As the cold weather descended on Shanghai, and indeed the rest of the northern hemisphere, Fanny and I escaped our second successive winter by flying to South Africa. Last year the Arab Spring and fighting and disturbances in Libya and Syria had delayed our progress to Turkey and so we saw out the European winter by the shores of the Red Sea scuba diving, wind surfing and generally idling about in the sun and enjoying the cheap prices afforded by the drop in tourism to Egypt.
Now we were going back to South Africa where we started our expedition in June, 2011 to be reunited with our KTM 990 Adventure motorcycles which were being shipped from the UK and due to arrive in Cape Town at about the same time as us.
Arriving back where we started…. Cape Town
We took an Emirates flight which was by far the best deal from China to South Africa, but there was a long stop over in Dubai and so when we arrived I left the airport to visit my friend, Brian Kelly who is in the same sort of business as I am, but focuses on investigations and security in the Middle East. Unfortunately, Fanny, due to her Chinese passport and visa restrictions was not allowed to exit the airport and so she had to wait in the lounge while Brian and I wandered around the bright and dazzling Dubai Mall, stared up at the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa and drank coffees by one of the largest, and certainly most impressive aquarium in the world, the Burj Al Arab Aquarium. It seems rather short sighted of the Emirates not to allow, or indeed facilitate Chinese transit passengers to spend their lengthy wait, and more importantly their money in the luxury shops of Dubai. When we were in Venice, the new moneyed Chinese were the biggest spenders on luxury goods and in fact many of the shop assistants in the famous fashion houses were in fact Chinese themselves.
Dubai Mall Aquarium
Stop over in Dubai
When we did arrive in Cape Town the weather was absolutely glorious –blue skies, twenty eight degrees, fresh breezes and brilliant sunshine. We were very grateful to be able to use our friend, Jono’s apartment in the Tamboerskloof area of downtown Cape Town from where we actually started our expedition on a chilly June morning in 2011. Unfortunately, on this occasion the immigration department of South Africa had only given Fanny three weeks stay in the country and our attempts to extent this at the Home Affairs Department were fruitless as most government departments in modern South Africa are in complete chaos and stretch the concepts of inefficiency to new levels.
Enjoying the fresh air, blue skies and sun.
Table Mountain and the Waterfront harbour in Cape Town
After two hours of making absolutely no progress in an enormous queue we gave up and Fanny resigned herself to going back to China at the end of December where she could at least spend Chinese New Year with her family in Shanghai and properly prepare herself for her new job with the Risk Advisory Group in Hong Kong. She is going to be busy because she also plans to do the Hong Kong law conversion course and take the bar exams, as well as join the local volleyball, Gaelic football teams and continue with her windsurfing which she started in Egypt.
Walking along beaches around my home in Arniston with “Rugby” dog
Back in January 2011 Fanny had only just got her motorcycle licence and whilst on holiday in South Africa over the Chinese Lunar New Year she got some adventure riding under her belt and did a bit of off road training on her Kawasaki 650 KLR. Little did we know that three months later the company I worked for, LECG would go the way of many other companies during the financial crisis and be broken up and largely acquired by our direct competitor….well at least in China. Not being at all keen to dumb down and join this merry band of buffoons the big motorcycle trip was conceived and so we returned to South Africa sooner than we expected to start the adventure of a life time. We also decided it would be an opportunity to raise awareness and funds for our individual charities, Autism Research Trust and Half the Sky.
Fanny walking along the dunes and beaches near our home on the southern tip of Africa
On the first day of our expedition back in 2011 we had ridden over 700 kilometers up the west coast of South Africa all the way to the Orange River at the border with Namibia. Given our purposeful quest to get going and get to the border in a day, Fanny did not get a real chance to explore some of the impressive scenery that South Africa has to offer and so now we were back in the Cape, and with a lot more experience we decided to do some exploring on our “go anywhere” KTM motorcycles. When Fanny eventually did go back to China, I used the time before I had to do the same and did some serious gravel track and off-road motorcycling in the mightily impressive Karoo, Swartberg and Cederberg regions of Western and Northern Cape. Quite possibly some of the best adventure motorcycling in the world.
Fanny at the Weaver in Arniston
Boogie boarding at our local beach
Cape Town Traffic police and Fanny.
A friendly South African
On this occasion we had planned our return to South Africa to coincide with the arrival of our KTM motorcycles, but some bad weather and faffing about with customs and the shipping agents meant we had to wait a few more days. Given that both bikes are registered in Cape Town and were returning to their “home” I couldn’t understand what the delay was about or why, but as usual with anything in South Africa it was solved by handing over a huge amount of cash. As we watched the crates being opened it was like opening presents on Christmas day and the bikes emerged looking just like the day we bought them. Not bad given where they had been and the fact they had done some serious mileage in some of the harshest conditions on the planet. Annoyingly, my KTM 990 Adventure R had cost 80 pounds more to ship than Fanny’s identical bike. Why? Because I neglected to take off my windshield and as such it slightly increased the cubic capacity of the crate. As compact as possible is the name of the shipping game and I learnt an expensive lessons all for the sake of six screws and 3 minutes effort.
It was strange riding our big powerful KTMs again after very recently riding 12,600 kilometers across China on the CF Motos. I couldn’t help think that riding the KTMs would have been more fun, but it would have been at a huge cost financially and not without a lot of hassle and red tape trying to get the bikes in and out of China. I had also realized that although Fanny can now handle the KTM 990 Adventure pretty well, it is actually a tad too big for her and in China she handled the smaller CF Moto 650 with much more ease and confidence. Although it would have been brilliant to have showcased the KTMs in China, I have to admit the CF Moto 650 TRs were faultless and the backup and support given to us from CF Moto throughout the vast country was superb. In fact, we are both very excited about seeing and riding the new CF Moto 700 Adventures at the end of the year. These smaller twin cylinder adventure bikes look like they are going to fill a void in the market because adventure bikes are getting heavier, more powerful and complicated and there is a strong case to ride lighter globe trotters.
Fanny’s KTM 990 Adventure being unpacked from its crate at Bibbulphs Shipping warehouse in Cape Town. It had taken 6 weeks to travel by container ship from London and cost her about 600 pounds.
My beautiful KTM 990 Adv. R that took me around the world. It had not been dropped or damaged the whole way and it looked perfect. We had tackled sand, gravel, mud, potholes, corrugations, streams, rivers, forests, grasslands, mountains, snow, ice, rocks, boulders, being hauled on and off ferries, -10 to +54 degrees cold and heat, wheelies and, power slides. It had purred along at 125 kph with the occasional hooligan race along deserted roads at its maximum speed of 220 kph; been loaded up with over 70 kgs of tyres, spare parts, inner tubes, a bag full of cloths, air pumps, repair kit, tyre levers, engine oil, clutch fluid, brake fluid, a multitude of tools, scuba gear, tents, sleeping bags, ground mats, cooking kit, utensils, food, AND me (ranging from a slim 82kg to a chubby 90 kgs at different legs of the trip)
Often it was loaded with up to 30 liters of water, 20 litres of spare fuel and food when we crossed remote places like the Sahara, Nubian, Namib, Kalahari, Sinai deserts etc . Oh..and let’s not forget … rescuing and towing a broken down BMW F650GS 35 kilometers out of lion territory in the Masai Mara. I have often watched the DVDs of the Long Way Round guys heroically struggling with their heavy and agricultural looking BMW GS1150s and 1200s, and sometimes breaking or damaging them. On all those challenging surfaces and off road conditions the KTMs would have breezed through… as they did on our expedition. What on God’s good Earth were the KTM marketing people thinking of back in 2004?
Connecting up the batteries again and checking the fluids before its ready to race again.
Fanny and I spent a few days before Christmas in the fishing village of Arniston which is on the southern coast, not at our small beach house , but in the camp site just 500 meters up the road. It was good fun to be back in the tent, but the neighbourly “Klippies and coke” sessions with the Afrikaans campers next door bought back headaches of the “drinking at high altitude in the Himalayas” variety. Not good at all. A few days later we returned the 200 kilometers back to Cape Town and spent Christmas itself with friends we met in Malawi, but all too soon the time had arrived for Fanny to return back to China.
Riding about in South Africa again… except Fanny … who is having a snooze
My home, Arniston
Fanny enjoying the sun in Arniston.
On our last evening together, Fanny and I decided to revisit the Royo Chinese restaurant in Kloof Street and this time the food was truly appalling. It was very expensive too and we had to sit next to a group of twelve customs officials from Fujian province who were clearly up to no good. What they were all doing in Cape Town is anyone’s guess, but after eavesdropping into their conversations they were obviously collecting kickbacks for doing what they shouldn’t, or for not doing what they should. They were typical low life Chinese government officials—corrupt, rude, coarse and vulgar. Watching the minions all toadying up to the laoban (boss) was nauseating enough, but having to endure the nominated red faced sycophant toasting “ganbei” enthusiastically while the others feigned laughter and secretly discarded their baijiu under the table was laughable. By Fanny’s own admission, they were thoroughly vulgar and revolting people, the sort who spit on the carpet, eat sharks fin and rhino horn and think cheating and lying is a virtue. Unfortunately, they are the very sort who are giving the Chinese a bad name in Africa.
Every Chinese tourist who visits Cape Town is marched into this restaurant by their tour guide. Pity for them because the food is lousy and extremely expensive.
Sad Fanny saying goodbye to her bike at Cape Town airport
The next day I was very sad to see Fanny leave. The time had passed by far too quickly, but her South African visa was about to expire and unlike me, she had a proper job to go to and prepare for. Even though Hong Kong is technically a part of China (since 1997), Mainland Chinese like Fanny still need to jump through many administrative hoops to secure the permits and authorization to live and work there. As with most things Fanny breezed through all the formalities in record time and while she was in China she was also informed she (in fact we) had been awarded the “Shell Advance Individuals of the Year Award”, beating several high profile nominees. The organisers, Shell Advance and a popular Chinese media group had arranged and paid for Fanny to fly to Xiamen in south east China to collect the award at the ceremony, which she did, very proudly.
Fanny receiving the “Shell Advance Individuals of the Year Award 2012” on behalf of both of us.
I had a couple of tasks to attend to, one of which was to sell Fanny’s KTM, “Stella”. After advertising it on gumtree.co.za I got a surprisingly high number of replies and so the bike with all its accoutrements was sold almost immediately. It was a good bike– in fact, it is a great bike. I have to admit it was quite emotional parting with what is essentially a big orange inanimate object. I was quite pleased Fanny was not around to see her beloved “Stella” go otherwise she would have been even more upset than she was already. Over the phone I had a tearful…“Will it be OK?”, “What’s he like?”, “Can he send me pictures now and again?” Questions you would associate more with parting with a puppy than a bike. But then again, Stella had taken Fanny around the planet and she had been an integral part of both of our lives. Only adventurers can rationalize how their vehicles become more than just a vehicle. Your bike develops a personality and you become one with it. A bit Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and I can see how it must all seem very strange to the non-adventurers. But RTW adventurers will know exactly what I mean.
Coen , the new owner of “Stella”
Goodbye “Stella”. I would love to have kept her but times are tough and as a 2008 model it was best that she was used rather than sitting in a garage.
It is almost hard to believe this bike was ridden so far, dropped so many times in so many challenging conditions and had several high speed accidents, the most serious in the Namib desert where it and Ms Fang somersaulted several times after she lost control on rough gravel, sand and rocks at more than 100kph. It really is the toughest of adventure bikes and the only damage, apart from detached windscreen, scratches to the plastics and broken indicators, was that the forks had slipped in the triple clamps… which were easily adjusted back to true when we got to KTM Windhoek after a further 500 kilometers of gravel and sand riding. The scratched fairings were repaired and resprayed in the UK and it is as good as new. Amazing machine.
I was relieved and happy to see how excited the new owner was and if Coen is reading this I hope you are looking after “Stella” otherwise you’ll have the hardest hitting female you have ever met on your case. As Stella disappeared from sight I could still hear the Leo Vince exhausts blasting off in the distance and thought it would be a good idea if I find and hand over the “previously removed” exhaust baffles in case Coen gets stopped by the police. After all, if you get handcuffed and pulled behind a bakkie until you die for parking on the wrong side of the street, imagine what the South African police will do to you for having noisy exhausts!
So what now? Well I had a few months in South Africa before I had to return to China and so I got stuck into some maintenance work on my house in Arniston, which being on a cliff on the southern tip of Africa gets a good pounding from the southern storms every now and again. I also had some work projects to attend to and focus on getting back to regular work, which meant responding to various head hunters and dusting off the CV. Immodestly, I suppose, I should say I am pretty good at doing what I do for a living, but having been away on such a long global motorcycle expedition it was going to take quite a while to get back into corporate mode again.
Fanny hated riding on sand. The KTM is better off road than a BMW, but it is still a big bike and perhaps a tad too much so for Fanny. Me on the other hand? Where’s my bucket and spade?… bring it on.
So now I was on my own I decided to do some off road riding in places and on surfaces that Fanny does not care for too much, primarily mountain trails, deserts and sand and so I put new tyres on my Adventure R, cleaned her up, did a bit of servicing and prepared her for a blast towards the mountainous country of Lesotho and into the Karoo desert and across many of the stunning mountain passes and trails. I wanted to ride up into the northern territories of South Africa, but in the summertime, as I know all too well from a previous trip with my friend Nick Dobson in 2009, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and the borders with South Africa are often beset with storms, heavy rain and worst of all, terrifying lightening strikes. Therefore I made a plan to explore the Cape provinces…Eastern, Western and Northern, which together are still bigger than most European countries..
4×4 track over the mountains between Wuppenthal and Cederberg Oasis … an absolute joy.
Because I planned to ride on gravel and sand I made a concerted effort to lighten the load in the panniers and take as few clothes as possible in my North face , and to this extent I was successful in reducing the normal laden weight by more than 50%. No snorkelling fins this time. For some reason I had lost my 10 litre fuel can during the shipment from the UK and so I had to make do with a rather nifty little 2 litre petrol can given to me by my friend Paul Chapman from (http://www.adventureparts.co.uk), who also gave us the very useful camel toe that was later to come in very handy in the desert by preventing the bike falling over on its side stand in sand. This extra 2 litre can, although small, is robust enough, and in the event the 19.5 litre KTM fuel tank did run dry, it allows me to top up the tank and get lost a further 40 kilometers into the desert!
My next door neighbour, Francois owns a winery near Worcester called Du Toitskloof and so I went to stay on his wine farm for a few days. On arrival my friend inducted me into the local protection detail that was put together by the local farmers to protect the vines from vandalism by some striking and militant workers. Never a dull moment in South Africa and after prepping in the local pub and drinking a quantity of ale I haven’t drunk since I was 18, we patrolled the vines in the early hours looking for strikers with petrol cans and evil intent. Under the headlights of Francois’ bakkie he pointed out all the different varieties of grape, from Shiraz to Merlot to Sauvignon. I have to admit that they all looked the same to me other than being either green or purple.
Francois and one of his dogs at his wine estate near Worcester
Another one guarding my bike
Du Toitskloof winery and some of the vineyards
A Merlot grape .. or is it Shiraz? I’ll try a glass of both and see.
Wine making is a complex business
Du Toitskloof wines .. reds, whites, roses and champagne types that you can’t call champagne ….but they taste like it.
The next day, after my first night duty in two decades, I was shown hundreds of hectares of vineyards with their complicated irrigation systems and perfect orientation to the sun. I was also shown around the winery, the laboratories, the fermentation vats, and the financial and marketing side of wine producing. It’s a complicated business and the farmers are not only at the mercy of the weather gods and market forces, but also from increasingly belligerent worker’s unions in South Africa that are being whipped up into a froth by political activists who are playing the race card to devastating effect. There is a big worry that South Africa is following in the footsteps of Zimbabwe which, under the insane leadership of Uncle Bob, has now completely ruined its once agricultural greatness and the lives of many people.
Doing the rounds on the estate
At home in Arniston on my old KTM 990 Adventure
The “Yellow Peril” on the road to Arniston… slow and steady wins the race
For whatever reason, although I suspect because it’s the most beautiful country in the world, I have made South Africa my “bolthole”. I first went there when I was competing in paragliding competitions in early nineties and it was love at first sight. It’s an amazing place full of wildlife, colour and natural beauty. In the spring (September, October, November) Southern Right Whales and the occasional Humpback breach in the ocean right outside my home. Three species of dolphin swim through the bay and Great White Sharks swim uncomfortably close to where I swim each day. Fortunately, they are not interested in me because I am not a seal, and due to my daily runs, I don’t look like one either and so I am oblivious to their presence underneath the turquoise waves. I do keep a watchful (and perhaps perverse) eye out when the rotund European tourists enter the water at Roman Beach, half expecting a frothy red feeding frenzy. Its only a matter of time.
Runs along the beach
My garden is full of Sunbirds, Mouse birds, Rollers, Bulbuls, Weavers and Cape Robins, to name a few. The Fynbos (the smallest of the six flora kingdoms in the world) covers the Overberg around where I live and is abundant with wildlife and exotic looking plants and flowers. It’s a twitter’s paradise of some of the world’s rarest and most spectacular bird life and I am not “too” ashamed to say I have created a spreadsheet of sightings. Its better than vouching dodgy fa piaos for sure. I keep fit by running along deserted white sand beaches that stretch further than even the most accomplished long distant runner can run. And most days local fishermen come to my door with freshly caught Cape Salmon, Yellow Tail, Octopus and Oysters. Alas, if only Fanny was around to cook the bastard things.
My new garage in which our bikes, tools, surf boards, fishing rods and other beach paraphernalia live .. and on top I have a stoep to watch the dolphins in the ocean by day and star gaze at night…. The English hating MacIntosh’s from across the path had blocked my planning and building permission for many years.. but they were defeated at the “Battle of the Weaver” by the invincible John Miller, my builder and shi fu from Bredasdorp. Hurrah!!!
When the wind blows in Arniston, it really blows
Sunbird in the Overberg Fynbos… I have three pairs living in my garden
My bike outside my home
The Cape has beautiful wild flowers all through the year… but Springtime is particularly magnificent
Hiking up another route to the top of Table Mountain
Nick Dobson and I relaxing at Kalk Bay near Cape Point
It’s hard to believe that in such a paradise so many humans live such a miserable life and it’s easy to blame all the evils and woes on the legacy of Apartheid, a word many feel compelled to spit out in a Bono accent. Apartheid was indeed an unfair and a cruel system of racial segregation and inequality enforced for 50 years by the law of a minority. I can say when I was a child my family did our bit in defeating it by not eating Cape apples or pears. But since the collapse of Apartheid, almost 20 years ago the ruling African National Congress has failed to exploit the moral high ground. All it has done is louse up the economy, create a new elite (a different colour) and place unqualified and incompetent bums on seats. It has allowed savage behaviour to go unchallenged and the tone from the top has resulted in, like in other African countries where despots rule, an unethical and corrupt culture that nurtures high crime rates, immoral judgement, cruel superstitions and continued racial discrimination.
Protests outside the court house in my local town, Bredasdorp where three men are being tried for a brutal rape and murder of a local woman. The SA news is always full of these type of cases. Oscar Pistorius shooting his girlfriend, a Mozambique guy being dragged to his death behind a police bakkie and widespread government corruption and dishonesty. These stories are just tips of many icebergs as crime is rampant in South Africa with rapes occurring every minute or so… many of small children and babies. Today in 2013 children still get abducted in South Africa and cannibalised because some people still believe eating them is good “muti”. This extraordinarily high crime rate and moral decline is almost certainly a result of the appalling tone set from the top, general incompetence by many in government and a savage polygamist kleptomaniac leading the government.
At this very moment tens of thousands of South Africans are currently sitting outside various bottle shops throughout the country intoxicated out of their skulls on cheap alcohol and drugs like tic with no jobs or prospects while their leader, among other excesses, fritters over 200,000,000 Rand of public money having his home renovated, spends 20,000,000 Rand a year supporting his collection of very prosperous looking wives (polygamy and bigamy are in fact illegal in SA), and has managed to wriggle himself out of countless racketeering, embezzlement, corruption, fraud, and indeed rape charges. He thus sits alongside the ranks of many African kleptomaniacs who engage in their own tribal enrichment and self-aggrandisement.
If Fanny decides to shoot me on Valentine’s Day while I am in the throne room contemplating the meaning of life I shall know who to blame.
He must have a big bed..!
Anyway, enough of the politics, back to riding motorcycles….
First, I headed east along the gravel tracks from Bredasdorp to Witsand, past the nature reserve of De Hoop and across the Breede River which is famous for having huge Zambezi Sharks (also known Bull Sharks outside SA) which can be found up to 50 kilometres up river. One big girl that was caught and tagged recently was over 4 metres long, which is something to bear in mind if you fancy a paddle and certainly something I thought about as my KTM and I crossed the river at Malgas on a rope pulled pontoon.
Pontoon crossing Breede River at Malgas
The pontoon is pulled across manually using cables
A group of girls riding BMW F800GS and F650GS waiting to cross river.
As I took a break from peering over the side of the wobbly pontoon to look for nobby clarks I saw that on the other bank waiting to cross the river were about eight motorcycles. As I got nearer I noticed they were nearly all BMW F800GS motorcycles which are very nice adventurers, and also that they were nearly all being ridden by girls. I chatted to the tour guide when I got over, at the same time making a lot of effort not to fall over in front of all those Beemers, and girls to boot. He said they were doing a guided ride along the Garden Route for five days. These motorcycle tours are now very popular and even Charlie Boorman runs a Cape Town to Victoria Falls tour each year.
This lady was caught in the Breede River. Some of these Zambezi Sharks (or Bull Sharks as they are called outside SA) have been found 50 kms up river.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………There are a lot of bike operators running bike tours in South Africa and one very good one is run by my friend Alex Jackson (http://www.kaapstadmat.com) who is not only an experienced adventure motorcyclist, but also a game park ranger. He has been able to negotiate with some South African national parks to ride inside and see the wildlife, up close and personal. He has also negotiated accommodation at some awesome bed and breakfasts and lodges and so you get to have a great South African holiday and ride an adventure bike at the same time. These tours are for people who would like to enjoy the riding, but would like to have itinerary, bikes, food, accommodation and entry to game parks etc arranged in advance. A very good option for those mortals who only have a few weeks vacation every year.
I had ridden about 450 kilometres that day and whilst looking for the campsite I got lost and ventures into a sort of ghetto in the “rough end” of Mosselbay with a maze of roads and thousands of people milling about in the streets looking at me. I was a bit alarmed at first as I stood on the seemingly expensive KTM, but like the rest of our trip as we passed through a few dodgy areas, confidence, a constant smile, and waving to everyone calms things down. Fanny and I learnt in Ethiopia that if you wave to the darling little children they can’t throw stones at you while they are waving back.
The campsite I stayed at was a bit too expensive for what it was, but in South Africa, like England and China all the land belongs to somebody and you can’t just pitch your tent and free camp like you can in Kenya or Sudan. The best places to camp are actually in the gardens of the established backpackers, and that is what I did later on.
Riding along gravel roads near Swartberg Pass
Fanny at the most southerly tip of Africa … where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic. Fortunately we live 30 kilometers east up the coast where the Indian Ocean water temperature is considerably warmer than the chilly Atlantic around the Cape.
Me at Cape Aguilas — the most southerly tip of Africa
Arniston …. surrounded by beautiful beaches, sand dunes and Fynbos. Great places to go hiking, exploring and bird watching.
Hiking up Table Mountain … there are many routes up the mountain, some more challenging than others, and Jon Bean and myself have climbed most.
Swartberg Pass on the way to Prince Albert
One handed photography … well practiced on the big bike trip
An adventure biker who rode from his home in Greece to the southern tip of Africa on his Honda Africa Twin
Riding from Sutherland to Calvinia on the gravel roads through the spectacular Karoo
Riding from Sutherland to Calvinia on the gravel roads Then up and down the mountains along 4×4 tracks from the Karoo desert into the northern Cederberg
For most of the day I never saw another human being… lots of bokkies and buzzards though.
- The waterfront in Cape Town … a popular tourist spot with Table Mountain in the background
We love sand …
Going for a long walk along beaches and dunes with “Rugby”.
Walking from Die Mond back to Arniston along the beach … about a 3 hour walk at low tide.
Paragliding the big sand dunes at De Hoop
The locals …
Willen’s restaurant in Kassiebaai (Arniston) with Nick Dobson
Remains of a wreck on the beach… not sure if its the Arniston which sank in a storm 1815
Penguins on the beach
Worcester dam … at sunset
Tell me about it …. one of the more challenging routes up Table Mountain … unfortunately it has claimed a few lives in the past.
There is a path up to Table Mountain there someone. Not being a rock climber and slightly acrophobic I do not care for this route very much.
Hiking from Die Mond to Arniston along the beach. Incredible bird life, including flamingos and Black Oyster Catchers, to name a few.
Jon Bean and I hiked up Lion’s Head most mornings when I was in Cape Town. Magical sunrises if you can be bothered to get up at 5.30 am to see tnem from the top
Beaches around Arniston. In the Autumn and early winter you can see Southern Right Whales breaching out of the sea.
Double rainbow outside my home
Struisbaai …. a great place for seafood
Braai time ….a favourite pastime of South Africans… as well as drinking wine, of course.
Beaches around Arniston
Inside my home, the Weaver …
Fanny at Nacht Wacht .. one of our local restaurants
Hiking up Signal Hill … FIFA World Cup Stadium at Green Point below
Me … in standard configuration
Fanny and I parked at lovely little restaurant in Napier
Hiking with Jon Bean again … this time above Chapman’s Peak with Hout Bay in distance
Stunning views on the many trails around Cape Town
Top of Lion’s Head on our early morning hike
Black Oyster Catchers
The Blue Crane… National bird of South Africa and although rare, found in the Overberg around Arniston
Riding around Cape Town
Fanny trying on the expensive KTM gear in Cape Town… way too much wonga for us… but Fanny can pretty much source anything in China for a fraction of the price its retailed for elsewhere in the world. Why? Because nearly everything is made in China and despite lots of unemployment, natural resources and poverty in Africa the manufacturing industry is next to zero. There are loads of middlemen in South Africa and they just mark things up, so together with extortionate taxes and import duties everything costs a fortune.
The KTM Onyx 690 Adventure… and its fabricator from Cape Town. A rare bit of innovation to create a much in demand adventure bike.
Bikes parked zebra style in Hout Bay
Ancient Khoisan cave paintings in the Cederberg.. showing that people and elephants lived much further south in the Cape in those days
Cederberg landscape …
Camped up in Cederberg and getting a “braai” going.
Picture taken by Oliver Hemming from his car of me and my bike riding through the Cederberg
A KTM 690 Onyx …. assembled in Cape Town. A truly awesome motorcycle.
Fanny with literally hundreds of kite surfers at Tableview near Cape Town
BMW HP2 belonging to one of our camping neighbours in RSA
Fanny and I camping in Arniston
Camping in Arniston
Nacht Wacht restaurant … just up the road
Fanny at Nacht Wacht
Paraglide SA …. who lent me a paraglider so I could go for a fly. Thanks guys. If you fancy a tandem flight in Cape Town give these guys a call.
Having breakfast at Willens in Kassiesbaai
The beach in the distance is the one I run along at low tide everyday I am in Arniston.
Riding along gravel trails in the Cederberg .. superb riding but my camera is clearly in need of a clean and a service due to the dust.
Me flying above Cape Town on a borrowed glider. There is no better way to see the sights.
Taking off from Signal Hill.
I hadn’t flown for two years and I was using someone else’s kit… but no problem.
Perfect conditions for a fly
A rare email to me..
Riding in the Cederberg… I rarely saw another soul all day
The Muslim Quarter in Cape Town
The Cape Doctor has arrived judging by clouds above Table Mountain
Hout Bay … near Cape Town
Fanny doing her thing
Ride up to Signal Hill, Cape Town
Talk to the hand
Still doing her thing
Some other bikers arrived at Willen’s for coffee and drinks
A sandy bit on the 4×4 trail from Wuppenthal to Cederberg Oasis. I have got this sand riding sussed now so it doesn’t worry me so much. A lighter bike would be better, and glad I am not on a GS1200
A narrow bit of trail high up above the valley … best not to come off here
I went charging passed this place in the Cederberg. Would be worth going back to stay one day…
The school bus in Wuppenthal
On the trails in the Cederberg
Last bit of concrete before sand and gravel
Many gates to open and close.
I haven’t come off… I am trying to set timer and see if red light is flashing in the brightness of the Cederberg. When this picture was taken it had just gone off….doooh!
Crossing a sandy valley
I rode with this ostrich (just ahead of me) for about kilometer.. Each time I sped up to try and overtake it .. it would speed up.
Another 100 kilometers in the wilderness and I never saw anyone
Except a handsome chap in my mirror
There he is again
Somewhere in the Karoo
Taking a break and finding something flat to put the camera on …. Karoo
More Karoo… its a big place .. and hot, about 40 degrees that day
Stopping off in Sutherland for breakfast. Nearby are the famous telescopes and its also the site for the new observatory because of the crystal clear atmosphere. One of best locations for optical astronomy
Umm… self explanatory I guess
Stupidity is not a disability … I would disagree.
Rupert (and Jono) on another hike … I have forgotten what the place is called and will see if Jono actually reads this blog and tells me… its above Chapman’s Peak (somewhere). Probably some of best views in South Africa, if not the world.
Some seriously fit mountain bikers on some seriously challenging routes.
Climbing Table Mountain .. from Skeleton Gorge side (I think)
The local rozzers …. NOT pulling a Mozambican behind them.
The famous Ronnies Sex Shop on the biker’s road .. Route 62. Its a bar and a restaurant with underwear hanging from the ceiling. Not much sex going on. Odd.
A great bit of riding between Matjiesrivier and Kraaisdoring (near Calizdorp)
A great bit of riding between Matjiesrivier and Kraaisdoring (near Calizdorp)
Have I posted this picture before … can’t remember … internet so slow
More of the route between Matjiesrivier and Kraaisdoring (near Calizdorp)
More of the route between Matjiesrivier and Kraaisdoring (near Calizdorp). A fantastic ride or drive through some very lovely little hamlets and across streams and rivers.
A gorge near Prince Albert
Just me and my bike … South Africa
As I was riding out of the very nice town called George and along the Outeniekwapas towards Oudtshoorn I was joined by two fellow bikers. One on a KTM 950 Super Enduro (superb bike with same engine as mine .. although “carbaretted” .. not Efi) and a Suzuki 650 Enduro. To keep up with these local guys I had to put on a bit of speed and slide round corners on the gravel parts (hence no one handed picture taking). Great guys, a great route off the beaten track, and am all round great day hurtling along at break neck speed …
As I was coming down a steep, gravelly, narrow and twisty pass in the Swartberg a small hire car driven by a young Brit came hurling around the corner and I had three choices: — collide into him; –ride off the edge of a 200 meter cliff; –or drop the bike. I choose the lesser of three evils. The damage looks minor (just a scratch, a broken indicator and loosened mirror) but I was mightily pissed off. I had ridden around the world andin 18 months had not come off or damaged my bike. Now on a jolly in my own backyard (so to speak) I had a stupid and unnecessary fall. Very annoying.
I rode to Prince Albert .. had some breakfast .. and then rode back up and down the Swartberg Pass which is one of best in South Africa, certainly in Western Cape.
View from Swartberg pass
I met this great family who were sight-seeing in their car on Swartberg pass.
The KTM 950 Super Enduro has a puncture .. guess how? Too many wheelies had put a strain on the tyre and it slipped against the rim (no lock) and ripped the inner tube valve off. There is no easy repair. They were not carrying anything except for air cartridges, but luckily I was fully laden with all my adventure kit and had a spare inner tube in my pannier
A shady spot and a bit of head scratching before wrestling the tyre off. This KTM 950 Super Enduro doesn’t have a centre stand (unlike my KTM 990 Adventure) and so repairing a puncture requires the bike to be balanced on a rock so the back wheel can come off.
I also had tyre levers in my panniers and an electric pump …. Oh yes… “Failing to plan is planning to fail” as we said in the RHKP
Black Mountain Pass … I guess
The chaps and I having a great day out on the bikes
I was following and taking video and pics – but it was very very dusty in their wake and now my camera is now full of fine dust and so all subsequent pictures are a bit hazy
A ride along gravel roads near Huisrivierpas
The Cape Doctor has arrived
My friends Oliver and Sri and their son Louis from Hong Kong joined me for a tour in the Cederberg
My stay in South Africa was nearly up and so I prepared my KTM for a lengthy period of storage by spraying metal protector on all the exposed nuts and bolts, attaching a trickle charger to the battery and covering it up inside my garage. As my bike was now in hibernation until the next big adventure (when ever that will be) I was presented with a problem. How do I get to Cape Town –200 kilometers away. There is next to no public transport in South Africa and I live in a very remote part of the country and generally keep myself to myself when I am there. After such a huge worldwide adventure, it seemed ridiculous to be stuck, but I categorically refused to take a taxi which would cost more than a flight from Shanghai to UK and so I decided to walk or perhaps catch a lift from Caledon. Luckily I was rescued by my friend John Miller and his wife Em, who very kindly dropped me off In Cape Town and the next day I flew back to Shanghai.
Fanny was already in work in Hong Kong and so that is where I went and where I started looking for a job myself. What does the future hold? Who knows?
My trusty steed.