African Sunsets off the Beaten Track – One Rider’s Experience

Dan Callear took a 14-day ride from Cape Town, South Africa to Windhoek, Namibia in 2022.

We asked him some questions about his trip and his most memorable moments. Ride Down South offers this tour from Cape Town to Windhoek a number of times each year through stunning landscapes and beautiful terrain. 

Dan and one of his riding mates on a very long day’s ride between Aus and Sesriem in Namibia during March 2022. The bike tour was from Cape Town, South Africa, to Windhoek, Namibia on varying levels of road quality. This particular part of the trip is one of the worst sections of road, and requires alot of ‘vasbyt‘ (Afrikaans for hang on and keep going!).  

What was the most amazing, meaningful or awesome moment on your trip?

The waves of friendly locals when riding through some of the smaller villages – the first time in my life I’ve felt like some kind of celebrity!

What did you love seeing for the first time?

African sunsets. Once off the beaten track, every evening was a beautiful experience. Watching the sun set over the African scenery, with almost no light pollution, was breath-taking. The sky looks so expansive over the African desert.

What were the best parts of the day?

Hearing the old-girls fire into life in the mornings – the deep raucous rumble of the Africa Twin engine echoing off anything solid nearby!

What was your route like?

The route itself was fantastic – a good mix of tarmac and gravel (and the occasional sand trap!), with a good range of overnight stops, passing by some stunning scenery. 

The stunning wide open landscapes on an unusually rainy day on the road between Aus and Helmeringhausen, where we stop for petrol and one of the top two “Best Apple Strudel” stops in Namibia. 

What was a highlight of your trip?

Eating dinner with the gang under the purple night skies in the outdoor restaurant at Sossusvlei Lodge with a cold beer (or three).

What was a challenge that you overcame on the trip?

Riding on gravel. The only time I’d ridden in gravel before was shortly before crashing on a race track. I started the trip cautiously, sat in the saddle, nervously finding my way along the gravel roads. I ended the trip standing up on the bike, kicking up clouds of dust, confidently blasting along!

How did you feel during and after the trip?

During the trip, generally knackered, but fulfilled. Each day felt like we achieved great things! Looking back on the trip, I still see it as the experience of a lifetime, a real detachment from the chores of everyday life. 

What was your overall experience of the adventure and of Ride Down South?

One year on, I can say with certainty that these memories will stay with me for life! Andy’s organisation of the trip was exceptional, with every detail accounted for, even down to where we’d get fuel along the route. As a guide, Andy is great – his balance of relaxed attitude, but accurate planning led to a stress-free trip where you can just enjoy the riding, and rest assured that everything else is taken care of.

Describe one of your happiest or most fulfilling of unique moments?

Watching Andy fall off his bike mid-river crossing?! Just kidding!

Dan under the famous rock formation at Spitzkoppe called The Arch, on the way between Swakopmund and Erindi Game Reserve. The tour takes a short ride up the renowned Skeleton Coast to this famous selection of bald granite peaks; a favorite spot for sundowners. 

This tented campsite in Spitzkoppe is one of Ride Down South’s favorite spots in the region; the base from which more exploration of the surrounding mountains and area is done. A choir from the nearby community come and serenade the travelers, and whilst one of the most basic accommodation sites we use, definitely up there with our most interesting and wonderful experiences in Namibia.