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Author Topic: To the Lungs of the Earth  (Read 23217 times)

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Online Berden

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #180 on: January 27, 2021, 01:56:30 pm »
Super RR

Greetings,

Toine
 

Offline Clockwork Orange

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #181 on: January 27, 2021, 02:06:05 pm »
Those scenes from Angola are amazing. Thanks again for the updates :thumleft:
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Offline Amsterdam

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #182 on: January 29, 2021, 11:39:22 am »
With travel being severely restricted at the moment reports like this at least let us dream.  Very nice so far.
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Offline NiteOwl

Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #183 on: February 03, 2021, 05:37:29 pm »
Thanks for the positive comments.

This trip report may be getting rather long, but when I did the planning I found information about Angola beyond the Doodsakker, as well as the equator region, really elusive.

Hopefully this report will provide a better insight into a country that is still there to be explored, with virtually non-existent tourist infrastructure. The flip side of that is, of course, that is still unspoilt by the inevitable march of development, with great vistas especially along the coastal route. Although this is supposed to be a malaria area, the southern semi-desert area (Namibe) and the highlands are probably quite safe.

As a bonus, you can camp just about anywhere so it's possible to save on accommodation and fuel (which is about half the price in South Africa). Despite the widespread poverty there is virtually no begging, and we found the police very helpful.

The main stumbling block, apart from the present covid crisis, is the sheer distance involved just to reach the border- around 2400km. Even on a big bike, that would take at least three days from Gauteng.

I will provide some statistics at the tail of this tale.
Do it before you die!
 
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Offline NiteOwl

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« Reply #184 on: February 03, 2021, 11:49:45 pm »
There are some people who will actively seek out gravel tracks, sand dunes or riverbeds to get their biking kicks. I’m not one of them. For the long trips that we do, I will take the most suitable and interesting roads to balance pleasure, effort and risk.

So we happily hit a pristine tar road again, which winds its way through more spectacular landscapes all the way to Namibe (Moçamedes).



The wind erosion and iridescent mineral layers are reminiscent of South America.





The variety is amazing.







So come along for the ride!



Time for some lunch in a shady spot ...



... before the descent down to the coast.



We refuel on the outskirts of Namibe, and head for the boulevard along the beach.



It’s a classic Portuguese layout, with colourful buildings lining the street.



Of course, a visit to Flamingo Lodge is de rigueur for any SA biker worth his/ her salt, so that’s where we’re heading next. Since we haven’t done the Doodsakker route, we pass the airfield toward Tombua to turn off at the Rio Flamingo riverbed: the “standard” approach.



Looking at the Dakar guys, there must be a way to ride this loose stuff once you pick up enough speed, but the combined lack of horsepower and talent count heavily against us. And our clutches.



I rarely turn back on a route- if it starts badly it can only get better- but after one kilometre in the riverbed we leave the other 22km behind us and get back onto the Namibe-Tombua road. Today, discretion is the better part of valour.

According to T4A there is another route over the dunes from the airport, after which it should be possible to ride along the beach. Sounds much easier, right?



Twenty minutes later, we find a firm gravel road heading seawards- the beach road. Initial progress is good, but as I’m about to pat myself mentally on the back for my discretion, we hit the dunes.



Instead of heading straight towards the sea, the tracks run southwards, parallel to the beach. It’s thick sand and our progress slows down to a crawl. It takes another kilometre or so before we can see the sea, and I cut across the dunes to reach the beach.


Unfortunately it’s high tide, and the sand is soft everywhere. Better to stay on the fishermen's tracks.



Most of the time the rear tyre digs in and the only way to move is to help the bike by paddling it along.
Every now and then we get some traction, and on the GPS Flamingo Lodge slowly creeps closer. It’s dusk when we see a huge sandy hill looming in front of us.
Progress on a level track has been tedious, but this is a bridge (hill?) too far, even with our tyres deflated to 1 bar.

I park my bike and climb to the top whilst waiting for my wife to catch up. The lodge is still 10km from here, but unfortunately there is no cellphone signal even up at the top. Oops.



We explore the options, but going around this obstacle is not possible because the water is right up against the rocky side, and navigating that in the dark is a bad idea.

A local fisherman passed us early on the sandy track, but we have seen no-one since. Then, in the distance, we see a bakkie labouring towards us. It’s got Gauteng plates, and inside it are three South Africans on a fishing holiday; a father and his two beefy sons. They are on their way back to Flamingo Lodge. Suddenly, help is at hand!

I hop on my bike and follow the bakkie, with a son on either side pushing for all they’re worth. I spray them with sand, and manage to get to the top without dropping the bike. We’re all a bit out of breath, but… there’s another bike to get up here. It’s hard work for men and machines, but eventually we are all at the top of the hill.

We’re now on the gruispad to the lodge. From here, it’s “less hard, I did not say easy”, the father explains. Indeed, this pad is just as sandy as the tracks that got us this far. It’s funny how, in stressful situations like this, one does not always think of ways to make your life easier. Like dumping our luggage on the bakkie! Instead, we do lots of pushing, paddling and spinning for the next two hours with our helpers patiently leading the way.



It’s eight o’clock by the time we pull up at the well known entrance to Flamingo Lodge. We’re welcomed by the owner, Rico Sakko, but he’s unimpressed with our sand riding skills.



A touring party from Bredasdorp is finishing their dinner, and we are invited to help ourselves to the buffet on offer. It’s a generous spread, and the beer is even more welcome.
It’s great being able to communicate without a language barrier, and Rico knows this country intimately. He has been here right through the civil war, seen it all, never left.



The touring party is camping, so all of the chalets are available. We’re sweaty and smelly and despite the steep price, the thought of a hot shower and a proper bed after the effort of getting here is too much to resist. There’s the niggling problem of getting back out of here, but that’s tomorrow’s problem.


Do it before you die!
 

Offline Rooi Wolf

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #185 on: February 19, 2021, 01:10:54 pm »
Such a good read. Beautiful pictures to boost!

Thanks for taking time out to share ur epic journey!
 

Offline Crossed-up

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #186 on: February 19, 2021, 08:37:04 pm »
I am so enjoying this "Role of Honour" RR!

Looking forward to the rest.