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Aug 14th - Sep 12th 2009

South Africa Cont.

 

14/08 - 31/08/2009

Cape Town (Roly’s)

14/08/09 - Roly and Steve arrive back from Namibia today.

A nice day so we took a trip to Table Mountain only to find that the cable car is shut until the 17th for repair so rode to Signal Hill then wandered around the V&A Waterfront.

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16/08/09 - We had a ride down to the Cape of Good Hope, the most South Westerly part of the African Continent stopping on the way at Boulders Bay to see the Penguins then on to Cape Point, On the way back we stopped at Simonstown to see Able Seaman “Just Nuisance”, a Great Dane that used to greet the sailors as they arrived in Simonstown and was given the rank of A.B. during WW11.

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17/08/09 - Cable Car open but weather bad, no point in going!!

Roly has a couple of contacts that might be able to help with the shipping for the next leg so went into his office to make a few phone calls. Also received details from Ian for his contact for shipping. Booked the bike in for service.

After getting everything sorted at the office we went to the airport to see what we could come up with there regarding freight. All freight has to be booked through an agent, we got contact details from the South African Airlines cargo dept and set off for Pioneer Freight just down the road. 30 minutes later we had two quotes, Air freight = R25,000, Sea freight = R7,800. Gives us a starting point, hope Roly’s contacts come up better!

18/08/09 - Picked up the car that Roly is loaning us while we are here. Raining again.

19/08/09 - Raining. Took bike in to BMW for service.

20/08/09 - Finally got the riding gear washed!

21/08/09 - Bike out of service, auxiliary light that was broken in Morocco is now fixed.

Phoned Nick van Zyl, Ian's shipping agent and gave him the required details, he will call us back when he has some figures.

22/08/09 - Day out at Stellenbosch (Wine Route) and a visit to the Cheetah Conservancy at Spiers wine Estate. Went to Gordons Bay on the way back to see if we could see any whales. No we didn’t.

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23/08/09 - Nice sunny day today so we had a ride out on the bike via Sir Lowry’s Pass and Fishhoek to Hermanus Bay for some whale watching, this time with more luck, although they never showed themselves till later in the afternoon.

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25/08/09 - Nick called back today with a very good quote for Sea freight, R2,500, a ship leaves every fortnight for Buenos Aries and is only a 16 day crossing. Film Freight (one of Roly’s contacts) has come back with a quote for Air freight, R54,000, ouch!! although it is two flights down as far as Punta Arenas I don’t think the cost of fuel would offset the flight costs!. Waiting for one more quote then we can get things moving but it is looking like Nick has the edge.

Met up with Ian for lunch at the waterfront, his time is nearly done, he has a loading date and is just counting down the days now.

27/08/09 - Nice day and we can see Table Mountain, the first day since it re-opened that is hasn’t been raining or too cloudy so we took advantage and took the cable car to the top for some great views over Cape Town.

 

01 - 06/09/2009

Langebaan (Roly’s house No.2)

01/09/09 - Roly has given the use of another of his houses for a couple of days. We have to move back North about 100Km’s to get to Langebaan where the house is, situated on a natural lagoon on the West Coast with great views, and as an added bonus for me, on a Gary Player Black Night golf course.

We left for Langebaan in the car with half a tank of fuel showing on the gauge, plenty to do 100Km’s! 40 Km’s in, the needle is down on the red! We managed to limp to the only fuel station between Melkboss and Langebaan at the turn off for Langebaan, 8Km’s from the house.

Plugged the golf cart in to charge up for my game of golf then went to the clubhouse to book the round for Thursday. The pro of the course and his wife are from Halifax so had a good chat with them and acquired a pair of golf shoes for the round.

Back to the house after getting supplies and settle in for the evening.

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02/09/09 - Weather not looking too good this morning so we are not in a hurry to get moving. The drizzle cleared up mid morning and we went for a drive around the coast to check things out, found the gate for the entrance into the West Coast Nature Park which we had planned to visit while we are here.

03/09/09 - Golf Day!! Weather is not good again, very cloudy and threatening rain. Not to worry, it’s booked and we have a buggy so should be ok. 1st tee and it starts to rain…… bummer!! By the seventh it had cleared up and my game was also getting better!!!!

Shot of the day - After fluffing the tee shot, 2nd on the par 5 18th, water in play, ball splashes into the water but skims out onto the edge of the hazard. Ended up with a par, Pete + Albie, you would have moaned about that one for weeks!

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04/09/09 - Day out in the West Coast National Park. The flowers are the main attraction here in the spring, and people flock here to see them, carpets of colour for miles. Some great views around the lagoon and a bit of wildlife spotted. There are a lot of Tortoise’s around here and we have to keep our eyes peeled for them along the road so as not to splat them as they are an endangered species.

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05/09/09 - Had a drive out along the coast to the North through some nice fishing villages with lunch at Paternoster then back to Langebaan.

06/09/09 - Time to leave Langebaan and head back to Cape Town.

Ian (Overland  Trombone) is flying out tomorrow early A.M. so we are meeting up for a farewell drink with him. We picked him up at the backpackers and went down to the Waterfront. It’s been a pleasure meeting up with you along the way Ian, and you will be missed. Not just for your cooking facilities!!!

 

07 - 08/09/2009

Cape Town (Roly’s)

07/09/09 - Spent the day sorting out what we are taking with us on the trip round Route 62 and the Garden Route. Planning to leave tomorrow, however weather report is not good and Roly advised leaving it till Wednesday.

08/09/09 - Weather awful! So bad through the night that a tanker ran aground at Table Bay.

 

09/09/2009

Start Mileage - 18269

Miles - 169

Melkboss - Barrydale (Watercourt Lodge)

Left Roly’s at about 11:30 heading for Route 62, a picturesque run through the Klein Karoo from Montagu to Outdshoorn in the Western Cape. We were told by Roly to avoid the Tunnel on the N1 and take the Toitskloof Pass, a very nice run with good roads and scenery. Looking for somewhere to stop at Barrydale we check out the “Bike Stop”, sounds ideal but it’s not, parking on very steep ground and expensive, we’ll look elsewhere. Only camping to be found was in the caravan park but no hot water. We had seen a “Luxury Backpackers” as we entered Barrydale so went to check it out, they had signs up showing prices and contact numbers but there was no one around and all the doors we tried were locked tight. Over the road then to the Watercourt Lodge to see what they have to offer. The board outside says “Luxury Rooms” for R150pp but when we ask if they have any “Non luxury rooms”, they drop the price to R100pp, not the ideal price but better and it’s only for one night.

No food at the lodge so we head into the village. There are two restaurants across the road from each other and we chose the one that seemed to have the most people in … wrong. A newly opened Greek/Mediterranean restaurant that hadn’t really got a clue what they were all about. The waiter didn't have a clue of the menu and service wasn't good. Cockroaches loved it tho!!

 

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10/09/2009

Start Mileage - 18438

Miles - 110

Barrydale - Outdshoorn (Paradise Backpackers)

A good nights kip then it’s time to move on. Leaving Barrydale around 10:30 we get back on to Route 62. The next stop is Ronnies Sex Shop, a roadside café and bar that has been running for a long time although under the previous guise of “Ronnies Shop”. When the owner complained to some of his mates about the lack of trade he was getting they took it on themselves to assist, and painted the word “Sex” into his sign which boosted his custom and made his shop a must do tourist attraction.

We have a route in the Garmin and our next stop should be Prince Albert via the Swartberg Pass. After our stop at Ronnies and talking to a bike tour guide, it seems that our route over the Pass into P. A. could be a bit difficult with the recent rains washing the road away, and the difficulty of the pass in general. Hmmmm … change the plans.  Not looking forward to re-visiting our Sani Pass experience, we opt to just head for Outdshoorn where we plan to stay a couple of days and visit Kango Caves and the surrounding area, giving the Pass a miss.

We get the tent up in blazing sunshine, it’s going to be hard getting used to the tent again after so much comfort!

A cold night!!!

 

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11/09/2009

Oudtshoorn (Paradise Backpackers)

Day trip to Kango Caves.

The caves began forming 20 million years ago when acidic ground water began eroding the 100 million year old limestone rock. The rock formations only began growing when all the water that had filled the caves began draining away a mere 3 million years ago.

There are two tour options for the caves, a Standard tour of 1 hour or an Adventure tour of 1.5 Hours. We decide to take the Adventure tour with the option of bottling out if it got too difficult for us, as we are the only people with the guide this isn't a problem. The Adventure tour has a couple of very narrow passageways and chimneys to negotiate along with some crawling through low tunnels. The guide tells us of a couple who wanted to do the Adventure tour. When they were told that the lady may be “a bit too large” to squeeze through the “Tunnel of Love”, the husband took offence and created so much that they took them through, until that is, she got stuck. As the Tunnel of Love has to be negotiated on the way in and out of the caves, this now caused problems for the people ahead of them who couldn't get out. Using lots of Vaseline and other lubricants she remained firmly stuck. A lot of pushing finally released her … 10 hours later!!! I wonder what abuse she got from the people who were stuck the other side of her, and more to the point, did she go on a diet afterwards!

I thought it might be wise to ask the guide if Lorraine would fit, which didn't go down too well!

At the entrance to the caves is a display of the earliest known people to use the caves 80,000 years ago, the San Bushmen. Although there are many Km’s of cave that have been discovered, the San never ventured further than the entrance as they were scared of the dark and the spirits they believed lived in the mountains.

The first cave discovered by Dutch settlers in 1780 is Van Zyls Hall, a massive theatre where concerts used to be held until vandalism forced them to be stopped. Hard to believe that Van Zyl, the first person into this part of the caves only had a single oil lamp and had to scale down the rough rocks to the rocky cavern floor, we are glad they now have lights, stairways and that the floor has been levelled off with clay. From the main cavern it is an easy walk to the second hall, passing the Organ pipes and Cleopatra's needle. Botha’s Hall is 2nd largest Hall, again impressive, which contained the curtains and the frozen waterfall. After the grand Hall, the Adventure tour begins and the going got a bit more difficult. Climbing the Jacobs Ladder we now have to walk at a crouch to pass through the low level tunnels. Then on to Lots Chamber through even lower ceilings into Lumbago walk, aptly named! The last section takes us through the Tunnel of Love, I’ve got my fingers crossed, Devil’s Chimney, a 4.5 meter climb up a very narrow tube with nothing to grab on to. Through more narrow and low passages then a crawl through the Letterbox into the last part of the tour before turning round and heading back.

There are other caves, Kango 2, 3 and 4, that have been explored, but the only way to see them is on the short film shown in the interpretive centre as after the film had been shot it was decided to close off access to them for the next few generations to prevent damage.

Back at the backpackers we found a book with some pictures of the Swartberg Pass, Lorraine says it doesn't look that bad, that’s all the encouragement I need so we decide that we will do it tomorrow.

 

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12/09/2009

Oudtshoorn (Paradise Backpackers)

Swartberg Pass. The weather has been dry for a couple of days now so the pass should be dry. With all the warnings we have had about the pass ringing in our ears, we set off. It is 20 km’s of tar from Oudtshoorn to the turn for the pass. We turn left onto the pass road with everything crossed hoping we will make it. Another 10 Km’s of tar before we hit the dirt road, not too bad so far, a few switchbacks and a steady climb with some corrugations and ruts along the way. We have a couple of stops along the way for some pictures. The last 4 or 5 Km’s get a bit steeper but we reach the top easily after about 15 minutes riding. Maybe the difficult bit is still to come!

Maybe not, yes it is twisty and again some ruts and corrugations but hardly any need for braking, using engine compression was more than enough. 15 - 20 minutes later we are back at the bottom 5 Km’s from Prince Albert.

We are glad we didn't listen to the warnings from other people, it’s not a difficult pass and worth the trip for the views. Coming down into P.A. was the better part of the pass as far as I am concerned, a lot more picturesque. I wish we had given ourselves a bit more time and taken in the road to Gamkaskloof, Die Hell (a secretive valley in the Swartberg where a community of Europeans lived in virtual isolation for almost a century) again supposedly difficult, but doesn't look too bad in the pictures.

We run on in to Prince Albert for lunch, a picturesque village, stopping at the Bush Pub for a very nice home made burger and chips.

After lunch we are heading back to Oudtshoorn via Meiringskloof, a nice run through the valley following the twisty road and crossing the same river 26 times on the way. The barman at the Bush pub recommends a stop at the waterfalls on the way back, only a 10 minute walk from the road easy enough.

Back in town and we are too late for the Bottle Store, no alcohol is allowed to be sold after 17:00 on Saturday and all day Sunday except on licensed premises, have to pay backpacker bar prices then!!!

 

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