2014-09-15 to 17 - Day 3, 4 and 5 of our Southern Namibia tour

Day 3 - 15 Sept 2014 -Steinkopf to Bethanie (466kms)

Finally, the day has arrived.  With a full compliment including Rick and after an early start, we have a short 80km to get to the border at Noordoewer before the trip "proper" starts.  The formalities at the border post go without a hitch and the 5 bikes and bakkie are through in about an hour.  Breakfast and fuel at the Wimpy in Namibia.

The currency is Namibia Dollar which is 1:1 to the ZAR.  Unfortunately only credit cards can be used for fuel purchases - and then only sometimes.  Cash remains king!  After breakfast we head towards the Richtersveld on a road which goes along the Orange River past the Felix Unite camp chalets.  The area is famous for table grapes, which are irrigated with water from the Orange river.  The dry, hot climate means that they ripen a couple of weeks earlier than other Southern Hemisphere growers, making it first to the European markets for the best price.  The road soon goes to gravel and we get our first taste of the Namibia dust.

The roads throughout Namibia are literally built on the surface without excavating to make them level, so they follow the contours of the ground with blind rises and stomach turning rises and dips depending on your speed.  Good fun for a bike, just remember to stick to the left!

The road through the Richtersveld winds along the Orange River and we stopped at the junction with the Fish River for a breather and a comfort break.  We turned north on the tar road towards Aus passing through the Zinc mining town of Rosh Pinah where we refuelled again.  Around 75km after RP we turned right on the D446 which is effectively a short-cut to Bethanie.  This was our first taste of a "D" road, and it was so deserted and in such good condition that we resolved to do as many of these as possible in future.  The tar roads are the ultimate boredom on a KLR!!

The D446 was quite spectacular with gorges, valleys and short passes to keep us focussed.  After a brief stop for some pics, we made our way past the derelict village of Goabeb, and onto the tar for the last 35km to Bethanie.  A long day in the saddle, and we could easily have done without the last hour or so.

The Hotel was built in 1830 and has been tastefully redecorated.  The rooms were comfortable, and the swimming pool ice cold.  There was a bunch of Dutch tourists going around in motor-homes staying at the hotel.  We would bump into them again at Sesriem. That evening we were treated to a braai by our hostess Loraine, and thereafter some traditional Himba music and dancing (mainly for the Dutchies), and a welcome warm bed.

Kookfontein Rondawels Steinkopf
Nothing beats Rolex's special cuppa first thing in the morning!
Noordoewer border - Almost in Namibia! 

Vineyards in the Desert
 Rolex setting the pace 
you have to constantly be vigilant of animals crossing the road  - we had a couple of near misses

crossing the (empty) Fish River
our back up vehicle

Jorg's oopsie...

stopped for a leg stretch next to the Orange River

Ang leading the 2nd group

Ang enjoying the open roads
Fantastic D roads
The bakkie followed us everywhere

We don't discriminate - allowed a BMW and KTM to join us...

Guesthouse in Bethanie - a welcome relief after a long day in the saddle

Day 4 - 16 Sept 2014 - Bethanie to Sesriem (366kms)

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, refuelled and were on our way by around 9am.  The first 100km to Helmeringhausen was on a near-perfect gravel road with rain spitting down.  Not quite enough for rain suits, but enough to make the trip somewhat uncomfortable.  We stopped at HH for a break and Stuart stocked-up on food for the anticipated braai that evening.

The next stretch took us to the Castle at Duwiseb where one mad German built a replica of a castle in Germany, but never wound-up actually living in it.  It is quite beautiful though, and the coffee and cake were both cheap and excellent.

The road to Duwiseb was not so good, and particularly Ang and I were all over the place with our Mitas E07 tyres.  As these improved later, we figured that they take longer to run-in than we expected.  We passed a couple of 1200 BMW's who were really struggling in the conditions.  I take my hat off to Jorg and the men who decide to ride a heavy bike on these roads.  I'll stick to the KLR thanks.

After Duwiseb we reached an open plain and stopped for a breather.  This was the most special moment of all as we were surrounded by mountains on a level plain and a road that went on forever in both directions.  We were in the desert and there were some Oryx and Zebra about.  We were all caught-up in the energy and mood of the place that is impossible to capture in a picture.  Breathe in, this is Namibia, and this is why we came here!

As you near Sesriem, there are a number of "commercial" lodges and establishments aimed at US$ weilding tourists.  Everything is expensive and we made our way to our Desert Camp accommodation for the night.  This was truly spectacular, the "tents" situated in the desert.  We checked in and went for a swim in the pool.  That evening we watched the sun set over the desert, made a huge braai with the sosaties from Helmeringhausen and swapped war stories.

Lily is known as Paparazzi and she spent the evening experimenting with taking pictures by the stars.  Jorg had to find a spot to park his bike for the pic, and needed 3 people to pull the 1200 out of the sand the following day.  Don't they know that GS stands for?

ok not your traditional windmill but a windmill it is.... 
spot the chicken....no guessing who took this pic (Ang, the bird lady) 
Stu stocking up on supplies - BEST sosaties at Helmering Winkel!  Lots of Hilux bakkies in Nam

Deceptive gravel kept us on our toes

Lily's action shot of Rolex in the making
and the result - beautiful! 
next up is Paul on his little KLR
a rare sighting - the whole group in one place at the same time

Now you see him, now you dont
Duwiseb Castle
Enjoying coffee and the most delish cake as we take in the sights of the century old castle

the original furnishings

Rolex, Ang & Paul
Paparazzi enjoying the castle
got some tips from Lily... 
and pleased with the outcome - it's not size that matters, but how you use it... the camera that is!
Zuma junior

Paul, Jorg and Stuart hot on their wheels

Interesting that everyone (but Jorg who like Lily has mastered the art of sleeping standing up) is taking a photograph in this pic
Lily bringing Paul down to size in Namibia

stocking up on supplies at Sesriem supply store for our self catering stay at Sesriem Desert Camp
Sesriem Desert tented camp - really lovely! 
very comfortable accommodation

Day 5 - 17 Sept 2014 - Rest day in Sesriem

The following morning we made coffee and rusks before all piling onto the bakkie for a trip down to Sossusvlei and Deadvlei.  There is a 60km trip on tar, and at the end you pay N$100 per person for a shuttle over the last 6km or so.

This is a tourist mecca, and fortunately we got in fairly early.  The number of busses that arrived meant that there were long queues at the shuttles a little later in the day.  We did the tourist things - climbed the dunes, marveled at the sights and posed next to the trees in Deadvlei.  Namibia is a land of contrasts which makes it so popular with the camera crew.  Sossusvlei is a prime example of what the country has to offer.

At 11am we headed back to the camp, passing Oryx and Springbok along the way and chilled until about 4pm when we all headed off to the canyon which is situated just inside the main gate.  This is where the name Sesriem (meaning 6 leather lengths "riems") came from.  It took six of these to reach the water in the base of the canyon.  We took some pics and dodged the tourists, bumping into our Dutch friends again.

That evening it was braai as usual and the team seemed to have got the meal down to a fine art by this stage.  There are jackal and other game on the 72,000ha reserve, and a jackal passed close by the chalet.    

Lily titles this photograph "Africa Time"
Rolex ensuring that we all have our caffeine fix

Lily braving the cold to get up close and personal with her surroundings
famous dunes at Sossusvlei
can you feel the love from this dune?  (heart shape)
We took a shuttle to the dunes and Deadvlei

Rick wishing he could bring his KTM to the dunes

Long drop toilets, not for the faint hearted!

Ang's photo of the day!  
up-hill climb
almost there Stu

Rolex and Rick towering above Deadvlei in the background
Apparently the trees are over 900 years old - unbelievable!

No, Ang isn't napping - just being a creative photographer
spot the nest?
close-up shot of the nest
The group heading back to the shuttles
Rick riding shotgun

stopped at Sossusvlei lodge for a rather expensive cuppachino - R35, EISH
Stu catching up with the locals 
Paul and the gang spotted the big screen...

Comfortable on the futon Rick?
Sesriem Canyon
Jorg & Lily enjoying the sights and sounds of the canyon

faces in the rocks - Hitchcock meets Planet of the Apes (can you see what Ang sees?)
the group taking in the peace and tranquility of the canyon - if these rocks could speak...
time to get back to camp guys!

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