507 km, 2813 km from Cape Town
THE CAPRIVI STRIP
The long road through the entire length of the Caprivi Strip today and from early, the sky bruised more and more threaghteningly until it burst and we were riding in an equatorial downpour. The Caprivi road is in good condition but one has to be very aware all the time of goats, cattle, dogs and children drifting across the tarmac.
It rained the whole way and we had to ride at a careful pace and finally arrived at our accommodation for the night, just outside of Katimo Malilo on the south bank of the Zambezi River. When the rain stops it was very humid but the setting was stunning and we were entertained by a troop of mischevious monkeys.
Although there was evidence of a lot of elephant activity along the Caprivi Strip road, by way of dung on the tar, we didn’t manage to spot any elephant. The assumption was they use the road as their elephant highway under cover of dark. Two huge unidentified raptor like birds were surprised by our cavalcade, and took to the air low in front of the bikes from some fresh killed carcase lying by the side of the road. We saw fork tailed drongoes which were swooping down to the road after fresh insects. A huge swarm of yellow and white butterflies, on whatever migration path they had followed since creation, fluttered chaotically and endlesly for the entire length of the Strip. A small spectacle in the African sun.
Taking a break on the Zambezi
480 km, 2306 km from Cape Town
We were looking for a bit of adventure today and found it! Staying on the C road, that the lodge was on we decided to skirt the Waterberg Plateau on the eastern side and join up with the B8 later on and then head to Rundu. The day started cool and cloudy and before long it started to rain and the gravel road we were merrily singing along started to smear and very soon thre were patches of red squelch. Slowing down to mud-speed at times we slid and twitched along the 200 odd kms of this road, all of us taking a face dive in the mud at one point or another. It was fun though and we emerged finally at the tar road and turned east and crept soddenly into Rundu. Deciding not to camp, although it was a grand evening we opted for a chalet and turned the room we were sharing into a laundry with dripping gear hanging from makeshft lines criss-crossing the room. As it happens it rained quite heavily in the night and so we were glad to be indoors. – Tango Lush bush made it difficult to spot any game on this ride, however Garth encountered two slinky jackals on the wet Kalahari sand road which quickly made off. Although not real, there was an artfully sculpted life size giraffe at Rundu. A couple of mounted tiger fish stood testimony to the needle sharp toothed giants in the mighty river there.
522 km, 1826 km s from Cape Town
ARROW STRAIGHT ROADS
Up the B1 today for a long long time, the national road in Namibia heading north is an extraordinary length of asphalt – it runs arrow straight from horizon to horizon scything through, at this this time of year, lush green grassland that edges the road in this beautiful land. Skirting the capital, Windhoek, as far as possible we hurried through the now-busy road north to Okahandja and then as the trucks peel off west towards the coast we carried on north to Otjiwarongo. The terrain changes subtely from the hills of the central plateau to the tree’d savannah with vistas that stretch and stretch which led us to our camp for the night on a private lodge with a stunning views over the flat pans. Our bikes are behaving superbly and we have only needed to MacGyver one of the pannier bags that has torn. – Tango Leaving our camp site on the farm Weaver’s Rock, our early ride encountered a lone Oryx behind a game fence followed shortly by a small herd of wildebeest which balked and scattered, at the sound of bikes, into the lush bush. Beware of Warthog signs alerted us to the possibility of an encounter, which did not disappoint a short while later when an alert warthog was spotted at the side of the road. Ostrich stepped out of the bush and raced along the fence keeping up our pace for a bit. Loeries were common together with drongoes. Then offroad onto dirt for 170 clicks we saw jackals in the road which slunk off guiltily. Being a wet ride once the rain started, the Kalahari sand turned to slippery mud causing chaos with handling and inevitable plant the DR routine.
483 km, 1304 km from Cape Town
The day started on the Orange River, cool and overcast and so it stayed for most of the morning. Great riding weather as it is always easier to get warm than try and cool down. We left Norotshama and headed north east through the quite spectacular southern Namibian desert skirting the great Fish River canyon along the velvet surfaced D and C gravel roads of this part of the world. It remained cold enough for jerseys and winter gloves till well past lunch time before it warmed up a bit. By this time we had joined the great northern highway the B1 which we used all the way to a very pleasant campsite just outside Mariental We had a happy half an hour on a gravel service road that flanks the B1 but which sadly petered out and forced us to join the traffic. – Tango Fortunate enough to be on this trip of a lifetime, as the expat representative, has caused me to consider a bit of a different perspective on what so many take for granted in Africa, its wildlife. The big five certainly is one way to experience this but on our trip it’s been the little creatures that have amazed in my view. Day one saw a baby tortoise crawling across the burning tar. Well spotted by Trevor. How it survives scorching, parched conditions is a miracle. Day two in Namibia a metre plus, gleaming brown snake effortlessly glided over the sand about a metre in front of the bike wheel, dust of the three riders ahead still swirling. Exploding, the bike had invaded it’s perfect world. The day also saw red bishops, weaver birds, as well as wild horses, untamed, unfettered and feral in the Namib sun. A baboon troupe loped across the road, one leapt at the fence, balancing perfectly poised, defiant. The road was invaded for kilometres by koring kriekets, an armoured invasion. Where they were marching to, who knows? Vultures wheeling in a lazy effortless thermal, weavers in their giant communal nest and loeries were spotted. Trevor lifted a rock at the Tropic of Capricorn sign near the road and disturbed a small brown scorpion. A small springbok leapt by the side of the road. A dusty trail led to a giant millipede, tracking in the dust. All this diversity co-exists. Still the bikes are part of the picture.