This tour is a great adventure, taking in mountains, coast and desert, with some of South Africa's best roads and most spectacular scenery. It also has a wildlife/safari element and great eating, but above all it's about the ride. Starting in Johannesburg, the tour travels through four of the country's 'must see' and 'must ride' areas: the Drakensberg Mountains, the Garden Route, the Little Karoo and the Cape Peninsula. We will be travelling almost the length of the country, following what for many a long-distance rider has been the final leg of a London to Cape Town epic. Mountains, desert, wildlife and coastal delights, including Cape Town – this tour has the lot.
There will be a maximum of 10 bikes available on this tour. The bikes used will be 2015-model Triumph Tiger 800s, or Suzuki DL650 V-Stroms (2014-models). The 'standard' tour bike is a V-Strom, which is fine for passengers. Upgrades (at extra cost) are available when booking. For further information on BIKES, bike upgrades and the terms and conditions of hire, please go HERE.
As a participant in this tour you'll fly to Johannesburg, to be met by Blazing Trails staff and transferred to your hotel, where there will be some paperwork to complete and where we will give you a briefing on the trip ahead. The following day we will collect the bikes and head out into deep joy.
When riding there will be a lead rider and, when there are more than five riders, a sweeper at the rear. Tour participants 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 nearly all on tarmac, and despite some nasty potholes in places, this tarmac is generally very good, with little traffic, and makes for super-satisfying riding. We will be taking a few dirt roads on this tour, but never for any distance and they are usually pretty smooth. We would certainly not describe any of the rides as 'off-roading'.
For more general information on South Africa, please see About South Africa.
Jo'bURGH TO CAPE TOWN - itinerary
Day 1: Fly
Fly from the UK to Johannesburg International airport, to arrive the following day.
Day 2: Arrive
Arrive in Johannesburg, to be transferred to your nearby hotel where the Blazing Trails staff will meet you and brief you on the adventure ahead. The hotel is situated in a lively locality, with lots of bars and restaurants from which to choose.
Day 3: Jo'burg to rugged glen
We will collect our bikes in the morning, before mounting up and leaving the city behind. The ride out of town is, initially a fairly straight one, but we are soon on rural tarmac, winging our way to the Golden Gate Highland National Park in the spectacular Drakensberg Mountains. From here we ride on to Little Switzerland, from where lovely, twisty riding will carry us to our cottages on the edge of a nature reserve and with awe-inspiring views over the surrounding countryside.
DAY 4: Rugged Glen to Underberg
On leaving our cottages, the riding is again on small mountain roads until we pick up the larger road to Mooi River, where we will have lunch. The afternoon will see us climbing back into the southern Drakensberg mountains. We will end the day at a comfortable guest house in the interesting mountain settlement of Underberg, with views up to the mountains of Lesotho.
Day 5: UNDERBERG to oribi gorge
A half-day ride that starts in the mountains and heads down through the hills towards the coast. Our destination, Oribi Gorge, is a wildlife sanctuary with deep forest, waterfalls and wild views. We will be staying in a classy colonial-style hotel with a good bar and restaurant.
Day 6: ORIBI GORGE to coffee bay
Another day; another super South African ride. We will wind back down through the Gorge and meet with the Indian Ocean at Port Shepstone. From here we follow the coast to Port Edward and head back inland on one of the best roads you will find anywhere - super-twisty, great tarmac, awesome views. The ocean again breaks into view as we descend towards Port St Johns, where we will pick up a small dirt road for the last kilometers to Coffee Bay.
Day 7: in cOFFEE BAY & hole in the wall
Our hotel, with private garden down to the beach, is the perfect place from which to take a walk, or book an excursion. Horse rides are especially good value. Alternative pursuits include relaxing on the hotel deck and taking in the views with a cold beer and excellent (all inclusive) food.
Day 8: cOFFEE BAY to hogsback
A small and potholed road carries us away from the coast and onto the sweeping N2 highway. We will leave the highway after some 150km to climb the twisties into the relative cool of the Amatola Mountains. Our stop for the night is in Hogsback, a small hamlet in the cloud forest.
Day 9: HOGSBACK to addo elephant reserve
From Hogsback we will travel back down the mountain and ride on to Grahamstown for lunch in this interesting British-colonial town. Then back on to the N2 highway, which swoops its way through many wildlife reserves. Turning onto minor roads we will pass through yet another park en-route to the small town of Addo. We will end the day with a fine dinner in a very comfortable farm cottage resort.
Day 10: in ADDO
A bike-free day to explore Addo Elephant reserve, should you choose. The park contains many elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo - among others. You shouldn't expect to see all of these animals in a single day, but your chances of spotting elephant in their natural surroundings, and much more, are high. The day will again end on the farm, enjoying a relaxing dinner.
Day 11: Addo to Storms River
We will make our way back to the main coastal highway and, heading south, we'll enjoy fine views over Jeffreys Bay and the ocean. At Storms River we will stop for the night, taking dinner at a retro diner, complete with classic American cars (or, if closed a chrming period hotel garden).
Day 12: storms river to mossel bay
Today we tackle the famous Garden Route, with the ocean to our left and mountains building on the right. In the Tsitsikamma National Park we will leave the highway on a twisty loop, where we will stop for lunch at the Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre. Here we will be able to take a guided tour through the cages of many of South Africa's wild cats, including meeting cheetah up close.
Day 13: In mossel bay
Near our accommodation by the beach there are a number of activities that can be arranged, from sitting in the sun drinking a fine Pinotage, to shark watching (including cage-diving), fishing, beach-strolling or visiting the caves of early hominids. It is also possible for us to arrange game drives and 'walking with lions' experiences nearby. The dining in Mossel Bay is also excellent, with super seafood in abundance.
Day 14: Mossel Bay to Montagu
Today we will climb the stunning passes towards Oudtshoorn and descend into the wild scrub-desert landscape of the Little Karoo. We will soon join the famous Route 62, cruising long, straight stretches through ostrich-filled fields, interspersed with loopy passes and striking rock-scapes. This varied ride takes us through to Montagu, a small town set between desert and mountain, and an excellent hotel.
Day 15: montagu to cape town
The last leg of the long trek south carries us through the spectacular open scenery of the R318, with a couple of nice passes thrown in. After 80km we hit the main N1 highway, a dual carriageway that carves its way through the mountains approaching Cape Town. We will cut from the highway to climb over the Toitskloof Pass before coming down into Cape Town. But it ain't over yet, oh no…
DAY 16: around cape town
We will head from our Cape Town base out around the Cape Peninsula National Park and on to Cape Point itself for lunch. Leaving The Cape of Good Hope, we'll thread our way out to the N2 highway, to return to the city via Betty's Bay, and Gordon's Bay. This is one of the most amazing rides you will ever experience.
DAY 17: In cape town
Have a super day exploring this world-class city. Top options will include taking cable cars up Table Mountain, a boat ride around the bay, a trip out to Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was detained), or simply hanging out in the waterfront area, eating, shopping and enjoying the fine spectacle of Cape Town. Or, indeed, a combination of the many.
DAY 18: fly away home
Cars to the airport. Farewell.
Jo'burgh to Cape Town - What the Tour Price Includes
- International Flights
- Fourteen Days of Bike Hire
- Luggage-carrying Support
- All Internal Transfers
- Sixteen Nights Accommodation
- Meals: 10 breakfasts; 1 lunch; 4 dinners
- Other Meals
- Tolls, Entry Fees and Excursions
- Damage Excess on bikes.
Jo'burgh to Cape Town - Flights & Timings
Tickets will be emailed to you on the address provided when booking.
Jo'burgh to Cape Town - Useful Information
You will need a passport and appropriate travel insurance. Currently UK citizens (and those from most countries) will be granted a tourist visa upon arrival. It is, however, your responsibility to check that you can legally enter the country. Most 'western' driving licences are also valid, but please also check your status before travelling. You will need a credit card against which to secure your deposit on the bike.
You should be able to get by on around £800 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 £250-£350 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. If it does rain in the mountains it can be a bit chilly, but not really cold. The maximum temperature is likely to be around 30ºC on the coast; the minimum 8ºC (at night in the mountains, if it has been overcast during the day). On the coast, especially at The Cape, it can be pretty windy.
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, weather leathers, or textiles. Some kind of waterproofing is a very good idea. 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, you may wish to bring a small rucksack, tank-bag, or tail-pack in which to carry articles you need on the road. 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.
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 an adventure like this. There are some fairly long days in the saddle, up to a maximum of around 450km (280 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 is a very clean and hygienic country (we'd say more so than the UK), with clean ablutions in abundance, and safe tap-water, so the chances of getting even a 'holiday tummy' are low. South Africa has a very low incidence of Malaria - virtually unheard of on this route), but we still recommend that you ask your physician for advice on inoculations. If you have any pre-existing medical condition, it is essential that you consult both Blazing Trails and your physician before booking.
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 around 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 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 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 chose 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.
Unlike our Asian tours, we feel South Africa has developed enough emergency services and an efficient private health-care system (along with European standards of driving) to mean that we don't need to travel with a fully-qualified medic. Travel insurance, including medical cover, is compulsory on this trip.