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Offline JAmBer

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #20 on: October 30, 2009, 08:29:02 am »
Day 3: Bushcamp to Windhoek.
549km, all along tar B1. 10hr day. Refuel at Keetmanshoop and another stop for lunch and refuel at Mariental.

U-go was always first up in the morning.




I awoke a reluctant second. To a freezing morning. The plan was to head straight up the B1 (tar) to Windhoek and see what we could do about Alex's forks. But we had to make some repairs to Mark's KLR in Keetmanshoop first. He'd lost his radiator guard and we were nervous that with all of the gravel riding we're doing, a stone might get kicked-up into the radiator by the front wheel. Windhoek's Kawasaki dealer didn't have stock of a replacement gaurd anyway. Fortunately, we stumbled into another KLR rider at a metalworking & engineering shop in Keetmans and he sold us the one off his bike. What a hero! He said he'd get another one from the dealer at a later date, but that we should take his since we needed it more desperately.

We spent the night at Arebbusch in Windhoek. It was expensive and unpleasant. But that was probably due in part to the fact that there was a matric dance going on in their hall. The students were loud and obnoxious after our silent nights in Namibia's tranquil wild. Still, it was nice to sleep in an actual bed.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2011, 04:55:28 pm by JAmBer »
 

Offline JAmBer

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #21 on: October 30, 2009, 08:31:37 am »
Day 4: Windhoek to roadside camp at S22 23.302, E15 50.339
240km, along Khomas Hotchland rd (C28) and then turn north onto C32 towards Karibib. 8hr day.

It was at this stage that we decided to change our planned route a little. U-go had made contact with a local who had some up-to-date knowledge of the northern stretches, specifically the lesser-travelled routes. The original plan was to head all the way to Van Zyl's pass. But this is a technical bit of riding and it became apparent quite early in the tour that it was an unrealistic goal for a group with our experience level.

So we left U-go to plan a new route while the rest of us struggled with Alex's Dakar's forks. I'd fitted fork boots before we left, but dirt found its way into the seals. The BMW dealer didn't have stock of the replacement seals either. And it was a saturday morning, so places wouldn't be open long. We had to make a plan soon. The picture was looking bleak. But after some advice from Dad back in PE, we headed to Midas and topped-up the forks with engine-oil stop-leak. That solved the problem, though the stop-leak is somewhat thicker than the normal forkoil, so the damping was all wrong. Alex didn't seem to notice and was still the fastest rider of us all.

Then we made a beeline out of Windhoek. But not before R2D2 (my GPS) got very upset with me for missing a bunch of turns and leading the group in circles around Windhoek. We turned west towards the coast along the famous Khomas Hotchland road. What a fantastic ride!  The road starts in terrible condition. We were struggling to make even 80km/h as the loose stuff had us fish-tailing all over the road. There were plenty of huge whoops too, which kept things interesting 'cos sometimes there's soft sand waiting for you at the bottom.

After taking a bit of a rest and dropping tire pressures, the road seemed to get much better. But it was rather hot and the road was very dusty. There were frequent stops. We didn't have a thermometer, but it felt into the 40s. Here we took a break next under a rarely-found large tree and discovered after we pulled under it that it was a camelthorn tree. They have big thorns. Luckily we emerged without any punctures, cos fixing 'em in the heat is no fun.


The Khomas Hotchland road is not without its dangers though...



We were getting a little tired and after some near-serious incidents (I'll leave that story to Mark and U-go), we decided to stop for the day.

Although we didn't quite make our scheduled distance for the day, it was a thoroughly enjoyable ride. But it did create some discord in the group as opinions differed as to how we could make it up the next day, or even if we should. U-go likes to start early and take it easy. Alex likes to sleep late and ride hard. Mark was nervous about speed as it was his first time offroad on a bike. Group dynamics!



« Last Edit: August 20, 2011, 04:55:50 pm by JAmBer »
 

Offline JAmBer

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #22 on: October 30, 2009, 08:56:07 am »
I want to know how the KLR's went for reliability and what your common problems were as my wife and I also want to do this trip on 2 KLR's.
 :thumleft: :thumleft:

The KLRs performed quite well. I wouldn't hesitate to take a KLR on an extended trip. But beware, there are some minor issues and it does require a lot more finessing than some other bikes (notably the Dakar).

It floods easily and then you have to crank and crank, risking flat battery in the middle of nowhere.

The sidestand and clutch cutout switches on both our KLRs were failing, preventing 'em from starting reliably. Bypass them before you depart.

I highly recommend a centerstand for puncture repairs. But choose it carefully.  You'll have to wait for the next day's report to hear more about this.

Also, be sure to loctite everything before you leave. We did this on Hugo's bike and he didn't lose a single bolt or have to retighten anything. Mark's bike though... many bolts were lost, panels rattled loose. The entire rear luggage rack rattled off (though this could in part be due to the monstrous fall the bike had the previous week).

Keep an eye on the water temp. The KLRs' thermostat doesn't regulate too well (notice how on cold days / slow riding the temp reads low) and the radiator's fan has a tendancy to blow fuses (which aren't under the seat like the others, but rather under the fuel tank on the right behind the water bottle).

Be sure to check oil levels regularly. It drops pretty quickly if you're riding hard. We did some flat-out stints on the tar sections and used over a litre of oil.

I'm sure U-go and Mark can add more.

Offline melvman

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #23 on: October 30, 2009, 08:57:39 am »
J, this great ride report is spoiling my Friday. A whole 8 hours before the weekend starts.

Namibia seems awesome for pic-taking, the sky seems to be so clear, deep blue...I can't take this no more...booking off sick now.
 

Offline Would I?

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #24 on: October 30, 2009, 10:56:21 am »
I want to know how the KLR's went for reliability and what your common problems were as my wife and I also want to do this trip on 2 KLR's.
 :thumleft: :thumleft:

The KLRs performed quite well. I wouldn't hesitate to take a KLR on an extended trip. But beware, there are some minor issues and it does require a lot more finessing than some other bikes (notably the Dakar).

It floods easily and then you have to crank and crank, risking flat battery in the middle of nowhere.

The sidestand and clutch cutout switches on both our KLRs were failing, preventing 'em from starting reliably. Bypass them before you depart.

I highly recommend a centerstand for puncture repairs. But choose it carefully.  You'll have to wait for the next day's report to hear more about this.

Also, be sure to loctite everything before you leave. We did this on Hugo's bike and he didn't lose a single bolt or have to retighten anything. Mark's bike though... many bolts were lost, panels rattled loose. The entire rear luggage rack rattled off (though this could in part be due to the monstrous fall the bike had the previous week).

Keep an eye on the water temp. The KLRs' thermostat doesn't regulate too well (notice how on cold days / slow riding the temp reads low) and the radiator's fan has a tendancy to blow fuses (which aren't under the seat like the others, but rather under the fuel tank on the right behind the water bottle).

Be sure to check oil levels regularly. It drops pretty quickly if you're riding hard. We did some flat-out stints on the tar sections and used over a litre of oil.

I'm sure U-go and Mark can add more.


Thanks this is all useful and i appreciate any advice/ help as new to this sport :) :)

great report so far.  :thumleft: :thumleft:
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Offline u-go

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #25 on: October 30, 2009, 12:07:02 pm »

I highly recommend a centerstand for puncture repairs. But choose it carefully.  You'll have to wait for the next day's report to hear more about this.


drumrolllll....

besides this, the fact that the whealbearing are not sealed almost caused tragedy (avoided, thanks to Fixit-Jason). And then an echo on the LocTite - besides loosing my rear wheal R-clip (probly my fault) not a thing rattled loose.
 

Offline u-go

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #26 on: October 30, 2009, 12:10:57 pm »
I am having trouble uploading pics to a pic site. hopefully things will start working at some point. I will then make a bit of an update post for the last two days. Not that the ride to Windhoek had any photos, besides my early morning shots.
 

Offline u-go

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #27 on: October 30, 2009, 01:29:52 pm »
Well, alex's debugging... this is not the lens type. you cant really see what happening, but he's playing with some electronics. He did this fairly often. Probly more often that what he needed to a break for anything else. Care to elaborate Alex?  >:D




Which bring me to another two things that became part of the daily schedule:

6. Packing the tooltubes (by the end we were either getting really good, or some bits were missing...)

This is Alex's first time of doing it. I think it was around 4 tries when he gave up.


7. Talking about Alex, now is probably time to introduce his bikes Vertically Challenged Syndrom status. (see the pic J posted)
In his defense, this was mostly due to the fact that he rode the sand really hard, as apposed to the happy paddlers (Mark and myself). It was pretty much garaunteed that he will find some deep sand to plow down in. plenty more of this to come!


I love kokerbome






Well, what more to say, she was hungry, so I cant complain if she decides to nibble a little





U-go was always first up in the morning.




It was pretty darn freezing. And there i was hopping around in my sleeping bag (I hate doing this but it was too cold to get out) setting up a photo. This took several tries of jumping on the bike with nothing but undies and a helmet, (edit: i see i had a warm top on as well - it was still very cold though) and then running back to see if it came out fine. Worth it in the end. Furthermore the day only held the long tar section. This was to be day one of my eyes messing me around, but not too bad though, tar is a very different colour from grass.

The next day was a bit of a very late start, as J has already explained. Thanks a lot to Chrisna Greef, who supplied us with the ideas of routes. Although all did not work as planned, I will go travel all of em, one day. Good to know why we rode around Windhoek for so long - I forgot to ask. Thought we were doing the scenic tour of the protest march (celebrations? i dont know what it was, but the CBD was insane). There were also a few near-misses in town. Firstly a guy getting really agro with the four of us not knowing where we are going  (it didnt hep that we had each taken off one of the rearview mirrors, some on the left, other on the right, so there was constant confusion as to where the guy was coming from). Then secondly I pulled a Moegoe and confused a flashing traffic light as one going from red to green (in my defense most of the bulbs were dead, and the working ones are terrible) and did a textbook slam anchors, push left veer right swerve to not plow into Alex. Yeah, life happens, but this time I got lucky. (some say i have used up all my luck on my scooter in undergrad days, but see, it continues!)

After we left the tar things were going a bit better, for some time. This was day two of my eyes messing me arouhnd. at times differentiating between the road and the bush was tricky, making riding at 70 unpleasant. My held until i misjudged a corner and went flying over the side, at around 4km/h. Yes, looking back i know i should have stood up and gassed it to get round, but you live and learn. Don damage beyond a bent radiator grip (thank you cable ties!) In the process Mark saw me go down and decided to come help... and then needed help himself, in the middle of the road. Dont think there are any pics of this though (does that mean i didnt fall? there is no proof of it, after all)

Here the sand patches started getting bigger. The transition from hardpack to soft was a first for me, and although i know that the sand should be hit nice and hard, my mind has not yet conquered the fear. Eyes were also buggering around a lot. At one point the road dropped a bit, but the sandbank on the side carried on for a while. I caught a wobble (sand) and wanted to put my foot down, just to find it digging into sand at about footpegheight. this almost casue a superman 101, which is when we called it quits for the day.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2010, 05:16:44 pm by u-go »
 

Offline roxenz

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #28 on: October 30, 2009, 02:44:05 pm »
Great trip guys!  Really enjoying this!  :thumleft:
 

Offline Baches

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #29 on: October 31, 2009, 07:29:26 am »
Need to do a trip a.s.a.p.
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Offline melvman

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #30 on: October 31, 2009, 10:22:46 am »
I'll def go for a ride 2DAY!... :ricky: 8). Alex I might use your Dak. The KLR is still recovering from shock.  :biggrin:
 

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #31 on: November 02, 2009, 10:51:54 am »
Hey man , finish the RR already !  :eek7:

 THE CHALLENGE MAY NOT BE EASY , BUT IT'S NOT IMPOSSIBLE.
SO MANY PLACES, SO LITTLE TIME !

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Offline JAmBer

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #32 on: November 02, 2009, 12:51:10 pm »
Day 5: Roadside camp to other roadside camp outside Uis.

U-go and Mark left early the next morning and Alex and I followed later to Karibib where we refueled, regrouped and then headed West to Spitzkuppe.



It was here where we got our first puncture of the trip. We had prepared quite well. All the bikes had new tires and heavy duty tubes. We'd opted not to put "Fuggit" or "Slime" or other sealants in there because this can make it difficult to get patches to stick should you need to repair a puncture. But U-go got unlucky and picked-up a huge shard of metal in his rear tire somewhere along Spitzkuppe's sandy roads. We'd fitted centerstands to all the bikes, 'cos Murphy says your punctures will be in the rear wheel. U-go had his custom machined. Unfortunately, the springs weren't up to spec and so after using it a few times they stretched and the centerstand started dragging lower and lower...

But the other problem was that the SW Motec stands (on which U-go's was based) didn't lift the KLR high enough to get the rear wheel off the ground. So we had to dig a little trench under the rear wheel to get it off the bike. This also resulted in some comedy every night as U-go and Mark lubed their chains. One would push the bike while the other ran behind with a can of lube aimed at the rear sprocket. I think more lube ended up on the wheel than the chain, but it was entertaining to watch.



Alex went touring the towering Spitzkuppe while U-go sweated around his KLR, Mark smoked a ciggie and I "supervised". From the shade of a tree. With a drink. ;D



This was U-go's first puncture repair on a bike. Eventually Mark and I were recruited to help. But the tube was pinched while re-assembling and the whole exercise had to be repeated.


Meanwhile, Alex found some wildlife.


Nearly four hours later (yes, 4 hours for a flat!) the wheel was back on the bike.


We left the Spitzkuppe behind us and continued north.






Back on the dirt, everyone was in high spirits. Until we came to a wide dried-up riverbed. Here was deep sand. Sand on any bike is not easy. When you're heavily loaded and have a total of 4 hours sand riding experience, it's downright scary.



We had an eventful afternoon. Even the locals were laughing at us.



We arrived at Uis at 17h30 low on fuel and had no fresh food. All the shops were closed and even the local filling station was deserted. But the Namibian folk are very accomodating, and the petrol station on the outskirts of town was opend 'specially for us. We decided to camp outside the town that night.


It was then we noticed all of U-go's numberplate was gone. And that his registration disc was also missing. Since we hadn't seen a single traffic cop in days, we figured this wouldn't be a big problem. But the border crossing could be interesting. Fortunately we made it through all the towns and the border crossing back into SA without a numberplate or registration disc without any trouble.


In fact, we were very lucky to have met the owner at that petrol station, Piet. This is not the Engen in the town proper, but a newly-revamped garage next to the Tseiseb Conservancy Office. He and his wife rode past our camp that evening and stopped for a chat. 30 minutes later he arrived back with braaiwood and wors from his own freezer, refusing to accept any form of payment for it. That meal was delicous!




« Last Edit: August 23, 2011, 07:23:20 pm by JAmBer »
 

Offline u-go

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #33 on: November 02, 2009, 03:16:51 pm »
As far as I can remember this was off number 2 for me. Will blame it on lack of experience in keeping the bike in existing tracks. Need to go play at Atlantis in the afternoon when the kwats have dug the place up. Looking at the photo and the general proximity of my zorst to my leg I am loving my boots that much more!

I have a few extra photos, but nothing much from the day - tire changing was frustrating enough to keep the camera at bay. As mentioned in my previous note on KLRs, replace the bearings with sealed units. It is simply too easy to put the wheel down on some dirt when in the middle of nowhere. The center stand issue is still bothering me. I must still maek a better plan with it, at some point...

Spitzkoppe is great. Will return with some rope one day to the top. Alex also almost discovered on the hard way that biking boots do not make great climbing shoes. Fortunately his doesnt have the metal tips or he would most likely have joined us at the bottom in a less than optimal state of health.

Gasvryheid (I prefer that over the English - hospitality sounds so institutionalised) is something amazing in these small towns. For the life of me I cannot remember the guy's name, but that wors was wonderful!


It was then we noticed all of U-go's numberplate was gone. And that his registration disc was also missing. Since we hadn't seen a single traffic cop in days, we figured this wouldn't be a big problem. But the border crossing could be interesting. Fortunately we made it through all the towns and the border crossing back into SA without a numberplate or registration disc without any trouble.


well, not completely the case. I had the original disc in my jacket pocket with my passport. I am king at losing things, but there i knew it would be as safe as can be. Later on (somewhere on the N7 on the way back I think) the rest of the numberplate bracket came loose. The new one is now sitting under the tail light.
 

Offline JAmBer

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #34 on: November 02, 2009, 03:46:17 pm »
As mentioned in my previous note on KLRs, replace the bearings with sealed units. It is simply too easy to put the wheel down on some dirt when in the middle of nowhere.

Do KLRs really not ship with sealed bearings? Maybe it's just your bike.

I had the original disc in my jacket pocket with my passport. I am king at losing things...

Ja, this was a good idea. Put colour copies on the bike (laminated, of course - you can't tell the difference behind the disc holder's plastic), and keep the original in a safe place. Same thing with drivers license and passports.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2009, 04:17:31 pm by JAmBer »
 

Offline Baches

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #35 on: November 02, 2009, 06:48:34 pm »
Next day ???
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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #36 on: November 02, 2009, 10:18:06 pm »
After reading Metal Jockeys report and now yours , I would really like to go to Namibia some day , it is really a beautifull country.
Keep the report coming.
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Offline JAmBer

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #37 on: November 03, 2009, 08:54:56 am »
Day 6: Uis to middle of nowhere


I had decided to camp without a tent last night. Bad move. I have a down-feather sleeping bag which got wet from the dew. It stank like a wet dog the next morning, so I rigged a make-shift washing line to try'n dry it out in the morning sun. It still stank a week later.


I travelled fairly lightly. But there was no way I was going to go without my electric toothbrush. Or a razor of some form. An electric shaver is easier than a dry-shave with an old-school razor when you don't have water to spare.


Today we were going to pass SW of the Brandberg and then turn north along the new route that we'd planned in Windhoek. The plan was to slowly make our way up to Purros.

The road west the next day was horribly corregated. Mark's footpegs and my front mudgaurd rattled loose. The KLR lost a plastic radiator cover insert and some bolts too. Fun times were had by all.


We'd spent some while researching our original route, and I was confident about it. I had seen pictures or Youtube videos of most of our route. I knew what the roads would look like, where the major landmarks were to be found, potential camping spots etc. But this new route was completely unknown territory for all of us. It suggested we turn off the D2303 gravel road onto paths that T4A said were "Not recommended" and "4x4 Only". We were a little apprehensive upon entering the Tsiseb Conservancy, but this section turned out to be a highlight of the trip. In retrospect, it wouldn't have been a real adventure without at least doing a little exploring.

It wasn't long and we were falling like flies. "Ah, not this shit again!"




There were the strangest rock formations...


The new route wound its way through a dried-up riverbed in a canyon as the GPS brought up warnings of flash floods and agressive elephants.






It was rather hot and riding in the sand is hard work. But there was no shade to be found. At midday the sun turned the canyon into a furnace. We were supposed to meet the Ugab somewhere up ahead.


But before we could get there, the proverbial shit hit the fan. The riverbed had some very loose sandy sections and Alex fell into one. This was nothing new, we'd fallen a dozen times already just this morning. But this time was different. A hidden rock broke the Dakar's clutch lever. We were half a day's ride from any town, at the bottom of a canyon with a 200kg bike without a clutch. How the #$@ were we going to get out?




While I worked on a plan to repair the bike, Mark and U-go went exploring in search of cellphone coverage to see if we could try'n source a replacement lever. There was no cellphone coverage to be found. Getting out of the tough stuff without a clutch would be really hard. The crime of it was that I actually had a spare one at home. The plan was to take the spare with us, but then we'd opted to purchase 2-finger levers which are unlikely to break. Unfortunately we couldn't get a set manufactured for Alex in time for our departure and I'd forgotten to pack the spare levers, in the back of my mind still thinking that they wouldn't be necessary.

Normally, if you're stuck without a clutch, you can just push the bike for a while to build up some speed and drop it into first gear. Then after you've gotten started, you can change gears without a lever if you're careful. The ride out was fairly technical, but I was confident that I could do it in 1st gear without a clutch as long as I could get started. But if you've ever tried to push a bike in the sand, you'll have some idea of how hard it was going to be to push the loaded Dakar through the riverbed long enough to build up enough speed to change into first. So I needed something to get me started.

It was after 17h00, with about 90 minutes of daylight remaining. There was no way we were going to get out tonight. We decided to stop for the evening to regroup and figure out our next step. In the middle of the flash-flood prone riverbed.

I offered my 2-finger clutch lever to Alex (we were both on Dakars) to use the next morning, while I would try'n ride out without a clutch. We had a fairly extensive toolkit and repairkit with us and so I sat down to try'n cobble together a repair. This actually worked out rather well, using excessive amounts of Qbond and Pratley steel epoxy, a 5mm bolt and two cable ties. It took over an hour to scrape the lever clean and do a proper glue job. I left it overnight to cure. It just had to hold for one pull on the clutch; enough to get me going in the sand.

So we started a fire and settled in for the evening. I spent the whole night straining to hear the smallest sound of water. The slightest trickle, the first drop of rain. Flash-floods. They say it sounds like thunder in the distance, but gets closer very quickly. My mind was racing with evacuation options should the water arrive. I kept hearing what I thought was distant flowing water and so didn't get much sleep that evening, even though not a single drop fell and the next morning the riverbed was still bone-dry.




« Last Edit: August 20, 2011, 04:58:59 pm by JAmBer »
 

Offline u-go

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #38 on: November 03, 2009, 10:11:25 am »

I had decided to camp without a tent last night. Bad move. I have a down-feather sleeping bag which got wet from the dew. It stank like a wet dog the next morning, so I rigged a make-shift washing line to try'n dry it out in the morning sun. It still stank a week later.


I thought we decided that it was you that was causing it to stink so much?  :lamer:  I actually like the fact that J slept outside - it meant I had no mozzies at all - they were bugging him instead.

Funny enough there were only three tents on the trip The one evening when I thought dew may be a problem i mad a bit of a shelter, the rest of the time it was open starts. Would have regretted it if it actually rained, but they said the rainy season was still coming. That said, I was also constantly under the impression that it had started raining that evening. Most likely just all the bugs crawling over me. Once again i have forgotten my photos.... I walked down the canyon to the Ugab, and then up it for some time. I decided to take a bit of a shortcut over the mountain on the way back, not knowing where it would come out at all. Funny how the desire to explore normally overcomes the fear of messing it up. Photos tomorrow, i promise....




Damn that seat was comfy - a perfectly scuplted marble sleeper with built in heating. Pity i was sitting on it the wrong way round that evening - only discovered the next morning that there was even a better way of doing it. Ah well, maybe for the best otherwise I would have fallen asleep on it to roll over into the coles.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2010, 05:17:51 pm by u-go »
 

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #39 on: November 03, 2009, 03:00:28 pm »
Reminder to self, spare leavers.  :) :) :) check bearings on KLR as well.

Great report guys. I really want to do Namibia after seeing all the different RR Photo's.

You either make dust or you eat dust.
KLR 650
KTM 950 Adventure S