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Offline Leo

Easter 2005
« on: February 15, 2006, 05:06:12 pm »
Last year over the Easter Period Excalibur & Myself did this trip to Lesotho.  
Met at my mate's house at 08:00, and once Patman arrived 08:40, we set off towards Badplaas.

Our route took us past Bronkhorstspruit, Zuzterstroom, Witbank, Tweefontein, Bethal, and Chrissiesmeer and ended at the Aventura Resort, Badplaas.

We travelled mostly gravel roads, only using the tar roads to link one gravel road to another. It seemed that the areas we travelled had had some good rains, so roads were in reasonable conditions and dust was no problem, with cosmos flowers pathing the way.

We pulled into the resort at around 15:30 and in no time had our tents up and ready for some partying.

Saturday evening was declared a "Rooiwyn & Rib evening, so that night we had several ribs to braai not to mention wine to be enjoyed. Larrysleguana, our Italian friend had misunderstood the goals and instead of bringing one bottle of wine to enjoy, had opted to bring one case of the finest Nederburg Baronne money could buy.
Blurry eyes on Sunday morning revealed that we had managed to consume, apart from our respective bottles, an additional 5 bottles from Larry?s collection. But a great time was had by all none the less? Amazing how one seems to have all the solutions to all problems, but can't remember any of them the morning after?
Here?s CamoJo & G/F looking rather tattered in the morning

We left the campsite at around 09:00 and headed for the hills overlooking the Badplaas area.

A tricky gravel road led us high up into the mountains and eventually into a forest area from where we could look down onto Badplaas.

Our route was very tricky and two of my friends (Patman & Larrysleguana) had managed to purchase some of the finest real estate, fortunately with little or no damage to themselves or their bikes.

 We rolled back into the campsite at around 14:00 and spend the rest of the afternoon riding on the various slip & slides on offer and relaxed in the mineral spa. That evening we decided to braai some steaks to go with the remaining 7 bottles Larry still had in his collection. Needless to say, Larry went home without any excess weight.
Monday morning was met with "Has anyone got some Grand Pa's for me". Our group parted with Patman, Ufudo, Bikermice & Larrysleguana having to return to the office while Excalibur & I headed down south to explore the Drakensberg and surrounding areas.

Our route took us past Ermelo, Amersfoort, Volksrus, Newcastle, Ladysmith and ended in Bergville. From Volksrus we travelled in pouring rain, which made the off-road option less viable, except, just before Ladysmith where it all seemed to clear up, so we headed on a gravel path, but this soon skidded to a halt when the rain started pouring down and I managed to put my brand new 1200 down in the mud. Needless to say I was not impressed, so we made a U'y and headed back onto the tar road. We rolled into Bergville at 19:00 that evening amidst pouring rain in total darkness. Pitching a tent was not considered, so we opted to spend a mosquito infested evening in the Drakensberg Inn that was far better than trying to put the tent up in pouring rain.

We travelled to Cathedral Peak, visited Didoma Lodge, and made our way clockwise around Lesotho until we reached the Glengarry Camping site in the vicinity of Giant's Castle where we met with Nico & Anton, two chaps also from Gauteng (Dakar & KTM 950 Adventure) who were also "just riding around".

Nederburg Baronne was R40 per bottle so we had to sample some of that, accompanied by another braai (in pouring rain), but nevertheless we had a ball. The routes that day were mostly on tar as anything other that tar was just one snotty, slippery mess!!

We rose to a splendid morning, not a cloud in the sky so we knew we were going to have lots of fun.

After breakfast at Nottingham Road we rode the 20-odd km tar section on route to Himeville before hitting the gravel road. Various vehicles of the 4 wheeled variety had travelled this route earlier, so the slippery stuff was well compacted.

Soon we rolled into Himeville, which marked the start of the road up Sani Pass. Nico & Anton were going to head further south to round Lesotho, so we said our goodbyes and Excalibur & I headed for Sani Pass. The road to the SA side of the pass was in an appalling condition, and had me wondering what the road up Sani pass would be if the road leading there was in such a state, Formalities at the border post took all of 5 minutes, including Excalibur's smoke break, and we could start this infamous trek up the mountain.

Needless to say all my fears were in vain, as the route was plain sailing. About halfway up the pass I heard the roar of other motorbikes, just to recognize Nico & Anton who had decided that they wouldn't make it back to Gauteng by Thursday evening if they had to ride around Lesotho and had therefore decided to cut straight through Lesotho.
A smoke break just before the steepest section of the pass treated us to an amazing sight of a dove trying to out-fly 5 eagles in the valley down below. Suffice to say the dove didn't survive. The last section was covered without any major hassles and before one could say "Sani Pass" we were in the "Highest Pub in Africa" enjoying a cold one.

Late afternoon the mist rolled in and we prepared ourselves for a very chilly evening in our tents.

The evening was spent chatting to fellow travellers who were also staying at the Sanitop. Company was shared with Paul from Alaska, who teaches English to the Eskimo's, Franco from Austria who spends 6 months every year on vacation while his brother runs their business and vice versa (must be a hell of a life), two utterly beautiful and charming Brazilian beauties, Carla & Giovanna, one a tax lawyer and the other, a real adventurer who climbs mountains, and had just finished a tour of Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti, and last but not least the hilarious David Charles Mc"Something" from Scotland who had managed to take a swim with his passport filled with Beer labels which he was collecting and which was now stuck to the pages of his passport - quite a controversial issue with customs officials we were told!! Later Johan, a lecturer at the Johannesburg Varsity Law Faculty, joined us on vacation with his 3 daughters, the eldest turning 16 the very next day and two German chaps on XT500's one called Chris & the other anonymous.

Staff at Sanitop started the fire around 17:00 and we spent the evening chatting away happily, sharing travel stories & cultures while sipping on the obligatory Nederburg, Gl├?┬╝wein, beer & whatever else was on offer. The staff left at 10 and switched off the power, so we had to turn on the candle power and helped ourselves in the pub - only prerequisite - you had to write up all you were having and had to settle the bill first thing in the morning. The group of men happily hung onto every word Carla & Giovanna spoke and when they finally called it the day at around 12 midnight, none of the men seemed to want to stay there any longer, so we all retired to our beds, laughing out loud at David Charles' comment about how fine his bed would look with a Brazilian & a Scotsman in it - all in vain!!!!!
I had promised the group the previous evening that I would wake them for sun rise, so at 05:30 I was up, woke everybody and set off camera in hand to capture daybreak from the top of Sani pass.

Even though it's still officially summer, the temperature must have been pretty close to zero, if not below, but my efforts were awarded with some fine pictures of the sun rising above the clouds. Paul, David Charles and Carla, with David Charles wearing shorts & T-shirt, later joined me. His comments about the freezing temperatures: "In Scotland we call this a refreshing breeze". (Remind me to never go there)

 Soon after breakfast all went their own merry way so Excalibur & I headed due west towards Mothlokong.

We travelled over some pretty amazing & high passes, the highest I saw on my GPS altitude meter measuring 3288 m above see level.

From Mothlokong we travelled on a route marked on my map as "strictly 4X4" towards the Katse Dam.

After about two hours in the saddle we stopped for Excalibur to refresh the air in his lungs. The beautiful countryside soon gave way to a loud scream from Excalibur and what followed were some sections of the English vocabulary I dare not state here. Between our previous stop and now, the top box on his bike had managed to open, either he didn't lock it properly at the previous smoke break, or it had somehow opened, but the fact remained - gone were his wallet & R500, his cheque book with all his bank cards, ID book, passport, rain suit & RayBan sunglasses. We had no alternative but to turn back in the hope of finding some of it, as Maseru and the SA Embassy for a temp passport to get out of Lesotho was not an option, at least not on the Thursday afternoon prior to Easter Weekend
We only managed to find a padlock that belonged to Excalibur, before being stopped by a local herdsman who informed us that some kids had picked up documentation that was handed in at the local police office. We recovered Excalibur's chequebook & all bankcards, ID book and passport, but the wallet; rain suite & sunglasses were missing. We had lost so much time in all this that we decided to stick to the tar road from Mothlokong, over Ox Bow towards Butha Buthe and eventually Fouriesburg. Once past Ox Bow, we passed over the Moteng Pass, tarred, really one of the most beautiful passes I have ever ridden. Recent good rains had turned the area into a green oasis with all the streams running and trout fishing a real prospect. While riding over the highest point of the Moteng pass we were treated to what seemed like Ice rain. The chill factor must have been way below zero. Lovely riding weather!!

The Fouriesburg Country Inn was a welcome sight offering a lovely warm bed, red wine, a decent meal and excellent company from fellow travellers, Guy & his wife, also travelling by motorbike.
We left Fouriesburg and travelled anti-clockwise around Lesotho, passing Ficksburg, Ladybrand, Wepened, Zastron and then headed pass Sterkspruit to go over the Lundean's Pass and eventually arrived at the town of Rhodes.

 I wonder how many towns in SA still have only gravel roads leading to and from? Well I know of at least one now!

The initial section of the road past Sterkspruit was nothing but over-grazed land with so much ground erosion it seemed like a mini Fish river canyon, but once we started climbing the Lundean's Pass (2 162 m) the countryside changed and we were well rewarded for our efforts. Before Rhodes the rain started again, so instead of continuing over Naude's Neck Pass towards Maclear, we booked ourselves into the Rhodes hotel and treated ourselves to a hearty meal and lots of red wine.
When we initially started planning the trip I stated that my only 2 prerequisites was that I wanted to ride up Sani Pass, highest in Southern Africa, and Naude's Neck Pass, highest in South Africa. Tomorrow we would tackle Naude's Neck, so we got to bed early. That night the mother of all rainstorms erupted, and my dreams of riding Naude's Neck Pass faded with every drop that landed on the roof of the hotel. I had read a previous article of someone who was caught on Naude's Neck Pass after some heavy rains, and the author of that article basically slid his way to Maclear. There was no way I was going to punish myself that way.

First thing I did was to pop my head out the window to see what the weather was like. Although the roads in town seemed pretty muddy, my peeps were met with glorious sunshine. After breakfast we rode out of town and headed towards Naude's Neck. The going was slippery and the heavy GS slid all over the place, but I had travelled all the way from Gauteng and wasn't going to be put off that easily. Upon reaching the summit of the pass, I was somewhat disappointed, as I had expected a bit more of a challenge.

I suppose having travelled over 3 288m passes, Naude's Neck at 2 500 m still had some 788m to go, to compare to the passes of Lesotho. From the summit we travelled to Maclear to refuel, then headed towards Ugie, Elliot, Barkley East, Lady Grey to fix a puncture, Aliwal North and eventually Bloemfontein.
We visited a friend farming in the Jacobsdal area, and apart from the mother of all Merino ribs we braaied, and a bit of rain on the way back, the day was pretty uneventful as far as riding was concerned.

We travelled from Bloemfontwin back to Gauteng via all the back roads as the N1 highway was as busy as Germiston station.
Grey Haired Riders Don't get that way from pure luck!

Offline Hellhound

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Easter 2005
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2006, 05:49:05 pm »

Offline LiveInTheOutdoors

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Easter 2005
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2006, 05:59:18 pm »
ABsolutely one of the sweetest reports I have read, this was WUNDERBAR!!!! wow mate, this is kickass  :cheers:  :cheers:  :cheers:  :cheers:  :cheers:
very minute is a chance to turn it all around - Vanilla Sky

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Offline macduff

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Easter 2005
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2006, 07:34:26 pm »
what an amazing trip you made .....
STUNNING, and tons of fun too by the looks of it  :shock:  :shock:

thanks a lot for showing us  :thumbright:  :thumbright:  :thumbright:


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Easter 2005
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2006, 08:00:34 pm »
Nice trip Leon, thanks for sharing.

Offline mango

Easter 2005
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2006, 08:14:17 pm »
Breathtaking stuff...Wow!

Offline Patman

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Easter 2005
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2006, 08:21:17 pm »
Thanks again for a great report.

Offline X Banana Boy

Easter 2005
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2006, 09:57:54 pm »
Sweet.  that was a great report.

Offline droffarc

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Easter 2005
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2006, 10:00:37 pm »
One thing I have noticed about DS riders, they tend to fall down a lot  :oops:
"..explore the beautiful surroundings via some of the roads less travelled. "
It is far easier to destroy than to create.
I came, I saw, I came again!
Biking since 1978

Offline funacide

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Easter 2005
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2006, 11:39:16 pm »
Awesome report LEO... Thanks for sharing...

Offline wino

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Easter 2005
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2006, 07:22:06 am »
great report leo! :D  :D  :D

Offline KiLRoy

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Easter 2005
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2006, 10:03:33 am »
Up there with the best - awesome report, thanx for sharing



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Easter 2005
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2006, 10:55:17 am »
Great stuff. One of the best reports ever!

Offline Leo

Easter 2005
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2006, 11:16:24 am »
Thanks Guys.

....yes Macc we had lots of fun & laughter, and a few headaches  :D  :D
Grey Haired Riders Don't get that way from pure luck!

Offline Excalibur

Easter 2005
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2006, 01:06:52 pm »
Thanks again for the report Leo, it brings back good memories. This was my first real long distance offroad ride. The bike was new to me,had it a month. She already had 115 000 kilos on the clock(previous owner Leo)but was feeling like a new one. On the Sunday at Badplaas I bought my first piece of land. No injuries, but you guys know how the inside feels like. "ek gaan mos nooit neermoer nie". Needless to say, Tuesday between Bergville and Himeville I bought 4 stretches of gravel road. A very rich man in learning very fast! I could realy recommend this route if youf got the time. The total distance completed was close to 4000 kilos and last years calender allowed it. Ill do something similar anyday!

Offline CaMojo

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« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2006, 11:25:31 am »
All I can Say is :

Eish,,,,,    Was not lekker the next Morning.

Leo,   Doing a Trip to Mozambique this Easter.

40km North of Maputo,
Includes a Ferry Ride to the Resort.
And then a bit of Sand to get there. (about 10-13km)
Just Chilling on the Beach for about three Days,
Leaving 13 April. (Pretoria)
Return on 17 April.

Offline LiveInTheOutdoors

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Easter 2005
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2006, 01:02:06 pm »
Shit CamoJo, that sounds really good.

Are you okay to invite people? If so, wont you throw up an invite in planning a trip? I will sticky it
very minute is a chance to turn it all around - Vanilla Sky

>Mav... started gym. Officially at 95kg....<

Offline Maverick

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Easter 2005
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2006, 06:49:35 pm »
Cool report, I have family in Maclear and been up Naude's neck a few times. My granddad used to say you can see 3 days into your future from there and the silence is deafining 8)
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