Monday, April 4, 2016

March Lesotho Trip 1: Golden Gate to Katse

Day 1: Golden Gate to Katse Lodge. Around 220 km.

The TW's tank capacity is 7 l. On a good day that could be around 210km, but 170 km is probably more realistic. On the previous weekend-trip to Katse Hardy carried a small jerry-can with fuel to top me up. We bought fuel from a cafe just above the Katse lodge to ensure that there's enough fuel to get the TW back to Fouriesburg.

Hardy wasn't too excited about carrying the jerry-can around again, so we toyed with the idea of taking the bakkie with. Within half an hour after mentioning this to Eisbein, his and Rogue's air tickets were bought: they were coming from Cape Town to drive the bakkie for us. The TW is a bit too slow for safety on South African highways, so plan was to drive the bakkie (bikes at the back) to Golden Gate, and ride from there.
 I picked them up at the Gautrain station, and then started making our way to Golden Gate. At Reitz my GPS led us astray, so we missed Bethlehem and, consequently, the opportunity to get supper. It was dark and very wet when we arrived.  Hardy already pitched the tents, and after supper (coffee, Simba chips and droewors) we went to sleep with the sound of rain through the night.
We woke up to a beautiful misty and very green Free State.

The rain subsided and we quickly packed up. After a short detour through Clarens, we were on our way to breakfast in Fouriesburg, where we were also going to fill up both bikes, the bakkie and the Jerry can. 

About 10 kms outside of Fouriesburg the TW sputtered a bit ... and then some more. And then cut out. We only rode 130 since the last time we filled up ... but that did include the ADA DP1 training course ... I switched to reserve, but a few kms further the tank was really empty. The bakkie drove off to Fouriesburg to get fuel, and we were on the road again.
If you're ever in Fouriesburg, stop at 'Die Plaasstoep' for breakfast.

Caledonspoort border post is just over 10 kms from Fouriesburg. Once you're out of Butha-Buthe, the roads are quieter and it was great being outside. Lesotho was very green.

The Mafika Lesiu pass must be one of the prettiest in the world - I'm sure Eisbein felt ever so slightly jealous that he was in the bakkie and not on a bike. And the mountains were full of water - at some point Eisbein and Rogue (in the bakkie) could see 19 waterfalls from the same spot.  
We stopped at a viewpoint just below the top of the pass.

The TW was not impressed with the last few 100 metres of this pass. It sputtered and hickupped, but once over the top (at 3090) and on the downhill, it was happy again. You get your first glimpse of the Katse dam soon after you've crossed the highest point of the pass, but if you're not used to riding it's still a long way (50 or so) of twisty turny roads to the lodge. 

We checked out the campsite above the dam wall, then proceeded to the Lodge for sundowners on the stoep (ice cold Maluti beers and popcorn) and supper (try the almond trout).

The lodge was fully booked, so we went back to the campsite above the dam wall to pitch tents for the night.

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