OVERLAND EXPLORE South Africa
We can’t include absolutely everything you’ll see and do during your exploration, but the text below outlines our daily route and some of what you’ll experience on your beautiful Western and Southern Cape ride. Please note, we can arrange special low seat versions of the bikes if you let us know!
Arrive at Cape Town International Airport and be greeted by Alex (from our partners Kaapstad Motorcycle Adventure Tours) and Paddy from Overland. We’ll transfer you to your first night’s accommodation in the Blouberg District of Cape Town. Here you will receive a champagne reception and be shown around the immediate area, where, if you choose, you can spend the rest of the day at leisure. Acclimatise to the southern hemisphere, its temperatures and atmosphere and get over your flight in a café, or by strolling on a white sand beach. Begin to absorb some of this fascinating Rainbow Nation. We’ll dine in one of the local restaurants and discuss our plans for the coming days.
Early risers can enjoy a beach walk before breakfast at around 8am, and then we set off to collect the bikes; F800GS series BMWs unless you’d prefer an R1200GS or a smaller Kawasaki KLR650.
We’ll set off up the road leading to Table Mountain and pass the homes of South Africa’s ‘rich and famous’ in Camps Bay. As you settle in to your fresh, low mileage bike, and we continue over Chapman’s Peak you will be riding one of the world’s greatest coastal roads. There’s no rush and we’ll have ample time to take photos and savour the views as we ride down through the nature reserve on the peninsula famously known as The Cape of Good Hope. If you feel fit you can walk to the very point, the rest of us might take the Funicular railway.
After lunch we will continue along the coast passed the famous Khayelitsha township and up and over Sir Lowery Pass, a climb from sea level to nearly 1400ft and a great place to spot baboons and hang gliders… More stops for photos from the top of the pass before completing the last leg of our first day, riding to the whaling town of Hermanus where we spend the night.
A short walk from the guesthouse is the market-town centre with its many restaurants and bars, giving you a wide variety of dining choices for the evening. If you don’t fancy the short walk back to the guesthouse after a couple of glasses of the local ‘Pye-eyed Possum Pilsner’, you can always experience the Tuk-Tuk Taxi service.
Enjoy a hearty breakfast at the guesthouse and take a walk around the market with its many indigenous crafts and colourful characters. After we pick up supplies for lunch, we’ll get back on the road, riding beneath the Overberg Mountains until we stop on the wide beaches of the south coast for a picnic.
If you have your speedos, take an ocean dip, but be warned… the southern Oceans aren’t the warmest! Perhaps you’d prefer to visit the Shark Diving centre and if you’re curious, the local museum.
After our light lunch we will leave the tarmac for the first time on the trip. Just a short distance to get a feel for riding on gravel if you’ve never done it, but it’s worth it, as we will be in wine country and getting off the beaten track always rewards.
The thatched village of Elim has changed little since it was founded by German missionaries nearly 200 years ago, who chose the spot to grow vines for their communion wine. The combination of soil, sun and prevailing weather next to where two great Oceans meet, results in a unique wine for which the area is now justly famous. You may want to buy a bottle before we arrive for the night at the southern most tip of the continent of Africa; Cape Agulhas.
When could be better to taste your purchase, than with your most southerly meal, in the company of locals. They’ll delight in telling us about the area and what life’s like at the tip of this massive continent, before we retire to our quaint family run Cape Agulhas Guest House.
If you love watching the sunrise, there’s no finer place than from the beach, boardwalk and lighthouse at the end of the world. Stroll amongst the fynbos (heathland vegetation) in the Agulhas Nature reserve.
It’ll be an all tarmac ride today but with plenty to see as we head up to the old town of Swellendam where you will have time to wander and explore the town centre with its impressive Dutch Reform church, said to be the most photographed church in the Southern Hemisphere.
Onward we ride to the Tradouw Pass where you can’t help but stop for photographs at the top of this awesome passage through the mountains. Once the other side, and well away from the ocean, you’ll notice the distinct change in the vegetation as we ride east along the R62 and across the Klein Karoo (Little Desert). Flanked both sides by wide-open scrubland, a stop at Ronnie’s Sex Shop is most welcome for something to satiate your desires. Thirst desires – it’s a bush pub!
Once refreshed, it’s across the desert through the towns of Ladysmith and Calitzdorp until we reach Oudtshoorn. The history and development of Oudtshoorn is inextricably connected to the growth of the ostrich feather industry from as early as 1860. By the turn of the twentieth century, the use of prime ostrich feathers in ladies’ clothing was high western fashion. Today ostriches still abound, farmed as much for their flesh as feathers.
The accommodation for the next two nights is a truly amazing experience. You will be staying at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge in luxury air-conditioned tent accommodation; unique, understated elegance.
With mountains as the backdrop and a magnificent waterhole at your doorstep, it’s the closest you’ll get to the wild of the Klein Karoo. All meals are included during the stay here, as are safari drives and even an Elephant Walking experience if you wish.
Based at Buffelsdrift, today is yours to do as you please. Take advantage of the inclusive excursions the Lodge offers, or we can arrange an escorted ride out to one of the most remote settlements in South Africa – Die Hel, but please note, this unpaved track is a rewarding challenge, the route first being cut into the mountains in 1968 and barely upgraded since.
Perhaps you’d prefer a more relaxing day visiting one of the many Ostrich farms nearby or even the Cango Caves where you can do the tour around these amazing 20 million year old early Stone Age limestone dwellings.
For the really laid back there is a plunge pool to enjoy at the lodge, or you could just sit and watch the Giraffe and other varied wildlife arrive at the waterhole, a truly memorable experience.
Exquisite dining beneath the stars is the order of the evening, to bring day five to a close.
Today we head south. Leaving Oudtshoorn behind, we will ride out over the Swartberg Mountains and then aim east to the small town of Uniondale. Here we can find a Boer Fort from the Anglo/Boer war over a century ago. This is a great place for a coffee stop before tackling one of the best gravel passes there is.
The spectacular Prince Alfred’s Pass winds from Avontuur near Uniondale in the Klein Karoo all the way to the coast. With four different climatic zones on the pass it provides a home to an abundance of indigenous fauna and flora.
This spectacular 88km mountain pass route is also the home of the Middle Keurbooms Conservancy, who are creating a conservation corridor all the way to the sea and restoring the Alfred’s Pass. Half way into the pass we will stop for lunch at Angies G spot… once found never forgotten!
We will continue toward the coast, riding through the forestry areas and finally through the local shanty township on the outskirts of Knysna. Tonight we’ll dine in the very busy coastal port of Knysna where you can sample what the locals claim to be the ‘Best oysters in the World’.
It won’t be an early start, as you may want to explore Knysna or ride out to the Storms River Bridge where the brave have a go at the world’s highest Bungee Jump. Or maybe you would like to visit the Knysna Elephant Park where you can feed the elephants and have your photographs taken up close and personal with them. Much of the day is your own so take advantage of the many things to do in and around the area – Alex as always, is on hand to advise.
We’re only having a short ride to our next destination so depending on when everyone is ready we can either ride directly to our lodgings via the N2 highway or divert off and find some great gravel back-roads to ride.
Our over-night will be like no other. We’ll be sleeping in a disused Express train from the Outeniqua Railway right on the beach of Mossel bay – sand and ocean right outside the carriage.
We can plan our day’s ride up and over the Outeniqua Mountain range, during breakfast. We have a choice of riding today; either via the tarred Outeniqua Pass or via the gravel surface of the Montague Pass. Both offer fantastic vistas so it’s up to you if you’d rather relax on the blacktop, marvelling at the views, or challenge yourself a little.
Back through the town of Oudtshoorn for lunch, then west towards the mighty Swartberg Mountains again, where we shall take our time riding the edge of the beautiful Swartberg nature reserve.
Our destination, The Retreat in more than just name, is set deep in the mountains where we should arrive mid afternoon, giving those that wish , the chance to enjoy the myriad walking trails. Truly wonderful dining this evening will be enjoyed on the stoop (decking) as we watch the sun setting behind the mountains. Your hosts will make you feel most welcome and regale you with stories of the area and tales of the local leopard visits. An unquestionably tranquil experience.
Make the most of the walking trails as the sun rises or visit the rock pools and take an early bathe in the cool mountain waters. What a great way to start another day!
When you’re ready, breakfast will be enjoyed on the stoop, watching the mountain bird life just feet away. Leaving this Retreat we will head along pleasant gravel roads winding through the hills to the town of Calitzdorp, and while some enjoy tea or coffee at the local café, others can wander around the adjacent art gallery or the museum and discover something of Afrikaans culture. If that doesn’t appeal then just around the corner is a Tortoise rescue centre where you can spot around 200 rescued animals.
Back on the road we will ride west along the R62, back through the town of Ladysmith, before crossing the Langeberg Mountains and the N2 and hitting the gravel again, to the coastal town of Witsand. Long wide beaches and high sand dunes make this a great place to take a relaxing walk by the sea. Tonight we stay at The Whale Watchers Inn, but alas the whales will have already moved with the season.
A day’s riding west on gravel and something a little different from the norm, because today we are going to cross the Breede River by raft, a hand-pulled raft. Your host may be persuaded to tell you some of the mishap stories as you cross, but unless the river is high, we expect our crossing to be drama-free. Riding up the other riverbank, we continue west until we reach the town of Bredasdorp, where we rejoin the tarmac and ride on to Stanford, finally arriving back in Hermanus. We will stay in the family run guesthouse we visited before, and dining will be in the place of your choice. Alex has sampled all the culinary establishments in Hermanus, so can be relied upon for recommendations, but he has a soft spot for the local African Cuisine restaurant.
After breakfast and a final look around the market for gifts you may wish to take home, we leave Hermanus and follow the coast road through the towns of Bettys Bay and Klienmond heading towards Gordons Bay at the foot of the mountains. Ideally we’ll head into the wine district of Stellenboch, visiting a vineyard to sample some of South Africa’s finest wine at source, accompanied by a light lunch, before a visit to the Cheetah rescue project. If you’re a cat lover, these really awesome felines are something special.
We aim to be back in Cape Town to drop off the bikes by late afternoon before transferring to our sumptuous guesthouse for the evening. Dinner at a local eatery will be another Kaapstad Motorcycle Adventure Tours treat and an opportunity to reminisce and reflect on this Rainbow Nation.
It may be our final day, but by no means is the exploration of South Africa over. Weather permitting we’ll go to the Waterfront to catch the ferryboat to the famous Robben Island. A place of banishment since the 17th century, Robben Island is famously known for holding political prisoners during the Apartheid era, among them Steve Biko and Nelson Mandela. Guides on the island are all ex-prisoners.
Depending on how long you want to stay, there’ll be time to take an open top bus tour of the city or take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain, where you can survey South Africa’s Mother City.
Late afternoon you will be taken to the Airport for your international flight home or we can arrange for transport locally, or even extended bike hire, if you wish to prolong your stay in this truly amazing country.
OVERLAND EXPLORE Tour Package
£2,850 for riders and £1,200 for pillions.
Only £250 secures your place.
Once you’ve read the terms and conditions, please click here to place your deposit.
– Airport transfers in South Africa.
– Information pack with maps etc.
– 10 Days Bike hire complete with full comprehensive road traffic insurance.
– Hard Luggage (side cases).
– Top boxes available at extra cost, or you may want to travel with your own throw-overs or dry bag.
– 11 Nights accommodation
– 11 x Breakfast
– 3 x Evening Meals
– Professional Host for the duration of the tour.
– Overland Explore SOUTH AFRICA tour shirt!
– We are delighted to say that there will be no support vehicle carrying your bags.
– Pack light and enjoy the trip, but if you’d like to bring more clothes for evenings out in Cape Town, we can launder and store them safely until you’re back in the city.
– Flights aren’t included as Overland Magazine readers come from all over the world, but we can certainly arrange them for you.
– Travel Insurance isn’t included due to the wide variation in personal circumstance, but you must ensure that the policy you buy covers you to ride a motorcycle. Again, we can help.