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Offline JAmBer

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Noobs in Nam
« on: October 28, 2009, 08:31:48 am »
No Experience? No Problem!


The plan was to head all the way north, to Van Zyl's pass just south of the Angolan border. Then we'd work our way back down along the west coast. In 15 days. The trip was almost two years in the making and during that time, a dozen people expressed interest in joining. But when it came to crunch time, only four committed. Representing South Africa are myself and Hugo, with Mark and Alex flying-in from America.



The night before the big departure we had to cram everything onto our bikes. Needless to say, some things had to stay behind. Fortunately, since we were all packing together, loads could be distributed.




The next morning spirits were high and we were eager to depart, but Carolyn managed to get us to stand still long enough to take a picture. Carolyn is You-Go's wife. He's second from the right. Alex is on the left, Mark's between 'em and I'm the idiot on the right with a Leatt (guess who's the only one to have had a serious accident on a bike).



A bit of background:
Mark's never been offroad on a bike before, but bought a 1970's Honda 550 roadie in California earlier this year. Alex bought a KLR a few months ago to prepare himself, but had less than 10 tanks of riding experience total, of which only 2 days were on dirt. Hugo and myself aren't much better. Although we've had a little more experience offroad, only a couple of hours were in the sand. And we were told to expect plenty sand in Namibia. Also, we were trying to do this trip on a student's budget. It was bound to be interesting. And Namibia didn't dissapoint.

Not being completely reckless, we thought it a good idea to get Mark and Alex accustomed to their bikes before entering big, bad Namibia so we did a little warm-up pre-trip through Baviaans a week earlier.  With disastrous consequences. But that's a whole other story. Let's just say there was some question as to Mark's bike's reliability after it flew off one of the cliffs in the Baviaans. But the bike and rider survived to ride another day and both were ready for Namibia the next week.

« Last Edit: December 13, 2011, 05:18:43 pm by JAmBer »
 

Offline JAmBer

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2009, 08:34:56 am »
Day 1: Cape Town to Felix Unite campsite in Namibia.
705km, all tar along N7. Fuel stops at Van Rhynsdorp and Springbok. 12hr day.

After departing Cape Town early on Wednesday morning, we didn't even make it out of town before having to stop. I was low on fuel and my gear lever was loose. Dunno why it was loose, but it was a bad start to the trip. It wasn't going to be the last thing that rattled loose on our bikes though.

We headed straight up the N7 with the goal of crossing the border before nightfall. Not two hours later and we were lus for a snack.



Their ginger-beer is awesome.



The dam was full, the sun was shining and we were on holiday for 2 weeks. Life was good. It was spring and the entire valley was full of the scent of orange blosoms. It was awesome.


The ride up the N7 turned into a bit of a pleasure cruise and we were running out of daylight hours to make it to our scheduled campsite in Namibia. We'd decided before we left that riding at night was a bad idea. That didn't prevent us from stopping for a bite in Springbok before the final push to the border though.



We crossed the border without any trouble. They didn't check our licenses or bike registrations, merely stamped our passports and gave us vehicle permits. We spent that evening at Felix Unite campsite not 20km on the Namibian side of the border. We arrived as the sun set and were fortunate to get the last campsite. The German tour group in the adjacent campsite had just finished a tour of Namibia and revelled 'till the wee hours of the morning. There was no keeping me awake though.




The campsite itself was beautiful and was a gentle introduction to our two weeks of rought-it-up camping. We got our own lapa with running water and the camp had communal hot showers.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2011, 04:52:57 pm by JAmBer »
 

Online Crossed-up

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2009, 08:46:17 am »
Good stuff, JAmBer.  I look forward to the next installment.
 

Offline Diesel & Dust

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2009, 09:04:04 am »
I'm in - looks like fun

Remember your seperate RR on Baviaans :thumleft:
I'll take the high road. You take the psycho path...
 

Offline ChrisL - DUSTRIDERS

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2009, 09:25:28 am »
Im waiting........
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Offline Oupa Foe-rie

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2009, 10:00:35 am »
 8) I am waiting ......... :thumleft:
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Offline Scrat

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2009, 10:37:11 am »
LEKKKE!!!

More more!!
Call us Crazy!! But what an ADVENTURE!!
 

Offline cloudgazer

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2009, 10:40:31 am »
Yup, this looks like another good Nam adventure...

keep it coming.
 

Offline u-go

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2009, 11:45:24 am »
IT HAS BEGUN!!

To start with, a big thanks to Alex and Jason (AFAIK mostly Jason) for planning the trip. 
Fixit-Jason started nagging  me (i.e. he mentioned a trip) about joining quite a while ago, and it was touch and go up until about 2 months before departure. I shall return to Nam!

In JAmBer's description of riding experience he neglected to mention that my total offroad experience included one day of running out of fuel on a WD ride and one day of falling over a million times in Atlantis. This trip has thus multiplied my offroad mileage by at least 20, if not more. It was good. Needless to say, being mainly a commuter on my bike, this first day of tar was a rude awakening to the lack of love and luxury built into a KLR seat. I think I have mastered all the possible twists and turns i can contort my body into to try and shake the feeling of having my pelvis split in half (evil eye towards the Dakar riders...)

Day 1 saw the start of a few trends to endure all the way through the trip.
1. Late starting - life happens and things take longer than what you think (some also enjoy their sleep more than others!  :amazon:  ;) )
2. Alex debugging his camera lens and electronics (photos of this at some later point)
2. Fast food and snacks on the road, wors and potatoes at night
3. JAmBer hitting the sack first, Mark and myself alternatively last (Mark especially when there was a bar around)
4. Sleeping on the floor! (almost every night)
5. Long days in the saddle



Their ginger-beer is awesome.


Unfortunately no photos as evidence, but Mark experience this in quite a rush. After being told MANY times to open the ginger beer carefully (he has been shaking it a tad too much) he proceded in showing us he's a real man who doesn’t take ages to open his beer cracking the lid in a second, just to be greeted by truely home-made ginger beer. This followed by a polite waitress attempting to supress her laughter whilst offering him a cloth for "the guy who got ginger beer all over his face"


The campsite itself was beautiful and was a gentle introduction to our two weeks of rought-it-up camping. We got our own lapa with running water and the camp had communal hot showers.


Not to forget the giant Rottweiler who came and gave the wors that we left on the table a sniff. Dubious SA wors did not meet his Namibian standards, so he left it for us for breakfast.

I will tag some more photos in, they are however not on me today
 

Offline rubiblue

Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2009, 12:28:34 pm »
nice so far! more, more, more...
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Offline melvman

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2009, 03:21:05 pm »
nice going jamber and u-go. can't wait for the next episode (and for baviaans)
 

Offline lemac

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2009, 03:54:45 pm »
This one is going to be fun!!!  ;D
 

Offline Johnnie Bok

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2009, 06:52:11 am »
Gaan 'n lekker RR wees!
Hard work always beats talent, unless talent works.
 

Offline JAmBer

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2009, 07:39:32 am »
Day 2: Felix Unite campsite to quiver tree forest and Mesosaurus Fossil bushcamp.
378km, 90% gravel with short tar stint at Keetmanshoop. 8hr day.

Felix Unite is located on the border of the Orange river and the sunrise the following morning provided a beautiful photo oportunity.






After a quick breakfast, we were onto the dirt proper. The plan was to head west and make our way to the Ais-Ais national park.



The roads in Namibia are endless.




By the time we got to Ais-Ais, we were all ready for a snack. Be weary though, these places hit the tourists hard. I paid R20 for a litre of water (Spar/PnP sell 5 litres for R15). I left the store a little annoyed at having to pay so much, and almost choked when Hugo pointed out the free drinking fountain right outside the door that I'd rushed past in my haste to find sustenance.



Ais-Ais is beautiful, but deadly hot. A trio of Indians came strolling along. They'd just completed the 3 day hike through the canyon. We were struggling sitting still in the shade from all the heat; I couldn't imagine hiking in and out of the canyon for 3 days. These guys looked spent, but they were all smiles.



Then it was back on our trusty steeds, heading north towards Keetmanshoop along Namibia's dirt highways.




We spotted something interesting on the side of the road and decided to turn to have a closer look. Alex didn't make the turn and I believe now holds the dubious honour of the first drop of the trip. There would be many more.




Let's go for a spin!


Hey look! Champion spark plugs!






  Hugo. Like a boss.


There was so much wildlife to see in Namibia.

We made our way through Keetmanshoop towards the Quiver tree forest and Giants playground. Both of these turned out to be tourist traps and after my experience at Ais-Ais, I wasn't about to fall prey again. A little further down the road we found accomodation on a farm which had its own unofficial Quiver tree forest. Better still, we were offered an exclusive bushcamp with hot showers and flushing toilets by Giel at the Mesosaurus Fossil Campsites. The only problem was that we had to ride 3km in sand to get there.






Of course, we didn't all make it through the sand without mishap and there was another cloud of dust as one of us went down. It was well worth the struggle though. We camped under (later: beside) a huge camelthorn tree with the biggest weaver-birds' nest I've ever seen. They're cool to look at, but beware the poop when all the birds become active at dusk.









We spent a couple of hours doing minor repairs. Hugo's auxilliary socket wasn't working (blown fuse) and he'd lost half his numberplate. Mark's bike was rattling to pieces and the boiling/hissing sound told me his radiator fan had stopped working (another blown fuse). Fortunately it hadn't boiled dry and there was no damage to the engine. Alex's forks were also starting to develop an ugly oil leak. We cleaned out the crud with a few sheets of paper and some carefull inserting and twisting. The seals were definitely finished though.




This is probably a good time to put in a word about bike choice and preparation. We chose the 650 class because we're all reasonably small, inexperienced guys on student budgets (ie can't handle the cruiseliner 1200s or deathly fast 990s, nor can we afford them!) But we still wanted to be able to cruise effortlessly at over 100km/h all day and the smaller 250 and 400s feel a little strained at those speeds. Then we wanted to keep the number of different models of bikes down to a minimum so we didn't need to carry lots of different types of tools. We considered a lot of different bikes. KTMs, Kawasakis, Suzukis, Hondas, Yamahas and BMWs were all on the table. Eventually we settled on the KLR650 and F650GS Dakar. The others were eliminated on grounds of reliability, cost, availability/popularity. Our chosen steeds performed very well considering what we put them through and I would probably make the same choice again given the option.

I already owned a Dakar, so when I purchased Alex's one on his behalf, I knew to check for the problematic front fork oil seals and they were fine (water pump and steering bearings are some of the other common faults on the Dak). But it seems these seals can fail pretty quickly and with very little warning. Alex's bike was in mint condition before the trip and he didn't want to ruin it with the inevitable fall(s). So we fitted second-hand plastics (from a pre-facelift model, hence the multicolours on his bike) and crashbars. His original plastics are still hanging in the garage, to be refitted when the bike is sold one day. In retrospect, those crashbars are worth their weight in gold. They saved the radiator on at least one occasion and his plastics still look good too.

In the dying afternoon light we went for a bit of a walk to take some pictures...












Nightime around the fire is a special time to reflect on the past day. But I was too tired for long stories and went to bed early :D





« Last Edit: August 20, 2011, 04:54:15 pm by JAmBer »
 

Offline madmike999

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2009, 07:46:06 am »
 :happy1:
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Offline funacide

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #15 on: October 29, 2009, 01:29:54 pm »
Nice... Keep it coming
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Offline Would I?

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2009, 08:00:47 pm »
nice pictures!!! keep it comming!

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.

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Offline Oetie

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #17 on: October 29, 2009, 08:05:55 pm »
Lekker, keep it coming :thumleft:
Live life to the fullest!!
 

Offline bradleys

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #18 on: October 30, 2009, 08:15:47 am »
Nice ,more please, just love Nam  :peepwall:
ROUTE DIFFICULTY
1 = tar
2 = good gravel /pillian friendly
3 = interspersed with sand, mud, sand , bush / not pillian friendly
4 = lots of sand, technical riding 5 = expert only
 

Offline Winston

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Re: Noobs in Nam
« Reply #19 on: October 30, 2009, 08:16:49 am »
Sitting behind my office desk, reading your stories and looking at your pictures messed up my working day. My rearend is itching like mad for a saddle and dirt roads. What are you waiting for ??? send some more.