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metaljockey 03-12-2006 01:53 AM

Am I the Camel Man?
OK, orientation time; or, as the Fakarwe Bird says: where the fakarwe?
We're here

Yes, a Lesotho trip report. I was supposed to have done this trip 4 weeks ago but all hell broke loose in the week preceding, the cherry on top being me contracting tick bite fever and missing the trip. I wasn't pleased at all at having Michnus and his wife go off on a trip I planned.

Anyhoo, 4 weeks later and Nardus (never say no to a bike trip) and myself head for Lesotho. Me 1200GS, he 640 adventure. On the way through the Transkei and recent rains makes things a bit dificult.

Some find it more difficult than others.

We rock up in Ugie (tiny little town in the back of beyond) and I am greeted by this wonderful picture
I tell you, this country has a bright future, breeding biker chicks like this.

We ride through some scenic country with weird rocks around Mt Fletcher and make the South African border post into Lesotho with minutes to spare. Between the South African & Lesotho border posts lies Sani pass. Incredibly beautiful with several steep switchbacks near the top. Early on it looks like there is plenty of water.

For some reason I expected the myriad of streams crossing the road to have concrete bottoms. They don't. No big hassle and the terrain is just the thing to wake you up after 600km of windblast.

As we climb higher the views keep on coming.

I think I should apologise now and get it out of the way. Lesotho is also known as the Mountain Kingdom. I suspect it may be because the country consists of mountains and is ruled over by a King.
The thing is, where ever you look, astounding views abound. I could take hundreds of photographs each day just of green vista's, each as beautiful as the next. Unfortunately it gets monotonous. So I'll try to not bore you with pics of beautiful countryside only. See this one has some luggage in it:

Here you can see the switchbacks at the top of the pass.

Up into the clouds.

Reaching the top.

After reading Leo's post (he had the good fortune to spend the evening with some blonde foreign girls when staying over in Sani Top Chalets), I had high hopes for the evening ahead. But no, what I got was eight, not so pretty, biker degenerates.

These guys were on quite a substantial trip, having ridden from Port St Johns at the coast that morning. To put it in perspective, a XT500 and a 22 year old XR500 formed part of the group. Some of these guys were over 50 and they were having a ball.

Here's the XT500 pilot. Just one look and you can see he's got the requisite sense of humour needed to take that Lister Pump on a long trip.

We had an entertaining evening with this lot, many stories, many beers. Day one at an end, day two to follow.

GSPD750 03-12-2006 05:21 AM

Excellent pics. Can't wait for day 2.


bosco 03-12-2006 06:22 AM

Excellent! Nice shot. sounds like a fun trip.

scooterhose 03-12-2006 06:37 AM

Great report Mr Jockey! Beautiful pics. Hope you take more rides very soon! Lots more!

GB 03-12-2006 08:33 AM

Yay! Another outstanding MJ adventure ride, no doubt about it! Keep it comin'! :thumb


metaljockey 03-13-2006 12:52 PM

Day 2 starts fresh and pinkish.

Today we want to reach Katse Dam. It should all be good riding; the only thing in the back of my mind is that the Senqu river may not be passable. Should that happen we would have to backtrack several hours, possibly run out of fuel and certainly not make it to the dam. I take 5 litres of fuel extra just for incase.
It rained during the night and all is crisp as we set out to see what Lesotho looks like.

Contrary to Transkei, it is sparsely populated and the local huts look to be stronger, not being made of mud.

Close up you can see that mud is still used to seal the gaps.

A good day to be on a bike.

Typical village scene. Horses are the main mode of transport here. Roads are in short supply.

We stop in for a quick breakfast beer. Check out the chair, that should be patented.

All the people we meet are helluva friendly. The Basotho appear to be a soft spoken, reserved people. I also notice that shebeens dont have the normal inebriates hanging around. In fact we had to put some effort into finding places to buy a beer.

Apparently there's no shortage of rocks however.

You want a health warning on cigarettes?

As we get closer to the Senqu it becomes clear that there had been some rain recently.

In fact, a lot of rain.

I'm not feeling any better as we keep on crossing what should have been little streams that had clearly been torrents recently. Here the road used to cross on top of the bank on the left.

Four weeks ago Michnus had to cross the Senqu like this:

When we arrive there it looks like this:

There's no way in hell we'll get across without being washed away. Damn depressing. I gave a lift to a local for the last 10km or so and he moves off upstream. Nardus goes to check it out and find this.

These okes are crazy. The first time I saw the boat rocketing down stream I thought all was lost. However about 100 m down stream the oarsman managed to get out of the main current and commenced rowing back up close to the bank. This was then repeated with new passengers. Row to the top of the rapids, enter the main current, go flying down river over several standing waves, reach the other side and start rowing laboriously up river to where the loading and offloading starts.

What to do, what to do? After watching this scene repeat itself several times, it looked a lot safer. So........

We fetch the bikes and after some discussion and a lot of muscle work, here I go.

The river just swallowed my number plate, I feel like nothing this top-heavy will ever make it through the rapids and I'm trying to stay calm and get some pics so my wife can at least see what I saw before I died.

This is what I saw

I think ridiculous thoughts such as "should I take the keyes out of the ignition for in case we flip over?" and " I wonder if it is difficult to swim in Savanna boots". Luckily my fate is not in my hands and we make it through the rapids and aim for a landing on the far bank.
Look at those arms. Doesn't look like much but it's made of tungsten. In the three hours we spent to get across this chap did all the rowing, stopping only to load passengers for maybe 5 minutes at a time.

I feel like the Camel Man!
Remember him? On second thought and after having sourced this picture I have to categorically state; I am not the Camel man. You'll have to beat me savagely and consistantly before I submit to a perm like that. Plus, I don't smoke and in any event, I am sure this oke wouldn't have squeeked out little fartlets like I did because of a little choppy water.

Next up Nardus. I have to say, a 10x zoom is a sweet thing.

About to enter the rapid.

The blurry pictures are due to my shaky hands. Some would say it is fear, I prefer to say that the GS is one heavy mother to load onto a boat.

Time to pay attention.
Nardus jumped up when they went into one particularly nasty trough and he thought it was all over. The two in the boat laughed. I'm sure the oarsman see some entertaining facial expressions on every trip.

Safe and sound. On the far side the end of the road is visible, I think at least two days still before the level will be low enough to cross.

After all that excitement we get to Thaba Tseka and thankfully, today they do have petrol. Immediately afterwards my bike start bogging if I open the throttle suddenly.

We reach Katse Dam and are treated to a crap dinner but we don't give a shit. It was one hell of a day.

Day three to follow.

adrenalin-junkie 03-13-2006 01:02 PM

Only a BOER can do that
It is good to see some Boertjies doing the ADV thing back home . I surely miss it .Post some more pics please.:eek1

the white rabbit 03-13-2006 01:08 PM

Fantastic pics, beautiful scenery. Love the bikes on the boat :eek1


banshee 03-13-2006 01:09 PM

wow wow wow wow wow...etc.

absolutely amazing! :clap:clap:clap:clap:clap:clap

p.s. wow!

p.p.s. :lurk

wachs 03-13-2006 01:11 PM

what a trip
how much did you guys tip the boatman? super photos of your great trip. keep'm coming!!

kirkmoon 03-13-2006 01:19 PM

:freaky OUTSTANDING. :clap

yogesh 03-13-2006 01:24 PM

One hell of a ride, amazing photos :clap. Waiting for day three writeup and pics

Vance 03-13-2006 01:37 PM

Wow! Thank you man. Unreal pics!:clap :clap :clap :clap

sandiegoland 03-13-2006 01:39 PM

You ARE the Camel Man!!!

Great photos - action, landscapes, people...:1drink

Wings 03-13-2006 01:56 PM

awesome-keep them coming!

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