by Bobbi-Jo Siverns, November 2015
Having signed up for this tour on a whim to be able to join my boyfriend in Africa, I didn’t fully know what to expect. I had not been to a bike show to meet Rene of Renedian Adventures. Heck, I’d only just started riding in June of this year. In my mind, I was just going along for the ride and was going to enjoy the scenery and wildlife as I prayed for my safety as we challenged the gravel roads. Prior to this trip my partner didn’t have a large amount of gravel exposure on his bike and now I’ve agreed to be the passenger for many days as we negotiate it. My thoughts were, I didn’t need to worry as long as I trusted him and his ability to ride.
Building this trust didn’t take long. I’m blessed with a very responsive partner and we have headsets to help communicate any concerns. We were also fortunate enough to be on tour with two incredible riders. Clinton Smout of SMART Adventures and none other than the great Lawrence Hacking were kind enough to share tips and tricks along the way. This put me at ease and has made my partner a more skilled rider. We couldn’t have asked for a better group of riders to tour the countryside with – I’ll get to the rest of the team a little later.
It wasn’t just technical rider knowledge that we benefited from. What really intrigued us was learning more about Rene’s journey of riding around the world on his own as we’ve discussed the possibility of taking off on our own unsupported adventure at some point. This information flowed in on this trip from not only Rene but from our own experiences on this 15 day journey. Learning things like what extras to haul around for the bike to as a girl, how to pack as a minimalist. We’ll test this out next summer with a short excursion and prepare for a long one in perhaps in 2017. That is if we are not taking off with Renedian again. I’ve seen posts from his Garden Route since I’ve settle back into ‘normal’ life and wishing I was there again already.
I’d gone into this trip assuming the food and accommodations would be what I’d imagined Rene would have experienced while touring the world. I was headed on an adventure trip right? Although while I certainly don’t mind roughing it, I was trying to make peace with the price tag of the trip with this in mind as my experience has been that food and accommodations take up most of the expense on a trip. Once again, I was just along for the ride so I didn’t look into anything or ask any questions. What a pleasant surprise I was in for. Renedian does an amazing job of selecting well appointed accommodations that serve delicious food as well as fantastic and fun restaurants.
As a self proclaimed foodie, I take eating quite seriously. My partner also takes my eating quite seriously as I can get extremely hangry when I’m not fed. This was never an issue on this trip though as the quantity of food was plenty and the ride offered many opportunities to stop, take pictures and grab a snack. As for the quality of food, I was extremely surprised. I’d assumed it would be many “big pot” meals but instead was welcomed by many exotic buffets and menus. For the adventurous there was wild game like zebra and oryx and for those with fussier tummies there was all the basic foods we have in North America. There’s no need for anyone to be unsatisfied on this trip. And if all the good food wasn’t enough for you, the local beer and wine (and Jack Daniels) comes in at a cheap price and tastes fantastic.
I’m ashamed to say I’d associated Namibia and South Africa with poor quality accommodations based on my own ignorance of where I was traveling and limited experience traveling in countries with extreme poverty. This was not the case at all. The accommodations along this spectacular journey were perfect. Private patios, outdoor showers, pools, crisp linens on comfortable beds and unique locations are some of what made the accommodations so wonderful. My partner and I have coined the term “the African Divide” when referring to a few of the rooms having “king size” beds but actually being two twins pushed together. While it sounds annoying many of us gals professed to have some of the best nights sleeps we’ve had in ages and certainly didn’t prohibit any fun.
To top the food and accommodations is the actual route that Renedian takes the group along. Unbelievable! The reason is clear to me why this trip is called Spectacular Southwest Africa. Dry desert with gravel road for as far as you can see, stunning valleys with lush orchards producing a variety of fruits and winding coastal roads with captivating ocean and mountain views ensure there is something for everyone. I felt privileged as a pillion; I didn’t have to focus on the gravel or winding road. I had the opportunity to sit back and enjoy all that Renedian, Namibia and South Africa had to offer.
The final thing that pulled this trip together for me was the people. While I recognize Renedian couldn’t have planned the personalities of all the riders on this tour, it came together like he had. We had a spectacular group of riders and pillions that I’m very pleased to now call friends. After spending nearly three weeks with them morning and night, we were privileged to get to know them all very well and are excited to visit with them again. Some will have to wait for summer, others like Rene and Clinton, we’ll see at the bike show in January where we can reminisce over just how spectacular Renedian Spectacular South West Africa really is.