Namibia Trip courtesy of Beserker

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 Motard 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” (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 winch 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. 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. 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” 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. With an enormous “Aye” to indicate we were all still committed, and the bikes ready, we retired to watch homeboy Tyla wrapping up the 250cc world championship. Appropriately 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 scurrying 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 off-road 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 had her Portuguese 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 swap 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”…
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 idea 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 always 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 training camp, with only the white road still visible. 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 km's 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 river crossings to get rid of the dust saw us bush camping next to the Kunene. That night were for us the real start of the trip, we were on the threshold of going off-road 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 already 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 km's 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 already eleven-ish, and by now the temperature was soaring. As it turns out, most of the fountains in the area was still flowing, changing the normally sandy drifts (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
 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 pebbles 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 proceeded to kick-start a very hot and flooded XR from a precarious stance. When it fired up after about the twentieth feeble jab at the kick-starter, I hardly had the strength to pull the clutch and take off….only to slip and “donner neer” 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 strength 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” 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 kick-started the Pig, and I managed to take off without incident. Riding, the airflow cooled me down, and after a couple of km's 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 squelching 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 rest day…it will give Gideon the opportunity to try out the fishing rod that he has been lugging around.
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 some washing, 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 litre jerry can. Gideon and Danie were slightly better off. 
Buying fuel in Onkwating involved siphoning, 5 litres at a time, from a 45 gallon drum, at about N$ 2.00 per litre more than the going rate; but we were grateful for the fuel.
From Onkwati we struck out for van Zyl's.
Once again, the riding was superb.
 
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” 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”. You punched in your destination, and the GPS worked out the shortest route, a great feature that saves you a lot of time fiddling 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 already tasted a few kilometres of Khumib river sand, we headed out of Orupembe in a southerly 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 am 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 apparently 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 rivers and, and got trampled. As we were already 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 swivelled around, to be rooted on an elephant, standing right next to my bike. We sat there staring at him for what felt like an eternity, dead still in our camping chairs so as not to offend him, before he moved on.

We did not dare to take a photograph, apparently the camera 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 already 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 litres into my tank.

Day 8 Puros to Palmwag

What followed was the most horrendous corrugated 96 km to Sesfontein. Fortunately, contradictory to all reports, there was petrol at Sesfontein. I was on reserve, and having had to stop a few km's before town to tilt my bike so the petrol could run to the lowest petrol tap on my Acerbis, were running on fumes.

 Danie made it with a litre to spare , and Gideon ran out of petrol about a 100m from the petrol station. Filling up never felt so good, and we left for Palmwag. After the Marienfluss, the road to Ongongo felt overpopulated, so we opted for the Hoanib river trail. We managed to dodge this one, and once we made it to the safety of the opposite riverbank, proceeded to tune him, and also took some photographs.

At Ongongo we had a quick dip. What worked well was to wet our clothes, and then get on the bike and ride as you would be dry within 30 minutes, but it worked wonders too keep us cool.
From Ongongo, the route was pretty straight forward to Palmwag, where we filled up with fuel. Going through the Vet gate saw us bailing through the Torra conservancy, and finding a suitable spot after about 20 km, we bush camped as there was no other options available. Braaing some wors we bought at the shop at Palmwag, we set about planning the route for the following two days. Having grown accustomed to the wide open spaces, and having developed an appetite for the more off road type trails, we scrutinised the GPS Nuvi 200 for the best options, settling for a route via Twyfelfontein to Brandberg Wes, circumventing the Doros crater.

Day 9 Palmwag to Uis

A quick spin down the C43 got us to Twyfelfontein lodge, where we had refreshments whilst I charged my camara, courtesy of the lodge.

From Twyfelfontein, we tracked south, and then followed the Doros river in an easterly direction. From the north of Doros crater we again tacked east, eventually following the Desolation Valley eco trail to the Rhino Ugab camp.
At one stage we were lost, once again, and consulting with the GPS, we got a curt sorry, you are not on a trail, can not be routed message. (We were not only on a trail, but at a cross roads)  What could we do but to follow the tracks down the Ugab river, clueless and hot as hell.
The riding was great, some riverbed, then following a twee spoor across some Kalahari type red sand dunes
Of all the sand riding we did, this red sand business was the most difficult for me, my arms were pumped after about 5 km, and we had to do about 40 km.
We followed the Ugab, skirting Brandberg to the South and exiting near the White Lady.
 
 
Not being the deeply cultural types, we skipped the lady, and made for us, where we caught the local Spar open, as fresh provisions for the first time in more than a week!
We splurged, Lamb chops, tinned peaches, you name it. Filling up with petrol, we followed the D1930 south, and at the Omaruru river bush camped, with the idea of following the Omaruru  and then entering the Grosse Spitzkuppe from the West.
Day 9
Uis to Spitzkuppe

After a leisurely breakfast, we packed up and got on with the business of doing the 100 odd km's to Spitskoppe, our shortest daily distance for the tour. It is quite amazing to see Spitzkuppe rising from the barren plains, this view was taken from about 60 km away.
Arriving at Spitzkuppe, we confirmed hot showers (we needed to clean up for the long way home the next day), booked in and made camp for our last night.
We then visited the local watering hole.
Afterwards, going for our confirmed hot showers, we were bluntly told as why the sun is shining outside, you do not need hot water, and not being able to argue with such logic, we had a v-e-r-y refreshing shower. We got some wood for our last campfire, Gideon doing his Farmer Brown impersonation.
As we had the whole day (not riding, damn)  me and Danie went exploring by foot. Spitzkuppe is an amazing place, and although I had no climbing gear, I still managed a few scrambles.
Following is a bit of the flaura, views and countryside, with our campsite thrown in for good measure.
Clockwise, from top left, the koppie behind our camp, our camp with the blue tent visible, the plains towards Henties,  our last sunset, tree and Klein Spitzkuppe.
Lazing around the fire that night, we already started planning our next trip (Angola) and also doing Namibia with the wife's (Them in the Cruiser back up and us on plastic bikes with no luggage)

It was during this conversation that one of the ironies of the trip came up…Gideon mentioned that he was going to put a roof rack on his Cruiser, with a ladder to facilitate getting up and down, when Danie interjected with a no, no, it won’t do….at our age getting on a roof in the middle of nowhere is an accident waiting to happen. This after twelve days of bailing down riverbeds helter skelter, over rocks etc., buying farms in general….go figure.


Day 10
Spitzkuppe to Windhoek and home.

Amazing how riding fit one gets, over a short period, if you ride everyday. crossing the 320 odd keys to Windhoek was a non event in terms of numb-bumness.
From Spitzkuppe we went Usakos, Karibib and turned of for Windhoek on the D1958. Crossing the Swakop river we travelled gravelled up to 15km from Windhoek through the Khomas Hochland

Below, the gravel stops here:
In Windhoek, after packing the Bakkie, we hit the B1 home.
Arriving in Stellenbosch, we had to adjust to the rain and everything being as green as an emerald in the morning sun.
Dropping Danie and  Gideon, I headed home, kind of weird after being away so long. That night I had a great meal, a soft bed and a warm body next to me, in the morning came to soon and I saddled up for the last leg.
Some technical riding, a bit of sand, steep ascents, dam wall crossings
Finally, the route
F

Some Stats:

Total distance (on bike) +/- 2500km
Total gravel/off road +/- 1500km
Longest between fuel stops 480 km

Technical rating from difficult to easy:

(This is highly subjective, and influanced by the fact that the only big falling-over I had)

1. Doros crater, Desolation valley to Ugab
2. Kunene river trail. (Where I fell and got trapped under my bike, also very hot)
3. Ovivero & Van Zyls

Mandatory kit:

30l of fuel
6l of water
GPS (even if it is a basic one like the Nuvi 200 which we used, with T4A)
Map

Medical kit (used little but big issue if you do not have)

Medication

Eye drops, eye pad
Strong pain killers for broken legs etc.Voltaren supository,Synap Forte, Tramal, or for second prize, Tramadol
Common pain killers
Antiseptic cream, Zambuk will do as an antiseptic cream and also for chapped lips, burns,Anti-bacterial ointment (Bacitracin, etc. for lacerations and wounds),Betadine (for cleaning wounds)
insect bites, its in a tin so no messy spills.Epineferine pen for bee stings
Anti nausea tablets
Anti Diahorea tablets (Immodium) Kaopectate ,Lomotil (or equivalent)
Lip Balm
Staal druppels - stops bleeding instantly.
Sugar (for shock)or glucose sachet
Ranihexall
Oil of clove (for relief of toothache)
Cytomax (or similar electrolyte replacement drink) (for relief of muscle cramps and systems of heat exhaustion)
Water purification tablets, 1 bottle (Steritab)
Penicillin tablets (much cheaper that capsules, doctor's prescription)
Burn shield, Burn dressings (various sizes)
Suntan/Sun block lotion

Software

Cotton wool
1 triangular bandage
2 75mm x 5m roller bandages
2 compression pads
1 roll elastoplast
1 pack assorted adhesive strips
10 assorted safety pins
5 sterile gauzes
4 or 5 assorted dressing pads
1 small scissors
1 small tweezers
1 small dettol/similar or alcohol swabs
Wound Super Glue or Butterfly plaster
Cotton swabs, 1 package (for cleaning lacerations, eyes, etc.)
Ear buds
A pair of disposable gloves (for working with blood that may be HIV positive)
Razors, 2 disposable (for removing hair before taping)
Syringes and needles (10cc)
Emergency blanket
Scissors (med.surgical type)
Surgical needles and thread
scaple blade

Tools + spares

Keep in mind that I have an XR, it does not use fuses etc. With the following I can practically strip the bike, set valves and everything. Also share and do not duplicate.

Front/Rear heavy duty tubes
Patch and solution

Qbond with powder
Pratley steel
2 x Chain link
Chain lube
Zipties
Hose clamps
Tow rope
Assorted nuts and bolts
Needle nose vice
Wide mouth Shifting
Duct Tape
Electrical tape
5 mm Allen
8 mm Allen
Phillips screwdriver
Flat screw driver
Copper thistle brush
Tyre valve tool
Hack saw blade
Tyre levers with integrated wheel spanner (Front and Rear)
Spark plug + spanner
Needle nose pliers
Nail file
Fuel hose
“ 8,10,12,13,14,15 socket with extension
8,10,12,13,14,15, 17 Ring spanner
Feeler gauge

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