Cycling from River to River – Namibia

Part Three – Uis – Ruacana (504 km – 5 days)

Map data: Google

Part One – Cycling from Sendelings Drift to Hammerstein can be found here and Part Two – Cycling from Hammerstein to Uis can be found here

The Road to Khorixas

The road from Uis to Khorixas leads into Damaraland with rolling hills and views of the mountains in the distance. The road was fairly quiet again, with a reasonable gravel surface and the ride was very pleasant.

Signs warned of the desert elephants that roam the area (we didn’t see any) and termite mounds well over two metres high were a common sight alongside the road, mostly leaning towards the north.

Near the Ugab River we passed a tiny settlement which boasted the rather grandly named “Ugab Mall” and the “Ugab Holiday Inn” – no point in being modest in your aspirations, I guess. The campsite in Xhorixas was quite comfortable, although very noisy in the early evening due to an adjacent petrol station.

On to Kamanjab

Heading steadily north from Xhorixas to Kamanjab the road took us into the Kunene Region of Namibia where we encountered the photogenic Himba people for the first time on this trip. We were also quite lucky to see a pair of Hartlaub’s Spurfowl in this area; they are found in a very restricted area in the northern Namibian highlands and are not usually easy to spot. We camped overnight at the Oppi Koppi campsite.

The following day the road took us to the west of the famous Etosha National Park and was tarred for a good part of the way, making the riding somewhat easier and offering a welcome break from the perpetual corrugations. While at a morning roadside tea stop, we were warned by a gentleman from the Africat Foundation of the dangers of cycling on this stretch of road as they were tracking 17 lions that were loose in the area, having escaped from Etosha. The locals waiting at the bus stop nearby seemed unperturbed, so I continued on my way.

Etosha Roadside Camp

We reached our overnight stop at the Etosha Roadside Camp at around lunch time and spent a very enjoyable afternoon at a nearby waterhole, which was visited by Mountain Zebra, Giraffe, Kudu, Impala, Damara Dik-Dik and a multitude of birds. As we were camping nearby, perhaps it was just as well that we didn’t see the Lion, Hyena or Elephants that often frequent the waterhole!

The road to Omakanga took us through an area that was greener than that further south, with the roadside festooned with bushes and small trees.

The last day!

The next day, 25 May, which we anticipated would be the last day of riding, it was quite a relief to reach a signboard announcing “Ruacana 120”. A tarred road, fairly flat and with a brisk tailwind, I flew along effortlessly, making this the second longest segment, but certainly the segment with the fastest average speed on the whole trip.

At 1589 km, this was not the longest trip I have done, but spread over 14 days of riding, it was one of the most enjoyable and certainly not as testing as some. The campsites were, by and large, very good; the people friendly and helpful. The desert scenery was outstanding and the traffic fairly light, although the dust was a little difficult at times. It is great thrill to cycle through such vast open spaces, and to pass wild impala, gemsbok, springbok and other typical Namibian fauna along the way. And of course the birds are always wonderful to see.

 

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