Facts and Figures
Sep 13th - Oct 6th 2009
South Africa Cont.
Oudtshoorn (Paradise Packpackers)
Rest day getting everything charged up, upload website, check emails and Skype family and friends.
Start Mileage - 18702
Miles - 200
Oudtshoorn (Paradise Backpackers) - Graaf Reinet (Urquhart Caravan Park)
A drizzly start to the day, and a slow pack of the bike whenever we get a dry minute or two.
All packed and on our way in light rain, with a bald back tyre. No mishaps and the rain is clearing after about 30 minutes. A nice run through the Klein Karoo, passing a couple of turn off’s for the Baviaans Kloof, an off road section recommended to us by a few people (mostly 4x4 drivers) but also we were warned of the difficulty by others. Stopping for lunch at Willowmore, one of the many quaint Dutch towns that the area is known for, we got talking to some locals and it seems our decision to not do the Baviaans Kloof was a good one.
Around 100 Km’s further up the road, the scenery started to change again, getting into more and more desert. The temperature and wind got higher and stronger as well. Passing through a couple of towns on the way, small patches of green amongst the desert, makes you wonder why? Why did someone start a settlement here in the middle of nowhere?
We arrived at Graaf Reinet, the 4th oldest town in South Africa, around 16:00 and headed for the information center to suss out accommodation. The girl behind the desk called a couple of guest houses to check availability and price. Mostly way above what we were expecting to pay, she came back with one which was reasonable, until that is we got there, then for some reason the price had gone up, maybe she didn't want smelly bikers staying and thought she would just try to price us out! We decided to look around a bit more and found a camp site just up the road. The camping area wasn't overly great being hard ground, again accommodating 4x4’s with their roof tents, trailer tents and caravans, but they had some chalets available at not much more than we have been paying for camping so checked into one for a couple of nights.
Graaf Reinet (Urquhart Caravan Park)
There are two parks in Graaf Reinet where we can use the Wild Card, “The Valley of Desolation” and “The Game Viewing Area”. We decided to do the valley first. Described as an area that contains “Breath taking views of Dolorite Columns rising up against the backdrop of the Plains of the Karoo” and providing the visitor with “an experience ranging from spiritual contact to one with profound awareness of the environment”. Hmmmmm .. A pile of ancient rocks with nice views over Graaf Reinet and the Karoo.
Next stop the Game Park, as the literature only listed animals that could be seen from the roadside on most days we thought we would be allowed in on the bike. We were wrong, so the rest of the days plans were out of the window. Instead we took a ride around the old town looking at some of the old restored buildings and the history of the town.
Graaf Reinet (Urquhart Caravan Park) - Addo (Orange Elephant Backpackers)
Fed the monkeys and packed up for the short run to Addo. A bit more desert on the way, with no coffee stops until Kirkwood. Its starting to get a bit greener and there is a bit more habitation now. Kirkwood is a big orange growing area, with orchards alongside the road and with the scent of oranges filling the air as we ride through.
Arrived at Orange Elephant around 14:30, tent up and sort ourselves out. Hoping to bum a lift into the Elephant Park tomorrow but it doesn't look like there is anyone staying here with a car, still it’s early yet. We took a ride into town for supplies then back to the backpackers to find a couple of girls had turned up in a hire car, might be a chance of a lift. After letting Sarah and Jo settle in we pounced and asked if they were going to the park tomorrow and did they have space for two passengers. Yes to both questions .. Bonus! Rest of the evening was spent chatting with Jo and Sarah and another couple of Brits, Kevin and Anne, who have been travelling the East side of Africa from Cape Town back to Cape Town.
Addo (Orange Elephant Backpackers)
Addo Elephant Park day trip.
Not too early a start today, the girls need to go into town to sort out some bank issues (so it happens to other people too??). They were back at the backpackers with problems solved by 09:30, a little quicker than it’s taken us in the past!!
We leave for the park, which is just up the road, at 10:00 hoping that today we will get to see Lions as we have no more parks on the list to visit.
A good day at the park, the girls were fun to be with, both completely mad. We saw a lot of animals we have seen before, Elephant, Kudu, Buffalo, Warthog, Eland, Zebra, Hyena and a few we haven't, Leopard Tortoise, Yellow Mongoose, Meerkats and Dung Beetles ..
The girls were going on a night drive tonight so we had to leave at 17:30 so they could be back at the park on time. On the way out, running a bit late, we spotted a crowd of vehicles parked up in the distance with camera flashes going off like crazy, could be Lions, so Sarah Sterling Moss gassed it round to the spot only to find it was another herd of Elephant grabbing all the attention. Still no *!*!*!*! Lions.
We had a nice pizza at the bar on site and chatted with John, the owner, who is keen to get himself a bike and do a BIG trip around Africa, when he “grows up” as he put it!
We might go on a night drive depending on the report back from Sarah and Jo. When they get back with the news that it was freezing cold and still no Lions sighted we decide to give it a miss.
Addo (Orange Elephant Backpackers)
We thought about a trip out to a crocodile farm today but decided to give it a miss as it is too much like a zoo. The rest of the day we just hung around relaxing then a few beers in the bar with John.
Orange Elephant is a great place for Overlanders, John goes out of his way to make you feel welcome. Highly recommended place to stop.
Addo (Orange Elephant Backpackers) - St. Francis Bay (Roly’s place)
Called Roly to make arrangements to get to his house at St. Francis. We left Addo at 12:00, a good run until we hit a BIG queue of traffic, riding up the middle of the road we come across a police car across the road directing traffic off to the left., so we followed the queue of buses, cars and bakkies all loaded with people, through a grave yard!! We thought there must have been a big accident further on, but things became clear when we stopped to ask why all the traffic was coming this way, burials usually take place on a Saturday, and with the high rate of mortality from HIV-Aids there is usually a lot of burials. We made our apologies and turned around.
We met Roly’s uncle at St Francis Golf Course entrance to show us to the house. Another nice place, this time on Jack Nicklaus designed course.
Unpacked the bike then went into town to find supplies. Back at the house I switch the computer on to update the site but it won’t fire up! Bugger! Only last week I had an email reminder from Acer that the warranty was due to run out but didn't act on it, typical. We had seen a computer shop in town so I will take it there on Monday to see if it is repairable.
St. Francis Bay (Roly’s Place)
20/09/2009 - Nice sunny start to the day. We took a ride out through the town and saw our first snake, a Poofadder, holding the traffic up while it crossed the road, not much else to see so went on down towards the bay. We watched the surfers and sailboarders for a while. Just as we were about to leave I saw a Land Rover Discovery that I recognised, it was Kevin and Anne so had a bit of a chat with them before heading back. The weather is on the turn, black clouds and the wind is picking up.
21/09/2009 - Took the laptop to the computer shop for them to look at, not sure if the warranty is completely out yet so they are loathe to open it up in case it isn't. They try a few things and think it might be the screen that has packed up or one of the wires to it and recommend waiting till we get back to Cape Town where there will be authorised Acer dealers. I get the number for Acer South Africa off the web before we leave the shop.
The next problem to sort out is my hands, I have been getting blisters on my palms (no not from that!) and fingers and they are starting to irritate a lot. A quick visit to the chemist soon sorts it out, the pharmacist is a biker and has had the same thing, it is an allergy, probably from my gloves. And a tube of cream will cure it over a couple of days.
Wet, windy and cold. Staying put today, maybe move on tomorrow although the forecast still isn't that good.
Still wet, windy and cold, decision time, move today or tomorrow? Tomorrow wins.
St. Francis Bay (Roly’s place) - Mossel Bay (Mossel Bay Caravan Park)
Weather much better today. We had planned to have a slow ride along the Garden Route with the first overnight stop at the Craggs, just at the beginning of the Garden Route. We headed out on the R102 rather than follow the main N2, the 102 is the old road that runs close to the coast with more twists and turns and better scenery than the boring straight N2. We needed to fuel up soon, the gauge said we had 70 miles left in the tank but we were not seeing any fuel stations. I checked the Garmin for the nearest fuel which was 63 miles from our location. We eventually came across a fuel station with 16 miles of fuel remaining in the tank.
We arrived at our planned stop which turned out to be miles from anywhere and decided to look elsewhere. Not having any success finding a campsite or cheap accommodation in either The Craggs, George or Knysna we decided to head for Mossel Bay. The backpackers we found in Mossel Bay had camping, a postage stamp sized piece of lumpy dirt right underneath the bar and no parking. We got directions to a camp site at the point which was much better when we eventually managed to find the entrance.
Mossel Bay (Caravan Park)
First hot and sunny day for a while so we decided to stay here another night, a nice little town although there isn't a great deal of interest here unless you’re a surfer dude.
Mossel Bay (Caravan Park) - Napier (Sun Touched Inn)
Bike packed and as there are no facilities on site and we have no gas, we were going to go for a coffee just down the road from the camp site before hitting the road. There is nowhere to park the bike in view and I’m not leaving it loaded out of sight so we move on. Lorraine hadn't put her ear plugs in and was moaning about the noise, she has a loose wire somewhere in the headset which crackles a lot but has got worse lately, even annoys me so I tell her to unplug, much better! Next petrol stop had a café but again the bike is out of sight although there is another café we can see just down the road. We could see the bike if we sat outside but there was a guy trying to play a Hammond organ and failing, so we carried on. Eventually found a café at lunchtime in Heidelberg that met all the requirements and the first coffee of the day was consumed. I really need my coffee in the morning!!!
We stopped at Bredasdorp which is near to where we wanted to be to explore Cape Agulhas and the surrounds. Found the information office in town and Lorraine managed to set off the alarms which had been set but the doors left unlocked and no one in the office. After grabbing a handful of leaflets we made a hasty retreat. Checked out a couple of the addresses we had but had no luck so headed a bit further up the road to Napier.
At last we found some decent accommodation, a backpackers with camping. As the weather was supposed to get bad again the owner recommended we take the 4 bed dorm which we could have to ourselves for not much more than camping, sold.
Wandered into town for supplies and on the way back the heavens opened, diving into the nearest shelter we find it is a pub, rude not to have a beer seeing as we are here! Very friendly inside and we tell our story of the trip again, one of the regulars produces a jar of “Baboons Balls” which he got from Die Hell, he thinks they are grapes soaked in brandy, tasty though.
Napier (Sun Touched Inn)
A cloudy, threatening rain start to the day. Today we are going to Cape Agulhas, the southern most point of the African Continent, our aim for this part of the trip. With the rain trying to start we set off on the 53Km run to the Cape. The rain dies away but the wind is something else, knocking us sideways every chance it gets. We eventually round a corner and can see the Agulhas lighthouse ahead of us and soon we are there, the furthest point south you can travel in Africa with the next land mass being Antarctica. A sense of achievement for getting there and a slight disappointment that we hadn't ridden all the way. Unfortunately we couldn't ride to the very point and had to park the bike 50 meters away, if only our names were Charley and Ewan! We stayed a while taking it all in, 25,696.7 Km’s/16060 Miles showing on the garmin that we have travelled to get here (our actual distance travelled by road, including day trips is 27,289.6 Km’s/17,056 Miles). With the obligatory pictures taken we head to the lighthouse for a look around, just in time as it started pouring down again. The emotion of getting to the Cape must have been too much for Lorraine. As we were climbing the 1st ladder in the lighthouse, right in your line of sight as you look up is a sign “Mind Your Head” she hadn't seen it and cracked her head a good un on the way up much to the amusement of the people below.
Time to move on to Arniston, a pretty fishing village with old fisherman's cottages. As we set off the rain starts again, the worst we have had so far which cuts our visiting time down to a quick cruise around the village before heading back to Napier, soaking wet!
Napier (Sun Touched Inn) - Melkboss (Roly’s)
Called the Acer help desk this morning to see if there was a repair shop we could drop the laptop into on our way back and found there was one in Durbanville, ideal.
Packed up and on the road, a nice sunny day, should dry the remaining damp patches out!
We found the laptop repair shop easily enough and with a bit of luck for a change, the laptop is still under warranty. Should be fixed in a couple of days, great news.
Back at Roly’s, too late to start moving on the shipping we decided to sort out what kit was going with the bike and what was going with us.
Phoned Wicked Motorcycles to arrange to have the tyres we ordered a few weeks ago fitted only to be told by one of the staff that they don't have them, not a good start. Next call is to Shane at BMW to see if he had managed to find a replacement for the missing side of the crate we had got from him earlier .. No he hasn't, not going well at all.
Things start to look up when we get a call from Mo at Wicked Motorcycles, they do have the tyres and we can get them fitted this afternoon.
When we were in Namibia we met Chris Boutman, a member of Cape Town BMW Club who invited us to attend the local meeting. As we had missed the August meeting we thought we would drop in for this months so gave him a call for details, he asked us to bring the bike along loaded to show the guys and gals how we are travelling (and we have just unpacked everything!!) and if we didn't mind could we say a few words to the group. We packed the bike to make it look like we were fully loaded and set off for the meeting, not feeling very confident about standing up in front of a few people to give a speech. We arrived at the venue with not too many people there, maybe it will be a quiet one, no such luck. As time went on more people turned up and by the time the meeting started there were well over a hundred people there. A few talks were given on club activities, new members welcomed and then it was our turn. Mouth dry as a bone I went to the front of the stage and somehow managed to get through 10 minutes, probably talking a load of B***** but I survived it and lrft the stage to thundering applause from the club members (probably just pleased I had at last shut up!!) Afterwards, both Lorraine andi were presented with club badges from the vice chairman, Geoff Russel. We spent the rest of the evening, a bit more relaxed, chatting to members. A good bunch.
30/09/09 - No news on laptop or crate. Stocked up with 3 month supply of Simvastatin.
01/10/09 - Decided to check out what we have of the crate at Roly’s work so took the car and bike in. The crate is only missing a side which we can make up ourselves so we start the loading process. Sent Lorraine into BMW to get the straps they promised us while we took the front wheel and screen off and moved the bike onto the pallet. Bike loaded and strapped down, new side made up and all ready to move to the warehouse.
I made an appointment with a local doctors surgery to get my cholesterol level checked as it is due a review. The doc will see me tomorrow.
02/10/09 - Received a call from the laptop repairers, the mother board has blown and they are waiting for a new one to be delivered, should be ready in a couple of days.
Went to the doc’s for a check up and need to come back tomorrow to have blood taken although they didn't wait to relieve me of R270.
Checked on flights to Buenos Aires, good price, will book as soon as we have dates for shipping.
03/10/09 - Fasted for blood test and went in at 11:00, told I need to be there at 08:00 for a more accurate test so I will now have to wait until Monday.
Email received from shipping agency, booked onto sailing on the 19th Oct.
04/10/09 - Day in front of the telly watching F1, Moto GP and Superbikes.
05/10/09 - Blood test at 08:00 and relieved of another R276.
Sussed out the whereabouts of the shipping agent and the warehouse.
Laptop is ready for collection so took a drive out to Durbanville, also bought an external hard drive to back everything up in case we have a similar situation.
06/10/09 - Call from the doc. My cholesterol levels have come down but not enough and my medication needs to be increased. Now on 80mg Simvastatin a day, not good. Picked up a scrip for another six months and the wallet lightened by another R900.
Booked flights to BA for the 25th Oct. tickets will be ready for collection tomorrow.