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Old 03-08-2012, 02:00 AM   #196
mrwwwhite OP
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You Kick Us Out Through The Door, We Get Inside Through The Window

Sometimes cheekiness and resilience pay off …

The cheap drama: 3 days of begging to get out referral visa applications in (a referral visa is a visa that must be approved by the embassy in your home country), 14 days of international calls and lies, 3 days of picketing the embassy in Windhoek, 85 euro for the actual stamps, 70 euro for docs that were never faxed to the embassy in Romania (who pocketed this fee?), 1000 km of detour to avoid waiting for a response in expensive Windhoek.

The (almost) unexpected result: 7 days to the expiration date of our Namibian visa, we got the permission to enter South Africa. We're going to the Mother Town! Hopefully this visa, never approved by the embassy in Bucharest, is valid.
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Old 03-08-2012, 02:34 AM   #197
tsiklonaut
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrwwwhite View Post
The (almost) unexpected result: 7 days to the expiration date of our Namibian visa, we got the permission to enter South Africa. We're going to the Mother Town! Hopefully this visa, never approved by the embassy in Bucharest, is valid.
Not unexpected with all the effort you put in. It's the required persistance you put on the table to break through the byrocracy onto human level to put that final stamp on and get rid of you Almost always works if you have enough time (money) and nerves. (In fact the only place it didn't work for us was for DRC)

Now all roads lead to Cape Agulhas - the tip of Africa awaits

PS: try out biltong with beer in SA. Contact big Yamaha dealers in SA as well to ask if they have parts you need in stock or if they have to oder them for you - you'll avoid more waiting like this while you can look around SA.

Safe roads,
Margus

tsiklonaut screwed with this post 03-08-2012 at 02:40 AM
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Old 03-08-2012, 05:35 AM   #198
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Hey congratulations

Will be cool to hook up with you guys when you get to Cape Town

Anything you need just ask
(just send me a PM)
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Old 03-08-2012, 05:41 AM   #199
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RESULT Nice work.

Cheers
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Old 03-08-2012, 07:02 AM   #200
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Bravoooooo
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Old 03-08-2012, 08:41 AM   #201
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Great Pict

i'll go around Indonesia someday
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Old 03-09-2012, 06:50 AM   #202
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Congrats. Hook up with the Wilddog forum guys and they will show you around SA.
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:13 AM   #203
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Originally Posted by mrwwwhite View Post
[B][still] Namibia 14-24/02



Hi, hard to see a Brother in Arms Fighting alone !
We're sad to see that it was so difficult but now you're int this paradise that is South Africa for travellers like us, with Mall, gazoline everywhere... enjoy !

jf.

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Old 03-18-2012, 10:04 AM   #204
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Into The Wild

Quote:
Originally Posted by LeToulousain View Post
Hi, hard to see a Brother in Arms Fighting alone !
We're sad to see that it was so difficult but now you're int this paradise that is South Africa for travellers like us, with Mall, gazoline everywhere... enjoy !

jf.
Hey, I hope you guys are heaving a blast on southern part of Africa. The worst is behind us and we can all enjoy!
Hugs & Kisses,
John+Ana

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsiklonaut View Post
Not unexpected with all the effort you put in. It's the required persistance you put on the table to break through the byrocracy onto human level to put that final stamp on and get rid of you Almost always works if you have enough time (money) and nerves. (In fact the only place it didn't work for us was for DRC)

Now all roads lead to Cape Agulhas - the tip of Africa awaits

PS: try out biltong with beer in SA. Contact big Yamaha dealers in SA as well to ask if they have parts you need in stock or if they have to oder them for you - you'll avoid more waiting like this while you can look around SA.

Safe roads,
Margus
Man, we're already hooked on red wine... it will be really hard to go on east coast without it.

__________________________________________________ ________________________________________________








That's how our day begun: hundreds of Springboks, dozens of giraffes and oryx. We had embarked, the two of us, plus Vital (owner of Oppi-Koppi), on what was to become our own booze fueled Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas trip.







First we needed to observe the tradition and drink a bottle of ginger spirit, to avoid a flat tyre. At the Sesfontein village joint, where we stopped to stock on the lucky-charm drink and beer, a regular Monday was at play: people were chatting and liquid-dancing to the blasting jukebox, pool was being played with a golf ball, nickels were being dropped in the poker machine.



Then we were out of the map. The end of the road was only the beginning of the journey. We were driving across the unpeopled, formless, oldest desert in the world, the pro-Namib. The vacancy, the remoteness, the sheer implausibility of the place was astonishing. Wisps of dry shrubs covered the earth with a scabby pattern of circular, barren patches, like enigmatic landing spots of some past flying saucers. The average diameter of these patches: 5–8 m!







These are the so-called ‘fairy rings’ of Namibia, one of the most enigmatic phenomena in the desert regions of southern Africa. To date, the bioassays conducted in soil samples collected from these sites failed to support any proposed explanation for this patterning (localized radioactivity, termite activity, growth inhibitors released by dead Euphorbia damarana plants etc). But the relative permanence of fairy rings in the pro-Namib desert is believed to be critically linked to the optimal functioning of the ecosystem. The fairy rings may be some sort of adaptive response to extreme arid conditions, facilitating capture, storage and recycling of limited resources.



But this was not the only strange feature of the landscape. Chunky trees rose swollen with water. Crumbling rock scattered. Winds honed lava outcrops. And in this world of the Oz, a lonely telephone, to give a call to the gods.







This is not officially designated as a wildlife reserve, national park or protected area. But locals know: the place is teeming with wild desert lions and desert elephants, and many other animals.





To go deeper into the wild, we had to descend into the dry river bed. The sandy bottom was full of elephant poop and eventually we spotted some foot prints. Everything was so quiet, and we were cruising at almost zero speed, trying to make as little noise as possible. 15 meters high acacia trees shaded the river bed so vast that we were unable to see the banks, our lilliputian vehicle lost, dwarfed, nullified. Then the bull appeared, and suddenly the astonishing scale of the landscape made sense.







He allowed us to watch, and it was so quiet that we could hear him chewing on bark. Desert elephants don't need to drink every day and their tusks are smaller, due to the scarcity of nutrients in their environment. But this guy was an impressive size and we were hoping to see him again later, as we would set up camp downstream, into the river bed. Looking for a spot to pitch our tents we met more surreal creatures: slender giraffes, Oryx, ostriches, guinea fowls…




Giraffe footprint: guess the walking direction!







We enjoyed more red wine with our braai, then it was time to have some rest. Lying under our mosquito nets, we saw everything, we heard everything. The sky was white with stars, jackals and birds were calling their mates, the river was silent, smelling of heat and sand. It was one of the most relaxing places we ever slept in and we woke up when it was still dark, when the bull from earlier passed by our camp, snacking on more bark. We were humbled by the respect wild animals had for us, keeping the right distance from our camp, allowing us in their home for one surreal night. And we don't think we were under influence there, it is that simple. We live together, we share, we survive.

Of course, the sunrise was just as psychedelic, a white haze filling up the valley, deserts flower delicately scenting the dry, fresh air.





Tea was brewed, sandwiches were fixed, tents were packed, careful to remove all traces of our ephemeral campsite. The sun was obliterating smell and vision, air too hot already. Jackals, antelopes, ostriches, baboons were going about their business.









Going back we took a different way through the river bed, wondering at the huge exposed roots of the trees, unsuccessfully trying to picture the river flooded with water. Some fresh elephant poop and recent footprints appeared: two babies with some adults maybe. Incredulously, we followed them along, and here they were, a bunch of elephant mammas with the little ones, taking a lovely sand bath!











With all the antelopes swarming the land, that had to be a predator's heaven. Soon we met the proof: fresh lion foot prints, lots of them, cubs with adults. We tracked them for a while, thrilled, but of course the lions remained elusive, minding their own business in the perfectly matching colors of the veld.


Cub foot print


Adult lion paw next to Ana's hand

As we drove on, the sandy bottom started oozing water, brittle desert plants giving way to a marshy field of tall grass, where another bull was enjoying his beauty mud bath.





Exiting the river bed back into the veld, our party of three was still as boozed as the day before, but more quiet, nostalgic, really. Our awesome escape was coming to a close.







On our way back we stopped again for the mandatory ginger liquor, but some beers later, 80 kilometers before Kamanjab, we remembered one must not drink and drive. So we parked at the Grootberg Pass Lodge, which belongs to a friend of Vitals, to collect our composure with the aid of several double gin and tonic. The lodge was built in an environmentally friendly way in a pristine conservancy, on the rim of the ancient Gondwana split, among 132 million years old volcanic mountains. But the night was young, the view was stunning, and our generous hosts proposed dinner and bungalows perching on the edge of the canyon. So we stayed. Tempering the pampering with two bottles of red.



In our so-called Western world, we live far from the wild. We work hard to maintain the boundaries. Some even believe that we have become a species disconnected from the natural mechanisms of life. But in a place like this, one cannot help but wonder, “how could I possibly want more, something else?” Just open the eye into the world, and see.

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Old 03-18-2012, 11:46 AM   #205
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In our so-called Western world, we live far from the wild. We work hard to maintain the boundaries. Some even believe that we have become a species disconnected from the natural mechanisms of life. But in a place like this, one cannot help but wonder, “how could I possibly want more, something else?” Just open the eye into the world, and see.

][/QUOTE]

Most excellent photographs and writing. The combination conveys to me the power that the continent can have in expanding our view of the natural world.
In some way special ride reports such as this help me to keep seeing my own backyard with fresh eyes and enthusiasm.
Thank You

Richard
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Old 03-18-2012, 12:25 PM   #206
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Like what he said.... still.....

:)
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Old 03-18-2012, 03:21 PM   #207
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Thumb

Very nice, respect..
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Old 03-18-2012, 08:19 PM   #208
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Interesting perspective you're developing...

1) 'Native' Africa
vs
2) 'Modern' Africa

What do you prefer... or like a mix of old and new clutures.
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Old 03-23-2012, 03:45 AM   #209
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Somewhere Under the Rainbow

Namibia 01-11 martie/ 1st-11th of March



Windhoek. We needed to leave asap the only place in the world where the names of Nelson Mandela and Robert Mugabe meet at the same crossroads. After all, we had come only to collect a visa (done!), and to locate a friendly garage and supplier for spares to do some maintenance work on our Yamaha (postponed). The only shopping we could afford was a set of Heidenau K60 Scout. Looking quite solid, hopefully these are the last we shave on African roads. One front caliper rubber is broken, so I cleaned the caliper boots, something that needs to be done more regularly from now on. It was also imperative to change the oil, and the only option at that time was the Yamaha dealership. Huge prices there, all I'll say is that since I put on the Bel Ray 20W50, the clutch started to slip.




Windhoek, where Mugabe + Mandela = L.O.V.E.


The only somewhat affordable accommodation in Windhoek was this backpackers joint. We paid two beds, but of course we cuddled in one, happy that at least we had a decent wifi connection.


I am having some work done in the hostel yard.


TKC 80, done









We had had a pretty intense week: Ana's b-day party, not in Cape Town, as planned, but among lovely people. We had also encountered 3 German dudes and their dog, determined to bicycle from Cape Town to Berlin in 4 months. Ahead of us, the rainy season was cooling off, epic cloudscapes still threatening with thunder, but already too week to spread their rainbows downy to the earth. Dry season was nearing, and we were loving the news.


Beer, wine, braai and two joyful girls (Melissa and Ana)


South African Merlot


Meeting our fellow nomads, Daniel 1, Daniel 2 and Pirco


Important health and visa information was exchanged…


Clouds stretched a fading rainbow above…


We pitched out nomad home under the stars and at 9 p.m. a full moon cast shadows over the veld


A cheeky sun followed up the next morning

The little used road that links Windhoek to the southern part of Namib Naukluft was supposedly beautiful, but the ride exceeded our expectations. The gravel swirled up across a breathtaking succession of passes, hairpins cut through golden veld punctuated by wind-powered water pumps, travelled by families of thick furred baboons. Wild flowers were putting kuler to shame and quartz filtered the last rays of the day.



I spotted a breach in this alpine bungee, in the monotonous horizontal of wire fencing, a chance, an opportunity. So I took it, and found another stunning wild camp.














Translucent boulders scattered


Months of wild camping paid off: we had become pretty good at smelling a good spot


Another sunset…


Another moonrise!



We gathered near a fire, then the strong cold wind forced us inside. The spartan morning was fast, wind still blowing untamed, but luckily the air got hotter as we descent down to the desert. Our first stop was at the Tropic of Capricorn signpost. We were preparing to take the compulsory photo, when a guy on a BMW F 650 Dakar passed by. Minutes later Reiner, original from Cape Town and just returning from a 3 week solo ride through the region, came back. It was the beginning of a fun 3 and a half day marathon to the Mother Town; sometimes we rode together, sometimes we separated, only to meet again for a pie in Solitaire, a beer in Sesriem, or a chat about how we could not afford the ridiculous price for a safari in the famous Dead Vlei (another park forbidden to motorbikes). The gravel roads were excellent, wide and empty, only vast herds of hundreds of zebras, springboks, oryx, giraffes and ostriches shared them with us.




Far from the Ecuator, memories of Sahara also lingered





Riders understand each other: the gravel was fair, the sky deep, the rain threatened to come. But we rev our bikes into the black eye of the storm, confident that we would find over the next horizon a quiet place to camp.















The smell of dry desert lingered, but the real drama was unfolding above; we needed to stop before the last 590 kilometers to the canyon and we knew had found the right spot, under yet another epic rainbow.



After the fabulous show of the sunset, the morning felt calm and clear: we rode along the scarlet dunes of the desert, born thousands of miles away, in the Drakensberg mountains, from where the Orange River sweeps ochre sand into the cold Benguela current. The massive dunes - one of the most extreme and inhospitable ecosystems in the world - are stingily covered with detritus. This fragile layer of dry and dead plant and animal debris is the basis of food web in the desert. After a good night of fog, it can contain up to 60% of its weight in water, and as low as 2-4% during the day.


Reiner







A few hours of non-stop riding later we had arrived at the last turn towards our last Namibian target. Which we celebrated with the last couple of beers with Reiner.











Crisp Windhoek Lager, another tank filled and another stretch of gravel to the second largest canyon in the world and the largest in Africa. Fish River Canyon opened below into a gigantic dolomite ravine, some 160 km long, up to 27 km wide and 550 metres deep. The river, 650 million years old, cuts intermittently into the dry, stony plateau, sparsely covered with drought-resistant plants. But it was the end of summer, so only a few long narrow pools still lingered.





We spend a bit too much time gazing into the canyon, witting for the sun to set, snacking on a brief dinner. Setting off in the already deep darkness, we knew it was too late to reach our meeting point with Reiner. Riding at low visibility avoiding the wildlife proved quite demanding, so soon after we could exit the protected area we stopped to set camp.


A lonely, romantic place, only the jackals kept calling into the night


The last sunrise in Namibia. The next one would happen on South African territory, where we were about to proudly set a record, driving the first motorbike from Bucharest to Cape Town.

Kilometer by kilometer the sheer rock faded away into an infinite moonscape. It was the end of the world. Blue, flat, an artificial-looking sky floated upon an even stranger papier-mâché of sand and brittle gravel. Was that the right way? How could that surreal nothingness become something again?





But suddenly we saw the tarmac snake, a cruel, perfect cut across the desert, leading straight to one of the most important borders, the one that separates black, vernacular Africa from the African America.



We had butterflies in our stomach: we would soon cross, after nine months as intense as nine lives, into South Africa. After the fundamental Mauritania - Mali, Benin - Nigeria and DRC Zambia frontiers, we ventured again, full throttle, into the unknown.
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Old 03-23-2012, 03:52 AM   #210
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Bucharest to Cape Town

We're here! A marathon: 84 hours, 1900 kilometers, so that finally a couple of Romanian nomads arrive by bike in South Africa. The yellow moon, the original moon, shone ghostly upon the town and upon two oceans. We're halfway, or maybe just at the beginning, of an incredible adventure that's been going for over nine months, that we've been dreaming about for a lifetime.



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