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Week 02 Chapter - 09 Oct ~ 15 Oct - South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland

National Flag of Turkmenistan
National Flag of Turkmenistan
South Africa

"Too many of us wait to do the perfect thing, with the result we do nothing. The way to get ahead is to start now. While many of us are waiting until conditions are "just right" before we go ahead, others are stumbling along, fortunately ignorant of the dangers that beset them. By the time we are, in our superior wisdom, decided to make a start, we discover that those who have gone fearlessly on before, have, in their blundering way, traveled a considerable distance. If you start now, you will know a lot next year that you don't know now, and that you will not know next year, if you wait." - The William Feather Magazine

"You will have more fun on your vacation if you maintain a mental age of 18 or less. Act just old enough to make your travel connections and stay out of trouble." - Joe Schwartz

"There are three cures for ennui: sleep, drink and travel." - D. H. Lawrence

Start Location for This Week: Kokstad, South Africa
Ending Location for This Week: Tzaneen, South Africa
Planned mileage for This Week: 920 miles 1,470 kilometers)

Our second week of the Africa Adventure 2007 finds up poised to make our first border crossings.  We begin the week in Kokstad, South Africa. Strong winds, cold, fog and rain continue to dog the group, but spirits remain high.  This week starts of with an optional side trip up Sani Pass, into the Kingdom of Lesotho. The hotel and pub at the top, called, appropriately enough, Sani Top, claims to be the highest pub on the African Continent, no one contests the claim.  Their Whistling Pig Ale is worth the steep, switch-backed, gravelly ride itself.  As you can see above, three of our more "destination-driven" riders, Dan, Jerry, and Dustin, made it to Sani Top for a photo op.

From Kokstad, we headed to Umhlanga Rocks, north of Durban, South Africa, for our first 2-day layover. From Umhlanga, we traveled to Hluhluwe for the group's first of three safaris.  After Hluhluwe, we made (for most of us, the Sani Pass trio having already entered Lesotho) our first border crossing into the Kingdom of Swaziland. After overnighting near the capital city of Mbabane, and enjoying the hospitality of its gracious people, we hit our first dirt roads through the mountains, entering South Africa once again - destination Hazyview, for the second safari into the well-known Kruger National Park game reserve. We finish up the week in Tzaneen, ready for our entry to Botswana in Week Three.

Be Well, Safe Journeys,

Mike M. Paull - Partner, Guide, Webmeister

Day 09 - Wed 10 Oct - Umhlanga, South Africa

Twin Sons, Different Mothers

Over a year ago, Pieter Smit, clock-maker and proprietor of Big Ben Antiques in Musgrove, South Africa, sent me email about my BMW R1200/EZS sidecar "enduro hack" (sidecarists often refer to the motorcycle/sidecar combination as a "hack" or "rig"). Pieter was emigrating to New Zealand, and in order to best enjoy the riding there, and also a planned circumnavigation of Australia, wanted to build a "rough-roads capable" hack like mine.

We traded email several times, and as the time for our Africa Adventure came close, suggested that we hook-up, which we did.

Pieter was good enough to ride over from Musgrove to meet me when our troup arrived in Umhlanga Rocks, a resort town on the Indian Ocean, far up the Garden Coast (eastern coast of South Africa), north of the major port town of Durban.

He arrived piloting the lovingly maintained R60 BMW sidehack that you see in the lower left photo.  Turns out that Pieter, like many of us, was an enthusiastic motorcyclist. In addition to his vintage BMW hack, Pieter had a small collection of other vintage bikes.  But, not just a "collector", Pieter had taken that BMW rig up Sani Pass! In addition, he had already toured America on a proper Harley sidecar rig.

When he wanted to commission his current-generation BMW adventure touring rig, he found, as I did, that capable builders are few. He finally had EZS, the Dutch company that builds the sidecar both of us decided on, to build his rig. Because import taxes into South Africa are extremely high, and since he plans to emigrate to New Zealand, Pieter's "UberHack" is still in Holland, though as you can see, he has already flown up there for a shake-down cruise.

So, we were well met. His left-hand side rig in Europe, where the driving is done on the right-hand side of the road, and I on my right-hand side rig, down in southern Africa, where the driving is done on the left.

We spent a pleasant afternoon trading stories and sharing experiences. Perhaps someday, we'll have the opportunity to ride together, as I certainly have the wonders of New Zealand on my short list of places to ride some day soon.

Pieter, may you travel far, the wind in your face, your journeys safe, your experiences wondrous and many.

Be Well,


Pieter's left-hand driver BMW R1200GS Adventure with a custom-fitted EZS Rally "L" Sidecar.
Pieter and his new rig on a shake-down cruise in Holland.
Pieter showed up in Umhlanga on this magnificent vintage BMW with a Steib sidecar.  He's taken this rig up Sani Pass into Lesotho.
Pieter's rig is essentially the same as mine, only set-up for right-hand drive - Twin Sons, Different Mothers.

Day 14 - 15 Oct 2007 - Hazyview, South Africa

The first week has been an unbelievable time.

We have had rain, wind, sun, mud, mud, and more mud. Dirt, gravel and hard pack are fine, but the mud is treacherous.

Fred had a spill on the road to Sani Pass, then turned back. I turned back when Dan (a much better rider than I) fell, but he and Dustin, as well as Jerry, made it up of the five that attempted it. The road was very wet and muddy.

I have given away a lot of Tootsie Pops and chocolate coins to kids along the way. Everyone is friendly, and as we pass, many want us to pop wheelies. Dustin and Jerry are glad to oblige.

Pouring rain and wet roads were the main feature of the first week and we all had our share. Those that have done this in the past (Debbie, Harrison, Joe and Marlene) say we will long for the wet and cold once we get to the desert.

I feel at times as though I am in a bubble, as the people here exist in a different time scale. They measure their distances in steps, and we measure ours in kilometers per hour. At moments, I am melancholy because they seem to have so little, and here I am riding by on a motorcycle that costs more than some will make in their lifetime. I am trying to reconcile the thoughts that course through my brain about the inequity..........

The participants on this tour are all great people and I have come to enjoy them all. We have had fun seeing and sharing views of the road and the life (wild and civilized).

Our trip through Hluhluwe and Kruger game preserves have been wonderful. Cape Buffalo, rhino, lion, zebra are all abundant. These two parks are just a 'warm up' for the Okavango Delta I am told.

I trust you are all enjoying the brief updates. The internet connections have been less than wonderful. Between power outages and my SLOW typing, I have been unable to get something up. I hope this one goes through as it is the FIFTH time since the start I have tried to send an update.



Day 14 - 15 Oct 2007 - Tzaneen, South Africa

Day Six started out in the rain from the town of Knysna, past Jeffreys Bay, which is a gorgeous ocean-side surfing beach, through Port Elizabeth, to the Fish River Sun Resort facility on the Indian Ocean. Fred, Frank and I played an enjoyable 9 holes of golf to finish up the day.

The following two days, we traveled through many villages having interesting houses with thatched roofs, and also townships or shantytowns. Many animals on and crossing the roads including sheep, goats, cows, and the occasional baboon. We receive many waves from the locals.

On Day Eight and Nine, we stayed in Umhlanga, a resort north of Durban for a day off. Joe, Marlene, Marius and I visited a very interesting version of Sea World in Durban.

The next day, we made a visit to a Zulu Village, and the following two days, rode into Swaziland for some great curvy roads through Piggs Peak into some high mountain passes and forestry camps. A beautiful country.

The following morning, a very early start for a safari into Kruger National Park, a 12,000 square mile game reserve, for our first view of Elephants, Cape Buffalo, Giraffes, Kudu, Hyenas, Wart Hogs. Blue Gnus, Duikers and Gazelles.

On the following day, our first day of “all day curves”. We road along the edge of the Blyde River Canyon, South Africa’s equivalent of the Grand Canyon. We finished up at the Tzaneen Country Lodge, which is also an Earth Spa.

Soon, we ride onto Botswana. . . .


Entering Mozambique at the Lomahasha Border Post.

Entrance to Kruger National Park, South Africa, one of the largest game reserves on the world.

Day 15 - 16 Oct 2007 - Francistown, Botswana

13 Oct 2007

Today, five of the group (Dan, Dustin, Jerry, Joe and I) diverted from the planned route in order to cross into Mozambique for another border crossing and visa stamp. I took us almost two hours to get into the country.  At the border, there were random individuals that wanted to "help" us - for a fee, of course. The were trying to eke out an existence from preying on our ignorance.

After the crossing, we found a landscape desolate of trees, many had been cut for firewood. It was not pretty in this part of the country, although were were later told by the manager of a cafe that the five of us dined at for lunch back in South Africa, that the coast of Mozambique was well worth a visit. Maybe next time. The five of us missed the wonderfully scenic planned route in order to get our Mozambique stamps.

14 Oct 2007

Rest Day! Went into Kruger National Park, South Africa, the second oldest national park in the world after Yellowstone National Park in the United States. Although seeing the animals (elephant, baboon, lion, Cape buffalo, . . . .) certainly wasn't boring, the drive in our open-sided, 4x4 safari vehicle did remind me of traveling through Yellowstone where tourists follow one another from attraction to attraction.  But, seeing these animals in the wild is an incredible experience.

Once back at the hotel, we saw that South Africa was about to play the British in the World (Rugby) Cup on Saturday. No mention on any of the news channels about how the baseball playoffs were going. We definitely are on foreign soil!

15 Oct 2007

The ride to Tzaneen was beautiful. We were on sealed roads and went through curvy, hilly country to see views from God's Window, World View, and the Three Roundels. Spectacular vistas and fun riding. I keep getting chided for taking pictures, but there are so many opportunities for great shots.

Once we arrived at the hotel in Tzaneen, we were greeted by some high school kids who wanted to know a bit about us. Their teacher arrived and we took some photos. I gave out some stickers that I had brought along, but made an error in telling the kids to "take what you want". They all grabbed quite a few!

We had a Left-Center-Right Tournament (yes, gambling with dice) at the "Leonard Suite" and Debbie Harrison was the winner.

16 Oct 2007

The route to Francistown, Botswana, was mainly paved.  Many left early to "beat the heat", but the day turned out to be very pleasant. I was glad I stayed back to enjoy breakfast and a bit more sleep.

Crossing into Botswana, we had one dirt/gravel/sand section, in which all but a few dropped their bikes. No damage done and everyone seems to have enjoyed the section despite the falls.

Sand can be humbling to negotiate with 600 to 700 pounds of rider, gear and bike on two wheels! I put my beast down in the first 100 yards of sand.

We stayed at a hotel/casino, and incredibly, the place had NO cash machine, nor would they convert our South African Rand into Botswanan Pula. You would think they would have wanted to take our dough.

A curiosity for me is how people survive in the vastness of this land. We'll be literally dozens of miles from any town, and a person or family will be walking alongside the road, going somewhere.  There are "taxis" of small white vans that seem to shuttle about (always packed with passengers), but that doesn't explain all the roadside pedestrians.  These people are hardy!



Day 15 - 16 Oct 2007 - Francistown, Botswana

Today, I conquered fear!!! Harrison and I left Tzaneen, South Africa with Bill and Mac at 6:30AM. We crossed from South Africa into Botswana at the Pontdrift Border Post.

The tar road ended immediately, and became a mixture of gravel, dirt and sand. I HATE SAND!  At a RawHyde Adventure riding school, we had a lesson in sand riding. We were given the basics, sit back on the bike, steady throttle, etc. . . .

I fell every time.

I hate sand.

Well, surprise, surprise. The next 30+ miles were rock, a little hard pan, and a LOT of sand - deep sand.

My palms were sweating and my heart beat faster. I decided then and there that I could do this.  Off went the four of us - sure and steady.  Slowly, we knew we were getting closer to the end - and then Harrison went down, and I slowed and fell (softly). We picked up our bikes and continued on. Finally, the tar road was only an 1/8th of a mile ahead. When we reached it, Bill lay down and kissed the tarmac.

I felt ecstatic! I had done it all with only one fall (softly) and that, close to the end.

I still don't like sand. I know there's more ahead, but now I also know I can do it!!!

Bye for Now.


The "main road" to the border post, the dry river bed of the once-mighty Limpopo River.

After the river bed, it really doesn't get any better.

The first mandatory track of rock, gravel, sand and dirt behind, a relieved Bill kisses Terra Firma.

Sometimes, Mother Nature, left to her own devices, make for a better road. Here, the slick surface of on-going "road improvements" caught even one of our most capable riders off guard.  This, just getting to the base of the Pass!

At the South African Border Post, the lower entrance to the Pass, the road gets only marginally worse.

Nothing but rocks, gravel, the exposed substrate, and a sheer drop-off the whole way await those who want to make it to the top.

At one switchback, Lesothan sheep herders move their flock of the "road" so that the riders can pass.

Jerry got to take the picture, Dustin and Dan get to pose.  With a group of three, and no tripod, only two get to be in any picture. The banner image at the top of this page shows all three in the Sani Top Chalet, courtesy of the wonders of PhotoShop!

Rewinding to Day 08 - 09 Oct 2007 - Sani Pass, Kingdom of Lesotho

All the Way to Sani Top Chalet

As they say, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Some of our riders have gone beyond the call and, via email, or on paper, submitted their contributions to these Weekly Chapters.  Some haven't, and that's OK too, as the vistas are amazing, and riding great, and after all, they're on an adventure.  For those, I'll sometimes tell their stories for them. . . .

A much anticipated optional side trip on our Africa Adventure is the twisted, rocky and generally gnarly ride up Sani Pass. As you saw at the opening of this week's chapter, rain, cold and fog aside, three of our riders, Dan and Dustin on their KTM 990 Adventures, and Jerry on his BMW R1200GS, did "summit" the Pass.

Apparently, the worst stretch wasn't the Pass itself, but the dirt road from where the pavement ended to the South Africa border post at the bottom of the Pass.  Once past that slippery/oily stretch of clay and dirt, rock and exposed rock face made for "better" traction.

Be Careful Out There,


Day 15 - 16 Oct 2007 - Francistown, Botswana

A Day in the Life. . . .

So, you want to be a tour guide?

I'm sure it comes as no surprise that, throughout the year, "" receives email from riders who would like nothing more than to join our team as a Guide.  Fortunately, Helge wants to keep things small and focused, and emphasize quality over quantity, so for the moment, we're adequately staffed to run the two tours a year that we are currently operating, in addition to the presentations, the occasional Expedition, and DVD projects that make up the bulk of our "work".

Before tours depart, email, Word and Excel are our world, as we have to qualify riders from around the planet, obtain client information, maintain reservation lists and process payments. For each tour, we work with both domestic and overseas freight companies and tour operators to insure that bikes get shipped on time, that the itinerary is understood, and that chase vehicles, guides, drivers, lodgings and meals have been reserved in advance. Then, we have to create files for our RoadBook (the daily itinerary) and MapBook (the daily routing information), both of which have to be delivered to our printer, which we receive back as spiral-bound handbooks, one set for each participant. We work with graphic artists to create tour-specific artwork for the website, stickers, T-shirt and hats. We have to create a GPS dataset which includes software maps, waypoints and tracks for uploading to our clients' GPS receivers.

As departure time nears, we create online discussion forums so that our riders can get to meet "virtually", and also provide a means for questions, answers and general information to be easily and rapidly disseminated to the tour's participants.

What many hopefuls don't realize - a GlobeRiders Guide has to be a lot more than a good rider with boundless enthusiasm and a huge dose of patience. We're somewhat unique in that, we ship our clients' bikes for each of our tours (meaning we have to understand the processes of international shipping, registration, licensing, and Customs requirements), require the use of a portable GPS (Global Positioning System) on all tours (which implies that we need to be expert GPS and mapping/navigation software users ourselves), maintain a website, publish email newsletters (both of which require knowledge of digital photography and editing, and a good understanding of basic HTML and website authoring software applications, in addition to being a general Internet Road Warrior). We have to have a broad background and hands-on skills in motorcycle services and repair, especially in case of an accident, whether a minor get-off or major high-speed low or high-side.  There are times when companies will submit products for on-road evaluation, and this requires feedback on how the product performs as the tour rolls on.

The actual departure definitely a relief!

And then, the rubber hits the road, and the real work begins. Upon arrival at our departure point, the number one priority it to get the bikes cleared through customs, and insure that we have any needed temporary registration, licensing other documents in order. Unloading the container and prepping the bikes can be quick (as has been my fortune on this year's Africa Adventure), or a painful and frustrating process that can take three days. Motorcycles are high-value, dangerous cargo, and are vehicles to boot, so it seems that every local governmental department sometimes gets into the act, often times, for the first time, as foreign-registered motorcycles are an uncommon commodity.  Of course, after weeks in an at times cold, and at times stifling hot, but always humid container, anything can happen, and we need to be a Good Man Friday in helping clients get their bikes ready and running. On some tours, we also need to forward ship spare tires for a mid-point tire change.  It's a definite high-point to see our group ride out of the freight yard and onto the local roads for the first time.

With the bikes cleared, the next order of business is uploading the map and navigational dataset to everyone's GPS.  That done, it's time for a Welcome Dinner and the first of many daily briefings. Local driving policies and practices need to be explained, along with safe driving guidelines. We do our best to explain currency exchange and border crossing procedures. We spend time sharing what we've learned about the dangers of dehydration and hypothermia. Many first-time clients need instruction on GPS use.  Above all, we stress that we are guests in a foreign land, and that we must, at all times, be respectful of the local people, their traditions and customs.

Once we're underway, there are the daily briefings, either at dinner the night before, or on the morning of departure after breakfast. On any days ride, there may be mechanical breakdowns, the rare accident, or refueling needed en route. On the road, we need to verify the accuracy of the RoadBook, MapBook and GPS information that we created, and make notes of any errors or corrections for future tours. We need to log waypoints for any new hotels or lodges, for fuel services in areas where gas stations are spread far apart, and any new roads or routes. Upon arriving at accommodations for the night, there may be room issues to sort out, and dinner and breakfast arrangements need to be confirmed. If there are special activities or tours the next day, these need to be confirmed and understood, and worked into the next briefing.

Time has to be set aside daily for reviewing that day's GPS tracks and waypoints, and updating a new GPS dataset. Pictures, both personal and submitted by others, along with stories for the Live!Journals, have to be gathered together. Riders may need help with bike issues, or GPS use.

At night, photographs and stories need to be edited for the Live!Journals, then, the Journals themselves need to be created and authored locally on a portable computer, ready for uploading when internet connections permit.  Personal and GlobeRiders-related email has to be downloaded, processed, and replied to. Oh yes, then there are time-sinks like laundry, personal gear and bike maintenance that steal more precious hours of sleep.

At least once a week, a reliable broadband internet connection must be found, for 5 to 6 hours of online connection time to publish our Live!Journals and email newsletters, which are created via a web-based service, meaning they have to be done real-time.

And, it goes without saying, that it takes the love and understanding of, wives, children, partners and friends at home, to allow us to venture off into foreign climes in an inherently risky sport.

Is it all worth it?


The incredible riding, amazing countries, local people, and all the other high points of any day on the road aside, what care and assistance we can offer as Guides is returned in spades by our Client/Riders. Without them, we wouldn't be on the road at all. The cost and duration of our tours draw only the best to our adventures. Capable, experienced, generous and energetic, we have the luxury to journey, not with a ship or bus load of tourists, but with some of today's last few remaining true Travelers. There are times when it's great to ride solo, but it's an honor to travel with these fine people.

Enjoying Life to the Fullest, with a Group of Friends both Old and New,


Documents, processes, procedures, The Bane of any Guide, but oh so necessary for any tours like ours.  Deal with it!

Uploading as many as 20 GPS receivers, not all the same model, is a time-consuming experience, and like anything "digital", things don't always go as intended.

Daily briefings are a must, sometimes, a one-on-one is needed as well.

It's always important to insure that clients booked into the best available accommodations, and meal times and reservations are confirmed daily.

At times, even the guide needs help.  Here, a "black box" failure required recovery of my rig for part of a day's ride.  Experience has taught me what I need to take as "field spares", and I was able to effect a repair in short order.  However, it took the majority of the group to help load this monster onto the trailer, the benefit of traveling with a group.

A tiny screen-dump of Garmin's MapSource GPS software application, and very familiar friend before, during and after any tour.

Another of Adobe GoLive, the website creation and authoring software used to create the website, to include our Live!Journals for any Adventure Tour or Expedition. Although you can't read any of the screen above, this is what the webpage you are currently reading looks like before your browser renders it into something a bit more visually palatable.  FYI, this webpage is composed of over 1,200 lines of HTML code.

It's all worth it.  I'll take a rainy day in South Africa over a sunny day in the office anytime <g>.

And the true reward, another day's great Ride in the company of follow riders.

Images from the Africa Adventure 2007 - South Africa, Swaziland

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