ADVrider

Go Back   ADVrider > Riding > Ride reports
User Name
Password
Register Inmates Photos Site Rules Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 05-24-2010, 03:44 AM   #1
wildside OP
Gnarly Adventurer
 
wildside's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Kwa Zulu Natal South Africa
Oddometer: 211
BOTSWANA/CAPRIVI LOOP (Southern Africa)

Planning this trip was all consuming for us. We had never done a ride of this scale before and preparation started in September 2008 after a trip down the wildcoast. We then realized that with both of us on one bike with camping gear we couldn’t set our sights any higher than a short, local trip. Anything longer would mean me riding my own bike ….. a new deal for both of us!
It was decided that BOTSWANA and the CAPRIVI STRIP would be an ideal place to ‘cut our teeth on’ – some of it was familiar territory and some of it unknown to both of us. Many decades ago Kingsley completed his military training at various camps along the Caprivi strip ( a narrow stretch of Namibia running west to east between northern Botswana southern Angola and bordered on the north-east by Zambia and on the east by Zimbabwe) and was part of the construction team that was responsible for building this ‘golden highway’ – as it was referred to. Way back then he had decided he would like to return, but on a motor bike.
Completing a loop would be a good option offering us a bit of adventure with minimal risk.
Now the stress started! We both needed to get our motorbike licenses – after all these years of going without. Only now does one realize how ignorant one is when it comes to road signs and rules. You take all these things for granted but when it comes to putting pen to paper it’s a different story. November saw us writing our learners test. Kingsley, who has been riding a motorbike since he could walk, failed!! Time was running out as our departure date was the 1 April and a rewrite could only be booked for 3 months later. To cut a long story short the day before we were due to leave, Kingsley managed to get his license. We were now both legal.

In between battling through licenses we went through many lists, read interesting travel information and spent hours on google earth. We decided to take our chances and not make any camping reservations which proved to be a good decision as we never stuck to our original plan.
Our plan was to pick up a friend from Beta Beta and he would drop us off in Nata( Botswana) and meet up again at Elephant Sands (50km north of Nata) 10 days later. He was going to spend his time tiger fishing while we completed a loop through Botswana and the Caprivi.


DAY 1
HOWICK-KwaZulu Natal-SOUTH AFRICA to BELA BELA (Warm Baths):
On April 1st 2009 we set off with much excitement and apprehension with a trailer transporting a Tenere and my newly acquired XT 600 E.



DAY 2
BELA BELA to PLANET BAOBAB ( BOTSWANA):

Spent our first night at a lodge outside Bela Bela and departed the next morning with Jock. Arriving at NATA (BOTSWANA ) at 4.00 pm was a relief. We wanted out of the vehicle and needed to start this adventure.



PLANET BAOBAB here we come! The tarred A3 made for quick easy riding and we only had 100km to travel. After a short while the adrenalin pumped a bit slower and we started to relax and enjoy the surroundings and got used to the weight of our luggage. One couldn’t miss the entrance to Planet Baobab as there is a huge model of an Aardvark (ant eater) on one side and a strange planet model on the other, advertising the ‘Kalahari surf club’ .




This fore warns you that you are entering a place with a difference. Now this is an interesting place to spend some time. Someone has put a lot of unusual thought into design and décor and one can only describe it as ‘funky’, with a cool, upbeat vibe and friendly staff. After setting up camp under a thatched lapa we headed for the Afrocentric bar which boasts beer bottle chandeliers and Nguni (indigenous African cow) upholstered chairs.






The above furniture is painted concrete.



After chatting to some tourists we decided that it would be a good opportunity to visit the MAKGADIKGADI PANS (a huge saltpan- the remnants of the super lake that dried up thousands of years ago leaving crystalline salts). We were given vague directions to travel south from Gweta for about 50km and to keep the sun on the left side of the face!!!!

DAY 3
DAY TRIP to MAKGADIKGADI PANS:

Awoke early to set off and experience the amazing Makgadikgadi Pans. I wish the directions where as simple as they sounded. With no GPS and only the sun to guide us we decided on one particular sandy track ( as there were numerous sandy tracks weaving in and out of the bush) and set off south out of Gweta for an awesome adventure.
It was necessary to deflate tyres and this was my first experience of riding in the sand. It was hard going but enjoyable.


Above: Not one of the Big 5 but I suppose better than nothing!

This area became a spiderweb of sandy tracks and it was purely guess work. We saw no one and only the odd little dwelling reminded us that there was civilization around. At this stage we didn’t feel the need to enquire about directions. After about 3 hrs of following our noses we rode out of the bush and onto a beautiful grass plain with palm trees in the distance.






__________________
"Heading out to where pavement turns to sand...."
Neil Young.

Ride Reports:
Namibian Meander-Southern Africa
Botswana /Caprivi Loop 09'
wildside is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2010, 03:57 AM   #2
wildside OP
Gnarly Adventurer
 
wildside's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Kwa Zulu Natal South Africa
Oddometer: 211
There in front of us was one of the most unforgettable sights I have ever seen. The Pans!!
Riding onto this flat, white surface was an emotional moment for me. Here we were in Africa experiencing one of the many natural wonders with not another soul in sight – only salt and sky and the motorbikes to break the horizon. We had tremendous fun riding on the pans and travelled about another 25km exploring nothing.








We finally decided that it was time to turn around and head back for planet Baobab. We thought that following the jeep tracks back would be the wise thing to do –not realizing we were on the wrong tracks. After several kms my internal compass warned me we were heading in a more south westerly direction. As there were no landmarks about- only salt and sky- it was difficult to be sure of directions and we decided to turn around, following our bike tracks we headed for our original turn around point and we soon discovered that there were two sets of jeep tracks and we had followed the wrong set. It was quite a scary moment as getting lost is very easy and getting found again might take days. We had not seen a soul all day. Following the correct tracks we reluctantly left the salt pans. Once again guess work was required and we headed off in a northerly direction with the late afternoon sun on the left side of us. Perhaps “all roads do lead to Rome” because several hours later we, surprisingly, found our way back to Gweta.

The Pans and myself pretty much done and dusted.

My only regret was that I didn’t have the confidence to take the tent with us and spend the night camping on the pans despite Kingsleys reassurance that all would be OK. That could have been an amazing experience. Follow those gut feelings otherwise you loose out!

__________________
"Heading out to where pavement turns to sand...."
Neil Young.

Ride Reports:
Namibian Meander-Southern Africa
Botswana /Caprivi Loop 09'
wildside is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2010, 11:44 PM   #3
wildside OP
Gnarly Adventurer
 
wildside's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Kwa Zulu Natal South Africa
Oddometer: 211
DAY 4
PLANET BAOBAB to MAUN:

Whilst packing up came we were entertained by a friendly and hungry little Franklin/Grouse.

The rest of the ride to MAUN was a 200km stretch of tarred road which ran through the NXAI PAN NATIONAL PARK and it was here that we had our first sighting of elephant.


__________________
"Heading out to where pavement turns to sand...."
Neil Young.

Ride Reports:
Namibian Meander-Southern Africa
Botswana /Caprivi Loop 09'
wildside is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2010, 11:47 PM   #4
wildside OP
Gnarly Adventurer
 
wildside's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Kwa Zulu Natal South Africa
Oddometer: 211
In hindsight our planning wasn’t as good as we thought , we had overlooked the Baines Baobab which was a few kms off the road within the Nxai Pan National Park. I only wish now that we had made the effort and taken the time to visit this area.
With sore bums and hungry tummies we arrived in Maun and headed for AUDI CAMP, north of Maun on the Eastern banks of the Thambalakane River. Several years ago we had spent a few nights here and had forgotten how busy and noisy this camp site gets. It’s a popular stop over for overlanders with shade and clean ablutions, a lovely restaurant provides the tourist with a delicious meal and ice cold beer. Throughout the afternoon tourists continually streamed in so decided it would be a good idea to find a quieter place to enjoy a late lunch and headed for the OKAVANGO RIVER LODGE further up the road.



__________________
"Heading out to where pavement turns to sand...."
Neil Young.

Ride Reports:
Namibian Meander-Southern Africa
Botswana /Caprivi Loop 09'
wildside is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2010, 11:50 PM   #5
wildside OP
Gnarly Adventurer
 
wildside's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Kwa Zulu Natal South Africa
Oddometer: 211
For anyone planning this ride there other quieter camps around Maun. Apparently ‘What Bridge’, situated further south at the original First (Old) Bridge, is a great place to spend the night.



Spent a restless night on our 1 inch blow up mattress and blow up pillow with noisy children playing hide-and-seek in the nearby ablutions (grrrrrrrrr), but it was an end to another great day.

__________________
"Heading out to where pavement turns to sand...."
Neil Young.

Ride Reports:
Namibian Meander-Southern Africa
Botswana /Caprivi Loop 09'
wildside is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2010, 11:56 PM   #6
wildside OP
Gnarly Adventurer
 
wildside's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Kwa Zulu Natal South Africa
Oddometer: 211
DAY 5
MAUN to SHAKAWE (Drotsky Cabins ):

The following stretch of road was unknown to both of us. Travelling south on the A3 and turning right and heading northwards on the A35 would take us to DROTSKY CABINS on the banks of the Okavango River, just south of SHAKAWE ( western side of the panhandle that leads into the Okavango swamps which is a magical water world formed by the annual flood of fresh water from Angola’s Cuito River onto the Botswana Delta - one of Botswana’s unique attractions). Initially we wanted to cut this corner by attempting to travel on a track to Nokaneng but the water level in the swamps was too high and the tracks probably not passable. So we stuck to the tar roads and dodged cattle, numerous donkeys and dogs for the next 400 km. Fuel was available along this stretch of road at Gumare and Etsha 6. The locals were very friendly and pleasant and at no time did we feel uncomfortable.

Refueling at Gumare
Further north was evidence of the heavy rains and flooding from Angola. The rivers were filling up and over flowing there banks. Some of the locals took this opportunity to enjoy themselves by splashing around in the high waters.

It was a relief to arrive 5 hours later at the Drotsky Cabin turn off.


__________________
"Heading out to where pavement turns to sand...."
Neil Young.

Ride Reports:
Namibian Meander-Southern Africa
Botswana /Caprivi Loop 09'
wildside is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2010, 12:02 AM   #7
wildside OP
Gnarly Adventurer
 
wildside's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Kwa Zulu Natal South Africa
Oddometer: 211
From here it was a 3 km stretch of soft sandy road. Slowly and carefully we made our way to the reception without loosing face. This is a divine setting for a tired traveler. Huge trees formed a shady canopy with well maintained and colorful gardens. Here we hit a jackpot!! Ilene, the owner, offered us her last cabin for the price of a camp site ( 110 Pula each). Oh man, what a treat.



We finally got to relax on the banks of the OKAVANGO RIVER, sipping Amarula and whisky and planned our next days trip to Tsodilo Hills, whilst being treated by a beautiful sunset.



__________________
"Heading out to where pavement turns to sand...."
Neil Young.

Ride Reports:
Namibian Meander-Southern Africa
Botswana /Caprivi Loop 09'
wildside is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2010, 12:41 AM   #8
Big Single
Tejas
 
Big Single's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2007
Location: Houston
Oddometer: 1,805
I've always wanted to share my motorcycle adventure euphoria with my wife but it's just not her thing. I'm very jealous and I look forward to more great photos and trip report.
Big Single is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2010, 12:48 AM   #9
wildside OP
Gnarly Adventurer
 
wildside's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Kwa Zulu Natal South Africa
Oddometer: 211
DAY6
DAY TRIP to TSODILO HILLS:

Awoke to a symphony of bird song which immediately brought about a feeling of calm and tranquility. Found our campsite and promptly pitched our tent in a spacious and private site, packed some lunch and water and set off for a 70 km ride ( 40km on dirt ) to TSODILO HILLS,’Mountain of the Gods’. This is the very centre of Botswana’s cultural heritage and is the site of the Stone Age paintings by the ancestors of the San (Bushmen) people. This area was once visited by Laurens van der Post and described by him as “ the Louvre of the desert.” ( Louvre – an art museum that is a famous tourist attraction in Paris )


This was an enjoyable and easy ride on a dirt road with the hills looming up on the horizon.



There are a set of 4 hills, the biggest being the Male, then the Female Hill, and the two children. There is some amazing !Kung story woven into these hills. Tsodilo actually means ’damp earth’ but this is a dry and dusty area that provides a camp site with ablutions. There are plenty of trees providing shade and a village nearby where the local ladies make necklaces and bracelets from seeds from the surrounding trees and small chips of ostrich egg shell. Purchasing these original curios goes a long way to helping the community.

There are pathways through this area which allows one to view the rock art but it is a good idea to go with a guide as he is able to tell you the history and story behind the pictures. The authenticity of some of this art is apparently questionable.



__________________
"Heading out to where pavement turns to sand...."
Neil Young.

Ride Reports:
Namibian Meander-Southern Africa
Botswana /Caprivi Loop 09'
wildside is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2010, 01:05 AM   #10
wildside OP
Gnarly Adventurer
 
wildside's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Kwa Zulu Natal South Africa
Oddometer: 211



In the background is the Male Hill.

After lunch we set off back to Shakawe to refuel and continued up north for another 13 km to Mohemba to check out the ferry to see if it was still operating. We had only discovered this ferry on ‘google earth’ and were very excited about being able to cross the Okavango River and explore the eastern side of the panhandle which we knew very little about.

Flooding at Mohemba.


Shakawe village


Arriving back at camp we washed up in the clean ablutions and after sundowners on the deck a pleasant evening was spent around a camp fire and we looked forward to another exciting day of riding into the unknown.


TRIP TO SERONGA (EASTERN SIDE OF THE PANHANDLE) TO FOLLOW SOON.
__________________
"Heading out to where pavement turns to sand...."
Neil Young.

Ride Reports:
Namibian Meander-Southern Africa
Botswana /Caprivi Loop 09'
wildside is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2010, 01:19 AM   #11
Oisin
Adventurer
 
Joined: Aug 2008
Oddometer: 85
Well done!

Great pics!!! great story
Oisin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2010, 04:41 AM   #12
Dessert Storm
Dances With Drunks
 
Dessert Storm's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2005
Location: Off route, recalculating
Oddometer: 755
Quote:
Originally Posted by wildside
DAY 4
Clutch in......

Fantastic report and photos
__________________
'You like motorcycles, beer, and ladies. I'm afraid I have the same illness' - Thierry.

(Manti are dumplings not all too different from gyoza or pelmini) - Tourist.
Dessert Storm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-01-2010, 02:23 AM   #13
wildside OP
Gnarly Adventurer
 
wildside's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Kwa Zulu Natal South Africa
Oddometer: 211
Apologies for taking so long to continue RR. Ran out of time.

DAY 7
DAY TRIP to SERONGA (Eastern side of the Okavango Panhandle):

Set off early to discover the eastern side of the panhandle that heads south to SERONGA which is a small village at the base of the panhandle and just north of the Okavango Delta. There is only one place to stay here, MBIROBA CAMP, which is run by the Okavango Polers Trust and is used as a base from which to take mokoro ( canoe dug out from a tree trunk) trips into the Delta with a poler (a local chap that stands at the back of the mokora with a long pole and guides you through the canals). It has chalets, rondavels and campsites which offer simple, good-value accommodation with a bar and curio shop.

Crossing the river on a ferry was such a magic feeling. We were the only white people around and did not feel intimidated or nervous at all. There was no charge to cross on the ferry and it ran continuously all day from sunrise to sunset.





As we rode off the ferry there was some road construction work on the go due to the flood conditions and the first 80 km of dirt road was easy going and we passed through several villages. We occasionally got a view of the Okavango River and stopped several times to absorb and appreciate the beauty of our surroundings. The last 20 km was a bit more difficult for me as I started losing concentration and confidence and riding slower.


__________________
"Heading out to where pavement turns to sand...."
Neil Young.

Ride Reports:
Namibian Meander-Southern Africa
Botswana /Caprivi Loop 09'
wildside is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-01-2010, 02:33 AM   #14
wildside OP
Gnarly Adventurer
 
wildside's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Kwa Zulu Natal South Africa
Oddometer: 211
Finally found our way to Mbiroba Camp. We were a bit disappointed as it looked a bit of a tired place. We didn’t feel welcome or comfortable here but perhaps if we had spent more time here we may have felt differently about it. We have since learnt that this community camp site is given funds but these are not put back into the camp.




Took some photos to show how high the water level was and some of the camping area was flooded. Found a spot to eat lunch and decided we needed to get out of here. The further away from Seronga the better we felt.





By mid afternoon it was hot and we were thirsty. Stopped off at one of the roadside shops for a cold drink and enjoyed the company of some of the youngsters. They were very excited to see us and the motorbikes and there was much giggling, laughter and squealing when we showed them photos of themselves.





8 hrs later and exhausted we returned to our campsite thrilled that we had completed this ride. We discovered that evening that in the near future the ferry is to be replaced by a bridge and the road to Seronga will be tarred. It was quite sad to think that some people may never be able to experience what we had done.


__________________
"Heading out to where pavement turns to sand...."
Neil Young.

Ride Reports:
Namibian Meander-Southern Africa
Botswana /Caprivi Loop 09'
wildside is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-01-2010, 02:49 AM   #15
wildside OP
Gnarly Adventurer
 
wildside's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Kwa Zulu Natal South Africa
Oddometer: 211
DAY 8
DROTSKY CABINS to NUNDA RIVER LODGE ( NAMIBIA):

Woke up again to pleasant birdsong, only this time it was interrupted by loud hippo grunts. Decided not to investigate where the noise was coming from.
Packed up camp and headed for Namibia. The border post was a breeze. Very quite with efficient officials and within a few minutes we were out of Bots and into Nam. The next 20 km stretch is a hard gravel surface and this C48 route takes you through the Mahango Game Park. There is no accommodation in the park but day trips are allowed.


Strange to see a phone booth in such a remote area.

Headed for NGEPI- the camp that everyone is talking about. After turning right there is a 4 km sandy ride to the camp but we didn’t get that far. Due to the flooding part of the road was inaccessible and tourists had to park their vehicles at a certain spot and be transported across an expanse of water by mokoro to the camp . We decided against this and went to find alternative accommodation.






We continued north to POPA FALLS where there is, or should I say was, a riverside camp and picnic sites. The water had once again flooded a large area of campsites and we decided to leave this community camp site and try our luck at the NUNDA RIVER LODGE that we had previously passed. A short sandy ride took us to a wonderful and friendly place that wasn’t too badly affected by the high water levels. One camp site was available. We had our own tree and neatly mowed green lawn.



We treated ourselves to a sunset cruise up the river to see the Popa Falls. It was great to finally see it and experience it for real. I had heard so much about this area from Kingsley in his army days. These falls are actually cascades over a series of rocks – but still impressive.



__________________
"Heading out to where pavement turns to sand...."
Neil Young.

Ride Reports:
Namibian Meander-Southern Africa
Botswana /Caprivi Loop 09'
wildside is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Share

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

.
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


Times are GMT -7.   It's 09:50 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ADVrider 2011-2014