From the Wild Coast to the last African Kingdom

Arriving to the Wild Coast was a reality check. Pumpkin’s shoes (the motorcycle tires) were not adequate for the type of riding we were doing. We needed to change them as soon as possible to a set of tires built for off-road riding. This experience made us realize that we had no clue on how to ride two-up on dirt roads.  This could be a major problem as less than 10% of the roads in Africa are paved and we still had a long way to go up North.

From Coffee Bay we headed to charming Port Edwards and from there we moved to Durban. In Durban we were lucky to find a BMW dealer where we could get new tires for the motorcycle and get the rest of the riding gear we were missing. Durban is the third largest city in South Africa and has the greatest Indian population.  We took advantage of this opportunity to visit the biggest Hare Krishna temple in Africa and to eat delicious Indian curries. We also met several motorcyclists who gave us invaluable tips about the journey ahead of us.

Bike_maintanance_Durban

Pumpkin taking the day off in Durban

As we discussed with different riders about our challenges and fears of riding in Africa we got advice and recommendations. The best advice was from John at Gear Up who told us that we needed to go visit the headquarters of Country Trax. Country Trax is a motorcycle paradise hidden in nature. Jan de Toit, the founder of Country Trax, has designed an amazing motorcycle course where he teaches to ride off-road. He has also built with his own hands beautiful wooden cabins where the riders can rest after the arduous training.  Jan is a legend in South Africa and among the adventure motorcycle community.

Since Country Trax was on the way north, we decided to stop by and at least see this amazing place that several motorcyclist recommended. John gave us some tips on how to ride off-road two up and then uploaded a track of mostly good dirt roads all the way to Jan’s place.  We headed out of Durban with new tires, new techniques and on a Sunny day. After a few days in a big city it was nice to be out in the wild.

The ride north was amazing with beautiful scenery and almost no traffic. For the fist time in our trip we were not sure where we would spend the night. We started becoming tired and hungry after several hours on the road with no good places to stop. Luckily, universe gifted us with a beautiful place. We spent the night at a hotel in the middle of nowhere with wonderful hot springs that helped relax and rejuvenate our bodies. It felt wonderful to be pampered. The best part of all was that we paid backpacker’s price! The following night we headed to Vryheid. After a couple hundred kilometers, screws started to get lose on the bike and the one holding the headlamp came off. Luckily Abdul, from MICA hardware, helped us find a solution at no cost.

Beautiful ride off-road, north of Durban

Beautiful ride off-road, north of Durban

A wonderful gift from nature to us, Hot Springs in Kwa-Zulu Natal

A wonderful gift from nature to us, Hot Springs in Kwa-Zulu Natal

Finally, after a few more days of riding, we made to Country Trax. To our surprise, when we arrived at the biker’s paradise, one of South Africa’s biggest television channels was filming a documentary with famous DJ Cleo and notorious radio host Angie.  When the film crew saw the bike they got very interested in our trip and asked us to be part of the program. The next day we were all geared up for our first television appearance in Africa! We were delighted with the celebrities’ simplicity, openness and fun attitude.

Angie Khumalo and DJ Cleo leaving Country Trax after filming the 8th episode of 'Vaya Mzansi'

Angie Khumalo and DJ Cleo leaving Country Trax after filming the 8th episode of ‘Vaya Mzansi’

After shooting at the Country Trax facilities we headed to see the “Big Foot”. If you’ve ever walked barefoot through thick mud, and then seen how the impressions look after the mud has dried in the sun, you’ll appreciate how bizarre this rock formation is.

Legendary Big Foot, South Africa

The Legendary Big Foot, almost as big as Salva

After the television crew left, Jan was available to talk to us.  We explained to him our travels and our limited off-road riding skill set. Although Salva had experience riding solo, Tarci had practically no motorcycle experience. After several talks we finally convinced Jan to do a personalized training for us. We spent the rest of the day going over the theory. The next 3 days were some of the most difficult riding we would do. The training involved waking up early and pretty much being on the bike all day. The course included all types of terrain that we would encounter during our Africa. We had to remove all three boxes from the motorcycle to be able to do all of the challenging drills.

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Tarci learning to ride

This drill felt like being on a roller coaster: fun and scary!

After three days of intense training, several falls, several bruises, broken motorcycle parts and filthy gear we had completed the course. It was time to celebrate and enjoy the accomplishment of having completed the intermediary course. We felt that we were finally ready for Africa.

We left Country Trax with mixed feelings. We were happy to be back on the road heading to one of most beautiful places in South Africa, but also sad to leave Jan and his family behind. They took great care of us and felt like family.

Celebrating with Jan and his wife Elsie

Celebrating with Jan and his wife Elsie

After a long day of riding we reached the Blyde River Canyon.  Here we spent a few days exploring the area. The views, the roads and the people were just amazing as you can see from the pictures.

Beautiful view of the Blyde River Canyon

Beautiful view of the Blyde River Canyon

From South Africa we decided to visit the last Kingdom of Africa – Swaziland.

LSD Trip in the Wild Coast, South Africa

Yesterday, we rode over 450 kilometers mostly under the rain. In the last 5 hours of the ride we got fog, enough rain to get us wet to the bone and the temperature dropped down enough to make us shiver in cold. The roads have gotten much worse which required full concentration at all times. The paved roads had potholes the size of small craters and the dirt roads had mud, gravel and big ruts. I will not list the variety of animals on the road…

Yesterday’s ride has been the hardest one in the last 3,000+ Km that we have ridden in South Africa. We got really scared when a black goat jumped in front of us on the highway. I’m not sure who was more scared, the goat or us, but luckily he jumped back where he came from just seconds before we hit it.  In the last hour of the ride it was dark; the road became very technical with a mix of sections of gravel, mud, animals, rain and fog, with steep up hills and down hill. We did not expect or plan for the ride to be so long, difficult and exhausting.

As I write, we are in the Wild Coast of South Africa. Our lodge is south of Coffee Bay on top of a beautiful hill overseeing the Indian Ocean. The waves are breaking loudly against the cliff and the full moon rays are struggling to come through the dark clouds.  Only the thunders allow us to get glimpses of our magical surroundings.

The Wild Coast is one of South Africa’s most remote stretches of shoreline. The scenery is surreal, the energy around us is paradisiac and after a delicious meal this is the perfect time to reflect on the experiences we have had in the last few weeks. As we look back we realize that the past few days have been a Look, See and Decide (LSD) trip.  We will let the pictures narrate the trip:

Riding_with_Johan

When we arrived in South Africa we did not know what to expect. We were excited to be arriving into this wild continent and at the same time scared from all the stories we hear on the news. On our arrival Johan in the picture above picked us up at the airport and for the next few days he was our guardian angel. He and his family looked after us, provided guidance on our trip and helped us get organized. The most amazing thing was that we have never met Johan before our arrival and we connected with him through a motorcycle forum.

garden_road_south_africa

We rode our first 1,000 Kilometers in the area around Cape Town and we could have easily ridden much more as you can appreciate from the picture above.

Cape_Agulhas_South_Africa_T_n_S

After a week in the Cape Town area we headed to Cape Agulhas the southernmost point in Africa where the Indian Ocean meets with the Atlantic Ocean. A sense of happiness and achievement surrounded us.  Finally we felt that we were in Africa in a once in a lifetime adventure.

cango_caves_oudtshoornFrom Cape Agulhas we headed inland to Oudtshoorn to visit the Cango Caves. We did the adventure tour that required climbing and sliding across narrow holes under the grounds. The smallest passage was just under 30cm high at the exit! The cave system of tunnels and chambers was impressive to say the least and the picture above does not do justice to the beauty of the caves.

Plettenberg_Bay_Diamond

 

From Oudtshoorn we went to Plettenberg Bay. We stayed in Brian’s house (identity hidden) shown in the picture above. Brian is an ex-diamond smuggler. He made a small fortune in the 80’s going to Namibia and buying diamonds that were stolen from the diamond beaches.  Brian told us that in Namibia there are beaches that are full of diamonds and you can pick them up from the sand. These are not large diamonds but they are big enough for wedding rings. Anyway, Brian was a very interesting character with a lot of great stories.

view_head_knysna

While in Plettenberg Bay, we went to Knysna for the day. The views of “the Heads” where spectacular and the food amazing. It was a good day!

Addo_Elephant_Park

From Plettenberg Bay we headed to Addo to see the Elephant National Park. It is one of the few places if not the only place in South Africa where you get to see so many elephants together in one place. The elephants provided a lot of food for thought. It reminded us of the Indian God Ganesh and our time in Asia. It reminded us that we are in Africa. It reminded us that this animals are being killed for their ivory tusks.

John_Orange_Elephant_Backpackers

In Addo we were guest of John the owner of Orange Elephant Backpackers. John is a motorcyclist who read about our trip and wanted to support us along our way north. It was great to meet him and we were very thankful for his help!

road_hole_in_the_wall_wild_coast

From Addo we came to Coffee Bay. Yesterday due to the rain our camera drowned and we were not able to take pictures. The picture above and below are from today’s ride to Hole In The Wall a few kilometers south of Coffee Bay.

wild_coast_south_africa_beach

The beaches in the Wild Coast are just unbelievable!  It was nice to see the sun after a long day riding under the rain.

hole_in_the_whole_wild_coast_south_africa

The famous Hole In the Wall.

white_clays_coffee_bay

The picture above is where we are currently writing this blog post. On the right is our small hut overseeing the Indian Ocean. As we Look back we realize that we have Seen much more than we expected and it will be challenging to Decide what to do after the Trip.  Maybe it is just better not to think about it and do what my father told Tarci: “Go with the flow and just keep both wheels in balance”.

48 Hours to Africa!

Imagine being in a gorgeous tropical island in the middle of the ocean and in 48 hours being dropped in one of most dangerous and most beautiful places in the planet – Africa!

We have spent the last 6 weeks in Bali meditating about life, redesigning this blog, practicing Yoga and embracing our new lifestyle. We have also been planning our next leg in our holistic healing journey – Africa!

Africa Route

The plan for Africa is to travel by motorcycle across the continent. We will start in Cape Town and from there we will travel north. As of today we are not completely sure how far north we will be able to reach, however, if the political situations, weather and safety permit we plan to reach Egypt.

Over the last 6 months our focus has been to find our internal Self. We visited spiritual places, we embraced spiritual practices and have traveled within ourselves through meditation and other techniques such as Yoga Nidra. Now we plan to travel outside ourselves and to help other people.

Every year in Africa over 200 million people get infected with malaria and of those more than 500,000 people die. The shocking part about these statistics is that malaria is a preventable and curable disease. The saddest part is that over 90% of the of the people who die are children below the age of 5. Malaria is the number 1 killer in Africa and we want to do something about it.

Through this blog, social media and traditional media we plan to increase awareness about this deadly diseases and motivate people like you to take action to help eradicate this disease. We have started to develop online tools to facilitate knowledge sharing about new strategies to fight this diseases.  If you are interested to learn more about our initiative or are interested in supporting us please leave a comment below or send us a message.

Today we are starting to pack. Last night was difficult to sleep. Maybe because we don’t know what to expect upon arrival in Africa. Traveling by motorcycle is not easy and is not the safest method of transportation. So we are in this emotional roller coaster of excitement and doubt – are we really doing this???

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