03-13-2006, 12:52 PM
Joined: Jun 2005
Location: Eastern Cape, South Africa
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.