Bikers tour wild Africa

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HISTORICAL CANNON: The bikers with the replica of the Long Tom cannon used by the Boer commandos against the British forces near Sabie during the second Anglo-Boer War in 1900. It is a replica because all four of the original guns were destroyed when hostilities ended. Picture: Supplied
HISTORICAL CANNON: The bikers with the replica of the Long Tom cannon used by the Boer commandos against the British forces near Sabie during the second Anglo-Boer War in 1900. It is a replica because all four of the original guns were destroyed when hostilities ended. Picture: Supplied

A GROUP of 15 men, including four from New Zealand, recently completed “Tour d’Afrika 2” – a two- week motorbike trip through some interesting parts of our country and Botswana.
Organised (as was the first one) by Alasdair McDonald and former Queenstonian Noel (“Bossie”) Fletcher – who recruited the Kiwis as he now lives in New Zealand – the group met in Johannesburg where they stayed over with Pierre Dormehl and the New Zealanders hired their bikes.
They first visited interesting parts of the Gautengl, including Hazyview, the Burke’s Luck potholes, God’s Window and the Long Tom Pass before spending the night at Alldays near the border where they crossed into Botswana and travelled to Nata Lodge.
The roads are tarred, I’m told, but the sand is very heavy and resulted in many spills on the way to lodges. However, being loose sand, there were no serious injuries.
Marc Bradley tells me the countryside is very flat and open and about 20 metres on either side of the road are kept free of vegetation, but there are no fences and one often has unexpected encounters with elephants or antelope.
From there, they went to Kasane in the north of Botswana to spend two nights at Kubu Lodge where the hippo wandered into the camp to investigate while they watched in awe from the deck.
Some members of the group went to Chobe where they saw plenty of game, while others went to the Victoria Falls. The river was full and most impressive and I’m told “only the brave” did the ghost swing – a scary fall of 70 metres over the river.
Every night the group met around the campfire for “court”, each night with a different judge and prosecutor, where there were post mortems, plenty of banter and fines in the form of down-downs.
Together again, the group travelled west to Katima Malilo where they stayed at the Island View Lodge and went tiger fishing in the river, although only one tiger was hooked.
Some came home after that and the others went through the Caprivi to Namibia where they had a two- night cruise on the Kavango River, during which they saw masses of crocodiles and hippos and the bird life was abundant. There is a diving “cage” in the river in which the brave can swim and see life in the water up close and personal. Shakari Lodge (also on the river) also offered fishing and game viewing and near Ghansi they visited a sanctuary for lion, cheetah and wild dogs.
Then it was back into South Africa at Zeerust and return to Johannesburg where they spent the last night with another former Queenstonian, Bruce Pitt, after about 5500km of travel without any major incidents. The trip was so much enjoyed that there is already talk of Tour d’Afrika 3 to Namibia in 2017 and the South Africans returned home with “amazing memories and great friendships” which will do South Africa many favours in the public relations stakes.
They asked the New Zealanders what they had particularly enjoyed that they could not get at home and the consensus was the huge variety in scenery, the number of unenclosed animals, the spectacular sunsets and wonderful feeling of freedom of doing it all on a bike.

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