Travelreport No. 45, Suedafrika - Swaziland - Lesotho, 20.02.2011 - 27.04.2011

Johannesburg - Rustenberg - Polokwane - Constantia - Krueger N.P. - Graskop - Nelspruit - Swaziland - Piet Retief - Royal Natal - Ladybrand - Lesotho - Port Elizabeth

South Africa is a fantastic country with diverse landscapes and fascinating wildlife and with kind people who spoil us with an unreached hospitality.

In Johannesburg we start our journey right up through Africa back home to Switzerland . The cars pass with high speed, not leaving us any space, giving us plenty of unwanted adrenalin rushes. Changing the route brings us on back roads and immediately cycling is enjoyable again. Right from the first day on, we experience the absolutely unreached hospitality, from receiving money to free stays at hostels, invitations for dinners and a bed. Also camping at farms is always allowed.

It takes us some days to get used to the different environment, the different way of life and to know where to shop, how to interpret the warnings etc. When we saw the sign for the first time “Beware of Crocodiles and Hippos”, we hesitated a little while to put up the tent. A lot of animals are encountered along the way; very common are warthogs, baboons and other kind of monkeys as well as birds.

Arriving in Polokwane, Jennifer who helps her father managing the swine farm with 24’000 pigs, spontaneously invites us to her house where we get spoiled from her and her husband Jason with drinks and food and friendship. In one of the National Reserves one can explore the park by bike, and there we saw impressive herds of zebras, wildebeests and warthogs speedily running away. How great! Later, on the farm of Mara and Koos, who invited us to their home and are the most loveable people you can imagine, they drive us to the dam and we see the first Hippo in our life. And while exploring their wild park with a squad bike, a giraffe mother with her sweet baby stands right in front of us. On Sunday, Mara and Koos drive us to the distance of 180km to the Krueger National park . Here we are excited to see in the wilderness the first beauty of a lion, many giraffes, zebras, wildebeests and different antelopes. Next to a pool grazes a hippo and at the back wallow some buffalos. Elephants can be watched very close, but when they wag their ears and stamp in our direction, I get worried.

Cycling along the edge of Blyde River Canon with amazing vistas of the canon and the hilly country with rainforests and man made forests are spectacular. In Nelspruit are we allowed to stay with Jennifer’s friends Kim and Kurn and have a wonderful interesting time.

The climb to the border of Swaziland is strenuous with 10-15% gradient, which means pushing the bikes from time to time. The chosen border crossing is not very frequented, so the customs officers are just having lunch (pap = maize porridge with meat). Only when Pius asked, whether a stamp is not needed, an officer attends to us. Hectic is not yet known here. Swaziland ’s predecessor king was famous for his 100 wives and resulting 600 children. His follower, one of his sons has only 19 wives up to now. In the country there is opposition against the monarchy now.

The National Parks along the beautiful Drakensberg Mountains are a delight. In Royal Natal hiking to the second highest waterfall in the world was fascinating, and on the campground we enjoy greatly meeting a loveable Indian family who invited us for tasty food and interesting companionship. In Golden Gate N.P. we are invited by Rob and his son and nephew to stay with them. How lucky we are to be able once more to experience such kindness, especially happy because it starts to rain at night and it does not stop for 24 hours. The day after, there is beautiful sunshine and it is time to say good bye.

Visiting Willi and Anne Sureman in Ladybrand was wonderful, and we find a welcoming home away from home and got spoiled with the finest Swiss food!

Lesotho , another small kingdom - 3 / 4 the size of Switzerland - surrounded by the big neighbor South Africa , is a picturesque mountain-state. The country is poor. Most of the friendly Basotho live in so-called rondavels, traditional round houses. Every family has its own piece of land which is cultivated with maize and millet and livestock growing is traditionally high. Everywhere shepherds wrapped in blankets are looking after cows, sheep and wool goats. Several times we get a cheerful performance of songs. Staying in Malealea is breathtaking in its beauty and the people who run this nice lodge are very friendly. After a spectacular week we reached the border station late in the evening, camping right there for 2 nights because of heavy rainfall. All employees of the Immigration and Police come for a chat. For them it is unthinkable to be separated from the family for such a long time and to travel with the bike for such a long distance.

Undulating roads lead us south to Port Elizabeth , which welcomes us with strong winds. Excited, we await the arrival of daughter Nicole and can hardly await to ride together to Cape Town .

on the Farm of Mara and Koos

Krueger NP

Krueger NP

on the road in Lesotho

on the road in Lesotho

Nature's Valley mit Nicole

Kogmanskloof Pass