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Under African Skies – australian adventure motorbike magazine

This entry is part 4 of 21 in the series Adventure Rider Issue #38

The first steps down the ramp onto African soil are always filled with anticipation and excitement,but Compass Expeditions’ Mick McDonald knew what he was in for. It was his third Charley Boorman ride from Cape Town to Victoria Falls under African Skies.

Under African Skies

Under African Skies

Backcountry Namibia.

Finally, after too many hours on a plane, we touched down in Cape Town, South Africa.

Unfortunately, Charley could only be there in spirit. He was riding out of Argentina with his mate Ewan McGregor for the new Long Way Up series. They were on electric Harleys in South America while we rode out of Cape Town on brand new BMWs: R1250GS, F850GS and a couple of R1200GSAs.

The rising sun turned Table Mountain an impressive golden hue as we left Cape Town, heading for the westernmost point on the African continent, Cape of Good Hope, by late morning.

Saying hello to the locals

Night of nights

After a night at the luxurious Franschhoek Hotel & Spa we soon hit the dirt tracks in the remarkable Cederberg Wilderness Area. We crossed into the North Cape, a region similar in size to Germany, with some amazing back-country riding through remote stations.

Once into stunning Namibia we marvelled at Fish River Canyon, the second-biggest canyon on Earth, before spending a wonderful night in a remote desert lodge having a few beers under a vast carpet of stars as a gentle warm breeze blew in.

The silence was breathtaking. It was truly a special night to remember.

The remarkable Cederberg Wilderness Area.

In the red

On to Burgsdorf goat farm we went and enjoyed amazing Namibian farm hospitality. It was certainly some of the most wonderful ‘real’ country food of the entire journey.

A working farm, Burgsdorf offers an insight to the hard life of Namibian farmers, but also shows how they manage to survive in such a tough environment.

We saw the week out at one of Namibia’s most iconic locations: the Namib-Naukluft National Park. Towering sand dunes turned a wondered red at sunset, made even more special by our five-star tented resort inside the national park itself. It certainly doesn’t get any better than having a beer on the edge of the desert watching oryx pass by as the sun sets over the dunes It was wonderful stuff.

Who’s horny?


We dragged ourselves away from the stunning Dead Valley Resort, scoffed home-made apple pies at Solitaire, crossed the Tropic of Capricorn and reached the wild Atlantic coast by mid-afternoon. That allowed time to explore ‘The Big Smoke’ again after so many nights of utter isolation.

Riding further north meant traversing the many gravel roads that criss-cross Namibia, stopping to chat to the wonderful Himba and Herero women who eke out an existence selling handi-crafts to passing tourists in an incredibly harsh environment. We’d met the women the previous year, and when we saw their plight we asked what they most needed.

On this year’s visit we were able to help out with a load of clothes and blankets.

A magnificent day finished at the incredible Vingerklip, a landscape very reminiscent of Monument Valley in the US. We clambered up a sheer, 200-metre rock face via a series of stairs and watched a magnificent sunset. Dinner at a restaurant stunningly located at the very top of the escarpment was incredible. We inhaled Africa and tried to take it all in, while the three-quarter moon illuminated the surrounding land-scape and added to the experience.

Fish River Canyon, the second-biggest canyon on Earth.


The world-renowned Etosha National Park was next on the ride, with a day off to enjoy the quintessential African experience: a safari.

Elephant, black rhino, giraffe, and endless antelope filled our day before the breathtaking Lianshulu Game Lodge, located inside the Mudumu National Park itself, had us watching another amazing sunset. A herd of elephant drinking from the river was perfectly silhouetted. It was absolutely stunning and surely must be one of life’s great experiences.

A herd of elephant drinking from the river was perfectly silhouetted.

Vic Falls

Crossing into Botswana we visited the legendary Chobe National Park where we enjoyed another sundowners’ cruise aboard a private boat, allowing us to get incredibly close to elephants, crocodiles, hippos and water buffaloes.

Before we knew it, we’d crossed into Zimbabwe and arrived at our final destination, Victoria Falls.

We stayed at one of the world’s most iconic accommodation establishments, The Victoria Falls Hotel, and walking its hallways was like walking through the storybook of history.

A more fitting final destination would be hard to find.

The rising sun turned Table Mountain an impressive golden hue.

Next year

We enjoyed the very best of Africa, an alluring continent that gets under the skin, and the only guarantee was the desire to return again and again. Charley Boorman will be back leading tours in September 2020. If you’re keen to know more, email

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