after crossing namibia
Crossing the border into namibia
After getting robbed in South Africa at the beginning of my journey, I never felt 100% comfortable for the rest of the time I was there.
So I was happy once I crossed the border into Namibia. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
I started by riding along the Orange River, which was flooded at the time. This meant the road was closed and I had 2 days to cycle where I was all by myself. There were baboons in the trees and along the road and I even saw my first Kudu.
I felt like I could just take a deep breath and relax. To stop rushing and really enjoy myself.
While Camping next to the river, 2 men saw me washing my dishes in the river just as it was getting dark and came over.
One of them was carrying a shotgun.
The road was closed and flooded and I hadn’t seen anyone all day, so it was weird that there were 2 men walking around at dark.
I spoke with them briefly and apparently they were miners that were left there when the road got flooded and were looking for some animals to hunt so they could have something to eat.
I told them about the Kudu that I saw earlier in the day, and they left hoping they might find it.
Breaking down in the desert
The temperatures throughout most of my time in Namibia, especially in the South were my biggest challenge.
Mainly having enough water.
At some points I was carrying 22 litres of water with me to last 3 days, 2 nights before able to get a farmer to refill the bottles.
It was on one of these long stretches through the desert that I ran into a problem with my rear wheel.
I couldn’t get the rear wheel to engage while pedalling. Turns out it was the freewheel part of the rear hub that engages the wheel when you pedal.
Two of the 3 little pins that help turn the wheel when you pedal were broken and 1 was missing.
So I decided rather than continuing into the middle of the desert, to turn around.
I pushed my bike for 39km in the middle of a 40 degree C day to the nearest farm.
I waited a day trying to hitch hike in any direction. I was just trying to get to a more central location so I could hitchhike to a town with a bike shop.
But only 1 car passed every couple of hours.
Luckily, Andrew, a local farmer was going 650km all the way to Swakopmund and agreed to take me and my bike the next day.
I was able to get my bike sorted in a day by pulling apart a new hub and stealing the little pins that help turn the wheel.
With a bike tune up, bike clean, parts and labour for repairing the hub, it only cost $40AUD.
Although I missed riding passed some of the big dunes because of hitch hiking, I was determined to head back into the desert and deal with the heat and sand again.
But before that, I visited the seal colony at cape cross. Over 200,000 seals live there and I was the only person there. It was pretty funny and a nice break to get off the bike.
Back into the desert
From there I headed down a 4×4 sandy trail towards Messum Crater.
I was happy to once again be alone riding down some sandy roads into the middle of the desert. I don’t know why, but I really enjoy the solitude of travelling by bicycle.
I think it has something to do with overcoming challenges and difficult situations and knowing that no ones there to help you. You have to figure it out yourself.
I was able to camp in a cave surrounded by footprints that were later told to me to be either hyena, leopard or lion prints. Yes they have desert lions in that area.
A couple days later, I’d ran out of water because the trail became unrideable and I had to push the bike for 30km through thick sand. I stopped the only car I’d seen for 2 days to ask for water.
They told me that a few days ago a pride of desert lions were spotted in the area I’d just been cycling through.
To be honest, I was just happy to have some water.
There is no better feeling than quenching your thirst with some cold water.
Etosha national park
I met a french cyclist named Thibault in the small town of UIS. He had cycled all the way from France through West Africa.
We decided to have a couple of days off together. I think we both appreciated the company.
After a couple of days of relaxing, I convinced him to join me to explore Etosha National Park.
I continued to cycle for a few days towards Outjo. I slept under a bridge and I was held at gunpoint in the middle of the night (Read about it here)
Thibault picked me up from Outjo and we drove into Etosha National Park.
I was really glad he decided to join me. It was great to share this experience with someone else.
It was one of the greatest experiences of my life seeing these animals that I’d only ever dreamed about. It felt very surreal at the time.
Seeing Giraffes and Elephants for the first time in the wild was pretty special. Wildebeest, Zebras, Warthogs, Lions, Ostriches, Hyenas, White and black Rhinos and many others.
We had the Lion King soundtrack playing for a lot of the time and it almost brought me to tears.
I guess you don’t realise how much a movie from your childhood can impact you.
The highlights were the 40+ elephants that we saw at one of the natural waterholes and the 20+ rhinos we saw at night. And of course the lions… I’m glad they didn’t find me while I was cycling the previous week.
Riding towards the border
Thibault and I parted ways in Grootfontein and I started riding towards Rundu on the Caprivi Strip.
The landscapes had changed and it was green and tropical now and I’d seen my first bit of rain since leaving Cape Town almost 2 months earlier.
It was quite a pleasant experience.
The last few days of my time in Namibia were spent riding along the Okavango River.
I stayed at different campsites along the river where I did a sunset river cruise.
I saw some hippos in the water for the first time. And a big crocodile.
Just a reminder to myself to not go swimming in the river!
Something that was asked of me twice during my time in Namibia was “What’s your dream”
And it took me a moment to realise and say “This is my dream!”
I’m living my dream. I guess I hadn’t thought about it until that moment.
And I feel extremely lucky and privileged to be able to do that.
I’m looking forward to the unknown and what lies ahead.