Think South Africa is too far away to go explore? You can fly there and rent a motorcycle. We did
Name: Barry TavnerBike hired: KTM Adventure 640Miles covered: 807Total cost: £1,188Pros: Solitude, wildlife, hospitalityCons: Not enough timeAdventure rating: High
The wild animal count had been low, I suppose, due to the exhaust note coming from the rear of my KTM. But out of nowhere a startled Kudu suddenly leapt directly over the front of my bike at head height. I was doing 40mph at the time. I can still see his rear hooves just half a metre from my head as I skidded to a halt, blinked a couple of times and burst out laughing. A Kudu is the size of a horse and has massive, razor-sharp horns, but I didn’t see it as a near miss. Just one of those unreal, never-to-be-forgotten moments that happen every single day in South Africa.
I’d arrived in Port Elizabeth the previous day and been met by Mike Glover at Red Cherry Adventures. Mike had kindly stepped in at the last minute when my original destination, Nairobi, had become a war zone . I went over to his ranch to discuss where I was headed and how to work the KTM’s GPS system. If you’re going anywhere by yourself on a bike in Africa, you need a GPS. Or a bloody big map!
So now I’ve made it to Baviaanskloof. This garganutan nature reserve is a guarantor of solitude. For the next four hours, I come across one 4x4 and, strangely, a guy on a bicycle who stops to chat.
As we both sit at the side of the road and soak up the expanse of endless valleys that lay in front of us, he opens the conversation. “Afternoon. Fancy meeting you here,” he says, greeting me like an old friend.
“Beautiful view, eh?”
“Stunning,” I agree.
“How much further to the other side?” he says.
“About 120k, I think.”
“Well, I’d best be off then.”
And with that he picked up his relic of a bike and headed off into the distance, but not before warning me of the river crossing that lay ahead. I’d crossed the river a few times already and it had been shallow. But now it was waist-deep and I was terrified of dropping the bike and destroying my equipment. The engine would drown and I’d be stranded in a game reserve with Lord knows what for company. I needn’t have worried. The KTM chugged through the clear water to the other side. It was turning out to be the best day’s riding I’d ever had and I was only half way to the first night’s stop-over.
Click here for motorcycling in South Africa page two
Posted: 21/02/2013 at 07:11
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