Saturday, April 26, 2008


It’s been a while since I’ve have a proper ride… I needed a breakaway with friends to recharge the batteries. This got me thinking – Eisbein and I still haven’t ridden Baviaans together. The last time we tried (on the Roam Free ride) he broke his suspension. So with a long weekend ahead a plan was set in motion…

Day 1:

Eisbein, Vicky, Operator, LGF and I were going to spend the weekend riding the amazing roads and passes of the Garden Route, Baviaanskloof and Klein Karoo. Eisbein, Vicky and Operator arrived in George on Friday night already so we could have an early start the next day, but we chatted the night away and only got to bed in the wee hours of the morning. We left George (the sixth oldest town in South Africa) early on the 1st day full of anticipation of what lay ahead.

The route for the first day would follow the 7 Passes road, Kom se Pad, Prince Alfred’s Pass, past Uniondale, through the Hartbeesrivier road and the Noukloof Pass toe Uitspan campsite in the Western side of the Baviaanskloof.

First up: Saasveld Pass. It's tarred but the scenery more that makes up for that. We encountered lots of runners on this section. Petrol must really be getting expensive. Roll Eyes

Saasveld Pass and the Old George/Knysna road is a historic route with old bridges and lots of scenery. The bridges date from the late 1800's and very early 1900's.

Near the old forestry settlement Karatra we met up with LGF and his trusty DRZ.

After cheerful greetings the full party continued on through the rest of the 7 Passes…

…past the Knysna lagoon, along “Kom se pad” and over Prince Alfred's Pass towards Uniondale.

Eisbein and Vicky cruising along enjoying the scenery:

In Uniondale we stopped at our usual spot – the Crackling Rosie – for some lunch.

See anything old or interesting? Grin

Lots more chat and laughter (this is a social scenic ride after all Cool) and with full tummies we headed off to Baviaanskloof!

Bring it on! There’s no stopping us this time. Grin We were past the point were had had to turn around last time and anticipation was building.

Nuwekloof Pass was our final pass of for the day and it did not disappoint.

Finally our destination for the first night. Uitspan is an old favorite with great facilities.

Baviaanskloof teems with wildlife, including Leopard, Rhino and Buffalo, but we’ll go searching for those on Day 2. Tonight we had a rugby game to watch (Go Stormers!) and a nice braai waiting.

(Pic from a previous ride)

We spend some time in the bar and had some lamb tjops & sosaties (kebabs) on the braai (BBQ).

After lots and lots of laughter we finally settled in much later that night.

On Day 1 we rode 9 spectacular passes in 260km and including all photo stops and lunch we travelled 7 hours from George to Uitspan. It was a nice leisurely ride and the perfect precursor for what was to follow on Day 2.

Day 2:

Today we were moving early. Baviaanskloof waited! Operator's bike had other plans though. After I pushed and pushed Operators bike he had it renamed to Land Rover and it got towed by a Land Cruiser till it started. Wink

We settled the bar tab Roll Eyes and we were on our way.

The plan was to ride through Baviaanskloof and back again to Bakkrans where we’d be sleeping on the 2nd night. On the way in we stopped at Bakkrans (Kleinspoort) to refuel and we left some of our luggage there since we’d be returning that evening.

At the first gate we met this informative fellow:

He had a lot of background and anecdotes about the kloof and suggested that, if we come across a Rhino, we give it right of way. No kidding…

The Kloof is the driest I’ve seen it ever, but eventually we got to our first water crossing.

Eisbein deposited Vicky on the other side and we then proceeded to cross several times for some nice photo shots.

Operator also dropped his bike here (luckily on dry ground) and I reacted totally out of character: I jumped of my bike to help him without taking a photo. Undecided Vicky got one though. Grin

Next up – the wilderness area:

Today was a scenic ride, so I’ll let the scenery tell the story.


The much anticipated water crossing as Smitskraal. Of course we had to walk the water crossing first. The water was low but it was nice none the less.

It was a leisurely ride with lots of photo stops, but we wanted to reach the plateau at least. Eisbein has heard a lot of horror stories about that pass. He’s been wanting to ride it with his GS and pillion for some time and I wanted to see it done. I’m always in awe of the big heavy bikes taking on difficult terrain and doing so successfully. I also knew that if some-one could do it (and make it seem easy) it was Eisbein.

And finally the pass. As usual the photos don’t do the incline justice, but suffice it to say it’s got steep sections with rocky “step-ups” and ground clearance usually is the greatest problem.


Success! Grin

And the view from the top:

We decided to head back to the Smitskraal picnic spot for lunch and cruise back through the kloof to our cave we’d call home for the night.

Five tired riders arrived at a neat and welcoming Bakkrans cave.

Just what the doctor ordered! Grin

Bobnob, on his winding way to Sani Pass, was going to join us in the cave for the night, but when it got dark we weren't so sure anymore. Until we heard a Dakar approaching in the night… He had travelled from Mosselbay, over the Montagu and Swartberg Passes, through Prince Albert, Meirings Poort, De Rust and all the way to Baviaans kloof.

What a way to end the day:

On Day 2 we rode 150km and including all photo stops and lunch we travelled six and a half hours. Baviaans is spectacular. There definitely could have been more photo stops. Talk about sensory overload.

Day 3:

Wow. What a privilege to wake up here after spending the night under the Karoo skies.

Of course, some are not so keen on getting up in the morning

A smaller cave opposite houses the showers & facilities.

This is the way to shower!

This is a truly idyllic setting, although sharing a dark cave with this Motley Crew can be scary at times… Eek!




And Eisbein

Luckily Vicky evened out the situation Grin

We had the little handing over ceremony of Firebucket.

(Vicky thought Bobnob was asking for MORE wine Grin)

Breakfast and packing for the last day’s ride.

Bobnob’s trusty steed:

He still had a looooong way to go and left bright and early.

We started travelling West through the Kloof. This is how long weekends should be spent!

By tonight we will have travelled the full circle – Garden Route, Baviaans and the Klein Karoo: The Slow Way Round Cool

But not before we made some detours.

Just as we were about to ride through Nuwekloof Pass again we met another Wild Dog Forum member. Hallo Rattrap! Very nice bike! A1

His riding buddy also had a nice bike and brand new to boot!

We rode a slightly different route to Uniondale for another lunch at Crackling Rosie.

While here two CTX’s rode by and of course I just had to chat to them.

Turns out they knew who I was. It’s a husband and wife who happened on my blog and decided to buy some CTX’s and start riding our beautiful area too.

While I was chatting to them two Dakars pulled up. “Hey! You’re Trailrider!”

Turns out this husband and wife team read some of my Ride Reports on the Wild Dog Forum and decided to come ride the passes.

Next up the Kamanassie road.

Operator liked this road so much he decided to buy a plot. Wink

He came riding along, lost the front wheel in the mud and ended up in the trees.

Well, at least it’s a waterfront plot Grin De Ja Vu – Mike and the mechanics all over again… Grin

Nice neighborhood though.

Bike and rider unscathed. Lets roll! Cool

One more stop at the Paarde Poort turnoff.

And Montagu Pass to top off the ride.

The view from Amanda’s grave:

Tired bones taking a rest Grin

This truly was a very nice ride. Thanks guys for joining me and making it a memorable one.

Till we ride again A1

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