An Ode to African Roads: Part 1 - Ep06
Hey everyone! Welcome back to Notier's Frontiers Diaries. Today since we will be leaving Africa in just two days, we decided to do an "Ode to African Roads". So basically it's like a tribute video of lots of different roads that we've been down and all the adventures that we've had on these incredible roads. And the first one that we'll talk about is, we'll kind of go in chronological order. So we started our journey in South Africa. So the first one's in South Africa.
We landed in Cape Town. And we took the the southern coast which was really nice. But we had just come from South America prior and I was looking for that nitty gritty wilderness that we really enjoyed throughout South America. And our first true bite of that in South Africa was... The Baviaans. I'm not sure we're saying it right, but I think it means "Baboon Valley" in Afrikaans.
I'm sure we're saying it wrong, but I'm sure that it means "Valley of the Baboons". There were definitely baboons there. It's just this strip of road that runs east to west, west to east, and so it's a one-way ticket pretty much. You can go in and suck back out, but we wanted to go all the way through. There's mixed reviews from a lot of people because there's certain sections of it that get completely submerged by water if it's rained a lot.
Yeah it really all depends on the day that you go I think. Yeah there are seasons, and then within those seasons there's days, so it can be the dry season on a rainy day, it can be the rainy season on a dry day. And we've been getting the weather reports for days beforehand and kind of anxious about it like, is it going to be too flooded? Because once you go in and you get so far and you get to these water crossings, if you can't cross it, you just have to go back. And the water crossings from west to east, the water crossing is the very last thing that you do. We've seen a lot of other people, it's the first thing they do, but I didn't want to go all the way around, so we just went from west to east. And we were fairly committed at that point, even though it was a beautiful drive, but we were going to push forward regardless.
What an amazing ride that was. Incredible. Not only were the washouts and river crossings just super fun. Yeah, they were the perfect amount. They were enough to get a cool splash and know you're ankle deep in water. Some of them was really deep so Marisa would jump off to get
cool footage of me. But then at the very end of it, it had these mountains, and it had these two little concrete tracks that were for 4x4 vehicles to go on. And so on a motorcycle it was a little tricky because you just pick one of those tracks, I mean you just have to stay on it, like a balance beam. Exactly. Like a balance beam, it's just deteriorating little narrow section. You can't really ride off of it because then it'd be a barrier for your tire every time...
But the views were amazing. It was fantastic. That was really cool. That made my heart skip a couple beats, and I was very thankful that that was our introduction to what Africa truly had to offer. The next road was in a country that's within South Africa called Lesotho. And that was just an incredible country to go to on a motorcycle no matter what because the roads through the mountains, they were just so amazing.
Twisty, the views... There's diamond mines, there's dirt roads and gravel roads that cut through the valleys. It's called the "Kingdom in the Sky" and I always mentally picture it as like a physical crown, kind of stuck within South Africa, because there's just these mountain ranges, these peaks, that just encircle you. Yeah, they even have a ski resort there. It can get pretty high altitude and also pretty cold. We really lucked out with the weather. But our favorite, and also most hated road...
Yeah, most interesting. Yes. The most interesting road for us personally, because we did something not too intelligent there...
She says "we", which was very kind ... was the road to Maletsunyane Falls. And it was an adventure all in itself getting there. The road was beautiful, the sights were beautiful. We went and saw Katse Dam, and gas... there are a couple of major towns in Lesotho, but gas in the the inner portions of Lesotho was kind of more rare. But everybody rides around on these these little small motorcycles, so you know there's gas somewhere. And a lot of people have just gas in gallons, so the way there we had to utilize pulling over and trying to ask for gas. In South Africa, just about everybody spoke English, or you can get
away with just knowing English. In Lesotho that convenience got cut in about half. And so asking for gas, you know you have to ask for "petrol"... Lesotho was really interesting because it contrasted so much with South Africa. South Africa is a super multi-cultural place. It's got people from all over the world there. It's just been a melting pot of different cultures, a lot of European influence as well. Whereas Lesotho, I feel like it was very historically protected by its mountains. I feel it's like Wakanda with an invisible force field.
That's it. 100%. Within, you know you're in a different country. Yeah, and their cloaks were so cool. A lot of people there are pastoralists and they're herders of cattle and sheep and they would have these beautifully made cloaks. I mean they just looked like superheroes. It was really really cool. Hello! Hey! And so as we wound our way to Maletsunyane Falls, we went down and went to this one canyon where we didn't we don't know where we are, but we're just going off-road, and we're going towards this big gorge in the earth, and wherever it may lead, it's a cool picture. And we got to this one spot and there's a beautiful view. We're not much of hikers, so i didn't want to walk down this
cliff face. Then we got back on the motorcycle followed the road to where they were building the observatory. Like a viewpoint? Yeah, yeah. An observatory
I suppose is for stars and such? I think so. An observe-ing place. And then there was this hole in the fence and this little dirt path that wound its way down. And so we took that not knowing if we should be or not, but it led to an amazing view, with the waterfalls in the distance. And then this is where I got the brilliant idea of there was.... like we were somewhere flat
and level and other people had been there before. And then there were like these tiered sheetrock shelves that stepped down to the very cliff's edge. And then in the distance it was absolutely nothing and then this beautiful waterfall. So I wanted to get down to the last ledge of this sheetrock steps. And getting down was fairly easy.
I think getting down was too easy is the problem. Because it was all very loose and very steep, and so it just kind of... Well gravity helped. And I have wheels and so I just kind of bumped my way down and then turned to face horizontal for an awesome picture. And then trying to get back up, I now had to get the rear of my bike down another step so the front of my bike would face upwards, and then I figured I'd just gas it, and happily plod my way up the hill. Uh, that did not happen. No, it was really scary.
I mean I definitely feared for your life. I was so nervous that you were going to die. Yeah, the back tire slid out and lost traction, and the bike was falling back. I slid about five feet before I dumped the bike just to stop it from rolling backwards more, and then we can just reassess the situation and figure out what the next thing we were going to do. I thought you were just going to fall off that cliff. I thought, "That's it. My husband is gone."
It'd be a good way to go. But, you know, I didn't so... Thankfully, yeah, we were able to get out of that. It took a long time. It was super stressful. We unloaded the bike even more. We had already taken some stuff off,
but we got it down to the bare weight that it could be. We lifted it up. There's some tricky sections of having to try to get the rear tire to grip. But it worked out in the end. But with enough effort, we did ride off into success. So for those of you who are more willing to not fall off the cliff than we were, it's a perfect place to go. Just don't get too close to that very steep edge,
and it's an incredible road. I tried to make a mental note not to get that close to cliff edges anymore. But then not too long after that when we were in Namibia, we went to Fish River Canyon.
Which is like the Grand Canyon of Africa. It's incredible, it's so beautiful, but there's this road that goes right along the edge of it. It's not like in the States. In the States I'm sure there's sections of the Grand Canyon where you can ride out to, and ride on the edge of it.
But like the tourist spots and where they prefer you to ride is well within the realm of safety. And those same rules and safety standards don't necessarily apply in Namibia. That's right. So we were just allowed to ride right along the edge, and I was quite scared.
Go stand on that ledge. Haha. I don't like it. But it was beautiful. I mean there was a main road 20 feet from the ledge, and then there was another secondary road that was just gravel that was on the edge of the canyon. But it was beautiful.
I was very safe. It wasn't as irresponsible... Yeah. That one worked out. And it is just stunning out there, and also the road to get there was beautiful. We saw lots of oryxes, those are those beautiful antelope with those straight horns, just out in the desert. It's all gorgeous reddened desert out there. So that's a really great place to ride the motorcycle.
It was definitely another impression that I will not forget for many a day. Oh and then there was Botswana - the road with the elephants. So the other roads are like Africa's back roads, right? The Baviaans was definitely some off-road madness, and Lesotho. But Botswana you can have, it's this perfectly pristine paved asphalt road. Just perfectly straight, nothing really exciting about it, to be fair.
Oh no, it was still beautiful. I mean you got like wilderness on either side. That's true. But it's pretty flat, no mountains or canyons. But there's elephants just everywhere, just like more than there's deer in Minnesota. I mean it was just amazing.
Yeah, right on the side of the road. Of course you have to be very careful you know. If you come across a bull elephant and he's having a bad day, this could be very bad for you on a motorcycle. But fortunately we were just fine. We kept our distance. I often get us into stupid scenarios, but when Marisa's on the motorcycle, she's the captain even though I'm the pilot. So getting very close to the elephants,
I have a natural instinct not to do so, and Marisa also agrees that appreciating them from afar... Babar from afar, is just good enough. But they're so majestic and incredible, like you just are drawn to get closer to them. Yeah, to a point. And then they flare out their ears and then you're like, "Respect is due." We're gonna go that way. You can go wherever you want, but just general information we're going that way.
And people out there really warn you not to ride at night, because they say somehow these elephants just get camouflaged. Well, they're huge but they're I mean they just perfectly blend in with the the night background. Our destination was a place called Elephant Sands which had both elephants and sand. It did. It had quite a bit of sand. It had a pool too, which was amazing.
But basically these elephants are wild and they just come there because it's a well-known water hole for the elephants. And you can camp there. I mean in South Africa, and in Africa in general, motorcycle camping is pretty low versus like the States, and the Americas. It's definitely not as popular.
What a lot of people do is they have these camper trucks, these 4x4's, and then in the bed they have a super duper little... what are they called? Like a pop-up tent. Pop-up tents that go on top of these 4x4's. That's pretty much the way people do their travels here in Africa. It's a lot more rare to be on a motorcycle. Yeah, all these sandy roads and gravel roads, and washed out roads that we always talk about. In a 4x4, they're still fun, but there's no like, "Oh we might get stuck here and be here for three days." But in Elephant Sands
you have the option of pulling your large vehicle up and camping just on this outside ring perimeter where the elephants walk by to this watering hole. And we were on a motorcycle but we had the same opportunity, but you just don't feel like you have that same fortification. I think it's a lot scarier seeing an elephant from a motorcycle than from a car, where you have windows and doors.
But when we camped that night as well, we were in a tent, and other people were in cars. We weren't completed idiots. There was a protective barrier where they had little concrete spikes with rebar sticking up. But really that was only around the bathrooms because what the elephants are after is water, so they have to really fortify the bathrooms and any place that has running water.
We had a very nice sturdy log that we put in front of our tent. Everybody knows elephants hate logs. It was amazing, and that night we woke up at one in the morning or something to tusks just... dink dink. Yeah, they were fighting. You can hear this low rumble. It's amazing.
It was really really an amazing experience. So the asphalt roads with elephants lining them that led to this special place, Elephant Sands, that close-up view appreciation. You can sit in a pool and watch elephants drink water, and drink a beer. Just a very unique situation. Unbelievable. And that's just some of the incredible things and roads that you can find here in Africa. Yeah and there's like 20 or 30 that you could fit in between those specific ones.
Absolutely. But we'll try to get to some more next time. Yeah, in our next video. I hope you liked this one. If you did, please give us a thumbs up, and hit the subscribe button below, and stick around for our next video - An Ode to African Roads - Part 2.
We'll see you next time. Thanks everybody. Bye. Peace.