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Author Topic: ...and then we got high! (21 passes in the Eastern Cape and Lesotho)  (Read 5355 times)

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Offline Wayne Duck

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When we think about doing a bike trip I'm sure that most of us think spectacular scenery, lots of dirt tracks, splashing through river beds, negotiating steep mountain passes...and all the while enjoying perfect sunny weather, not too hot, not to cold and definitely not (too) wet. Well this trip was all of the above  :biggrin:

The last two years during the month of May we (my fiance Ronelle and I) took three weeks leave and explored Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe on my bike. During the rest of the year we cover SA, Lesotho and Swaziland on shorter one week trips (see links to these RR's below in my signature). This May we decided to base ourselves in Underberg for three weeks doing a few day rides and one longer, multi-day trip.
So, without any further boring background as to how we found ourselves in Underberg enjoying the "champagne weather", let's hit the road on our five day, 21 passes trip through the Eastern Cape and Lesotho.

My brother Nolan and his wife Jill from Amanzimtoti joined us on their GS650 Dakar.
I will attach our route / tracks file at the end.

Day One - Underberg to Rhodes (292km)

With a very chilly start, around 4 degrees C before the wind chill factor, we left Underberg down the R617, over Kingscote Cutting (pass 1 of 21) and turned left onto the D609 heading for Matatiele. After breakfast and a refuel in Matat we were off to Mt Fletcher and onto the Elandshoogte road (DR08018) which takes you up and over Naude's Nek (pass 2 of 21).































This lead us into Rhodes where we checked into the Rhodes Hotel for a the night. After a few drinks in their bar, a tasty three course meal and a bottle of red, we turned on the electric blankets and slid into our beds.



Day two to follow...
« Last Edit: May 29, 2013, 11:30:02 pm by Wayne Duck »
Links to my Ride Reports...
I have listed (with links) all my ride reports at the start of this ride report here:
http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=121459.0

 

Offline Wayne Duck

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Day two - Rhodes to Lady Grey (166km)

The morning dawned extremely cold...





...but after a good breakfast the sun was warming the earth and the sky was a brilliant blue...riding weather!



Unfortunately there was no petrol in Rhodes, and my scooter was in need of some to reach the next refuel  :( Note for future rides this way: fill up at Mt Fletcher. I decided to chance it and stick to my planned route...I could always siphon some from my brother's Dakar if needed.

We turned onto the DR03230 just outside Rhodes and over the Carlisle's Hoek Pass (pass 3 of 21) towards Tiffendell Ski Resort.





At the resort the new management were working hard to get it ready to welcome guests for the new ski season. I managed to buy 5 liters of petrol and we continued on over Volunteershoek Pass (pass 4 of 21) to Wartrail.















From Wartrail it's up and over Lundean's Nek (pass 5 of 21) and along next to the Telle river, being the border with Lesotho.

























From this road we turned onto the DR08606 which takes you to Sterkspruit. This gravel road carries a lot of traffic and the badly maintained surface made it hard to get into any sort of rhythm. Sterkspruit is a mess, so we refuel quickly and head out towards Lady Grey. Due to a fairly late start leaving Rhodes (looking for fuel and I think we were scared of the cold!) and the time taken to get fuel at Tiffendell, it was late in the afternoon when we reached Lady Grey, so we decided to look around this little town and stay over for the night.







Day three to follow...
Links to my Ride Reports...
I have listed (with links) all my ride reports at the start of this ride report here:
http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=121459.0

 

Offline Would I?

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This looks interesting!! keep it coming. :thumleft:
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Offline Wayne Duck

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Day Three - Lady Grey to Maclear (269km)

It was up early for breakfast and then onto Joubert's Pass (pass 6 of 21).











We joined the R58 and headed east over Grondnek Pass (pass 7 of 21) and the Kraairivier Pass (8 of 21). Soon after this we turn onto the R396 and then onto the DR02898.













These roads and tracks get you to the Otto Du Plessis Pass (9 of 21)...and what a magnificent pass, the riding and the views are out of this world!

























After this bit of paradise it was into Elliot for a refuel and snack then up the Barkly Pass (pass 10 of 21) to the turn off onto the R393 signposted as Rhodes. This takes you over the Fetcani Pass (pass 11 of 21) to the turn off to Bastervoet Pass (pass 12 of 21) on the DR02884.

I have some bad memories of this pass  :o A few years back on one of our solo trips Ronelle and I nonchalantly rode up into the cloud covering the mountain top not expecting much as far as passes go. May I add that I was not feeling well that day (and the next few days) due to me having a bugger of a fever. Well, it was raining in this cloud and we could not see but a few meters ahead of us. Long story short, it took us about three (okay maybe four!) hours to get over and down into Ugie. I dropped the bike twice and Ronelle ended up walking / running about 20km of the pass due to the fact that I was just too weak to control the bike with her on pillion!

This day however we had magnificent sunny weather, the pass was dry and the visibility was forever...and Ronelle never had to get off and walk anywhere  :ricky:

















Above: My boet simulating a base jump...or Superboet  ;)



























































...Bastervoet conquered, this time like a walk in the park!

We pushed on to Maclear to overnight at Bob's Place just outside of town. We had all had a really great day  :)

Day 4 to follow...
« Last Edit: May 23, 2013, 07:58:52 pm by Wayne Duck »
Links to my Ride Reports...
I have listed (with links) all my ride reports at the start of this ride report here:
http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=121459.0

 

Offline Cheetah

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 :sip:
WOW !!! Awesome scenery.
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Offline spoedvark

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Subscribed!

Bastervoet still on my bucket list!
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Go Home!!!!
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Offline mischiefjay

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Nice trip so far.
Thanks for sharing.
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Offline JACOVV

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Very nice - keep it coming.  :thumleft:

What a privilege doing it with your boet!!

I did a few of those passes, but the rest is on my bucket list.  Just have to find the bucket - read time  :deal:
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Offline ClimbingTurtle

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Stunning ride so far - way up on my bucket list to do these passes!
www.majita.co.za - we sell tools!

"And if I knew I was going to be this thirsty, I would have drunk more last night"

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Offline mtbbiker

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Thanks for sharing your trip,  :thumleft: :thumleft:
Can I please ask if you have track files (GPS) that you share them ?
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Offline Gerrard

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Re: ...and then we got high! (21 passes in the Eastern Cape and Lesotho)
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2013, 09:16:42 am »
Nice trip. 22 passes  :deal: From Matatiel Mt Fletcher to Elandshoogte, on you way to Rhodes, you would have climbed Pitseng pass (thus # 2)  :thumleft:
« Last Edit: May 23, 2013, 09:19:57 am by jupiter »
...dis nooit te laat om n happy childhood te he nie !

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Offline DRAZIL

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Re: ...and then we got high! (21 passes in the Eastern Cape and Lesotho)
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2013, 09:24:50 am »
awesome photos and a great trip you all had. :thumleft: :thumleft:
Roll on some more :thumleft:
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Offline Aicorner

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Re: ...and then we got high! (21 passes in the Eastern Cape and Lesotho)
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2013, 09:27:15 am »
Kingscote Cutting is hardly a pass - 21 :deal:

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Offline lj111

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Re: ...and then we got high! (21 passes in the Eastern Cape and Lesotho)
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2013, 05:19:59 pm »
Sub :sip:
Thanks
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Offline Wayne Duck

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Re: ...and then we got high! (21 passes in the Eastern Cape and Lesotho)
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2013, 05:39:17 pm »
Nice trip. 22 passes  :deal: From Matatiel Mt Fletcher to Elandshoogte, on you way to Rhodes, you would have climbed Pitseng pass (thus # 2)  :thumleft:

Thanks - tried to get them all but missed that one!
Links to my Ride Reports...
I have listed (with links) all my ride reports at the start of this ride report here:
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Offline Wayne Duck

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Re: ...and then we got high! (21 passes in the Eastern Cape and Lesotho)
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2013, 05:47:02 pm »
Kingscote Cutting is hardly a pass - 21 :deal:

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Ha ha, you are 100% correct  ;) I was going to add before the end of my report that some of these "passes" are a non-event...why they have been given names I don't know! But then, for some people Sani Pass is a big thing and for others it's just another gravel road. For those of us with mostly Natal WFO enduro racing experience anything from forest track to graded gravel is a road, but some people call anything not tarred "off-road"  ;)
Just depends on ones point of reference  :thumleft:

Glad you're enjoying the RR
Links to my Ride Reports...
I have listed (with links) all my ride reports at the start of this ride report here:
http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=121459.0

 

Offline Wayne Duck

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Re: ...and then we got high! (21 passes in the Eastern Cape and Lesotho)
« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2013, 05:49:03 pm »
Thanks for sharing your trip,  :thumleft: :thumleft:
Can I please ask if you have track files (GPS) that you share them ?

Thanks. I will be posting the track file at the end. Enjoy

Wayne
Links to my Ride Reports...
I have listed (with links) all my ride reports at the start of this ride report here:
http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=121459.0

 

Offline T Rex

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Re: ...and then we got high! (21 passes in the Eastern Cape and Lesotho)
« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2013, 06:04:10 pm »
Thank you...... Awesome Trip!!
 

Offline Wayne Duck

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Re: ...and then we got high! (21 passes in the Eastern Cape and Lesotho)
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2013, 07:13:50 pm »
Day Four - Maclear to Sehlabathebe National Park in Lesotho (273km)

Today we had to get up and get going early...it was going to be a long day of riding and we wanted to get to the lodge in Sehlabathebe before too late in the afternoon to be able to enjoy a bit of a walk and watch the sunset. From Maclear we got onto the R396 to Potrivier Pass (pass 13 of 21) and over Elandshooghte again to Mt Fletcher. It was along this stretch of narrow twisty gravel road that we had a very close call  :o

Coming around one of the many blind corners a bakkie and myself narrowly missed having a head on collision. I swerved to my left and luckily so did the bakkie driver (swerve to his left). My front started to slide so I released the brake and squeezed it again but it once more started to slide. So squeeze, release, squeeze, release we zigzagged across the road but thankfully the bike stopped before going down the embankment. I glanced back at the driver, gave a thumbs up and we continued on our way. Obviously all this happens in a second so one just relies on subconscious decisions and actions from muscle memory / experience. Only after, during the next few kilometers, did I replay the incident over in my mind and had a bit of a cold sweat! Hats off to my fiance pillion, she has mastered the art of sitting very still and / or mimicking my movements when we hit any rough patches!  :ricky:

From Mt Fletcher it was back up to Matatiele where we stopped to refuel, buy lunch and some provisions for dinner at Sehlabathebe Lodge (it's self catering). That town was hectically busy and, after another close call with a Fortuner turning in front of me at an intersection, we exited town in the direction of Ramatsiliso's Gate.

This route goes through some busy settlements but eventually starts to climb up the mountains into Lesotho. The last few hundred meters to the border gate are steep and rocky...sorry no pictures from the ladies, so although this might not have an official "pass" name I call it Ramatsiliso's Pass (pass 14 of 21)

The border formalities are almost nonexistent at this very small, very quiet gate...on the Lesotho side they do not even charge the usual toll / road fee that they do at other entry points to Lesotho, too remote to merit coming to audit and collect the cash!

Once in Lesotho it's off along the A4.





At the above abandoned fuel station we turn off the A4 towards Sehlabathebe National Park. After a short trip over some very smart new gravel roads (Chinese are very busy in Lesotho!) we reach the gate of the park...!



Okay, the state of the signage at this gate is an indication of the "road" into the park and to the lodge! Wonderfully unkempt, just what we DS bikers yearn for ;)



After a short, steep up hill we reach a check point where we complete the entry book. There is a raised wooden walkway to these rock formations close by.



Shortly after leaving the check point we get confused with which track to take to the lodge, so my brother goes back to ask the guard...who willingly hops onto the bike to come show us   :biggrin:



After being shown the correct track we head for the lodge. Again, this track to the lodge in my opinion deserves a "pass" name, so I'm calling it Sehlabathebe Pass (pass 15 of 21).











We park the bikes and off load then go for a walk into this truly remote and magnificent piece of paradise, with the shadows lengthening by the minute.











We did not have the lodge to ourselves, there was another two couples there, but it is a big old place with many rooms and bathrooms, no electricity just gas, a nice warm fire in the Jetmaster and lovely comfortable beds with lots of warm blankets and duvets...what more could you ask for at R150 per person per night?  :thumleft:

After cooking up our simple dinner of boerie rolls my brother and his wife braved the cold to lie outside under a pile of blankets to look at the stars...not for us, Ronelle and I had a nice hot bath and slipped into bed!

Day five to follow...
Links to my Ride Reports...
I have listed (with links) all my ride reports at the start of this ride report here:
http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=121459.0

 

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Re: ...and then we got high! (21 passes in the Eastern Cape and Lesotho)
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2013, 08:10:03 pm »
Fan-blimmin-tastic. Keep it coming!