Category Archives: Ride Reports

Ride Report: 7 Passes Garden Route

Riding the famous 7 passes on the Garden Route plus 2 just because :)

Construction of what is commonly known as the ‘7 passes road’ was started in 1867 and completed in 1883.  At that time it was the first constructed road between George and Knysna.  The route was adjusted during the time it was built to accommodate the discovery of gold in the Karatara river in 1875.  This is why the road dips down to the Hooggekraal and Karatara River valleys.

It was the main road between George and Knysna for almost 70 years before the N2 through The Wilderness and Knysna was completed.  The road is a mixture of tar and good gravel road – suitable for any car to drive. This makes it the perfect day to trip to explore by either car or motorbike!

The morning started with a thick mist in Plettenberg Bay that continued most of the way to Knysna.

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Knysna Lagoon. On a clear day you would be looking at the Knysna Heads in the background.

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Misty-Pass-RideThe 7 Passes road today was ridden from Knysna to George and starts on the Sedgefield side of the Knysna Lagoon at Phantom Pass, named after the white Phantom Moth found in this area and the misty weather continued into the pass.

 

 

On reaching the tar  a slight detour to the left was made for a quick breakfast at the Leeuwenbosch Diary Farm.

 

 

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After breakfast the ride continued past this farm dam with something not often seen these days

– a foefie slide!

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Homtini Pass

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Blue-SkyThe tree-lined passes then give way to the openness of this part of Karatara Pass and the mist has given way to blue skies.

 

….and then winding down through the dip of Hooggekraal Pass and open farmland!

 

 

 

 

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The crossing at the Hooggekraal  is the only steel bridge along this stretch of road.

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Silver River pass lives up to its name… the reflection of the morning sun makes the river look silver

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And so after a leisurely ride of just under 4 hours and many stops, the last pass to negotiate is Kaaimans River Pass.

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Montague-PassThe time is now shortly after midday, the riding has been good and why should it end now when there are 2 lovely mountain passes nearby that can still be done today.  So instead of turning left to head back to Plettenberg Bay, the bike leans to the right and on towards Montagu Pass.

Montagu Pass, is on the Regional road between George and Herold. The pass was named after John Montagu, Colonial Secretary of the Cape in the 1840’s, whose enthusiasm for good roads resulted for the first ambitious program of construction in Southern Africa.

Outeniqua Pass can be seen from Montagu Pass. The Toll House at the bottom of the pass is still in good condition but the Smithy is now no longer.  The views along this pass are spectacular, especially at the top at the site of Amanda’s Grave.

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Outeniqua-Pass

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After spending the morning riding in temperatures below 20 deg C it was pretty uncomfortable once at the top on the ‘other side of the mountain’!  A sweaty 33 deg C.  A left turn onto the R62 and then on towards on towards Outeniqua pass for the 9th mountain pass of the day.

And the mist had caught up again….at Vic Bay.

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Breakfast now seemed a long way away and so it was time to head back to Plett.  A stop was necessary at Timberlake Village for a mid-afternoon lunch and a listen to some live music at Zucchinis.  The cold Gaelic Stout from Robertsons Brewery helped to wash away the ‘traildust’.

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Top tip…don’t drink the Coke :)

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Ride Report: Buffels Bay

This ride report is about a trip through Barrington Pass to Buffels Bay and the Riverdeck Restaurant on the banks of the river!

The plan for this particular day was to ride a mountain pass, Barrington Pass, that had recently been highlighted in a newsletter from Mountain Passes of South Africa.  It had rained the night before and on approaching the tarred Rheenendal turnoff a decision needed to be made on the ‘fly’.  A wet gravel road or the tar road to Rheenendal?  Well, the gravel Phantom Pass won on the day! One thing is certain – our bike rides around the Garden Route are anything but dull!

After Phantom Pass – it was tar all the way to Homtini Pass (have you noticed that all of our rooms at Amakaya Backpackers are named for local mountain passes?)

After Homtini pass, we turned off to Barrington Pass just before Karatara Pass. Barrington Pass is a winding road with good scenery. The 7 km pass went by too quickly and with no specific time schedule I convinced myself to go back up and down again. Lovely!

Once back on the N2, we decided to stop off in Buffels Bay where my other half and I had stopped while driving around in the car just the week before.  We rode on right to the end of the caravan park (which was closed, but no problem on a bike).  Just find the gap!

The view and rocks right at the end of the caravan park is amazing!!  The highlight of the day’s ride so far.

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By now it was after 1:30pm and my stomach was doing a hunger dance.  On the way back to the N2 this sign brought me to a stop.  My stomach screamed “YES” and we stopped in at the Riverdeck  Restaurant.  What a fantastic place right on the banks of the river, with a lovely outdoor area.  Canoeing, paddling or just chilling on or next to the water!

Inside the Riverside Restaurant was so quaint, with an old coal stove brewing pots of coffee and relaxed seating if you don’t want a table – while outside people were enjoying the river, despite the chilliness of the day! Lunch was great – served on tin plates and washed down with a cold Heineken!

Now that my hungry stomach has satisfied, it was time to head back to Plett after an interesting day’s riding!  An interesting point, is that you don’t have to have a motorbike to do this route – it can be done by car either from Knysna or Plett and makes a great day trip while staying in Plett!

Just another of the many things to do while in the area.

 

Ride Report: Mother Holly’s Tea Garden

Living in Plettenberg Bay, surrounded by gorgeous mountain passes, panoramic coastal roads, indigenous forests and white sandy beaches, we do try and get out on our bikes and explore the surrounding area regularly.

Bikers often say that it is all about the ride and not the destination. We did not end up with breakfast at the planned destination and all in all probably had a better morning because of this.

This Sunday we decided to visit Totties Farm Kitchen on the Reenendal road. We had heard good things about this venue and thought a Sunday breakfast would be in order. On arrival we were disappointed to find out that they only open for lunch on Sundays.

At the owners suggestion we carried on to Mother Holly’s Tea Garden in the Millwood Forest. Once entering the gate it is a 9km gravel road ride through the indigenous forest to this restaurant which is located near the old Millwood Gold mine. Tours are also offered to visit the gold mine and inside the restaurant is a small museum with memorabilia from the gold mining era.

The breakfast was excellent and very well priced and we sat outside in the garden in the warm winter’s sun. Coffee was served in an old-style metal coffee-pot with matching tin mugs. A sneak-peek inside the kitchen revealed an old coal stove as well – just the kind of place to stop and enjoy a breakfast along the Garden Route!

We did not do the gold mine tour because we needed to get back home, but this is now on our ‘to do’ list as is Jubilee Creek – a picnic area in the Millwood Forest.

We took a detour via Phatom Pass which also forms part of the 7 passes route between George and Wilderness (also highly recommended). A pleasant morning out with a good breakfast to boot!

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Ride Report: Angie’s G Spot

With the Plett Adventure Bike Week in full swing this past month  and after riding Swartberg Pass the day before, a ride was planned to Angie’s G-Spot for breakfast, then to the R62, Montagu Pass and then back to Plett.  So it was 5 bikes and one pillion that left for the day’s ride.  With Anthony being new to gravel road riding, his fiancé, Elmari pillioned with Johan to gain gravel road pillion experience with someone used to pillioning on gravel roads.  This also gave Anthony a chance to familiarise himself with his bikes behaviour on gravel roads without the additional complications of a pillion.

Arriving at Angie’s G-Spot and their “promise” to all customers – now that is real South African humour :)

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This is a very scenic spot for a quiet relaxing stop

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With breakfast done it was time to move on.  As we left,  members of the Africa Twin Club arrived and we said quick “hellos” and “goodbyes”.

There had been some rain earlier in the week and in some places there was a bit of mud. In one of these muddy spots, where some roadworks were taking place, and moving at walking pace – Trudie ‘twitched’ the throttle a bit and the back wheel slid out and down she went!   In the usual spirit of Adventure Bike riders – as it wasn’t a serious fall – out came the cameras!

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With a sore ankle, but still full of smiles – the bike was moved and a damage assessment was done.

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Trudie’s ankle was a bit too sore to ride out the remaining +-10km to the tar road of the R62 and we were debating what to do when help arrived in the form of the Africa Twin Club! Klaus Pille would ride Trudie’s bike back to Plett and his wife would ride his bike.  Trudie would pillion with me to the R62 as her husband, Johan, was pillioning Elmari.

Once at the R62 riders were again shuffled and Elmari was back on Anthony’s bike and Johan took Trudie to the hospital in George for x-rays. There is never a dull moment for Adventure Bikers!

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The ride back to Plett was uneventful and later we  learnt that when the bike fell, Trudie’s ankle had been trapped under the bike and the weight of the bike had broken a bone in the ankle.

This cut short Johan and Trudie’s Adventure Bike Week, as they decided to fly home to Johannesburg. Luckily, all were in good spirits to enjoy the evening braai festivities.

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The next day Johan loaded the bike for the trip to PE airport.  Here they are on the bike – Trudie with her ‘moonboot’ on her broken ankle – still smiling :)

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Another stroke of luck and, in typical biker fashion, Ken Thresh from Africa Twin Club had space for Trudie’s bike on his trailer and offered to take the bike back to Johannesburg with him – Thanks so much to the guys at Africa Twin Club for their help!

While this particular ride did not turn out as we had anticipated, we are thankful that the consequences of Trudie’s fall were not too serious.  It also reminded us that anything can happen at any time and no journey is guaranteed to be completed without incident.

More than this however, it demonstrated the camaraderie and trust that exists between bikers in that a perfect stranger was willing to change his ride plans for the day and help get the bike back to Plett, and another was prepared to go out of his way to collect the bike and transport it back to Johannesburg.  It also showed the trust that we place in one another that Trudie and her husband, Johan were trusting enough, without question, to allow what were complete strangers to ride and transport Trudie’s bike.  This is an unseen side of bikers that most people are unaware of – an unwritten bikers code to help a biker in trouble.  Ride safe!

Report back from Trudie’s visit to a specialist in Johannesburg was positive.  No operation necessary and 6 weeks of ‘moonbooting’.

 

 

Ride Report: Swartberg Pass

An annual  event that Dorothy and I used to go on was the Buffalo Rally in Mossel Bay.  We have unfortunately had to miss the last 3 years, but the opportunity presented itself again this year.  With much anticipation, we left on the Saturday morning and were at Delfinos Restaurant for breakfast long before the mass ride.

The mass ride has become an institution at the Buffalo Rally and the locals were out in force to watch.

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As is usual there were all types of bikes and riding attire.

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…and even someone with an original ‘pisspot’ helmet.

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After the ride it was back to the camp to enjoy a few cold ones and watch the passing parade.  As usual there were all types to keep one amused – even this ‘pole’ dancer, g-string and all!

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After a great day and evening we packed up on Sunday morning to head back to Plettenberg Bay – via Swartberg Pass.  Only a 300km detour; after all, it’s about the ride and not the destination!

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The Swartberg Pass, built by Thomas Bain,  is the 10th longest mountain pass in South Africa and also has the 10th highest altitude gain (South Africa has 299 official passes).  We started our ride up the pass from the Oudtshoorn side and what a view – breathtaking!

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At the top of the pass

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Looking down on the Prince Albert side

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Fantastic views

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Strange rock formations

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After completing the 25.1km we stopped at the Swartberg Hotel  for a fantastic lunch.

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On our way out of town we stopped to say hello to a friend we saw crossing the road – very slowly!

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Now back on tar, the road took us along Meiringspoort which is always a great, scenic ride.

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All in all a total days riding of mixed tar and gravel with a total of 435k done for the day.

Have a look at our Facebook Album here for more photos or contact us for more information on bike tours in the Plett area and the Southern Cape amakaya@telkomsa.net

Amakaya Backpacker: 2013 in Review

PE Plett2013 has been a year of exciting new things for us at Amakaya Backpackers and in Plettenberg Bay.

During 2013, we saw some exciting new events come to Plett: Plett’s first ever Downhill Rage Longboarding Contest, Africa’s first ever Polo Street Parade and the inaugural PE>>Plett Stage Race. We also got to enjoy some old favourites like the Whale Bikers Rally, Wedge Classic Bodyboarding Contest, the 2nd Land Art Biennale and the Sabrina Love Ocean Challenge to name some highlights.

2013 was a super sporty year in Plett with adventure races, mountain bike challenges and other sporting events held in Plett both during the summer and winter months. We are looking forward to seeing what the 2014 sporting calendar has in store for visitors this coming year; we are sure it’s going to be epic!

TidalPoolFor us at Amakaya Backpackers, it was also a year of firsts. We were very pleased and proud to introduce our new Backpackers Beach Hostel  in Vic Bay, for those wanting to travel a bit further afield, Vic Bay is known as one of the best surf spots on the Garden Route and is a beautiful, secluded little paradise. We also launched our motorbike tours in conjunction with Explore SA GS Rental – there is no better way to explore a coastal road or mountain pass by bike! We also got up to some crazy adventures in Plett this past year: we visited with the lions and other big cats at the new Jukani Sanctuary, swam with the Cape Fur Seals at Robberg Peninsula and took a horse-riding safari through the Plett Game Reserve.

2013 was a wonderful year for us in Plett and we can’t wait to see what adventures are in store for us and all who visit Plett in 2014!

 

 

 

Our New Backpackers Beach Hostel in Vic Bay

Just a short drive down the coast from Plettenberg Bay and Amakaya Backpackers, lies a little gem of a bay – Vic Bay (or Victoria Bay). Largely unknown to tourists, Vic Bay is most popular for it’s excellent waves for surfing and views of the dramatic Southern Cape coastline and ocean. Amakaya Backpackers is proud to introduce our new sister backpackers, Backpackers Beach Hostel in Vic Bay!

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Vic Bay is between the beautiful city of George and the Wilderness coastline – ideally located for exploring this leg of the Garden Route and our new backpackers is right on the beach of Vic Bay – you couldn’t ask for a better location and view. Vic Bay is surrounded by cliffs creating a natural and safe swimming cove, whilst the open ocean pushes in great swell for a long surf. The beautiful tidal pool and jetty date back to the early twentieth century and add immense charm to this little coastal village. There are a number of nature walks to enjoy around Vic Bay and a particularly great walk along the railway around Kaaimans Pass.

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The backpackers is cosy and comfortable, a mere 100m from the beach, has a fully equipped self-catering kitchen, a communal lounge with Satellite TV, free Wi-Fi and Satellite TV in all the rooms. It’s the perfect place for a quiet breakaway, an adventurous surf holiday or an essential stop along the Garden Route.

Check out the website here for more information. We hope that you will visit Vic Bay soon, Terry will be there to welcome you!

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Motorbike Road Trip: Storm’s River Mouth

Many visitors to Plettenberg Bay use Amakaya Backpackers as a base for road trips into the surrounding countryside. A highly recommended road trip is Tsitsikamma and Storm’s River Mouth and we offer our backpackers a unique way to explore this area – on a motorbike!

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It’s good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end” – Ernest Hemingway. We say that the journey and the destination are both equally important and, when you take a motorbike tour with Amakaya Backpackers, the journey will be as incredible as the destination!

Storm’s River Mouth is 55km from Plettenberg Bay, along an incredibly beautiful stretch of highway flanked on either side by Fynbos and indigenous forest. What better way to experience the thrill of travel and Tsitsikamma National Park than from a motorbike? Along the way, there are a number of exciting stops including the amazing Bloukrans Bridge – home of the World’s Highest Commercial Bridge Bungy at 216m! Ziplining is popular in Tsitisikamma and you can choose to stop at the Waterfall Zipline or the Treetop Zipline for some high-flying fun! Charming Storm’s River Village is home to Segway Tours, Blackwater Tubing and biking in the forest – it’s a non-stop adventure.

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But Storm’s River Mouth, the final destination, will take your breath away; forest, waterfalls, swimming coves, crashing waves and rock pools. It’s undoubtedly the jewel of the Tsitsikamma National Park and there is plenty to do and see there – Untouched Adventures offers snorkelling, kayaking, scuba diving and a wicked kayak/lilo adventure into the Storm’s River Gorge or you can explore one of the 4 different hikes around the mouth.

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For backpackers looking for serious adventure, a road trip with Amakaya Backpackers into Tsitsikamma and Storm’s River ticks all the boxes: freedom, thrills and adventure. Check out our Motorbike Tours for more Information or Book Your Stay Now

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The Road to Amakaya

For the owners of Amakaya Backpackers, Dave Swart & Dorothy Prinsloo, the road to Amakaya reads like an Intrepid Adventure. Both Dave & Dorothy worked in corporate Pretoria, spending their week days in heavy traffic and high-stress offices. Like many city dwellers, they spent their weekend time adventuring, scuba diving and motor biking. But when the stress of city life got too much, they would dream of a different, slower life and spend time online looking for the perfect opportunity.

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One day, they found it. An established backpackers in the idyllic coastal village of Plettenberg Bay was up for sale. So they did what any true adventurer would do: hopped onto their bikes and together with a friend who came along for the ride, travelled the 1300km from Pretoria to Plettenberg Bay for the weekend to check it out. And this was when their lives changed. Travelling into Plettenberg Bay, smelling that fresh ocean air and looking out of the beautiful bay surrounded by the Tsitsikamma Mountains, they decided that they had found their next great adventure.

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Amakaya, the backpackers, is located within walking distance of the town centre and 800m from the popular central beach of “Plett”. They fell in love with the cosy, welcoming backpackers and the laidback Plett lifestyle. 4 months later, Dave & Dorothy had packed in their Pretoria life and were on the road to Plettenberg Bay, this time for good.

That was almost 6 years ago and since arriving Dorothy has acquired her own business, The Skaf’Tin Pizza and Take Away. Dave & Dorothy are still so in love with the town, the natural beauty that surrounds them and the experiences of exploring this wonderful area.

View of Plettenberg Bay