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Week 04 Chapter - 23 Oct ~ 29 Oct - Zambia, Namibia

National Flag of Turkmenistan
National Flag of Turkmenistan

"You must pray that the way be long, full of adventures and experiences." - Constantine Peter Cavafy

"When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable." - Clifton Fadiman

"What you've done becomes the judge of what you're going to do - - especially in other people's minds. When you're traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don't have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road." - William Least Heat Moon

Start Location for This Week: Livingston (Victoria Falls), Zambia
Ending Location for This Week: Swakopmund, Namibia
Planned mileage for This Week: 1,115 miles 1,785 kilometers)

As the banner image at the top of this week's Chapter dramatically shows, Week Four of the Africa Adventure begins in Victoria Falls, Zambia (image courtesy of Google Earth, taken at an altitude of approximately 7,300 feet (2,225 meters)).

Called Mosi-oa-Tunya (Smoke That Thunders) by those who live there, Victoria falls is neither the world's widest or highest waterfall, although at peak flow, it is the largest sheet of falling water on the planet. It is claimed, under the right conditions, that the plume of spray from the Falls can be seen from as far as 30 kilometers away.

The group has just returned from their 4-day safari into the Okavango Delta. The tour is at its mid-point. After a 2-day layover at the magnificent Zambezi Sun Hotel at the Falls, the group will ride through some of the more challenging, scenic and enjoyable roads of the entire tour, the gravel, sand and salt roads of Namibia. From the touristy luxury of Victoria Falls (where the US Dollar is still the most commonly used currency), through the arid and hot expanses of northern Namibia, the group will end the week on the cool and misty shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Swakopmund.

Welcome to Week Four of the Africa Adventure!

Be Well, Safe Journeys,

Mike M. Paull - Partner, Guide, Webmeister

Day 22 - Tue 10 Oct - Victoria Falls, Zambia

You wouldn’t think of an adventure motorcycle as a calming, restful time.

This is my second tour through Africa with GlobeRiders, and it is totally different and has reset my view of the world. The people on this tour, all tops in their respective professions, seem to genuinely like one another, and the differences have been minimal and short lived.

The thing that strikes me is that Africa is a place with so many contrasts that it forces everyone to look at the world with a more human perspective.

The riding has been less than I would have liked so far, but I’m looking forward to the coming days of sand and gravel. We will be going through some of the most remote deserts in the world, and seeing the Rhino Reserve in Namibia is the reason for my return.

My wife Marlene has been logging extra miles with our local guide, Marius, as resident Biologist, Geologist and Naturalist. Marius is the best as a guide in Africa, and as a wealth of information for everyone as to the surroundings in any field.

This trip has enabled me to sit back and restore myself. I appreciate the opportunity that GlobeRiders provides.

Joe Hutt

Game parks or not, seeing these amazing animals in the wild is startling.

The Okavango delta in the evening has it all.

The Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Believe it or not, this in the international overland border crossing at Pontdrift, between South Africa and Botswana, a dry river bed of a once mighty river.

With the able assistance of Joe Hutt, I learn that, if you dig a hole, the first thing you do is knock the bike over! The, fill in the hole under the rear wheel, and set the bike upright on a now level surface.

Then, an carefully controlled application of throttle and clutch gets you underway. . . .

You've seen this image in a previous newsletter, but it bears another viewing, Bill Kamps kissing the "blessed tarmac" after the river bed, gravel and sand.
Rewind to Day 15 - Tue 16 Oct - Francistown, Botswana

Rode to the capital of Botswana, Francistown, today.  We crossed a dry riverbed at the border which was a taste of things to come.

Once we had gone through the usual "passport, please, registration number, how long are you staying, where are you going...." we headed out on a sand and dirt road.  The first few hundred yards was deep sand and surprised everyone in the group I was with.  Joe was the only one that did not drop his bike in this sand.  [Editors Note: Driving a sidecar, I take exception to Frank's statement, I didn't drop my "rig" either <g>.]

The rest of the road was a mixture of sand, gravel and dirt and was it ever FUN!!!   Spraying dirt and feeling the wheels losing traction, then recovering, was a gas.  Joe and I met the earlier group at the pavement junction where Bill actually kissed the road.  He is such a funny guy.

We stayed at a hotel with a casino, but if you can believe it, they would not change money nor did they have a cash machine!  Imagine that.


Rewind to Day 16 - Wed 17 Oct - Kasane, Botswana

We rode flat out today in HOT weather (98-101 F) to Chobe.  Mike said we had to get there by 3 pm so we could take a boat ride on the river that would not be disappointing.

The road was a bit potholed, but traveling at 120 kph+ smoothed them out.  I have smelled less smoke in the air here in Botswana than in the other countries so far in the ride.

I don't know why by this country seems much cleaner.  The countryside was full of termite mounds.  This is where we encountered elephants on the side of the road within spitting distance.  It is a bit unsettling to know they could turn and charge at a moment's notice..  We did not dally long.

The boat ride was FANTASTIC.  We saw hippo, elephant, buffalo, crocs and a myriad of other wildlife up close from the "safety" of the boat.  Neatly, we had one boat all to ourselves.  The day ended with a postcard sunset.  The huge red/orange ball dropped behind a herd of elephants. 


What was once a tree, now a termite mound, far taller than a man,.

Cute to behold, but a truly wild animal nonetheless, don't want to get mama or papa worried!

Next to the Cape Buffalo, we've heard the hippo is one of the most dangerous animals to humans.

Rewind to Day 17 - Thu 18 Oct - Mboma Island, Okavango Delta, Moremi National Park, Botswana

Today was a rest day from the bikes, and we flew a plane up to the Okavango Delta for safari and a few days' respite from the saddle.

We landed on a bumpy dirt track and then took a double-decked outboard boat up the channels to our river camp.

We had special encounters with elephants browsing by and in the channel, which was just wide enough in parts to allow the boat to pass.  On this ride we actually encountered seven dead buffalo that had been trampled while crossing the river earlier in the month.  The guide said lions had chased the group and these poor beasts had not made it.  The stench was overwhelming at times.  Seeing their carcasses rotting in the water gave us a real taste that we are in their country now.

The guide brought us close to a nesting colony of stork and herons where their noisy racket and comical postures were a videos photographer's paradise.  The tented camp was FIRST CLASS.  The bugs were not present and we all enjoyed the beer, chicken stew, rice and salad.


Rewind to Day 18 - Fri 19 Oct - Okavango Delta Safari, Moremi National Park, Botswana

I awoke at 4:49 am to crunching sounds near the tent I was sharing with Mac.  Peering out from the mosquito netting, I spied a small hippo making its way to the river in the pre-dawn light.  The birds' cacophony in the morning with the backdrop of the rising sun was idyllic.

We took a nature walk with a local guide and Marius as soon as the sun was up.  Four Cape Buffalo were grazing towards us, and Marius told us to be still and set ourselves up on a nearby termite mound.  These beasts came within 150 yards of us!!  Then we started taking a few pictures and their ears went up.  We were upwind of them and they got our scent but could not figure out what we were.  It was an exciting time as we backed off behind the mound to make a cautious exit.

As we circled around one of us took a last photo and the flash on the camera spooked the buffalo and they took off running away.  The scary thing is their speed was incredible, and had they been running towards us we would have not been able to dodge them at all!

Later we drove our vehicles on a land safari and saw two lions as we exited our camp area.  Our driver, Buxton, has very keen eyes.  He spotted a leopard sitting about 300 yards away on a termite mound.  Thus, we have seen ALL of "The Big Five" animals of the African continent.

Dinner was full of banter and Bill entertained us with jokes about Lorena Bobbitt, as well as one about a German Shepard.  The Morembi game reserve that we passed through is the first that was started by a tribe.  Kudos to them for setting aside this wonderful place for animals to live.


An Rambling Interlude - Somewhere in Africa

As you've probably noticed, the whole notion of tidily wrapped up "Weekly" chapters has sort of fallen by the wayside in our Africa Live!Journal this trip.  There are many reasons, and I won't bore you with all of them here.  But the main one is something that we take for granted back home - internet access.

Many of the lodges that we overnight at are are pretty remote.  They have their own water supply, electricity is supplied by generators.  The only telephone is the one at the front desk. Internet access simply doesn't exist.  And of course, without access, we can't publish a Journal.

In some ways, it's sort of liberating. Instead of squinting at displays and pounding out text on keyboards, we can instead, simply take care of personal business, relax, have a beer, and enjoy a leisurely dinner at the end of the day.  In days gone past, a Journal such as this wouldn't have reached anyone for days or weeks in print form, so even though we're behind our "internet time" publishing schedule, so be it. We hope you enjoy our stories and images nonetheless.

At the beginning of our tour, our local partner, Harry, who with his ever capable wife Heather, organize our "ground package" - accommodations, chase vehicle, etc., told us:

"There a local saying, 'No one comes to Africa once.'"

In fact, several of our riders on this year's Africa Adventure are here for their second time with us.  This is my third time, in addition to one previous tour in 2003, I was here with Helge on our pre-run back in 2002. So, I believe it's true, whatever it is that attracts those to Africa in the first place, beckons them again, and perhaps yet again.

Why is this?

Truly, it is a land of extreme contrast.  For those who live here, there's the vast social and economic gap that separate those who have, from those who have almost nothing.  But surely, no one comes here to lord their lifestyle at home over those less fortunate here.

Whether in a simple loincloth, colorful native dress, or "Western" dress, the people of Africa have the same hopes and desire as we do, only their opportunities are vastly more limited, and access to both education and capital difficult. Although we're not in areas of real concern (from, an infection standpoint), a child dies of malaria somewhere in Africa every 30 seconds. We all are aware of the other diseases that take their heavy toll.  In may areas, drought has plagued farmers for year, and even potable drinking water may only come by truck.  And yet, as we travel, we see smiles and an proffered handshake.  As always, a foreign rider on a motorcycle is a focal point of interest, whether at a gas station, or a spontaneous stop to interact with those who live in the area.

There is much here to cause one to reflect.  Perhaps we feel more than a little guilty about our standard of living at home. Hopefully, it will cause us to "do something" in whatever manner we are able.  If nothing else, it should make us realize how an accident of birth made us truly fortunate.

It is a land of vast, ever-changing, breath-taking scenic vistas.  There are the beaches of both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.  There is the lush green of the Garden Coast.  There are mountain passes, geography unlike any at home, the stark and inhospitable expanses of the deserts, the majesty of the dunes, broad savannahs, plants and trees right out of a Dr. Seuss illustrated novel.

And, right or wrong, taking center stage throughout, are birds and animals that most will only see in pictures, or if lucky, at a local zoo. If the landscape is varied, the wildlife is evolution run amok. Although most of the animals we see are in managed preservers of some form, the preserves cover huge areas of land, and although a perimeter fence may exist, we don't see these, and feel that we're seeing the animals in their native habitat, which in fact, they are. Whether on two legs, sixty, or none at all, life as we've never seen it does manage to manifest itself everywhere, and this adds to the overall majesty and magic of Africa.

And for a motorcyclist, hands-down, Africa offers some of the finest riding in the world, but more about than in a later Chapter.

Everyone should come to Africa "once" . . . .


Day 27 - Sun 28 Oct - Swakopmund, Namibia

Today was the ride from Outjo (inland) to Swakopmund (Atlantic).  There were a number of routes to take but one was the technical route.  Joe and I went on it as Dan and Dustin had to turn back because of a slight accident.  This road had it ALL.  Sand, gravel, dirt, rocks, boulders, remoteness.

It was a fabulous ride and well worth the entire trip.  The scenery was eerie.  Not a soul around but us.  We spied Black Faced Impala, Ostrich, Zebra.  Much of the route passed through ancient dry riverbeds.  Imagine any riverbed you have crossed, but with wheel-sized boulders and sand scattered among sharp shale switchbacks, steep hills, and deep ruts that can swallow your tires and you can get an idea of the terrain.  A truly special route that was rewarding to encounter.  We were on our pegs the entire 60 miles of the journey.

Joe has the foresight to pack a lunch and he was kind enough to split his peanut and jam sandwich with me out in the desolation of that place.  It was a GREAT sandwich.

At times, there was no indication of where to go, so I was glad for my GPS and for the fact that Joe had been on the route before with Helge.  I can understand why Joe wanted to come back and do this tour again.  I was also glad to have his company to help me pick my bike up out of the deep sand AGAIN!!!!

Once we passed through the reserve we encountered washboard gravel for 30 miles and then nice flat gravel for another 30.  We rode side-by-side at 70 mph with the sun on our right and it felt GREAT.  We stopped at the salt road to add air to Joe's tires and saw a jackal in the distance. Then, rode down the flat salt road to our next hotel.  A wonderful day.


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