I have to admit that after my ride earlier this year on a project with SANParks this trip had me even more excited. One of the reasons simply because I had been asked by Gondwana Collection in Namibia to check out their lodges across the country.
I went straight to the website and within seconds in was drawing a route map. This then snowballed into a trip that was to become AJs Ride for Rhinos.
Leaving the Saturday morning traffic behind me in Cape Town after a great breakfast and send off from some of the good folk that have been following the build up on Face Book and close friends I was soon to find myself heading up the N7 with the challenge of 550km of hot tar road to Springbok. To be honest the West Coast road has never been a favourite of mine as it does tend to go on a bit. Don’t get me wrong there are some awesome places to turn off to but the main road itself is a bit boring so should just be done fast to eat the miles. So that’s what I did. I had left Cape Town at 0900hrs on the dot SA time and arrived in Springbok around 15.45hrs. Not that fast you may think but having spend around 10mins at each of the 12 ( minimum) stop/go road works I think I did quite well.
Springbok on a Saturday night….not an awful lot happening for tourists unless you are going out in a group for dinner. I dined alone in the hotel restaurant and then took a walk to find a local bar. Found one had a beer and then felt decidedly unwell. Little did I realise that the ride in the heat and the large amount of time spent sitting in road works had taken it’s toll. Early to bed for me!
Leaving Springbok behind and with a air of excitement/in-trepidation/concern I headed for the Namibian border some mere 170kms away. The time flew by as being. Sunday there was almost no traffic which was a bonus at the roadworks as time and time again I got waved through as soon as I approached.
The border crossing with my own bike was to be a first for me. Firstly I visited 3 different windows at the SA side just to get out of the country then a short 2km ride up to Namibia customs. My first act was to strip my riding gear off…..top half!! Just to try and cool down a bit. It was now 40+C and not even mid day. I was pleasantly surprised with the helpfulness of the border guards and customs. Carnet was filled in correctly and I was sent on my way….” Don’t you want to look at the bike? ” I said confused… Not unless you have something on it that we should be looking at was the reply……..I’m outta here!
A quick fill up and probably one of the best milkshakes ever ( bar one….mmmm) at Wimpy just inside the Namibian border and I was set to do the last 210km to my destination. I have been told that when I see fuel I should get it. So before I pulled off the tar to get my first taste of Namibian gravel I was there was a fuel station just 1km further on from the turn. I headed up there to stick to the rules and suddenly panic set in…..it was closed! Not cos it was a Sunday but because they were completely refurbing the place. They had even dug out the tanks. So with another concerned 4x4driver I headed down to the village pub to ask where the next fuel was. It was either back at the border post or about 200km further north, neither where going to happen for me. But he said maybe just go back and look again at the fuel stop we had just come from. We did and sure enough they had a single pump working at the rear of the premises. I did suggest they put a sign out the front to let people know……the guy told me they jump up and down when cars slow down to look…..welcome to Africa.
I must say that I don’t think I have ever ridden in such intense heat. I had to shut the vents on the helmet as the airflow was so hot it was burning and drying my eyes. The gravel road into Canyon Road House was a little more sandy that I am used to with South African roads but looking back it was 70km of heart pumping excitement and great fun!!
Arriving at the accommodation was very cool indeed. Maybe just 20 Kms away from the camp the skies opened and it poured some massive rain drops. My English self firstly thought, damn I will have to put the wets on. My very hot and dust self said however sod that enjoy it…it’s only water!. First impressions of this Gondwana camp…….beautiful. Campsite to the rear of the property and some very nice rooms with a/c. The bar and dining area as well as the grounds are full of old cars and trucks with the whole place manned by some super efficient staff. Just one night here then tomorrow a short ride down to another Gondwana property to see some of their conservation efforts.
Whilst at Canyon Roadhouse I was approached by a guy that had obviously seem my number plate and had come over to chat. James Morrison is also riding around Southern Africa on a honda 200 cc trail bike. He is spending as long as it takes purely for pleasure. If you want to see more about James’s travels then go to www.whereisjames.com. The real smokey part of this is that we live approx 7 miles from each other in Bedfordshire UK!!! Love your attitude James. Safe riding mate!
Tomorrow is a very short ride down the road to Canyon Lodge. Tell you later how that goes!