This is a pic from the web of Chief’s Island, Okavango Delta. One of the top several wildlife destinations in Africa and probably the most famous
I need to get from 1, Maun, below, to 2, Chief’s Island
There are difficult 4X4 tracks that will disappear with the coming rains. And there’s a small airstrip. The other way is by boat. I have a fast boat and driver lined up for the 12 hour return ride. But now we need rain as there are dry spots on the route.
Here’s the forecast for the next month, not good. But cooler
But the forecast changes daily, so we’ll see.
I’m taking my malaria pills. I can’t believe I’m doing this. I’ve ignored them everywhere so far, but apparently it’s a big deal now
Here they are, 6 months worth
I walked to the river beach that’s crocodile free on Christmas Eve. I even had my swim shorts under my jeans, feeling enthusiastic. I was the only white boy. There were a lot of great things to photograph, but I left the little Sony in my pocket unless I had cover
It was nice
And some of this, later
I’m working on another river post with lots of birds, but I need to get out again to get a better shot of my favourite. But here’s a little bird from the bar 2 days ago
The bar. I take my laptop here in the morning when it’s empty
For some reason the below track doesn’t start from Windhoek, but we started in Windhoek, headed for Maun, Botswana. A cool line, so I cropped it to show the width of Africa down this far south
And that’s our route, Windhoek to Gobabis to Ghanzi to Maun, through the Kalahari. A three day ride
The normal way into Botswana is via the extreme NE corner of Namibia, but we’ve already ridden to Etosha and didn’t want to repeat that much road.
Maun is at the lower corner of the Okavango Delta
Which looks like this. Depending on the season, it’s between 2300 and 5800 square miles.
There’ll be an Okavango post in a week, so we’ll leave more until then
A day and a half to the border. Big roadkill. There are donkeys, goats, horse and cattle beside the road frequently
Leaving Namibia. I set up for the border at a close town, Gobabis, so I was early and alone. Exiting Namibia immigration was virtually instant after filling out the standard short form. Closing the Carnet at customs was just as fast
I was expecting hell at the Botswana half because of the long list of theoretical requirements, all of which I had ready, but few were asked for. So I was through in about 15 minutes
Then the final guys. They check the form that shows you’ve seen immigration and customs, and if they want to, tear down the bike and you for carrying something you shouldn’t. They let me through with no fuss
And into the Kalahari. A few landscapes
I rode along side an ostrich for a surprisingly long time. Long enough to get the camera out of the tank bag and start filming, which with one hand has to be done slowly and carefully, lol
Hot as hell, which is why we start early. Here the sun isn’t directly overhead, which it will be shortly. A donkey and baby
Cattle seem less fussed, but head for shade at about 38C
Big nests of big twigs. Not weavers probably
And into Ghanzi for the night
Sexanana bar looked inviting but dead mid-afternoon
So do laundry instead. Wall fixtures are easier than my micro-clothesline. Looks like I was a day behind on the underpants
Gas up the next morning
And more Kalahari and more heat
There were only a few roadside villages
I don’t know the tribe yet
And a small diversion into the town of Sehithwa. White sand, incredibly hot!
I was curious about whether the lake shown on the OSM GPS map was actually there, or seasonal
The tracks4africa map is more informative. I’ve been switching between the two as I ride along. The OSM has a lot more detail, the T4A is more overland specific
The houses are spaced out generously with random tracks between them
A store. I stopped to have a look. Just a few basic dry goods
Downtown. General store, bar, post office, all that in this building
Other than the cage, the bar looks great. Standing and bullshitting is always best
This is a very big thing, and you can see why. The Botswana Herero fled here from Namibia during what they call the “Hitler war”. Those hats were designed to copy the effect of cows horns. From wiki:
The most distinctive feature of Herero women’s dress is their horizontal horned headdress, the otjikalva, which is a symbol of respect, worn to pay homage to the cows that have historically sustained the Herero. The headdresses can be formed from rolled-up newspaper covered in fabric. They are made to match or coordinate with dresses, and decorative brooches and pins attached to the centre front. Anthropologist Dr Lutz Marten writes: “A correctly worn long dress induces in the wearer a slow and majestic gait.”The overall intended effect is for the woman to resemble a plump, slow-moving cow. In photographs, Herero women adopt the ‘cow pose’, with their arms raised, palms upwards.
But what you immediately notice is the Botswana hats have been pushed forwards into a bill, perhaps for additional shade. The volume of material in the dresses is sometimes huge
Sitting outside the bar, drinking water, and this group walks by
They’re community organizers, hence the vests. Check out the Herero woman gathering up all her material before sitting
I loved her.
Truth be told, to me African women are the most beautiful in the world. I am stunned several times a day
On both maps a road is shown crossing the lake graphic. I ride out
To the ‘coastline’ the GPS shows, but nothing, Dry I suppose for another month or two
A hilariously western looking gas station right in town
Converting from Pula, gas is $1.26 a litre CDN
And on for a few more hours. As we approached Maun the trees grew bigger and the avenue became impressive. It was impossible not to grin about something, undefined
To the first fresh water I’ve seen since the karst collapse near Etosha, and the first river I’ve seen since the flood in Maltahohe. This runs through Maun. It looks miraculous
Now here’s a thing, below, that’s a real problem for moto travellers in Botswana. A typical page from a tourist map book shows great landscapes, none of which are accessible on bike. Every page of this book is like this. Botswana is sand. I have fast learned from others that this is one of the great places in Africa, but you need a 4X4 and to be set up for extended camping. The alternative thing to do is go on guided multi-day safari which is incredibly expensive. I’m currently trying to figure out what to do about this
OK. Some stuff on Namibia other than natural history. All of this could be inaccurate or wrong:
1. Government. Here’s another article from The Namibian newspaper. This is the story. It’s completely beyond belief. The private sector is as bad. When it comes to money, Namibia is the Wild West, but from everything I’ve heard, better than most. The BMW dealership is huge and the first stop for fast money, nearly all black. The current thing is Range Rovers. It is probably no exaggeration to say, if you can get in on it, you do, or are.
It’s meat. Sometimes they don’t even disclose what meat. Boring, but not quite as depressingly boring on the road as meat eating in South America. They’re big BBQ lovers, but without the creativity of the Americans
3. Namibia is the first and only entry on the list of countries I could live in. It’s largely a desert, not unlike the picture above, so you have to like that. There are no people here, I love that. The capital, Windhoek, feels like a big community, you know where everything is. Racially it’s peaceful. The same land redistribution laws are happening, and no white can get new land ownership anymore, Namibian or not, but you get the feeling that it’ll all work out (by comparison, very few think that things will work out in South Africa).
4.I had a friend here who I peppered with questions about the different ethnicities, or tribes. The Himba live in the extreme northwest where access is harder. Not many people venture to see them. I didn’t. Picture from the web
The Herero are incredible. Here’s lady, with the defining hat at a store in Windhoek
And another, on the right. More in the next post
The Ovambo are mighty (almost half the population) and the most westernized. Like South Africa (and I’m sure every country coming up), with the women it’s all about the hair and is fantastic. And they don’t want to talk about it beyond accepting a short complement. The anecdote here is that as young boys, brothers learned the hard way not to comment on their sister’s hair
The Nama are slightly disrespected as not as bright or hard working by the other tribes, yet accepted obviously as brothers and sisters. Being black is the thing, in a country with a colonial legacy
Then there are the “boers”. This is what blacks call whites with all the worst attributes of the least enlightened whites, as they see it, not necessarily these guys. I have seen some whites treat blacks like shit
And regular hard working originals
They learned to live off a difficult land. Here he’s showing me making table salt from raw salt he got from the coast
My apologies for all that being superficial. I’ll try harder.
5. Wifi (free) and cell phone coverage was excellent, considering the size and population
6. Cost. Namibia is expensive. Tourism, because the country is so easy in nearly every respect, is growing fast and everything is priced as if it’s a tight market. Some more competition in all areas would be good.
Safe, laid back. You wouldn’t wander off unwisely in Windhoek into the Katatura district, but that’s no different to any city on earth.
Here he is crossing a few feet from where I’m sitting, just 30 minutes ago. He’s small, about 4″ long
Same as back in Namibia, the rain is driving them indoors.
This video is really good at showing the antennae doing the work, discovering the nature of the ground in front of it and collecting trend updates, in line with the constantly changing goal, with each tap. Incredible
Good for the legs. Excuse the sound of me dragging the camera along the floor
(monster post still not finished, was busy today, so this)
So, you read the post ‘the sky 1’, and know what’s coming. It’s arrived. Nice sound at 0:08
Here’s a clip from the wiki for Lusaka, the capital and central point of our next country, Zambia
So, if you look at the precipitation line, you’ll see the next three months are going to be harder. It’s a lot of rain.
I’m behind, but 7 weeks of that in Namibia was entirely my choice. I weighed the value of the staying reason versus having to ride through it.
My shaky theory is this: only in Vancouver and England does it rain/drizzle endlessly because of some reason. The rest of the world more-or-less it rains then it stops. Plus that was my experience with monsoon in Indonesia. And so here we are, hoping for predictability.
The alternative is to slow down. But I burned all my slow time allowance, from a ride point of view.
I was supposed to finish a series of posts, one a day, but the next one is a monster, 44 images so far, so I’ll sneak this one in instead and finish it tomorrow.
In a radical step, I mounted a pair of Tractionator GPS’s in Windhoek. They’re a 50/50 tire. I’ve ridden with countless TKC/Heidenau pairs, and various others, but circumstances are pretty specific for the next 8000K to the next tire stop in Nairobi, which is how long I need these to last. A TKC front wouldn’t make it. Plus I’m expecting lots of rain and garbage-on-pavement, so the Heidenau won’t work there either.
I don’t know anyone who has tried these for very long distance riding. But I did some research. If I’ve got it wrong, I have a time consuming problem ahead. The question is, how well do they perform in the various circumstances, despite good reviews, which we’ll find out.
Not very knobby, ouch
And I’m not fond of the solid strip on the rear
But they have some characteristics that appeal to me. Because I may be wrong, I’ll keep my rationale to myself until a tire report here. I’m tracking mileage carefully, so will get back to you after the first 4000K