Elephant Highway- Victoria Falls, Zambia to Windhoek, Namibia May 01 2014
The name of this section gives away the main highlight: elephants. For many days on this section, riders spotted elephants roaming the savanna looking for a tree to snack on our a tree to rub away the days itches. Other wild animals on route were giraffes, springbok, kudu and baboons. It was a special experience for me to see both giraffes and an elephant while riding!
We were luckily to have Daryl, the elephant whisper, along with us for the journey. He was an expert in wild animals in Botswana and gave us the run down on what to do if an elephant was close to us on the road. Basically, stay away from it. Although it would make a great shot of you with your bike and an enormous African elephant in the background, it really is not advisable as the elephant might be frighten and head in your direction- they move a lot faster then you think- we were told. Some riders, frustrated with their unsuccessful sight of elephants felt the highway should have been called “The Elephant Dung” highway as the sides of the road were literally lined with huge mounds of elephant dung.
One of the other highlights for this section of the tour was the "Man- Eating-Bugs" (probably not what they were really called, but the name suited them.) These crunchy critters were all over the road. There was certainly more squished on the tarmac than alive, but the ones that were alive, fed themselves off their friends, and relatives. Yes, these bugs were cannibals, once their kind was killed we would see several bugs both eating the dead bug and pulling it off the road for an evening snack.
At first I did not want to run over the bugs as I actually thought they might puncture my tire, but later, as my mind went more and more nub with boredom I would aim for them and try to crunch the critters. This was a really fun game for about two hours until one bug squirted its guts all over my leg and shoes. Enough of the bug squashing game, I continued to practice my ABC’s backwards out loud while also looking carefully for the huge African elephants along the side of the road.
Another amazing experience was being able to go on a river boat along the Kazungula. Such a beautiful river that Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia all share. When we reached Maun, I also was able to go on a flight over the Okavango delta at sunset. So pretty!
This was also the part of the trip where I really figured out I am not a long distance flat road cyclist. I found riding on the road to be quite boring. No hills to climb, no rocks being through at me and no bad road surfaces to dodge. Riding a mountain bike does contribute to the slowness of my pace, but it was mainly I was to bored to push myself to go faster. I decided that biking intervals might get me focused. With tips from my dear friend Suzie, Sonia, a fellow rider, and I hit the road for a few interval sessions. It did help for a bit!
Though Botswana was also the biggest distances we road in one day: 208km into Namibia. With the help of a peloton, we pushed through the day, and at the end of it all, it was really not that bad. Not that I wanted to bike further, but reaching Namibia meant the end of the long road days and that we were headed for off road in the dessert.