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Offline Rock Rabbit

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Botswana Raid June 2009
« on: June 22, 2009, 08:34:16 pm »
Botswana Dual Sport Tour – May 2009          By Rock Rabbit


 
(Sunset over the Makgadkigadi Pans)

Planning for the trip started 2 months prior to our departure.
The plan was to incorporate as much dirt as possible from Pretoria to Maun and back via the Makgadkigadi pans.
Lists were setup around what to take and what each person would carry. Each rider had to be self sufficient for 2 days before we could restock. This included water, food tents and bedding. Fuel was going to be a challenge, so I had to carry 5lt extra for my thirsty KTM 990.The range was around the 270km mark depending on the terrain. The 640’s would comfortably cover 350kms and the big BMW’s were the petrol bowzers in case I ran short.
A satellite phone was rented in case of emergencies. Medical and vehicle insurance updated and medical info printed on helmet stickers were worn by each rider. Complete first aid kit to deal with common riding injuries, snake and spider bites and the problems associated with dehydration and rural water consumption.
A list of common spare parts was compiled including spare tubes, punctures repair kit, levers, fuel line/ filters, jumper cables, oil, brake/ clutch fluid, tow straps, spark plugs, chain links, Pratley steel, cable ties and of course ducts tape and tools.
The route had been planned down to the last detail from available printed maps, tracks for Africa software, Google maps (to physically see the route we had chosen) and numerous calls to friend and contacts that knew the area or had ridden there before.

The group consisted of 2 x KTM 640 adventures, 2x BMW 1200GS’s and me on my KTM 990.
 Bikes were mechanically prepped and fitted with panniers, top boxes, tank bags and navigational aids, knobbly tires and protective plastics

 
(KTM vs BMW)
Day 1
The day finally arrived and we set out from Pretoria with our heavily laden iron horses to meet up at the Sun City garage. From there our route took us North West on dirt roads to the chosen out of the way Sikwane border post.
As expected, it was quiet and customs was a breeze. On the Botswana side the officials were friendly and everything had to be completed in duplicate with carbon paper which took a while longer.
We were on an adventure, so it didn’t really matter.
Naturally there were stretches of tar to deal with which gave us time to relax and listen to music while cruising the A1 to Dibete
At this point it was time to fill up the rehydration packs and top up the fuel before we entered the bush and lost touch with society. We planned to exit town and follow twin track routes to vet fences and cut lines which crisscross the country side. After 50 kms we turned onto a twin track of thick sand which would take us to our overnight stop.
Around the 5km mark of heavy sand we stopped to regroup. The 640’s were happily plodding along at 60 kms/ hr while the heavier 990 was becoming a hand full and the BMW’s were really struggling with the extra weight and smaller front wheels. These bikes are just not made for heavy sand riding. It was decided that we would set up camp and check our maps to make a call on the direction in the morning. That night a real feast was laid on as the BMW boys tried desperately to rid their bikes of excess weight. The desert air rapidly cooled down and by midnight it was freezing. Between the snoring and cold, few of us enjoyed any sleep.
 The distance covered for the day was 650kms

 
(Thick sandy paths, not a dual sports friend)
Day 2
A stunning sun rise was enjoyed with coffee and rusks and the decision had been made to find an alternative route. So back to the main dirt road and we followed the Acacia lined hard pack dirt with suitable dust gaps to the nearest village for real breakfast. Beer!
A brief stop to rehydrate in Otse and back on the track to Kodibeleng and then Shoshong. From there we traveled on road to Serowe and Letlhakane where we filled up with fuel and water and continued off road through some ugly twin sand tracks which left us battling the heavy beasts and fighting off the thorn bushes which were ripping at our jackets and gear. On occasion, in order to keep the momentum, the big KTM turned into a chain saw and ripped right through some smaller thorn bushes. At this point I was just a passenger!
 
(Hard work with 200 plus kilograms. Note the GS on its side in the far background)
We were loosing light, so a suitable spot was found, camp was quickly set up and fire wood collected as we knew that another cold night lay ahead.
Supper was a concoction of tins and precooked rice that filled our hungry stomachs and was washed down with some Old Brown Sherry to keep the chill at bay and enjoy the great outdoors around the campfire.

This night we were prepared and went to bed with jacket liners, beanies, thermal pants and socks. The snoring soon drifted off and most of us had a good night sleep.
The distance covered for the day was 380kms.

Day 3
The mission today was to reach Maun. The back up vehicle had run parallel to us on the A1 and was approaching Maun. After coffee and rusks we departed from our overnight stop outside Letlhakane on some sandy tracks and hard pack roads to a breakfast stop called the “Karmasutra Liquor Rest” Yes , you guessed it. Beer!
A few more kms of deep sand and we made our way to one of the cut lines.
Fantastic! 20m wide graded dirt roads that enabled us to reach speeds of up to 140kms / hr. A pleasant change from the deep sandy tracks.
Back on the black stuff and the country side started changing to a baron landscape with sparse vegetation and then opened up to our first sight of a huge pan in the town of Mopipi where we filled up and took on water which we carefully treated to avoid infection and stopped at the local tavern for a nice cold…….beer. It’s probably the safest fluid to drink in any town, no matter where you are in Africa.
Later that morning we stopped in the town of Rakops for some lunch and were immediately surrounded by the local children  eager to get a glimpse of these strange travelers. Bully beef and fresh bread and tinned tuna were a welcome snack followed by a cold beer of course. This is where we introduced the local kids to some western culture by dishing out drops of Tobasco to those who were willing to try. The crowd erupted with laughter after seeing their friends faces and soon backed off to a safe distance from the Tobasco wielding “Mlungu’s”
Our original plan called for us to do another heavy sand section which would take us from Mananga Gate to Segoro but because the bigger bikes would struggle and there was plenty dirt fun ahead we decided to continue on tar.3 hrs later we arrived in Maun and to our final destination for the end of day 3. A hot shower and a cold beer was waiting for us and the night with our hosts was enjoyable alongside the Boro river. Clean, warm beds awaited our heavy heads and no one heard a thing.
The distance covered was 300kms

Day 4
Planned as a rest day we had a chance to reflect on our journey and catch up with family members who drove the back up vehicle. One of the 640’s had developed a bit of an engine noise and we had the opportunity to check it out. A noisy tappet had been the culprit which was quickly adjusted but we were still a bit worried about the amount of play that was evident on the rockers.

A bit of fishing and a boat trip up the river was the highlight for the day and we lazed around this beautiful setting as the sun sank

Day 5
 
(Planet Baobab)
We filled up and left Maun along the A3 for the long trek to Gweta and planet Baobab, a great pub and resort in the middle of nowhere. En route trouble struck as the 640 with the noisy tappets started to fade. A call to the backup vehicle which would shadow us to Makgadkigadi was made and a rendezvous point was established for pick up. The big GS 1200 towed the stricken little KTM the remained of the way (app 130 kms) to Planet baobab where we settled down to relax and have a cold beer.
After discussions we decided to leave our fellow rider there and push on to the turn off from tar to gravel because there was still 80kms to cover before dark.

 
(The pub at planet baobab, note the Amstel chandeliers)
We expected the back up to reach us by the time we left the tar but they were delayed and only arrived an hour or so before sunset. This meant that the remaining 60 off road kilometers to Kubu Island would be done after dark!

We set out with the bakkie close on our heels riding in formation and when the dust got too bad we split up into 2 pairs. Even though riding off road in Africa after dark is risky we pushed on. Fortunately illumination wasn’t a problem because the bigger bikes have very good lights and before long we were all loving the adventure. Night brought on the nocturnals and around every corner the fields were full of wild hare’s who darted across the paths almost causing a few tumbles.

 
(After dark adventure, 60 kms of dust, more dust and rabbits. Did you know that Old Brown Sherry gives you night vision?)

Occasional stops to regroup and before we knew it, in front of our eyes was the biggest pan we had ever seen. The moon light was just enough to make out the horizon and masses of open space.
We set up camp and settled down to fix a supper of tins and packets. The exposed but intriguing feeling about being completely in the open without lights, so far from civilization with billions of stars to see will remain with us for a long time. We were all tired after a long days ride and silence soon fell over our camp.
The distance covered for this day was 300 kms

Day 6
 
(Very fresh sunrise on the pans)
After the mandatory photo shoot and a visit to the Island of Kubu we set off through the pans enroute to Mosu. Riding on the pans is a fun experience and one has to be careful for wet patches where traction becomes non existent and rear wheels try and overtake the front. Braking is not an option and a hand full of throttle usually keeps your heading. More tight winding thorn covered bush paths greeted us as we exited the pan and headed to hard pack dirt roads which turned to tar as we approached Letlhakane.

 
(Heading out from Kubu Island in pairs creating a suitable dust gap)
 
(Due South)

We refueled and had a bite to eat before leaving for Serowe, Palaype and then headed south towards the border at Martins Drift
A handful of kilometers later and after a nice hot shower we were soon sitting on the banks of the Limpopo River on the stunning deck at the Kwa Nokeng lodge having a cold beer and taking in the beautiful sites and sounds.
Supper on the deck and drinks around a cozy indoor fire was a nice finish to another dusty day in Africa.
The distance covered this day was 380 kms

Day 7

After a hearty egg and bacon breakfast we hit the road. Clearing customs was painless and soon we were on our way. It’s almost as if the bikes knew we were heading home as good time was made through the winding roads towards Nylstroom. It wasn’t long before Bela Bela was in our rear view mirrors.
We felt strangely out of place riding back into Pretoria, at every robot people would stare at the dirty dusty bikers and wonder where we had been.

Little did they know……………

Distance covered for the day was approx. 400kms

Total distance for the trip was 2780kms

Botswana is a beautiful place to visit and doing it on dual sport bikes gave us the opportunity to explore places where few travel. The people are friendly and we never felt unsafe. Fuel stops need to be planned, use cash as they seldom accept cards. The roads are very good but watch out for cattle and the many donkeys that roam the verges.
You can draw Pula at ATM’s in the bigger towns but only on Visa cards. For some reason our Mastercards didn’t work
We look forward to another adventure in this amazing country


(Cut lines, you gotta love them!)
(Boro River at sunset)
(Sign for Kubu,note the baobab shape)
(Kamasutra Liquor Rest. Don’t care what it’s called, it has cold beer
( Riding on the pans can be great fun , just watch out for the slippery stuff)
( At 300 kg’s its a hand full in the sand.)
I suffer from premature acceleration!!!!!
 

Offline Rock Rabbit

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Botsawan Raid June 2009
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2009, 08:39:24 pm »
More of the pics
I suffer from premature acceleration!!!!!
 

Offline funacide

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Re: Botswana Raid June 2009
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2009, 09:19:14 pm »
Hey Really nice descriptions in that report, please post some more pics and maybe a map of the trip (gps tracklog would be even better)

Thanks for sharing
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Offline Mark Hardy

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Re: Botswana Raid June 2009
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2009, 09:37:40 pm »
Very nice ride you guys had.  :thumleft:

I must get back too Bots. Just an amazing country to ride in but you need to be comfortable riding in sand to really get out into the bush.

Please post some more wonderful pics.  :thumleft:
 

Offline Mark Hardy

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Re: Botsawan Raid June 2009
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2009, 10:01:40 pm »
very nice  :thumleft:

I got very legless at Planet Baobab a couple of times  ;)


ps.....you don't have to start a new thread each time you post, just add the pics to the original thread. Just click on the reply button on the right bottom of the page and post away.  :thumleft:
 

Offline funacide

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Re: Botswana Raid June 2009
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2009, 10:31:31 pm »
Hey Rock Rabbit

I have merged your two topics into one, please rather update this topic (Reply to it) rather than starting a new topic. I am also moving it from Global Reports to Ride Reports as Global Reports is for Global (World Wide trips).

Nice Pics though!!
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Offline TVB

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Re: Botswana Raid June 2009
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2009, 11:25:39 pm »
Impressive! Thanks for sharing, good RR!!
 

Offline edgy

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Re: Botswana Raid June 2009
« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2009, 06:39:11 am »
very nice  icon_thumleft

I got very legless at Planet Baobab a couple of times  Wink

Myself!! :biggrin:
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Offline LeonDude

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Re: Botswana Raid June 2009
« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2009, 07:22:41 am »
Nice going!  :thumleft:
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Offline eSKaPe

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Re: Botswana Raid June 2009
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2009, 07:41:01 am »
Nice one and well worth doing - have this trip on my to do list
 

Offline Stev0

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Re: Botswana Raid June 2009
« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2009, 07:45:48 am »
perfect discription of the two oposing brands ...

Note the how calm and relaxed the Bmw rider is and how the rear KTM is like a mustang ready to buck!

« Last Edit: June 23, 2009, 07:46:16 am by Stev0 »
 

Offline GG

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Re: Botswana Raid June 2009
« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2009, 07:52:29 am »
Lekker pics, amazing how much sand and how dry it was compared to now!! Not sure which is worse  :)
 

Offline Crossed-up

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Re: Botswana Raid June 2009
« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2009, 08:08:58 am »
Lekker trip - it's an awesome country.  Thanks for the great RR.
 

Offline Frohan Visser

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Re: Botswana Raid June 2009
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2009, 08:22:14 am »
Very nice RR Rock Rabbit....!!!!!!!!

Please post a map with your route or some GPS coordinates!!
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Re: Botswana Raid June 2009
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2009, 06:22:15 pm »
Nice one, thanks for shareing :thumleft:
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Offline Gee S

Re: Botswana Raid June 2009
« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2009, 07:20:25 pm »
Very nice.
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Offline Rock Rabbit

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Re: Botswana Raid June 2009
« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2009, 09:26:21 pm »
Hi Guys
Glad you enjoyed the pics and article. Here are some more pics and soon as I get the route, Ill post it so you can see the actual route.
Enjoy
RR
I suffer from premature acceleration!!!!!
 

Offline Rock Rabbit

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Re: Botswana Raid June 2009
« Reply #17 on: June 23, 2009, 09:28:00 pm »
And some more
I suffer from premature acceleration!!!!!
 

Offline Rock Rabbit

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Re: Botswana Raid June 2009
« Reply #18 on: June 23, 2009, 09:29:33 pm »
Few more
I suffer from premature acceleration!!!!!
 

Offline Mark Hardy

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Re: Botswana Raid June 2009
« Reply #19 on: June 23, 2009, 09:39:55 pm »
 :thumleft: