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Week Two Chapter: 11 October ~ 17 October 2005 - South Africa

"The darkest thing about Africa has always been our ignorance of it." - George Kimble (Geographer, born 1912)

"The Pope has swept through Africa, where 5 million people are already infected with the AIDS virus, and which expects by the end of the century to have 10 million orphans whose parents have died of AIDS - and told them not to use condoms." - Lady Brenda Maddox (English biographer, born ???)

"The biggest lesson from Africa was that life's joys come mostly from relationships and friendships, not from material things. I saw time and again how much fun Africans had with their families and friends and on the sports fields; they laughed all the time." - Andrew Shue (Actor, born 1968)

Map of South Africa

Satellite image of the eastern coast of South Africa. Centered in the image is the location of the hotel just north of Umhlanga, where the Africa group will begin their second week in Africa.
(Image courtesy of  Google Earth)

Starting location for this week: Umhlanga, South Africa
Ending location for this week: Hazyview, Mpumulanga, South Africa, via the kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland.
Planned mileage for this week: 738 miles 1,180 kilometers)

Molo ("hello" in Xhosa )
Goeie dag ("hello" in Afrikaans)

Hallo ("hello" Afrikaans)
Thobela ("hello" in Sepedi)
Dumela ("hello" in Setswana)
Helele ("hello" in Sesotho - there are many other forms)

Sawubona ("hello" ["I see you"] in Siswati)

Yebo ("hello" in Siswati)
Howzit? (most common form of greeting I heard when in South Africa)

The second week is Africa is an ambitious one.  The group will ride up the Garden Coast to Umhlanga, with an optional side trip to Lesotho via Sani Pass, home of the Sani Top Chalet, the highest (altitude) bar in Africa (as Sani Pass is the highest on the continent at 2,874 meters (or 9,429 feet)). The group will have an opportunity to visit a Zulu Krall - a living museum where the arts, handicrafts, rituals and dance of Africa's most powerful warrior nation are proudly on display. In addition to bagging a passport stamp in Lesotho, the rider's will also spend a night in Swaziland.  Breakfast in South Africa, a tall cool one in Lesotho, and a fine repast in Swaziland, it's just another "normal" week for the GlobeRiders

Welcome to Week Two of the Africa Adventure 2005!

Mike, Your Webmeister

* * * * * * * * * *

Unless otherwise noted, all photographic images on this page were taken by Helge Pedersen.

The many forms of "Hello" in over 800 languages and other useful words and phrases are courtesy of Jennifer's Language Page.

To find out what time it is there (or anywhere!), visit The World Clock.

To see where they are now, visit the Navigation Technology Chapter.

For more information about the countires in southern Africa that the riders will travel through, please visit the resources listed below:

- The World Factbook, maintained by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States:

- The Consular Information Sheets, provided by the Department of State of the United States:

- The web-based, free-content encyclopedia entries at Wikipedia, maintained by "GlobeWriters" everywhere":

Fri 14 Oct, 2005 - BBC's The World Geo Quiz segment, conducted live by satellite phone.  Helge was in Swaziland at the time.

Fri 14 Oct, 2005 - BBC's The World Geo Answer, where Helge shares a littile excitment, and something he hopes his insurance company doesn't hear about!.

14 OCT 2005 - Seattle, Washington, USA

You've Got (voice)Mail....

Normally, I wouldn't insert myself this early in any Live!Journal (and out of date sequence), but we had a pretty cool event happen today. Prior to departure, Helge had been taking to David L., a producer at BBC's The World. David was interested in doing a live satellite phone interview with Helge. The segment would be aired over syndicated radio stations and their streaming sites, to include KUOW FM here in Seattle. It aired locally at 15:30 on FRI 14 OCT, 2005. You can listen to the interview by clicking on the satellite phone images to the left - this should launch the default media player application on your personal computer.

The sound files are the property and copyright of BBC World Service,  Public Radio International and WGBH Boston, and are provided here with with permission.

For more information on International News on your Public Radio Station, and over the internet, please visit BBC's The World.

07 OCT 2005 - Swellendam, South Africa

From: Helge Pedersen

Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2005 8:55 PM

To: Africa Live!Journal


Leaving Cape Town

Table Mountain, the backdrop to Cape Town, was clearer than ever as we rode our bikes on Highway N2 out of town. We could not have had a better day to start this tour, not a cloud in the sky and the temperature was perfect for Riding a Bike.

As always I could feel that I was a little nervous about the tour, it was too early to be comfortable with the riders’ skills, riding on the left side of the road and in a group. From pervious tours I know that this is just the way I feel starting any GlobeRiders tour, nothing different with this journey.

Following the coast we made a stop in Hermanos to look at the whales that come to this bay to hang out. Well, it was not the best day for whale watching, but with the help of our chase vehicle driver and guide, Marius, we got to use his expensive binoculars to get enough of a look to continue with the knowledge that we had seen the whales of Hermanos. Kind of been there and done that.

On the way down to the most Southern point of the African continent we had a little taste of dirt roads and strong wind. The group had spread out and at this point we traveled in groups of 2 or 3 bikes with the chase vehicle following behind. Arriving at the lighthouse in Cape Agulhas, the wind was strong enough to have the lady at the ticket office warning those of us with glasses to remove these as we climbed out into the wind on top of the lighthouse!

Cape Agulhas has a special meaning to me since I visited the place the first time in 1983. It had taken me 9 months and 28,800 kilometers to ride my bike from Norway to the most southern point of Africa. If you have had the chance to read my book “10 Years on 2 Wheels” you might remember the full-page picture of myself, my bike and a ship wreck in the ocean behind me. Twenty two years later and the shipwreck is still there, not much is left, but enough to make a picture.

The group gathered at the point to have their pictures taken where the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Oceans meet.

Swellendam was our destination and judging from the talk around our dinner table that night, it was a good first day on the road.


08 OCT 2005 - Knysna, South Africa

From: Helge Pedersen

Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2005 8:55 PM

To: Africa Live!Journal


To navigate on our journey, we rely heavily on the use of our Garmin GPS units. Not everyone in the group is perfectly comfortable with the use of this technology, but slowly and surely I am convinced that the level of GPS skills will increase in the following days. I have used a GPS for many years and see it as a great addition to my travels. As it is said, a GPS unit gives you the great opportunity to get lost without being lost. This was exactly what happened to Mike, Steve and I as we explored some incredible back roads north of Oudtshorn. We skipped the visit to an ostrich farm and we also passed on the opportunity to explore the Kango Caves.

The day was so incredibly beautiful that we decided to explore and that way diverted us from the planned route. As a motorcycle rider you do not like the weather to be to hot - it was perfect. The roads climbed steeply up and down barren mountains. The only vegetation was bushes and cactus that at this time of year had beautiful red flowers. Being the weekend we met many a family with their car out driving the same back roads. Compared to the cars our bikes were better fitted for the rough roads filled with potholes and loose gravel.

By pure chance that afternoon, we ran in to Joe and Bob, who were about to set out onto the last leg of the day’s Ride by taking a back road down to the coast. We decided to stick together, but also made sure to spread out so we did not crowd the dirt road descending to the coast.

Personally I had great fun riding together with Joe as we kept a higher speed than the rest of the group. This leg of the day’s ride took us through thick forest and quite a different terrain than what we had done earlier in the day. Our destination was Knysna and the home for the night was a cluster of beautiful wooden cabins. The whole group had used most of the day to ride and we all had a good story to share at dinner-time. The bad thing about arriving at sunset was that we really did not have much time to discover Knysna. Listening to the conversation, several people would have liked to stay at this great lodge for another day. Fortunately we have many nice places ahead, and several of these places, double day stays.


09 OCT 2005 - Port Alfred, South Africa

From: Debbie Christian

Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2005 4:16 PM

To: Africa Live!Journal

Subject: stories and pictures

Hi Everybody: Finally, we are going to really let you know what’s going on.

First, let us tell you about our arrival. It was the flight from hell. Harrison and I slept 2 hours on the floor at the Atlanta airport!

So far in South Africa, the scenery is gorgeous and the people are wonderful.. and helpful. Mom, you do not have to worry, you would love it here. It took the guys all day to clear customs. We had our first ride on Friday and it was wonderful We ended up in Swellendam, spent the night and everyone decided to switch paths. We went to the caves at Kango, nice caves.

All in all, we are riding with a great group and having a lot of fun. Tonight we are at Fish River Sun Lodge on the Indian Ocean. We feel spoiled. Helge is a first class guy. I hope to have time to share more of our experiences, but this first week has been very hectic…Love to all and we promise we have lots of pics, maybe we can send some later…

Love HC & Me

09 OCT 2005 - Port Alfred, South Africa

From: Pamela Smith

Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2005 4:16 PM

To: Africa Live!Journal

Subject: stories and pictures

October 9, 2005

Greetings from South Africa!! This is my electronic journal and just some of the highlights from our GlobeRider's Africa Adventure 2005. This is officially Day 6 but only the 3rd day on the road. We left Cape Town on Friday and perhaps because it was the first day it stands as the most fantastic, so far. I, being the Chase Vehicle Bushtracker that I am, cheer on all of the drivers (and Debbie and Marlene when they ride with their husbands) each day. However, as I am continuously asked, have had a most fantastic experience each day without being on a two-wheeler!

Some things that stand out most from the past three days include:

- Seeing my husband Steve realize a long time goal of this trip

- Cape Agulhas - which is the southern most point of Africa where the warm waters of the Indian Ocean come together with the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean

- Charming Dutch homes from years past

- Breathtaking sites of Sir Lowry’s Pass (And many others!)

- Locusts and leopard turtles crawling on the highway while baboons are eating and playing along the roadside

- The Knysna Heads and beautiful views and luxurious homes

- The famous Onteniqua Yellowwood “Big Tree” that is 800 years old and 120 feet tall

The people on the trip have already become like “family”. We have fun and enjoy each other’s company. I have noticed that the riders tend to spend time riding with each other and rotating companions. Marlene and I spend our days in the vehicle with our favorite guide, Marius, who is extremely knowledgeable about so many topics. We have our own college class in the auto! I have attached a couple of picture to go with this entry. I do miss my family back in Michigan (& New York) but look forward to sharing all of my experiences with them in a month.

Tot Weer Siens. . . . . . . . .Pamela Smith

09 OCT 2005 - Port Alfred, South Africa

From: Helge Pedersen

Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2005 8:55 PM

To: Africa Live!Journal


A Day in the Saddle

I felt like going fast and wanted to arrive at our destination early and so I did. After four hours in the saddle I arrived in the beautiful Sun Fish River Hotel and Golf Resort. The two first days of our journey had been full of beautiful riding and this day all that I wished for was to get to the hotel so that I could catch up with editing of pictures and to catch up on writing and laundry.

At this point I felt totally relaxed and confident that the group could take care of themselves in regards to navigation and functioning together. It has been a pleasure to see Pam and Marlene arrive late in the afternoon just full of life and so excited about the day’s journey. They are very happy with our chase vehicle driver and guide, Marius, and his expertise on the flora and fauna of this part of the world.

The following day I invite Joe and Roger to go and explore a route that follows the N2 going north to Kokstad. We decided to find as much dirt road as possible. Not only do we love riding on dirt roads, but this way we got to see places that most people do not go to just because of the poor road conditions.

By a combination of using our GPS, maps and asking the locals, we found our way to the Transkaai. On the border to this previous homeland of Transkaai we had to get off the bikes to step onto some kind of a chemical sponge mat. This was apparently an attempt to stop some kind of sickness. Transkaai has some wonderful riding and the gravel roads were fairly good and fast. Wherever we came people smiled and asked questions. Telling that we came from the US made them even more curious. Not one time did we meet anyone that did not like us or behaved in a threatening way. This is despite what watching the news media would like you to think about a country. It was obvious that we were off the beaten track since there were very few people that spoke English.


09 OCT - Port Alfred, South Africa

From: Helge Pedersen

Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2005 8:55 PM

To: Africa Live!Journal


Sani Pass and Lesotho was the detour of the day, and what a day it turned out to be! We had stopped at a gasoline station to drop off the trailer and some of the riders chose to lighten the bikes by leaving their panniers. After all, we had to return the same way to continue to Durban so this was by all means a good excuse to lighten the weight. Riding the Sani Pass is not for the inexperienced and our bikes are not exactly the lightest beasts to handle over rocks and steep hills.

After crossing in to Lesotho the road became much worse and at times large, loose rocks made many of our riders nervous. Mike and I stuck together and we took the challenges one by one as they were presented. First we had his old puncture repair come undone, so it was time to fill the hole with stringy/sticky tire repair stuff. But this was not Mike’s day - he turned around and left the rocks and steep hills to the rest of us.

When I caught up with the chase vehicle all I saw was 4 people and their cameras aiming at me like a group of paparazzi. They got their pictures and told me that Harrison had fallen at the same spot, and in the fall he had cracked his head. First I could not believe what I was told, but then, after a few questions, I learned that it was actually the valve cover of his bike that had hit a rock and cracked slightly. That was enough to get my attention and now I really started to wonder what I would see ahead as the road started to wind tightly up the mountain pass!

Sani is a beautiful pass surrounded with steep mountains and at this time of year they are beautiful green. A group of bright yellow trikes, with a guide, passed me on their way down the valley. Four-wheel drive cars goes and comes and one French couple that I met at the border has taken a walk to the top after deciding that their rental sedan would not make it. This is definitely a four-wheel drive road.

Just before I make it to the top I have to stop to help to get Steve’s bike back on its feet before we can ride the last stretch to the highest altitude pub in Africa. We celebrate that we made it to the top and enjoyed a cold drink as we look down the valley to where we are to return. It has been two years since I visited this place and this time I have a couple of pictures with me to give to some of the people that I photographed last time. But when we come to the village I learn that the woman in my picture passed away last week from TB (tuberculosis). I find her family and give the picture to her mom. This just underlines how harsh life is in this country. People are poor and the living conditions are very primitive.

Despite the situation we are greeted by friendly people, and kids shearing sheep have fun with us tourists as we take their pictures. An empty pop can is passed around as we put in a few Rand for them to enjoy.

Back at the gas station we load Harrison’s bike on the trailer, not worth taking the chance that it runs too low on oil as a result of the leak in the valve cover. Fortunately we have two nights in Durban and that is just what we needed to get the bikes up and running again.

Tommy Johns Motorcycles comes to our rescue. Never before have we seen a dealership goes out of its way to take care of a group of bikers desperate in need for some help. We needed two valve covers and there are none in-stock in Durban. That is when Tommy Johns Motorcycles comes to the rescue. Kathy Johns greet us with open arms and before we know it, two used valve covers magically appear and repairs are done in a professional way. We are even given a shirt advertising their shop before we part for our hotel in Umhlanga just north of Durban.

Durban was our last big city before we return to Cape Town in just about one month. Time to meet the real Africa, with wildlife and Zulu warriors!


Images from Africa, by Helge Pedersen

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