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Offline Beserker

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The Snail, the Tortoise and the Big Red Pig
« on: November 28, 2008, 12:07:11 am »
Big Red Pig, that is me, or rather my bike, an XR650R.

My trip to Namibia started two years ago when I went for a spin on a mate‚??s just purchased KTM 950. So impressed I was with the bike that I started looking around for a second hand one. Speaking to a guy in PE, he incidentally asked me where I saw the add for his bike, in the Autotrader or on the Wild Dogs site‚?¶.Wild dogs WHAT??

I browsed on over, and like they say, the rest was history. The following two days I read Ride reports‚?¶ I was hooked!

I quickly realized that my budget would not support a KTM as well as the trips, and when I came across the XR650 (having ridden XR‚??s since the first Prolink XR 200 was released in South Africa way back in ‚??81) I snapped it up and kitted it out.

I had to convert it from a Super Mortard to a dirt worthy long distance hauler, great fun.
 


During this time I spoke with Danie, and being a veteran of a couple of Nam trips, he immediately bought in, and the planning started gaining momentum‚?¶.we committed to a September/October date.

                           

As a sidebar‚?¶Danie achieved ‚??Blik Boude‚?Ě (Iron Butt) status before I started shaving. How does PE to Cape Town via Baviaans, in a single day, on a ‚??76 XT500 grab you‚?¶?

Three weeks before due date, Gideon also decided to join, and swapped a whinch off the Land Cruiser for a DR350‚?¶.taking it apart in his garage, it revealed itself to be a dud. He reverted back to to Plan B‚?¶.the DR 250.

                     

Still actively racing enduro at a national level, he decided to re brand it as a Donners Rof 250, the first of many name changes during the trip.

Thus, not as eloquently written as those by  http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=13428.0

Or as daring as those by MetalJockey http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=10359.0

I hope this ride report will serve you in the same manner as the above did me; to motivate and enthuse you for a trip to Namibia‚?¶..it‚??s there and should be considered a sin not to go ride it, whatever you expect from it.

Taking into account the ecclectic mix of riders making up WD forum,  I‚??m sure everybody reading this report will identify with some aspect of it.

Planning, day 1 to 3

Planning consisted of two intense sessions, the first lasting all of  ten minutes, with everybody affirming that they were ‚??in‚?Ě before we retired to watch Rossi kick some arse at Laguna Seca.

The second session followed the same agenda, with the exception of Danie, who with foresight shouldered the brunt of the planning. He managed to come up with a plan, which at first seem to be difficult to read, but once you get used to the idee that relational distances were shunned in order to depict a circular route with suggested waypoints, it became quite elementary.



The plan was seconded (literally within seconds) and ratified. Wih an anonomous ‚??Aye‚?Ě to indicate we were all still commited, and the bikes ready, we retired to watch homeboy Tyla wrapping up the 250cc world championship. Appropriatly fired up by his victory, we cast our departure date in stone, and went home.

The last two days prior to us departing from my house entailed scurring around to sort out detail like finishing luggage racks, buying provisions, finishing off at work and trying to spend time with the family.

As it was, we departed without me even once doing a final fitment of my soft luggage, or trying to pack it. A big thank you for Amanda at KTM  Cape Town for making sure that I got my stuff in time (Ordered on the Monday, got it on the Thursday, left for Nam on the Friday)

We decided to trailer our bikes up to Windhoek as we have all done the N7 from Cape Town to Windhoek before. Going by bakkie meant that we could do the drag at night, gaining a day or two‚??s worth of offroad riding.

Finally, packed!



We were on a fairly tight schedule as Gideon had to be back by a specific date for a relay race at Piketberg with his son, but more importantly, Danie‚??s wife‚??s brother‚??s  only niece (something like this) had her Portugese wedding two weeks hence,  and if Danie did not show up at church in time, with his Sunday‚??s best, there would be hell to pay.

As it was, the trip up was not without incident, as we managed to sieze the bakkie engine about 15 kays outside of Citrusdal.



A swop was made, costing us half a day to get a replacement bakkie and arrange for the freshly deceased Caddie to be towed back to Stellenbosch. Ironically, the Corsa 1.4 rivalled the total capacity of the bikes combined, 650 + 500 + 250 = 1.4

Waking up the next morning in the back of the bakkie, and seeing Danies bike ogeling me from the outside gave me quite a ‚??skrik‚?Ě‚?¶


 

Sunrise over the plains quickly dispelled the trepidation I felt on seeing Gideons Pooratech fabrications, and was replaced by a sense of anticipation.

In Windhoek we quickly packed, stored the bakkie and hit the road.



       

The idee was to go up on the western side of Etosha, and having a look see at the places where we were stationed during our time in Namibia, courtesy of the SADF twenty years ago..

I‚??m glad we did, otherwise I would allways have wondered, but we all agreed that  we will not go via our chosen route again ‚?¶there is better riding to be had than the strip of tar from Windhoek to Ruacana via Othiwarongo, Tsumeb and Oshakati. Oshakati in particular had that sprawling, next to the main road african suburban landscape so typical of other places in Africa where the infrastructure could not keep up with the urbanization of the rural areas.

Oshivelo is now a police traing camp, with only the white road still visisble.

One thing to be said of the route though, there is not a shortage of kooka shops, and the ice cold beer did a lot to alleviate the XR seat induced numb butt, that alternated with the burning butt that I suffered those first two  days of riding, having not done substantial riding for the previous 12 years .



Completing the 900 odd kays to Ruacana also served to get our riding patterns sorted, and by the time we hit the gravel towards Swartboois, we were in sync. A few rivercrossings to get rid of the dust saw us bushcamping next to the Kunene. That night were for us the real start of the trip, we were on the threshold of going offroad into a remote area that is as harsh as it is beautiful, and before falling asleep under the stars, I re-read, in my mind, the various reports on the Kunene river road.


Day 4

Swartboois to Epupa.

After an early start, partly due to the fact that the heat was allready making it‚??s presence felt, we stopped of at Kunene river lodge. We had a quick Coke on the deck overlooking the river, chatting to a guy that has just completed the 90 odd kays from Epupa by 4x4‚?¶.took him twelve hours. One of the Kunene river lodge managers also gave us a quick warning on the road‚?¶according to him we should expect about 8 hours in the saddle, and the bikes will take a beating.  We decided to shake a leg, as it was allready eleven-ish, and by now the tempreture was soaring.

As it turns out, most of the fountains in the area was still flowing, changing the normally sandy drifs (river crossings) to real river crossings, a welcome relief from the heat.



Stopping for lunch under some palm trees, I befriended a Himba herdboy‚?¶.amazing, the kid is about 10, walking around in the middle of nowhere, herding cattle.



With me having a nice chat going, Danie and Gideon decided to push on. As I have been out-running them and stopping frequently in order for us not to lose each other, the intention was for me to catch up.


I had hardly started down the trail, when rounding a bend, I saw the hill (http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=114743&highlight=kaokoland) that have been imprinted in my memory.

Maybe a mental thing, but halfway up I managed to hook neutral and toppled over, with the bike on top of me‚?¶for better or worse, I was stuck, and I could feel my knee going numb and stiff under the bike.  I took me about 20 minutes to dig my leg out from under the bike by removing the rocks and pebbels under me, and by the time I was hopping around on one leg, I was drenched in sweat.

After I took all my kit off and managed to lift the bike onto the stand I kitted up, and swinging my stiff leg over, managed to hook it into the luggage and I toppled over to the other side. The silver lining, this time I was on top of the bike and managed my kit of for a second time.

This time the XR was lying downhill, and by the time I had it on the stand, I was shaking from the heat and effort. Kitting up, I took care swinging my leg over, and proceded to kickstart a very hot and flooded XR from a precarious stance. When it fired up after about the twentyith feeble jab at the kickstarter, I hardly had the strentgth to pull the clutch and take off‚?¶.only to slip and ‚??donner neer‚?Ě for a third time barely 2 meters further‚?¶fa-a-a- rk.

Realising that by now Danie and Gideon must have noticed me not catching up, and not having the strenth to pick the bike up, I carried my kit to the top of the hill to act as a marker for my comrades. Slipping down the hill with my MX Boots on, I sat in the some ‚??shade‚?Ě for ten minutes and drank some water.

I have just managed to hoist the bike up when Danie arrived at the top of the hill. Walking down to me he kickstarted the Pig, and I managed to take off without incident. Riding, the airflow cooled me down, and after a couple of kays I was as ready as a rocket‚?¶and what enjoyable riding it was‚?¶.

Some random pics






 

 
Apart from getting slightly lost (we found ourselves on the Onkwati road and had to backtrack about 15 km) we made Epupa without incident after about 5 hours of riding.

What a first day, I can recommend the route anytime.

Arriving at Epupa, we quickly made camp, and like they say, got our sh!t sorted.

Taking of my boots, I realised the numb knee from the fall and the squelshing in my right boot  was related‚?¶Something glanced of my knee and punctured my calf muscle and my boot filled up with blood. I quickly cleaned the wound, and sticking it closed with super glue, we agreed that we will for the next day, have a Paris Dakar style restday‚?¶it will give Gideon the opportunity to try out the fishing rod that he has been lugging around.



Epupa‚?¶what a place



 
To Follow: Epupa to Van Zyl's and beyond
My Ride  :ricky:  Angola   Namibia  Northern Cape  Kids
 

Offline Matroos (aka JJred)

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Re: The Snail, the Tortoise and the Big Red Pig
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2008, 12:32:48 am »
Great stuff so far ...
 

albert smit

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Re: The Snail, the Tortoise and the Big Red Pig
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2008, 03:27:14 am »
Was self Jan 2005 alleen daar - great biking experience!!!

Sien uit om res te sien...

Chemical Ali
 

Offline Crossed-up

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Re: The Snail, the Tortoise and the Big Red Pig
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2008, 06:05:50 am »
Great stuff!  I look forward to the next installment.
 

Offline Gee S

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Re: The Snail, the Tortoise and the Big Red Pig
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2008, 06:45:58 am »
Great ride and RR. Cant wait for the rest.
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Offline letsgofishing

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Re: The Snail, the Tortoise and the Big Red Pig
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2008, 07:00:05 am »
Great RR so far....keep going :thumleft:
There is nothing you can do about the past and you can't predict the future...all you have is the now...live it to the fullest.

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Offline Plothond

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Re: The Snail, the Tortoise and the Big Red Pig
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2008, 07:07:06 am »
aaaah....

Very good. I'm enjoying this  :thumleft:
I used to be indecisive, but I'm not so sure anymore

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Offline michnus

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Re: The Snail, the Tortoise and the Big Red Pig
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2008, 07:25:33 am »
At last, a good report in the making.  :thumleft:

Offline Watty

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Re: The Snail, the Tortoise and the Big Red Pig
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2008, 07:38:47 am »
 

Offline fixit

Re: The Snail, the Tortoise and the Big Red Pig
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2008, 07:41:35 am »
Good stuff Beserker :thumleft: Keep it coming!
 

Offline Mark Hardy

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Re: The Snail, the Tortoise and the Big Red Pig
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2008, 07:52:50 am »
Ok I'm in for the ride  :thumleft:
 

Offline Kykdaar

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Re: The Snail, the Tortoise and the Big Red Pig
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2008, 07:53:34 am »
Really looking forward to the rest of this one :thumleft:

Love the pooratech water bottles and brackets :biggrin:
 

Offline Frohan Visser

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Re: The Snail, the Tortoise and the Big Red Pig
« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2008, 07:54:15 am »
Lekker manne, nice om 'n RR te lees van bekendes!!!!!!!!!!!

Sover lyk dit bevange!!!

D....., gooi mielies met die res!!!!!
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Offline LRFan

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Re: The Snail, the Tortoise and the Big Red Pig
« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2008, 09:16:37 am »
Lekker om die 'Ou en Nuwe' Bikes so saam te sien. Moerse nice XR wat jy daar het!
 

Offline Mungo Park

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Re: The Snail, the Tortoise and the Big Red Pig
« Reply #14 on: November 28, 2008, 11:30:26 am »
 :thumleft: hurry up
sad soul can kill you quicker than any germ
 

Offline Trailrider

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Re: The Snail, the Tortoise and the Big Red Pig
« Reply #15 on: November 28, 2008, 01:00:41 pm »
Great so far...

;D
 

Offline Snafu

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Re: The Snail, the Tortoise and the Big Red Pig
« Reply #16 on: November 28, 2008, 02:13:43 pm »
Lekker man, moet nou net nie te lank vat met die res nie :)
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Offline DRAZIL

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Re: The Snail, the Tortoise and the Big Red Pig
« Reply #17 on: November 28, 2008, 07:16:55 pm »
awsome and those pics bring back a few memories. :thumleft:
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Offline Beserker

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Re: The Snail, the Tortoise and the Big Red Pig
« Reply #18 on: November 28, 2008, 09:43:25 pm »
Lekker manne, nice om 'n RR te lees van bekendes!!!!!!!!!!!

Sover lyk dit bevange!!!

D....., gooi mielies met die res!!!!!

Hey...moet naam hoog (of laag)  hou...Mnr Frotwyn  ;D

awsome and those pics bring back a few memories. :thumleft:

You can imagine how I felt after a dry spell of 20 years.

Really looking forward to the rest of this one :thumleft:

Love the pooratech water bottles and brackets :biggrin:

Gideon managed to whip them out in 2 hours flat...I was apprehensive at first, but they lasted.

Great stuff!  I look forward to the next installment.

:thumleft: hurry up

Lekker man, moet nou net nie te lank vat met die res nie :)


Ok, Ok..


Day 5

Epupa


The rest day at Epupa was well worth it.

With luggage space at a premium, we all had the long pants we were riding in, a pair of shorts, 2 t-shirts and a spare change of socks and underrods.
(Danie and Gideon had armoured jackets as well,  I did not bother and took a long sleeved shirt instead)
We did washing, some bike maintenance, and got to know the place and inhabitants..




Aggro lizard (Namibian Rock Agama), caught the swallow mid flight ‚?¶

   
 

Friendly meerkat, sunset over falls




Day 6

Epupa to Van Zyls


Leaving Epupa at about 10 in the morning (we are early risers but slow starters) we headed for Onkwati to fill up. We calculated that from Onkwati, Rooidrom via Van Zyls, to Puros and from there to Sesfontein where we could refuel, we needed a range of about 450km.



Taking into consideration my consumption from Kunune River Lodge to Epupa, I had about 35 km spare range if I fill my tank and 5 liter jerry can. Gideon and Danie were slightly better off. 

Buying fuel in Onkwating involved siphoning, 5 liters at a time, from a 44 gallon drum, at about N$ 2.00 per liter more than the going rate‚?¶but we were gratefull for the fuel.



From Onkwati we struck out for van Zyl‚??s.

Once again, the riding was supurb.



 
But hot:

 

It was also on this stretch that we had our only flat‚?¶twice‚?¶ because Gideon did not remove the thorn properly the first time.




The small mountain pass at Ovivero, being very rough after the recent rainy season



Some  more ruff..



had us confused..being GPS noobs, we missed the turnoff to van Zyls and though the GPS was  saying ‚??Back‚?Ě we were to zoomed in to see the back and turn left turn to van Zyls, and falsely assumed that we have crossed van Zyl‚??s (Ovivero). It was only when we met up with Ralf, doing the slow way down with a Mercedez 4x4 fire truck, that we realised our mistake‚?¶





‚?¶we were halfway to Etenga and had to backtrack once again, a total detour of 40 km. Our fuel calculations were shot and the situation was becoming precarious. We could not afford getting lost again, and we still had to cross van Zyl‚??s and negotiate our way to Puros via the Khumib river and down to the Hoarusib.

We were also running out of daylight and camped at the foot of van Zyl‚??s.




Sitting around the campfire, Gideon played around with the GPS, and happened upon a feature called ‚??Shortest route‚?Ě. You punched in your destination, and the GPS worked out the shortest route, a great feature that saves you a lot of time fiddeling with the thing (And the routes are definitely of the beaten track) . Having T4Africa on the GPS, some of the routes looked pretty rough, but we managed to shave of about 30 km from our original route, offsetting the previous days detour. Striking out the next morning, the riding was again, awesome. (Have I said this before?)

Day 7

Van Zyls to Puros





Van Zyl‚??s is tackled from an easterly direction, going westwards and down to the Marianflusse. Apparently, doing it the other way round is to difficult. As it was, up was fairly rough, and I was wondering what lay install for us on the other side, if this was the easy bit:





We made it to the top within the hour, and our labour was rewarded with a view on the Marienfluss‚?¶..man, man is just so small..





Going down was rough, the grade was sufficient to cause my back wheel to lift up every time I applied a bit of braking, ricocheting from one rocky down step to next. Unfortunately the photographs does not never reflect the steepness as felt by the seat of my pants,



And glancing back, it was not that bad..



At the bottom of the pass we did the customary pile of rock piling.



And headed south to Rooidrom and Orupembe


 

Rooidrom‚?¶we wondered if it would lead to a catastrophic Namibian traffic gridlock if we painted it another colour ‚?¶not, we have not seen another soul for the better part of a day and a half.



At Orupembe we were spoilt for choice and settled for the obvious building on the main drag,



And the (miraculous) cold beer went down well.



Having allready tasted a few kilometers of Khumib river sand, we headed out of Orupembe in a southernly direction, following the Khumib River eco trail.



 



Crossing over to the Hoarusib.



Following the Huarusib, having got the knack of Namib river sand riding licked, (Tuck and roll works good) we spend an enoyable afternoon riding to Puros


 



Though seeing lion spoor twice, and plenty, plenty elephant spoor, we made it to Puros without a run in with either. We were rather paranoid about the elephants, as Danie had a run in with them two years previously. Actually, more of a running away, when he rounded a tree and found himself in the midst of a herd. Obviously not liking an XT the bull got all agitated and started flapping his ears, at which Danie took of bundu bashing‚?¶he reckons he has never ridden the XT as fast through bush and sand before or since that day. Apparently, he did not even look over his shoulder and carried on for quite a bit.


 

It was late afternoon and we were knackered. As with all community camp sites we stayed in, Puros was well sorted with hot showers, braai place and wood. After pitching my tent in such a manner that it would not be stumbled upon by a sleep walking elephant I had a shower, and feeling rejuvenated, a few beers round the fire. BTW, Gideon took the next one, I‚??m not sure why, it was obviously important to him, so whom am I to not share it with you?



Speaking tjol around the fire later on, we discussed the fate a French tourist at Puros (now I am not sure whether this is outback legend, we heard it from a German couple at Epupa) but apparenly the one convinced two others that elephant can‚??t run on river sand, and they sneaked upriver to capture some footage of their African safari. Coming across some wild elephant, they went close to the herd (to close) and to their horror discovered that the Namib elephant does indeed run across riversand, and got trampled.

As we were allready weary of elephant from seeing so many spoor around us, and with the fate of the french tourist still on our minds, we were ill prepared for the snapping of a branch not 10 meters away, and our eyes swiveled around, to be rooted on an elephant, standing right next to my bike.

We sat there staring at him for what felt like an internity, deadstill in our camping chairs so as not to offend him, before he moved on. We did not dare to take a photograph, apparently the camara flash pisses them of big time..so I have nothing more than a memory of those few minutes.

Speaking to the camp commandant the next day, he confirmed a herd of 22 elephant passed through the camp that night,  after which he, with a TIA shrug of the shoulders, set about repairing the damage wrought by these amazing creatures‚?¶The scratched themselves against the above abode, reducing it to matchsticks.

Packing up the next morning, we were forced to face the harsh reality of about to run out of petrol. I have allready the previous day at Orumpembe emptied my Jerry can into my main tank, as did Danie. Gideon was still fine , and with Danie being a maybe, just-just to Sesfontein, I emptied Gideon‚??s last 3.5  liters into my tank.

To follow, Puros to Palmwag
My Ride  :ricky:  Angola   Namibia  Northern Cape  Kids
 

Offline Runner

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Re: The Snail, the Tortoise and the Big Red Pig
« Reply #19 on: November 28, 2008, 09:58:24 pm »
Befok dude, befok :thumleft:
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