Back on the road for the next part of my South African Adventure. It feels good to be travelling again and as I head through Pretoria toward Hartebeespoort Dam I feel at home again. Strange how I feel most at ease and at home when I technically don’t have a home… But the heart wants what the heart wants.
I stopped at a vetkoek take away joint in Harties to get directions and ended up eating lunch there with the owner, who lives in the camper van and lives off the grid. A free spirit if I have ever met one.
After a quick photo session I was off and heading over the dam wall. Being a public holiday the roads were very busy, so I had to wait in the queue for my turn to get through the tunnel and over the wall. But it was worth the wait. The dam wall is very pretty and I got some great pictures of the place. I even met the traffic lights operator.
About 15km outside town I pulled into a road stall for a rest and ended up spending the night at the owners who live just up the road from the shop. I caught up on the Olympics and spent the next morning walking around the wedding venue behind the shop. The place is very pretty and although I am not quite planning to watch someone walk down an isle in my direction any time soon, the place looks like a great choice to plan your magical day. Die Wilde Vy sells the most amazing farm fresh bread and is a fantastic resting stop to sit under the wild fig trees and rest from a long day on the road.
I was informed to head back to the Brits turn off to head in that direction as it would be a better road. So I headed back down toward Harties a few kays and turned off toward Brits. The town is a lot bigger than I thought, and I found a place to sit and finish my articles that needed to be submitted before the end of the day. I drove through town and was soon surrounded by endless fields of green. A picturesque area with irrigated farms as far as you can see.
I pulled into another farm stall that is also a wedding venue, where I was blessed with a bag of fresh fruit and drywors for the road. Once again the generosity and friendliness of South Africans has proven amazing. The place is called Makulu – another great place to rest when travelling through the North West toward Thabazimbi.
After repacking my bags to make room for the new supplies, I was off toward Thabazimbi. I stopped at a nursery to take a photo of the greenest dam I have ever seen. It looks like a patch of green grass. I threw a rock into the water to make sure it was really water under the thick green layer.
After the green dam and a few more kilometres, I pulled into Atlanta, which is an old holiday resort that is now residence for contractors, international vet students that spend a few weeks in SA for training programs and The odd traveller that stumbles onto the place.
I spent the night in a Cabana and went for a walk around the old resort, a stunning place, with massive thatch roof buildings that house indoor pools and function venues, as well as a restaurant and a pub. We visited by candle light and discussed the aristocracy of England, the beauty of Zambia and the meaning of love – a great evening with new friends. After a bottle of wine and some laughs I turned in for the night. The next morning I left with a heavy heart and a slightly heavy head, but I had some distance to cover to get to Thaba or at least close to it.
About 60 kays down the road I pulled into a farm and was taken to an empty farm house the farmer owns down the road. Ironically I actually pulled into this house earlier to ask for a place to rest, but after waiting a few minutes I figured the owners were not in. I did not even notice the house was empty.
I met a contractor that works on the farm here – he is staying in one of the apartments behind the house while he completes his contract – building overhead irrigation. We had a braai under a giant Camel Thorn tree and in the morning after coffee and rusks, I was on the way into Thabazimbi, a short 20km drive. I got to Thaba and then had to back track half the way I came to join the road to Northam.
The road was insanely busy with the mines closing early for the weekend and I spent most of my time riding along narrow dirt tracks parallel to the road. At Kwagga’s Put in Rootdam I stopped to get water and advice for the road ahead, I got the water, the advice and was fed two delicious toasted sarmies and a glass of fresh milk. There is nothing like sitting in a pub and drinking a glass of milk.
I soldiered on to Northam and pulled off about ten kays other side of Northam at a farm to rest for the night. I watched how cattle get branded and spent the night in a little house that is usually home to some of the farm workers. My neighbours for the night do not understand English or Afrikaans, so it was not a long visit before I turned in for the night. Also one of the earliest nights of my adventure, the house has no power or running water. I had a flat phone, and a paraffin lamp to keep me company. I was in bed by about seven I guess and woke up to a rooster crowing at the sunrise.
Saturday morning and I am back in Northam. I passed a restaurant here the previous evening as I headed to the farm. The restaurant is a stunning place with old cars and wagons outside, a cattle auction house at the back and of course, a wedding venue. I can finally charge up my phone and I chatted to the owners about alternative routes toward Zeerust. I want to travel along the Botswana border to see some of the places there that I never get to see. The most amazing towns are hidden inside the Bushveld along these dirt roads.
I think all these places I stop at, that also happen to be wedding venues is perhaps a subtle hint that I should consider waiting at the end of one of those isles… I think I will just start being more selective about where I pull off for a pit stop.
I am heading into the unknown now, I have never heard of some of the towns I am passing, and the roads are mostly very bouncy dirt roads. Have I mentioned that I wish I had a softer saddle… well, now I am not just wishing, I am considering trading something for one.