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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #280 on: December 03, 2018, 07:04:47 pm »
Day 85 – South Africa, Albert Falls National Reserve – Tuesday 21st August – 210 kms

We continued riding East, making our way toward Drakensberg. It was still to far to make it in one go.

I had found this campsite and resort through iOverlander again. It had rave reviews, with wild animals roaming around, so we decided to check it out. The place was around a big lake. We got there relatively early afternoon.
 
Once again it was to going to be another surreal place!

The accommodation was half price as it was low season. So we got a big rondavel with kitchen and everything we needed for only 460 rands (about 32 US dollars !).

Reception was at the entrance of the reserve, while the rondavels were good 7 kms away. We rode to our accommodation, surrounded by many antelopes and zebras. It was amazing.

Once settled in our rondavel, we went for a walk and realised, from a sign, that the Reserve also had white rhinos! I was amazed we were allowed in with the bikes as well as allowed to walk around on our own!









We were the only guests. All the other rondavels were empty; only the 2 of us and wild animals for company.

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #281 on: December 03, 2018, 07:07:39 pm »


Day 86 – South Africa, Sani backpacker lodge – Wednesday 22d August – 180kms

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1953/44125313395_1cbbb135b0_c.jpg



The next day, after packing, we decided to have a ride around through various trails before leaving. Strictly speaking it was not permitted, apparently.

We took the turn to the camping area, few miles down by the lake then up some trails. At a turn of the trail we came across 3 giraffes grazing. Thankfully we did not come across the rhinos.








Then we rode to south of Drakensberg. Soon as we started climbing the weather became cooler. The backpacker hostel that we selected was well located at the foot of the Sani pass and had great grounds, a big kitchen and lounge with a nice fire, large rooms and spotless communal bathrooms. The place was cheap and very pleasant.

The hostel was busy and we met with the same French couple we met in Swaziland, in our first stop there! There were few people in the communal kitchen/living room and it was nice to socialize a bit with them! Some of them had been driving up the Sani Pass on that day, as the backpacker organised this as a side business. They told us it was very bumpy and in bad condition. I did not sweat it; I had the ideal bike for that.


Offline Oubones

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Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #282 on: December 03, 2018, 08:26:46 pm »
LOL Big Bend!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


 :-\
sorry my bad! spelling. :peepwall:
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #283 on: December 05, 2018, 06:53:24 pm »


Day 87 – Lesotho - Somewhere on the road – Thursday 23rd August – 220kms

It was time to get into Lesotho and tackle the famous Sani Pass. With the sky overcast and heavy rain overnight, we waited until 10am to leave.

It had been raining hard the day before. I did not fancy riding the pass in the wet.


 The climb to the pass would be rocky, we had been told, and we wanted to make sure we would start in the dry. The sky cleared a bit and we left. The first few kilometres, on the South African side, the road was just a massive building site with trucks everywhere. It was a bad trail but nothing hard for us with our Enduro bikes, so we kept going up and up.









Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #284 on: December 05, 2018, 06:54:20 pm »
The border crossing out of South Africa was very fast. Then we started on the 10 kms of no man land between South Africa and Lesotho. The Lesotho border post was at the top of the pass.






We were told later that this section was the worse the trail had ever been.

In the past it was a descent gravel trail. Not anymore. It was like a riverbed with rocks and large boulders all over. There was no respite and little opportunities to stop.

With the bikes, we had to keep traction and momentum, overtaking all 4×4 and trucks on a narrow mountain road, while getting over, skipping and jumping over massive rocks and boulders and staying well clear from the cliff side.





It was challenging and exhilarating at the same time. Despite the cold, I arrived at the top of the pass drenched in sweat. The difficulty of the trail certainly kept me focused; one mistake and it would have been a long way down the cliff! It was an exiting trail! My bike came alive in such terrain and was an absolute joy to ride!

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #285 on: December 05, 2018, 06:57:28 pm »
On wet conditions the track would have been way too dangerous, with very slippery stones, I think.

At the top of the pass we passed the Lesotho border and then stopped at the highest pub in Southern Africa for some food and hot tea.











In the pub, we met with 2 bikers on big BMWs, they had also climbed the pass. The guys were super tall and big and I can imagine only strength and power could haul a 250kg (or 300kg with luggage!)  Bike up those rocks, 2 up!  :tongue9:

After lunch we rode on the perfect Chinese built tarmac road. I had kept the coordinates of some sort of camp or lodge that I had spotted in iOverlander.

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #286 on: December 05, 2018, 06:58:25 pm »
On paper it did not look too far. We had not counted on the several mountains passes at 3300m altitude and the many villages on the way, with farm animals roaming free, forcing us to ride slowly.




It was a long day. Lesotho villages looked a mix of traditional round houses (rondavels) and brick square houses with tin roofs. They seemed to have electricity and we saw plenty of satellite dishes.

Few words about Lesotho form my research:

Lesotho men were often herding animals, either walking or riding horses, wrapped in their traditional Basotho blankets, wearing a knitted hat and carrying a fighting stick. I often saw young lads play fighting with those sticks. Once they even came kind of threatening or defying us (?) with their sticks!

Lesotho is a constitutional monarchy. The land is held in trust for the Basotho people and local chiefs allocate land to individual (usually married men?) however since 1979 security of the tenure was increased by recording rights of inheritance and allowing mortgaging and subletting of the land.
Traditionally, the women do most of the agriculture and home building, while men are responsible for the livestock. Cattle are important for them and represent wealth.
Like in most African countries the status of women is rather low but has been improving in the last decade. For example they do not need their husband permission or for him to sign all legal documents to do business and involved in economic development.


The mountains were beautiful but it was bitterly cold.

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #287 on: December 05, 2018, 06:59:16 pm »








We went up and down mountains. Eventually, by 4 or 5pm we found the turn off to our night camp. We rode through a very bad trail into a village and then into a farm compound.

 The place had various rondavels, no running water and pit toilets. For 350 rands per person we could get accommodation, dinner and breakfast, so we took the option as we had very little with us to cook.

The rondavel had no electricity (or any facilities) but the main house had electricity and heating.








There was nowhere to sit or get warm. As we were standing around in the courtyard, a van with a French/ Spanish couple living in Mozambique turned up and investigated the place further.

We managed to sit in the farm’s family living room, with a gas heater on. At last we were able to get warm. The other tourist couple left as they had food in their van.

Dinner was simple: some nice chicken, fresh tomatoes, spinach with ‘pap’ (white corn purée – rather tasteless but used to pick up food with your hands).


After that it was an early night.

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #288 on: December 06, 2018, 04:27:09 pm »
Day 88 – South Africa, Clarens – Friday 24th August – 82 kms

We woke up early. It was daylight. After a very quick visit to the smelly pit toilet, I put all my motorcycle gear on.

The two brothers looking after the place were around.

We moved to their house and sat at the table, in the living room/ dining room, as the breakfast was included on the price.The two guys had breakfast with us, same as for dinner.

We had coffee, some brownish porridge and bread if I remember. Like the previous day, the conversation was far from flowing, as the 2 brothers concentrated on eating. I tried to ask few questions (like why their mum did not eat with us? Apparently women don’t. Why? No clue). Answers were short. They were not interested on talking to us and it was a bit awkward.

There are quite few places where we have been, where they don’t really get the notion of customer services. Basically where they don’t seem to give a crap about their customers! It was just uncomfortable. It was a shame, as sitting there with locals in their home would have been a great opportunity to find out about their lifestyle and traditions. But as they were unwilling to chat, we just finished our meal and went packing.


It was still very early and we had a short ride to the border town. We stopped to buy fuel. It was cheaper in Lesotho than in South Africa, as apparently fuel in Lesotho is subsidised.

The border was a drive-through. Once again, it was very fast to get back into South Africa.







By 11am, we arrived at Clarens. Our guidebook said it was a very nice town, artistic and a bit hippy, with lots of restaurants and art galleries.

We rode to the Clarens Inn Backpackers. Despite arriving so early, Katie, the manageress showed us to a large building. It was a massive (and I mean massive) studio flat.

It had a big kitchen fully kitted and big shower room! It was amazing.

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #289 on: December 06, 2018, 04:27:42 pm »
After getting settled, we walked to town. It was very pleasant, hippy and arty, like the lonely Planet said. We had lunch at the microbrewery place, on the main square. The food was disappointing. Who has ever heard of a goulash soup with chicken and no red wine in the stew? It was a watery tasteless chicken soup.

We found the big food store and bought fresh vegs and noodles for dinner. We were keen to make the most of the kitchen and get some fresh vegetables.

The town was still around 1800m altitudes, so as the sun set in, it got very cold. Luckily we had plenty of firewood and a nice fireplace. This time, starting the fire was easy, once you have some fire starter (or whatever that waxy thing you get at the supermarket is called!)!

In the afternoon, I sat near the reception desk, to get Wi-Fi reception and work on the blog.

A group of young women arrived. They were volunteers working in Lesotho.

I did not get exactly what they did for work, but they were involved in AIDS and LGBT stuff.

One of them was with the Peace Corps and another was with some German charity. All in all, there were 6 of them, some foreign and some native from Lesotho, all lesbians. Maybe you need to be LGBT to work in what they did? I did not ask.

Listening to their conversations was highly entertaining and funny as they sat around me.

We laughed a lot at their stories of living in Lesotho and how the local men are in the habit of walking up to white girls and ask them to marry them.

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #290 on: December 06, 2018, 04:29:26 pm »
Day 88 and 89 – South Africa - Clarens, Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th August – 0km

One of the hiking tracks around Clarens:
https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1922/43224988870_1836a6b35b_c.jpg


The area is very beautiful and popular with hikers.

Saturday I did lots of washing. Most of my clothes were very dirty. All by hand as usual.

We got to know Katie, the backpacker manageress and a wonderful lady, and Robin, a guy working on fire management in Mozambique. I had not laughed so much in a long time.

We really had a lot of fun with them. One of those places where you feel at home and leave very reluctantly. Definitely worth spending few days there if you can.

For a pleasant change the town was safe to walk around, even at night (!) and we had some nice food here and there. And of course a nice sampling of local wines!

Over the weekend the town filled with people from Pretoria and Johannesburg (I think). The main square was full of very big and IMMACULATE BMWs 1200GS Adventure, giant KTMS and such other expensive bikes.
They were all absolutely spotless and obviously fully kitted for adventure with aluminium boxes and everything you may think you would need. The owners just posed around in their expensive and spotlessly cleans riding suits. It's only later on Sunday, when we saw them leaving, that we realised that most of these bikes had actually arrived on trailers. So all those guys just got to ride they big bikes around the square before driving back  home! Weird!  :rolleyes:

As usual, it was soon time to move. We packed up. Our last day there was very cold (it dropped to minus 2 overnight) and the next day would be even colder. I had a big fire going in our room all evening. It was great!

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #291 on: December 06, 2018, 04:31:02 pm »

Day 90 – South Africa, Boston – Monday 27th August – 340 kms.


With the weather so cold, we decided to ride as fast as possible down to the coast in search of some warmth.

As I woke up at 6:30 it was still freezing outside.  The very big studio was very cold. I started a big fire to warm the place while Alistair prepared breakfast. Then we packed slowly. We took our time, hoping it would get warmer. Then we left by 10am.




We were heading south, taking the back roads. The ride across the mountains was very beautiful. However, despite wearing pretty much all our layers on, we arrived at the Boston T Party Backpackers totally frozen.

I expected rustic lodging but was surprised that we had a large room with en-suite bathroom for 480 rands. And thankfully, the water was very hot!

The owners were also farmers. They were very friendly and we spoke about bikes and travels with them. The husband (I can’t remember his name) is a big fan of enduro and had a nice bike in his garage!

The place had a big lounge/ bar building where they set a fire for us to warm up and sit.The place was very pleasant.

The communal kitchen was busy with 3 South African guys. They were transit workers apparently.

They blanked us out and concentrated on eating their food and watched some crappy soap opera on TV.

We prepared some baked beans in the microwave and made some toasts. After eating we washed our plates and left. We had not a flicker of acknowledgement. South Africa can be a funny place like that sometimes.

Offline Oubones

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Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #292 on: December 06, 2018, 05:16:05 pm »
Katie is really very nice and friendly.
Nice place to stay and my wife loves the Blondie craft beer.
Early morning food was a problem though.
Did you go to Golden Gate?
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #293 on: December 06, 2018, 05:38:21 pm »
Katie is really very nice and friendly.
Nice place to stay and my wife loves the Blondie craft beer.
Early morning food was a problem though.
Did you go to Golden Gate?

Yes we crossed it once we left Clarens, using the R712 in our way East and south. But we did not stop much ... it was so cold!
It was a beautiful ride though.

Offline Coxwain

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Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #294 on: December 06, 2018, 06:30:39 pm »
Ahhh.....you met the posers in Clarence, South Africa is full of them. Hugely expensive bikes, all the latest gear and a trailer to get them to where all the beautiful people hang out.
Really enjoying your trip .....keep it coming  :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:
PIG LITE....Honda NX 650
Thel PIG... BMW R 1150 GS
The Black Bitch ...Yamaha XT 660 R Black Magic ....Yamaha XT 660 Z
Found my next ride .....BMW 1150 GS ...a mans bike
 

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #295 on: December 06, 2018, 07:16:24 pm »
Ahhh.....you met the posers in Clarence, South Africa is full of them. Hugely expensive bikes, all the latest gear and a trailer to get them to where all the beautiful people hang out.
Really enjoying your trip .....keep it coming  :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:

Yes, many of those here in Europe too. Funny how they usually look down on us with our battered , colour faded suits and little 250cc bikes, with our dirty soft panniers and muddy bags.... but I have a good laugh inside as I have gone further on my little bike than they will ever do with all their expensive gear and bikes.
Which just shows you don’t need the most expensive gear to travel the world. Just time,  a bit of savings and the right attitude.  :)

Offline Coxwain

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Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #296 on: December 06, 2018, 09:05:23 pm »
And the attitude is all important. I must say, you guys are living it rough. I admire your resilience and your can do attitude. Would love to meet you both if you are coming to the Western Cape. :thumleft:
I think you need some good Cape hospitality.......and a decent meal......I mean " beans on toast".......Jayzass  :biggrin: :biggrin:
« Last Edit: December 06, 2018, 09:10:17 pm by Coxwain »
PIG LITE....Honda NX 650
Thel PIG... BMW R 1150 GS
The Black Bitch ...Yamaha XT 660 R Black Magic ....Yamaha XT 660 Z
Found my next ride .....BMW 1150 GS ...a mans bike
 
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Offline eSKaPe

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Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #297 on: December 09, 2018, 04:20:23 pm »
You guys are doing fantastically well on those bikes, keep it coming!
 
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Offline andrew5336

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #298 on: December 10, 2018, 03:34:08 pm »
Very cool to see our country and local areas through your eyes - keep it up thank you!
 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #299 on: December 12, 2018, 04:35:53 pm »
Day 91 – South Africa - Port St John – Tuesday 28th of August – 350kms


The morning was, once again, very cold. We were still at altitude.

After a quick breakfast in the communal kitchen, still being blanked out by one remaining guest having his own breakfast in the kitchen, we put all our layers on and left.

The last 100kms to Port St John were slow going. We were constantly crossing a village after another and houses dotted all around, along the road, with very aggressive speed bumps. We could not go fast. It was not a fun ride.

From what I read, it seems that in some regions the land belongs to tribes, and the locals there seem to be on subsistence farming. The new South African president was considering in his land reform, to divide those tribal lands (from what I read online, bear in mind it might not be true or correct). So the land would belong to individuals living there, rather than the tribes’ chiefs, however the chiefs vehemently opposed that.

So these regions are very poor. Sadly, villages were covered in rubbish everywhere. Locals like in many other places we have been to, don’t seem to care that they live in a giant bin/ toilet!

In any case, it was still fairly cold and our descent was slow. Arriving at Port St John was underwhelming. The place was covered in litter, everywhere. And I mean even worse than what we had seen before! The smell of rotten food was sickening.

We rode to the Jungle Monkeys Backpackers, which was listed in the Coast-to-Coast booklet, with decent reviews. The lodge was up a hill, a bit away from town.

We got a room with shared bathrooms. It was clean, had a bar restaurant that was popular with the locals, swimming pools, a big communal kitchen, various lounging areas, grounds for camping and dorms. It was a typical backpacker lodge, very confortable and well designed. It had been a long day, and I was coming down with a nasty cold and a bad cough.
The place was very pleasant. We shared a pizza, from the on-site restaurant, as we had no food left. We were told that the bin men were on strike, hence the state of the town.

I went for an early night, as I was feeling unwell, my throat felling like it has been sand papered.