Category Archives: Travels

My adventures in getting away!

2015 End-of-Year Lesotho and Drakensberg Motorbike Tour

So a very last minute tour around the country, once again at the end of the year, on my BMW 1200GS. 😉

Trip to Lesotho

2016-01-06 20_14_39-Bryanston, Sandton to Bryanston, Sandton - Google Maps

 

Bryanston to Rosendal on Christmas. Christmas in Rosendal with my newly wed Sister and her Husband. A few days there, and then onto and into Lesotho.

Rosendal to Katse Dam to Afriski in Oxbow (all via the tar roads and the most amazing Mountain Passes, climbing to over 3,000m)

Afriski to Sani Pass (via the most amazing tar road all the way to the top of Sani Pass on the Lesotho side. Down Sani Pass (4×4 only Gravel road on the South African side) to Himeville. Himeville to Bergville in the Drakensberg via the tar road (via Underberg and Howick).

Bergville to Cathedrals Peak Hotel (for Lunch), and then back to Bergville for the Smoking Dragon Music Festival at the Amphitheatre Back Packers.

Bergville back home to Bryanston on New Years Day. Via the most amazing newly tarred Sterkfontein Dam Road between Bergville and Harrismith. Onto Clarens ia the Golden Gate National Park, onto Rosendal and then back home to Johannesburg.

Nunnsby

Loving Riding Life!

😉

 

Cape Town to Johannesburg by BMW R1200GS – Day 4

Cathkin Park / Champagne Valley, Drakensburg to Bryanston, Johannesburg.

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Awoke once again to the most glorious day. Not a cloud in the sky and already quite warm. The Berg was crystal clear and it was the most perfect day for riding through the Countryside.

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I decided to take the back roads once again. My route was planned to go via Winterton, Bergville – such an awesome name when you think of Smallville, and via the Sterkfontein Dam. The owner of Inkosana had provided a rough map, and on it was written “BAD ROAD” next to the Dam. Come on, I’m on a 1200GS … how BAD could BAD be? The back road from Bergville takes you to Harrismith, and means you don’t have to get on the highway. And I really wanted to avoid Highway riding as much as possible for now. So the BAD road it would be.

So I headed out on yet another adventure. The Berg was amazing this time of the morning. The R74 road through to Bergville was in good condition and just after Bergville it heads up a pass, past Little Switzerland, and when you stand on the pass and look out towards the Berg, you can see why it is called Little Switzerland. It truly could be!

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So, I stopped at the top of the pass, took a few pics, and kept on going. At this stage I was thinking the Inkosana Owner has obviously not been on this road for ages. It is in awesome condition. Recently tarred. Really good riding. Smile

There is a Eskom Hydro-Electric Scheme on the pass, and it uses water from the Sterkfontein Dam. At this stage though the local baboons had clearly decided they liked the building too, and were busy climbing all over the structure. I just hope they can’t get access to the buildings. Otherwise Eskom might be generating electricity when they don’t need. Or the dam might suddenly find itself very empty! lol

Anyway, I skirted the pass and was busy looking out over the Skerkfontein Dam, which is massive, when suddenly something flashed past me on my left hand side on the road. I looked down and … WHOA … are you serious!!!

I had just missed a POTHOLE THE SIZE OF MY BIKE!!! Surprised smile

I just had to turn around and get a picture.

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I continued on, but now at a much slower pace. And a good thing it was too. For around the corner the road literally disintegrated! I didn’t manage to get pics unfortunately as there were cars behind me and in front of me – the road was all of a sudden really busy – and I was literally using all my awesome off-road riding skills, which I had learnt between Hogsback and Cathcart 2 days ago, to stay upright! The road was in shocking condition. It is in a way explainable: the Heat of Summer and Freezing Cold of Winter has clearly trashed the tar. However the issue with this road is that they haven’t graded it. They keep trying to plug the potholes. So the tar hardens but the potholes keep getting bigger. Causing hard and soft spots, allowing for the road to create these massive holes. There were some holes that my front wheel was literally half buried in. You hit those at speed and it is game over! In my mind, what they should actually do is just grade it down to dirt and leave it that way. Then fill the dirt and forget the tar. So, all I can say is luckily I had a R1200GS! You could probably make it on most bikes, and cars, but I wouldn’t bring a S1000RR along here!

At Harrismith I hit the Engen Garage, which has like 5 different food joints! Fantastic! I was starving after NOT having my ribs the night before!

From Harrismith the road is all Highway all the way back to Johannesburg and it was a sad ending to a fantastic trip, having to do miles and miles of monotonous highway. But at least it got me home and in one piece as well.

So, after three-and-a-half days of travelling through 5 Provinces (Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, and Gauteng), I had travelled approximately 2311 kms, according to Google Maps. I forget to reset my Odo in Cape Town for the official bike mileage. Muppet! Anyway, the distance was approximately correct and that translated to about 24 hours in the saddle. No wonder I was feeling really uncomfortable by the time I got home!

CPT to JHB by 1200GS

 

So a couple of outtakes and notes from the trip:

  • Wear Padded Cycling Shorts under the biking gear
  • Get proper rain oilies for wet weather
  • Get more experience on Dirt
  • Bring a Headlamp for night time use off the bike
  • Get the extra BMW Side Lights for the bike for night riding
  • Get the extended Foot Pegs for the R1200GS
  • Possibly get a tank bag for additional goodies on the road
  • GET OUT TO THE COUNRTYSIDE MORE – ON THE BIKE IF POSSIBLE!!!
  • We truly do live in a beautiful country! Smile

 

Nunnsby

Loving Riding Life!

😉

Cape Town to Johannesburg by BMW R1200GS – Day 3

Maclear to Cathkin Park, Central Drakensberg Area. Took about six-and-a-half hours again, including stops.

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So once again I took the scenic route. Maclear to Kokstad via Mount Fletcher and Matatiele. Kokstad to Underberg, and then onto Howick. Howick to Estcourt via "The Old Road"/R103.

I awoke to find clear blue skies with not a cloud in sight! Amazing weather for riding!

I left Maclear and once again skirted along the Southern Drakensberg Range to Matatiele. The scenery was as always spectacular.
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More rivers with swollen banks and a lot in full force. At Matatiele you find yourself on a wide,  open, flat plateau surrounded on all sides by slight ridges of smaller mountains, heading away from the Berg. It is quite incredible to think that way up here, 1000m +, among all the ridges,  is a wide open plain.

The valley is green and sparsely populated, with little,  if any,  farm fences between lands, which accentuates the openness even more.

After a slight climb out of the valley, I found myself descending a fantastic winding road down into Kokstad. Kokstad itself is not a bad little town and actually had some nice old buildings, and interesting heritage.

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The road from Kokstad to Underberg is a winding one and dotted with small settlements every few kilometres. Once again, cattle seem to be free to roam. Not fun when on a bike! And for some reasons … which I think I know the answer to … they love the blind corners!

I have been to Underberg before on the exact same road when we did the Sani2c back in 2012. That trip was by Bakkie though. Not quite as spectacular then.

The road to Howick from Underberg takes you along a ridge that runs parallel the Berg for quite a while. On the left you get chances to see small valleys to the Berg,  whereas at some places on the right,  the valleys open up and fall away into wide deep expanses, dropping away and fanning out into many smaller gulley’s, almost as far as the eye can see. Truly spectacular vistas.

Midmar Dam suddenly appears when you crest a ridge, with rest of the valley falling away behind it. Then the N3 and the rest of civilisation comes into view, and the stark reality of traffic and the masses returns. Sad smile

I visited the Howick Falls, and stopped for a frulata at a coffee shop, of all things.
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As I hadn’t booked any accommodation in the Berg Region and could now get spotty 3G signal I decided to find somewhere to stay. After the 6th call things were looking bad. Everything was full, or if there was accommodation, it was Moer expensive, and I was not going to be paying close on R3000 for one night for a stop over. I was about to throw the towel in and head directly back to JoBoet when I decided try one last place, a backpackers. Score, they had just had a cancellation, and I was sorted. Cathkin Park / Champagne Valley, here I come! Smile

From Howick I took the R103, or as it is known, "The Old Road", to Estcourt. I passed the Nelson Mandela Capture Site, Nottingham Road, and then onto Rawdons Lodge and Granny Mouse’s County House.
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All places I remember from when I was a kid.

The R103 is a fantastic road, and passes through some lovely countryside and small villages. They also employ Average Speed Prosecution using Number Plate Recognition/License Plate Recognition Technology. I’ll have to get back to your on how well it works later, considering they were using front facing cameras! Winking smile

From Estcourt I took the highway north to the Winterton turn-off, as I was a bit short on time. Winterton is about 20 kms off the highway towards the Berg, and you once again start getting into long rolling hills and valleys as you approach it.

The R600 from Winterton takes you right into the Champagne Valley 25kms later.

I found the backpackers, Inkosana, just of the main road no problem. by the time I arrived there it was getting hot. The trip to Winterton from Howick had started getting warm with the humidity of the KZN region now taking it’s toll.

They had a great little water tank pool, green obviously, which was nice and cool and had a few helpful little fish to clean the sweaty toes after a long day in the leather riding boots. Chilling in a pool, looking out over the Beautiful Green Drakensberg! This was the perfect way to relax after a long, hot day in the Saddle.

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I was advised to go to Monks Cowl Country Club for dinner as they did the best ribs in the region. I arrived there at 20h and things were chaos. It was pretty much fully with two tables open. I walked around for about 5 minutes trying to find any staff, but there was no one. All these people sitting at tables and nothing happening. I took a seat and waited. About 5 minutes later, it was as though someone had just released all the staff. 6 people came running into the Dining Hall and started taking drinks orders, and food orders. But things were mental. I had to stand up 10 minutes later to go to the bar to order a drink. Another 10 minutes later I had to get up to order the Ribs, after the drink was literally dumped on the table. At 21h05 after most of the hall had left I knew things had gone pear. I told the waitress if she hadn’t ordered my food yet, as literally everyone had now eaten, and most had left, she could just bring me my bill.

10 minutes later I heard all 6 of them arguing about who had taken the order, the stupid girl had, and who was going to go tell the kitchen. Seriously … Who was going to tell the kitchen? Wow, not who was going to come apologise to me, but who was going to go tell the kitchen! I went to the bar, told them I don’t care, who messed up, or why, just give me the bill. I paid and left. Not one apology. Not one.

Monks Cowl = Crap service! Avoid at all costs!

So much for the ribs! Sad smile Luckily I had half a packet of cashew nuts back at the backpackers!

Nunnsby

Loving Living Life!

😉

Cape Town to Johannesburg by BMW R1200GS – Day 2

Jeffries Bay to Maclear. Via Port Elizabeth, and Grahamstown, and Fort Beaufort, and Alice, and Hogsback (for lunch), and Cathcart, and Queenstown, and Lady Frere, and Cala, and Elliot, and Ugie!

Google can’t actually allow you to customise a trip on the Mobile Version properly so I’ve split up into two sections

J Bay to Hogsback

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Hogsback to Maclear

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So firstly Big Up to my mom for the advice of taking the road less traveled! My original plan was to go via Coffee Bay, but having been there before, and wanting to travel to places I have not yet seen, she advised I had up to Hogsback

I can truly say that today I travelled what must be some of the most beautiful parts of our country!

Entering Grahamstown you are reminded that this is part of the Frontier Country of the Eastern Cape!

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The road from Grahamstown to Fort Beaufort rises up over the mountain range North of Grahamstown and winds up through the valleys through some truly remarkable scenery. Unfortunately for you reading this blog, I was too busy enjoying the passes and countryside to stop and take pics.

A very old and dilapidated Fort Beaufort! 🙁

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Amazing scenery on the way to Hogsback!

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And then Hogsback! 🙂 After a near miss with a cow on the side of the road! The road to Hogsback winds up the side of a valley where it literally becomes a single lane road with no markings covered by tree tops, but yet still serves two-way traffic. A very interesting ride in the least.

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Thanks to Google for letting me think that the road from Hogsback to Cathcart was tar! And thanks to Mother Nature for the awesome weather!

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First time ever on a dirt road in the rain on my new baby! But, she handled just fine!

A Frontier War Relic at Cathcart.

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A World War One Memorial at Queenstown. “Lest We Forget” … that we live in South Africa where people will steal anything they can get their hands on! Such as half a memorial! 🙁

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The journey to Maclear was an interesting one,  and yet even more beautiful. Another very,  very,  very close “shave” with another cow, followed shortly by a goat, and the travels were getting exciting! The road from Queenstown to Maclear is in fantastic condition with at least half of it newly tarred. There is the odd pothole or few, but nothing drastic, and easy enough avoid the bike. The trick being to ride the middle of the road where cars don’t travel. That way there has been little chance of causing potholes there.

These people have the best properties in the country!

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A valley selfie!

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My Baby!

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All in all, I arrived in Maclear, safe and sound, after an amazing day on the road.

Nunnsby

Loving Living Life!

😉

Cape Town to Johannesburg by BMW R1200GS – Day 1

Cape Town to Jeffreys Bay. Took about six-and-a-half hours including stops.

Bike handles awesomely.

It was raining when I left Cape Town, but I managed to get a gap in the clouds, so only picked up heavy rain on the way down from Sir Lowrys Pass at Botrivier. The Pass just above Somerset West was really misty though, so that was fairly intimidating, with vis at one stage reduced to about 50m. But I got through fine. Clearly! 🙂

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Been There, Jumped That!

Stopped at Bloukrans to watch the jumps. Man they were “pushing” them through at pace. About one every 3-4 mins or so! Bloukrans Bridge Bungie Jump is the World’s Highest at 216m!

Jeffrey Bay is also the perioed owner of a Wind Farm!

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Right now staying at All Africa J Bay Backpackers. Pretty cool spot actually. We’ll have to see the night progresses as to how good it turns out to be! 😉

Nunnsby

Loving Living Life!

😉

Cape Town to Johannesburg by BMW R1200GS – Prelude

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So the adventure planning is on the go. Tomorrow I leave for “JoBoet“, by bike, from “Ape Town“!

I’m going to be traveling along the East Coast, and first stop is Jeffreys Bay.

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Should be a fun route in one day on a Bike! 😮

Google says it is 682 kms, and should take just over 7 hours. 7 hours in the Saddle … Fun! Fun! Fun! 😮

Just booked the accommodation now, and in true Nunnsby fashion, left it till last minute and only thing I can get in J Bay now is a single bed in a dorm of 8! AWESOME!

Plan is to do around 600-700 kms a day. 350 odd in the morning, and 350 odd in the afternoon after lunch.

We’ll see how it goes. The bike and me that is!

Nunnsby

Loving Living Life!

😉

Zermatt, Boarded it for 2 weeks!

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Pictures: the Matterhorn after the Snow; Hennu Stall; Zermatt in White; Looking down into Cervina.

So, I’ve just spent 2 weeks boarding in Zermatt. What an amazing experience. Especially the last day of boarding in Powder the entire day. 🙂

The runs in Zermatt are great, with a wide variety available to all levels. I myself am a beginner, or at least was when I arrived, even having to be escorted off the mountain by the Snow Patrol on my first day on the slopes.

We arrived in Zermatt late on Saturday evening, the 13th March. After watching the Grand Prix on the Sunday we decided to hit the slopes. I had gotten all my rental kit that morning: board, boots and helmet, as I had the rest of the gear already apart from a pair if salopets, which I bought there.

Having only ever boarded once before, 6 years prior in Andorra for a week, and stacking it (wiping out) big time on the second last day – a bruised kidney and blood in my urine for 3 weeks being the result of that epic fall – we decided to chose an Easy BLUE run. The closest we could find was the half-run at Schwarzee Paradise. Great. A short trip up in the lifts and we were good to go.

There are usually at least 3 levels of runs in Europe: Blue (Easy – wide, flat slopes for beginners); Red ( Medium – faster, longer runs for medium to advanced folk); Black (Advanced/Difficult/Insane – Very Steep and usually very narrow. Typically not very long. Usually the fastest and shortest way off the mountain).

Now, for the uninformed, a snowboard is large and flat, almost like 2 skis strapped together. It is curved on both ends (front and back) and the sides are called rails. Think skateboard – only bigger – without the wheels. You ride it longways – like a skateboard – but with your feet typically strapped onto the board. Standing on the board and facing forward is your toe-edge, with your back side of the board being your heel-edge. You ride it with your “strongest” foot at the back. Right-handed people will “typically” look over their left shoulder to go forward, with left-handed people facing right.

There are a couple of basics to successful snowboarding. Things like Falling-Leaf (going side-to-side on your heel edge to slow yourself down, or stop); Turning (heel-to-toe or vice-versa); Carving (riding from rail to rail, turning left to right going down a run); Going Straight; Ollies (jumping the board); Switch/Goofy (riding backwards, the opposite to how you ride by default); 180’s; 360’s; etc, etc, etc. The list goes on.

Now that you all know how to board, back to the Blue run. Pity I couldn’t remember any of that stuff at the time. 🙁 After strapping myself in and struggling to get up, I was finally moving.

Shit, this did NOT feel good! What the hell was I thinking???

Steve was up and away in a flash. I made it about 60m down the run doing falling-leaf the whole way before stopping. It was rather flat there, so no surprise. Luckily a skier came past and offerred me a pull on his poles. I got a free lift about 20m, and then let go very quickly. I was now going way to fast (think a fast walk) and coming to a decline. Once again I leafed it down this decline and was just beginning to slow down when I saw a guy closing off the Blue run ahead of us on the right. The run we were in was a dual-run. The start was Blue which split to the right and continued a little further on a flattish bit to a ski lift. The left split took you down the mountain on a Red.

I shouted at the Guy if I could go down – I wasn’t planning on stopping as I was still leafing it. He replied that there was one more lift, and then I was gone, past him onto the Blue without even stopping. I must have looked Desperate and probably Terrified all at the same time.

I was still going sideways, Falling-Leaf, and really needed to try going straight so I could turn onto my toe-edge. In other words I needed to do what a snowboard was designed to do. So, I gave it a go. It ended badly, with me on my ass! Ouch! I struggled up and thought: “F*ck it, I’m getting lessons!” A little while later I stopped on the flat. The next thing I know the guy who was closing the run arrives next to me and offers me a pull. Great, I get pulled again until I am embarrassed enough to try this on my own. Once again I don’t get very far before coming to a stop. Next thing I know I feel these hands on my hips and this guy says: “It’s okay, I have you.” He lands up skiing all the way down to the lift, with me “between his legs” on my board! Super embarrassing! And NOT cool. 🙁 Luckily the run was closed so no one was there to see it. I then find out he is part of the Snow Patrol. First day on the slopes and I’ve already been escorted off by the Snow Patrol. Hopefully that’ll be the last time too.

Next day I got a 2 hour lesson and OMG, what a difference it made! A few days later I was back on form, even getting a bit of Switch going too. 🙂

The rest of the 2 weeks flew by. We got across to Italy for a day, which was awesome. Long, long runs from the top of the mountain down to Cervina, and really good skilifts too. I boarded 11 out of the 14 days whilst in Zermatt, and even managed a BLACK run without stacking it, until right at end on the flat when a skier crossed paths with me. Silly Bitch! 🙁 On the last day of boarding it dumped it down with snow, and we spent most of the time in Fresh Powder. Totally Awesome! 😉

We boarded awesomely during the day, spent way too much time navigating the slopes down from Apres Ski Bar Hennu Stall drunk in the dark, partied hard through the nights, drank too much, made good friends and spent more money than I had banked on for my entire 4 week holiday abroad. Zermatt is EXPENSIVE! Very, very expensive. Make no mistake. It is probably as expensive as Luanda in Angola. If not more so. But, the scenery IS truly amazing, the village of Zermatt is straight out of a James Bond film, the slopes good and at the end of the day, I’ve had an AMAZING time. It’s a playground and I don’t regret it one bit. 😉

Thanks to Jeff and “Party Animal” Brett from On The Piste (OTP) for making it such an awesome experience for us. They extended hospitality and offered assistance and way too many rounds to be believed! 🙂

And so it is I find myself off to Barcelona for a week.

One Adventure Ends;
Another Adventure Begins!

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Loving Living Life

Post composed on my Mobile Phone from 1st Class on the train, whilst enroute to Geneva Airport.

Zermatt for 2 Weeks :-)

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The Matterhorn from Zermatt Village

Arrived Zermatt last night around 20h. It was bloody cold, considering I had just come from 30+ degrees in CPT 24 hours before.

Literally spent a day travelling. Cape Town to London to Geneva by plane, then on to Visp and finally Zermatt by train.

Got into the British Airways First Class Lounge on the way through Heathrow. Absolutely awesome. 😉

Got all my kit together this morning. Hiring a sweet Burton board and boots and a helmet. Got new boarding trousers too.
Then spent an hour or so on the slopes this afternoon after watching the F1 in German at Brown Cow Bar. Tested my skills after 6 years of no boarding, so took it really slow. At least I know I can still get up, and stop. 🙂 Turning . . . not great. Reckon I’ll get lessons tomorrow to help out. More snow expected over the coming weekend so need to get my skill up by then.

Stay posted for more.

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Loving Living Life

Angola vs Algeria – Luanda Stadium – COCAN 2010

I went to see a COCAN 2010 match LIVE! 🙂

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Luanda Stadium, in all its glory! It IS a stunning stadium!

We got tickets to see the last match of Group A, Angola vs Algeria in the Luanda Stadium. It was a big match for both as they both required a win to go through to the Quarter Finals. However, Angola had the upper-hand going into the match in that they only required a draw to secure their place.

The tickets cost us 2000Kz a piece, yip 2000Kz (R200), even though the price on the ticket only reads 250Kz. Talk about taking the piss, but that is what happens when you get tickets like 1 day before the game.

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A few pics: Tickets, and the Stadium

We only arrived in time for the Second Half as it took us 2h30 to get there through the traffic, and afterwards another 2 hours to get back home. A knock on effect of the traffic chaos caused by declaring a National Public Holiday for Luanda at like 08h that morning. The entire city – literally the entire city – was gridlocked from 11h30. One of my colleagues took 5 hours to go less than 12 kms in the car! Insane.

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I had to include this one of the Toilet. All in Marble!

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This is the Support Structure of the Stadium outside. Quite an amazing view!

It was a very lack-lustre second half I will admit. Angola maintained possession for about 80% of the half, yet only spent about 40% in the Algerian’s half. Plus, every time Algeria got they ball, they almost scored. Angola were definitely told to keep the ball and play it safe, which was disappointing after such an eye-opening first match. They will definitely have to up their game if they wish to get through the Quarter Finals.

However, one thing I can say is that it is amazing to see how the Angolans are arising to the occasion and backing their home team. Truly great stuff. Talk about National Pride!

Go Angola Go! 🙂

My Video of the Stadium

Apologies for the poor quality of pics and video, but that is what you get when you use a Nokia E71 as your camera! 😮

 

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Loving Living Life!

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COCAN Kicking Off – 1 Day “To Go”

Cocan - 1 Day To Go

One day to go to till the kick off!

It’s really sad news for Angola today as Togo pull out of Cocan due to a massive attack on their team bus in Cabinda.

However, the tournament appears to be going ahead as normal – I have yet to be informed otherwise – and the government is still going great guns on completing outstanding infrastructure issues whilst they can for Cocan. The Ilha road works are still being worked on, even as late as 20h00 on  a Saturday night, which is pretty much unheard of, in anticipation for the big event on Sunday.

I can only wish them the very best. I’ll try to follow it on TV, if I even get the reception on the DSTV Africa bouquet we have. I am hoping we do.

It’s going to be an interesting remaining 3 weeks.

 

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Loving Living Life!