South Africa and Lesotho
December 15, 2007 GMT
Scooting around Southern Africa

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Recomended short cut

The unpaved short cut was, as promised, a great ride, however low and behold road works ahead! No one mentioned that and especially not having to follow a truck kicking up dust in our faces for 20 kilometres!

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Road from Warmwatersberg

Slowly the road improved and our velocity increased to make the 150 kilometre stretch relatively easy.

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Do you want to buy a bowl? Knysner

The softly spoken Missy was determined to sell us a wooden bowl. Her shy smile was endearing as she recommended all sorts of storage options, however, apart from wearing them on top of our heads there we had no room!

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Coffee Bay

Through the Transskai we wound our way past the town where Nelson Mandella was born on to the fishing village of Coffee Bay.

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In front of the Nelson Mandela Museum

This area was much more as we imagined Africa to be, with people living a simpler village life.

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Xshosa girl at Coffee Bay

The kids follow you around wanting to sing and dance for you or ask you to take their photo, whilst the women of the village make beaded necklaces and bracelets to sell from under the trees. Donkeys feed on the grass hill overlooking the bay.

A bottle of Alto Cabernet Savignon with dinner and Allan's company. What more could you ask for in life.

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Whats up Doc? Flat Battery? Concern in Coffee Bay

The Drackenberg mountains beckoned. Will we or wont we 'DO' The Suni Pass into Lesotho. Information passed on to us was consistent. 'Amazing', 'Hard work but worth it', 'Fantastic', 'Steep, very steep', 'Dirt road'. How could we refuse!

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Roadside Stop with Allan ... on a dry day!

Arriving at the town of Underberg, at the base of the Drackenbergs, in the less than comforting rain, we inquired about the weather forcast.... More rain! It had set in and was around for the next three days.

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Slip Sliding Away - Underberg

It was very quickly decided, by all three of us, to give the Suni Pass a wide berth, none of us were interested in this undertaking. Besides with all the thick fog and low cloud around, what would we see anyway, barely the road in front of our noses.

Skirting the Drack, the weather began to dry out, for a bit, as we entered the tiny country of Lesotho (Lee-soo-too). The border crossing was a simple affair.

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Road to Lesotho

BORDER CROSSING

Leaving South Africa
* Show Vehicle Carnet to Customs officer - Note: there is no formal
discharge of the vehicle carnet when leaving South Africa for Lesotho
* Visit Immigration window and obtain an exit stamp in your passport

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Border Paperwork - Lesotho

Entering Lesotho
* Complete imigration papers and present them with your passport for a
14 day entry stamp.

We came to a cross roads and a decision needed to be made. Left or right, some choices are tough, however, left won! We would try the Lesotho side of the Drackenberg mountains, two factors swayed our decision.... 1) The sun was out, 2) The road was paved.

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Traditonal houses - Lesotho

We commenced our climb, passing the many small vilages. Lesotho is one of the poorest countries in Africa yet every home was immacualtely presented with neat gardens, the round houses finnished off with traditional designs or stonework, fields were plowed giving the effect of quilted hillsides.

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Children of Lesotho

It was market day and the trucks had been delivering thier goods to the
roadsides of the remote villages. The air was festive and bright, everyone had a smile and a wave for us.

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Market Day in the Mountains - Lesotho

The road was steep and twisty. Clouds were rolling over the tops of the mountains. Climbing further into the Drakenberg Mountains we stopped to admire the view and ponder the ever increasing dark clouds. Some local passers-by told us of snow in the pass.

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View from up on high

Snow and high mountain passes.... been there, done that, not ready to do it again so soon, thank you very much. We turned around and headed back down the mountains to find lodging in Maputsoe. Just as we had settled in down came the rain again.

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Thank You Lesotho

Attempting to find better weather we left Lesotho and headed to Kimberly in the Free State of South Africa.

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Big Hole Mine - Kimberly

Kimberly is home to De Beers 'Big Hole' diamond mine. Digging of the mine commenced in 1871 and ceased in 1914 due to the outbreak of World War I. 2,722 kilograms of diamonds were removed from the mine and 22.5 million tons of dirt was excavated. The 214 metre deep crater has a surface area of 17 hectares with a 1.6 kilometre perimiter. The town of Kimberly boasts the introduction of electric street lamps a year earlier than London.

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Jules and the Generator - Big Hole Museum

Kimberly is a town whose glorious and wealthy past is reflected in its tree lined streets shading beautifuly restored Victorian Houses. Once such house is the Greatbatch Guest House and Backpackers. It was designed and built by Daniel Westwood Greatbatch who was the architect for many of the grand buildings of Kimberly.

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Without Allans guidance we are back on the box wine

Our loop of South Africa and Lesotho was completed once we arrived back in Cape Town. Our first point of call was to Suzuki South.

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Clouds on Table Mountain - Cape Town

James organised most of our bits and bobs, just a couple of things to wait for. In the mean time we arranged with David (the Workshop Manager) to borrow a little workshop space for Grant to tinker while Dave (the Mechanic) tuned Piggy, for the first time on our trip, replaced water pump housing that had been temporarily repaired in Peru many, many kilometres ago and peform a few checks. Our 125,000 km old shock was still performing but we decided to have it re-built and a stiffer spring installed. This was performed by Martin Pletzold who recommended by just about every motorcyclist we met in South Africa.

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Dave and Grant fit the re-built shock

Nibbs organised a loan bike so we could run around town while the bike was in pieces. Stewart (Kawasaki Sales) provided entertainment and a comfy sofa for Jules for the seemingly long hours she waited paitently. The team at Suzuki South exceded our expectations in service, assistance and understanding. We would like to say thank you and wish them all the best in the future.

Interestingly, Suzuki South was the dealership used for the world release of the V-Strom in 2002.

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Illegal Settlement near Cape Town

Whilst in Cape Town we worked hard on the bike, caught up on some much needed shopping (our poor wee Kodak camera, held together with rubber bands and electrical tape, was finally replaced) and performed some other preparitory jobs for our trip north.

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Dinner at Toms
L - R Gunter, Martin and Grant

Martin and Gunther at Toms Guest House, in Gardens, were fabulous hosts and made us feel very welcome and at home.

With money running through our fingers and the holiday season fast approaching we were well and truely ready to hit the road again.

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There's a springbok in my camp

North to Namibia.

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Heading North on the N7



Posted by Julie Rose at 02:27 PM GMT
 


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