Good day guys, Rowland here from Adventure Africa Motorcycle Tours in sunny South Africa www.aamotorcycletours.com
AAMT received an email from an adventure rider in Australia. What was noted in the email by the gentleman was the following phrase “people living overseas, don’t know where the destinations are”
I considered this a very valuable point. I started to think about his words and decided to write a blog about the most scenic and exciting motorcycle routes in South Africa. The blog has been created in order to give foreign adventure motorcyclists a perspective of the destinations/areas that we tour in South Africa.
AAMT have personally ridden each and every province in South Africa and mapped out the most exciting routes for our clients to ride.
I will blog on an ongoing basis until the best motorcycling routes in South Africa have been covered. My first blog in this series will specifically concentrate on the Cradle of Humankind, which lies within our Gauteng and North est provinces.
But, before we get to “The Cradle”, as it is affectionately known by the locals, please indulge me as I give you a short introduction to the Gauteng and North West provinces of South Africa.
On arrival at Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport, you will notice that it is a modern airport and that a variety of international airlines fly into it on a daily basis.
Sorry for you and please don’t feel disappointed on exiting the airport expecting African bushveld, lions and elephants relaxing in the parking lot. Also don’t expect to see tribal warriors ready to put you into the cooking pot, luggage and all. Should you be of the opinion that criminals run wild in South Africa, you have been misled by the international media, who have only tried to sell their stories with regards to the crime in South Africa, by means of sensationalism.
Please understand that I am not trying to downplay the fact that there is crime in South Africa, but the international media has really created a picture that we live in a lawless country, which is not true.
Also, not to be unsympathetic to expatriate South African communities living overseas, but it appears that the stories have been exaggerated with regards to the situation in our country. The reason I know this, is that I’ve travelled to many places in the world and have heard exaggerated stories personally.
Yes, I will agree that some of the stories are true and that people have been exposed to criminal incidents and this has really been unfortunate. I am in no way trying to downplay that violent crime has been experienced by some of them. However, sometimes the stories are really blown out of proportion.
South Africans are a very welcoming nation and go out of their way to ensure that foreign tourists have an exceptional experience in this beautiful country of ours.
Ok, so you have landed, the roads are tarred, you get transported to your hotel. No, there are no corrupt police roadblocks every 1 km. The vast majority of policemen are committed to their chosen career – “to protect and serve ” How do I know this? Because I was a policeman in South Africa for over a decade. Oh what the hell, if you want, we can travel to your hotel in Sandton by the modern high speed Gautrain.
On arrival at your hotel or guest house in Johannesburg or Sandton, where all the international tourists like to stay. You will be surprised at the very high standards of our accommodation establishments. An upmarket hotel in the affluent areas of Gauteng will put you and the Mrs back anything from R 1500 – R 3000 per night for a couple….about AU$ 125 – AU$ 250 (£ 65 – £ 130 / $ 80 – $ 161 / € 74 – € 148), breakfast incl.
A decent guest house establishment for you and the wife will set you back R 600 – R 1000, about AU$ 50 – AU$83 (£ 26 – £ 43 / $ 32 – $ 53 / € 29 – € 49), breakfast included. Oh by the way and don’t worry about running around to find bottled water, ours is drinkable.
Tonight you should dine in one of our top restaurants – a 3 course meal with a bottle of South African wine (our wines are of international standard) and a tip for the waiter or waitress will put you and the wife back about R 1000 – R 1500, about AU$ 83 – AU$ 125 (£ 43 – £ 65 / $ 53 – $ 80 / € 49 – € 74). However, if you are a McDonald’s connoisseur, a happy meal will set you back R 60 – AU$ 5 (£ 2.5 / $ 3 / € 3).
If your poison is beer, you’re gonna have a big smile on your face reading this. A beer at an expensive hotel/restaurant is going to cost you about R 30 – AU$ 2.50 (£ 1.30 / $ 1.60 / € 1.5) and a slab / case (24 beers) – you’re looking at about AU$20 (£ 11 / $ 13.5 / € 12).
Ok, so time to get stuck into the fun stuff – riding the “The Cradle”. The Cradle spreads across Gauteng and Northwest province – an area of extraordinary sights, experiences and riding.
The Cradle of Humankind is located 50km northwest of Johannesburg in the Gauteng and Northwest provinces. A World Heritage site of 47 000 hectares (180 square miles) and of significant value in terms of fossil heritage. It contains the world renowned Sterkfontein Caves. Scientific geological theories argue South Africa as the origin of mankind with the discoveries of “Mrs Pless” in 1947, “Little Foot” in 1995 and “Naledi” in 2013 – humanoide fossils.
Maropeng Visitor Centre is part of “The Cradle” and falls within this area. It is a world class exhibition of our ancestors over the past few million years.
The Cradle” is nestled in the arms of the magnificent Magaliesberg Mountains.
The Magaliesberg Mountain range at its highest peak reaches 1852 meters. The roads and scenery surrounding this mountain range is absolutely spectacular. It is a rider’s paradise as you cruise through historical towns, lush farmlands and the towering mountains in view. This part of South Africa is stunningly beautiful. Spend your time discovering hidden gems of nature, history and culture as you ride through the valleys and passes.
The Hamlet of Hartbeespoort Dam is fed by the Crocodile River.
Take a trip up the cable car to view the spectacular dam from the top of the Magaliesberg Mountain range and its surrounding valleys. The village of Hartbeespoort Dam is littered with restaurants, boat trips, cable cars, guest houses, zoo’s, game parks, craft beer establishments, mountainous and lake views, curio shops, art galleries, zip line experiences, shopping centres, upmarket housing estates, scenic dam walls, paragliders and a replica of the french “Arc De Triomf”, historic war graves, golf courses, quaint pubs, animal sanctuaries dot the area. It is a weekend getaway haven for Gauteng residents.
Necsa is South Africa’s previous top secret site.
This site is where our now disbanded nuclear arsenal was housed or more precisely hidden. There is now a visitor’s centre – how times have changed.
Nestled and situated in the Cradle of Humankind is the 1200 hectare Rhino and Lion Reserve. The reserve has an excess of 650 heads of game with some rare and endangered species. The reserve may be explored by private vehicle or by game drive vehicle. The reserve inhabitants include Rhino, Brown & White Lion, Cheetah, Wild
Dogs, Hippos, Bison, Buffalo and antelope. There is also a reptile park on the reserve housing venomous and non-venomous snakes, as well as a 4×4 route. A visit to the Vulture Hide is a must, whilst planning your lunch at one of the reserve’s restaurants. Snap an awesome picture of yourself whilst feeding a giraffe off the deck off one of these restaurants. Guided walks in the reserve can be arranged with an experienced guide in order to view several species of wildlife, plants and birdlife.
Amongst the massive cave system of this area is South Africa’s 3rd largest chamber situated in the Bathongo Wonder Cave. Discovered in 1898 by Italian Miners.
An idyllic retreat in the Cradle of Humankind, is the Brookwood Trout Farm Estate. It has 5 well stocked dams with excellent yellow fishing in the river that hugs this establishment. These dams hold some of the largest trout in Gauteng and the Cradle of Humankind. Brookwood also has amazing quaint cottages, should you decide to spend the night.
Kloofzicht Lodge and Spa is a 5 Star establishment with luxurious suites, overlooking 6 exquisite fly fishing dams. It was once the home of Bell’s Fly Fishing South Africa. The food is absolutely amazing and an array of antelope including Kudu, Impala, Blue Wildebeest, Eland Red Hartebeest, Gemsbok and Zebra wander this amazing lodge. The lodge was also home of the 2010 Australian Socceroos world cup team.
Should you wish to view the Cradle of Humankind from a bird’s eye view – hot air ballooning is the way to go. The Cradle boasts some of the best weather in the world for ballooning. Take off as the sun rises over the Cradle and drift majestically over the stunningly beautiful countryside, with its towering Magaliesberg Mountains, endless rivers and countryside.
Guys – I can go on and on, but what’s most important of The Cradle of Humankind, with regards to motorcycle touring, is it’s well kept bitumen sealed roads, which you can ride for days on end and experience all that it has to offer.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this synopsis of the Cradle of Humankind. Look out for my next blog on the Mpumalanga Province. The Mpumalanga Province is locally known as Bikers Paradise. In our next blog we will spend time exploring this escarpment and its world famous Big 5 Game Country.