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rdwalker 02-28-2011 10:40 PM

South African Cappuccino Tour
If you live in northern latitudes, as I do, you are probably by now in throes of cabin fever. I know I am.

To alleviate that, I am sorting through my collections of photographs from various trips - and found a whole bunch made during my outing to South Africa in 2007.

It is not a particularly daring, death-defying, hard-core run like those made in Siberia or Angola – but the season is ripe for some moto-photos to lift the spirit. So, enjoy the pretty pictures.

For many years now, I have been meeting up with my friend Lewis for a ride we call “Cappuccino Tour”. It all started in the Alps, the undisputed motorcycling and cappuccino capital of the world, and then progressed elsewhere. The idea is to enjoy the world – and the coffee, too!

For the 2007 season, I contacted SAMA Tours, based in Pretoria. We spent a few months exchanging emails, completing all arrangements. Finally, in October of 2007, we flew into Johannesburg and met up in the picturesque city of Pretoria.

Here, we were met by Darryl Berman and his daughter, Nicole, who run South African Adventure Motorcycle Tours. We were renting the bikes from them and arranged for Darryl to accompany and guide us on the ride.

A few hours after arrival, we got on the bikes and went for a sightseeing ride of Pretoria. In retrospect, this was to “check us out” before going out on the trip.

From the left: Darryl, Nicole and yours truly.

We embarked on the basic tourist route, starting with the Union Building (office the President and winter home of the Parliament).

Next stop, the Voortrekker Monument, honoring the Great Trek of the pioneers, emigrants during the 1830s and 1840s, who left the Cape Colony moving into the interior of what is now South Africa. The Monument is surrounded by a circular wall engraved with wagons - a depiction of "circling of the wagons" under attack.

We still had some time to walk in the center of Pretoria – below is Lewis with Nicole and Darryl in Church Square in front of the Kruger Memorial – to enjoy the beautiful buildings and, of course, to sample some cappuccino.

Time to retire for the first night in South Africa. SAMA arranged for us a very nice place, The Farm Inn, overlooking the city. Accommodations had plenty of local décor – enough to keep us excited. Farm.jpg

Next morning really brought us into the spirit of the continent: animals parading outside of cottage windows, kitties in enclosures.

It was time to load up, suit up and leave for the road. Derryl guided us out of town, heading east. First stop, an hour or so down the road, seemed utterly non-African: a humongous Buddhist temple complex – in the middle of nowhere. We were told that this was started as a planned religious or ethnic community, but the surrounding housing was never built, only the temple was completed.

Time for a stop. This was to become a steady routine during our trip. We had surprisingly nice lunches in the Wimpy’s fast-food places attached to gas stations (and I never eat in fast food places at home). Not very exotic, eh? Welcome to the New South Africa.

Terrain began changing slowly – from desert flatlands to lush mountains.

For this trip, we both rented BMW R1150GS. A year earlier, I have briefly ridden the next generation R1200GS on a German Autobahn, and came away very much unimpressed. I thought it was too tall for me and too unstable. During our ride in South Africa, the R1150GS showed me that I was wrong. I became enamored by the utility and comfort and, yes, handling of the genre. Needless to say, within barely a month after my return home, an R1200GS found itself in my garage…

The route took us into the hills of Mpumalanga province. This area appeared to be a favorite day-tripping destination of riders for the metropolitan areas. We stopped in a café in Sabie, which very much caters to motorcyclists. A big map mounted on the wall outlined local fun-runs.

Looks like some Harley riders took offense.

Well, it is a cappuccino tour, no?

In the café, a string of bras dangled from the suspended bike. Apparently, it’s good luck…

End of first day took saw us at a hotel in Hazywiev – where I made a new friend. Yes, before you ask, I do love cats.

Next morning, we headed for a loop ride, to sightsee more of Mpumalanga. Whenever I leave the psychologically safe confines of US and Europe, I am reminded how lucky we are to be born and to live where we do.

We were just on the edge of Kruger National Park – time to experience more of the unique nature.

We rode to the Moholoholo Rehab Centre, a haven for the rehabilitation and care of abandoned, injured and poisoned wildlife.
From their site: “Wildlife is brought to the center from all corners of South Africa, and once healthy enough are re-introduced into their natural environments. Those creatures who cannot be returned to the wild due to the nature and extent of their injuries, are cared for at the center and are used to educate the many people who visit us each year, both from across South Africa and abroad.”

Of our visitor group, the bird liked Lewis the most.

Student volunteers are bringing yet another resident.

Apparently, the trick is to have the hand flat against the fencing. Lick, not bite.

The baby is getting its sand rub.

OK, so how did it get its spots, again?

You talking to me?

You f*#king talking to ME?

Out of the Rehab Centre, into the beautiful country.

Derryl demonstrates the origin of common name given to these peaks.

The long day would not be complete without a native/folklore experience. After dark, we visited the Shangana Cultural Village. A total tourist trap, complete with a witch doctor and roof-climbing chickens.

Still, the dance performance, though corny, was beautiful and moving. The dancers depicted their history, from African warrior tribes to workers in underground Johannesburg mines.

To be continued…

GB 03-01-2011 03:33 AM

Wow! That's a completely different moto tour! :thumb

Thanks for the intro and the beautiful pics :lurk

griffin146 03-01-2011 04:49 AM

Thank you.
more please :clap:clap:clap

BigDave75 03-02-2011 01:03 PM

Great Report!

I will be visiting South Africa soon and this is a great Prequel!

I may have to rent a bike!

rdwalker 03-02-2011 07:15 PM


Originally Posted by BigDave75 (Post 15319129)
... I may have to rent a bike!

Yes, you may have to! :D

Our trip was arranged with S.A.M.A., highly recommended. They offer rentals, guided and self-guided trips.

SAMA Motorcycle Tours
Darryl Berman
Po Box 2004, Silverton Pretoria, 0127 South Africa

I've been also in touch with:

Due-South Motorcycle Tours
JE Visser
Due-South Motorcycle Tours
PO Box 1500, Wilgeheuwel, 1736 South Africa

Hopefully you will get a chance to ride there.

rdwalker 03-02-2011 07:54 PM

Part 2.
Next morning, as we are making our way out, I am greeted by my friend... Actually, I am not sure if he deigned to notice me.

In the car port, we find our bikes freshly washed by someone of the hotel crew. Great service, well worth the tip.

As we rise into the hills, we enter a very dense, almost disorienting fog.

We decide to wait it out a bit - having coffee, of course. While sitting at the window, I watch the dogs sleeping in front of the silks store across the street - and have a heart attack every time a vehicle rushes by. The dogs don't even move.

It was my first time on the African Continent. Anything I saw was so exotic to me, like being inside of a travelogue movie!

Next stop: Sudwala caves, where we do a bit of off-bike sightseeing.

Stopping by the BMW dealer in Nelspruit for some parts for the bikes. The place is actually nicer than many dealerships back home.
We are offered more coffee while waiting, of course.

Taking gas. This was a novel custom for me: as we were pulling into the stations, we were quickly approached by the competing attendants - each of them desiring our business and hoping to get the tip.

On the way out of town, we see yet again smoke rising from the fields. That was a big story during our trip: lots of wildfires, both intentional and accidental.

OK, now it's getting even exotic for me.
We are at the border - crossing into the Kingdom of Swaziland. The formalities are quick, we pay the Swazi road tax, chit-chatted with the border guard... and that is it. Welcome to a place that I kept reading about in all those adventure travel books I devoured in the youth.

Beautiful views:

Swaziland has a weird economic configuration. It does have high-value production (agriculture and mining) - but, on the other hand, three quarters of the population is employed in subsistence farming.

How did they know I would be coming this way, after pigging out on the trip?

To maintain the hippo look - let's have more 'stuff'. We pull into a picturesque lodge along the road.
It looked as there was some money being spent to upgrade tourist infrastructure of the country. I was told that in the days of apartheid it was a prime weekend destination for South Africans: like many repressive regimes, theirs was very concerned by morality and vices of their subjects, banning gambling among others. Thus, Swazi casinos thrived at the time.

Lewis, of course, connects instantly and makes friends with everyone.

A typical sight both in Swaziland and South Africa: 'taxi'. These ubiquitous minibus taxis are the main mode of public transportation, in particular for the members of lower economic class - carrying well over half of all South African commuters.

We were repeatedly warned to watch out for these vehicles: the taxi drivers are are well known for their disregard for the road rules.

More local color.

Lewis trying to remember to stay on the 'wrong' side of the road.

Stopping for overnight in a picturesque lodge - bikes protected from the evening rain...

... while we hang out in the dining rom/bar.

To be continued...

BigDave75 03-03-2011 07:46 AM

Great pics!

Chuck U Farley 03-03-2011 08:10 AM

Looks like you enjoyed our beautiful country!:clap

rdwalker 03-07-2011 10:39 PM

Part 3.

Originally Posted by Chuck U Farley (Post 15325505)
Looks like you enjoyed our beautiful country!:clap

Oh, yes, we did!

Here is the last part:

Waking up in Swaziland - to the racket made by critters outside the windows.

While on the road, we were stopped by some enterprising kids, who put togeter a flag to wave down wayward travelers. We fell for it - of course. Darryl had some candy wiht him just for the occasion.

We visited the Ngwenya glass factory. Work there requires a lot of craftsmanship and artisanship - but also a lot of stamina. In that heat!

Traveling south-west, toward South-African border.

Passing a bus stop, with people wating for the ubiquitous taxis.

We were told that there is a whole signal exchange between the prospective passengers and the driver. Different gestures, crossed fingers and such, denote desired destinations. Taxis carry no signs; the driver will simply stop if going in the same direction as requested.

Road hazards.

Back at South African border crossing.

And the public-service messages, necessary due to the unfortunate conditions.

The day's destination was the resort town of St. Lucia. Again, the bikes were happy: each with own car port. (Bike port?).

Talking about eclectic cultural mix: from Eisbein (pig's knuckle) through curry, to pizza, up to ... crocodile?

Still some time left in the day for an evening cruise in the St. Lucia marine park wetlands. Here are some random photos for your enjoyment.

Next day was a rest-day. Coincidentally, it was the only rainy day of the trip. We signed up for a safari tour of the Hluhluwe Park.

Our guide, a stocky ex-Zimbabwean, started by setting us up with an early morning breakfast and coffee. Very civilized.

Here, the guide is holding forth on differences between feces of various animals. Needless to say, lunch is forthcoming...

Back in St. Lucia, at the hotel, enjoying the monkeys (?) racing across roofs.

And that's it. We spent one more day on the road, pressing on to Pretoria. Long, high-speed run through farmland was not conducive to taking memorable pictures.
Still, I captured this sign at a construction site. Aren't regional varieties of language amusing?

We returned the bikes, bid good-bye to our SAMA friends and next day traveled by car to Johannesburg to catch our flights out.
No more local color: the roads and the city skyline would not be out of place in any develped country... the air of exotica long gone.

Occasionally, though, a reminder of Johannesburg origins and even current economical base peeked out between the buildings and trees: shafts connecting to mines under the city.

That's all, folks. Hope you enjoyed this.

zadok 03-07-2011 10:50 PM

Magnificent trip and pics.:clap:D

JMOL 12-30-2012 11:12 PM

Very nice :1drink

When are you coming back to explore more?

BubbaMc 02-20-2014 07:19 AM

Yes this is an old thread, but awesome photos.

All the saffers I work with tell me I need to go now before the country is ruined. Hopefully I can get over there soon!

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