Welcome to beautiful South Africa. We are welcoming a group of Chinese guests on this exciting 14 day tour which takes us from Johannesburg all the way to Capetown winding our way through this vibrant and colourful country. The adventure is about to begin so stay with us to see what happens......
It is sunny and warm here in Johannesburg, and while most of the guests have arrived, due to flight issues some have been delayed. However most of the group is here and eager to get started, so the tour goes on with some provisions made so that the latecomers can join us when we arrive in the Kruger game reserve. The bikes are sitting outside in the sunshine and the welcome briefing has been completed so we are ready to go.
We set out from Johannesburg on a warm Sunday morning and make our way to the highway. It's a change to be riding on the left side of the road, and four way stops are a challenge to start, but we make it and soon are heading out of town. We roll through the farmland and make a quick coffee stop just to check everyone is ok. Now we can see the open cast coal mines and power stations dotting the landscape. We head on towards Middelburg where we stop for lunch but it's Sunday and it's a little busy so after an extended lunch we head off again. The roads are busy with trucks and there are some horrible potholes which make the riding "interesting" until we reach Dullstroom where we make another quick coffee break. After coffee its a great finish to the day. We have nice roads and little traffic and can enjoy the "Mpumulanga Meander". We reach Lyndenburg and then have a great ride up Long Tom Pass to complete the day. Awesome.
It's a beautiful morning in the Misty Mountains. Looking down into the valley the clouds are swirling around and one moment you can see everything, the next it's enveloped in cloud. We head out and make a quick stop at the Long Tom cannon before heading back over Long Tom Pass and back down itno Lydenburg. We head north eventually crossing over Robbers Pass before heading down to the old mining village of Pilgrins Rest. We stop for coffee and stroll around the village - it really is just an old mining town, and extremely pretty with the Jacaranda trees in full bloom. Afterwards we head down towards Graskop before turning north and stopping at Gods Window. The window was shut pretty firmly when we arrived but eventually it opened up for a little to give us a great view down into the valley. Lenro had provided us a great picnic lunch and after we had taken our fill me headed up to the Three Rondavels lookout for the great views into the Blyde River Canyon. As we headed down from the highveld to the lowveld the temperature rose to a balmy 39 degrees! A quick blast down to Klaserie and then we were on the home straight more or less to Kruger. After dealing with the late afternoon traffic in Hazyview we eventally rolled into the Kruger gate Hotel. It was a long hard day but the smiles all around show it was worth it.
It's 5:30am and everyone is in the Hotel lounge drinking a quick coffee before we head out on a game drive. It's another beautiful day as we head into Kruger park and it's not long before we start to see the wildlife. Impalas are here in abundance, with a lot of their young with them. We see lions a few times, but they are being lazy and just sleeping in the shade. There's also lots of Elephant here, also with many young ones, just walking aroung and grazing on the greenery. As we head towards lunch one of the trucks gets a puncture, and the spare is also flat, but with some jiggling of guests we manage to get both trucks back to the camp, even spotting a big herd of Water Buffalo on the way. After lunch everyone is shattered so we head straight back to the hotel. There's time to relax a bit in the afternoon before dinner and early bed. It's another long day tomorrow.
After a good night sleep everyone is raring to go again. We say goodbye to Kruger Park and heady towards Hazyview where we turn South and take the road that leads us to White River. There's lots of banana plantations here as we wind our way through the countryside, and its an easy going ride. At White River we stop for a coffee, but already in the distance we can see dark clouds and hear the thunder rumbling. We head out again away from the bad weather and it seems like we missed it. We pass through Nelspruit and then we are heading through the hills and down from the escarpment until we reach Badplaas where we stop for lunch. After lunch we head west towards Carolina before turning South again. It's rolling countryside out here with a lot of agriculture, and some coal mines dotting the countryside around Carolina. As we head towards Warburton we start riding through the low level cloud and sometimes we can hardly see anything. Eventually our luck runs out and we have to ride through torrential rain with thunder and lightning. We stop briefly for some respite but then we have to head out again as the weather is coming back towards us. We eventually roll into Piet Retief just as the daylight is fading. A quick shower then out for dinner and drinks. Tomorrow is a short day so we can have a lie in tomorrow morning
The new day brings sunshine back with it, and we can make an late start with everything dried out from the previous days torrential rain. We head south from Piet Retief and the first thing we see in trucks, and trucks and more trucks. It's trucktastic! The road is very busy and in poor condition so we take it steady. At first we have rolling countryside again and we hug the border with Eswatini. As we reach Zululand it becomes hillier and more populated but after a while we are back into the rolling countryside again. We make a brief stop in Pongola for some refreshments then we are back on the road with the truckers. But we make good enough progress to reach the hotel by lunchtime and everyone is happy to get out of the heat and relax at the hotel during the afternoon.
It's another sunny and warm morning as we leave Mkuze. We head South and the road is in good condition and not nearly as many trucks as yesterday. It's undulating farmland again but soon we are rolling through seemingly endless Eucalyptus forests as the morning progresses. We reach the turn off for Richards Bay and there is a never ending queue of trucks waiting to disgorge their loads in the Port there. We stop for a quick coffee and then are on our way again, and slowly the Eucalyptus forests make way for sugar cane plantations. We stop at Siggis for lunch in Salt Rock where some of the guys decide to try the Eisbein - a very brave decision given the mammoth portion size. After lunch its more rolling countryside and sugar cane plantations, but we are meandering our way through the Valley of 1000 hills - there's not much traffic about and it's a great ride! We hit Pietermaritzburg at rush hour which was interesting but eventually we find somewhere to park and take a stroll aroung by City Hall and the Ghandi monument. Then its a quick ride uphill to Hilton where we reach the hotel just as the sun sets on the horizon. Was another great day of riding and after 400+ km's everyone is looking forward to dinner, drinks and a good nights sleep......
It's another great day as we head out of Hilton. First we make a quick stop by the Howick falls where we park right next to a school. All the kids are fascinated to see us. A couple of pictures at the falls and we are on our way again to visit the Museum at the Mandela capture site. It provides some great history about South Africa, Mandela and the struggle against apartheid. We head out again through the rolling countryside and even though it's a saturday there's not much traffic. We stop off at the Lemon tree in Underberg and have a great lunch there. Afterwards we gas up to make sure we can make it through the Transkei to the hotel, and then set off again. The Drakensberg mountains are looming in the distance and we can see the low cloud swirling around the tops of the tallest peaks. It's more open countryside with great views and great roads to boot. As we get closer to the mountains the sun disappears behind the clouds and the roads are wet from rainfall. We stop for a real quick break in Kokstad, but before we can head out again the heavens open and there is a deluge with thunder and lightning to boot. We wait for the worst of it to subside then head out. Soon we are in the low cloud winding our way slowly through the moutains, with patches of rain here and there. Another quick stop at Qumbu and then we make the last few kilometers in the dusk as we reach Mthatha and our hotel for the night.
So we head out of Mthatha and continue our journey across the Transkei. It's rolling countryside again, but there is not much here - it's grazing country and we see cattle and sheep dotted around, and then everywhere there are small homes filling the rest of the countryside. But it's not until we reach Butterworth that we really see the first signs of urbanisation - it's all a bit haphazard. We continue onwards and then make a break by the Kei river - the original border demarcation during the apartheid times. We cross the river into Ciskei and continue along the N2 as it slices its way through the african countryside. We stop at the beach in East London for lunch and can watch the waves crashing into the beach from the restaurant - it's windy today. After lunch rain is threatening, but it comes to nothing, and we just continue along the R72 making good progress. We turn into out hotel in Mpekweni and Lenroy is waiting for us on the beach with a surprise - a cooler full of iced beers. So we enjoy some boot beers and watch the sun setting - a great way to end the day!
It's overcast this morning - but brings some relief from the heat. It's about 24 degrees so ideal riding temperature. We leave Mpekweni heading towards Port Albert, skirting the coast. At Port Albert we head inland and make our way to the Big Pineapple, where we learn some interesting facts about Pienapple cultivation in the Eastern Cape. Then we are on the move again heading to Grahamstown, where we stop for a walkaround. There's lots of history to be seen in thes Victorian era town. We start to head back towards the coast and the roads are great and there's no traffic. We reach our lunch spot at Kenton on Sea and have a nice relaxed lunch looking over the beach/estuary and soaking up the atmosphere. After lunch it's more or less and easy jaunt to take us to Port Elizabeth and our hotel for the night.
Before we leave Port Elizabeth, we make a quick tour around the town and stop by the Donkin reserve to see the memorial to Lady Elizabeth Donkin, that Port Elizabeth is named after. Then we set off heading east taking the highway out of town so we can escape the city. After some km's we turn off and then we are onto small winding roads again, and there's no traffic so we make good speed and time and it's a fun ride. The further east we go the greener it gets and we have the mountains to our right and the ocean to our left. There lots of fir plantations around here, some young, some mature and some already harvested. Eventually we get back onto the N2 and into the Tsitsikamma national park and make a quick stop for gas. Then it's onwards again until we reach the bridge at Bloukrans where 2 brave souls from the group make the bungee jump!!!!!! Lenro has provided us another great picnic, so after rereshments we are on our way again, taking a short detour through Natures Valley which is great as the road there is super curvy and is newly tarmaced. We make a quick coffee stop at the waterfront in Knysna and then we are heading towards the wilderness and George. We trundle through George and then we have a great ride up the Outeniqua pass where there's some mist swirling around at the top, before heading down into the warmth of Oudtshoorn and our hotel for the night.
The next day first thing in the morning we make a visit to the Ostrich farm that is just down the road from our hotel. It's really interesting to learn the history of Ostrich farming in South Africa and about the different varieties of birds. Then we set out on our way heading towards the Little Karoo, and the further west we get the drier, and hotter it gets. We stop off in Calitzdorp for lunch and afterwards there's some power napping going on - hard work motorcycle riding in the heat! After lunch we head further into the Little Karoo and its getting hotter and hotter. We make a welcome break for refreshments at Ronnies before continuing on our way. Eventually just before we reach Montagu it starts to green up again and we run through fruit plantations and it's much more agricultural here. We reach the hotel in good time which means we even have time for a quick swim in the pool before dinner
As we head out of Montagu in the morning it is already hot. We wind our way through the Klogmanskloof mountain pass but soon the hills are disappearing into our rear view mirrors and we enter into Wheat country. Here it's just km after km of wheat fields stretching into the horizon. It's all already harvested, but there's bales of straw everywhere in the fields, and some sheep are already out grazing on the stubble that is left over. These are the Merino sheep that the area is famous for and they must be hot because the temperature gague is already at 34 degrees!! After riding through many km's of wheat fields it eventually starts to thin out as we reach the coast and eventually we park up and walk to the marker denoting the southernmost point of Africa where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet.
After making the most of our photo opportunity we have a quick coffe and then head off towards Hermanus, where we stop by the cliffs for lunch. Unfortunately it's a little late in the season and there are no whales to see. We head north from here and we are still in the wheatlands, but eventually the wheat fields give way to fruit trees and we stop for refreshments in Villiersdorp. Then we have a great ride to finish the day over the Franschoek pass and arrive at our hotel. It's a rest day tomorrow so we can all relax.
As today is a rest day everyone gets a lie in as we decided to head out only at 10:00. After a relaxed breakfast we head out and at first there's a fair bit of traffic. After yesterdays ride through the wheatlands, we are firmly in wine country now. There are vineyards and vines everywhere all offering us tempting wine tastings, but that has to wait until we are finished. The scenery is spectacular though, with the vineyards covering the valley floor with the mountains as a stunning backdrop. First we head up and over the Du Toitskloof pass then meander our way through the valley before heading up over Bainskloof Pass. The road surface is great and its a narrow twisty little pass. On the way up we are stopped by the Police, but only because they are doing some filming here. We stop at the top for photos then head down the other side and take coffees at the bottom. After that a relaxing ride through Paarl and then we are back at the hotel in time for a late lunch and some afternoon relaxation.
We head out of Franschoek and it's another gorgeous sunny day. We ride out through the vineyards and make our way through Stellenbosch and then on towards the coast. There is a strong wind coming off the sea today and we are buffeted hard as we ride along. The ocean is gorgeous blue and theres plenty of white caps today, and the sand is blowing across the road but the views are beautiful. We stop at boulders beach to take a look at the penguis, but no coffee today - it's load shedding time and there's no electricity. After wards we ride down to the Cape and take the obligatory photos there before hading back up the coast a little where Lenro has a Pizza picnic lunch for us. After lunch we make our way back to the coast and make our way along the famous Chapman Peaks drive - the views here are stunning. Then a quick ride through Hout bay and up to signal hill for a panoramic view of Table mountain and over the city centre. The bikes are dropped at the hotel and then we freshen up and head into the V&A Waterfront for a farewell dinner. It's been a great tour - thanks to you all and hope to see you again in the future.
Thank you to all of you! It was a great and successfull tour, we realy enjoyed it. Thank you for being with us, thank you for the all the fun and great time we had together.
Your guides Markus, William and Lenro