Most people leave Cape Town and drive directly north taking the main border crossing into Namibia, but we like to try to do things a bit differently and hopefully see some beautiful landscapes and meet some interesting people. We decided to ride towards the West Coast of South Africa to a town called Port Nolloth then head north to Alexander Bay and cut back inland to a remote but beautiful border called Sendelingsdrift near the Richtersveld National Park, where we would take a barge across the Orange River to Namibia. What we didn’t bank on was how hard it would be to leave Cape Town and our friends behind.
It was time to leave Cape Town, on the day we set for ourselves. We woke early to say goodbye to Nichelle before she headed off to work. She made it brief, only asking for a single hug with the excuse that she would cry, tucking her make-up kit into her handbag. We hug a short but hard hug, as my I could feel the tears start to swell. Then before I know it my turn is over and I watch as Mike wraps his arms around her. I take a gulp and swallow, “Not now, not yet” I tell myself as tears start to bank up in my eyes. Nichelle turns and hurries out the door to head to work. I couldn’t stand the thought of Nichelle driving to work and not seeing her or her husband Christo for a long time, any longer. Mike takes me into his arms as I tried to get myself under control. We stood like that for a couple of seconds, when Nichelle bursted back into her house “Sorry, I forgot my other shoes!” she whips past us, picks them up, gives us a hug each and as she breezes back out I look up at Mike and say “I think she just wanted a second hug!” I was glad we had already said goodbye to Christo the night before. This feeling was horrible, I didn’t want to make this harder than it already was.
Our first day on the road was full of memories and worry about how our motorcycles were settling into the full time use again. We barreled down the only road north, dodging rain drops, speeding trucks and being interrupted by stop and go’s. We didn’t cover many kilometers. But lacking bike fitness, we called it a day around 4:30 pm in a small town called Clanwilliam.
Waiting at a stop and go again
The following day, we were shivering while riding in a sea of white damp fog. The constant stop and go’s had everyone frustrated including us. What should have taken an hour took us all morning. Then at the last one, we found ourselves stuck behind an oversize truck carrying a silo, travelling around 10 kilometers per hour. We stopped for gas, like most of the convoy, hoping that the silo will either be held up somewhere or gone for good. We were in luck as soon as we hit the road again we never saw it again.
We did manage a few extra miles today, but we can really feel it in our bodies. I think it will take a few days before we are back up to 100% riding fitness. Late in the afternoon we arrived in a small town called Springbok, starving, tired and completely worn out. We decided not to camp but to get a room to ensure an early start the following day.
Todays is going to be a long day. We set our alarm for 6:30am to be ready for breakfast which starts at 7am. Its still completely dark and at 1,000 meters above sea level it’s really cold. We order porridge for breakfast, a good hearty meal to start our long day. I realise while eating it, that I’ve never dreamed of ordering porridge in a restaurant before.
We hit the road soon after putting the kilometers behind us. It’s really cold and raining slightly. As we turn towards the wild coast and the rain hits harder and the wind whips us by. Eventually we arrive at the coast and decide to get some hot coffee into us. We accidentally stop in at an italian restaurant overlooking the wild sea at Port Nolloth. Mike looks at the menu and together we decided that 10:30am isn’t too early for pizza. This will make it Mike’s last pizza in South Africa. Two coffees, a Regina pizza and a wild storm later we find ourselves back on the road, riding north once again to Alexander Bay.
Again the riding is easy, and the kilometers slip past. Alexander Bay is a nothing town but a petrol station and a scattering of buildings. I fill up my petrol tank and we turn inland following a dirt road to a small border town called Sendelingsdrift. This is our first dirt road riding in over a year. I could feel the nervous tingle every time I hit a dusty patch. Ninety kilometers later we hit the border and walk into the immigrations office.
Feeling a little tired and run down as we approach the border crossing.
While waiting for our passports to be stamped in, I ask if we can get our motorcycles stamped out of South Africa at the same time. The immigrations officer said “Sure, but only one of you”. I look at her surprised: normally in Africa you hardly need to be at immigration and we sometimes even split up to make the process go a bit faster. Mike gathers our carnet de passages and heads next door to see the police officer. I’m a little bit worried about my carnet de passage – it has been stamped into South Africa and the document has since expired. I’m holding a current carnet, but you never know with some customs officers. However, this officer had no idea what to do and followed Mike’s instruction without checking the expiry date on my carnet.
Finally our passports are stamped out of South Africa. We pay the barge fee to cross the Orange River. A few seconds later (the Orange River isn’t very wide) we drive up to the customs office on the Namibian side. While filling out the forms, our stomachs grumble reminding us that we haven’t eaten since 10:30am that day. It’s now 5:00pm South Africa time. We are exhausted. I am looking forward to some food and a decent sleep soon. The overweight road tax lady told us Rosh Pinah is pretty close.
The riding on the dirt road ride is insanely tough, my mind is all over the place. I keep reading the road wrong and hitting the sand bowels. My lack of control, makes me tense up and plough straight into another sand bowel. I quickly get feed up. I stop and look over to Mike “How much further”?” I question him in that whiny way children do “I can not take much more of this!” I’m almost in tears with fatigue and hunger. Mike looks down at the GPS and says “We are halfway babe, just a little bit further” Ok I say to myself, just grin and bear it! We finally arrive into the mining town of Rosh Pinah. My heart sinks, it’s going to rain and mining towns generally mean expensive hotels. I just want a bed and some food and I want it now!
We pull into the first hotel we spot, and just agree to the exorbitant fee (at least it includes breakfast!) I am just past caring, as it’s only for one night. Namibia is an hour behind South Africa, so it’s now 5 pm local time, and it’s dark. We are starving but the restaurant doesn’t open for another hour. We slink off to the bar and after one glass of red wine I’m nearly on the floor. I guess fatigue and hunger make me a cheap date! We get to bed not long after we wolfed down our dinner. I am glad to hit the sack and am excited about what Namibia will bring us tomorrow.