Northern Namibia

 

Day 29 – Uis – Tuesday 26th June – 240 kms

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From our chat with Yamaha yesterday, we realised that the mud from the salt road was extremely corrosive. 

To be fair, the 1st time we crossed it, it was dry, and looked like tarmac. We did not think much of it. So on the way back from Yamaha, We stopped at a car wash facility to give a rinse to my bike , as it was covered in salty mud. 

My electrics took  a hit though, I found out later !

As we leave Swakopmund (at last!) the digital display, which shows my speed, mileage , clock etc… is blank. When we stop for fuel, before leaving town, at first the bike won’t start. Strange. Eventually I catch up with Alistair. 

Once we hit the little D1930 shortcut to Uis, we stop few miles later. The road is badly corrugated and sandy. 

Alistair leaves ahead, and I can’t start my bike. I make a mental note never to jet-wash my bike again. Ever! 

The last small wash, where I directed the lad to avoid the controls and remove the salt just from the lower section of the bike only, still seems to have played havoc with the electrics. After 5 minutes, I finally get a response when I press the start button. Still, I am worried. 

60kms from Uis we stop again and the problem repeats. I get it going eventually and hope it is just water and the humidity causing this. 

We arrive early afternoon at Uis, and after refuel, we get to the Cactus Cafe and campsite. 

The facilities are amazing. Each campsite has its own shaded plot, with individual toilet/ shower, as well as a sink, Braai and tables ad chairs. 

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Once we get the tent up, Alistair put WD40 around my controls and electrics. Leaving the bike drying in the sun helps. I still have nothing on the digital display. This is very annoying. But at least the bike seems to start when I am on neutral only. 

We revise our itinerary. We have wasted 10 days on and off in Swakopmund. and the gravel road I intended via Palmwag to Epupa falls is the main tourist trail. We decide to ride straight north instead, to Ruacana falls. I intended to get there via lots of detours. Going straight there will save us few days. Also, we don’t fancy busy gravel roads and breathing dust and sand raised by the constant traffic. It is exhausting. 

Day 30 – Kamanjab – 240kms – weds 27th June

After packing up, we have breakfast at the Cactus Cafe, attached to the campsite. They have nice pancakes. The staff is friendly, it is definitely a nice place for a night if you need. 

We ride straight north, through yet more bad gravel roads. We don’t see any wildlife. Just cars. We stop in a small town for fuel. Lots of touts around, trying to sell us tat we don’t need. 

By early afternoon we arrive at Kamanjab. There is no other spot on my map until Ruacana falls, over 300kms away. After stopping at a fuel station/ coffee/ shop we try to find accommodation. The GpS charger is dead from water and humidity, badly corroded. So we cannot use it to find a campsite.

Alistair is told about a B&B few hundred metres away. He walks there. They want about 100 USD! How can accommodation be so bloody expensive in Nambia? It never ceases to amaze me. Even camping costs a good 15 to 25 dollars per person, in average! And they won’t drop the price, even if the place is deserted. Surely, if you have a business, you would offer a discount to get customers over during low season! 

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The owner of the cafe recommends her campsite and cabins, a mile out of town. It is half the price and we have a nice chalet for it. 

We cook a tin of vegs with instant noodles for dinner. 

Day 31 – Thursday 28th June – Ruacana, ‘okapita ‘ campsite – 300kms

After breakfast of toasted bread and cheese, as well as banana with yogurt, we are ready for a long ride. 

We go back to town for fuel. We fill the 5l fuel jerrycan as well, as the next fuel station is about 320kms away. Too far to make it with our fuel tanks alone.

Then we hit the road. All sweet nice tarmac, with hardly any traffic. 

About midday, we stop on a rest area to have a rest. Then we see a motorbike passing going south. I wave. It is a large bike with panniers and top box. We have not met any bikers since the unlikely meeting with Jordan in Swakopmund, and Clark in Springbok. 

The biker sees us and do a u turn. We meet Bruno, riding a huge new Africa Twin. 

We speak bike stuff for a while. He mentions he has a campsite near Ruacana falls, and to stop there. We can have a luxury tent for the price of camping. Nice! He mentioned that some time ago he had a Deutsche  couple on two bikes like Alistair ( CRF250). It can only be Leonie and her husband. We met them in Wales last year. I check and he confirms. What are the chances? There are so few people over-landing by motorbike in Africa, and yet we either seem to follow on their steps, or bump into them! 

So we keep riding, and a couple of hours later we reach the T junction, beyond, Angola. We find Bruno’s campsite, up a long very deep twisty sand track. Not fun on two wheels. We have a reception committee, with wet towels offered to clean our hands and a glass of apple juice. All very friendly and nice. 

We settle in the tented camp, which, as it’s name suggests, already contains  Avery large tent, with a really double bed, and a nice shaded vestibule. We are the only guests so the centre of attention of all the staff. After a beer we are asked if we want the set menu for dinner. As they keep asking we settle for the set menu, it is huge, enough to feed an army. 

Then we are invited to watch them singing and dancing. 

After a long day on the bikes, we go to bed early. The night is very cold. Very cold! 

Day 32 – Etosha gate – 460kms – Friday 29th June

We leave camp early and ride to Ruacana falls. Before, we waste some time, due to the stupid GPS, trying to get us through non existent tracks to the fuel station. After the fuel stop is sorted, we ride to the falls. They are at the border with Angola and we need to actually get through the Namibian post  border ( without stamping anything, they wave us through!). Unfortunately, this is the dry season and the falls are dry! But it is a beautiful ride there anyway. 

After that, we get back on the road. It is all tarmac but the stretch of road riding East is very busy with lots of towns and villages. The area is very green and there is a lot of water with plenty of shallow lakes and flooded land as well as a long river or canal.

There are also plenty of donkeys, goats and cows grazing by the side of the road! After crashing into a charging cow in Kyrgyzstan, I am cautious! 

Initially, I was thinking to find a camp on the way, but we find nothing obvious, and in the end, we decide to make it to Onguma camp, which is near the East entrance of Etosha National Park. We cannot get into the park with our motorbikes, but we can organise a drive inside from the campsite, at reasonable price. 

So we push on with the bikes, for most of the day and arrive at the gate of Onguma lodge (just next to Etosha National Park gates) and campsite rather late. It is nearly 6 pm and night falls early. The guard asks us if we have reservations! We don’t. The camp is full. 

We are on a bit of a pickle as the nearest camp is about 100km away! We cannot ride at night with the bikes, it would be too dangerous. The guard phone someone, and after some wait, he lets us in and we camp next to the gate. There is a small cement block with a  toilet, a sink, and a cold shower, which are designed for the door guard, but we can use them. It will do for the night. We have no water left but we can drink from the tap. We have very little food left too.

We manage to cook a packet of vegetarian chilli with some instant noodles. Spicy. 

After that, with nothing much to do and the night being cold, it is an early night. 

We have arranged, with the guard, to get into an early morning drive to Etosha, for about 50 / 52 USD per person. We have to pay in cash the driver. We also pay the guard in cash for the night camping. I don’t think the campsite will see any of that! But this is Africa, and we were in a bit of a trouble, so we are grateful we found a place for the night. 

With such a long ride we drink lots of water and dissolve a rehydration tablet. The consequences are predictable. 

Day 33- Onguma campsite – Saturday 30th June – 3 kms

I wake up around 3:30am…. the night is bitterly cold. I can hear lions roaring not too far. I need to go the toilet! I won’t be able to hold my bladder until daylight. Alistair laughs because I am scared of lions, but I don’t know where they are. We are, after all, camping in a private game reserve. They have lions. And the official campsite, I found out later, is fenced and we are not allowed to walk out! 

Anyhow, after careful exit from the tent and a watch around ( it is full moon and it’s like having a giant spotlight above the tent!) I manage my little expedition safely.

We are up at 5am to be ready for the drive into the park. It is absolutely freezing. I put all my layers on as well as my waterproof insert jacket. 

We were told the car would pick us up at 6am. 

The car actually comes into Onguma at 7, then takes forever to pick up 2 other tourists, who are taking their time having breakfast! Our breakfast was a cup of coffee, and the share of half a stale bread roll with peanut butter! 

Finally by 7:30 we get on the car. By then we are frozen! The diver hand us over a thick poncho, fleece inside and waterproof outside. We need it, as the car is open on all sides to take photos. 

We pay the guard for our night camping and get going. 

We spend all morning driving with a guide around the National Park of Etosha. We see plenty: lots of springbok, impalas, kudus and other deers, giraffes, many elephants, ostriches, zebras, a black rhino, and what i really wanted to see, a lion! A magnificent lion! 

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Later on, we ask the driver to stop at the park official shop, as we can buy some food there and we cannot get there with the bikes. 

We pay the driver in cash for our drive. We are left with very little cash! 

At our return, there are some spots available in the campsite, so we move there early afternoon. We have a nice spot with our own toilet, shower room, sink, kitchen area etc… really nice. 

As it is finally very hot, I wash some clothes as my riding top is not smelling its best! 

We then have a nice hot shower and some late lunch from the bar ( just toasted cheese and tomato sandwich ) and two nice cold beers! 

Once all the chores are done, we go to the swimming pool and lie by the pool. It has been a very tiring day. 

Day 34 – Grootfontein – Sunday 1st July – 170 kms

I sleep like a log, with my thermal shirt and wool socks. The night, as usual, is very cold. We emerge around 7:30. We are not in a rush. 

Our next destination is only 170kms away. We will stay there 2 nights to do some research on the next leg of our trip, do an oil change and get some provisions. 

We leave the campsite around 9:30 after a coffee and some bread with peanut butter. Then we ride. 

We get to Grootfontein rather early. The backpacker place that we had in mind is empty. No one around. After all , it is Sunday. 

We eventually find another place and get settled. Everything is closed but there is a kind of motorcycle shop ( more like quad bikes stuff ) where Alistair thinks he could find motorcycle oil. We can investigate on Monday.

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Author: franglaisriders

For details consult my main website. This blog is about my motorcycle travels anywhere in the world. www.franglais-riders.com

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