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Offline Minxy

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Xmas Xtreme
« on: January 13, 2019, 08:50:02 pm »
Over Christmas time we had a few days off. My dad invited us to come and visit in Ellisras. We thought, cool, lets do that, we'll leave from our humble abode in Pretoria, via a detour to Tzaneen to go to Ellisras. I quickly plotted a route for us, choosing as many smaller off the beaten track paths as I could. I'd be riding my 701 and HSK decided to take the mighty 950SE.



Airfilters were cleaned, bikes were made ready. I totally know what I'm doing :P



Kiet helped us pack our bags. My Husky would be pulling the Xmas sled with all the presents for the family in my top bag.

Back to the route, we head out of Pretoria early on Saturday the 22nd of Dec. The roads are busy with holiday goers and we are just too glad to hit the first dirt roads out Pretoria East way. The first interesting piece of road is one of our old time favourites in the area, Loods Swaai, which is a sandy two track road with a lil water crossing near Rhenosterkopdam.



I didn't take many other photos during this part of the trip, we had all kinds of different dirt roads, some sandy, some interesting, some not, heading towards Marble Hall where we'd stop for fuel. The town was BUSY, all the roads were full of travelers heading off to see their families for the festive season. We waited a while, got fuel. Thought about going to the Wimpy for some brunch (we hadn't eaten anything yet), but decided against it as there were just too many people about, didn't want to get our bags stolen off of our bikes... We decide we'll rather get something further up and head north into the vast trust lands in the Jane Furse area. We still had a long day ahead (wanting to do Orrie Baragwanath pass as well on our way up).
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Offline MonkeyNot

Re: Xmas Xtreme
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2019, 09:34:52 pm »
Keep it coming. Loodswaai pad is awesome!

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Offline Minxy

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Re: Xmas Xtreme
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2019, 09:35:55 pm »
I enjoy riding through the trust lands, there are almost no fences, there isn't much maintenance going on on the roads (great for us adventure travelers) and you get to see a real side of Africa, not the pretty polished side we get to see in our main cities. The dirt roads were busy and we passed a couple of Mercedes's on the rocky tracks. Made me think of something one of our friends always used to say; "Nah, this road is not bad at all, you could drive this with your Mercedes" and heck, then the road would end up being pretty f*cken bad :P

When I was planning the route on Tracks4Africa, I saw this interesting little track going through the mountain. I looked at it on Google maps briefly and thought, eh, it should be ok, we don't suck too much at riding our bikes so I guess...



Anyway, this started out as a pretty normal dirt road (with Mercedes's and just a few rocks) near the start, when we passed those it started getting even more rocky and loose. We kept climbing until we were right on top of this mysterious pass. This had supposedly been the place of some historical battle between the Pedi and the British many moons ago. If you are a gigantic nerd like me you'll enjoy reading this piece of history on the area:

https://www.sahistory.org.za/article/pedi-anglo-pedi-wars-1876-1879

There had supposedly even been some restoration efforts to preserve the history in this historical pass, but we saw no remnants of that. The pass is forgotten now.


I live for finding beautiful places like this.


Rocky and rough. Luckily I wrapped the more valuable Xmas presents between some of my clothing.



Most of the pass looks like this, some of the descents were quite steep, the camera doesn't do it justice. We did the pass West to East in a downwards direction.



I put together a video of this mysterious pass from HSK's helmet cam. Rocks, rocks, rocks! Rocks rock :biggrin: There were also some sandy bits with dry riverbed crossings. And in one not so dry river crossing, we find a truck. This is literally in the middle of nowhere. HSK asked if they need help, but honestly I am glad they didn't take us up on that offer as we still had a long way to go and trying to push a truck in knee deep mud wouldn't have been a very constructive use of our time ???

With Orrie Baragwanath pass still waiting, and quite a distance to go to reach Tzaneen, we continue North, to the Southern approach to the OB pass.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2019, 09:37:58 pm by Minxy »
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Offline Minxy

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Re: Xmas Xtreme
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2019, 10:19:51 pm »
At the bottom of the "Mysterious Pass", I look behind me and don't see HSK. I go back about 100m and he's sitting under a lonely thorn tree busy getting his puncture kit out. SIGH! Oh well, we haven't eaten yet so we have a protein bar each. It is absolutely scorching hot and the day isn't getting any longer so we get to work. Teamwork makes the dream work and the tube is changed. The rimlock however gives us a bit of a headache as it won't pop back properly into place after the tube is inflated. Oh well, we'll just bash it back with a rock or something if it gets in the way, taking the tube out again will just be too agonizing.

We continue with some mixed tar/dirt roads and head into this very interesting section:



Now at the time it made more sense to plot the route like this, instead of going the traditional way (with the lots of tar past Mamatsha village) to OB pass. What I didn't realize when plotting the route though, as it appears to be a "normal" gravel road that we are following, is that there is NO MENTION on T4A of a physical water crossing through the Olifants river... I mean heck, I thought there would be some low water bridge or something... Nope...

Please take caution if you do want to go this way. The road leading there was absolutely beautiful, following some old fence line, an old broken border to the park? However to our utmost disappointment, when we reached the section that crosses the river, there was no bridge, nada, nothing... We were met with the Olifants river in full force. There was just too much water and it was impossible to cross. We looked at our options, and decided it would be the safest to turn around, take the LONG ASS detour and cross over into the Lekgalameetse Nature Reserve from the traditional approach, where there is an actual road and bridge going over the river. We saddle up and add nearly 80km to our trip just to get on the right track again. It was really depressing as OB pass was less than 10km (as the crow flies) away from where we stopped!!!  >:( Oh well, we'll come do this again in the dryer season.

Anyway, we saddle up and get rolling again, it is now late afternoon and we still need to ascend the Orrie Baragwanath pass to Tzaneen before they close their gates to us.











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Offline Ri

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Re: Xmas Xtreme
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2019, 10:35:32 pm »
 :ricky: :ricky: :ricky:
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Offline evansv

Re: Xmas Xtreme
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2019, 05:07:09 am »
 :sip:
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Offline Karel84

Re: Xmas Xtreme
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2019, 06:38:04 am »
Sub!

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Offline ROOI

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Re: Xmas Xtreme
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2019, 08:45:46 am »
Lekka did this exact route April 2018 also turned around at the river crossing as I chickened out not wanting to drown the 990 with only 2 of us  :imaposer:
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Offline Matewis

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Re: Xmas Xtreme
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2019, 08:50:42 am »
SUB
Dont go where the path my lead  Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Offline sidetrack

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Re: Xmas Xtreme
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2019, 09:19:49 am »
Nice one, I first came across that pass with no name in 2007. In 2016 I went there again with the 660. Great views from the top and I never knew about it's connection with the Pedi wars. Thanks for the info.
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http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=134175.0 Penge's pass and the Old Forest http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=9421.0 - Orange Atlantic adventure http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=7514.0 - 805 km day trip http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=20260.0 - East Cape Bash http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=70199.0 - Two KTM thumpers head north
 
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Offline Minxy

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Re: Xmas Xtreme
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2019, 09:42:16 am »
A little warm up for Orrie Baragwanath pass. This is video footage I put together from our trip there in 2017. I was on the Africa Twin DCT, our friend was on his 1200 GS and HSK was on his 990. I had the drone that time and managed to really capture the scenery as well.


OB 2017

All I'm going to say is... The pass REALLY worsened in just the one year since we rode it last. More to come.
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Offline Ri

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Re: Xmas Xtreme
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2019, 10:34:42 am »
I've forgotten how beautiful the northern parts of South Africa are - I once worked for a law proffie at UP and we used to travel there regularly for workshops.
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Offline w@nted

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Re: Xmas Xtreme
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2019, 11:18:19 am »
Great report! Any fueling issues on the Husky this time round?
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Offline Minxy

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Re: Xmas Xtreme
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2019, 11:49:15 am »
Great report! Any fueling issues on the Husky this time round?

Hey, no not this time ;D We did however install an additional little filter coming from the Rade underseat tank though, just before it gets routed into the main tank. I'd still like to fit something extra, like the guglatech, but it doesn't seem to fit nicely into the Husky's rear tank, makes fueling difficult, we'll still see what we'll do there.
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Offline Minxy

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Re: Xmas Xtreme
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2019, 11:51:02 am »
Nice one, I first came across that pass with no name in 2007. In 2016 I went there again with the 660. Great views from the top and I never knew about it's connection with the Pedi wars. Thanks for the info.

It is such an awesome pass! Super scenic and even a bit technical, some sections reminded me of Bezuidenhouts pass. Can't believe almost nobody knows about it. I gave the info through to Mountain Passes SA and they said they are actually busy doing a write up on it, lets see :)
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Offline w@nted

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Re: Xmas Xtreme
« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2019, 11:52:27 am »
Great report! Any fueling issues on the Husky this time round?

Hey, no not this time ;D We did however install an additional little filter coming from the Rade underseat tank though, just before it gets routed into the main tank. I'd still like to fit something extra, like the guglatech, but it doesn't seem to fit nicely into the Husky's rear tank, makes fueling difficult, we'll still see what we'll do there.

That is great news! Awesome bikes!

I have fitted guglatech filters in my rade and oem tanks. Hopefully it will help prevent pump issues. Sorry for the hijack!  :thumleft:
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Offline sidetrack

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Re: Xmas Xtreme
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2019, 01:43:37 pm »
I've forgotten how beautiful the northern parts of South Africa are - I once worked for a law proffie at UP and we used to travel there regularly for workshops.
Limpopo has some of the best of the beaten path riding in SA. Mountain passes, forests, lots of rocks and river crossings it has it all.
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http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=134175.0 Penge's pass and the Old Forest http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=9421.0 - Orange Atlantic adventure http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=7514.0 - 805 km day trip http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=20260.0 - East Cape Bash http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=70199.0 - Two KTM thumpers head north
 

Offline 0012

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Re: Xmas Xtreme
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2019, 04:20:41 pm »
schweet, sub, gooi nog   :sip:


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Offline Minxy

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Re: Xmas Xtreme
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2019, 09:55:21 pm »
After a reluctant, long detour via the tar to the start of the pass (because of the silly Olifants river being in the way...), we finally start to climb the Orrie Baragwanath pass. If you've never been up OB pass before, put it on your bucket list now!!! Some years ago when I just joined the WD forum, this was one of the places I saw in somebody's RR and put it on my own bucket list. This is the third time we have revisited this place since, once in the 4x4, and now twice on the bikes. I hope to be back even more times in the future, this place is magical.

     

The first stretch of the pass (500m or so), is tough, loose, rocky and unrelenting. There's no warm up, you pretty much start immediately going up rocks, rocks and more rocks. If you stop and lose your momentum, you will have a bad time... So we didn't stop, we kept going until we had a flatter section of road to stop for a breather. HSK and I just looked at each other, like wow... This is WAY tougher than it was back in 2017. No way would I want to be on my AT going up here, it was challenging even on the 701.



What you can see on the photos are the "easier" parts where it is actually possible to stop and get going again :P



The view, incredible. The only scary part is there are no barriers, after the edge you are met with a sheer vertical drop. On many sections of the pass the road is better on the side near the ledge, it is quite terrifying riding so near the edge, especially in the more technical sections.

Just a few years ago a very "lucky" GS 1200 rider fell down the pass and landed with his bike in a tree just below the ledge. He fell before they climbed too high up the pass and it was still possible to do a recovery with a local bakkie which towed the bike back out :o Not something you want to think about when your bike is bouncing over the rocks near the point of no return...



HSK styling it up the pass. Just before we got to the gate, as if our day wasn't long enough, another small disaster struck. As HSK stops next to me and we take another breather, we see fuel leaking from his tank. SHIT! We already barely have enough fuel to get to Tzaneen because of the detour, we can't waste a single drop. HSK immediately jumps off and tries to see what is wrong. It seems to be leaking out from where the fuel pump is situated. Upon further inspection we see the clamp had cut into the fuel pipe. We decide to ride up to the gate of the park just around the corner and do repairs.



We get to the gate of the Lekgalameetse park and sign the book. With it being Xmas and all we also give the two guards a R50 present each. Shame, they sit there in the middle of nowhere for days, weeks, months, years on end? I asked the guards when did the pass get so bad? They said they had A LOT of rain the past week. Just our luck I guess. There are also never any repairs done to this road, except some rocks which are packed/compacted by the 4x4 clubs that visit the area every now and then. At this rate it will become quite the challenge to ride one day.

While we wait on our paperwork to be completed, HSK pulls out the broken fuel pipe and cuts some spare which we have in our toolkit to replace the broken bit. It's 16h30 and the gate in the park closes at 18h00. Not much time to mess around, we need to get moving.



This is your reward for completing the OB pass. One of the most beautiful views in the world :)



I marked an old farmhouse on my T4A, we didn't have much time but decided we'll go check it out quick quick. We followed a very overgrown path to this forgotten old ruin.



This place gave me the creeps a little bit, especially with it getting late we didn't want to hang around much longer and got moving again.





Another ruin further up. This must have been the most beautiful place once upon a time.

We were taking it quite slow on the last piece, the little two track road we were following was extremely slippery... In 2017 my AT did a complete 180 in the mud, our friend on his GS1200 also had a slip, this time we said we'd take it easy. We pass a bakkie with game rangers, notice how there are suddenly a bunch of cattle in the park walking around with the zebra and eland. Locals are moving in I guess?

I stop briefly as I don't see HSK behind me. I wait a few minutes thinking he might have stopped to speak to the rangers, but no, he shouldn't be taking so long. I turn around and go back to find HSK down in the mud. Eish! It's so slippery we both slip and slide around trying to pick up the bike. And of course, as Murphy always has it, HSK falls with his ribs on the only random log. He's hurt a bit, but says he's fine to continue. We get going again and make it just in time before the gate closes at the bottom of the park.

We do another short stretch on the dirt roads, eventually climbing on the R36 heading to Tzaneen. To put the cherry on top of the cake, HSK's headlight decided it's going to stop working. It is getting dark quickly and the traffic is BAD. People are driving like complete twats and it is slow going, even on the bike.

We eventually make it into Tzaneen, get some fuel (those reserve lights had been on for a lil while...) and we put in the GPS coordinates for our accommodation, Oppie Oewer Chalets. The GPS takes us completely the wrong way, and it is now pitch black. HSK's headlight refuses to work, we still haven't eaten.. It has been a long day! We call Gerrit, from Oppie Oewer accommodation and he sends us a pin. I ride right next to HSK in the dark and he operates the phone while riding. We get to where we think it is and see nothing. Then suddenly we hear a two stroke, and see the little 300's headlight! Gerrit's son has come to fetch us outside their spot in the dark. Yay, salvation! We get to our accommodation, introductions are made, and another ride for tomorrow is discussed over dinner. We were so starved as we've only had a protein bar each to eat all day. Gerrit and family are fantastic hosts and we are soon sleeping like babies with the calming sound of the river at our chalet.

Total distance for the day, I think just over 620km? :)
« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 10:02:24 pm by Minxy »
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Offline MRK Miller

Re: Xmas Xtreme
« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2019, 05:15:37 am »
Awesome. Deffinitly on my bucket list. Also have that forgotten pass in mind. Would you mind posting your map
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