Namibia: Toward the Caprivi strip

Day 35 – Monday 2d July – Grootfontein

The previous day, Alistair found a motorcycle / quad bikes workshop in town, but it was closed ( as it was Sunday).

So in the morning, after eating our B&B’s massive breakfast ( cereals, boerwor sausage, bacon, toasts, 2 eggs) we walk there. The town is pleasant enough, clean with wide streets and avenues, and low rise buildings.

After a chat with the business owner, Johan, who invites us to do the oil change in his premises, we fetch the bikes.

Alistair talks mechanic stuff with the owner. He is worried about his clutch, as it slips a bit.

Usually, we always put specific motorcycle engine oil on our bikes. Sounds logical. But often, in our trips it has been very difficult to fine that.

Johan has motorcycle oil, but he uses multi grade car oil in all his bikes, including his shiny BMW 1200 adventure. He says car oil is good quality, as long as we use a good brand. It is also much cheaper and easier to find. So it’s good to know, as we may not be so lucky, next time we need to change the oil!

After 5,000 kms, the oil from our bikes is black with dirt. We are told the fuel here is probably more “dirty” than in Europe and we should change it more often. Although our bikes manuals say we should change the oil every 10,000 miles, Johan tells we should do it much more often. Cheaper to change oil than something in the engine!

After that, we do some shopping. Alistair gets himself a hoody, as it is so cold at the moment, and we get some food for the next leg of our trip. Our staple food while camping is peanut butter and bread for breakfast, with coffee, and tins of curried mix vegs, tin of baked beans, bags of instant noodles, salted peanuts and biscuits, for dinner and snacks. All of this is easy to transport in a roll bag strapped at the back of my bike.

When we are riding we don’t usually bother with lunch. Dried nuts like peanuts are found everywhere and are filling.

In the evening we have dinner at the B&B’s restaurant and watch some football game with a glass of red wine! As you can see, we are having a hard life!

Day 36 and 37 – Tuesday 3rd July / weds 4th July – Kaisosi river lodge campsite – 280kms

The night is freezing cold and we have added all the extra blankets to our quilt. There is never any heating in houses here, from what we have seen.

We leave Grootfontein around 10am. We don’t have too far to go, and it is all tarmac. The only problem is the cold. It is always sunny and big blue sky, but, this morning in particular, it is freezing. I put all my layers on and even like that I suffer with the cold.

Eventually, by early afternoon, we arrive at Rundu. On the way we pass many traditional villages, with round huts and a round wood fence made of standing sticks side by side. There are lots of cows, donkeys and goats grazing by the side of the road.

By mid day, as we pass all those traditional villages, kids, still in their school uniform, get all excited to see our bikes and wave or run toward us. To start with, I wave back, but I worry that some kids could get too excited and run too close to the bikes, causing an accident. So I decide not to wave and ignore then instead.

In Central Asia, some idiots bikers started the trend of doing a High Five to kids, while riding. As a result, groups of kids now run practically in front of the bikes, even when riding fast. That made me very nervous over there.

After a stop for fuel, we follow the gps to the lodge. The way is via yet more deep sand for a bit of a mile. At some point I start digging my back wheel in deep sand, but I eventually manage to get off.

The grounds of the lodge are very pleasant. As usual for lodges, our campsite has its own small shower/ toilet block. The assistant shows us a site that has a concrete table and benches, which makes a big difference for us. After pitching the tent, we go for a wander.

They have the usual facilities, a curio shop with carved things and stuff to sell, a bar, a restaurant, a large terrace over the river, chalets for the high paying guests, overlooking also the river, and Avery large room with 2 big TVs. So we can watch the football.

The night is very cold, even sleeping with layers. Our sleeping bags are goose down and usually very warm. We bought them in Buenos Aires, back in 2007, during our motorcycle year around South America. My bike had been stolen and with it the camping gear. We replaced the sleeping mats and sleeping bags in Argentina. But even the goose down is not enough to keep us warm! We are told it is snowing in the Cape, and the freezing wind blowing from there!

The next day we laze around and get to know our neighbours in the campsite next to us. Three couples from South Africa on big 4×4 cars with roof tents.

Day 38 – Shametu lodge ( near Divundu) Thursday 5th July – 230kms

We pack up very early. The night was still freezing cold.

We stop at the local supermarket for some supplies to last the 3 days we plan to spend in Shametu. Lodges are usually in the middle of nowhere. They don’t have a shop. Lodge’s guests are in full board, and campers usually bring everything with them in their massive cars and trailers. South Africans, often. They travel in style! Those trailers have a full integrated kitchen and i suspect fridge as well!

At the car park of the supermarket, as we get ready to go, a woman and an old guy come to tell us to watch for a white car. They warn us they might try to follow us. As usual there are lots of people hanging around, or sitting in their cars. We thank the couple and go.

I keep an eye on my mirrors but can’t see anyone following.

The road follow the river Kovango, which is the border between Angola and Namibia. We pass many traditional villages, built with wooden huts and thatched roofs, with a round fence around them. As usual there are lots of cows and donkeys and goats roaming freely around.

We finally arrive at Divundu by early afternoon. We buy fuel and follow the GPS to the lodge. We see lots of tourists in big 4×4 with the usual tent in the roof set up. The place is busy. It is close to the border with Botswana and the only way to get to Zambia.

We find the turn off to the lodge. Once again, a mile of deep sand. I make a mistake and quickly drop the bike! I really don’t enjoy riding in deep sand. Sometimes I get it and skip over it using speed, and sometimes I just can’t do it! It is as much skill as confidence. It is a very big leap of faith, to stand on the footpegs and open the throttle and accelerate over a long section of sand.

The lodge is lovely with great grounds. Our campsite is shaded and enormous. It and has a large kitchen area, with a big worktop and a big aluminium kitchen sink.

Then another building is the toilet and shower room. The place is dark inside, but fine.

I ask the manager if we could get a couple of chairs or some benches to sit, as we have nothing. She kindly get some staff to bring us a couple of camping chairs.

In the evening we cook our usual tin of vegs with a bag of noodles and spend the evening lounging I te lodge buildings.

Day 39 and 40 and – Shametu lodge – sat / Sunday 6th and 7th July – 0kms

We book a river cruise for the afternoon. We see hippos and crocs and lots of birds.

We also see the Pupa falls. They are more like rapids than waterfalls.

I take the opportunity to make a big wash, including my motorcycle suit. The zips are getting very stiff because of the sand and dust stuck there. I give them a good brushing to remove all the dirt, until the zips work fine again. The weather is still fairly cool and surprisingly cloudy. We have not had any clouds since we left South Africa!

With some sort of WiFi working occasionally, I do some research for the next leg of our trip. I found a couple of blogs detailing the border crossing between Zambia and Namibia. There is an ATM machine on the Zambian side, so we don’t need to use money changer touts. There is also a bank, apparently.

I also look at the itinerary across Zambia, where distance between fuel stations might be a problem, through the Great East Road.

I also investigate further Mozambique. Outside of the north, which is dangerous, the country is quiet. Coming from Malawi we should be ok. Instead of riding straight through Mozambique to get to Zimbabwe, I am looking at exploring a bit Mozambique. We will see when we get close to the border.

That’s all for now!