Days 50 & 51: Kongola to Katima Mulilo

Date: 03 & 04.12.16
Blog entry date: 04.12.16
Distance: 116km
Odometer: 3 119km
Avg speed: 26.3km/hr
Time on bike: 4h24min
Problems: None
Flat tyre counter: 2 (Days 5&46)
Max speed of tour (Day 14): 65.8km/hr

Staying in 3 Palms Guest house. Good spacious and clean. A last Namibian luxury for us before we head into the unknown. Taking a rest day here to prepare and plan for Zambia. 

We started again early and all went well. The only (almost) incident was when I dropped my phone while riding. I instictively braked and Eva almost crashed into me. Stupid mistake, but nothing happened. Phone also fine. 

After about 2 400km’s we have reached the end of our Namibia tour. It has been an awesome experience. A diverse country with stunning scenery. The contrast between the far north including Caprivi and the south is unbelievable. For us the south appealed more, but that’s personal, others will prefer the greener north. To use one word for a lasting impression it is space. Here is a lot of space, space for a person to breath, to live, to feel free and to feel small against the vastness of creation. Space to put things into perspective. As I said early after we entered Namibia, if you have not been here, put it on your list, you will not be dissapppointed. Then again, I grew up here, so may be a bit biased 😁. 

Tomorrow we will cross the border. Zambia is completely new terrain for us and we are excited to continue. We have heard many good things about Zambia and look forward to experience it ourselves. 

Thanks for all the support, prayers and donations received! 

We did not take many pictures, but here are a few. 

Willem & Eva

P.S. As we enter Zambia I will again try and get their local sim for my phone, but might be off-line for a while. 

Our last Namibian town. Eva seeks out the only shade πŸ˜‚

Zambia awaits us. View from a deck at the guest house over the river.


Days 48 & 49: Divundu to Kongola

Note: Pictures of days 46 & 47 uploaded as of 02.12.16

Date: 01 & 02.12.16
Blog entry date: 02.12.16
Distance: 215km; an almost respectable cricket score 😁
Odometer: 3 003km
Avg speed: 25.2km/hr
Time on bike: 8h31min
Problems: A long long day!
Flat tyre counter: 2 (Days 5&46)
Max speed of tour (Day 14): 65.8km/hr

Camped at Mazambala lodge last night. Staying in Kawina guest house (only guest house in town) today. 

Mazambala lodge closed down and the camp site is falling apart. We arrived late and too tired to look for alternatives. We got drinking water and I showered, before the taps ran dry. Poor Eva had to be content with using a little of our drinking water for basic washing. I was too tired to realise any difference in the tent πŸ˜†.  There is also no electricity. 

Due to very long day on 1st Dec, taking a rest day today. Decided to look-up the guest house someone told us about. We have a sink-roof over our heads, but no ceilling 😁 (seriously) so expect our room to heat up, but at N$200 for the night a bargain. 

Our challenge for the day (1 Dec); 200km’s separate Divundu and Kongola. In between is the Bwabwata national park with a few traditional villages. The park has elephant, antelope and buffalo. Our plan was to camp in the park due to the long distance. 

We started from Nunda river lodge at the usual 05:45 when planning a tough day. Partly pushing the bikes out through the sand track. 

Early on in the park we saw a herd of sable antelope, beautiful. Then we saw nothing, except the occasional car or truck. It was hot and we were consuming water at a high rate. We stopped at a local village and managed to buy a cold 2 liter coke for N$30 (they had no water). Eva’s first coke in living memory. 

Our speed was high and at 12:15 we have done 142km’s. We then stopped for our favourite activity, waiting out the heat πŸ˜‚. 

On my app, we found a camp site shortly before Kongola. We were both still feeling very good and considering our good progress might as well try and get through in a day, another 65km. We started off again at 15:45. 

All going well untill the last 30km’s. My energy levels took a nose dive. We ate, drank and continued. Soon seeing elephant dung, a kudu and a buffalo. It was now between 17:00 and 18:00 when the animals are more active. Soon after 200km’s I told Eva I need a last short break. She did not want to stop and get through the park. My response was a sarcastic, “it’s tough in front, maybe you want to break some wind for me”. To my astonishment, next I see Eva passing me and taking the lead! Wow, respect!! I will never forget that moment. It was great to be able to free wheel a bit and it did help me a lot. 

To our disappointment, our planned camp site (Bum Hill) closed down. This meant an additional 8km’s for us of which 2km was again on a sand track, sometimes pushing the bikes. This really got to both of us. We arrived in camp during the last light of day. I just managed to pitch the tent, shower and dumped into bed. I did not even have appetite. Poor Eva could not even have a shower. 

We are very happy everything worked out, but in future will leave 200+ km’s to the Tour de France contenders. 

Through all the effort, it went a bit unnoticed that we have now done more than 3 000km’s on tour. A great milestone for us. 

Tomorrow off to Katima Mulilo (a short 110kmπŸ˜‚) where we will again take a rest day before leaving Namibia. 

As we approach the end of Namibia, I want to ask again if you please will consider a donation to the Josiah Trust whom we are trying to raise some funds for. Any amount, small or large will be very much appreciated. 

Thanks for all the support and for following. 

Willem & Eva

A big Nguni bull greeted us as we left Nunda.

Careful of the elephant, sign in the Bwabwata park.

Typical local village. People are generally very friendly.

Getting comfortable during our heat-break.

Snapshot of the route. The clouds helped a little, but it was still very hot. I recorded 38 deg (celsius) om my watch thermometer

Days 46 & 47 River Dance lodge to Divundu

Date: 29 & 30.11.16
Blog entry date: 30.11.16
Distance: 41km
Odometer: 2 788km
Avg speed: 18.2km/hr
Time on bike: 2h14min
Problems: Flat tyre
Flat tyre counter: 2 (Days 5&46)
Max speed of tour (Day 14): 65.8km/hr

Staying at Nunda River Lodge in a bungalow. Our first proper bed since Windhoek and a real luxury to us. Our waking hours normally consist of packing, un-packing, cycling (of-course), cooking, bike maintenance, washing, eating and sometimes writing the blog. Eva still finds time to read, but I struggle to get to that, my efficiency is not at the same level πŸ˜†. The break at Nunda is really great for us. Fantastic location, bungalow overlooking the Kavango. Got a special rate on the accommodation. 

Planned for a short 40km on the 29th and still had breakfast at River Dance. We wanted to settle our account (at River Dance), but they told us everything is free of charge. What an amazing surprise! We are so thankful! To top it all, River Dance is really awesome accommodation and the food was excellent. 

That said, our day started as it ended, pushing our bicycles along 2km of sand track. Then followed a short 30km to Divundu our next town. Here we stocked up our provisions again and continued 6km to Nunda. The status quo prevailed and we again had to push our bikes the last 1.4km to Nunda lodge. Very nice setup and worth it. 

May have noticed the dreaded flat tyre counter ticked on. About 5km before Nunda Lodge we got the second flat of our tour. I was cycling when my front tube deflated very quickly. Soon I was riding on the flat tyre as I could not stop fast enough. I just managed to stay on the bike and in the end jumped off as eventually I lost control. I could stay on my feet and there is no serious damage to the bicycle, it only got some character 😁. Quickly put in another tube and arrived shortly afterwards at Nunda. On the positive side, two flats for 2 bicycles after almost 2 800km is not too bad. 

Yesterday afternoon we did a boat ride which was worth every cent. Saw hippos, crocodiles and birds. We also visited the Poppa falls (actually only rapids) which was beautiful in late afternoon light. 

Taking a rest day today to enjoy something of the special location we’re at.

Cannot upload any pictures due to slow internet but will do that when possible. 

Thanks for all your messages and prayers. We have many times experienced God’s goodness and protection on this tour and are grateful. 

Willem & Eva

P.S. I managed to download the Sasol Bird App which is very practical and can be recommended if you are interested in birding. 

Leaving River Dance, pushing through the sand

Fortunatley I could replace the tube in the shade.

The view from our bungalow. Men in a mokoro on the Kavango.

2 Hippo’s lurking in the water.

A happy smiling crocodile.

Nice scene with the clouds and sunlight.

The Poppa falls (rapids).

Our first-ever selfie.

Beautiful sunset shortly before dinner.

Day 45: Shankara camp to River Dance lodge

Date: 28.11.16
Blog entry date: 28.11.16
Distance: A tiring 107km
Odometer: 2 747km
Avg speed: 19.6km/hr
Time on bike: 5h28min
Problems: None
Flat tyre counter: 1 (Day 5)
Max speed of tour (Day 14): 65.8km/hr

Camping at River Dance lodge next to Kavango river, 25km’s before Divundu. Most scenic camp spot so far.

Expected a hot day and that’s what we got. On the bikes at 05:45 to make the most of early morning cool air. Riding into a strong headwind the entire day. The wind and hot weather were very tiring.

At 50km’s we stopped at “Try again” shabeen and could buy cold drinks and biltong. A nice break for us.

Initially thought we will go all the way to Divundu, but given the conditions, that proved 25km’s too far on the day. We however got a nasty surprise at the end. Last 2km’s to River Dance is on sand track and we had to push the bikes, while the relentless sun was beating down. We made it, but very tired. The lodge and camp is however stunning and in the end happy we ended up here.

The bird life is amazing and I feel a bit depressed that I do not have my field guide and binoculars with me, but size and weight were issues with packing.

Thanks for following.

Willem & Eva

Snapshot of our route today. The few clouds did not provide any cover from the sun.

“Try again” shabeen, classic. 😁

View from the deck at the lodge. The picture does not do it justice.

A village along route.

Day 44: Rundu to Shankara camp

Date: 27.11.16
Blog entry date: 27.11.16
Distance: A windy 87km
Odometer: 2 640km
Avg speed: 19.7km/hr
Time on bike: 4h25min
Problems: None
Flat tyre counter: 1 (Day 5)
Max speed of tour (Day 14): 65.8km/hr

Camping at Shankara close to Shitemo. Next to the Okavango river, grass and huge trees for adequate shade. No hippo’s or crocs yet. I believe the water level is still to low in this particular area.

Very hot today. Bought some onions from a road stall. They sold watermelon and onions. The melon would have been perfect, but is way to big for our bicycles. Felt too bad not to buy anything so got a few onions. Guess what’s in our food tonight 😁.

Again riding into a headwind. we first had the north-wind and now the east-wind πŸ˜₯. We are sleeping half-way between Rundu and Divundu our next town. We hope to reach Divundu tomorrow and to take another rest day there as this is supposed to be a beautiful area.

Thanks for all the support.

Willem & Eva

A snapshot from the route today. Sunny and hot!

A local school along route.

Trying out the “life straw” filtration system. The water at our camp site is extracted directly from the river and not safe for consumption without treatment.

The Kavango with Angola on the other side.

Days 42 & 43: Mururani to Rundu

Date: 25 & 26.11.16
Blog entry date: 26.11.16
Distance: A long 147km
Odometer: 2 552km
Avg speed: 21.2km/hr
Time on bike: 6h56min
Problems: None
Flat tyre counter: 1 (Day 5)
Max speed of tour (Day 14): 65.8km/hr

Camping at Kaisosi River Lodge, 8km beyond Rundu. Good facilities, beautiful setting next to Kavango river. Camp site has grass and massive trees providing good shade.

Our longest distance of the tour so far. Started before 06:00 and arrived after 14:00. A rain storm during the night cooled things down and we cycled in cloudy conditions, but again into a headwind.

North of Mururani is the start of the Kavango communal land area. The indigenous people live in huts with traditional farming being practiced. Clay and wood artefacts are being sold along route. From time to time “shabeens” (local liquor shop) and “cuca shops” (small shop) popped up along route.

The trees are visibly larger and broad leaved and the environment greener. This area has a high annual rainfall and the evidence is unmistakable.

Initially as we cycled we waved and greeted people. Most were friendly, but the children typically start screaming “sweets!, sweets!, sweets!” with one hand forward. This becomes a bit overwhelming due to the large number of children. It is unfortunate that this attitude of asking is somehow being taught to the kids. I once said back “give me sweets!” 😱 which bowled them out.

Early on a dog chased us, but we were going above 30km/hr. He kept up for a short while but we soon outpaced it.

We once shared a rest place with a couple and their baby. They were friendly and we tried to converse with them. They spoke Kwangali, 1 of 4 languages of the Kavango people. Since our Kwangali is zero, limited english had to be used.

We arrived in Rundu after more than 130km, did shopping and continued to Kaisosi lodge. The last km’s were on very bad gravel. On top of that directions were not clear and my right knee started to pain. We eventually arived, all good.

Met up again with Richard and Steph (from Roy’s) and had dinner together.

Enjoying a rest day here and spoiled ourselves with breakfast at the lodge. Rich and diverse birdlife at the camp site. 

We hope to enter the Caprivi strip soon and expect it to be one of the scenic highlights of our tour.

Thanks for all the support & prayers.

Willem & Eva

One of many traditional villages next to the road.

Cattle and goats were crossing the road at free will.

Scene along the route.

Looking out over the Kavango towards Angola.

Last night there was a termite invasion. These are their wings blown together by the wind.

Day 41: Roy’s camp to Mururani camp

Date: 24.11.16
Blog entry date: 24.11.16
Distance: 71km
Odometer: 2 405km
Avg speed: 21.6km/hr
Time on bike: 3h17min
Problems: None
Flat tyre counter: 1 (Day 5)
Max speed of tour (Day 14): 65.8km/hr

Camping at Mururani camp, about half-way between Grootfontein and Rundu. Camp on grass, always nice.

Cloudy weather made it a bit cooler today. Since Okahandja we have mostly cycled into the nort-wind. This is to be expected for this time of year when the rainy season begins. Not very strong, but requires more effort.

For the first time started to see some Mopani-trees along the road. Eva drew my attention to a small red-velvet bug. I told her, colloquially it’s called the “reΓ«n-gogga” (rain-bug). She was sceptical, but Google was on my side (aka red velvet mite).

Yesterday met Richard & Steph who are on a motorbike tour from Cape Town to The Netherlands. Exchanged some stories and tips.

Mururani is the last camp before the Okavango region with communal settlements/farming until Rundu. Will try and get to Rundu tomorrow so preparing for a long day.

Willem & Eva

Some clouds helped to keep cool.

Size of a centipede in relation to my 55g bar-one I was about to eat. This was a “small” specimen, I mean the centipede. The big ones might be mistaken for a snake.

Richard and Steph on their way to Rundu.

Day 40: Grootfontein to Roy’s camp

Date: 23.11.16
Blog entry date: 23.11.16
Distance: 53km
Odometer: 2 334km
Avg speed: 25.6km/hr
Time on bike: 2h04min
Problems: None
Flat tyre counter: 1 (Day 5)
Max speed of tour (Day 14): 65.8km/hr

Camping at Roy’s camp, about 60km north of Grootfontein. Camp on grass, always nice.

Short day of cycling to slowly work through the 257km to Rundu, our next town. Gentle downhill, but again cycling into a headwind. With the next camp option a further 70km away we decided to spare ourselves another marathon ride and take the day easy. 

At the camp ablution a scorpion was hiding in the corner of one of the cubicles. Unfortunately had to kill it, as catching it would have been very risky. 

Having a more relaxed day. Looking like it may rain again late afternoon or eveing.  

Willem & Eva

Scenery along this part of the route.

Another beautiful shady stop along the way.

Go green: get rid of the engine, grow a tree, buy a bicycle 😁

Day 39: Otavi to Grootfontein

Date: 22.11.16
Blog entry date: 22.11.16
Distance: A beautiful 105km
Odometer: 2 281km
Avg speed: 21km/hr
Time on bike: 5h01min
Problems: Headwind
Flat tyre counter: 1 (Day 5)
Max speed of tour (Day 14): 65.8km/hr

Camping at Pandoki camp site, 6km north of Grootfontein. Nice camp site on grass. 

The scenery was beautiful today. Cycled through a wide valley with tree-clad hills on both sides. Clearly entering a region that receives more rain now. The scenery was different to what we have seen so far in Namibia.

Received my new mattress in Grootfontein that JC managed to buy and send in record-time from Windhoek! Very happy about it. Collected it from his contact in Grootfontein who treated us like old friends. Got great tips for accommodation further north and into the Caprivi strip. 

Stocked up on supplies at Spar. Having delicious camp food tonight (no sarcasm intended) 😁. 

Shortly after pitching the tent a rain storm arrived. Enjoyed the summer rains a lot, with the smell of petrichor (thanks Riette πŸ‘). The new tent passed the rain test keeping everything dry inside. 

Hope for an uninterrupted sleep tonight on the new mattress 😁. 

Willem & Eva

Early morning, into the hills.

This was a beautiful valley. The scenery helped to forget the headwind.

We’ve been cycling next to a railway since Otjiwarongo.

The distances between towns are intimidating. Especially when on a bicycle.

Summer rains in Namibia, a great experience!

Beautiful scene afterwards.

The way water used to be heated before electricity arrived. The “donkey” is still used in remote areas.

Days 37 & 38: Otjiwarongo to Otavi

Date: 20 to 21.11.16
Blog entry date: 21.11.16
Distance: A difficult 118km
Odometer: 2 175km
Avg speed: 21.1km/hr
Time on bike: 5h34min
Problems: Headwind & criminals
Flat tyre counter: 1 (Day 5)
Max speed of tour (Day 14): 65.8km/hr

Camping at Khorab Lodge, 3km before Otavi. Facilities good, but not a good choice… read on.

Sleeping at the Roman Catholic centre in Otjiwarongo – not good. It was a bit of a “Garies experience”. The street in fromt of our window was the meeting place for local drunks (remember it was Saturday night). Neither Eva nor I slept a wink.

First few kilometers were ok, but from about 07:00 we were riding into a headwind making life difficult. At kilometer 87 we had a nice surprise: petrol station with shop. Could buy cold drinks- made a big difference. Reached Khorab lodge tired but very happy to have made it. Impressed with Eva, like always 😁. Taking a rest day here after difficult cycling since Okahandja.

Scenery similar to previous day. Again saw some wildlife, kudu, gemsbok (oryx) and the ever present warthog.

At Khorab lodge had a cold beer and we spoiled ourselves with a dinner. Also started to take our malaria medication. Will have to make this part of our daily routine from now on. 

In bed early and slept like a rock until 02:00. Woke up with a start to the sound of screaming and running footsteps. Saw 2 guys running past our tent. My 1st thought: “is this security chasing someone?” Got out of tent to meet the campers behind us. 3 German campers on a tour of South-Africa, Botswana & Namibia. They were sleeping in roof tents when 2 criminals had the audacity to smash the passenger window, grabbed one of the “moonbags” and ran away. All this while they were in the tent above the bakkie. 

My little bit of german came into good use. In the moonbag was money, but more important the one woman’s passport and drivers licence.  After a short discussion the man and I (other 2 both women) set off in search of the thieves. I managed to grab my headlamp, pepper spray and put on my shoes. We started off not sure where to look but were derermined to find something or someone. Around the restaurant area Ernst suddenly said, there is something and started running. I followed close behind to see the eyes of a few scared antelope staring at us in bewilderment. We walked around for another 5 minutes when Ernst told me he recently had a heart operation and feels out of breath. Around this time I also realised he is carrying a small hand axe with him as weapon. Jeepers, those antelope can be happy they chased away fast enough πŸ˜‚

We returned to camp. As the semi-local I felt it my duty to have another look around. All I saw were a few rabbit eyes. I once even bluffed and shouted into the dark “you can come out now, we’ve got you”. No effect, but boy it must have looked hilarious πŸ˜†. 

I returned to camp again. Some local staff arrived and the police arrived. The Germans’ english were not very good and I acted as a kind of interpreter, with extremely poor grammer, but it proved practical enough. 

Nothing or no-one were found. Later in bed I realised the funny side of it all. Me without a shirt but with pepper spray, walking with a german I never met, carrying a hand axe looking for 2 thieves on a farm we do not know at all. 

Unfortunately the situation is very serious and inconvenient for them due to the lost passport and I feel very sorry about it all.  Also the way the incident was handled by the lodge staff leaves much to be desired, it was very poor!

Before I returned to bed Ernst offered Eva and I breakfast as a sign of appreciation. He eventually gave us money for it. I refused but he insisted. I also accompanied them to the Otavi police station the following day, again to assist with translation. After some effort we got the statement taken and case opened. 

I must also note that I felt the place quite safe and all of our bags were outside. We normally store it under the tent fly-sheet. It would have been a much easier target, but we were spared. As much as we are grateful we were not the target, as sorry we feel for our fellow campers! Thanking God for our safety and praying for mercy for the victims. This serves as a cruel reminder to us not to be complacent about security. 

We briefly considered to abandon our rest day here but decided to stay after all. 

Mattress udate: JC offerred to buy a replacement in Whk and send it to Grootfontein. Very grateful!

Did not take many pictures as we battled the wind, but here are a few. 

Willem & Eva

Clouds! Rain is forecast for later in the week.

Venison for dinner.