Sunday, June 28, 2015

We go to Sabie - May 2014

A few of us decided to visit the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa.

Riders and bikes:

André:  BMW R1200GS
Magda:  BMW R1200GS LC
Garth:  Honda Transalp
Correen:  Honda CBF600S

During Christmas Day 2013, the four of us got the idea for this ride, so we looked for a nice play to stay and chose the Sabie River Camp, which is situated in Sabie, on the banks of the Sabie River.  The accommodation is permanently erected tents.  We enjoyed the stay there and would, in future visit the camp again.

On 1 May, a public holiday in South Africa we left for Mpumalanga, or ET (Eastern Transvaal) as it is collectively known by bikers.  The first part of the route is unfortunately boring and straight, so from Bapsfontein, via Witbank and Middelburg to ET is a rather boring straight bit.  We decided to avoid the highway as much as possible, but even then, still straight and boring.


As we left Middelburg for Belfast, about 10 kilometers out of Middelburg, the road disappeared.  I kid you not.  It was not that the road went bad, with plenty potholes.  No, it turned into a dirt road with a patch of tar, here and there!  The small group decided to go ahead instead of turning back.  A very brave decision by Correen as she was on a road bike, with road tires.  Thankfully this bit was only about 20 kilometers and we were soon rid of it, without any incidents.

Once we met up with a road again, we went through Belfast and on to Dullstroom, where we had a leg stretch and refueled.  Dullstroom is a well known tourist town in the area, so we normally don't hang around longer than needed, but it is a very pretty town. 

After Dullstroom, the nicer roads start and we meet up with the first twisties.  Nothing serious yet, but a nice warm-up for the Long Tom Pass which is between Lydenburg and Sabie.  The Long Tom Pass is named for the Long Tom canon monument at the apex of the pass.  According to history this canon was taken from the English military by the local defenders and put to good use against the previous owners.  Long Tom Pass

We arrived at the Sabie River Camp, booked in and made ourselves comfortable.  As is the custom, that evening we made a fire and had a braai for supper.  Something strange happened.  For the first time in my life, I experience fire lighters that would not burn!  No matter how hard we tried, no fire!  It took some effort to overcome these magic fire lighters.

During the next two days we rode two loops in the area.  ET is a favourite amongst bikers, because you can point the bike in any direction and find beautiful mountain passes.  On Saturday we rode from Sabie to Graskop, via the Kowyn's Pass Pass to Hazyview. 


Then we rode on the 22 back to Sabie.  The 22 is the piece of road between Hazyview and Sabie, which starts at the Kiepersol turn-off.  Is is 22 kilometers with something like 70 turns.  A biker heaven. 

The old folk then went for an afternoon nap while Garth took Correen's Honda for a workout up and down Long Tom Pass.  That evening we did a braai again, this time I lost patience with the fire lighters not burning so I went to get some fire lighters that would burn.  A great day was had by all.

Saturday we rode a nice loop via Pilgrim's rest.

After Pilgrim's Rest, we rode up Robber's Pass, via Ohrigstad through the Blude River Canyon.  This route takes the rider via wonderful sights like the Bourke's Luck Potholes, Wonder View and God's Window. 

Bourkes Luck Potholes

God's Window

Wonder View

We arrived back in Sabie, tired but all smiles.  It was a nice ride. 

The Sabie River Camp is on the banks of the river, so every morning starts very misty.  A picture does not do it justice.

Sunday came, all too soon and we headed home.  From Sabie, back to Lydenburg takes the rider over the Long Tom Pass again and then between Lydenburg and Roossenekal, we rode my favourite piece of road in the world.  Steenkampsberg Pass.  It is just an awesome climb from the Lowveld to the Highveld.  Steenkampsberg Pass

After Steenkampsberg, the typical Gauteng Province conundrum starts.  Long, straight, boring roads all the way home.

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