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Author Topic: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition  (Read 4792 times)

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Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
« Reply #40 on: April 30, 2019, 10:47:19 am »
 :sip: :thumleft:
 

Offline RobC

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Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
« Reply #41 on: April 30, 2019, 10:48:54 am »
Superb RR. :thumleft:
 

Offline Oubones

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Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
« Reply #42 on: April 30, 2019, 10:56:03 am »
Riding with and although the Klr did alright on my trip, I agree that the 500's and aircooled 650's seemed more competent in the soft sand.
Enjoying the RR :thumleft:
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Offline cocky

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Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
« Reply #43 on: April 30, 2019, 11:13:39 am »
Awesome reading
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Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
« Reply #44 on: April 30, 2019, 12:40:03 pm »
Brilliant as always so far thanks. Looking forward to the rest.  8)
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Offline Xpat

Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
« Reply #45 on: April 30, 2019, 09:32:28 pm »
By now it was getting afternoony and I still had about 40 km of dunes to navigate to Two Rivers. I didn't know when they close the gate, but judging by other border posts (the entrance to Kgalagadi NP is also a border post), I suspected they may close at 16:00. So I jumped on the main track and pushed on to make it there before that time.

I knew I am being somewhat stupid and should have rather ease up as by now I was nursing proper headache from dehydration and heat. It was pretty hot and I was riding apart from few photo stops more or les nonstop since 9:00 am. Since then I have done about 140 km of sand and dunes and - because 500 made it deceiptively easy - I stupidly drank probably less than liter of water (I was carrying about 7 liters). I know dehydration when I feel one, and I knew I am being stupid, but I was keen to get to Two Rivers before the gate closes so after few gulps from my camel bag I just pushed on.

The rest of the track sailed up and down sets of paralled dunes all the way to the Two Rivers - the more west I got the more reddish tint they became:














































Few km shy of Two Rivers I came upon my first fence and gate. I found gate in 180 km of sand and dunes an acceptable score, though of course I would have prefered not to find one at all.

I have made it to the gate at about 5 to 4pm. My original plan was the following: the top priority (minimum) was to talk them into letting me in to fill-up my bike at the camp petrol station. Second priority was to talk them into letting me sleep in their campsite, as that way I would also have access to the restaurant in the camp - bingo. If I could get petrol and but not be let to camp there, I was to backtrack into the dunes and bushcamp.

Hasty enquiry at the reception desk confirmed what I expected - the campsite was full, so no go. They wouldn't let me go on the bike to the petrol station either, but they offered that if I have a jerry can of a kind I can walk there to get petrol. I didn't - I took one of the Coke bottles with petrol in the morning as spare, but it fell off somewhere in the dunes. Plus, it would take quite a few trips there and back with 2 liter bottle to fill up my bike. No bueno.

My head was killing me by know, so I went into full autopilot mode - i.e. my inner gastro tourist took over. He argued that without petrol I'm toast anyway as I wouldn't risk trying to get over dunes back to my car and possibly running out, so the only option was to jump across the border and ride down to Molopo lodge, where they had petrol. Of course there was another option - backtrack to Struisedam about 20 km south, buy some bottles there (or even better, just buy bottles at the camp), fill-up and go sleep in dunes as planned originally. But there was one massive problem with that plan - no medium rare steak to be had this side of the border. I eat only once a day in the evening, but then I have to eat properly and while I came prepared with variety of possibly expired cans (as I have been carrying the same cans for past 2 years or so) in my bags, I felt that it may not fully satisfy the gastro tourist after 180 km of sand.

In other words, I went full tourist retard mode, thrown away any adventurer/outdoorsman pretenses and begged them to let me through the border, which they were about to close. Nice people they were they obliged and at about 16:05 I have made it across the border and after short break I rode remaining 50 km of tar south to Molopo lodge, where they were out of petrol. But not out of steak, so I booked into an A frame challet and rushed into the restuarant for a 4 course dinner of variety of meats and cold beverages. Petrol will have to wait till morning - I knew there is petrol station in Askham about 15 km away, so that should take care of that.

Molopo lodge ground:






Offline Xpat

Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
« Reply #46 on: April 30, 2019, 09:42:15 pm »
Day 2 - Molopo lodge


Plan for the day was to get petrol in Askham early in the morning, cross the border at Bokspits as soon as they open at 7:30 and then hit the dunes this time starting near Bokspits and making it through Khawa all the way to Tsabong about 250 km away.

It didn't work out. I didn't manage to sleep much because of that headache and - worse - because of swarms of mosquitos in the challet. In my minimalistic packing I forgot to take the insect repelent stick and the buzzing around my head ensured that I got at max 3 hours of sleep. In the morning I felt pretty raw and decided that I wasn't in the shape to take on 250 km of lion infested sand. So a rest day it was - at the end of the day I was right at the source of the high quality meat and cold drinks.

I have managed at least to go to Askham and fill up so that next day I would be ready to hit the road right away.

Throughout the day there were big clouds and storms passing by making for some nice scenery:




































Offline Xpat

Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
« Reply #47 on: April 30, 2019, 09:49:54 pm »
Thanks for following and comments  :thumleft:

Offline Highsider

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Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
« Reply #48 on: May 01, 2019, 12:10:11 am »
Quite an adventure so far.  I do admire how you “wing it” and mostly emerge unscathed on the other side.  As for you pics, great as usual.  The rainbow and blue sky is quite special.
Keep it coming.


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Offline Vis Arend

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Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
« Reply #49 on: May 01, 2019, 09:55:56 am »
Thnaks for sharing, once again a great report.   :thumleft:

This one is copied and pasted in my mind and on my to do list.   :deal:   Great pics that reminds me of the D503 and parts of my friends farm in the Kalahari, Nam, albeit 180km's apart as the crow flies. 

Molopo lodge is the place to go if you want decent food. Price is right and good food, the best T-Bone steak I had  was there, twice.   :biggrin:

Sorry for the hi-jack with the pics attached.    Photo's from mt friends farm. 



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Offline wilfwalk

Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
« Reply #50 on: May 01, 2019, 10:51:57 am »
Thanks once more Xpat for an amazing story and the photos of those clouds, majestic !
 
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Offline Xpat

Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
« Reply #51 on: May 01, 2019, 11:46:46 am »
Thnaks for sharing, once again a great report.   :thumleft:

This one is copied and pasted in my mind and on my to do list.   :deal:   Great pics that reminds me of the D503 and parts of my friends farm in the Kalahari, Nam, albeit 180km's apart as the crow flies. 

Molopo lodge is the place to go if you want decent food. Price is right and good food, the best T-Bone steak I had  was there, twice.   :biggrin:

Sorry for the hi-jack with the pics attached.    Photo's from mt friends farm. 

.

Thanks Vis Arend and don't worry about the hi-jack, it's all good. At the end of the day you clued me up about the D616 which is in the vicinity of this area and may be potentially used to extend this ride further :thumleft:  :thumleft:  :thumleft:

I would love to extend this ride further and will be looking east of Tsabong with possible start in Bray, first as there is biggest chance in Botswana not to get cornered by private property. But the truth is, the proper red dunes worth of Simpson analogy only tuch this area in the very west (i.e. just east of the SA/BOTS border between Bokspits and Two Rivers), but extend hundreds of km north west through SA and Nam. It would be fantastic if one could continue riding the red dunes in SA, but I believe they all may be on private farms unfortunatelly. And if one could then continue to Nam, that would be perfection. That side are farms for sure but at least one can nride about 130 km of D616 that you actually pointed me to few years back.

Here is the sat image of the area and as you can see, the red dunes only lick the area I have ridden (blue rectangle). I have also highlighted D616 which gives similar kind of riding over dunes, although on public road, and with few gates. ANd it would be fantastic if one could continue even further north through the dunes and circumnavigate the Kgalagadi park completely. But the area north of C15 are private farms I believe. But maybe one could talk to farmers and get permission for passage. I stayed twice at the Terra Rouge farm and owner Pieter was happy for me to ride on his farm.




The big question mark is if there is any public land that can be ridden on SA side to connect Bots dunes with the Nam D616, or if it is all private farms. Anybody here knows a nice offroad path that would connect Molopo lodge with Rietfontein border? And then idealy take one from Rietfontein to beginning of D616 off the main roads?  Maybe Rickus will know - will check with him.

Just for the ones who don't know the area, here are few pictures of D616 - you can do 130 km of this on public road:
















« Last Edit: May 01, 2019, 11:49:15 am by Xpat »
 

Offline Amsterdam

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Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
« Reply #52 on: May 01, 2019, 12:03:16 pm »
Looks like some very nice riding around there.  Kaokoland at the end of May and then maybe have ago at this area afterwards.  Most of these tracks look very doable on the 701 as well, do you concur?  Maybe I can convince my son to come with for a bit.
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Offline Vis Arend

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Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
« Reply #53 on: May 01, 2019, 05:18:48 pm »
Yip, the red block is unfortunately farms and some game farms, so you will most probs only be riding on the public road (read tweespoor) in that area.  However, there is a network of these dune tracks in that block, the D1119, D1032, D1022, D503, D616, D1033, D579 and a couple of other.  This will be 2nd or even 3rd or 4th price compared to your blue block though. 


"The big question mark is if there is any public land that can be ridden on SA side to connect Bots dunes with the Nam D616"  I don't think so but hope here is someone that can prove me wrong.

 
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Offline Xpat

Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
« Reply #54 on: May 01, 2019, 05:54:03 pm »
Day 3 - Molopo lodge to Khawa to Middelputs (291km, 5 km tar, 35 km dirt road, rest sand)


This time I wised-up, got Tabbard insect spray at reception and the used almost all of it to spray my chalet inside out before I went to bed. It worked and I slept like a baby through the night. In the morning I settled, packed up and set-off. I have made it to the border post at Bokspits about 4 km away just as they opened for business at 7:30 and as the only customer made it through without a glitch.

The plan for the day was to hit the dunes just north of Bokspits, free-ride over the dunes north east to Khawa about 130 km away and from there continue east for the sleepover in Tsabong. The first bit to Khawa I felt confident about, but I wasn't sure whether I will be able to make it to Tsabong, as I was told tha there are few ranches somewhere west of Tsabong, with fences, so I didn't know if I will be able to find my way around those (I didn't have a clue where those ranches are).




I was particularly keen on the initial dune section starting just above Bokspits as I knew from satellite images, that this is the home of the big rolling red dunes. Further east the dunes recede gradually a bit and became lighter in color. Further west and north the real red dune sea starts, but that is unfortunatelly on private land in SA or in Kgalagadi NP. So this was as good as it was going to get.

I was worried a bit about the weather as the forecast expected storms around the area and indeed there were clouds covering the sky for most of the day. But that turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it kept temperature in check (actually riding in T-shirt, body armor and Leatt jacket, I was quite cold for most of the day and drank again probably less than liter of water, and yet didn't suffer and heatstroky/dehudration symptoms), and the rain ahead of me compacted the sand nicely which made for great and easy progress over the dunes.

The coulds and sand made also for some stunning scenery and I have way too many pictures for this day. Yes, I have selected the best ones, but there are still too many so you will have to deal with it  8).

Here we go: from Bokspits I have taken dirt road north heading to Two Rivers on Bots side of the border. The landscape looked very promising:







After 15 km I came upon turn off to a track that I plotted at home. There was actually an end of fenced off area, but no track to be seen. So I just turned East and followed roughly the fence free riding (rather sailing) across the undulating deep red sand sea of dunes. The dunes were running mostly in the north-south direction so I was hitting the mostly straight on as any sailor worth his salt would.



































« Last Edit: May 01, 2019, 07:10:48 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
« Reply #55 on: May 01, 2019, 06:18:02 pm »
The fenced area eventually ended after few km and I just continued free-style east. The track I have plotted seemed to be long gone. Almost each valley though had track following the valley in the north-south direction, so should I get into trouble it would be easy just to turn south and make it to the tar road running to the south along Molopo river from Bokspits to Middleputs and Tsabong. But there was no need. I was flying and this was the best riding I had done in a very long time.










I was free-riding in whatever direction the vegetation opened up best without a care in the world, except for this one:




And onwards East I flew:




























I made it up all the dunes without a glitch, until this one, where I had to dodge and grass knoll and didn't make it all the way. But nothing that another try wouldn't sort out:
















After about 20 km of this pure nirvana, I have came upon the track I wanted to join heading up one of the dune valleys and turned north:



Offline Xpat

Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
« Reply #56 on: May 01, 2019, 06:35:13 pm »
Looks like some very nice riding around there.  Kaokoland at the end of May and then maybe have ago at this area afterwards.  Most of these tracks look very doable on the 701 as well, do you concur?  Maybe I can convince my son to come with for a bit.

Very nice riding doesn't capture it - it is right up there with the best Southern Africa has on offer, and in some aspects - particularly freedom of riding - The Best.

I believe it is doable on 701 (ideally one with extended fuel range, but without windshield - none of that rally nonsense), but there are few caveats I'd like to stipulate:

If I split the tracks I've done into 1 km sections, there isn't one section I wouldn't be able to ride on GSA1150 (with possible exception of some steep dunes, but I would find way around, as one can ride wherever they want). Join them together into 130 - 180 km section of sand and it is a very different story.

I think you know the drill - the ligther bike takes all the benefits, the heavier all the downsides - there is no trade-off. On 500 I was able to ride sitting for 99% of time conserving energy. At the same time I was able to keep speed up (somewhere betweeh 40 - 80 kmh), which helped with ventilation and colling, especially on day 1 which was hot.

If I would be on 690 (I have ditched the rally kit by now so it is equivalent to your 701), or heaven's forbid that 1150GSA, I would most probably have to ride standing way more often (probably most of the time) which would exhaust me more and put me at higher risk of dehydration and heatstroke. This would be further exacerbrated as I would be ridding slower getting even more tired and less ventilation. But you are bigger guy then I am so you might be able to throw that heavy 701 around with more ease than me.

I was also lucky with regards to weather. There was a storm every night (and on some days during day) that compacted the sand and made it much easier to ride, and on my second and third riding day also kept the temperatures in check (as I said, I was actually pretty cold on day3). I have been there before when weather was just brutally hot and dry, and I think I would have battled much more - as I did when I attempted it on my 690 few years back.

Your biggest risk by far here is dehydration and heatstroke, which bigger heavier bike make more pronounced. But with a bit of preparation I think this can be mitigated and 701/690 (even bigger bike for people with strong determination) would be doable. The key point is to pace yourself right, know where the water is (I can tell you about the cattle posts I found and there is water there), and not get overtly ambitious in terms of distances. I got lucky and was able to do 290 km days, but if the sand would be softer and or weather much hotter, I would have merrily stopped at Khawa about 130 km in, slept over there and finished next day.

But overall - go for it, it is one of the best riding you can get! I can help you to plan it in a way that will mitigate the risks as much as possible.  :thumleft:
« Last Edit: May 01, 2019, 06:39:37 pm by Xpat »
 
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Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
« Reply #57 on: May 01, 2019, 08:03:22 pm »
Great stuff  :thumleft:  :ricky:
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Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
« Reply #58 on: May 01, 2019, 08:28:53 pm »
Awesome riding  :thumleft:
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Offline OomD

Re: Simpson Desert - Kalahari Edition
« Reply #59 on: May 02, 2019, 07:22:40 am »
This is just brilliant! You have balls, riding these routes alone. Do you carry a satphone? :thumleft:

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