On Monday I ride from Ballito to Underberg. I ride the backroads to avoid Durban traffic and end up in a very nice town called Wartberg that has a magnificently maintained main street. The air as I ride through the countryside smells sweet, I think it is the sugarcane drying.
Once in Underberg I pull up to a restaurant with an old Honda Africa Twin parked outside. I look for the rider but only see a woman dressed up in café racer gear on the patio, I head inside and get a cold drink as it has been sweltering hot all day. No one inside is wearing motorcycle gear so I head outside and introduce myself to Cindy.
Cindy is from Paris and is riding around South Africa for 6 weeks. Cindy has travelled in Brazil and India with L’èquipèe, a troupe of five female riders from Paris that make movies of their adventures.
Cindy is also going to ride Sani Pass the next day and we agree to meet up the next morning and ride the pass together.
About an hour after I arrive at the hotel the weather moves in starting with hail and progressing to downpour for half an hour all while the sun is shining.
Cindy and I meet up in the morning and head toward Lesotho up Sani Pass. I have been advised by some fellow riders while at the HUBB meeting I went to earlier in the month that the road can be a little brutal if it is wet. We air down the tires once we get off the paved road for better traction and it is pretty rough so it helps with the bouncing around.
The road is pretty busy with Land Cruiser’s and Defender’s bringing tourists up the pass. Overall it isn’t the worst road I have ridden but the last section of 10%+ gradient tight hairpins on decomposing rock is a little brutal. Thankfully we both make it up without issue.
At the peak you go through Lesotho border control, South African Border control is just before the technical section of the ride begins. The pavement starts the moment you cross the border which is a sight for sore eyes. We pay our road fees and head to the highest pub in Africa for a quick drink. At border control we meet a Norwegian couple riding from Cape Town on vacation on R1200GS’s and a pair of backpackers from the Netherlands that have hitchhiked to the top of the pass.
After refreshments we head north on A1 which all I can say is a spectacular road seemingly made just for us as there is almost no traffic on it.
That evening we head in to Clarens, South Africa to go to Golden Gate National Park in the morning.
After grabbing breakfast in the morning Cindy and I head to Golden Gate National Park. The canyons are pretty impressive and we see Zebras and Wildebeest. After Golden Gate we head back to Lesotho and settle in early in the afternoon in Pitseng.
When we arrive in Pitseng we go for a horse ride on Besotho Ponies through the village. Cindy is an experienced horse rider and is able to get some nice pictures. I have only been on a horse once 24 years ago so I focus on not dying. The ponies are able to handle some pretty steep terrain as they are bred for the mountains here.
Today marks three months on the road. We head south toward Bokong Nature Reserve. Yet again Lesotho is nothing but beautiful roads through the mountains.
After Bokong we descend in to the valley that houses Katse Resevoir. Like all of southern Africa they are experiencing a drought here and the reservoir is at 40% of capacity.
Once we reach Katse Dam the road switches to gravel the rest of the way to Thaba-Tseka. After about fifteen kilometres Cindy pulls over. Two of her fender bolts are broken and the vibrations have caused the tire to grab the fender causing damage to both. No stress I take the fender off and we strap it to the back of the bike.
As we are leaving Thaba-Tseka we are joined by Jason on a Yamaha XT-660. As the Roof of Africa Enduro races are happening we join him camping that night as all the hotels are booked. One issue Cindy doesn’t have camping gear, so Jason and I share my two-man tent and she uses his one man tent.
Cindy and Jason head to Roof of Africa and I head south to Qacha’s Nek. I make it through the borders easily but get held up by the South African border guard at the gate who wants to know all about my travels and adventures.
I ride the rest of the way in to Kokstad, South Africa and shut it down as I didn’t sleep well the previous night.