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Offline WildWood

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Motorcycle travel in Namibia
« on: December 03, 2019, 10:08:59 am »
Are our days of unlimited access over in Namibia?

The past couple of years has seen a huge increase in adventure biking and 4x4 touring in Namibia, both in Kaokoland and the wide open southern regions. The wilderness areas have largely been unregulated other than the coastal concessions but I get the feeling that's all about to change.

Too often I've heard stories of bikers speeding down river beds, scant regard for staying on tracks and scaring the shit out of the elephants and other animals. I've been approached by conservation officials in the past and quizzed about my attitude to riding amongst the animals and told stories of biking groups scaring the wildlife and having no regard for other users, photographers etc. If you see a 4x4 or tour truck stopped somewhere there is a 90% chance they are viewing something. Use your brain and stop and wait until they've moved on because sure as shit the noise of your bike(s) is going to scare off what they were enjoying.

Riding off the tracks especially in sandy areas is a no no. If your bike is to big then choose routes you and it can handle as this is really pissing off the conservation guys. And it's no mean feat to ride a big twin on a sandy two-track at 40kph. And that's the speed limit in the river beds. Only two weeks ago three German blokes came speeding down the Hoanib River through a wildlife documentary film shoot and completely ruining the shot of an elephant troupe. Word has gotten around and there is a fresh impetus to ban bikes from all river beds. On two occasions (both in coffee shops with my bike parked outside) I was approached by angry guides venting about bike tourers. At the gas station in Usakos (had 8 x 690's on a trailer) a tour operator quizzed me about where we ride and went off about bikes having no regard for and damaging there beautiful country. Remember tourism is the lifeblood of Namibia and bikes are a tiny insignificant portion of this.

In November I rented my fleet of bikes to an Italian tour company with their own guides and support crew. I went along to keep an eye on my bikes and it all ended badly when I, after endless warnings for riding off the tracks, speeding and generally being arseholes pulled the bikes from the tour and had my back-up guys fetch the bikes. I was just about lynched by the group for withdrawing the bikes short of the contract and ultimately charge at the police station for nor honouring my contract but I couldn't let them continue. Two days later with bikes on the trailer heading back to Windhoek I was questioned by a tour operator and asked if I was part of the Italian group who intimated they had caused a stir with their bad behaviour. It's a small population and news, especially bad travels fast.

So guys think about how and where you ride. Tour operators stay with and monitor your groups 100% of the time and let us preserve the right to visit these amazing places. And remember we're guests in a foreign country.



 I recently rented my bikes to an Italian tour company and went along to keep an eye on my fleet of 690's.
 
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Re: Motorcycle travel in Namibia
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2019, 10:22:54 am »
In November I rented my fleet of bikes to an Italian tour company with their own guides and support crew. I went along to keep an eye on my bikes and it all ended badly when I, after endless warnings for riding off the tracks, speeding and generally being arseholes pulled the bikes from the tour and had my back-up guys fetch the bikes.

My hat off to you for doing that sir!! :thumleft: :thumleft:
It will not be long before all bikes would be banned from Kaokoland I think. Just too big an area to patrol and it would be easier for them to just make it a total ban.As with everything in life the few bad apples in the basket spoils it for all.

Sad very sad. :( :(
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Offline meteldog

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Re: Motorcycle travel in Namibia
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2019, 10:26:56 am »
On all of my tours, be they in the Tankwa or Namibia etc are they allowed to leave the proclaimed roads. I've only had one instance in Namibia where I had to get some chop who did not listen to me out of a river bed.
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Offline Hardy de Kock

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Re: Motorcycle travel in Namibia
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2019, 12:08:15 pm »
John

I fully agree with your sentiments and appreciate your intentions. I would however like to point out a couple of facts.
I do not know of ANY tour operator that tells his customers that they can ride wherever they want to. Seriously, I do not know of one.
I (and I believe you do too) interview each and every one of the riders that inquire about the tours, and have in some cases "declined" potential clients, because of  their expectancies on such a trip. I also brief everyone the evening before departure from Windhoek, and I remind them every morning during the daily briefing.
I must be very lucky though, because we are usually blessed with good people, that wants to go to the Kaokoland with the right attitude. People that does not call days stages etc...
Of course you do get the one or two riders every year, that does get a bit excited and wander off track, but a wave of the hand and a good talking to afterwards sorts that problem out quickly.
It would be a sad day when government shuts the door on bikes in the North, and I therefor hope your message travels far and wide. I doubt if the community camps would survive this drastic step.
Hats off for pulling your fleet.  :thumleft:. I have no doubt these riders would have fucked up your bikes eventually. Good call. :thumleft:
« Last Edit: December 03, 2019, 04:15:00 pm by Hardy de Kock »
 

Offline Rexc-w

Re: Motorcycle travel in Namibia
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2019, 01:20:14 pm »
John - Respect for pulling your bikes.
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Offline eberhard

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Re: Motorcycle travel in Namibia
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2019, 02:19:15 pm »
Spore in die woestyn is spore wat nooit verdwyn.
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Offline Fuzzy Muzzy

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Re: Motorcycle travel in Namibia
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2019, 02:25:24 pm »
I've been through Namibia a few times and the amount of damage bikes cause compared to 4x4's is quite vast IMO. All you have to do is travel north from Ai-Ais and you will see 4x4 tracks moving off the road to go and explore behind a koppie or find a canyon somewhere and it carries on like that as you travel North with 4x4 tracks going around a lot of 'points of interest'..

I don't see many  motorbike tracks doing the same but maybe that is because I stick to the roads and tracks, like me, most of the solo bike riders or small organised self funded groups of bikes travelling through Namibia are big and stuffed with luggage, we are not going anywhere near riverbeds, you can fully understand the minority those people must make... so you can already count out all the solo or self funded Adventure riders.

So who are the guys causing the damage? who are travelling light? they are the guys with backup vehicles , usually part of an organised tour and just like everything you get really good tour operators and you get really bad ones, and like Hardy says.. who are these operators because I also don't know of any?

If they are going to ban bikes they will have to ban 4x4's as well because it will become about preserving an area vs the money it brings in from tourism and how that money sustains the local businesses and I cant see that happening. What they will probably do is start clamping down on the tour operators and possibly tighten the code of conduct. If a tour operator is not controlling his group and allowing them to ride around like hooligans than that operator will probably get a warning and then a ban, but I cant see them banning bikes all together.

I hope it gets sorted out, Namibia is a really really special place to ride and is a pilgrimage for me.
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Re: Motorcycle travel in Namibia
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2019, 02:52:55 pm »
If they are going to ban bikes they will have to ban 4x4's

As with everything in life they will go for the small numbers, banning that rather. Keep the peeps in 4x4s happy because they are the big money spinners.

It the same with other things in life aswell. Rather stop the legal weekend diver taking out his legal number of perlemoen than trying to stop the poachers. Again the small number(easier to control) than the big number.

I am still pissed off at the guys that off loaded their off roads at Sossusvlei and went for a spin on the dunes. For ever no one can ride in there on a bike, EVER!! Lots of NAM bikers have tried to get it open again, but it does not help when a biker sneaks in while dark and when he gets caught says oeps I did not know of the ban.Nogal a WD. :( :biggrin: I know a few overseas clients on long tours that  were shown away at Sesriem whilst on their bikes.
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Offline BikerJan

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Re: Motorcycle travel in Namibia
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2019, 02:57:07 pm »
If they are going to ban bikes they will have to ban 4x4's

As with everything in life they will go for the small numbers, banning that rather. Keep the peeps in 4x4s happy because they are the big money spinners.

It the same with other things in life aswell. Rather stop the legal weekend diver taking out his legal number of perlemoen than trying to stop the poachers. Again the small number(easier to control) than the big number.

I am still pissed off at the guys that off loaded their off roads at Sossusvlei and went for a spin on the dunes. For ever no one can ride in there on a bike, EVER!! Lots of NAM bikers have tried to get it open again, but it does not help when a biker sneaks in while dark and when he gets caught says oeps I did not know of the ban.Nogal a WD. :( :biggrin: I know a few overseas clients on long tours that  were shown away at Sesriem whilst on their bikes.

Who was that Chris? Poor form of the bikers stuffing it up for everyone
 

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Re: Motorcycle travel in Namibia
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2019, 02:59:05 pm »
Hy kan sy eie hand opsteek :deal: :(
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Offline Altie7deLaan

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Re: Motorcycle travel in Namibia
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2019, 03:02:24 pm »
You cannot teach grown people to respect or manners, and you can only control them to a point.
Unfortunately people go to places, thinking they have paid good money so they can pull anything and everything through there arse,
And its is not only European visitors, South Africans in 4 x 4......Oh boy, as die brandewyn eers begin praat....
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Offline Fuzzy Muzzy

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Re: Motorcycle travel in Namibia
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2019, 03:42:05 pm »
If they are going to ban bikes they will have to ban 4x4's

As with everything in life they will go for the small numbers, banning that rather. Keep the peeps in 4x4s happy because they are the big money spinners.

It the same with other things in life aswell. Rather stop the legal weekend diver taking out his legal number of perlemoen than trying to stop the poachers. Again the small number(easier to control) than the big number.

I am still pissed off at the guys that off loaded their off roads at Sossusvlei and went for a spin on the dunes. For ever no one can ride in there on a bike, EVER!! Lots of NAM bikers have tried to get it open again, but it does not help when a biker sneaks in while dark and when he gets caught says oeps I did not know of the ban.Nogal a WD. :( :biggrin: I know a few overseas clients on long tours that  were shown away at Sesriem whilst on their bikes.

Yeah when we went past Sesriem ( AKA sunburn valley ) they told us to not even bother going to the dunes on a bike, they wont let you in. I've been past a few times, I still havent bothered trying but I assume it hasn't changed. I'm still pissed off with the owner of the garage there, not a very friendly chap when it comes to bikers.
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Offline Warren Ellwood

Re: Motorcycle travel in Namibia
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2019, 04:07:09 pm »
It seems it doesn't really matter what you ride or drive, there will always be that one di..head.

Was in the Richtersveld National Park recently, bikes are already not allowed, loads of pamphlets, web based information etc. asking you to please stick to the routes. I saw many tracks off the routes, and then, in a place called the Springbok Vlakte, miles from anywhere and pristine wilderness, some peophol has been doing doughnuts right next to the road, plainly visible from the road. But he will be the first to bitch and moan when that too is closed.

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Offline WildWood

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Re: Motorcycle travel in Namibia
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2019, 09:31:40 pm »
In the river beds the guys with the big bikes are unable to ride slowly. They speed up in a the sand to get stable and we all  know the heavier the bike the more speed is needed. The allowed and safe speed is about 40kph.  Basically the bikes are unsuited to the river beds and should not venture there. Tour operators take note and adjust your routes accordingly. It is your responsibility to be with and control your group at all times.
Elephants , giraffes and other game can appear out of nowhere putting both rinderpest and beast in danger. Game lodges rely on their game drives to survive and constantly having noisy bikes chasing away their livelihood is not going to endear us .

And noise!!!  Make sure all bikes have standard quiet exhausts when touring in wildlife areas. Tour operators need to stress this if clients use their own bikes. Noisy bike , no ride: simple.
 
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Offline Noneking

Re: Motorcycle travel in Namibia
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2019, 09:43:42 pm »
Starting to look like this rant is aimed at someone specific .......
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Offline Hardy de Kock

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Re: Motorcycle travel in Namibia
« Reply #15 on: December 03, 2019, 09:50:09 pm »
Starting to look like this rant is aimed at someone specific .......

 :imaposer:
 

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Re: Motorcycle travel in Namibia
« Reply #16 on: December 03, 2019, 10:15:34 pm »
Guys , I was taken aside by 3 different guide/ conservation people last month and told we we on borrowed time in Namibia. If anyone of us screws it up we all suffer. I had a call from a big operator (bikes in Namibia) this afternoon and he hammered me about South Africans doing tours there and wanting NTB to clamp down and stop us because weíre going to mess it up for them.
I also had a bad group that ignored my pleading in May ,  and nearly packed in the touring .

It really is hanging in the balance for all of us ; both tour operators and individuals. Letís tighten up before itís too late.
 

Offline ktmmer

Re: Motorcycle travel in Namibia
« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2019, 10:34:49 pm »
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Offline 2StrokeDan

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Re: Motorcycle travel in Namibia
« Reply #18 on: December 03, 2019, 10:59:56 pm »
I have also heard the "rumours" of bike banning too often to ignore.

What makes it even more serious is that there is tour operators with some influence high up who is behind this attempt to ban, as they are after a sol concession for the area.

I have also heard about riders practicing for big rally events in Northern Namibia. These guys are surely not going to dawdle around, are they?

I have personally come across a group of 6/7 riders practising for Dakar in the Orange river area around Goodhouse, going full taps on navigation mode.

No finger pointing, but the whole move to "rally lite" touring is a bad omen. Why would you need a powerful 500 with no luggage if you're going to sightsee? :pot:
 
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Offline Hardy de Kock

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Re: Motorcycle travel in Namibia
« Reply #19 on: December 03, 2019, 11:11:52 pm »
Guys , I was taken aside by 3 different guide/ conservation people last month and told we we on borrowed time in Namibia. If anyone of us screws it up we all suffer. I had a call from a big operator (bikes in Namibia) this afternoon and he hammered me about South Africans doing tours there and wanting NTB to clamp down and stop us because weíre going to mess it up for them.
I also had a bad group that ignored my pleading in May ,  and nearly packed in the touring .

It really is hanging in the balance for all of us ; both tour operators and individuals. Letís tighten up before itís too late.
Strange - In 125 trips through North west Namibia, I have never been ďtaken asideĒ by any official or private guide - not once
John, I callled Theobald Kamatoto this afternoon after I read your post and he knows nothing about this. Nada
Where did you get called aside?
Who called you aside?
As far as my routes are comcerned - They have been approved by Namibia Tourism, and I wonít change them in a hurry.
As far as my customers bike sizes are concerned - Let me worry about that.
As I mentioned this afternoon, I am lucky when it comes to customers :thumleft:

« Last Edit: December 04, 2019, 09:16:11 am by Hardy de Kock »
 
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