Travel Through South Africa on a Harley-Davidson

By Peter & Kay Forwood

South Africa on a Harley (16/4/00 - 29/4/00)
Distance 2721 km (188800 km to 191521 km)

This is part of the Sixth section of our around the world trip.
Complete Trip Overview & Map

Coming from  Lesotho or read our previous visit to South Africa

16/4/00 A quick stamp of our passports out and in and into some remote corner of South Africa. We have said before 95% of the people we meet are friendly and welcoming and 95% of the government, army and police aren't. Some of the latter we bring upon ourselves like today. We had stopped by the roadside for a snack when a large Army border patrol vehicle with four men stopped and asked us for our papers. Not in the mood I asked the senior person (a lance corporal) to see his identification. This immediately irritated him (we later discovered he had left his official ID behind and he showed us some other papers). To harass us for having annoyed him he insisted on searching the motorcycle which we refused to allow as there was no, state of emergency declared in the country, and therefore the military should not be doing the police's role. More heated discussion and we rode away. They pursued us and we stopped where there were witnesses to the further insistence on a search. Eventually they agreed to escort us to the nearest police station 26 km away. Here we were informed that in South Africa, any army personnel has the right to search anyone he suspects of anything at any time. Obviously from their reaction to our request to see papers they are usually not refused or even questioned. This leads to victimization as in our case because we had. After more discussions and refusals at the police station over the next hour eventually we agreed to allow the police sergeant to search the motorcycle. NothingOstrich farming was found (of course) and we left having a greater appreciation of the military and police state of South Africa. It would be incredibly difficult for a local uneducated person who lives in the area to resist anything these officials did for fear of future victimization of reprisals. The racial issue was raised by the army guys initially and we thought nothing has changed since the end of apartheid other than the colour of the enforcers.

17/4/00 A more relaxed day, down to the ocean at East London for coffee on the promenade and onto Port Alfred for the night in an amazing old Grand Hotel on the hill overlooking the old harbour (now filled with a canal development). The service, people and hotel straight out of conservative England.

18/4/00 Rode to Jeffrey's Bay and relaxed beach side. A coastal town made famous for its surfing beach.

19/4/00 We seem to be out of the conflict area. The quiet coastal town has no barricadedFollowed the magnificent south coast windows, live electric fences and few security personnel. There seems to be no talk of violence or advice where and when not to go out. The black townships where the millions are housed in dog boxed accommodation out of sight of the main roads are not around here. As late autumn comes there are few people entering the surf and not even many sunning themselves on the beach. This place is packed in summer but comfortably empty today.

20/4/00 You just get the last bits of grease from the rough skin surrounding your fingernails and they need to get dirty again. All packed up, bike started and into gear and the drive belt snaps. Our third in 190,000 km, this one only lasted 50,000 km, a bit of a disappointment, still it's had the roughest treatment of them all. From past experience we now carry a spare. All we needed were a dozen bricks to lift the rear end of the motorcycle. Plastic bags to keep the dirt off oily parts, the manual, tools and gaskets we carry. Five and a half hours later and it all seems to be back together OK. The front sprocket is totallyCape Agulhas, the furthest south we can ride in Africa shot and wouldn't help the belt wear but we don't have a spare. Spent another night at the helpful, friendly Jeffrey's Bay Hostel where the owners allowed us to do the repairs in there front court yard and even provided the bricks.

21/4/00 Well the repair seems to have worked (always a worry), travelled 200 odd km to Knysna along one of South Africa's reportedly most beautiful routes, the Garden route. Unfortunately there were extensive fires through here in January burning much of the bush, but the coastal scenery with river mouths and lagoons including Storms River Mouth Gorge were quite magnificent. Easter Friday may also not be the best day of the year to be here with the crowd it brings, but you get to see locals at play so to speak.

22/4/00 Still travelling, west, with a foray inland to Oudtshoorn, where most of the commercial ostrich farms were at the boom time turn of the last century and still a major industry.

23/4/00 These civilized Cape of Good Hope countries are too easy to travel. South African roads are excellent. The large distances covered easily. Take aways, restaurants and supermarkets are everywhere. Backpackers even at peak easter have a room, dorm or camping. Off street parking for the motorcycle. The type of traveller we meet is 50% South African on holidays, 25% overseas workers on holidays, 15% overseas tourists and maybe 10% multi country travellers. Haven't seen any other travelling motorcycles here. Cape Agulhas, the southern most point of Africa, and still the argument over land and sea continues with strong winds and rain welcoming our arrival at one of our designated cardinal points. We have now travelled to the northern most road of Europe (Nordkapp), to the southern most road in Africa while visiting the lowest point on earth in both Jordan and Israel, the Dead Sea. Cruised on to Hermanus, a whale watching area of rugged coast. No whales till June. A tourist destination for Capetonians and packed on Easter Sunday. The usual seaside cafe's and restaurants found all over the world and heaps of fishermen. It was still raining on our arrival and I thought how similar fishing was to riding motorcycles around the world. Both cost a lot of money with little to show for it at the end. No-body listens to the near encounter stories and you spend many hours watching Visiting Cape Town Harley-Davidson the world go by in rain or sunshine.

24/4/00 On the move yet again, around False Bay, aptly named, sailing from the west you would think you had passed the southern most point. Past where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic and down to the tip of the Cape of Good Hope. This national park peninsula harbours the fynbos plants that the south coast of Africa is famous for. Regrettably not in flower this time of year. The rough seas pound the kelp lined coast creating a misty salt spray covering the entire coast. Finally into Cape Town for the night.

25/4/00 The weather off and on drizzly, a winter rainfall area, the opposite of the rest of Southern Africa. Still a great day to sit around the new H-D dealers showroom and in house coffee shop. Our rear tyre had been eaten up by the rough gravel, faster travel and longer distances of South Africa. The Cape Town dealer agreed to supply us with one to be replaced by the one waiting in Johannesburg. Changed the rear wheel bearings and other minor work at the same time. We were also interviewed by local media and with talking to other riders the day vanished.

26/4/00 Breakfast, compliments of the H-D dealer then a full days stroll around the city. Usual sights, buildings and museums and people watching. A vibrant city with only a few street children begging in the more touristic areas. Another interviewing journalist for the motoring section of the newspaper, photos etc., a couple of drinks with the local Harley Club crowd and we are a bit "peopled out". Loners at heart, probably why we travel, looking forward to getting to more remote areas.Table Top Mountain hanging over Cape Town

27/4/00 We enjoy mainly the company of other motorcycle travellers, then other travellers, people from Australia, English speaking Europeans, or westerners in general when we want to relax. As explained by a white South African, he's not racist but prefers people of his own culture to hang around with. They have the same language, foods, understand his jokes, values and interests. Even in Australia there are many Australians I don't wish to hang around with because of cultural and economic differences. Westerners feel the way Asians eat as being rude and Asians think westerners are crude. Arabs consider westerners as unclean with the custom of eating pork and westerners dislike the male dominated society. To me these are cultural preferences and not racist choices. Only when the world is one religion, one culture at one economic level where we all like the same things will our cultural preferences be the same and the so called racism will disappear. It would certainly be a boring world to travel as most of our enjoyment comes from local differences in foods and customs.

28/4/00 Out of Cape Town, north to Springbok, 600 km. The land becoming more marginal, except for pockets of irrigation, until it can only graze a few sheep on the rocky shrubbery. The days hot and the nights cold as winter sets in, in this desert region. Pushed a head wind most of the way or fought a side wind. I think there will be many more days and nights like this into Namibia and Botswana.

Move with us to Namibia , or go to our next visit to  South Africa .




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