On arrival in Johannesburg you will take the shuttle transfer to our hotel about 9kms away. For the rest of the day you will be free to explore.
Late afternoon our bikes will be brought to the hotel for bike documentation and handover. Any adjustments needed to your bike can be done at this time.
Packing everything into the 4x4 we plan to leave after breakfast at around 09.00.
Today will be a mixture of asphalt and country roads, some of them well prepared gravel.
The first 109km of the day between Joburg and Villiers is all on national roads and the N3 toll road as we by-pass and exit Joburg on the quickest route possible.
After a coffee break at Villiers we leave the toll road and are on B roads until we turn off and take to the gravel for the next 170km. The gravel roads are ideal for the big adventure bikes, well packed with no loose or sandy sections.
Big open spaces characterise the landscape as we head due south. We pass through many farms, arable, dairy and game and it's not uncommon to see a good number of Africa's herbivore grazing in the fields. Game farming is big business here in the Free State.
We rejoin the asphalt in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park which covers an area of 340 square kilometers. It is the Free States only national park and is more famous for its natural beauty than for its wildlife.
We will be passing through in the late afternoon which is the best time of day. As the sun goes down the deeply eroded golden, ochre and orange hued sandstone cliffs give off a warm glow. It's a gorgeous place. Watch out for the cunningly concealed speed humps.
35 km of winding asphalt brings us to our destination for the night in Clarens. Clarens is a small village and is the inspiration of artists, eco-lovers and tourists who want to simply enjoy exploring this tranquil, magical landscape. It is known for its spectacular sandstone mountains and wonderful climate, and is one of the most picturesque spots in South Africa.
Our 4* hotel for the night is situated right in the center of the village making it easy to walk out and discover the many galleries and quaint cafes and bars.
Distance - 230km
We leave after breakfast and it's just 40kms to the friendly border crossing at Caledon. Very simple, it should take us about 10 minutes and 40 rand (3€) each to register and get our passports stamped and then we’re in Lesotho.
When riding in Lesotho be prepared for the unexpected, from rockfalls to landslides to animals being herded down the main road and everything in between.
It's 167 kms of amazing on road riding starting in Clarens and finishing at our first optional off road section. We wind our way through picturesque countryside, surrounded by towering mountains and deep valleys. We ride over the Mafika Lisiu Pass 3,090m (10,137ft) above sea level which crosses the Maluti mountain range. It is one of the highest passes in Lesotho.
The view back north towards Clarens is stunning on a sunny day. The road was built in the 1990s and links Pitseng with Lejone and onwards to Katse. There are sheer drops virtually along the whole length of the road with enough hairpin bends to keep even the most jaded biker smiling.
At 167km into the day we can either take to the gravel or continue 37km on the asphalt to our hotel for the night at Khatse. This asphalt section is every bit as enjoyable as the previous sections.
Our accommodation has large gardened terraces looking out over the Katse Dam Lake. The lodge is simple, but all rooms have en-suite showers and satellite TV. The food is excellent and the staff, as always in this country, very helpful and willing.
Hopefully a spectacular African sunset to be watched as we sit on the terrace after dinner with a drink, looking out across the lake.
Leaving the lodge after breakfast the first 59 kms off road is twisting and potholed. Enjoy the scenery and village life as you slalom around all the potholes and smile as you think of how the assistance vehicle and trailer must be suffering as you cruise along on your mighty GS.
From Thaba-Tseke to Semonkong is another 228 km of amazing, new Chinese road. We cross many passes the highest of which is the Mokoabong Pass 2,880 m (9,448 ft) with its fast sweeping curves and huge drop offs and stunning scenery. The last 86 km of great asphalt leaves me wondering why do the Chinese put speed humps on a steep uphill section? They are no problem for the GSs but must be a nightmare for overladen trucks. Eitherway stand up as you go over them or risk getting kicked over the bars.
The last 4 km into our hotel are a little tricky. Muddy and rutted in places with a steep descent 100 mtrs before arrival at reception. First gear, stand up and slowly, slowly catch the monkey. You could always ask Johnny Maroc to ride your bike down for you but it will cost you a beer for him to walk back up to you.
Our lodge tonight is situated on the banks of the Maletsunyane River. The accommodation, built of traditional stone and thatch, offers just the right balance of rustic elegance with comfortable ensuite rooms, crackling fires and warm, comfortable beds.
Though not technical the previous four days will have been strenuous with the tight, sweeping bends and tracks we've biked on through Lesotho so far, and there's still lots more to come. So this easy day will be welcome.
In the morning we will bike a 4km loop to visit the famous Maletsunyane Falls, one of the highest single dropping waterfalls in Africa, creating a haze of smoke as the water plummets the 186 metres into a spectacular gorge.
It is from this "smoke" that Semonkong – The Place of Smoke – gets its name.
Back to the hotel for lunch and in the afternoon you can either choose to relax in your comfortable room in front of a crackling fire, or join up with everyone in the lodge's fully licensed Duck & Donkey Tavern - popular with the locals too. If you'd like to join one of the activities on offer you can choose between mountain biking, pony trekking or one of a selection of cultural tours.
Dinner in the Tavern.
Leaving our lodge we are heading south 170 km to cross back into South Africa at the tiny border crossing of Telle Bridge which spans the Oranje River. More great asphalt but some broken up sections too, so care must be taken.
The Telle bridge crossing is very efficient and we should all be through in less than half an hour. Once back in South Africa we are off road for 124 km until we reach our destination at Tiffendel Lodge, South Africa's only ski station.
The off roading is generally easy but there are two short rocky sections that less experienced riders must pass with care. We will stop for tea and scones in the small village of Rhodes at the Walkabout Inn. We will be leaving the trailers here as the final 30 kms have 2 steep and sharp hairpin bends about half way up...feel free to leave your bike here and take the 4x4 the rest of the way if you are not sure you can make it.
Tiffindell Lodge is set in a bowl at 2,720 m (8,924 ft) with big open views. The station has only two runs, the length being only 2 km between them. The lodge is made of wood and the rooms are big and comfortable. Enjoy the sunset with a cool beer as you await your buffet dinner.
After breakfast we head back down the steep and winding track we ascended yesterday evening. A quick coffee stop at the Walkabout Inn to pick up the trailers and any bikes left behind the evening before.
We will be passing through the Tenahead Mountain Reserve with the Drakensberg Mountains off in the distance to our left. Lots of farming and trout fishing in this part of South Africa.
Once back on the asphalt it’s a nice fast 77 km to our refuelling point in Matatiele where we can stop for a coffee and snack. After refueling is another 185 km on pleasant, twisting and undulating country roads all the way to our country hotel in the village of Himeville.
Our hotel for tonight and tomorrow, has 12 beautifully appointed rooms and is the best boutique hotel destination in the Drakensberg Mountains with a well renowned restaurant.
We have chosen this luxury, converted farmhouse to have a day to relax and unwind.
In the morning after a late breakfast you can choose to take your bike and make a loop out and see South African villages and countryside.
On your return you could walk into the local village and have lunch at the local pub which opened in 1904 and offers a good selection of craft draughts and local wines to try.
Returning back to the hotel located at the foot of Africa's highest mountain range - The Drakensburg mountains, relax in the sunshine on your private terrace with a drink, while gazing across the large sweeping lawn down to the private lake.
Late afternoon we all join up in the comfy bar for a few pre-dinner drinks. The restaurant offers an exceptional choice of excellent food.
Everyone will be refreshed and ready to tackle the notorious Sani Pass tomorrow!
After what is always a great breakfast at the Manor we depart for Lesotho again. 14 km of good asphalt brings us to the start of the 21 km of gravel that make up the infamous Sani Pass. The pass is the mother of all South African mountain passes.
Statistically and in every sense, it out distances, out climbs and out performs all its competitors to become the most iconic gravel pass in SA. 12 km from the start of the gravel we arrive at the SA border post, 5 minutes and we are through.
Sani Pass has loose gravel and short rocky sections in places and care must be taken as the drop offs are impressive but the main challenges arise just 1 km from the top where we will encounter half a dozen hairpin bends. Again, stand up, first gear and you will be on the asphalt before you know it.
As you arrive on the new asphalt we go through the border control and we're back in "The Kingdom in the Sky" Lesotho. The highest pub in Africa, the Sani Top is here and a must see, so we will stop for a coffee and photos back down the pass before we embark on yet another truly amazing ride.
The 257 km of asphalt between Sani Top and Clarens has to be the longest section of road rider’s paradise out there. The views and scenery are quite literally breathtaking as we cross the Kotisephola Pass at 3,240m (10,629 ft). I would say it's even better than the road from Tsaba Tseke to Semonkong but it's a close thing.
The Chinese have come to an arrangement with Lesotho to build all their roads in exchange for diamonds. As a result all the asphalt is totally new, and the road from Sani traversing the entire country back into South Africa is amazing - never ending sweeping bends up and down mountain passes. A true pleasure
On this our last day we will leave around 09.00 after breakfast, destination our hotel of the first night a short drive from Johannesburg airport.
Back through the Golden Gate Highlands National Park with it's amazing towering rock formations and cliff faces. A mixture of asphalt and great country tracks winding through the many local farms, until we hit the last few kms into Joburg on the main toll highway, back to our hotel.
On arrival the bikes will be inspected by you and John and hopefully no damages will need to be charged.
In the early evening we will meet up at the bar to discuss our adventure before going into the restaurant for dinner.
Breakfast all together and then free time for those not leaving immediately. On this last day there are hourly shuttle services offered by the hotel back to the airport.
If you are interested in a place on a full tour contact SU to be put on her waiting list & be advised if a place comes free.