Northern South Africa – The Fab’ Way Round

Northern South Africa – The Fab’ Way Round

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A great adventure, taking in astoundingly fine mountain, gorge and pass riding. We will travel to the beautiful Indian Ocean, visit the Kingdom of Swaziland, travel through the Zulu heartland to famous battlefields and admire the sights and roads of the Drakensburg Mountains. This tour also has a wildlife/safari element, with Kruger National Park and St Lucia Wetland Park on the itinerary. There's super food and for those who like a tipple, fine wine and cold beer.

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.

NSA-page-big  2844

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, if there are more than five riders, a sweeper travelling 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.

NORTHERN SOUTH AFRICA – itinerary

JB-CT-fly2Day 1: Fly

Fly from the UK to Johannesburg International Airport, to arrive the following morning.


flight-inclusive

 

 

jb-ct 43Day 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. You will be introduced to your bike, before we will doubtless head off to a bar. The hotel is situated in a lively locality, with lots of bars and restaurants from which to choose.

 

JB-Graskop  2834Day 3: jo'burgh to graskop

We mount up leaving the city behind. The easterly ride out of town is initially a long, straight one, until we leave the motorway and head along a lesser road to take lunch in the charming little town of Dulstrom. From here, there is more sweeping countryside until the seriously, seriously, almost unspeakably good riding begins over the Long Tom Pass and down to Sabie. Another delicious 30km sees us at Graskop and our smart hotel. There are a number of restaurants to chose from for dinner and a fun biker bar.

Graskop-hazyview  2835

DAY 4: graskop to hazyview

Another riding day to die for. We quit Graskop and after a few kilometres stop off to take in the views at God's Window, a viewpoint over a spectacular gorge and the forest beyond. Back on the bikes again we're in for more bliss as we wend our ways down the amazing road to the Blyde River Canyon and one of the globe's most amazing geographical views. Next comes more top riding to the Abel Erasmus Pass and down to the Lowveld. We end the day in a smart Hazyview hotel.

north sa 34

day 5: in HAZYVIEW

Top activity (and a bit of a 'must do') after a very early awakening, will be a day's safari in Kruger National Park. This is one of the best places to spot 'The Big Five': elephant, rhinoceros, lion, leopard and buffalo. You are very unlikely to see all of these, but there is always plenty of game to view.

north sa 11Day 6: hazyview to swaziland

Another day; another country. From Hazyview we will ride through Lowveld country and into the old gold-rush town of Barberton. We will now begin our ascent to the Kingdom of Swaziland, climbing via one of the best rides imaginable. After border formalities, we'll start towards the Swazi town of Piggs Peak. Appropriately enough, the road turns to pigshit for the first 25km, after which it is superbly surfaced and super-fun. We'll spend the night at Maguga Dam, in smart huts looking out over a reservoir.

swzi-stlucia  2836Day 7: SWAZILAND to st lucia

This long ride begins in the heights of Swaziland and ends on the Indian Ocean. We begin by finding our way to the South African border at Sandlane and dropping down the twisties to Amsterdam. From here we'll use a combination of back roads and highways to make our way through KwaZulu Natal and down to the coast. St Lucia is a small and thriving resort, with plenty of bars and restaurants from which to choose.

north sa 15Day 8: in ST LUCIA

There are a number of activities on offer here, including boat rides out to view crocodiles and hippos in the estuary, off-shore fishing and jeep trips into the beautiful St Lucia Wetland National Park, a World Heritage Site. Day trips can be arranged that include, game viewing, snorkeling, beach barbeques, or any combination of the above. For the less energetic there is an interesting Crocodile Centre on the park's edge.

stlucia-oribi  2837Day 9: ST LUCIA to oribi gorge

A long, coastal N2 highway haul carries us 300km south. With the Indian Ocean to our left we will cruise under huge African skies, sweeping past Zulu towns on wide, smooth roads. At Port Shepstone the N2 heads inland – and so do we, snaking into hill country. Leaving the highway we climb up through the Oribi Gorge Nature reserve, amid forest and waterfalls, to our colonial-style hotel. The day ends relaxing in the beautiful gardens with a drink and dinner.

north sa 23Day 10: ORIBI GORGe to Port St johns

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 be spending the night by a beautiful estuary.

PtStJ-Howick  2838Day 11: Port st Johns to howick

The ride begins away from St Johns carries us away from the coast and back to the sweeping N2 highway, heading north. We will leave the highway around midday and soon we're weaving though beautiful countryside to Pietermaritzburg and on to a charming little farm near Howick. Here we will braai (barbecue) up a feast.

Rorkes  2839Day 12: Howick to rorke's drift

Another fabulous day's riding carries us through the lesser roads of KwaZulu Natal, through lovely scenery all the way. In the very heart of Zulu Land, are the battlefields of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift (as depicted in the film Zulu). We will visit the latter in the afternoon, before heading back to our farm-stay.

Rorkes-rugged  2840Day 13: RORKE'S DRIFT to rugged glen

Another fabulous half-day's riding carries us through the lesser roads of KwaZulu Natal, through lovely scenery all the way. Towards the end of the ride we'll be heading up again and into the Royal Natal National Park and, if the weather's clear, we'll be able to see The Drakensburg Amphitheatre, a spectacular wall of rock some 5km wide and over 1000m high. Our cottages on the edge of a nature reserve, have awe-inspiring views over the surrounding countryside, plus a great bar and restaurant.

rugged-jb  2841Day 14: rugged glen to jo'burg

Our last day on the road starts out as a belter, as we scale a pass and enter the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. Carving through incredible rock formations it is possible to see large herds of game grazing at the roadside. Later we join the highway to begin the long, straight cruise back to Johannesburg. 'Your' beloved bike must be checked back in, before heading to your hotel near the airport. It's a lively area, so there are plenty of options for a tasty last night dinner together.

inJB  2842Day 15: jo'burg to fly home

In the morning there's the chance to join a tour into central Johannesburg, to view the vibrant goings on in this very African city centre. Later it's taxis to the airport and off ye go, heads and cameras full of great memories.

Northern South Africa – What the Tour Price Includes

Included

  • International Flights
  • Fourteen Days of Bike Hire
  • Luggage-carrying Support
  • All Internal Transfers
  • Sixteen Nights Accommodation
  • Meals: 10 breakfasts; 1 lunch; 4 dinners

Not included

  • Other Meals
  • Tolls, Entry Fees and Excursions
  • Fuel
  • Damage Excess on bikes.

Northern South Africa – Flights & Timings

Tickets will be emailed to you on the address provided when booking.

 

NORTHERN SOUTH AFRICA – useful information

Documentation

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.

Currency

You should be able to get by on around £600 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-£300 for fuel.

Climate

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).

Bike Kit

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).

Luggage

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.

Fitness

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.

Riding Skills

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…

Excursions

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.

Personal Safety

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.

Medical facilities

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. 

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?

Tequila.

 

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?

Yes.

 

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?

No.

 

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.

 

 

Touring Map

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Tour Overview

In ten words

Some awesome, awesome road riding meets wildlife safaris and history.

Riding Level

It may be twisty, but the roads are generally smooth, with a few exceptions. The road into Swaziland can get messy for 20km, or so. Traffic is generally very light.

Tarmac: 98%; dirt 2%.

The Adventure

Overall: approx' 3300km

Shortest day: 150km

Longest day: 520km

2 days travelling

10 days riding

2 off-bike days


Pillion Rating

Great tour for pillions. Mainly smooth roads, but a couple of fairly short rough sections and long days in the saddle. If rest is required, aircon 4X4 support vehicle is available.

Accommodation & Meals

Accommodation is generally in three-star hotels and guesthouses (which are of a high standard in SA). Food is western-style and cheap with huge portions. A carnivore's paradise, with seafood also plentiful.

Included meals: all breakfasts; 1 dinner.

Highlights

Krugar National Park safari; riding the Long Tom Pass, Abel Erazmus Pass, Piggs Peak road, Swaziland vistas, night drive in St Lucia Wetlands Park (World Heritage Site); crocodile and hippo viewing; Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve; road to Port St Johns; Rourke's Drift visit; Drakensberg Mountains; Golden Gate National Park.



Book Northern South Africa Tour now:



Departure day

Fly to

Flight Inclusive (Flight Exclusive)
 18th April 2018  (Wednesday) Johannesburg 3750 GBP (3100 GBP)