Riding around Southern Africa on an XT250 and CRF250

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by maria41, Oct 2, 2018.

  1. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    So we rode to Hlane. It had lions. We wanted to see lions. The campsite and lodge had great facilities, but no electricity at all.

    We put the tent up and went to explore, as far as the bar. We had a late lunch of toasted sandwiches (Still not a match on the one from Rosteck Ritz Lodge in Namibia – I know I go on about it! :dukegirl ).


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    We could see the edge of a water hole and lots of people looking and taking photos. I thought they were seeing elephants and we were a bit blasé about them.

    As we moved closer, we saw what it was: 5 black rhinos. They were massive! And so close! The only fence between them and the public was 2 lines of barbed wire! Like if this could hold them, should they get angry! It was extraordinary! :happay


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  2. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    We booked an evening safari drive, as we were hopeful to see lions.


    It was a 2 1/2 hour drive. To start with, it was rather disappointing, as for about 1h 1/2, we only saw 2 elephants.


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    And then we found the lions: 2 males and 3 females (brothers and sisters and their mother – not sure where the father was!). It was amazing to see them! :wings


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    We went back to camp in the dark. Literally. The campsite had no electricity, only a generator for the restaurant. Staff left some oil lamps in the shower block and in the communal outdoor kitchen.
  3. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    After preparing a small dinner (our usual can of mixed vegs and noodles) we moved to the bar and celebrated seeing the lions with a bottle of Malbec! Even the bar was using oil lamps.


    We caught up with a lad we met at Mlilwane the day before and spent the evening with him, around a fire camp, drinking wine and talking rubbish. The way it should be! :freaky


    That was our last night in Swaziland. It might be small (120kms side and 180kms long) but it made a big impression on us: the superb landscapes, the welcoming smiling people, the Sanctuaries, the sense of optimism I sensed from talking with the locals…. definitely if you come to South Africa, make sure to spend few days in Swaziland!
  4. Tsotsie

    Tsotsie Semi-reformed Tsotsi

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    Let me help you again identify African wildlife.

    Those are pictures of White Rhino. They have a flat square set of lips/mouth. Grass eating. The Black Rhino have a v shaped almost a beaklike mouth/set of lips. They eat leaves and bushes mostly.

    African wildlife graze and feed, depending upon what they are at different grasses and vegetation and at different levels. One, the Impala, in Afrikaans, is called a rooibok or red goat. It, like goats, eats both grass and leaves. Zebra and wildebeest ('wild cattle' translation or the English name, 'brindled gnu') eat grass, one of the reasons they are seen together.

    The birds seen on the back of one rhino are 'red billed oxpeckers'. Most of their diet are ticks, the reason they are tolerated by and seen hitch hiking on animals.

    Enjoy.
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  5. buckthedog

    buckthedog Eastbound and down

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    I have a rare pic of Tsotsie at work... ;) Marlin_Perkins_2.jpg marlon perkins.jpg
  6. Tsotsie

    Tsotsie Semi-reformed Tsotsi

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    Nice try, but way off. Perkins is too conventional, young and also I am a lefty! I am also not a 'royalist'. Would never use the word 'kingdom' relating to animals .

    As with ID'ing birds and animals (and most things, 'renting pigs' included), you have to get the small details correct. It is all a part of the lasting adventure.
  7. buckthedog

    buckthedog Eastbound and down

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    I am sure I was wayyyy off. But I did grow up watching that show, and a fine man he seemed to be. It was quite tongue in cheek. I am with Capt. Augustus McCrae, in that I don't rent pigs. A man that does like to rent pigs, well, he's hard to stop. Augustus McCrae.jpg

    I will add...this RR and pics are fantastic! What an opportunity to see these animals, this scenery in real life. I can't wrap my head around it. Good work in relating it to us :)
  8. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    I stand corrected yes they are white rhinos. I think at the time we were told by someone that they were black. I am no specialist so assumed it was correct. And with very little WiFi for most of our trip it was not easy to investigate.
  9. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    Day 84 – South Africa, near Dundee– Battlefield sport resort– 285kms - Monday 20th August


    After a quick breakfast at the campsite (coffee with bread and peanut butter) we packed the tent and left Hlane.

    The border back to South Africa was about 130 kms south and although a section of road was bad with potholes (all relative, nothing can ever compare with Mozambique!) we made good progress.

    Getting back into South Africa was very fast, a quick stamp out of Swaziland in our passport, and quick stamp in on the passports, into South Africa and we were off again.

    We decided to avoid the main roads and take secondary roads through Kwazulu-Natal. This is Zulu land. We passed many sugar cane plantations and farms. The weather was very hot.
    Off a little road we saw a little shop and stopped to buy some cold drinks and a snack. The only snack they had was biltong. I bought a bag but it was way too salty.

    By mid afternoon we arrived at a town called Vryheid. My guide had nothing about it. It seemed the main business in the are is coal mining and cattle.

    The town had lots of B&Bs. We stopped at one and declined. The second and third were still very expensive! A good 800 to 900 rands for an empty B&B!

    I am not sure if they ever fill at the weekend, as there did not seem to be much around to attract tourists, but considering the prices, we decided to continue to Dundee. I had spotted, in iOverlander App, a caravan park there and figured it would be more within our price range (i.e cheap :D).

    Few kilometres from Dundee, we saw a sign for a large resort. They had a campsite advertised. We decided to investigate. By then we were a bit tired and very hot.

    The place was absolutely massive, with plenty of rooms, rondavels, little square chalets, all with en-suite bathrooms, a big lake and lots of land. The chalets were only 500 rands so we decided to take one! It was luxurious, with TV and plenty of channels, a nice hot shower and beautiful grounds.


    The restaurant was a buffet and very expensive, so Alistair rode to the nearest supermarket in town and came back with some sandwiches and a couple of beers.
  10. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    Day 85 – South Africa, Albert Falls National Reserve – Tuesday 21st August – 210 kms


    We continued riding East, making our way toward Drakensberg. It was still to far to make it in one go.


    I had found this campsite and resort through iOverlander again. It had rave reviews, with wild animals roaming around, so we decided to check it out. The place was around a big lake. We got there relatively early afternoon.


    The accommodation was half price as it was low season. So we got a big rondavel with kitchen and everything we needed for only 460 rands (about 32 US dollars !).

    Reception was at the entrance of the reserve, while the rondavels were good 7 kms away. We rode to our accommodation, surrounded by many antelopes and zebras. It was amazing.

    Once settled we went for a walk and realised, from a sign, that the Reserve also had white rhinos! I was amazed we were allowed in with the bikes as well as allowed to walk around on our own! We walked down a trail trying to reach a very big lake but it was too far.


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    Luckily we removed all the luggage off the bikes as soon enough we spotted the inquisitive monkeys and some baboons!
  11. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    Day 86 – South Africa, Sani backpacker lodge – Wednesday 22d August – 180kms


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    The next day, after packing, we decided to have a ride around before leaving.

    We took the turn to the campsite ground down by the lake then up some trails.

    At a turn of the trail we came across 3 giraffes grazing. Thankfully we did not come across the rhinos.


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    Then we rode to the south of Drakensberg. Soon, as we started climbing, the weather became cooler. The backpacker lodge that we selected was well located at the foot of the Sani pass and had great grounds, a big kitchen and lounge with a nice fire, large rooms and spotless communal bathrooms. The place was cheap and very pleasant.


    The lodge was busy and we met with the same French couple we met in Swaziland, in our first stop there! There were few people in the communal kitchen/living room and it was nice to socialize a bit with them! Some of them had been driving up the Sani Pass on that day, as the backpacker organised this as a side business. They told us it was very bumpy and in very bad condition. Once up a time this comment would have worried me quite a lot. Not this time though: I had the ideal bike for that. And I also had acquired a lot of experience during all my previous travels and this one.
  12. GreatWhiteNorth

    GreatWhiteNorth Long timer

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    Following along, what a great RR, just fabulous pics and excellent storytelling. Thanks for taking the time to put it together, and sharing.
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  13. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    Day 87 – Lesotho - Somewhere on the road – Thursday 23rd August – 220kms


    It was time to get into Lesotho and tackle the famous Sani Pass. With the sky overcast and heavy rain overnight, we waited until 10am to leave.


    It had been raining hard the day before. I did not fancy riding the pass in the wet.


    The climb to the pass would be rocky, we had been told, and we wanted to make sure we would start in the dry.

    Eventually the sky cleared a bit and we left. The first few kilometres, on the South African side, the road was just a massive building site with trucks everywhere. It was a bad trail but nothing hard for us with our Enduro bikes, so we kept going up and up, squeezing between the massive construction trucks and the cliff, getting over the sand and rocks and underlay of what will be one day a nice new road.


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    South Africa border post:
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  14. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    The border crossing out of South Africa was very fast. Then we started on the 10 kms of no man land between South Africa and Lesotho. The Lesotho border post was at the top of the pass.


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    We were told later that this section was the worse the trail had ever been.

    In the past it was a descent gravel trail. Not anymore. It was like a riverbed with rocks and large boulders all over. There was no respite and little opportunities to stop.


    With the bikes, we had to keep traction and momentum, overtaking all 4×4 and trucks on a narrow mountain road, while getting over, skipping and jumping over massive rocks and boulders and staying well clear from the cliff side.

    Few photos I took during some easy sections where we could stop:

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    It was challenging and exhilarating at the same time. Despite the cold, I arrived at the top of the pass drenched in sweat. The difficulty of the trail certainly kept me focused; one mistake and it would have been a long way down the cliff! It was an exiting trail! My bike came alive in such terrain and was an absolute joy to ride!


    On wet conditions the track would have been way too dangerous, with very slippery stones, I think.
  15. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    At the top of the pass we passed the Lesotho border very easily and quickly.

    We then stopped at the Highest Pub in Southern Africa for some food and hot tea. It was rather cold up there and after the climb I needed to ad some layers.


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    In the pub, we met with 2 bikers on big BMWs, they had also gone up the pass. The guys were super tall and big and I can imagine only purestrength and power could haul a 250kg (or 300kg with luggage!) Bike up those rocks, 2 up! :eek2
  16. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    After lunch we rode on the perfect Chinese built tarmac road. I had kept the coordinates of some sort of camp or lodge that I had spotted in iOverlander.

    On paper it did not look too far. We had not counted on the several mountains passes at 3300m altitude and the many villages on the way, with farm animals roaming free, forcing us to ride slowly.


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    It was a long day. Lesotho villages looked a mix of traditional round houses (rondavels) and brick square houses with tin roofs. They seemed to have electricity and we saw plenty of satellite dishes.


    Few words about Lesotho from my research:


    Lesotho men were often herding animals, either walking or riding horses, wrapped in their traditional Basotho blankets, wearing a knitted hat and carrying a fighting stick. I often saw young lads play fighting with those sticks. Once they even came kind of threatening or defying us (?) with their sticks!


    Lesotho is a constitutional monarchy. The land is held in trust for the Basotho people and local chiefs allocate land to individual (usually married men?) however since 1979 security of the tenure was increased by recording rights of inheritance and allowing mortgaging and subletting of the land.

    Traditionally, the women do most of the agriculture and home building, while men are responsible for the livestock. Cattle are important for them and represent wealth.

    Like in most African countries the status of women is rather low but has been improving in the last decade. For example they do not need their husband permission or for him to sign all legal documents to do business and involved in economic development.



    The mountains were beautiful but it was bitterly cold.



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  17. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    We went up and down mountains. Eventually, by 4 or 5pm we found the turn off to our night camp. We rode through a very bad trail into a village and then into a farm compound.

    The place had various rondavels, no running water and pit toilets. For 350 rands per person we could get accommodation, dinner and breakfast, so we took that option as we had very little food with us.

    The rondavel had no electricity (or any facilities) but the main house had electricity and heating.


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    There was nowhere to sit or get warm. As we were standing around in the courtyard, a small VW camper-van, with a French/ Spanish couple living in Mozambique, turned up and investigated the place further.

    We managed to sit in the farm’s family living room, with a gas heater on. At last we were able to get warm. The other couple left as they had food in their van.

    Dinner was simple: some nice chicken, fresh tomatoes, spinach with ‘pap’: white corn purée – rather tasteless but used to pick up food with your hands. Being my usual demanding £$*%* I asked for a fork and knife. :smile6


    After that it was an early night.
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  18. Saso

    Saso Happily sporting the DRD4 gene Supporter

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    Loving this Ride Report! Into full dream mode now of riding in SA someday...
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  19. Essbee

    Essbee Adventurer

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    Nice ride report! It is interesting hearing other peoples ( especially like-minded people) perceptions of places and people that we are so familiar with.
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  20. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

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    Day 88 – South Africa, Clarens – Friday 24th August – 82 kms

    We woke up early. After a very quick visit to the smelly pit toilet and washing my hands in the bucket provided for that, I put all my motorcycle gear on. We carry antibacterial gel which has been also useful on this trip.

    The two brothers looking after the place were around. We moved to their house and sat at the table, in the living room/ dining room, as the breakfast was included in the price.

    The two lads sat with us for breakfast, as they did for dinner.


    We had coffee, some brownish porridge (I never eat porridge, who in their right mind would eat some white or brown gruel? :puke2) and bread if I remember.

    Like the previous day, the conversation was far from flowing, as the 2 brothers concentrated on eating. I tried to ask few questions (like why their mum did not eat with us? Apparently women don’t. Why? No clue). Answers were short.

    They were not interested on talking to us and it was a bit awkward.

    There are quite few places where we have been, where they don’t really get the notion of customer services. Basically where they don’t seem to give a crap about their customers! It was just a bit uncomfortable. It was a shame, as sitting there with locals, in their home, would have been a great opportunity to find out about their lifestyle and traditions. But as they were unwilling to chat, we just finished our meal and went packing.


    It was still very early and we had a short ride to the border town. It was still very cold as we were in the mountains. On the way to the border we stopped to buy fuel. It was cheaper in Lesotho than in South Africa, as apparently fuel in Lesotho is subsidised.

    The border was a drive-through. Once again, it was very fast to get back into South Africa.


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