July 20, 2000 GMT
Sightseeing South Africa

Our days in Capetown were blessed with many fine days which complimented our sight seeing. We enjoyed the hospitality of Anton (chairman BMW Club Capetown.) and Gill with a drive through the wine district of Stellenbosch. A cool fine day saw us visit Cape Point, Simon's Town Penguins more wineries, one with a Cheetah farm, Tabletop Mtn, Charlie's Motorcycle Shop - a must for the overlander. Busy, Busy, Busy . After fitting a new front tyre and a little maintenance we headed off to Africa's most Southern point, Cape Agulas. We have now covered Africa from its most Northern point to its most Southern.

We travel the Garden Route staying overnight at Swellendam and Port Elizabeth. At P.E. we afford the luxury of a visit to Addo Elephant National Park. Well worth the 100 Rand - saw 70 to 80 elephants, up close and very big!!! The same day we visited Seaview Lion Park. Cuddling and playing with lion cubs rangeing in age from 5 weeks to 4 months old was fun. Beware they attack from behind.
Crossing the Transky was a long day, not arriving in Kokstad until after dark. The accomodation was "not suitable" for us along this route and we rode longer than expected. Not a good idea to tackle this road at night as the area has a lot of free roaming domestic animals.

Heading north towards Kruger National Park we stop in Durban around lunch time to do some ground work on our exit back to Europe/Middle East. Another border crossing into Swaziland created the usual interest. Where are you from ? Where are you going? Why on a bike? Where do you get your money? These are average questions from average people everywhere we go in Africa.

In Nelspruit we had to hire a car to enter Kruger. We saw plenty of animals mostly at a distance. Our efforts to see animals in Africa were well rewarded after speaking to some people who have lived in Africa all their lives and not seen what we have enjoyed. Still we would have liked to been closer to what we had seen. Returning the car we are told of a carjacking. A honeymoon couple from the USA were held up with AK47's as they exited Kruger. They lost all their belongings but the car was retrieved intact. (A rent-a-car)

A day ride through Blyde River Canyon was worth the effort although not much was seen at God's Window because the thick cloud. It was good to have the bike unladened in such good M/cycle country.

Onto Ladysmith - which saw a lot of the Boer War conflict. Enroute the country-side looked very Australian, plenty of eucalypts here and the grassy plains and hills were brown from the winter frosts.

We left the main highway for the Golden Gate Nat. Pk. road. A good choice as the twisty road had little traffic and great scenery. This route took us into Lesotho. The counrty appears very poor compared to the rest of Southern Africa and accomodation was difficult to find. A Youth Hostel at Butha-Buthe was buried in the hills with little more than a goat track leading up to its front door. There is no electricity, running water, no phone but a view to make you want to stay for a while. We wrote several postcards by candle light this night as the temperature sank below 0 degrees.

Travelling through Lesotho we decided to exit the country that day. Due to reports of rain snow and winds we kept to the main highway and left the tougher roads for another day. We road almost 700 kms this day which included a border crossing and an annoying Police check. There was very little cheap accomodation on this leg. Queenstown Tourist Office were not able to direct us to a campground so we continued on to Stutterheim where we followed canping signs to a private campground near a pine tree plantation.

Next day we battle roadworks on the Transky route again. The traffic congestion reminded us of the problems we experienced in Cairo. The Kei River Gorge road was closed between 10.00am and 2.00pm for blasting purposes. What a mess.
After camping on the South Coast we headed north to Durban. Great winter weather in this city. Called into Tommy Johns BMW in Pinetown where we met Gavin a free lance photo/journalist. Sth African hospitality at its best saw us enjoy a hectic social week plus trying to organize our transport North. We settled on Athens flying Olympic Air. Our fares were OK but the bike was expensive. We think the cheap airfares on offer these days are heavily subsidised by freight charges.

With all bookings completed we headed west to Kimberley for a look at 'the big hole'. A surface and underground tour of the Bulfontein Diamond Mine was well worth the effort. The lady organizing the tours was so impressed with our travelling efforts she had the local paper come out for an interview and photos. We were front page the next day. Very flattering. Our two nights in the tent here were cool -2 to -3 degrees celcius.

Back in Durban we resumed our hectis social life along with the 'packing' routine. More by good luck than management the bike was travelling on the same plane as us. WE hoped this would allow us to collect the bike the same day.

Athens....
It worked. The bike was unpacked and customs was attended to with little fuss. We were on the road before lunch. Wow... We just love it when things come together like this.
Sight seeing in Athens is a busy schedule. Having met up with Carol's brother we endeavour to see as much as possible. The Acropolis is as good as we expected despite the support scaffolding. Plenty more to see - so its back of the road again. Keep it upright. Love Carol & Ken.

P.S. This is just a big THANK YOU for the genuine help and hospitality extended to us over the past few weeks in South Africa.
Anton & Gill in Capetown.....John at Trefco BMW Capetown.
BMW Club in Capetown......Charlies Motorcycle Shop Capetown (Wolf & Gerry)
Tommy Johns BMW Pinetown (all the staff)......BMW Club of Durban.....
Ace Motorcycles (Vic & Chris) Pinetown....Gavin, Jenny, Alan, Michelle, Gunston, Package, Beemer and Tippex. (Hope things have settled a bit since we left. Many thanks. See you in Aus one day.)

Posted by Carol Duval at July 20, 2000 01:24 AM GMT
 



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