reserve. By my calculations, cruising at 100kms/h I could do 300kms. If I rode economy, I should be able to do more. Alistair told me this meant my bike was making 90 miles to the (imperial) gallon. Whatever.   

In Aus, we found the fuel station and the very luxurious hotel. We stopped in the restaurant for cold drinks and some cake. They had a very interesting menu at reasonable prices.  I made a mental note of this and decided to time it so we could stop there for lunch, on our way back from Luderitz. The coastal town is a dead end, and we would have to come back via Aus, before turning north.

Next to our table was a large group of South Africans. We talked to them and they suggested for us a nice restaurant for seafood in Luderitz.


 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #43 on: November 05, 2018, 04:35:15 pm »
From Aus, the road took us through Garub Desert Horse National Park, which, unsurprisingly, had many wild horses! We also started seeing road signs for Oryx and hyenas!

We saw a dead Springbok by the side of the road and also a dead hyena a bit later. I should have stopped for a photo of the hyena, as they are so elusive in the wild! We saw nothing else alive other than the wild horses.
 
The Garub National park was stunning, with the pale green of the grass mixing with the ochre of the earth, the red sand of the far away dunes and the blue hills further away. It was breathtaking, like a delicate painting.

Unfortunately my small point and shot camera cannot do it justice:





 

Soon, all this turned to desert and the long straight road became very boring. We saw quite few water holes in the desert. It was surprising but we later found out there had been very heavy violent rains 2 weeks earlier.

The wind came laterally and fine ribbons of sand were flying across the road like ghostly fingers trying to grab our wheels.

We arrived in town and made it to the local backpacker place.

It was a large house with very high ceilings.

Germans founded Luderitz, and it had that German feeling with everything in its right place, spotless streets and buildings and no liter at all. 

The backpacker place had the faded grandeur of a rich family that fell in hard times. The floorboards were suitably creaking, as you walked through very large rooms, the paint and curtains very dated, tired dusty furniture… It was certainly not luxurious, but clean enough, welcoming and peaceful. The kind of place you felt at home.

  It had a large and well-equipped, if very old and tired kitchen, a very large lounge with sunken sofas set around an old capricious TV, a courtyard, a large backyard where we stored the bikes securely, and our room was massive.

We were able to spread all our gear over the many beds! We felt comfortable here and decided to stay 2 nights so we could visit the town and the area.

The place was very quiet, it was still low season, but we talked with few residents.

 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #44 on: November 05, 2018, 04:38:22 pm »
One of  the backpackers resident was an old bloke who sounded German but was actually Namibian and had been living in the backpacker hostel for the last 9 months. There were also two young men, James and Jonas, one British and the other Swedish.

They were attempting to walk across Africa, starting in Luderitz and ending somewhere across in Mozambique. We thought they were mad! But then lots of people think we are too!

The trolley they were pulling had its wheel bearings destroyed by the very violent sandy wind that blows in this region, 50kms from Luderitz. They had to come back to Luderitz for repairs. We spent some time talking with them.

Apparently, one day, while resting, they saw 5 lions staring at them from about 200m.

After a staring contest of few minutes, where they did not dare to move at all, the lions left but the guys tried to put as much distance as possible from them as they spotted lions footprint around their resting camp.
 
They had nothing to defend themselves and there was no wood to make a fire. They had quite a fright, but both did 5 years in the army, so I thought they should be able to deal with whatever Africa could throw at them!

The locals told them there were no lions in the area, but they were adamant they made no mistake. I think, being ex military, they should be able to observe and reliably report what they saw, so I totally believed them.

The German sounding old man asked me about retiring in France. He seemed disillusioned by the direction Namibia was taking and wanted to retire in Europe.  Funny conversation but I struggled with his very strong German accent. Remember, for non locals, Namibia was colonised by the Germans and the evidence is everywhere to see, including the language. Anyway, he seemed interested in France or Spain. Both are nice places to retire and very popular with the British and Scandinavians.

I guess the old Namibians with German or British descent, have seen so many changes since the 50s, that maybe it is a bit overwhelming for them.  The world they knew was gone, and the future can appear bleak.


 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #45 on: November 05, 2018, 04:40:12 pm »
Day 10 – Namibia, Luderitz – 0 km (Thursday 7th June)

We sorted few things out and I tried to do some planning using the very unreliable wifi.
We also had a good walk in town.






We thought about riding to visit Kolmanskop, a famous ghost town about 15 kms from Luderitz.
We needed a special permit to get there or go with an organised tour, because it is in a Diamond Exploitation zone! So it was not possible to just ride and have a look around. In the end we got lazy and decided not to go.

In the evening, James and Jonas left. For them it was best to walk through the evening and part of the night, when it is cool, and early morning, avoiding the hot part of the day.

The place was very quiet. Our bathroom had no light, as there had been some storms and lots of rain 2 weeks earlier and it messed up the antique electric wiring in the house, as well as the gravel roads, we would find out later!

In the evening, we repacked everything in a more efficient manner. It always takes some time into a trip, to know how to do this in the most efficient and convenient way. At this stage we were still experimenting what to put where and how.

Back in London, I had made 2 bags (one for each pannier) that fitted perfectly the panniers, inside. So we could pull out all our gear from the panniers and carry it in one go.

I may have mentioned that once the top box is screwed into the CRF, we cannot remove the soft panniers. The straps are under the box. So we could not, as in previous trips, unstrap the panniers and carry the whole lot into our room.

The inside bags were not easy to put back into the soft panniers once full.  Eventually it became evident that it was easier to neatly cram the panniers more efficiently with all the stuff, then leave the bags on top, to fill  and use when we transported all the stuff out and back to the bikes.

I started also using an auxiliary roll bag, for the food and warm gear.

Our provisions included some bread rolls, a can of baked beans, 2 pack of sachet soups and 2 packs of instant noodles. And peanuts. I suspect Alistair had also a big stash of biscuits and sweets hidden somewhere.

 
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Offline Dawid S

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Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #46 on: November 05, 2018, 04:51:08 pm »
 :sip:
 

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #47 on: November 05, 2018, 05:02:26 pm »
Day 11 – Namibia, Helmeringhausen – 250kms – Friday 8th of June


We left the backpacker place early, keen to make as much progress as possible on the un-surfaced road starting beyond Aus. The backpacker owner had told us a section would be very sandy and like a riverbed. So we rode back to Aus, about 125 kms away.

On the way, we came across James and Jonas, having a rest in a shaded area. We mentioned to them that the water drains on the road and rail track that runs along the road could be ideal for shade during the hottest hours of the day. We got this trick from a cyclist we met in Uzbekistan.




After a long chat we continued. We arrived at Aus later than planned but perfect time for an early lunch! I had not forgotten the splendid menu. I had an amazing burger, with superb meat!  We also got some fuel.

We then set on the un-surfaced road. The 1st 20kms were a nightmare. It was like a riverbed with very deep sand. I hate sand.

Fro a while, the right side had been kind of compacted, so I put the bike on that side and rode until we reached the caterpillar or tractor or whatever you call that scrapping machine. After that, it was back to deep fluffy sand.






After that sand section, we were able to increase speed. It was badly corrugated but we were able to make some progress. On the way I saw 3 brown foxes playing and jumping on the side of the road.

We finally arrived in the hotel/ fuel station / campsite / shop at a cross road that is Helmeringhausen.








The grounds looked nice and we decided to stay there. In any case, there was nothing for a very long way so we did not have much choice!
 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #48 on: November 05, 2018, 05:04:03 pm »
We put the tent up in a grassy area. The campsite was in a large garden surrounded by orange and lemon trees, with big pens of goats and geese, nearby.

The hotel was super expensive. We asked if they could do a discount, considering it was empty, but they refused. A couple of South Africans, on a 4×4, arrived and rented a cottage on the other side of the road, for the night.






After a quick shower, we went for a walk along the single street/road and met a tamed Springbok, behind a fence, in a paddock. We could even touch it from over the fence, although he was still trying to ram us a bit.






After a small diner (eating our 2 sachet soups) we noticed that the generator had stopped. The ground’s staff locked everything, switching off all the lights in the compound and left.  The whole area, including all the buildings, was left in complete darkness.

With no one using the hotel, all was locked up and deserted. No one was around. No light other than our torches. The South Africans in the cottage were not close. As it got dark, the sky, without any light pollution or clouds, was amazing.

With electricity working only in the shower block, we spent some time there reading before bed.

Few hours after we had gone to sleep, I heard men talking and could see a torch being used around our tent and the grounds of the hotel. I was a bit anxious, but in the end it must have been only the staff checking on geese and goats in the pens.

The night was very cold, as we are at 1400m.


 
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Offline dirtyXT

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #49 on: November 05, 2018, 06:31:37 pm »
Excellent RR keep it coming thank you for sharing
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Offline Mev Vis Arend

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Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #50 on: November 05, 2018, 07:54:02 pm »
Thanks for sharing, Maria41  :thumleft:
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Offline Appel

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Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #51 on: November 06, 2018, 08:54:42 am »
Agree with you about Helmeringshausen, I went through there a month after you, expensive sh!t hole.
 

Offline evansv

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #52 on: November 06, 2018, 10:35:44 am »
Great report, thanks!
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Offline BullFrog

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Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #53 on: November 06, 2018, 10:48:01 am »
Excellent report and a brilliant experience!!

 :cheers:
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Offline Matewis

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Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #54 on: November 06, 2018, 10:57:33 am »
Subscribe!
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Offline ButtSlider

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Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #55 on: November 06, 2018, 11:24:17 am »
Awesome report. Subscribed.
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Offline Steekvlieg

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #56 on: November 06, 2018, 11:41:12 am »
 :peepwall:
 

Offline Snafu

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Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #57 on: November 06, 2018, 11:50:20 am »
Follow!
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Offline skydiver

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Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #58 on: November 06, 2018, 12:48:02 pm »
Very interesting thus far.
Do you keep a diary of each day's adventures?
 
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Offline Bommelina

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #59 on: November 06, 2018, 01:20:40 pm »
.