Crossing the Kalahari Desert for Paddy’s Day!

Johannesburg Travel Blog

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Botswana Kalahari desert on Paddy's Day morning, trying to out run these strom clouds... SO WHERE IS ALL THE SAND IF IT IS A DESERT????

 I was gone early in the morning and had only done about 30km when the road surface changed and felt very slippery, maybe something spilled on the road by the looks of it.  I eased off on the throttle from 100kmph and felt this was not the road but the bike!  I had a front flat again.  Easing on the back brake I had to fight the front end to stop it from washing out, like my accident in Togo when the bike rolled over me, the road was straight and clear of other traffic so I let the bike cross to the other lane concentrating on not dropping it.  My heart was going a bit afterwards but I don’t mine getting a flat, it’s just something that happens.  A quick inspection showed the whole valve was spinning in the rim of the wheel and when I took the tube out it was clear to see this crappy tube I bought in Togo was not strong at all as the valve had parted from the tube deflating the tyre very quickly.

One of the Kalahari desert locals, among them are loads of donkeys also on the road, horses and some monkeys. Dangerous place to drive at night.
  This type of failure could have went so very wrong and again someone was looking after me by not failing the day before riding on a wet road at 120kmph.  The morning air was still cool and I retrieved my new spare tube, the same type of crappy tube and fitted it.  I would have to be careful from now on with no spare and this tub could fail in the same way.  I’ve had some many repairs in one of my original tubes it seemed better to change plus the other tube was shredded in the Togo accident, top of my list is to fit GOOD quality new tubes in South Africa as there’s no way I would put Paulina on the back with this crappy tube given the risk. 

I topped up with fuel, speaking with a truck driver he said there was a Shell station under 200km away  then the next was Kang 400km away right in the middle of the desert.

South Africa - Marcus, a future biker
  Had a couple of sausage rolls and coffee then hit the border after a bit of money changing for Botswana.  Another border crossing, that’s number 21 and only one more to get into South Africa to see my friends in Johannesburg and meet Paulina.  I had hoped to cross the Kalahari in one day but changing the tube took time and I was now meeting more lightening storms ahead.  I doubled back a bit to a picnic area and lay back for an hour letting the storm do its thing.  Like me you would think the Kalahari would be dry, very hot, barren and sandy.  Like me you’d be wrong!  It was wet and very green, trees and grass, a bit cold from the rain, and saw wild horses, donkeys, cattle (and monkeys!) that stood in the road causing many a accident at night I was told.  I got wet again and even though I had ear plugs, helmet and a loud bike it had no trouble hearing and feeling the thunder wraps around me, I started to wander if lightening would be attracted to moving bikes then tried not to think about it.  That night I got speaking to a South African couple from the Drakensberg area returning from a fishing holiday, they were very interested in my trip and they gave me their details to call on them when I around that area, they also have a hotel.

Paddy’s Day morning I was up before sunrise and on the road very early, today had over 700km, another border crossing and into the mass of Johannesburg to find my friends.  It was another backside numbing ride on straight roads to the border.  I managed to distract the SA immigration guy giving me my 3 month multi entry visa, chatting about random stuff, because I had swapped passports and the one he had didn’t have any Botswana visa or stamps.  I had hid a second passport just in case something happened and by now my original had only a few blank pages left so could still be used for a spare and SA was a good place to swap without drawing too much attention under inspection.  Outside the SA police couldn’t believe I had rode my bike through West Africa from Europe as they searched my panniers, asked if I was not worried about being robed or killed but the truth is and I told them now I need to be more worried entering SA and not the places I’ve been.  Over the border I bought a SA sim card for my mobile to call Sylvia, this took over an hour as you have to register it and in the end I bought a under the counter preregistered card in somebody’s else’s name.  My Garmin maps I down loaded took me nicely to Sylvia and Mark’s house in Johannesburg, a very nice and very big compound with well over a thousand houses that also had a full size golf course.  It was very nice to see them and also baby Marcus, he had a tough start to life back in the UK being born much too early but he was a fighter and looking at him he was strong, healthy and a very bright baby running around (I’ve almost got him saying KTM now, hehehee).  Went shopping for cloths as my one pair of trousers (come shorts) and 3 t-shirts were looking a bit travel weary.  Another 7days and Paulina will arrive, not long to wait after 6months.

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Botswana  Kalahari desert on Paddy…
Botswana Kalahari desert on Padd…
One of the Kalahari desert locals,…
One of the Kalahari desert locals…
South Africa - Marcus, a future bi…
South Africa - Marcus, a future b…