Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hit the Road Jack

Angela writes:

The weekend before departing Johannesburg Daryll’s sister, brother-in-law, and nephew took us to the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre where we were loaded onto a large safari truck to drive through the enclosure amongst the 60 or so resident cheetahs.  Cheetahs are the fastest running creatures on earth and reach speeds of up to120 km/hr.  They are each beautifully decorated with their own unique pattern of spots.  In the wild cheetahs often get their food stolen by lions because after they run so fast to catch their prey, they have to rest from exhaustion for like 15 minutes before they are able to consume their food.  This is where the lazy lions come in and muscle the meal away from the cheetahs.  As fascinating as it was to watch all these exotic animals, it was equally enjoyable to watch our 2 year old nephew Kuval embark on his this wild adventure. He held on tight to the bars of the seat in front of him while we bumped along in the truck and he watched the big cats enthusiastically.  Later when we were allowed to walk on the ground in front of 3 fenced-in cheetahs,  these young cats started stalking Kuval!  They realized he was tiny, young and most likely easy prey and they would not take their eyes off of him.  We were all perfectly safe from attack however it was really scary watching these wild cats hissing and sizing up our baby boy!


While maintaining our bikes in Johannesburg we were lucky to meet with local rider Andy and his wife Michelle who were very helpful with local tips and tricks. They were also hosting another group of friends that we must introduce you to - Tom, Pat and Chris as they are fellow motorcycle riders from North America, who will be travelling the same route up Africa as us and we expect to meet up with them often on our journey north.  Tom is from Bellingham, Washington and is riding his Suzuki V-Strom 650 http://tomrinbellingham.blogspot.com/ and Chris & Pat are from Montreal, Quebec riding two-up on their Honda Africa Twin 750 www.sur2roues.blogspot.com .

During the hours spent throughout our stay in Johannesburg watching World Cup Cricket, news reports on North African politics and eating delicious home-cooked meals, we also visited with many family and friends.  This was only my second time in South Africa and the first time since we’ve been married, so it was great to meet and reacquaint myself with so many family members on Daryll’s side.  Time flies while you’re having fun and it was very quick that our departure day from Johannesburg had arrived on Thursday March 31st.  Our bikes were packed and our panniers were full with as much food from Daryll’s mom and sister as we could possibly carry and we hit the road on a sunny morning heading for Piet Retief, South Africa.

After weaving our way out of the big city, the day’s ride was peaceful as we sped by windy fields of long grasses and cosmos flowers. 

We were stopped several times for road construction but passed the odd town and speeding train, and eventually arrived without incident at our first campsite or “Caravan Park” as they are called here, in the town of Piet Retief.  The caravan park was home to some of the managers of the road construction crew that we had passed during the day and the first character to welcome us to the park was Dani.  Dani came over to our site to look at our motorcycles and in about 15 minutes told us his very interesting but difficult life story.  He explained that he used to be in the Special Forces in Angola and that many of his army friends in the past few years had committed suicide.  He said he had recently stopped drinking, he was close to being 50 years of age and was still trying to deal with the experiences he had had as a 16 year old soldier fighting in the Angola war.  Later that evening as he was preparing to drive to his permanent home for the weekend, he came back over to our site to say goodbye.  Since his last visit he had also strapped a semi-automatic rifle across his back to ensure his safety for his nighttime drive! I sure am glad he liked motorcycles and called us friends.

As Dani exited stage left, our second welcoming character came by our site and proceeded to give us unsolicited travel recommendations for the whole of southern Africa!  Ross, of the “Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus South Africa” fame, had the best intentions of providing good travel advice to us but for an hour he touted off vague details about a guy he knows who he can’t remember the name of, in such-and-such town located by the gas station, who may or may not be retired, who back in the day ran a good tour/restaurant/hotel business.  I understand Ross simply wanted companionship while walking down his memory lane, but the worst part of this one-way conversation was that he kept insisting that I write all the details down on paper!  Just when I couldn’t take it anymore Ross went back to his cabin with the promise of returning later that evening with a letter of introduction for us to show to his friends when we caught up with them.  He very kindly called on us several hours later while Daryll was asleep and I was reading by flashlight in the tent. As much as we missed the comfort of our home-sweet-home tent that we hadn’t been in for six weeks, it was impossible to hide at night from late callers!

The next day of riding was along the border of South Africa and another country called Swaziland where we were stopped often in the baking sun for road construction. 

That afternoon we arrived at the third ocean of our adventure, the Indian Ocean, beside a breezy little city called Richard’s Bay.  Driving along in Richard’s Bay we found signs warning of hippos crossing along the main roads and signs asking us not to feed the monkeys. We were happy to arrive in Richard’s Bay to visit Daryll’s friends Ashnee & Wayne and their children Tyra and Aiden. That night we went for a lovely water-front tour and dinner beside the bay.  The morning was spent unpacking and blowing up a big bright pink & purple bouncy castle for Tyra’s birthday party that afternoon.  Definitely a fun first for us!

Digg this


  1. Great to hear you guys are again on the road, its just a pitty we might not meet you guys on the road. I will check in here to see where you guys are. Stay Safe.

  2. Greg writes... I love the cheetah pics! one of my favorite animals, looks like the second stage of the adventure is beginning really good. more new friends and great landscapes. Ride safe... Greg and Jill

  3. Thanks Greg & Jill. We're happy to be back in action. More adventure to follow soon.
    Ang xx

  4. Oldyeller says: K and I just got back from 3.5 weeks in Japan. We were lucky enough not to be near the devastated areas. I even got to ride - but alas, it was for only one day and on a giant scooter (Honda Silverwing 600).

    Enjoy the ride and looking forward to more stories. The RA's are all excited about your ride.

  5. So glad you and K enjoyed your trip to Japan and that family is safe. Sounds like a fun ride!

    Thanks for keeping up with the blog. Thinking of you and the RA's everyday we ride!