Making a short loop in the Northern Botswana proved to be a great decision as for it we were rewarded generously with sights of wild elephants on both sides of the road famously called “The Elephant Highway”, connecting the towns of Kasane and Nata on the very Northeast part of Botswana. Some elephants were alone, some were with their big families with babies around them… Some were calm or busy with grazing, some were agitated by the passing truck (although traffic was rare on that road) and were waving their ears and lifting the giant trunks up in the air. At those moments we were glad we had 800cc engines to get us further away from these huge beasts at a twist of a throttle. We still can’t understand how cyclists go about riding there, and this is surely a popular route amongst them…
Another highlight of Botswana was supposed to be camping on Okavango delta. We carefully picked a place, called to make sure they are working and that the road is passable to reach them as it was known that it may be flooded at times. As we were informed that someone has reached them recently and they are working, we took off for the Okavango! The first few kilometers of gravel road seemed fine. Then it turned to a double-track through the village. Then it became a double-track on deep loose sand which still seemed fine, until the whole area turned into a big sandbox! Again, we had hope to fight through, as the area was wide and flat and we could still find places where the sand was a pit packed. But finally, when the trail got in between bushes and trees and there were no alternatives available, our heavy loaded motorcycles simply sank into the deep white sand which formed the ridges of over half a meter deep, we ripped them out and simply had to turn back – 8 kilometers of pushing and pulling the stubborn heavy bikes through deep sand at a temperature over 30 degrees was just not our kind of fun… We returned to the main road and find a lovely guesthouse new the border of Namibia.
Namibia was not in our original plan, but since all went fine between Kenya and Botswana, we were having an amazing time in Africa and our motorcycles seemed to enjoy it as much as we did, the decision was made to obtain Namibian visas in Lusaka and go explore the desert. So as we got the visas, we crossed the border near the Caprivi Strip and stopped for the night on the riverside in a town called Rundu. The river divided the land between Angola and Namibia.
At that time we realized that something is wrong with the generator of F650GS motorcycle. It would not charge the battery enough.
We had a plan to visit Etosha National Park, but had to change our plans and head straight to Windhoek for the repair as the bike was threatening to go dead on the battery in some remote inconvenient location… In Windhoek, which is a beautiful city, built in German style due to historical reasons, we found a BMW dealership and a very enthusiastic BMW motorrad mechanic Dieter, who checked the bike and confirmed that the generator was not functioning properly and the stator needed rewiring, but he could not think of anyone in Windhoek who could do it. So we decided to continue south with the bike as it was. But not wanting to lose any more possibilities to experience Namibia, we decided to take a risk and dive into the desert on a bike which was becoming an electric-fuel hybrid at that time – it needed fuel as well as electric charger for the battery to be able to take us through the day’s ride. But luckily we found the possibility to charge the battery numerous times in many different locations – in fancy wineries, in big farms and campgrounds – people we met or the owners of those places had just what we needed and we were able to enjoy the remoteness of vast and somewhat mystical Namib desert to the fullest! We checked out the lovely coastal town Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, then head to Solitaire (which somewhat reminded us of remote American towns in Arizona) and then Aus. The never-ending sandy gravel roads through the desert, clear blue sky during the day and incredibly starry nights made our time in Namibia unforgettable! Add wild horses at Garub, plenty of extremely beautiful animals – oryx and zebras all around, the enormous Fish River Canyon and this country is truly a dream for every traveler!
But it was time to hit our last destination in Africa – the Republic of South Africa – the most developed African country on the very South of the continent. As the condition of F650GS’s generator was quickly deteriorating, and now we only had a possibility to start the bike twice after the battery was fully charged through the night, we headed urgently to Cape Town. Through the global community of motorcycle travelers we got connected with local South African named Rob, who had just returned from his motorcycle trip in South America and got invited to stay with him while working on the bike. We gladly accepted the invitation and only a few days later, a newly rewired stator got installed on the bike. We found a local mechanic, who had the needed part and it was an easy job for Linas to switch them.
Meanwhile we were introduced to South African brai culture by Rob and his family and truly built a beautiful friendship, that will stay with us for a long time. But after spending a week in on the most magnificent cities in the world – Cape Town, it was time to go. We took the coastal route all the way along the coast of first Atlantic and later Indian ocean. We passed idyllic little fishing villages, fancy resort towns, deserts, farmlands, forests and rolled through the hills, decorated with traditional African settlements of mud and straw in the region which was formerly called Transkei, which by the apartheid white government of South Africa was allocated for the black population of the country.
In Durban we changed tires and built a new front wheel to replace the original one on F800GSA which got bent back in South America. The gentleman named Geoff, a former pilot of commercial aircrafts owned a lovely workshop and hosted us at his home, later also connected us with the community of passionate adventure riders of eastern part of the country and from then on we were invited to stay with local people all along the way: we stopped in White River with Mark, who helped us arrange our visit to Kruger National Park from there, we visited an incredible couple of Joe and Ruth, who at their late sixties, were building a farm in the beautiful but very remote place and Joe was still racing dirt bikes with a motto: “The aim is to die young… as late as possible!”.
Finally we reached Johannesburg and were invited to stay with Colin and his family while arranging our motorcycles to be shipped back to Europe from there. During a week that we spent in Jo’burg Colin’s family felt like they were our own family, it eventually felt heartbreaking to leave them as we boarded the plane which was soon to take us to the other side of our planet and away from these fantastic people of South Africa.
Overall, Africa was an absolutely unforgettable experience for us. The contrasts of the cultures, the warmth of simple African people, the eye-opening truth of how different life may be in the same continent or even in the same country! The experience we got in Africa will stay with us for rest of our lives. And we will definitely be back one way or another.
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