Breakfast on the deck, nestled in a beautiful valley, pull on your gloves and... brace yourself! The ride to Katse damn is knicker-dampeningly glorious, almost obscene in its excellence, featuring a 150km stretch that is so bendy and smooth that it's dizzying. At times you simply must slow down to look around and take in the mountains, the pretty beehive villages, the Basotho horsemen and their herds. And the traffic? What traffic? Reaching the monumental Katse Dam it's beer, sunset over the reservoir, dinner and near-insane giggling – at what and where you have ridden.
Our journey to the 'Roof of Africa' commences at Mossel Bay in South Africa's Western Cape, before heading inland and upwards toward the moutain kingdom of Lesotho. In the world's highest country (on average), epic roads and scenery await in what is as close to a riders' paradise as we have seen anywhere. Lesotho offers mile-upon-mile of non-stop cornering action on tarmac of the highest quality, carrying very little traffic. The dirt road riding is equally impressive, without being too technical or strenous for the average experienced rider. This is a real rider's tour, featuring full days of stunning riding through incedibly diverse landscapes.
Lesotho feels like a land that time did indeed forget. In the highlands, pony-riding Basotho tribesmen outnumber motorised vehicles by some considerable degree and young boys herd their goats among traditonal African 'beehive' villages. Vast lakes and spectacular mountain vistas are our daily comapnions as the tour makes its way between suprsisngly plush overnight destinations in outstanding locations. During this tour there is the opportunity to ponytrek to Southern Africa's highest single-drop waterfall, take on the world's highest abseil, or relax on a trout stream. Clean, friendly, and astoundingly scenic, we can't recommend this tour highly enough.
There will be a maximum of nine bikes available on this tour. The bikes used will be Suzuki DL650 V-Stroms (2014-models), the top-spec Triumph 800 XCx, or a BMW F700GS. For further information on BIKES and the terms and conditions of hire, please go HERE.
As a participant in this tour you'll fly to George, to be met by Blazing Trails staff and transferred to your accommodation, where there will be some paperwork to complete and where we will give you a briefing on the trip ahead.
When riding there will be a lead rider and a sweeper vehicle travelling at the rear with luggage. Riders will navigate using a 'marker' (also known as a 'buddy') system, whereby the rider behind the leader drops off and waits to guide those coming behind.
The riding on this tour is mainly on tarmac, but has some fine dirt riding mixed in, including the ledgendary (though not so tough as folk make out) Sani Pass.
lesotho – itinerary
Day 1: Fly
Fly to JHB International Airport, to arrive the following morning and meet your internal flight to George in the Western Cape.
DAY 2: Arrive GEORGE, transfer to mossel bay
From George a short road transfer will take you to Blazing HQ in Mossel Bay, where you will join us for a briefing and barbeque, with views over the Indian Ocean.
Day 3: mossel Bay to uitenhage
Today we ride into the Outeniqua Mountains before turning down the eastern end of Route 62, heading back toward the coast. We will stop for lunch by the beach at Jeffrey's Bay and take diversions onto the 'old' Garden Route where possible to ride the bends of Nature's Valley and the Bloukrans Pass. Then again we head inland, riding into the Eastern Cape, where we end the day on a private game reserve 15km from the town of Uitenhage.
Day 4: Uitenhage TO hogsback
Time to explore the rolling hills and swooping passes of the Eastern Cape on a blend of dirt and tar, skirting many game parks and nature reserves with the opportunity to spot game long the way. The road alongside the Great Fish River Nature Reserve is a particular highlight. To end the ride we climb steeply into the deeply forested Amathole Mountains to reach cool and scenic Hogsback where we spend the night.
DAY 5: hogsback TO MACLEAR
Conditions permitting we will start the day with a 50km stretch of dirt track through rolling pastures, before taking to the lesser sealed roads, travelling north into the scenic southern Drakensberg. High above us on the towering escarpment we get our first glimpses of Lesotho. Taking a small diversion on to the dirt we find our comfortable night's accommodation on a farmstead in the hills.
DAY 6: MACLEAR TO SANI TOP
Today we take on the Sani Pass, but first have to get there. In the morning we will ride quiet rural roads to Underberg for lunch, before one of this trip's many highlights. The pass climbs 1332 vertical metres, from 1544m above sea level to 2876m. The ride can be tricky due to the gravel hairpins, but is not beyond the reach of the average rider, though pillions may opt to ride in the 4X4 support vehicle (two-wheel-drive vehicles are not permitted to climb the pass). In places the climb to Lesotho is 1:3 and the views back down to South Africa stunning. Plans are afoot to tar this classic dirt road, so come and ride it in its full glory while you can! A celebratory drink in Africa's highest pub is a must, before bedding down in a comfortable hotel.
DAY 7: SANI TOP TO TS'EHLANYANE NATIONAL PARK
Keen photographers may wish to see the sunrise over the pass before breakfast, kitting up and riding out onto the most extraordinary roads imaginable. Through the Maloti Mountians snakes our perfectly tarred route, passing Thaban Ntlenyana, which at 3482m is the highest point in Africa south of Kilamanjaro. Bend-after-bend-after-bend, the theme is set for our Lesotho riding... and just when you thought it couldn't get any better, we plunge from the highlands following a ribbon of masterfully engineered road to the northern plateau. We now follow Leosotho's only busy road for a while before we are again riding in the hills and to the Ts'ehlanyane National Park, where the poshest hotel in Leosotho is wating to greet us.
DAY 8: TS'EHLANYANE TO KATSE DAM
DAY 9: KATSE DAM TO MALEALEA
Good morning. A tour of the dam structure and workings (the second biggest in Africa and also the most altitudinous) can be arranged after breakfast and before the off, which starts with a 60km section of dirt. The gravel winds along hillsides and through charming villages, with views into deep, river-carved valleys. When a sealed road magically appears, we're back on it! Again, the ride is so good you can barely see because your helmet is swinging from side-to-side in disbelief. Again when we leave the high country, having crossed many high passes (including the 'God Help Me Pass'), we descend to the plateau in the most brain-frying fashion. A tricky little dirt pass takes us to Malealea, where the night is spent in spacious, ensuite rondavell huts, entertainment courtesy of local band and choir.
DAY 10: MALEALEA TO SEMONKONG
Another morning of mixed-surface riding takes us to the smoothly-tarred A5 road and yet more mountain magic. Passes, meandering river valleys and jagged mountain peaks again keep things interesting as riding bliss becomes business as usual. We finish the day's swervery at Semonkong, the 'Place of Smoke', ensconced in smart huts in a beautiful river valley. Best hit the bar for some tall tales, then...
DAY 11: IN SEMONKONG
With the highest single-drop waterfall in Southern Africa, the world's longest abseil and mountain ponies in abundance the recommended itinerary for the day would go something like this: breakfast; horse ride to waterfall and back; lunch; watch some other mug abseil; take a donkey into town for a pub-crawl. Or, for the more genteel motorcycle tourist, a spot of guided trout fishing.
DAY 12: SEMONKONG TO QUTHING
Designed by Valentino Rossi, in conjunction with Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Lemmy, the road rolls its way through and over the rocks of the Southern Highlands. Big views and big grins, giddy, it gets a bit too blissful to comprehend as we take our last long ride in Lesotho. We end at a lodge in the small town of Quthing. Perhaps one last Maluti beer for the exquiste road....
DAY 13: QUTHING TO MIDDELBURG
Today we cross back into South Africa, but the experience does not stop here. Oh no. Having crossed the border, we will weave through the quiet and scenic back roads of the Southern Drakensberg. It's twisites a first, but as we enter the edge of the Great Karoo the roads straighten out, with only the occassional mountain pass to offer some jinks. We are, however, riding through an ancient and beautiful landscape of desert and mountains.
DAY 14: MIDDELBURG TO MOSSEL BAY
Heading back to base, the majority of the day is spent Karoo-sing on fast, mainly straight roads, cutting through the desert. Several passes break up any potential monotony as our surrondings gently shift and the coastal mountain range grows ever closer. We cross the Outeniqua mountain range for a last hurrah down to the coast. Dinner by the sea in Mossel Bay ends the day.
DAY 15: FLY AWAY HOME
You will be driven to George and fly to JHB to meet your overnight flight home. On your return, try as you may, you will not be able to explain quite how fabulous a ride you've enjoyed, or the unspoiled motorcycling paradise you have experienced.
lesotho tour – What the Price Includes
- International Flights (when booked as full package)
- Eleven Days of Bike Hire
- Luggage-carrying Support
- All Internal Transfers
- Twelve Nights Accommodation
- Meals: 12 breakfasts; 4 dinners; 1 lunch
- Other Meals
- Tolls, Entry Fees, Visas and Excursions
- Damage Excess on Bikes
lesotho – Flights & Timings
Tickets will be emailed to you on the address provided when booking.
lesotho – useful information
You will need a passport and appropriate travel insurance. Currently UK citizens (and those from many countries) will be granted a tourist visa upon arrival in South Africa and Lesotho. It is, however, your responsibility to check that you can legally enter the country. Most 'western' driving licences are also valid (with photo and written in English), but please also check your status before travelling.
You should easily get by on around £400 spending money if you don't do a lot of shopping. Cash and travellers' cheques can be changed at the airport and in the larger towns. Cash points are widespread and most vendors accept credit/debit cards. Cash is best for fuel stations as it speeds up what can otherwise be a lengthy process. Depending on what bike you choose and how you ride it, expect to part with about £100 for fuel.
At the time of year we will be visiting, South Africa should be nice and sunny, but not too hot, even at the coast. Obviously, though, we can't guarantee this and you should be prepared for the possibility of a couple of wet days. Lesotho, due to the altitude, can be cold in the early mornings and evenings, though generally the days are warm and sunny. The maximum temperature is likely to be around 30ºC on the coast/in the desert; the minimum 0ºC (at night in the mountains, if it has been overcast during the day).
We advise riders to consider their kit in terms of layers, so you can adjust to be comfortable during the course of a varied day. Clothing as you would wear on a tour of Europe is perfectly suitable, whether leathers, or textiles. Some kind of waterproofing is a very good idea. Bring something warm for the evenings. Good gear can also prevent a minor spill causing a trip-ruining injury, so we require that you ride with no exposed skin (except your face).
While your main luggage will be carried in a support vehicle, your bike will be equipped with a top-box for carrying spare kit, cameras, water, etc. Your main bag must be 'soft' and not a suitcase.
You need not be any more fit on this tour than if you were riding in Europe. However, if you have any existing medical condition that may affect you during the tour, please consult your doctor and Blazing Trails before booking. With maximum altitudes of around 3000m, some altitude-related discomfort is a possibility, however altitude sickness at this level is unlikely.
While we insist those joining us have a full motorcycle licence, and recommend a minimum of a year's riding experience, time in the saddle and miles ridden are of more relevance to a tour like this. There are a couple of longer days in the saddle, up to a maximum of around 550km (350 miles) in a day. We do, though, try to design the tours so you get an easier day, or down day, after a long ride.
Health & Hygiene
South Africa and Lesotho are very clean and hygienic countries (in SA we'd say more so than the UK), with clean ablutions and usually safe tap-water, so the chances of getting even a 'holiday tummy' are low. The areas through which this tour passes has no malaria risk.
Eating & Drinking
South African restaurant food will be familiar to those coming from the West. Food is of a high standard and is very good value (especially meat and seafood dishes), being less than half the equivalent cost of the UK. One of the world's great wine producers, South Africa is a great place to sample the grape, which is also great value for money. Decent beers (mainly lagers) are available everywhere.
On our tours, food other than breakfasts will only be inclusive where there is little or no choice, or where we have arranged something special (barbeques etc). For the number of meals included in the trip, see 'What The Tour Price Includes' (above). We have arranged the tour like this so participants can choose the what, wheres and explore for themselves. Not everybody wants to eat in a group every night, eat the same thing, or at the same time. We will, however, be happy to advise on eateries…
As with eating, we do not want to prescribe what non-riding activities you choose to participate in. In many places there are several options, so we will be happy to advise, put you in touch with the right people and let you decide.
While South Africa has had some pretty bad press in recent years for violent crime, very little of this nature happens in the tourist areas through which we will be travelling. And, as ever, the media tends to sensationalize the bad and ignore the good. Being guided through the 'right' areas in a group greatly mitigates the chances of encountering unpleasantness. Petty crime – pick-pocketing and theft – happens, as it does in virtually all tourist destinations with a wide gulf between rich and poor. A few simple precautions, like keeping your wallet/docs in an inside pocket and leaving nothing unattended on the bike, should mean a trouble-free tour. The mountainous areas of Lesotho have incredibly low incidences of crime.
Southern Africa has developed enough emergency services and an efficient private health-care system. Lesotho is less developed and so should a serious incident occur, any casualty would be evacuated to South Africa for treatment. Travel insurance, including medical cover, is compulsory on this trip.
Frequently Asked Questions - South Africa
ARE FLIGHTS INCLUDED?
Yes, (if you are booking from the UK) all flights, international and domestic, are included in the price of your tour.
How do I book?
The tours can be booked online, by email, or over the phone on: +44 (0)5603 666788. To secure a place you will be asked to put down a deposit of £700.00 and payment can be made by card, cheque, or bank transfer.
CAN I BOOK FROM OUTSIDE THE UK?
Yes. If you are booking from outside the UK, please contact us and we will provide you with a non-flight price.
CAN I TAKE A DIFFERENT FLIGHT?
You can, but we may have to add a surcharge if you are not on the group flight. Please contact us for details.
Where do I get a visa?
For most nationalities, including EU citizens, a tourist visa is issued free of charge at your port of entry. It is, however, your responsibility to check current regulatuons.
What other paperwork do I need?
You will need a valid certificate of travel insurance.
WHERE DO the bikes come from?
We own and manage our own fleet of bikes.
WHat happens if i damage the bike?
If you damage the bike, you will be charged for the damage up to the amount of your excess. On all our bikes, the excess is £1000, so in the event of a mishap you will not be charged more than this amount. If the damage is less than this amount, then you will only be charged for that damage.
If you have damaged the bike near to this total, we may ask you to place a further deposit before continuing.
DO I NEED INSURANCE?
Yes, you need travel insurance to cover you for the period of the tour. This insurance must cover you to ride the bike you have booked. Blazing Trails has an agreement with Endsleigh Insurance who provide reasonably priced policies with the requisite cover.
Where should I change money?
We would advise that you change some money on arrival at the airport. ATMs are widespread and an efficient way to get hold of cash. Credit and debit cards are accepted nearly everywhere.
why did the mexican push his wife off the cliff?
How much spending money will I need?
About £300-£400 should cover food, drink, petrol and sundries.
Will I have to share a room?
Yes, unless you pay a supplement. Even then, single rooms may not be available at some stops as the hotels we use are popular, or in some cases small, and we have to book our accommodation some time in advance.
What standard is the accommodation?
It varies widely (and tour-to-tour), but is always clean and the best we can find in the area for a reasonable price in a suitable setting. We are always in clean, comfortable hotels and guesthouses.
Will we have electricity?
Yes, but you may need a travel plug adaptor.
How much riding experience do I need?
We would recommend only booking a tour with us if you have a full licence (compulsory) and have at least a year's recent riding experience. The main criterion, however, is confidence.
Is riding in south africa dangerous?
Riding anywhere carries with it a degree of risk, as does riding in South Africa. However, with light traffic and good roads, we would suggest that riding in South Africa is no more dangerous than a tour in Europe. For more information on the riding side of things see 'Riding' in the 'About South Africa' section of this site. If any rider joining us rides in a manner we suspect will endanger themselves, or others, or indeed displays antisocial behaviour, they will receive one warning. If they continue to display a threat to the safety or enjoyment of others on the tour, they will be excluded from the remainder (with no refund given, see terms and conditions).
How fast will we be riding?
We will be riding 'progressively', at or around the speed limit and according to conditions. Most South African roads outside built-up areas have a 75mph speed limit - fast enough on the twisties. There are fixed cameras and mobile speed traps in towns...
Do I have to book my own flights?
No, we do that for you and forward the ticket by email.
Can I use the bike in the evenings?
No, you can't ride independently of the tour group, sorry.
How fit do I need to be?
No fitter than you would have to be to tour Europe.
Can I take a pillion?
How much luggage can I bring?
You are limited by most airlines, so check with the carrier. However, we suggest you pack as lightly and in as compact a form as possible. Space may be tight, we insist you bring soft luggage.
How much luggage should I bring?
Keep it minimal. One set of riding kit for the tour and a couple of sets of clothes for the evening. You can always pick up cheap clothing locally and there are laundry facilities at two-night stops. Leave some space for shopping you do in SA.
Isn't south africa A Dangerous crime hell?
While South Africa has had some pretty bad press in recent years for violent crime, very little of this nature happens in the tourist areas through which we will be travelling. And, as ever, the media tends to sensationalize the bad and ignore the good. Being guided through the 'right' areas in a group greatly mitigates the chances of encountering unpleasantness. Petty crime - pick-pocketing and theft - happens, as it does in virtually all tourist destinations with a wide gulf between rich and poor. A few simple precautions, like keeping your wallet/docs in an inside pocket and leaving nothing unattended on the bike, should mean a trouble-free tour. You will be briefed on sensible measures prior to setting off.
Do I need a towel?
If you're wet, yes. They are provided throughout the tour.
Is food included in the price?
Only some meals (check your tour for details). We prefer that where there are choices you make your own on what and where you eat. You will find South African food of a very high standard and good value.
Is it safe to enter a cage full of cheetahs?
Not really, but it's quite exciting and they are very pretty.
Are laundry facilities available on-tour?
They are, but not every night. Check the itinerary of your tour - you will be able to get clothes cleaned at two-night stops, so consider this when packing.
Do I need waterproofs?
Yes. If your riding kit isn't waterproof, then bring some light waterproofs.
I want to see a lion, will I, will I, go on, please?
Maybe, maybe not, but if you take part in a safari at Kruger, St Lucia, or Addo Elephant Reserve you will certainly see some interesting wildlife and landscapes.
Will there be a mozzie problem?
Not really. There may be a few around, but you won't be plagued. Bring some repellent. South Africa is mainly malaria-free, but for advice on anti-malarials consult your doctor (take the itinerary with you).
what's the difference between a gnu and a wildebeest?
You can't paddle a wildebeest.
Do I need to bring a sleeping bag?
IS IT SAFE TO swim in the sea?
Depends on whether there are any great whites around. We would advise you to ask locally - and then go and get a beer instead.
What medication should I bring & what inoculations are required?
Consult your GP/travel clinic for immunisation and malaria advice. Bring enough of any prescribed medication you take regularly. A basic first aid kit is useful (plasters, antiseptic cream, bite/sting relief, plus insect repellent).
Should I bring a seat pad?
Gel or air pads add comfort on long days in the saddle, but are not necessary.
I HEAR THAT ELEPHANTS ARE THE MOST DANGEROUS ANIMAL IN NEPAL - IS THIS TRUE?
Yes, but you're going to South Africa.
How To Make A Booking
Holiday bookings can be made by phone, via email, or over the internet.
Contact us by any of the means above.
Upon deciding to book, please pay a deposit of £700.00 into our bonded account (or the full balance if within two months of the departure date). This can be done by credit/debit card through our website or over the phone, by bank transfer, by over-the-counter payment, or by sending a cheque to our UK representative.
Having booked with Blazing Trails, you will be sent all the necessary information on timings and meeting points. You may also like to use our website, or Facebook group, to liaise with others.
PLEASE NOTE: A maximum of one week (seven days) will be allowed for your deposit payment to reach and clear in our bonded account. Should this not happen, we can suspend your booking and may have to give your place on tour to somebody else.
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In ten words
Simply the best riding on the planet. Stunningly beautiful, too.
Lots and lots of corners need concentration; mainly good tar surfaces. Some long days. Sani Pass (steep dirt) can be tricky in the wet.
Tarmac: 85%; dirt 15%.
Overall: approx' 3600km
Shortest day: 150km
Longest day: 500km
3 days travelling
7 days riding
1 off-bike day
Most of the route is just fine for passengers, but riders may struggle on Sani Pass, so passengers may choose to ride in the support vehicle (compulsory if wet). Generally smooth roads, nice accommodation, good views and food make for a winner.
Accommodation & Meals
An eclectic mix of stays, from four-star lodge to guest houses. Always clean, always a bar and good food everywhere.
Some Garden Route; Sani Pass; Highest Pub in Africa; Maloti Mountains; Local Music; Ts'ehlanyane Park; Katse Dam; Semonkong Falls; The Great Karoo desert; the surprises; the roads, oh the roads!