D74…..The Atom Bomb

Blog, Photos — By on December 4, 2012 12:28 pm

We were accompanied at breakfast by a lone wildebeest that slowly made its way down to the waterhole just in front of the lodge. Breakfast was a quiet affair, sadly, with no conversation as the modern world intruded. The iphones were out in force. We had a signal.

We biked the first 30 minutes over rough tracks to exit the private game reserve. Giraffes looked on curiously and then cantered off with those giant strides of theirs. Zebras and impala just looked bemused at these foriegn objects and bolted off into the bush.

After another 50k of tar or so we came to our first police checkpoint. ‘Driving licences please’. He didn’t bother looking at any of them and waved us through. And through we would have gone but for George who had our first Namibian puncture. This is always a half hour task and we are in the midst of it as I write this first section, sat on the back of the bike trailer. Still the sun is shining, it is a balmy 25 degrees and we only have 400k to go!!

The next 200k was uneventful. The route was punctuated by little villages, usually with a large heap of beer bottles in the centre. We were in rural Africa proper. Zebras had been replaced by donkeys, wildebeest by cattle and herds of impalas by goats. They all roam freely. There are no fences. So acute vigilance is required at all times. No daydreaming allowed. We have become creatures of habit on the open road. Gregg leads. We sit about 40 metres apart. And we travel spot on 120kph. We look like we are all connected as we lean around bends in unison. The bikes seem to like this speed. The engine purrs comfortably at 5000rpm, the wind noise is bearable and it is possible to look around and view the countryside.

It got busier and busier during this 200k. We went through a few checkpoints. We refuelled. And even managed a coffee and some chips at a small Wimpy’s.

We left the bustling metropolis of Oshikati, home for half the population of Namibia, at about 1pm and headed West. This next section was to be an altogether different 200k.

The road was arrow straight. It was new. The surface was perfect. It had bright yellow lines down each side and a white dotted line in the centre interspersed with shiny new catseyes. But it felt very strange as we were the only people on the road. Not another soul. Not a car, not a lorry. After an hour we stopped under a shady tree for a breather. We speculated on whether the Israelis had provoked global warfare and triggered mutual atomic destruction. Could we be the sole survivors on the planet in this remote part of Northern Namibia? We set off again. Baking hot. Arrow straight. Not a soul. I wondered whether we should rename the group MadMax. 7 bikers in armoured jackets, faces obscured by dark visors, bikes splattered with white mud and red dust. I envisaged the next town, deserted with doors banging in the wind, cars abandoned in the streets, no sign of life. Should we be looking out for a wrecked fuel tanker?

It was flat and arid. Either bare white earth, or scub and bush. Nothing was able to grow more than about 3 metres in this moistureless environment.

It was wierd. The finest road we have ridden in Africa. All to ourselves. The dotted white lines running into a shimmering haze on the horizon. The road to nowhere.

Finally we did come across that town. Opuwo. But there was life, lots of it. And it would happily have graced one of those Mel Gibson movies. There are two tribes that live in Opuwo, the Himba and the Herrero and they couldn’t be more different or bizarre.

The Himba are naked from the waist. They are very dark and coated with a deep red ochre. They are adorned with masses of beads and colour and are very striking. They all look like Grace Jones. They wander around the town freely, in and out of the supermarket, chatting under trees, feeding babies in the streets.

And then we have the Herrero people who were highly influenced by the Germans at the turn of the last century. The women are big. And I mean big. They wear the most extraordinary dresses. More like ballgowns. The are richly coloured, usually satins, tight waisted and then billowing down to the ground. They look straight out of a New Orleans bordello. (And yes I can guess the joke here!)

A brilliant day, full of colour and life and our last day of tar for a long time to come. The scenery changed dramatically in the last 30 minutes of riding. From flat plains it has become mountainous and dramatic. Tomorrow we head into this terrain on dirt tracks. It will be another very different day I expect. J


Two stops today for Coffee, the second under the only tree in Namibia!  35 degrees.

















Refuelling in Opuwo


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