David Edinger's 17 Day African Ride
Ahhh, the first day. We are on a BMW F800 GS. We were expecting rain, 90 % chance and in the 50's. Honestly I was bummed and trying to prepare for the weather. I went to a sporting goods store twice in two
days to tweak the package....
When we left the pavement was damp, and we were riding on the " wrong side" of the road but it was not the rain storm I expected, but it was coming.....
All of us left town without wearing raining gear. Motorcyclists think positive. We made it to the edge of town and pulled over under a bridge. It was now pouring rain and time to put it on.
We rode 5 passes, one of them was in the red mud, with deep potholes, driving rain and sans pavement. All were that way, but that one included mud.
We were also about to run out of gas, I thought the end was near. Yes there was a van within cellular distance, but we had ridden all day in the cold and driving rain. I had rain covers for my gloves, but
gloves don't fit in the very well. So I warm my glove liners all day with the rain covers over them and the grips on full heat. Not perfect, the liners were wet by days end but I am the only one that will
have dry gloves on day two.
I made it by the way, still raining, one other person ran out of gas, a tough lady from Germany. I had 34 KM's on reserve.
That night we had a good first dinner after a tough ride. T-Shirts were handed out, toasts were made, then we headed to the bar. With a fire going, to continue the bath of wet gloves around the fire at dinner
and the Chinese laundry around the room.
When you get gas in S.A., you never pump it yourself. However you are expected to tip the attendant
The makeup of the group is:
14 bikes including two guides
1) Spanish guide
1) South African guide
Was to be a bit chilly but no rain, that lasted for 5 minutes. The rain was in the mountains and we were riding along the base. Not too bad though and just sporadic plus it was warming up.
Lots of adventure tour bike tours on the road today, group after group. Then at a stop Charlie Bohrman rides up. He is one of the two guys including Ewan McGregor from the motorcycle adventure, long way round
and long way down. He has a tour group headed to the same town as us tonight.
Once we approach our last night’s stay in S.A. Which is a town called Springbok named after the animals which frequented the area; we got off the main road and hit dirt. This got interesting, the first water
crossing soaked us, this continued for almost 3 hours. More water crossings than I could easily count, lots of deep sand (two up on an 800cc with gear). Missy had never been off road, she kept waiting for the
big crash and the end of her running days, and I even heard her yelp....once. Then the group got separated, four of us at the front ended taking the long scenic route and still beating the rest of the group
back. There was plenty of dust though, of the four of us, we were some of the fastest riders but Missy and I we Two Up. So we trailed and ate dust, it was dark I had to lift my dark shield and take the dust
in my eyes to try to see.
Two bikes struggled in the mud crossings. One was a GS 1200 ridden by Franz and Elfie of Germany who rode two up and who were on their 5th Edelweiss tour. Nice couple and good riders also Paulo jr. who also
rode a big GS as did he Father, Paulo SR They were a Father son team from San Paulo. Good riders and made me wish my son still rode.
we left towards the Namibia border and after 125kms, we hit the expected wait. Shortly afterwards we hit dirt for the rest of the day. The roads were a mix of challenges, sand, and wash boards but doable. The
quickest of us were hitting 120 km in the dirt. We stopped at a thermal spring, but only two of us hit the spring. The remaining route was good, and fast. We stayed at an amazing place with grass roofs on
after a short ride we hit the Fish River Canyon in the Namibian dessert. It is the second largest canyon in the world.
From there we had 125kms till lunch, all on gravel/sand roads. Missy was getting good today on standing when I stood if there was sand, etc. We were truly one, off roaring today.
Finally today they split us into two groups. Fast and slower. There were four of us in the fast group including one of the guides from Spain, also there was a Spanish gentleman in his 60's as well as a
Brazilian in his 40's, but Missy and I were the only ones two up. Julio (the older Spanish gentleman) crashed today after breaking out from the pack, there was a right hand turn/rail road track. As you know
making a turn at speed in gravel is not easy. He is now in the hospital spending the night with 4 broken ribs. He will then be transported to the Capitol as we proceed on. Hopefully we will catch up to him in
a few days.
We start just down the road at a place called the Giants Playground. It is piles of boulders everywhere stacked up. It seems improbable how it could be.
Then it is back to town to find a bank, top off with gas and to make final arrangements at the hospital with Julio before continuing North.
Once in town one bike had a low tire so the coffee break was, long.....
While there one of the guys hid my helmet and I thought it had been stolen. I was in a panic, it was pay back for a stunt I played the day before.
The place we stayed had those pre-fad dome rooms and they also had two Cheetas. They said out there, that no one had dogs, they all had Cheetas. Locals also frowned on Vegetarians. They said everyone should
We leave this morning heading West. The first part of the day was on pavement to a German Beer Garden for lunch. From here it is all dirt/sand to the hotel. We have been warned that the sand at the entrance
to tonight's stay will be deep and we may want to park at the entrance, let's see.
We leave the lunch spot and make to a dessert pass and stop for a photo. Then we receive a call that the van with our luggage has broken down and it was also caring the wife of one of the riders who did not
like the sand so much. So the second guide went to go pick up the wife and give her a ride on his bike, then...the guides bike breaks down. When we get a phone signal we will call the hotel to go back and get
our luggage. Stay tuned.
The baggage showed up about 10 that evening. We had a BBQ outside and a nice evening at a lodge
This is a rest day. Everyone else went to see the biggest sand dune in the world and watch the sun rise over it. We stayed, Missy ran, I hand washed clothes, we went for a walk. That evening the group and us
climbed a rock hill and drank beer and watched the sun set. Jason our South African guide who is a lawyer by trade and an international Rugby player and is built like a brick shit house, carried several beers
for each of us up the Mountain side.
We head for the coast. All day will be dirt. It turns out to be the toughest day yet. Wash boards, deep sand, and once again over 100 degrees. Now we are sitting in the middle of the road while we pump up a
flat tire with no shade in sight. We have another 140km's till pavement and the ocean
So we stop at Dune 7 close to the coast to ride 4 wheelers in the dunes. Missy rides her own and flips it with it ending up on top of her. So we rush her to a hospital and on the way there is a sand storm
with dunes crossing into the lanes and sand in sheets across the road. At the hospital after X-rays it is determined she has a hairline fracture in one rib and is in allot of pain. She insists she wants to be
released so we try and call for a car to come 50ks from the hotel. So Missy insists on riding rather than waiting. Then in the parking lot with the guide who stayed with us, his bike won't start. We get up
jump started, load Missy up and off we go in the dark to the hotel. There she insists on walking to dinner. But once she was back the pain really set in but I medicated her to sleep.
Missy rides in the van with Bethel the driver who is from Johannesburg and is a jack of all trades. We leave the coast for the Capitol heading West. Interesting to see the landscape change from dunes to
vegetation with some mountains. We meet up with Missy at a coffee stop and lunch. Shortly after lunch, Peter the Irishman started having battery problems. Soon his bike died and two of us stopped with him as
the others headed to the hotel. We tried several things and called for the trailer/van to come back. So there was Missy again. Eventually we gave up and loaded up the bike. Peter rode on the back with Alloy a
good friend from San Paulo. We hauled butt from there to the hotel/ casino for the night passing many cars at high speed. At a police check point we were pulled over. They told us we could not ride this way
here. Then to our surprise they meant, side by side.
Peter is Irish and is also in Aviation, he rode a GS1200 solo and always rode near the front
Aloy also rode a big GS solo with a Go Pro camera mounted catching every moment of the tour. He was also a good rider and near the front consistently. He bought a bicycle in Cape Town and has had it carted
around the entire trip to bring back to San Paulo
The group slits up in the morning. Some of heading toward the border on our longest day over 500km's and over 35 Celsius. The rest mostly headed for the BMW shop to get several bikes repaired. Even if they
are successful, they will have a long ride ahead in the heat of the day. Now we are preparing to cross the border into Botswana, country #28 on a motorcycle
The border crossings are slow, each one about 1 1/2 ours maybe 2. Once we entered into Botswana it became flat dessert. Lots of animals, not allot of fences. Lots of Ostriches, Wart hogs, Sheep, Cows, all
along the road.
BTW, the second group showed up earlier than I thought at about 8:45 with mixed results....
Today is our fifth anniversary so Alex one of the head guide from Edelweiss who is from Spain, speaks several languages and is a registered ER nurse bought wine for everybody and the staff did a special
traditional dance for us
The riding through pain or Missy had mixed results. She is running out of Meds, and did not sleep well.
So it is back into the van for Missy, last night after a long ride was tough. Now we will try to get her more Meds. First they go to the hospital but it was too crowed. So we went with the South African guide
who spoke Afrikans to the pharmacist along with a German Optometrist with us on the trip who wrote Missy a new script, it worked
Kurt the Optometrist is here with his wife Uli the are the oldest couple on the tour. They ride well together in all conditions. A good couple and an inspiration
We head out again into the desert all day it was hot a dry. The people are all poor and live in such small shacks or huts. The is no water or grass. Animals just sit in the shade with no visible sign of food
or water. The only color, is brown for two days now and flat.
That night they had a great hut like setting next to the pool with a buffet, bar, small fire and native dancers
Is a rest day, we are on the dry side of the delta marsh wet lands and will go on a safari both on land and by air. Long bumpy ride to get there and a bit chilly early in the morning with an open truck. I
felt sorry for Missy, so many bumps and I knew she was cold. She just kept taking pain killers until she thought trees were Giraffes. We saw lots of animals, good fun. Stopped for lunch near a marsh and they
even had col beer. After that we boarded small 7 seater airplanes and flew low over the reserve for 40 minutes giving us a unique view over the reserve we could not see from the ground. It was a great
Fabio is an engineer and is one on the Brazilians who is here on his own and is a great rider in both dirt and street conditions. He became known on the trip for always finding shade.
Back on the road again, pretty straight, lots of animals wandering freely across the road. We did get off road a bit for a small detour for about an hour. This was a nice change after several days of road
riding and will probably be our last. It also gave us a chance to see some small villages along one of the few rivers we have passed. The Kraemer family of three from Germany all rode their own bike and had
lots of problems. Daniel had to exchange bikes after a few issues but still had a tire that lost air quite a bit. Peter lost a bracket only, but Mara had it the worst of all of us. Even after swapping out the
fuel pump, when she shifted into 1st or 2nd gear it would die.
After reaching the lodge. Some of the rider and no passengers headed out to the Pan which is a giant salt flat. We tried to get in the sanctuary gate but they were closed, after the guides reviewed the GPS we
continued South and found a gate on private property. We rode down a jeep trail for miles until the grass ended, then we played, and took pictures. Getting down that jeep trail and back had a few tricky spots
with deep sand. One bike got stuck up to the axle and 4 bikes went over including a guide but no one was hurt or the bikes
Final day of riding, nothing exciting, pavement, straight, but there were Elephants along the unfenced road. Finally the last gas stop and into the lodge where I had to do a small victory burn out. We emptied
the bike and headed to the rooms. This place was amazing and right along the river with Namibia on the other side of the river. Later we took a double decker boat up the river into an animal sanctuary. Lots
of drinking and animal watching. It was pretty amazing and wound up with a nice sunset and we docked to the sight of native dancers as we pulled in.
We head to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe via a bus for our last day. Crossing the border was interesting as usual and they informed us we needed to buy a visa. The bus from Botswana backed up to the gate and we
unloaded then reloaded everything into the Zimbabwe bus. After 40 minutes we hit the hotel/casino. This place was nice and after a quick rest it was a short walk to the falls. They were quite a site. We were
there for an hour and a half then on our walk back were hassled by three guys trying to sell us stuff. I became concerned because we were by ourselves with passports, electronics and money on us. So we turned
back directly toward the hotel and they backed off.
That night we loaded up into a bus to go to dinner. They put African sarongs on us, it was traditional food and music. Dancers, they handed out drums to all of us. They encouraged us to try worms, and
crocodile tails. I did the later.
Then we went into the Casino for a night cap which turned into making people drink Tequila penalty shots for things that happened on the trip. This went on until 3:00am
I wanted one more country....so I was determined to walk across the bridge into Zambia, have a beer and come back to leave. But knowing I had all the peddlers waiting outside of the gate. I went jogging to
the border, the ploy worked. I was told I did not need my passport but would need a bridge pass from customs. Once there they wanted a passport...I talked him into the pass, walked across, however no beer
sales that early. So walking back the border guards said I had to go back into immigration and get another bridge pass. But I was already off the bridge. I went in, and they once again wanted a passport, but
once again I talked him into the pass.
Our first flight took us to Johannesburg where we were met by the trips driver and his wife. I rented a car and we went into see Soweto and Nelson Mandela's house and where the uprising started. Now, just
waiting for the flight to London.
One bike over heated
Two flat tires on the trailer
Two separate bike flats
One van flat
One dead battery
One dead battery with alternator belt
Two fuel pumps went out
Two gauge Assy Bracket's broke
One bike lost its saddle bag bracket
The van lost its oil sump and had to be replaced for a new vehicle
A bracket on the trailer broke
The Safari jeep wouldn't start in the middle of the tour
Lights on the trailer were not working
No jack for the trailer
Lost the spare wheel for the trailer
Fork seal leaking on one GS 650
2 bike head lights not working
One bike damaged from crash
GS 650 not working properly
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Revised: April 15, 2017