Monday, 1 March 2010

Moto S.A. DAY 5. Calvinia to Kathu.

04 February 2010
The first leg from Cape Town to Calvinia (416 km) had been superb. Now for leg number 2 - the aim for today's ride is to make it to Kathu. It should be possible - it is 622 km.

This is the view from the apartment at Steenkamp se Gastewoonstel when I opened the front door in the morning. I filled up with petrol (Trip: 1,200 km) at the Caltex petrol station.

The place for Surplus People Project kind of intrigued me. I might apply.

I then rode east then north-northeast on the R27. Windpumps fascinate me. Even in the most desolate wastelands of the Karoo thirst land, somewhere within the encircling horizon, a wind pump may be seen working. They are erected in the most solitary parts of sheep runs and are simply left to do their job. Devised in America by Daniel Halliday in 1854 and produced in 1883 by Stewart Parry, a tail vane is set in relation to the radial vanes so that it controls the speed. The more wind, the more the tail vane turns the radial vanes away from the wind. It is an ingenious, cheap and simple device which will work for long periods with few demands for service (Reader's Digest - Illustrated Guide to Southern Africa). Even hot and dry places seem to have underground water. Brilliant!

The R27 is a beautiful road. I think that I was smiling inside my crash helmet most of the time. This is the way to Brandtvlei.

I stopped and listened to the silence. Then I thought that the bike was 'talking' to me, but it was just 'clicking and clacking'!

The thought crossed my mind to knock on the door of this farmhouse and ask for a glass of water. But I had two bottles in my cargo net!

Brandvlei looked like a good place to stop for breakfast and the Windpomp Restaurant Steakhouse and Kroeg (pub) roadside pit-stop won the tender. I bought a steak and kidney pie and some more water and relaxed on the shady stoep for 30 minutes. This is my kind of place!

The R27 has de luxe roadside rest stops. Very thoughtful of the local authority!

Yep; still straight and sunny - and no traffic.

Is that a slight bend up ahead? No. But Kenhardt WAS up ahead 148 km after Brandtvlei. I refuelled at Kenhardt (Trip: 1,488 km. 704 km from Cape Town).

This is a bird 'high rise' on the R27!

You get personal service if there are road repairs taking place. A lady waves a red flag for you ...

...... and the road gang watch out for you!

This is a beautiful N.G. Church at Neilersdrif. Neilersdrif is right on the southern bank of the Orange River.

This is still Neilersdrif.

The Orange River flows between Neilersdrif and Keimoes. This man thought that I wanted to photograph him. Actually I was trying to get a good shot of the river! Nice pose Dude!

Single carriageway bridge. Not much traffic anyway!
The banks and the islands of the Orange River in this area were used as strongholds by freebooters and bandits in the 1880s. River Pirates such as Captain Afrikaner, his lieutenant (a condemned Polish forger named Stephanus who had escaped from gaol in Cape Town where he was being held for execution), Captain Stuurman, and several other tough characters, with their following of renegades, made the region notorious. The last of them were only dispersed in 1884, about 100 years after the river was first explored by Europeans and named in honour of the Prince of Orange.

This farm is situated on the N12 just past Upington. Sir Thomas Upington, attorney-general of the Cape, was the man principally responsible for liquidating the business activities of the Orange River pirates and capturing their leader, Klaas Lucas. When the desperadoes were finally driven away in 1884, a town was founded on the banks of Orange River, and named in honour of the pacifier of a very tumultuous part of the country.

My goal today was to reach Kathu and find the Namakwari Lodge. Kathu is 200 km from here and near Sishen, the site of a huge open pit mine. The mine yields high grade haematite ore and is one of the world's seven largest open pit mines. The mine is the site of several mining world records, including the longest and heaviest train – a 7.5km train of 660 wagons carried 68,640 tons of ore from Sishen Mine to Saldanha Bay. Normally, trains to Saldanha comprise 342 wagons transporting 100 tons each.
But I WASN'T GOING THERE, my destination was Namakwari Lodge ( S27 41.522 E023 3.572) at KATHU.
At about 5 pm I rode into Kathu. I partially refuelled. 93 octane only! (Trip: 1,822 km. 1,038 km from Cape Town).
Namakwari Lodge was a very swanky-looking place. Beautiful thatched cottages and main building. It looked like just the place for me for a pleasant night's stay I was looking forward to checking in. They were full!

I started up the motorbike and left thinking, "I shoulda phoned ahead a made a reservation.' But doing that was not in line with the principles of this trip. NO AGENDAS. NO TIME CONSTRAINTS. NO DEADLINES. 'The trouble is this could mean NO PLACE TO STAY!!"

But, not far away I found this place. Cranberry Cottage proved to be brilliant. A young man at reception started chatting with me.
"Have you come far?"
"From Calvinia," I said.
"Long ride!" he said.
"Yes, I was hoping to stay at the Namakwari Lodge tonight," I said, "But they were full."
"Ja, its the mine hey. Full of business people! I come here often. This place is much better than that place. This place is friendly, and man the food here is fantastic!"
His name was Johan - a mine safety equipment supplier - and he was right. I had a few sundowners with him later, and then the proprietor, also Johan (Fourie, I think) Braai-ed (Bar-B-Q'd) a brilliant meal for all the guests.
It was a good overnight stop.

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