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Adventure Bike Safari to the Tankwa Karoo

The view from the top of Lookout Pass in the Cederberg.

The view from the top of Lookout Pass in the Cederberg.

One of the most fantastic things I’ve done in recent years was to to do an Adventure Bike Safari to the Tankwa Karoo and Cederberg areas of the Western Cape, South Africa. Oh, what an amazing few days of riding in one of the more remote, dry, desolate areas of South Africa.

The team on a dry pan en route to the Cederberg Oasis. From the left, Ian Conning, Your truly, Angus Welsh and Bruce Houghting

The team on a dry pan en route to the Cederberg Oasis. From the left, Ian Conning, yours truly, Angus Welsh and Bruce Houghting

To cut a long story short, 4 of us decided to do a multi day ride on our small, 250cc adventure or dual purpose bikes (Honda Crf250L) and friend and epic adventure bike rider Angus Welsh put the route together. Another friend (and partner in Adventure Bike Diaries), Bruce Houghting, was heading for Cape town to do the Argus Cycle Marathon (it was cancelled on the day) so he took the bikes down on a trailer, and I flew down some days later to join the group. Keep an eye on the Adventure Bike Diaries blog for a full trip report and movie that we are working on at the moment – subscribe and you’ll be notified when it’s up.

The Tankwa Padstal. Great food, ice cold beer and a wonderful vibe in the middle of nowhere.

The Tankwa Padstal. Great food, ice cold beer and a wonderful vibe in the middle of nowhere.

The Tankwa Karoo lies to the west of Sutherland (yes it is cold there at night, especially when you are camping!!!) and east of the Cederberg Mountains. It is dry, unbelievably hot in summer and freezing cold on winter mornings. The vegetation in the area is part of the Succulent Karoo biome and has been described as very sparse and dwarf shrubland. I guess that sums it up pretty well! The Cederberg mountains on the other hand lie in a north, south direction about 300km to the north of Cape Town and are well known for their dramatic rock formation, and San or Bushman rock art. In recent years some fossils of primitive fish, dating back about 450 million years have been discovered in these mountains. It’s all wonderful adventure bike riding country.

The view from the Kraalhuis at Bizaansgat, home for the first night of out trip.

The view from the Kraalhuis at Bizaansgat, home for the first night of our trip.

And, of course, beautiful photography country as well. The thing though is that Adventure Biking and photography are not really designed for each other. Space is at a premium so there is no room for an array of bodies, lenses, tripods and other accessories, and the process of shooting a pic when you are riding is quite involved: Stop bike, get off bike (which in itself can be quite a procedure when you are loaded with tents, food, water, additional fuel, and a change or two of clothes), take off helmet, take of gloves, get camera out, and so on. Then you have to reverse the whole procedure! You really need to want to shoot a pic before you start the whole thing. So, as you can imagine, a great deal of thought was given to what camera gear to take. eventually I settled on my GoPro 4 Black to mount on the bike, my iPhone 6s for general snaps and my Panasonic GH4 and 12 – 35mm lens for the more serious stuff. The iPhone went into a pocket in my riding jacket, the GoPro stayed mounted on the bike and I carried the GH4 in a wonderful little Manfrotto Shoulder Bag slung around my neck and shoulder. It worked like a charm, and shooting pics and movies on the little mirrorless GH4 with my helmet and gloves still on was very easy, focussing and composing happening on the excellent rear screen.

So special to be in these remote areas - here looking down into the Tankwa Karoo National Park where we were to spend the night.

So special to be in these remote areas – here looking down into the Tankwa Karoo National Park where we were to spend the night.

As I said earlier, keep and eye on the Adventure Bike Diaries site for a full report and movie.

While we did have a basic route planned we did make some ad hoc decisions that took us down a few wonderful roads,

While we did have a basic route planned we did make some ad hoc decisions that took us down a few wonderful roads,

1 Comment

  1. joymullin says:

    It’s such a gorgeous part of the country Roger and what a way to experience it. Looking forward to seeing more.

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