South Africa - Loxton Sutherland Tour May 2008

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Carnivore, May 11, 2008.

  1. Carnivore

    Carnivore Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    65
    Location:
    PE South Africa
    <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">South Africa</st1:place></st1:country-region> - Loxton Sutherland Tour May 2008

    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p>Part 1</o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    On Saturday 26<SUP>th</SUP> April, I received an text message from my friend Jock in <st1:place w:st="on">East London</st1:place>: “Rob please plan a 4 day jaunt anywhere. You + me. will motor down Wed night...leave early thursday Cederburg...anywhere…”<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Well, what would you do if you had 4 days to plan a 4 day getaway? You jump right in and get old Google Earth up to speed, along with all your maps, and Mapsource too…. And this is what we did and where we went<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Jock brought the Red Pony down by trailer on Wednesday night, and duly invited me to stick my hand in his helmet bag… (he does look a bit like Father Christmas sometimes…) and voila! Out comes a SuperMoto Blue tooth comms set! And it was not even my birthday..! Here we are pairing and setting up for the morrow.<o:p></o:p>
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    I wuz already packed, but since El Jocko usually packs 29 hours into each 24, we do tend to run a bit ….late….sometimes! So it was a case of what to chuck and what to pack… and we were ready to roll at around 7:30 on Thursday morning.<o:p></o:p>
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    It had begun to rain really hard in the small hours of the morning. I was dreading the snot that surely awaited us on the Elandsriver road (probably the most famous and oft-ridden road in PE, being the gateway to the Baviaans and the <st1:place w:st="on">Karoo</st1:place> dirt roads.) But the sun emerged by the time we got to Rocklands, 34 km from my home. The usual refuel and tyre pressure check took place.<o:p></o:p>
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    So we hit the aforementioned Highway to Adventure.. and the BlueTooths were smouldering, we were chatting so much. It was absolutely BRILLIANT being able to chat while riding. But of course, photo opportunities are created by stopping…. So we did.<o:p></o:p>
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    Jockerowski making some packing adjustments.<o:p></o:p>
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    Still some busy cloud activity over them thar mountains in the distance… mmmmmm, gonna be interesting riding up ahead.<o:p></o:p>
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    My White Stallion was going so well. I had replaced the fork oil with 600ml of 10W Belray. The pogo-sticking of <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Lesotho</st1:place></st1:country-region> was no more. This is a lovely bike.<o:p></o:p>
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    So we continued, taking it easy, getting the mental knots out of our brains and unwinding the nerves after the rigors of industrial endeavour… Jock is an HVAC contractor, I am a designer. We had both been feeling the pressure. And the road was now doing it’s therapeutic thing, soothing the psyche with the balm of crunching gravel and fresh farm air.<o:p></o:p>
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    And the much dreaded Snot Monster awakened at the sound of our approaching steeds. (well, it’s actually Jock’s Van De Linde that did it – my standard pipe is MUCH quieter..!) and much mumbling and teeth gritting was happening…<o:p></o:p>
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    This is truly a wonderful area – in the Cockscomb mountains of the <st1:State w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Eastern Cape</st1:place></st1:State>.<o:p></o:p>
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    We met up with some Pajero Folk having a coffee break.<o:p></o:p>
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    Chris was most intrigued with the BT comms in our helmets.<o:p></o:p>
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    This is at the Radio Mast turnoff to the Groot River Poort. That’s the <st1:place w:st="on">Indian Ocean</st1:place> to the south, about 40 km away.<o:p></o:p>
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    View towards the Baviaans – we were not going there this time…<o:p></o:p>
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    View to the North East – over those mountains is the <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Kirkwood</st1:place></st1:City> area. Man, I love the vistas here!<o:p></o:p>
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    So we set off again…<o:p></o:p>
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    …enjoying the mountains getting lost in the swirling clouds<o:p></o:p>
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    … and down to the Groot Rivier. The drop off is quite impressive… you don’t want to over-cook it on this seemingly innocuous stretch of mountain track!<o:p></o:p>
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    Our Pajero Friends duly arrived, and more chatting and photo-taking was done…. While the clock ticked! The sun was trekking water by this time – the rain was a thing of the past.<o:p></o:p>
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    This is the second crossing at the bottom – just a muddy patch really, because it is a tributary. The main crossing was about a foot deep and not too bad in terms of loose and hidden rocks. At least I did not hit anything, and neither did Jock.<o:p></o:p>
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    It is a nice climb out – the outcrops are not exactly Roof-of-Africa stuff…<o:p></o:p>
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    … but did require some leg-work!<o:p></o:p>
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    And so we entered the plains south of Steytlerville. What is nicer than a gravel road with a turn through some trees…?<o:p></o:p>
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    Maybe just coming out on the other side again!<o:p></o:p>
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    We traveled at about 90 km/h, just enjoying….. everything….. sound, smell, view, chatting… absolutely brilliant.<o:p></o:p>
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    This TKC80 has 7700km on it. It can probably go another 5000. The centre blocks are quite tapered to one edge, but there is still plenty of meat, and the shoulder blocks are still big – obviously, I suppose.<o:p></o:p>
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    The last section before Steytlerville, around 13:30. Quite a bit behind schedule, seeing as we were heading for Loxton, which is north of Beaufort-West, which is other side Willowmore, which is beyond Steytlerville, which we had not reached yet! Ah well, a night ride coming up, Cyril!<o:p></o:p>
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    We were advised to grab a burger at the Royal Hotel by a guy filling up his 950 Katoom – which we did. Darn nice too. The hotel has been bought by an absolutely delightful family – we were treated like kings (but it’s probably because we are such NICE guys…) by Marle and Grandma… this will be a regular stopping point every time we are in the area…<o:p></o:p>
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    WE decided to hit the tar road to Willowmore, due to time constraints.<o:p></o:p>
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    Those are the Baviaans mountains – normally seen from the south, from within the Kloof. Quite majestic, I think, and a little daunting, hinting at a secluded and impenetrable wilderness… or is it just my imagination and emotions running riot?<o:p></o:p>
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    Refuel in Willowmore, and a welcome Bar One chocolate…<o:p></o:p>
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    .. and we were on our way to Beaufort West. The sun was heading for the horizon (16:33) and finding that elusive shadow on the visor was becoming increasingly difficult. (OK, you sharp-eyed people out there… Jock is coming back the wrong way, just for a photo!)<o:p></o:p>
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    … even though the light was technically still good.<o:p></o:p>
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    20 minutes later, we were well and truly in the flat arid scrub of the <st1:place w:st="on">Karoo</st1:place>.<o:p></o:p>
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    The little dorpie of Rietbron was barely noticed… perhaps I blinked.<o:p></o:p>
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    The sunlight through the feathery grass made the road look like a runway…<o:p></o:p>
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    … while the road behind us was so much easier to see, through a dusty visor.<o:p></o:p>
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    No pictures of Beaufort West… sorry… but we did get to Loxton, after a nice ride in the dark through the Molteno Pass, along the edge of the Karoo National Park, at 21:30. We checked into a rather rustic accommodation, in anticipation of our sight seeing the next morning.<o:p></o:p>
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    Well now, when we got to the Loxton Lodge, having advised Ron and Kevin of our lateness from Beaufort West, we were welcomed immediately and as we got off the bikes, my friend looked a bit mesmerized. We were here, in Loxton, at 21:40 – what the heck for? I mean, there is NOTHING here…<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Yeah, right..! I decided to spill the beans, and we went for a walk into the back of the big yard, behind the house and garages…<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    But first things first… next morning, we had a darn good cook-up breakfast on the fire ( I did mention it was rustic..) and met some other folk who were on a cage-tour.<o:p></o:p>
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    First up after the brekkie… a 9 cylinder radial engine, made by Wright Continental. 600hp.<o:p></o:p>
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    They have a beautiful ’71 Silver Ghost, totally original and in perfect nick.<o:p></o:p>
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    Then it’s off to the backyard… These two <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placeName w:st="on">Lamberts</st1:placeName> <st1:placeType w:st="on">Bay</st1:placeType></st1:place> businessmen share a passion for collecting, restoring and saving WW2 armaments and vehicles. The dry air of the <st1:place w:st="on">Karoo</st1:place> is perfect for them. Since reading about them, I have been hankering to see for myself. When I contacted Ron last year, and again just before the trip, they were more than happy to coincide their next visit with ours. So the next few hours were absolutely amazing, with the sometimes overwhelming poignancy of these war machines invading my senses, leaving me very thoughtful and quiet.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    So, yes… the radial engine is from a <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Sherman</st1:place></st1:City> tank.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    But first… a simple field gun, of unremebered nomenclature and origin, and one of a few searchlights. These lights have a motor-driven set of carbon rods creating an arc – much like a welding machine. Two gun-layers use a remote control module with azimuth and elevation handwheels to move the light. Many boxes of carbon rods are stored under the corrugated iron roofed structures.<o:p></o:p>
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    A seven cylinder radial Wright Continental engine is fitted to the Stuart tank, a baby compared to the <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Sherman</st1:place></st1:City>.<o:p></o:p>
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    Here is the engine bay – the engine is mounted in the vertical plane as in an aircraft.<o:p></o:p>
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    Chain adjusters … think they could be used on a KLR?<o:p></o:p>
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    The Stuart and the Sherman both used a Christie suspension setup, which ironically first found favour on a Russian tank. The Allies had politely declined Mr Christie’s offering… ahem..<o:p></o:p>
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    Original implements on the back of the old girl.<o:p></o:p>
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    Here I am in the <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Sherman</st1:place></st1:City>’s driver’s seat. The heat and noise must have been tremendous. There are 600 horses churning away in that transmission next to my leg. The hull is cast in one piece and is about 32 mm thick. Later <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Shermans</st1:place></st1:City> had welded hulls.<o:p></o:p>
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    Charley Boorman…. Eat your heart out. (Just HAD to get a pic like this..)<o:p></o:p>
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    Instrument panel of the <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Sherman</st1:place></st1:City>.<o:p></o:p>
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    A beautiful gun tractor – this towed a 30 ton <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Sherman</st1:place></st1:City> on a lowbed. Sorry I cannot remember more details.<o:p></o:p>
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    Quite a few Willys Jeeps, mostly CJ2, but some genuine military models too.<o:p></o:p>
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    The US Army called for design tenders according to specification. The winning design was then purchased, and all manufacturers were then invited to tender for manufacture, to share the load and spread the risk. The CMP (Canadian Military Pattern) truck was built by Ford and Chevrolet, with only a slight difference in sheetmetal around the grille, and the badge, to distinguish them.<o:p></o:p>
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    Ford 6x6 with a flathead V8 – runs like a dream.<o:p></o:p>
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    Jock next to a Ford 3ton truck.<o:p></o:p>
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    Here is a bren carrier, an infantry support vehicle which was adapted to many roles. Bren machine gun, troops…<o:p></o:p>
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    My favourite – a Comet tank, the FIRST Allied tank to reach <st1:State w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Berlin</st1:place></st1:State>. The special unit insignia and service number were oversprayed by the crew of a film company with this light green paint.. and this in <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Cape Town</st1:place></st1:City>… Sacriledge!<o:p></o:p>
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    The machine has a Rolls Royce Meteor engine. This is also a V12 as fitted to the Spitfire fighter, but without supercharger. It develops 600hp as opposed to the Merlin’s 1200 hp.<o:p></o:p>
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    Howzat! What a morning! <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    <o:p>End of Part 1</o:p>
    </st1:place></st1:country-region>
    #1
  2. Carnivore

    Carnivore Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    65
    Location:
    PE South Africa
    <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">South Africa</st1:place></st1:country-region> - Loxton Sutherland Tour May 2008<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>


    Part 2 (For part 1, see http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?p=6952287 )

    After some more chats and tea, we were finally gone by 15:15! This is the start of the road to Fraserburg. I love the tall trees which seem to typify the <st1:place w:st="on">Karoo</st1:place> farmstead.<o:p></o:p>
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    Jock contrived a tool pipe from bits and pieces and moved the tool roll and compressor from the tank bag. Said it made a lot of difference.<o:p></o:p>
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    Filling up in Fraserburg.<o:p></o:p>
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    The Sutherland Southern African Largest Telescope (SALT) which was fully booked for tours, and anyway, it was overcast!<o:p></o:p>
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    (Google S.A.L.T. Sutherland if you are visiting <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">South Africa</st1:place></st1:country-region> and have any interest in Astronomy – by all accounts this installation is mind-boggling.)<o:p></o:p>
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    We checked into the Jupiter Guest house, run by Helen and Lieb Liebenberg. Let us just say it was festive, with a zillion people coming and going. It was the Centenary Celebrations of the high school, and it had been a miracle that a cancellation made our accommodation available. We drove out some of the Sutherland cold with a little bit of OBS… while <st1:place w:st="on">Karoo</st1:place> lamb and veggies were being prepared.<o:p></o:p>
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    This is a seriously competent and professional Bistro Guesthouse – most highly recommended.<o:p></o:p>
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    Helen – full of fun and as cheeky as they come!<o:p></o:p>
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    Leaving the next morning for Willowmore, via Matjiesfontein, Laingsburg, Price Albert and Klaarstroom, to finally take the dirt road to Willowmore.<o:p></o:p>
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    The tar pass to the N1 is pretty… but tar.<o:p></o:p>
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    The N1 looks like it always does.<o:p></o:p>
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    At Klaarstroom, the Padstal has these scarecrows lazing about… idle louts.<o:p></o:p>
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    Then it was the final road to Willowmore.<o:p></o:p>
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    Going through a drift, the topbox let go.<o:p></o:p>
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    Ski rope, a tie-down and some mumbling under my breath sorted it out, and we arrived at the Finchley Farm, 2km from Willomore, and were greeted by Joanne Kroon. She only provides BB, so we scotted into town to the Villa d’ Lockyer and had a ball. After a really good steak, the old out-of-tune piano beckoned, and we had some singing and drinking – all the old 70’s stuff came slowly back to me and we swore eternal allegiance to each other by the time it came to say goodbye.<o:p></o:p>
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    Breakfast by the lovely Joanne the next morning was great.<o:p></o:p>
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    I think every town should have a Royal Hotel…!<o:p></o:p>
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    And so we bade farewell to the little Karoo town of <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Willowmore</st1:place></st1:City>. I have discovered a bit of what lies underneath the seemingly desolate and who-the-hell-would-want-to-live –here towns. There are really lovely people there. A farming couple had driven 60km into town that evening, and said they had NEVER had such a lovely entertaining evening… quite humbling, when I consider what I “need” to keep me entertained. These farming folk have a hard life, with the ever-present threat of loss due to hail, and the inevitable stock theft. One sheep needs 4 ha in order to not kill the veld. At current prices, it is impossible to start farming, because one animal will NEVER return the outlay for the ground needed to sustain it. So unless a farm is inherited, our farming community is dwindling, at least in the <st1:place w:st="on">Karoo</st1:place>.<o:p></o:p>
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    On the road to Steytlerville…<o:p></o:p>
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    The other side of the mountains seen on the first day.<o:p></o:p>
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    The Cockscomb 100km in the distance.<o:p></o:p>
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    Once again, we grabbed a monster burger at the Hotel. Our new friends were pleased to see us, and we enjoyed our visit with them until the voice of reason said it was time to move on.<o:p></o:p>
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    This farmer made fences from old tyres. This is a particularly effective way to keep ostriches. The fool birds need a visual barrier to stop them running into wire fences.<o:p></o:p>
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    Pity we did not get the angle quite right on the Oregon Scientific Xtreme-cam. It did take some rather nice video footage. I have to hunt for the bits where the Kudu family came out of the bush in front of us…<o:p></o:p>
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    My home-made mount for the old trusty GPSIII+.<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Late afternoon… we are approaching the R75 from Graaff-Reinet to Uitenhage, but still 150 odd km to go.<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Jock got news that once of his work pick-ups had been stolen. He tried to get hold of the tracking company, but seems like they were … um….off-line… The pick-up was never recovered.<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    The road always changes and offers something new, before returning to the gravel highway…<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Now we were doing a good 120 km/h with the sun behind us. Idyllic –traveling side by side most of the time, chatting the hind leg off a donkey. At one stage, the BTs gave us a 400 m range, as I set up this shot.<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Approaching the hills north of Uitenhage, the vegetation changes quite significantly. We were getting close to home.<o:p></o:p>
    Finally, we emerged onto the R75.<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Did a quick detour to a job-site in Uitenhage, and belted it home through the night back to PE, arriving around 19:30 at my home.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Good night!<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to my friend Jock for accompanying me and making this ride possible. Also, to Baldy and Team… thanks for the Forum, and the chance to share these adventure stories.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    http://www.villaj.co.za/<o:p></o:p>
    http://www.aatravel.co.za/static/establishments/establishmentFI3491.html<o:p></o:p>
    Jupiter Guest House
    21 Jubilee Street, Sutherland <o:p></o:p>
    Licensed Bistro with fireplace
    3 En Suite Rooms with TV
    Central heating
    Electric blankets
    Disabled Friendly
    <o:p></o:p>
    Tariffs: R180 single + R30 BB • R150 pp sharing + R30 BB <o:p></o:p>
    Your hosts: Helen Liebenberg
    Tel & Fax: +27 (0)23-5711340<o:p></o:p>
    0832926705
    email:
    panda4u@webmail.co.za<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    #2
  3. zadok

    zadok Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,092
    Location:
    Western Australia
    Great trip. Well done. Great pics.
    #3
  4. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    67,843
    Another awesome report!! I'm going to merge part 1 and 2 into one thread to make it easier on inmates to follow your report. Thanks for sharing your fantastic adventure :thumb
    #4
  5. edgy

    edgy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    525
    Location:
    Gtown,SA
    Sweet report...wow cool ride,nothing better! Great meeting with you!
    #5
  6. Plothond

    Plothond Pretoria, South Africa

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2006
    Oddometer:
    43
    Very nice

    I loved the section on the tanks and other military stuff - facinating
    #6
  7. Carnivore

    Carnivore Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    65
    Location:
    PE South Africa
    Hey guys, nice to see you lifting your heads out of the trenches!

    Thanks all for the kind comments. We would love to have you MerryCans come over to the wild side and visit our fantastic country. Come, see for yourself!:D

    ciao

    C (cousin to Tyrannosaurus Rex)
    #7
  8. tenderfoot

    tenderfoot PRJ

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,461
    Location:
    Gauteng, RSA
    I'm sending the wife overseas for two weeks in September and will be traveling on some of those roads.
    Thanks for an informative and enjoyable report. !
    #8