I’m on the edge of a gigantic granite outcrop. The sandy escarpment that ascends from the Cunene River is alive with dancing heat mirages and I can hear my heart beating to its rhythm. It’s hard to describe scenes of such immense rugged beauty when all you want to do is shout out and let everybody in on the engulfing magnificence.
So I stop and breathe and soak it all up. We are barely a few hours into day one of a two week expedition and there were many many more to follow! Now it’s day six . I look up this vast dry tributary of the Hoanib River, the Moederoep River and it seems to wind endlessly up into the horizon and beyond. While the rest of the crew headed of in the Isuzu’s in search of the, so far, elusive desert elephants I crank it up on my Giant.
The river bed is crusty in places which makes it easier to ride and then inexplicable becomes soft. I am amped this morning and crank it up this out-of-this-world river bed. Having seen lions the day before I’m keen to have my ‘bear banger’ close at hand. 24km’s into this uphill wind the team return wild with excitement having had the ultimate encounter with a small herd of these desert elephants. My turn would come.
Heaps of it! There are obviously some phenomenal stories to tell especially from the saddle of a mountain bike. A much too close confrontation with Desert Lions, almost daily encounters with the desert pachyderms for the Damaraland section of the expedition, the vast expanses of the Namib Desert teaming with life – seen and unseen, coastal mists breathing life into anything that needs it, massive river descents and ascents and huge granite and sandstone outcrops. It’s a sensory overload of smells, sounds and and vistas that can only be experienced in wilderness areas like this.
The main purpose behind the expedition, besides just really wanting to do the ride, was to raise funds for and awareness of ‘Children in the Wilderness’ an NPO that deals with children that are born in wilderness areas that have to coexist with dangerous game. There is massive human/wildlife conflict in these areas and CITW teaches these children sustainable symbiotic solutions for conservation . They also focus on teaching the children to love their natural environment.
NEWS / MEDIA
This expedition was the first in a series of five Beyond Expeditions with Jacques Marais. The idea was to mountain bike the edge of the incredible Namib Desert from Serra Cafema on the Angolan border to Swakopmund along the coast of Namibia.
Distance on MTB: 1134km
Support Distance travelled: 5180km
Temperature: 15° – 35°C
Crew Transport: 2 x Isuzu DBL Cab X-Raiders
Tyers: Dunlop AT3G tyres
Mountain Bike: Giant Anthem 29er & FatBike
Peter Van Kets
Jacques Marais – Photographer
Pete Kirk – Videographer
Graham Kirk – Logistics
Dunlop Tyres – South Africa
Isuzu – South Africa
FrontRunner – South Africa
Spar – Eastern Cape
Adapting to a new bike saddle, new shorts and soft sand. It’s a great combination!
Riding through the ‘garden route’ in the Hartmanns Valley.
Never try something new at the start of an expedition. Always be comfortable with your equipment and get experience with it.