May 06, 2007 GMT
2007 - Mpumalanga Province

So finally we were on the road – my frizzy hair blowing in the wind! (Eventually I do stop talking about leaving my hair straighteners behind…).

Setting off on the main Joburg highway on the fully loaded Baja was a bit of a daunting experience – neither of were used to the weight of the luggage on such small bikes and the poor bikes werent used to it either, so with the Joburg traffic darting at high speed on all sides (I won’t start on driver etiquette – or the lack of it in Joburg!), we were glad to reach the countryside! We were heading for Mpumalanga – the home of South Africa’s most famous attraction – Kruger Park. On motorbikes and on a budget, it wouldn’t be an option this time. I would have been fine – my bike could out run a lion, but I don’t fancy Paul’s chances (sometimes being lighter is better!). We were there to see the free and non-man-eating highlights of Mpumalanga i.e the scenery!!

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Paul in Mpumalanga....yeh!!

A chat with some bikers at a petrol station lead us to the Long Tom Pass, a popular bikers route with amazing sweeping mountain roads along the way we stopped at the top of Long Tom Pass, which was the sight of an old canon – Long Tom, who the British used to butcher the Afrikaners in the Boer war – nice it is still there, so we can visit and take a photo next to it…

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Longtom - ´the cannon´


It was a great feeling to be riding the open road stretching ahead of us and one of the highlights for us, is camping. Now, I can see my brothers nose curling up at the thought of sleeping under canvass and having to use an ‘ablution block’, but we love it! The first campsite we chose was situated in a small town outside Lydenburg situated neatly between a busy main road and Motorcross track and underneath a Microlight flight path…not the relaxing outdoors experience we were searching for, but it was early days!

We spent the next few days riding around the Blyde River Canyon including the so-called ‘Gods Window’ view point! Now, we had high expectations for this puppy, a spectacular view of the whole canyon and the Lowveld beyond, but on this particular day, God obviously wanted a bit of privacy and decided to draw the curtains on his window…a freak mist had blown in - I am sure it would have been disappointing and anyway we have the postcard pictures for our memories!!

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The curtains drawn on Gods window...made it look like a movie set.

That night we camped on someone’s front lawn – heavily disguised as a campsite, on Robbers Pass. This treacherous pass was used in the early gold mining days and earned its name because it suffered a massive 2 robberies in just over 100 years. We were bloody lucky to escape unscathed when we crossed the next day - it must be due another robbery any time this century! Another night was spent at Billy Bongos backpackers in Sabie, he gave us a free glass of old brown sherry upon our arrival and told us about how the previous night he had taken his other customer caving…he had decided that after they had drunk a bottle of red wine each and smoked some naughty cigarettes that the best thing to do would be to explore some new passage ways in the cave system. Needless to say they got lost and spent 4 hours wondering the system before they found their way out. Needless to say we didn’t book a caving tour with him, but he was an alright chap all the same.

After almost a week we had seen all the sights, the rocks that look like 3 Rondavels (3 huts) – and they do ….and the Potholes… holes in the river bed made by swirling pebbles and the waterfalls including the Bridal Veil, Pilgrims rest, the beautiful old mining town that sells disappointingly small over priced milkshakes, but the best thing about Mpumalanga is the forest scenery – it is a really beautiful part of SA.

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the 3 rondavels...see there are 3 of them

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Bridel veil - couldnt resist

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Zoe riding those bends

We were ready to move onto Mozambique, so we headed to Nelspruit, and the Mozambique consulate to get what I consider an extortionate 60 pound, 30 day visa! Paul’s was free with his SA passport, but Her Majesty’s Government doesn’t ‘welcome’ Mozambiquans, so they reciprocate!! Saying that, the consulate was really helpful and efficient, so I had high hopes for a smooth border crossing into Mozambique the following day…

Posted by Paul Jenkins at May 06, 2007 02:18 PM GMT
 


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