Thursday, April 19, 2018

African Post: Days 8, 9 & 10 - Eastern Coast, Oribi Gorge, Umngazi River Lodge

Day 8: East Coast

Leaving St Lucia, we follow the coast south to Port Shepstone to have lunch at the yacht club.  The white lady working the bar said she could not understand my accent when I asked to buy a bottle of water.  A customer nearby translated my American midwest English to her South African English.

Trying to catch a meal for the day.

Then we turned inland, heading up into the mountains with Oribi Gorge as our destination. 
Roads are narrow and winding.

At the bottom of Oribi Gorge

The Oribi Gorge Lodge

Day 9: KwaZulu-Natal

After a cool restful night near the Gorge, we ride across the high plains of the KwaZulu-Natal region toward the Wild Coast of South Africa and Port St John on the Umngazi River. 

The road is smooth with only a few potholes. This land was given to a native tribe to live as they wish. Is not fertile farm land, but better for grazing animals like goats, sheep and cattle.

Some of the people are building bigger, nicer homes...

While others still live in the traditional mud and thatch huts. 

Julian explained the round buildings are the kitchen and the rectangular building are the living sleeping quarters. This custom is founded in that most fires start in the kitchen, so to protect the family, all cooking is done in a separate building. If the kitchen were to burn down, they still have a place to sleep while rebuilding.

Some ridges or hillsides will be littered with houses and others have none. 

We have seen many unfinished houses through out South Africa. Julian says that many workers in the gold and diamond mines cannot get a mortgage or financing to build a house. So they save their earnings. Every year when they return to visit their families, they build a little more onto the house. So one day it will be completed. Maybe by the time they retire. 

We stop for gas at a local crossroads.

One of the many hazards of riding in South Africa are the many domestic animals which roam free. 
Of course, if you were to hit or injure an animal, that particular animal would have been the Grand Champion Trophy breeding animal worth hundreds of thousands of Rands. So best not hit any of them. 

We rolled through many small villages watching our speed, for potholes, pedestrians and free ranging animals. 

One must remain alert when riding here. You have to watch for:
Animals on the roadway
Animals next to the roadway
Pedestrians walking along the road
People running across the roadway to catch a taxi
Rural taxi vans that race from stop to stop, ignoring traffic signals
Large slow moving trucks
Small fast luxury cars driven by rich people
Barely drivable vehicles with three bald tires, catty-walking down the road
Painted speed bumps, known as dead policemen to slow you down.
Unpainted dead policemen that surprise you
Confusing traffic signs
Missing traffic signs
Pass or no pass center lines and turning lanes
Mud run-off on the roadway after a rain
All of that plus...    they drive on the wrong side of the road here!

With that said, we are having the time of our lives on this SAMA Tour. 
Loving every minutes of every day we are here.

This Sunday morning the local soccer clubs are having a game.

Another of the hazards to watch for... donkeys.

Is very common to see women carrying heavy loads balanced on their heads. 
 The twisted log she is carrying is twice as long as she is tall.

Not sure why this boy would carry two puppies from the market area, no leash?

We finally reach the Wild Coast of SA, though our accommodations are anything but wild.

Sipping coffee and enjoying the view from the balcony of my cabana at the mouth of the Umngazi River. The waves breaking on the sandy beach can be easily heard, lulling one to sleep.

Here we take a days rest off the bikes. All meals are included in the price of the room. 
There goes the diet....

Every cabana is unique and different from the others. 

Day 10: Rest Day at Umngazi River Lodge

Woke up to the crashing of waves on the beach. A spit of sand separates the river and the ocean near the mouth of the river.

Mid-morning the cattle started arriving, walking the river bank toward the ocean.   Curious as to why, there is no vegetation for them on the sand spit.

Seems they like to lie on the sand and take a siesta mid-day. 
Maybe to escape the ticks and insects in the long grass.

A few tourists also found a secluded spot on the beach

From the riverfront lodge, a boat would shuttle people across to the sand dunes on the other side.  When they wanted to return, they hit the gong to call the boat.

The lodge has many buildings spread out along the river bank, but staff keeps the place very clean.

I could see why people would reserve a cabana a year in advance for a family holiday, returning year after year. There are many activities for children as well as for adults in this beautiful hideaway.

While there were no wild animals spotted in this region of SA, 
we are experiencing many different parts of South Africa on this tour. 

Tomorrow, the ride continues...




  1. All I can say is wow, what a fantastic trip! I like your road hazard list...

    1. Thanks Richard, this has been an interesting trip so far, not over yet.

  2. That Texas accent; gets you every time! ;)

    Next time you list road hazards...just use the geek term: *.* (means everything)

    1. Texas accent? I wish.

      Did use my Spanish on a traffic cop who was asking to see my drivers license and vehicle registration. The more he asked in English the more I responded in Spanish. He finally gave up and told the other officers I only spoke Spanish. Never did show him anything.

      The only other contact we have had with a traffic cop was one who said my International Drivers License was not valid in South Africa.... "What should we do about it?" he asked. My response was, " Adios Amigo?". He wasn't happy but sent us on our way.


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