Hey Guys, it’s been a while. We are meanwhile back in Germany, after reaching Cape Town safe and sound. But there is still a lot to write about left. So let’s take it from the last blog entry.
Initially we wanted to visit some good friends of mine in Harare/Zimbabwe. Unfortunately we were running a bit out of time and had thus to cancel the visit. So our only Zimbabwe time was in Victoria Falls and from there to the border to Botswana. Zimbabwe is nowadays infamous for its high corruption and endless check points. During the short time we spent in this country we realized that a travel on the bikes through Zim has the potential to be a massive pain. We got in several check points and everytime our bikes road worthiness was tested. Lights, indicator, horn and documents. Luckily Daniel repaired his broken indicator back in Zambia so we just had the annoyance of the check points but never had to pay a “fee”.
At the Botswana border we went through our first disinfection bath with the bikes and boots. They try to prevent the spreading of the foot and mouth disease, which is apparently a big problem for the mostly farm based industry of Botswana and also Namibia. They also try to prevent the spreading of Ebola by checking the body temperature at the border. We had to put a thermometer under our arms (very hygienic) and note the temperature on an official paper. We all had readings around 35°C. I asked the officer what to write down, since with this temperature we were pretty much dead. He replied “Just write it down”. OK… Effective measures…
We stocked up supplies in Kasane at the Chobe River and had our first look at Namibia on the other side of the river, but first Botswana. The highway down to Nata could be pretty boring if it weren’t for all the elephants and other game standing along the road. The road runs between the Chobe National Park in Botswana and the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, both with large elephant populations and no fences (elephants don’t mind fences too much anyway). So plenty of animals migrate between the two parks and the “caution elephants” signs should be taken serious.
We passed a camp along the road named “Elephant Sands” and decided to spent the night there. What a well named place, they got plenty of sand and even more elephants. When we pulled up on the camp ground we saw several other motorbikes. All overland travelers like us. And a total coincidence as well, like us the other travelers haven’t seen much bikes around Africa. We had a nice night constantly surrounded by elephants.
The next destination was Maun, the gate to the Okavango Delta. A place which I thought while planning the trip of being one of the highlights. It turned out to be to be a major letdown. There was too much water in the river and a boat tour with the high grass would have been pointless. So we didn’t really see much of the Delta and decided to push on towards Namibia also because we needed spare parts which we only could get in Windhoek. While doing a bit of a service on our bikes David found his front sprocket to be worn beyond limit. Three teeth were already missing and we needed urgent replacement. Also, our front tires we mounted back in Istanbul were down and needed replacement. Funny thing with these Mitas tires. The front wears faster than the rear. The rear was also mounted in Istanbul but made it until Cape Town with still some km left on them (according to African standards, not European).
It was a long and rather boring ride towards Namibia. Botswana is extremely sparsely populated, with only 2 million people on an area 1.6 times of Germany. 50 km before the border it started raining and never stopped with temperatures dropping to 16°C. This doesn’t sound too bad but we are used to the heat by now 😀 After the border we were soaking wet and the motivation to camp pretty low, so we looked for a roof and bed that night and found a guest farm along the way. Plenty of farms in Namibia offer rooms and food. This one was called Zelda Guest Farm and probably the worst you can find. The white owners were the most unfriendly people we met in a long time and even tried to cheat us with the bill. If you ever find yourself along the Trans-Kalahari Highway don’t bother to stop at the Zelda Guest Farm. At least we had our first night in a bed since Iringa/Tansania!
We made our way towards Windhoek, the last African capital city of our trip. The last days Daniels bike was acting up again. Constant power losses to the degree that the engine went off and wouldn’t start again for a few minutes. 60 km out of Windhoek it got so bad that we couldn’t get much driving done anymore and I had to tow him into town. Towing with the bike is still no fun… We found a nice backpackers accommodation and spent the next days working on the bikes. Windhoek was the first city since Nairobi with a proper selection of spare parts. We got new front tires and David could get a new chain kit from the local BMW dealer and also replaced his steering head bearings, which also were beyond.
We still couldn’t really figure out the problem on Daniels bike, it was either the ignition or the something with the fuel supply. Replacing the spark plugs did not improve the situation. We tried to leave Windhoek three times in one day and the bike always came down with the same issues some 30 km out of town.
In the end Daniel and I swopped the fuel pumps on a parking lot outside Windhoek in order to find the source of the issue. The problem was transferred with the fuel pump to my bike, thus highlighting the fuel pump as being the source of the problem. The original Africa Twin fuel pump is known to break easy, therefore we already had new mechanical pumps on the bikes. Didn’t stop it from breaking either… We went back to Windhoek and could find a low pressure fuel pump at the Quad and Bike Clinic in town. After the new pump was installed we could leave Windhoek with no problems.
We rode towards Swakopmund and stopped at the Spitzkoppe Mountain, a truly wonderful camping spot. Once you leave the main highway in Namibia its gravel roads. Most of them are in a pretty good shape and riding on them is good fun, especially with new tires!
We had a nice fire at the camp and tried to fry some marshmallows. The marshmallows didn’t really like the heat on the bike and were kind of tough to get out of the bag.
We had a funny bird at the camp who really liked our bikes mirrors.
With Swakopmund we reached the African Atlantic coast. The water is pretty cold here, around 13°C and is having a strong impact on the air temperatures close to the sea. Even though we were riding from shrubbery savanna into the sand of the Namib Desert temperatures were dropping from 34°C to around 20°C. It again felt cold while riding 😀 Swakop is an remarkable place situated in the sand dunes of the desert. The architecture reminds a lot of the old German cities along the Baltic Sea and the German population is quite strong here with many street names and stores in German. We celebrated the reaching of the Atlantic Coast with a fantastic dinner at the Swakopmund Brauhaus 😀
Swakop is pretty touristy and we made use of that by joining a tour into the desert called “the little five” where one gets the small animals of the Namib shown. After this impressive demonstration of survival in this hostile environment we went again into the desert with rented quad bikes blasting over the sand dunes, making the survival for the small animals a bit more hostile… Words cannot describe the fun we had! Our guide constantly tried to slow us down and stop us from goofing off, but no chance, just too much fun 😀
On a daytripp down to Walvis Bay we climbed the Dune No.7 which is a bit of an afford but gives a great view.
We’ve been riding a lot towards south the last months, so for a change we drove a bit north towards the Brandberg Mountain, passing Cape Cross with its very large seal colony of about 250,000 animals. For some random reasons motorbikes are not allowed on the road to the cape, but our combined persuasion skills convinced the gate keeping lady to let us through. We promised her to tell anyone, oh well…
It was the time of the year were the seals get their young and the colony was crowded with seal pups. Sounds sweat? Nope. Plenty of them die, this plus the almost unbearable stench of the colony is pretty disgusting.
From here on we left the cool sea side again towards the hot back country seeing more of the multiple facets of Namibia.