We had unfortunately snapped our monoshock (rear suspension) when we’d first entered Namibia. We waited for two weeks for our new shock to arrive from Austria, and when it did, we packed up the bike, got on the road, and headed to Botswana when we realized something horrible: the monoshock was not the only thing that needed replacing. The shock’s spring was also damaged, and we would have to turn back.
That meant it would be another week and a half of waiting in Windhoek and paying for repairs and living expenses before we could continue with our African travels.
This was very depressing for us, and it certainly wasn’t a great beginning to the holiday season.
Looking back, we had a blast in Namibia, minus all the bike trouble. We saw starkly beautiful desert landscapes (Sossusvlei), we came face-to-face with hundreds of stinky seals (Cape Cross), we carpooled with an ochre-covered Himba woman and her baby, and most of all, we got to see lions, zebras, giraffes, and wildebeest in the wild. Namibia was amazing.
But after being stuck without our motorcycle in Namibia for almost a month, we wanted nothing more than to get to a new country. So we couldn't be more excited for the next step on our trajectory: Botswana.
We crossed into Botswana through the Kalahari desert, and not even an hour in, we saw one of our motorcycle travel friends on the road: Emiliano. He’s a fellow American riding on a BMW 650, and we’d first met him in South Africa and traveled the Wild Coast with him. And now he was in Botswana, just like us, so we decided to travel together.
But after seeing my first baobab, I immediately changed my mind.
This tree was here giving shade and refuge to the original bush people who hunted antelope and lions barefoot and with nothing more than spears. And to this day, you feel as if not much has changed around this tree. Antelope have become cows and goats with bells hanging around their necks, creating a wind-chime music to the place. And now there are paths winding through the landscape where 4x4’s and crazy motorcyclists try to push their way through the sand. But those are the only differences. The elephant dung is still fresh all around, the vultures still make their nests high up in the branches, and the air still smells of a humid heat carrying the scent of animals and flowers, just like it always has.
Rebar was sticking up out of the ground so elephants couldn’t walk over it, the bathrooms were encircled in concrete walls, and signs were posted everywhere saying, “Don’t leave the water running or you could endanger your life." It turns out that elephants seek out water like a backhoe digs through the earth, and they will topple walls, pull up piping, and trample anything in their way to get to it. So just like how you have to keep your food protected up in trees when camping around bears, when camping around elephants you have to make sure your water supply is guarded in a fortress-like facility. And then just hope they don’t accidentally walk over your tent at night.
Of course Tim and I both sat up in our tent at the sounds, and through the darkness we could see a massive elephant just fifteen feet away from us. We held our breath as he lumbered past and headed to the waterhole, where we could make out the shadows of ten more elephants, including some babies.
So we headed over to the main building and got a great view of the waterhole, and spent an hour or so watching the elephants slurp up the water through their trunks, and protect their little cute babies under their legs. I have to say, this was one of our most memorable experiences of our lives.
And next up, we journey into Zambia to see the great and wonderful Victoria Falls! So stay tuned.