A Motorcycle tour of the Western Cape, South Africa
Author: Steve and Carole Eilertsen. firstname.lastname@example.org
The West Coast of South Africa is not one place, one industry or one attraction. It is many, many things. It is a world within a world where diversity is the only common element. One day you are sipping Cabernet on a lush wine farm, the next you are watching the thick mist roll onto a dry and desolate beach. From power kiting on the lagoon to hiking a steep mountain trail, there is so much to see and do.
The West Coast offers so many unique and wonderful experiences that maybe I should mention the negative to give this magnificent area some sort of ‘real world’ balance . . . the locals are not friendly! Perhaps years of catering to endless streams of tourists both foreign and local makes the hospitality industry punch drunk and indifferent. No matter. The Western Cape is a must-visit, must-see, must-experience kind of place and so the touring adventures of the Eilertsen’s continued in December 2002 with a 2000km, 14 day tour motorcycle tour on our trusty BMW F650 which we ride two up. We had damaged our hard pannier system beyond repair last year in an accident. This year we decided to make our own soft luggage pannier system. Follow this link for more
We were eager to travel to Namaqualand to see the world famous flower areas but with December holidays being the most convenient for both our businesses, we would miss the spectacle by months . . . that would just have to become another tour another time.
Booking our train tickets on Spoornet was reasonably painless. Finding someone who knew anything about the cargo was another issue. After about 10 phone calls and endlessly explaining our plight to an ever increasing disinterested audience of call centre agents Carole eventually got through to some poor manager in Head Office. He had nothing to do with cargo, but listened patiently and luckily for us owned a motorbike. Immediately the biker bond showed it’s face! He sympathised with our plight and made it his personal mission to find out all the information we needed, but not before going into detail about the history of his motorcycle interests and the wonders of his new 750! (Click here for more information about how to get yourself and your bike, safely and easily from Johannesburg to Cape Town by train)
The 24-hour train trip was a relaxing one, where we caught up on some reading, had sundowners in the saloon and watched the stressed faces of the drivers as they thrashed their cars past the slow-moving train into the encroached Karoo darkness. On the second day, we started looking out the window from about 10:00am and saw the beginning of the beautiful Cape with its fertile valleys and craggy mountains. This would be the first glimpse of what would become an awesome trip.
After a hot shower and clean clothes, we relaxed that evening with friends in Durbanville in Cape Town and did a few motorbike preparations for the morning. Dexter the family cat took great interest in our bike and explored every pannier and part. It reminded us of the ten months of ‘work’ that had gone into making this trip possible. Also all the custom touring features we had added to make this trip easy and convenient. (click here to see the bike with it's custom panniers & fully packed)
The trip to Worcester our first stop was spectacular. Travelling over the first of many passes i.e. Du Toits Kloof Pass; we stopped often to appreciate the incredible views. (Well, not the whole truth!) The Cape was once called the Cape of Storms and although the weather was fine, the characteristic Cape winds would be our ever-present touring companion in the days that lay ahead. Riding in wind, on a twisty mountain pass is something you ease yourself into and so the spectacular views of the wine lands below was an excellent excuse to acclimatise to the new riding conditions.
The road to Worcester winding through the mountains.
The town of Worcester is big, with everything you may need except maybe a double Café Latte at Seatles Coffee bar! Our accommodation was a little way out of town and self-catering, so we picked up some groceries and headed home. The chalets are basic but well kept with a huge wooden deck and spectacular views of the surrounding Cape Mountains.
|That afternoon we visited Kleinplaasie, a living museum that has recreated the lifestyles of the early farming pioneers in the area. Walking around the farm you are introduced to early building techniques…sticks and straw and then later their more modern brick homes with peach pip floors. The farm has a team of workers who duplicate the tasks done on a daily basis by the families of that time. For example, there are ladies baking bread in the outside ovens from the wheat that was ground using the farm’s water driven mill. Others were making candles and soap out of sheep fat. The blacksmith was making everything from nails to decorative railings. There was also the tobacconist who dries, rolls and chops chewing tobacco. All these products are then sold to the public in the museums shop. We also were able to sample the various distilled spirits. The witblitz is pure firewater (65% proof) but the flavoured liqueurs e.g. Rooiboos and Buchu were smooth and flavourful. |
The heat absorbed every bit of energy we had making it very tempting to sleep the day away but we managed to keep up our holiday spirit up and went cherry picking at Klondike farm. You pay R5 per person and are welcome to walk around the farm eating as many cherries as you want. If you want to take some home, you bring your own container and pay for the weight of the cherries on leaving. Sitting in the shade of a cherry tree eating the sweet fruit is an unbeatable experience.
The next destination was Darling, stopping in at Tulbagh en route - a quaint town filled with Cape Dutch character. The town is cleverly separated into two very different areas. The Cape Dutch traditional buildings, tourist attractions, and further up the general town with the ever present furniture and general stores so typical of smaller towns.
We left Darling the next morning and headed west towards the coastline. The cultural and historical part of our trip was over. The next few days would be spent on the coastline, famous for its seafood and bird life.
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