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The Elephant Highway

Victoria Falls - Windhoek

21 April - 01 May 

1 563 km


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     Zambezi Zone

We had a rest day at Livingstone on 20 April, and had breakfast at our Lodge for 5 US $ each.  Later we took a taxi to town for some curio shopping for my family’s kids at home, and then went to Shoprite for cheese, chips and yoghurt.  We bought wine on the street, as it was cheaper than in the formal shops.  As it was a hot day we went for a swim in the pool at the Lodge, but we didn’t swim long as we were sharing the pool with a snake.  That evening we went to the “Funky Monkey” for a pizza (we had to buy the Autumn Harvest from the café next door).  Scott joined us that day for the rest of the route.


Amanda flew back to CT on 21 April, and I headed off to Botswana on a 67 km time trial (I didn’t race), cycling easy with Hannie from Holland.  The lunch truck was at the end of the time trial, from where it was another couple of km’s to the ferry across the Chobe river to Botwana.  We had to wait a long time for the crossing, as there were many large trucks in the que.  After clearing customs across the border we cycled another few km’s to the Chobe Safari Camp where we spent the night (nice place with bar, restaurant and pool).  Many of us took a boat on the Chobe river for an animal viewing safari.


On 22 April we cycled 165 km on a very flat tarred road.  A few of us cycled somewhat further, as we took a wrong turn and ended up at the Chobe National Park.  Some of our keen cyclists (Sokkies, Bones, William, Robin, and Scott doing 230 km on his first day) avoided the guard at the gate, and entered the park.  They saw signs such as “don’t leave your vehicle under any circumstances” (which they interpreted as “don’t unclip your feet from the pedals”).  They realized there was a problem when other tourists were photographing them!)Fortunately the detour only added another 20 km to my day.  Although my new slick tyres helped me a bit, the overall stage winner was another woman (Tirtsa from Israel), which also proves that dynamite comes in small packages.  That evening was spent in a bush camp, but instead of avoiding stepping in the usual cow dung, we had to avoid elephant dung for a change.


We had a flat road and a tail wind up to lunch on 23 April, where we cycled 150 km to Nata.  After lunch the wind did a U-turn, but fortunately I joined up with Russell and Scott, and we worked together into the wind.  Along the road we saw some animals, including elephant and warthog.  That evening we camped at the Nata Safari Lodge camp site, which was well equipped (showers, toilets, etc.).  After some absent days Henning returned to the tour with his bakkie (well stocked with cold beer!).


On 24 April we did 170 km on a flat road through the Makgadikgadi National Park, and although I didn’t spot any animals some of the others did.  Perhaps I didn’t see the animals because my head was down into the strong head wind, especially the last 20 km (where I rested at a shop and bought a bottle of Tassies – which Christine carried in her panniers).  That evening at our bush camp we stayed up after nine, drinking Tassies in the moonlight.  The cyclists were starting to look worse for wear (as a result of the long cycling days).


I was leaving later and later in the morning (lazy), and was the last to leave camp on 25 April.  After realizing that the wind changes into us after lunch, some cyclists leave just after 06h00 already.  I pedalled hard to the lunch truck (passing more fancied cyclists – including Colin our race director).  The race ended at the first petrol station as we entered Maun after 143 km, giving us a chance to do shopping before going to our camp site.  I took a break under a tree at the petrol station, and when I looked up I thought I was going crazy (there was my boyfriend Ernest in the bakkie right next to me).  Eventually, to my utmost surprise, I realized that it was really Ernest, who had driven up from CT to spend the rest of the tour with us. We camped at the Sedia Hotel camp site, and I didn’t even have to pitch my tent. I never knew how luxurious camping in the bakkie can be (I even had the camp chairs to sit on!).  Maarten (from SA) had volunteered to make a braai supper, amazing that he still had the energy (he is currently 2nd overall in the race).  That night we had a lot to chat about over a couple of drinks.


On 26 April we had a rest day in Maun.  That morning we did some shopping and banking, and spent much time looking for a laundry (we did the Tour D’Maun – following directions from locals).  That afternoon (on a rather hot day) we sat in the shade of the pool garden updating this report, which we were planning to e-mail later.  The update disappeared into thin air (perhaps it had something to do with the beer they served there).  That evening a few of us (Eddie, Edie, Colin, Ernest, and myself) went to the airport restaurant for supper.


I seconded Ernest on his run on the morning of 27 April, and then carried on the cycle with Jack (we chatted so much that the ride passed quickly).  We had a nice tail wind on the flat road, and all of us finished the 150 km cycle in good time.  I could relax at a “luxury bush camp” as a result of the bakkie being there.  We ate cheese and biscuits, and I even had a shower (from the water container on the roof).  I felt a little sorry for the others, because while we had cold beers from the cooler box, nobody else had any at all.


On 28 April we cycled approximately 150 km to Ganzi.  The road was flat, and again we had a tail wind.  I realized that cell phones were big in Botswana when we passed a donkey cart, and the driver had his phone stuck to his ear.  The race ended at the town of Ganzi (so that the cyclists could do shopping, etc.), and I stopped and had a cooldrink with Shanny who was doing the time keeping.  The turnoff to our camp site was about 5 km further, and there we had a big surprise (it was another 3 km on a sand road to the camp – we all had road tyres).  However, the camp site had ablution facilities, as well as a bar, restaurant and swimming pool.  A few of the cyclists got stuck in the bar while watching the “top 40 music hits” on TV.  We made a fire at the bakkie (fresh kameeldoring), and braai’d my veggie schnitzels which were getting rather old in the cool box (since Maun).  Some of the others (Bones, Shanny, Edie, Sokkies, Martin, Henk-Jan, and Stephan) joined us at our fire.


We were going to have a long day on 29 April, and some of the more nervous cyclists left camp at about 05h30 already.  The rest of us got a lift from the camp personnel to the tarred road, where we cycled about 208 km across the border into Namibia (country number 9!).  The race ended about 20 km before the border, and Ernest cycled back from the border to cycle the last bit with me.  In this region (as in many previous areas) animals are a danger to road traffic, but I don’t think I was going fast enough to collide with the numerous donkeys, cattle and goats along the road.  We camped on the lawns at the rest camp about 1 km inside Namibia, and due to the long day we had a fairly early night.  We set our watches back by an hour (Namibian time), which meant that we could sleep an hour later the next morning (until we got used to the new time).  After supper Eddie and Colin joined us at the bakkie for Amarula and chocolate, but then our eyes started falling closed.


We cycled 165 km on 30 April to Witvlei.  The race for the day ended after about 110 km at Gobabis, so that people could do shopping, the internet thing, and other business.  Along the way we passed the 10 000 km mark, where we had a bit of a celebration (we shared a cigar supplied by Randy).  At this point there were only 8 of us still doing EFI (Every F***ing Inch).  After the long ride yesterday we were all a bit tired, actually I was very tired after the ride this day.  I was looking forward to the rest day in Windhoek.  While Ernest was in a shop in Gobabis, Shanny (fortunately) spotted someone breaking into the bakkie, and Errol (African Routes) chased the culprit and recovered the loot.  We camped on the front lawn of a B&B in Witvlei (some people even pitched their tents on the stoep!).  The cell phone is connected in Namibia (not mine), so I had the opportunity to speak to my sister Karin.  That night we had free music from the petrol station next door, as it seemed to be the main hang-out in Witvlei on a Saturday night.  However, nothing could keep me awake, as I was exhausted and my stomach was not well.


Yesterday we had a rather early start to the day, due to a false morning alarm.  A truck was hooting for the attention of the petrol attendant next door at 05h00, and some of the cyclists were on the road by the time “Betsie’s” hooter sounded at 06h00.  We cycled 160 km into a bit of a head wind.  The race ended at Windhoek airport after about 110 km, with a good sprint between Jack and Kim for line honours.  We still had another 50 km of hilly road through Windhoek to our campsite at the Arabush Lodge on the Southern side of the city, where we were joined by Richard from Vancouver.  Supper was prepared by Maarten (with various assistance), and consisted of a braai (boerewors, rump steak, and “krummelpap”).  Although I had an early night, some of the others spent the night on the town.


Today, 2 May, is a public holiday in Namibia.  Fortunately it is also a rest day for us, because there are a few bleary-eyed cyclists and crew wondering around.  We loaded the bakkie (with Edie, Colin, Tirtsa, Alan, and Eddie), and went to a mall to do some shopping this morning.  Checkers was open, but other shops and internet café’s were closed.  We had breakfast at the Wimpy, and then found an internet connection at the Kalahari Sands Hotel.  We returned to find that Paul (from “Squirt” cycle lubricants) had joined us for the remainder of the tour.  At 16h00 we will have a press conference, and tonight we plan to visit Joe’s Bierhaus on the other side of town.


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