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Week Five Chapter: 01 November ~ 07 November 2005 - South Africa

National Flag of South Africa

"Our best built certainties are but sand-houses and subject to damage from any wind of doubt that blows." - Mark Twain (American Writer and Lecturer, 1835-1910)

"Write injuries in sand, kindnesses in marble" - French Proverb

"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand." - Milton Friedman (American Economist, born 1912)

Map of South Africa

Satellite image of the Sossusvlei/Sesriem area of the Namib Dunes in Namibia. At an altitude of 38 miles (60 kilometers) that massive dunes to the left are still clearly defined.  In the exact center of the image, the location of the Sossusvlei Lodge, where the group stayed on 01 NOV 2005.
(Image courtesy of  Google Earth)

Starting location for this week: Swakopmund, Namibia
Ending location for this week: Cape Town, South Africa
Planned mileage for this week: 1,138 miles 1,820 kilometers)

Molo ("hello" in Xhosa )
Goeie dag ("hello" in Afrikaans)

Hallo ("hello" Afrikaans)
Thobela ("hello" in Sepedi)
Dumela ("hello" in Setswana)
Helele ("hello" in Sesotho - there are many other forms)
Howzit? (most common form of greeting I heard when in South Africa)

It's hard to believe that the Africa Adventure is almost over.  This week began on the ocean in Swakopmund, Namibia, a lovely seaside town where Hitler had built a summer house (it still stands today as a museum).  Mid-week finds our riders in the vast Namib Desert, home to some of the largest and oldest sand dunes in the world.  According to the entry in Wikipedia, the dunes have endured arid to semi-arid conditions for over 80 MILLION years, averaging less than 0.4 inches (10mm) of rain annually. After a two-day layover in a hot springs resort in the Fish River Canyon (the second largest canyon in the world), they'll find themselves on the ocean once again in Lambert's Baii (Lambert's Bay).

Welcome to Week Five (the final full week) of our journey through the Cradle of Mankind, and Land of the Big Five!

Mike, Your Webmeister

* * * * * * * * * *

Unless otherwise noted, all photographic images on this page were taken by Helge Pedersen.

The many forms of "Hello" in over 800 languages and other useful words and phrases are courtesy of Jennifer's Language Page.

To find out what time it is there (or anywhere!), visit The World Clock.

To see where they are now, visit the Navigation Technology Chapter.

For more information about the countries in southern Africa that the riders will travel through, please visit the resources listed below:

- The World Factbook, maintained by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States:

- The Consular Information Sheets, provided by the Department of State of the United States:

- The web-based, free-content encyclopedia entries at Wikipedia, maintained by "GlobeWriters" everywhere":

05 NOV 2005 - Okiep, South Africa

From: Roger Kersch

Sent: Saturday, November 05, 2005 8:06 AM

To: Africa Live!Journal


“How fast was I going?” Harrison asked for the thirtieth time on the way to the clinic and again the next day in the Debbie-driven rental Toyota, bouncing down the road in a cloud of dust from the shotgun seat.

“I don’t give a s**t how fast you were going.” Michael retorted disgustingly while clutching the door pull in the back seat. Harrison’s face was all red from the face-plant he’d made from high-siding in the sand when he lost control at precisely 37MPH, which Helge the Great, pre-millennium Beemer traveler of world-wide renown, plundered from Harrison’s GPS.

I had taken photos of his tire tracks and the huge body-sized divot he made in the sand, yet to be seen, alas, as the old-fashioned film will not be developed until I get home. Michael flew home and wrote back about the wonderful friends he’d made and the great time he’d had, as though he was trying to write a do-good letter to summer camp third-graders. I know better. He can’t stand at least half of us, but I won’t say which half and I know this because he told me so. Harrison was fuzzy for a couple of days and without his usually pesty humor. Unfortunately he is returning to normal. I like him better with a concussion. I’ve returned to poking him with a stick from the back seat, payback for all his previous pestering from a week earlier.

“You came all the way here to read a book?” he would jab at me from the second row of the safari Toyota, poking me on the shoulders, not once, but a hundred times. I returned the favor when we were in Kruger National Park and he turned sideways and lay down to snooze right in the middle of seeing lions and two Toyotas laden with Japanese oldsters, the women with white gloves and face masks. I was torn between taking pics of the lions or the Japanese. And poking Old Sleepy.

I yelled to the driver. “How’s the communication going?” “It’s not!” was his instant reply, grinning. I took their pictures and they were unsmilingly perfectly still, and yelled a Japanese salutation to them and they responded in kind, instantly and in perfect unison, followed with toothy smiles. I had more fun with them than the hippos we saw in the gorgeous sunset that night. Then we went back to the lodge. After I poked Harrison. “We came all the way here to Africa and you are sleeping NOW?”

We stepped over the Irish wolf hounds at the front door of the lodge, only to go to the back yard to see Margaret, the frequent nocturnal yard-trimming hippo, munching happily well within flashlight viewing distance. We stayed on our side of the fence. The German lodge owner couple said they were down to one house kitty.

“Why’s that?”


No wonder the dogs stay within the lodge grounds!


05 NOV 2005 - Okiep, South Africa

From: Pamela Smith

Sent: Saturday, November 05, 2005 8:06 AM

To: Africa Live!Journal

Subject: Pam’s Story - November 4, 2005

It’s hard to believe that we are only four days away from the end of our journey!

It has been quite a “ride”! I have so many emotions inside that are hard to understand. This is a land that appears to have such impoverished people; yet, everyone is smiling and so welcoming. One of the biggest delights of the day is to see the children run out to the road to wave at the motorbikes and our “Bushtracker” mobile. . . such big smiles and bright shiny faces. I have learned so much about plants, birds, trees, geology, clouds, rock formations, and beetles, etc. thanks to Marlene and Marius. It has inspired me to

study more about our earth and the things that inhabit it when we arrive back home.

The very best part has been watching Steve succeed in his goal! He’s a fabulous rider (even if he does carry too much “stuff” with him - according to all of the other bikers)! The terrains and temperatures have been challenging and unlike ones he’s been used to.

For not having had a great deal of off-road riding experience he’s been riding like a pro! I am so proud of you, Sweetheart!

We’ve just come through the dunes the past three days. I never would have believed that the temperature would have DROPPED by 40 degrees when we arrived there unless I experienced it! However, the temperature quickly increased as we moved inland away from the coast. It rose by approximately 50 degrees. Today we are in Fish River Canyon surrounded by towering mountains on all sides and enjoying the natural hot springs. For the most part the elephants, zebras, and lions have ended. We occasionally see an ostrich and a jackal. There are a few farms along the way. This time of year, especially, water is scarce on the land. There is hardly any water in the Fish River Canyon. The rainy season begins the end of this month and the people can’t wait for rain!

I will close for today and hope to write one last time in Cape Town. Curtis and Michael, we have missed you and hope that your bikes will be able to be repaired to as good as new when they arrive home. It was a pleasure getting to know you, both.

To those of you considering a “journey” – DO IT! Step outside of your box! And if you come, I hope that you are fortunate enough to have such wonderful traveling companions

on your adventure as we were!

Tot weer siens. . . . . . .Pamela Smith

PS to MJ: Grandma PJ and Grandpa are almost on their way home. We have the most wonderful pictures and stories to share with you! See you very soon. We love you!

To Ryan and Brooke and Mike: Thank you for your encouragement and support that “nudged” us to make this trip! We’re lucky parents!

05 NOV 2005 - Okiep, South Africa

From: Helge Pedersen

Sent: Saturday, November 05, 2005 8:06 AM

To: Africa Live!Journal

Subject: Another story from Helge

Impossible Tire Change!

We had all gone to change our tiers at the local Engen garage in Outjo, Namibia. Great people there and as long as we left the old tires there would be no charge for their services. Two years ago when we arrived they had just received a brand new tire-changing machine and our group were the first to break it in. The machine still looked good so we dove right into the job that early Saturday morning. With the right equipment this was not the worst of jobs and all 10 wheels were changed within a couple of hours.

The fun part of this story and the reason for me taking the time to write these words started in Khorixas, Namibia, where we rode that Saturday. Bob discovered that his newly-mounted rear tire was slowly leaking air. Next days ride was all dirt road so we decided that we better fix the problem right away. All five guys gathered around Bob’s KTM as he removed the rear wheel for the second time that day.

For a long time Roger had talked about how good he was at breaking a tire bead with his boot. The challenge was up, this would be his chance. But no chance at all would any boot break this bead. I have made a DVD about how easy it is to break a bead using the side stand of your bike, naturally I were up next. The whole weight of my BMW1150GS Adventure was put on to the Metzeler Karoo knobby tire, but it did not even give a little hope that the bead would let loose. When the side stand started to bend I gave up.

After some discussion Marius were asked to get the car jack out. We used the trailer hitch to jack up against, and it took two of our larger riders to put enough weight on the tire before it finally loosened. This did not however happen right away. We actually had to try several times before the bead gave in and then we had to repeat this jack operation all around and on both sides.

Unbelievable that a tire could be this tight on a rim! It is also scary to think about having a puncture on some remote back road without the help we had at the hotel in Khorixas. The tire that Bob chose is a tubeless tire on a KTM rim that has a safety edge. From Bob I understand that the Metzeler Karoo is the only knobby tire available for the KTM LC8. If this is the case I would think twice about taking this bike in to the back country without any support team to help with any puncture issues.

To be able to set the bead after the tube had been replaced Bob reported that it took the local gasoline station pump no less than 90PSI to pop the tire in to place. I don’t think any portable pump would manage that job.

Several days later I had the chance to ride Bob’s KTM on the dirt roads outside Sossusvlei. It took me about 30 seconds to decide that I want one of these beasts. The engine is so responsive that one has to be careful to not leave all the knobbies on the first run. Definitely much lighter than my 1150GS and the spring action made for a great ride. To make a valid review of the bike after short afternoon’s ride is not enough, but given the chance I would love to try this bike for a longer period. Bob is the only non-BMW rider on this tour and the KTM has given him no problems what so ever. Well, that was until the tire changing issue.

We all have enjoyed our knobby tires these last days riding some beautiful back roads in Namibia.


Helge Pedersen

Images of Africa by Helge Pedersen

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