Travelling Africa on a KLR

Johannesburg and Horizons Unlimited South Africa


My flight lands around 11 a.m. local time after de-boarding I find my way through customs and get a cab to my guesthouse.

There I meet Deon and Merida my hosts. After unpacking Deon drops me off at the agents building to clear my bike through customs.

The agents proceed to run around and get paperwork signed off. They tell me the bike needs to be inspected and there is no time to do this today so I head back and have a nap as I haven’t properly slept yet.


Back at the agents I am told everything is ready. I inspect the paperwork and realize my Carnet de Passage has been filled out incorrectly. I ask the agent to go back to customs to fix it. She comes back fifteen minutes later and claims it is correct.

I then go to pick up the bike from the cargo terminal. I am told I am missing paperwork, which I am, but after insistence they release the bike anyways.

At this point I am certain the paperwork has been done incorrectly and return to the agent and demand to speak to customs myself. Reluctantly they take me down and get the customs officer. I explain my dilemna to the customs officer who asks for a form which I don’t have. She then apologizes and says no stress, turns to the agent and reams her a new one for not handing in the right paperwork. The paperwork takes fifteen minutes to complete and after visiting the customs officer again the paperwork is now correct.

Now that I have my bike I run some errands and pick up some supplies like chain lube and engine oil that I wasn’t allowed to ship with the bike.

2016-11-03 to 2016-11-06

I ride to Potchefstroom for the Horizons Unlimited South Africa Meetup at Elgro River Lodge. Horizons Unlimited is a website dedicated to overland travel with forums that are pretty essential to anyone doing a trip like this. I arrive early in the afternoon and check-in to the lodge and begin meeting the other attendees. The founders of Horizon Unlimited, Grant and Susan Johnston, are from Abbotsford, 45 minutes away from where I live and have also travelled to the meeting this year. I think the three of us win the prize for longest distance attendees. Kobus Fourie and his daughter Claudine Kidson are the local hosts and put on an excellent and very well organized event. In the mornings we have the chance to go on game drives in the morning where we see zebras, giraffes, antelope, and ostriches. Sorry for the lack of photos, I forgot how to change the focus from area to point on my camera so I have a bunch of in focus trees and out of focus animals in the back ground from the first day, and it poured rain the second day.

Ostriches, sorry they are overexposed.

Ostriches, sorry they are overexposed.

You can't see the Sable on the other side of the road but they are staring each other down.

You can’t see the Sable on the other side of the road but they are staring each other down.

For me the highlight of the weekend is meeting all the other travellers. Many have travelled all around the world, some are just starting like myself but all are great to speak to and have excellent stories and advice, or provide assurance that we all start out not knowing what we are doing and not to worry about it for me while travelling South Africa and Africa in general.

On the first night I eat with Richard and Steph from Australia who are riding two up from South Africa to Richard’s homeland in the Netherlands where they are moving to. I am not sure if a Triumph Tiger is a great moving van but what an awesome way to move from one continent to another. Richard and Steph will be about a month and a half ahead of me for most of the trip and will make an excellent source of up to date information on border crossings and security.

Richard and Steph

The Aussie's and my bike

The Aussie’s and my bike

Two travellers Philip from France and Juan from Spain have recently completed trips through multiple countries in Southern Africa and are an excellent source of current information which is sometimes hard to come by even in the age of the internet. I am fortunate to eat a couple of meals with them and glean as much information as possible from them.

2016-11-07 to 2016-11-10

I take the opportunity while I am back in Johannesburg to have a service done on the bike and get some camping gear on the advice of Juan and Philip. On the 9th we have a very severe thunderstorm which washes away cars. Even I get caught in the storm and have to ride through water above my knees to get where I am staying. Unfortunately the flash flooding results in six deaths as peoples cars were washed away.

On the 10th I am trying to get out of town and begin touring. I am finally able to sort out a local SIM card so I can have access to the internet as hotels here have limited / non-functioning internet. I then realize my headlight is burned out again so I head back to the motorcycle shop and replace it.

I stop by Touratech to get my panniers hammered back in to shape as they leaked the night before during submersion

At 3:00 pm I finally get on the road which is way too late given the thunderstorms come in the afternoon here.

Hoping to make it to Sabie for the evening I come up short and end up staying at a hotel 50km west of Nelspruit as the rain is quite heavy and construction on the road is causing massive delays.

1 Comment

  1. Ken Klassen

    did your panniers get bent in a crash?

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