Cycling Namibia and a family reunion

We had a straightforward cycle north (yes, north!) on the B1 from Windhoek before we turned west onto the B2. After 118km we topped up our water bags at a roadside farm at Okazizi and found a dried-out riverbed to pitch our tent for the night – which displaced the resident cattle from their usual overnight spot.

 

Camping in a dried-up riverbed at Okazizi

Camping in a dried-up riverbed at Okazizi

From Windhoek we’d been cycling on a large hard shoulder but this disappeared once we’d passed through the gold mining town of Karibib.

We reached the town of Usakos. Emily’s uncle had warned us that it was the kind of place that 1st first prize was a week in Usakos; second prize was 2 weeks in Usakos. Nevertheless, we begged the owners of a fuel stop/restaurant for us to pitch our tent in their grounds that, itself, was a closed campsite.

We had our first experience of the Namibian gravel roads when we took a detour to Spitzkoppe – a majestic outcrop of racks that have been weathered over the years into a beautiful collection of boulders, crags and arches. We even saw some ancient cave paintings.

Spitzkoppe-5131

The road towards Spitzkoppe

Rock arch at Spitzkoppe

Rock arch at Spitzkoppe

Enjoying a shower and the solitude of the campsites at Spitzkoppe

Enjoying a shower and the solitude of Spitzkoppe

Spitzkoppe cave paintings

Spitzkoppe cave paintings

Star trails at Spitzkoppe

Star trails at Spitzkoppe

Not a bad place to camp: Spitzkoppe

Not a bad place to pitch our Vaude tent: Spitzkoppe

The gravel and sand roads are tough!

The gravel and sand roads are tough!

From Spitzkoppe, we had a punchy 154km ride towards the coastal town of Swakopmund. Although it was gently downhill all day, the wind suddenly changed direction meaning we had to pedal hard into a biting headwind for most of the day. We arrived exhausted but were pleased to see Emily’s uncles John and Nigel and Auntie Astrid who’d come over from Johannesburg to see us. It was the first time Emily had seen them in 15 years! The next day Emily’s folks arrived from the UK to join us and we spent a very fun few days in Swakopmund catching up and spending some precious family time together.

The Namib desert 'little 5'

One of the Namib Desert ‘little 5’

A chameleon catches and munches a worm

A chameleon catches and munches a worm

A very sandy snake

A very sandy snake

Emily then sprung a huge surprise on me, for my birthday, she’d organised for me to do a Skydive in Swakopmund. What’s more, she (reluctantly) agreed to join me. For somebody who’s terrified of heights, is a nervous flyer and hates rollercoasters, it was completely out of her comfort zone but, thanks to Eddie and the remarkably professional set up at SkyDive Namibia, we both experienced the thrill of freefalling to the ground from 11,000 feet. As I’d done a few jumps before, my tandem master allowed me to do a few turns whilst in free-fall and even let me pull the cord. I’m not convinced Emily enjoyed it quite as much as me however.

Freefallin'

Freefallin’

How do you do!

How do you do!

Emily's worst fear!

Emily’s worst fear!

...although she looks as though she's enjoying it!

…although she looks as though she’s enjoying it!

From Swakopmund, we drove north and spent a fantastic few days in Etosha National Park. Etosha is a vast National Park and we were spoilt with the huge numbers of animals we saw including giraffe, zebra, a catalogue of antelope and stunning birds but also huge numbers of elephants, 7 very endangered black rhinos and a leopard. When the time came for Emily and I to leave, we were disappointed not to see any lions or cheetahs – only for us to spot them as we made our way out of the Park. Thanks again to John and Astrid for organising such a memorable trip!

Oryx in Etosha

Oryx in Etosha

A family of elephants take a drink at the waterhole

A family of elephants take a drink at the waterhole

A black rhino takes a drink under the cover of darkness

A black rhino takes a drink under the cover of darkness

A black Rhino in better light

A black Rhino in better light

 

A cheetah poses for us

A cheetah poses for us

A lioness on the prowl. We were thankful to see her from the safety of a car rather than risking meeting her on our bicycles as we did in Tanzania and Botswana

A lioness on the prowl. We were thankful to see her from the safety of a car rather than risking meeting her on our bicycles as we did in Tanzania and Botswana

After Etosha, we were reunited with our bicycles in Walvis Bay where we’d left them with Warm Showers host, Brian. Sadly Brian wasn’t there but he kindly let us stay at his beautiful cottage overlooking the Walvis Bay Lagoon and its resident flamingoes. In Brian’s absence his landlady, Caroline, looked after us and, over a cooked breakfast, it transpired that she came from the same town Emily’s parents in and even went to Emily’s old school. Small world.

The notion of a small world soon disappeared the next day when we were back on our bikes. 115km uphill on gravel and into a headwind is tough. Even tougher when we have to carry 2 days’ water supply with us. We fell short of our intended camping site and so wild camped in the desert – too exhausted to enjoy the stunning sunset and star show.

There's no shade in the desert

There’s no shade in the desert

Namibia Desert-7107

Another milestone!

Another milestone!

We struggled through on the corrugated roads until we reached the Rostock Ritz – a desert lodge and campground which has an amazing policy of offering touring cyclists a free room for the night. The staff gave us an incredible welcome and we made use of the soft bed by sleeping for 10 hours straight!

Arriving at the Rostock Ritz

Arriving at the Rostock Ritz. The welcome was worth the 7km cycle up the ‘drive’!

We’ve had a shorter day today – just 45 kilometers form Rostock Ritz to the desert outpost of Solitaire where we’re incredibly grateful to Grant at the Solitaire Country Lodge for hosting us tonight. Nevertheless, today’s ride taken us over 5 hours as we’ve struggled over the corrugations, sand and dust of the desert road.

Meerkat in the desert

Meerkat in the desert

Just 3 days in to bumpy gravel and the skin on my behind has broken…which should make the next stretch south to Cape Town memorable for the wrong reasons.

Just 3 days in and the gravel roads are taking their toll.

Just 3 days in and the gravel roads are taking their toll.

We’ve set ourselves an ambitious target of cycling 1,800km from Swakopmund in just 20 days so we’ll arrive in Cape Town on Friday 3rd June. Please do follow our progress on our live GPS tracker and support our fundraising by donating to World Bicycle Relief – we’d really love to fund as many bicycles for school kids and communities in Africa before we reach Cape Town!


If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog post, please donate to World Bicycle Relief. Every penny goes to the great work the charity does in Africa – not to fund our expedition in any way.

Comments

comments