Cape Winelands, Rugged Deserts, The Skeleton Coast and Game Viewing of "Africa's Big 5" in Namibia's Famous Etosha National Park
This international motorcycle tour takes you from the fertile Western Cape Winelands in South Africa, past the picturesque Cederberg Mountains, into the near desert conditions at the Orange River border of South Africa and Namibia.
In Namibia we visit the huge and desolate Fish River Canyon, Swakopmund on the “Skeleton Coast” plus game viewing in the world renowned Etosha National Park where elephant, lion, buffalo, rhino and leopard can be seen as well as many others. On the way to and from the Etosha National Park we stop in the ex-German capitol of Windhoek with its beer strubles and fine restaurants. On the return we visit the Augrabies Falls.
We have chosen our winter for the tour because then Namibia has cold nights, crisp warm and dry days, a perfect weather for motorcycling. Also the drought brings the animals to the water holes giving us a much better chance of seeing them.
The tour involves 4400 kilometers of travel and on some days doing over 500 but with one exception of 75 kilometers to Ai-Ais in the Fish River canyon, always on first rate tar roads. The tour will appeal to strong drivers who appreciate vast open spaces, truly wild country, and have a sense of adventure.
All our bikes are BMW's, the choice being either GS1200, GS1150, F650 (twin cylinder), and F800GS. They all have hard side panniers and a top box. You may opt to arrive a day or two before the tour departure in which case we can book you in at an upmarket bed and breakfast very close to our base and rent you the bike you will use for the tour at a much reduced rate.
Accommodations listed are our preferred places of lodging, however, these are subject to change if they are full during tour dates.
View South African Deserts and Canoe Tour - General Overview in a larger map
Most international flights arrive in Cape Town early morning. We meet you at the airport, transport you to your Cape Town accommodation and after you have had time to relax, bring you to our base and issue the bikes. During the afternoon, time permitted, we take you on a short "orientation" tour of Cape Town to familiarise yourself with the bike and to see a little of this wonderful place.
Overnight at Dongola Lodge, Constantia, Cape Town.
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On this first full day of the tour we set off from Cape Town on an easy ride through the beautiful Cape Winelands and then open wheat growing farms to Clanwilliam nestling under the Cederberg Mountains. Overnight at Clanwilliam Lodge Hotel, Clanwilliam.Total of 235 kilometers for the day.
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Today the tour leaves the winter rainfall area of the Western Cape and enters the typical desert climate of cold nights and warm, dry days - just perfect for biking. As we progress north the landscape gets progressively more barren, distances between towns greater. This is the area known as Namaqualand (after the indigenous people) and famous for the magnificent yellow and blue desert flowers which bloom after rains. We overnight at Okiep, just outside Springbok, an old copper mining town at Okiep Hotel.
Total of 318 kilometers for the day.
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Today we pass through some of the driest (and in summer hottest) parts of South Africa and Namibia. Hopefully formalities do not take too long as you cross the Orange River and enter Namibia. Being an ex German colony things seem to work particularly efficiently in Namibia, even border crossings (passport but no visa required if from Europe or USA).
Only 142 kilometers from the border we leave the tar road and head for Ai-Aix in the mighty Fish River Canyon on a good quality gravel road of 76 kilometers. As we descend in the canyon the scenery is dramatic to say the least!
Overnight at Ai-Aix Hot Springs resort Total kilometers: 322
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Today is a “rest day”. We suggest you take a walk (with plenty of drinking water) along the floor of the canyon. Or you may like to spend the day luxuriating in the warm water springs.
Overnight Ai-Aix Hot Springs Resort
Total kilometers: 0
Retracing the ride on gravel for 76 kilometers we regain the tar road at Granu. As you progress north the vegetation gets even more sparse, rock crags and dry river beds are lined with gnarled camel-thorn trees and few habitations exist.
Overnight at Schützenhaus Guest House, Keetmanshoop Total kilometers: 259
As we approach Windhoek which is 1000 meters above sea level, one can feel a slight drop in temperature and increase in vegetation. The route passes the small towns of Mariental and Rehoboth but very little else between.
In Windhoek a necessity is to visit Joe’s Beer House this evening where some of the finest kudu, ostrich, crocodile and wart hog steaks are served together with excellent German beer. Overnight at Vondelhof Guest House, Windhoek. Total kilometers: 482
A Namibian tour without a visit to the infamous “Skeleton Coast” would be a let-down hence the tour turns west just North of Windhoek and descends to the coast via Karibib and Usakos.
Overnight at Hotel Garni Adler
Total kilometers: 273
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An early start is advised as we have a long day to the outstanding feature of the tour, the Etosha National Park and associated game viewing.
We retrace the route to Karibib and then via rolling uplands via Omaruru, Otjiwarongo, and Outjo to our destination at the Etosha Gateway Lodge just 25 kilometers outside the park. As one approaches the park and Etosha caution is advised owing to the abundance of wild life also using the road.
Overnight at Toshari Etosha Gateway Lodge
Total kilometers: 490
For obvious reasons motorcycles are not permitted in the park (think lions and elephants). Hence we spend the day in the park on a game viewing open vehicle and hopefully sighting “the big five”. The Etosha Pan is simply one of the finest game viewing places in the world.
Overnight at Toshari Etosha Gateway Lodge
Total kilometers: 0
Today we return to Windhoek via Outjo, Otjiwarongo and Okahandja. Again caution is advised owing to the amount of animals on the road.
Overnight at Vondelhof Guest House, Windhoek
Total kilometers: 417
Today we retrace the route to Keetmanshoop. This involves 509 kilometers of travel through open and unpopulated country. Particularly on non-guided tours, check your petrol before leaving a town.
Overnight at Schützenhaus Guest House, Keetmanshoop Total kilometers: 509
Returning to South Africa via the border crossing of Nakop, we cross the dramatic Blydenverwacht Plateau with its vivid desert colours. We spend the day crossing the wide open spaces of the Northern Cape, a few towns or villages owing to zinc, copper, and lead mining before we proceed in suddenly green and fertile surroundings thanks to the Orange River. Then Upington, the regional Capitol, fertile and green vineyards along the Orange River and to the Augrabies Falls in the Augrabies Falls National Park. The Falls, where the Orange River thunders over a cliff and through a deep gorge, are a must.
Overnight at Augrabies Falls National Park Total kilometers: 513
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Today the route crosses the area known as “Bushmanland”, vast, open and with shallow lakes during the wet season.Returning south first past huge vineyards clustered round the Orange River and then past "pans" of shallow salt lakes which in the summer they are dry and are to be used by the British Blue Bird team to break the world land speed record and take it to 1000 k.p.h. in 2017.
Overnight at Dorphuis Country Lodge, Calvinia. Total kilometers: 424
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Via Nieuwoudtville, the Vanrhyns pass, Clanwilliam, Citrusdal and Malmesbury to Cape Town.
Overnight Dongola Lodge, Cape Town and return bikes Total Kilometers: 313
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We transport you to the airport for your return flight.
Included in the price:
- All Airport Transfers
- Motorcycle rental for 12 days
- Bed & breakfast accomodations for 12 nights
- Airport transfers in Cape Town
- All camping gear while on the Orange River
- One night camping and three meals a day while canoeing
- Breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Aquila Private Game Park
- Afternoon game drive at Aquila on Safari Truck
- Morning quad bike game drive at Aquila
- Guide on a motorcycle (if opted for)
Not included in the price:
- Lunch & dinner (other than where mentioned)
- Park Entry Fees
- Drinks & Tips