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April 9, 2018

Lesotho Motorbike Tour

Written By Harleys Safaris

Day 1:    Johannesburg   –             Michaelangelo Hotel

Arrive into Johannesburg International airport (own arrangements).

You will be met by your tour guide from Born Biking Tours and transferred to the Michaelangelo Hotel in Sandton.  The magnificent Renaissance architecture is in heart of the Richest Square Mile in South Africa, located on Nelson Mandela Square.

At 1:00pm your guide will return to the Palazzo to collect you for an afternoon tour of the colourful Soweto neighbourhood (previously known and the south-west township). This memorable tour delves into South Africa’s Apartheid roots and grants travellers a look into the history, culture and people in this iconic destination.

Return to your hotel to freshen up. Meet your tour guide in the hotel restaurant at 7:30pm for a welcome dinner and introduction to the tour, as well as meeting your travelling companions.

Johannesburg

Johannesburg is the place to go to mix big-city culture, shopping, dining and nightlife with outdoor adventures, up-close wildlife encounters and visits to historical sites. Explore caves and nature reserves, or visit a traditional village by day, then enjoy dinner at a hip cafe or five-star restaurant. And if you’re a shopper, bring an extra, empty suitcase. With malls, open-air markets and places that blend the two, you’ll find plenty of unique souvenirs.

                                         

Activities

 

Soweto Township Experience Tour from Johannesburg

A visit to Soweto is an essential part of any Johannesburg experience. See the street where Nelson Mandela and Hector Pieterson lived and learn about the 1976 uprising that helped pave the way for freedom.  Walk through Freedom Square and Freedom Charter Memorial, the Regina Mundi Church and drive along Vilakazi Street.

 

You will visit Mandela House Museum and the Hector Pieterson Museum and see the homes of Nobel peace prize winner Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.  Before returning to your hotel you will visit a local shebeen and taste a type of beer drunk by the people of Soweto, if you’re older than 18 years (time permitting, beer for own account).

 

Overnight: Michaelangelo Hotel

Included

Transfers, accommodation, tour of Soweto (including entrance fees) and welcome dinner.

Excluded

International flights (own arrangements), lunch, all drinks and any other activities and services not listed.

Day 2:    Harrismith          –              De Oude Huize Yard

 

Today is the official start of your bike journey from Johannesburg to Lesotho. Your guide will meet you at the Michaelangelo Hotel after breakfast and transfer you to the start point of the trip. Collect your motorcycles and ride out of the Gauteng Province towards Kwa Zulu Natal.  

We have lunch in Harrismith for lunch at Dom’s With Love before embarking on some of the interesting souvenir shopping opportunities.   Distinctive southern African curios and arty things are available at Marqwahouse. The Drakensberg range and Maluti Mountains provide a spectacular backdrop to Harrismith. We stay at ‘the place frozen in time’,  De Oude Huize Yard Guest House.

The toll booths on the freeways will not accept overseas credit or debit cards – only South African – so you need cash.

 

Harrismith

Harrismith is a small, charming country town, founded in 1849, but discovered by tourists only recently. Visitors remark on its cleanliness, and the friendliness of its inhabitants.  The town is well known for its factory shops, gardens (both domestic and wild flower gardens), golf course (the oldest in South Africa) and links with the South African War, with close by battle sites, blockhouses and a military cemetery.  There are also Boer, Brit and sandstone architecture to be seen.

 

Overnight:  Drakensberg Sun Hotel

DISTANCE – 295 KMS

Included

Breakfast and accommodation.

Excluded

Tolls. All drinks, any other activities and services not listed.

Day 3:    AVANI Lesotho Hotel    –              Maseru

 

We make an early morning start as we continue to enjoy rural Africa watching for any potholes, pedestrians or straying domestic animals, today we have a relaxed start with a leisurely breakfast before we head into the Golden Gate Highlands National Park on our way to the Lesotho Border. As we cross the border the whole world changes into stunning landscapes, beautiful vistas and friendly waving children.

Arriving in Maseru, the capital, you will immediately notice the traditional crafts shop selling the cone-shaped Basotho Hat shop. The conical symbol is taken from the conical mountain, Mount Qiloane. We relax at the AVANI Lesotho Hotel and Casino in preparation for tomorrow’s ride through outstanding scenery.

Lesotho

Known as the Mountain Kingdom or Kingdom in the Sky has unforgettable panoramas. The mountains are the source of Lesotho’s crystal-clear water, which also waters the green pastures for livestock. Diamonds are amongst the minerals found in the mountains. Lesotho, a high-altitude, landlocked kingdom encircled by South Africa, is crisscrossed by a network of rivers and mountain ranges including the 3,482m-high peak of Thabana Ntlenyana. On the Thaba Bosiu plateau, near Lesotho’s capital, Maseru, are ruins dating from the 19th-century reign of King Moshoeshoe I. Thaba Bosiu overlooks iconic Mount Qiloane, an enduring symbol of the nation’s Basotho people.

 

Activities

Border Crossing at Maseru Bridge

Lesotho has two official languages — Sesotho and English — and the Basotho greatly appreciate being greeted in their own language. The Sesotho word for “hello” is “khotso”, which translates as “peace”. Lesotho is welcoming to visitors from all over the world, but it is as well to note that: Photographing the Royal Palace, the airport or government buildings is prohibited.  In fact remember to ask before you photograph any person or personal items, including homesteads. Do not pick, collect or damage any vegetation as, according to Basotho custom, most plants belong to someone.

DISTANCE – 276KMS

Overnight:          AVANI Lesotho Hotel

 

Included

Breakfast and accommodation.

Excluded

Any other meals, all drinks and any other activities and services not listed.

Day 4:    Macleaar Apline B&B    –              Maclear, South Africa

 

Today we head off to explore Lesotho, taking an anti-clockwise route from north to south.  Today will be a leisurely ride, taking in the scenery and allowing for local people and animals.  Our journey takes us through Morija, Likupa, Mafeten and Mohales Hoek through some of the most dramatic landscapes.

Driving in Lesotho

The unpredictable behaviour of the people and animals sharing the road  can turn your idyllic mountain drive into an outlandish experience.  Lesotho’s drivers are often inexperienced and inconsiderate of other cars on the road. Officially the speed limit outside of cities is 100km/h but there’s not a lot of uniformity of pace. Some cars scream past at warp speed, others crawl along in the middle of the road, spewing out smoke.

Even more exciting, in the towns , drivers tend to change lanes suddenly and without warning, expecting other people on the road to react.  Also minibuses, or kombis, are the main form of mass transport in Lesotho and they can be found careening all over the country. The drivers are reckless and keen to make good time, which often leads to calamity.  Intoxication is a problem as well, especially on the weekends. Drunk drivers and drivers using dagga (marijuana) become even more prevalent around the last Friday of each month, payday in Lesotho. So let us assume the worst of our fellow drivers, stay under the speed limit and maintain plenty of space between yourself and any nearby vehicle.

Lesotho’s livestock seems to have a very lacklustre understanding of road rules. Cattle, sheep and horses wander onto the road at random and can surprise unwary drivers. Younger animals are particularly skittish and unpredictable at the roadside and can bolt under your wheels even while they seem to be grazing quietly. It is particularly difficult to spot stray animals in low light. We will always stop in preference to swerving, which may cause the animal to fall down the mountainside.

The steep cliffs and mountains mean driving at dawn and dusk is tough as well because of the contrast between the shadowed roads and hills and the bright sun and sky.

Morija

Morija is a town in Lesotho, south of the capital, Maseru. It was the site of the country’s first French Protestant mission, reflected in 19th-century buildings like the Lesotho Evangelical Church. The 1843 Maeder House is a gallery and cultural center. Artifacts at the Morija Museum & Archives span Basotho jewelry and weapons, plus art and fossils. Dinosaur footprints cover a rock face on nearby Makhoarane Mountain.    

Mafeteng

Mafeteng was the site of severe conflict during the Gun War of 1880-1881. The Gun War, also known as the Basuto War, was a conflict in the British territory of Basutoland. It was fought between the Cape Colony and chiefs over tribal rights. Although officially considered a stalemate, the final settlement favoured the Basotho and is thus considered a marginal defeat of the British Empire. Basutoland – home of the Basotho people – had been under the nominal control of the Cape Colony since 1872 (it was a Crown colony from 1868 – 1872). The territory remained essentially autonomous in the early years of colonial rule, with traditional Basotho authorities wielding effective power.

 

DISTANCE – 462 KMS

Overnight:  AVANI Lesotho Hotel

Included

Breakfast and accommodation.

Excluded

Any other meals, all drinks and any other activities and services not listed.

 

Day 5:    Kapenta Bay       –              Port Shepstone

 

Leaving the Drakensberg for the Indian Ocean we stop for lunch in Kokstad at the Loafers Café. Winding our way through the north of the Transkei towards Kokstad we discover a town with many attractions and interesting sites for us to explore, museums which display the history of the town and the Griqua people.  Kokstad is a town filled with natural wonders and a proud and exciting heritage that is most definitely worth the visit.

Port Shepstone

Port Shepstone was founded in 1867 when marble was discovered nearby and is named after Sir Theophilus Shepstone of the Natal government of the 1880s. William Bazley built a harbour and the first coaster entered the harbour on the May 8, 1880. In 1882 a party of 246 Norwegian immigrants settled here and played a large part in the development of the area. After the opening of the railway to Durban in 1901 the harbour fell in disuse and eventually the river silted up again making it impossible to use. However the 27,000 candela lighthouse still stands at the mouth of the Mzimkulu River.


DISTANCE:          336 KMS

Optional Activities

A popular tourist destination on the KZN South Coast, Port Shepstone has 20kms of beautiful South Coast beaches stretching north and south on the Hibiscus Coast (now known as Ray Nkonyeni Municipality), provides opportunities for excellent surfing, fishing, snorkelling, scuba diving and swimming. Port Shepstone is also the South Coast town where the ‘home of all rivers’ – the mighty Mzimkulu River meets the sea. Here you can take a boat trip and spot wildlife along the river banks, or river raft, canoe, windsurf and water ski.

Spend the afternoon at the Port Shepstone Museum which offers visitors a glimpse into the history of the town, or the Port Shepstone Lighthouse built in 1906, can be found at the mouth of the Mzimkulu River. Visit to the South Coast Pure Venom Reptile Park – 15 minutes from Port Shepstone or the South Coast Riverbend Crocodile Farm (25 minutes from Port Shepstone) – home to about 200 Nile crocodiles.

Overnight:      Kapenta Bay

Included

Breakfast and accommodation.

Excluded

Any other meals, all drinks and any other activities and services not listed.

 

Day 6:      Ocean Reef Hotel, Zinwkazi Beach

 

After a peaceful day we spend some time relaxing by the Indian Ocean we ride north along the N2.  Riding serenely along the coastal road towards Durban, we pass through many coastal towns, stopping for lunch in Amanzitoti at The Book Boutique. Arriving into the semi-tropical Zinkwazi beach we relax in the resort.

Durban North Coast

On the North Coast of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa – only 80 km from Durban – is the beautiful Dolphin Coast, Jewel of the Zulu Kingdom and heart of the historical King Shaka Route. In this sub-tropical paradise, Gateway to Zululand, lies the magnificent Nature Conservancy of Zinkwazi – a unique coastal eco-experience of endless golden beaches and tropical palms, lush indigenous forests with spectacular bird life, and 7 kilometers of untouched lagoon. The Zulus called it Zinkwazi, the home of Fish Eagles, and their haunting cry is still part of the magic.

DISTANCE – 205 KMS

Overnight:          Ocean Reef Hotel, Zinkwazi Beach

Included

Breakfast and accommodation.

Excluded

Any other meals, all drinks and any other activities and services not listed.

Day 7:                    Newcastle Garden Court, Newcastle

 

This ride takes us to Newcastle. We stop for coffee in Greytown, at the Tranquil-Tea restaurant. Our route takes us through The Valley of a Thousand Hills, fertile sugar farms, into the rolling hills of timberland around Greytown and the through the magnificent scenery of The Tugela Basin, South Africa’s largest river.

As we travel on the N3 linking Durban and Johannesburg, only 8 km off the motorway near Ladysmith, we arrive at the famous Battlefield of Spion Kop. Over a century ago on the 24th January 1900, Spion Kop was the scene of a bloody and futile battle fought between South Africans and British forces during the South African War, 1899 to 1902. Raymond Heron, a renowned historian, has a fascinating presentation on the war and the far-reaching effects it had on Britain and South Africa. During Raymond’s vivid presentation, one is able to relive memories of the war and walk in the footsteps of three great leaders – General Louis Botha, later to become the Union of South Africa’s first prime minister, and Mohandas (later the “Mahatma”) Gandhi, as well as Winston Churchill.

After an interesting afternoon we continue on to Dundee.

Greytown

Often referred to as the ‘jewel of KwaZulu Natal, Greytown lies in the forest-clad, rolling hills of the Natal Midlands, a picturesque little town originally settled during the 1850s and subsequently awash with buildings of note, scenic drives and Boer history.  Louis Botha, the country’s first Prime Minister and a famous Boer leader, was born on a farm just outside of Greytown, and some believe that the Liberation Struggle for a democratic South Africa began in Greytown, almost a century ago, with the Bambatha Rebellion. This uprising against white authority by a local Zulu chief forced white residents to shelter in the town hall, built in 1897 and worth a visit when in Greytown.

Activities

Talana Museum

‘Talana’, a Zulu word holds the meaning of ‘the shelf where precious items are stored’. This particular ‘shelf’ is suspended on the gunpowder graveyard of South Africa’s Boer War. Built on the actual Talana battlefield at the base of Talana Hill, the museum defends history on the 20 acre Heritage Park.  It takes half a day touring the 17 buildings on site to absorb the impact of the ‘Boer’ (Farmer), British and Zulu combat legacy. Restored homesteads (of Dundee founder Peter Smith), garden headstones; South Africa’s first coal mine; a locomotive; weapons; uniforms, photographs; an original hand built wagon and one of the only two wooden wool presses left in South Africa, spin tales of time. Rare artefacts and archives serve as evocative references. Exclusive Zulu beadwork, hand-blown glass and precious books are for sale at the shop. Miner’s Rest restaurant serves meals in a pre-1914 corrugated iron miner’s home.

 

Overnight: Newcastle Garden Court

DISTANCE – 355 KMS

Included

Breakfast and accommodation.

Excluded

Any other meals, all drinks and any other activities and services not listed.

Day 8:    Michaelangelo Hotel, Johannesburg

 

Stopping for lunch in Newcastle at the Pint and Pigout Restaurant we ride north to Ermelo.  From KwaZulu-Natal the N11 continues through Newcastle, where it meets the R34 from Ladysmith to end at the N3 freeway. The N11 is arguably a difficult road because it carries 1000 trucks a day due to being an alternate route between Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal to the N3 freeway. We travel carefully here in an unhurried ride north.

Continuing north west along the N17 we return to Gauteng Province and Johannesburg.  Arriving back in Johannesburg around lunch time you will have the opportunity to repack your souvenirs. Although this marks the end of our tour, before you say farewell to sunny South Africa, please do not rush off, there are many local attractions not to be missed.

At our farewell dinner we get the opportunity to exchange photos and addresses as we tick our tremendous journey off our bucket-list. 

 

Ermelo

Ermelo played a pivotal role in South Africa’s liberation struggle as it was a stopover for the ANC’s Umkhonto weSizwe members who were travelling to Swaziland and Mozambique, and it also experienced forced removals during the 1960s. But the surrounding region is also brimming with cultural, natural and geographic attractions.

The ruins of Nyebe settlement – the District Six of Mpumalanga Province – lie a few minutes south of Ermelo city centre, near the current settlement of New Ermelo. Today, all that remains of Nyebe are house foundations overgrown with grass, dried up water wells, stairs that lead to nowhere and a turned over stone pillar from a shop that faced the main throughroad. Various artifacts have been discovered in the area and one can walk between the outlines of houses, along streets that are no more, to the imagined sounds of playing children.

While little is known about Nyebe, save for the stories that a few surviving community members and their children relate; the ruins tell the story of forced removals that occurred across South Africa during apartheid. This non-white community of thousands of people was razed to the ground in the 1960’s after it was reclassified a whites only area, according to the 1950 Group Area’s Act. This was done upon the request of the white farmers who had to drive through the community en route to their properties.  The community was relocated to an old portion of Ermelo called Wesselton, six kilometres away, that had been demarcated as a black area by the apartheid government. Many community members moved back to the area and used the bulldozed bricks to rebuild their houses on the remaining foundations, but within a year of their return, the Department of Bantu Affairs knocked everything down again. This time the apartheid government transported the bricks to the other side of the valley to make them difficult to access. The area seemed forgotten until recently, as a handful of children of former community members are moving back to the area after successful land claim bids through the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights.

Activities

Newcastle

Deeply involved in the Anglo-Boer War, Newcastle was originally known as Post Halt Two – a stop on the journey from Port Natal-Durban and the then Transvaal. Between the two provinces we visit the battle sites just outside of town, which include Laing’s Nek, Majuba (which also offers braai and picnic facilities) and Schuinshoogte.

There are a number of monuments and memorials in Newcastle, including Hilldrop House, once the dwelling place of author Rider Haggard whose books included King Solomon’s Mines, She and Jess – said to be based on his time at Hilldrop House; and O’Neil’s Cottage, used as a makeshift hospital during the war, including a number of grave sites.

DISTANCE –  188 KMS

Overnight:          Michaelangelo Hotel

Included

Breakfast and accommodation.

Excluded

Any other meals, all drinks and any other activities and services not listed.

DISTANCE –  265 KMS

Day 9:    Departure

 

Say farewell to sunny South Africa.  We will be collected from our hotel and transferred to Johannesburg OR Tambo airport to connect with our international flight, travelling under our own flight arrangements If you wish to extend your journey Harleys Safaris/ Ker & Downey are able to assist you at additional cost.

Included

Breakfast and transfers.

Excluded

Any other meals, all drinks and any other activities and services not listed. Internal and international flights.

Transport

Flight Information

Date Flight Departure Airport Time Arrival Airport Time Class Ref

Transfers

Date Pick Up Drop Off Time Vehicle
Johannesburg International Airport OR Tambo Johannesburg International Airport OR Tambo

 

 

Please note that you need to be 25 years or older to hire a motorbike, however, you can travel as a pillion passenger on the bike or in the back-up vehicle.

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Harleys Safaris

Harleys Safaris

Special Interest tours in southern Africa: -day tours in Gauteng -women only tours -golf tours -over 50's safaris -art safaris -cultural tours -Harley Davidson safaris Tailor made tours

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