Saturday, April 30, 2011

Central Namibia to Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls

What we thought was going to be a longer wait in Swakopmund, actually landed up being just a day’s repair at the radiator shop. Not a particularly pretty job, but after being pressure tested and liquid hypoxied up, the radiator was good to go again. Very happily we set out of Swakopmund, thanking Lali again for her wonderful hospitality.
Lali,Simon and Nick
Itching to see what Northern Namibia had in stock, we decided to drive on the tar road back through Omaruru where we camped for the night and had our first real taste of a Namibian thunderstorm. Bright lightening and crashing thunder, we slept dry in our fantastic Ferrino orange tent. The next morning we headed further north through to Otjiwarango. As we stopped on the road outside the town, Nick noticed that his pannier frame was cracked. Luckily we found a welder to fix it up, and after 2.5hrs wait we carried on along to Otavi.
Unhappy Nick waiting to get the pannier frames fixed

The camp spot just off the road, Kuns Potjie was stunning with lots of citrus trees covered in all different types of oranges and lemons. We sipped on orange juice with our boerewors and potato dinner and watched the sun setting over the mountains. The owner, a lovely German lady, allowed us to pack some more oranges for our trip the next day and the kick of Vitamin C was much enjoyed!

Kuns potjie

Enjoying all the fruits !!
Borerwors yummi !!
Amazing full moon peeking out the clouds

LOTS of rain that night
Between Otavi and Grootfontein, we stopped in at the worlds largest meteorite- Hoba Meteorite! Amazing, huge rock which weighs approximately 50 tons, the shavings off the sides of the rock expose all the metals that it is comprised of. We then had our first encounter with the traffic policeman just outside Grootfontein. Apparently, we didn’t come to a complete stop at a stop sign and he wanted to fine us R1500 each! Eish…after much discussion about our trip and budget we managed to wangle down to R50. Quite a feat considering the Sweedish couple that came after us managed to get away with only R300. Makes you think he’s targeting the foreigners…ey!!

That night we camped at Roys Rest Camp 100km outside Grootfontein. A beautifully, decorated spot with animal horns, rusting cars and an awesome bar made of thick wood. We had arrived early at this camp spot and decided to change Teeny’s badly worn back sprocket and chain. This landed up being quite a job as the new sprocket we had was a 43 tooth instead of the 41 tooth, and the chain was about 13 links too long. We battled a bit trying to cut the chain with a hacksaw until we spotted Leon the handyman at the camp, and asked to borrow his grinder. As the light went down we decided that we would finish the job in the morning. Heading off to the bar for a well-deserved drink, the owner informed us that we were welcome to carve whatever we like on the bar, so Nick carved an ‘Africa 2 Anywhere – 4/11’ – a piece of us left in Namibia.

The next morning we managed to get Teeny’s bike up and running, again with a little help from Leon, a very interesting chap having patrolled the border in the war, teaching survival skills , tree felling, Sasol engineer and an avid cross country hiker. We chatted to him for quite a while and listened to some of his stories in awe , he has had a lot of life experience and passed on some useful tricks and tools. We hope one day we will have as many interesting stories too share with others.

Replacing the chain and sprocket at Roys camp

Carving a master piece !!!

Nick and Leon the legend

Once complete we left about midday for the drive through to Rundu. After passing through a police stop- checking for animal products the landscape completely changed into more rural African landscape with tons of dogs, cattle and people along the sides of the road with some beautifully made thatch/mud houses. The road was in good shape and we arrived on Good Friday in Rundu to a bustling town. After finding the camp site we drove back into town and bought some chicken, rice and onion to make a feast. After the dinner the night before of onion, garlic and attempted toasted bread, we thought we should have a proper meal – and what a meal that was. The camp site was a short walk away from the Kongola River. A large river which is the border between Angola and Namibia, we watched a family of 5, 3 bags and a chicken jump into a dow and get rowed across the river in a similar fashion to a gondola in Italy. On the banks of the river other ladies were boiling tiny fish they had caught in their reed nets.
Still enjoying our pickings from Kuns potjie

Nambian gondolas
Sunset over the Kongola river
Preparing our feast while our washing dries in the background !
The feast
The next morning our trip took us into the ‘thin bit of Namibia’ where we turned south towards the Botswana border at the town of Divundu. After enquiring at Popa Falls Lodge and camp for cheaper accommodation in the area, we drove through to Rainbow Camp site 1km down the road. The sand track into the camp site was horrible…with Nick hitting the double middle Mannetjie and doing a huge flip onto the sand. No injuries besides a battered knee and bent pannier, we continued very slowly into the camping site. Located right on the Popa River, we took some time to relax on the platform out onto the river. A magical spot, we heard hippos in the distance and watched the sun setting into Angola. During the afternoon 3 other tourist trucks arrived along with the very knowledgeable drivers. We chatted to Victor who told us about cheap camping spots at Victoria Falls and the alternative route through Chobe National Park in Northern Botswana into Zimbabwe onto Victoria Falls. Excited about probably seeing the falls the next day, we jumped into bed early listening to the tourists having lots of shooters shouting “are you a man or a boy” drinking the bar dry!

I am sure the bike is facing the wrong way !!!
The view from the deck of Rainbow camp

After a short drive back to the main road, we drove through the police check point into Caprivi Strip. We couldn’t believe it… 12.5km into the mornings drive Nick hit a piece of glass on his front tyre and lost control of the bike into the 1.5m drain on the side of the road. A very scary sight!! Luckily the drain actually saved Nick from being under the bike and he landed relatively softly on the sandy grass bank. Uninjured we picked the bike up and began repairs to the front wheel. Luckily the bead had already been broken on the front tyre so we removed the tube relatively effortlessly which exposed the huge gash in the tube. Realising it could not be patched we got out the spare tube and replaced it. All the hard work done all we had to do was pump the tyre back up…..”why is this tyre not getting harder?”….”oh look there is a huge tear in our pumps hose”!!! So with the advice from our dutch friends, Marko and Kiem, we took the tyre and stood on the side of the road and waited. Not long and 3 Caprivian locals came cycling past and stopped, so we explained our problem to them and they offered for us to use their bicycle pump. So they started pumping up the tyre when Nick noticed that the pump was only rated to pump up to about 1 bar, while we required at least 2 bar to get running again, regardless of this information to them they kept on pumping with beads of sweat running down their foreheads. Teeny managed to flag down a 4x4 and asked them if they had a pump we could borrow, not thinking that the locals would ever be able to reach the pressure we required. Eventually they stopped (to the relief of their poor little pump) and Nick checked the tyre pressure and- 3.5 bars !!! IMPRESSIVE !!
Direction of bike off the road
Soft landing spot
The pannier that took the brunt of it all !!

NASTY !!!!
Trying to fix pump now !!
The helpfull Caprivians
After fitting the front tyre we slowly worked the bike out of the drain ditch and back onto the road. We continued the drive through Caprivi hitting a rain storm at the other end. After the stress of the we decided to camp at the closest spot available, and we found an expensive but pretty camp site and set up camp. Again located right by the river, so Nick got out his fishing gear and had another attempt at fishing, SUCCESS !! Finally he caught a barbel in Namibia. A rainy end to the day we jumped into bed after some dry brown bread and as Teeny slept dead, Nick was awakened in the middle of the night by the nearby hippos and sat up with the pepper spray prepared to counter attack if necessary.

WOOHOO !!! First fish of the trip
After packing up our wet and sandy gear we started on the trek through to Victoria Falls. The route took us through the town of Katima Malilo onto Ngoma Border over the Mighty Zambezi river into Botswana. A quick border crossing despite not having enough local money for the road permit and carbon tax fees, which we were told we could pay on exit, and we headed through Chobe National park. Interestingly enough, there was not too much change in the scenery from Namibia , except there was slightly more dense vegetation. Along the way in the distance we saw a huge lone elephant crossing the road, very exciting ! After having lunch in Kasane we travelled the last 14 km to the Zimbabwean border post. The wait was quite hot and tiring standing in a crowded room with all our riding gear on, yet all went rather smoothly and we were on our way. Stopped at the boom to hand over our gate permit, Teeny nearly scared the living daylights out of the border control officer with a scream , ELEPHANT ! only about 50 meters in front of us a herd of elephants were crossing the road what a welcome to Zimbabwe !! The remaining 70 km to Vic falls was along a beautiful road with tall grass and dense bush on either side and we were constantly combing the bush for more signs of wildlife ! We arrived at the Victoria Falls rest camp and met Shaun, another biker from South Africa who welcomed us and was very interested in our trip. After setting up camp, having a hot shower and basting ourselves in tabard we treated ourselves to a meal in the restaurant. Delicious burger and warthog snitzel before jumping into bed, listening to what sounded like the ocean in the background when in fact it was the powerful Vic Falls, only about 500 meters from us awaiting our exploration in the morning !
The MIGHTY Zambezi, crossing over into Botswana

We woke up like 2 kids on Christmas day with excitement to go see the famous Vic Falls. Shaun advised us that you can not get a multiple entry to see the falls and suggested we should wait for the weather to clear up a little as there were a few clouds about, and we would get better pics then. Together we walked over the Zimbabwe border and the Livingston Railway bridge into Zambia and sat at the Bridge restaurant drinking coffee, watching the powerful spray from the falls and some bunjee jumpers. The few remaining clouds were now gone so we decided to do the Vic Falls walk forking out US$20 each OUCH !! WOW WOW WOW WOW and WOW… no words or pics can explain the view, sounds and awesome power of the millions of tons of water crashing over the falls. Unfortunately with all the rain the majority of the falls was quite misted from the spray making the walk through very wet, protecting the camera we managed to get a few good shots before dripping our way out of there ! We then went to see the statue of David Livingstone and the top of the falls. The walk pack to our camp has a short cut pedestrian route which we took, along the way we saw a local looking precariously into the bushes and when we got there we saw why, an elephant about 5 meters off the path, which is only about 20 meters from the main road and the town how incredible is that ! The rest of the day was spent relaxing by the pool chatting to Shaun and Samantha sharing riding and travelling stories. The plan now is to head through Zambia relatively quickly passing Lusaka for spares before entering Malawi for some rest and relaxation (R&R) and good sun soaking time.
Traveling through Chobe National Park
Livingstone Bridge
Vic falls hotel in the distance

A mighty work of art from the early 1900`s
Nick, Teeny and Shaun

Thumbs up all the way.....

Lucky i was there to catch it !!

The ele about 5 meters from the path ...
Have you ever seen a garnished boerewors roll ???