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Offline JonW

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Drakensberg Meander
« on: November 04, 2019, 02:53:02 pm »
There have been suggestions made that the Ride Reports section of the forum is dying. I am not going to debate that subject either way. Whether it is dying or not is not going to influence the way I (and many others on the forum) live our lives.

We are going to carry on going for rides and in some cases will also continue to record our experiences of the ride here.

This is a trip that i have done a few times before, with a number of different people, and each of those times I have taken something different away.

The trip involves starting near Swartberg in Kzn and goes up a private pass known as Thule pass to the top of the Drakensberg and comes out at Sehlabathebe National Park in Lesotho. I am only able to do this ride every two to three years because the pass goes through a number of farms and the farm owners are very very sticky about giving permission for people to cross their lands. So it is quite a mission to get the necessary land owners consent, but worthwhile once it is obtained.

This time I asked my mate Highsider as well as BeeBob and Bullet and Dawie to join me, because I know they all like exactly the kind of riding that i enjoy.

Highsider BeeBob and I trailered to Saint Bernards Peak Lodge near Swartberg from Pmb, while Bullet and Dawie drove down from Pretoria.

All of us were on KTM 500's, although some considerably newer and better looking than others. I was on my trusty 520. Highsider on his slightly newer 525 and the others all on almost new 500 EXC's.

After quite a few beers the previous night we decided to leave after breakfast and headed up the pass at about 09h00.

The weather was awesome, quite windy, but clear blue skies. I decided not even to take my jacket and just wore a riding shirt, this proved to be a great decision, the weather was warm all weekend with not a hint of rain.

The plan was to  get up the pass and into Lesotho, then head along the Lesotho border fence through Sehlabathebe National Park until we got to the pass that leads down to Bushman's Neck, then head towards Thamatu Village and Thamatu Lodge where we were staying that night.

One thing that was on all of our minds was the fact that we would be missing the World Cup final, but we agreed we would all rather be out riding in Lesotho than sitting at home watching rugby on TV. I obviously chose my companions well  :thumleft:
How can I be lost if I've got nowhere to go?
 
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Offline punisher

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Re: Drakensberg Meander
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2019, 03:13:35 pm »
 O0
just wanna have fun , and ride ... and ....... ride
 

Offline JonW

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Re: Drakensberg Meander
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2019, 04:16:02 pm »
After a short ride along a few farm roads we left civilization and headed up the pass.

The pass was great fun, quite rocky and dry, and before we knew it we were at the top. There is an approximate climb of 900 meters in the 40 odd minutes it took us to get up.

Not a lot of stopping to take pics unfortunately...too much fun.

How can I be lost if I've got nowhere to go?
 

Offline JonW

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Re: Drakensberg Meander
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2019, 04:19:46 pm »
Some more on the pass

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Offline JonW

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Re: Drakensberg Meander
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2019, 04:34:49 pm »
Right at the top of the pass we got to the fence which serves as the border between South Africa and Lesotho, conveniently there is an unlocked gate that you can go through to get into Lesotho.

We then set off into the national Park, following a GPS track that I had drawn on Google Earth. The riding was pretty easy, but quite spectacular, with some nice steep hills, open plains and mountains.



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Offline JonW

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Re: Drakensberg Meander
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2019, 04:42:22 pm »
Rode up this steep grassy hill to the border fence which gave us spectacular views over the park on the one side and KZN on the other

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Offline JonW

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Re: Drakensberg Meander
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2019, 04:47:00 pm »
More

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Offline JonW

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Re: Drakensberg Meander
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2019, 04:56:26 pm »
 :ricky:

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Offline Highsider

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Re: Drakensberg Meander
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2019, 06:18:28 pm »
Sub


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Re: Drakensberg Meander
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2019, 06:28:43 pm »
Sub!!
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Offline McSack

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Re: Drakensberg Meander
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2019, 06:46:14 pm »
Nogga sub

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Offline Heimer

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Re: Drakensberg Meander
« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2019, 12:23:39 pm »
Beautiful


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Offline RobLH

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Re: Drakensberg Meander
« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2019, 12:51:46 pm »
Sub, looks very dry up there for this time of year.
 

Offline JonW

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Re: Drakensberg Meander
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2019, 02:09:18 pm »
Sub, looks very dry up there for this time of year.

Yup, they are still waiting for the rains, most of the rivers and pans are dry  :(
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Offline JonW

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Re: Drakensberg Meander
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2019, 02:19:44 pm »
The plan from there was to head off to the North Eastern section of the park to have a look at the Bushmans Neck pass which is a hiking trail that begins down in Kzn and ends up in Sehlabathebe. There was a possible thought that we might leave Lesotho down this pass the following day.

The ride there was pretty uneventful, nice open riding.

 
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Offline JonW

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Re: Drakensberg Meander
« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2019, 02:33:22 pm »
After a fairly short ride we got to the clifftop overlooking the Bushmans Neck pass and stopped for a break.

The views over the pass were awesome, and it definitely looked like we would be able to ride down the pass if we wanted. This pass is actually not meant for vehicular traffic, just horses and hikers, but i know of a few bikers who have been down it who haven't been arrested and thrown into prison by the border guards at the bottom.

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Offline JonW

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Re: Drakensberg Meander
« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2019, 02:35:46 pm »
Some more cool views over Kzn

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Offline JonW

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Re: Drakensberg Meander
« Reply #17 on: November 05, 2019, 02:44:22 pm »
While we were standing around munching on energy bars and biltong, Highsider suddenly told us that he's got a strong signal and we can watch the RWC final on his phone.

So we all ducked under the nearest bush for some shade and proceeded to watch the second half of the game on top of a cliff in Lesotho.

What a win.

Having your cake and eating it    :biggrin: :biggrin:

Kudos to Highsider for getting the game on his phone and also for the steady hand for the last 35 minutes of the game.
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Offline JonW

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Re: Drakensberg Meander
« Reply #18 on: November 05, 2019, 02:57:01 pm »
Elated at the win and at our good fortune of being able to watch it live, we packed up and headed back towards the official Sehlabathebe gate.

I am pretty certain that you are not actually allowed to ride bikes around the National Park, but from experience I have found that getting out past gate guards is a lot easier than getting in.



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Offline JonW

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Re: Drakensberg Meander
« Reply #19 on: November 05, 2019, 02:59:05 pm »
We soon got to the gate and explained to the puzzled looking guard that we had got lost and needed to get out. Without asking too many questions he obliged and opened the boom for us.

From here we headed to the famous Sehlabathebe Shebeen to celebrate the Boks famous win.
How can I be lost if I've got nowhere to go?