“Africa!!?” my wife exclaimed! This was the start of a conversation about somewhere else I wanted to go during my twelve month career break which was coming to an end far too quickly.
During my year out and on my own bike I had already been to France, Netherlands and the Isle of Man. I also spent several weeks following the West coast road from lands end to John o’Groats then returning via the East coast. I spent a couple of weeks riding the South American highway up through Peru, over the Andes and stunning Amazonian forests and mountains. These were all places on my “bucket list” but I had time to fit another trip in, thus the conversation with my very patient and supportive wife. I know, very lucky!
“Why Africa?” My wife asked. I explained I had met a guy (Alex Jackson – Kaapstad Motorcycle Tours) at a motorcycle show who is passionate about the country and promised that any trip I selected would be amazing. A look through the pictures had me hooked. Due to timing I opted for the Springbok Tour which includes the garden route I had seen as a “Worlds Greatest Motorcycle Rides” on TV, with Henry Cole.
Tanya, Alex’s (now) wife made the travel booking easy, whilst Alex kept us all up to speed with what to bring and what to expect. Finally the time came and after an uneventful – albeit long flight we (I met up with some of Alex’s returning customers at the airport) were picked up and taken to Cape Town to relax and meet the rest of the riders. That evening the bikes arrived, we were fully briefed and the next morning we were off at last.
It was the first time I’d ridden the BMW 800 GS, my own bike is a Triumph Tiger 800 xc which is very comparable but I was looking forward to finding out for myself how capable they were. The first day was getting out of the city and away from the traffic. It was the first time we had ridden as a group so a good opportunity to understand each other’s riding styles and preferences.
The next two weeks were crammed with some of the best roads I have ever ridden both tar and gravel, along with some challenging mountain passes. Worthy of note is the Swartberg and Montagu passes. Although myself , Lee ( and Alex ) chose to ride these, Alex ensures that everyone’s needs are met by discussing various options ahead of the days trip. This includes places we can meet up if necessary. Alex’s approach takes away any pressures and allows everyone the opportunity to enjoy their own holiday at their own pace.
The days are not all wall to wall riding as the scenery is so stunning the only way to enjoy them is to stop and take pictures. Whilst we were there the weather was constantly in the high thirties so the stops also enabled an overdue drink of water, a chat and the obligatory selfies for Facebook.
As part of the Springbok Tour there is a two day stopover in Buffelsdrift Game Lodge. Not only is there an opportunity to relax, we were taken on a safari to see some of the animals up close in their natural habitat. If this wasn’t enough we then got to feed the elephants ( my new favourite animal ) and understand more about this incredible beast.
Before leaving for South Africa and already experiencing South America, I did have a couple of concerns. My first was the food! I had ( as lots do) not been able to enjoy the fare in Peru for fear of needing the loo – urgently. This mixed with being on a motorcycle for long periods isn’t a good combination! I needn’t have worried, not only was the food delicious and plentiful, it was always cooked to a high standard where ever we were.
My other worry was accommodation. Again, this was something I needn’t have concerned myself with. All the accommodation was great. What I hadn’t expected was the variety and different types we would all enjoy. This ranged from luxury tents, remote sustainable hotels and B&Bs with
swimming pools. Even though we were on the trip to ride motorcycles, view the scenery and understand the culture this made the trip that much more special, as it was so unexpected.
So……………. what did I think?.
I loved it. The country, the riding, the people I was with and the people we met (I booked alone, but made some great friends) and yes the bike was very capable ( almost a convert). Alex ensured we all had a great time, but it was so well planned and well thought through I would guess his job was easy, as he had already invested his time in the prior to us arriving.
Would I go again ?. I’m already booked for The Oryx Tour – Namibia next year with Lee Linford. I think that says it all, a great place to visit, a well organised tour and worth every penny!