Day 1 – road trip

I just could NOT get out of the house this morning.  My plan was to leave at the crack of dawn.  First problem, I could not get my crack out of bed.  Partly because of the inertia of the unknown that stops me from trying even just basic things I have no knowledge or experience of.  Partly also because I had been out the night->early morning getting my salsa on at the new Buena Vista at the V&A waterfront opening.  It was too awesome to leave early.


I finally managed to get everything sorted, myself included, and headed out for the road, stopping for a clean fuel filter and a piece of fuel pipe… just in case.  The weather was perfect leaving Cape Town, quite cloudy, but no rain.  Very nice riding weather, nice and warm too.   It was about 80 km to Caledon, and from Caledon to Bredasdorp about another 80.  Please do not quote me on that.  I have no desire to be accurate at the moment.  About 30 minutes into the trip, my neck started to hurt, because of the bag on my back and the body position on the VFR.  Its more for the race track than for the long road.  However, she’s all I have and, soon, I became accustomed to the pain.


Almost halfway to Cape Agulhas – ignore the date. I’ve never bothered to set the correct date on my camera.

It was a looooooong, and beautiful ride to Cape Agulhas.  So beautiful, I cried a bit in my helmet thinking “why did I not do this before”. Just before Cape Agulhas is the seaside town of Struisbaai.  If this is not paradise, then I don’t want to go there.  It is absolutely breathtaking!  Here at the local OK supermarket, I got myself a lunch of wholewheat crackers and goats cheese.  It was divine.  And so is Cape Agulhas.  Wherefrom did the myth come which says that Cape Point is more dramatic in representing the southern most point of Africa?  Sure, you have to climb a thousand or so steps to get to the top of the lighthouse and then you see the water from east and west collide and splish and splosh around down below, but I have fallen inlove with the angelic place on earth that is Cape Agulhas. 


At the lighthouse information office, there was a wonderful oldish lady so full of information and such a captivating way of telling it all.  Truly magical were her stories of the hundreds  of shipwrecks and history of the surrounding area – all told in pure Afrikaans.   She let me leave my luggage, helmet and leathers in her little office so that I could go comfortably walking to the actual southern most point of Africa along the designated trail. They are busy building a proper boardwalk at the moment leading to the southernmost point. For now, its still a gravel path shared by motor vehicles and footgoers alike. Cape Point is a money making pit, and it takes away the magic. 


Cape Agulhas is raw, mostly free (except for the 10 rand entry fee to the lighthouse/museum) and easily accessible to anyone in the surrounds. People are allowed to climb the lighthouse from the inside despite it being under restoration. The coastline is rugged and rocky stretching for miles in both directions uninterrupted by invasive high rise structures, the waters clear and blue.


View of the town and some of the coastline from the top of Cape Agulhas lighthouse


View of the coast from the path towards the actual southernmost point of Africa


The Cape Agulhas lighthouse


yours truly at the bottom of Africa 🙂 where the Indian and Atlantic oceans officially meet.

I left Cape Agulhas rode back to Bredasdorp.  Here I popped in at the ship wreck museum.  Entry to the museum was R20. The ship wreck memorabilia was quite impressive.  The museum also had a little outhouse at the back which they named memory lane. It had antique clothing and dolls and other old things on display.  There’s a lovely garden behind it and a cute ginger cat roaming around.


By the time I left Bredasdorp, heading towards Swellendam aiming to get to Mosselbay, it was already almost 5pm.  While I would have liked to stop and take pictures of the rolling hills, grazing cows, stacks and rolls of hay, farms, sheep, and mindblowing scenery, I was determined to get to Mosselbay.  It became a bit stressful after a while, feeling a lot like a chore, chasing to get to a place that seemed too far to get to. And I could feel my heartburn starting with the stress (and probably the goats cheese and crackers had alot to do with this).  My neck pain came to the fore once again. It rained on and off too between Swellendam and Heidelberg.  From about 10 km before Heidelberg, it really came down hard, and I was preparing myself mentally to be riding with soaked leathers for at least a couple of days to come. 


There were plenty trucks along the road, but also plenty of space to overtake safely.  After filling up at a petrol station in Heidelberg,  I started to think about seeing the Cango Caves tomorrow, and gone was the anxiety!  And the heartburn too! I see now how having a bit of a plan is a good thing.  The road was still long though, but at least it wasn’t raining anymore and my leathers had the opportunity to dry.  I stopped to have a little stroll around the dormant Gouritz river bunjy bridge.  Its out of operation now due to structural unsoundness.


Looking into the garden of the ship wreck museum in Bredarsdorp


Looking at a painting in the ship wreck museum

Finally getting to Mosselbay, I realized how stupid I was for thinking it should just be a stopping point on the way to Oudtshoorn.  Definitely not!  There’s so much to see and do here … I just might stay a couple of days.  I found the most charming, clean, comfortable friendly backpackers you could dream of.  Park lodge backpackers is their name.  They’re in a quiet corner and a short distance off Marsh street, in a beautifully restored stone house. They and are listed in the free coast to coast booklet which can be gotten from any backpackers lodge in South Africa. At the moment their dorm rooms cost R150 per night. They definitely get my recommendation.  I found them first but cheapass that I am decided to scout a bit. The first other option was full, while the second other option was YIK! This place has white bedding … And its spotless!   They have a ‘honesty’ bar, which basically means take what you want to drink and write it down on the paper to be charged to your account when you check out. I honestly did not know such things could still work in South Africa. Anyway, more about it all tomorrow. Did I mention That I’m alone in a 6 sleeper dorm room :-). I think I am one of only 3 guests here at the moment. Ciao for now, dreamland awaits.  After all that riding my little VFR is purring like a kitten.


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