Desert Knights – a Namibian mountain bike adventure

 

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Photo courtesy of Desert Knights Gallery

Being spontaneous has its rewards.  I got offered the amazing once in a lifetime opportunity to go and partake in the Desert Knights mountain bike adventure in Namibia!  Frankly, when I got the message I thought it was spam, but I had nothing to lose by responding and hey, presto, it was genuine!!!!  It’s an event I had looked at previously and thought looked like a bucket list must.  Who doesn’t want to cycle through the desert during full moon and canoe down the Orange River?

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Photo courtesy of https://tfcaportal.org/desert-knights-2

 

The event takes place in the Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park and combines 5 days of cycling and 1 day canoeing down the Orange river.  I have been lucky to spend a few holidays in this region and absolutely love it (read here). So we start on the Namibian side  of the park in Hobas and end on the South African side in Sendlingsdrift.  What is so unique is that the event takes place during full moon and most of the cycling is done from late afternoon and into the night.  How incredible to cycle to the Fish River Canyon and watch the moon rise over this iconic and beautiful place?  Or to camp in the dry river bed of the Gamkab Canyon?  As you can tell, I am beyond excited!

Our route area map

Having only gotten my entry a week ago, one week before departure, means that I haven’t had months to prep and train.  But here is another bonus, this is a tour, not a race.  You are supposed to enjoy the scenery, stop and take pictures and generally just appreciate the area that is truly a magical place on earth.  Luckily I ride regularly and am pretty fit….well here’s hoping.

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Photo courtesy of Desert Knights gallery

So I am off tomorrow and we start on Friday.  It has been a bit of a scramble getting my bike together as I was waiting on a part from the UK, but all is sorted in the nick of time as well as having to have the clutch replaced on our Toyota Fortuner.  But all was packed this evening and I am ready to get going early tomorrow morning.  Hopefully the sun will be shining and I will get to see some of the flowers through the Namaqualand en route which will be a treat.

This will be a solo mission, Simon and the kids will sadly remain at home holding the fort.  But a solo adventure isn’t always bad, it is good for the soul to have time to think, meditate, appreciate and rest and this is something that the silence of the desert does bountifully.

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Photo courtesy of Jacques Marais Media

If you would like to follow my adventure on this event I will be posting to my personal Instagram page and to our Family On a Mission page.

Here is to a Bucket List Must!

Good intentions can go awry!

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Grace – our pretty little Holiday 23 who we co own with great friends

It was fathers day a while back and Simon’s great passion and joy is sailing.  We are lucky enough to be co-owners of a beautiful little Holiday 23 which is based in Saldhana.  For two 6ft plus adults and 2 growing kids, it can be a little cramped but it is our stepping stone starting point for our long term family goal, but generally I come away with bruises everywhere each time we go.  I am a clutz at the best of times, put me in a mall space and it is disaster waiting to happen!

Anyway, the kids and I planned an overnight journey to Grace (our boat) for Father’s Day and my mum in law, Caroline, was coming along for the day.  We were going to head out into the bay for a bit of a sail, drop anchor for some lunch and then return to the club for the evening so Caroline could head back to Cape Town before it got too late.  Got to love good intentions!  Thirty minutes into our outing, motoring along as there was no wind, we get yelled at by a stranded jet ski couple who’s motor had cut out.  A 20 minute detour later taking them to Slipway Restaurant where they could get help, we set off again.

Just as we are getting somewhere the kids start to grumble that they are now getting hungry.  We decide to stop at a close little bay for lunch where they could have a kayak while I prepare and then maybe play on the beach after lunch for a bit.   Just as we drop anchor a rolling swell starts to come through which means in about 3 minutes after sitting down to make lunch, we are now slightly queasy and uncomfortable.  By now Jesse, our son, has started saying that he has a bit of a sore tummy.  He’s not the greatest eater at the best of times, so I don’t really believe him (remind me of that later.)  Lunch doesn’t go down overly well.  Kayaking gets shelved as the swell is crashing onto the little beach and it was a guaranteed promised soaking if attempted.  Being winter, not so much fun.  So after packing up and motoring out the little bay we now discover the wind has disappeared completely.  Oh well, back towards the harbour where en route I somehow manage to lose my Paez overboard.  Thankfully it floats a charm so I am able to fish it out with the boathook.

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Shoe fishing!

By this stage, Jesse had mentioned a few times that his tummy was sore but was still asking for treat snacks, so I still didn’t believe him.  Back at the club, we pulled up to the hard (the permanent jetty you can moore your boat onto for a bit) and the kids went off to play.  The rest of the afternoon was relaxed and because the club was so quiet we decided to sleep on the hard for the night and not go back to our mooring.  It means the kids can come and go without having to paddle from the boat back to land etc.  With no more mishaps, dinner was uneventful and the kids went off to bed.

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Good old Woolies, a winner for dinner when you don’t have much prep space!  Rotis with yummy indian…yum

Now a Holiday’s layout is pretty clever for the size.  Simon and I sleep in the main cabin and there is a loo literally next to the bed (obviously there is a little wall) but it is ‘open plan’.  And by open plan I mean the space is not enough to swing a cat nor stretch or actually even stand up straight if you are over 6ft.  The kids fight over the quarter bunk and the ‘couch’ and take it in turns.  That night Olivia was in the quarter bunk and Jess on the couch.

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This is the layout of Grace.  Simon and I sleep in the forpeack (the front pointy bit) and the loo is right there as you can see!

30 minutes after everyone was in bed we suddenly hear the trawlers leave and then we remember why we shouldn’t sleep attached to the jetty.  The boat was rocking like it was a bucking bronco.  And then the rattles started.  Now my husband HATES a rattle.  He will pull our cars dashboards apart to find a squeak or rattle and if he can’t find it he starts to get a wild look in his eyes and a nervous tic.  Now when we went to bed it was so still we didn’t think to secure the boat hook pole and various other boaty things (yes I am a complete boating terminology officianado….not!).   I think for the next hour or so Simon was in and out of bed and back up to deck to find the latest rattle, knock or noise.  All of which are amplified when inside the boat.  Finally we seem to have sorted them all out and are just drifting off to sleep when Jesse bolts upright, runs to the loo, says he doesn’t feel well and proceeds to vomit…..everywhere.  He is standing right in front of the toilet, it is literally right below his face and yet do you think he manages to actually get his aim right?  Nope, he misses!  A lot! And my husband is one of those that if someone is vomiting he starts gagging too.  Put that together with the fact that your face is inches from this delightful spectacle your son is providing…not a good combo.  We opened up the forward hatch above the bed, gulped fresh air and proceeded to put our big girl panties on.

Between trying to change child out of clothing, clean up the mess, wash down the area and crying with laughter because hell, what else could we do?!  You then look across at the partner and friend and realize amidst the calamities of what life throws our way, joy is found in the small things.  That even when things don’t go as planned, hell they went completely sideways, to realize that the planned outcome isn’t the important thing but the journey in getting there.  So choose to find the humor in your unusual situations you may find yourself in, look out instead of in, build memories to last a lifetime, don’t get upset when things might not be according to plan and look around at all that you have!  Life is good and wondrous and messy and beautiful, seize it!

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Simon celebrating Father’s Day after our ‘momentously’ awesome evening

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