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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #300 on: December 12, 2018, 04:37:38 pm »
Day 93 – South Africa, Port St John – Wednesday 29th August – 0 kms

After spending most of the night coughing, I was not keen on doing much that day.

We had decided to have a day rest, as the next ride would be a long day again. We also had to sort few things out and needed Wi-Fi, which luckily was provided, and for free (!) at the backpackers.

I was trying to find out if some Yamaha dealers could source some parts locally for my bike (they could not) and book a hotel for our last 3 nights, in Cape Town.

We planned to arrive on Sunday 16th September, deliver the bikes to the shipping company on the following Monday, and spend the rest of Monday and Tuesday exploring the town on foot. So the hotel had to be central and well located with safe parking for the bikes, as well as providing a shuttle service to the airport. And breakfast! No I am not demanding at all!  :biggrin:

Mid morning we decided to walk into the village and get some stuff from the supermarket. We walked among huge piles of litter. As we approached the town hall, we saw many police cars and riot police in full body armour. There were crowds hanging around, rubbish in the middle of the street, some on fire, and all shops were closed with metal gates.

The atmosphere was kind of tense. We decided to walk back to the backpackers, as I did not fancy to be caught up in the middle of a riot and everyone was just staring at us. We were the only white walking around so we felt a bit the centre of attention. I did not fancy being caught in the middle of a violent riot.  :peepwall:


We asked one of the staff at the backpackers if the shops would open later on the day, but it was unlikely. I suppose looting during a riot is a big risk, so all shops remained shut.

One teacher we met few days before told us how 20 schools were torched following protest on some education stuff.

How is burning down 20 schools going to help the education of the kids? But if this is the norm in South Africa, it is not surprising that all shops were shut!

The backpackers’ owner told us that the local businesses had been threatened so everything was shut.

Even the main gate to the backpacker’s reception was closed. We needed to get some cash but decided it could wait until we left town. We had enough cash to buy some fuel on the road.

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #301 on: December 12, 2018, 04:38:31 pm »

Day 94 – South Africa, East London – Thursday 30th of August – 370kms

We left early as we had a long ride. We were planning to get back into the mountains to the famous Hogsback and its even more famous ‘Away With The Fairies’ lodge. But things did not go according to plan.

About 150kms on the ride West, the Honda, Alistair’s bike, started playing up and shutting down the engine at speed. That is never a good thing.

So we decided to divert to the closest big town on the way, and try finding a Honda dealer. That was East London, down the coast.

So we set the GPS and rode there. We found a backpacker but it was impossible to get the bikes inside so we got recommended another backpacker place.

At 250 rands for a room with en-suite, you can imagine the kind of place!

The area of town we were was covered in piles of litter and garbage again, and they did not have the excuse of the bin men’s strike.

After buying some fish and rice from the local supermarket, for takeaway, we sat in the main room of the guesthouse. The place filled with local road workers, coming in at the end of their shift. People stared at us and seemed bemused to see us there. We were the only whites. Security in the area was very high in all shops.

I had a very bad night with my cold, with a very painful throat infection.

It made breathing very painful and I had nothing other than paracetamol. Where on Earth are the pharmacies hidden In South Africa? I had been on the look out for one for few days and saw nothing!



Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #302 on: December 12, 2018, 04:41:32 pm »

Day 95 – South Africa, East London – Friday 31st August – about 15 kms

For those interested on a very cheap room, we stayed at the Buffalo Backpacker in Moore Street, few hundred metres up from the big SPAR supermarket. Not especially clean. In the communal kitchen, the freezer was overflowing with unpackaged raw meat, the fridge was a health hazard and the smelly mouldy shower/toilet in our room was ‘interesting’. We did not use the shower. But it had safe parking for the bikes, which was the important thing for us.

We packed and rode to the Honda dealer early morning. After few checks we were good to go. There was nothing much wrong with the bike and the engine turning off could have been due to too much oil or some water in the fuel…

Whatever it was, it did not happen again. Alistair got the oil filter cover seal changed as it had been leaking a lot since Nelspruit.

The guys at the dealership told us we had stayed overnight in the most dangerous part of town. To be fair the backpacker’s gate had been shut early evening and our bikes had been safe, although it had been very noisy during the night with a large truck coming and going (maybe collecting the road workers?).

We had booked the same morning a room at the nearby Fish Eagle hotel. I was not in any shape to go for a long ride. I needed a rest and to recover from my very bad cold. My throat felt on fire and I had fever. I needed a comfortable rest to recover, in a clean and warm room. 

The hotel we selected had great reviews in booking.com and was on special offer. We arrived there just after 10am.

Despite turning up so early, we got the room very quickly and we were warmly welcome. We also had a free upgrade to a better room! It was a really nice place.

Looking at the weather forecast, it looked like Hogsback would have to wait, as the weather in South Africa turned very cold and wet and it would be snowing up there. So we were changing our plans once again.


Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #303 on: December 12, 2018, 04:42:03 pm »
Day 96 and 97 – East London, Saturday 1st and Sunday 2d September – 0kms

I was still very ill over the weekend and despite wanting to get back on the road, we had to stay and give me time to recover. I still ate the most of the fabulous breakfast on offer! No illness will curb my appetite! To be fair the breakfast was amazing with every morning some new stuff to try on top of the usual. Their chef was brilliant!

We got to know our neighbours in the next room, a British couple who lived not far from Darlington, where Alistair’s family is from, in northern England.

It was funny to find out common places we liked to go, when we visit, including breakfast at the local prison! Yes the local open prison near Darlington has a restaurant and some farm and is a nice place for fresh eggs as well as breakfast prepared and served by the inmates!

Feeling low with fever and not helped by the bad weather, I was not too much in the mood to explore.

By then, over 3 months on the road, I was starting to look forward to go home.

The hotel was backing into a river that had many species of birds as well as fishing eagles, although we did not see the eagles.




Offline Nigel X

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Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #304 on: December 12, 2018, 07:25:26 pm »
Thanks for the lovely ride report :)

I have found that just a small dab of toothpaste on your tongue every few hours helps a lot when you have a sore throat.

No need to then carry extra stuff with.
Quench my thirst with gasoline.
So Gimme Fuel,
Gimme Fire,
Gimme that which I desire
 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #305 on: December 13, 2018, 04:28:34 pm »
Thanks for the lovely ride report :)

I have found that just a small dab of toothpaste on your tongue every few hours helps a lot when you have a sore throat.

No need to then carry extra stuff with.
Interesting trick! I will try next time!  :)

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #306 on: December 13, 2018, 04:30:59 pm »
Day 98 – South Africa, Port Alfred – Monday 3rd September – 150kms


I was feeling much better and it was time to leave East London. The day started cold and very wet. We waited until 11am in the hope it would calm down a bit. Unfortunately the South African winter decided to start then. At least it was a short ride to Port Alfred. The town was ok but it was just a stop over for us.




Day 99 to 101 – St Francis Bay – Tuesday 4th, Wednesday 5th, Thursday 6th September – 260kms


The day was wet, once again and very windy.

It was very tiring to ride with strong headwind. Eventually the rain stopped, but not the wind. We arrived at St Francis, a beautiful coastal town with big posh white villas behind electric gates, dotted around. We found a nice place to stay. In the afternoon, it was sunny and we went for a walk around the canals section.







Finding out that the weather would be rather bad for the next few days with heavy rain expected, we decided to stay for an extra two days and visit the place a bit.

The village was big and quite spread with many expensive toking houses built along the canals.

We needed to take the bikes to visit the port and the lighthouse at the bay. The next day, the weather was bad but we did not have too much rain during those two days.

The harbour was a working fishing harbour, the main catch being squid. So we had lunch at one of the local restaurants to try some of the squid and fish. Unfortunately it was way too salty.




We started rethinking our itinerary. With winter weather, rain and cold spreading around the southern part of South Africa, we could not ride to Cape Town via some mountain passes. There were rumours of snow, fog and intense cold.

On the motorbikes, it would not be wise. So we decided to ride following the coast and the garden route.


 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #307 on: December 13, 2018, 04:33:30 pm »
Day 102 – Friday 7th September – Storm River, about 100kms

According to the weather forecast, the day would be mainly dry. They were very badly wrong!

Early that morning, we had heavy rain, then a bit of sunshine. We packed and left soon after 9am, making the most of the dry spell. Then things started to get bad. Really bad.

We rode into huge heavy rain, hail, and violent wind…. visibility became next to nil, we could not continue, it was getting dangerous. I could not see the road through my visor and cars would not slow down and would risk wiping us off the road.

After what seemed like an eternity, we came across a farm with a cafe and a shop. We stopped there for few hours, gathered around the fireplace, bumping the cat out of the nearest bench, so we could sit next to fire and get warm. The cat, undeterred, made himself at home on Alistair's lap.



Eventually, the rain and wind calmed enough we could ride through.
Meanwhile we had to find a nearby place to stay, as we could not ride for long in such weather.
 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #308 on: December 13, 2018, 04:33:50 pm »
The next village, Storms River, was about 32kms away and seemed to have lots of accommodation. We set the GPS and rode back into the storm. It felt like a millions miles!

 We arrived at the village drenched, shaking from the cold and exhausted, my hands and fingers stiff from the cold.

We found a backpacker place and took a room. We were told it was snowing in the nearby mountains and there were flood warnings in the area. We certainly passed many sections of road covered in water and bridges over raging rivers!

Once settled, we took turn for a very hot shower.

Most of our gear was drenched; water had sipped through my trousers’ waterproofs, as well as through my waterproof jacket liner, my gore-tex gloves and boots! My jumper and thermal t-shirt were wet, my feet and socks were wet, my underwear as well as most of my clothes!
We hang all our wet items everywhere we could around the room. Without a radiator or heater it was unlikely anything would dry as it was so cold and damp. There was nothing to do but wait for the insane weather to improve.


Winter had definitely started in South Africa!

 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #309 on: December 13, 2018, 04:34:20 pm »
Day 103 – Storm Rivers – Saturday 8th September – 0 kms

We woke up to yet even more torrential rain.

We decided to stay for another day; we could not ride in these conditions. It was like a monsoon. It was also very cold. Luckily we had electric blankets in our bed. As the backpacker place did not have any sort of heating, I made good use of the electric blanket as I was so frozen.


Later on, the staff lent me a hair dryer and I used it to try and dry some of our gear, like the boots, gloves and some clothes! I got a bit too enthusiastic while drying my winter gore-tex gloves and slightly melted some bits inside one of my gloves. Oops!


During a lull with the heavy rain, Alistair ran to a small local shop to get some food for dinner and got drenched again!

The day was slow and boring. We watched some TV in the communal room. Few guests arrived but none was particularly friendly and all ignored us!


Offline Casting from Turd

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Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #310 on: December 13, 2018, 05:03:44 pm »
You should have stopped here in Addo with us.

It would have been awesome to host you folk
I dont want to ride fast, But I want to ride FAR
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #311 on: December 15, 2018, 05:59:57 pm »
You should have stopped here in Addo with us.

It would have been awesome to host you folk

Thanks  :)
If we ever get back to SA to explore  :angel11:

Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #312 on: December 15, 2018, 06:00:27 pm »
Day 104 – Plettenberg – Sunday 9th of September – about 60kms

We booked a room in Mandalay Guesthouse. The house had parking outside only but we managed to get the bikes through the door into the garden.

We had a big and very beautiful room in the 1st floor, with views over the sea and a nice big balcony. The day was sunny at last. We arrived soon after 10am, way before check in time, as it was so close to Storms River, but we were still given access to our room.

As it was sunny and warm, we put all our wet gear in the balcony to dry. We took the entire luggage off the bikes. The roll bag had remained dry, but both panniers where wet and all the stuff not in a dry bags was wet or humid. We had a lot of drying to do!


We walked into the town centre and found a Mozambican restaurant offering a Sunday Special buffet lunch menu! The food looked really good with lots of choice, so we went for it!

After 2 days of eating little else than pot noodles or tin food, it was nice to get also some fresh salad and vegetables. Completely stuffed but happy, we went back to the guesthouse for a rest.
 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #313 on: December 15, 2018, 06:01:33 pm »
Day 105 – Plettenberg – Monday 10th September – about 30kms


Our stay in Plettenberg had a very special reason. We wanted to visit a Wild Cat sanctuary.

So, after an amazing breakfast, we rode to Jukani Sanctuary. We were the only guests for the guided tour. It was incredibly interesting and a beautiful place. They do an amazing job and our guide was very knowledgeable.

Some of the lions have been rescued from illegal canning farms. These farms breed lions and then sell them to some idiot with a small penis complex so they can kill the lions without any risk for the hunter. The lion is released in a bigger enclosure and has zero chance to survive as the idiot shoot it. The poor lion probably has no idea what is happening, having been captive all its life! It is despicable.

Canning farms are illegal in South Africa and are horrendous places.

Some other cats, like Caracals, were rescued as they can be kept (illegally) as pets, until they grow up. Adult Caracals are very aggressive and cannot be domesticated. They also had other cats rescued from abusive zoos and other places all around the world.








Apparently, among big cats, only cheetahs can be rehabilitated and taught how to hunt and released in the wild. The few wild dogs that they once had at Jukani, were also taught to hunt and are now free in national parks.

But for most big predators like hyenas and cats, born in captivity, they would not survive free. The good thing as well is that females are given contraceptive, so that they cannot breed.
 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #314 on: December 15, 2018, 06:03:02 pm »
The animals are well looked after and seemed happy. I am always very uneasy about seeing animals in zoos or even big enclosures, even if they have lots of space, but in this case these animals are rescued and all have a bad story behind. They would have to be put down. It is great that they try hard to rehabilitate some so they can be release them into the wild but each animal is a special case.

The owner at Jukani seems to be quite open-minded. From my researches I found out that  when he rescued a black leopard from a zoo in Europe, the leopard was so aggressive and distressed that he would not leave his cage and explore is compound.
In desperation the owner, despite being extremely sceptical, called in an “animal communicator”. I kid you not. A video of this was filmed. It can be seen here:





Whatever you may think of it, it is quite remarkable to see such a stunning leopard.

 I asked about it to our guide, while visiting Jukani. He confirmed the events and that the Reserve’s owner managed to track down and rescue the two cubs, 2 females, and they are now all living together at Jukani. Their enclosure is so far that you can barely glimpse at them.  It is nice they are being kept in peace at least.

 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #315 on: December 15, 2018, 06:04:06 pm »
Day 106 – Oudtshoorn – Tuesday 11th September – about 200kms


As the weather forecast was showing warmer weather inland, we decided to ride to Oudtshoorn, well known for its Ostriches farms and, most importantly, nearby the Swatberg Pass. The pass was closed because of the horrendous weather, according to local news online. However I was hopeful it would reopen with the sunny weather!

So we rode inland.

We joined the dirt road that goes via the 7 Passes road, from Knysna to Wilderness. It was ok, with some hairpin bends but it was not really high. Still, it was nice to ride through some easy dirt roads!





Then we joined the main road to Oudtshoorn. The road was actually beautiful, with great views of the snow-capped mountains.



We had booked a room at Oudtshoorn Guesthouse. It was tricky to find it  as the GPS was sending us at the other end of the street which is cut in the middle and continue few blocks later! Very confusing. However the place was amazing, with an extravagant pool/fountain and statues. Our room was massive! It was very impressive and the owners, as usual, very friendly.



Once settled and changed we went for a walk, try to find the local restaurants for dinner and investigate the town. The day was warm and sunny, the town pleasant, it was so nice!



 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #316 on: December 15, 2018, 06:05:18 pm »
Day 107 – Oudtshoorn – Wednesday 12th September – about 200kms


After a big breakfast we got on the bikes. It was time to get on with the job!




The first sign we saw for the Swatberg Pass was saying it was closed! We still continued, just in case. The weather was so warm and sunny, surely it would reopen? Eventually we saw a second sign, with no particular comment about the Pass, so we rode up.







We left the tarmac and follow the very steep dirt road to the Pass. The weather was good, the road enjoyable, and the views superb! On days like that, riding a motorbike is just pure Joy!






At the top, we met with a South African couple. They offered us cookies and we spent some time talking bikes!
 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #317 on: December 15, 2018, 06:06:24 pm »








Then we descended by the other side, doing a big loop back to town.






We had some tea at Prince Albert, a nice little village.

The N12 from de Rust to Oudtshoorn was absolutely spectacular. Probably one of the most beautiful roads we ever rode.

 It was at the bottom of a very row canyon, surrounded by high, tall red cliffs on each side, the road crisscrossing constantly over a small river. It was magnificent but too busy with traffic and too and narrow to stop safely for photos. You will just have to believe me or go there yourself! Definitely worth it.
 
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Offline maria41

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #318 on: December 15, 2018, 06:07:17 pm »

We went back to the beautiful guesthouse. For dinner we found a restaurant specialised in Ostrich meat. I had a superb ostrich filet set as a burger. It was amazing meat! All washed down with, obviously, a nice local wine! It had been a very enjoyable day!







We then had to plan to get back slowly to Cape Town. We wanted to get to L’Aghulas, as good tourists that we are. This is the most southern point in Africa, and the division between the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic.

 
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Offline Offshore

Re: Around Southern Africa on 2 small bikes
« Reply #319 on: December 16, 2018, 09:42:06 am »
Awesome RR, thank you for sharing.