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Africa Adventure 2010

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Chapter 03 Dispacth from Dan Townsley


Hazyview to Swakopmund


As you may recall, I've been riding in the Chase Vehicle because of my foot/ankle injury. None the less the drive from Livingstone, Zambia to Outjo, Namibia was quite scenic. The lodges have all been unique in their own ways. Some with great sunsets and some with a lot of Peacocks. I love birds but listening to Peacocks all night got a little old. In Outjo, Namibia I was able to work on my HP2 some so that it was ridable. The only issue I had with riding was that I needed to cut a 6in. "expansion slot" in my riding boot so that I could get it on and off without continuing to injure my foot/ankle. Although I can stand on my foot for a bit, dancing on the pegs in sandy rough off-road conditions is not a option at this point.


I put new tires on the bike and the next day rode to Windhoek with Lynne Clark via the B1 highway. We are both doing a "sealed road" ride for the remainder of the tour.


Windhoek is the capital of Namibia and it's largest city. It's a relatively new city and easy to get around. Folks continue to be very helpful when asking directions - a young couple lead us to the BMW dealer in their car. The next day we rode from Windhoek to Swakopmund to meet up with the tour group for two nights. Swakopmund is the second largest city in Namibia and on the Skeleton Coast. The town is more or less a resort for the inland folks to escape from the heat of the summer. My injury is restricting me from getting around much but I did walk around Swakopmund a bit (a bit to much).


Tomorrow it's back to Windhoek via the B2/B1 highway.







Dan Townsley




Chapter 03 Dispatch from Lynne Clark

TIA - This Is Africa. That's what people say here and there does seem to be a different sense of time. I can hardly believe the trip is going to end and I've only written one letter. Riding my bike all day gives me a sense of timelessness as well as an acute sense of being in the now.


We have been in Nambia for several days. This is the place of giant sand dunes and the Skeleton Coast - very sparse population. I have felt the sense of time from the distant past to the distant future here more then ever. When I rode to the Atlantic Coast from Windhoek at 4200ft, it was almost like riding through a huge beach - the sandy desert.


Tonight is my second night in Swakopmund. A little German town on the Atlantic. The most common language is German, then Afrikaans, although most people also speak English. I was watching the arc of the sun this afternoon thinking it should rise from the Atlantic, not set in the Atlantic. Then I realized - this is Africa! Just a few weeks ago I saw the sun rising from the Indian Ocean and in a few more weeks I'll see the sun setting in the Pacific Ocean.


I spent most of the day shopping and feel I have pretty much got a handle on the souvenir market. The town of Swakopmund has palm trees and plants and flowers that are familiar from home, only huge, and others I have never seen.There aren't a lot of animals, seals by the jetty and song birds. Tomorrow I hope to go see Flamingo's. The feel is that I am in a desert oasis.


Next day, Windhoek, high desert, laundry that took overnight to dry at the coast dries in an hour. I did see Flamingo's yesterday, lots of them, up close wading and flying as well as thousands of other shore birds. The guide books say these birds are winter here - or rather summer here, as it is summer now. On the way here we stopped for gas at Kiribib and saw some women dressed in the fine Herero style - very fancy long gowns and matching headgear. I have been told that some of the people dressed in traditional clothing just dress up for tourists. I can't imagine to many tourists hang around gas stations where we were - but who knows.


I didn't see any wildlife except birds but Dan reported seeing a lone Giraffe.


The hotel here is basic but clean and on a side street. From what I've seen Windhoek is a bit of a maze with a modest freeway system dividing it into quarters but with lots of random streets and angles. All of which make navigation a challenge. There is a very large indoor Mall nearby where we went for dinner last night. Most of the cuisine on this trip has been kind of european or colonial and I haven't really had any "native" cuisine except for Zebra, Oryx, Impala and other game meat. No bugs, lizards, snakes or worms.


Today I plan to visit the museum, park and native craft center, by taxi, not motorcycle. Tomorrow we continue south, crossing the Tropic of Capricorn again. Internet service is spotty here so this will possibly be my last note until Cape Town.










Chapter 03 Dispatch from Jeff & Debbie Hower


After our most challenging boarder crossing, about 3 hours, we arrive at Livingstone, Zambia and Victoria Falls. Debbie and I both bungee jumped off the bridge which normally would have roaring waters under it but for us it is just dry cliffs ( the water level in the Zambezi River is very low this year). This country is depressed. Grocery store shelves have limited selections and we get the feeling of being outsiders - which is completely different from out interactions with people in other countries we passed through. On the way out of town a corrupt check point officer tries to get $10 from each of us. We all refuse and he finally gives in and lets us pass for free.


Once in Namibia things are better. We pass many poor villages with small women carrying 5 gallon containers filled with water precariously balanced on their heads. We have stayed in some great hotels, some in very remote areas. Eaten Ostrich, Zebra, Kudu, Oryx and several other critters.


Six of us and Helge take off on the Rhino Camp track which turns out to be 55 miles of road better suited for smaller lighter bikes but the big GS's show their stuff and get us through - although at times it isn't pretty. The scenery is great. We pass through winding mountains, large shandy flats and even a narrow canyon. This was a difficult ride but I'm very glad I did it!


Along this route Ben finds Helge's book, "10 years on Two Wheels", in the geocache he left in 2002. We sign it and leave it for the next group to find.


The rough road finally ends and we are on the wide smooth but dusty road headed for the Atlantic coast. The temperature drops from 97F to 67F as we arrive at the coast and head south down a "salt road". This is a hard packed smooth surface. Not unlike asphalt. We encounter very little traffic and can easily maintain 70-80mph.


The Hansa Hotel in Swakopmund is very nice and a cold beer is a great way to end this day of difficult off pavement riding.




Chapter 03 Dispatch from Dan Marks

Thursday, November 4, 2010
We all “go out in the midday sun … the toughest Zulu bandit, can never understand it … “; but why?  Well for we Globeriders and for several days it was to see, hear and sometimes not too happily smell the animals.  Though they were very long and often uncomfortably hot and bumpy days, the animals kept us/me going, often going out for an extra evening session looking for even more encounters.
Today, we rode through Namibia’s Caprivi Strip which encompasses its Chobe National Park.  Take a look at a map and you’d see the strip is a long, narrow index finger pointing east from Namibia’s large (as big as Texas & Louisiana combined re my guide book) fist.  It came about in a compromise between the UK and Germany so that the latter would have access to the Zambezi River.  So, we were riding today hoping to see elephants cross our route through the park to Rundu, Namibia – but none were so seen.  However, we already have seen dozens of elephants, a dozen or so giraffes, countless impalas and other antelopes, many hippopotamuses – well at least the tops of their faces (along with their wiggly ears) and backs and one out of the water pretty close up, cape buffalos, wildebeests, hyenas, a jackal, zebras, wart hogs, a couple of rhinoceros, a pride of lions, countless majestic and beautiful and ugly birds, and just about every animal we could wish to see – most of these in Botswana, especially the Okavango Delta and some in South Africa and Zambia.  The exceptions are easier to list – no meerkats, wild dogs, cheetahs or leopards, though four of the group saw one of the latter run past the front of their safari vehicle.
We had a few encounters of the scary kind – here are two:
On open boats in the Delta – which reminded many of us of “The African Queen” with its endless intertwining narrow and wide channels – our boat came around a bend in a narrow channel and stopped just short of a very large elephant feeding on the tall-as-an-elephant’s-eye grasses.  The elephant didn’t like being crowded by this strange, noisy creature (we were told that whenever we were near a wild animal, we were to be quiet and not move around much in our vehicle so that it seemed like a single, large, non-threatening animal/thing to the beast) – it yelled at us, used its trunk like a softball pitcher to splash water at us, and finally mock-charged at us – at least that’s what our guide told us after he put the outboard in reverse and backed away.  The elephant then lumbered off through the grasses.
Our land guides found a day-old cape buffalo kill in an open field being eaten and guarded by a male lion – they said that a female lion laying in the shade of some nearby bushes probably killed the buffalo, but then she and the youngsters of the pride had to wait for the male to finish before they’d be allowed to eat.  The male tried to pull the carcass into the shade, but it was just too big for him.  He’d go to rest in the shade every once in a while, at which time the boldest of the dozen or so vultures in the neighborhood would attempt to get close to pick off some tidbits, but the male would have none of it and would lazily charge out to scare them off.  We came back the next day and the female and a young male were taking turns at eating and guarding while the male lazed back in the shade of the bushes.  Then for some unknown reason, it decided to check us out and slowly walked towards us and almost brushed against us.  David Marsing was in the seat closest to Leo and he, like most of us was frozen.
On the way to Namibia, we stopped in Livingstone, Zambia, adjacent to the Zambezi River’s Victoria Falls – so named by Dr. David Livingston in the 19th century.  Many of the group did a bungee jump from the bridge that joins Zambia and Zimbabwe over the Zambezi canyon – going with my new policy of trying to be a little less adventuress, I demurred and might have been lucky to do so – John Hall who has had rotator cuff problems similar to mine did jump and when the bungee took hold, strained his shoulders ending in a lot of pain and possible further damage – though he’s better now.  I did take an ultra-light flight over the falls (which are now at about minimum - only about 15% as strong as their maximum) in some pretty strong cross-winds piloted by expert flyer Heiko Held, a Berliner and the only pilot flying that challenging day.  It was a great view of the falls and the tops of elephants and hippos in the wide Zambezi above the falls.  You can imagine the difference between the attached picture of the falls and what it would be like with seven times as much water.
Well that’s it for now – time to pack up for tomorrow’s ride and hit the sack for the usual early morning breakfast and departure.





Chapter 03 Dispatch from Randy McClanahan

Sitting in a luxury hotel in Swakopmund, Namibia. This, the second largest "city" in Namibia (less than 30,000 people), is more like a German sea-side resort than an oasis in one of the most inhospitable, waterless deserts on earth! (The Namib Desert has been arid for about 55 million years and is considered the oldest desert on earth.) We have now crossed from the Indian Ocean side of the African continent to the Atlantic side. Over 4000 miles.  We are on the skeleton coast. When a ship wrecked in these beautiful, shallow and rocky waters, the fate of its crew was sealed. They would die of hunger and thirst. Better for us now!


Since our departure from the Okavango Delta we have seen more Botswana, then Zambia and now Namibia. In Zambia we experienced Victoria Falls and adrenaline rushes for most of our group. Although the falls were disappointingly not flowing due to low water, we had several bungee jumpers, including Diana and Debbie. Is it terror or anticipation on Debbie’s face in the photo below? It was taken just before she dove 117 meters toward the river and rocks below. Personally, I limited my adrenaline adventure to crossing the gorge on a "slide for life" line, which was pretty exciting for someone like me who is a bit acrophobic. The former Rhodesia was a British colony until it declared its independence. The southern part became Zambia and the northern part became Zimbabwe. Victoria Falls divides the two.


Zambia was somewhat disappointing. We were constantly besieged by street peddlers hawking their wares. (Photo below.) When they determined I was from the U.S., they complained about Robert Mugabe and his ruination of Zimbabwe, where many of them said they lived. It is estimated that his regime has been responsible for the deaths of about 1/3 of the country’s population. Zimbabwe was formerly a vacation oasis for southern Africans but it has degenerated horribly. We saw it from the falls and from our hotel, but did not venture there. I did, however, greatly enjoy my "ride ‘em cowboy" experience on an African elephant! I guess Zambia was ok after all.


Namibia is an amazing place. It is desolate like much of the American west. I am listening to a book about diamond mining, which spurred on much of the development and wealth in southern Africa, including Namibia. Almost all the roads we travel are dirt, salt or gravel. Yesterday another of our group was injured with a broken left hand. It will not slow him down, however.

The adventure continues, but I greatly miss my fabulous wife and am looking forward to getting home. 300 miles off-pavement tomorrow. 400 the next. Thank you, Jim Hyde, for teaching me how to handle this stuff (knock on wood.)


More to come, I hope!






Chapter 03 Dispatch from Tom Petrillo


This trip has offered me the opportunity to see things I may have never seen, meet people I may have never met, but most of all, it has given me the opportunity to do something I never thought I would do. Bungee jumping…. It was all Ben Jack “The Action Figure” who systematically convinced, coerced and all around used all the peer pressure tactics to get me to jump. After much discussion and watching a good portion of the group jump, I made my way up to the bridge and did exactly that, JUMP! I bungee jumped of the Victoria Falls Bridge that crosses over the Zambeezi River that separates the provinces of Zambia and Botswana. 330 feet down and all I can say is, it was awesome and surreal. I am so glad that I did it.





If you would like to follow Tom's personal weblog of his Africa Adventure click here

Chapter 03 Dispatch from Ben Jack


Hello from Africa,


We are at the end of week three. Great week all in all. Going on the safari through the Okavango Delta was wonderful. I would say the highlight of the trip for me. Sitting 15 feet away from a pack of lions while they were feeding on a Cape Buffalo was intense!







You can check out Ben's Africa Blog by clicking here.


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