Buya Ikhaya (Come Home)

Charlie and Rensche are coming home by riding motorbikes from London to Cape Town.

We hope that our stories from the road will motivate you to give a donation to our chosen charity Beautifulgate who are a Christian organisation helping Aids orphans in Southern Africa. Please follow the link in the column on the right.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Where are we now?

Nothing came of the interview in Swakopmund for Charles so we went back to Plan A and have found a flat in Port Elizabeth and are just about to start job hunting. We are trying hard not to be sucked into the day to day mundane rat race. We also hope that we have learnt form this trip what little you can get by with without being sucked back into the world of competitive commercialism….we have decided not to buy a TV (for now).

PS we will be loading more photo's onto the blog over the next few days as our Photo album had expired and we are unable to renew the contract as their system does not have a payment option for South African post codes. But it still seem to be accessible at the moment so have a look while its still active!! (Namibia and SA are updated). Also we are working on the embarrassing spelling mistakes on the blog....we can only blame dodgy key boards and fast typing due to expensive Internet Cafe's...!?!

These are some of the people we met on the road in Africa and their relationships to each other.

South Africa - The End...and The Beginning

19/03/08 - Bellville - Cape Agulhas THE END

So the final leg today to Cape Agulhas. We said our good-byes to the family and headed off, us in our bakkie with the two bikes on the back. Along the coast the scenery is again spectacular. At Cape Agulhas we did the photo standing on our boxes as we weren't allowed to ride the bakkie to the Southern most point of Africa. And with that Buya Ikhaya has come to an end. It still hasn't quite hit us and we do feel a bit sad that this wonderful experience of 7 months has now finished. But with that the new exciting adventure of setting up in South Africa begins. In due course we will be updating the blog with some interesting stats and helpful hints and tips so please pop in again. Cheers for now.
Rensche's final thoughts: It never really occurred to me ever to do a trip like this. But one thing I know: if I could manage this then anyone can. Being in my 30's I did not really have a burning desire to get a motorcycle license and even when I got my license in 2006 I was what you would call a "nervous fair-weather rider". Which meant that I did not really get a lot of miles under my belt in the UK before this trip!! I suffered countless cruel jokes at the motorcycle dealers when looking for a bike for me telling Charlie to hang me from the ceiling, break my bones, or trade me in for someone taller as I am 5 foot 1 inch and only have a 28 inch inner leg. But Charlie was determined to hammer and fiddle with each bike I owned (3 in total) so at least I could get my big toes on the ground. (Why are there no bikes for us short bikers ?). I had no off-road experience except a few falls in Salisbury Plains on "fair-weather" weekends in the UK. We decided to let my heavy BMW go for a much lighter 250cc scrambler. It did have hassles on the way but was easy to fix...and pick up in the sand! And it did make it to Cape Point in the end even after all the problems it had and all the "experts" telling us it won't make it. We had no sophisticated equipment as we had no space for it and no formal mechanical training. All you really need to do this trip is a bit of common sense, a bit of humility, lots of prayers and a good sense of humour. And after doing it on a bike I think there is just no other way of doing this trip. It was amazing. The only problem I had on this trip that caused us untold stress and anguish was the continuous hassle with banks and paying bills due to modern systems and procedures that seem to be aimed at catching you out. The only way I can see to avoid this problem is to leave someone you trust with all your bank passwords and a few blank cheques. (Down with Barclaycard!!!) ****Rensche finally managed to close her Barclaycard account in June 2009. The fraud that occurred in September 2007 was sorted out but Barclaycard insisted on honouring transactions on a closed account and persistently charged her interest on a 0 balance.****

So now the preparation begins for our next trip...

18/03/08 - Green Point - Bellville

7 months on the road today!!! Organizing insurance for our new car was a big shock. SA is expensive. We picked up the bakkie in the afternoon and spent another beautiful day in Cape Town with the family. We spent quite a while dismantling the bikes and fitting them in the back of the bakkie under the canopy! (Carmen flew back to Germany this morning)

17/03/08 - Sea Point - Green Point

In the morning we headed across to Stellenbosch to test drive the bakkie. It was a bit stressful riding on the National road at 90km/h while cars sped past us at 130km/h+. After test driving two bakkies we bought a Isuzu (Vauxhall) KB 240 LE 4X4 single cab for a good price as informed by Rensche's family. We decided to collect it the next day. With that we headed across to the bank to organize finance for the bakkie and then headed back to Cape Town to Ashanti Backpackers where Carmen was waiting for us. We set up camp and took a taxi to the V&A Waterfront for a stroll around. We spent the evening at Beluga's with Carmen, Katja and Alex (we met them in Tanzania), a German couple who Carmen met in Sudan and the backpackers we met in Peponi Beach. Small world again! 16/03/08 - Bellville - Sea Point – 100km

The wind died down a bit this morning and it was a clear sky so we decided to set off for the obligatory photo at Cape Point. Along the way we stopped off at Rensche's Grandmother. It was a beautiful sunny day and it seemed the whole of Cape Town was on their way to Cape Point! There were traffic queues everywhere as there was a Naval Festival in Simon's Town. We managed to get to a very windy Cape Point at about lunch time. Hanging on to the bikes in the strong wind fighting for a gap between the loads of tourist buses we eventually got the opportunity to pose at the Cape Point sign. WE MADE IT!!! The Odometer reading read 42,862km. We left London on 17,100km. So that makes it 25,762km start to finish WOW!!!We took a beautiful road back along the coast to Chapman's Peak where we met Jan and Jo (last saw them at Peponi beach in Tanzania). They arrived in Cape Town 3 days ago. After a lovely chat overlooking the splendid view across to Hout Bay we headed for Sea Point. Paul and Zoe, who had come down West Africa 2 years ago on two Transalps 650cc and had done a loop of Southern Africa recently on two 250cc Baja's, had offered us a bed for the night. So we spent a lovely evening at a local restaurant exchanging "tales from the road". Thanks guys, you were our inspiration from day one. 15/03/08 - Paternoster – Bellville – 168km

The notorious South Easter was blowing this morning at storm strength. To avoid being blown off the road we took the Malmesbury road through the back to Bellville via Durbanville and so avoided the stormy coast. It was throwing us all over the road and at one point we were going at 60km/h in the hard shoulder. At last we got to Bellville where another one of Rensche's uncles, Uncle Exul, lives and had another lovely braai. We spent the evening contemplating our "next trip", telling stories and laughing at their travel stories through Southern Africa.

14/03/08 - Gekko Backpackers,Citrusdal – Paternoster – 160km

We made our way down the West Coast today to go and visit Rensche's Uncle Jannie in Velddrift where we had a light lunch at Port Owen. We then battled the strong south easter down to Paternoster, stopping at Vredenburg for some Droe Wors (dried beef sausage). We finally arrived at another uncle, Uncle Daantjie. There we had a nice a braai and caught up with all the family happenings. Paternoster used to be a little peaceful fishing village on the West Coast but foreign buyers have pushed property prices up to the point where you pay R2million for a postage stamp size plot where you can only smell the sea.

13/03/08 - Algeria,Cederburg - Gekko Backpackers,Citrusdal – 25km

It was a really chilly morning and after a quick breakfast we set off on the gravel road to Citrusdal. The scenery was beautiful. At last we got to the tar road and after 10 km we came across the Gekko Backpacker's sign. It looked nice and we knew that Carmen had stayed here a few days ago. We spent a nice afternoon chatting to the owner who was very optimistic about the "New" South Africa. This is really refreshing after all the negative talk we've had with other South Africans after the latest low: "No more major development in South Africa due to power shortage". He also mentioned that Clive and Denise were here 3 weeks ago. Great news since we haven't heard from them again since leaving Livingstone. Hopefully we will bump into them again before they leave South Africa. We stayed the night in our tent and paid the cheapest rates in Southern Africa at R40 per person per night.

12/03/08 - Springbok - Algeria,Cederburg – 367km

For breakfast we had the best omelet in the world (and the cheapest) at the Springbok cafe. It is an institution to have a meal at this stop-over and have a look at their extensive rock collection and books. After checking emails and buying a SA sim card we headed off towards Vanrhynsdorp. The south east wind picked up and we were hanging onto the bikes for dear life while making way for fast cars overtaking us. We had a head wind all the way leaving us exhausted. We stopped in Vanrhynsdorp and while having a snack two guys came over and we got chatting and soon we determined that one of the guys (Michael Hare) had been in the same school (Woodridge College) as Charles although in different years. Mike recommended a campsite in the Cederberg so we headed to Clanwilliam and took the gravel road to Algeria campsite run by Cape Nature Conservation. Although a bit pricey at R215 we set up camp in very beautiful surroundings.11/03/08 - Noordoewer,Namibia - Springbok,South Africa – 144km

The Canadians left this morning on their way north up the West Coast of Africa. We spent the morning hanging around the campsite on the banks of the Orange River overlooking South Africa. Having finished the washing we both agreed that we were bored out of our minds and decided to break camp and head across the border. Immigration was straight forward on the Namibian side. We crossed the Orange river into South Africa - home at last! After a warm welcome by a police officer we were quickly processed by immigration. We then went to Customs and informed them that we want to import the bikes. They immediately asked for our purchase invoice which we didn't have. Fortunately Howard at Conquest Motorcycles had provided us with a letter valuing Charlie's bike between 650 and 750 pounds just before we left the UK. The letter with letterhead was acceptable as an invoice. They then informed us that the bikes would have to be processed by a forwarding company of which there were two a kilometer up the road. Charlie had to leave Rensche as surety while he took his bike to the forwarding company where they prepared the worksheets and importation forms at R100 per bike. Back at the customs office Charles were told he had to pay import duties there and then and they only accept cash in Rand. As returning residents one of the bikes could be imported for free but the other was 0 duties or excise but 14% vat. (zero duties because below 250cc bike). We had no cash on us in Rand and there is no ATM's on the South African border. So Charlie had to cross back into Namibia to draw cash and exchange it for Rand at the petrol station in Noordoewer again leaving Rensche as surety. Fortunately the Namibian officials let Charlie through without going through passport control again. Back in SA the custom officials said all was OK except that our carnets had to be stamped out by Namibian customs. So Charlie headed back to Namibia again with the carnets. There he was informed that carnets are not processed at this border because it is not an exit point from the Southern Africa Common Economic Zone. After some pleading the official was happy to oblige and stamp our carnets. RELIEF!!! We are not certain but our understanding now is that if you want to import your vehicle to South Africa you must get your exit stamp before entering and pay duty at the point of entering the Economic Zone (in our case exit stamp in Zambia and import duty at Kazangulu border in Botswana). All payments made and paperwork in order we headed for Springbok where we booked into the Springbok Cafe and had the nicest and cheapest burgers since starting our trip.

Wonderful Namibia

10/03/08 - HelmeringhausenNoordoewer – 461km

Today was a really long day in the saddle. We got on the road at 08h30 and quickly got to Bethanie where we enjoyed a short stretch of tar road. Turning off at Seeheim the gravel road had two large signs: Road Closed. But a car approached us from ahead and said the road was fine. 1km down this gravel road we came to a drift that was very muddy. Charlie went first and got bogged down to such an extent that he had to walk alongside the bike while riding it with Rensche pushing. The rest of the road was very straight and boring with a bit of excitement at the Holoog River concrete drift where we rode through a strong current of ankle deep water. We finally made it to Grunau where we stopped at the Shell truck stop to convey a message from Heino to the owner. After a brief chat we took the long and very boring tar road down to Noordoewer. We booked in at Felix Unite Adventure Camp (recommended by Rene back in Ethiopia) where we bumped into the Canadians from Cool Runnings Backpackers in Malawi. They made it all the way down to Cape Town down the East Route and are now on their way up the West Coast, circumnavigating Africa. We spent the evening exchanging GPS points and information about good campsites etc.

09/03/08 - NeurasHelmeringhausen – 246km
We had about 20 water crossings today so the novelty has worn off a bit. But at least no mud baths just muddy boots and a few curses. After a lovely breakfast we said our good-byes after a lovely visit with Allan, Sylvia and Andrea and took the D850 to Maltahoe, crossing at least 10 muddy drifts along the way. We then headed south towards Helmeringhausen. The landscape after the recent heavy rains is stunning with all the hills green. This is a wonderful and rare opportunity to see Namibia at its most beautiful. Along the way Charlie came a cross a 2m long Cape Cobra which reared its head to bike seat height as Charlie rode past and then promptly slithered off the road before Rensche arrived on the scene. We booked into the Helmeringhausen Hotel Campsite.
08/03/08 - Neuras

We joined Allan after breakfast with some tourists on another wine tour. It is amazing what they accomplished here after 10 years. We lounged around in the afternoon and in the evening we had a potjie (South African stew made in a big cast iron pot on the fire).

07/03/08 - Solitaire – Neuras – 105km

This morning we had another slice of Apple Pie for breakfast while watching the overlanders leave. We had a restless night of thunder and lightening and strong winds but the tent held out. And at least the overlanders surrounding us were tuck into bed early. The scenery along the road was spectacular with green hills and white flowers blossoming. In desert Namibia!!! We took the C14 via Bullspoort to Neuras Wine Farm which is owned by Allan and Sylvia Walkden-Davis. Allan is an old school friend of Charlie's dad. It has been reported that they own the driest wine farm in the world on the edge of the Namib desert. Along the way there we had to cross a few rivers. At the farm Allan and Sylvia welcomed us along with their daughter Andrea. After a quick lunch we went for a tour of the wine farm. The vineyard is supplied by water from 5 fountains on the farm. Twice a month they flood the vineyards from dams fed by the fountains. They don't use any fertilizer - the water in the dams contains all the nutrients the vineyards need, mostly from bird droppings. The reeds surrounding the dams help to cool the warm eastern winds which creates an ideal micro-climate for the wine yard. The grapes are Shiraz and Merlot and the wine contain no chemicals or histamines, colourants or flavourants. Allan only add a little Sulphur Dioxide to stabilise it. Due to the small size of the vineyard Allan only produces about 2000 bottles a year and currently only supplies one restaurant in Windhoek where it sells for about R800 a bottle. Anybody else who wants a bottle must go and fetch it at the farm (after tasting this wine we would recommend the trip!!). Allan and Sylvia have hosted a number of specialists including Oz Clarke from the UK who were all impressed by this little wine farm in the desert which is miracle in its own right. In the evening we sampled a few bottles of the last 3 years harvests with some other visitors and fresh Kingklip fish.

06/03/08 - Swakopmund – Solitaire – 296km

After a restless and very hot night we were on the road at 07h30. We followed the newly upgraded gravel road behind the dunes between Swakop and Walvisbay narrowly missing a thunder shower. The road was in very good condition and it felt really good to back on the road again. The landscape was very beautiful and the further inland we went the greener it became. Passing through the Kuiseb and Garab passes was also very impressive with interesting rock formations.We arrived at Solitaire at 14h30 and immediately bought two legendary apple pies from Moose MacGregor. (not family of Ewan although Moose mentioned that Ewan and his whole entourage stopped by very briefly before heading off again in a cloud of dust). We were advised to camp in the first few campsites as the overlander trucks tend to camp further back. We set up tent and went for a swim and watched the first overlander truck, Nomad Tours, arrive and pull in directly in front of our tent, obstructing the washing area and completely annexing the ablution block! And using our braai area!Shortly afterwards another truck, Africa Travel Co, arrived and set up camp next to and behind us, against our bikes, leaving us totally surrounded. This while a whole area has been set apart for them! These truck are mostly filled by 18 to 24 year old drunken loud mouths. Not good company for long term travellers. With that we walked to the bar and had a beer...

05/03/08 - Swakopmund

We are planning to leave early this morning for Solitaire but not before stopping at the Swakopmund Christian Academy of which Phillip, Liza's husband, is the owner and headmaster. They started the school a few years ago. Just before finishing packing the bikes we noticed that Charlie's back wheel is flat again! And then when we looked at our spare tubes we noticed that they looked a bit perished from being strapped to the front of the mud guard all this time. Charlie decided to take Rensche's bike quickly to get some new tubes at Suzuki in Swakop. Just before leaving we noticed that Rensche's front wheel tube has moved and therefore also a risk for the valve being torn out. So off with Rensche's front wheel to try and twist the inner tube back to the correct position. We are obviously not leaving Swakopmund today! After struggling with Rensche's tube Charlie at last set off to get new tubes at Suzuki. At this time it was about 9am already and we were sweating in the heat and humidity. After changing the tyre we at last managed to get to the school at about 11am. There the kids climbed all over the bikes and listened to our stories of our trip. 04/03/08 - Swakopmund

Charles got a flat tyre right in front of the hospital in Swakop today. The valve was torn out again just like in Malawi. We think he might think he's still on his 900cc Yamaha Diversion from the UK and try and pull away too fast at traffic lights causing the inner tube to move over time... Carmen let us know that she managed to get to Cape Town safely today. She has taken her bike to BMW in Cape Town where they fixed her bike and will be fitting DAKAR plastics to her bike to replace the broken fairings.

29/02/08 - 03/08/08 - Swakopmund

Rensche's parents, Ryk and Anita and brother, Francois, are visiting over this long weekend. Her sister, Monica, had to stay behind in Johannesburg to work on university assignments. They have been trying to meet up with us on our trip for months but every time something came up: Kenya's problems, expensive flights to Vic Falls or bike problems. Its quite difficult to meet someone en-route since you can never plan more than a week or two in advance on a trip like this! We spent the whole weekend going through 6000 photo's with added commentary reliving our trip. It was quite a shock for us to see all our old photos of Sudan, Middle East and Europe again. It felt like it happened in another life time. Rensche's parents were pleased to see that we suffered no ill effects from the trip, we were healthy and happy, looking forward to the next trip. They could not believe that we managed for so long with so little on such small bikes. Anything is possible!! The weekend went too quickly chatting and spending time in Swakop's coffee shops. But we will see them again in a couple of weeks when we have to go up to Johannesburg in a BIG pick-up to fetch all the boxes we sent from London to Johannesburg via ship in August 07.

26/02/08 - 28/02/08 - Swakopmund

Lazy days in Swakopmund. Going for breakfasts, playing with Ian and Isabel (Liza and Phillip's kids) and catching up with the family. Charles has an interview for a job in Namibia tomorrow

Saturday, March 22, 2008

We Made it!!!

Just a quick update to tell you all that we made it to Cape Point on 16 March 2008!!! (Almost 7 months to the day after leaving London)

Sorry for the delay in updating our blog but we've tried to do it via email (didn't work) and the cost of internet cafe's in SA are high! So hopefully we will be buying our own laptop in the next 2 weeks and fill in all the blanks. We made it to Cape Agulhas on 19 March a pick-up which we bought in Cape Town on the 17 March. The bikes are loaded in the back of our bakkie (pick-up) now and we are making our way to PE, via the Klein Karoo National Kunsfees (National Afrikaans Art Festival), where we will settle within a month or so. Hopefully. You will be happy to know that Rensche's bike is still ticking away happily but we decided on the bakkie not to push our luck and to avoid the SA drivers... And they laugh at us in all our gear! Lunatics.

Thank you for all your support and enquiries. We really appreciate it and hope you will return to our blog once it has been updated and beautified!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Yummy Namibia

26/02/08 - Swakopmund
Today we went for another walk along the beach and in the morning popped into town to catch up on emails and have a last breakfast together.

At lunch time Carmen was all packed and headed off as planned as she wants to be in Cape Town early next week and cannot wait for us. We hope to catch up with her before she flies back to Germany.

25/02/08 - Swakopmund

Charles went through great pains today to carefully build out the frame of Rensche's bike. And we are happy to announce it has been properly welded. And all put together again! Carmen, who is visiting for a few days, is having real trouble trying to find out how to fly her bike back to Germany from Cape Town or Windhoek with herself. Any ideas?
24/02/08 - Swakopmund
We spent some time uploading photo's and sending out CV's. Especially since we have not yet heard any replies from employers in the Eastern Cape for which we were aiming. Please have a look at our photo albums (Malawi and Zambia) and Route map as it have been updated.

23/02/08 - Swakopmund
What an easy day walking around the German town of Swakopmund! Elize arrived at lunch time and we were very interested to hear of all the opportunities for work in Namibia! Will keep you update!

22/02/08 - Brandberg - Swakopmund

We said good-bye to the other bikers, saying we will probably see them at Spitzkoppe. They advised us to give the White Lady Bushman painting a miss as it seems to have been painted over. So we set off towards Spitzkoppe. Charles gave Rensche's bike a go on the gravel road and found it much more skittish than his bike. We can only assume its because of the lowering link placing the wheels closer together and the new Dessert tyre on the front (changed from the Scorpion tyre in Sudan and Chinese cheapy in Windhoek).In hindsight it is not such a good idea to lower a bike so severely as it changes the dynamics of the bike. We will have to look for a new solution to a old problem in South Africa. We had a 100m long mud river crossings. Charles's bike fell over in the mud and Rensche and Charles both got plastered with mud while pushing bikes out of the mud. Just after we arrived at Spitzkoppe the other bikers arrived. We had lunch and decided to head for Swakopmund just 120km away (on tar) where Charles's sister lives. Arriving in Swakop we headed straight for the sea and stopped next to the old jetty for some photo's. It felt like we made it!!! We celebrated with coffee and apple pie at Cafe Trev. Unfortunately now the other side of the frame of Rensche's bike has also cracked. But at least we have a nice bed tonight and home comforts!

21/02/08 - Xaragu - Brandberg, White Lady Lodge

We got up at 04h00 this morning to watch the lunar eclipse. Very beautiful but was it worth it? It was already hot when we left at 08h00 to go to the Petrified Forest. This consists of fossilised wood formed about 250 million years ago. The cells in the trees are substituted with minerals like iron and magnesium which turns it into stone. The rings and bark on the massive tree trunks can clearly be seen. We also saw some Welwischia plants. There is one in Swakopmund that is about 2000 years old. The ones we saw were about 500 years old. They only have 2 leaves which are shredded by the wind into a number of leaves. After a cold drink we headed out to Brandberg. It was hard going on bad gravel and Rensche's bike was all over the place. A few muddy crossings here and there. Over a hill a dark cloud followed us and just before the camp site turn off we were hit by a hail storm! At last we arrived at the camp site through a long sandy track. At the camp site we bumped into Africa Motion Tours, a company that supply tourists with bikes and guided tours through Namibia. This time round they had 3 elderly gentleman from Germany, the oldest 75 years old! We joined them in the evening for some Damara song and dance from the local community and chatted well into the night. 20/02/08 - Xaragu
We had a difficult night sleeping due to the heat and we almost wished it would rain. At about 8ish we decided to go to Wondergat Sinkhole. The road was quite bad and Rensche's bike was more skittish than usual on the gravel. So going was slow in the heat. By the time we reached the San Rock Engravings we were already covered in sweat. The engravings are between 2000 and 5000 years old and are engraved because it was used for ritual purposes. Most of the engravings are of Rhino and Giraffe which were used as symbols for rain. There is also an interesting engraving of a lion with 5 toes which probably signifies the shaman or healer going into trance. Interestingly there are also engravings of seals and penguins which shows that the San people was nomadic. After that we went to see the Orrelpype (Organ Pipes) which is a miniature version of the Giant's Coarse Way in Ireland. After that it was the Burnt Mountain which looks like a big rock of coal. Unfortunately the road to Twyfelfontein is filled with nasty corrugations and when we returned to the camp we noticed that the only bolts keeping Rensche's topbox in place have now sheared off. When Charles tried to unscrew the remainder of the bolts out he found them very rusted and needed some persuasion at the garage of the camp site. New bolts were fitted and a new rod made to keep the seat and luggage rack into place. The welding will have to wait. It was 39C today. A high pitch aluminium noise have developed in Rensche's engine.

19/02/08 - Warmquelle - Twyfelfontein,Xaragu

Water crossings seem to be the theme of the last few days. We survived the washed away road down the mountain from Warmquelle just-just and started on the C-grade gravel road again. Bad gravel and rocky dry river crossings. We were still exhausted from the previous day and the heat didn't help. The vibration of Rensche's bike did something to the rev's on her bike and soon Charles had to adjust it as it was screaming down the hills. We started the day in relatively green bush but the terrain slowly changed and by the time we hit the Huab river it was a very hot day with a landscape of rock and mountains. We saw Springbok, Giraffe and Eland on the way. At the Xaragu campsite we followed the 2km dirt track to a lovely campsite. By this time it was very hot and we could feel the sweat running down our backs. At the bar after a few Rock Shandies (soda and lemonade with a dash of bitters) and a dip in the pool we were all right again! There are quite a few rescued animals at the site. Unfortunately most in cages as they could not be re-introduced into the wild, including a baboon on a long chain. Baboons are too dangerous to let them run wild in the camp grounds even when "tame". There is also a very cute meerkat running around making it's home in our tent. In the evening we had a lovely meal with the other guests of snoek, lamb chops and salads. As it was one of the guest's birthday the cooks sang Happy Birthday in English and Damara language. Damara language is very similar to San (Bushman) full of clicks. It was still very hot, 25C. For some reason Rensche's bike doesn't stall anymore when pulling in the clutch. (the problem we had in Windhoek). The bike is fixing itself!

18/02/08 - Opuwu - Warmquelle

Today is 6 months on the road. After buying bread and rusks we headed out of Opuwu and took the C47 south. Note that A and B roads in Namibia are tar roads which makes a C-road a "good" well graded gravel road. Well that applies during the dry season. The whole region received heavy rains two weeks ago and every kilometer of the road showed evidence of damage with the sand washed out leaving course gravel and most drifts left with deep gulleys and sand beds. We had to cross a few major river beds over boulders and rocks. Joubert's Pass was impressive with one section so steep that it has been tarred in the middle of this harsh area. (why could they not tar the whole road??) Approaching Sesfontein it became very hot, and we had to take a detour through a river bed while a road crew were finishing work on a new bridge across the Skelm river. We stopped at the Sesfontein fort Lodge but were told the campsite was closed this time of the year. In 1995 the owners got permission to take over the old German fort and renovate it converting it into a lodge. Where Fanta's cost you N$15 each! (RRP is N$4). As we could not camp we headed across to Warmquelle and took a VERY rocky road to the Ongongo Hot Springs and were totally exhausted when we arrived. This time both Rensche and Carmen dropped their bikes while negotiating tricky rocky sections. It was like being on a mountain goat. The camp owner, Leanna, provided us with beers and apologised for the state of the washed away road. She directed us to the waterfall where we took a lovely cooling dip. Charles remembered the pool and waterfall from his childhood days when his family took a trip to Damaraland. After the swim we had a nice long chat with Leanna, set up camp and watched the beautiful view over the mountains as the sunset. (Rensche's welding broke again-the topbox is now only held in place by two screws and a strap).

17/02/08 - Epupa Falls - Opuwu - 185km

It rained quite a bit during the night and we were wondering what the roads were like! Rensche's welding has also not survived the corrugations from the previous day. She took the lead at a slow 30km/h with her broken frame trying to avoid potholes and corrugations. Charles and Carmen followed in third and second gear. The road was a bit easier than yesterday, the sand harder from the rain. But there were a lot of water crossings, small streams and muddy ruts. We at last got to the river, which bridge was completely under a strong current of water! We waddled through the mud on the bikes to a bit of concrete on the bridge and then Charles took over and rode the bikes through the water to the other side. Rensche was sure all these water crossings were not in the brochure! Finally we got to a huge water puddle across the road. We were not sure if we could cross. A government pick up arrived and rudely told us that we stopped on the wrong side of the road. We were too amazed to answer him back that this is not a road, its a river bank! He went through no problem and Charles took the plunge. No problem but he also took Rensche's lowered bike which almost had water up to the spark plug. Carmen went through with heart stopping speed and skillful correction maneuvers... At Opuwu we aimed for a welder to get Rensche's bike welded again. There we noticed that the threaded rod holding the seat and luggage rack in place has broken too. At the moment her bike is vibrating so much everything is taking strain. We welded everything we could at the welder rather untidily for N$150 but it will have to do although he burnt more holes through the metal than welding. We also welded a new big foot onto Charles's side-stand which he lost somewhere on the road today and headed for the lodge.

16/02/08 - Opuwu - Epupa Falls - 185km
This morning Rensche's bike had to be kickstarted one more time in the cold with a bit of swearing. We think (and hope) its because she's been putting on her front light as is the custom in Namibia. So we are back on "Energy Saving" again! We had about 500m of tar and then to Epupa falls on a graded gravel road. It became really hot and we could see evidence of rain everywhere. We crossed a few muddy river beds and to our dismay passed quite a few begging kids. Its like being in Ethiopia all over again. There are also a lot of Himba people on the road but we didn't stop to take photo's as it is quite expensive. The graded road soon turned into a two-track. The road was really sandy here and there with corrugations and every few kilometers or so we had a washed away dry river bed to cross. At least no water but mud and sand. Carmen had a slip with her bike but nothing serious. We crossed the river via the bridge that was in flood just a few days ago and carried on up and down the track in the heat. At last after 5 hours we got to Epupa falls and stopped in the Epupa falls community run campsite right next to a very strong flowing Kunene river. Unfortunately they asked for N$60 per person for camping (we expected N$50 which the Germans paid a few days ago) and decided to camp at the lodge next door for N$75 for a bit more luxury. It was amazing to watch the river in full flood and even more to know that Angola is just across the water. We went to look at the Epupa Falls which was really beautiful. The dark clouds gathered and it started to rain.

15/02/08 - Outjo - Opuwu - 435km
We got up really early after a late night to watch Tannie Juliana give milk to a calf, whose mother was not producing any milk. But unfortunately the calf was sick and had really bad diarrhoea and we don't think it will make it. Juliana also showed us a very old milk churner which she uses to make cream. The farm foreman had a go at welding Rensche's bike at the crack in the frame which was now a very definite break in the frame. We said our good-byes and were on the road at about 08h30. We made good time and arrived at Kamanjab at 11h00 where we met Micheal and Sebastian (the Germans from Vic Falls and Botswana) at Falkenberg garage where they were having their landrover's brakes fixed again! It appears their mad watery dash across Botswana damaged the break discs so badly that they just keep eating up fresh break pads within 500km. After chatting for an hour or two and learning that over half the road from Kamanjab to Opuwu has been tarred we left. The road follows the boundary fence of the Etosha pan but we only saw a herd of springbok. Just after the end of the tar we came across a contractor crew working on opening the temporary road which had flooded. One of the guys directed us around a large muddy section and to ride along the edge of the base course. As we pulled up Charlie recognised the guy as Wiseman, who he worked with in the past at Grinaker about 6 years ago. The rest of the gravel road was well graded and smooth and the last tarred section got us to Opuwu in good time. We headed for the Opuwu country Hotel campsite as being the safest option in town for camping. After dragging them half-way across the world we at last had our Boboti instant camp food sachets for supper which didn't taste that bad but didn't look so good... Arriving in town and earlier today Rensche's bike had to be kickstarted again... We hope its not the old Sudan problem. The campsite is swarming with huge Mopani worm moths.14/02/08 - Windhoek - Outjo - 367km
After a quick sandwich at a coffee shop with Charlie's mom and a turn at a bakery to buy homemade rusks we took the road NORTH for the first time since leaving the UK. Half way between Okhanja and Otwarongo we turned off at Sukses to take the gravel road up to Otjo via Kalkveld but 1km down the road the road was flooded as far as the eye could see. So we turned back and took the tar road. All along the road there were large pools and most of the usually dry river beds were full of water. Arriving in Outjo we quickly filled up with petrol and bought some droewors (dried out beef sausage) and headed out to Rensche's family farm: Teufelsburg. Arriving at the farm we received a very warm welcome from Auntie Juliana and Uncle Hans who Rensche last saw about 16 years ago. Her cousin, Dederick, also arrived and took us for a spin on the beautiful farm up some very rocky hills in his 4X4 bakkie. The farm is in the Ugab Valley and beautifully green after the recent rains. Hard to believe that only 6 weeks ago they lost 4 cattle due to drought. There is also a plague of commando worms at the moment on the farm and Hans got some FREE Japanese insecticide and 2 stroke pump sprayer from the authorities to try and control it. In the evening we had the best Kudu steaks and T-bone and ate too much again! It was really great to catch up while playing with their huge Boerbull dogs. The farm is mainly for cattle but they also get people mainly from overseas to come and hunt.

13/02/08 - Windhoek
So early this morning we went to pick up Rensche's bike. Oliver was dismayed at the state of her engine. The moving crankshaft had done a lot of damage. He thinks that it is terminal. He managed to get the bike to idle but it still stalls when pulling in the clutch. He cannot guarantee that the bike will make it to Cape Town without a complete engine rebuild. He also found some bits missing from the carb which explains the erratic throttle. This news depressed us a bit but since the bike has been running on borrowed time from Cairo we decided to still do our planned trip through the north of Namibia and then back to Swakopmund. We still only asked for a tune-up and service. Oliver only charged us for an hour's labour, new chain and oil change and carb service and it only came to N$1000 (80 pounds)!!. He also mentioned that he wouldn't mind having a go at taking the covers completely of and having a good look at the engine. At a later date perhaps! What a nice guy! Afterwards we (Rensche, Charlie and Carmen) went to Beautiful Gate Namibia. They look after Pre-Primary and other orphans due to AIDS or broken homes during the day. We had a lot of fun with the kids sitting on our bikes and telling them our stories. Beautiful Gate get no government funding and is totally reliant on donations. They provide children from 3 years up with 2 meals a day, education and much needed love. Most of the people working there are volunteers . Aids in Namibia is now at 20% and in some areas in the North of the country it is as high as 40%. The children are usually brought up by over-burdened family members, usually the grandmothers, when their parents die. Still they were just happy to hold your hand, get a quick hug or be picked up for a few minutes. We were given a tour of all the facilities, including a youth area for the older children where they can come in the evenings, and an area where children can come and do their homework including a library. It is amazing what people can accomplish. We left them deep in thought about the future of these children and Africa as a whole. In the afternoon Charles changed Rensche's tyres and while doing so noticed horrors of horrors a crack in the frame. We can only assume it's from a pothole she knocked in Malawi on the dust track from Flametree. It will have to wait until we are in Swakop to be welded...

12/02/08 - Windhoek
Early this morning we were off to Honda to get Rensche's bike sorted. We were so relieved when Oliver, the mechanic, immediately spotted the oil leak from the front upper gasket. We explained to him that we only want to tune the bike - not "fix" it - to get us to PE. He laughed, understanding our predicament, and when he heard the noise from the engine he mockingly walked away. It was clear he thought he's got a challenge today! We passed the time waiting for the bike at Elize's house, updating our blog. Charles changed his oil and tyres. About mid-morning Oliver called regarding the status of the bike. He said the mechanic in Cairo may have replaced the damanged bits in the engine but he did not measure the crankshaft settings properly when building it back together and now the old problem is back worse than ever. The Crankshaft is misaligned and now the main bearings may be damaged. That's were the noise comes from. He also said that the carb was full of dust thanks to the K&N filter. We were quite impressed by his good service. In the afternoon we went looking for an internet cafe to upload our 100's of photo's. We found 4 internet cafe's in the Namibian Capital but none prepared to let us download our photo's or even use a back-up disc we copied it on. Unfortunately Elize's dial-up connection won't allow us to upload to the blog either so photo's will have to wait! In the evening we had a nice get-together at Elize's house with about 8 of her friends and people Charles have grown up with. They have all been watching our progress on the blog. We had lovely Boboti with yellow rice and Chicken pie and again had too much to eat!

11/02/08 - Windhoek
So this morning we got up early (Charles went for a walk with his mom at 05h30...) and after breakfast we went to sort out the bikes. First to BMW with Carmen's bike. We left her there and off to Honda for Rensche's bike. They could only see Rensche's bike the next day so back to BMW. There they'd managed to plug the BMW into the laptop but seemed to be unable to interpret the results! Lack of training? They also couldn't give Carmen exact information on the availability of parts so she will have to have the problem sorted out at a later date as the mechanics said it will be OK. Apparently the Computor said the problem with her electrics occured 200 times! Carmen rode her bike to Elize's house but even in that short distance it switched off three times. After all that we all went for lunch and then went shopping....and had a car guard with a Royal Mail (UK postal service) vest.....Charlie bought a map of Namibia and 3 pairs of new socks as his is beyond repair. Carmen bought a cycle pump to be able to fix her own punctures when she rides on her own. We also stopped by at Mike's Motorcycles (KTM), the guys that provided us with our new front tyres and Carmen bought herself some tyre leavers. Mike informed us that he had no confidence in Honda but that there were no other mechanics in town and that he was working on bikes the rest of the week as there was a rally this coming weekend. Sigh. In the afternoon, Rensche typed up the blog, while Charlie repaired a worn wire for his digital speedometer which snapped this morning. Charlie also cleaned out our airfilters that also had seeds in them! In the evening we all sat on the stoep overlooking the beautiful scenery of Windhoek city and had a light supper perpared by Elize as we were still suffering from the excess of lovely meat we had at Joe's the previous evening!

10/02/08 - Gobabis - Windhoek
This morning we tried to fix Rensche's valves as her bike stalled on pulling in the clutch for the last 2 days. But even after loosening the tight front exhaust valve the bike was still stalling and now it didn't even want to idle. Oh DEAR! We took out the airfilter for just in case. Charles found out from the camp managers about a Suzuki/Honda mechanic in Windhoek. We left the campsite keeping the rev's up on the struggling bike and after it warmed up it seemed to be OK again. On the way to Windhoek we stopped next to the road where another cyclist from Canada was cycling through Southern Africa. He had quite an exciting story to tell from when he wild camped in Botswana close to a hungry rogue male lion! He quietly sat in his tent the whole night but could hear the lion try charging the tent. Needless to say he didn't get much sleep that night and left in a hurry! We set of and did the last hilly ups and downs to Windhoek. It was surprisingly cold as the rain clouds came over but luckily we just missed a huge thunder shower. We arrived at Elize, Charles's mother's house, just before her and we all had a huge welcome. The afternoon was spent chatting and relaxing and going through some of our paperwork. In the evening we went to Joe's with some friends and had the best steak ever!!