Adventure: Tankwa Karoo DS Trip Report
On short notice we decided to go for a DS trip through the Tankwa Karoo and camp on top of a mountain peak. A short two day trip.
We left at a reasonable time on the Saturday and made our way via Ceres to the Tankwa Karoo. Just outside of Oppiberg we stopped to switch the ABS off and have a bit of a break before we tackle the dirt roads of the Karoo – our home for the next day and a half. By some bad luck, my buddy dropped his bike as we parked off, laying the wrong side in a ditch. Being fully kitted (the plan was to camp), the bike was heavily laden. We really struggled to get that GS back on two wheels again.
We were still catching out breaths, and two Boerre Seuns stopped in a cloud of dust next to us. They were already dinking some cold beers – at no later than 10 in the morning. They were unbelievably friendly – had all kinds of questions related to the bikes. They left just as soon as they arrived – asking us to join them not far from there in an old river bed.
As we arrived these boys had their braais, chairs and several coolers already out. We were not going to be inhospitable, so we joined them for their kind offer of a cold beer. We were not even half way through the beer and another vehicle promptly stopped, opened the back end and started taking out cooler boxes filled with drinks. Within the time it took us to finish the beer, at least another ten vehicles stopped off to come and enjoy a cold refreshment. It turned out that some of them knew one another, but that the common denominator was that they were all heading for the famous Karoo Pub for someone’s birthday bash. The scene was out of a movie. The setting could not possibly have been more desolate. There are nothing within 50 kilometers and suddenly a party erupted out of no-where. This could easily have been a beer commercial.
We made out excuses and headed over the Katbakkies pass towards the same Karoo Padstal for a morning breakfast. The place was already packed with bikers – clearly it was the weekend to be out and about on two wheels.
We decided to try another route on our way to the Ganagga Pass, i.e. via the camping ground for AfrikaBurn. Unfortunately, and that’s all my fault – we managed to get ourselves severely lost. So much for GPS! We had to backtrack numerous times trying to find a route towards the East where we wanted to go. Things were getting quite desperate. We were riding for hours. It was unbelievably hot and we were both running out of water. There was not a sole in sight. I am always listening to music whenever I am riding bike, and I was in great spirit. The road was really quite tough – deep sand. Something which is not my natural habitat. I hate sand riding – and coincidently I am no good at it. Despite the road conditions, I was in seventh heaven. My buddy on the other was not. He had a torrid time.
At some point I had to turn back to go and find him. Fortunately nothing was wrong – he was just riding quite a bit slower. At some stage this monkey stops in the middle of nowhere, pulls down his pants and starts washing his arse with probably the last water we had. It turns out that the spare canisters of fuel we have been carrying have been leaking down his hind side for some time. It started burning his skin at some point and he realised something had to be done. With the benefit of hindsight – if my arse was burning, perhaps I would not have been such a happy camper that afternoon.
It turned out to be an arduous journey that took us much longer than anticipated. When we eventually reached the Ganagga Pass, we were both fed up and certainly in no mood to camp. The weather was also foul with heavy dry dust winds blowing at speed. We decided to go and find refuge at the Ganagga Lodge – a lovely establishment which I have been to a couple of times before.
We were greatly warmly at the lodge and we got ourselves very nice lodging for the night. A good couple of drinks were had after a scrumptious meal that evening – true Karoo style.
I slept like a baby – sore, tired and slightly drunk.
The next morning we had a lovely breakfast and made our way to Middelpos. I tiny little town (if one can call it a town) where we were going to refuel. Middelpos has fuel, but you have to get a hold of the owner. Depending on the day, and time of day, he may be having an afternoon snooze, be drinking at the hotel or be gone on one of the neighbouring farms to watch Rugby. Anything is possible. We were lucky in that he was home when we arrived and we could refuel to ensure that even the worst getting lost won’t leave us stranded.
On the way back to Sutherland, we decided to ride down the famous Ouberg Pass (there are quite a few Ouberg passes in South Africa – this is the one close to Sutherland). The pass was a highlight for the journey. A long winding, narrow gravel road from the top of the mountain into the belly of the Tankwa Karoo.
We made our way systematically back through the Tankwa, unconsciously being drawn back to the Karoo Padstal – for some welcome refreshments. At the bar I asked the bar lady whether the crowd from the previous day managed to get there and have their birthday bash as planned. And indeed they did. Supposedly they were partying it out until the early hours of the morning when they all left (properly intoxicated I am sure) heading to a nearby farm to continue the festivities, or perhaps to pass out.
All in all a nice little weekend trip that had some very weird coincidences.
Here are some selected pictures from the trip.