Useful information – South Africa

Documentation

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

Currency

You should be able to get by on around £600 spending money if you don’t do a lot of shopping/drinking and depending on tour-length. 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 the tour, what bike you choose and how you ride it, expect to part with £150-£200 for fuel.

South African currency called rand. Today for £ 1 you will get about  21 rands.

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. If it does rain in the mountains it can be a bit chilly, but not really cold. The maximum temperature is likely to be around 30ºC on the coast; the minimum 8ºC (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. 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 on some tours your main luggage will be carried in a support vehicle, you may wish to bring a small rucksack, or tail-pack (no tank bags) in which to carry articles you need on the road. 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.

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 an adventures like these. There are some fairly long days in the saddle, up to a maximum of around 450km (280 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 is a very clean and hygienic country (we’d say more so than the UK), with clean ablutions in abundance, and safe tap-water, so the chances of getting even a ‘holiday tummy’ are low. South Africa has an extremely low incidence of Malaria – unheard of on our routes (bar NSA), but we still recommend that you ask your physician for advice on inoculations. If you have any pre-existing medical condition, it is essential that you consult both Blazing Trails and your physician before booking.

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 around 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 breakfasts are always inclusive. The meals 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’ in the tour overview. We have arranged our tours like this, so participants can choose the whats, 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 and participants can always eat with staff if they choose to do so…

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.

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.

Medical facilities

Unlike our Asian tours, we feel South Africa has developed enough emergency services and an efficient private health-care system (along with European standards of driving) to mean that we don’t need to travel with a fully-qualified medic. Travel insurance, including medical cover, is compulsory on this trip. 

Useful information – Lesotho

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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.

Useful information – High Himalayan Tours

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DOCUMENTATION

You will need a passport with valid visa, appropriate travel insurance and an international driving permit. For information on visas, please look at our Indian FAQs.

CURRENCY

You should be able to get by on around £500 spending money if you don’t do a lot of shopping. Cash and travellers’ cheques are easily changed in Leh (where there are also cashpoints), but nowhere else on the route. 

CLIMATE

Even at high altitudes the Himalaya can be surprisingly warm in summer. But nothing can be taken for granted and although rain is rare there is the chance of wet weather. When overcast, things can get chilly at night and at the highest points there is a remote possibility of snow. The maximum temperature is likely to be around 30ºC; the minimum 0ºC (rarely, at night).

BIKE KIT

We advise riders to consider their kit in terms of layers. Good quality 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). Please find more information on bike kit here.

LUGGAGE

While your main luggage will be carried in a support vehicle, you may wish to bring a small rucksack in which to carry articles you need on the road. Your main bag must be ‘soft’ and not a suitcase.

FITNESS

While you don’t have to be an athlete to join us on this adventure, we would not recommend this tour to those who cannot, for instance, climb a flight of stairs without puffing and blowing. Please note that there are some long days in the saddle. We reach some great altitudes on this tour, so if you have any existing medical condition, please consult your doctor and Blazing Trails before booking.

RIDING SKILLS

While we insist those joining us have a full motorcycle licence, and recommend a minimum of two year’s riding experience, time in the saddle and miles ridden are of more relevance to an adventure like this. Riding in India is very different from Europe and although the speeds at which we travel are relatively low, demands on planning and observation are high. Other factors making demands on riders are the heat (and possibly cold) and conditions of the road – including sections of unpaved dirt.

HEALTH & HYGIENE

Although there is always the chance of getting a ‘holiday tummy’, following a few simple guidelines keeps the chances of this to a minimum. The tour will be accompanied by a medic with extensive kit to deal with any problem. If you have any pre-existing medical condition, it is essential that you consult both Blazing Trails and your physician before booking.

DON’T FORGET!

To check out our suggested packing list.

CLOTHING/PACKING LIST – SOUTH AFRICA & LESOTHO

On all our South African tours we will be travelling through varied climates and we cover distance and altitudes. In general, South African riding conditions can be compared with those in southern Europe and the same riding gear is appropriate. The Northern South Africa Tour is likely to be a little warmer overall than the … Continue reading...