Buya Ikhaya (Come Home)

Charlie and Rensche are coming home by riding motorbikes from London to Cape Town.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

South Africa - The End...and The Beginning

19/03/08 - Bellville - Cape Agulhas THE END

So the final leg today to Cape Agulhas. We said our good-byes to the family and headed off, us in our bakkie with the two bikes on the back. Along the coast the scenery is again spectacular. At Cape Agulhas we did the photo standing on our boxes as we weren't allowed to ride the bakkie to the Southern most point of Africa. And with that Buya Ikhaya has come to an end. It still hasn't quite hit us and we do feel a bit sad that this wonderful experience of 7 months has now finished. But with that the new exciting adventure of setting up in South Africa begins. In due course we will be updating the blog with some interesting stats and helpful hints and tips so please pop in again. Cheers for now.
Rensche's final thoughts: It never really occurred to me ever to do a trip like this. But one thing I know: if I could manage this then anyone can. Being in my 30's I did not really have a burning desire to get a motorcycle license and even when I got my license in 2006 I was what you would call a "nervous fair-weather rider". Which meant that I did not really get a lot of miles under my belt in the UK before this trip!! I suffered countless cruel jokes at the motorcycle dealers when looking for a bike for me telling Charlie to hang me from the ceiling, break my bones, or trade me in for someone taller as I am 5 foot 1 inch and only have a 28 inch inner leg. But Charlie was determined to hammer and fiddle with each bike I owned (3 in total) so at least I could get my big toes on the ground. (Why are there no bikes for us short bikers ?). I had no off-road experience except a few falls in Salisbury Plains on "fair-weather" weekends in the UK. We decided to let my heavy BMW go for a much lighter 250cc scrambler. It did have hassles on the way but was easy to fix...and pick up in the sand! And it did make it to Cape Point in the end even after all the problems it had and all the "experts" telling us it won't make it. We had no sophisticated equipment as we had no space for it and no formal mechanical training. All you really need to do this trip is a bit of common sense, a bit of humility, lots of prayers and a good sense of humour. And after doing it on a bike I think there is just no other way of doing this trip. It was amazing. The only problem I had on this trip that caused us untold stress and anguish was the continuous hassle with banks and paying bills due to modern systems and procedures that seem to be aimed at catching you out. The only way I can see to avoid this problem is to leave someone you trust with all your bank passwords and a few blank cheques. (Down with Barclaycard!!!) ****Rensche finally managed to close her Barclaycard account in June 2009. The fraud that occurred in September 2007 was sorted out but Barclaycard insisted on honouring transactions on a closed account and persistently charged her interest on a 0 balance.****

So now the preparation begins for our next trip...

18/03/08 - Green Point - Bellville

7 months on the road today!!! Organizing insurance for our new car was a big shock. SA is expensive. We picked up the bakkie in the afternoon and spent another beautiful day in Cape Town with the family. We spent quite a while dismantling the bikes and fitting them in the back of the bakkie under the canopy! (Carmen flew back to Germany this morning)

17/03/08 - Sea Point - Green Point

In the morning we headed across to Stellenbosch to test drive the bakkie. It was a bit stressful riding on the National road at 90km/h while cars sped past us at 130km/h+. After test driving two bakkies we bought a Isuzu (Vauxhall) KB 240 LE 4X4 single cab for a good price as informed by Rensche's family. We decided to collect it the next day. With that we headed across to the bank to organize finance for the bakkie and then headed back to Cape Town to Ashanti Backpackers where Carmen was waiting for us. We set up camp and took a taxi to the V&A Waterfront for a stroll around. We spent the evening at Beluga's with Carmen, Katja and Alex (we met them in Tanzania), a German couple who Carmen met in Sudan and the backpackers we met in Peponi Beach. Small world again! 16/03/08 - Bellville - Sea Point – 100km

The wind died down a bit this morning and it was a clear sky so we decided to set off for the obligatory photo at Cape Point. Along the way we stopped off at Rensche's Grandmother. It was a beautiful sunny day and it seemed the whole of Cape Town was on their way to Cape Point! There were traffic queues everywhere as there was a Naval Festival in Simon's Town. We managed to get to a very windy Cape Point at about lunch time. Hanging on to the bikes in the strong wind fighting for a gap between the loads of tourist buses we eventually got the opportunity to pose at the Cape Point sign. WE MADE IT!!! The Odometer reading read 42,862km. We left London on 17,100km. So that makes it 25,762km start to finish WOW!!!We took a beautiful road back along the coast to Chapman's Peak where we met Jan and Jo (last saw them at Peponi beach in Tanzania). They arrived in Cape Town 3 days ago. After a lovely chat overlooking the splendid view across to Hout Bay we headed for Sea Point. Paul and Zoe, who had come down West Africa 2 years ago on two Transalps 650cc and had done a loop of Southern Africa recently on two 250cc Baja's, had offered us a bed for the night. So we spent a lovely evening at a local restaurant exchanging "tales from the road". Thanks guys, you were our inspiration from day one. 15/03/08 - Paternoster – Bellville – 168km

The notorious South Easter was blowing this morning at storm strength. To avoid being blown off the road we took the Malmesbury road through the back to Bellville via Durbanville and so avoided the stormy coast. It was throwing us all over the road and at one point we were going at 60km/h in the hard shoulder. At last we got to Bellville where another one of Rensche's uncles, Uncle Exul, lives and had another lovely braai. We spent the evening contemplating our "next trip", telling stories and laughing at their travel stories through Southern Africa.

14/03/08 - Gekko Backpackers,Citrusdal – Paternoster – 160km

We made our way down the West Coast today to go and visit Rensche's Uncle Jannie in Velddrift where we had a light lunch at Port Owen. We then battled the strong south easter down to Paternoster, stopping at Vredenburg for some Droe Wors (dried beef sausage). We finally arrived at another uncle, Uncle Daantjie. There we had a nice a braai and caught up with all the family happenings. Paternoster used to be a little peaceful fishing village on the West Coast but foreign buyers have pushed property prices up to the point where you pay R2million for a postage stamp size plot where you can only smell the sea.

13/03/08 - Algeria,Cederburg - Gekko Backpackers,Citrusdal – 25km

It was a really chilly morning and after a quick breakfast we set off on the gravel road to Citrusdal. The scenery was beautiful. At last we got to the tar road and after 10 km we came across the Gekko Backpacker's sign. It looked nice and we knew that Carmen had stayed here a few days ago. We spent a nice afternoon chatting to the owner who was very optimistic about the "New" South Africa. This is really refreshing after all the negative talk we've had with other South Africans after the latest low: "No more major development in South Africa due to power shortage". He also mentioned that Clive and Denise were here 3 weeks ago. Great news since we haven't heard from them again since leaving Livingstone. Hopefully we will bump into them again before they leave South Africa. We stayed the night in our tent and paid the cheapest rates in Southern Africa at R40 per person per night.

12/03/08 - Springbok - Algeria,Cederburg – 367km

For breakfast we had the best omelet in the world (and the cheapest) at the Springbok cafe. It is an institution to have a meal at this stop-over and have a look at their extensive rock collection and books. After checking emails and buying a SA sim card we headed off towards Vanrhynsdorp. The south east wind picked up and we were hanging onto the bikes for dear life while making way for fast cars overtaking us. We had a head wind all the way leaving us exhausted. We stopped in Vanrhynsdorp and while having a snack two guys came over and we got chatting and soon we determined that one of the guys (Michael Hare) had been in the same school (Woodridge College) as Charles although in different years. Mike recommended a campsite in the Cederberg so we headed to Clanwilliam and took the gravel road to Algeria campsite run by Cape Nature Conservation. Although a bit pricey at R215 we set up camp in very beautiful surroundings.11/03/08 - Noordoewer,Namibia - Springbok,South Africa – 144km

The Canadians left this morning on their way north up the West Coast of Africa. We spent the morning hanging around the campsite on the banks of the Orange River overlooking South Africa. Having finished the washing we both agreed that we were bored out of our minds and decided to break camp and head across the border. Immigration was straight forward on the Namibian side. We crossed the Orange river into South Africa - home at last! After a warm welcome by a police officer we were quickly processed by immigration. We then went to Customs and informed them that we want to import the bikes. They immediately asked for our purchase invoice which we didn't have. Fortunately Howard at Conquest Motorcycles had provided us with a letter valuing Charlie's bike between 650 and 750 pounds just before we left the UK. The letter with letterhead was acceptable as an invoice. They then informed us that the bikes would have to be processed by a forwarding company of which there were two a kilometer up the road. Charlie had to leave Rensche as surety while he took his bike to the forwarding company where they prepared the worksheets and importation forms at R100 per bike. Back at the customs office Charles were told he had to pay import duties there and then and they only accept cash in Rand. As returning residents one of the bikes could be imported for free but the other was 0 duties or excise but 14% vat. (zero duties because below 250cc bike). We had no cash on us in Rand and there is no ATM's on the South African border. So Charlie had to cross back into Namibia to draw cash and exchange it for Rand at the petrol station in Noordoewer again leaving Rensche as surety. Fortunately the Namibian officials let Charlie through without going through passport control again. Back in SA the custom officials said all was OK except that our carnets had to be stamped out by Namibian customs. So Charlie headed back to Namibia again with the carnets. There he was informed that carnets are not processed at this border because it is not an exit point from the Southern Africa Common Economic Zone. After some pleading the official was happy to oblige and stamp our carnets. RELIEF!!! We are not certain but our understanding now is that if you want to import your vehicle to South Africa you must get your exit stamp before entering and pay duty at the point of entering the Economic Zone (in our case exit stamp in Zambia and import duty at Kazangulu border in Botswana). All payments made and paperwork in order we headed for Springbok where we booked into the Springbok Cafe and had the nicest and cheapest burgers since starting our trip.

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