10/03/08 - Helmeringhausen – Noordoewer – 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 - Neuras – Helmeringhausen – 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