Bicycle Touring Images From Jap South Africa – Bicycle Touring Professional

by jpc_touring-bicycle

I may really feel the stress launch nearly as quickly as I crossed again over into South Africa. I had been in Lesotho for lower than three days, however I used to be past prepared to depart the nation. Being again in South Africa felt fantastic. As quickly as I crossed the border, I not had huge individuals observing me from a distance. Nobody got here as much as me and requested for cash. I used to be by myself once more and it felt fantastic.

The very first thing I did in Ficksburg was discover a resort. Fortunately, I stumbled throughout the one and solely resort on the town nearly immediately. The person on the desk did a supremely horrible job of checking me (one thing I used to be getting used to in South Africa), however the expertise total was 1,000,000 occasions higher than what I had experiences in Maseru, Lesotho. The person checking me in was removed from pleasant, however at the least I felt secure contained in the resort.

After having a shower, I returned to the streets and walked across the metropolis. I ate an smooth serve ice cream that I bought from a rusty pink truck and stumbled throughout a avenue efficiency the place a bit of individual was singing and dancing in entrance of a small crowd. After all, she was making an attempt to promote a CD of her singing. It didn’t appear like too many individuals had been leaping to purchase the CD, however loads of them had been circled round and keen to look at. After not more than 10 seconds of looking ahead to myself, I may inform that the lady was lip-syncing. Couldn’t everybody else within the crowd?


I stayed in Ficksburg for 2 nights. I felt I wanted a day or two to chill down after my experiences in Lesotho. I used to be nonetheless extraordinarily upset and albeit, I wished to go house. It was at this level that I felt mentally completed with South Africa – although I nonetheless had about 1,000 extra kilometers to journey.

Once I felt Ficksburg, I cycled east. The climate was nice through the day and it felt fantastic to be on the street once more, with out individuals observing me all day lengthy, operating after me, asking for cash, and bothering me each time I ended to relaxation, eat or take a drink of water.



That evening I camped 15 kilometers east of Clarens, South Africa. I didn’t bounce a barbed wire fence that evening, however as a substitute pushed my bicycle up a steep embankment on the facet of the street and pitched my tent in a flat spot on the hop of the hill the place passing automobiles couldn’t see me. It was an excellent hiding spot for the night. Sadly, this was additionally the evening that the $16 air mattress I had bought in Beaufort West a pair weeks prior stopped working.

In the course of the evening, I needed to roll off my sleeping mat and re-inflate it about eight completely different occasions. The subsequent evening I had to do that greater than 20 occasions. And after that I simply form of gave up. My air mattress was useless!


Within the morning I cycled a brief distance to Clarents, South Africa. I used to be anticipating a metropolis very very like the remaining in South Africa, however Clarens actually shocked me. The middle of the town was probably the most touristy of any metropolis I had seen in all of Africa (aside from Cape City). There have been white individuals in every single place! There have been males on bikes and households coming into city for the day. The truth that I used to be there on a Saturday might need had one thing to do with why the city was so busy.

In Clarens I purchased a ton of bottled water, some ice cream, and a few submit playing cards to mail to associates again house. Then I hit the street once more and cycled east for simply 10-20 kilometers or so earlier than hitting the western entrance gate to Golden Gate Highlands Nationwide Park. The person on the gate requested me the place I used to be going, and I defined that I used to be heading straight by the park.

Not like many different parks in South Africa, this explicit Nationwide Park isn’t the house to any really harmful animals – corresponding to lions, rhinos, hyenas, and so forth. As an alternative, it’s merely the house of a whole lot of wildebeest and antelope. The park is essentially with out gates, so I knew that there was likelihood I’d see some massive wild animals whereas biking by the park. And albeit, I used to be trying ahead to it.


Virtually as quickly as I entered the park I noticed an indication saying that there was a excessive mountain cross. I believed the signal was telling me that the cross was up forward, so I ready myself for an extended, uphill climb. However little did I do know, I used to be truly already on the cross. Apart from a number of quick climbs within the kilometers after the signal, I used to be already on the high. As soon as I hit the VERY high of the cross, nonetheless, it was an extended windy downhill to the very backside.






As soon as on the backside of the hill, I ended and regarded again within the path from which I had simply come. I used to be glad that I had not entered the park from the opposite path. In any other case I’d have had a really lengthy day of climbing. As an alternative, most of my time inside Golden Gate Highlands Nationwide Park was spent both going downhill or biking on the flats.

As I entered a big valley on the eastern-most fringe of the park, I started to see antelope and wildebeest throughout me. I ended for a number of minutes to take images, whereas passing autos honked at me and scared all of the animals away.





Simply two kilometers earlier than I excited the park, I heard a rumbling noise on my right-hand facet and regarded over to see three grey and black zebras operating alongside the ridge, not more than 20 meters to my facet. I jumped off the bike and tried to chase after the animals on foot, however by the point I reached the highest of the hill, the zebras had been gone. It was the spotlight of the whole day! Possibly even one of many highlights of my complete time in South Africa.


Close to the park’s exit, there have been a whole lot of antelope huddled collectively underneath a large rock formation. The animals had been removed from the street (as you may see within the photograph above), however they may see me… and I may see them.

After exiting the park, I started in search of a spot to camp for the evening. In a tree-lined stretch of street, I pushed my fully-loaded touring bicycle down a brief, however steep embankment after which hopped over a barbed wire fence earlier than pitching my tent within the bushes, proper subsequent to a large mount of cow poop.


After getting my tent arrange, I walked about 1 kilometer to a close-by properly in hopes that it was working and I may use it to replenish my water bottles. I had nearly no water on me on the time. Sadly, the properly wasn’t perform. There was some water on the very backside of the properly, nevertheless it was nonetheless, yellow water crammed with mosquitoes and useless animals of every kind. I returned to my tent, realizing that I must very fastidiously ration my water for the subsequent 16+ hours.

I woke the subsequent morning and cycled 20 kilometers or so earlier than turning proper on a gravel street that may take me to Bergville and finally, Ladysmith and past. The primary 10+ kilometers of the street had been stripped of its asphault, leaving a dust and rocky mess of a street to be ridden on. There was just one lane of site visitors, so I’d sometimes have to tug over for automobiles and vehicles coming in the other way to get previous me. Different occasions, automobiles would fly up behind me with out discover and honk or wave for me to get out of their method. The street was not enjoyable, however the surroundings was fantasic.

Sadly, I wasn’t capable of benefit from the surroundings or the journey as a lot as I’d have favored to as a result of I used to be completely out of water… and I used to be uncertain after I would possibly have the ability to get my subsequent drink.

I attempted operating out to a couple wells within the space, however none of them had been working. There was a large reservoir off to my right-hand facet, however I wasn’t so positive I wished to drink out of what was basically a lake – most likely crammed with fish poop, useless animal our bodies and who is aware of what else.

Ultimately, I discovered a street development employee and requested her if she had any water she may give me. She stuffed up one among my three empty water bottles and I thanked her profusely earlier than persevering with on my method.




It was an extended, uphill climb on that damaged down gravel street earlier than the pavement lastly returned to regular and I hit the highest of the mountain cross. in entrance of me I may see an extended street main down into the valley under. Bergville (the town I used to be making an attempt to achieve by the top of the evening) was far off within the distance. I couldn’t fairly see it, however I imagined it was proper there, on the sting of the horizon.

I arrange my tripod and snapped these images of myself on the high of the cross.




Earlier than bombing it downhill, I rode my bike into a big lodging facility throughout the road, and seeing nobody round to ask for water, went about filling up my water bottles by myself utilizing a faucet close to the restrooms. I didn’t ask anybody for the water. I merely took it and the continued on my method. I’m positive that whoever owned the place wouldn’t have minded.


There was an extended downhill stretch earlier than the street flattened out on the backside of the valley. The surroundings on the downhill part was fairly spectacular. It was among the greatest biking I had skilled in all of South Africa.


Then the street flattened out and received a bit of boring. I put in my earphones and turned up the music. My vacation spot for the evening was simply 20 or so kilometers away.



After stopping at a grocery store in Bergville and grabbing a big order of chips on the native KFC, I rapidly went about discovering a spot to sleep for the evening. The solar was already within the technique of setting, so I wanted to discover a place to camp… and fast!

Simply 1 kilometers outdoors of city I noticed a dust street main off to the proper. And on the finish of this filth street gave the impression to be a big, open space the place I used to be positive I may camp for the night.

I cycled about 1 kilometer down the street you see within the photograph under, earlier than leaping over a barbed wire fence and pushing my bike by a discipline of tall grass. I ultimately settled for the evening in a naked spot underneath a big tree. I arrange my tent, snapped a number of images, after which the darkness fell.





The subsequent day I awoke early, packed up my camp, jumped the barbed wire fence I had jumped the evening earlier than, cycled down the filth street and returned to the paved freeway that may take me into Ladysmith. The plan in Ladysmith was to discover a resort and relaxation there for a number of days. The true purpose was to discover a resort with Web entry, however as you’ll quickly see, that was not going to occur.

About 10 kilometers earlier than getting into Ladysmith I cycled by a big development zone the place half the road was torn up and being labored on whereas automobiles passing to and from city drove on the opposite half. I like biking by development zones, so this was lots of enjoyable for me.



Ultimately, I made it into Ladysmith. I noticed a number of motels on the town, however they had been two or thrice the worth of the opposite motels I had paid for in South Africa. On the native vacationer beurou, the lady working the counter gave me a small booklet itemizing the names and cellphone numbers of each resort, B&B, guesthouse and extra within the metropolis. Sadly, the costs of the locations weren’t listed on the piece of paper and I didn’t have a cellular phone to name and inquire about any of the locations.

After biking to one of many guesthouses printed on the paperwork and discovering nobody there, I made a decision to whip out my laptop computer and use my USB web stick to hook up with the Web and name a few of these guesthouses and motels that had been on the paper I had been given utilizing Skype.

I discovered a spot within the metropolis the place I felt secure to tug out my laptop computer… and there was even a fairly good (not definitely not nice) connection to the Web right here. I known as a number of guesthouses, however they had been terribly overpriced. I don’t like guesthouses anyway, so I attempted calling the 2 motels on the town that I had not already visited in individual. The primary was method overpriced and the opposite was inside my finances, nevertheless it was situated a bit of additional out of city. I made a decision I used to be keep on the low cost, however far out of city resort. I closed my laptop computer after which cycled over there.

A tall, skinny girl checked me in and gave me the important thing to my room. She had no downside with me carrying my bicycle up the steps and wheeling it into my room. The resort was not very good.

I ended up staying in Ladysmith for 3 nights. There was no Web on the resort or hardly anyplace else within the metropolis. At some point I paid good cash to make use of an Web cafe, however I had to make use of their laptop, which didn’t work for the kind of work I wanted to be doing. I wanted to make use of my laptop and the particular internet design software program that I’ve put in on my gadget. The individuals on the Web cafe didn’t perceive this. They stored insisting that I may do what I wanted to do on their computer systems, although I couldn’t. The individuals had no concept what “software program” was after I tried to clarify it to them. They figured that each laptop on the earth was the identical.

Realizing I used to be not going to get a lot work performed in Ladysmith, I discovered a video rental retailer keen to lease me DVDs, so I watched various completely different movies throughout my time within the metropolis – the very best of which was THE WRESTLER. I couldn’t get that movie out of my head for days. The remainder of the time I used to be in Ladysmith I simply walked across the metropolis, ate on the native KFC or fuel station pizza parlor, and frolicked in my resort room.

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At some point whereas on the native KFC, I used to be approached by the safety guard on employees and he started to inform me how he had been working at this job for almost a month, however that he wasn’t positive how a lot he was getting paid. He went on and on for greater than half-hour about how he had no concept how a lot cash he was making or would make from this new place. I advised him, “Possibly you need to have requested that query earlier than you took the job?”

He went on to clarify, nonetheless, that he anticipated to obtain someplace between 1,500 and three,000 Rand for the whole month’s price of labor. I did some fast math in my head and realized that that was solely $160 – 320 USD. This, in fact, introduced up a complete lot of different issues for me to consider. For instance, “How a lot do individuals in South Africa make per 30 days? What’s the common month-to-month earnings? Is there a minimal wage?” And a complete lot extra!

The stretch of street between Woman Smith, Vryheid and Pongola was most likely my favourite of all of the roads I cycled in South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. The roads had been empty, the surroundings was stunning, and the climate was improbable.


My first evening out of Woman Smith I camped close to a big utility tower. It was the most effective, most non-public campsites I had had in all of South Africa.



The subsequent day I cycled into Vryheid, South Africa and rapidly discovered a spot to remain on the Vryheid Lodge – a small, noisy, run down resort within the middle of the town.

The resort had wi-fi Web, however nobody working on the resort knew what the password was. Once I requested the lady working the counter (who later advised me her title was Carol) if she may name the proprietor and ask her or him what the password was, she appeared unwilling to do it.

“I may give you a cellphone quantity to name,” she advised me, “and you may ask for the password.”

I may inform that the lady didn’t know what Web was, or why I would wish a password of any form. She was utterly clueless… and he or she appeared frightened on the prospect of calling the resort proprietor.

I didn’t name the resort proprietor myself although, as a result of I didn’t have a cellphone… and Carol wouldn’t let me use the cellphone that she had proper in entrance of right here on the resort reception desk.

Once I later requested Carol for her title, she stated it to me as soon as and I didn’t perceive. She stated it once more, and nonetheless I couldn’t perceive her. Lastly, she wrote it down on a bit of paper and as she did so, she wrote the letter “R” backwards. I noticed then that this girl may barely learn or write.

My resort room was small, nevertheless it had all the pieces I wanted – besides Web.

That evening, I barely slept a wink. It was Saturday evening and there was a celebration occurring within the disco/membership under the resort. Loud music performed till almost 4 AM. When it lastly stopped, I fell asleep and was woken an hour later to the sound of roosters.









I stayed in Vryheid for 2 nights. I rented DVDs from an area video rental retailer and earlier than leaving city bought an inexpensive 110 Rand blue foam sleeping mat from a small outside/searching retailer throughout the road from the resort.

Leaving Vryheid felt fantastic as a result of I knew I used to be on the ultimate stretch of street earlier than driving into Swaziland.


The surroundings on this a part of the nation was the best possible. The roads had been largely empty and the kilometers flew by as I cycled easy to the music blaring in my earphones.




As I neared Pongola and the Swazi border, I cycled by various completely different sport parks. Throughout me had been double-high chain hyperlink or barbed wire fences with indicators warning me that there have been harmful wild animals residing close by. As I cycled, I always scanned the panorama, in search of lions, giraffes or rhinos. I by no means noticed something like that, nonetheless. However I did see extra wildebeest, antelope and monkeys.









I camped simply off the street that evening, on the base of a steep mountain cross, just some toes from a tall fence that may separate me from the wild animals – hopefully. It was my first evening sleeping on my new foam mattress, and although it was removed from being as snug as my unique blow up air mattress, it appeared to do any okay job.

Once I woke within the morning, I minimize the mattress in half, in order to raised match it inside one of many rear panniers of my bicycle… after which I continued on my method.


As soon as once more, I used to be nearly totally out of water, so after I noticed a small roadside stand, I ended and stepped inside to buy some water and a large 2.5 liter bottle of Coca-Cola (it was all that they had). I snapped this photograph of the lady who was operating the small stand.


Biking into the town of Pongola, the panorama turned nearly tropical. It was half Africa, half Hawaii. It jogged my memory lots of my house in Camarillo, California truly.



I ended for lunch in Pongola, received some money from an ATM machine, after which made my method towards the Swaziland border.



The final 10 kilometers earlier than reaching the border had been nothing however farmland. Sugar cane was in every single place, however the panorama regarded loads like my hometown in South California.

Swaziland could be the twenty fourth nation I had traveled to within the final 12 months. It was additionally going to be the final new nation I’d go to earlier than lastly flying house. This was the ultimate stretch. 4 days in Swaziland after which my bike tour in southern Africa could be over… nearly.


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