TRIP REPORT

Hooligan

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I will be posting day by day reports with pictures of each day. I am not a writer and to add to that English is my second language....! (please excuse...!) But In the interest of time Carel andI am doing this....


[align=center]AFRICA 2006
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[align=center]NAMIBIA – BOTSWANA - ZAMBIA
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[align=center]Day -3 3 Dec 06 – Sun[/align]

[align=center]? – Walvis Bay, Namibia[/align]
Where to begin? How do you explain an amazing experience on paper (or a website)? How Blessed we are to live in a place like B.C. and be so fortunate to travel to distant lands and experience the amazing landscapes, cultures, and diversity of what is Africa. Top this of with a great group of people and you have a life changing trip in the making. (On great orange machines – “right Scott?”)
On arrival, everybody was pretty tired after spending almost as many hours cramped in an airplane than would soon be spend on the backs of their trusty “steeds”. (More about the trusty steeds later)
Most of us flew in to Johannesburg S.A from Vancouver, B.C, via Europe or Washington D.C. From there the trek continued to Windhoek, Namibia. A few was lucky enough to fly straight into Walvisbay, the port to which we shipped our container.
We checked into the Lagoon Lodge, our home away from home but also base camp, workshop, and waterhole. Our French hosts were great; the food was exotic (but expensive) and wine excellent. “Frenshie” was great in helping us with bike stuff, chauffeuring us all over the “metropolis” of Walvisbay and this being Africa searching for luggage that did not arrive.
Excitement was running high for tomorrow we would be reunited with our machines. Needless to say most got stuck deep at the bottom of their favorite brew (this did not help the next morning unloading bikes in near scorching temperatures in a warehouse flooded with diesel fumes).
 

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Hooligan

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[align=center]Day -2 4 Dec 06 – Mon[/align]

[align=center]Walvis Bay – Walvis Bay[/align]
At the crack of dawn Willie (Hooligan) was up and off to customs to inquire about our container. After paying what turned out to be a crap load of money to Namibia customs as security for our bikes, he returned to the lodge to gather up the troop so we could unpack our bikes at the warehouse. (We decided not to use Carnet’s – seems you have to give your house as collateral to obtain one now a days)

Arriving at the warehouse, taking turns in the trusty “unbent” bakkie, we saw our babies for the first time in two months, what a sight!! Intact, bright orange and beautiful (thanks to Carel and Willie for such well engineered containment systems/skids). Ok, ok so there were some green, red and blue bikes too, but who cares…Oh and a white one too.

After what felt like an eternity, the friendly customs officer showed up to check VIN numbers and release the bikes. Some of our “trusty” machines took somewhat longer to come back to life. One machine in particular started first kick and was also the first bike to start after sitting in a container for two months. This is where the saying “You are either on one, or behind one” was started. It was all worth the wait riding out of there.

Back at the lodge we all got right into our bikes, cleaning, bolting everything back on, fitting luggage, etc. in anticipation of this epic journey. We then all hassled to make it to aptly named “SPOT ON BOTTLE STORE” (Liquor store in Africa) to stock up for the night. After last nights expensive exercise buying liquor from “Frenchie”, we were prepared. Dinner was a pretty nice experience, Kingklip (fish from the Atlantic ocean), prepared by “Frenchie” and “Helene” – our gracious hosts.
 

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[align=center]Day -1 5 Dec 06 – Tue[/align]

[align=center]Walvis Bay –Walvis Bay[/align]
The day was spent getting bikes ready, trying the ‘right side’ of the road, exploring this beautiful coastal village and for some, a visit to Dune 7 - a landmark in this area. In anticipation of tomorrows departure spirits were high and help was everywhere to be found. The evening was topped off with a short walk along the sea wall to our restaurant on the beach. Today was also spent packing the “Bakkie” (with way more than was anticipated).
 

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Hooligan

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[align=center]Day 1 6 Dec 06 – Wed[/align]

[align=center]Walvis - Sesriem Canyon[/align]
Arise and shine early and after a brief riders meeting we all head east on the first days riding. The day started with a stop after 50KM at a rock outcrop where Willie was greeted by every rider as he arrived with the same words “We have a problem with X…![/b]” At this time, there was no consensus yet as to how many times he has fallen off that brand spanking new DR650 (with a mere 150KM since new on the clock). It became apparent to the group that we either take turns assisting X with his “experience” or we have a tough decision to make tonight. Two thirds of the way we arrived at Solitaire[/b] an oasis with cold bear and gas[/b] in the middle of the desert. Most of us regrouped after lunch and took off on another couple of hours ride to Sossosvlei[/b]. It’s worth mentioning in X’s defense that riding over 6 inch washboard for 400KM in a scorching 40+Deg. Celsius temperatures, blistering sun and more dust than you can imagine did not claim more casualties than just X. Apart from the washboard, the road was filled with two to six inches of loose gravel for kilometers at a stage. Stopping in the canyon was amazing and the essence of the trip started to sink in. Upon arrival at our camp site we were greeted by a nosy Gemsbok (Oryx) who came to greet us. Indicative of the trip we were treated to 100 yards of unsuspected road conditions that more than tested peoples sand riding skills. It turned out that X would eventually show up even though it was 6 hours later - in one piece. That evening was spent around the campfire “braaing” very nice T-Bone steaks. There was a murmur in the air and if one tuned in the words it sounded like “we have a problem with X”. On a serious note it, was very concerning to everybody in particular Y and Scotty who took the time to follow and escort X safely into camp. It was apparent that seeing we will be on the same road tomorrow back to Walvisbay, if X did not shape up, X would have to ship out.
 

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[align=center]Day 2 7 Dec 06 – Thu[/align]
[align=center]Sossusvlei – Swakopmund[/align]
Very early this morning we rose, packed up, and after breakfast head for the gate to the dunes. After everybody showed up at the gates, we took off on a 69KM night drive into the sand dunes on a fairly good road. We tried not to be run over by Overlander trucks – the local tourist traffic serving this area. Only five bikes managed the last 6KM of rutted soft sand to arrive to the “vlei”, the final destination of this segment. Needless to say, three of the five bikes gave off a bright orange glow in the morning sun, the fourth bike was as red as the earth itself and the fifth one white as the dew on the cacti, proving the age old belief that “there is no green in the dessert[/b]”. Its worth mentioning that one rider who “had the most fun this day”, was on the heaviest, biggest, bad-ass twin that you could imagine(Oubaas Ken), had a blast on the 950, and it was apparent - this guy knew what he was doing. The rest of the day was spent driving back in the same heat, on the same bikes, on the same dusty gravely loose washboard road. It was decided along the way, that we would scale the group down to 9 bikes. In the interest of “keeping to the schedule” it was decided that we would swap the old white bike for a new well scarred Suzuki, as it seems it was going to be sitting in Walvisbay for 3 weeks anyhow. Lars proved that night that one can drive 80km on a deflated “Karoo”. Carel, Ken and Tammy returned later that evening to rescue LARS from a certain desert overnight? The rest went to dinner at the “Tug boat” restaurant for an amazing meal. Upon return from the midnight rescue mission our 4 buddies joined us for dinner in time for desert. At this stage the mood was fairly good, the whisky cheap, and we knew what was behind us. With some riders somewhat nervous of the unknown after experiencing the “Good Gravel” roads, every one pretty much settled in for the night wondering what a “Bad” road would be…..
 

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Some ventured up the 1000ft high dune.....
 

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[align=center]Day 3 8 Dec 06 – Fri[/align]
[align=center]Swakopmund – Rhino camp[/align]
We got going fairly early the next day, and after buying what ever we could think of, as this was the last day of real civilization, we got going North on the salt roads of Namibia. First stop was Henties Bay for breakfast and gas. Then onto Cape Cross for a visit to the famous seal colony. We could not take bikes into this national park, so some of us got a ride from an “Overlander truck”. The rest followed ON the Bakkie(inside, on top –where ever there was room). Back at the bikes we got ready for the heat ahead. Up to now we rode as a group, it was quite chilly along the coast but we enjoyed it, 50km later we hit the scorching desert sun again. Rightfully so, soon after we got going the temperatures shot up from a very nice 18deg Cel on the coast to 40deg Cel, in only what felt like a few minutes. Wow what a landscape….! This was it, the start of Damaraland. The oldest rock formations in World was found here….very cool area. The last few km’s into Rhino camp was a bit loose but as soon as we arrived it became apparent that this is a very special place. The evening was spent around a campfire next to a somewhat disconcerting sign that read “beware of elephant and lion” no joke hey…That night we were amazed by the sight of the “Milky way” - that literally lit up the sky like a full moon. Dinner was mmmm “potjiekos”
 

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Hooligan

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[align=center]Day 4 9 Dec 06 – Sat[/align]
[align=center]Rhino camp - Onkongo[/align]
This day - in remembrance of Gord. Close call Gordy (I’m sure the pictures are making it’s rounds on the internet)….”that 640 has an amazing suspension” Willie said, “but you still need to pay attention while riding that fast in unknown desert country”. What turned out to be one of the most eventful days, also again gave us a WOW, what amazing sights, landscapes that made anyone wonder about the serious stuff of life. We had the first of many, many flats on the bakkie…..Carel and Scott took the honors of fixing this one. After a long day of navigating our GPS’s, which funny enough turned out to be 100% accurate, and bang on the mark with the trails, we got to Twyffelfontein, another amazing Lodge experience, we nursed a hurting well drugged Gord with a good meal. Ken aptly refers to this spot as the “Mad Max” hotel. After refueling we got going on the rest of the days ride, a further 250km of dust and bad roads that proved too much for a certain bike. (and no it was not orange….! A bit silverfish…..BUT NOT ORANGE…!) We got to try our crucifix (home made tow hitch for broken down KTM’s) on the bakkie, and it actually worked. We tried to look at the bike to see what could be wrong but decided tomorrow was another day and that we would spend the day here at the oasis as a down day, seeing that it got so hot here and we have a pool….hot beer and the female version of Crocodile Dundee as camp manager…..
 

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Ken and Carel......this is Kaokoveld. 3km from here Gord met his match....
 

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[align=center]Day 5 10 Dec 06 – Sun[/align]
[align=center]Onkongo – KTM piston and back.[/align]
Needless to say we spent the day trying to get into the motor while Scott kemp sterilizing our tools questioning the motives of all wanting to help…..this led to us depleting the local shebin’s (illegal shanty liquor store) supply of hot beer. No kidding it must have been close to 50 degrees that day in the canyon, or at least it felt like it, many had a red sun burnt glow after this day to prove it. We spent many hours in the cool natural waters of the oasis. Another cool experience, swimming with the water turtles.
 

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[align=center]Day 6 11 Dec 06 – Mon[/align]
[align=center]Onkongo - Epupa Falls / Omarunga[/align]
After a well rested day of strategic planning we were glad to get going with a firm plan in hand. Tow the broken bike to Opuwo, leave it at a lodge and pick it up two days from now. Willie was to arrange another bakkie for Scott to do the rest of the trip in. In order for this plan to work we had to be at Ruacana two days from now to meet a driver that would drive the 2000km from Windhoek to bring us the bakkie. It is in times like this that one realize the value of local knowledge and connections. The roads were fairly good. We ran into a lot of the local Himba’s that made for a lot of great photos. Lunch at the lodge was good especially the swim, Pam and Y decided to take a plunge riding gear and all. After lunch we head further North. This area is geographically known as Kaokoland, to us it became known as Makalaniland….! Again what a sight dropping down from the mountains the last few km’s to the Epupa Falls. Today things went so well we actually skipped a day and did two days worth of riding. At Epupa we camped at a tented lodge, right on the edge of the Kunene river, natural border between Namibia and Angola. After a somewhat unexpected windstorm that sent huge palm leaves and Makalani nuts flying all over we settled in for dinner at the “lodge bar and restaurant” Again food was excellent. Worth noting that the food on the whole trip was generally very good and of high quality considering where we were. Contrary to common expectation we settle in for the nights fairly early, perhaps indicative of the toll the riding had on us.
 

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[align=center]Day 7 12 Dec 05 – Tue[/align]
[align=center]Epupa Falls – Hippo Pools[/align]
Ok where to begin, after a brief meeting it was decided that Willie, Ken and Paul would attempt the “bad” section out of camp and the rest would follow the bakkie on the “easier” section….if there was such a thing in Africa….

It all went well until we split at the soccer field. It quickly became apparent that the rough road and the easy road were not very far removed, and I am not talking geographically. By 10am the bakkie must have had at least half of the $1000 damage the trip was to inflict on the bakkie. We kinda stuck together for the first few hours, following the winding tracks all along the Kunene river, at times very rocky and at times sandy, all beautiful though. What a ride it turned out to be….in the interest of friendships I will not mention too much about this day other than to mention Ken and Willie slept alone at the Hippo pools to meet the driver bringing Scott’s bakkie. Sleeping on a concrete pad on the side of the road they wondered where the rest were? Lars and Gord went on to the find a Lodge in Ruacana, Gord, WOW…..did not think you would make it in your condition. The rest stumbled on the Kunene River Lodge and decided to retire to an evening of svelte comfort and another good hot meal. It all came at a price but I am told it was worth it.
 

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