4 weeks in South Africa's Eastern Cape on a BMW F800 Adventure

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Two Plugs, Jan 8, 2015.

  1. Two Plugs

    Two Plugs Long timer

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    Its been to long since I visited South Africa: 2008. I was doing a report for a Dutch motorcycle magazine (as photographer) on the Limpopo Province, Mpumalanga, Mozambique, Drakensbergen (Dragonmountains ;) ) and Swaziland following the path of the historic anglo-farmers war in the 19th century, riding a Buell Ullyses which was kindly provided by Harley Davidson Pretoria.

    Finally, finally I am back in to the South African summer, fled from the winter which covers the northern Hemisphere! Again as photographer, this time for the Dutch motorcycle magazine Promotor. I thought the report would be interesting to you guys 'n girls here on ADV, but please forgive me for any mistakes in my English... I had to translate it from my Dutch blog at www.grotetrek.blogspot.com (Dutchies and Afrikaners: have a look there)

    I'll will be riding here for the next month or so, and try to update the ride at ADV riders as good as it gets.

    @ GB: thnx for the help getting the pictures sorted out!

    Provided with a nice BMW F800 Adventure which will be the perfect match for the grounds I will cover the next 4 weeks. After a warm and friendly welcome by my good friend and Truimph owner Johan Kriek and Helen (www.toerboer.co.za) we picked up at the BMW at Motorrad Rentals in Centurion, former known as Verwoerdburg. As we drive towards Centurion ride I realize it: Moerse! (Afrikaans for ‘ feeling good’) What is this South Africa still a beautiful country. And especially because it feels like I've never been away. Albert Franck from Motorrad Rentals turns out to be a nice guy, providing us with a delicious espresso and explaining all about the BMW and accessories provided by motor Radical (www.motorradical.co.za)

    In the afternoon I visit the local mall to buy a SIM card for my smartphone and at the local Pick 'n Pay supermarket, I get a few bottles Mrs. Balls Chutney and Braai Salt to take home when I return back to the Netherlands.

    In the afternoon the grill is turned on for an South African Braai (BBQ). We are invited by Johann (double NN indeed) Potgieter and his wife Loraine. Again a most charming guy. Apparently I leave, as foreign guest, a good impression, because the next day, very early, the phone rings: Johann calls to invite me to join him for a bikers breakfast run on Sunday morning.

    Half an hour later, the BMW pleasantly simmers behind Johann’ s Harley Fatboy Pretoria towards the Kitty Hawk Aerodrome, just a few miles outside of Pretoria. On Sunday, countless motorcyclists gather here for breakfast. As an airplane enthusiast, I enjoy antique propeller aircraft and high-tech Gyrocopters (Auto Gyros) entering almost to the terrace. After breakfast, we continue towards Cullinan, known not only for the fact that the largest diamond ever found here (it has been chopped and been used in the British Crown Jewels), but also as gathering point for touring in the neighboring hills.

    The place to be is "Harrie's Pancakes" at Oak Lane 112. And finally, finally I get my melktert, a typical South African pastrie: in the shape of a pancake with melktert stuffing! Johanns Harley appears quite thirsty, so after a delicious cappuccino with pancake we pay a visit to the local gas station and return to Pretoria. What a nice start for this new South African motorcycle trip! Today it was truly, "Moerse!". The South African word which actually covers the whole day.


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  2. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    We could use a sunny report in the middle of this cold day! Thanks for taking us along :thumb
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  3. Two Plugs

    Two Plugs Long timer

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    The trip from Pretoria to Parys (on the Vaal, not the Seine) is progressing well. Because there are also some BMWs with chain instead of a shafty I stop in Silverton at Twisted Throttle, a local motorcycle clothing- and motorcycle accessories store to get a spraycan chain lube.
    It is at 10 o'clock in the morning when I turn on N1 highway towards Cape Town. It is already quite hot but the trip from Pretoria to Johannesburg is progressing well. A beautiful four-lane motorway gives broad view of the economic capital of South Africa. Johannesburg clearly shows that South Africa is making progress on developments. High skyscrapers dominate the skyline of the 'city'.

    I follow the N1 / M1 'South' direction Soweto. Soweto is perhaps the most famous district of Johannesburg for the role it played during the apartheid regime. Anno 2014 Soweto has turned in to a trendy suburb! Unfortunately, the beak of the BMW this time aimed at Parys. Traffic signs with should direct me towards Soweto however stay away ... and suddenly, I’m following a rural four-lane highway, the R82 towards Vereeniging. Funny how quickly and almost imperceptibly, you’ ll get out of a metropolis and a busy motorway into the green province of Gauteng. The quality of the asphalt, despite a single pothole, is good.
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  4. Two Plugs

    Two Plugs Long timer

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  5. Two Plugs

    Two Plugs Long timer

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    At a gas station I decide to take a short brake, to buy a bottle of water and some food and to consult the map. My intuition proves correct: Although I am no longer on the N1 tolroad, but on the right path towards Parys. No wrong choice ... The R82 winds through forests, hills and grassland towards Vereeniging.

    The city of Vereeniging is bustling. The BMW’s dash shows that it is now 33 degrees Celsius, and in combination with the many traffic lights and busy traffic in Vereeniging I’m getting warm. Due to the heat, I abandon the idea of stopping at a café for a cappuccino and melktertpie and continue riding. Parys is ahead. In the distance, the mountains surrounding Parys already appear at the horizon.

    Not "just" mountains, but the outer edge of one of the potentially most unknown jewels of South Africa: The Vredefort Dome, World's oldest and largest impact crater of a meteorite on land. Listed as UNESCO World Heritage! It’s around noon when I arrive at my good friend Jopie. The BMW disappears in the garage, and the wonderful Castle Lager beer is chilled in the fridge. We reminisce in the shadow of Jopie's date palmtree and turnes midnight quickly. Tomorrow I'm going to take the BMW Adventure exploring the extensive network of gravel roads in the Vredefort Dome.
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  6. Two Plugs

    Two Plugs Long timer

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  7. Two Plugs

    Two Plugs Long timer

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    Imagine ... a piece of rock, with a diameter of 7 miles, coming in at 22.500 miles per hour (try that on your Hayabusa!) crashing into the Earth's surface. This is exactly what 2,000 million (!) Years ago happened in contemporary South Africa. The result: 'Deep Impact', a crater with a diameter of more than 200 miles, stretching from Johannesburg in Gauteng province to Welkom (what's in a name) in the province of Free State into the North West Province. I’ll leave the National Geographic details in this report for what it is, but the Vredefort Dome - the largest and oldest meteor impact crater on Earth and UNESCO world heritage - has one of the most beautiful and least known areas in South Africa to do adventure riding by bike. The rustic village of Parys, providing numerous accommodations and great restaurants, is excellent as central point for exploring the Dome.

    From Parys I drive through the R53 on the Vaal River Road to turn left immediately after the bridge, on the KoppiesKraal Road. From now, the only thing you need to do is just to keep continuous left. The dirt roads are fantastic; the BMW feels like a fish in the water and I thoroughly enjoy - but only after I've turned off the ABS and traction control and put the ESA setting to 'Sport'. Now we really are on the loose!


    In the small village Venterskroon I stop at the visitor center for some information. A few hundred meters further I discover the 'fossil remains' of an old Zündapp motorcycle on a wall at a café. Thirsty from the dust and with dangerously low caffeine levels, I stop for a cup of coffee. The Old Imperial Inn recently opened and owner Leon is a very good guy who knows how to attract thirsty bikers. And as so often: the parked BMW proves attractive to fellow bikers. As I enjoy my coffee, two big R1200GS Adventures pull up alongside the F800.

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  8. Two Plugs

    Two Plugs Long timer

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    George Crocker and Leon Nel live in Johannesburg (an hour away) and their Dome is for them a large nearby playground. We chat about motorcycling, Promoter Magazine, the BMW’s and the Dome. Nice blokes, George and Leon. Shortly before we continue driving, a 4x4 pickup truck pulls over.
    The driver appears to be the project manager who is responsible for the management on the World Heritage Site on behalf of the North West Province, Mr. Mohau Maputle. Mohau turns out to be a huge BMW fan, but also talks enthusiastically about his work for UNESCO and the Dome. It are these unexpected encounters, which color the day.

    I follow the fantastic gravel slopes through the Dome towards Schoemansdrift, enjoy the drifting BMW, friendly people and the green landscape. Every passer - black or white – is greeting me enthusiastically and scarce oncoming 4x4s throttle back to avoid that I have to bite in the dust. At the Schoenmanshoekdrift I take a break and drink a bottle of water on the banks of the Vaal River. In the late afternoon, when I return at my friends place in Parys, I covered 75 miles but it could have been 200.

    I end another wonderful day in stunning South Africa with my good friend Jopie at O's restaurant on the Vaal River. The next 3 days there will be no motorcycling or blog, but time to visit friends, to clean the Beemer and await the arrival of my colleague Michiel van Dam and guide Johan Kriek. Next Sunday our 'Great Trek' really starts of with our ride in to the Great Karoo dessert!
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  9. OomD

    OomD Been here awhile

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    Well let me be the first South African here to say, "Welcome to sunny South Africa!" I hope you have a great time here (sounds like you're already having a 'moerse' time:D) and a safe journey.
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  10. Two Plugs

    Two Plugs Long timer

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    Well, baie dankie vir jou woorde! I noticed you are in Pretoria? Will be back there in about 3 weeks from now. Its actualy my 6nd time in your country and I keep coming back ;) Its to my modest opinion, one of the most under estamated country WW for proper adventure biking! ;)
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  11. OomD

    OomD Been here awhile

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    Yup, in Pretoria. I'll keep an eye on your thread and PM you when you get here. Maybe we could go for a drink/bfast ride or such :clap

    And yes, I agree it's one of the best places to ADV ride, especially with our stable and goldilocks weather.

    Enjoy your journey! If you get stuck or need help, shout!
    #11
  12. Gobby

    Gobby Trust Me!

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    Excellent RR Two Plugs - takes me back :cry

    Keep safe :1drink
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  13. kalahari-k

    kalahari-k Kalahari-K

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    Thanks for this report. South Africa is so full of interest and beauty. I'm glad it's starting well and hope the good times keep rolling on. Keep those photos coming!
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  14. Two Plugs

    Two Plugs Long timer

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    Tnx for all kind comments! Tommorrow we leave for the Karoo Heartland, first stop Norvalpont. Can't wait!
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  15. Two Plugs

    Two Plugs Long timer

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    The reunion with my good friends Johan Kriek and Michiel van Dam in Parys is celebrated with a delicious dinner at O's Restaurant (www.osrestaurant.co.za) at the Vaal River in Parys. My friend Jopie is also invited. Again, a cozy 'African' evening. The next morning starts with a joint breakfast at 'Secret Places" (www.secretplace.co.za), a beautiful, spacious guest house in the middle of Parys where bikers are welcome. Chef cook Lizzy - herself an enthusiastic biker and owner of a beautiful classic Moto Guzzi California - is cozy and entertaining and provides us with some useful tips for our more than 500-kilometer tour today.

    "Watch out, it's going to be hot!" both Jopie and Lizzy evoke at us, as we leave Secret Places. We refuel the bikes and visit the Sunday Biker Breakfast run where Parys - like Cullinan – is famous for. Again there is an elated, enjoyable atmosphere. Parys in South Africa has given us a very hospitable and welcoming impression. Not least also because of the brilliant 'Vredefort Dome’ with its extended diversity of gravel roads and the story of the ‘Deep Impact’ that which occurred here 2,000 years ago. What a pleasant place to start a motorcycle trip through South Africa!
    However, we leave Parys, South Africa, with mixed feelings ... Because the tragedy which shocked the FREE WORLD a few days earlier in the French capital Paris (the brutal terrorist attack on innocent civilians and journalists) has also seeped though to us ... We are working as reporting team 'on the road' for Promoter Magazine and the brutal, respect less murder of our colleagues and innocent, unarmed people in Paris does make us feel sad. Very sad.

    Through the vast Free State province (Orange Free State), we ride our bikes south towards Kroonstad and Welkom; and we even pas Virginia! When we arrive at the Welkom city limits after riding 200 kilometers, we can now vividly imagine how big the impact of the meteor must have been ... the crater wall extends to Welkom! The road is beautiful and we are able to put down an considerable distance. Although it is high summer, it is amazing how green the Free State province is. Both nature, as the vast cornfields are fresh and green; framed in a beautiful azure blue sky with a few white clouds.
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  16. Two Plugs

    Two Plugs Long timer

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    Biker breakfastrun in Parys, South Africa

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    Church in Kroonstad

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    Welkom (Near Virginia... ;) )

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    Emtpy roads

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    Empty skies

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    Gariep Dam
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  17. Two Plugs

    Two Plugs Long timer

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    We continue to follow the N1 southbound; it is quiet on the road on this sunlit Sunday afternoon. Again, I am positively surprised positively on the quality of the South African road network. It has been barely 8 years since I was here, and its obvious that there has been done much to bring the infrastructure in good order. Along the way loom large dump sites; excavated rubble from South Africa’s gold- and diamond mines. South Africa is working with nature preservation; the dumps are ecologically friendly replanted with indigenous plants to make this artificial hills part of nature.

    After a short break in the shade of some large trees we continue towards Bloemfontein, known for its university. We have now covered 300 kilometers at still 200 to go; this Sunday is truly a 'transit' day to get as far south as possible in any case. Covering a huge distance doesn’t mean it is boring; after every hill and every corner the landscape changes. Before we arrive in Norvalspont at our hotel, we decided to make a short detour to the Gariep Dam.

    Again, both BMW’s and the Triumph Thunderbird are treated to beautiful, winding roads and when we arrive at the Glasgow Pont Hotel (formerly Hotel Norvalspont) in the late afternoon, another warm welcome is shared with us. After a hearty dinner, we go to bed early. The next day we won’t need to ride a huge distance; but with a predicted temperature of 40 degrees Celsius we decide to have an early start to our next stop in the historical town Graaff Reinet, the pearl of the Karoo Dessert.
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  18. Two Plugs

    Two Plugs Long timer

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    Gariep Dam

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    On our way to Norvalspont

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    The historic Inn

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  19. Two Plugs

    Two Plugs Long timer

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    The next day we leave Norvalspont early to refuel the bikes in Colsberg and buy water for its riders... Something we will need later that day ... not yet aware of what awaits us this morning. The road to Middelburg is beautiful; the hills are slowly turning in to higher mountains and we come across a number of mountain passes: Carltons Heigh (1,630 meters), Loot Mountain Pass (1,781 meters) and Naudésberg Pass (1446 meters) treat us with views and twisty, circuit a like roads.

    After the Naudésberg Pass we clearly feel that something has changed; both on flora and on the temperature. Along the way agaves are in full bloom; with stems pointing in the azure sky up to 13 feet. A forest of flowering agaves! We stop halfway Graaff Reinet in a ‘Padstal ', a typical South African roadside shop. Often also an excellent opportunity to have a drink or something to eat.

    We continue our route towards Graaff Reinet; the temperature on the BMWs dash now shows an incredible 40 degrees Celsius; and it's not even noon yet! Moments later, the air temperature rises just briefly to 43 degrees Celsius ... Lucky we arrive in Graaff Reinet where we are greeted by our charming hostess Chantal of Karoopark Guesthouse (http://www.karoopark.co.za /). We park the bikes and are invited to come in and enjoy a refreshing drink in the cozy bar. Then showering, enjoy lunch, photos and update blogs, jump in the pool and what follows is an incredible evening with Chantal driving us by car to the Valley of Desolation for one of the most magical sunsets that I have ever experienced.
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  20. Two Plugs

    Two Plugs Long timer

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