South Africa
May 01, 2007 GMT
Tuli Block - Botswana

Its late April & I have booked a motorcycle weekend at Kwa Nokeng Lodge in Botswana - with 2 nights in the Tuli Block area - northern side of the Limpopo River. This trip was recommended by Mike Pohl (Mike da Bike) from Lyndhurst motors.

I joined Koos (see photos) & the back up ambo image
just north of Pretoria, and cruised to the border. On the way, through a small town, I was pulled up by a black policeman for a small transgression. When he saw I was Australian, we started talking cricket - and with the promise of sending some Aussies to teach the South African cricketers, I was allowed to go. phew!!!!

A very hectic border crossing - jumping ques to get the bike gate pass - we made it to the lodge - a 10,000Ha property on the Limpopo River - run by 2 brothers - Clinton (leads the bike trips & races enduro / desert races), and Chemmy (who leads the team at the bar & at the braai).

We were running late - so we ate quickly & joined the group (10 guys) and headed off to the campsite on the river about 150kms away. Good fast dirt roads - but a few surprises just to make it interesting. Lost my rear seat and rear wheel hugger somewhere in those bumps - ah well - that's adventure riding!

Just on dark we reached camp - the camp was already set up
drinks were chilled & the fire was stoked
even had a fire under a drum for hot water - a hot shower no less.

Heard the hippo bellowing that night right next to us - checked out his tracks the next morning
right next to the tent!

Beautiful still morning & a great view down the river
The clear & warm day was a good day on dirt roads, tracks, dry river crossings - I spent most of the day riding 2 a breast with Clinton at the front (no dust) at a good pace. Not alot of game spotted - perhaps too much noise, but this is elephant & cat country - we did see lots of bok, monkeys, wharthogs.

A stop at a landmark Baobab tree cluster
where the kids are used to travellers with booty

Back to the camp for a great meal, lots of cheer & bs around the campfire - recounting the day and the several "lie downs" that a number had - particularly in the river bed (see Koos' action)
image image image
Next morning - cuddling sore heads we packed up and back to Kwa Nokeng for lunch. Some headed home that afternoon - I stayed on at the lodge. I sat on the deck of my villa, overlooking the river & watched the monkeys come in late in the afternoon. They climb the tress & frolicked till dark - like watching a movie - the interaction and cheeky young ones playing and provoking the older ones were very interesting. That night I partied with Chemmy, some English visitors and several Afrikaans families of quad riders who were also staying at the lodge (Chemmy well and truely lead the event!) - I piked early - they went late - boy those Afrikaaners dance up a storm & party when they are on holidays!

The next morning Chemmy showed me a more interesting way to get back to Joburg - mostly dirt & a small border crossing - so I did about 300kms of fast dirt on the way home - what a blast!


Next blog will be our planned Lesotho trip - looking forward to that one!

Posted by Ron Markiewicz at 01:01 AM GMT
June 18, 2007 GMT
The bike is ready to go!

Just got back from Brissy on R & R late Friday 15th June. 8 hours behind, and it always takes me a few days to get the sleep pattern right. Woke at 4.00am Saturday to start the day. Today (Sunday) I woke before 3.00am. Tried to force myself to sleep for a while, but gave up - and decided I would do my final trial pack, weigh all the gear one more time, and have a bit of a run to check the handling of the whole system.

Weight stats:
Bare bike: 230kg (full of fuel)
Panniers: 18kg empty
luggage in 3 bags: 28kg (only 8kg of clothing in that)
my riding gear: 5kg
me: less than 100kg now & still targeting to drop some more

By first light at 6.30, I was ready to ride - all packed, weighed, and into the early morning - boy it's cold as you just get out of Jo'burg to the north, past the cradle of humankind, it hit -2C!!! I hadn't really dressed warm enough - but it was only going to be a relatively short ride - but those BMW hand grip warmers were on full & really appreciated!

I stopped on the way to Hardebeesport dam (the Sunday breakfast run destination for several hundred bikes), and took a few shots of the bike - in the rising sunlight:
Notice the stickers have started:
the AUS id - seems this is a must for the carnet
the must have - Aus flag
the "right thing to do" - RSA flag - seeing the "Black Mamba" is a South African after all
and a Mountain Designs shop sticker - because its my favourite toy shop - and I am carrying alot of gear from them (maybe I should try for some sponsorship??)

Also - note I now have installed the essential Touratech stuff:
1. Tankbag
2. Headlight protector
3. Oil cooler protector
4. Much better bash plate than the original
5. Side stand enlarger (essential for the big pig in soft ground)
6. Handlebar risers (just right hight now for standing & riding comfortably - for long periods - see the Botswana entry).
7. Note the sweet exhaust system - full race Akropovic - the cows (and everyone) are well aware of my coming - waaay in advance!

I've also put some 3M black adhesive sheet over the knee pad areas, and under the tankbag - I could already see the paint scuffing from the trips I had already done.

Other stuff strapped on the bike:
small hand pump (to supplement the 4 x CO2 cylinders I will carry in the tool role)
gaffer tape - on 2 "easy dispensing" rolls on the rear carrier
spare keys (suitably "hidden")

I have installed a motion detector alarm system (see the remote on the ignition key?) - to deter keen tamperers when its parked in exposed locations overnight. I also had to install a "secret" kill switch for this system, because eventhough you turn it off with the remote - it automatically re-arms in 30 seconds. This was becoming a real pain on a long day's ride - with frequent stops.

Also - perched on the lid of the top box is a packed bike cover (see it installed). I plan to use this to also deter interest in the bike when parked overnight. I figure that this trip will be fantastic - imagine if I wake up one morning, and find the bike has been stolen - guess what - holiday over!!

So the security plan is:
1. Electronic immobilizer ignition key(standard)
2. Steering lock (standard)
3. Flouro yellow front disc lock (with a "don't forget me" flouro yellow tether)
4. Motion detector alarm (I mean REALLY loud & piercing!)
5. Bland grey bike cover (now sporting a big "ALARM" sign on it)

Think that will do it?

A quick ride to the dam - a stop at a favourite bike haunt for breakfast - and then a "way too fast" run back to Jo'burg - just to get in the groove with the typical breakfast run group (where most remove their number plates - so any speed cameras, or entusiastic metro police try to hinder their Sunday fun).

So - I think the bike is ready now. Going to Botswana next week (with a good set of knobbie tyres) - so I better not have any serious "lie downs" and jeodardise the bike readiness!!! Well that trip is another episode - see a separate entry on "The Pans".
Final preparations took place after that trip.

These included:

Get the bike serviced one more time (including a new front wheel - somehow I got a buckle in the wheel from enthusiastic riding over rocky ground at perhaps a little to crisp a pace!) - anyway, I tried for a warranty claim, had some fun haggling, but ended up with a free new wheel - due to an ordering mess up by BMW.

New tyres - knobbie for the front (Continental - TKC80) and dual purpose for the back (Metzler - Tourance) - I am assured these will be fine for the dirt roads in Alaska, and will last me to the planned service/ tyre change in Tuscon Arizona - about 10,000kms into the trip.

Finally on Monday 2nd July - I delivered the bike to the freight company. Thanks Jeff for letting me christen that fancy trailer - as the bike had to be somewhat stripped for crating. By Wed 3rd it was wrapped & crated:

It flies with KLM on Friday 6th July to London, joins the 8 or so other bikes coming from the UK, and should arrive in Anchorage on 18th July. I get to Anchorage on 26th July, and have a couple of days to recover the bike, and look around Anchorage before we officially start on 29th July - heading north! That should be the prompter for the next entry!

cheers for now

Ron (and the Black Mamba)

Posted by Ron Markiewicz at 01:05 PM GMT
June 30, 2007 GMT
The Makgadikgadi Pans - Botswana

This is a trip offered by the Adventure Riding company - Kwa Nokeng in Botswana.
The same group I went to the Tuli Block with, a few months ago. If you get the chance - go stay at their lodge at Martin's Drift, and ride with Clinton, drink with Chemmy - you won't regret it!!!

I believe "Makgadikgadi" means something like place of changing water (wet / dry) in Tswana.

I rode the 400kms to Martins Drift (just inside the Botswana border) on some nice back roads - sporting my newly installed knobbies (Bridgestone M22 motorcross tyre on the front, Metzler Karoo on the back).
My experiences with these tyres on the Cape York trip last year (northern most point in Australia - the pointy bit) convinced me they are the best you can get for the sort of riding expected (lots of sand!).
The Karoo is really noisy on bitumen, and I was getting a real speed wobble over 120kph from the front - so I took it easy. (Note: I later lowered the tyre pressures - which radically fixed the speed wobble - I tested it to 190kph in the Pans - no problems, except my arse pucker at going any faster on a dried lake bed - with mud just below the surface!)

This time the Martins Drift border post into Botswana was relatively quiet, Kwa Nokeng provided the vehicle pass - and I was through quickly. I saw a few of the other riders at the border, and we all met up (12 riders) at the lodge soon thereafter for intro's and a few Windhoek lagers!

Dinner was at 7.00pm - Clinton briefed us on the trip - and with the notice that breakfast would be at 5.00am (up at 4.00!!!!) to be away by 6.00am (still dark) - for a long days riding - most of us had a relatvely early night - but as usual there are always those keen to party. I had to say - the group was shaping up as a playful lot - with lots of hero stories of rides gone past, and the usual South African / Aussie rugby jabs! Some very experienced dirt bike riders in the group, and some relative noobs with new bikes on their first sojourn into the bush / sand - will make for interesting dynamics in the dirt!

In the morning - only 4 of us fronted on our bikes for the 350km transport section heading further north to the start of the dirt - the rest were warm and cosy in their cars & trailered bikes. Pussies I thought! But it was bloody cold (about 1C - 2C for the first hour or 2), so there was a bit of envy on my part in there as well! The back up 4 x 4 was loaded (including bike trailer), and the Landrover Defender back up ambo was also pulling a trailer for luggage & some camping supplies.

Clinton offered me a bike space on a trailer - I was tempted - but thought I would regret the riding experience - so let Bruno be the pussy & put his bike on the trailer & his arse in the warm 4 x 4.

(Bruno is not really a pussy - you will see so later).

The main truck with all the camping gear (and Chemmy at the helm) had left the day before - to make sure camp would be ready for us - on the pans that night.

Pretty uneventful transport ride (how the ambo got lost for a while puzzled us all!) - about 4 hours, but really pretty with the sunrise in what is really semi desert country. Arrived at Lethakane and everyone got suited up in their dirt riding gear, cars & trailers securely parked, fueled up all bikes, and we were off. From my previous experiece - I knew it would get hot (particularly pushing the big pigs in sand) - so I wore well vented off road gear (full body armour & motorcross shirt & pants). Other were wearing full enduro jackets etc - and they did really get hot later in the day.

A mix of 1150's and 1200 BMW GS's, one 650 BMW Dakar, and a sole 950 KTM made upthe group - 13 in all. Some nice dirt roads / tracks followed, and about 8kms of thick sand track to the pans. The sand sorted the noobs out - and when we got to the pans - only 3 riders had not had a "lie down" - some several.

I was able to get through keeping the black rubber down!

We stopped near a school & caught our breath after the hard work in the sand - and made sure we collected and taped up all the "bits" that inevitably get crunched with falls in sand (mirrors, indicators, screens).
As always - the kids gather round with huge iterest - some with their donkeys in tow - showing us how its done!

One noob was a little too enthusiastic in the dusty conditions on his new bike (6 days old), entered a sandy section too fast, and managed to mess up the front end of the bike - and rode the rest of the way to camp on the trailer.

The Makgadikgadi pans are the size of Ireland (10,000kms2) - and are dry at this time of year. It becomes an inland lake during the wet season - complete with a huge range of birdlife. Something like Lake Eyre in Aus. It didn't take long riding on the surface to know it is dry at the top, but can be wet a little underneath - so stay away from the "dark patches" - stay on the route marked by the previous bike tracks & listen to Cinton!

The group was sorting itelf out regarding riding order - the quicker riders to the front, and the slower riders to the back of the group, and leave plenty of room in between for the dust. I soon found a comfotable position in the front 2 or 3. The pace was fun at this position, and after about an hour or 2 on the pans - the sun was getting low on the horizon, and we reached camp with enough time to get settled before the magnificent sunset.

What a camp!
Each rider had a tent already set up, the mess tent was well equipped, there was a bush shower set up - hot water in buckets from the campfire,
and the camp chairs set round the fire - waiting for us to have a cold beer, and recount the day, as the sun sank over the endless horizon. The sight of the camp was astounding as we approached, and everyone took some time to take it in - and eventually take some photos as the sun set!

A great evening round the fire - a great meal prepared by Chemmy and his crew, and lots of cheer to stimulate the stories and chatter. Again some went lat - some were smarter - tomorrow was going to be a tough one riding.

Dawn rose over the camel grass island:

and we were ready to ride after a full Boerer breakfast.

Firstly a great ride across the pans ( at as fast as you were game to go) - boy that really had eveyone buzzing,
as we headed to more technical riding - after some interesting stops at some of the great landmarks with historical relevance for early European exploreres in southern Africa:
There wasn't too much sand, but quite a bit of technical riding - still caused some unplanned stops for some. My "on bike" gaffer tape dispenser got a lot of use - as I helped a few tape up drooping indicators (a great aftermarket business for BMW!).
Everyone had a really fun morning. We stopped at Gweta for fuel & lunch at a great lodge surrounded by more Baobab trees - something really special!

After lunch, some were lulled into a sense of complacency - but the twisty sand and ever present thorn bushes soon blew that complacency away. Why is every bush in Botswana a thorn bush? - and some with motorcycle rider radar - as they jump out, you launch into them (as one rider did over the handlebars - no not me!) - its like a strong magnetic field - you can't resist! I did have one little slip across the middle monakee (The middle monakee is the ridge between tracks [spoors] when the track is in sand & made by 4 x 4's). - and a brief lie down!!

Kept the engine running & tried to remount before the next rider caught me in such a compromising position! Too late - he rounded the corner just as I was remounting - damn - I would have to admit to an off!

This admission raised cheers from the group later. This left only 1 person who did not have an off or who was caught!)

I then stopped trying to avoid the thorn bushes too near on inside corners - and just ploughed past them. Needless to say - I now have countless scratches on either side of the bike (mirrors, tank, screen) as a "badge of courage" for the windey sandy tracks in Botswana! Surprising though - no scratches on my arms - or even clothes, but I have to say, I learned that trying to avoid the bushes on corners was often more hazardous - crossing the middle monakee has caused many a rider to fall.

Bruno (a keen photgrapher - using some very slick equipment) often rode ahead of the group to wait and capture good action shots - problem was - Bruno was pretty much having his own share of "action".

Bruno is a little vertically challenged, but horizontally enhanced. He rides well, but those legs just don't reach the dirt when corrective actions are urgently required to prop the big pig. He had 7 offs for the day - a record, but each was completed with some swearing in Italian, and laughing on reflection.

Thats Bruno at the front of the group - about to enjoy the evening round the campfire.

As people saw him looming, crouched with zoom focused, they knew he was at that spot for a reason, assumed it was a tough spot, (often with Bruno's bike splayed on the track - causing another obstacle), lost concentration, and became another statistic!

Hence, Bruno got the shot! (I am awaiting Bruno's product - will post the best shots when I get them) - ps a few of the shots in this post are some previews of his work.

After a good few hours of hard work in this - it was refreshing to get back on the pans, for the expanse, the breeze, and the uplifting feeling of freedom. We stopped late in the afternoon on the edge of the pans - not far to go to camp.

A local was riding his horse across the pans near us - he must have lost concentration & been tossed off - because the next we saw him chasing his horse on foot. Well - that bloody horse was not going to be caught - and the pans are a loong way across. He must have chased it for at least 1km. A couple of riders went to his aid. Amusingly - we watched from a distance, as these too failed to corral the horse. In the end the local enjoyed a lift on the bike back home (10kms away) - the "bloody horse would come home on its own eventually"!!!

Back to camp for a couple of quick beers, a shower and some interesting dusk living art!
Each rider - equipped with chair & favourite dorp (local affectionate term for your favourite tipple) was given the opportunity for 10 minutes of solitude, and reflection, out on the pans - as the sun goes down!

Pitty the 4 x 4 got bogged just near my reflection station!

Anyway - all had their moment of silent reflection, then minutes of huffing & puffing to get the 4 x 4 unbogged & back to camp just on dark.

Another great evening - Chemmy's famous ox tail stew and pap cooked in the pojtkie - and his favourite joke of asking people if they wanted cream or ice cream with their black forest cake for dessert!!! - waaay too many dorps, and a relatively early night for me - but not to sleep - oh no!!! - to be entertained for hours by a noisy bunch who cheered on till after 3.00am around the fire, telling hero stories louder & louder and at 3.00am the hardy last few dragging a few unwilling sleepers (still in their sleeping bags) out to "see the wonderfull stars"!!!

Payback occurred after breakfast the next morning - in similar fashion.
Cocooned in their sleeping bags - the 2 ring leaders were dragged from their tents full of the joy of bubbelass, blearey eyed, hair like startled porcupines, resplendent in their hastily adorned long johns - dragged loudly complaining out to the pans - in the already warm sun - where further napping was impossible!

An easy start to the day - pack your gear into the trucks, and onto the pans for some creative photography:

As some got a little too enthusiastic in the softer under layer of the pans, our youngest group member - Shane (who was just a little too cheeky to some of his more sallow but treacherous elders) was caught napping - and was well and truly roosted by spinning back wheels - with a thick, sticky layer of pans mud!!!.
As it dried a little - later in the day, I consoled him (he was riding his mum's highly blingged bike!!!):
She was not going to be pleased!!!! - particularly as he had a little off the day before & managed to destroy some peripherals. He lamented - the big pig is nothing like the 450's he is used to racing! His dad (also riding a 1200 Adv - resplendent in camoflage paint & seat - with so much bling - the light was blinding!) was reassuring, and promised to take the hit when they got home!

We did quite a bit of fast riding in the low, very dusty hills near the pans, past the famous Meer Cat Manor television shoot area, and finally a real blast along some wide, but bumpy dirt / sand roads.

Most had learned by now - that these were easier - faster! The bumps even out, and it is quite smooth (at 120kph+) - but at 80kph, every bump, sand hole, well camoflaged rock can unseat you quickly (if not just cause an involuntary sphincter contraction moment!). However, a few were experiencing those contractions waay too often!

We were near Lethakane now - so most loaded their bikes onto trailers & headed back - some to the Lodge, some all the way back to Joburg (over 700kms) - it was a long day for them.

5 of us rode back to Kwa Nokeng at a nice clip - making it there just before dark, and settled in for an evening of dorping (what else), and viewing the video footage Clinton took - quite amazing what he can do with a video camera whilst on the move himself.

The next morning, we all went our different ways - I rode back roads & some dirt back to Joburg - singing in my helmet to my well stocked iPOD (8,000 tracks).

Many thanks to Clinton & his crew - they made it a fantastic 5 days for all of us - and special for me - as I have experienced another brilliant journey through southern Africa - my last before heading to Alaska.

Look out for the next entry - leaving Africa, the bike & me traveling to Anchorage - and the Trans Am07 group gathering for a few days before we head further north!

Posted by Ron Markiewicz at 02:07 PM GMT
August 01, 2007 GMT
The 4 Stooges Go to Lesotho

After having met a few guys at the BMW club a few months ago - one fellow invited me for a 3 day ride to the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. I remembered fondly my visits to Lesotho over 20 years ago following the famous Roof of Africa 6 day motorcycle race - so I accepted enthusiastically.

That trip was planned for early April - but the local guys had to cancel - due to work commitments. What a bugger when work gets in the way of good riding!!!

Anyway - the route was well planned, so I organised the same route - but riding with some good Aussie friends working here (Craig & Jeff) and a local riding buddy - Roche (all work for Hatch).

Once word got out - Sydney (a Dutch fellow also working in a JV with Hatch), and Craig's wife Jenn & Dawn (MiL) decided to follow the same route in 4 x 4's. You will see later why this ended up a really great idea.

Only problem - by the time all calendars aligned, we decided to go late May.

Now the weather in Lesotho can be quite dicy in late May - as Lesotho is very mountanous (over 3,000m) it can be quite cold & gets quite a deal of snow.

Hence - we called the ride "The 4 Stooges do Lesotho" as we were told we were quite crazy for attempting it so late in the year. In fact the week before we left, there was the first really cold snap - and we travelled from Joburg to our 1st night's stop (a great lodge at the base of the mountains) in -3C, along some really great, fast dirt roads. This was a fun day, marred only by a flat tyre just on dark on Jeff's bike.

Boy that day really tested my thermal undies & confirmed I should be OK in Alaska (skins, thermals, polar fleece, gortex liner, dynatec jacket).

A few photos from the lodge:

View from the dining room - just as the sun is rising (for breakfast)
Boy was it cold!

The 4 bikes leaving the lodge at 7.00am - still below zero at this stage.

The lodge is at the base of the mountains & we are headed straight for the famous Sani Pass. This pass is said to be the best in Africa - for views & a "must do" for motorcycles - though we have been warned - it is a VERY rough dirt road (read track).

A view from part way up to Sani Pass.

We got up most of it without issue - but about 500m from the top of the pass - after several stops & slips in ice & very rough (BIGGG rocks), steep, switchback ridden track, Jeff had a slip of the wrist & put (read - launched) his bike over the edge in very spectacular fashion (tripple with a twist!!!).

We subsequently found out he broke his wrist - as he parted company with the bike immediately after launch.

After several airborn tumbles, the bike came to a stop 30m down the side of the mountain in 1 metre thick snow, and big boulders.

2 hours later, and with the help of all (especially Sydney & his Landrover Discovery & comprehensive recovery gear), we had Jeff's bike back up the track, and loaded onto a passing bakkie (South African for "ute") for the trip back down to the lodge - and await BMW Recovery to collect it.

Jeff was OK - though shaken, but as a keen photographer - had to capture the recovery action on camera. We humped that heavy bike up the slope - using snatch straps & the Discovery - pulling in small increments across the track.




Jeff joined Sydney in the very warm & comfy Discovery for the rest of the trip.

Anyway - Craig, Roche and myself made it to Sani Pass OK at 2873m elevation (as did Jenn & Dawn in the X5) - and celebrated with some good shots:



After completing border crossing formalities at the pass, we adjourned to the highest pub in Africa - so we stopped for a warm drink & made a tentative plan about going forward.

A sign over the door to the pub: "Lesotho is not for sissies" - how true!

Some shots from the deck at the back of the pub - not a bad view - you can see some of the track on the way up:





Lots of snow at the top - so we decided we would see how far we could get on the track going forward - and if we made it over the higher pass (over 3,000m) - we would continue. If we were not back in an hour, Jenn would know we made it & were going according to plan (though about 3 hours late).

Jenn was going to wait at the pub for Sydney & Jeff to get back from the lodge, and then follow. Our plan was to get to Katse Dam for the night - only 150kms away - but the map showed this to be a very windy route (it ended up taking us 6 hours of solid riding to make that 150kms).

Well - none of us had ridden in snow before - so as we ascended the next section (gradual slope) we learned quickly - stand up, NO wheel slippage, VERY easy on the throttle, maintain momentum & don't look back! Boy - it was getting hot now in all that gear & expending a great deal of energy!

The knobbie tyres were essential (as Roche found out after a number of slippery experiences - not having a knobbie on the back) He was prepared to pay ANYTHING for a knobbie at one stage.

We had a stop after I had a little lie down - (slow on a very icey switchback). We assessed our situation (all absolutely buggered from the effort).

300m to the top (but steeper), or go back down. A 4 x 4 driver coming down said more snow at the top & beyond!!!! OH shit! Going down was going to be tougher than going up - with certain falls and often! (The 4 x 4 driver was overheard saying to his passanger in Afrikaans - "what a bunch of wankers trying this on heavy bikes!!!") - A shot of Jenn & MiL coming up that stretch:

So - we decided (in true Stooges fashion) to push on - following Craig's lead we tried the "faster has to be easier" approach. This proved to be successful (though a bit scary), and we crested the top. At the top was another 4 x 4 that had been following our challenges for most of the morning. They videoed us and cheered as we crested the top - that made us feel better! After a few k's of flat terrain riding in snow, it started to abate & the dirt track was very welcoming. We continued on with enthusiam & some pride in having learned a new skill - riding 250kg pigs in the snow!

Stunning, ever changing views awaited us at every turn for the next 5 hours, over very dusty dirt tracks, through countless mountain passes, pristine river crossings, several villages of very proud & statuesque locals - horse riders, with blankets wrapped around their shoulders, a knob kirrie (fighting stick) & the very distintive Lesotho conical straw hats, and lots of smiling, waving kids (mostly - but a few throwing rocks because we did not stop & give them sweets).

One thing is common the world over - a woman's work is never done - collecting the fuel for the fire:

Boy were we glad to get to our digs that night. The 4 x 4's didn't get in till 8.00pm - 3 hrs of driving in the dark.

The digs were at Katse Dam - built about 10 years ago as water storage and hydro electricity (both commodities - about the only export industries in Lesotho - apart from some diamonds ). We bunked down in the single person quarters, now a lodge - perched on a cliff overlooking the dam.
A good fire, some warming drinks & a chat with other visitors bore fruit. 2 doctors were also guests at the lodge (one - a lady specialist in emergency medicine), was recruited to have a look at Jeff when he arrived a few hours after us. She put him in a temporary cast, fed him some welcome drugs & Jeff slept the night comfortably.

The next morning - again in sub zero temperatures, we fixed 2 flat tyres (we had 4 all up over the weekend) - mine was a horse shoe nail - that I now have as a memento of the eventful journey! We headed up, down and around the most fantastic mountainous bitumen road I have ever been on - 80kms of pure motorcycle joy, again stunning views and a bit of vertigo (the edges were so close & so steep) and some trepidation as ice and snow patches appeared around corners - where the shadows kept it cold.

For those that know Mt Glorious near Brisbane - multiply by about 4! and we had it all to ourselves - stunning!

Once we got back down to the Lesotho/South Africa border, it was a quick run back to Jo'burg over dirt roads, back routes & a bit of highway, to get back just before dark - tired - but still buzzing from a great ride, fantastic company & lots of stories for the campfires in the future!

Jeff had to face Susan with a "please explain" about the cast - he ended up having surgery that night to wire up his wrist & put a full cast on. But as always - Jeff had a smile and saw the positive of it all - the insurance would sort the bike out - and anyway - it would take a while for the wrist to heal, so he wouldn't be riding for a while anyway. But he was keen to plan the next adventure ride.

Cheers for now - the next episode will be back to Botswana in a few weeks - but further north to the Makgadikgadi salt pans for 5 days!

Posted by Ron Markiewicz at 02:20 PM GMT

NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!

Next HU Eventscalendar

See all events


Latvia to Australia, an inspirational 5 month journey full of unexpected adventures!

Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!