• 14 May 2017

What I saw on my bike along Garden Route in South Africa

What I saw on my bike along Garden Route in South Africa

What I saw on my bike along Garden Route in South Africa 1024 683 Gürkan Genç


I passed through the border gate of Lesotho to South Africa. At the border, I handed my passport waiting for the stamp applied valid for one month. It is allowed to stay one month without a visa in South Africa. The officer:

  • You have already entered South Africa twice from Botswana and once from Swaziland. This will be the fourth entrance to this country. According to the system I can give you a visa valid only for one week.
  • Sir, I’m traveling around the world on my bike. It is impossible to ride from here to Cape Town within a week. There is more than 1500 km distance.
  • Then take a car and don’t ride to Cape Town.
  • May I speak to your director please?

The director was standing just behind me. He called me to his office. We both got seated. He sunk his head into his documents and didn’t pay attention to me for 3-4 minutes. He was pretending as if he was working on his computer. Actually, he was doing nothing but spending time. I put my bag on to the table and made myself comfortable in the chair. I was looking around. “Well dude, if you would know how many borders I have been passed so far..” Seeing that I made myself comfortable and not showing any signs of stress:

  • How may I help you?
  • I need visa valid for one month but you are giving only for one week.
  • You have already entered the country 3 times. Due to our legislation we can give you a visa valid only for one week. Even if you are travelling around the world by bike we cannot make an exception for you.
  • Thank you.

We had already discussed this issue with Cemal abi (brother in Turkish also used for men older in age) in Lesotho. He had said: “You might encounter difficulties at the border”.  Sevim abla (sister in Turkish also used for women older in age) and Cemal abi were waiting for me at Lady Brand on the South African side of the border. Crossing the border I arrived in the city after 30 minutes. Sevim abla came from the city center to meet me and accompanied me till their house. Sevim abla had prepared a delicious meal. Wow. I told them what happened at the border. Cemal Abi immediately called his brother Celal. I was told that this issue could easily be solved. Then, we left the house towards the border with Cemal abi.

– Come over, we’ll fix it.

We got in the car and went to the border, exited the country letting our passports stamped. Without entering Lesotho, we came back to South African border gate making a U turn. Cemal Abi had a guy at the border. We headed directly to his counter and handed my passport. Prompt, I was given visa valid for one month

-Is it alright Gürkan?

– Alright Abi, thank you.

This is South Africa. The issue which was said impossible a couple of hours ago was done just in a few minutes. Then we returned home. Made barbecue, the meals were delicious, I ate until I was as full as a tick. By the way I was the first Turkish citizen they invited to their home in 20 years. There weren’t any Turkish citizens in the town and nearby which is a small border town at the northern border of Lesotho. We chatted about job opportunities and about the Turks working in South Africa. They also told me about the details of the meetings set up with Turkish businessmen in our embassy.

Sevim abla had arranged a presentation at the state school of the town before I arrived in the country. The next day I went to the school and held my presentation to primary and secondary school students. After I left the city the high school students sent me messages asking: “Why did you leave without giving us a presentation?”. Well, I wanted but your program was full. If I have the opportunity, I can talk to you kids all day long.

One of the issues which caught my attention at the state schools in South Africa was the intensive sports activities which were very diverse: Rugby, soccer, cricket, field hockey, swimming, etc. I look at the kids’ sports gear, all have suitable outfit and necessary equipment matching the sport they are doing. I didn’t see kids with just sweat-suits fooling around in any school. Maybe some of these kids build their future on sports career and they are growing up with sports at the right age. Although the schools are state schools, students have to pay a fee of 160 USD per month. Even for middle class in South Africa, this is a good amount of money. The lessons are held in English. Formerly the Afrikaans language was one of the obligatory languages in the schools but was optional at the time I visited the country.

There are a few cities in which Afrikaans language is widely used in daily life and Bloemfontein is one of them. Though Bloemfontein is the biggest city in the region it is almost impossible to see a skyscraper. There are old corrugated iron huts or poor quarters 5 to 10 km outside the city entrances. Before entering this town, I put up my tent in one of these quarters. As I mentioned before in my articles, every location is surrounded with a fence. I asked the people around what the fenced site with trees inside is? I was told that it is a farm and luckily that I didn’t enter that place. “Why?” Last week a man entering that place was killed by the owners. There were so many cattle and sheep thefts, so that the farm owners took precautions. Well, I won’t say that there aren’t happening white and black conflicts at this point.

I chose N6 route heading south from Bloemfontein to Aliwal North. My aim is to go to East London afterwards. The N6 route was quite pleasant with just a few cars passing by. As usual, I struggled to find a suitable camping place. Along this route I didn’t pass a single settlement along 100 km. As I mentioned above, it is impossible to jump over a fence and camp. Some fields are monitored by cameras and controlled by sensors with warning signs on the fences.

I was so exhausted that I could hardly ride. It was getting dark. I looked for the last time at the GPS screen to find a camping place? …. Nothing.

I go down from the raised road, there is an empty area between the fence and the road. I sit down at the culvert site. Nothing to do, I’ll put up my tent here, I’m very tired. This is what I hate most, to camp underneath a road. If someone throws something out of a car it may hit my tent. Well, you might be able to hide your tent, but still it is a dangerous spot. I took a breath and ate an apple. Dude, I think I can continue to ride a bit more, if not I can camp at a similar spot ahead, there is still 40 minutes to get dark. I pulled myself up and went back to the road. After about 2 km I saw the sign on the right: Pile&Kitty Caravan Park. You should have seen me, how I was screaming. Hahahaha. That’s it…I was standing in front of the main entrance gate, the farm building inside far from the gate. I rang the bell, waited for a response but nobody opened the door. Well, I thought to just put up my tent next to the entrance. While I was preparing my camp Piler came over on motorbike.

  • You better don’t sleep there. I have a caravan you’ll feel yourself comfortable.

I paused and looked at his face smiling. He opened the door, came to me and greeted me hugging and shaking my hands. This was a congratulation message. Since there weren’t any settlements along the road he knew what a journey I had on this road. He didn’t praise, nor asked me where I was coming from or going to. He put his hands on my shoulders looking at my face: “Well done!”

– Thank you. I rang the bell so long, no body answered, therefore I thought to put up my tent there.

– I was working in the field, pardon me. Come in, you’ll find everything what you need inside.

They gave me a nice caravan in the caravan park and prepared dinner for me. We chatted for a while and in the morning, they prepared breakfast for me. All these were for free. Their family has been living in this farm for 400 years. They had 3 daughters two of them got married and left the farm. With the unmarried daughter they were trying to keep the farm. While telling me about those he was so thoughtful. He had many things to tell. Due to the governmental politics of large agricultural fields I could imagine the difficulties they were facing. I could more or less guess what he was feeling and expecting. While hugging the whole family in the morning the time stopped for a few seconds. I found myself in the Alsace region in France. A car stopped in front of me and a man getting out of the car handed me a piece of paper saying: “My house is 10 km ahead. Dinner and a nice sleep are waiting for you”. Then he got in the car and drove away. I’ll never forget the French couple Jean and Maria. The next they when I was leaving we all were crying, just one night, just one day. My eyes were also filled with tears leaving Piter and Kitty. I couldn’t stop myself. Sometimes so tight bonds are formed, a completely different feeling. I started to ride without looking back. Pite called me…

  • If you’ll come again, remember you have a home here Gurkan. Always…

The only thing I could do was to raise my right hand….

Till I arrived in East London I had to climb more than 1400 m per day. It was becoming exhausting. It really made me tired climbing more than 1000 m or above every day but nothing to do. While moving ahead on the road a trailer truck horned a couple of times while passing me by. I also saluted him. He passed me by and I saw the back of the trailer cover. “Wowwww that’s good, well done. They did a great job! SG transport (http://www.supergroup.co.za/)  in South Africa had trucks, written “Leave 1,5 m between the bike and you” on the whole trailer cover! I visited their web page, this is valid for the whole fleet. That’s what I call advertisement. The truck carrying this cover horns seeing a cyclist, the cyclist traveling around the world mentions this company on his web page in Turkish and English page while writing his South Africa memories. Honestly, if I would have had a transport company in Turkey, I would dress all my trucks with a cover like this and would invite people to work with this company. A company manager reading this article may take this idea and apply on his fleet of trucks, at long term he will profit on this and will do a good job for the country.

Arriving in Queenstown, I got informed about who won the municipality elections. Naturally, there is a party supported by the whites, one supported by the blacks in South Africa. A different version of left and right parties in my country. But this situation here was strange because the head of party supported by whites was black and won the elections in all the major cities. While looking for a cheap hotel to overnight a woman stopped next to me and said:

  • I guess you made a long distance, I’m the owner of the hotel on the left, just go there..

I smiled shaking my head. I got acquainted with her when I went to the hotel. She was Zimbabwean, but due to the adverse events in Zimbabwe was living for many years in South Africa. She asked me about what I was doing, from where I was coming and to where I was going. She didn’t take money from me for staying in her hotel. Also, told me I could stay as long as I want. She gave me a large room. I didn’t know what to say and hugged her. I told her that I’ll leave the next day. Before setting off she came:

  • Gürkan did you have breakfast? Your way is long, you’ll need energy.
  • I had Nicky, don’t worry.

She saw me off like a mother would see her son off. My mother came in my mind. I’ll never forget her last hug, it has been 4 years. Mom and dad were standing among all the other people holding their heads high. What does she feel seeing her son off to unknown? She saw me off to the military service, abroad for education, to holiday, then to my journey to Japan on bike but a tour around the world on bike is something completely different. They wouldn’t know where I’d slept or woken up. There would be times they wouldn’t be able to reach to me. They knew all these from my Japan journey but this time deserts, summits and many other things were added up. I’m aware of that it will be hard for my family.

I managed to arrive in East London without having too many breaks. I thought the road would become level arriving the coastline, but it didn’t happen so. Even inside the town the up and downs continued.

There was a Turkish company in this city which would host me, the Koc group. Well, yes, the Koc group in our country. They had bought the biggest refrigerator brand of South Africa DEFFY a couple of years ago. After that, they increased the amount production by increasing the capacity of the plant. They had several factories scattered in the country the headquarters being in Durban. Although all the managers were in Durban I didn’t visit Durban. Since my visa was about to expire I had to turn towards Lesotho 80 km before Durban. Emrah, the head of DEFFY was also in Durban. Although we talked on phone many times, we couldn’t meet. I hope I’ll meet him Turkey. He arranged a hotel where the engineers of Arcelik company were staying in East London. Since the Turkish engineer had left a couple of days ago I was on my own in the hotel. Actually, it was not a hotel but a room of a villa (East London Cliff Mark Samuel – Shev Samuel – aatraveler info@hssm.co.za). Some are doing this legally paying their taxes, some are doing illegally. Since Turkish engineers were staying in this hostel, I big Turkish flag was hanging on the refrigerator and the had taught the owner a few Turkish words.

Ladsey, an engineer of the DEFFY group will come to take me. He asks me “where are you?” “In the center”. He comes with his friend to the place what I called as city center and they laugh looking at me. After greeting me:

  • Gurkan, you are brave to stroll around in here
  • Why?
  • This is the worst place of the city.
  • But it is the city center
  • Yes a center but a different center.

As I mentioned before, racial discrimination is not my thing. But, unfortunately, the local people are still facing this. Many things are separate here, from shopping malls to groceries, to hairdressers. I believe that the new generation will overcome this race discrimination issue meeting the right people.

Let me give some information about DEFFY. The brand DEFFY was established in 1981 in South Africa. The company produces washing machines, refrigerators, ovens, microwaves, and the other kitchen utensils. I told that the headquarter is in Durban. There have also factories in East London and Lady Smith. There are 300 employees only at the factory in East London. In 2012, the Koc group had bought all the company shares. Mustafa Koc who died recently had come for the opening ceremony of the additional factory building in East London.

During my stay in East London, the managers of DEFFY said: “Gurkan, you should definitely give a presentation at our children’s school”. I agreed and gave a presentation in Hudson Park primary school thanks to Nicole Steidlen. I went to the school on my bike which turned out to be a good idea. The whole school was present which was amazing. Before my presentation I awarded the pupils with plaquets who were successful in several branches of sports. Russia came to my mind. A teacher seeing me while I was riding through a town in Russia had invited me to his school. I had the opportunity to give plaquets and presents to the successful pupils in various sports activities. Once, I came upon an underwear fashion show of Fashion TV in Moldovia, there I was also invited to the stage (just kidding…. Haha). Anyway, this topic just keeps on. These memories of my tour make me really to laugh. Now, where was I? At the school. After the award ceremony I talked to the children about my country, what I did so far and what they might do in the future. I think this speech must have been effective since I received many e-mails from their parents in the next days. I forgot how many times the manager of DEFFY company thanked me. On the road to Cape Town the children seeing me let the cars stop to give me water and food and took selfies sharing with their friends. Since that day three families are sending me e-mails regularly asking where I’m, how I’m and what I’m doing. I like this attitude of South African people. While writing these memories in Chile in 2017, the police officer Rosalina who hosted me while I was riding north of South Africa in 2016 had sent me a message I couple of days before.

Since DEFFY group was covering all my expenses in East London I had a very comfortable stay. Also Emrah told me: “Gurkan, you can stay as long as you want and rest”. But, the time to set off had come. The owner of the hotel told me that his friends had a nice house at seaside 100 km ahead and that I could stay there if I want. The next day I rode to the house of Deric and Jenny. Dude! I took a video with my drone of this area situated at the Indian Ocean coast. Wow, what a wonderful view. Dude, I could to buy a house here and settle down but for that one had to have enough money and capital to start a business here which I don’t possess. I just passed by.

At dinner the conversation came to the whites and discrimination in South Africa again. To make this issue more understandable in my writing, I need to use the terms black and white, sorry.

According to my observations this issue is always opened by the whites. While with the blacks this issue never comes into speech. The inhuman behavior of whites upon black during apartheid was dominant at the end of 1990s and the beginning of 2000s. Well, the reason why South Africa is still called as unsafe is again due to themselves. Let me explain shortly why the blacks do not open this apartheid issue. They are not satisfied from the performances of their own government. Since they have started to govern the country they regressed in every field you can imagine, in agriculture, in industry, in energy, in education, in advanced technology, in military, etc. As regression progressed employment possibilities have decreased, as production ceased expensiveness has increased. The biggest impact was on agriculture, even though you will see South African agricultural products in the groceries in all sub-Saharan countries. Well, what was the level of impact in agriculture?

The whites starting with colonization 500-600 years ago had seized the fertile land. Today, in many regions of South Africa most of the large lands belong to their grandchildren. Yet, after governance had changed, land reform had also been started. The large agricultural fields belonging to the whites had been given to the blacks. In the end those lands were belonging to their ancestors. But the blacks couldn’t keep up with sustainable agriculture and produced only enough for themselves or for their neighborhood. This type agricultural business is the basis of the issue. If the agricultural economics of a country is good than everything else from bottom to top will be perfect. I had this issue analyzed in Germany and the Netherlands. If a deterioration in the agricultural economics happens to begin then this will spread to every field. Yet, blacks making majority of the country are being annoyed for not seeing the prosperity of 25 years ago. For example, Jenny told me that the uniforms of Olympic team cost million dollars but were of very poor quality. The journalists had uncovered this scandal. One of the topics on agenda was this.

Because of this and similar issues all the major cities’ municipality was at whites’ hands. All the mayors elected since 2016 were whites. That is, the blacks also have started to vote for whites.

Well, though I’m saying that they were voting for the party of white men, the head of this party was a black man. After this point I said they managed to unite. There are many people in South Africa both white and black united who want their country to improve. I saw this also in the schools I visited. In the future South African people will succeed in many things. (At this point education steps in)

Though I liked Deric and Jenny’s house very much, I had to continue. While riding towards Port Alfred I saw that my pulse was higher than normal on the computer screen. Something was warning me. In the afternoon I started to vomit. While vomiting I was laughing. I knew this would happen, dude what did I ate that affected my stomach so much? In the small town, Port Alfred I paid 300 Rant for one night and rested there. The next day I didn’t have many kilometers to ride anyway.

The Garden Route in South Africa would be recommended by everyone to ride on if you have time. The route starts from East London end goes till Cape Town. Well, if you think to visit every nice spot on the route it may take at least 2-3 months. Well, I was traveling on bike and had visa only valid for one month. Being this the situation, I didn’t make many detours but some were worth although afterwards I had to ride like crazy to reach the border gate or a place where I could extend my visa.

One of those spots was Cannon Rocks, a legendary place. Well, like advertisement “Namib Desert where desert meets the Ocean”, this was also true for Cannon Rocks. The desert was meeting the ocean and while riding on the road along the coast I recognized that this here was much more beautiful. There were large dunes on the coastal line whereas just at the back woodland. Ocean, desert and forest! I have had never seen such a spot before. Well, this was such a spot to come with your wife or your girlfriend. Dude, I saw a place for rent at the ocean shore. I noticed the address and its coordinate. I took my notice, “I’ll came back to this spot with my future wife!!” I also dreamed of being here with my wife, that is it was such a please, what else to say dude. I like deserts, but the heat is not endurable (I crossed Karakurum, Taklamakan, Gobi, Tabernas, Sahara, Arabian, Kalahari deserts so far. Patagonia, Atacama, Basin, Victoria deserts remain to be crossed.)

When you decide to take a walk along the Cannon Rocks beach you have to take everything you need, especially food. Dude, to reach the ocean you have to cross a desert. Hahaha. Along the beach there are signs forbidding to enter the water. It is obvious from the size of the waves, once they catch you they may take you to Antarctica. There was a very nice caravan park but I continued to find a place on the road and camped on a nice farm land after asking its owner for permission. : )

By the way, because I consumed so many pineapples in this country, after a while it started to vomit as soon as I ate or drank something with pineapple. After Tanzania I really got used to eat pineapples, but I guess my body was telling me it’s enough. On the road before arriving Port Elizabeth, I stopped at a motel next to a gas station at a small town, Colchester. Well, when you start vomiting your body gets too weak to continue. In the small towns and villages in South Africa you always find places to stay. I never came up to cheap but bad places. Caroline, the owner of the motel I stayed had paid the meal I ate at the gas station before I could pay. I hugged and thanked her. My stomach was empty, I had eaten too much.   : )

The port Elizabeth road was really crowded but as I mentioned before it was comfortable to ride in South Africa since almost all roads had shoulder. Here, I stayed at a motel called Retreat Marin. Since it was a touristic spot there were many alternatives to stay with prices changing tremendously. The owner of a hotel two buildings next to the hotel I had stayed asked a high price. I stayed for half price at a much nicer hotel and the owner Roxie offered me an extra day for free being informed that I was coming from Turkey riding on bike. She said: “Stay one more day and get a good rest. You don’t have to pay anything.” She was attending road bicycle races.

As I noticed, there is a great hospitality in South Africa in general. Also, I had mentioned this in my first article about South Africa. Especially, people performing sports or supporting athletes were very sensitive in this issue. It also seems related to education. At some schools where I gave presentations some of the pupils were directly coming from the sports lessons. All those students had complete set of gear. The sports garment and all the related gear were complete. For example, the ones playing volleyball had knee-guards, the ones playing cricket had different clothing, the ones playing rugby possessed different equipment, etc.  This was not the case as just wearing a training suit and attending the lesson. This was not a situation valid nationwide for South Africa. South Africa with its North, South, West and East is a very diverse country. Let me mention you this detail also; I don’t remember maybe I had mentioned this before. In the countries I had visited, I always recognized regions resembling that in other countries. Hey, a similar place was also in this country, look this here looks like to the place in that country, etc. In each country I happened to come to a couple of similar spots. But in South Africa I saw geographical formations and biota resembling that in many countries I have visited so far. South Africa possesses a different kind of mystery.

Anyway, it was not normal to see that all that many missions in the middle of nowhere of nowhere for nothing.

Well, I didn’t want to set off, also Roxie told me to stay. But I have to ride from Lesotho border to Cape Town within a month to extend my visa or leave the country on plane and re-enter. Let’s see how I’ll manage this.

It was amazing to ride bike on the road between Port Elizabeth and Jeffreys Bay. There were some places where the bicycle just rolled so smoothly on the road that I didn’t even stop to take photos. I just wanted to live this moment without any interruptions. On some part of the road a police officer training with his road bike accompanied me. We talked for a while riding on bikes. He was one of the police officers working at the prison we were just passing by. The government was supporting the civil servants in buying bicycles they want. At the same time the prison management was financially supporting the employees attending bicycle races. Wow. I talked a little about my travel, then he rode away not to cool down. : )

Jeffreys Bay is number one for surfing in South Africa, the rest is claptrap. This is an amazing point and the town is beautiful. Well, because I came to this region in winter time it was almost empty. This was a place mostly preferred by domestic tourists. I never make recommendations for the place I visited, “stay here or stay there”. While sitting on the beach watching the surfers I found the place at which I was staying from Google, Africa Perfection. Since the hotel was empty, I was given the most expensive and beautiful room in the hotel. I think it was room number 3, which I had also noticed on my notebook. I called my mother and father and said: “Hey! Do you know where I’m staying? I would never think of staying at such a place with beautiful scenery even in my dreams.” Well, sure many people stayed at better places, but it was incredibly awesome to stay here. If someone someday would stay in this room, he can post a photo of this room. Hahaha : ) All the day through I watched the teenagers surfing on the ocean beach from my room. There wasn’t any interesting place for sightseeing. I planned to stay one day, but the next day seemed to be rainy and the bed was huge. I said, “fuck it, the next day I’ll ride for 120 km” and didn’t get up till noon time.

Nina’s restaurant was on the main road. You may not see anywhere white waiter in South Africa. Here, the waiters were white and the customers black. When I saw this unusual situation, I said to myself “Well, that’s it. What the hell are you still fighting with each other”. The meals were pretty good. Once I forgot to leave 10% tip while paying in South Africa, I swear the waiter run after me for 500 m saying: “You forgot to leave the tip”. I really forgot and gave him. It is very important because the waiters are not paid for salary. All turns on tips.

By the way I’m not using the N2 main road preferred by many tourists on Garden Route. I just forgot to mention. N2, is kind of a highway newly built when the number of vehicles using the Garden Route had increased. The old road is a two lane paved road, even the first road just stabilized road which is difficult to find but not impossible. The old roads are connected to each other and in the end they all connect to N2. Occasionally I entered that main road.

One of these roads is Bloukrans Mountain Pass road. This road closed to motor vehicles is an incredible road. Along the road I was happy that it was closed to vehicles and at the same time curious about the reason. “Dude why is this road closed?” At least it could be open to some extent. “Wait, let me fly a drone to look around.” After drone, the situation cleared: The woodland at the back was totally cut down. When I rode down to the river side I saw that it was polluted. There was a small retention basin which was covered with foam. Once again, I let my drone fly around, there were factories up in the valley. When I stopped in Plettenberg Bay for a short rest I talked to a few people about this issue. They told me that the feature of the river the black color of the water due to the presence some plants and minerals. I said: “Well, its color might be black but seems that there are also some chemicals.” They told me that was impossible. I just said OKAY and went away.  In this region where the river flows through, rafting and other touristic activities are undertaken. If I were one of the people living in this area I would do my best to force the factories be controlled and that the water be analyzed.

Every day I was riding more than 100 km and climbed at least 1000 m high. After the 10th day my muscles started to feel tired. I needed to stop but my visa was about to expire. While passing through a small town, Dwarswegstrand, the beauty of the houses caught my attention. You’ll find in every town a caravan park this town included. The prices change from 150 to 180 Rants.

While riding on this N02 Garden Route I came to a junction which again directed me to the main road. Entering the main road, the number of vehicles on the road increased, this road was taking me to a side road after 3 km. While riding on the shoulder a police officer stopped me:

– Where is your helmet?

– Just broken down, therefore I don’t have a helmet (I really broke it)

– Pull over.

I pulled over, he came to me:

– This is not a bicycle road.

-Yes, I know.

– If you already know, why do you use this road?

– Well, I know that this is not a bicycle road, but it seems you don’t know that the only connection to road N102 is over N2. Look this is the map, tell me how I can go to the road N102 which is 3 km ahead.

He was looking at the map. I knew there was no other road. Recognizing that he said: “Ok. But ride carefully you are not wearing a helmet”.  Dude, if I have had a helmet I would wear it on the main road, but I haven’t had.

I showed photos taken a week ago with helmet riding on the main road. Then, he said “alright, alright go ahead”. Actually I found this pretty good that the police officer paid attention to me. : )

I re-entered the road N102 and stopped at Albertina. I strolled around in the town. I saw a small nice place and decided to stay there overnight. I entered the hotel and in less than no time I found myself in a time machine. The hotel was built 100 years ago during Garden Route period. It was the most popular hotel of that period. The details in the hotel were incredible. The posters of the concerts held, photos of visiting celebrities were hanging on the walls. One newspaper article caught my attention, I couple on their honeymoon stayed at the hotel for 5 years. On some of the posters from 1944 it was written that South Africa is a place to exploit. There were posters showing where the people coming from India were employed. It was an interesting hotel to stay. Also, the town was quiet and very nice. The details in the hotel rooms were also very nice. I went out and toured in the town. I bought some provisions I needed and then set off.

Once again, I preferred the old dirt road. As usual both sides of the road were fenced, it was impossible to enter the fields. On some of the fields were emblems of the famous food products. I saw the farms supplying milk to Parmalat yoghurt which I consumed mostly on the road. I don’t remember the name of village now, but I came to a river which you could only cross by boat. On both sides they had pulled a steel rope with a pulley mechanism. I had seen suchlike in Ukraine and Moldova. Hahaha. The motorcyclists had attached their stickers on the empty places of the boat, I wrote my webpage address. A couple of people reading this started to follow me.

While having lunch at a place I heard the noise a crowd coming from my back suddenly. Dude, what’s that? I turned around and saw a crowd of ostriches. They had come to see who am I. : )

Days after days had passed till I arrived at the southernmost tip of South Africa: Cape L’Agulhas. Cape of Hope in Cape Town is not the southernmost tip of Africa.  Its fame comes from the past. This was the most important tip challenging the sailing ships coming from Europe towards Indian Ocean due to the strong south-north wind. Passing Cape of Hope the ships were entering Indian Ocean and with tailed wind could sail till India. Well, the steam boats had changed everything. Still it is hard to pass this region with sailing ships. I got it on the day I rode to the tip from Cape Town.

I passed a house at the entrance of the town L’Agulhas, its view was wonderful. Agulhas Bed & Breakfast. I thought: “Wow, it would be nice to overnight here with this beautiful scenery. No need to ask, seems very expensive.” And just passed by. Then I rode till the cape and visited the lighthouse. I saw very nice houses along the road.  It was a quiet town, people were jogging alongside the road or riding bicycles. Look this would nice to say: “I’ll just run to the tip of Africa and return”. I saw people jogging in Winter at Northern Arctic Circle, they were running to the Circle and then returned to their home. I also used to run around Eymir Lake in Ankara. : )

While climbing the stairs of the lighthouse I started to laugh, turn, turn, turn. Dude look where I ended up, from the Arctic circle to here. Just craziness. Answering as “from Turkey” the people asking me where I come from, they just think about a direct line from Turkey but, in fact, I had ridden down from the arctic circle to this tip. Really, things have gotten out of hand. It takes me really a long time to tell people in detail. Many of them don’t get it at all. To some asking me I just tell them that I’m coming from another big city of the country.

I left the lighthouse and returned to the city. Wow a barbecue party. People liking barbecuing gather with their cars every month at different nice spots of the country. They had just started barbecuing and I was hungry. People who already went to Turkey for holiday asked whether I rode down from Turkey. My answer was yes. People who were interested at my journey were asking me about my route. I told them. As I was finished, a middle aged man came next to me:

-Hi! My name is Allen. I have a house outside the city. I’m inviting you for a dinner and to stay overnight. I guess you are hungry, aren’t you?

-Hi! I’m Gurkan. Nice to meet you. Of course, I would like to accept your invitation. What’s the address?

-Just at the entrance there is a house, Ocean B&B.

-Oooo, Yes, I know that marvelous house. You won’t believe me, while passing by I thought that how nice it would be to stay overnight. But I thought the price would be high.

-Hahaha. That’s why we met now, you are my guest.

Allen and Shelly hosted me very well in their house. What I had wished happened and I stayed in a nice room with ocean view. They prepared tasty meals for me. They had been in Morocco. We talked about their Morocco memories. We had paid attention to different thinks. They told me that I could stay as long as I want, but 4 days were left for my visa to expire and I had still 2 days to ride to Cape Town. That is, I was in a critical situation and still didn’t know what I’m going to do. Dude, I was going to be thrown out of the country and still insisted on not using any other vehicle. It was a critical situation why not going by car. I must admit that sometimes I stickle, maybe Laz obstinateness or being a Capricorn.

The day I hit the on road was the first day of the feast of sacrifice. In the morning I called my family and then set off. I was riding fast as someone called from my back “My friend”. I looked backwards and saw an elderly man riding a road bike. I stopped and took a breath. He shook my hands and said: “may your bairam be blessed”. How come?

His name was Haji Charlie. He was training on this road for years riding from his farm. He offered me bananas which he took out from his bag. Wait, let me offer you something. We fell in a deep conversation. We talked about Saudi Arabia. I said that I was for Umrah there and he told me that he went for hajj there. 🙂 That was a nice coincidence. We hugged each other and went on our roads.

After this point I rode through wine yards till Cape Town and then the road connected to the famous N2 again. Before entering Cape Town, I decided to camp and left the N2 route. Along the side road I passed next a wine yard. Then, I came upon a school. While I was passing the school I said to myself: “Let’s stop at this school and give a presentation here tomorrow morning. I have already almost arrived in Cape Town.” I talked to the school management and they immediately accepted my offer. Then, I left the school to find a suitable place to camp. I came upon a camping place: Tri Active. I went to the reception to ask the prices. The manager John asked: “Hi! Where are you coming from?”. I said from far away. “How far?”  Telling that I started from Turkey he said: “You can stay in any room you want. It is out of season. There is nobody. You can stay as long as you want.” As I mentioned before, traveling on bike in this country is very pleasant. Just do it, you’ll enjoy. I really forgot the number of the places where I could stay for free. They also offered me dinner. In my journey around the world, the number of the hotels where I could overnight for free was the highest in South Africa.

The next day I went to the school early in the morning. All the pupils were gathered in the school yard sitting in a circle. First, I shortly introduced myself, then I talked about where I’ve been in their country, what I found funny. I talked about their richness, about the hospitality of the people. Then, they asked me many questions.

Afterwards, I set off. Destination Cape Town. Before arriving in Cape Town Kerem had sent me a message: “Gurkan I’m also a former cyclist. My home is always open for you. You can stay anytime you want.” In Cape Town, I stayed for a week in their house: The couple Kerem and Aysel and their son Arin. A new period starts in Cape Town.

P.S.:  While writing this article I didn’t have many of the photos since I had already sent most of them to Turkey. : ))


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