December 26, 2011 GMT
Luderitz was founded by the Germans and built on diamond mining money. Most of the older buildings were built from 1900 to 1918, after world war one South African’s took over control of Namibia. The German style architecture is present in many of the towns buildings.
Luderitz from top of hill
German house and church
Old mining town (Ghost Town) just out side of Luderitz
Sand covering the road
We decided to spend a slow day here and update the blog and soak up some of the cooler air before heading back inland. We hiked up a rock and took some pictures, wind blowing here seems to be the norm but not as bad as a few k out of town where keeping the sand moved off the road is a full time job.
Monday we set off for the inland, battled the winds and sand for about 25k then they slowed some. Not much else noteworthy today other than the temperature got up to 40 C (104 F). Martha was worried about insulin getting warm so when we got to Mariental we got a Chalet with kitchen. Nice place for 450 ($53 US).
For those considering a visit to Namibia a few notes on accommodations. If you see self catoring it means units have a kitchen, B&B are often more like a small motel than what we call B&B in US. Campgrounds are very nice, better than what you would normally get in USA, also will pay more. Every campground we have stopped at had power to each site, (needed to charge up everything). Cost of Hotels and B&B seem to be about 70% of what we would pay at home. There are also some very expensive places such as game lodges which will run 2000 to 3000 N$ per person per night’ (1 US$ = 8.5 N$). Some of the game lodges will have camping available, We are now at Onguma Bush Camp next to Estosha National Park where camp ground was $N150 per person. We have power, tent pad and our private bathroom unit with shower. Swimming pool a short hike away.
We had breakfast and headed out early to beat the heat (7:30). A farmer was already baling nice green little square bales, then there was a field of corn, and then there was a big dairy. And that was about it. It was a long day through semi desert. Saw several donkeys pulling two wheeled carts. The area doesn’t look too prosperous. We stopped in the little town of Karibib and found a nice cabin. We had all the windows open and by morning I was eaten alive. Bob found an internet café so we checked emails.
Crossed the Tropic of Capricorn
This is what most of the "rivers" in Namibia look like, very dry country
Met some wild life on the way into a game farm restraunt
Warthogs entertained us during lunch
Back on the road
The next morning it was only two hours to Swakopmund. We drove around town, full of people and lots of places to stay. We sat down at the beach and watched the waves roll in for a while. The Marine Museum was closed for renovation and wouldn’t be open until February. We found a nice room and went down town looking for a half dozen items and lunch. We had been wanting to get a small battery charger, 12V, that we could keep the cooler running at night. We were back by 4 pm and called Peter. Peter and his son Simon came over and we chatted and went to dinner. The next day Peter and Simon picked us up, we went to breakfast and headed out to see an area they call moon scape (interesting), then a drive through the desert and huge dunes and on to Walvis Bay where we had lunch at a restaurant on the beach and watched the para gliders and wind surfers(the wind was strong). We went back to Swakopmund the back way because there was a sand storm and still couldn’t see more than 150 feet. We were glad we weren’t on the motorcycle. Back in town we walked back downtown to exchange the battery charger we had bought the day before because it could tell that it was not hooked to a battery, needed a less intelligent charger but it will take up more room. Once back at the motel we were finally able to set up a unit to run the cooler when we weren’t on the motorcycle! That night we had “Fish Cordon Blue”( a big fish ball stuffed with salmon and cheese).
Park by the beach
German style buildings
The lunar landscape
Martha, Peter and Simon (Peter providing a geology lesson). At this spot there was water and farming.
Sea salt operation
Sea salt operation
The next morning we started trying to book a rental car for Etosha National Park. The computer said all booked, so we tried the car rental in Swakopmund and see sent us on a wild goose chase. When we finally got to Tsumed we found the EuroCar rental place but they would not rent us a car to go into the park because it had rained, (what we saw it would not have had a problem). They were less than helpful, telling us we needed to back track 250k and rent a 4X4 but would not check to see it there was one available. Then I ask them if there were places near the gate we could stay and get a tour into the park, which is what we did but they said there were no places like that. So Etosha was a little disappointing but we did have a great Christmas at the Bush Camp.
Farm ground, not common in Namibia
Corn field next to a large dairy
The hot ride north
Maori Camp Ground 5k north of Grootfontein, I recommend this place for travelers.
Camp site at Etosha
We were up at 5:30 Christmas day to set out on our tour at 6:30.
Male Lion only 40 feet from the road
female lion (crouched) that had come across the road in front of us.
Zebra with small foal at side, this is what the lions were watching
As we watched the female lion lunged at the Zebra foal, bringing it down.
the squeling zebra foal brought out the rest of the pack, another female and 8 cubs. the male also came in to finish the kill.
Here the male lion drags the Caracas with one of the cubs attached
Giraffes at the watering hole
Christmas dinner with three other couples traveling by motorcycle, they are also headed to Victoria Falls but by a different route. If it works out we will meet up again there.
Well we are out of Etosha and headed north east. Will stay in Rundu tonight, got a room as I seem to be coming down with a cold.
Posted by Robert Thode at 07:29 PM
December 18, 2011 GMT
Cape Town - Canyon - to the Sea
Brian lead us into Cape Town to the Harley dealer where we intended to pickup a couple of shirts to document where we have been. But it was not to be as they were sold out of everything except small and XX large, seems there has been a run on them for Christmas. From there we headed to Table Mountain for a cable car ride to the top, 1160 M. From the top we could see across Cape Town. Then down the mountain and ride along the coast roads and back to Brian and Marganne’s. Cape Town is a beautiful city and would be fun to explore if one had the time.
From the bottom looking up at Table Mountain
From near the top, in cable car, looking down
Cape Town from top of Table Mountain
Ride along the coast, road is cut under cliff
Beach, looked like a good place to swim
Ready to ride off from good friends, Maybe somewhere we meet again
All good things must come to an end and we pulled away from the generous hospitality and friends. Headed north to Loeriefotein, where Christoffel and Elzan’s house is. Chris worked in the USA for a custom harvester a few years ago and had contacted me wanting to talk to Americans again. They have a beautiful house, (Elzan had studied interior design) but it is small so we planned on setting up the tent on the lawn but Chris’s Mother was sure that it would be too cold so we slept at their house next door. Chris raises sheep on two farms, one for the winter and one in the summer. They then live about in the middle. We were kind of getting use to being spoiled but left their house the next morning in a drizzel of rain, not normal for here I am told. Back over a real neat pass, (see pictures) and to N7. There was a shorter way on dirt roads but we were told the corrugations (aka washborads) were bad.
Grapes north of Cape Town
Harvested grain fields
Straw bales in the field
You find some neat signs as you travel the world, this one kind of says it all in picture form
We have seen many of these wild Ostrich
Worlds largest collection of windmills, see it in Loeriesfontein
They have these Braai grills built in we could use one of these at home
Beginning motorcycle training at the proper age
We traveled north on N7 and made the Namibia boarder by 4:30. We needed to do some bill paying and stuff on internet so stayed in a classy place near the boarder rather than going west 12k to a campground. It was “self catering” means you cook your own food. So with a run to a small store we set up the stove and had good meal. Not as good as we had become accustom to but met the need. Cooked up eggs, potatoes and ham for breakfast the next morning and headed into Namibia.
The steep climb at m/l 10%
Along the way
Another along the way
no shortage of rock
Breakfast by chef Robert
Both South Africa and Namibia were very efficient and quick in getting us through and the Carnet stamped out and in. Only a short way north we turned off on a gravel road heading for Fish River Canyon. After a 145k on gravel/sand road I was exhausted as we reached the Canon Road House. A little about the road, it looked good but had from one half inch to two inches of sand and was very “squirrely”. This is my first experience with this type of road. The rule is when you hit sand to “look up, speed up and stand up”. Two riders on an overloaded GS 1200 make the stand up part not doable but the look up and speed up carried us through with out mishap. The trick was to slow down on the good spots so that if you hit sand you had power to speed up and pull the front tire up out of the sand while you picked a path out about 100 to 200 yard.
Entering the park
Martha fixing lunch on the road
the sandy road, up to two inches of sand in spots
and more road
lots of rock and not much growing
Back to the Road House, after 145k on a gravel/sand/dirt road, some rather brutal corrugations, I did not expect to find a place like this. I had a great time in the old road houses of Australia and expected much the same here. What we found was a class place decorated with old cars and signs. We camped out back with excellent facilities except still no picnic table. For dinner we had escargot and chicken schnitzel. The next evening Martha had ostrich and I had oryx steak.
I think we need one of these on the farm
I think this is a Whezzer, anyone know for sure
Our campsite at the roadhose
Springbox next to the camp site
The next day we rode to the Fish River Canyon about 30 k from the Road house. It is the second largest canyon (after Grand Canyon, US) in the world. Glad we were early as it soon got quite hot. We walked along the rim to a small lookout point where there was a rock outhouse that could withstand anything. Day hikes down into the canyon are not allowed but they do offer 80 k guided hikes that take several days.
Fish River Canyon,
Just so you all don't think we had it to easy, for dinner we had to eat in the garage next to this Chevy
From the Roadhouse we headed north for 137 k to N7 then east to Luderitz. There was an area of cattle ranches (stations) and fairly good range pasture, (our cows would just lay down and die if we asked them to eat the dry grass). As we descended to Luderitz the cross wind was at least 100k and blowing sand across the road. The Patagonia has nothing on the wind here which twisted around the hills and could hit from either side.
Made it out and stopped here to air tires back up for tar roads
After all that gravel/sand/dirt this looked good
Eland standing on the railroad tracks
Sand blowing across the road
Just as we came into Luderitz we passed motorcycle stopped so we asked if he knew a good place to stay. We ended up at “Kratzplatz” a small place run by a biker, we have a frige, stove and wifi, looked like a good spot to stay a couple of days and update the blog.
Luderitz was founded by the Germans (they controlled the area till the end of WW1). The German influence is seen in the buildings and people. It is a town that shuts down for the weekend, stores were already closed at 3:45 on Sat. They did open up for a bit on Sunday but I could not buy beer, another dry day. Plan to head back to N1 and north from here or may take some of the dirt roads north if I can get an idea as to there condition.
Posted by Robert Thode at 11:32 AM
December 11, 2011 GMT
To the bottom of Africa
Up to Addo Elephant Park where we got a camp spot and took a two hour tour, (they will not let motorcycles ride into the park). It was a real nice camp ground and we saw many animals:
Leopard Tortoise, about 15 inches long. They said you should not pick them up because they will pee all there water out may not have enough water left to make it to water hole.
Warthog, cute buggers
When we left the park we headed to Graff-Reinet after a breakfast of eggs, sausage and reheated fries. Passed through citrus groves and some alfalfa. Saw our first monkeys but did not get a picture. Got our first taste of African heat as it hit 38.5C (aka 101 F).
Lots of wind mills pumping water
Cattle along the route
We got the G R and decided to go to the National Zebra Park where we hoped to get a camp site and tour. But they would not let us in with a motorcycle so we turned around and back to Graff-Reinet where we could get a camp sit, then it started to rain, then hail. So when I came past a neat old Guest House we gave up on camping. Graff-Reinet is an old town settled by the Dutch and would be a great place to wander around for a few days.
We could not pronounce Graff-Reinet right so we just called it "Grand Rapids"
Guest house where we had good B&B with dinner too
Ostriches hiking across the plane
Springbok on a game reserve
Then on to Dirk van der Merwe farm where we had been invited. GPS is wonderful, just entered the numbers and it took us 14k down a dirt road right to their house. The farm has been in the family for five generations. They raise sheep, cattle, alfalfa and horses in a very dry area by diverting the river to flood irrigate the fields when (and if) it rains. If they get water once they get two cuttings of alfalfa and three cutting is they can water twice. There have been years when it did not rain enough to irrigate. Had a great braii of springbok backstrap and lamb chops and sausages. It really makes the trip to be able to meet people and understand their way of doing things.
checking out Dirk's cattle
Dirk's Wague bull (can't remember how to spell it) Japaneses breed of well marbled beef, top of the line for restaurants.
Martha and Dirk
After a great nights sleep and a walk to see the cattle and Dirk’s Waugo bull. We left for a little backtracking to Williston and then on to dirt road south ending in Leeu Gamka at an old road house (1885). It was the cooks night off so they set out supplies for a Braii (BBQ) and we had more good food.
You could spend days just riding the back roads here, most of the dirt/gravel roads are well maintained.
Rode through Prince Albert Road and beautiful valley with grapes and feedlots for ostriches. The land is very rugged here with some good riding over passes and down to the ocean. We went into George found information and location of BMW dealer so I could get a bolt. At dealer we found the bolt was broken off, not just unscrewed, so they pulled it into the shop and fixed it up with a new bolt and new mud guard. No cost as it was under warranty, can highly recommend this shop as friendly quick and efficient. It is differant than what we would find at home because it also sold BMW cars.
Road down through the clouds for a splendid ride
many of these "camp"
From George we headed on to Stillbaii (still bay) and got a camp site. We had made arrangements with Chris Louw to pick up a set of tyres (tires for you back home). Called and told him we were close and to get directions and he hopped in his truck and delivered the tyres. Then we talked for so long the local store and restaurant had closed so he took Martha to get a take away (aka take out) a few k from where we were. The next morning Chris was back with his motorcycle and took us to where we could get the tyres installed. It is one of those thing I could do myself but much easier if you have the right equipment. Once Elly had her new shoes Chris took us on a route up in the hills then down a dirt road, back to tar and great stop for lunch where owner is a biker (Harley) and bikers get 10% discount. Met a gentleman there that was 77 and out for a ride on his BWM. Finally Chris had to head home and we set off for Somerset West.
View in the mountains
View in the uplands, Seattle may not have the bluest sky
Off to get the tyres on, not all roads here are dirt
Elly with her new shoes
Where you want to stop for lunch if you are ever on Route 62
Mail delivery by bicycle
Martha and Chris
Along the road
Small town with grain elevators
The address I had for Brian and Marganne would not come up on the GPS so we had to give them a call and get lead in to there house, where we are now getting really spoiled. When we got here Brian said we could go out on the rescue boat (he is a volunteer captain) that night as they were going to be doing some training on a new night vision unit that picks up inferred. Was a wonderful experience to see the bay at night and the city all lit up. I do not do well on water and this was no exception, very glad I went but not too well by the end.
Saturday we (Brian leading) set out on a tour of some of the best motorcycle roads I have traveled. We left at 9:30 with strict instructions from Marganne to be back by 4:30 and we did make it by 6:30. Absolutely stunning views and roads that are impossible to capture on film but some attempts are below. Saw our first Baboons along the road and Martha’s first picture was just of the wall it was sitting on. Told her I was going to post it as the concrete wall the baboon was sitting on. But we soon came to some more and got a few pictures. Ended the day by going out for a wonderful Chinese dinner.
the view on the ride
Martha on the beach ride, I think she is frowning due to long back side wear, we had been out about 8 hours here.
Today we do the laundry and update the Blog, tomorrow a hair cut, (getting a little fuzzy) then maybe Cape Town.
Posted by Robert Thode at 02:47 PM
December 02, 2011 GMT
The Adventure Begins
AFRICA WE MADE IT! The general plan is to head South from Johannesburg, checking out Swaziland and Lesotho. To Cape Town where we turn north to Namibia, Botswana, to Victoria Falls then back south to Johannesburg. We have two months, then put bike in storage and come back next year to ride up the east coast of Africa. Well that is the plan and as always plans are just so you know what you are not doing that you thought you would.
Monday morning at 8:15 we departed SeaTac airport for a 22 hour flight to Johannesborg South Africa. With stops in DC and Dakar, with a ten hour time change we arrived at 6:30 PM. Met Ivan and Debra on the “Wild Dogs” web site where they offered to pick us up and get the bike sorted. We were met at the airport by Debra and off to there house we went. The next morning we picked up the bike with absolutely no hassels.
We flew the bike over due to time delays in getting the Carnet and I would need to take it to Canada to ship as no one will deal in shipping “less than container load” used vehicles out of USA due to customs delays. Air freight was $2331USD by ExFreight and $1191ZAR (8.45 ZAR to 1USD) at this end. By ship it would have been half that, but much more complicated in getting it out of port.
This is us, packed and on the road. We did not bring the kitchen sink but we have the refrigerator and stove.
This is the bike, R1200 GSA, after I added the graphic on the side we decided it needed a name. So, meet Elly, Elly meet world.
First place we stopped felt like home, (which is 90 miles south of Seattle), but they did not have any chocolate or honey for the coffee.
After being spoiled for two days with good food , beer and good company we set off for two months around Southern Africa. The first days travel took us to Nelspruit through an area of coal mines and coal fired power plants, cattle and corn fields. They have been pushing the global warming meeting in Durban on the local TV starting the 28th which I thought strange with all the coal plants belching smoke. Oh well some day they will realize the world has been cooling for the last 13 years.
Got up on Friday and tried to find a place to get insurance on the bike. No one would do less than a year and was told it was not required in South Africa, so drive safe and hope no one runs into me. A note on the roads and traffic, good roads (toll roads are as good as any at home but spendy), biggest change from home, (other than driving on left) is the great speed difference between vehicles. Speed limit may be 120 kph (means some are at 130+) but the trucks may be doing 60 kph and busses (small van types) at 100kph. Traffic is always switching lanes and passing. On two lane roads most will pull over to side and let you pass, very considerate drivers. Lane splitting is tolerated if not legal.
Typical down town
On the road east of Johannesboug
Headed into Swaziland from the north on fun roads and to Piggs Peak, with a name like that I had to go see. Martha’s Birthday was the 26th so we splurged and checked into Piggs Peak Casino and Resort, real nice place with good food and friendly people.
At Piggs Peak Casino Resort
After a good Breakfast at resort we rode through Swaziland and out the South. In the higher elevation of Swaziland there are large areas of commercial timber production, pine and eucalyptus trees. Not sure if this is an outside venture or run by locals. Wanted to find a place to camp as we traveled east, GPS said camping was available 18 K down a dirt road, so off we went. But when we got there it was a Game Reserve and they would not let us camp because we had a motorcycle. Not sure what the difference is if I take a tent out of a car or out of a pannier. So back down the dirt and found a nice place at Bayala.
Stop for lunch back in South Africa
Sunday morning stopped and bought a pineapple along the road, which we had for lunch. Rode through area of sugar cane production and stopped at Salt Rock where we found a campground. Was a real test of the tent as the wind was howling and it was not too long before the lighting and thunder started. Heavy rain for part of the night but had quit by the time we got moving.
Beach at Salt Rock
Road construction and rain
Some really nice farms
From Salt Rock I set the GPS to take us to Underburg and Sani Pass. Was a great road to Underburg even though it did start to rain on us. Spent the night in back packer room at old hotel 5k out of Underburg. Interesting place but not going to give it a thumbs up, no water in the restroom so no shower and the internet they promised does not work. Was hoping to get an early out this morning but restaurant that was to open at seven did not open till twenty after while someone ran around trying to find a key, now to wait for the grill to heat.
Only problems so far has been getting my phone to work right. I got a new SIMs card loaded and phone works (now that I got the charging problem fixed) but still trying to get it to connect to internet.
Now the 1st Dec. and have not got this posted yet, soon. Hope to have the problem of getting my phone to hook to internet fixed today.
Sani Pass, how to explain, every once in awhile you need a challenge in life, so riding up Sani Pass and having a beer at South Africa’s highest pub was put on the bucket list. Martha thinks it was an IQ test which I failed miserably. The last four miles of the pass climb 1000 feet a mile with some slopes at 28%. Check the pictures for road conditions. Some areas could not be done on Elly fully loaded and two up so Martha got to walk up. We were lucky when a 4X4 tour group stopped and gave Martha a ride to the top.
Road crew at base of Sani Pass, it will take years but the plan is to pave all the way to the top, we were told that pass would close next year so they can start blasting at the top.
The road got a little lumpy, here I had to have Martha walk a spot, the bike would want to come up in front with too steep a climb with two up.
If you look close at this poor picture you can see the switch backs at the top.
The only mishap was when I hit a hole where culvert had collapsed. I hit it head on with enough speed that I bounced through but stalled and had an unscheduled get off. It was just fascinating looking at the pass from the bottom as it looked like the last several switch backs were carved in a vertical cliff. This was kind of like a three hour bungee jump and the beer at top was great. Topped at 2850 M.
Elly does a lay down
Beer and lunch at the top
Looking back down the pass from top
Fun did not stop there as we had another pass to go up on A14, not as steep but road may have had more loose stuff. Then we turned on to A3 to a small village 7k down one side of a canyon and up the other. Stayed in a former trading post turned backpacker lodge. It had been a seven hour day of hard work and shower (gas heated as they had no electricy) really was what I needed.
Road up second pass
Seven hours of riding these roads, I think we averaged 10kph
More neat road that you would not want to fall off the side of.
Where we spent the night
Lesotho village where we stayed
Stopped here and bought some apples and Martha tried to feed core to donkey but he did not know what it was.
Up the next day and back tracked to A14 and into Mokhotlong to get fuel. From there on A1 which was indicated on map as tar but much of it has be tore up or full of pot holes. Went over Moteng Pass, known as African Backbone and up to 3280 M. The road down the other side was paved but dropped fast, see pictures. Then across the border back to SA and getting a room in Ladybrand. Today I am going to find internet and get this uploaded. The crew back home must be sure we are lost or eaten by a lion.
The way down on the other side of "The Mountain Kingdom" was steep and winding but was good pavement.
That is all for this installment, stay tuned as we now head toward Cape Town.
Posted by Robert Thode at 07:15 PM