Part 1: Sand and Heat from Botswana to Namibia

I haven't been in touch for a long time, but on our last rest day in Windhoek, I actually had a lot to do... more on that later!

Stage 59: Maun to Bush Camp, 155 km, 181 hm

The route is flat, with a tailwind... it couldn't be better. I arrive at our FINAL bush camp already in the early afternoon. In case I haven't mentioned it yet, bush camps are campsites without infrastructure, everything is very basic, and we are glad that this is our last one :-)

Stage 60: Bush Camp to Ghanzi, 143 km, 257 hm

Another flat day with a tailwind, which is great because the area isn't particularly diverse. I take turns riding with different people, which adds some variety to the journey.

Unfortunately, I've had a sore spot on my rear end for days, and it hasn't been improving in the heat and with constant strain. Our medic suggests I take antibiotics for a few days... Okay!!!

Stage 61: Ghanzi to Buitenpos (Border to Namibia), 217 km, 330 hm

Today is one of the longest days of our tour and the last day in Botswana. Richard (a fellow rider from Dijon) and I have decided to ride together, as the wind is coming from all directions, especially from the front :-(

Today, we're really experiencing it all: wind from all directions, heat, thunderstorms accompanied by drastic temperature drops... drafting is actually 'relaxing'.

We're making good progress, and the border formalities into Namibia are quite straightforward. Unfortunately, I'm in for a nasty surprise this evening: for several days or even weeks, I've been having problems with my tent poles, and I've had to resort to all sorts of 'repairs'.

Today, nothing worked anymore! The poles wouldn't hold, I had no shelter!!! Fortunately, I managed to book a room for the night, but I had no idea how I would spend the next nights.

Stage 62: Buitenpos to Gobabis, 119 km, 370 hm

Today is the first tour in Namibia, and we're facing a lot of crosswinds and headwinds. I'm riding with Richard again, and in the afternoon, Margot joins us, forming a trio, and we're making decent progress. The first day in a new country always involves withdrawing money and buying a SIM card.

Fortunately, we quickly find a working ATM, but getting a SIM card will have to wait until Windhoek. Upon arriving at the camp, Andre tinkers with my tent poles, and Bruce offers me his tent since he's staying in a room. I truly have very kind and helpful fellow riders!!!

The next day is a 'travel day,' meaning we're being transported by bus from Gobabis to Windhoek because the heavy traffic doesn't leave enough space for cyclists. Namibia is clearly not a 'bicycle-friendly' country.

Rest day in Windhoek

I contacted my friend Martin, who lives in Windhoek. Unfortunately, he's currently away, but he can recommend bicycle shops and outdoor stores to me. By the way, Martin also recommended the two organizations, Quebeka and Cheshire Home, for which I'm collecting donations!!!

Today, I have a lot on my plate: getting a SIM card takes about 2 hours (there are always MANY of us showing up at once :-)). We also need to change the tires today because we'll be mainly riding on gravel/dirt roads in Namibia.

Then I need to find a new tent because I need a reliable shelter. Also, I want to meet up with Iris, Martin's wife, in the evening. With the help of a young taxi driver, I manage the day well, and everything goes smoothly. In the evening, I'm excited to meet Iris; we meet at our camp, which resembles an 'almost German beer garden,' and I learn a lot about life in Windhoek.

The 'German history' in Namibia is impossible to overlook. Additionally, the country is VERY sparsely populated, which drastically sets it apart from the other countries we've visited.

Stage 63: Windhoek to Weissenfels Camp, 123 km, 1313 hm

We leave Windhoek, and after about 30 km, we find ourselves on a gravel road in a beautiful setting. I enjoy cycling on unpaved roads, although it gets very hot in the afternoon, and the few cars passing by kick up a lot of dust.

Cycling under these conditions is not entirely easy; a few fellow riders are only used to asphalt. In the evening, our technicians give a brief introduction to 'off-road cycling,' which is very helpful.

Stage 64: Weissenfels Camp to Solitaire, 123 km, 651 hm

Today, the route is very challenging, with sand, 'washboard' (which essentially means corrugated roads with waves ranging from 5-20 cm high and spaced 10-30 cm apart—simply dreadful!), mixed with plenty of sand and the scorching heat... but the scenery is beautiful, and we enjoy a stunning view during lunch.

After that, we go steeply downhill, and I arrive very tired at our camp. My new tent is excellent—quick to set up and take down, good ventilation, and an outstanding size. However, I'm not sure how it will hold up in the rain, but I don't need to worry about that for the next few days.

Stage 65: Solitaire to Sesriem, 83 km, 285 hm

Today's route is similar to yesterday's; the morning is beautiful, then the heat sets in. Fortunately, today we only have a short distance to cover, and the last 10 km are even paved.