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Ω2

South Africa: From the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean

   After I returned to Cape Town and received my new passport, I could finally go on with my journey heading east. As last time I had done a detour via Route 62 and the Garden Route, this time I decided to mostly ride on dirt roads. I took a taste of the endless savannah of Karoo and I crossed many mountain passes, like the famous Swartberg Pass which is considered to be the country’s most impressive one.

Farm at the brink of Karoo

Farm at the brink of Karoo

   The peak of my nature loving explorations was at the mountains of Baviaanskloof, which belong in the area that is a UNESCO world heritage site. In order to cross the gate, one has to be on a 4×4 by law due to the roughness of the trails. It is one of the few national parks in Africa where motorcycles are allowed, so I did not miss the chance to explore it. The landscape was truly beautiful; the route was interesting with plenty of river crossings and a lot of stones and I met many different kinds of antelopes!

The Baviaanskloof mountains belong in an area which is a UNESCO world heritage site.

The Baviaanskloof mountains belong in an area which is a UNESCO world heritage site.

   So, I finally reached Port Elizabeth, where Mark and Tine hosted me. They are a very interesting couple that actively work on projects to benefit the lives of poor locals. Despite them being white, they are absolutely free of precautions regarding black people. They live among them and they help them. Happily, I met people like them in South Africa and they made me forget for a while the racism and hate by which most South Africans are characterized.

The backyard of the house where I was hosted in Port Elizabeth!

The backyard of the house where I was hosted in Port Elizabeth!

   Together, through Calabash, we visited a public school in a neighboring township where we planted trees, vegetables and herbs. The students and teachers are going to take care of them and they will enjoy their fruits. Unfortunately, the young generation in the townships does not know how to farm. The elders, that can remember how they were doing that many years ago, happily pass the knowledge to the younger ones. I find such projects very important since they focus on the most important thing for those people to survive, the producing of their own food.

The students who will take care of the trees that we planted in the school yard.

The students who will take care of the trees that we planted in the school yard.

   Passing through Port Alfred, I headed to East London through the quiet beach road. In South Africa I have seen more river mouths than I have seen in my entire life! Each and every one of them was so beautiful and different that I was stopping to take pictures all the time.

In South Africa I have seen more river mouths than I have seen in my entire life and they were all beautiful and different!

In South Africa I have seen more river mouths than I have seen in my entire life and they were all beautiful and different!

   I knew some people in East London, so I had a pleasant break there. I met the entire Greek and Cypriot community of the area. They welcomed me and treated me like a king! I could again enjoy home-cooked Greek dishes that I had missed so much and they took me all around sightseeing: from the forested mountains and waterfalls of Hogsback to the huge farm of Mr. Plato that is full of different kinds of antelopes.

Playing with lion cubs! This one is ten weeks old.

Playing with lion cubs! This one is ten weeks old.

   Next was the South African part that was meant to be one of my favourites in the country: the Wild Coast! It was called “Transkei” in the apartheid era. It was one of the areas that the white government had declared as “homeland” for the black people. They had been promising them that they would be able to live free and independent there and the whites would no longer harass them in their “homeland”.

   What they truly wanted was to group all the black people, who were consisting approximately the 80% of the country’s population, in an area that was only the 14% of the country’s surface! They did not, of course, handed them over the areas that had gold, diamonds, infrastructure or fertile soil. They just gave them what was not useful to them. As if that was not enough, the blacks were not allowed to leave these areas, except if they had a special permission to do so. That is if the white needed them for cheap labor force in the towns. Sadly, that was the apartheid era, which I heard with my own ears being called a “golden era” by many white South Africans, including Greeks and Cypriots…

Women painting one of the round huts that are very common in the Wild Coast.

Women painting one of the round huts that are very common in the Wild Coast.

   Until today, the area is inhabited almost entirely by black South Africans. Roads are mostly gravel and I also rode some pretty rough trails. Some steep slopes were full of rocks and truly exhausted me going uphill. It was also raining that day, so the ground was remarkably slippery. As the sun had already set, I wild camped in the green bank of a river, hearing many exotic birds singing all around me.

While wild camping next to the river, I woke up from the exotic birds' singing.

While wild camping next to the river, I woke up from the exotic birds’ singing.

   Next day, I had to ride on the most difficult and steep part of the trail. My overloaded motorcycle fell twice landing on huge stones. I had no other option but to get off my motorbike and push it uphill meter by meter. The ground was so rough and slippery that even my footsteps were unstable on the rocks. It took me two hours to cross those 100 meters (328 ft.)… but where there’s a will, there’s a way!

It took me two hours to climb that rough and slippery slope that was full of rocks!

It took me two hours to climb that rough and slippery slope that was full of rocks!

   I knew that the principle of the yin and the yang, the good and the bad, would show up again. The bad was just gone. So after all my efforts, a lovely, green, overgrown trail was ahead of me and the view to the ocean paid me back! What truly caught my interest in the Wild Coast was that one could experience the original South African countryside there. The area is full of small settlements formed with these characteristic round huts, all coloured in shades of red, green, blue or yellow. Some of them were surrounded by small – mostly corn – fields. People there mostly work on agriculture and cattle-breeding. There were cows grazing freely here and there and I also saw many goats, some pigs and a few chicken, donkeys and horses. The shepherds were walking among their cattle with their sticks across their shoulders, hanging their hands on it and forming a cross. There were not any fences around. That way of dividing the land is an invention attributed to the white people.

The cattle graze freely and there are no fences in the Wild Coast.

The cattle graze freely and there are no fences in the Wild Coast.

   I was tired of hearing from the white South Africans how dangerous this area is. They told me I should be aware of the four-legged animals that are moving freely in that area but also of the two-legged animals! Yes, that’s exactly how a Greek-South African called the blacks! It is true that in the cities of that area criminality was high, since the white people had forced the black people to wretched living conditions. Nowadays things are not so bad in the cities, while on the countryside, where I was traveling, criminality is minimal and people are very friendly!

Typical image of the authentic South African countryside...

Typical image of the authentic South African countryside…

   I will never forget the manners of the villagers when, awkward as it was, I had to change three tubes in one day! While I was climbing some rocks, my motorcycle felt unstable. I immediately thought I had a flat tyre. When I checked, I could not believe my eyes… I had two flat tyres! Both of them had been punctured! I had never experienced such a thing. The rear tube was punctured by a nail. I did not find any nail on the front tyre but there was a small hole on the outer side of the tube. Maybe there was a nail there too which was gone later.

How is it possible to have three flat tyres in the same day?

How is it possible to have three flat tyres in the same day?

   The last thing I wanted was all the villagers to gather around me asking me questions, trying to help me and messing with my motorcycle’s wheels. That did not happen actually. The villagers who were passing by were very discreet. They were asking me if I need any help and when I was kindly refusing, they were leaving quietly. Two women that were walking with their babies on their back, offered me something to eat. I refused again without offending them but they asked me: “Aren’t you hungry?”. They only left when I assured them that I was carrying some food on my motorbike.

The typical round huts of the countryside with the traditional straw roof

The typical round huts of the countryside with the traditional straw roof

   As if that was not enough, I could not even ride 100 km (62 miles) and I felt the motorcycle unstable again. I could not believe it… The front tyre was flat again! I had broken the record for bad luck! Seems that the Chinese tube I was carrying as spare from the Democratic Republic of the Congo was of a really bad quality.

This is why it is called the Wild Coast...

This is why it is called the Wild Coast…

   Leaving the coast, I headed north towards Lesotho. The scenery slowly was changing into mountainous. I ascended to 1,600 meters (5,249 ft.) approximately and I could see everywhere green mountains and cows grazing peacefully. Whenever I was reaching a high spot wherefrom the view was panoramic, I could see little lakes among the green pastures. Wet period has its upsides… The greenery had gone wild and everything was beautiful! However, that was only an introduction to the beauty I was about to experience in the next country I would visit: Lesotho…

Heading towards Lesotho, the scenery became mountainous and the greenery was only interrupted by small, beautiful lakes...

Heading towards Lesotho, the scenery became mountainous and the greenery was only interrupted by small, beautiful lakes…

 

More photos and reports at: Live Trip Traveller

 

Here you can watch the second part of the video about my adventures in South Africa:

Soundtracks (South African music):
Juluka-Savuka & Johnny Clegg – Asimbonanga (Mandela)
Mango Groove – Eat A Mango
Miriam Makeba – Mbube
Miriam Makeba – Khawuleza (Hurry, Mama, Hurry!)

 

Παρουσιάσεις

Κοζάνη
Σάββατο
30 Νοεμβρίου 2019, 20:00
Όμιλος Δικυκλιστών Κοζάνης
1ο χλμ Κοζάνης - Κρόκου

Kozani

 

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