February 27, 2008 GMT
YOU CAN'T RIDE THAT BIKE HERE! - Dune 7, Walvis Bay
West Coast or East Coast? What route to take?
Many overland travelers passed through Chameleon Backpackers.
Richard - Off to Angola
Their machines varied from a 1954 650 Triumph carrying Denise and Clive and a 1955 Royal Enfield loaded with Richard and his gear.
Mobs of Lads and thier Bikes - Heading South
A group of lads on a combination of Africa Twins (Dan and Ed) and BMW's (Michael and Chris) to a whole variety of trucks and jeeps.
Everyone had a different story, everyone had different advice, everyone had different information. It was fabulous!
Windhoek was our cross roads. We needed to decide which route to take trans Africa. Eventually we decided on the Eastern. The classic Cape Town to Cairo, but in our usual round about way.
Spot Grant - Dune 7, Walvis Bay
The main reason for our decision was the steadily increasing rain and steadily decreasing road conditions. Serious flooding in the north of Namibia and Angola turned roads into nothing more than muddy rivers. This really was not appealing!
Flower at Hoba Meteorite Park
Where as at least along the east coast you have a choice, most of the time, to take a paved or dirt road. We have planned to undertake some of the West Coast of Africa, Morocco - south, while waiting for Europe to warm up, but that is a long way off at the moment.
Maggie - Staff Member at Chameleon
Meanwhile we were enjoying the comforts of Chamelon, waiting for some paperwork from Australia (thanks to Logistics Master Joanne, Julie's sister).
Braii with some of the gang
We took a few day trips and a trip out to Swakopmund on the Skeleton coast, famous for shipwrecks and an inhospitable environment.
Trinny & Piggy at the Seaside - Skeleton Coast
At 'Dog Poo Lodge' (not its real name, but an apt description) we met Clive and Denise, a British couple who had ridden their '54 Triumph, 'Trinny' down the East Coast of Africa.
We are constantly being told, by naysayers, that we cannot ride our Suzuki in Latin America/on the dirt/through Africa/etc etc etc and that you can only do it on a Brand X/Brand Y/Brand Z.
It all becomes a little monotonous. So when we meet Richard on his 55 Royal Enfield and Clive and Denise with Trinny it restores your faith that you can ride what you want where you want. People are and doing it quite well.
Denise and Clive - Skeleton Coast
The stern faced, khaki camouflage suited local police officer walks assuredly towards Grant and Miss Piggy. He throws an authoritative glance at the bike parked on the footpath directly in front of the cafe.
Petrol Station Sign.... don't forget your bonnet!
Grant stands with his hands behind his back feigning a smile with the knowledge that perhaps this was not the best place to park and we could be in for a fine of some sort.
He, the Police Officer, circles the machine tapping bits of metal and plastic with his batton. He throws his attention directly to the owner... Grant.
'What is this then?' he pronounces waving his baton over the bike and towards the footpath.
Grant answers avoiding the obvious subject at hand 'This is my motorcycle that my wife and I use to travel about your country.'
The Officer glances back at the bike and looks about the street and then with a quick motion, shakes his head and discards us with another wave of his baton, walking away... somewhat to Grant's relief.
Using Tsumeb as a base (the Municipal Campground has great and cheap camping, by the way) we explored some of the surrounding areas.
Salt Road - Skeleton Coast
Grootfontain is a home to the largest, discovered, intact meteorite that has impacted with planet earth. This fascinating chunk of space debris weighs approximately 60 Tons and is composed of nickel, iron and other rare elements. In places the surface has been machined by scientists to an almost chrome like finish that does not appear to rust.
We discovered and interesting phenomenon. Whilst the temperatures in the midday sun soared past 40 degrees Celsius and all around, including the cement compound, was extremely hot to touch, the metal meteorite remained unusually cool.... we don't know why? Do you?????
Giumas Lake is one of two sinkholes near Tsumeb. Their depth is unknown, however, divers have submerged to 80metres depth and reported that they cannot see the bottom.
Lake Guimas, approximately 50kms of dirt from Tsumeb, once, was a tourist spot, however, now all is in ruin. We laid out our picnic sheet, surrounded by overgrown bush lands and delapitated buildings. Other than the sounds of bird songs echoing around the wall of the sink hole it was completely silent and isolated. It was a pleasant spot and a far cry from the over touristed Okijito sink hole.
Northern Namibia seems to be a direct contrast to Southern Namibia. At least we were made to feel welcome, and not cash cows.
Hot in Walvis Bay
Along the road, aways up the Caprivi Strip with Angola just a few kilometres to the north and with small settlements of mud and stick, children ran from them as we approached waving and smiling it became particularly tiring returning thier gestures as we ventured further towards Zambia.
Pumping Gas Caprivi Style - by hand of course
We stopped under a large shady tree (Eucalyptus, all over the world now, it seems) near by sat one of these small villages. As we eat our light lunch by the side of the bike we notice a group of children from one of the huts staring curiously at us. They crept cautiously closer in the safety of their group only to beat a hasty retreat as a bull cow made itself known to them. Another advance, this time skirting the heard of cows and concealing themselves, not to well, behind a large tree. We watched them as they watched us for perhaps 10 minutes only for us to start packing up to continue.
Grant mounted Miss Piggy and seeing a few of the children advance a little closer, beckoned to them with a wave.
They immediately scrambled over to us, so for a further 10 minutes we took photos of them with the bike which they seemed awfully pleased to view on our camera and passing over a packet of bickies we continued on.
The Caprivi Strip, a famous battle ground between Namibia (then North West South Africa) and Angola. This once disputed strip of land is now home to many small villages and a large protected elephant population.
Sunset on the Zambezi River - Romantic apart from being attacked by mozzies
The warning signs along the road caution drivers to take care and slow down for elephants. We transversed the 190 kilometre route to the Zambezi River with out seeing one damned elephant! Evidence of their presence, namely broken trees, shrubs devoid of foliage and enormous piles of poo were every where.... but alas no elephants this day.
Where the hell did that come from.... HD Holden
Namibia To Zambia
* Complete departure forms;
* Present passport for exit stamps;
* Return Road Tax Levy paperwork and fill in register.
* Open wallet;
* Stand back and watch money fly out ;
* Go to immigration and purchase Visa (US$50.00 for Australians);
* Have passport stamped;
* Register your vehicle in the big book;
* Present carnet for inspection;
* Purchase Government required Third Party Property Insurance (US$33.00);
* Complete Temporary Import Papers and pay fee (US$13.00);
* Pay Council Levy (US$4.00);
* Leave, find a shady spot along the road for tuna and crackers for lunch.
NOTE: These fees are all offical and will be receipted. The process is quite simple and takes a little time. They accept Namibian Dollars but the exchange rate is not great, however a convenient way to get rid of excess Nam$. The money changers at the border don't seem to have any Zambian money on a Sunday!!
Posted by Julie Rose at 07:12 AM
January 27, 2008 GMT
Four Wheels and Four Legs
Warning - Warthogs ahead!
We left Windhoek for a 6 day safari to Etosha National Park in the the mighty Toyota Condor with Allan, who prepared it by filling it with wine. Good on you Wine Rider! We prepared it by filling it with food!
Here is a Photo Gallery of our time on four wheels. There are a lot of photos in this edition, however, we have sorted through the 1,000 or so we took and narrowed it down to the following 50 odd...
Grant wanted Gin.... The only place open was this dark and decrepid bar. All that was available was some dogey labled 'Old Buck' gin! Grant justified buying it with the thought that it could be used in the Trangia (alcohol buring camp stove), worse come to worse.
These beautiful birds are protected in parts and there are often warning signs on the sides of roads for drivers to be aware that you are entering Guinea Fowl sancturaries.
Rhino & Giraffe
Our first night at the Okaukuejo Rest Camps waterhole and our first sighting of the shy and endangered White Rhino. Statistics on Rhino are not published by the Government as they are being protected from poachers.
Black Backed Jackal Pup
We were tormented by Jackals at our camp. Infact they managed to steal our left over food off the hot grill and out of weighted down pots!
Zooped Up Squirrel
Do not feed lollies to Squirrels Allan! This little fella really enjoyed his cherry sweet.
Oryx on the Pan
Etosha National Park is located on a large salt pan (120 x 47 kilometres) and is home to abundant wildlife. The pan is generally dry, however during the rainy season there is generally a 10 - 15 centimetre layer of water covering all, or part, of the surface. A record water level was recorded in 1931, a level of 50 centimetres.
So pretty and so delicious to boot.
Lioness crossing our path
It was very exciting to be driving along when this Lioness walked straight by us.
Etosha is home to some 200 - 300 Lions. This is quite a high number for a park that is 22,270 square kilometres in size.
There are approximately 15,000 - 20,000 Zebra in the park. Just a few then!!! It seemed like everywhere you turned there was heards of Zebra.
Giraffe at waterhole.
Drinking looks difficult for these tall creatures
Get off the road you crazy Zebra!
More Zebra.... thin filets marinated and gently grilled... mmmmm
Giraffe in the Bushes
Quintessential Africa. The Giraffe population is approximately 2,500 - 3,500 head.
Sunset at the Waterhole - Halali
As this time of the year was very dry, we did not have to wait long for the animals to come in for an evening drink or bath.
Waiting for the parade
2,000 - 3,000 Elephant call Etosha home.
Also known as the 'Undertaker Bird' these storks are carion eaters and supplement their diet with a variety of lizards and insects.
More Flippin Zebra
Another Family of Elephants
Bath Time for Babies
We have not eaten these, but I guess they would be tasty too. They are the second fastest antelope in Africa. They can run at speeds of up to 75 kilometres per hour. It is very unusual for a Hartebeest to be taken by Lion as they can generally out run them.
Grazing Giraffe and ever present Zebra
Honing our wildlife tracking skills we deduced Elephants had been through here
Africa's heaviest flying bird, weighing between 12 - 19 kilograms, lives in the grass lands (savanah). Thier diet consists of small vertibrates, insects and the gum from trees.
Allan shooting animals, probably Zebra!
We asked the Park Rangers if we could catch and eat one of the Zebra as there are so many in the park... they said no, to our disapointment.
Lions at rest
We sat and watched these lions for quite a while, they were lazy in the afternoon heat and rolled about like kittens at play, big kittens!
An old fella...
...taking a dust bath...
...whats wrong with his leg??? That is his leg isn't it???
It is hard not to take photos of Giraffe.
What are you looking at?
Giraffe give you such a quizical look at times, as if they are watching you and not the otherway around.
Setting up tent amoungst the natural lawnmowers - Warthogs
Unlikely bunch of lads
Grant and Allan give the thumbs up to another great day in the park.
Blue Wilderbeasts on the plains
After three days in the park it was time to leave, heading north through the veld.
The guy that just stands there.... Oryx
These magnificent antelope, also known as Gemsbok, have an incredible system for keeping cool in the hot desert. They have a capiliary system in thier snout that keeps thier brain cool while they heat thier body up to 45 degrees centigrade (mamalian body temperature is generally 37 degrees), thus allowing them to cope with the harsh day heat and keep warm on cold desert nights.
Outside the park strange palm trees line the road to Angola
Digging out the car - C21 Osataki to Opuwo
All maps and information indicated this was the main road to Opuwo. Grant did not wish to continue, Allan stubbornly wanted to keep going, no one listened to Jules.
Al gets the car bogged in the sand for the second time, Grant decided to take over the driving.
Main highway my arse!
Oasis in the Desert - Opuwo Country Lodge
Arriving here was like a dream after our stressful and hot day.
Grant contemplates the day and what tomorrow will bring.
KK our guide to the Himba Country
Jules with Himba girl at permanent settlement
The Himba are a tradionally nomadic peoples who still live in accordance with their traditonal laws and customs.
Permanent Himba settlement
This 'permanent' settlement is very austere and simple. The men leave to tend thier goats in the bush, while the women stay and look after the children and the village.
Mother and Child (only 4 days old)
This tiny round hus is where the Chief of the village lives. You are allowed to enter in one way and exit the same way, it is forbidden to walk a complete circle within the hut, although this seemed entirely impossible anyway!
Women come to sell crafts
From birth Himba women do not bathe. They coat thier skin with a mixture of ochre and animal fat or vaseline (depending on what is available). This keeps thier skin smooth and moisturised as well as acting as a suncreen.
Girls working with beads
Traditionally a cashless society the Himba still pay for doctor or hospital visits with goats or livestock, however a modern development, thanks to tourism, women now undertake crafts for sale to tourists allowing them to make purchases (flour, salt, sugar etc) at the supermarkets.
Portrait of of Himba woman
We thought the conditions harsh at the permanent settlement, but it was even tougher in the temporary village. Sheltered only by blankets over a tree that hold thier worldly possesions the women and children attempt to keep cool.
Grant and Allan in the thick of it
The children of this village loved having their photos taken, giggling wildly at thier images in the digital camera screen.
The young boy at the back did not want his photo taken, he was very shy because of his buck teeth.
Himba Laws are very harsh. If you kill a man you are required to pay his family 10 goats per year for the rest of your life. If you kill a woman you must pay 30 goats per year until you die. Considering the harsh desert conditions and the ability (or inability) to raise enough goats for yourself let alone another family, the penalty is very high.
Road back to Windhoek
With our adventure over we arrived back in Windhoek where Allan finally had the nagging electrical problems with his BMW 650 Dakar sorted and we settled into Chameleon Backpackers and Guest House for a stay to wait for some important papers from Australia.
Posted by Julie Rose at 09:40 AM
January 17, 2008 GMT
Seriously Friggin' Sandy
Road to A-Ais - softer than it looks
A-Ais thats what the sign said, we turned left off the melting bitumen onto the black sandy gravel road, the D316, with the hope of making it to the Fish River Canyon that evening.
Road to Fish River Canyon
It was our first taste of the Namibian dirt roads. It felt good as our rate of velocity increased. Some 30 kilometres in with the front end squirming about in a somewhat violent fashion we slowed and stopped! Was this, afterall, the correct road to the canyon?
Grant on Christmas Eve
A quick check of the map and we figured two things. This road would take us to the canyon, in a round about way, but more importantly with a distance of 90kilometres of isolated road to cover a half a litre of water left to share and the temperature around 39 degrees at 11:00 we decided to head back to the highway indeed a prudent decision it seemed at the time.
Canyon Road House
Christmas Eve was spent in a pleasant enough fashion, riding a pleasant enough dirt road to the Canon Road house and with the tent set up under a camel thorn tree, numerous in this region, a violent desert wind picked up threatening to toss our precious tent against the spiney thorns whilst depositing a thick layer of sand over our sleeping gear inside.
Fish River Canyon
Jules at the Fish River Canyon
For an hour we held on to our parachuting tent while other campers pulled thiers down around us and as all calmed and after a frenzy of interior cleaning we decided to treat ourselves to Christmas dinner at the restaurant.
Merry Christmas Santa
We were both enjoying the Namibian desert, but Grant having lived and worked for long periods of time in similar Australian terrain had never thought it wise taking long motorcycle journeys in mid summer.
Long days in isolation
This feeling kept creeping back as we ventured deeper into the dune areas and with our little thermometer perched on the tank bag soaring regularly above its indicated 50 degrees centigrade it was almost impossible to carry enough water with us.
Single Male Zebra seeks Female for companionship with view to permanent relationship
Hans the lonely biting Zebra of Hamersteins
Along the way we were informed of good lodging at Hammerstiens Lodge, so at some 60 kilometres before the turn off to Sossusovlei, on New Years Eve, we barrelled along the sandy track entering the lodge. It was an excellent choice and one of our best New Years Eves.
The fastest animal in the world tends to ignore humans unless provoked or threatened
You are unable to walk in the pen with Leopard as their behaviour is unpredictable
A flexible backbone allows them to jump up to 3 metres and catch 6 birds at a time
We toured what is know as the Cat Walk (not a fashion show) mingling with adult Cheetahs, Lynx and Leopards. The highlight was playing with the young Cheetahs who, at under 2 years of age and almost fully grown, were not yet in a wild state as we were able to sit about whilst they constantly licked our sweat salted skin and purring with a constant rhythmic pulse.
Grant and Jules with young Cheetahs
Jules with a cub
Grant is obviously very tasty
Never bite the hand that feeds you...
Our map showed the D845 as the only road to Sesriem Canyon, so naturally we headed up it, only to find deep sand and us on the deck after a fall at 50 kilometres an hour. No harm done we thought, picking us and Piggy up until Grant spied the left hand pannier sitting at a rather odd angle.
Oops! We all fall down
One of the welded supports had completely snapped and with that, the sand continuing on into the far distance and at 10 am the temperature soaring above 40 degrees C we decided that perhaps the sanddunes had no more to offer than this particular road!
Broken pannier frame
We headed back to the main dirt road, and low and behold, not 40 kilometres north, a good gravel road headed straight to the dune area.
With a make-shift repair on the pannier frame completed in no less than 50 degrees centrigrade heat we allowed ourselves the luxury of staying at the exclusive Sossusvlei Lodge. Quite a treat really, but aaaawfully expensive.
Wind carved sands of Sossusvlei
Windhoek was less than a day away on a relatively easy gravel road over the Remhoogte Pass and a lovely lunch stop at a farm house smack in the middle.
Windhoek, Capital city of Namibia, Ahead.... somewhere
We love the Namib Desert, but it was good to get to Windhoek as the heat had finally taken its toll, we were both just a little knackered!
Paved Desert Road... can ya feel the heat, can ya??!!
Red Road Picnic Stop - near Zaris Pass
The week between Christmas and New Years was spent at the unusual seaside village of Luderitz where just about everything was closed.
Luderitz, known as Namibias Little Bavaria
Lutheran Church - Luderitz
The land surrounding the town is restricted access due to diamond mining in the area. This old German style village is perched on a rocky base and the sea is the workplace of many of the locals. We took a ride with Stephan, from South Africa, to Agate beach where the wind blew and the sea churned.
Flamingos on small lake near Agate Beach, Luderitz
Agate Beach.... Windy as all hell
Christof & Eloise from South Africa with their V-Strom 1000
There's diamonds in them thar hills
Kolmanskop - Ghost Diamond Town
Wild Horses of Aus
Sunrise at Keetmanshoop
Border Scenery South Africa and Namibia
BORDER CROSSING - SOUTH AFRICA/NAMIBIA
Exit South Africa
* Present passport to immigration for exit stamp
* Present receipts of goods purchased to Tax Refun Office for the calculation on your VAT refund (make sure you ask for a cheque on the spot, otherwise they will send it to your home address)
Local Bush Transport
* Present passport to immigration for 90 day entry
* Pay N$100 Road Tax, all foreign vehicles pay to use the roads in Namibia
A Courteous Welcome
Posted by Julie Rose at 12:09 PM