Day 1 -4: Durban - Grahamstown (1084km)
Alex and Bill followed us through to Umkomaas where we were treated to a delicious breakfast and a moment to pull ourselves together. The ride through to Matatiele was comfortable and luckily there was minimal traffic - particularly as Monday was the end of a long weekend. The storm clouds were building up, and we just managed to scoot around a storm - 10 min later and we would have been drowned rats arriving at Bev's house (Nick's cousin). Matatiele is a small town approximately 70km outside of Kokstad, and a good first stop for us considering it is Lorna's hometown. Bev cooked us up a good wholesome dinner and spoilt us with dessert, while we played with his new companion 'Irish' - a lucky dog which has found a very loving home after a rough start.
Bev with Irish
Tuesday morning we did a few tweaks to our packing (something I am sure we will continue to do throughout our ride!) and headed on the back route through towns of Ugie and Elliot on to Queenstown. No hiccups along the ride, just pure freedom to drive as fast (or should I say slow) as we like and stop whenever something caught our eye that we felt needed to be admired.
Bum Shot :)
Queenstown is nestled in a valley with rolling hills surrounding it. The town itself reminded us a lot of Pietermaritzburg. We stopped at the Information Office to find a place to camp for the night. Only one place offered camping - Roydons Private Nature Reserve Lodge, Conference and Adventure centre (http://www.roydon.co.za/). We drove through to the gate only to find out that it was going to cost us double our budget we intended for camping per night. As we tried to figure out the next step a bakkie arrived with the Manager (Lourens). He listened to our story and without hesitation agreed to let us stay within our budget. Roydons is a beautiful place and offers so much. There are two conference centres, a comfortable lodge which is the old farm house converted into rooms, 8 self catering units and 10 'hunting cabins' - simple rooms which the campers are allowed to use as well as a seperate adventure centre for school groups. The nature reserve is 1500ha, and you are able to hike, hunt, horseride, fly fish...the list goes on! Truely a lovely spot and wonderful setting for weddings.
Snowy the hand reared calf
Our morning started with a hike lead by Rusty the excitable dog chasing the buck and horses we encounted along the way.
From Queenstown we headed towards the coast. Our funniest point was when we came around a corner and saw a police car with three policeman on the side of the road. Naturally we thought it was a road block and thought we were being asked to stop. We pulled over, and the policeman gave us a big smile, followed by: "How you doing, why did you stop? I never signalled for you to." They were busy chasing a lone cow that was running onto the road, trying to catch it before it caused an accident. So we headed on our way down to East London.
We arrived in East London at about mid-day and had to kill some time before we met up with Tony Gray (A friend of Nick`s Dad), So we took a senic drive down to the coast, found a bench and just relaxed for a while, looking through our maps and writing in our diaries. After a while we decided to look on the GPS and see if we could find some interesting places to go see in East London, and what came up.....Hemingway CASINO !!!! but we knew there was a Hemingway shopping centre so we decided to go see.
East London esplande
On route we went through some hectic traffic and near peak hour too, and as we saw the Hemingway Shopping centre where we took a wrong turn and ended up back on the freeway headed towards Umthata !! Damn GPS !! still getting used to it !!
However luck was on our side, we took the next off ramp and saw a garage so we stopped in to see if Tony had text us yet, and he had with his address, it happened to be 2 Km`s up the road from where had accidentaly ended up, lets hope our luck continues like this.
We were once again treated to a delicious meal at the ocean basket, and had a bed to sleep in, as funny as that sounds we are savouring this some times, overlooked pleasures while we still can !!
We woke up nice and early this morning and packed up the bikes and headed on our way to Grahamstown.
We took the R72 towards Port Alfred, then hoped onto the R67 towards Grahamstown, it was a lovely senic drive on a narrow and semi well maintained road. We stopped in at the Pig and Whistle for a drink, a lovely little pub with lots of charachter and I am sure some crazy parties !
Nick on a call to Matt (his brother) on the ticky box!
And here we sit doing our first blog in Alan`s (Kristine`s brother) room in his res at Grahamstown.
We will be camping here tonight (not on the rez unforutunately!) but in a camp site just out of town.