South Africa

Posted in: English Mrz 22 2017

Thanks to the help of Hannie and Karl, the border crossing was unproblematic. We got a 3 month visa and not even our luggage was checked. In Port Nolloth we had to say goodbye to our great hosts. Baie dankie Hannie and Karl for all your help!

Due to the heat and the strong wind, which is now blowing in high summer, we decided not to drive into the Cederberge. Instead, we followed the advice of Riaan a friend of Hannie and Karl, who knows very well the area along the West Coast. He could show us ways which are not marked on any map. Some sections were quite sandy but so we could drive around the main streets.

The hospitality of the (white) South Africans is really impressive. Already on the second day, Susan and Eugene invited us to dinner and offered us two nights on the campsite. They recognize the coast with two mountain bikes and an all-wheel drive car including trailer. In the coming days we were allowed to have our luggage transported by them. In the evening we had some exciting conversations and learned a lot about living in South Africa.

The area here belongs to the Namaqualand. Namaqualand is quite popular with both local and international tourists during early springtime (August/ September), when for a short period this normally arid area becomes covered with a kaleidoscope of color during the flowering season. As a region, it has one of the highest percentages of Afrikaans speakers in the world, with over 95% of the population speaking the Afrikaans language. The original Khoekhoe language of the Nama people, with its intricate system of click sounds, also still survives in remote areas.

Our biggest enemy on the West Coast was the headwind. In the course of the day he developed into a real storm. But as is usually said: Headwind shapes the character! Slowly the landscape changed. More and more agricultural land was to be seen. One of the largest export goods is the wine. South African wine has a history dating back to 1659 with Constantia, a vineyard near Cape Town. Since the end of Apartheid, many producers have been working on producing more „international“ styles of wine that can succeed on the world market. Flying winemakers from France, Spain and California have brought new techniques and styles to South Africa.

From Doringbaai we followed the railway service road until Saldanha. The Sishen–Saldanha railway line is an 861 kilometres (535 mi) long heavy haul railway line. It connects iron ore mines near Sishen in the Northern Cape with the port at Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape. It is used primarily to transport iron. The length of the train is really impressive. These trains have 8 locomotives and 342 wagons with a total mass of 41,400 tonnes and are 3,780 meters (12,400 ft) long, and they are the longest production trains in the world.

A big problem in South Africa is security. Mostly we had to stay in guesthouses. Practically every plot is fenced and surrounded with high walls. You feel like you are in a high security prison. No one trusts the other. From Saldanha we headed through the West Coast National Park to Darling until we finally reached our final destination in Durbanville. There we visited Ansie and her family. We had met them at the new year’s celebration in Swakopmund. They spoiled us with a delicious braai (Afrikaans for barbecue or grill). On the last day they transported all our luggage to Cape Town. The white South Africans are next to the Sudanese the most hospitable people I have met in Africa (not once did a black or colored South African invite us)!

Of course, a cycling trip to the Cape of Good Hope was a must. The first modern rounding of the cape in 1488 by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias was a milestone in the attempts by the Portuguese to establish direct trade relations with the Far East (although Herodotus mentioned a claim that the Phoenicians had done so far earlier). The Cape of Good Hope is the legendary home of The Flying Dutchman.

I liked Cape Town and the surrounding area very well. Originally I wanted to cycle around hole Africa. Now I have been on the continent for almost 2 years and here in Cape Town would have been exactly half-time. But I can no longer bear the eternal monotony and the people of Africa. For far too long, I feel no longer comfortable and therefore I decided to draw a conclusion under this chapter. On the other hand I do not want to fly home and finish my journey. So I had to put together a new plan.

I was very happy about the visit of my family. I have not seen my sister for almost two years. Tania left us after a few days and flew back to Switzerland. We liked the sightseeing buses very well. With them you can visit practically all important sights around Cape Town. Located on the shore of Table Bay, Cape Town was first developed by the Dutch East India Company as a victualling (supply) station for Dutch ships sailing to East Africa, India, and the Far East. Jan van Riebeeck’s arrival on 6 April 1652 established the first permanent European settlement in South Africa. Of course, a visit to the Table Mountain was not to be missed. In November 2011, Table Mountain was named one of the new seven wonders.

I also met some friends, whom I could get to know on my trip through Africa. Some of them live here in Cape Town. Most of them look quite optimistic into the future, which surprised me a lot. Jacob Zuma, the reigning president has long been a cause of great disparagement in the population. Several accusations of corruption and rape have already been raised against him.

We could stay in a couple of caravans on the roof of the Grand Daddy Hotel ( Just the right place to end my time in Africa. My bike has for some time a new problem: The pinion circuit makes quite funny noises. In consultation with the Veloladen Leuthold, we decided to replace the gearbox. A big thanks to the fast and competent handling of all involved! The farewell to my family was not easy for me. My last day in Africa I spent with Tommy and Wesley. They showed me the beautiful city of Stellenbosch. The next day I went to the airport with the MyCiti bus. Now I know how my journey wants to continue.

For me, South Africa is a country of contrasts. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have spoiled us with their hospitality. Baie baie dankie! Security is from my view one of the biggest problems here in South Africa. A policy as the ANC (African National Congress) has pursued since the end of the apartheid with their BBBEE program (Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment) is the wrong approach. Thus the population is split even more. Hopefully a change will take place soon. This country has so much potential. At the airport I remembered a quote from Jimi Hendrix:

„When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.“