extreme bike tours


Motorcycle Travel Diary

Written by Ben Lloyd

Namibia is a place where the deserts meet the sea, sands of many colours form the landscape and wild animals roam the horizons. If you thought Namibia was just desert you could not be more wrong and as we were to discover it is so much more than the sum of its parts. Just when you thought you were going in a straight line things take a turn.

After a gruelling number of flights and check ins through numerous countries finally I land in Windhoek, Namibia well at least I think so. There is little to see out the window not the sprawling suburban overflows of Asia but lots of desert bathed in the blue skies. It has the feel of wilderness even in the capital. Windhoek means ‘windy corner’. It is situated at an impressive 1700M above sea level and almost in the geographical centre of the country. The restaurants have plenty of great meats specialising in game such as Eland and Oryx and Springbok. The shops sell biltong a dried meat snack and restaurants like the Butchers Block serving up the finest Ribeye and Sirloin steaks you are likely to find a carnivore’s paradise.

weather rock namibia motorcycle tour
Weather rock Namibia
Riding through the Kalahari desert

Leaving Windhoek behind starting in the mountains that surround the city we ride the tarmac for around 80km before hitting the gravel. Namibia is famed for the endless gravel tracks that criss cross the wilderness. To begin with there are a few wobbles as you cross the ridges of dust and sand that build up. Glen our mechanic following in the Hilux lets some pressure out of the front wheel especially of the riders with out pillions, this changes everything and the bikes handle the ruts, rails and sand much better. This first day really gives the impression of how vast this country is and just how wild as we ride past very little other people for most of the day. Veins of red sand are visible and sometimes deepen the road trying to catch us out. We arrive at Bitterwassen Lodge sitting on the edge of a huge flat that once a year hosts gliders from all over the world. After lunch a game drive over their 14,000 hectare property reveals giraffe, zebra and ostrich. Of course there are Eland and Springbok among the animals spotted and a glass of sparkling wine as the sun goes down. A fitting end tour first day on the road.

The sunrises at around 7am

The sun rises at around 7 and there is a long day ahead. Riding through the Kalahari desert and on to the Namib desert the names that conjure up ancient tribes and huge red sand dunes. The roads n Namibia are graded like most countries into A,B C and D etc today we have made a slight alteration of the route to take the D roads. A group decision as it shortened the day but at the same time the roads are unknown. As we ride through the silvery white grasses lines of red sand slice through the desert almost in rows. You soon get to learn that the red sand is deep and soft at least a few did on that morning. 

Glen thought it was hilarious that 2 bikes went down to roaring laughter. Being a less graded road it was a stunning route, the colours of the country so vivid against the deep blue skies wildlife bounding across the road Kudu, Oryx, wild pigs and Springbok to name a few. Finally we joined the tarmac a rare sight and rode into the village of Aranos for lunch. A one horse town used as a supply centre for farmers. The final ride of the day took us around 70km along white gravel, we are starting to be able to feel the difference, less sand traps but skittish as it sits on the surface. Full concentration, tired. Landscape slowly changing as we head towards the Namib desert rock formations starting to appear. Farms along the road green against the red. The soil of the desert is rich, water is the problem add water and everything grows. A long day see us to Auob Lodge a farm with game and a dive into the cool pool to rid yourself of dust.

A little apprehensive after the white gravel of the afternoon before with a long day ahead of us almost 300km all on the gravel. However the road is more compact and with fresh heads after the usual hearty breakfast we eat up the road and the dust. The perfect scenario is a cross wind to take the dust away. Leaving a good gap between the bike in front is preferable although it does not always happen like that and a full face helmet along with buff is essential in this country. It feels like everyone has learnt something and the pace quickens and just before lunch is our only major sand trap of the day catching out one rider making a spectacular dismount. Lunch is a feast in the middle of this vastness, a cafe bathed in shade and run by a family an oasis complete with a meat dish similar to haggis followed by cheese cake. A car outside painted like a zebra, shovels on the wall lunch under the camel thorn, the desert is harsh but the people are kind. Back on the road the landscape changes again from open desert to rock and the Giants Playground. Formations of rock, boulder laying upon boulder stretching into the distance. A geological phenomenon. Onwards to the Quiver Tree forest, these trees have started to appear but the forest is a collection of them trees that cling to rock their smaller roots searching for water below, a desert adapted tree whose bark was used to make arrow quivers. 

The farm was home to some cheetahs that the owners fed while talking about their captivity and survival. The wildlife and the farms have to try and subsist together. The last stretch takes us to Keetmansshoop the biggest town in the locality and our accommodation. Happy to have mastered the gravel today beers, dinner, music and the bar beckons even a bit of dancing in the group. This is Friday night farmers have come in from around, drag racing and Jaegermeister seem to be a thing and we discover Amarula a local drink like Baileys made from the fruit of a tree that the elephants use to get intoxicated.

A leisurely start as we fill the bikes, stock up on water from the local supermarket check tyre pressures. Today we have a stretch of tarmac or at east for a while. Roads are pretty straight here in Namibia and we cover ground fast towards the second biggest canyon in the world Fish River Canyon. Crossing a bridge with the sign Fish tells us we are at the start of the canyon. Eric our guide has a project in the area and we are lucky enough to be able to experience the canyon from his land free of any other tourists and with this some great riding on tracks. Sand and rocks lead to the canyons edge and give rise to some of the best riding yet as we pick our way through the hot earth. Loose rock like slate is scattered on the ground and all the guys manage to stay upright with the pillions. The canyon finally opens up, sheers drops with a view to the bottom, green in its belly making use of the water below and home to baboons. A spectacular sight, one day Eric hopes to put a lodge out here overlooking the view miles from any where zero light pollution perfect for stargazing. Retracing our steps to his farm for lunch this has been a ride that has captured everyones imagination and would not be complete without a spill in the sand traps. Having arrived back on the gravel not far to go now 20km or 40km who is counting. The road changes from the harsh environment and heat of the canyon, to trees and hills as we ride into Alte Kalkofen Lodge greeted by an Ostrich as we pull up, a hidden gem. This property has been carefully and thoughtfully put together by its owners. It overlooks a spectacular view filled with Springbok. Like every farm it is littered with scrap which has been turned into art. It has the largest collection of Lithops or ‘flowering stones’ in Namibia and is surely one of Namibias hidden gems.

namibia tour 2024

The next morning starts a day tarmac riding which after sometime on the gravel is a welcome change of concentration. We ride through Aus on the way to Luderitz and a day of rest. The ever changing desert scenery has distant mountains and a yellow grass which along with the red and the brilliance of the sky forms a magical view as we ride the road. Maganese trucks buffet us in the wind as they head towards the seaport, Luderitz. Wild Namibian horses and ostrich are visible from the road and the closer we get to Luderitz the dunes of beige sand take-over everything in their path. The railway that runs along side was the scene of a derailment and since has been buried in parts by the dunes. As we drop to sea level the temperature rapidly falls from the desert high of 40 degrees to a cool wind off the Atlantic of 22 degrees.

Luderitz on first impression is an outpost at the edge of the the vast continent of Africa. Scene to some of colonial Germany’s worst atrocities it has a dark history and much of this is focused on Shark Island where the monument to the tribes is set. The pretty and colourful buildings and iconic churches are reminiscent of a film set. We have 2 nights to explore the surroundings of this quirky town while indulging in some fantastic seafood from the Atlantic’s cold waters. We explore by motorbike to Diaz point where in 1488 Bartolomeu Diaz the Portuguese explorer landed. There are flamingoes and seals, the seas outside the bay are cold filled with kelp with treacherous crashing waves a show of its strength and pointing towards the importance of the natural harbour. There is nothing near to the north or the south and the moonscape we ride through is otherworldly. Like walking on the moon.

sand dunes

Leaving Luderitz behind us we ride to Kolmanskoppe is a fascinating look into Namibia’s history and ongoing connection with he diamond trade. Once a lone desert town filled with the wealthy it was lived in until finally being deserted in 1956. It is a veritable ghost town complete with entertainment halls and general stores. Here diamonds were found on the ground by rows of people crawling along in a line. The rights were monopolised and to this day De Biers the foremost name in mining own 49% of the rights. These huge areas almost 100km from the sea are out of bounds. After lunch at the Bahnhof Hotel in Aus we turn to gravel again and cross a vast open plain until we reach the base of some mountains  finally arriving in Helmeringhausen Hotelin the evening a converted farm, a beautiful property with some of the best apple cake in the country.

having some fun
hotel and cafe

Gravel, gravel gravel we ride some gravel today yes!! Around 300km of it. Landscapes changing colour as we head to the Namib desert. Hills, valleys and endless plains are a testament to how big this landscape is. There are lodge entrances visible from the roads. Lone airstrips a nod to the luxury that is hidden behind the dunes. Dust is everywhere when the wind is in the wrong direction. The view keeps growing, the sky a perfect blue and trees dotted around in search of water. Finally as our destination nears we have some sand not deep but unnerving and a final barrier as we arrive to our lodge for the night and the start point for visiting the famous red dunes of Namibia, Big Daddy and Dune 45. Some fine Kudu steaks and red wine finish off an exhausting but stunning day.

There must be more photographs taken of the red dunes of Namibia than of many places in the world. It is a photographer’s dream. Red dunes, white salt flats and deep blue skies. Ostrich and Oryx walk this desolate scene, the red planet. Big Daddy stands tall amongst the endless vista of red sand. I was unprepared for how far this scene stretches. Endless sand and everywhere. A slow plod to the top followed by a leap of faith and giant steps towards the Deadivlei where dead trees stand in the most inhospitable white flats. It is difficult to capture the magnificence of the view. Nature at its finest. This is a country that has to be experienced to fully appreciate the beauty. Africa is spellbinding.

A long dusty ride through the multiple levels of scenery takes us to Swakopmund our home for the coming days exploration. Swakopmund is a town on the coast surrounded by sand. The place many come to holiday from Windhoek. Full of bars and restaurants and lots of beaches. Dinner at the famous Tug restaurant is one of the best on the tour as the sun touches down on a vast cold Atlantic ocean. The swell is as you would expect big, arriving from a distance unhindered for many thousands of kilometres.

Sand dunes - Namibia motorcycle tour 2024

From Swakopmund we are still riding but it is also a chance to unpack and get settled get some washing done. Cape Cross our first foray to the north, is another place where the original colonisers came. An outpost from where they harvested guano and seal pelts, marked graves here reflect the hardships endured. There is a 100,000 strong seal colony here which is a sight and smell to behold. Seals as far as you can see the less fortunate preyed upon by jackals. A lodge cooks us a great seafood lunch and the sun is as ever shining. The temperature by the sea is perfect at 20 degrees cooler than  coming through the desert on the way to Swakop as it is also known. A cold ride takes us back to town.

namib desert

The next morning we ride down to Walvis Bay the start point for a 4×4 tour of Sandwich Harbour where the sand reaches the sea another unique area and part of the incredible 40% of the country that is protected. Driving along the beach the sands are purple coloured by garnet stone that is broken in the sea. On close inspection the sand is filled with many colours of jewels. Flamingoes are all around and feeding in pools. Namibia has so many contrasting colours and each area is different. The drive through the dunes is epic and the view from the top is staggering this is where the deserts meet the sea. Our guides have done this many times and make the most of the 4×4 as we negotiate steep declines and beach driving a spectacular day out.

The final day to Windhoek and the C28. A fierce wind is blowing as we lean the bikes into it absorbing the gusts. As we travel further in we climb into the mountains. There is quite an altitude to make up but it rarely feels like a climb only in certain spots. The road is bumpy but the scene unforgettable as giraffes run alongside bikes unsure of the noise. We ride into the capital almost still on tracks and here the tour is finished. Many days with incredible experiences and vast views tired but satisfied a final dinner before heading home. Namibia has been a country that just kept giving and is firmly on the Extreme Bike Tours calendar.

"The Desert Rotte"

Keen to have a chat about our tours?

Fill out the form below

    Brochure 2024/2025