Western Cape: between sea and mountains

Day 103 – Storm Rivers – Saturday 8th September – 0 kms

We woke up to yet even more rain. We decided to stay for another day, we could not ride in these conditions. It was like a monsoon. It was also very cold. Luckily we had electric blankets in our bed. As the backpacker place did not have any sort of heating, I made good use of the blanket as I was so frozen.

Later on, the staff lent me a hair dryer and I used it to try and dry some of our gear, like the boots, gloves and some clothes! I got a bit too enthusiastic while drying my winter gore-tex gloves and slightly melted some bits inside one of my gloves. Oops!

During a lull with the heavy rain, Alistair ran to a small local shop to get some food for dinner and got drenched again!

The day was slow and boring. We watched some TV in the communal room. Few guests arrived but none was particularly friendly and all ignored us!

Day 104 – Plettenberg – Sunday 9th of September – about 60kms

We booked a room in Mandalay Guesthouse. The house had parking outside only but we managed to get the bikes through the door into the garden. We had a big and very beautiful room in the 1st floor, with views over the sea and a nice big balcony. The day was sunny. We arrived soon after 10am, way before check In time, but we still got settled.

As it was sunny, we put all we could in the balcony to dry. We took all the luggage. The roll bag had remained dry, but both panniers where wet and all the stuff not in a dry bags was wet or humid. We had a lot of drying to do!

We visited the town and found a Mozambican restaurant offering a buffet lunch menu! The food looked really good with lots of choice, so we went for it! After 2 days of eating little else than pot noodles or tin food, it was nice to get also some fresh salad and vegetables.

Completely stuffed, we went back to the guesthouse for a rest!

Day 105 – Plettenberg – Monday 10th September – about 30kms

Our stay in Plettenberg had a very special reason. We wanted to visit a Wild Cat sanctuary. So, after an amazing breakfast, we rode to Jukani Sanctuary. We were the only guests for the guided tour. It was incredibly interesting and a beautiful place. They do an amazing job and our guide was very knowledgeable.

Some of the lions have been rescued from illegal canning farms. These farms breed lions and then sell them to some idiot with a small dick complex. The lion is released in a bigger enclosure and has zero chance to survive as the idiot shoot it. The poor lion probably has no idea what s happening, having been captive all it’s life!

Canning farms are illegal in South Africa and are horrendous places.

Some other cats, like Caracals, were rescued as they can be kept ( illegally) as pets, until they grow up. Adult Caracals are very aggressive and cannot be domesticated. Other cats came from abusive zoos and other places all around the world.

Only cheetahs can be rehabilited, taught how to hunt and released in the wild. The few wild dogs that they once had at Jukani, were also taught to hunt and are now free in national parks. But for most big predators and cats, born in captivity, they would not survive free. The good thing as well is that females are given contraceptive, so that they cannot breed.

They are well looked after and seemed happy.

I took the opportunity to buy a new mascotte for my bike!

Day 106 – Oudtshoorn – Tuesday 11th September – about 200kms

As the weather forecast was showing warmer weather inland, we decided to ride to Oudtshoorn, well known for its Ostriches farms and, most importantly, near the Swatberg Pass. The pass had been closed but I was hopeful it would reopen with the sunny weather!

So we rode inland.

We joined the dirt road that goes via the 7 Passes road, from Knysna to Wilderness. It was ok, with some hair pin bends but it was not really high. Still, it was nice to ride some dirt roads!

Then we joined the main road to Oudtshoorn. The road was actually beautiful, with great views of the snow capped mountains. We had booked a room at Oudtshoorn Guesthouse. The place was amazing and our room was massive! It was very impressive and the owners, as usual, very friendly.

Once settled and changed we went for a walk, try to find the local restaurants for dinner and investigate the town. The day was warm and sunny, the town pleasant, it was so nice!

Day 107 – Oudtshoorn – Wednesday 12th September – about 200kms

After a big breakfast we got on the bikes. The first sign we saw for the Swatberg Pass was saying it was closed! We still continued. Eventually we saw a second sign, with no particular comment about the Pass, so we rode up.

We left the tarmac and follow the very steep dirt road to the Pass. The weather was good, the road enjoyable, the views superb! On days like that, riding a motorbike is just pure Joy!

At the top, we met with a South African couple. They offered us cookies and we spent some time talking bikes!

Then we descended by the other side, doing a big loop back to town. We had some tea at Prince Albert, a nice little village.

The N12 from de Rust to Oudtshoorn was spectacular. Probably one of the most beautiful roads we ever rode. It was at the bottom of a narrow canyon, surrounded by high, deep red cliffs on each side, the road crisscrossing over the small river. It was magnificent but too busy and narrow to stop and take photos. You will just have to believe me!

We went back to the beautiful guesthouse. For dinner we found a restaurant specialised in Ostrich meat. I had a superb ostrich filet set as a burger. It was amazing meat! All washed down with, obviously, a nice local wine! It had been an amazing day!

We then had to plan to get back slowly to Cape Town. We wanted to get to L’Aghulas, as good tourists that we are. This is the most southern point in Africa, and the division between the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic.

Day 108 – Swellendam – Thursday 13th September – 225kms

We decided to stop at Swellendam to break the journey to The Coast. The town is supposed to be one of the oldest in South Africa. It was ok. Nothing special. Our guesthouse had no safe parking for our bikes but Alistair managed to get them in the garden.

We rode route 62, but that section was very tedious, once we passed all the ostrich farms.

We had a walk in town. Accommodation was expensive, but restaurants were even more so. I did not understand why, as there did not seem to be anything of much interest around. We decided to get a take away a pizza instead of spending stupid money for dinner! It was enormous.

The guesthouse had a book with a couple of things to visit. One, about 100kms away was the last hand operated pontoon ferry in South Africa. We had to go and ride it!

Day 109 – Hermanus – Friday 14th September – 285 kms

We left the main road and got through little dirt roads to the ferry. It was a lot of fun, riding through rolling hills and farmland, with beautiful views.

Eventually we arrived at the river and rode the bikes onto the barge. Only two men operate the barge. We gave them a good tip as it is a hard job they are doing!

We then continued through the dirt roads until we had to join a main paved road to L’Aghulas. The place there was ok, nothing special.

Our attempt to find a cafe for a hot drink and a bite failed. It’s so hard to find cafes around! So in the end we continued until we got to Hermanus, our destination for the weekend. The weather was cloudy and very windy, it was very tiring.

Hermanus and the are is famous for many whales coming very near to the shore while the females are nursing. We hope to see some whales!