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2004 Biking North Cape

Augrabies, Tuesday, Dec 14; Augrabies Backpackers, R440 total incl. dinner; 72.2 km @ 15 kph; max 48 kph; cycle time 4h37

A super cycling day – despite some soreness and tiredness from Day 1; despite our general unfitness; and despite there being no shoulder. Most drivers encountered (and there is not that much traffic) are polite and friendly, giving us a super-wide berth whenever possible; or slowing to a virtual stop before passing.

The first 41 km dropped us into pretty little Kakamas on the fertile banks of the Orange. We had caught a glimpse of green between two tan hills about 10 km outside town. I had asked Charl if that was our initial destination, but he thought it was too soon. As we rounded the next hill, however, we found ourselves in the Kakamas surrounds, filled with the greenest of vineyards, trees and later homes and gardens and – after crossing the Orange (with resident crane) to its south side – Die Pienk Padstal complete with “Pitt Stop” outbuilding with graphic paintings of a man peeing and a woman sitting on a loo. Useful if you don’t speak the language! (Similar scenes in south Korea and north Thailand would have saved me much embarrassment!)

Mom and dad passed us in town, and we cycled through the dorp and took our breakfast break under a rare tree just on the outskirts en route to Alheit and the turnoff to Augrabies. Which was reached sooner than anticipated.

Our energy was flagging somewhat by then, but the pleasant gentle road, the friendly locals, the raisins and sultanas laid out to dry on flat cement beds, the arid beauty of the place, the amazing quiver trees, the cooling breeze, the yellow-flower groundcover…soon got us to the backpackers where we were to spend the night.

The main business of the folk at Augrabies Backpackers is canoe tours on the Orange – both above and below (though not over) the falls. The backpackers is basic but clean and pleasant enough and for only R35 each we were served a tasty meal after our late afternoon visit to the impressive Augrabies Falls (the sixth largest in the world) only 10 km away. Young guides sitting around in the afternoon heat watching movies on the telly; friendly dogs one of which was very insistent about us throwing her ball; virtual open air showers under sun-warmed water.

The falls drop dramatically through sheer rock faces – no vegetation at all, hills in the background. Powerful despite the dry season and “Transvaalers taking the water”, but the photo of them in the wet season truly amazing and a little unbelievable. Mom is convinced she saw a leopard print in the sand near the falls!

Mom and dad had gotten lost finding the backpackers and had stopped at a local tavern to ask directions. The 15 year old youngster manning the store there gave directions and then said: “As oom dit nie kan vind nie, kom maar terug en ek sê oom weer”.

South Africa en route Kakamas
South Africa en route Kakamas
South Africa Augrabies falls
South Africa Augrabies falls
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