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Western Cape, South Africa

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February ’04

A South African friend in Saudi invited me to come visit so, I said sure! While there, I rented a BMW 1150 GS & took a quickie tour of the Western Cape Province. You really don’t get the feeling you’re in the “real” Africa while near Cape Town. It’s been so thouroghly colonized by the British that, the feeling is more of being in Australia than Africa. Not that that’s a bad thing. Just different. After a day spent exploring Capetown, I headed towards the wine growing region around Worcester in an early morning fog. In my continuing quest to find a Highway that can top California’s Highway 1, I headed out east along the coast from Cape Town.

Here are some shots of the coastal road from Gordon’s Bay to Rooiels. It has some dramatic coastline. If Highway 1 is a 10, I’d rate this road a solid 8.75, losing out only because its so short in comparison. Scenery-wise, it’s pretty darn nice!

After a nice lunch in the former whaling town of Hermanus, I headed inland towards Worcester. Lots of mountains! Most of the roads were fast sweepers. I’d guess the 80% of the corners I encountered on the trip, I never had to touch the brakes

Here is a shot at the end of the day, near my night’s stay at a wine estate in the Nuy Valley

On the second day, I’d stay in the Nuy Valley again, exploring the mountain passes. The further inland I went, the more barren it became. Here is a picture for those who like those long straight roads. For the amount of mountains I saw, the road engineers laid them out with a minimum of tight twisties. Like I said before, it seemed 80% of the corners were fast sweepers. On the second day, I rode over 7 passes. Not like your passes in the Alps or the Rockies but, nice to ride over

Here are some pictures approaching the Du Toits Kloof Pass. There’s a new tunnel now for woosies but the real fun is on the old road. They have signs warning you not to feed the baboons. Apparently they can get pretty agressive when there’s hand outs to be had. I came across a group & tried to stop for a photo op but, they scattered as if I had the plague.

On the third day, I would head farther inland to the town of Oudtshoorn, the “ostrich capital of the world”. They have more ostriches than people. This section reminded me of southern Arizona. I saw 4 other touring bikes on this stretch, all of them on BMW GSs. I also 3 cops but, they didn’t even flinch as I went by at about 80 mph

The fourth day I headed back to Cape Town. I went through some nice wine growing regions & even some mountain passes with pine trees. I wanted to hit the same stretch of coastal road while the sun was shining so, I rode it again in the opposite direction.

Robinson Pass between Oudtshoorn and Mossel Bay…lotta fun on this road.

Heading back towards Cape Town on the coast…

My last day with the bike, I headed down to the Cape of Good Hope. Even though it was a Saturday, it seemed as if I had the roads to myself. This is one of those “edge of the continent” places I get so attracted to. It kinda reminded me of Point Reyes. Here is the road going down the west side of the cape along the Indian Ocean.

The end of the road. I saw some ostriches down here too. They were right along the beach road. I slowed & let the bike coast. They were startled by the sound of the engine & took off running alongside me. For a few seconds I was recreating in a bizarro sort of way, that scene in Easy Rider where the horses galloped alongside the bikes 🙂

Here’s a shot of the end of the continent, the Cape of Good Hope looking south towards Antarctica

The Cape of Good Hope.

Ostriches in stealth mode sneaking up on the GS near the Cape…

From the Cape of Good Hope, I ended my trip by taking the fabulous Chapmans Peak Drive along the Atlantic side of the cape. What a dramatic stretch of coastline! Too bad it was so short. Still, it was a wonderful end to the journey.

I was never out of sight of mountains for the duration of my short trip. What surprised me was that, for all the mountains, there were relatively few tight twisty roads like in California or the Blue Ridge Mountains. I did manage to find a few mountain passes that were tight & twisty but, for the most part, the roads I travelled were fast sweepers. I can only guess that the mountains are spaced far apart, allowing road engineers to bypass the steep parts.

That said, South Africa is a large country, roughly twice the size of Texas so, I hardly got to see but a small portion of it. I’m sure there are many excellent roads I didn’t get to ride. All told, I made about 2500 km / 1600 miles in 4 & a half days.

The weather can be described as mediterranean. Quite mild. For being the middle of summer down there, I was surprised at how mild it was, only about 80 degrees during the day. I was expecting Texas like heat.

The people were very friendly, everyone waved…kids, adults…even teenagers. I passed a highway crew tidying up a roadside rest area & gave them a wave. Immediately 10 hands shot up into the air as if shot out of cannons, waving back at me. Try getting that reaction in the states or Europe 🙂 Rather than saying,”you’re welcome”, a thank you would elicit a charming,”It’s my pleasure”.

Here is one last picture of Chapmans Peak Drive…