Day 4 - 122km Underberg to Molumong Lodge
The overnight rain
the tongues wagging as we wondered what the roads up to Sani were going to be like. The group met at Himeville after breakfast to refuel. set managed to find a radiator cap, and everybody was Kwagga to go in the light misty conditions. rearing
The first 20km or so is
, before you get to the gravel section of around 15km which leads up to the SA Border post. This section was muddy and we had been warned that it was going to be tricky. There were one or two mishaps along the way and everyone managed to get through the border post without incident. These days there are thankfully no forms to fill in. Makes you wonder why they have a post at all – oh hang on, you have to pay tar R30 “Toll Fee” in Lesotho – therein lies the reason. a
When we eventually got going, my bike had a massive oil spill under the sump. The oil window look ok, and the problem was eventually traced to Baksteen who was up to his usual tricks. The traffic on the new tar road has not changed - goats, donkeys, sheep and the occasional horse together with their shepherd or minder. I’m sure it won’t be long before the tourists
that they can get to realise on tar only. As soon as Sani is also tarred, a new tourist route will open up. Sani top
Despite the new (and perfect) roads, your speed is still relatively slow (40 – 60km/
) because of the hr nature of the roads and also the many pedestrians and animals along the way. We stopped at a twisty for our first Maluti while the rhythmic music and relaxed nature of the place really says “Africa”. We also picked-up a French speaking couple shabeen and Lucie who joined us for the evening at Molumong. Silvian
We reached the guest house in the early afternoon. Derek had arranged fuel and we refuelled and did the chains and other maintenance. The lodge has had some work done and is looking a little more
. There is still no electricity, but there are more comfortable beds and Daniel (our host) in good form. It was cool overnight, no frost and uneventful compared to the trip in 2013. civilised
|A hearty breakfast with good coffee at the Old Hatchery in the Underberg|
|Our accommodations at the Old Hatchery|
|Looks like Baksteen had a |
|The XT had a mud bath|
|Somehow I managed to keep my bike upright through the tricky muddy sections|
|David shared in Paul's jump for joy - check the |
|David at the top of Sani Pass|
|Celebratory drinks at the highest pub in South Africa|
|Usually Jorg is the one sleeping standing up...|
|I was very pleased that I made it safely to the top of Sani on my KLR. How blessed are we as a couple to enjoy these journeys together!|
|Quite high up in the mountains - still a bit of snow around|
|Paul and his beloved XT|
|Jorg and our newfound friends (Sylvain & Lucie) relaxing on the lawn|
|We even sit in the formation we ride in... #justsaying|
|The guys all got stuck into doing some maintenance on their steeds|
|Fuel is in short supply in the highlands of Lesotho but we were able to pre-arrange some with the owner of the lodge|
|Lucie found this |
|I could swear Jorg was there a moment ago|
This little toddler
guy very curious to see all the bikers
|Even this little bird was trying to be inconspicuous while keeping an eye on us|
Day 5 - 240km Molumong to Letleope
Guesthouse Qacha’s Nek
This day was always going to be a big day – 242km through some pretty rough terrain and we were looking at 8 to 10hours in the saddle.
Breakfast consisting of mielie meal, cereals, toast and boiled eggs filled the spot, and we got on the “road” at 7.30.
The first part of the “A3” was slow going through villages and rocky mountain roads. The first rains of the season had fallen, and all the local men were starting to
plough the soft ground on the impossible slopes where they farm mielies. Many teams, each consisting of a pair of oxen, a plough and their driver were to be seen moving up the mountains to till the soil.
After the first 2 hours or so we were averaging less than 25km/
hr which made the 240km look like a 5-day game. Fortunately after the first pass, the road flattened out and once we turned off the A3 onto the Qachas Nek road, the going was pretty quick. We stopped after a while to let Jorg fix is panniers which had rattled off. The road got progressively worse and slower next to the river and with a light following wind it was very hot with the bike fans coming on and off regularly.
After an hour or two, we reached the foot of Matabeng Pass. For those who thought Sani was a challenge, Matabeng resets the parameters. This is definitely a serious 4x4 pass and is a steep climb of 1300m with a number of switchbacks and some rocky challenges thrown into the mix. After some time everybody got to the top.
Ang damaged her handlebars and McSack’s back brake had given up the ghost. Ang, Paul and I headed off ahead of the rest to Qachas Nek which was still a fair distance away.
The trip down Matabeng was better that the ascent, and the water in the river was cool, clean and we re-filled our water bottles. The road got progressively better until the Rama’s Gate border post.
Thereafter you follow the border line on the top of the mountain. Kwagga caught up with us on one stop and we rode into Qacha’s Nek at about 3pm. It was a hectic day and the simple but comfortable accommodation was very welcome, as was the bath/shower. The rest of the guys arrived 30mins later.
The rear shock on the BMW gave way, and there were a number of niggles with some of the bikes.
was still drinking water, mine had a new smiley in the front rim and both mine and Angela’s radiator bracket had broken with the constant bumping – time for the handy cable tie and a temporary fix. Kwagga’s
|Getting ready to tackle our 240km of gravel to Qachas Nek|
|What a lovely couple (Sylvain & Lucie), that we can now call friends |
We meet the nicest people on our adventures
|He finally won him over|
|One of my |
|A Stoney never tasted so good|
|Paul & Frenchie|
|Jorge & Baksteen|
|Baksteen, Frenchie & Rolex (David)|
|The Mr and his Mrs - Birdie & Rolex (aka Angela & David)|
|In Lesotho only donkeys survive the terrain.. |
|Paul on Matabenge Pass|
|A very tired Jorg made it up to the top of Matabeng|
The ride to Rhodes was fairly relaxed with a large amount of tar, before the turnoff to Rhodes via Naude’s Nek. We managed to avoid being locked-up at the border post with some very pathetic ego driven police – small people whose little power had gone straight to their head, and without the manners or class to be able to handle it. There was a massive road block on the SA side. Apparently there is a lot of stock theft as well as drugs moving across the border, and the
road block is virtually a permanent feature.
Naude’s Nek is
although the wind was very strong and much of the landscape had been burnt – in
a controlled fashion I am told. We
popped in at Tenahead Mountain Lodge which is a 5-star mountain lodge with
unexpectedly good coffee. The run-down
to Rhodes was 30km and we arrived at the Walkerbouts Inn at around 3pm. It was officially Braai Day, and the boys
managed to get hold of some boerewors, fresh rolls and firewood in order to
celebrate the day.
We walked through the town and stopped at a tea room for some coffee and cake. The hotel has just been sold and will probably
re-open in the next few
months. Fuel is only available from one
resident who sells it in 10litre containers.
|SA border patrol - a balaclava'd Frenchie trying to distract an officer while Baksteen spins a story why he |
|Finally off the tar again - next stop Naude's Nek|
|Paul on Naude's Nek|
|Kwagga, McSack, Frenchie & Baksteen on Naude's Nek|
|Paul & Kwagga|
|At the top of Naude's Nek|
|What a legacy for the Naude family, we stopped and paid our respects|
|The Naude family tree has deep roots|
|Write this down |
Day 7 - 227km Rhodes to Aliwal North
The final day to Aliwal North took us via Lundeans
Nek which is picturesque and well worth visiting. We passed through Telle Bridge and close to the Border Post before meeting the tar road off to Lady Grey. The restaurant called Anny’s Café served a very good lunch and as with all towns in the Eastern Cape, the poverty and inactivity of the local population is alarming. You need to be vigilant to ensure that nothing disappears from your bike or luggage.
Silvian and Lucie heading South towards Lundeans Nek and Ang nearly got wiped out by a guy towing a trailer who believed he owned the entire road. At this stage we were keen to get to Aliwal North and the final 50km or so was done at high speed – of course that is all relative on a KLR.
That evening we went to the Ranch Steak House, on the
way narrowly missing a Kudu doe next to the road. The Ranch serves the most unbelievable 800gram T-Bone steak which was a bonus. We loaded up the bakkie and trailer ready for the trip to De Rust the following day. We phoned Jorg who had reached Cape Town (+1000km) from Rhodes at about 9pm that evening.
The weather for our road-trip to De Rust was overcast and we stopped at the Middleburg hotel for breakfast. The countryside has seen a lot of winter rain, and the flowers and vegetation
was really magnificent. We overnighted at Meijers Rust Guest House with Barry and Viviene with the usual braai, before heading back to Cape Town via the R62.
|Packing up and ready to hit the road again|
|Rolex gave |
|We contacted Sean and got some fuel in Rhodes|
|Leaving the Toll Inn - Homeward bound|
All in all it was a fantastic trip, although it was also somewhat busy. We missed
Rick who couldn’t make it because of other commitments and Porra who engineered a fault with his bike so as to avoid Matabeng pass.
Thanks to one and all for a great week. I do know that the youngsters were a little frustrated that we were not going fast enough, but safety first and we are there to enjoy the scenery, not just the roads.
I will let you all know once I have posted some videos of our trip on
Till next time, safe travels everyone
moves the body, 2 wheels moves the soul