LESOTHO TOUR – RIDING ON THE ROOF OF AFRICA

Our journey to the ‘Roof of Africa’ commences near Port Elizabeth in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, before heading inland and upwards toward the moutain kingdom of Lesotho. In the world’s highest country (on average), epic roads and scenery await in what is as close to a riders’ paradise as we have seen anywhere. Lesotho offers mile-upon-mile of non-stop cornering action on tarmac of the highest quality, carrying very little traffic. The dirt road riding is equally impressive, without being too technical or strenuous for the average rider. This is a real rider’s tour, featuring full days of stunning riding through incedibly diverse landscapes.

Lesotho feels like a land that time did indeed forget. In the highlands, pony-riding Basotho tribesmen outnumber motorised vehicles by some considerable degree and young boys herd their goats among traditonal African ‘beehive’ villages. Vast lakes and spectacular mountain vistas are our daily companions as the tour makes its way between suprsisngly plush overnight destinations in outstanding locations. During this tour there is the opportunity to ponytrek in the mountains, visit Southern Africa’s highest single-drop waterfall, or relax on a trout stream. Clean, friendly, and astoundingly scenic, we can’t recommend this tour highly enough.

There will be a maximum of nine bikes available on this tour. The bikes used will be Suzuki DL650 V-Stroms, or BMW F700 and 800GS models. Click links for further information on bikes and the terms and conditions of hire.

As a participant in this tour you’ll fly to Port Elizabeth, to be met by Blazing Trails staff and transferred to your accommodation, where you will enjoy a traditional ‘Braai’ – a meal cooked over an open fire. There will be some paperwork to complete and we will give you a briefing on the trip ahead.

When riding there will be a lead rider and a sweeper vehicle travelling at the rear with luggage. Riders will navigate using a ‘marker’ (also known as a ‘buddy’) system, whereby the rider behind the leader drops off and waits to guide those coming behind.

The riding on this tour is mainly on tarmac, but has some fine dirt riding mixed in, including the legendary (though not so tough as folk make out) Sani Pass.

ABOUT LESOTHO

Riding in Lesotho

If ever the were an ‘ultimate’ bike riding destination then this is it, whether on tarred roads or dirt.

Thanks to an influx of Chinese investment, new roads have been built, old ones upgraded and sealed. These roads, nearly all smooth and grippy, spiral up and over vast mountain ranges and pass along pristine river valleys with barely a straight for hundreds of kilometres at a stretch. And using these fine roads is almost nothing motorised! Away from the main centres of population you will come across horses, donkeys and goats, but it is possible to ride for hours without seeing another vehicle.

Although many roads have been upgraded, there are still many thousands of kilometres of dirt roads and tracks, varying in condition and severity.

Aside from the main towns around Maseru, traffic is so scarce as to be barely worth commenting upon. When a local car/taxi is encountered in the hills, flashed lights and horn are often given in greeting and vehicles will usually pull aside to let a bike pass.

Speed limits are often silly-low, with 50kph areas very common. Worth adhering to when in towns and villages as with such light traffic the locals aren’t expecting anything coming. On open stretches speed limits are usually 80kph, but with nobody out there they are mainly ignored.

So, take the best roads you can imagine, remove the traffic, whirl them around a stunning mountain setting and what have you got? Riding heaven….


Money

The Lesotho Loti is the local currency and it is pegged at a one-to-one ratio against the South African Rand. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in lodges and ATMs are commonplacein the bigger settlements. Daily essentials, such as food, drink and fuel are very cheap if you are earning in a major currency.

Today 1 GBP is about 21 ZAR


Geography

The Kingdom of Lesotho is, on average, the highest coutry in the world. Of its 30,355 square kilometres the lowest point is 1400m above sea level, with 80 per cent of the country at 1800m or above. Lesotho, an independent sovereign state, is completely surrounded by South Africa.

Cities & demographics

Although there are a number of regional centres that are given the status of a ‘city’, most you would not recognise as such. Maseru, the capital is by far the largest settlement, with 10 per cent of the enitrecountry’s population at around 250,000 souls. Around 75 per cent of Lesotho’s population live on the lower, warmer northern side of the country, three-quarters of those living a rural existance. The mountainous highlands are sparsely inhabited.

Climate

Being set at such a height, the Lesotho climate is cool compared to surrounding south Africa. In the lower reaches around Maseru, temperatures can top 30ºC in summer, down to -5ºC in the depths of winter. In the highlands temperatures can vary between around 26ºC in summer and can get down to -15ºC in wintertime. Snow is possible year-round on the highest peaks and mornings and evenings are usually cool.

Lesotho has a temperate climate with well-marked seasons. Summer is the rainy season; 85 per cent of rainfall occurs from October to April, especially in the mountains. Snow occurs in the highlands from May to September. The hottest period is from January to February. Lesotho is a land of clear blue skies and more than 300 days of sunshine a year.

Economy

Lesotho is classed as a very poor and underdeveloped country; according to UN figures 57 per cent of the population live below the poverty line, earning less than $1.25 per day. The country has the third highest incidence of AIDS, which goes a long way to explain a life expectancy of under 50 years. On the plus side, Lesotho has an extremely high literacy rate – 81 per cent among men and 97 per cent for women.

Due to only 10 per cent of the land being suitable for agriculture, Lesotho relies on imports from South Africa for much of its food.

Income is derived from diamond mining and the manufacturing of clothing. Tourism makes a very small contribution, as it is in its infancy.

Health Information

Private medical facilities are few and far; government facitlities poor and overburdened. The closest decent hospitals are in South Africa and it to there that any serious casualty should be evacuated. This can be done by road or air, through a South African private emergency service. We will be taking a support vehicle on our Blazng Trails tours to Lesotho so that we can move people as necessary.

You must have appropriate travel insurance to undertake any tour.

The areas covered by this tour are free from malaria, but there are some incidences in the Kruger National Park area. Please consult your physician about medical risks.

Tap water is safe to drink in most places and food hygiene is good.


Politics & History

The Basotho nation emerged in 1818 when King Moshoeshoe (1786-1870) formed an alliance with an amalgam of clans and chiefdoms of Southern Sotho people who occupied the area which is presently the Northern and Eastern Free State and Western Lesotho from about 1400AD. In 1824 attacks by the Tlokoa clan revealed weaknesses in the Butha-Buthe fortress that the Basotho were occupying, which led to a move to the plateau known today as historic site Thaba-Bosiu. The arrival of the Missionaries in 1833, which was also the arrival of potatoes, wheat, fruit trees, domestic animals, new schools and printed books in the Sesotho languages, was a pivotal moment in the history of the Basotho.

Lesotho went through many political developments during the period of 1833-1868, during which Moshoeshoe’s statesmanship and diplomacy saved the Basotho nation from extinction in wars with the Kora, the Amangwane, the Ndebele and the Batlokoa among others. Mainly for protection in other lands wars, Lesotho became an official British protectorate in 1868. Not long after this, in 1870, King Moshoeshoe 1 died.

Following the rule of different traditional chiefs, around 1960 a new nationalist movement led by commoner Ntsu Mokhehle emerged. Mokhehle was an educated and articulate leader of the Basotho Congress Party (BCP), which set the political agenda for the 1950s. Chiefs also formed their own party in the face of the threat of the BCP to democratize chieftainship, and under the leadership of Chief Leabua Jonathan the Basotho National Party (BNP) was formed.

In 1963 the Constitutional Review Commission approved a Westminster-style government, which saw King Moshoeshoe II enjoying few powers. This meant 60 seats to be elected by adult suffrage in the Lower House, and the Senate would consist of 22 Principal and Ward chiefs and 11 monarch-nominated members. The Constitution, meanwhile, received support from Britain and elections for the first government were held in 1965 with independence following in 1966.

The post-independence period saw alternation of power between BNP and BCP. Following a military led overthrow of the BNP government in 1986, the country was under military rule until 1993 when the King was given executive powers and political parties were banned. Long-awaited general elections were held in March 1993 after revision of the Constitution – the result was a landslide victory by BCP. The BCP ruled until a split led to the formation of Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) ahead of the controversial 1998 elections. LCD won the 2002 and 2007 elections, finally splitting ahead of the 2012 elections forming the breakaway Democratic Congress, led by the outgoing Prime Minister.

In May 2012 the results of the general elections led to formation of the first-ever coalition government by three parties: All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National Party (BNP) and Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD). This tripartite coalition currently rules Lesotho.

The King is the Head of State and Principal Chiefs are responsible for different districts in the country.


Crime & Annoyances

The crime rate in Lesotho’s urban areas is high, due to large scale unemployment and poverty. In the outlying areas there is far less – in many places close to zero – and tourists have little to fear. We will be avoiding the main cities and there is security in travelling as a group.

Begging can be annoying, but is to be expected due to low incomes and does not happen on a daily basis. This usually takes the form of children begging at the roadside and occasionally non-threatening approaches by adults. There are reports of children throwing stones when cars fail to stop and hand out sweets – we have not experienced this on the bikes.

QUICK OVERVIEW

In ten words

Simply the best riding on the planet. Stunningly beautiful, too.

Riding Level

Lots and lots of corners need concentration; mainly good tar surfaces. Some long days. Sani Pass (steep dirt) can be tricky in the wet. Tarmac: 90%; dirt 10%.

The Adventure

Overall: approx' 3000km Shortest day: 150km Longest day: 450km 3 days travelling 10 days riding 1 off-bike day

Pillion Rating

Most of the route is just fine for passengers, but riders may struggle on Sani Pass, so passengers may choose to ride in the support vehicle (compulsory if wet). Generally smooth roads, nice accommodation, good views and food make for a winner.

Accommodation & Meals

An eclectic mix of stays, from four-star lodge to guest houses. Always clean, always a bar and good food everywhere.

Highlights

Some Garden Route; Sani Pass; Highest Pub in Africa; Maloti Mountains; Local Music; Katse Dam; Semonkong Falls; The Great Karoo desert; the surprises; the roads, oh the roads!

TOUR ITINERARY

Day 1: Fly

Fly to JHB International Airport, to arrive the following morning and meet your internal flight to Port Elizabeth in the Western Cape.

DAY 2: Arrive Port Elizabeth, transfer to Addo

From Port Elizabeth a short road transfer will take you to Blazing HQ in Addo, where you will join us for a briefing and a barbeque at our on-site pub. 

Day 3: addo to hogsback

Time to explore the rolling hills and swooping passes of the Eastern Cape, skirting many game parks and nature reserves with the opportunity to spot game long the way. The road alongside the Great Fish River Nature Reserve is a particular highlight. To end the ride we climb steeply into the deeply forested Amathole Mountains to reach cool and scenic Hogsback where we spend the night.

DAY 4: HOGSBACK TO MACLEAR

We travel north into the scenic southern Drakensberg. High above us on the towering escarpment we get our first glimpses of Lesotho. Taking a small diversion on to the dirt we find our comfortable night’s accommodation and home-cooked meal on a remote farmstead in the hills.

DAY 5: MACLEAR TO underberg

Having returned to the tar, there’s more super-swooping tamac that carries us into the impressive hills and mountains of Zulu Land. The views build and build as the high (3000m) mountains come into view. We spend the night at a smart guest house in Underberg, where we will cook up a meal over the fire.

DAY 6: underberg TO SANI TOP

Today we take on the Sani Pass, one of this trip’s many highlights. The pass climbs 1332 vertical metres, from 1544m above sea level to 2876m. The ride can be tricky due to the gravel hairpins, but is not beyond the reach of the average rider, though pillions may opt to ride in the 4X4 support vehicle (two-wheel-drive vehicles are not permitted to climb the pass). In places the climb to Lesotho is 1:3 and the views back down to South Africa stunning. Plans are afoot to tar this classic dirt road, so come and ride it in its full glory while you can! A celebratory drink in Africa’s highest pub is a must, before bedding down in a comfortable guest house.

day 7: Sani top to lejone

Photographers may wish to see sunrise over the pass before breakfast and riding out onto the most extraordinary roads imaginable. Through the Maloti Mountians snakes our route, passing Thaban Ntlenyana, which at 3482m is the highest point in Africa south of Kilamanjaro. Bend-after-bend-after-bend, the theme is set for our Lesotho riding… and just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, we plunge from the highlands on a ribbon of masterfully engineered road to the northern plateau. Soon we are again riding into the mountains and to the small village of Lejone, on the shores of Katse reservoir. The ride to Lejone is glorious, almost obscene in its excellence, featuring a 100km stretch that is so bendy it’s dizzying.

day 8: Lejone to malealea

Good morning, breakfast and off. Some brief tarmac bliss and then we’re on a 60km section of dirt. The gravel winds along hillsides and through charming villages, with views into deep, river-carved valleys. A sealed road magically appears and again, the ride is fabulous. Again, when we leave the high country, having crossed many high passes (including the ‘God Help Me Pass’), we descend to the plateau in the most brain-frying fashion. A minor dirt pass takes us to Malealea, where the night is spent in spacious, ensuite rondavell huts, entertainment courtesy of local band and choir.

DAY 9: AT MALEALEA

After dazzling days of intense riding, it’s about time for a break. For those not content to simply chill out and rest the posterior, walks (guided or not) to view ancient cave art and horse treks can be arranged. 

DAY 10: MALEALEA TO SEMONKONG

Another morning of mixed-surface riding takes us to the smoothly-tarred A5 road and yet more mountain magic. Passes, meandering river valleys and jagged mountain peaks again keep things interesting as riding bliss becomes business as usual. A dirt detour will take us to a spectacular cliff-top view of the Maletsunyane Falls, the highest single-drop waterfall in Southern Africa. We finish the day’s swervery at Semonkong, the ‘Place of Smoke’, ensconced in smart huts in a beautiful river valley. Best hit the bar for some tall tales, then…

DAY 11: SEMONKONG to bethel

Designed by Valentino Rossi, in conjunction with Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Lemmy, the road rolls its way through and over the rocks of the Southern Highlands. Big views and big, giddy grins, it gets a bit too blissful to comprehend as we take our last long ride in Lesotho. We end at a lodge near the small town of Quthing. Perhaps one last Maluti beer for the exquiste road….

DAY 12: bethel TO nieu Bethesda

Today we cross back into South Africa, but the experience does not stop here. Oh no. Having crossed the border, we will weave through the quiet and scenic back roads of the Southern Drakensberg. It’s twisites a first, but as we enter the edge of the Great Karoo the roads straighten out, with only the occassional mountain pass to offer some jinks. We are, however, riding through an ancient and beautiful landscape of desert and mountains. A stunning gravel track carries us to our overnight stop in the charming wee village of Nieu Bathesda for an excellent meal in a charming guest house.

DAY 13: nieu Bethesda to Addo

There’s more cruising through big desert scenery as we head south on the highway, passing lonesome farms and small agri-towns. The days end will look familiar, as we’re back at Blazing HQ, Addo, where the pub awaits.

DAY 14: FLY AWAY HOME

You will be driven to Port Elizabeth and fly to JHB to meet your overnight flight home. Flight timings permitting you may be able to take a morning game drive in Addo National park (or you can book an extra day to enjoy in the park). On your return, try as you may, you will not be able to explain quite how fabulous a ride you’ve enjoyed, or the unspoiled motorcycling paradise you have experienced.

WHAT THE TOUR PRICE INCLUDES

INCLUDED

  • International Flights (when booked as full package)
  • Ten Days of Bike Hire
  • Luggage-carrying Support
  • All Internal Transfers
  • Twelve Nights Accommodation
  • Meals: 12 breakfasts; 3 dinners; 1 lunch

NOT INCLUDED

  • Other Meals
  • Tolls, Entry Fees, Visas and Excursions
  • Fuel
  • Damage Excess on Bikes

USEFUL INFORMATION

Documentation

You will need a passport and appropriate travel insurance. Currently UK citizens (and those from many countries) will be granted a tourist visa upon arrival in South Africa and Lesotho. It is, however, your responsibility to check that you can legally enter the country. Most ‘western’ driving licences are also valid (with photo and written in English), but please also check your status before travelling.

Currency

You should get by on around £400 spending money if you don’t do a lot of shopping. Cash and travellers’ cheques can be changed at the airport and in the larger towns. Cash points are widespread and most vendors accept credit/debit cards. Cash is best for fuel stations as it speeds up what can otherwise be a lengthy process. Depending on what bike you choose and how you ride it, expect to part with about £100 for fuel.

Lesotho currency called loti. Today for £ 1 you will get about  21 lotis.

Climate

At the time of year we will be visiting, South Africa should be nice and sunny, but not too hot, even at the coast. Obviously, though, we can’t guarantee this and you should be prepared for the possibility of a couple of wet days. Lesotho, due to the altitude, can be cold in the early mornings and evenings, though generally the days are warm and sunny. The maximum temperature is likely to be around 30ºC on the coast/in the desert; the minimum 0ºC (at night in the mountains, if it has been overcast during the day).

Bike Kit

We advise riders to consider their kit in terms of layers, so you can adjust to be comfortable during the course of a varied day. Clothing as you would wear on a tour of Europe is perfectly suitable, whether leathers, or textiles. Some kind of waterproofing is a very good idea. Bring something warm for the evenings. Good gear can also prevent a minor spill causing a trip-ruining injury, so we require that you ride with no exposed skin (except your face).

Luggage

While your main luggage will be carried in a support vehicle, your bike will be equipped with a top-box for carrying spare kit, cameras, water, etc. Your main bag must be ‘soft’ and not a suitcase.

Fitness

You need not be any more fit on this tour than if you were riding in Europe. However, if you have any existing medical condition that may affect you during the tour, please consult your doctor and Blazing Trails before booking. With maximum altitudes of around 3000m, some altitude-related discomfort is a possibility, however altitude sickness at this level is unlikely.

Riding Skills

While we insist those joining us have a full motorcycle licence, and recommend a minimum of a year’s riding experience, time in the saddle and miles ridden are of more relevance to a tour like this. There are a couple of longer days in the saddle, up to a maximum of around 550km (350 miles) in a day. We do, though, try to design the tours so you get an easier day, or down day, after a long ride.

Health & Hygiene

South Africa and Lesotho are very clean and hygienic countries (in SA we’d say more so than the UK), with clean ablutions and usually safe tap-water, so the chances of getting even a ‘holiday tummy’ are low. The areas through which this tour passes has no malaria risk.

Eating & Drinking

South African restaurant food will be familiar to those coming from the West. Food is of a high standard and is very good value (especially meat and seafood dishes), being less than half the equivalent cost of the UK. One of the world’s great wine producers, South Africa is a great place to sample the grape, which is also great value for money. Decent beers (mainly lagers) are available everywhere.

On our tours, food other than breakfasts will only be inclusive where there is little or no choice, or where we have arranged something special (barbeques etc). For the number of meals included in the trip, see ‘What The Tour Price Includes’ (above). We have arranged the tour like this so participants can choose the what, wheres and explore for themselves. Not everybody wants to eat in a group every night, eat the same thing, or at the same time. We will, however, be happy to advise on eateries…

Excursions

As with eating, we do not want to prescribe what non-riding activities you choose to participate in. In many places there are several options, so we will be happy to advise, put you in touch with the right people and let you decide. If you want to add days to your tour, in order to do some wildlife viewing or any other activity let us know and we will arrange it for you.

Personal Safety

While South Africa has had some pretty bad press in recent years for violent crime, very little of this nature happens in the tourist areas through which we will be travelling. And, as ever, the media tends to sensationalize the bad and ignore the good. Being guided through the ‘right’ areas in a group greatly mitigates the chances of encountering unpleasantness. Petty crime – pick-pocketing and theft – happens, as it does in virtually all tourist destinations with a wide gulf between rich and poor. A few simple precautions, like keeping your wallet/docs in an inside pocket and leaving nothing unattended on the bike, should mean a trouble-free tour. The mountainous areas of Lesotho have incredibly low incidences of crime.

Medical facilities

Southern Africa has developed enough emergency services and an efficient private health-care system. Lesotho is less developed and so should a serious incident occur, any casualty would be evacuated to South Africa for treatment. Travel insurance, including medical cover, is compulsory on this trip.

How To Make A Booking

Holiday bookings can be made by phone, via email, or over the internet.

Contact us by any of the means above.

Upon deciding to book, please pay a deposit of £700 into our bonded account (or the full balance if within two months of the departure date). This can be done by credit/debit card through our website or over the phone, by bank transfer, by over-the-counter payment, or by sending a cheque to our UK representative.

Having booked with Blazing Trails, you will be sent all the necessary information on timings and meeting points. You may also like to use our website, or Facebook group, to liaise with others.

PLEASE NOTE: A maximum of one week (seven days) will be allowed for your deposit payment to reach and clear in our bonded account. Should this not happen, we can suspend your booking and may have to give your place on tour to somebody else.

FAQ

Re Flights included?

Yes, (if you are booking from the UK) all flights, international and domestic, are included in the price of your tour.

How do I book?

The tours can be booked online, by email, or over the phone on: +44 (0) 7494 050404. To secure a place you will be asked to put down a deposit of £700 and payment can be made by card, cheque, or bank transfer.

CAN I BOOK FROM OUTSIDE THE UK?

Yes. If you are booking from outside the UK, please contact us and we will provide you with a non-flight price.

CAN I TAKE A DIFFERENT FLIGHT?

You can, but we may have to add a surcharge if you are not on the group flight. Please contact us for details.

Where do I get a visa?

For most nationalities, including EU citizens, a tourist visa is issued free of charge at your port of entry. It is, however, your responsibility to check current regulatuons.

What other paperwork do I need?

You will need a valid certificate of travel insurance.

WHERE DO the bikes come from?

We own and manage our own fleet of bikes.

WHat happens if i damage the bike?

If you damage the bike, you will be charged for the damage up to the amount of your excess. On all our bikes, the excess is £1000, so in the event of a mishap you will not be charged more than this amount. If the damage is less than this amount, then you will only be charged for that damage.

If you have damaged the bike near to this total, we may ask you to place a further deposit before continuing.

DO I NEED INSURANCE?

Yes, you need travel insurance to cover you for the period of the tour. This insurance must cover you to ride the bike you have booked. Blazing Trails has an agreement with Endsleigh Insurance who provide reasonably priced policies with the requisite cover.

Where should I change money?

We would advise that you change some money on arrival at the airport. ATMs are widespread and an efficient way to get hold of cash. Credit and debit cards are accepted nearly everywhere.

why did the mexican push his wife off the cliff?

Tequila.

How much spending money will I need?

About £300-£400 should cover food, drink, petrol and sundries.

Will I have to share a room?

Yes, unless you pay a supplement. Even then, single rooms may not be available at some stops as the hotels we use are popular, or in some cases small, and we have to book our accommodation some time in advance.

What standard is the accommodation?

It varies widely (and tour-to-tour), but is always clean and the best we can find in the area for a reasonable price in a suitable setting. We are always in clean, comfortable hotels and guesthouses.

Will we have electricity?

Yes, but you may need a travel plug adaptor.

How much riding experience do I need?

We would recommend only booking a tour with us if you have a full licence (compulsory) and have at least a year’s recent riding experience. The main criterion, however, is confidence.

Is riding in south africa dangerous?

Riding anywhere carries with it a degree of risk, as does riding in South Africa. However, with light traffic and good roads, we would suggest that riding in South Africa is no more dangerous than a tour in Europe. For more information on the riding side of things see ‘Riding’ in the ‘About South Africa’ section of this site. If any rider joining us rides in a manner we suspect will endanger themselves, or others, or indeed displays antisocial behaviour, they will receive one warning. If they continue to display a threat to the safety or enjoyment of others on the tour, they will be excluded from the remainder (with no refund given, see terms and conditions).

How fast will we be riding?

We will be riding ‘progressively’, at or around the speed limit and according to conditions. Most South African roads outside built-up areas have a 75mph speed limit – fast enough on the twisties. There are fixed cameras and mobile speed traps in towns…

Do I have to book my own flights?

No, we do that for you and forward the ticket by email.

Can I use the bike in the evenings?

No, you can’t ride independently of the tour group, sorry.

How fit do I need to be?

No fitter than you would have to be to tour Europe.

Can I take a pillion?

Yes.

How much luggage can I bring?

You are limited by most airlines, so check with the carrier. However, we suggest you pack as lightly and in as compact a form as possible. Space may be tight, we insist you bring soft luggage.

How much luggage should I bring?

Keep it minimal. One set of riding kit for the tour and a couple of sets of clothes for the evening. You can always pick up cheap clothing locally and there are laundry facilities at two-night stops. Leave some space for shopping you do in SA.

Isn’t south africa A Dangerous crime hell?

While South Africa has had some pretty bad press in recent years for violent crime, very little of this nature happens in the tourist areas through which we will be travelling. And, as ever, the media tends to sensationalize the bad and ignore the good. Being guided through the ‘right’ areas in a group greatly mitigates the chances of encountering unpleasantness. Petty crime – pick-pocketing and theft – happens, as it does in virtually all tourist destinations with a wide gulf between rich and poor. A few simple precautions, like keeping your wallet/docs in an inside pocket and leaving nothing unattended on the bike, should mean a trouble-free tour. You will be briefed on sensible measures prior to setting off.

Do I need a towel?

If you’re wet, yes. They are provided throughout the tour.

Is food included in the price?

Only some meals (check your tour for details). We prefer that where there are choices you make your own on what and where you eat. You will find South African food of a very high standard and good value.

Is it safe to enter a cage full of cheetahs?

Not really, but it’s quite exciting and they are very pretty.

Are laundry facilities available on-tour?

They are, but not every night. Check the itinerary of your tour – you will be able to get clothes cleaned at two-night stops, so consider this when packing.

Do I need waterproofs?

Yes. If your riding kit isn’t waterproof, then bring some light waterproofs.

I want to see a lion, will I, will I, go on, please?

Maybe, maybe not, but if you take part in a safari at Kruger, St Lucia, or Addo Elephant Reserve you will certainly see some interesting wildlife and landscapes.

Will there be a mozzie problem?

Not really. There may be a few around, but you won’t be plagued. Bring some repellent. South Africa is mainly malaria-free, but for advice on anti-malarials consult your doctor (take the itinerary with you).

what’s the difference between a gnu and a wildebeest?

You can’t paddle a wildebeest.

Do I need to bring a sleeping bag?

No.

IS IT SAFE TO swim in the sea?

Depends on whether there are any great whites around. We would advise you to ask locally – and then go and get a beer instead.

What medication should I bring & what inoculations are required?

Consult your GP/travel clinic for immunisation and malaria advice. Bring enough of any prescribed medication you take regularly. A basic first aid kit is useful (plasters, antiseptic cream, bite/sting relief, plus insect repellent).

Should I bring a seat pad?

Gel or air pads add comfort on long days in the saddle, but are not necessary.

I HEAR THAT ELEPHANTS ARE THE MOST DANGEROUS ANIMAL IN NEPAL – IS THIS TRUE?

Yes, but you’re going to South Africa.