Day Eight was a welcome rest day at the Puros campsite, with everyone being able to do various vehicle maintenance tasks, doing their washing and the Honda Quest crew having the opportunity to conduct interviews with the competitors.

The day was finished with an exercise called Solitude where the competitors were made to park their Africa Twins in different, remote locations in the desert. They then had to spend an hour in total solitude before they were allowed contact with anyone else. They didn’t know beforehand how long the exercise would last and after having to spend more than a week with 19 other competitors, many found the solitude both overwhelming and inspiring. Some even shed tears of joy, saying that they’d found a new spiritual approach to adventure biking – and life in general.

But when they started their engines on Day Nine, the excitement was palpable. For this day meant a trip down the Puros river canyon – and the possibility of encountering elephants.

After a thorough safety briefing the convoy of competitors set off, led by a guide vehicle who scouted for a particular female and her calf who were spotted heading down the canyon just a day earlier. Elephants are very protective of their young, creating a serious safety risk for those who inadvertently stumble into these magnificent animals.

After eight kilometres of hard sand riding, combined with numerous little river crossings, the convoy stopped when a female and elephant and her a calf was spotted in the company of an aggressive male. In the interest of safety, the decision was made to turn back to Puros, from where the teams would ride south towards Palmwag. But first they had to retrace their steps back through up the riverbed, now a churned up mass of deep, soft sand.

To describe the D3707 road heading south through the Giribes Plains towards Fort Sesfontein merely as “corrugated” would be like describing that Mike Tyson as “not feminine”. Because few actual off-road sections are harder on vehicles and riders than this particular 107km stretch of “road”. Predictably enough, it caused havoc with tires, with the riders suffering no less than six punctures.

Finally, just before sunset, the Honda Quest group rode into the campsite at Palmwag, to be informed that an elephant had just walked through their campsite. The footprints were clearly visible and if that wasn’t enough, the group also noticed large lion footprints in and around the campsite.

After unloading the gear and setting up camp, the competitors and crew sat down for the usual night-time routine of presentations. Prior to Honda Quest every competitor was given a subject on the African continent they had to prepare and do a presentation on. Tonight would be no different. Except that everyone would also keep their eyes and ears open for night time visitors.

But then this is the type of place where you could end up if you go on a true adventure with a Honda CRF 1000 L Africa Twin.

Issued by Jaco Kirsten, Media Manager for Specialised Adventures: jaco.kirsten@specialisedadventures.com.