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The Heat is On

The Heat is On

I had an early start leaving Desert Horse Inn at around 07.30hrs. I knew I had approx 400km to ride and it was going to be a very hot one crossing the Namib Desert.

Commonwealth War GravesAs I set off I wanted to pay a visit to the Commonwealth war graves which sit just outside Aus up a dirt track on the edge of town. Here lie the men of The Protectorate Garrison Regiment. They lost their lives in WW1 and now lay in graves that are tended regularly and signposted so that visitors may show their respects. A stark reminder of as we approach the 100 anniversary of the beginning of the First World War. Time to reflect on the many millions of men and women who died from ALL parts of the world. If only we could say it’s been a lesson learned.

New KTM customer...The first two kilometres of my ride was on a beautifully smooth, wonderful tar road. Then I turned off towards Helmeringhausen, my first fuel stop of the day. Not just fuel for the bike but for me too. It’s really important to keep up the water intake out here. With the wind and the sun it’s very easy to de-hydrate when riding. If you get to the stage where you feel thirsty then you have probably already started to go down hill. I have to say that so far I have been ok for fuel on this trip. I had heard stories of no fuel for hundreds of miles…..maybe that lies ahead of me. Anyway the lady ( Cynthia ) at the fuel stop was very keen to have a look over the Beast. Tried to get her to sit on it but she was too scared.. Or afraid of heights maybe?

The road conditions are quite variable around this part of Namibia and I think I must have ridden just about all of them in the first 120kms. Some parts super easy and fun and others had my heart in my mouth several times. It’s may not be difficult to the more experienced sand riders but there where times I was looking for the sea!

imageAnyway onward towards the next town of Maltahohe for more fuel. Along the way I stopped at a road sign just opposite a settlement. Here I met Jan and his lovely family who where waiting for a lift into Maltahohe. I had some dried mango pieces in my tank bag which I shared with them and managed to even get the babies to speak to me…….they did so reluctantly as I don’t think they were too sure of this strangely dressed guy who just turned up and started talking. Jan is super proud of his family and wished me good luck traveling the road. Did he know something I didn’t?? Had to slightly divert by about 20 km to reach the town but arrived at midday so was a great excuse to have a bite to eat in the local shop next to the fuel pumps. Seemed every child in the town had decided to come down and look at the bike whilst I sat inside chatting with the owners Boetie and Joryn Niemand. This is probably one of my favourite things to do when traveling……eat! Oh and meet the locals of course. I always enjoy the chats and the interest you get from the ordinary people rather than the more formal service you find in a hotel or bigger cafe.

Desert riding It had been my intention to stay here until the heat died down a bit but I was melting just sitting still so I decided to soak everything I was wearing in water and get back on the road. I figured it was going to be hot no matter when I did it. It was already in the high forties. I had 190 Kms to ride further into the Namib dessert……what could possibly go wrong?? As it happened nothing went wrong, although I did have several heart stopping cheek clenching moments in the sand along the way…. Luckily my mate Ashly from KTM Cape Town had taken me out for some practise riding a few weeks before I started the trip. Some of it obviously went in as I stayed on and got through the big wobbles. Not sure how as my eyes where shut most of the time! Did I mention it was hot?? I passed Sossuvlei on route to my lodgings. I had every intention of visiting there but to be honest my head was cooked and I was struggling to concentrate. I stood for maybe 10 mins behind a road sign looking at the map to make sure I was heading the right way. It was getting hard work.

Beer o'clockThe good thing is I arrived at Namib Desert Lodge late afternoon and climbed into a nice cool shower. Heaven. Followed by a couple more heavenly cold beers. Photo only of the beers!! I have a fantastic view out from the porch of my room overlooking the petrified dunes of the Namib Desert. There are Oryx wandering too and from the waterhole just on the side of the lodge and some amazing bird life including sunbirds, weavers, genuine fowl and some wonderfully colourful Rosie Faced Love Birds. Like all the Gondwana properties they recycle all the grey water and use it to irrigate the plants and trees around the property. Responsible tourism at its best. Especially in an area like this that gets only 30mm rain on average per year. I am also very pleased to hear that they recently released 5 Giraffe into the area so I am keeping my eyes open and will bring you a photo if I can.

Fuel containersSomeone asked me the other day what the white things on the back of the panniers are. Well they are my spare fuel containers. I purchased these from eBay and the brackets for holding them in place from Bernie at Stahlkoffer. The problem I had initially was because the containers are black they where swelling up massively and I was very concerned about the petrol inside. I have covered them inside white bags to help reflect the sun and take some heat off. They do still swell but nowhere near as bad as before. IDEA!! Make them in white maybe! Also a tip given to me by Namibian Tourism office. Make sure the containers are empty when you cross the border or some customs will try and charge you duty for bringing in fuel! Noted.

Namib Desert Lodge.If you get the chance to visit this lodge then you really must treat yourself to the sundowner dune drive. The sunset is fantastic the drive across the dunes is great fun and to hear how they were formed is very impressive indeed. The best part for me? Just stop look and listen at the top. Beautiful!