Posts Tagged ‘South Africa’

Darren Writes 8th June ‘11

It’s not always easy to describe an adventure, the cultures met, the places explored, vistas and our experiences along what has been an enduring yet an incredibly rewarding challenge. More so, expressing how one feels eludes all but the most articulate of people or at least, expression in the form of words. For Russ and I, probably the greatest of our travels have been the people we have met and I was reminded recently of the joy and sadness of meeting such fantastic people, to share unforgettable times but to then move on as our journey compelled us. We have now left South Africa, have travelled through Swaziland, and are now climbing our way north, up the coast of Mozambique. From Pretoria (near Jo’burg), over the last two days, as my odometer clicked onwards, I couldn’t help to feel simultaneously that joy and sadness.  Ok, so most people I have liked in South Africa, but some people I like more… like the ones you feel like you’ve known all your life and they don’t need to articulate with words. We don’t know if we will see any of these great people again. I would hope so but if not there is plenty of room left in our memories… or at least until we will turn old and senile.

So this is a precursor of our journey to date but written as a salute to the most  friendliest/beautiful people met on our Journey from Cape Town to Pretoria. Cheers guys!

Next blog update soon.. Maybe will be Russ as I have some scuba plans tomorrow… Will still sort out the pics though!

Darren sitting atop Sani Pass

Russell writes 1st June 2011: Pics by Darren

Standard dress for the mountain kingdom

What’s the national dress of Lesotho? A blanket. Why? Because it’s southern Africa’s ‘kingdom in the sky’ and most of it above 2000m. To say it’s a bit nippy doesn’t do it. Ok we did go at the beginning of winter, but it was ‘sleeping bag and 5 blankets’ cold and ‘battery power draining’ cold.

Thankfully the mountain pass into Lesotho only had a few patches of snow on the track, and overall, the Sani Pass route wasn’t as forbidding as I had envisaged.

But what a route into a country, we followed a jagged valley that narrowed and climbed sharply toward the top and terminated at the highest pub in Africa! We stood on the balcony enjoying a local brew and the view from Durban (at sea level) to the top of the pass at 2880m. However, that didn’t last for long thanks to the cutting wind chill and we set about finding our dorm and warming ourselves with a log fire and noodles.

Enjoying the road and the view

The dorms were the most we’d ever paid for accommodation, but probably worth it as it was -60C by 9pm. We checked before coming that the pub had Super Sports 3 for the Champions League final, but really, I don’t know why. It was a freezing cold room, with freezing cold beer watching Man U receive Spanish lessons. We’ve been too used to warm Africa to cope with this for too long, this was ‘frozen water in the toilet’ cold!

Heading up to another 3000m pass

Getting going in the morning took some time – we had the bikes hooked up to a Hilux for 10 minutes each while we turned the engine over. They liked the cold even less than we did. Sadly we didn’t have much time to explore this beautiful rugged land, but I really enjoyed the route from Sani Pass to the north through the mountains toward the South African border. We stopped frequently for photos along the track over the mountain passes and valleys in this extraordinarily photogenic landscape. According to the GPS altitude graph we’d been riding along a saw blade and we hadn’t dropped below 2500m for most of the day.

Life on top of Lesotho

Actually the GPS was quite handy, we could tell when we were at the highest pass (3276m) on our route and the highest we’d ever taken a motorcycle. For you in Hereford and Wales that’s around 5 times the height of Hay Bluff and for everyone else it’s two and a half times the height of Ben Nevis, the highest point in the UK. And you guessed it, we were cold. But we soon forgot all about the cold just after Oxbow and a 2820m pass. Below the pass we climbed down the most amazing valley road and at such a rate we had to check with our GPS.

They love the camera and their blankets

We’d dropped to 1900m in only 10 minutes, that’s a fall of 1.5m per second. Dramatic, dangerous and very repeatable. Sadly though we had to push on as the sun was setting, we were shivering, and needed to find some noodles and a bed for the night.

Lesotho, a different country and different Africa, yet again we get to enjoy the variety of this amazing continent. For us most of Lesotho must remain unexplored, but for anyone in South Africa, Lesotho is a must. A crown of mountainous glory in southern Africa.

Lesotho traffic

Darren Writes 12/05/11

Houtes Bai, Cape Town By Darren

Hi guys. As a lot of you already know we are in Cape Town already and, even though I can’t remember when we arrived, it’s been a few weeks. Not been lazy with the update but been busy with more repairs to the bikes, kit and even clothing.

Brandy tasting to start our day of vinyard tours of the western cape, Pic by our waitress

We’ve also been taking time with our amazing host, Tanja, to do some recreation… Mostly wine tasting. After one of these we went ice skating.. You can just imagine how that went after tasting 14 different wines.

Kristina spent a few weeks with us here too and has now returned home (miss you Kris). Kris and I, whilst my engine was in bits and waiting for parts, hired a car and went to see the animals of Addo National park and some of the Garden Route.

Addo NP. 2 days. Lots of animals. Pic by Daren

Also went to a small private park where we played with Lion cubs (already 3 times the size of a domestic cat at the age of 4 months). Oh yeah, Sharp teeth and claws! Russ has been playing golf, so hand is on the mend and has been running almost daily again. Ankle much better! He also had a swim in the Atlantic which at 12 degrees certifies him as insane! I planned a dive with the great whites but unfortunately it got called off due to the sea conditions and I haven’t had a chance to go again as I’ve had another bout of Malaria, which I’m just about getting over! Seems like I didn’t kill it off before. Who knows when the 40 degree fever will return?

The predator Tank. pic By Kris

Before that though, I did get a dive in the Two Oceans Aquarium, in the predator tank. Ragged tooth sharks, Kob, tuna, turtles, rays etc. I couldn’t let up the chance again after missing the opportunity in Kuwait 5 years ago.

Table mountain, with its table cloth. By Darren

Yesterday we eventually got to explore the top of Table Mountain. Nice, very nice!

Russ and I walking town Table Mountain. Pic of Russ by Darren

We are planning to move on early next week and will first go to the Cape Agulhas. With it being the most southern tip of Africa, riding on from there will signify our return journey home, which, though the east side will have its difficulties, should hopefully be a fair bit easier than our southern descent down the West. Our difficulties are mainly obtaining the Visas for Ethiopia (may have to detour to Harare, Zimbabwe), Sudan and Saudi. Syria is also in the way and so we are hoping their borders will open again before we arrive. Sudan is in the process of splitting up into two countries and so we are also praying we won’t run into too much complication there… Africa is so volatile and the rules and situations change like the Capes weather.

one of our vinyards By Darren

I’m trying to keep this one short so as not to bore you. And from now on we should find it easier to update more often (at times anyway) Thanks for all your support… Will be back in Hereford soon.. Soon may be relative though!

Kris, Russ and Darren get to the most South Western point of Africa

On the edge of the Cape of good Hope. By Kris

A couple more pics.. Diddn’t tell you we went The Cape of Good Hope

Au-strange.. Cape point by Darren