Monday, September 12, 2016 | Domenico Schiano Moriello | Africa
Time was flying guys, this great tour has come to an end... and what a beautiful end! First the Middelberg pass on gravel (that not everybody did!), then a nice break in Ceres... and then the wonderful Bainskloof pass! A last break at the Afrikaans language monument in Paarl and there we were ready to hop on the highway and reach the fina destination, Cape Town!
In sixteen days we travelled from the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe to the southernmost region of this continent, everything changed, sometimes gradually and sometimes suddenly, lots of memories and... what an experience!
Albert, Rudolf, Michael, Anantha, Yalim, Murad, Dirk, John, thank you for a great time together! Oh, and I'm waiting for your comments on this blog!
Leaving Springbok, we took the N7 direction south and left it only 2 times, when we stopped for lunch and when we reached Citrusdal! Really incredible how the landscape changed so much in such a little time, from Namaqualand and its blooming desert, we approached the regions of the south with mountains, rivers... and lots of vineyards!
Time to leave Namibia and enter South Africa! Today we left our beautiful Canyon Village and rode southward on gravel roads for around 100 kilometres, before hitting the asphalt again right before the border between these two countries. Immigration and customs procedures were very fast, so we reached Springbok quite early and had some time to relax before dinner in our lodge full of birds!
From Keetmanshoop we rode on the B3, direction south-west, until we saw the indication to Fish River Canyon, then we left the main road and got back on some gravel again! First break was by the Naute Dam, that makes the area around very fertile and then, following the Fish River downstream, we reached the nice Canyon Roadhouse where we had lunch. After that, we were just a few miles away from the world's second largest canyon, one of the most spectacular sights in Namibia. The views were just outstanding, stunning, amazing!
Today we took it easy, so we left our beautiful lodge at 10am and followed the B1 southward through the arid Kalahari desert, not a very challenging ride. We reached Keetmanshoop in time for lunch and then headed to the Quiver Tree Forest and the Giant's Playground. These two attractions are very close to each-other and they actually could be considered as one. The Giant's Playground is a bizarre, rocky landscape where the towering dolerite rocks look as if they were the work of giants. The boulders are made of 170 million year old volcanic basalt... and among all these huge rocks there are a lot of quiver trees, a species of aloe that is typical from here. Well, take a look at the pictures!
After our relaxing rest day, we were ready to hit the gravel again! Today around 200 kilometres of dust and amazing landscapes took us to Maltahöhe, where we had lunch, and then back on the asphalt until Mariental. Well, we were ready to hit the gravel again, but maybe the trailer was not so ready, because it broke down around 80 kilometres before reaching the asphalt... and I have to say it was definitely not easy to take it to a garage in Maltahöhe, where they will try to fix it! Fingers crossed!
The second "rest" day of this tour started at 6am when the jeep came to pick us up and take us to Sossusvlei. This salt and clay pan surrounded by high red dunes is the main visitor attraction in Namibia, and the area is really breath-taking! Amazing huge sand dunes and the surrealistic "Dead Vlei", sights that will be difficult to forget!
The day everybody was waiting for has finally arrived! Following the coast, we went south from Swakopmund to Walvis Bay and then turned left to the inland again. Soon the asphalt road turned into gravel... and the adventure began! After around 150 kilometres of gravel and stunning landscapes we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn and then reached Solitaire, where we could have a break and fill-up the bikes before finally reaching our lodge.
Today's ride took us from Windhoek to Swakopmund, on the Atlantic Ocean. Finally the landscape started changing quite a lot and we could also do some gravel road training, to have an idea of what is expecting us in the next days! As we got closer and closer to the coast, the temperature started to change very quickly, from around 34° it dropped to 16°C! What a sudden change! And also a light rain was awaiting us in Swakopmund... one definitely feels the presence of the ocean!
Today's ride was the longest of the tour, around 530km plus the border crossing to enter Namibia, so there was not really much time to stop and take many pictures! Crossing the border was fortunately very easy and took short time, then we stopped in Gobabis for lunch and finally headed to Windhoek, capital city of Namibia, where we also had time for a short walk before dinner.
To get the full experience of the Okavango Delta, after the jeep safari of yesterday we decided to take a look at it also from the sky! So the day started with a flight at 8am, then we went back to the hotel to have breakfast (better not to fly on those small planes with a full stomach!)... and then back on the bikes! We left the hotel at 11:00 am but we are still in Botswana, so it is no big deal to ride for 300km on straight roads!
The 1000th site to be inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2014, the Okavango Delta is a very important wildlife area of Botswana. A great river that flows not into the sea but the harsh Kalahari Desert, the Okavango Delta is more correctly termed an alluvial fan comprising areas that are permanently flooded, seasonally flooded and occasionally flood. A myriad of species are found within the delta including African Elephant, African Buffalo, Hippopotamus, Giraffe, Crocodile, Lion, Cheetah, Leopard, Zebra, Baboon and so on. We were not able to see all of them, but we really saw a lot of animals today! Enjoy the pictures!!!
The day started for a few of us with a nice warm-up ride in the Nata Bird Sanctuary, just a few kilometres away from our lodge. We did not see many birds... but it was a really good off-road training! Then with all the group we headed to Maun, a very long and straight road! Along the road, we stopped at the "Baobab Planet", a very nice lodge, where we could admire some of these huge trees. Still two hundred kilometres to go after that, that we tried to do as relaxed as possible, because animals can cross the road at any time, but still some policemen complained a bit...
What to say about today? We decided to leave around one hour later to enjoy the lodge a little longer, it was supposed to be a relaxed day but then... first one bike did not start (battery was a bit low...) and then, when this issue was fixed, we found out that another bike had a flat tyre! And, when everything was done, we finally left and after lunch some bikes were already short of gasoline... fortunately Bella was there to help us!
After marvelling at one of the largest waterfalls on earth for a sufficient amount of time, we climbed on a bus and headed to the Botswana border. Luckily there were not many people there, so we could reach Kazane quite early, relax a bit and then hop on the boat that took us into the Chobe National Park for a great boat safari, where we could see elephants, crocodiles, giraffes, hippos and so on...
Definitely not a bad day, even if we did not ride our bikes yet!
If you dream of Africa, what does your imagination show you? Do you see elephants showering in dust and hippos wading in shallow pools? Do you see a barren, moon-like desert landscape that miraculously covers itself with flowers each spring? Or do you dream of a sea of giant sand dunes, stretching from horizon to horizon? Whatever your African dreams are, you are likely to see them on this motorcycle tour. What else to say... the group has arrived, today we met for the welcome briefing and everybody is looking foreward to a great tour! Tomorrow morning we start, stay tuned!