After Oudtshoorn I took a detour via De Rust and Prince Albert to Calitzdorp before getting back on the R62. That took me over the Meiringspoort- and Swartberg-Passes and through some spectacular landscape. Thank you Jake for suggesting that route, it was amazing.
Getting closer to my final destination I’m taking a few detours to get off the main roads and see some nice places. People here are often exceptionally friendly and hospitable. Not only was I invited to stay at several really nice places (Warm Showers makes finding hosts easy), on some occasions I did not have to pay for coffee and food after telling people about my trip.
I met another cyclist with an impressive track record today, Nicolas cycled here from China. He carries a lot of photo gear (and I thought my bike was heavy) and really knows how to use it. Here is his photography website.
I cycled through the endless plains of the Free State to Bloemfontein and then cheated a bit to save time and took the train to Port Elisabeth. Cape Town, my final destination on this trip is getting closer.
My visit to Botswana was rather short compared to the other countries I’ve been to and there were less spectacular things to see. But I’m well aware how limited the time I have left on this trip is so I was rather happy to be able to cover some distance quickly. I’m already in South Africa now and rode 300 km there as well.
After leaving Bulawayo I went to visit the Matopos National Park. While there is quite a bit of wildlife the main attraction here is landscape and its bizarre granite formations. And the best thing: the park is very well accessible by bicycle. I did not meet any of the rhinos while cycling (and I’m not too unhappy about that) but cycling among Wildebeest, Zebras, various Antelopes, Warthogs, Baboons was quite fun.
I had a great time in Bulawayo, it’s quite a pleasant town. Even the traffic is not too bad here for a town this size. They have quite a network of dedicated cycle paths, something I haven’t seen in a long time. Those are often not in a great shape but that hardly matters, the roads are so wide there’s still plenty of space for everyone. To quote my guidebook the streets “where built wide enough for a wagon with a full span of oxen (24 pairs) to perform a U-turn”.
I ended up camping at Southern Comfort Lodge (www.southerncomfortbyo.com), a quite lovely place with very friendly and helpful owners – highly recommended.
I went off the main road to see some of the ruins along the way. The dirt road was pretty bad (and it started to rain for the first time in a week as soon as I had left the tarmac) but it was well worth the effort.
Zimbabwe keeps amazing me. I visited the caves in Chinhoyi a few days ago and although it was not what I expected it was a fascinating place to see.
I had almost decided against going to Lake Kariba. It was a detour and when I arrived at the turnoff to Siavonga I was tired and had pretty much made up my mind to skip it, stay on the main road and be at the border soon. There’s usually a small village at road turnoffs like this as was in this case and I stopped and sat down to have a cold drink and some roasted goat. I was lucky to run into a really nice guy who gave me all the information about road conditions that I had been worried about and organized me a place to stay in that tiny village where I would not have expected to find something like a guesthouse.
So I stayed and did go to the lake the next day. Getting there still involved some cursing as is was incredibly hot and I struggled getting up the hill after my 4 week break from cycling but I was rewarded. Being off the main road usually means nicer places and villages to pass through which was the case her as well. So I ended up in Siavonga which is where I wrote the last post about the hippo visits.
And it got a lot better than that once I had crossed the border into Zimbabwe.
I’m back on the road for 3 days and today should be my last day in Zambia, I’m right next to the border and will cross into Zimbabwe tomorrow.
Yes, that means I have changed my mind about the route for the rest of the trip once again. As I have just spent time in Namibia I did not want to return to places I’ve just been to so I went south directly towards Zimbabwe just making a small detour now to visit Lake Kariba.