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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by metaljockey, Mar 12, 2006.
This is all I get for the pictures. Anybody else getting this or just me?
I guess we'll have to wait until next month before the pics reappear
Maybe the underground wires from South Africa to America might be a bit rusty, no problem this side
No more waiting. Very nice indeed
And your right, there does not seem to be a shortage of rocks.
I don't blame you for having shakey hands, I'd be shakey too after crossing that river in a aluminum skiff alongside my bike. Way cool!
The boatman charged R75 each. That's about $11.
I upgraded the smugmug account so hopefully all will see again. Apologies.
He made some good bucks that day, especially for a BaSotho
Day 3 and I'm out of bed and on the road at 6am. Why? Same reason I did this whole trip on Anakees and left the TKC and Karoo at home. From the dam starts a tar road about 150km long with appr 600 turns. I am stoked and have been looking forward to this for a long time.
And again I learn, like so many times before, that it is a mistake to expect too much. The damn rainy season had covered most of the road in a loose sandy layer. The result being that traffic had cleared a 'racing' line.
OK, to be fair this was the worst of it. Even so, the second you saw oncoming traffic and had to get off the racing line, you were toast. So, I felt uneasy and unsafe on the bike and it responded by treating me like likewise. I did notice though that it was a nice grippy tar and that the roadmarkings were non slip.
I'm gonna have to come back in winter time. Still it was good and crisp out and I got some dam photos.
After the ride we enjoyed a crap breakfast, courtesy of the only accomodation available, so can't really complain.
The excellent scenery on the way back to Thaba Tseka made up for it though.
From Thaba Tseka towards Mohale Dam we cross spectacular ..... never mind, go check it out yourself, I'm not able to convey.
Did see something interesting though; a group of policemen on foot with shotguns and so forth herding some cattle. Now I know that on the border with South Africa there are ongoing cattle raids conducted by both sides, retrieving stolen cattle and collecting some extra, often accompanied by the killing of one or two owners/minders. This was in the centre of Lesotho though. Looks like it's not confined to the borders.
Anyway, like I said, it is green.
We stop in at Makabei lodge for a breakfast beer and the place looks abandoned. Don't know if it is changing owners or whatever but dont plan to stay over.
We reach the tar again at Mohale Dam and drop into Mohale lodge for a brunch beer and I am flabbergasted. It is huge.They must have a thousand rooms. It is like blocks of flats sitting on the veld. Only thing is Me and Nardus appear to be the only guests. No other vehicles. We go in and are shown through (wonderfully helpful staff) to the formal restaurant. One of those with curtains and wine lists and waiters with bow ties. We say no thank you, you must have misstaken us for people with class.
Some ways down an excellent pass we find something more suitable.
The view so effectively barred by pillars etc above actually looks like this.
We leave in high spirits and then........
I'd like to say 'nuff said', but I can't. It was wild, fantastic, smoke rubber tar brakes unity. I am a crappy road rider, but man this pass made me a god. I was smokin. I would already be half leaned over in a turn, then gear down to second with the rear tyre squeeling like a pig, then knock it down another gear and hear that Anakee shout my name.
My tyres was still at 1.3 and 1.6 bar as I was too lazy to inflate it after coming off the gravel. There was grip everywhere, and because of the extreme drop in altitude you could pretty much see your future.
This pass is magnificent, it has all kinds of turns you can desire. All 1-3rd gear stuff. It sure as hell made up for the morning ride at Katse.
The kicker: the first settlement you come after having survived God Help Me Pass, is called...... Nazareth.
We pass through Roma and hit the dirt again on the way to Malealea Lodge. On the way we pass some rural scenes.
I also notice that in this low lying, more populous region, people seem to have less pride in their surrounds. Up North around Mokhotklong, on the other hand, you will often see this kind of thing.
Someone obviously enjoy staying there.
In Roma on the other hand it's no big deal to erect a dwelling in an obvious flood area.
When the GPS say that we are 6km from the lodge we start down this pass.
For the following 35km we stay within 3 - 6km from the lodge. I have a rule of thumb applicable in Lesotho; double the distance on the map, then add half and youll be close to the real distance.
As we get to the lodge it turns out to be quite the happening spot. Loads of people and I'm still busy untying my luggage and I am accosted by a German blonde by the name of Julia who rides a SRX600 when she's home.
Some murals at the lodge.
The end of day three is spent in the peace of female company. (conversation, that is)
This trip is just getting better. Julia from the night before joins us.
Down South has a lot more sandstone.
We come across the Senqu river again. In South Africa it is known as the Orange River. Somewhere down there it has my numberplate.
Julia borrowed an old oversize helmet from the lodge, the yellow sticking out the back is my t-shirt which makes it fit.
We have an uneventful ride except for being hauled off to the police station and wasting about an hour because the 640's licence lapsed two days ago. For some reason they do not notice my lack of numberplate.
We say goodbye to Julia who just joined us for a couple of hundred km. I look suitably depressed.
She's a brave girl. She takes a taxi back to the lodge, and no these are not taxis like you know them in the US.
We hit a road following the Quting river. Excellent fun and very scenic.
Then the road starts climbing and clmbing. It gets colder very quickly, we reach our destination. The highest lake in Africa. Whether it is true I can't say. Actually looks more like a smallish dam to me.
It is fffreezing. It may not look it but I'm sure it's close to 0 degrees and the wind is pumping.
Here we are again presented with a choice. Less than 20 km straight on used to be a border post. According to the Lesotho people the wind blew the structures down. According to the South Arican border guards the Basotho just don't have the balls to take the extreme cold. However it may be, there is no Lesotho border post on the top of Ongeluksnek, but there is a South African Border post down below. In between is a pass that had been abandoned for some time. According to the Lodge owner at Malealea there is no way in hell that we'll get down.
The problem is that the alternative route over Quachas neck is probably 150km.
Clearly the correct option is to skip the country illegally, go down the pass even if it kills us, and take our chances with the SA border guards. By the way, Ongeluksnek roughly translates to 'bad luck neck' or 'accident neck'.
Between the lake and the pass is the most beautifull valley filled with horses, goats, sheep etc.
Coming across the neck.
In front of us, the promised land, good old SA.
We are very pleased, the pass looks like a highway from here.
About 15m further on it all turns to shit.:eek1
I can tell you stories of man handling a 200kg lump of metal down a slippery as snot
700m drop with two wheel slides
and of ruts and washaways and dropoffs and muscle cramps and more,
but I think this says it all
Man was I happy to reach that border post.
Almost as happy as the lone guard. He couldnt believe his luck. He showed us around, showed of his vehicle, posed for pictures and chatted away endlessly.
This more or less concluded our trip. For the SA okes who are probably going to attempt Ongeluksnek - use off-road bikes. Dual purpose bikes can come down it but it's hard work when it's wet. If it's wet forget about going up, it can't be done. For 4x4s, no up or down, even if it's dry.
Wow, incredible stuff. Forget the camel man, the pig mud wrestler wins
Thanks for the ride report and the awesome pics!!
You guys rock! I will load my bike onto a rowboat one day!
Excellent report. hardcore suff affrican.
Now THATS adventure ridin Makes me want to take the "adventurer" off my avatar, as I go for my ride in NYC area.
Wow! I enjoyed reading that. And the pictures are fantastic. One of the best ride reports I've read here.
this picture reminds me when I was working as a Tech in Chemical plants in Louisiana for Brown and Root and Flour Daniels...at least the cows don't have to wear hardhats!
Awesome report and pics.......
Day 3 and 4 look as good if not better thans days 1 and 2
Hooo, what a trip
I grew up in Durban and spent a year working at the Drakensberg, a stones throw from Lesotho. Literally. Armed guards to watch the cattle, that sort of stuff. I had my MT50 "trailbike" with, and a horse, where the bike didn't go the horse would, your pictures really take me back! I sold the bike to a local, and freighted my horse back to Durban - on the back of a truck - with no sides...so your picture of your bike in the boat stirred memories there too! Whenever I return to SA for a visit, its to see the 'berg...
One question, how the hell do you get the cows in and out of the pen????
Keep them coming...............
Great trip report! Inspiring. Thanks
Brilliant pics and story, thanks i really enjoyed that. The last pass down into SA was great and looks a right challenge. Amazing where you can get those big 'road' bikes.
Looked more like Europe than what i expected for Africa, but then again i've only seen the barren mountains and the desert in Morocco.
and the pics, picture perfect