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Offline Michiel

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Lesotho Tour - a picture & video story
« on: May 20, 2009, 06:38:44 pm »
Ever since my 1st small trip through Lesotho in Dec 2006 I was captivated by this Mountain Kingdom.
Itís hard to believe that a place like this exists within South Africa. Itís like something out of Lord Of The Rings,
mystical and ancient. Undeveloped.

So, after 2 years of looking forward, a year of planning and a week of preparation I was on my way to a 2nd and
all together more intimate visit. All journeys have to start somewhere and mine would already start in Cape Town.
I donít believe in rushing to my destination and rather make the whole trip the destination.

Day 1
Cape Town to Baviaanskloof (636km)







Itís 2 am and Iím tired of rolling around in bed in anticipation of the trip, I might just as well get started.
By 3h30 the bike is packed, Iím geared up, geyser switched off and rubbish taken out. With the push of a
button my companion for the next 8 days barks into life. Riding down a surprisingly busy Buitengracht Street
and on to a dark N1 my thumper seems eager to eat some road.

I make my 1st stop on the Du Toits Kloof Pass to admire and take a picture of the lights of Paarl. Foolishly I
half handily balance my camera on top of my backpack on top of a roadside concrete table and while I pose
it falls to the ground with a thud. Luckily itís still in tact and I got the picture.




A quick stop by the roadside garage in Worcester for some fuel and Iím off again. Now I can go almost 400km
before I run out!

At Touws River I stop to rest and get something to eat. Iím dressed warm because experience taught me it getís
very cold on the other side of the mountain coming from Cape Town. Riding so early in the morning normally Iím
frozen by the time I hit Touws River. For breakfast two meat pies from the 24 hour kiosk will have to do.




Just outside of Touws River the sight of a nasty accident, a minibus taxi lost control and rolled off the road sending
itís 20 odd passengers flying into the bushes, reminds me how fragile our bodies really are. I donít want to stop,
I donít think anyone survived. I will be extra careful on the trip.

About 20 km down the N1 from Touws River I hook a right and after crossing the Trans Karoo train tracks Iím on my
1st gravel of the trip.




The road winds through farmland and beautiful rocky outcrops. A stunning little road, smooth surface. Here and there
I cross cattle grids and small dry riverbeds, no bridges, and even stops once to open a gate. This road basically runs
parallel with the N1 just 10 or so kmís South. I canít believe how much more rewarding the ride and scenery is.






When stopping you are rewarded with a rich variety of plant life and interesting rocks and gravel. The silence can be heard.












Just after passing through the Rooinek Pass I decide to take a little detour to see a place called Rouxpos.
Stumbling upon a small hidden settlement I stop to ask accommodation information for a future stay-over.
A gentleman called Mziwoxolo Mfekrto bought some land there and built a couple of self catering wooden
houses on the slope of the scenic mountain that dominates his land.

I was a bit short on time and as I indicated I had to get going his wife waved me back. Mr Mziwoxolo explained
it is African custom to give a guest a gift upon his departure and with that Mrs Mfekrto gave me a bottle of their
best wine. Goodness, my surprise was only outlived by my gratitude. Nice to meet such pleasant people.







The Seweweekspoort Pass delivered all it promised and before long I was in Calitzdorp. Itís midday and while
refuelling I ask the petrol attendant where the best restaurant in town is. As he points up the street he explains
I must go where the orange bikes are parked. KTMís mark the spot I had lunch.

The original plan was to meet up with a friend living in George. He couldnít join me for the whole trip but I still
invited him to ride with through to Knysna and camp for the night in the Prince Alfred Pass, ride the next day to
Uniondale where our paths would part again.

After numerous failed attempts to make contact over the last week leaving unanswered messages I realized we
wonít be meeting upÖ Time to re-think my route. Iíve been in the Prince Alfred Pass before, even camped there
once on my way to The Hell. I have not been in the Baviaanskloof before though.

As I wait for my lunch to come I undress layers of warm sweaty clothes because by now itís really bloody hellish hot!
Studying the map I plot a new route. The only problem is that I have no idea where I would get accommodation for
the night if I head towards the Baviaanskloof.

After lunch I head for the information centre and there a most friendly kind lady called Erina sorts me out with
information to a variety of accommodation near and in Baviaanskloof for the night. As a sign of my gratitude I
leave the bottle of wine.

Braving the midday heat I make for Oudtshoorn and once there nearly bring a stop to my precious trip by running
a red light. I have an old habit of looking around and daydreaming on the bike and not always paying attention to
where Iím going. I realise whatís happening only when I see cars heading towards me from the side and come to
a screeching halt! Very embarrassing. Luckily I live to screech another day.

South of Oudtshoorn I cross country on a small gravel road that rises and dips as it curves along a river passing
places like Daskop and Buffelsdrif. Once again the heat get the better of me and I make a stop under some trees
nearby a farmhouse.



While resting some kids rock up on their bicycles. They probably saw me stop and came to
have a closer look.



I break the silence and soon after they bubble with questions about me and the bike. Pleasant bunch. I canít
help to wonder how they pass their time in this desolate place but they assure me that the river and rocky
outcrops make for excellent playgrounds. They remind me of myself and my friends on the farm during the
good old days.

I pass Uniondale without stopping for petrol. Just a couple of kmís down the N9 another small dirt road will
take me to the Baviaanskloof. This road has a good surface and at speed playfully offers up a couple of long
gentle bumps to lift the bike off the surface. I am in good spirit but have to stop again because the sun is
cooking me alive. Where the road cross a dry riverbed I find shelter under some bushes. This time there is
not a soul around and I take off nearly all my clothesÖ

Maintenance to the final drive chain keeps me busy till I have to get going again. The Baviaanskloof officially
starts with the Nuwekloof Pass and while navigating what must be the last 15kmís of the day stomach cramps
sets in. There is only one solution. Hastily I search for a sheltered inlet into the gorge side, stop, out comes the
toilet paper I always carry and within minutes Vesuvius is peaceful once more.

Without further incident I find my accommodation for the night. The Makadaat Grotte is my choice.
Unfortunately the actual Cave units (rooms built into caves) are unavailable but the Aartappelkamer
(Potato Room, used to store potatoes years ago) on the farmyard looks just as promising.
After unloading my trusty steed I potter around the farm and eventually retire to my Aartappelkamer for the night.

For an extra R50 the farmers wife struck me a dinner deal. Her family made an early Christmas gathering
this year and once they sit down for their meal she will dish for me a plate of what is on offer. Iím so tired that
by the time the food arrive Iím fast asleep. A full spread of cold meat, salads and pudding it was worth waiting for though.
Dankie Tannie.




Here is the video corresponding to Day 1




« Last Edit: May 20, 2009, 07:18:10 pm by Michiel »
 

Offline LeonDude

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Re: Lesotho Tour - a picture & video story
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2009, 06:43:28 pm »
Nice, looks like this is going to be a good one!  :thumleft:
Great news, my book 'Sniffer' has seen the light of day on Amazon Kindle!
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Check out my website for free short stories!
http://www.leondekock.com/short_stories.html
 

Offline Doggone

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Re: Lesotho Tour - a picture & video story
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2009, 06:45:26 pm »
Anticip....................ation! ;D
"Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the Courage to Continue that Counts"  Winston Churchill
Bike History: 1976 Yamaha Chappy-50cc; 1978 Yamaha RD50; 1979 Suzuki TS125; 1980 Suzuki GS 400; 27 years of bikelessness ; 2007 BMW R1200GS - 125 000 km's , 2017 BMW R1200GSA LC (Lowered)😁 WOW!
 

Offline Milkybar

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Re: Lesotho Tour - a picture & video story
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2009, 07:08:03 pm »
So far - Gr8!
We just dont want to wait tooooooo long for the next episode!
Trials are survivable. We must keep our eternal perspective through the tough times.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we donít give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.Ē (2 Cor. 4:8-9 NLT)
 

Offline Michiel

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Re: Lesotho Tour - a picture & video story
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2009, 07:17:14 pm »
There will be an episode every day for the next 8 days.
For those who, like me, doesn't like reading I made the video as a documentary.
Do try to read some of what I wrote though, I made a HUGE effort.

The idea is to share what is so precious to me and hopefully others will find it amusing and entertaining.

Thanks for the opportunity to do so.
 

Offline rubiblue

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Re: Lesotho Tour - a picture & video story
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2009, 08:06:17 pm »
<subscribe>
cool so far, waiting for more.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2009, 08:06:51 pm by rubiblue »
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Offline funacide

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Re: Lesotho Tour - a picture & video story
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2009, 11:34:57 pm »
Awesome start to the report, keep it coming
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Offline Bakkie

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Re: Lesotho Tour - a picture & video story
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2009, 12:08:27 am »
lekker man. EK like hoe jy skryf en die video is piele!!!!
There are no short cuts to anywhere worth going!
Performance is paramount, niceties only exist if it doesn't affect performance.

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Re: Lesotho Tour - a picture & video story
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2009, 01:04:30 am »
I like this. From the pics I can see that we are going to get the detail that makes the trip real.


Offline edgy

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Re: Lesotho Tour - a picture & video story
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2009, 06:01:19 am »
Looking good!
www.astonesthrow.co.za

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Offline mulder

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Re: Lesotho Tour - a picture & video story
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2009, 08:55:26 am »
This looks like a great start, keep them coming  :thumleft:
You can't get lost if you are exploring !
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Re: Lesotho Tour - a picture & video story
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2009, 08:58:05 am »
Well, go on then - great report :ricky:
I'll take the high road. You take the psycho path...
 

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Re: Lesotho Tour - a picture & video story
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2009, 09:42:36 am »
NICE RR  :thumleft: :thumleft: wa di res nou!???  ???
Call us Crazy!! But what an ADVENTURE!!
 

Offline growweblaar

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Re: Lesotho Tour - a picture & video story
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2009, 10:06:00 am »
 :happy1:
 

Offline Michiel

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Re: Lesotho Tour - a picture & video story
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2009, 05:58:10 pm »
Day 2
Baviaanskloof to Barkly East (696km)







Waking to the early morning sounds of birds, sheep and a cockerel I realise Iím finally on the trip Iíve so looked forward to.
The sun is not visible yet but once your eyes gets used to the low light a crisp fresh world unveils.

Breakfast consists of what was left from last night.




As I sit down to eat a very friendly and somewhat intrusive cat makes itís appearance. I love cats, so much so that there
is no love left for dogs. I will share my food but since I need the nutrition my guest will have to do with the fatty scraps.




Through the open door the sight of the farmer, Oom Basie, taking a early morning stroll summons me. Iíd like to ask a
few questions, meet the man who works this land and running out I leave the plate of food on the table.

Oom Basie explains to me that this valley and the neighbouring ones were once used intensively to grow vegetable seeds.
The stuff that youíd buy in packets from the nursery if you wanted to plant vegetables. The area is perfect because each
farm is separated from the next by the mountains and bees doesnít travel through thus preventing cross-pollination.

Sadly an unfavourable economic climate, lack of modernization and international competitors brought everything to a
suffocating stop. Today he makes more money providing accommodation for the tourists that travel through. As we stand
admiring the massive tree that dominates this part of the farmyard I realise that the cat is still in the room along with my
nutrition for the dayÖ Damn it! Obviously he took all the meat. Kindly he left the pudding.

Backtracking for 20kmís I am reminded of the beauty of the Nuwekloof Pass/Gorge.
Once up on the plato again a wide landscape unfolds in front of me. My goodness, we really live in a stunning world.








In Willowmore I fill up with petrol and add some oil to the engine. KLRís infamously use oil in large quantities
and I have learned to check the level frequently. Down the street someone has done some landscape gardening
by filling the trunk of an old car with soil and planting cacti inside.




From Willowmore there runs a small dirt road via the Swanepoelspoort Pass to Klipplaat. I travel on gravel.

The road is a little beauty. Turns and winds, dips and rises. River and rock formations, wildlife and old farm
buildings add to the interest. Iím the only vehicle on the road and thus enjoy clear air and have it all to myself.



 
Not far from Willowmore and still before the Swanepoelspoort Pass I stop near a farm workers house to take
some pictures of road signs. Low water bridge crossings, one vehicle at a time and 90ْ turns are surely only
found on gravel roadsÖ








Whilst going about my business I notice a man, standing at the house, waving to me. He saw the camera and
wish me to take a picture of his garden. I oblige and soon we are in deep conversation.





Jan Smit lives here with his family and he has taken to gardening as a past time. Before I know it the whole
family has gathered to have me take some pictures of them. Jan built a outdoor stove recently and now
everybody pose there. Taking down his address I promise to mail them the images.

Janís grand child is still sleeping and he quickly summons his wife to fetch the boy as this photo opportunity
wonít come along again. Inviting me into their house Jan explains that he would like me to take a picture of
the boy with the toy he received for Christmas. The poor kid is still half asleep when he is pushed in front of me.
Bewildered he looks at me, this stranger in full bike gear and a cameraÖ




Janís wife is the only one who is not keen to be in the picture but eventually I get a shot of her as well. What a family.




The day is not young anymore and I make some dust crossing the Swanepoelspoort Pass and onwards to Klipplaat.






Some Koedoe or other bok tracks in the sand.




In Klipplaat dilapidated buildings and an old rusting locomotive makes for more interesting photo opportunities.








The backpack I carry my valuables in has torn open from all the wear and tear, trying to fix it I will have to
resort to using safety pins but where to find some? The local grocery shop doesnít have any but I do buy
some Chappies and Nikkerballs. The family running the shop out of the back of their house has recently taken
it back from some bad Nigerian tenants. Reminding me of my own little farm grocery shop I used to run while
living with my family everything is neatly lined up in rows all the labels facing to the front. Omo, Boxer, Lux,
Lucky Star Pilchards, Sugar, MaltÖ Ahh, such distinctive smell.

Towards Jansenville the road is being upgraded to tar. Stopping to take a leak I notice more closely how the vegetation
has changed. Here the landscape is dominated by dangerous looking cacti. Iím glad I donít have to farm this land.




Finally I find some safety pins in Pearston. From here Iím treated again to a stunner of a little road going past Swaershoek
and up the Swaershoek Pass. With a predictable and smooth surface I can ride at speed as well as look at the landscape.

The day heats up quickly and once more I find myself looking for shelter.




All along these roads one finds old dilapidated farmhouses.




Once on top of the hills one is rewarded with these kind of views.






I underestimated the distance of my route and by the time I roll into Cradock I realize Iím running late.
This though doesnít deter me from taking another detour to see Lake Arthur and ride more exiting dirt but
from here I donít stop to take pictures anymore.

Riding through the edge of a thunderstorm I try to make speed but by the time I hit Dordrecht the sun is
already hanging low. Passing through Rossouw and Clifford Iím on small twisty road. The landscape has
changed dramatically now and Iím starting to see bigger and bigger mountains with those typical sandstone face.
Once near Barkly East I open throttle on tarred road but soon realize something is wrong with the bike.
She wonít pull above 5000rpm, thatís 120km/h. Iím too tired to be worried but do feel disappointed.
Is this the start of the end of the trip?

As the last breath of dusk dissipates I arrive safely in Barkley East. From here I have to find my way to the
farm of Wallace Hardy where Iíll be staying for the night. He is one of my dadís clients and co-incidentally
my dad is actually also in the area and has decided to join us. Getting confused by the dark I canít find the
farm but John comes to my rescue. John is a good old biking friend from our school days in Bloemfontein,
joining me on the trip, he was the only one of three friends I invited to take up on my invitation to do a
Lesotho tour. Wallaceís farm is our meeting point and wisely he arrived earlier.

The night is spent with sweet wine and vibrant discussion on everything from farm stuff to biking. Its also
good to see my dad again. Wallace, having been a bachelor till recently, whipped up a delicious roast chicken dinner.

Being an old farmhouse, with 3 single beds standing along the one wall, the room John and I share is as big as my
whole Cape Town flat! Good night John, good to have a friend to share the adventureÖ




Here is the video corresponding to Day 2.




« Last Edit: May 21, 2009, 06:20:21 pm by Michiel »
 

Offline X Banana Boy

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Re: Lesotho Tour - a picture & video story
« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2009, 06:57:44 pm »
fantastic.  love the video.
 

Offline NISMARK

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Re: Lesotho Tour - a picture & video story
« Reply #16 on: May 21, 2009, 07:35:13 pm »
Looking good Michiel.  :thumleft:

Can't wait for the rest.
Ek val graag!!!
 

Offline Jay

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Re: Lesotho Tour - a picture & video story
« Reply #17 on: May 21, 2009, 08:02:54 pm »
Very nice trip... thanks for sharing it with us  :thumleft:
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Re: Lesotho Tour - a picture & video story
« Reply #18 on: May 21, 2009, 09:54:13 pm »
Hi Michiel

That dangerous looking cacti is what is known as NOORSE or NOORSDORING. Try hunting in the noorsveld and you realise it is not where you want to fall into with your bike :-)

Guys don't miss a day of this man's report including the video. I received a dvd from him and he did an awesome job and put lotsa effort into it. It is really entertaining. The standard of his reporting is the sort of thing that should be in our magazines. Great job Michiel. You Eastern Cape Guys if any of you are in PE contact me if you wanna see his DVD. I'm not telling anymore as it is THE MASTER's own privilege to share.

 

Offline edgy

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Re: Lesotho Tour - a picture & video story
« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2009, 06:21:08 am »
We is waiting.... :3some:
www.astonesthrow.co.za

 BEER..."I drink it when I`m happy or when I`m sad. I drink it when I`m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. Trifle with it if I`m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it - unless I`m thirsty"