The evening had been an adventure of another sort as a massive wind torn through the camp just as supper was being prepared. Nature, not content to offer up the wonderful treasures of the desert sand trails, saw fit to liberally sprinkle sand on all of us throughout the night.
The Namaqua Eco Trail often features in the top 3 Desert Adventures for both 4x4’s and Dual Sport bikes in South Africa. Because of the impossibly deep sand, this is not a challenge easily taken on. Fewer still would even consider it on a big Litre Class Adventure machine like the Honda Africa Twin.
But, as Honda Quest is all about finding the ultimate Adventurer, sand skills are a must and where better to test them?
In the early morning the teams were riding well, with the “sand monster” claiming only the odd tip over from time to time.
It was just before midday that the first major test appeared; Several kilometers of dry riverbed that snaked its way up a canyon section. The starkly beautiful walls trapped and reflected the heat of the midday sun making it a doubly formidable challenge. Any mistakes being punished by the heat and the watchful eyes of the instructors. For an added degree of difficulty, the contestants had to stay in the much more difficult 4x4 track, rather than the easier method of riding on virgin sand.
What followed was 60km of rocky climbs and sandy riverbeds all presented in the iconic vistas of the Orange River and Richtersveld Mountains.
A few found their limits, yet soldiered on, not willing to throw in the towel and jump into the Cruiser, effectively ending their and their partners Honda Quest. Notably, quite a few had very little sand experience, but with the odd helping hand (as well as some judicious advice), they can now call themselves veterans of the Namakwa Eco Trail!
Once into the camp on the banks of the Orange River at Oewerbos, they still weren’t finished for the day. The next challenge was a 7km paddle. Whilst refreshing after the heat, as if they’d not already done enough, their arms were given another workout.
Each competitor was given a unique and diverse topic of interest to research and prepare prior to arriving at Quest. Each topic is relevant to the sections of the routes we’re currently travelling. Every evening one or two of them would be required to present a 10 minute talk on their topic, even after such a tough day.
Sleep came easy after that!!!!
Tomorrow they have a far more rockier prospect of riding the Western side of the Richtersveld.