Namibian customs were friendly and efficient and in no time we were riding into a shabby frontier town. Shabby yes but with ATMís, shops, petrol stations and under the tyres smooth tarmac. A swerve to the left was needed to avoid an oncoming car Namibia drives on the left hand side of the road. I hadnít ridden on the left since England. There were also traffic lights I hadnít seen any of those in a long while ether.
It was only eighty kilometers to Oshakati where we would camp for the night. The first warm shower I had experienced for many months and steak for dinner. We were back in civilization.
Riding on these roads in northern Namibia was a welcome break after the Congos and Angola. Smooth, straight tarmac it didnít take too much concentration to keep in-between the white lines so for the first time for many weeks I could let my mind wander. I thought back over the previous four months and fourteen thousand miles, only thirteen hundred miles to Cape Town it was going to be easy from now on. Iím almost there I thought to myself.
After a huge breakfast Chris and I said goodbye to MJ, George and Francois. The South African guys that we rode with through Angola they wanted to get to Cape Agulhas and home to Pretoria in only five days so they had to get a move on.
Chris and I rode road 200km to Etosha National Park. As we approached the park along a dusty road I came round a corner as a herd of giraffes ran across the road they were closely followed by a dozen zebras Iíll never forget this moment it was incredible to see these animals running next to me as I rode along.
Motorcycles are unfortunately not allowed into National parks where game roam freely. So we had to take a 4x4 to go on safari. We saw lions, an elephant, springbok, ostriches and buffalo as well as many other birds and animals.
In Windhoek the capital of Namibia I checked into a backpackers named Chameleon. This was a perfect place to enjoy some comforts and relax for a while. While I waited for some parts for the BMW, a new swing arm torsion bar and oil seal for the rear drive.
Chris Bone turned up on his CCM 400 and the next day we rode out of Windhoek and into the vast desert landscape. We both loved the dirt roads which wound up and over mountain passes which reached an altitude of 1850 metres, through dramatic scenery. Ostriches and springbok would race along with us. I clocked them running in excess of 40mph.
We passed the Tropic of Capricorn; the invisible line marks the most southern limit of the tropics. It was good to be moving further away from the equator not just because we were getting closer to our goal but also because the temperature was cooling and it was now light to almost seven thirty.
We arrived at the turning for Sossusvlei dunes it was late in the day. So we headed on in search of a place to camp, easier said than done in this vast country all the land is owned and fenced off. So we pitched our tents by the side of the road.
The next morning we headed back in the direction of Sossusvlei. During the night there had been a major flash flood. It hadnít rained where we were camped but to the east it must have poured with torrential rain. The small stream, which we had forded the evening before, was now a raging torrent. A tree and some telegraph poles had been uprooted and washed away. We struggled just to walk across; it would be way too risky getting the bikes over. So after a morning of hanging out chatting with locals by the river we rode off hoping that the water would fall enough for us to cross the next day.
We returned twenty-four hours later and the water had dropped enough for us to cross. To say the red sands of the Sossusvlei dunes were dramatic would be an under statement. I love the feeling of space in this country standing at the top of one of these dunes looking around you feel like you have the whole world to yourself.
Ridding further into the dunes involved more water. A stream ran in the same direction that we needed to go it was good fun. The only trouble being that the brown colored water was less than transparent and it was difficult to judge the depth. On a couple of occasions I got the weighty GS stuck.
There was no need to ride on tarmac through the rest of Namibia the dirt roads were well maintained and there was no other traffic. We would camp by the side of the road each night and watch the sunset as we cooked over an open fire.
During a fuel stop Chris was checking his badly worn front tyre, it was now down to the canvass in places. He was going to have to go directly to South Africa and try to get his hands on some more rubber. I didnít want to miss out on seeing Fish River Canyon so I took the road to the west and Chris took the road to the south. Iím glad I didnít miss out on the canyon the view was breath taking!
The next morning I crossed the Orange River which marks the border between Namibia and South Africa. Next stop Cape Agulhas, the most southern tip of Africa.
Once I was across the border into South Africa I decided to make a bolt for Cape Agulhas. I was so close now I just wanted to get there. Chris had gone on ahead to try to find a new front tyre and I was hoping to catch up with him. Although we now had no way of contacting each other as our Namibian mobiles didnít work here in South Africa.
I only stopped when I needed to fuel up every one hundred and eighty miles or so. It was good to see the first signs for Cape Town counting down the kilometers. I had decided some time during the journey to head directly to Cape Agulhas the most southern point of Africa that was the destination.
I wasnít going to make Cape Agulhas in one day so I started to find somewhere to lay my head for the night. Many people had warned me not to bush camp in South Africa, so it was going to have to be a campsite or hotel. As it was starting to get dark I still hadnít found anywhere to stay. Night driving in South Africa is made all that more difficult by many drivers not grasping the concept of dipping their lights for approaching vehicles so I was constantly getting dazzled.
I was now only twenty kilometers from Cape Town and I really didnít want to enter the city at night. Even though I had left home after dark five month previously I really wanted to see Cape Town for the first time in daylight!
I eventually came across a trailer park and after getting someoneís attention through the locked gates I was inside pitching up my tent. That evening I met some interesting characters in the camp bar.
The next morning I was on the road again heading for the Cape. It was a shame not to have picked up Chris Bone on the way. It was looking like I was going to have to celebrate alone. Dan, Ed and Chris had already been in Cape Town for a week or so and weíre pretty much on their way home.
Dan and Linz that I had rode with in Senegal, Gambia and Burkina Faso were still in Cameroon after an unexpected six-week stop in Niger when Dan had broken his arm.
With only twenty kilometers of riding in the drizzle left to do before finally reaching my goal. I had an urge to stop and have lunch. I wasnít particularly hungry I just think that I didnít want to finish the longest ride of my life.
After taking my time eating a toasted sandwich I rode off. The rain had stopped and the sky was beginning to brighten. I followed the signs to the most southern point of Africa and pretty soon I had Cape Agulhas lighthouse in my sights. I pulled up and felt a sudden rush of emotions. Iíd made it! What a good feeling! Iíve made it! The bike and I have actually made it and in one piece! Just now a few KGís lighter and perhaps a little wiser.
The BMW R1200GS after 136 days, 15.176, miles, three punctures, two sets of tyres, 1400 litres of fuel, seventeen countries and eleven ferry crossings she is looking in pretty good shape! Was it the best choice for the trip? Yep!
I must have radiated my elation, as it wasnít long before I had a little crowd around me congratulating me and asking questions. Once I had taken the obligatory photos I found a rock and looked out it sea I was enjoying the moment and didnít want it to pass. I sat there for a couple of hours just letting it all sink in and thinking back over the last five months.
It was a shame I had forgotten to pick up a bottle of bubbly but everything happens for a reason. I returned the next day with a bottle of pink fizz to toast the Cape with a couple of people that I had met at Cape Agulhas Backpackers. We pulled up in the van and who was there? Chris Bone!
After a couple of days we found ourselves in Cape Town what a perfect city to unwind in after this epic adventure!
To be continuedÖÖ.
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