Solo Not Solo

Traveling solo is a strange concept to most. Of course, there are pros & cons. Traveling with others guarantees company, reduces risk & allows for splitting tasks, sharing experiences & expenses. Solo travel on the other hand, offers the opportunity of meeting plenty of new people, increases self-sufficiency & gives absolute freedom. I haven’t yet met a solo traveler who regretted traveling solo. I have met travelers who regretted traveling with others.

I pick up the spare-parts at Sonny’s hotel & Jean-Luc immediately gets to work. “Eureka Camping”, just 4km outside of Lusaka, is where I’ll be staying for 2 days. Wild zebras & giraffes occasionally visit the campsite. One evening, while leaving the restaurant, I almost have a head-on collision with a zebra charging around a corner. You really have to watch out for these guys around here.

My spares have arrived
Keeping an eye on these guys
Two young giraffes around the camp

In Zambia it is possible to travel on good tarmac & sand/gravel roads. Accordingly, overland-tourist trucks are a usual sight on campsites. Some of these trucks are impressive machinery & packed with luxury. Some simply chicken-shacks on wheels. All of them bring in masses of tourists. Most individual overlanders try to avoid sites which are flooded by mass-tourism. I’m one of them.

Overland-tourist truck

The Husky has been treated to a make-over. Oil & filters changed, everything greased, adjusted & polished. An hour after departure we’ve both lost our shine again & are sprinkled in mud. Our preferred look. We’re heading South towards Botswana.

The Husky’s make-over
1h later; restoring our look

Apparently, the worst drought for 70 years in Southern Africa. In many places no rain for 18 months. Very little to no water in rivers & lakes. Nonetheless, I will stay in Livingstone and visit Victoria Falls. At “Thorn Tree Lodge & Campsite” wild elephants freely roam the grounds & feast on trees & bushes. Some of them being a bit punkish, I’m advised to park the Husky in the communal room. Claire, whom I had met at Fringilla Farm, hosts me for 2 days.

Thorn Tree Lodge & Campsite
Protecting the Husky from the elephants
The occasional train passing the lodge

I can’t say I’ve seen Victoria Falls. Some water on the Zimbabwean side, but none on the Zambian side. I make the best of it & tell myself that the dry Victoria Falls is an unusual sight as well. Now we’re off to Botswana though.

Where water usually flows to Vic Falls
Some water at the Zimbabwean side (right usually all water)
Getting the best out of (current) Vic Falls

Okavango delta, where Zambia, Namibia, Botswana & Zimbabwe touch borders. We’ll cross the Zambezi river by ferry over to Botswana. An easy exit & the ferry safely brings the Husky & me to Botswanan ground. First time since months no visa is required. A stamp in the passport, a stamp in the CdP & payment of road-tax is all that’s needed.

30min later, having lunch @ “Nando’s” (Mexican-style fast food chain) in Kasane, Botswana. I’m approached by Anne & Jacob. A German couple, who has just finished their ranger education in SA and is now on safari in Botswana. They invite me to join them on a private safari in Chobe National Park. I very much appreciate their courtesy & immediately accept. We ride through the park in their Landcruiser. This park has plenty of game. Anne & Jacob know all about it. Numerous sightings, learnings & remarkable views. All with excellent company.

The Husky & I ride 300km South to Nata. I could directly jump over to Namibia but wish to discover Botswana a bit more. Along the way halting to let elephants cross the road is a regular occurrence.

There are stretches of >300km w/o opportunities to fuel up. The next day I head back to town before continuing South. I want to tackle some desert pans & it’s advisable to fuel up wherever possible. Leaving the fuel station, the Husky’s clutch starts failing. I return to “Nata Lodge” for another night & pitch the tent again.

It’s the clutch slave cylinder (CSC). Having failed at 13’000km in Uganda, it has now gone again at 25’000km. I had had a hunch & luckily waited for this spare part in Lusaka. While repairing the Husky, I become acquainted with all the safari drivers, security staff & maintenance personnel. I could get the job done in 1h, however, with company distracting me, it takes me the whole afternoon.

Repairs in progress

Now I’ve had it with the Magura (Germany) CSC. Clearly a weak point on the bike. I order an Oberon (England) aftermarket CSC to Windhoek. So far, the only modification I missed out on doing before starting the journey. I’d prefer not having to do the repairs in the middle of nowhere. Twice I’ve been lucky enough to have a spare with me & to be close to civilization.

Back on the road / back to the desert pans

Botswana is deemed to be a country with very present police & strict law enforcement. So it is that my run w/o fines in Africa comes to an end around Francistown. The first time I have to show my driving license since Egypt. Tourists & travelers are targeted. It’s not cheap. In contrary, adjusted for price/income levels it’s likely more expensive than at home.

Taking a break after my encounter with the police, an elderly Botswanan woman simply can’t understand why & how I’m traveling. She commands me to go back home immediately & found a family. I won’t follow her orders, but quite an entertaining discussion it is. Meeting people like this make it easy to forget recent troubles.

At 582’000km2 Botswana is a large country. One vast land of sand & bush. Currently incredibly dry. Elephants are apparently quite aggressive (even more so due to the drought) & locals are more afraid of them than usual. As a motorcyclist the choice lies between riding very long, flat & monotone tarmac roads or long, flat, monotone & exhausting sand tracks through the bush. In the second option being prone to surprises by elephants stepping out on the track. We head West towards Namibia.

Botswanan tracks
Heading West in Botswana
+/- 20m from my tent in Maun Botswana

Through Orapa to Maun, via the Trans-Kalahari Highway towards Namibia we cruise on perfect tarmac. 3 days, 2 nights just doing kilometers, though always with good company wherever we stop. We arrive at a small border in the Kalahari with well organized & efficient procedures. Passport & CdP exit stamps, passport & CdP entry stamps + road taxes. We’re in Namibia & already very much like it.

826’000km2 (= 20x Switzerland) with a population of 2.6m (= 0.3x Switzerland). Namibia is one of the least populated countries globally. We head directly into Windhoek to pick-up the parcel coming from England. Staying at Xenia B&B, I’m enjoying a few days with Ksenja (Croatia) & Dio (Portugal/Angola) as my hosts. Dio is a motorcycle overlander himself. While waiting for the parcel to arrive, 3 Angolan/Portuguese join. A homely place to stay, Ksenja & Dio do everything possible to make my stay comfortable. Time flies by. My parcel arrives & the Husky & I are on the road again.

For now, I intend on heading South, then West & all the way to the North, before going back down through the whole of Namibia towards South Africa. While riding 260km South over sand tracks to Solitaire, my jaw drops several times. Overwhelmed by the beauty of this country. Namibia has already impressed me. I look forward to discovering this country for a while.

Heading South from Windhoek
Top of Streetshoogte Pass & descending to Solitaire

Touching the Namib desert, Solitaire is a stopover for any motorist in this region. It has the only fuel station in the area in a radius of 100’s of km. Here I am, chatting with Luis (Portugal) & Anisa (Indonesia). Luis has been on the road by bicycle for 7 years & Anisa joined him 3 years ago. Always a pleasure to share experiences.

Arrival @ Solitaire
Camping @ Solitaire

In the evening I head out to Rob’s place (local mechanic) for a beer and to look at his bikes. It seems that as a true KTM aficionado you own 6 vintage KTM’s and give some of them a place in your living room. It seems that as a true mechanic you assemble your own airplane in your living room.

Rob & his 1983 KTM 495 2-Stroke
Some assemble airplanes in their living room

When I left on this trip 5 months ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Nothing could keep me from fulfilling this dream though. Many found my plan of tackling this adventure alone to be courageous, risky or even reckless.

I now know that as a solo traveler one is highly approachable & always immediately involved in dialogue. People willing to help & offering great company can be found nearly anywhere. The company is extraordinary & interesting people the norm. Many to meet, plenty to share & even more to learn.

The secret is lifted. Riding solo is not that solo.

3 thoughts on “Solo Not Solo

  1. 👋 ich bewundere “solo riders”, finds suuuper aber chönts selber nöd 🙈 gnüsses & en liäbä gruess us de mittlerwilä herbstliche schwiiiz 🍁


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