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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #60 on: November 06, 2018, 01:48:07 pm »
Very interesting thus far.
Do you keep a diary of each day's adventures?

Hi Skydiver, yes I do!

I started this many years ago, with a pad and pen for all our holidays. It is so easy to forget. I value my holidays!  :)
So I continued doing this with our motorcycle trips. I filled 3 big pads back in 2007/2008 during one year around South America! A lot happened!

Once the trip is over, all we have left are the photos and the diaries.

As technology progressed, for our trips, I bought an iPad and I type using various apps ( as time goes by and new apps are made available). This time I loaded TextEditor as I can type offline. I don’t necessarily write every day but often enough. That turns into the blog.

Back home, with blog and photos ( and a proper computer!) i can load all the photos ( using Flickr this time after the photo bucket debacle!).

Then  I have time to rewrite using my notes and blog and put together a better ride report with more details.  ;D
Years later it is great to reread! Especially if bored at work and depressed of staring at stupid spreadsheets!  >:D

 
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Offline Rotten

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Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #61 on: November 06, 2018, 03:14:55 pm »
Thanks Maria. Enjoying this immensely.
 

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #62 on: November 06, 2018, 04:25:10 pm »
Day 12 – Namibia, Sesriem – 250kms – Saturday 9th June.


We woke up very early. The weather was sunny and beautiful but rather cold. Soon it would warm up once the sun rose further up.   

The hotel staff was already in the grounds, tending the gardens.
We had a quick breakfast with bread rolls and the local version of the Laughing Cow cheese triangles.

After that we were back on the road. There were two roads going to our next destination: Sesriem.

We decided to take the shortest route. We were told later it was the worst.

The road was indeed in very bad condition (once again the bad weather few weeks before had left it in a bad state) but seeing our first close range Oryx and zebras in this desolate area was rewarding. They were so beautiful as they all ran along us and across the road.











 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #63 on: November 06, 2018, 04:27:14 pm »













Too many photos maybe, but Namibia is so spectacular!













 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #64 on: November 06, 2018, 04:28:19 pm »
The road was also deserted, we saw very little traffic, and it was magnificent. It was exactly what I had in mind while planning Namibia.


After a long ride, we made it to Sesriem. The place was only few sandy dusty campsites in the desert. It is the get away to visit Sossusvlei, one of the most visited places in Namibia, with very tall red sand dunes and the flat salt lakes.

Arriving at Sesriem, we decided to stay in the National Park campsite. There were many campsites to chose from around as well as many luxury lodges. Outside of the campsites and lodges, it was just the desert.

One of those luxury lodges (according to our 2 year old Lonely planet) charged about 900 dollars per person, per night! It may be all-inclusive, but for that sort of money I would expect unlimited champagne on tap! Yeek! Hell, I would expect the taps to be gold! How can anyone justify such expense? The average salary in Namibia is a pittance. 

After paying Park fees and campground, we set up our tent in our little allocated spot, containing a big round cement thing for fire, and a thorny big tree for shade and nothing else much.  The shower blocks were not too bad but busy.  I can’t remember the price but with all fees included it was quite expensive. The only advantage of having motorbikes is that we did not have to pay a parking fee in top of everything else!

We managed to 'find' a bench from an empty spot. Presumably this bench had been 'borrowed' from the bar. We thought we could continue the 'borrowing' and have somewhere to sit to have breakfast and dinner so we quickly moved it near our tent!



 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #65 on: November 06, 2018, 04:28:51 pm »
We could not go to Sossusvlei with the bikes and visit the various locations. Only SUV were permitted into Sesriem.

We asked the ladies at the reception desk if there was a vehicle that could take us there. They told us the price but also advised us it might be cheaper and easier to ask around to the owners of 4×4 or the large guided tours on big tourist trucks.

There were a couple of groups travelling in massive trucks. As it was still low season, they were not at full capacity and had plenty of space for hitchhikers!

I went round and asked few tourists on big rented 4×4, but they all had too much stuff on the back seats to take 2 passengers.


Not far from our camp, there was a group on a big truck. I walked to the truck and, while a guy was getting off the driving cabin, I asked him if he was the driver. He was the guide.

That was how we met Zee. He was guiding a small group of French for a 3 weeks tour of Namibia and there was plenty of space in the truck to take us to the dunes. So he had no objection but he needed to check with his clients first.

Later on he told us it was ok and that we would have to discreetly (away from the French) had a chat with the driver as well ( i.e. the driver would expect some tip).

As the campsite was just sand and desert, with no light, there was not much to do. So we went to the bar to sit and read a bit. There was no WiFi. To be fair, since we had crossed into Namibia, even in places where there was WiFi, it never seemed to work! But the TV was on and a small crowd was watching football and the world cup by the bar. Alistair went to watch that, while I read one of the few books I had previously loaded on my iPad for such circumstances.
Zee came to confirm that they could take us to Sossusvlei. We did not stay up late, as we had to be ready by 6am the next day!
 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #66 on: November 06, 2018, 04:32:34 pm »
Day 13 – Namiba, Sesriem – Sunday 10th June – 0kms

The next day we were up and ready by at 6 am. The tourists in the truck were 5 French: a couple in their 50s and 3 women in their 30s from what I could guess.

The road to dune 45 was tarmac, so we wondered why we could not ride with the bikes.

We climbed dune 45. I was out of breath. The previous 2 cold nights and cold rides had resulted in a bad cold. I was coughing and feeling pretty bad.







After the climb we returned to the truck. The guys were having breakfast. We moved away and sat on a tree trunk to get ours: bread roll and some jam as well as the industrial and universal Laughing cow cheese.

The cheese had been rattled in the backpack and we needed to sort out the aluminum wrapping from the cheese! Not a nice feeling biting into one of those tiny aluminium bits if you have old metal filings!

Back at the truck, the tourists were finishing their breakfast of scrambled eggs, baked beans, bacon, sausage and more.  A huge feast. Alistair was drooling over the display but we did not want to impose and take advantage of the situation.

The left overs were put in a plastic bag. We assumed it was for the bin. Alistair was gutted and regretting not going and asking for some left overs! In fact, Zee gave the to the driver or park ranger, the one who would take all of us to the salt lake in a large safari car. The food was not wasted, so that is good.
 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #67 on: November 06, 2018, 04:33:53 pm »
Then we understood why only 4×4 cars could go further into the National Park. It was very deep sand and very harsh tracks. We were told we needed to pay for this ride. The tourist truck could not go any further and we would all need to embark on a safari car. It was 170 Namibian dollars per person. As Alistair walked to the shack to pay, the driver of the 4×4 called him back. We had to pay him instead! That’s Africa! We all 7 (with the 5 French tourists) got in the back while Zee sat next to the driver.

The next stop was near a massive sand dune. Most of the guys decided to climb it. I passed on the pleasure and walked direct to the salt lake.










 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #68 on: November 06, 2018, 04:34:29 pm »
Later on we met all there and we got back to the campsite by early afternoon. We had no change so gave the driver, discreetly (!) 200 Namibian dollars. I think he was happy with it!

We decided to have some toasted sandwiches at the bar. I was very tired and feeling ill. I went for a snooze.

In the evening, Alistair cooked some noodles.
 
Zee suggested stopping, on our way to the coast, by a lodge and campsite that is really worth it. I took note and wrote the location in my paper map as we were in no rush to get to Swakopmund.
 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #69 on: November 06, 2018, 04:35:51 pm »
Day 14 – Namibia, Rosteck Ritz lodge and campsite -150kms (Monday 11th June)













We decided to stay at the campsite recommended by Zee, the tour guide for the French group, so we did not have too far to go.

We took our time to pack. The campsite in Sesriem was now full and with no wind, the road was in a perpetual cloud of sand and dust because of all the traffic.

Sesriem has up to 4 millions visitor a year apparently. The road was so dusty it was like going through thick fog while breathing sand! Not nice.

I was trailing behind Alistair. Usually on trails I am much faster than him, but that morning, I was just fighting the bike rather than riding with it. It is hard to explain. On the way to Sesriem, I was flying over sand and corrugations and waiting for Alistair every 10 kms, as he is usually “Captain Slow”. On that day however, I did not seem to be able to do this. The road was tricky and I usually used speed to fly over tricky bits, but that day, I just didn’t feel the bike.

On the plus side, my cold symptoms were almost gone and I felt much better.

About 80kms later we stopped at Solitaire. The place is a fuel station/ bakery / campsite farm. It is famous for its apple pie. I took tea with a cinnamon roll, to be contrarian, while Alistair fell for the apple pie. It was ok but not the best in the world as they claim. (Mine is better!)
 
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Offline blockheadxl650v

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #70 on: November 06, 2018, 04:53:51 pm »
Those are some epic photos you have posted there Maria41. well done
« Last Edit: November 06, 2018, 04:54:28 pm by blockheadxl650v »
 

Offline skydiver

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Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #71 on: November 06, 2018, 08:00:43 pm »
Those are some epic photos you have posted there Maria41. well done
I agree.  :thumleft: 
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Offline Tonteldoos

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Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #72 on: November 06, 2018, 10:35:22 pm »
Hi Maria love your writing style and "eye" for a picture beautiful!
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #73 on: November 07, 2018, 02:49:39 pm »
Thanks for your kind words guys, really appreciate it :)

I only use a small cheap (about 70 or 80 British pounds) camera from Argos! One of those tiny pocket cameras. But any camera would make fantastic photos in Namibia, such is the country! Stunning!

Back home I used a free App called Fotor to add some light to the photos when they were too dark. Or I uses the automatic "enhance " function.
The only time we regretted not having a fancy SLR with big sense was in some national parks at night. Some night skies were spectacular. But an SLR can take huge space in the panniers. It is always a compromise, what to take or not. Our set up works for us. We need very little. Luxuries are usually staying in a nice B&B and having a nice meal every so often!

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #74 on: November 07, 2018, 02:53:29 pm »
The road was really bad until we got to the lodge. We rode all the way up to the reception desk, 7kms inside the private game reserve, with lots of zebras and ostriches running around.

The place was really nice, super expensive for a room, and deserted. The manager welcomed us and explained that the campsite was about 7 or 8 kms away. I guess they don’t want to have the "riff-raff" like us mix and use the luxurious swimming pool and facilities with their rich clients!  ;D

Although, he invited us to use the pool if we wanted too. We didn’t. We had a beer and examined the menu. It was very nice but suitably expensive. Being kind of “cheapskate”, or, as I prefer to say, "on a budget", we wanted to eat, but not at that price.
 
Two guys had turned up for lunch and their food did indeed look nice. They completely ignore us, dusty looking tramps in our old motorcycle gear. So we sipped our beer.

We asked the waiter if they had cheaper light lunches and the waiter told us about the toasted sandwiches. They were so cheap (maybe about 50 Nam rand if I recall) we did not hesitate to get them. I asked for a Toasted Steak while Alistair ordered a boring toasted stuff with eggs.

We expected something small, considering the difference between the very expensive menu compared with our cheap toasted food. Nope. It was big. Although we asked half a portion of French fries to share, we were given lots of them!

My steak was real steak, a large one with no fat, nerves or grizzle or the sort of cheap cut they often can give you in England. And it tasted AMAZING!
It was served with an onion sauce to die for. When I asked what meat it was, I was told it was Orix. It was superb! Despite all the fries they only charged us for half portion! Really nice people! I was loving Namibia!


Later on, totally stuffed, we rode to the campsite. The zebras and ostriches were running like mad as we got closer, it was beautiful.

We were the only ones there so we had the full place to ourselves. To be fair it was small and only has 4 spots, with each unit having a private area for BBQ with a bit of shade. Upper in the hill, there was a large viewpoint with a kitchen. Well, the kitchen was only a double sink but it had a terrace and nice grounds.


 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #75 on: November 07, 2018, 02:55:14 pm »
The viewpoint had a large section covered with tarpaulin and a small stonewall. It was a perfect place for setting the tent, away for the millions of giant crickets eating at the plants in the campsite below! Those crickets were massive, and everywhere. Apparently they have no predators so it is like a plague sometimes. 

Alistair then decided to set fire to the “donkey” so we could have hot water for a shower. At least it sounds to me like the word Donkey! (No donkey was harmed in the process!)

After a hot shower we tried to see if we could get closer to the zebras, but they had all vanished in the vast estate.

The lodge manager drove up to our camp to check if we were ok. On my little walk, a couple of hundreds meters from camp, I had seen footprints. Cat footprints. Too small to be lion, maybe a Cheetah?




As the lodge manager was around I showed him the picture. He seemed very interested about it. He said it was probably a leopard, as cheetahs have non-retractable nails, so the footprints should show them. Without, it was most certainly a leopard, or maybe a hyena. Although hyenas are pack animals and it was a lone set of footprints. The manager then tracked the footprints for a good mile before driving back to the lodge.

Apparently leopards are not dangerous so we were safe. Hmm!?  :eek:
 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #76 on: November 07, 2018, 02:56:32 pm »
As the wind raised and we had little shelter, we took the tent to the viewpoint. There was more shelter there and we could get away without putting the roof. Also we were away from the hundreds of massive crickets. And I mean MASSIVE!

All our up and down the path to set the tent and our stuff in the viewpoint disturbed a small looking rodent, the size of a squirrel but with a skinny tail. It was not scared of us at all, and from the safety of the rocks, where it could hide quickly, observed our proceedings, not looking particularly impressed or pleased to share the area with us!




As we had had a big late lunch at the lodge, (hhmmmm Orix steak!) we only had a cup of tea for dinner, with few biscuits.

The night sky, through the mesh of our inner tent, looked amazing. The moon was full and as it rose above the horizon, it was like a spotlight over our tent, it was enormous.

There was no light pollution, no dust, only the 2 of us, with the lodge a good 8 kms away, and the nearest town over 200kms! It felt like we were the only two persons on earth. It was so peaceful! A memorable place!


« Last Edit: November 12, 2018, 11:46:22 pm by maria41 »
 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #77 on: November 07, 2018, 02:59:23 pm »
Day 15 – Namibia, Swakopmund – 230kms – Tuesday 12th June


We woke up very early as we had gone to sleep early. It was winter down here, and the days were short. The sun rose at around 7:45 and set at around 6, 6:30pm.  It got dark quickly and we had long nights.

With no food left other than some stale bread, we made some coffee and had a small bite of bread.

We left camp soon after 8am.


The road was still very bad. Heavy recent rains had done a lot of damage. We still managed to make good progress. Although, once we got over a pass, and rode along a plateau, it got very windy which was tiring.

We stopped on the way to drink some water and observed a cyclist, with lots of luggage, coming our way.

We waited for him to reach us and we had a chat with him, by the side of the road. He had started his trip from the Netherlands, across the Middle East and flew from there to Cairo. He planned a year on his bicycle. He asked us if we had water and we gave him our spare bottle. We told him about Rostick Ritz lodge. He knew about it, and if I recall, he said they offer free camping to cyclists. This is very kind!

Water, when we find it in campsites, is drinkable tap water. So far we had rarely bought mineral water. Although in few places the water would taste chemical, most of the time it was really nice to drink.

We made good progress on our bikes, despite the horrid dirt road, bad corrugations and slippery sections. We arrived at Walvis Bay around midday. The town is a big centre for mining and oil. There were big trucks everywhere. What we crossed of the town was not particularly inspiring and we only stopped to buy fuel. We had no fuel since Solitaire, about 250kms and we were on reserve.
 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #78 on: November 07, 2018, 03:03:24 pm »
Then we set off on the easy tarmac road to Swakopmund, 30kms further north. We stopped midway at a large fuel station with all the facilities we needed: shop, deli counter and spotless toilets! It has to be said that facilities (like toilets) have always been great in Namibia!

As we had had no breakfast or dinner, we got some very nice hot meat pies.

After that, we arrived to our destination and found a brand new backpacker place at 40 pounds a night. We were the only guests and it had a big kitchen with all the utensils you need to cook a nice dinner.

Namibia was not cheap. Later on we found the local Spar and we were shocked by the price of basic food like butter or vegetables (fresh or frozen). A 250gr pack of butter cost nearly 4 pounds! We got a cheap half litre of vegetable oil instead for cooking our food. With chicken and noodles and a bag of very expensive mixed frozen vegetables we would be able to do a quick stir-fried. We needed to load a bit on vitamins, as our diet had been quite bad on the road, we seemed to only eat carbs and meat.

We then went for a walk into town and failed to find a launderette.

The town was full of these funny birds. There were even road signs to warn drivers. They looked like PeaHens (females of peacocks!) and bout the same size:

 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #79 on: November 07, 2018, 03:05:54 pm »
So after a thorough exploration of the town, which was very pleasant, clean and tidy, we went back to the hostel. I washed most of my clothes, as we failed to find the laundrette, but the weather was nice. I also used the showerhead to rinse and brush the dirt from the zips in the lower legs of my motorcycle trousers, and the zips in the tank bag. With so much dust and sand inserted there, the zips were stiff and would eventually break, otherwise.

Fitting our travel wash line between the 2 bikes I was able to hang everything (Except the motorcycle gear) outside, hoping it would dry quickly! Hmmm…. I did not count with the funny weather in Swakopmund! The nice weather did not last and the cold combined with humidity and rain meant it took 3 days for all my stuff to dry. This included clothes that usually dry within an hour! The humidity was insane!


After the last few days and over 750kms of dirt roads and corrugations, the bikes had taken a battering. We both had leaking fork seals. So we needed to investigate if we could buy, order, or source replacement here or whether we would need to go to Windhoek.



 
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