Wild Coast, Wild Zulu’s and Wild Skies

| September 23, 2010 | Reply

Last year I rode across Namibia challenging the great Namibian sand monster on the “monster” my faithful 1200 GSA. This December was the families turn but I managed to sneak the “bitch” my KTM 640 adventure onto the trailer behind us along with kiddies boards, cans of food, tents and assorted Christmas presents … more the Pakistani Pack Horse than last years Namibian Nomad!

Destination: the Wild Coast or old Transkei coast.

First stop Mkhambati a beautiful nature reserve in Southern Transkei. I forgot to load tracks 4 africa on my GPS so unbelievably we end up following the stupid thing to the opposite bank from our destination! We curse ourselves and our stupidity as we gaze across the river seeing the lodge about 500 metres away, but it’s a 140 km and 5 hour drive around!

It’s rained all day and the mud is making the bukkies gyrate like disco jollers and we drag our tired bodies into Mkambathi at 9 pm still cursing the Gps!!!!

Mkhambati won’t allow bikes not even on a trailer so we leave them at the gate and drive the 5 odd k’s to a fantastic but rustic house by the sea.

A few days later we head out, this time my brother Khonya and I riding the matching “bitches”!

Our next stop is Port St Johns about 180 ks along our chosen back roads. There can not be many more stunning roads, twisting and turning down over rivers and then snaking up through rural villages kids waving and shrieking as we power through the curves.

yes there is a bike down there!

The 640 is light as a feather (compared to the 1200 monster) and tread in knobblies just perfect for these roads. I wind it up scaring myself a bit on the corners which drop dizzyingly down to muddy rivers below and blasting up the adrenalin on the twisties!

We hit the tar at Lusikisiki, deciding not to explore the Lusikisiki Royal Hotels obvious luxury and instead do Soft serve at the KFC.

On the tar now, Khonya who’d lagged on the dirt whips my but on the tar with his more dual purpose Sahara tyres. With twisties from heaven we belt along I feeling the knobblies flexing like mad on the sharp twists and missing the monsters railway like grip on the tar!

Our camp at Port st Johns

The rain pours down in the night and the rivers turn the sea at Port St Johns into what looks like delicious foaming coffee! The kids love it though and the bikes wait patiently!

After two nights we head off to Dwesa, apparently Transkei largest game reserve! My brother and I nobly head off on the bikes with Sue and Sarah and friend J following! We knew the girls really, really wanted to drive the 4×4’s so we let them and sacrificing our own happiness shot off on the twisties to Umtata and from there followed the GPS (yes we still trusted it then!)

Beep beep you will turn left onto the drit track past a dusty village which looks like all the rest except for the sign notifying us that this is Mandela’s home. The bikes lead along lovely dirt roads through idyllic Xhosa villages!

Then the GPS gets lost! In Zumo language it just says “no roads near destination” over and over again a bit like a prophet intoning our doom! Thank god my brother and I speak fluent Xhosa. Our first advisors are resting on old upturned tins at a taxi stop under a tree next to a very run down mission hospital! At first they gaze suspiciously at us as we shout a courteous greeting from the bikes. I ride closer and they edge away but on switching off the rattling 640 they hear the mlungus speaks Xhosa and a crowd gathers around!

“Is Dwesa, near here?” I ask.
“Eish no”, they mumble looking at each other.
”Dwesa near the Mbashe river mouth” I say pointing to my map!
“AHHH” the group nod knowingly and all ten start giving directions!
“Back 5 kms then to the gum trees over theeeeere, then left!”
“NO wena just before the gum trees at the green painted kraal turn right!”
“NO NO NO you’ll get him lost says the next at the old broken car near the trading store turn left but then first right!”

“Leee” they point far behind me, all agreeing that its somewhere off the road behind us! So we shoot off and find the new road ignoring the beeping commanding GPS which now says it knows where we are going but on closer inspection its showing us the wrong side of the river!

I want to beat the guys from garmap! They have Dwesa but not the entrance gate so it’s a dot in the middle of the game reserve, the entrance could be anywhere in a 50km stretch! The dirt roads split over and over in a maze and ignoring the GPS we head in the general direction! Eventually we find a battered sign saying Dwesa lying on the ground at a T junction– aah we are in the general direction. Down a fantastic pass and over the Mbashe river

Next sign Dwesa river mouth! My map (I’ve dumped the GPS in lieu of a fantastic map I bought in Port St Johns) says the main entrance is the opposite side to the river Now Khonya and I leading the convoy are in serious disagreement!

We flag down a local who points us in the opposite direction to the sign but seems sure of himself!

Stopping everytime we see a local we wind our way down seemingly endless dirt roads and turnoffs. In the process Khonya loses his chain! Apparently Alfie Cox told him it would last for ever no link, z link or something fancy but what works on the Dakar doesn’t work in Dwesa. I’ve got a bet the cheap one we got at Yamaha in East London will outlast the fancy one!

Dwesa forest camp, the monkeys raiding us day and night but otherwise lovely and wild. Shells fill the beaches and the kids feel like sandlopers of old collecting piles of beautiful shells, chasing crabs and snails in the surf and searching the rock pools teaming with life.

A few days later we depart, Josh riding my bitch who had her chain! He’s 15 but shoots off like a pro, my brother and I cursing our new driving family duties! And too soon we head across the pont at Kei Mouth and head to KZN in the rain!

From Pietermaritzburg Sue and Sarah one again INSIST on driving, so we reluctantly shoot off taking my brothers gun running routes to Weenen and to his farm. The midlands are green and lush with plenty of rain, before we drop twisting and turning through green long grass into the scraggly acacia and donga filled valleys of home.

It’s the day before Christmas, the acacias are bursting with thousands of tiny fragrant pom pom flowers and the kraals of full of waving slightly inebriated migrants home for Kismus! As we drop down the waves of heat rise like welcoming fingers wrapping us in a blanket of stifling heat, Khonyas temperature gauge rises from 26degrees near Mooi River into the 30’s and then settles at a blistering 44 degrees.

We stop for a welcome cold coke at Weenen and then wind down past (I thought it was into) the Darkest Africa sihn! oh oh!

At home, Khonyas house nestles along the Tugela like a thatched boathouse moored on the edge of a roaring torrent. The Tugela is in flood.

We ride through the kraals of home, Sarah practicing on the little AG 200 while kids beg rides from eager dads!

We ride to a local Zulu wedding, the KTM’s white skins and our blonde blue eyed kids so incongruous at this event seemingly stolen from the pages of National Geographic!

In between I must confess to some infidelity! As much as it is hard to admit especially on a motorbike forum I cheated on the dear bitch. And harder to admit is that this was not another motorbike! I even lied to my wife! Putting on my most loving tone, I spoke of the green endless fields in the Berg. I spoke of horse rides she could go on and of course how cool it was compared to the sweltering Tugela Valley. And leaving the bike under the shade of an acacia tree headed off for Bulwer and yeehah my paraglider and flights high above the ground, soaring with vultures and floating like clouds! I will return to you my beloved motorbikes but for now the silence and the floating lure of the wind calls me!

And now my dusty bitch is back next to the monster sharing stories of dust, heat and rocky riverbeds and I pat them both and ache to ride there again! And possibly sneak in a flight … but please don’t tell them!

Category: South Africa, TRIP REPORTS

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