Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Coastal South Africa

Daryll writes:

After spending a few days in Durban catching up with family and a few close friend and running around looking for a stove as our’s decided to pack up, we made our way down the south coast.  The stove saga started in Piet Retief when I tried to use it for breakfast and realized that it didn’t work.  Even after taking the stove apart and fiddling around with it, we had no luck and decided to give up on it.  I really like the Coleman 442 stove that we had, but alas it failed after 7 months of daily use. 

All the store attendants of the camping stores that we visited looked at me funnily when I asked for a stove that ran off gasoline or was multi-fuel as they’ve never heard of such thing, yup, they’ve never heard of the MSR brand of stoves.  I’m still shocked.  We finally gave up hope of trying to find a stove in South Africa and got our friend Harry back in Vancouver to purchase a MSR multi-fuel stove and courier it out to Cape Town, Thanks Harry – you are a life saver.

Durban's World Cup Soccer Stadium
We wanted to go up the Sani Pass and into Lesotho or even do a part of the Drakensburg range after leaving Durban, but with the daily rain, and the knowledge that our friends, Tom, Pat & Christine where already a few days ahead of us and wanted to catch up to them so that we could ride together into Africa, we decided against it and continued down the coast.  I did however stop in Umzinto, the little town that I grew up in, stopped outside my old high school and went onto the one main road of the town and stop by our old home.  The town still has one main street, but boy have things changed.  I couldn’t wait to get out of there again.  There were people everywhere, the traffic was insane and it was a dusty old town that wasn’t anything like what it was when I lived there.  I was probably last there about 23 years ago, and things have changed.  It was definitely nice growing up in a small town, but feel sorry for any teenager that now lives there.  We had an early stop that day as the heavens opened up on us as it did everyday whilst we were in Durban.  We had passed a caravan park, so as it started to rain, decided to turn around a go back a few km’s and hunker down for the afternoon/evening.  It was a bit pricey, but once we had our tent set-up, we stationed ourselves in the entertainment room for the rest of the evening and planned out our route for the next few days, so a productive day after all.

Dusty Umzinto
As we were forced to shorten our riding day on our first day out of Durban due to the rain, it made our ride to East London a 530km day the next day.  We meandered through the former Transkei and everyone in Durban had warned us about the dangers of this area.  It seemed peaceful enough during the day, but not somewhere I’d want to drive or let alone ride through at night.  There were animals all over the road.  This is meant to be the main highway that runs down the coast to some of the most beautiful coastline of South Africa and it had animals all over the place.  The road was in fairly good condition and bad sections were being worked on, but it puts Central America to shame with the lawlessness of the farmers letting their cattle and goats wonder the highway.  So it was slow going at times and especially when we were stuck in traffic as the main road went through many small villages along the way.

We finally got to East London around 5:30pm and gone are the days when the sun sets at 8:30-9pm.  Here it sets around 6pm.  After a few wrong turns, we managed to find the Hostel that we were planning on camping at and learnt that the only parking that they had was on the main beachfront road.  They did suggest that they had a security guard to watch over the vehicles/bikes that were there.  I wasn’t too comfortable with the idea and after such a long day, the thought of having now to put up the tent in the dark, lug all our stuff from the road up into the camping area wasn’t appealing and had learnt about a Backpackers that wasn’t too far from us that had secure parking for the bikes from a local fisherman, so decided that we will settle there for the night.  It didn’t take us too long to be seated at a local restaurant as well and we were in bed soon after.

The next few days were to be short days as we stopped off in Port Elizabeth to visit family for the night, then on to Mossel Bay were we stayed at one of the nicest caravan parks with the most amazing sea view from our tent which wasn’t expensive either, and then on to Cape Agulhas, the most southerly tip of Africa.  Our visit to Ushuaia was just over two months ago and was still fresh in our minds, and now to be at the most southerly tip of Africa was another tick off our checklist.  It wasn’t the same feeling though as we had ridden almost 25,000km to get to Ushuaia, and had only done about 2,500km after arriving in Johannesburg to get to Cape Agulhas.  We had our customary picture with the sign which also demarcated the meeting point of both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.  One is meant to see a color difference as the Indian Ocean brings a warm current to the shores of South Africa while the Atlantic is the “cold” ocean.

Cape Agulhas
We were keeping tabs on our friends Tom, Pat and Christine, and now Dom an Englishman that spent the last 6 months between Alaska and Panama and was also setting his sights on his ride north (The Dom Way Round), so arranged to stay with the same couchsurfing host and touch base with them for the evening as they were planning to head out the next day.  Our hosts in Cape Town are Marlies & Chris and have extended their home to not one biker, but a family of bikers over the last few days.  On our first evening here, they treated us to the most amazing snook (local fish) on a braai (bbq).  The others have left, so we hope to catch up with them over the next few weeks as we still need to do our sightseeing around Cape Town, have new tires put on our bikes (TKC80’s, just fitted today) and patiently wait for our Mountain Equipment Co-Op stove to arrive.

New photos added to the South Africa album.
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  1. Hi,
    It’s a shame to hear that you guys are not enjoying South Africa, its such a beautiful country and I’m proud be part of this land. Enjoy your journey into Africa and ride safe.

  2. Hi Daryll and Angela,

    Its Naeem from Umzinto. I am glad that you finally decided to a short-lived home-comming of the dusty old town!

    Was great to spend an evening with you. Thank You.

    Take Care and Good Luck for the rest of the journey.


  3. Hi Naeem,
    Glad that you are now following along. Hope that my comments about Umzinto didn't offend you, but I'm sure you will agree that it's not what it used to be.

  4. Hi Cobus,
    To the contrary, we are enjoying SA immensely. I was just drawing a comparison of how the town I grew up in has changed. We love both the Eastern and Western Cape Regions as it is so unlike the rest of the country.
    Where are you guys now?

  5. Greg writes... things look to be going well for you guys and just so you know the Canucks are up 2 games to none against Chicago here as of April 16th !! Ride safe as always and look forward to your next post. Greg and Jill

  6. Hi Daryll

    I understand what you mean now, I have also went back to my home town and it just don't look the same, but I think when your smaal you look at a place differently.. We are currently in Hazyview and will be going to KZN tomorry. Next Sunday we will be in Knysna and then to L'Agulhas on Monday.


  7. greg writes... update April 17th.., Canucks up 3-0 in the series!! ride safe... greg and jill