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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by micko01, Jan 18, 2015.
Lucky!!! Adventure is coming!
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I smell a lot of fun here!
Very entertaining and informative. Thank you so much for sharing your dream with us. SUBSCRIBED
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Can't wait to follow along on your adventure! Thanks for the preparation details. Stay safe and have fun.
Subscribed. Yup, this one looks good!
Excellent information regarding packing the bikes and gear for air freight, the joys of living in the underside of the world.
Before we start, I just want to say that some of photography at the start of the trip left a bit to be desired but as we have gone on we have learnt a lot, so bear with us for a bit. We should also note that our blog entries are not by day from here on in! It really was a steep learning curve for us.
Blog 1 by Mick: Day 1 in South Africa How good can it get?
We were trying to think what would constitute a fantastic first day of riding here in South Africa the first day of our round the world trip. Meet some welcoming local people and strike up some genuine friendships? Yep, that is always first on the list. Eat some unique local food? If we can, that would be great. Find some local roads and see some new and interesting landscapes? Now we are talking! Well then, how about ride some reasonably rough and technical trails on a private game reserve, spot some giraffe, kudu, impala and bush buck, have a fantastic dinner around a fire with some wonderful hosts, then fall asleep in a African safari style open room looking out over a river after a handful of beers?
Yes, that was our first day of riding in South Africa!
Before we left Australia, we sent a callout on HU to local Durban riders in the hope we could find someone to show us around a little while we settled in to riding in a foreign country. We received a handful of very friendly responses of accommodation and any other help we required, and one from a fellow who was hunting geodes. Tanya, being a hopeless geologist, was love struck.
We met Stuart while waiting for our bikes to arrive in Durban. We thought we had been ever so cleverly organized for our bikes to arrive the day after we did, but alas, they did not. The bikes arrived a few days late after being stuck in Joburg for no apparent reason, which in retrospect was probably for the best as it gave us a couple of days of convalescence after our utterly hectic, borderline chaotic departure from Australia. We had about one and a half hours sleep the night before departure; we conscripted the help of family in packing, threw most things we needed and lots of things we didnt into our bags and hoped for the best.
Stuart showed us around Durban while waiting for our bikes to arrive. We walked along the beachfront, and contrary to all the over zealous foreign affairs warnings, managed to not get shot, stabbed, mugged or even accosted. He then took us to eat at a genuine local haunt where we tried the Durban specialty, the Bunny Chow. An Indian curry served in a loaf of bread, it was a great introduction to Durbans multicultural history. Especially so, when chased down by a local lager.
Massive bunny chow - Indian curry in a loaf of bread
The following day we picked up the bikes from the local trucking depot and after not quite two hours of crate unpacking, bike reassembly and luggage packing, we hit the road. With Stuart in the lead we rode up through sugar cane fields and into Zulu country. We grabbed some lunch at a teahouse were we enjoyed a Vetkoek, literally fat cake in Afrikaans. And the name lived up to the reality, the Vetkoek was deep fried bread covered in curried mince. Good fuel for hard working farmers, maybe a little excessive for sitting on a motorcycle.
Stuart, a local biker who reached out to us online and offered to show us around for a couple days
We continued deeper into Zulu Country and the landscape got drier and poorer. The greens of the sugar cane fields turned into the brown of dust covered cattle country, accentuated with the yellows and oranges of various aloes in flower in the winter time. The predominate architecture was small, round stone and brick huts with thatched roofs and small outhouses 30m or so from the single roomed living areas.
We rode through some small villages and onto a narrow, rocky trail leading up through some Zulu farms and onto the Zingela private game reserve. We continued up the trail, which proceeded to get steeper, rougher and more technical our overloaded bikes not 4 hours ago in pieces in a crate were eating up the opportunity to hit some rocks and ruts. And thats when I heard it; high-pitched squeals. Completely nonsensical squeals of delight interspersed with the odd failed attempt to form a coherent word.
Use English words Tanya I called on our intercom. Je Je Je JARAFFF!!! Omagod omagod omagod jaraf jaraf there is a GIRAFFE!!! she pointed.
A giraffe was only 30m away in the scrub, looking at us suspiciously trying to decide if we were trouble enough to run away from. It stood for a while and must have decided Tanya was far too emotionally unstable so it beat a retreat into the bush, but not before we had photographed it from every angle we could manage.
One of the climbs into Zingela
A giraffe just off the trail
Our first day from there was really a dream; we continued along the fun and challenging rocky trail, spotting Kudu and other antelope, before arriving at the banks of the Tugela River where the Zingela Safari camp is located. We then settled in around the campfire for a number of beers and a great meal with lovely company, before retiring to fantastic open rooms built into the mountainside looking out over the river.
A bush buck just near our room
Looking good bro, best wishes. Can you say how much you paid for air shipping from Australia to Durban? I'm in the market to get a bike to South Africa and trying to gauge rates.
Hi ride far.
We paid abut A$4200 all up, which was about 3600 I think for the 2.72m3 freight itself and the rest was paperwork like dangerous goods certificates and customs fees. It's reasonably dear compared to freight to Europe or the U.S. as Aus to SA is not a common route at all, for freight or flights.
But we saved a fair bit of money, the going rate if you use a broker who will do everything from get a crate and pack it through to organise all the paperwork is about $3500 per bike from what we have seen online. So we saved in the vicinity of 3 grand by doing it ourselves and paying a lot of attention to the crate size. This really is the key. Get it as small as possible and you will save thousands.
One thing I would recommend is to pick the bike up where it clears customs. We had an issue with a our carnet as we wernt there to supervise, and there was a 2 or 3 day delay getting the bikes from Jo'burg to Durban. its hard to chase things up from on the phone from so far away
Awesome photos and ride report. I am hooked on this one and will be keeping a close watch. Looks like a trip of a lifetime.
I am in!
While I notice not much detail at this time, the route in NA seems brief and direct N and S. So much else to see. Those of us who live here can help.
Blog 2 by Tan: Sickness, Sani Pass and Sticky Sate Pudding
After a wonderful nights stay in the palatial honeymoon suite (complete with double open air showers and the most scenic of views afforded from a toilet seat I have ever come across), we reluctantly moved on to experience some more fantastic dirt road riding through mountainous Zulu country. I managed to survive some tricky descents without the aid of a rear break which Mick went on to fix the next day after I suggested leaving me with no rear break was his attempt to turn this trip into a free wheeling bachelor adventure. The riding was world class and the views got better and better around each bend. Unfortunately the better the view and the better the riding, the less chance of taking the time to take photos so youll just have to trust us that the views were a notch above epic.
Riding out from Zingela - more Giraffes
Just as we got on to the tar road approaching the famous Zulu battlefields we had our first mechanical misadventure of the trip. My bike started to hesitate, which I later learnt to be the correct terminology for the problem when the bike starves for fuel. My first attempts to describe the fault to Mick where met with befuddlement; apparently my description of the bike going like rrrehhhh then like ruuurrghhh and it pulls back didnt quite cut it. We suspected a fuel issue (or at least Mick did, I suspected gremlins or voodoo), so off came the luggage, sides, and tank. Upon seeing a quite loose spark plug, Mick thought that might be leading the motor to lose compression and be the cause of the problem. So that was tightened and everything went back on and the bike started again.
It went rrrehhhh and then ruuurrghhh
The time lost on the side of the road had us hightailing it back to Stuart's house in Peitermeritzberg, but not without my bike protesting within about 20 minutes with the same symptoms. It came to a stop in Tugela Ferry, unfortunately not the best place for an impromptu visit. Once again everything came off and the carb, fuel lines and fuel filter were drained and the source of our woes revealed itself. Water in the fuel was to blame and we were on our way again.
We spent the next two nights with our trusty guide Stuart where he and his family treated us with wonderful hospitality. For Stuart's last day of motorbiking freedom before heading back to work we decided on a unencumbered blast up Sani Pass. With all our luggage sitting in Stu's garage we were able to enjoy the riding to its fullest. The road up to the highest pub in Africa is rough and fun but not crazy and winds steadily up through the southern Drakensberg Mountains, aptly named for the resemblance to the spine of a dragon. The views were astounding and only improved the higher you went.
A lower section of the pass
Thankfully there was no ice or snow on the road which can be common in winter (thanks, global warming!), but we still had to negotiate some very loose, tight and steep (never a good combination) switchbacks towards the very top of the pass. Mick ate them up for lunch. I did not enjoy them quite as much, especially on the way down where I demonstrated my displeasure by momentarily overheating my newly functioning rear brake. I should mention that Mick valiantly rode my bike the rest of the way down so I had the security of both functioning brakes my hero!
Switchbacks towards the top of Sani Pass
Beers at the top
View from the top
After a fond farewell to Stuart we headed back to Zingela Safari Lodge to pick up some gear that we had inadvertently left there. Naturally we were happy to return to stay with Linda and Mark whose kindness was only exceeded by their incredible story telling ability. It was that evening that I succumbed to the most wicked of flus, which saw us staying at the park for another 6 days. We were spoilt rotten during this time and I spent most of my days sleeping, coughing and taking baths in a divine claw foot bathtub overlooking the river. No, it was not all bad.
Rather ironic to be on a Hospital Bed
Once I was feeling up to the challenging riding required to leave the game park we were on our way, though it must be said it was hard to tear ourselves away from our little oasis and second home. Sadly, after a 100% giraffe spotting success rate anytime we got on a bike at Zingela, we were snubbed by the giraffes on our way out of the park. Oh well, 3 out of 4 aint bad.
Saying goodbye to Linda, our wonderful host at Zingela
After a quick snoop about the Anglo-Zulu battlefields of Isandlwana and Rourkes Drift (that was for you Dad), plus lunch and a look at the museum at Dundee where we were surrounded 3 or 4 deep by local school kids gawking at us and the bikes, we made our way to Howick to stay with Charlie and his lovely family. A fellow traveller and motorbiker, Charlie contacted us through HU with the offer of a bed and access to a well-stocked shed, which we were in dire need of as Micks bike had recently stopped charging. Some quick investigation revealed that the stator had come loose after its modification in Aus. There was damage to the stator by the flywheel, but was fixed with some dexterous soldering and extra epoxy. Hopefully it holds up.
Lovely riding around the Zulu War Battlefields
Flywheel 1. Stator 0.
Some solder and epoxy and all fixed.
The highlight of our time here by far was been introducing a friendly group of South Africans to the joy and wonders of a mean Sticky Date Pudding whilst they recalled their favourite quotes from the classic Australian movie, The Castle. We certainly approve of these South Africans! Next up on our travels, we are going to Bonny Doon! No no, unfortunately not, but we will head back for a much better look through the Drakensburg and into Lesotho where I am sure well enjoy the serenity
"Ahhh the serenity".
To be honest, our planning of our route through NA is probably described generously as "economical", accurately as "non-existent". As for highlights I'd love to do some riding in the Rocky's and we must check out the Grand Canyon, but I would luuurve to spend some time in New Orleans as I am a big blues fan. Tan would live to see Texas/Nevada/New Mexico and I would too, the riding looks fantastic.
But its so far away its so hard to plan for. But if you've got ideas we are all ears.
Our riding so far in southern Africa has been quite extensive, we have done 20000kms between Sth Africa, Lesotho, Namibia and Botswana. That is basically because we meet people on the road, they give us tips and ideas and we go there. So send us any good tips you've got when we are in your neck of the woods and we will be most grateful.
To be honest I'm really looking forward to Nth America! We've just got a couple kms to cover in the mean time
Cheers, Mick and Tan
So enjoying this report.
The Western United States is a wonderland of beauty! I'm confident ya'll will enjoy it. You really should do a "once around' and see the sights, both East and West, while you are here. Great ride report. Enjoying every minute of it.
A tip I can offer is that the price of gasoline in NA is a LOT cheaper than NOW that it has been for the last 6 years. We are seeing gas for $1.60 to $2 for a gallon right now. Hopefully it stays this was or gets even cheaper. These last few years have been $3.50+/gallon with a few $4+ months here and there. This might affect your plans. Great pics so far, you two are fun to watch.
Other than that, hotels are expensive on friday and saturday so I would try to camp those nights. Ground breaking information, I know.
I also like to use the "Name your own Price" option on Priceline.com when looking for cheap hotels. Its not rare to find 5 star accommodations for $45/night using that site, especially in places like Las Vegas that are desperate to fill rooms on low attendance weeks. I envy anyone who gets to ride the southwest USA because the terrain can change 4 times in a day. Mountains/Forest/Sand dunes/Canyons... :eek1
Hey thats good info thanks. Especially the "name your price" hotels we will be sire to do that when we get over to your side of the planet.