Welcome to Heaven, Let’s Go to Hell!
Leopard Country, read the sign in bold letters. I was able to see it only long enough for it to register in my brain that I was far from home, at 140 km/h the gravel road signs are barely a blur. This is South Africa and it was a beautiful day, sun setting, not a cloud in the sky, weather perfect, and the road was fast and smooth as I looked down and read 666 kilometers on the odometer… when bam! Feet were above my head, hands still on the bars.
^ Renowned SoCal surfer, shaper, moto rider and bush mechanic, Forrest Minchinton.
Football size rocks hitting the front wheel at speed have a way of setting your world on fire. Hand stand to speed wobble and I was miraculously back in control. Adrenaline pumping and I was still on two wheels! “Not today Satan!” I half-jokingly screamed to myself. And then, 100s of kilometers from the nearest tire shop, I looked down to see a flat rear tire.
In front of us lay a gravel road twisting and turning off into the sunset, with ice cold beer just beyond the horizon. We would make it there, but you damn well know we were going to have to earn it. Tire spoons and inner tubes came out and we got to work. It was the first flat of the trip and it sure as hell wouldn’t be the last. We had 2000 kilometers left to go and this was only day 1.
The day before had started in beautiful Cape Town, South Africa. We arrived and were met by the Motosafari crew. They had organised our motorcycles and route and together we went on our way. In search of adventure and maybe some baboons. Leaving Cape Town, a thriving coastal city, we were soon met with the wide open deserts just inland off the coast. I was reminded of my home in the southern California Desert. It was rocky, dry and every bit as inhospitable, the essence of desert beauty. There is a silence, a deafening ring to the ears of nothing-ness, that only one who has experienced it can understand. Vast and unforgiving, home to only the toughest creatures.
Mystery here lies In every abandoned town and encampment, and some of these places survive the harsh desert solitude. Most of such places serve cold beer, and that is sure to catch any desert travelers interest. A respite from the hot desert sun, to quench the taste buds and wet the whistle. We gladly made such detours every chance we could. Saddle up the to bar just to hear the stories of the characters who would tell their tales. Onward we would continue, another day, another few hundred kilometers to the next oasis.
The days clicked off one by one, the kilometers turned much faster, the flats tires, god damn, they were proving to be quite the hassle. Our beards grew longer, gear more dusty, cell phone signal, all but a distant memory. And we were about as happy as pigs in shit. The morning fuel up and gear up became the routine, a new road, the unknown, that was what we were after. The freedom to do as we pleased and answer to no one but the laws of the universe. The freedom that comes from truly being alive.
We clicked off kilometers from tarmac, to gravel roads, river beds and valleys. Mind Bending views and from Cape Town we went inland to Die Hell, the road in as evidence to its name. It was Die Hell to Baboon Valley, Cape Saint Francis to Port Elizabeth and back again. From no towns to port towns, surf towns and even a few meltdowns. Lions, giraffes, Rhinos, Elephants and bush camps. The true African experience.
As we descended down from the Baboon Valley to the eastern cape of South Africa, the desert turned to green rolling hills, beach sand dunes that begged to be ridden, wild and unruly waves and deep blue, cold seas. The weather was chilly and the air damp and salty as we entered the Bush Camp. A preserve home to deadliest creature on the planet earth. A creature that takes more human lives than any other. The Mosquito! Yes, a few bites here and there was quite the distraction from some of the less dangerous animals that were only a car length from us. Lions roared, buffalo stampeded and Hippos and Crocodiles swam about. Our camp, a tent circle within a giant thorn bush. The only barrier between us and the African wilderness. We sat by the campfire and exchanged anxious glances with every lion roar through the night. It was surreal, a true life changing experience to share the night with such magnificent creatures.
But morning came again, and it was back to the clutch, throttle, and brake. The routine of adrenaline, breath taking views and bragging rights for whoever could drag pegs through hairpin corners. The body got more sore as the days wore on, but the spirits got higher. Every hardship and challenge just added to the tale. Friendships were formed and shared experience bonded them further. Friends and memories that will last a lifetime. Stories to tell future grandchildren and photos to show the whole family. Far flung locales, that most people could never imagine to see or dare to go.
At the start, 10 days on a motorcycle seems impossible. By the end, 10 days on a motorcycle and you wished for 10 more. Live more in 10 days on a motorcycle than most people will live in their whole lives. The places a motorcycle can take you, the near death and exhilarating experiences it affords you. Well, you just can beat it. And for that I thank my friends at Motosafari, ‘Go Far from Home’.
Want to take on an epic trip like this? Check out the Motosafari Instagram page – @Motosafari and drop them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Their next tour is set place through South Africa on October 8-18 2019, click here for more info.