I will be putting together a full ride report in the near future, but this is a quick summary with some pictures to post on ADV. Many members in the Canadian section are wondering about what their friends are up to and internet access has been poor at best for them to post. So here's a brief update and they will be adding their own soon enough. The rest of the crew returns in ~ 10 days.
I couldn't take the time off for the entire 6 weeks, so last October I signed up with Gary for the middle portion of the trip from Swakopmund through to Johannesburg. 21 days with 18 in Africa.
They had been on the road around 10 days when I arrived and had lost three bikes to road crashes already. One rider was airlifted home, but is now doing the well, while the other two have continued either on the the truck or on pillion. My first day of riding took us north on the salt road along the Skeleton Coast and then east though the Namibian desert. This experience changed my definition of "the middle of nowhere"
We had to separate by several hundred meters due to the dust we were kicking up so I missed the action, but Darrel, Harry and Shawn witnessed a group of Germans in a hatchback swerve in front of them and roll their car before landing back on the wheels. No one in our party was involved in the crash. Enrico, a firefighter in real life, was once again called into duty to render aid. A further reminder that the roads of Africa can take their toll if you are not careful.
We then spent a few days in Damaraland, Namibia at a fantastic campsite. During the day off, Harry and I decided to explore the local trails. Some of my favorite riding of the trip. Since the trails where tight and Rocky, and Harry was on a big GS, I was able to keep up with him.
We rode some fantastic gravel roads in this area. We had lunch at the Camel Inn before the few of us that wanted to run fast on the gravel split of from the bulk of the riders that took pavement. This is the entire entourage at lunch.
From there we entered Etosha National park and spent a couple of days there. We traveled through much of Namibia without seeing a lot of traffic, but when they do have a traffic jam, it is done in their own special style....
During the day off in Etosha we all climbed aboard safari trucks and drove through the park to visit the water holes and see the wild life. We saw tons of zebra, springbok, Kudu, Elephant, Lion, jackals...etc.... and I have lot's of great shots. Here, I'll just post one that I think is a great capture.
On our last night in Namibia we stayed in a camp along the Zambezi at the end of a long, long sandy road. On the other side of the Zambezi is Angola...There are lot's of beautiful sunsets in Africa.
We crossed into Zambia which was quite amusing. Since we were temporarily importing our bikes using Carnets, we had to first pay for our visas, then our local third party insurance and then our carbon tax and then our local council tax....you get the idea. All this was done with a smile as they led you to a new room, building or trailer of course. A roadside cop tried to shake us down for more on the way to Livingstone, but Gary handled him pretty well.
One thing about Zambia is that the local currency, the Kwatcha, is valued at ~4700 to the dollar. I actually withdrew 1,000,000 Quatcha and spent it all on beer, fuel and women in the the three days I was in Livingstone :-) This bought one beer....or I could have used 2 US Dollars :-)
While in Livingstone, I joined Bev, Sue, Shawn and his family in renting a helicopter to view Victoria falls. The water is low this time of year, as you can tell.
The campground in Livingstone was infested with monkeys and a few rogue baboons. The monkeys were cute, but they got into EVERYTHING!
We then crossed into Botswana, which involved another African bureaucratic handoff in Zambia (and another "council tax"), a ferry crossing and then a triplicate road tax application that took ~20 minutes per bike in Botswana....20 bikes - one window....some waiting :-). Botswana is the land of the elephants and we spent two days camped near the Chobe National Park. We took another game drive that brought us exquisite wildlife in the morning and then a sunset cruise on the Chobe river through the park. You may recognize some of this crew.
Further into Botswana, we camped in Nata. A few of us were able to pull ourselves away from the pool to join Darrel in a run to the Botswanan salt pan. 160km of flat nothing sort of like Bonneville. The ride back at night was spooky with the warthogs, donkeys, cattle, etc. Did I mention that Africa had great sunsets???
We then crossed the border into South Africa and the African wilderness seemed to turn into what most of us felt resembled a civilized Europe...amazing what difference a border can make. We spent the night in Hartbeetspoort which has a coastline somewhat resembling Amalfi.....
....and where the bikers from the greater Johannesburg area gather every Sunday.
Here's a shot Cath took of me crossing the dam in Hartbeetspoort