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The sun was starting to set on us and we still had some way to go, but to get to the top of the pass and not marvel at the beauty of the surrounds was simply not an option. So we pulled up, took some pictures, had a look at the varying landscapes. it was amazing, but we had seen so much of all of this already and time was pressing and then headed on off to Sutherland. It had been a long day till now and we were pretty worn out. We were also glad nobody had come to grief along the twisty loosed rocked bits of the pass. We'd had one or two worrying moments but made it out ok.

Up top looking back down

Once we had ridden through all the long and flat roads to reach the Skurweberg pass, it was time to climb up and get onto the plateau higher up as we moved in-land. Looking at ridge it didn't seem to daunting, but once we got going it turned out to be an excellent ride up and quite steep and sharp at some points, with a bit of loose gravel for good measure.

Heading up the pass


This is the daily blog from Africa4Adventure.com. A short series on the Karoo Motorbike tour we took on during September 2011. See the plans for the trip blog here: Planning a 6 day 2500km route through the Karoo maximising dirt

We continued on for a while and then came upon one of the most secluded holiday cottages we've ever seen. Actually there seemed to be a main cottage and then a smaller adjacent cottage a little way away. They were in idylic location for getting away from it all! We had done the best part of 200km and only seen about three or four farm houses until now. Ok we were still only about 50km from the next town Sutherland, but this was real seclusion. We stopped and took a few pictures.

One of the best places I've ever seen if you want to get away from it all!

This place starts putting life around you into context. It makes you feel just how small and insignificant we are as humans in the universe. This place shows you just how lonely we could be should we choose to live in wide open places like these. See the house in the middle of no-where. It was certainly a long road, but an extremely pretty one with flows still everywhere. 

See the road back behind us

Further down the dusty road we stopped to take some pictures and next minute from down some side little track came a little orange coloured van and pulled up next to us. This very friendly farmer came over and we started chatting. We asked him questions about the size of his farm and living life out in the middle of this vast open space.

We stopped for a picture

These pictures only begin to start describing just how bright and colourful the desert was that day after we had been to Inverdoorn. The part that one cannot see from these pictures is just how much of it there was mile after mile. Also there were patches of yellow and patches of this purple.

 

One of the things you notice very quickly out in the semi-desert is how big the sky is! it seems to go on forever. The cloud cover also seems much higher and thinner. We were half way to approaching the destination of Sutherland, which is where they have the Sutherland astronomical observatory, so it makes sense that you would need a big sky to be able to look out at space.

Wide open space

This was becoming more and more amazing the further we got into the flowers. What one must realise is that this is wide open countryside for miles and miles and miles, and as you ride it just keeps coming, flowers for Africa!

We kept stopping and marveling at it as its not something you see everyday or possibly even once in a lifetime.

 

In no time we were in the Worcester wine valley heading towards Ceres on the R43. We could have found a few more dirt roads in the area, but wanted to hit the dirt roads after Ceres to keep the journey slightly quicker.

 

 

When you get to the Du Toitskloof pass, one can either take the old road which is about +/-10km longer and goes up and over the mountains, or you can pay the toll fee and ride through the tunnel.


Stopped high up on the pass looking out

On a misty morning in Cape Town during September 2011 it was time to fire up the bikes and head off into the Karoo for a six day epic journey. The goal was to get to Bloemfontein over three days via Sutherland, maximizing dirt road, and then head back on the other side of the main N1 back down through the Karoo to Cape Town in another three days via Prince Albert.


Good morning! Richard on his 800GS

A chap called Howard from SA Bike Magazine was at the rally and he was collecting pictures for an article in the magazine, so he wanted all the KTM riders to line up, and then all the BMW riders in a separate picture.

Within no time, we arrived at Todd's Motel, for the much spoken about Giraffe Rally 2011 - actually called the Giraffe Run 2011. Welcomed at the gate by a huge poster confirming we had found the right place (from the main road it was not that obvious).

Today was Friday and we were now going to be staying here for the next two nights, heading off back to South Africa on the Sunday morning early. This was a typical African venue with loads of dust, bush, animals and of course music and beer.

Well after a wonderful dirt road through some of the best riding and most beautiful scenery we had experienced on the trip so far, we reached the tar and were on the outskirts of a small town called Gwanda.(see map picture below for more details).

Except for one of the chaps in our group this was the most enjoyable part of the whole trip from a biking and riding point of view. Why? Because there was a small "oops" on some loose gravel shown in one of the pictures below as he was coming down the hill.

After stopping at the shop, one of us blasted up ahead and waited for the rest to come riding past, to try and get a picture of the bikes within the beautiful rural setting we had the privilege of riding through. The following distance between bikes was rather large due to the dust and lack of visibility from being too close to each bike, so it was difficult to get a picture of everyone together.

After quite some distance we arrived at a small shop in a village. We needed a break and it was about beer o'clock so we looked to see where we could get a drink. The first shop didn't have anything but told us to go down the road about 300m and there was a small shop there selling beer.

Wow - onto the Dirt after all these many miles of travel for the first time for real! That's always my favourite part of the trip. The most fun part and the part where you get to truly experience real rural Africa for what it is.

This was our hotel in Bulawayo, the Hotel Rio on the outskirts of town. Today were up early, had breakfast and packing to get ready for what promised to be an absolutely amazing ride. We only had about 350km to go to the Todds Motel where we wanted to be for the Giraffe Motobike Rally, but had picked a set of dirt roads just on the outskirts of the Matopos National Park (as bikes are not allowed in the park). Our route was for some 250km through the rural areas. Definitely an off the beaten track route, that not too many people would do.

We arrived in Bulawayo at about 7pm and finally found the hotel at about 8pm. Bulawayo was much bigger than most of us thought and our Hotel Rio was on the outskirts in a subburb somewhere. It had been a long day and given a chance most of us would have just gone to bed as it had been a very long day already getting up at 5am, but one of the guys had some friends here and they had organised to meet up and have an evening on the town in their local pub.

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