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Moto Safari: The Ballad of Baboon Valley


Leopard Country, read the sign in bold letters. I was able to see it only long enough for it to register in my brain that I was far from home, at 140kph the gravel road signs are barely a blur. This is South Africa and it was a beautiful day, sun setting, not a cloud in the sky, weather perfect, and the road was fast and smooth as I looked down and read 666km on the odometer… when bam! Feet were above my head, hands still on the bars. Football size rocks hitting the front wheel at speed have a way of setting your world on fire. Handstand to speed wobble and I was miraculously back in control. Adrenaline pumping and I was still on two wheels! ;NOT TODAY SATAN!' I half jokingly screamed to myself. And then, hundreds of kilometers from the nearest tyre shop, I looked down to see a flat rear tyre.

In front of us lay a gravel road twisting and turning off into the sunset, with ice cold beer just beyond the horizon. We would make it there, but you damn well know we were going to have to earn it. Tyre spoons and inner tubes came out and we got to work. It was the first flat of the trip and it sure as hell wouldn’t be the last. We had 2000km left to go and this was only day one.

The day before had started in beautiful Cape Town, South Africa. The Motosafari crew assembled and we went on our way in search of adventure and maybe some baboons. Leaving Cape Town, a thriving coastal city, we were soon met with the wide open deserts just inland off the coast. I was reminded of my home in the southern California desert. It was rocky, dry and every bit as inhospitable, the essence of desert beauty. There is a silence, a deafening ring to the ears of nothing-ness, that only one who has experienced it can understand. Vast and unforgiving, home to only the toughest creatures.

Mystery here lies In every abandoned town and encampment, and some of these places survive the harsh desert solitude. Most of such places serve cold beer, and that is sure to catch any desert travellers interest. A respite from the hot desert sun, to quench the taste buds and wet the whistle. We gladly made such detours every chance we could. Sidle up to the bar just to hear the stories of the characters who would tell their tales. Onward we would continue, another day, another few hundred kilometres to the next oasis.

The days clicked off one by one, the kilometers turned much faster, the flats tires, goddamn, they were proving to be quite the hassle. Our beards grew longer, gear more dusty, cell phone signal, all but a distant memory. And we were about as happy as pigs in shit. The morning fuel up and gear up became the routine, a new road, the unknown, that was what we were after. The freedom to do as we pleased and answer to no one but the laws of the universe. The freedom that comes from truly being alive.

We clicked off kilometers from tarmac, to gravel roads, river beds and valleys. Mind bending views and from CapeTown we went inland to Die Hell, the road in as evidence to its name. It was Die Hell to Baboon Valley, Cape Saint Francis to Port Elizabeth and back again. From no towns to port towns, surf towns and even a few meltdowns. Lions, giraffes, Rhinos, Elephants and bush camps. The true African experience.

As we descended down from the Baboon Valley to the eastern cape of South Africa, the desert turned to green rolling hills, beach sand dunes that begged to be ridden, wild and unruly waves and deep blue, cold seas. The weather was chilly and the air damp and salty as we entered the Bush Camp. A preserve home to deadliest creature on the planet earth. A creature that takes more human lives than any other. The Mosquito! Yes, a few bites here and there was quite the distraction from some of the less dangerous animals that were only a car length from us. Lions roared, buffalo stampeded and hippos and crocodiles swam about. Our camp, a tent circle within a giant thorn bush. The only barrier between us and the African wilderness. We sat by the campfire and exchanged anxious glances with every lion roar through the night. It was surreal, a true life changing experience to share the night with such magnificent creatures.

But morning came again, and it was back to the clutch, throttle, and brake. The routine of adrenaline, breath taking views and bragging rights for whoever could drag pegs through hairpin corners. The body got more sore as the days wore on, but the spirits got higher. Every hardship and challenge just added to the tale. Friendships were formed and shared experience bonded them further. Friends and memories that will last a lifetime. Stories to tell future grandchildren and photos to show the whole family. Far flung locales, that most people could never imagine to see or dare to to go.

At the start, 10 days on a motorcycle seems impossible. By the end, ten days on a motorcycle and you wished for 10 more! Live more in 10 days on a motorcycle than most people will live in their whole lives. The places a motorcycle can take you, the near death and exhilarating experiences it affords you. Well, you just can beat it. And for that I thank my friends at Motosafari. Go Far from Home.

Words: @forrestminchinton

Photos: @harrymarkphoto

MOTO SAFARI TOURS

Moto Safari is an adventure tour company built by riders for riders. We offer fully-inclusive, bespoke motorcycle tours around the world that focus on epic landscapes, awesome routes and unforgettable riding. Established in 2015 but built on decades of experience behind the bars of various two-wheeled adventure machines in exotic locales around the world, Moto Safari is a moto-tour company built by riders for riders.

Each of our tours is a bespoke experience, but they are all built on the same core elements: showcasing the host country’s finest landscapes, finding the best twisties, trails, and off-road routes, and epic riding every day.

Moto Safari is currently offering tours in Vietnam, India, South Africa, Namibia, Mongolia and Iceland. He now splits his time between the northern and southern hemisphere chasing the riding season around the globe with Moto Safari.

We keep our tours small and fully-inclusive so that riders can focus on the thing that matters most – riding! Join us as we go Far From Home.

Tours include:

  • All Accommodation nights

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Refreshments

  • 2019 BMW GS1250 equipped with dirt tires

  • Unlimited mileage

  • Unlimited fuel

  • Third Party insurance

  • 2x Professional tour guides on a motorcycle

  • 1 on 1 classes with BMW Certified Instructor and 2x time GS Trophy World Champion

  • 4x4 back-up Vehicle, carrying: Luggage, First Aid, Tools, Spares and Water

  • Safari Game drives, Wild Animal encounters and City tour

  • Toll fees and entrance to National Parks

  • Moto Safari T-shirt, Cap, Mug and Dry bag

Find out more at @motosafari

#Motosafari #SouthAfrica #adventurebike #adventure