Got off to a late start that morning. At around 9, I started the trip, first stopping in at the office where Anton, the manager of Springbok Caravan park helped me with some useful information on getting to Kleinsee. He also reassured me that the road was good. He rides a Big Boy 250 cc dirt bike and knows alot about all the dirt roads and hills and old mines in the region.
I stopped at the ATM in Springbok main road and when I got back on my bike, and clicked into first gear, there was no gear lever. I looked down and saw that it was laying on the floor. My first thought was: “Shit, its broken”, but when I gathered my rationality back after 5 seconds and looked closer, I could see it had just come loose and fallen off. So, after cutting my self several times with my utility knife gift, I managed to knock it on and went back to the campsight to fetch my tools which I should never have left behind, and there I tightened the bolt that squeezes the lever around the shifter. I was just so glad that this had happened where I was able to find the gear lever and fetch my tools. Had it happened on the road while I was cruising with my foot away from the gear lever, I would have been really stranded, and maybe even had made an accident in the dirt for lack of being able to change gears. With that sorted, off I went. I couldn’t help but worry about what could go wrong next though.
The ride was spectacular from beginning to end. Fourty five km from Springbok, one hits the Spektakel pass, and oh, what a spectacle. All the mountains infact are a sight for sore eyes.
Arriving in Naries, There was nobody manning the single petrol pump (Another ‘een-pomp’ kind of a place), so I knocked on the door of the house behind the petrol station. He told me to knock on the door opposite the petrol station. The man was home, but the lady not, and apparantly she runs the petrol station. She was only going to be back at 4pm. that is when I decided to carry on to Kleinsee. I would make it there at least by 1 pm. And there would at least be a security at the gate at all times, so if I was stranded there without petrol, I would not be alone. They would definitely be open on a Monday (the next day).
After Naries, the beautiful tar road turned gravel. I wondered why Anton told me the gravel was nice. It was very bumpy, so bumpy in fact that my tool bag vibrated loose and fell off the back of my bike. A nasty kind of gravel, and I hoped that it would get better.
I could not face 50 km of that kind of gravel. Luckily for me, after 5 to 10 km the road turned into hardened mud, which although still had lots of ridges, was a good grippng surface, so the rest of the dirt ride was nice. This must’ve been what Anton was talking about. It was a very very very long road!
Turning right into the last stretch heading towards Kleinsee was tar again. The friendly security at the boom took my id num, name and licence plate and told me that even if the petrol station is closed, I could call the number on the door and someone would come out to help me for an extra charge ontop of the petrol. That was fine by me. For a Sunday in a ghost town, that was a pretty good deal.
Kleinsee is a deserted diamond mining town. The diamond mine was run/owned by De Beers. In 2009 De Beers started scaling down their mining operations there and since then it has been completely halted. The town is more or less deserted now with the only residents being those who are involved in the running or the petrol station, rehabiliation of the vegetation and also retired people and those who have bought holiday houses. Read an interesting article about it here. Sounds like it was a little paradise back in its heyday. I think that things have scaled down much much further since this article was written.
I went to the old mine buildings up on the hill for a look, then into the town. The houses are still in good condition, with a few overgrown plants/weeds in little cracks. There are a few people living in the houses. Retired or just used as holiday homes (security at the boom told me). I think I would buy a house here just for the heck if I had the money. I like deserted places.
Next thing was to hit the dirt road to the beach. It was quite a nice piece of dirt road. There is lots of potention to explore the stretch of coast on the dirt, but I didn’t want to waste petrol that I needed to get the 100+ km back to Springbok, so I just stopped at the nearest beach opening and cooled off a bit there.
At 4pm, I hit the road back home. There were 2 options, one through the Springbok gate and the other back the way I came via Naries. I opted for the way I came because I was too tired for surprises. The way back seemed easier. The dirt roads still scared me, but it felt like I was getting used to them. The way back didn’t seem as long.
First thing when I was back, Anton came and popped in at my room, and spoke for what seemed hours. He knows alot about mine machinery and steam trains and weapons, and who knows what else. I like him though, although he talks alot. When I went to do my laundry down there near the office, I popped in and asked him to show me some of his photos, and then he showed me all the daring trips he did up to impossible hills and crevices with is 250 big boy. The guy climbs into mine shafts and goes where he is not sure its possible. Also likes deserted things, remnants of the past like I do. I definitely would like to come up this way again, and take a few adventure detours with him. Now its time for bed.