Saturday, October 17, 2009


Today's route: Rest day Oudshoorn

Today was a rest day, although there was a suggested drive to Prince Albert fro lunch followed by a climb over the Swartberg Pass.

As I had a lot of car work to do - relap some valves - I started early but pretty soon it became obvious to me that I would miss the drive, I chose to do the car work as it is more important to get it right now rather than risk a problem later.

So, Bill and I spent most of the day doing valve work in the hot sun. But, when we were finished, we did takr a drive up the Swartberg Pass to see the magnificent scenery - husge vistas of farmland abbutting the concoluted cliff faces of the Outeniqwa mountains. Quite magnificent.

Dinner was at the hotel - not bad - with a birthday song for Joan.

Short day - back on the road tomorrow.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Knysna to Outdshoorn

Today's route: Knysna to Outshoorn 74 miles

After an early breakfast we left Knysna along the N2 headed towards George. Although we had no schedules or suggested stop there, we did want to visit the transport museum. So, the coastal road to George is splendid, particularly as it passes through Wilderness -a long expanse of stunning beach.

The museum in George is very good - lots of steam engines and old railway carriages - the ones I remember taking from Johannesburg to cape Town!

Leaving George we headed inland, climbing the long and steep pass to cross the Outeniqwa mountains - a fantastic view from the top over the town and the ocean. The mountain range itself is impressive - I cannot imagine an ox wagon crossing, but know it waa done.

Once we crested the mountain, the scenery changed dramtically as the Klein Karoo stretched below us. Huge opne areas of scrub, with valleys green with farming.

Before long, we had evidence that Outdshorn was close - the ostrich farms with which this town is synonemous. After checking into the hotel, we had a lovely braai lunch then left to explore the Safari Ostrich Farm - I was last there about 30 years ago! These are strange birds, but it was a lot of fun!

Dinner tonight was a buffet at the hotel - very nice.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Today's route: Rest day Knysna

Today was an extremely lazy day. Somewhat overcast but not cold at all.

First up at 11 am was a meeting with local classic car enthusiasts at the Knysna Yacht Club. They brought their cars - most MG's, and we looked at theirs and they looked at ours. It was good fun. Following this we walked around the stores at the waterfront and had a nice, light seafood lunch.

Most people went shopping or relaxed / napped at Belvedere Manor until 5.30 pm, when we boarded minibuses to take us back to the harbor for a sunset dinner cruise. Nice "paddle" boat and a good dinner. Qute relaxing and back at the hotel by 8.45 pm.

Tomorrow, back on the road.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Knysna to the Heads and Wilderness

Today's route: Knysna to the Heads and Wilderness approx 70 miles

Today was a rest day at the Belvedere Manor - the wonderful hotel we are staying in at Knysna,

After an outdoor breakfast,we set out for the Heads - the two huge outcrops that form the entrance from the Indian Ocean to the Knysna lagoon. We drove up and up to reach the Visitor Lookoput point. The view is stunning - the town of Knysna, the harbor and lagoon and of course the pocean and hazard filled coastline. It's a great drive up and a slightly nerve racking drive down in an old car!

After a quick stop in town to look around, we headed out to Wilderness for lunch. Karl, a dairy farmer and mechanic is travelling with us on the tour to take care of cars that need it, and has a wonde4rful farm in Wilderness, about 50 km from Knysna. The drive is lovely - ocean on one side and mountains and lakes on the other.

Karl and his wife Tilly had prepared a fantastic lunch of salads and braai'd meat, breads and desert - great food at a very relaxed and beautiful location. We sat in the garden at their house on the farm, surrounded by fields of cows - some of whom calved while we we there. Also the first time I had tried fresh - straight from the cow milk - unpateurised. Delicious.

After arriving back at the hotel this evening, some minor car work and then another braai'd dinner - boerewors, lamb, chicken etc. And pudding.

Weather has ben great for a few days - sunny and hot.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Port Elizabeth to Knysna

Today's route: Port Elizabeth to Knysna 205 miles

Today began a route that will encompass some of the most magnificent scenery in South Africa - the fames Garden Route. It would have begun better had I filled up with petrol on the way into Port Elizabeth yesterday and not run out a block from the garage, but no matter!

Leaving PE we travelled along the coastal road west for a while through farmland and small villages clinging to the coastal cliffs to Humansdorp, past Jeffrey's Bay and finally entering the Tsitsikama Forrest where the trees grow tall and lush on wither side of the road. As we were amongst the last to leave PE, we soon came accross some of the others travelling a little slower than us and it is always fun to travel for a while in convoy.

Turning into Storm's River Mouth we wound along a steep decline along the cliffs towards the crushing foam below - the rocks that have wrecked so many ships majestic and threatening as ever. We parked at the tea room - all the cars drawing much attention. Looking out over the rocks, water and cliffs brought back many memories from times spent there in our Varsity years - it looks very much the same (larger tea room though).

From Storm's River Mouth, we continued on the N2, crested a hill after about 50 km and found Plettenberg Bay stretched out far below us. Even from that distance the growth in Plett was readily apparent. I turned into Plett, filled up with petrol again and carried on along the main road.

Plett is very built up now with new houses, condo's, a school and many businesses - however it is easy to recognise the skeleton upon which it is built. Lunch was at a fantastic restuarant overlooking Lookoout beach - an incredible view. Kingklip at last! The sun was shining well at that time and it was really terrific.

After lunch we deviated from the route to look at Plett a little. The main road takes a sharp downhill towards the ocean, and rounding a corner we saw the Beacon Isle Hotel - unchanged. I drove up, and as when I was here in my 20's, they would not let me in! Howver, the view of Robberg Beach from the hotel was stunning. Plett is still a magnificent place despite the growth.

From Plett we covered 36 km to Knysna to the Belveder Manor - a loverly hotel of cottages - we have a two story house. We sat around and chatted unbtil dinner - forgetable food at best.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Today's route: Shamwari to Port Elizabeth 87 miles

The day started off early with a game drive. Finally, the weather was just magnificent and the view from the lodge before leaving was great.

On the drive today we had a specific gpoal of finding rhino and leopard, but right out the gates we came upon a pride of lion - the male having just eaten a warthog. Moving on, we searched the area high on the ridge for the leopard - she had a cub three weeks ago and has it hidden in one of the caves while she hunts. We never found her, but we had a great view.

With no leopard in sight, we stopped and had coffee in the bush.

We found a family of white rhino just before returning to the camp for breakfast - a good one of boereword, egg, toast etc - typically South African!

After breakfast we left for Port Elizabeth, but the car ran terribly. It was clearly a fuel issue. I had the carburetor rebuilt just before shipping the car, but something was clearly wrong with it = and I had struggelled with it all along - fuel starvation. So, on the side of the dirt road, Bill Kennedy, Bill Vatter, myself and Karl (local) took the whole thing apart and found the problem - the rebuilder has forgotten to put a spring on the high speed needle. Karl furnished one, and we reassembled the thing.

Back on the road, we almost flew to Port ELizabeth - the car was running very well. It's a short drive, and great to see the ocean again. PE is a fairly large city. We parked and I needed a few things from an auto parts store - a local heard me say that and offered to drive me and off we went. Uon return, we serviced the car and went in for a shower and dinner.

The view from the room is great.

Tomorrow, off the Knysna via Plettenberg Bay.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Shamwari Game Reserve

Today's route: Rest day at Shamwari Game Reserve

Shamwari is the largest private game reserve in the eastern Cape, covering a huge amount of land and home to all the big species of animals and birdsin South Africa. Like all game parks here, the animals are self sustaining - eat or be eaten.

Our group has been split amongst the lodges, so we have not seen the others in a day or so.

As it was overcast and had raine3d a fair amount overnight, we did not go out at 5.30 am as expected, but rather after breakfast around 9 am. It was an incredible morning.

First up we came upon a large herd of elephant - everything from large bulls to baby's just a few months old. They were very comfortable with our presence, at times passing within a foot of the land rover. Once a young male walked straight up and stared into our vehicle - straight at Bill. They are always a majestic sight.

As we were leaving the area, we were called back as another landrover had a flat tire and needed our jack.

Following this, we found a small pride of lion - the male was intent on mating but the femalw was having none of that. We watched the lion for a while before moving on again.

Aside from the usual sprinkbok, impala, kudu we found a good sized herd of giraffe - always fun to see.

Finally, cheetah. Three all quite relaxed - so much so that we were able to leave the landrover and walk to within 30 feet of the, Awesome.

Lunch, after we returned to the lodge, was fine. Excellent food but we finished late - around 3pm - then they ushered us over for tea and cake! Skipped that.

The afternoon game drive began well - lion, warthog and then two rare black rhino. Then the rain started again, heavy and cold. We stuck it out for a while then headed back for a warm shower. Dinner was an indoor braai (boerewors, pap, steak etc) and then tomorrow after the norning game drive we head fpr Port Elizabeth

Technical stuff

A couple of technical notes for the car people following this blog:

My car:

After about 5 days of the tour,  I noticed two misfires while driving- when I shut the car down I noticed the car did not run on the magneto - opened that up and found the magneto points destroyed. Pulled out the whole point plate and ran on just the battery ignition for a few days. Bill was able to bring new points with him and once I put those in the magneto worked fine again.

Had to retune the carburetor after I installed the air filter - still was not riht and spent a day or so getting it right.

One flat tire (tube failure) - changed the tube.

Other cars and the repairs done on the tour:

Split wheel rim - unrepaired yet
Failed hand air pump (rebuilt on the tour)
Failed oil pump due to rounded shaft - built up with weld and then ground square - now works
Split battery terminals - replaced

So far, none to bad and all cars still on the tour.