Welcome, Guest. Please Login or Register

Author Topic: Damaraland, northern Namibia (2017)  (Read 369 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Zanie

Damaraland, northern Namibia (2017)
« on: August 15, 2020, 02:19:35 pm »
I seem to start many of my longer ride reports with an apologetic explanation, so here it is: I have a day job. Hence this report is more than 3 years late; covering a trip that occurred back in May 2017. It was on the verge of completion before I headed off on the Kaokoland trip, at which time that report became the priority.

This report was a DIY effort, so unfortunately no videos or beautifully-edited photos from Lance.

I’ve sold my 650GS since, so this will be my 650’s “swan song” – its last ride report.

This ride is an account of a WAVolt-organised motorcycle tour to Damaraland, northern Namibia.

Day 1 (18 May 2017): Cape Town to Grunau (810km)

We’ve done the Cape Town to Namibia border run by bike for a southern Namibia trip (in 2016), but given that this tour started in Windhoek, we did the sensible thing and saddled one big-engine bakkie with the role of transporting all three bikes: my BMW 650GS, Lance’s BMW 800GS and the KTM 1290R for Lance’s parents - Ernie and Lynette.

The work horse:

We left Cape Town just after 6am. Twelve hours, over 800km and a border crossing later, we were in Grunau; 140-odd km north of the Namibian border.

Aside from WAVolt ride-leader Michael, and the Zululand Overland crew (Henk and Teresa) who would keep us fed and housed (in tents), we were a group of 13 bikers – including 2 pillions.

The tour had yet to start officially, but this did not stop the team from organising us some fabulous braai food (wors, steak and braaibroodjies) and some digs in the form of rooms with multiple bunk beds.

I come prepared with ear plugs on these trips, just in case your roomies or tent-neighbours are of the loud sleeper sort, though every now and then you do find that special individual who can sonic-boom through anything. There’s usually one on every tour and this trip was no different, but he was in another room and we made sure of strategic tent placement each night.

Day 2 (19 May 2017): Grunau to Windhoek (660km)

And we thought we were trailering many bikes! Here’s most of the rest:

The whole crowd:

Lance and I were in his car, packed to the rafters with bike trip paraphernalia: helmets, boots, kit and a luggage bag each for me, Lance and his parents. His parents were in the bakkie bristling with bikes.

A note to travellers: Windhoek has very few roads heading in /out of town. The traffic cops know this and station themselves along the main arterials. Lance was pulled off and asked for his driver’s licence. It had expired four months ago...

Are you kidding me?! We were heading on a multi-day bike trip in a foreign country and Lance forgot to renew his licence! The cop looked at us for a bit and then said: “She should be driving.” (I had my licence.) Lance and I thanked the cop, swapped seats and headed off.

Luckily we weren’t in the car towing the bikes. I don’t think the cop would have been as forgiving if he saw our intention of riding separately by bike.

I drove us the remaining distance to Urban Camp. As its name suggests, it is a camp right within Windhoek.

Urban Camp:

There are some permanent tents for hire, in picturesque sites:

We bikers were a bit more (im)practical: pack them in tight!

We munched supper at the Urban Camp restaurant. I tried some oryx schnitzel.

Yesterday evening I had noticed what looked like oil in the back of the bakkie beneath my bike. The consensus was that the amount did not look worrisome. Today there was much less. We could not spot where the oil was coming from and, for the rest of the trip, there was no further leakage.

When my bike went for some TLC after the trip, it was found that there was basically no fluid left in the rear shock - it had to be reconditioned. No wonder my suspension was less than stellar during the trip.

Day 3 (20 May 2017): Windhoek to Waterberg (442km)

Elapsed time: 7h47 (57 km/h)
Moving time: 4h48 (92 km/h)

Everyone is always keen to get going on the first day of a tour; we were all on the road just past 7:30. Today’s roads were mostly flat and fast, skirted by scrub and some of these:

Fast roads:

I used my cruise control (little lever I had that can lock my throttle into place) until a black-backed jackal ran across the road and I realised I could not afford the split-seconds it shaves from my brake response time.

The “C” roads in Namibia are generally well-maintained, but a sharp eye should be kept on the road for the rare, but disruptive, deviations in surface standard.

This one caused no problems:

This one did:

The mud-hole is deeper than it looks. A frontrunner of the group (Mark), with enduro-racing background, hit it at speed. Thanks to his skills, he managed to remain upright, but hurt his wrist badly. It pained him for the rest of the trip. He later mentioned he also had a sizeable bruise very close to the crown jewels.

Our first fuel stop for the day came up dry – the petrol station had shut down within the past year. This highlights the importance of the mantra: “If you see petrol, fuel up!” Now we were in trouble. Lance, with his 500km range on the 800GSA, was the only one who would make it to our destination.

Local intel suggested an alternative fuel source on a 17km detour further ahead. This detour turned out to be the most interesting stretch of road, since it was the only “D” road we rode that day.

My bike did its skittish sand rumba. I’m not sure what I do wrong (I should not blame the bike!), but I’m used to the dance by now and just keep going. I’m not sure whether Lance’s nerves are used to it though.

We found fuel!

We had our lunch stop by the roadside.

A giraffe was as intrigued by us and our lunch activities, as we were by its tameness. A local farmer happened by on an ancient 650GS and told us that the giraffe was his and was tame.

Clarke, the “giraffe whisperer” of the group, managed to get even closer than I did:

We were on our way again – only stopping at turn-offs to regroup. This meant minimal dust, because everyone set their own pace – a brilliant strategy for large group rides on routes with minimal turns.

Lance taking the opportunity to chill:

The tour guide had a special arrangement in order to allow us into the Waterberg Plateau National Park (bikes are usually forbidden).

We had to switch our bikes off immediately after reaching the campsite and had to keep them that way until we left the following morning.

They fed us well on this trip. Tonight was T-bone steak, coleslaw, and pap-en-sous.

It was dusk and we were all sitting by the campfire when we saw what looked like a little platoon of rodents rushing across the ground towards the tree close-by (the big one in the photo above).

Next thing, the little critters made incredible leaps into the tree and across to other nearby trees – like they had built-in springs in their feet. Bushbabies! What a lucky sighting!

Unfortunately no photos, but here’s a consolation photo of evening scenery.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2020, 02:20:16 pm by Zanie »

Offline Zanie

Re: Damaraland, northern Namibia (2017)
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2020, 02:22:55 pm »
Day 4 (21 May 2017): Waterberg to Uis (438km)

Elapsed time: 8h10 (54 km/h)
Moving time: 5h34 (79 km/h)

Morning at Waterberg:

Notice how the socks sleep outside! They can gain personality after just one day.

One of the locals:

The multi-tasking back-up / food / tent van:

The day started similar to the previous one, with fast roads…

…and phallic earth mounds.

Some compensating harder than others:

Things got more interesting shortly after Otjiwarongo, when we turned off onto “D” roads.

My weird sand-riding shenanigans earned me the nick-name of “Waltzing Matilda” for the duration of the trip.

Clarke, our giraffe whisperer from earlier, was only on his third off-road ride and came down hard on this road.

At first inspection: only some fairing missing on his Africa Twin. Other gremlins arose later – the radiator had taken a knock. The bike was loaded on the back-up vehicle towards the end of the day.

A pit stop was strategically enacted just after a sandy dry river crossing; for spectator purposes.

Lance, just ahead of me, kicked up a cloud of dust at the crossing – probably better that I don’t see what’s there. I gunned it and made it through.

Then we sat back, chatting and spectating with the others who had already arrived:

Some struggled:

Others styled:

Lance decided to explore the riverbed…

…and then dropped the bike when climbing back onto the road. When you have a crowd of spectators, a 250kg bike gets picked up pronto!

We needed that fortifying lunch, because the next stretch of road was the worst sand of the whole trip.

I tend to tackle sand as a “challenge”, rather than a “monster”. I had dropped my outright fear of it about a year previously during a southern Namibia trip, but it would be another year before I could ride sand happily and on a much smaller (dirt) bike.

When I saw the carnage in front of me, I paddled. I never became completely comfortable on sand on such a big bike, which is why I eventually bought two smaller bikes – one road-legal (CRF250L Rally) and one not (CRF230F).

I think this was Des that hit dirt:

Even the pros were having side-stand incidents:

Some managed to come to a stop in the upright position:

Like three ducklings in a row, we paddled:

I think Witjan had a fall later on this road – this day carried high casualties.

The road soon became rideable again, though perhaps not always for straight-line riding…

Lance had an interesting time here, when he landed in the rough stuff, but he remained upright:

Lance and I managed the road unscathed. Here we are in our usual formation: me in the front and my shepherd at the back, keeping an eye on me.

On our way to Rock Finger:

From Ernie’s (Lance’s dad’s) cockpit:

Which way?

Oh. That way of course.

This was our lunch stop:

As the day wore on, I realised I must be coming down with something – my throat was not happy and my body started to ache.

By the time we reached Finger Rock, I was feeling distinctly out of sorts. Hence my reason for looking less-than-impressed here:

When on the way again, speedster enduro-racer Mark headed in the wrong direction and had to be chased down by ride-leader Michael.

Meanwhile, Lance was making friends with a local, who was obliged to remain and socialise due to being hobbled.

Some road scenery when we got going again:

We did the touristy thing and stopped at this shop:

Lance, me and Witjan resting, while others shopped:

Back on the road again:

Will there be animals on the road? Send me a sign!

It had been a long day – more than 400km – and Lance was already in kick-back-and-chill mode.

We finally reached our destination.

This resembled the colour of most of the pools in Cape Town during the drought:

We had some music around the fire, thanks to local guitarist Lorri.

I received a strafdop for my Waltzing Matilda riding style. Apparently it’s not just bad for Lance’s nerves to watch me swerve around on the sandy roads.

By now the horror of my situation was dawning: I was coming down with full-blown flu! I’m basically never sick. My average hit rate is one cold or flu per year or less, and usually it’s just ignorable sniffles. I was properly pissed off.

I struggle to take leave and here I was, on my one big trip of the year, with flu! Thanks to my rapidly-deteriorating health and the fact that we would stay in Brandberg Rest Camp for 3 nights, Lance and I upgraded to a house.

Luckily our house came with two bedrooms. Lance wisely slept in a separate room. I was barking like a dog the whole night and made laps to the kitchen every two hours to down more cough syrup. According to the instructions on the bottle, I should not imbibe more frequently. I was tempted…

My throat felt raw, as if it would start bleeding, but my nose was blocked – necessitating that I breathe through my tortured throat. My whole body felt like a train had reverse-parked over it. By 4:30, my nose cleared enough for me to try to sleep.

Day 5 (22 May 2017): Omaruru loop (331km)

Elapsed time: 6h51 (48 km/h)
Moving time: 4h15 (78 km/h)

I was shattered in the morning. Much as I would have liked; there was no way I was getting onto a bike for the day’s outride. Not wanting to miss out, I decided to join in the back-up vehicle, driven by Henk.

The mechanically-minded had wangled a fix for the Africa Twin’s broken radiator, so it was back on the road:

A creepy-crawly local (the bug; not the person):

We covered the fast stretch to Omaruru, where we refuelled the bikes and people. The interesting “D” roads came after.

We went through a wilderness area that, from all visible signs, contained some big, grey, horny mammals.

The grey beasts were noticeable in their absence, but we did see a beautiful old kudu bull – no pictures unfortunately.

Here are some consolation scenery pictures:

We exited the wilderness area…

…and the animal warning signs returned to the mundane.

The scenery remained anything but mundane.

Due to the obvious speed-differential between bikes and back-up vehicle, we lost touch with the bikes. Later, we suspected that the bikes were on a different route altogether. We hadn’t seen bike tracks in a while.

Our suspicions were confirmed when we reached the campsite and there were no bikes to be found. They obviously took a longer route.

Lance had the house keys and I still didn’t feel great, so I made myself semi-comfortable on a mat on the ground and dozed.

This is where the bike-vehicle split happened:

There was still game to be seen outside the wilderness area…

…and scenery…

…and games in the scenery.

Ride-leader demo: biker in attack mode.

Lance demo: biker in chilled mode.

The dry river crossings tended to be on the sandy side.

Lance seems to revel in sand; looking for more. He headed off the road and up the riverbed in the Omaruru River.

On looking back, he spotted the first sign of trouble: a puff of dust.

He headed back promptly. There were two bikers down. His parents.

Ernie had hurt his knee and Lynette had hurt her foot. Ernie couldn’t ride. Lynette couldn’t get up.

A biker was flagged down to carry the message to back-up-driver Henk to come fetch the downed bike and people.

Lance and his steed waited, alongside his parents.

This is what caused the trouble:

Back at camp, it was decided that Ernie, Lynette and I would visit the local mine-workers’ clinic for a check-up tomorrow.

I was still ill. I could deal with the flu’s fever-like symptoms, but I wanted to disown my painful throat. A local camper gave me some ginger root to chew to try to help. It’s incredibly strong stuff taken ‘neat’!

Supper consisted of wors, steak and salad, but I could only manage soup. I did try a mini-piece of Henk’s superb apple pie pudding. I wish he had made it on another night. It’s worth it to go on a Henk-catered trip just for this!

Evening at camp:

Other notable story of the day: Ride-leader Michael racked up a total of 3 flat front tyres. As a result, he only arrived at camp quite late.


Offline Zanie

Re: Damaraland, northern Namibia (2017)
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2020, 02:24:54 pm »
Day 6 (23 May 2017): Brandberg loop (79km)

Elapsed time: 3h33 (22 km/h)
Moving time: 1h46 (45 km/h)

I struggled to sleep last night due to my sore throat. It got worse during the night, because you don’t swallow as often, which turned my throat into a raw, dry cactus-filled desert.

And if I thought I had problems… Ernie is on Warfarin. This is his knee after yesterday’s fall:

Lynette’s left foot did not look happy either:

By the end of the trip it looked even less happy:

Early-morning, a local lady kindly dropped Ernie, Lynette and me at the small, mine-workers’ clinic.

When Lynette saw the queues, she figured she’d survive the rest of the trip without a check-up. She could hobble around. It was later found that she fractured a metatarsal, but it self-healed. She’s a tough cookie. She recently had a half-knee replacement. The doctor was flabbergasted at the speed at which she recovered. That’s what happens if you’re a gym bunny!

We actually did not wait that long. I was diagnosed with a throat infection and was given a course of antibiotics and a mini-packet full of Panados. The consultation and medication together cost the sum total of only R86.

I honestly cannot remember what they gave Ernie. It was almost two years between the trip and the writing of this day, and my notes were not forthcoming. But he’s still with us today! He crashed badly a couple of months later and came through that ok too, despite 5 broken ribs and a broken shoulder-blade. So, in general, Lance’s parents seem to be made of tough stuff.

Another friendly local gave us a lift back to camp.

Local guitarist Lorri, in his bakkie (ha ha, “lorry in a bakkie”), led all the riders on a loop to Brandberg and back. Witjan, a rider with foresight, joined him in his bakkie.

Ernie, Lynette and I were not up to riding, so we joined Henk in the back-up vehicle.

Lorri told everyone the route did not have sand. I think “sand” means something different to a guy in a bakkie than to someone on a bike.

There were some firmer sections…

…and the views were breath-taking…

…but they came at a price…

…and many struggled.

I did not envy Sean and Shirleen: two-up on a heavy bike in heavy sand.

Gravity won…

…and Shirleen joined us in the back-up vehicle.

Left to right – Lynette, me and Shirleen:

A couple (2 or 3) bikers had already turned back, including Clarke. I don’t blame him; this was a bit heavy-going for a third-ever off-road trip! I was glad I was in the back-up. I don’t think I would have managed too well.

Enduro-racer Mark yet again took off in a wrong direction. I think the bakkie’s pace was too slow for him, so he overtook the guide. He had removed his mirrors, so could not see any attempts to flag him down.

After Mark was chased down, everyone took a break. At least, that was the intention. Some of the guys took the opportunity to unleash their inner hooligan. These were also the guys who did not bother much about extra scratches on their bikes.

Lance has already replaced all six fairing panels once. Now he leaves them. They are plenty cracked, which means that he doesn’t mind any extra blemishes that don’t affect the bike’s functioning.

Therefore he can style with abandon…

…disregarding the consequences.

Oddly enough, his 800GSA just keeps trucking, no matter the abuse. It has never let him down mechanically on a trip.

Playing was thirsty work.

A last bit of sand got everyone as close to Brandberg as they were willing to stomach for the day.

At a large rock, we found the only shade provided in this open landscape.

And the bakkie found a new love:

The injured couple:

After a suitable resting time had lapsed, the remaining bikers tackled the last bit of sand. Today was a day of attrition. Out of a total of 14 bikers, only 6 were still riding.

Skirting Brandberg:


Back at camp, while the rest of us were resting or socialising, Lance went exploring at a nearby quarry. This guy does not lack energy.

He found more sand – a mountain of it! Being Lance, he had to see how far he could ride it. He got up to here…

…before turning around.

He found a similarly-steep, but non-sandy alternative path to the top.

The top:

The steep sandy path that he couldn’t ride up, made a perfect downhill exit to his mind. Go figure.

Some last exploration around the quarry area:

The first pioneer was soon followed by the less pioneering hordes. Everyone headed to the quarry sand hill for sundowners that evening…mainly in cars.

The quarry, with late afternoon lighting installed:

With humans installed:

Optional extra installation: dog.

Bonus feature: sunburst dog.

The fantabulous view: from left…

…to right.

I think the sundowners went straight to peoples’ heads. Or, at least, to some of the drivers’ heads. Apparently this seemed like a good idea as a return route:

If that doesn’t look steep, try the car’s-eye view:

So much “nope”, but my protests were ignored.

Contrary to expectations, given the above exploits, I survived the night. Not only that, I was actually feeling better.

The antibiotics were kicking in. My throat went from Full Cactus, to Sprinkling of Spikes. I was able to eat and enjoy some chicken curry. I had high hopes of riding tomorrow.

Offline Zanie

Re: Damaraland, northern Namibia (2017)
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2020, 02:28:23 pm »
Day 7 (24 May 2017): Uis to Spitzkoppe (373km)

Elapsed time: 8h46 (43 km/h)
Moving time: 5h34 (67 km/h)

Aside from the conventional breakfast options (cereals, yoghurt, etc.), this morning we had fish cakes. Yum!

The “kitchen”:

I desperately wanted to ride again. I’ve been off the bike for 2 days now. Bike-obsessed people know that this qualifies as A Lifetime.

Riding was not the smartest thing to do. My throat felt better, but I still had feverish symptoms. I felt shaky and by the time I got onto my bike the back of my top was already wet from a cold sweat, but I was ready to go!

The road from Uis to the coast has a dangerous reputation and I can see why. It is dead straight, lulling you into disengaged boredom. The sun hitting the off-white surface blurs the road edge into the surrounding desert landscape. In midday conditions, it can be blinding.

In my feverish and fluffy-head state, I found the effect disconcerting. I sometimes had to use the poles on the side of the road as markers to figure out where the road was.

Knowing my reflexes were heavily compromised thanks to my illness, I slowed right down to 80 km/h. I did not allow myself to go faster. Lance stuck dutifully behind me.

Yet the road lived up to its reputation; exacting a biker sacrifice for the privilege of its use. One rider hit earth at upwards of 100 km/h…

The bike sacrifice:

Henk doubles as back-up driver and medic. He made the call to get emergency services involved. The rider was obviously in a lot of pain and X-rays needed to be taken to check whether anything was broken.

There’s a good reason bikers wear helmets:

With the injured rider on his way to hospital, we regrouped and set off.

Scenery on the way to Cape Cross:

The desolate landscape requires a different retail technique: an honesty shop devoid of teller. Crystals were on offer. Not of the meth variety, but of the rock variety.

The fur seal colony was off limits to bikers, despite previous arrangements. Apparently access changes depending on the whim of the gatekeeper of the day.

We continued instead to Cape Cross Lodge for a lunch with a view.

This was followed by some beach exploration.

Locals fishing, while being observed by a GSA:

Lance’s parents:


On the sand catwalk we see our latest model, sporting an RTS jacket, BMW pants, Shoei helmet, Leatt neck-brace and Sidi boots:

We doubled back to Hentiesbaai.

Visible road:

Camouflaged road:

Invisible road:

Hentiesbaai exploration:

If I remember correctly, we hung around Hentiesbaai until we heard news from our downed rider. He would be staying overnight at the hospital for observation. Therefore, we headed onwards, towards Spitzkoppe.

The first stretch of road was particularly sandy:

I tried to keep my speed up, to increase stability. I forgot about the other tactic: choose a better line! This oversight, coupled with insufficient skill, resulted in my hardest fall to date (surpassed a year later by an off during a funduro).

It was one of those falls where bones and bike stay whole, but you need to stand for a while until the pain subsides, your lungs get some semblance of breath back, and your senses normalise. My head, neck and right-hand-side arm and leg were all hurting.

Still equalising…

Finally equalised:

Lance decided to demonstrate how I should fall next time: tip-over from a stand-still.

“What’s the bike doing there?”

For such an embarrassing fall, it’s protocol to stop and stare:

My notes are not forthcoming, but I have a sneaking suspicion we turned back somewhere. Evidence for my theory is provided below.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:


Approaching Spitzkoppe:

The entrance:

Heading to our campsite for the night:

Some loose sections to discourage the faint at heart from side adventures:

Pretty rock:

Lance gained intelligence on our campsite location…

…before heading straight back out for further exploration. My brain and body was tired after the day’s exertions, so I stayed put ‘at home’.

Home base:

Lance on an exploratory mission:

As an aside: This picture below is of the same peak two years later (2019) at the same time of the year. It was much drier, with no grass.

Back to this ride report, in 2017:

Lance had to turn back a couple of times…

…but took it as an opportunity for a bike-shoot:

Daylight hours were running short:

Time to head back:

…without flattening the local dassie population:

Back at camp, our seating area was being sorted. Note the chairs partway up the koppie on the right-hand-side of the photo below. This would be our star-gazing chat spot later that night.

The camp area has absolutely zero facilities, so we headed to Spitzkoppen Lodge by bike for a last porcelain throne session, shower and drinks.

Imagine my utter horror when no hot water was to be found at the open-sky showers. Wussy, right? At any other time, it would be viewed as survivable, but I was recovering from the worst flu I’ve had in living memory. I was very unlucky on this trip, with a sum total of about 4 (at least) cold showers.

Lance was still out there somewhere. He joined us eventually.

It was getting late…

…so we headed back to camp.

From Ernie and Lynette’s cockpit:

A closer look at the arch near our campsite:

A fantastic campsite view:

And so ends another picture-perfect day. Not captured in the pictures was (1) a yummy supper of wors and pear pudding (delish!), (2) Lance and I getting a strafdop each – Lance for venturing off-road momentarily near Cape Cross and me for my fall, and (3) all of us sitting halfway up a koppie under a massive star-studded sky.

Offline Zanie

Re: Damaraland, northern Namibia (2017)
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2020, 02:36:54 pm »
Day 8 (25 May 2017): Spitzkoppe to Swakopmund (158km)

Elapsed time: 1h59 (80 km/h)
Moving time: 1h47 (88 km/h)

Who can ask for a better view when waking up?

My bike waiting to take me through this landscape:

Sunrise was as magical as sunset.

Breakfast in paradise:

Lance and I decided to have a close-up look at the arch:

Walking back to camp:

I remember thinking I’d love to see Spitzkoppe again, when I’m in better health and in a state to go explore. I felt as if I had just scraped the surface of what there is to see.

Goodbye Spitzkoppe:

Today’s ride was the shortest of the trip: a quick 160 km from Spitzkoppe to Swakopmund. We stayed at Swakop Rest Camp, where Lance and I shared a small house with his parents.

The aim was to have enough time to explore the town and take part in the various activities on offer. And take part we did!

Almost all the men signed up for a quad-bike ride in the dunes.

My usual self would have joined. My flu-weakened self decided that a peaceful camel ride through the dunes was more my speed.

Speaking of speed… The guys gave their ride-leader one request: “Go fast!” Since all but two of the group were from our bike trip, the leader complied. The two poor souls, who were unwittingly thrown into a mini-Dakar, eventually peeled off with the sweeper, to ride at a more measured pace.

Quads and people reduced to ants against the huge landscape:

Like ants, they are not confined to a horizontal surface...

…and they are everywhere!

But, being human, there will be that quest for the tallest dune:

Found it!

Beautiful ripples in the sand:

Same thing, but at a super-size-me scale:

More desert landscape:

With a cameo appearance by ‘plants’.

The guys had an absolute blast.

The smile says it all:

Meanwhile, I was meeting my ride:

Here is where I confess. In the modern era of 2017, I still only had a Nokia 3410 cell phone. Shock! Horror! Therefore no selfies and, other than the above, no pictures! My guide was puzzled, to say the least. As a consolation prize, here is a photo of some other tourists:

I was lucky enough that I ended up in my own “group”: just me and the guide. Just before we headed into the dunes proper, another guide came to steal my guide’s camel. Apparently another group had need of more camel power. So, same as the guide in the photo above, mine also had to hoof it minus his hooves (or, should I say pads?).

I thoroughly enjoyed my dune ride. Unlike a horse, a camel is just a grumpy creature of habit that seems to hate moving fast. It feels very zen compared to the nervous energy you sometimes get with horses. My brain could check out all its worries, and I just soaked up the extraordinary atmosphere.

The next activity was anything but zen! Years back I said I’d never do it, but life has a way of proving you wrong.

This was Lance’s second jump.

The open door was very freaky…

…especially when you don’t really cope well with heights and are a gazillion miles high.

Lance checking out the view, while I’m trying to come to terms with the scale of the view!

You get ‘classy’ goggles for the jump. In the pic below, I’m being shown the altimeter and that the time for jumping is nigh. As our ‘Capies’ will say: “Naai my bruh!”

Sitting on the absolute edge of the abyss:

I have a whole series of non-photogenic photographs to choose from…

I don’t know what to type here. Words can’t really explain it.

The guy executed a front roll, so we were looking up at the plane for a brief moment...of terror.

When it’s your first jump, having your back to mother earth does not feel very comfortable.

What a weird place to spot some humans.

The “Flat Earth” people need to see this:

The mini balloon adds stability, but you’re still plunging towards earth at dizzying speeds.

A snack of hair anyone?

Keeping track of the altimeter to make sure we don’t die:

Time to deploy the big chute:

And our camera-lady waves goodbye:

I decided to cough up the cash for the filming of the jump, given that it is a once-off. If you’re going to do something, you may as well do it properly! I’m glad I have the record.

The jump from the plane and the free-fall was hectic, but I enjoyed the more peaceful drift towards earth. After the out-of-plane-cartwheel, my tandem decided to keep the rest tame.


Lance followed shortly after:

This is what it feels like to be on earth again:

The day’s activities concluded with a massage by a local lady. Just what the doctor ordered, to relax after a crazy day!

Aside: Our injured rider was fetched from hospital today and will join us for the rest of the tour. He was incredibly lucky. He had a bruised head, ribs and hip, with a suspected (later confirmed) fractured wrist. It could have been much worse. He did make note that he was glad he was wearing a neck brace.

For supper, I had fish (kabeljou), chips and sweetcorn fritters. Yum!

Day 9 (26 May 2017): Swakopmund to Windhoek (329km)

Elapsed time: 6h53 (48 km/h)
Moving time: 4h40 (71 km/h)

Sadly, we reached the last day of riding. Ride-leader Michael spent the early morning hours fixing his fourth (!!!) front flat. The guy was having a very unlucky streak.

We had a fortifying breakfast of vetkoek before heading off on what was the most beautiful stretch of road of the trip.

We reached the very steep Boshua pass.

Some of it is paved, due to the gradient.

Heading up:

The view:

You know it’s a good view when people stop to stare. One even pulled up a chair!

Continuing on the pass:

Another steep bit:

Forever landscape:

Interesting stripy hill:

The road followed the curves of the landscape:

These photo don’t do the landscape justice. There is an endless armada of hills in the distance:

The next couple of photos are just fun. Remember the buggered rear shock? I wish I had the skill to bunny hop, but these manoeuvre were all involuntary.

We were only 66 km from Windhoek when good old Murphy decided to interfere. Lance got a flat front. The back-up vehicle is meant to carry spare tubes and tools. The only problem: Lance’s flat was a front and Michael had already used all the front tubes thanks to his four punctures!

We had a spare front tube, but it was pinched in the installation process. In the end, the least holey tube was installed – one with a leaky patch. Lance used his valve puller to ease the process. If you have tubes, do yourself a favour and get one. Or risk standing in the sun, swearing at a tube, when the valve refuses to align with the hole in the rim.

Luckily Lance also brought with a can of slime (we bring our own tools, no matter the back-up options). It’s not the cheap stuff, but the one with rubber bits in it. It is not a good fix for an adventure bike – it’s usually aimed at the MX bikes – but we were desperate.

So, with tube filled with slime and inflated by compressor, we set off; hoping that the fix would hold. It didn’t. The front went down within 3km. We had no other option: pump it up again and ride. The next time it lasted 5km. We were preparing for a ride-pump-ride schedule, but we were in for a surprise.

While riding, I stationed myself just off Lance’s side, watching the front and ready to sound the warning when it went down too low. As anyone who’s had a flat front knows, things get pretty unstable very quickly if you don’t have enough air. By the third run, it did lose a bit of air, but then held! The little bits of rubber in the goo had finally plugged the hole enough for the tyre to hold.

Others were also having a fun time. Two people ran out of fuel 20km short of Windhoek. KTMs are thirsty! They were joined by sympathetic others in their wait for the back-up vehicle:

One eventually made it into town, the other – let’s say – rode ‘uneconomically’ and ran out of fuel again at a robot in Windhoek!

Lance and I managed to join a group of bikers from our tour, in order to sneak Lance in to town past the traffic cops. Again: How does one forgot to renew a driver’s licence for an out-of-country trip?! Sigh.

Back at Urban Camp in Windhoek, the bikes were loaded. The trip was over.

My bike being strapped down on the bakkie:

Urban Camp has open-air showers, with hot water. Usually. The one I chose happened to have run out of gas. Given that I was already undressed, I braved the icy water in the rapidly-cooling evening air. My flu-recovering body did not take kindly to this treatment. I went full wuss and cried a little.

The shower:

Supper was at Joe’s Beer house:

Day 10 (27 May 2017): Windhoek to Cape Town (1470km)

Elapsed time: Too long!!

Like a horse bolting towards its stable, we tackled the gruelling 1500 km trip back to Cape Town in one overly-long day, with fuel and food stops limited to a total of 50 minutes. We left Windhoek at 6am SA time (5am Namibia time – but as of 2017, Namibia no longer implements daylight savings time) and arrived home just before 10pm, after 16 long hours on the road.

Roughly two years after this trip, it was time to go back. The next northern Namibia tour was a whole different animal! I finally got to see Spitzkoppe again, but I also experienced many new places, including the infamous Van Zyl’s Pass: http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=236737.0.

My 650GS had served me as best it could, but I would not have survived if I took it on the next trip. The bike I used instead was on the opposite side of the spectrum. I took the smallest and lightest bike I own. Not my Honda 250L Rally. That was lent to Lance (aren’t I a nice girlfriend?), because he would have exhausted himself on the 800GSA during the rocky sections (he’s happy in the sand though). I took my little Honda CRF230F. It needed servicing on the way, but given the amount of sand and crazy rocks we had to tackle, I dropped all the kilogrammes I could!

Offline BLK

Re: Damaraland, northern Namibia (2017)
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2020, 03:38:37 pm »
Fantastic RR.Glad you all survived the falls.Beautiful country for sure.


Offline Samou

Re: Damaraland, northern Namibia (2017)
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2020, 12:06:05 am »
Wow - Baie dankie lekker RR met mooi foto's.   Bly julle het dit veilig terug gemaak.  Saluut
Ego = 1/knowledge

Offline Crossed-up

Re: Damaraland, northern Namibia (2017)
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2020, 03:37:59 am »
Well worth the wait. Thank you for another of your fantastic reports.

Offline Noneking

  • Gentleman Dog
  • *
  • Bike: KTM 790 Adventure R
    Location: Mpumalanga
  • Posts: 17,485
  • Thanked: 986 times
Damaraland, northern Namibia (2017)
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2020, 05:27:40 am »
Apology accepted...... but only because I love your ride reports!

Keep it coming!
« Last Edit: August 16, 2020, 05:28:18 am by Noneking »

Offline Zanie

Re: Damaraland, northern Namibia (2017)
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2020, 08:24:06 pm »
Well worth the wait. Thank you for another of your fantastic reports.

And thank you for another great ride today. How could you even think straight after seemingly being awake all night?! No wonder you rode into a tree. :o ;)

Apology accepted...... but only because I love your ride reports!

Keep it coming!

Thanks. I noticed your ride index thread yesterday. I sense a few nights of good reading ahead!  :biggrin: