Namibian Desert - BMW vs. Harley!
Joining forces with the Forwoods (Harley Davidson world riders extrordinare) we headed off into the Namibian Deserts. Enroute to Walvis Bay we had a look at a cheetah park come game reserve . The Austrian owner was very informative as we watched four fat cats lazing in the early morning sun. They had just been fed and looked quite fat and taller than we had imagined. The gravel roads in Namibia are generally well maintained and a reasonable speed can be realised as we chased the P.M. sun into Naukluft Park. Camping under a mound of boulders at Mirabib campsite we discussed the attributes of riding a H.D. in the sands of Africa.That day, as we watched Peter and Kay charge into the sandy depths of the flood plains we marvelled at their skill and bravery. The truth came out though..
The H.D. had EIGHT ply tyres supporting its massive bulk . These were run at deflated pressures providing a balloon type ride on the sand and when a rare fall occurred there was little difference between the bike being on the side stand and being horizontal due to the crash bars and panniers...Amazing...Just goes to show any motorcycle will do a world trip. You have just got to get on and ride. We battled on at our own pace determined not to have a fall.
The next day saw us at a river bed with the far bank bordered with a red sand dune. The road in was 'dog-paddle' stuff in the soft sand. Two -up with a load does strange things to a bikes handling in sand. Improvements in the road surface again saw us maintain a reasonable pace to the face of Dune 7 on the outskirts of Walvis Bay. A favorite spot for sand-boarders and daredevil H.D. riders. Peter (minus Kay) chrages at the dune in first gear to see how high he could go. Some say 1/3 some say 1/5 nice effort though. Spent a lot of energy and lost a lot of bodyfluids dragging it down from the finishing point . Got some great photos.
Walvis Bay produces salt..by the ton and the coast line is dotted with evaporating pools . Did a quick lap around and stopped for a few photos of the pink flamingoes. There were thousands but they weren't very pink. There staple food must have got sunbleached. The campground between Walvis and Swakopmund was excellent but the notice at the entrance NO MOTORCYCLES was ignored as was the case at numerous sights in Namibia. We had the blinding pleasure of sandstorms on the early departures we made from here. Polishing the alloy to a standard only seen on the BMW when it was built 19 years ago.
Heading North to Cape Cross the odours from the worlds' largest sea lion colony took our breath away. What a sight...phew.. the smell was overpowering.Heading East towards Uis Myn past Namibia's highest peak we encountered three storms one with hail as we floundered through the sand , dust and gravel. Must put better tyres on next time. Still, we made it without a fall and our late arrival had Peter & Kay organize a hot coffee and some HardRoof accomodation for the night. On the road again to Twyfelfontein via Khorixas we viewed the petrified forrest. Not to much sand today and we enjoyed an ice cold beer at the campsite. After bragging about not being sick on the whole African journey it all came apart here. Could not keep a thing down. Headed off any way. Plenty of desert elephant dung on the road to Palmwag and we strained our eyes looking for these endangered species..No luck even with the binoculars.
We stayed at Palmwag for two nights waiting for my stomach bug to depart. Feeling better we headed off, spotting some desert giraffe on the way to Sesfontein. Not far from Sesf. we met a British couple on an XR400 Honda. The female pillion looked enviously at Kays armchair ride on the HArley and said some unflattering words about the Honda's. They had been places that we could only dream of though. Had a quick look at the German Fort at Sesf. and chased the road through the hills towards Opuwo. This was GS country and despite the tender stomach we enjoyed the ride immensely. Not far out of Opuwo a dozen or more Himba women stopped us. These are the ladies who smother their bodies in animal fat mixed in red clay (or something red) . The smell was...mmmmm different. I found it unpleasant. We took a few photos in exchange for food. They wanted money but we would not oblige. Opuwo saw us camp on the lushest grass in Africa. This lawn had seen some T.L.C. and we enjoyed the facilities of the house in front. Creature comforts are really appreciated when they are seldom seen.
Peter and Kay leave early the next day, heading for the Angolan border hoping they may get a visas at the border. No luck though. We travelled the same route and caught up with the at Chris's. Chris is a U.S. teacher doing Peace Corp work in Africa. We met him in Windoek and he offered us tent space on our travels when we got to the North of Namibia. He caught us though and we had to do a show and tell to his class. This was fun and we hope our impression on the students and teachers was good and they enjoyed it as much as we did. Next day we visited Mira, another Peace Corp worker who lived in a 'homestead ' with a local family. We learnt a lot. Thanks guys.
Etosha National Game Park was our goal today. Motorcycles are definitely not allowed in here and we had to make the ride to Tsumeb and arrange a hire car for a couple of days. We sighted plenty of animals but not too many of the big five. At the Halali water hole 4 black rhino paid us a 35mins visit. This was the highlight as we only sighted elephant , one lone male lion and a cheetah (balancing on a rock) all in the distance.
Waterberg Plateau Park (another NO MOTORCYCLES sign) was interesting but not much wildlife was spotted due to the dense undergrowth. Too much rain this year. Arriving back in Windhoek the old GS looked rather sick. A lot of oil leaking from the left cylinder revealed another failed heli-coil in the barrel stud. A visit to the local BMW dealer had us enjoying the hospitality of Mike and Helga de Kock. Suffice to say that the repair was done expertly and we enjoyed several cold beers with local club members. Many thanks Mike and Helga . We will keep in touch.
We said our goodbyes to Peter & Kay at this point as their journey had them heading east and onto Joburg. Thanks for the fun and entertainment . Maybe we will see you on the road again. Ours had us heading to Capetown via Luderitz and Fish River Canyon . The road into Luderitz was another world with distant sand dunes and finally black volcanic rock. The brightly painted buildings of this strong German town made the horizon look quite unreal . Almost like a strange painting. The visit to the old diamond mining town of Kolmanskop (ghost town) saw us scrambling through buildings half filled with sand and taking photos the way only professionals do. Hope they come out.
We camped just outside Fish River Canyon the next night after riding some of the best dirt roads in Namibia. We could maintain almost highway speeds most of the time. The canyon was huge and would have liked to spend more time there but the word was out that the weather in Capetown had deteriorated and we did not relish the idea of seeing S.A. in the rain. Crossing the border into S.A. after a lunch stop at AiAis (Fish River Canyon) saw us make camp at Springbok . The paved roads in Sth Africa are excellent and we made it to Capetown in glorious sunshine, sighting the mighty Tabletop Mountain some 70-80 kms. Who said the weather in Capetown is lowsy in winter?
Posted by Carol Duval at June 09, 2000 01:21 AM GMT