Cycling from River to River – Namibia
Part One – Sendelingsdrift – Hammerstein (496 km – 5 days)
The idea of cycling the length of Namibia, from the Orange (Gariep) River in the south to the Cunene (Kunene) River in the north was first mooted around 2010 in discussion with some cycling friends in Windhoek. These rivers form the southern and the northern boundaries of Namibia and there are no other perennial rivers in between. Quickly christened the “River to River” ride, it never materialized during the years we spent in Namibia, and it was only a few years later, when we were living back in South Africa, that I finally tackled it, riding solo, ably supported by Jane.
Map data: Google
The route that we took followed, the main, gravel roads that lie between the B1, the main South-North road through Namibia, and the Atlantic Ocean.
Cycling in loose sand and corrugations
We spent the night before the cycle started in Springbok, and so by the time we had crossed the border into Namibia and driven to Sendelingsdrift to start the ride, it was lunchtime. I very soon found the going a little tougher than expected as there was a lot of loose sand on the road, as well as long sections of extreme corrugations.
On the road from Sendelingsdrift
Leaving Sendelingsdrift the scenery is quite spectacular. Dry and stark, with sandy flats and bleak, rocky hills on both sides of the road. As with all of our cycle trips, Jane drove ahead for 10 – 20 km and waited patiently on the side of the road, reading, knitting or doing puzzles until I arrived. In this way, if she had any sort of problem she knew that I would be along “soon”.
The first day was a short ride and we camped at Spitzkopwildplaas overnight. By and large the campsites in Namibia are great, with good facilities and reasonably priced.
Early in May, the sun rises well after 7 am in Namibia and it was cold, semi-dark and often misty when I set out in the mornings. I like to get away early so that I finish the day’s ride around lunchtime, leaving the rest of the day to enjoy the countryside. When camping there is always a lot to do!
The second night’s campsite in Aus was less enjoyable, as campsites in towns often are, but the third night made up for that. We swapped camping for a chalet in the Tirasberg, with spectacular views over the plains spread out below us. Quite wonderful.
Unfortunately, the road was badly corrugated which detracted from the enjoyment of the ride. Short stretches of corrugations are fine, but after a few hours, the toll on arms and shoulders particularly is inclined to erode one’s sense of humour.
Traffic on this stretch was quite light and therefore dust was not a problem in spite of the dryness of the road.
On the road to Aubures
We spent the fourth night at Aubures Camp, a working farm with fabulous campsites under giant camelthorn trees, and then rode on to Hammerstein Lodge where our campsite was visited by springbok and gemsbok.
Part Two – from Hammerstein Lodge to Uis will follow shortly