Friday, 12 March 2010

Moto S.A. DAY 16. Winterton to Clarens.

15 February 2010

I woke up at 06:15 and washed my stuff. Then I had a look at the beautiful garden at Kingfisher B&B.

The day had dawned bright and sunny, so it made sense to hang up my stuff to dry. I also checked the oil.

It was a magnificent morning. The portents, again, were excellent.

What a lovely garden.

After a very nice breakfast we packed up our stuff. It was time to leave Winterton. It had been a very good stay. Here is the link again if you want it. Just click on the name. Kingfisher B&B.

There were a few scattered clouds; cumulus and orographic maybe??

This is the R74 to Bergville.

Dr M admiring the scenery on the Bergville road.

Dr M taking a photograph of some picturesque thatched dwellings.

Maybe the inhabitants took one of him back?

I can't see a camera anywhere! It looks like a termite lives at Number 5. Maybe it took the picture!

KZN is rich in these types of kraal.

Hey, there IS traffic on the R74.

Another Des Res.

Why is it always so dark? And quiet?

What river is this??

It is the famous Tugela. Further west it was the limit of the British colony of Port Natal. The Zulus held sway on the north bank.

We decided to approach Bergville via the pretty route.

Here is the little town of Bergville. It used to be a very pleasant little place. Now it is looking slightly third world - but I liked it!!!

Dr M needed to change £s into ZARs - in case he needed to buy petrol from my tanker! He decided to try this bank.

The shopping mall in Bergville. What's not to like?

The queue at the bank was about three days long. We decided to get back to the R74 and steer for the Royal Natal Park and to visit the famous and spectacular Amphitheatre. The R74 took us away from Bergville. We were heading for the Drakensberg Amphitheatre in the Royal Natal National Park. The idea was to see a little more of the Berg before going on to the Golden Gate Reserve and Clarens in the Free State for the night stop.

The views from the road, as usual, were lovely.

Just before Olifantshoek Pass we turned off heading southwest towards the Royal Natal National Park and the Amphitheatre.

This baboon was hanging around the gate to the park.

Eventually we could go no further with the motorbikes. We parked and went for a little exploring.

Dr M was convinced that his m/c boots were waterproof. The last time his boots were tested like this was in Belgium - on the road!

My boots are dry - I'm standing on a rock!

We didn't stay up here too long. It was time for some lunch and we were quite a long way from Little Switzerland where we intended to stop.

Our tracks up the mountain were reversed. Every few miles we would be compelled to stop and take a photo.

Mostly the roads were like this - good surface and traffic-free.

Dr M doing his duty. Maybe THIS is the pic!! OK - time to go to Little Switzerland. The tarmac road descended gently back towards the R74.

Virtually the only way for the local people to get around is by taxi.

The taxis are almost exclusively Toyota Hiaces. Toyota S.A. do very well I think!

Typical scenery as viewed from the R74.

This is the resort of Little Switzerland. It is in KwaZulu Natal, but almost on the Free State border.

This was a good place to stop for lunch. Dr M's idea - and a good one!

Looking back up to the restaurant area.

Looking down at the dam.

After an excellent lunch it was again time to make tracks. This time we are taking the R74 over Olifantshoek Pass, along the eastern side of the Sterkfontein Dam and then turning southwest and through the Golden Gate Highlands National Park on the R712 to Clarens. Here we go. The weather ahead was looking ominous.

I believe this is the northwest tip of Woodstock Dam.

Neat thatched rondavels.

Basket weaving at a scenic lookout spot.

You can never buy any souvenirs when travelling by motorcycle.

This little lad nearly got away with the bike. I caught him just in time!!

Dr M has just crossed the border from KZN into the Free State. I am still in KZN!!

A good view of Sterkfontein Dam.

Still on the R74.

The Golden Gate Highlands National Park ahead.

To use a cliche. The scenery is stunning.

It is better than Arizona. It is green.

It looks like we are going to get a soaking!

Everywhere one looked, the scenery was beautiful, but the weather was closing in. The outside air temperature on the bike's computer was dropping. We were traversing a front.

This is the R712. More picturesque views.

R712 Golden Gate.

R712. Golden Gate. We got soaked a few kilometres further on.

The camera does not do justice to the distant scenery.

We got very wet. But then the slipstream blew our kit into DAMP mode! We refuelled at a petrol station not far from Clarens. This is not a petrol station - these are ostriches!

Then we found Millpond House. We had phoned ahead that morning and made a reservation. It was our lucky day.

Roger Mills met us at the gate and supervised the parking of the motorcycles.

The bikes clicking and clacking as they cooled down.

Millpond House is a very beautiful place. We received a warm welcome.

The garden is also lovely. Somebody has green fingers.

I had a walk around and just enjoyed the garden in the late afternoon.

My gear was still very damp. The room that I had been allocated was upstairs and had a roof terrace.

This is the view from the roof terrace.

The balcony furniture and my pegs and string were put to use. Drying my kit was a priority.

After a shave and shower we walked along the beautiful sand roads to the town for a meal. It was about a kilometer to the restaurant.

It was early evening and cool but pleasant. Clarens is a gem of a place.

We passed this house on the hill. Look at the back 'yard'!

Dr M doing his bit for my blog.

I didn't know that Guinea Fowl could fly up to telephone wires!

Not far to go now!

Pretty fast waddlers these geese!

Here is a place with character; and what better name for the street?

This place looks nice, but let's stay with Plan 'A'!

This place also looks good. Still Plan 'A'? Yep!

The Highlander Restaurant was good. We sat on the stoep mostly. When the sun went down we moved inside. Great meal. A lady called Vee whom we met on the walk in had recommended this place. Thank you Vee. Good steer!

Yeah, 'Cheers'!

Can the kitty run to a few beers and two meals too? - Just about!
It was a good evening at The Highlander. Later we wandered back to Millpond House in evening rain. Our gear had thoughtfully been moved inside. We were also invited into the warm and comfortable lounge for a drink. We spent a very pleasant hour chatting and comparing notes. Roger and Merri are lovely people.

The next morning, after a great night's sleep, Merri prepared a superb breakfast and then Roger gave me some good information regarding the best way to get back to Johannesburg. Here we are studying the map.

There was time for a last wander around the garden and an introduction to Merri's chickens. They are pretty and amusing. My plan to keep chickens at my place in England has been reinforced.

Clarens is a beautiful place to visit. It is superbly cared for by the community. Millpond House, likewise, is superbly cared for by Merri and Roger, as are their guests. Here is the email address:
Thank you for a brilliant stay.


J aka TB Lucyfer said...

Amazing ride report...but this section of your trip meant the most to me as it is my favourite place in SA.

I have hiked most routes around the Drakensburg, Stayed at Little Switzerland, worked with the Roads Department and lovely people of Bergville - which is really quaint - but this encapsulates all that is special to me in SA.

Thank you for sharing your ride, pic's and memories with us!

Truly an amazing trip - that you undertook and I am so pleased to see that all seemingly went according to plan.

jetadventure said...

Thanks J aka TB Lucyfer for your comment.
The trip WAS amazing. Each part of the country had its own special quality.
I don't have any particular favourite place, but the Drakensberg IS beautiful and the mountain streams were brilliant.
Vanrhyns Pass was somehow very appealing to me, Calvinia too. In fact the ride up the N7 and the R27 was just fantastic.
I also thought that Kathu, Dundee, Underberg, Winterton, Clarens, Zastron, Burgersdorp, Aberdeen, Calitzdorp and Barrydale all very attractive little towns.