26th August – 9th September
(55 – 69 day of our trips)
Total – 14 days
We are now used to border crossings and getting to new countries. The routine always includes:
- Ensure you check beforehand how busy the border point is and when it is busiest.
- Make sure to change the money of the country you are leaving in to the currency of the country you are going to.
- Check distance to the border and the nearest accommodation just in case you get delayed at the border.
- Arrive early in the morning always. Saves you all the time and you are on the road when not too tired.
So far these have been our top 4 for each border crossing.
We crossed in to Namibia from Botswana through Mamuno/Trans Kalahari border and rode to Gobabis. Our first night in Namibia was spent at Qian campsite. A really nice campsite. It was the first time we had the encounter with the harsh African winter. In our planning, we had factored in the winter season in the south and our timing was that, we would arrive there when winter is ending. To our surprise, winter had decided to wait for us. It is more cold in the coast though. If planning to travel to Namibia, the best time is September to January. It is summer during those months.
We arrived at the reception and asked for a campsite. The wonderful couple running the place asked us what kind of beddings we had as the previous night they had experienced lows of 6°C. We told her we have a tent and light fleece blankets (courtesy of Indigo6). They quickly said those would not keep us warm throughout the night. They offered a mattress, bedsheets and two very heavy and warm blankets. Our previous two nights had been spent on hard floor as we did not have mattresses and the hotel we camped at Ganzi Botswana had no camping mattresses. On this night we slept like King and Queen. Were it not for the coffee wakeup call in the morning, we are sure we would have slept through to midday. It was a really warm and lovely welcome to Namibia.
The following day we left for Windhoek and would ride 212 kilometers of a very long straight road. We arrived in Windhoek pretty early and spent some time looking for accommodation. Most of the backpackers were full and at some point, we thought we might have to camp by the road side. We had two days in Windhoek. We eventually found a backpackers that had space. We visited the independence museum and the Christ (German) church.
We however missed the railway museum which came highly recommended. This was because, we had to do some shopping for camping gear. The temperatures were still dropping and we could not risk to go further without the right sleeping bags and mattresses.
From Windhoek, we left for the ocean in Swakompund. 353 kilometers of open, long straight roads. From Karibib, the desert begun and we also got in to some cross winds. The desert was really beautiful and occasionally distracted us from the winds. About 20 kilometers or so before Swakompund. Everything changed. We had fog and the temperatures dropped from about 28 degrees to about 8 degrees. After 10 kilometers our hands were freezing and we had to turn on the heated grips. We had come from the warmer weather and we had not layered at all. The last 10 kilometers in to Swakompund were extremely cold. We decided to stay at Tiger Reef camp which is the same camp site Dos had stayed in 3 years ago. Luckly he remembered the location and we did not get lost. We also lost an hour and the night started at 6:00 pm. We had very little time to get set up and go look for food. The camp was not self catering but luckily they had a restaurant a few meters from the campsite. Being next to the ocean, it was freezing cold.
We spent a couple of days exploring Swakompund. There is quite a lot to do in Swakompund. We visited the National Marine Aquarium, the Museum, Woermann tower, the old jetty, the sand dunes of Walvisbay for cord biking. These activities are within the town and so won’t cost you time or transport cash. We loved the cord biking and sand boarding so much. It was also so amazing to finally cross Africa coast to coast. That is Indian Ocean to Atlantic Ocean.
It’s a shame we never did the skeleton coast and Walvis Bay. Please don’t skip this on your Namibia trip. Dos had done the two places before though. We headed south to Solitire. From Swakompund, it’s less than 100 kilometers and you are in the sandy, gravel roads of the Namib Desert. We still had the original tyres that come with the BMW F700 GS, the Michelin Anakee 3. Most of the road had not been graded for some time and therefore had sections of deep sand and lots of loose gravel. On the sections where they had graded, the grading was so fresh and the roads were extremely bumpy as they grade and leave rumble strips all through. At least these part of Namibia was hot and windy. As much as we welcomed the warmth, the wind and bad roads slowed us too much that we were baking in our gear. Before getting to Solitire we stopped at the Tropical of Capricon. This was really a very exciting moment for us.
Incase you decide to do this part of Namibia (or any other similar roads) in the same tyres, it is doable but very taxing on the rider. The tyres managed to cross the entire gravel and sandy roads in Africa. Other than slowing us down due to poor traction and grip, they remained in good condition and wear and tear was normal. We did change the tyres in South Africa because, we needed 40/60 tyres but not because they got worn out.
Solitaire is a very small town. They actually say it does not qualify to be called a town by the standards of a town. however, for miles and miles, this is the only place you can find a petrol station, bakery, coffee shop and camping grounds. It has the best sunset and we loved it. We only had a night stop. There was a small tourist center with some activities but we did not take any of them as we were looking forward to climbing the dunes in Sossusvlei. After one night we left for Sossusvlei. All the way from Walvis Bay we had been riding in the desert, gravel and plenty of sand but very gorgeous scenery of rocks and endless beauty as far as the eye can see. We had two nights in Sossusvlei and a whole day of climbing the dunes.
One thing to note is, only 4 X 4 vehicles are allowed into the National Park because the sand is very fine and deep. If you take any other of vehicle you get fined and if you get stuck, you pay the a bigger fine, towing charges. We therefore could not take the bikes there. We paid a tour package through Sossusvlei Lodge in whose campsite we were staying. We really recommend climbing the dunes if you are planning to visit Namibia. We were there in the beginning of September and although the winter was supposed to be ending or have ended, it was extremely cold. You won’t believe we were wearing jackets in the desert while climbing the dunes. Its is better to go there after winter.
The ride from Sossusvlei to Mariental was going to be the last of the desert. We had mixed feelings about this. We had gotten used to riding in the desert and loved it a lot. We also had the wrong tires for the desert ride and so we were doing pretty slow speeds which was extremely tiring. We however were great to see the tarmac at the Maltahohe . Mariental was even colder. We went to a really beautiful camping site called Mariental Chalets. One night the temperatures dropped to 3 degrees in the night and we had to put our tent in the ablutions to sleep as it was warmer in there. We decided to stay 2 days in Mariental and rest our bodies.
Our initial plan was to go to Luderitz and Fish River Canyon but we shelved this when we got an invite to The African Travel Summit in South Africa organized by Airbnb. From Mariental it was going to be 1,200 kms and we took 3 days for this stretch.
We will definitely return to Namibia. There is so much we did not do but we truly enjoyed riding in this beautiful country.
You can enjoy our journey in motion on our YouTube channel.