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Offline Damaraland

Kaokoland River Ride
« on: June 08, 2020, 10:42:33 pm »
Day 1

Lock-down was pretty tough on all of us.  Work stress, family stress, uncertainty gnawing at your bones all day.  All of us know the feeling of being cooped up, so not even going to talk about that.  We managed to slip out of town and go camping in the rivers around Windhoek once or twice during lock-down, but that didn't really quench the thirst for freedom, if anything it lit the fire properly.  We committed to doing a proper ride as soon as our lock-down was lifted - and what better place to go slay all the demons gnawing at you than Kaokoland.  As it stands now, our coastal region is back into full lockdown so very happy we pulled the trigger when we got the chance.

We're lucky to live relatively close to and thus ride Kaokoland a couple of times a year, so we decided to do something new this time round.  We were going to skip the tourist route and try to stick just to the rivers as far as possible.  Those rivers that send shivers (hehe) down every adventure riders spine - the Huarusib and the Hoanib.  We were going to end the trip off with a bang, riding the famous Robbie's Pass - probably the only pass in these parts that none of us have done, either by car or bike  We had a public holiday in Namibia that Thursday, so it all worked out great.  The preceding couple of days was spent giving the 500's a once over (service, in-line fuel filter and valve check).  Very chuffed that about 160 hours in all valves still in spec.  What can I say - awesome little motors.

Day 1's planned route:

We loaded the bikes the previous evening and set off the next morning at 6am

Priority was getting to Opuwo as quick as possible, so we took the tar from Windhoek to Opuwo via Outjo.  Drive was uneventful apart from being stopped to have temperatures taken.  Hitching a ride was my 3 year-old girl's lucky unicorn which she very graciously borrowed to me for the trip.

Due to the lock-down we couldn't do our obligatory shebeen stops so we made good time, pulling in at a deserted Opuwo Country Lodge at around 14:00.  We made arrangements to leave the car and trailer there, got kitted, asked for beer & was turned down and got the hell out of dodge.  Or not, we had to fill up first. 

Don't let anyone give you romantic notions about Opuwo - it's a bit of a shithole and the highlight of any trip there is when you leave it.  We headed out about 45km on the D3703 then turned left, following an easy route that gradually turned into nice sandy 2 track.  Just lekker riding and getting into the groove, being thankful and in the moment.

We criss crossed the Huarusib for about 15km's, our first target was Otjiou, a little village where we've previously managed to snag some beers.  No such luck this time.  Admittedly, I was getting a bit worried that this was going to be a beer-free trip.  Because we're riding the rivers we were going to miss most of our regular shebeen stops and I kind of had hopes that we would luck out here.  Luckily I was wearing my helmet so nobody could see my tears of disappointment.

Then we hit the Huarusib proper, and was immediately and pleasantly surprised by the water, which was to become a bit of a feature of the ride.  But more on that later.

The riding was a very nice mix of water crossing and rocky riding.  Without us really realising it, Koakoland was already treating us to a full bouquet of terrain, hard-pack, sand, water and rocks.  She's a harsh but beautiful mistress.  After the first technical section I called a halt and we celebrated by sharing the last of my 20 year old Olaf Bergh brandy.  Befok man.

Suitably and rather nicely lubricated we rumbled on down the river, coming across a fleet of Cruisers and Prado's.  We hung around a bit, trying our best to look thirsty - they were friendly enough but were clearly not going to share beer with us so after a quick chat we headed on.  Their intention was to also ride down the length of the Huarusib, but I think they would've had to turn around the next day, the river just wasn't passable without doing some damage to the stock standard Prado's.  The leader of the group was an older chap with an air of competence about him, so reckon they would've done the right thing.

Anyhow - it was getting dark, we weren't chasing waypoints so we parked off and struck camp at a pretty cool spot next to the river.  Happy days!

Note on tents:  Over the years we all tried multiple tents, and without a doubt the best one at a reasonable price is the First Ascent Starlight 2.  Spacious enough and packs nice and small.  The fact that it only comes in orange is a bonus.

It wasn't long before we had a pretty awesome fire going, I made some pasta with sardines and braai spice, which by the way tasted way better than it had any right to.  We felt pretty good and at peace with the world and all its shit.  Just what is it about a proper camp fire that is so soothing?

I must admit, every so often I find myself wondering why I ride with my riding companions (cranky german and grumpy old englishman), and every so often they pull a rabbit out of the hat and remind me.  Heiko pulled this bad boy out of his rucksack:

Now I'm not cultured enough to know about noses and bouquets and tannin's - but I don't think I've ever enjoyed a red wine as much as I did that and that was also probably the finest bottle of wine ever bottled to date.  Trust me.

Spectacular end to a pretty great day.  We hit the sack and slept like kings.
RR - Angola (https://goo.gl/BzFy7Y) / Video RR - Kaokoland (https://youtu.be/-c-Zespa2No)
Video RR - Messum & Ugab (https://goo.gl/Uhd1vb)  / Video RR - Southern Namibia (http://goo.gl/WpRdRE)
Video RR - Ugab (http://goo.gl/dr57i9) / Video RR - Omaruru River (http://goo.gl/RCTajv)
The following users thanked this post: MRK Miller

Offline Noneking

Re: Kaokoland River Ride
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2020, 10:43:29 pm »
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2019 KTM 790 R

NONEKING'S RIDE REPORTS - http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=226099.0

Online ChrisL - DUSTRIDERS

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Re: Kaokoland River Ride
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2020, 11:42:48 pm »
Sub!!! :thumleft: :drif:

Offline Mev Vis Arend

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Re: Kaokoland River Ride
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2020, 04:32:27 am »
Jis, jy is wreed om hierdie met ons te deel terwyl ons in ons erf ge-lockdown is, maar nietemin gaan ek saam "ry".  Ons sou self Mei daar rondgery het.   :'(
Honda XR250 - Given to daughter.  BMW 1200 GSA met Karretjie  -  Suzuki 125 Scoota with a KTM topbox - sold.  Honda CRF 250 L

Offline Dwerg

Re: Kaokoland River Ride
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2020, 06:40:10 am »
Yes please  :thumleft:
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Previous: KTM 790ADV, 640ADV, 950ADV, 250XCW BMW F650GS Single, F650GS Twin, F800GS, G450X, R50/2 Honda CRF450X, CRF230 x 2, VFR400 NC30, Z50 Mini Trail Yamaha BWS100 x 2, LB80 Chappy

Offline Hollywood

Re: Kaokoland River Ride
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2020, 06:58:27 am »

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Offline Amsterdam

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Re: Kaokoland River Ride
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2020, 07:23:19 am »
Curious to read more about the water features of this trip.
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Offline Oubones

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Re: Kaokoland River Ride
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2020, 07:47:52 am »
Ek ry lekker saam!
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Offline Hondsekierie

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Re: Kaokoland River Ride
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2020, 08:13:44 am »
Hoeveel keer het ek en Minxy nie gedroom ons ry weer daar.  Julle is baie bevoorreg, dis amper die ultimate freedom  :thumleft:
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more"

Offline 2StrokeDan

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Re: Kaokoland River Ride
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2020, 08:39:18 am »
Hoeveel keer het ek en Minxy nie gedroom ons ry weer daar.  Julle is baie bevoorreg, dis amper die ultimate freedom  :thumleft:

Ai man. Nie te lank, dan is ons weer daar.

Offline Dorsland

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Re: Kaokoland River Ride
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2020, 10:20:04 am »
Hoe werk dinge daarbo?  Mag mens sommer wild en wakker die hele wreld vol ry?  Eintlik jammer om so 'n mooi omgewing vol spore en geraas te ry.
"Die held is versigtig vr die gevaar en dapper daarin; die lafaard is dapper vr die gevaar en versigtig daarin."

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Offline Frannarossi

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Re: Kaokoland River Ride
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2020, 10:33:46 am »
Sub :thumleft:
If you don't live on the edge,you take up too much space!!!

Offline Offshore

Re: Kaokoland River Ride
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2020, 10:47:05 am »
 :sip: :thumleft:

Offline Damaraland

Re: Kaokoland River Ride
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2020, 05:07:26 pm »
Hoe werk dinge daarbo?  Mag mens sommer wild en wakker die hele wreld vol ry?  Eintlik jammer om so 'n mooi omgewing vol spore en geraas te ry.

Sekere gebiede is oop en kan jy seker ry waar en hoe jy wil, as dit jou manier van dinge doen is.  Daar is niemand behalwe jouself wat gaan polisieman speel oor jou nie. Die skedelkus en die bewaringsgebied rondtom Sesfontein is wel verbode vir motorfietse.

Ek dink baie van die lodges en "stakeholders" daarso deel jou gevoel dat dit 'n jammerte is om motorfietse toe te laat in die wyer Kaokoland, hulle verkies maar die fly-in toeriste en die eksklusiwiteit en Euro's wat dit meebring.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2020, 05:07:58 pm by Damaraland »
RR - Angola (https://goo.gl/BzFy7Y) / Video RR - Kaokoland (https://youtu.be/-c-Zespa2No)
Video RR - Messum & Ugab (https://goo.gl/Uhd1vb)  / Video RR - Southern Namibia (http://goo.gl/WpRdRE)
Video RR - Ugab (http://goo.gl/dr57i9) / Video RR - Omaruru River (http://goo.gl/RCTajv)
The following users thanked this post: MRK Miller

Offline Rexc-w

Re: Kaokoland River Ride
« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2020, 08:58:53 pm »
Ek kan gewoond raak hieraan. Sien uit na die res vd trip.
(KTM 1190 Adv R - 2013, KTM 300 XCW - 2016, Specialized Epic S-Works)

Offline Damaraland

Re: Kaokoland River Ride
« Reply #15 on: June 09, 2020, 09:58:07 pm »
Day 2

Day 2 would see us carry on down the Huarusib all the way to Purros. 

Distance wise it's not far, just short of 100km, so we weren't in any particular hurry to get going.  How's this for a proper sunrise:

We had a leisurely coffee and started breaking camp.  The weather was crisp but not cold - absolutely perfect riding weather.  But first another pic of the area, it's just so beautiful:

The riding was really fun, lots of water crossings:

Interspersed with seemingly endless rivers of rocks.  These were quite tricky to ride initially.  If for whatever reason you lost momentum you had to wrestle the bike for a bit to get going and start "floating" over the rocks again.  This riding got a lot easier as the day went on, instead of forcing the bike in a direction you learn to trust the suspension to do what it's meant to do and just soak up the hits.

All in all the riding was awesome, just enough of a test to keep you interested, but not so that you couldn't spend some time in the seat just being awed at the scenery.  After a while riding became a bit more open in the river, with sandy sections, which had us riding closer to each other and just having fun.  BIG MISTAKE.  In one seemingly innocuous section myself and Adrian were just behind Heiko when he suddenly bogged down in the mud.  He got on the throttle and managed to power through but it was to late for us.  We were gloriously stuck:

The mud seemed to kind of suck the bikes, which made it difficult to just lift or pull out.  And of course, as soon as you were close the bike you also started sinking.  Best way to get them out then was to quickly dig away the mud on one side, and before it filled up again put the bike on it's side and pull it out.  Rinse and repeat till you're on more solid ground.  Once the bikes were recovered the wheels would barely turn due to small bits of rock stuck between the chain and rear sprocket, so we had to empty one the 2L water bottles we carry and used that to clean the chain, sprockets and brakes.  As it turned out each recovery would take at least one hour.  Added to that you basically had to strip down to your underwear, lest you spend the rest of the day with wet boots and clothes.

Getting ready to go again:

Heiko spent the majority of the recovery effort emphasizing how his superior riding abilities means that he would never get stuck, and fortunately for our sanity he got proven very wrong shortly after:

After we got stuck the first time we started taking great care to see if there was visual cues to where the soft mud was and where it was harder.  I don't know - if there was something to look out for we definitely didn't see it.  Look at the photo above, his bike is in soft mud, but half a meter away it is hard enough to stand without sinking.  By now we knew the drill, kit off & start digging.  Adrian had a bit of a moment here, he stepped into a soft spot and immediately sunk to his waist.  I started filming with the GoPro but unfortunately he stopped sinking then.

Getting a bit tired of digging out bikes at this stage we carried on down the river.  Temperature rose sharply, this was more the Kaokoland I know.  As if we didn't have enough water we saw an amazing rock pool and went for a bit of a dip and had something to eat.  That was the last bit of water we'd see for the day, as the terrain got more rocky and sandy again

A dry hot wind was picking up, riding was still pretty technical, alternating between sand and rocks.  Going wasn't too fast in the rocks but we knew we were getting close to Purros so no drama.  The ride up to Purros was pretty cool, as the terrain opened up totally and we were treated to a some nice giraffe sightings.  Between the mud and high-revs needed to get through the muddy bits our fuel lights also came on just in front of Purros, meaning we used about 13L from Opuwo to Purros, round about 230km. 

Note on consumption:  We usually get between 19 and 22km to the Litre, so this was a bit heavier than usual.

Anyhow, I wasn't too worried as we were each carrying a 6L Desert Fox, plus I've never been to Purros and not gotten fuel there.

Some pics taken just in Front of Purros:

And one down the river:

Our destination was Purros Bush Lodge and Camp, a reasonably new establishment catering to budget travelers like ourselves - at N$350 p/p I highly recommend it.  There's 6 chalets, each sleeping two, with own ablutions and hot showers and electricity.  They offer bed and breakfast with dinner by arrangement.  Luxury lodge it isn't - but neat and clean is all I need. 

Unfortunately I forgot to book and with the whole lock-down crap they had no food there.  The staff were super helpful though and offered full use of their kitchen.  We could also give the bikes a nice rinse and get rid of all the mud.  Our attention turned to beer - we rode to both the Manchester store and the fancy lodge just outside Purros but no beer could be had for any money.  Then our thoughts turned to petrol, the guy to speak to was Collin, he runs the local "service station".  Unfortunately he was dry for a while already, and even worse the service station in Sesriem was also out of fuel apparently.  Ah well, tomorrow's problem.

I got cracking with dinner, which tonight was Pasta a la Purros, a delicate mixture of pasta, bully beef and perhaps a tad too much chilli powder.  Also tomorrow's problem.

Dinner time!

Turns out Adrian had a bit of whiskey stashed away (you got to pick your travel companions carefully!) and we spent a great evening recounting the great riding of the day and basically just counting our blessings.  Back of our minds was the fuel situation.  The fuel we had in the Desert Foxes was enough to get us to Sesfontein following the shortest route via the worst gravel road in the world aka the D3703.  But apart from kidney damage due to the shaking it would mean missing out on the rest of the Huarusib via Purros Canyon, not to mention the Hoanib, with whom I've had a date since battling in the soft sand with my 990 2 years back.

But in the back of all our minds we were quietly confident that things would work out, as they often do, if you let them...
RR - Angola (https://goo.gl/BzFy7Y) / Video RR - Kaokoland (https://youtu.be/-c-Zespa2No)
Video RR - Messum & Ugab (https://goo.gl/Uhd1vb)  / Video RR - Southern Namibia (http://goo.gl/WpRdRE)
Video RR - Ugab (http://goo.gl/dr57i9) / Video RR - Omaruru River (http://goo.gl/RCTajv)
The following users thanked this post: MRK Miller

Offline MRK Miller

Re: Kaokoland River Ride
« Reply #16 on: June 10, 2020, 03:10:30 am »
They say once you have visited Namibia it crawls and settles in the deepest part of your heart. How i long to go there and show my family this awesome land. for now we can only watch on the dvd and pictures from two previous trips, and the army.
Thank you to you and everybody els who share there experiences here, so that we can live it with you through your reports
« Last Edit: June 10, 2020, 03:12:14 am by MRK Miller »
I would rather fall a thousand times, and keep riding, than to stop riding and never fall

Offline Ian in Great Brak River

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Re: Kaokoland River Ride
« Reply #17 on: June 10, 2020, 04:26:53 am »
Another classic on the way.

1978. It's 6am, mid winter...two up on a XL 185S ... off to my first casino ever with all of R40 and we've got a full tank of fuel, so enough to get there we reckon.... that's determination...

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Offline JustBendIt

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Re: Kaokoland River Ride
« Reply #18 on: June 10, 2020, 04:46:26 am »
Excellent ...I can't wait to go back
The older I get the faster I was

Offline cndavel

Re: Kaokoland River Ride
« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2020, 09:11:07 am »
Can't wait to do some of those routes myself.

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