South Africa is also a country of enormous contrasts. We have been invited
to go on Safari by three Lodges, who all made special arrangements for
us as well as our sidecar to be safe from unfriendly predators. Our sidecar
runs great and our engine is singing. First we go to Tsuhukudu Lodge,
where you can see the big five (buffalo's, elephants, rhino's, lions and
leopards) all in one afternoon.
Also at Djuma Game Lodge in the Sabi Sand reserve, we couldn't believe
our luck. We learn a lot about wildlife and the bush, recognising footprints,
dung, birds and the call of the leopard, that we track down at night.
Next morning we see three cheetahs and a den full of young wild (dog)
puppies. What a feast!
Then it was time to go to Timbavati, where Umlani Bush camp is an oasis.
The huts are full of natural atmosphere and to shower under a dazzling
starry night is only one of the great things. It's there that we see heard
of (over 50) elephants marching trunk to tail to the waterhole to drink.
From now on we will have a bad time whenever we see these beautiful
animals in places like zoos and other locked-up situations. Later on,
when seeing an elephant chained from his feet with bare possibilities
to move (it was a breeding project), the only thing we can see is how
unhappy and stressed he is, the tasty molasses cookies only a small and
very temporary comfort.
Blijde River Canyon
The Blijde River Canyon is a must for all motorcyclists. Full of winding
roads offering mind-blowing views, for example at 'God's Window'. Another
of nature's surprises is nearby at 'Burke's Luck' or the 'Potholes'. The
holes were made by the ever moving waters of the merging Blijde and the
Treur Rivers, but it was when Mr. Burke found gold here that the place
was named Burke's Luck.
Gold was found in more than one place and we visit the village of Pelgrim's
Rest, that still looks the same as when the miners were living and working
there. There's a nice museum too and there are old claims nearby where
a lot of the machinery used to mine the gold is still intact.
We hoped to be allowed to camp there and thus meet Barries and Elmarie,
who invite us to join them to their private gamelodge, where we also meet
uncle Koo'es, cook potjiekos on a fire and make panbread, that tastes
We do get to camp in the forest though, at a marvelous spot. We try
to catch fish and see all kinds of birds and a small Duiker, as well as
a huge green tree snake, that swims across the river and jumps up in a
tree on the other side.
It was long ago that we had crossed a border. At this border the differences
are huge. First of all there is the customs officer who wants to know
if our sidecar-box is a boat and thinks it very clever when we tell him
that we came rowing all the way from South America. However chaotic, we
feel welcome and ride the narrow winding roads that are full of goats,
rubbish, cars and people over Pigs Peak with a beautiful view towards
Swaziland is a kingdom and the king is known for the amount of wives
he has. "Oh, this one is better, he has only 9 wives," we hear
as we visit the small museum, where we are told that the old one married
63 times and put enough new life in the world to fill a small town. Every
year there is a festival, in which young girls dance for the king, whom
off course cannot do without choosing some of them to extend his harem.
In the whole of Africa farmers burn off their farmlands and as we drive
towards a famous candle maker, we see how the firedept. is monitoring
such a fire: snorringly exact we may say. When we return the fire-fighter
has woken up and is chatting with a friend, not at all aware that by now
the fire is putting one of the firetruck's rear tires to ashes and already
has crossed the road.
Fear is all over his face as we cry out warnings. That night the hill
opposite of us goes up in flames.
Kwa Zulu Natal
We can write about the Zulu's and Kwa Zulu Natal, but in fact we are
on our way to Lesotho and just passing through. It was in Zululand we
though that we were chased by a 'rescue car' with 4 persons in it wearing
parts of some sort of a uniform. When the going got dangerous we decided
to stop. The 'rescuers' got out of their car, acting like they were police.
One was very smart and said that our sidecar was on the wrong side of
the bike (the right side for a Dutch sidecar).
It works to explain why things are like they are after which we ask
an explanation for their dangerous behaviour and tell them at the same
time that they have no authority to stop us and that thus we are going
Three man stand gasping as Rob starts the engine. "But you still
have to change your sidecar over to the other side," says Smart-Ass.
"I'll do that for you, tonight," Rob grins as he opens the throttle
and drives off, knowing that if they would start chasing us again we better
make it as quickly as possible to a real police station in the nearest
town, for that was what the South Africans had been advising us to do
in situations like this.