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.

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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.

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