Damaraland & Kaokoland – Finally!


Race Dog
WD Supporter
Jun 27, 2008
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Third time lucky, and indeed it was. In 2019 I decided to start riding motorbikes again after an 8-year hiatus. Or rather, I couldn’t resist the urge to ride bikes any longer and fell into the trap again. I soon afterwards decided that Specialised Adventures’ Kaokoland & Damaraland trip, which I had been eyeing for a long time, was now a must. I therefore promptly bought an XR650L (which I believe I can now sell for R150k+, PM me with offers ;) ) towards the end of 2019 and booked myself on @Hardy de Kock 's trip for middle of 2020..... Ha. Ha. Ha. Enter Covid, lockdowns, and the mess that was 2020.

I say mess, because to make sure I made that year as tough as possible for myself I destroyed my knee, tearing ACL, MCL and meniscus, the much-loved O’Donoghue triad, requiring reconstructive surgery and a not-so-pleasant recovery. Anyway, fast-forward to 2021 and I am determined to show the universe and my knee that I shall prevail, and I am again booked and paid for the same trip. Buuuut, I am a bit concerned. My riding is not what it should be, and even after 9 months of intense rehabilitation and therapy, looking back deep down I knew my knee was a problem. However, the universe knows better. The night before Hardy is scheduled to collect our bikes in Gauteng, my wife tests positive for Covid. This is now Delta-variant territory time and my tour is off. In hindsight, and having now done it a year later, it was absolutely the right intervention by the universe (and my wife was fine!). Looking back my confidence levels were shot as a result of the knee, and being a below-average rider in terms of skills that was not a good combination. I would not have enjoyed the trip, and more than probably injured myself again.

By now the airlines have also made a lot of money off me, you can only roll forward flights that long, and it costs every time. Not the same can be said for Specialised Adventures, though. I need to mention Hardy’s integrity here: my experience and dealings with Hardy and Specialised Adventures went far beyond what would be called acceptable business practices today. I now attempted to go on this trip for a third time, and Hardy insisted we roll forward what we can. Having cancelled 2 weeks before the 2nd trip I was fully cognisant of the fact that Specialised Adventures had already paid costs on my behalf which was now irrecoverable. I know of many instances where operators would shrug their shoulders and say “sorry”, and the customer would forfeit the entire amount. This was not the case and open cards were played as to what was already spent, and what would be carried over. @Hardy de Kock and team, I thank you!

If you have read this far and have not yet skipped to the photos, I suspect you are over 40 years of age :)

Slowly...., then suddenly. Like many things in life that is how the “due date” crept up on me. I was worried about my sand-riding abilities. I had been practicing when and where I could, but I knew this was going to be a challenge... However, tomorrow I am flying from Johannesburg to Windhoek, and I am not missing that flight again. My bike, kit and luggage are already there, all that is missing is me.

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