SOUTH AFRICA: a 50th year anniversary ride. (REPORT NOW COMPLETED)

2wheels

Community Manager
Joined
Apr 2, 2012
Location
Chiang Mai
Bikes
ROYAL ENFIELD CLASSIC
April 1st, 2023. (hopefully not an ominous date!)

Way back in April 1973 when working on a remote Central Australian Aboriginal community I befriended a young larrikin named Alan.

Alan would become and remains my best friend.
We soon discovered we shared a lot in common; Neil Young, beer, the desert, Aboriginal people, Jatz crackers
with cheese and a passion for motorbikes.

So we shared a few Centralian adventures on a variety of bikes.

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Decades later Alan came to SE Asia and we rode Laos and northern Thailand.

Now our friendship has endured 50 years and the passion for travel and bikes remains so we decided
to ride South Africa and Lesotho as an anniversary ride.

I had some appropriate shirts made (which Alan is not yet aware of and which will be presented to him
in Cape Town).

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I am particularly looking forward to retreating from the current hideous smoke pollution here in northern Thailand ....

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(pics above from Bangkok Post and Chiang Mai News in English)

"A total of 12,671 patients sought treatment for respiratory problems between Jan 1 and March 31, the 1,400-bed Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital reported on Saturday."


(Bangkok Post 1st April 2023)

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.... and luxuriating in the fresh air of South Africa and Lesotho.

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Two new BMW GS 310s are awaiting us and next week we shall be 'on the road again'.

I will attempt to submit a daily ride report here.
 
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Well that was the plan, but due to ANC government power cuts day and night (at the times when I'm ready to write my report) I have decided to present my report when I return to Thailand in a couple of weeks.
Suffice to say all is going well.
Meeting some nice people of all hues and seeing some spectacular sites.
Laters.
 
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4th April 2023, 8-53pm

OK, the anniversary ride is done so the ride report will now commence.
I will try to submit this on a day by day basis then give an overview of the bikes, the country and its people.
As a spoiler; it was incredible!

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I had booked at Gordon's Guesthouse, which is conveniently located near the bike rental place.
Gordon met me at the airport. Alan arrived later.
This, for me, is the most stunning view from any airport I have been to.

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Gordon's guest house and the heritage road (not to be altered).

Gordon had a photo of the original building, dated 1904 (when Cape Town was a VERY different place).

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Our brand new BMW G310GS's were prepared and ready to 'hit the road'.
They had about 400 kms on the clock, enough to get to their first oil change.

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Some of the rental bikes in the shop.
(I will give a summary of the rental shop, and maybe promote them, once we have settled our accounts with them)
ie to recommend or not.

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Alan arrived, so we decided to do a 60km ride around Cape Town to get the feel of the bikes and the local traffic.
The 310 is not fitted with a USB so the mechanic kindly fitted one for me.

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We had our first meal at the V&A Waterfront.
This young lady (waitress) was studying at university, hoping to get into the Hospitality industry.
She spoke beautifully and certainly had a lot of 'drive', so "best wishes" young lady.

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Some readers are interested in cuisine, so this is what was on offer at the waterfront.

It was a vibrant place, with traditional dancers performing nearby.
(I have pics somewhere and will add them when found!)

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That night Gordon took us to the wonderful 'Fireman's Arms'.
So, nice people, excellent food and new bikes.
What could go wrong?

I have now included some traditional dance pics at V&A Waterfront, thanks to Alan.

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Tomorrow, along the coast and inland.
 
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I'm looking forward to this ride report. I've seen some of Alan's shots on the more limited Facebook medium. It is really good to see a genuine ride report appearing again. Thanks mate
 
5th April 2023

A 'bucket list' visit for me today.
We rode to Blouberstrand Beach for this view of Table Mountain and Lion's Head.

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Then Alan found a Thai restaurant.
They acknowledged Thai Songkran (which I am pleased not to be a victim of this year!)

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Then on to another 'bucket list' venue.
We rode up to the Table Mountain cable car, paid 320 Rand (600 Baht) and enjoyed the breezes and views form the summit.

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Lots of walking trails and climbs here as well as at Lion's Head.

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There is a restaurant/souvenir shop on the summit (which has mixed reviews).


Apparently Table Mountain receives about one million visitors a year; so it is an absolute gold mine!
First climbed by a European in 1503 I believe.
There is a nearby cave which contains dramatic paintings done by the original inhabitants.
(A friend has been there so I hope to add a photo later).

Here it is at 'Devil's Peak', sent by Gordon (owner of 'our' guesthouse).
However I was wrong as Gordon advises that no paintings are there.
But what a view!

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Off to the wonderful 'Ocean Bucket' for a seafood feast that night.

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6th April 2023

Our destination would involve a comfy ride along Highway 1 to the pretty city of Worcestor,
known for its brandy distilling and fruit processing.
Our simple ride involved an 'involuntary detour' because a lot of South Africa is lacking in clear roadside advisories!
So we rode 171 kms.
It was Easter so accommodation was scarce, however we found excellent lodgings with safe bike parking at the Church Street lodge.

Good accommodation was available throughout South Africa for around 700-900 Rand (1300-1600 baht).
Secure bike parking was always our priority.

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That night we walked to the 'Yellow Chili' pub and enjoyed a massive pizza, a few beers and chats with the friendly locals.

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I will say here that we never drank a bad beer throughout our ride, usually telling the bartender to give us whatever he/she recommends.

We met a young couple and the girl was wearing this tattoo; which I had never seen the likes of before.

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It turns out to be the co-ordinates of where she met her current boyfriend! How romantic! Let's hope the relationship flourishes.
(I am now wondering if any reader of this actually looks up the co-ordinates!)
 
8th April, 2023

We would have a bit of a look around pretty Worcestor then ride off into the countryside towards Barrydale via Montagu.

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We took that grey track, which involved slow slogging through wet clay! Hmmm, my favourite.

The Dutch Reform Church in Worcestor.

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Another one.

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Then along Highway #1, past this winery. Notice that it is not locked.

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And onto the wonderful R318 with its stunning views.

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My bike with the saddlebags (there is a story to tell there!!)
The brown towel has a purpose.
The large tank has no protection from scratching by jacket zips, buckles etc. It should have.
The towel was locked into place by the filler cap.

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My interesting number plate.

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This could be in Australia with eucalyptus trees framing the pic.

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Another vineyard further along R318.

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Into Montagu and we discovered this little tuk-tuk parked outside a Church in Bath Street.

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And then we discovered the vibrant 'Mitchell's Sports Pub and Grill'.

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We were famished, not having breakfast at Worcestor.
So here was the choice!

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Not really; they had a larger menu, so I consumed only the second 'hamburger' of my life (and enjoyed it).

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Whilst my riding partner, being partial to rare steak ....

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Adequately sated, we moved on along R62 towards (hopefully) a room at Barrydale.

Yes, I know we could always have used a booking agent but we had fun asking the locals about accommodation
and just winging it. I will discuss 'serendipity' later. Suffice to say this entire ride could have been titled
"The Serendipity Tour of South Africa and Lesotho"

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The clouds were becoming a slight concern as we had to do some dirt riding in those mountains next day!

We found the magnificent 'Karoo Art Hotel' in Barrydale and moved in for the night. Hang the expense.

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My room.

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Most of the accommodation we used throughout our ride had wonderful historic photos of their establishment and the surrounding area.
I have some to show you later.

It was darn cold and the fire place in their bar attracted us like moths to a fireplace!

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Lots of socializing with the friendly locals (black, white and in-between) and warming up after the chilling ride.
And it was time for 'bangers and mash'. Delicious!

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A wonderfully scenic day of riding.
 
8th, 9th April 2023

Our destination today would be Calitzdorp.

A major breakfast at Karoo Art and an Easter Egg surprise ..... well, for me it sure was a surprise.
You see, I had assumed this was a hard boiled egg until I cracked its shell to discover it wasn't !!

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Good to see the National Flower (protea) decorating our table.

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A Buddha statue on the way to the carpark shouldn't be placed at foot level but it was good to see the statue none-the-less.

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Time to mount the bikes and ride.

We got onto the R324 and through the Montagu Pass on a new surface.

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Then the wet clay descents and climbs on R322 for 45 kms to Heidelberg.
This is when we discovered the Metzler Tourance tyres were not suited for this type of 'road' !
(I believe I ordered and paid for Metzler Karoo tyres and am currently checking my emails)
After some slides and swear words but no falls we made it into Heidelberg.

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To be welcomed by the local band.

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This superb little MX5 looked completely out of place here.

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Then 162 kms into Calitzdorp.

We arrived at Queen Street and began looking on apps for accommodation when some passers-by greeted us and offered
to contact the owner of a guest house (with locked gate) outside of which we had parked. The owner was in Cape Town
but managed to contact his house cleaner who opened the gates for us and then guided us to our rooms.
(This is the kind of serendipity that followed us around South Africa and Lesotho. It was almost predictable)

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The cleaner's son.

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And in our rooms we were delighted to discover a custom which we had not encountered before.
There was a complimentary carafe of port and a package of snacks awaiting us !
We were cold and tired, so the port was greatly appreciated.

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We cleaned up and went for a stroll.
A local advised up of Marcia's Outdoor Movies but we decided to visit the town hall where a fete sort of night was underway
with locally made produce to consume and fresh food made whilst we waited.

We also discovered that there was no electricity.
There is a long story to tell about the so called 'load shedding' (aka electricity cuts) which the ANC government has imposed upon its citizens.
It means, as happened to us often, that a tired rider can arrive at a guest house, yearning for a hot shower and a hot coffee
only to discover that no electricity is available for a few hours. So they go for a walk (unless it is after sunset) or impatiently await the return of electricity.
Yes, some places had their own generators but not all.
This is the major factor which makes travel within South Africa a serious problem.
Their government is keeping their country back into a previous century.
I have never experienced this inconvenience in Laos, Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia or Thailand; some so called 'third world' countries.
So what does that make South Africa?
Rant over. Not really as there is more to say and show later.

However, the locals are adapting to the inconvenience and the couple of hours eating, drinking and chatting in the darkened hall
were very enjoyable.

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We bought some 'hot-cross-buns' and home made ginger biscuits and consumed them back at the guesthouse
later that night after the electricity returned.

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We decided to have another day at Calitzdorp, so more to come.
 

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9th April 2023

Calitzdorp is a very interesting little place. We both enjoyed it.
The original farm was established here by Mr and Mrs Calitz back in 1831.

Current attractions include the superb 'Karoo Life' restaurant, 'The Accidental Baker', their Port and Wine route,
Calitzdorp Museum (sadly closed when we were there), birding tours and Marcia's Outdoor Movies.

Here is what is now their museum, set below eucalypts. Very Aussie looking.

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Their Church Dutch Reformed Church which dates back to commencement of building in 1855.
The original Church was demolished and this new one was opened for up to 2000 devotees in 1910.

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Some of the surrounding countryside.

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This magnificent mansion was next to our guesthouse.

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Meanwhile, back at the guesthouse .....

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We had no security worries, knowing that 'Daisy' was always on full alert.

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She especially liked Alan.

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The 'Karoo Life' had candles so that's where we went for dinner.

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An ostrich patty is in there somewhere. Delicious actually.

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Their pizza oven.

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And where there is the smell of food a doggie is not far away!

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A fine selection of local produce.

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And that was our leisure day in delightful Calitzdorp.
 
10th April 2023

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We headed out from Calitzdorp for about 50kms to Oudtshoorn and discovered their excellent Tops 'Spa'.
Pepper steak pie please.

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This Aussie Ford Falcon was parked there.

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Easter buns were on sale which would come in handy later.

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Into the wonderful Meringspoort area on highway 12.

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Through the ranges and onto the very, very straight R407 for about 120 kms.
The bikes and tyres coped well.

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This pic by Alan.

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Lunch break.
Actually, we were careful to keep hydrated throughout our ride and carried lots of water.

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A minor water crossing.

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And into Willowmore where our companion 'Serendipity' made another appearance.
We had stopped at a stop sign as a chap walked past.
We asked if he knew of any good accommodation in this small town (population about 8000 souls).
"Yes, just back there a couple of hundred metres. You rode past it".

Well, 'Lapidaria' turned out to be amongst the very best and certainly the cheapest places we stayed at.
420 Rand (780 baht).

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It was a grand old homestead.

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A kind and understanding staffer went and got some beer for us, which washed down the dust from R407.

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They take security seriously here.
But as Alan pointed out, "what happens with the electric fences during the electricity cuts?"

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Off to the Royal for a chat and a meal.
A touring group of charity riders were there on an assortment of bikes.

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I chose the lamb curry.

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And the resident poodle chose me.

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That was around 220 varied and enjoyable kms.
 
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11th April 2023

We needed to make up some kms today so this was a 313 km ride.
Intense side and head winds which was causing me issues because my bike wore the saddlebags.
At time it felt like I was riding a sail boat.

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The beautiful Church in Aberdeen.

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Along the R61.

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Entering Graaff-Reinet (we would return to G-R and thoroughly enjoy an evening there).

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Still on R61.

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The high fence is to help keep ostriches (ostri?) on the property. We saw a few.

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And we arrived at a lovely guesthouse .......

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..... to discover their electricity was not on!
However, they did have a generator .....

.... near my bedroom window!

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Most places had a bbq (brai) area but we never had one, which was a disappointment.
We did try.

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12th April 2023

A 271 km ride to Elliot today.

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A settlement on R56 near Steynesberg.
Nearly all towns and cities we rode past and into had these settlements for black residents.

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At Steynesberg.
These 'Spas' were excellent places to get a snack and coffee.

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At Molteno on R52 'the goats roam around as they own the place'. Who sang that line in reference to cats?

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Still on R52 and one of the hundreds of conveniently placed stops.
This particular one is nothing special but most others are very attractive, as you will see.

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On R52 entering Dordrecht.
There is always a Church spire.

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We stopped at a petrol station in Elliot and parked beside these happy children.

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Senior students waiting for their bus.

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One of the numerous stops for roadworks.
Despite this there are still thousands of dangerous potholes lurking on the rural roads (as you will see).
Hit one of these on a bike and it could mean disaster.
It is actually another shame that so many rural roads in South Africa have been allowed to deteriorate to a dangerous stage
and it is something visiting bike riders need to be wary of; as with the darn electricity cuts!

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Towards Elliot we went off-road hoping to find accommodation at 'The Guardian's Lodge'.

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This was a rocky, sandy, rutted track which tested both riders and bikes.

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And it lead to our first rejection!
The place was booked out, so we rode back, and with the help of serendipity again, found this excellent guesthouse in Elliot.

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It had a generator ......

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,,,, and a welcoming bathtub.
Being the senior member of this riding duo, I was graciously offered the tub. Thanks partner.

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Ramsay Lane Guesthouse has a nice bar beside a fireplace and provided excellent food and drinks.
We chatted to a couple of regulars, one of whom gave us his business card saying,
"if you ever need any assistance along the way just call me and I'll help you".
Typical South African friendship.

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13th April 2023

Breakfast at Ramsay Place was generous with a new peanut butter to try.

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Ostrich egg (not for breakfast omelette.)

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We needed to get to Underberg by late afternoon as bigger adventurers await!

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Along R56 with a view of the Drakensbergs.

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A pretty settlement with its randomly spaced dwellings beside the R56 at eLuzie Drift.

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Mt Fletcher, R56.

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A hydration stop at a bus shelter on R56.

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And an alarming advertisement inside the shelter.

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A minibus taxi at Matatiele on R56.
We had been warned about these guys but never encountered any incidents with them during our ride.
They work hard for their income.

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We found this wonderful coffee shop and sated ourselves with liquids and fish n chips.

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Then we encountered hundreds of potholes on R617 heading to Underberg.
This is just an example but they are lethal. Some stretched across the white line for about three metres.
Avoiding them was just one challenge. Avoiding the oncoming traffic which was also weaving between the potholes
was another challenge. Spotting the potholes lurking in shadows was also a challenge.
And, of course, our progress was significantly slowed.
We inevitably hit a few and my front suspension 'bottomed' a few times. Yet the wheels and tyres took the punishment.
I was too focused to stop and take more pics.

Visitors to South Africa be warned.

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The look-out to the Drakensbergs on R617.

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We had actually booked accommodation at Underberg, giving an accurate ETA.
However no-one was there to meet and greet, so the kind gardener opened the guesthouse for us.

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We chose our rooms ...

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.... yep, no electricity so no hot coffee and no hot shower.
So we looked around this beautiful property.

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The dining room.

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Then the power came back on.

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So we walked to the nearby 'Grind Cafe' and waited ages for our meals.
This was the slowest 'service' we had during our ride.

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We walked back to our accommodation by torchlight to discover the power was off again.
However, management had thoughtfully left candles in our rooms, so I had a romantic solitary evening.

I had never relieved myself by candlelight before. Thanks ANC.

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Tomorrow, a big adventure awaits!
 
14th April 2023

Today is another 'bucket-list' day; the infamous Sani Pass into Lesotho.
Experts say that this ride is "like a box of chocolates; you never know what your gonna get".
Conditions can vary a lot within the one week.

We departed Underberg after some light evening rain.

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At a stop I noticed my oil filler had been cross-threaded during its first oil change.
But it was very tight. A mechanic actually forced it open and re-threaded it; something I was too hesitant to try.

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That done, it was along a lovely new road with splendid views towards the Pass.

It is only 43 kms from Underberg to the lodge (and highest pub in Africa) at the summit.
This can be done in a 9 hour walk. Note that!!

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Approaching the South Africa border post.

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We had purchased entry visas for Lesotho from the bike rental shop which were attachments in my mobile phone email.
But no wi-fi at the post!
Eventually a sympathetic officer accepted our passport entry stamps into South Africa and after a long delay we we on our way.

Looking towards Lesotho.

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Looking back at South Africa.

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This sure was spectacular.

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The riding was easy initially.
But I knew something of the challenges ahead, especially on a top heavy bike wearing road tyres and having a high first gear!
Oh, and being ridden by experienced non-experts.

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Maintaining momentum was difficult.

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Descending traffic is supposed to yield.

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Then the first of our drops. We each had a few.
The tyres weren't gripping that loose sand.
I didn't want to deflate them for fear of a rock cutting the tyre and having the trouble of repairing (if possible) a flat tyre.
So they were around 30 psi.

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Those corkscrew bends were a challenge for us.

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This was taking MUCH longer than expected.
Yet it was exciting and challenging fun.

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Sani Pass has gradients of 1:3 in places nearer the summit.

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Then out of the blue came 'Mr Sticks.'
His story a bit later.

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I was having trouble regaining forward movement so 'Mr Sticks' helped me.
He dropped his bundle of sticks and pushed until I could get some grip but we needed more hands.

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Mr Sticks waited with me until more hands arrived, surveying his territory as he waited.

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I think Mr Sticks was mute. He just waited there with me as it became colder and darker.

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Later that night we were told that 'Mr Sticks' walks the track each day to collect firewood which he then sells to Sani Lodge
and other local residents. He is an extremely fit old man.

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Here comes the cavalry.

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Misty clouds were setting in as I was helped along my way.
I had already slid about five metres back to where I placed that security rock.

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At the Sani Lodge Alan booked a couple of expensive round houses.
We showered (yes, hot water and electricity and heated bedding) then had a few celebratory ales at the highest pub in Africa.

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Whilst we were doing that a staffer came into my room, rekindled the fireplace and placed my riding gear further away from the fire.

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Quite a day and another bucket-list item ticked.
Oh, and I'm not ashamed to say that adventure took us from 9-50am at Underberg until 6-52pm at the Sani Pub!
We could have walked it in that time. Well, younger and fitter people could have.
 

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15th April 2023

Next fine but chilly morning, bruised and battered.
(Alan had damaged a hamstring in a tumble the previous day, so he was suffering)

My lovely warm round house.

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The view back to the Pass from the pub.

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The Pass was being used as early as 1948, just when I was being born.
I think shows men man-handling a trailer which was attached to an old Willeys Jeep.

" A severe drought in the early 1930’s led to the construction of the bridle path system in Basutoland. It provided work and food for the starving Basotho people, as well as to open up the mountainous areas. Maj. Harry Smith, the police officer in charge at Mokhotlong, sat on a rock at the top of Sani Pass and without standing up counted 60 dead animals. They had died of exhaustion and starvation after climbing the pass. He thus got permission to build the bridle path down into Natal, a distance of ten miles (16km). He accomplished this for the princely sum of 60 pounds. The drought broke in 1933 and this was the beginning of Sani Pass.

In 1948 the first motor vehicle (a Willy’s Jeep) with trailer negotiated the Sani Pass track, driven by Godfrey Edmond of Kokstad, carrying a payload of 900 lbs. It took 14 hours of zigzagging, reversing and manhandling to enable them to complete the journey.

Brother Peppin of the St James Mission also went up and down the track, but with a tractor. In 1955 David Alexander started the first motorised service with one Jeep and six mules. And in 1957 the bridle path was converted to an access track for Jeeps. "

(from MajorAdventures.com)


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We had to catch up some time riding across the magnificent 'Kingdom in the Sky'.

Ruins just out from Sani Lodge.

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We road along that top road A1 via Butha-Buthe to the capital Maseru and back into South Africa.

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We zoomed past Mokhotlong on the wonderful A1.

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And found adequate accommodation at Butha Buthe.

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That was a wonderfully scenic 232 kms, thank you China for the new road.
Our highest altitude today was a freezing 3280 metres.
We still had ground to catch up.
 
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This is an eye opener to the gorgeous scenery that you encountered upon your recent trip.
 
16th April 2023

We had to make up time again today so focused on enjoying the excellent ride, not stopping for photos.

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Lesotho looked wonderful and I would return, maybe setting up base at Butha-Buthe and riding out from there.

This is in Lesotho beside the A1.

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We rode through Maseru without stopping there.
At the border control we were not asked for passports, so weren't stamped out.

We were heading for the South African coast trying to gain time.

We encountered many straight and long sections and strong side winds.
And more potholes.
Our destination was Wepener (pronounced with a' V').
On the R26.

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At Wepener we stopped at a Caltex station for refreshments.
The owners were very friendly and helpful and later escorted us to what was to be the best accommodation we had on our journey.

But they had these weapons (Weaponer?) on display.

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So Alan borrowed a Glock for a few minutes.

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We booked a couple of rooms here at the 'Lord Fraser Guestrooms'.
Wow, what a place!

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I'll show you around and explain who Lord Fraser was.

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This might be the car for this area.

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Meet Lord Fraser.

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I had a brief walk around the township before dankness.

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Back at the bar.

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Hmmm

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A few pets roaming around the in the warmth of this wonderful bar in the excellent guesthouse.

We chatted with the owners and manager and they were so very friendly, as was their black staff.

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My hi-so loo.

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Editorial

Before riding on towards Queenstown I wanted to share some pics I found of the Sani Pass
during and after snow, also some scary images of fatalities and serious accidents along the Pass.
I have not found anything about bike-rider fatalities.
NB this is supposed to be a 4WD track, yet we passed and were passed by 2WD fully laden vans and
also light SUVs.

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There is a well equipped rescue unit back at Underberg.
 
17th April 2023

Today is a comfy ride from Wepener to Queenstown.

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Rural views along the R26.

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A rehydration stop near Jamestown. Alan still suffering with that hamstring damage.

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Along Hwy 6.

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And into Queenstown where we were directed to the delightful 'Oak Tree Guesthouse'.
And they had their own generator, so a hot shower and coffee was enjoyed.

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Big electrical storm with very welcome rain (and most likely no electricity), so I will delay next episode until all clear!
 
18th April 2023

Here was the ride.
We had planned to ride directly to the coast but, given the number of days we had, decided to cut across towards Cape Town.

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On R61 at Karkastad.

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Car wash in Cradock.

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We found an excellent eatery at Wimpy's in Cradock.

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This one on R61 is OK but some of the place names were a real challenge.

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We arrived at the intriguing Graaff-Reinet late afternoon and found the most unusual accommodation so far.
The owner was contacted by phone and she gave directions on where the keys colour coded keys were hidden.
There were about 6 keys to enter and move from room to room.
We never met her or a staffer during our stay and left the fee in cash in a safety box.

However, the accommodation was ok.

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And the bonus was a bathtub!

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We had a short walk through town.

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And found this amazing Dutch Reformist Church.

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The following images are from Graaff-Reinet Tourism.

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" The first recorded church was in Church Street. Building of a church started in 1792 but was destroyed by fire in 1799 before it could be completed. A second church was completed in September 1800 on the site of the present Dutch Reformed Church or Groot Kerk at the northern end of Church Street. With the arrival of the Rev Andrew Murray in 1822 building of a third church was started and the second church demolished. The third church with its thatched roof, gables, clock tower and encircling wall was completed in 1823 and served the community for 60 years. On the 12th April 1886 the foundation stone was laid for the fourth and existing church which is Gothic Revival and based on the lines of Salisbury Cathedral in England with the inaugural sermon delivered on the 11th September 1887. The stone for this church was obtained locally and the church which can seat 1,250 and has a steeple of 45, 72 metres boasts a chimney, an unusual feature for a church.

Due to discontent in the congregation a split occurred in the Groot Kerk. The main cause of the breakaway segment’s dissatisfaction seems to have been centered on the autocratic personality of the Rev Naude. The breakaway group soon known as the “nuwe kerk” first held meetings in the town hall and on the 16th March 1929 the foundation stone of a new church on the corner of Caledon and Bourke Streets was laid and on the 7th December 1929 the new church was put into service. The church is cruciform shaped with saddle roofs. The gables are pedimented below which are large rosette windows with small arched windows on the ground floor and a small bell tower on the roof.

After 9 decades the two churches once again became one. This was celebrated during a historical service held on the 21st of January 2018. The church building, which previously was home to the Nieuwe Kerk, is now home to the Assembly Church.
Map and Directions to Dutch Reformed Church - NG Graaff-Reinet "


(G-R Tourism)

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And opposite the magnificent Church is the Coldtream Restaurant.
Wow, what a place.
Lots of charm and history, superb food and excellent service.

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" In 1875 The Graaff Reinet Club was established and in 1880 a new clubhouse was erected on Church Square. From 1900-1902 the officers of the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards, stationed at Graaff Reinet, made use of the club. Today, the Coldstream Restaurant is housed in the northern wing of this historical building and forms part of the of the historical Graaff-Reinet Club (Men’s Club). "

(G-R Tourism)

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Tempting.

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I enjoyed my fish meal.

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This was a highlight experience.

Definitely a city I would return to and further explore the area.
It has a fascinating history.

History

" Khoi and San – this area of the Karoo was initially inhabited by Khoi and San groups as can be derived from the many rock art etchings found in the area as well as documented accounts of the first Europeans that arrived here.

1652- Dutch East India Company (VOC) establishes a refreshment station where Cape Town is today. The town grew and farmers started moving inland to look for grazing for their livestock. They were the original “Trek Boers”. They came into contact with local tribes and clashed for fresh water, grazing and wild animals for the pot.

1779 – Trek Boers have moved far to the East of Cape Town, along the coast and inland, and clashed with the local Xhosa groups in what was to become the First Frontier War.


1786 – The border between the Trek Boers and Xhosa was settled as the Great Fish River, but of course there were further battles. The district needed protection and administration, as well as infrastructure such as schools and churches, hospitals and trading posts for the farmers – and thus the establishment of Graaff-Reinet.
Mauritz Hermann Otto Woeke was sent to establish a Drostdy (seat of local government) and bought the land from farmer Dirk Coetzee*. The Drostdy was proclaimed by the Governor, Cornelis Jacob van der Graaffe (hence the name: combination with his surname and his wife’s surname: Cornelia Rijnet). The district was the fourth in the Cape Colony (Cape Town, Stellenbosch (1685) and Swellendam (1745) – all between 450km – 600 km from Graaff-Reinet) and covering a huge 130 000km2 .
The Drostdy, a jail, public offices and homesteads were built from clay, mud and reeds. Everything was handmade or locally grown.

1789 – There was a long drought during this time, as well as another Xhosa invasion which made the Landdrost Woeke’s work challenging. Families moved into town for protection and put strain on the towns infrastructure.

1793 – Christiaan Maynier became landdrost. After the Second Frontier War, many farmers were unhappy and wanted revenge.

1795 – 6 July – Willem Prinsloo and six other men proclaimed Graaff-Reinet an independent colony. The new leader, Head of the National Assembly, David Gerotz.

In the same year, Britain took control of the Cape Colony.
1803-1804 – British gave control to the Batavian Republic and Andries Stockenström became landdrost. Stockenström and later his son made huge strides in improving living conditions in the town. Reinet House and the Drostdy was built.

1835 – Dutch farmers and Burghers (Afrikaners) were unhappy with the British government’s handling of the frontier problems, the abolition of slavery and increasing taxes. Several thousand people packed up their belongings in ox wagons and moved north – the start of the Great Trek.

1879 – 25 Aug and the first train arrived in Graaff-Reinet.
Graaff-Reinet contributed 50% to the Colonial revenue in 1860, mainly due to wool export. This made Graaff-Reinet the most important inland centre in the Cape Colony. But there was an economic depression in the Cape Colony during the 1860’s that went with a drop in wool prices. The discovery of diamonds in 1867 again uplifted the economy in Graaff-Reinet as immigrants and adventurers in their thousands entered the Cape Colony via Port Elizabeth. Another depression followed in the Cape Colony during 1884 – 1886. In the 1881 Railway Bill it was decided that Graaff-Reinet should be bypassed and this meant that it relinquished any hope of staying an important interior town. Even more so when gold was discovered on the Witwatersrand in 1886.

1900 – In March of that year during the Anglo Boer War, 350 soldiers from the British Sherwood Foresters arrived in town. Martial Law was declared in the town on 20 December 1900. Six hundred British Coldstream Guards also arrived by armoured train in town on New Year’s Eve. Two thousand Imperial Troops camped on the slopes of Magazine Hill and Van Ryneveld’s Square. Graaff-Reinet was the centre for British Military Operations for the Eastern Cape during the war.

During the war, 201 Boers (Cape Rebels and others) were sentenced to death in Graaff-Reinet, but only eight were carried out in Graaff-Reinet, including the well-known Gideon Scheepers. He was tried by a military court on more than 30 charges (including murder, arson, robbery and high treason) and executed by means of a firing squad next to an open grave in the Sundays River bed (18 January 1902) on the Murraysburg Road. His body was disinterred by the British during the night and secretly reburied. "


(Toerboer.co.za)
 

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19th April 2023

Before departing Graaff-Reinet I found this old Landy (Series 2A?) parked under a pepper tree.

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And discovered I had parked my bike under a fig tree.

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We topped up with 95 at G-R.
That's about 42 baht per litre.

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Today's route.

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Then onto Hwy 9 towards Willowmore (been there on the outward leg).

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And (again) stopped at the excellent 'Belly Deli' at Willowmore.

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A delicious home-made pepper pie.

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Sated, we road on to Uniondale and found good accommodation yet again.

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Another bathtub to soak the bruises from Sani Pass.

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A bit of a walk around.

The 'Happy Ghost' eatery and bar.

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" Uniondale is known for its ghost, a young woman who stands alone alongside the lonely stretch of road between Uniondale and Willowmore. (We didn't see her) When people stop to offer her a lift, she gets into the car and then – unsettlingly - vanishes.
One encounter with the ghost was reported by a young man who saw her on Good Friday 1973 and offered her a lift. She got into the car and gave her destination as "Porterstraat twee, de Lange".
After traveling a short distance she disappeared. The distressed young man reported the incident to the local police, who offered to follow him to the site of the incident in another vehicle.
Just outside Uniondale, the passenger door of the young man’s vehicle opened and closed, as if someone had just got out. He stopped immediately and consulted with the white-faced policeman, who had seen the door open and close without any movement from the young man.
Similar stories have been reported.
The ghost is said to be a young woman, Maria Charlotte Roux, who tragically died in the early hours of 12 April 1968 when her fiance lost control of the car in which they were travelling.
A movie was recently made based on the story and filmed in Willowmore
Die Spook van Uniondale | Life
Most people know of Andrew Goosen’s song “Die Spook van Uniondale”
The events featured in this story are within living memory and therefore there is a degree of sensitivity amongst some members of the community. More information can be made available on request. "


(Uniondale.co.za)

This place had its own generator.

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This little Suzuki Jimny might be just the car for rural areas.

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Back in the old days.

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I was to devour the best ribs I have ever tasted.

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Served by this young lady with an incredible hair-do.

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We socialized with the friendly locals at the bar.

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The bar stays open until guests are ready to leave!
 
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20th April 2023

The penultimate riding day.

At Uniondale we walked across the road for breakfast at the 'African Aloe Cafe'.
They has some tempting jams etc for sale.
One of the disadvantages of bike touring as not being able to stock up on these relatively heavy items.

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A request on their tables.

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Our destination was Swellendam but fate intervened.
This was to be a dramatic riding day.

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We were fortunate to find this secluded cafe on Hwy 12, 'La Rosa Blu Cafe'.

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We took note of the ominous looking clouds.

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It was, typically throughout our tour, an eclectic little place.

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Refreshed, we pushed on along the Hwy 12 towards our intended destination.
This is part of the Outeniqua Pass, a spectacular ride.

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Near Herolds Bay a 70kph gale tried to blow us of the road and almost succeeded.
Riding became dangerous.
My bike, with its saddlebags, became a fragile sail boat.

We decided to retreat into Herolds Bay.
Serendipity was again there to greet us.
I had barely parked my bike when a young lady walked past.
I asked if she knew of any accommodation in this small beach-side holiday resort.
She directed me to a very expensive looking block of Units and then she called the owner.
Some formalities with the owner and we eventually had our warm and very expensive rooms; which was better than being out on the highway in the gale. It was freezing cold.

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Alan had the room with a view.

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We couldn't find anywhere for a meal that night and the expensive accommodation didn't even include biscuits etc.
But it was better than eating roadside grass out on the highway.

Tomorrow, a sprint into Cape Town.
 
21st April 2023

The sprint to Cape Town.

Thankfully the weather had calmed down.
I decided to remove the saddlebags, split them and tie them onto the rear seats of our bikes.
This is something I should have done two weeks ago! Duh.
The difference was impressive. I now rode a 310 sport bike rather than a sail boat.

This would be our longest ride yet it was enjoyable.

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Another one of those roadside stops under the eucalypts.
On Hwy 2.

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Fuel and snack at Riviersonderend.
Wheelbarrow put to typical use.

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No time to stop for pics, straight into the heart of Cape Town back to our original 'Gordon's Guesthouse'.

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And our tour of South Africa and Lesotho was over; apart from returning the bikes and hoping our deposits would be repaid.
(More on that later). I photographed every aspect of my bike before returning it just in case there are disputes.

My bike's kms less the original 400 or so.

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Next day the big convertible 777 took me to Dubai, then an A380 to Bangkok the Bangkok Air to Chiang Mai.

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I returned home to find my adopted pet 'K9' anxiously waiting for his hair to be brushed.
What a welcome. Love that dog.

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So, would I return to South Africa?
Definitely.

Would I do more riding there?
Definitely, as there were many places that need revisiting and many coastal areas we missed.

Would I return to Lesotho?
Definitely.

I will give my assessment of the BMW G310GS next.
 
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My impressions of the BMW G310GS.

Pros

Very comfortable seat, well suited for touring.
Good ergonomics.
Good fuel economy and range. (around 33 km/l at 85-90 kph, 11 litres = around 300 +km range)
Great little engine.
Good gearbox, apart from 1st gear being too high for serious off-road work. Mine often had a 2nd to 3rd gear change fault but they may have been my boots and foot placement.
Good suspension, which could be beefed up for heavy loads.
Great exhaust note under load.
The Tourance tyres were very good on bitumen.
The bike handled beautifully on bitumen.

Cons

No USB.
ABS permanently on.
Top heavy when loaded wearing a top box.
No self cancelling turn indicators.
But the main complaint we both had was one I had not read about.
ie the side stand is about 2cm too long. Many times the loaded bikes almost toppled over.
It sat almost vertically and we were forever looking for a slight gradient on which to park the bikes. Why BMW?
 
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What a difference three months can make.
Snow on Sani Pass and Lesotho!

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(The Citizen)

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Just inside the l
Lesotho border (The Citizen)

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