The Adventure Awaits
Michelin Places To Stay
Every month we’ll be sourcing a list of Superbike-approved stays so you can ride then rest at the very best accommodation. These beds for bikers range from affordable weekend getaways and B&B’s to motorcycle friendly campsites and super self-catering stopovers.
What makes a motorcycle-friendly stay?
- Safe and secure parking within close proximity to your room. We always ask where your gear/s will be tucked in for the evening (e.g. garage, lock-up or off-street), plus how far does the rider have to carry a pannier or bag to check in? (Answer: not far!)
- Helpful hosts who actively encourage and welcome motorcyclists. Each stay has been verified for friendliness and they have shared insider tips to prove it.
- Nourishment nearby, because it ain’t easy to strap a Coleman onto a motorcycle. For example, what restaurants are nearby? Can you walk to the pub? Is breakfast included?
- Riveting routes rich in scenery and within reach of awesome attractions. Not only are our selected stays always going to be in great places, but SuperBike editors will also share their favourite off-road routes and warn against any potentially treacherous tar.
- Good value and a range of prices. You’ll notice our list ranges from knockout campsites to high-end hotels. There’s something to suit any budget so everyone can embrace adventure.
- Cape Town
- Garden Route
- Kwa-Zulu Natal
- Route 62
- West Coast
- Wild Coast
Within walking distance of Cape Town’s city centre and a few kilometres from the pristine beaches of Camps Bay and Clifton Beach. This contemporary stay is modern, newly renovated and has a relaxed atmosphere.
There are dorms (it is called the Backpackers in Green Point or “B.I.G” for short), but the private rooms with en-suite loos and queen-sized beds are a good deal. Serviced daily and with free Wi-Fi and breakfast is included: a continental spread with cook-yourself eggs, fruits, cereals, yoghurt, toast plus delicious freshly-brewed coffee. The indoor parking lot has space for five cars (and obviously more for motorbikes) behind an automated gate. There’s a swimming pool if the Atlantic waters are too fresh for you and on-site braai facilities if you’re keen to stay in. The travel desk will look after any activities and staff are all local with plenty of insider tips. One suggestion: leave the tourist-trap of Signal Hill off your bucket list, and watch an even more spectacular sunset from lesser-known spots like Kloof Corner or the Pipe Track on Table Mountain.
Cost: B&B from R700 per person. www.bigbackpackers.com
Eat here: There are dozens of top-notch restaurants just a stroll away. Depending on what you are looking for, the Butcher Shop & Grill serves memorable steaks, El Burro has the best Mexican food and an excellent atmosphere or head to Hudson’s at happy hour for the half-price drinks special.
Drive here: Head up the West Coast towards Langebaan lagoon for the day and return via Darling. Keep to the R27 for coastal views and watch Table Mountain disappear in the rearview mirror.
BEST VIBEY OVERNIGHT
Once in Cape Town
Centrally located on vibrant Kloof Street, Once in Cape Town is central to everything hip, hop and happening: parks, restaurants, bars, shopping and close to the famous Long Street.
There are loads of activities within walking distance and although this is a backpackers with an on-site bar and restaurant, so keep in mind that it could get a little noisy. Once is home to beautiful private mountain-view rooms. These rooms have all the necessary amenities of a three-star hotel in Cape Town: private bathroom, TV, safe, all linen and towels. There’s also an outdoor area, self-catering kitchen and a fire-pit. Plus, the feel-good stay is Fairtrade-certified to boot. There are free activities – check the social media pages before checking in or ask the front desk – such as museum outing, street art walks and free beer if you leave your phone behind. Off-street parking is available too, just book in advance.
Cost: From R990 for a private mountain-view room. www.once.travel
Eat here: Yours Truly is right on-site. Fresh greenery hangs down from every angle, there’s craft beer on tap and even a sundowner deck (comically named Up Yours) that plays chilled electronic and funk music, and vinyl DJ sets. If you’re a music fan, step into the famous music shop nearby, Mabu Vinyl, which featured in the movie ‘Searching for Sugar Man’.
Drive here: Avoid the crowds and head for Betty’s Bay (90km away) to see penguins instead of Boulders Beach. Take Clarence Drive towards Gordons Bay. The scenery includes the drama of Hottentots-Holland mountain range on your left and the False Bay coastline on your left. Pass through the seaside villages of Rooi Els and Pringle Bay before reaching Betty’s Bay and the stony Point penguin colony.
BEST NEW CITY STAY
Cape Town CBD
This new designer hotel is a serious city spoil slap bang in the heart of the Mother City, between St. George’s Mall and Green Market Square.
Gorgeous George has 32 luxury rooms, a rooftop restaurant, pool and bar. Until recently, the CBD wasn’t popular with local travellers, but with the development of nearby hipster hotspots like Bree Street, it’s become a must-do. The hotel is situated on the only tree-lined pedestrian avenue in Cape Town, framed by heritage buildings just below the historic Company’s Garden and overlooking Green Market Square. The prime location means a short one-kilometre walk to the V&A Waterfront or just a 10-minute drive to Table Mountain. All rooms feature: French Press coffee and tea facilities, a Marshall Bluetooth speaker, a 43-inch Smart TV and room service. Secure parking is available too.
Cost: B&B from R2650 per person www.gorgeousgeorge.co.za
Eat here: The Gigi Rooftop bar sits on the sixth floor of the hotel and boasts incredible city views. Otherwise, indulge in a different kind of happy hour with half-price oysters (sourced from Namibia) and bottomless champagne at Sea Breeze on Bree Street between midday and 1pm
Drive here: Depart the city via the Atlantic Seaboard through the coastal suburbs of Clifton, Camps Bay and Hout Bay (be sure to stop at Maiden’s Cove on the way for photos). After Hout Bay, head over Chapmans Peak, regarded as one of the most scenic marine drives in the world. The winding 9km road climbs steadily from the fishing village and skirts the rocky coastline before ending in the suburb of Noordhoek. Make Cafe Roux your destination here, where there’s often great live music, or drive through Noordhoek, Ocean View, Scarborough and on to the Cape of Good Hope.
BEST CAMPING EQUIVALENT
Grand Daddy Hotel
The closest thing to camping in the city, these airstream trailers that sit atop a handsome heritage building make for a seriously quirky sleepover.
There are seven unique designs to choose from each reflectively a different road trip theme. There’s karoo dorpie decor, golden Egoli hues, West Coast flower power and Cape Winelands cool. All the Airstream trailers are luxuriously finished and have air-conditioners, en-suite bathrooms, cotton linens and even satellite TV. Set on Long Street (but with secure motorcycle parking tucked into the basement), the Grand Daddy Hotel makes a great base for exploring nearby Bo-Kaap. The proudly South African hotel is also a heritage building and has been operating as a boutique hotel for over 120 years. On the ground floor, the Thirty Ate eatery is open daily for breakfast from an a la carte menu that includes free-range eggs, homemade muesli and artisanal baked bread washed down with locally roasted coffee. Want more outdoors? Take advantage of Kirstenbosch’s free guided walking tours, starting from gate one on weekdays at 10am, 11am and 2pm (Saturdays only at 10am) or from gate two, Monday to Saturday, at 10.45am.
Cost: B&B from R1995 per person. www.granddaddy.co.za
Eat here: First choice for dinner is in the hotel’s Thirty Ate eatery or on the rooftop at the Skybar, but if you want to venture into the city, Fork Restaurant is only a 200-metre walk up the road.
Drive here: Riebeek Kasteel remains a seriously underrated outing just 90km away. One of the oldest towns in South Africa, the quaint valley is surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. Sit on the stoep of the Royal Hotel and watch the country life go by.
BEST PROXIMITY TO PENGUINS
Moonglow Guest House
“Yes, we love bikers, and yes, their bikes are parked in locked garages”, say the owners of Moonglow Guest House.
Situated on the slopes of Glencairn Mountain, this lodging offers a slower Cape Town stay. Moonglow Guest House is a Fair Trade Certified property ticking all the right responsible tourism boxes and is a great base for exploring the South Peninsula. Simply meander between beaches, meet the penguins at Boulders, inspect the harbours (and the fishermen bringing in the catch) or try your hand at shark-spotting when cruising the mountainous roads that hug this magnificent coast. Furniture and fittings have been collected through the years creating a homely atmosphere and breakfast here means that coffee and croissants command views all the way across False Bay.
Cost: B&B between R810 and R850 per person. www.moonglow.co.za
Eat here: Dixies Restaurant is just below the guesthouse. It’s a favourite stop for breakfast runs and an ideal place for out-of-towners to meet with the local biking community. For fresh fish and chips, head into the neighbouring town of Kalk Bay and take a seat at the rustic Kalky’s Fish and Chips shop in the harbour.
Drive here: Just south of Moonglow, before you enter Simonstown is the Red Hill Route that links Simon’s Town to Scarborough and Misty Cliffs, taking you over to Cape Point. Cape Town can be windy in the holiday season. If the day’s going to blow a gale, consider heading towards the Stellenbosch or Paarl areas for a foodie outride.
BEST FOR THE BO-KAAP
La Rose B&B
The oldest residential area in Cape Town is easily its most vibrant. Embrace the colourful quarter and cobbled streets of the Bo-Kaap with a stay at La Rose B&B.
Adheena and Yoann are the very welcoming South African-French force behind the bed and breakfast. Their inspiring space is beautifully decorated and boasts a rooftop garden with incredible views. Each bright and airy room (there are nine) features funky interiors and for breakfast, you’re sure to be spoilt to Yoann’s speciality – authentic French crêpes. Amenities include all the usual suspects: Wi-FI, TV, Air Conditioning and bikes are safe in the B&B’s closed parking.
Cost: B&B from R700 per person. www.larosecapetown.com
Eat here: Serving food that’s almost as colourful as the Bo-Kaap itself, the Harvest Cafe and Deli is an endearing eatery with loads of healthy options. Bree Street is also within walking distance and there are plenty of trendy restaurants to choose from.
Drive here: For something more offbeat, make for the small town of Villiersdorp. It lies just beyond Franschhoek, but remains off the radar for many summer visitors. There are plenty of routes into Villiersdorp, but the most spectacular way to get there has to be over The Franschhoek Pass.
BEST FOR STYLISH SELF-CATERING
Stock Exchange Apartment Hotel
Set in an artsy area and one-kilometre away from the Old Biscuit Mall, this stylish self-catering stay is a perfect blend of apartment and hotel living so you can take a dip in the pool or retreat to the fully-equipped pad.
Equated to places like Brooklyn in New York, Woodstock is a bit rough around the edges but it’s just 10 minutes from the City Bowl, close to the highway and street art hotspot. The Stock Exchange has thirty-three apartment-style rooms, split into three playful themes: Urban Jungle, Urban Art and Urban Pattern. Each room offers edgy city views and celebrates local South African talent (all furniture and décor items can be pinpointed on a design map so you can track down the artisans yourself). The hotel has a parking garage within the building and there’s 24-hour security.
Cost: From R822 per person in a two-bedroom apartment that sleeps four. newmarkhotels.com
Eat here: Woodstock is a hotpot of culinary gems. There’s the Pot Luck Club for dinner or traditional Italitan at Scarpetta, The Kitchen for wholesome lunch and coffee at Rosetta Roastery just across the road.
Drive here: Take a slow drive through the forested areas of Constantia and Kirstenbosch. One of the oldest areas in Cape Town, there are incredible wine farms, unrivalled natural beauty and some of the most renowned restaurants in town.
BEST FOR THE BEACH
Located within walking distance of Camps Bay’s famous strip (jam-packed with restaurants, bars and nightlife) and 200 metres walk from the beach, Stone Cottages are an affordable way to live your best Cape Town life.
Situated in the heart of Camps Bay’s Village with the iconic Twelve Apostles Mountain Range as a backdrop, Stone Cottages were built in 1903 and are protected under the Heritage Act of South Africa. The self-catering rooms are modern and beautifully-kept spaces with large doors that lead onto exclusive decks. The two- and three-bedroom cottages are fitted with kitchens and each unit also comes with a braai, perfect for long summer evenings. There is a parking lot with 24-hour security, a pool area if the beach gets too busy and Wi-Fi to plan all your outrides.
Cost: Rates are seasonal, but the starting rate for two people in a studio in December is R1800. www.stonecottages.co.za
Eat here: There are a number of great restaurants in the area but some favorites include Zen Zero, Caamil’s Bar and Chinchilla. Or opt for dinner at Bilboa, which serves Middle Eastern-style fare on the promenade with views of the palm-lined beach.These are all within walking distance.
Drive here: Hang up the keys for a while. Organise a transfer to Franschhoek and enjoy a wine tasting wander on the Franschhoek Wine Tram, which shuttles sippers between a dozen or so wine estates. If wine isn’t your thing, don’t worry, they have a beer route too.
Situated deep in a secluded and serenely beautiful valley, Bushboys Camp and Cottages lies 6km from the small village of Tonteldoos and roughly 20km west of Dullstroom.
The best part is that it’s only accessible by a gravel road – without a doubt, this is an adventure bike-friendly destination. There are six cottages to choose from, each en-suite and sleeping two people in very comfy three-quarter beds, with wall heaters and electric blankets to stave off the cold. Bikes can either be parked right outside the rooms or a few metres away under thatched shelters that keep rain and dew off. The cottages then are grouped around a spacious and very comfortable central Boma so guests or riding groups can chat about rides and routes beside the fire. Owner Joe Holmes is happy to dish out advice for top riding routes in the area. “I have an extensive and intimate knowledge of numerous great routes and lovely rides to suit all skill levels in a 150km radius from here. I am very happy to share my experience with guests and download onto Garmin GPS for them as well”. As an added bonus, there’s also a well-equipped workshop with a hydraulic press to straighten any dings to rims, quickly repair most punctures and carries a selection of various tubes and used tyres.
Cost: From R280 per person, suppers cost R100 (including dessert) or organise a fillet braai for R130. Book via email or WhatsApp on email@example.com or 082579186 (meals need to be arranged in advance).
Eat here: Guests can either self-cater, or arrange homely cooked dinner and breakfast.
Don’t miss: Owner, Joe Holmes says, “We particularly aim our accommodation at adventure bikers, as I am one myself, and we have a guided monthly ride (from 280km to 325km). Provided that these riders have booked accommodation with us there is no additional charge”. Contact Joe directly for dates of upcoming rides.
Highside Tavern and Planters Lodge
Love a challenge? The Highside Tavern and Planters Lodge sits on the border of Mpumalanga and Limpopo, so the road only gets occasional maintenance.
“Mainly because the local municipalities spend money on much more important things, such as Louis Vuitton luggage and Lacoste golf shirts, says owner Peter McBride. Situated on the Tonteldoos road within reasonable proximity to Stofberg and Roosenkal (just go straight past Dunkeld Estate onto the dirt road) the lodging and bar prioritise adventurous motorcyclists. Peter has plenty of tips for riding in this area: “Don’t mess with the plantation security. The guys who own the plantations have their hands full with all sorts of characters using and abusing the private roads. The security guys are hardcore, and if they catch you, you will have a lot of explaining to do. There are plenty of public access roads through sections of the plantations that are beautiful. The Nederhorst road from the Steenkampsberg Pass towards dullstroom is a firm favourite in this area. It travels through the Veloren Vallei Nature Reserve, and if luck is on your side (and it’s the right time of year), you might even see the rare Wattled and Blue cranes. Keep your tyre pressures high. Traction is nice, but having air in your tyre is compulsory. Have a spoon of cement with your corn flakes, pump those tyres up, get used to the feel and enjoy getting much fewer punctures – the lurkers are everywhere”. There is plenty of covered parking. Otherwise, bikes are often parked in the bar, or you can even bring it into your room.
Cost: From R250 per person for anyone riding an adventure bike. The Farm House can sleep 10 people and is available for R2000 a night. The Nguni room can sleep four people and is available for R800 a night. www.highsidetavern.co.za
Eat here: On-site delights are available at the tavern, (Breakfast is available on weekends and Highside is famed for their righteous burger) otherwise try The Cat and The Cow, which is open on most days in an idyllic setting offering coffee, breakfast and lunch. Group buffets also available, call Margaret on 083-445-5037.
Don’t miss: There are plenty of public access roads through sections of the plantations that are beautiful. Peter’s personal favourite is the Weltervrede road from Lydenburg to Sudwala Caves. “There’s amazing scenery, very little traffic and no angry security guys after you. Also, take it slow, 40-60km on dirt. You will see much more wildlife, waterfalls, birds and just the general beautiful sights of this neck of the woods”.
Woolly Bugger Farm
On a gravel road – 27km from Dullstroom town – Woolly Bugger is rated as number one speciality lodging accommodations in Dullstroom.
Rustic and simply furnished, there are six picturesque self-catering cottages on a fenced and gated farm each located for privacy and views across the 270-hectares. Bikes can be parked right next to the accommodation, and there’s a small, communal, shaded dining area boasting a braai for group gatherings if you’re riding with friends. When you’re not out riding, try your hand at the area’s star attraction. Fly fishing is possible in the two large trout dams, which are stocked with good-sized rainbow trout or there are several walking trails to tackle too.
Cost: Weekend rates offer six-sleeper from R1800 per night per cottage, four-sleeper is R1600 per night and cosy two-sleeper units just R900 per night per cottage. www.woollybuggerfarm.co.za
Eat here: Mine View Restaurant is just across the road with big screen TVs if you want to catch the game (open Friday to midday on Sunday). Otherwise the owner suggests a drive to Highside Tavern for their magic burgers.
Don’t miss: If you’re looking for a longer day trip, take a 400-kilometre round trip to Barberton via the sweeping Nelshoogte Pass on the R541 and R38, then return via the quaint dorpie of Kaapsehoop.
Long Tom Pass
The Long Tom Pass gets its name from the Long Tom cannons that were used during the Anglo-Boer War. Follow a route historically used by wagon drivers transporting goods from Mozambique to Lydenburg, over scarily-named roads such as the Devil’s Knuckles.
Today, the tarred pass is not nearly as strenuous. The scenic viewpoints and twisting turns are sure to satisfy any kind of biker. A short gravel entrance leads off the pass towards Hops Hollow Country House and Brew Pub at its highest point. 22 kilometres from Mashishing (previously known as Lydenburg) it claims to be the highest brewery in Africa and owner, Willie Botha says, “We receive bikers all the time. Bikes are parked in our parking area, which is close to our facilities, and we’ve never had any issues in the mountain”. Apart from beer on tap, a full onsite bar is available as well as a bar menu for breakfast, lunches and dinners.
Cost: The guesthouse consists of en-suite chambers and more affordable rooms that share bathroom. En-suite rooms from R620 per person and R400 per person for shared bathroom stays.
Eat here: The Hops Hollow breakfast includes eggs, bacon, sausages, chips, fried tomato and toast. Dinner is available at the venue too.
Don’t miss: Willie recommends a visit to nearby Graskop, “The new lift is worth the effort”. For something a little closer, try the Long Tom Toboggan at Misty Mountain. The unique ‘alpine coaster’ is a three-minute mountainside ride that adrenaline junkies will love.
Hidden amongst enormous blue gum trees, tarred and paved all the way a stay at KlipHuisjes is all about ease.
Consistently rated as excellent on TripAdvisor, there are two-, four- and six-sleeper units and each ‘Klip Suite’ has a fully-equipped kitchen for self-catering. However, the beauty of being based here in town is that you’re within walking distance of all Dullstroom’s cosy pubs and excellent eateries. There is safe parking in front of the rooms, plus an area available at the back of each unit. A housekeeping service is available, otherwise you’re left to your own devices.
Cost: From R850 for the Getaway room that sleeps two (goes up to R1100 over the weekend and minimum two-night stay required), www.kliphuisjes.co.za
Eat here: There are a number of good restaurants and breweries all within walking distance (as close as 250 metres away). Find perfect scotch eggs for breakfast at The Art of Food, free beer tasting at the Anvil Ale Brewpub, and 1600 different whiskies at Wild About Whisky.
Don’t miss: The GS TROPHY is taking place from 5 to 8 September 2019 and is based in Dullstroom this year. The unique customer event is not only for BMW GS owners, but all BMW enthusiasts. Tickets are limited to 900, find more info online www.gstrophy.co.za
An easy one-kilometre gravel road leads to StoneFly, a collection of four affordable and charming cottages that have an out-of-town feel but remain perfectly accessible to the delights of Dullies.
Each open-plan cottage is spacious, comfortably furnished with a double bed beside the fireplace (the first night’s firewood and firelighters are supplied) and includes a well-equipped self-catering kitchen. There is also a small sheltered patio, a clean, fresh feel and braai facilities are available too. If you want to avoid the N4, take this backroad route to Dullstroom via Loskop Dam. From Pretoria, Take the Groenkloof Road to Bronkhorstspruit. Pass Bronkhorstspruit on the R25 to Verena. Here’s where the dirt riding begins. Go past Loskop Dam and continue on the R33 all the way to Belfast and then into the plantations to Dullstroom.
Cost: From R425 per person. www.travelground.com/accommodation/stonefly-cottages
Eat here: There’s a log fire all year round at the nearby Dullstroom Inn (staff keep the flames going always, and it’s famed for burning solidly for close on 33 years). The hearty pub offers lunches and dinners, and its history can be traced all the way back to 1912.
Don’t miss: Live music on Saturdays from noon at Dullstroom’s latest addition, Bohobo Cafebar. Look out for acts that include the cafe owner who plays in local band named Dullybuggers. If you’re visiting over the long weekend, look out for the Dullstroom Wine Festival from 9 to 11 August 2019.
Cloverleigh Guest House
Nestled into the foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains, the little town of Wilderness is a pocket of Garden Route paradise. 15 km east of George, between the Kaaimans River and the Goukamma Nature Reserve, backed by mountains and fronted by the Indian Ocean, Cloverleigh Guest House has offered unpretentious quality accommodation for over 30 years. Easily accessible via tar road, the guest house contains five different self-catering options and overlooks the Wilderness lagoon. All rooms are free-standing self-catering units, equipped with a kitchenette and ensuite bathroom, DSTV, complimentary Wi-Fi, and private outdoor seating with braai facilities. Motorcycles can be parked in secure parking or even out into a garage at night if desired. A short stroll along the boardwalk takes you straight to the beach and there are plenty of dining options within walking distance too if you don’t want to self-cater.
Cost: From R825 per self-catering unit. www.cloverleigh.wixsite.com
Eat here: Wilderness has a variety of restaurants from fine dining at Serendipity, Italian at Pomodoro, Thai at Royal Siam and outdoor eating at the beach restaurant, Salina’s.
Don’t miss: Owners advise a 285-kilometre day trip to Prince Albert and back. Leave Wilderness and make your way to Oudtshoorn, don’t forget to enjoy the views on the Outeniqua pass. After Oudtshoorn, continue to De Rust and drive through the twisty Meiringspoort Pass to Prince Albert. Enjoy lunch at one of their local restaurants, such as the Lazy Lizard. Then, ride back to Oudtshoorn, but this time via the gravel Swartberg Pass.
Eight Bells Mountain Inn
Coming from Cape Town, Mossel Bay marks the start of South Africa’s Edenic Garden Route. A popular breakfast stop for many local bikers, the Eight Bells Mountain Inn makes a great place to begin your coastal road trip in this region. A four-star, owner-run family resort hotel, this inn sits at the Foot of the Robinson Pass, in Ruiterbos, which is between Mossel Bay (35km away) and Oudtshoorn (50km in the other direction). Consisting of 25 well-appointed rooms set in beautiful gardens on a 160-hectare estate it’s held the number one slot as top hotel in Mossel Bay on TripAdvisor for the past five years. It’s also been awarded as one of the Top 25 Bargain Hotels in South Africa. Managing Director, Rene’ Bongers says, “Our motel is close enough to Mossel Bay to enjoy the beaches, museum and other activities, and in the other directions, just over the beautiful Robinson Pass, you can visit ostrich farms or the Cango Caves. On-site we offer our own activities plus, great accommodation and genuine service from the heart”. If you want to park close to your room, enquire in advance about a suitable room, otherwise, central parking is available, which is locked at night. A full English breakfast is served daily in the Oak Room to all in-house guests.
Cost: B&B from R885 per person, but there are specials on offer for groups. www.eightbells.co.za
Eat here: The old school on-site restaurant still rings the bell for dinner at 7pm every evening. Expect crisp white napkins, genuine silverware and a great menu. Just note, gentlemen are expected to wear shoes and long pants (jeans will do). For something more relaxed, Kaai 4, is an open-air braai restaurant in nearby Mossel Bay with picnic tables on the sand overlooking the ocean.
Don’t miss: The Robinson Pass has spectacular scenery. Look out for the small waterfall around one of the corners, where Dalene Matthee insisted on getting her drinking water from. Around the hotel as part of the Ruiterbos Valley, there are many dirt roads to explore – take the Haelkraal road to Hertbertdale to visit the Jakkalsvlei Winery or a short route two kilometres down from hotel, turn off to Leeukloof and then via Bosbou/ Ruiterbos back to the hotel. Or carry on towards Mossel Bay on the dirt road via Hamelkop landing up at Bottelierskop Game Reserve, which has a great day centre. Another choice on the same road would be to turn off to Friemershein, challenging but many surprises await you at the end.
Practically on the border of the Eastern and Western Cape, you might think a stay in Plettenberg will prove too pricey. However, the Bayview Hotel is situated to make the most of the town’s sloping views over the Indian Ocean, a central location and your budget. The privately owned and run restaurant on the property, The Med Seafood Bistro, offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, and accommodation can be booked as room only or as B&B. There’s free off-street parking available to all guests with easy access to reception and it’s just a short walk to the beautiful Lookout Beach (beach towels are available on request).
Cost: From R525 for a single room or R880 for two. Check online for last minute deals. www.bayviewhotel.co.za
Eat here: For epic beach views and great grub, look no further than the Lookout Deck on the nearby Lookout Beach. Alternatively, Bramon was the region’s first wine estate in the region and makes a larney lunch stop for vineyard tapas and tastings.
Don’t miss: “Monkey Land is not to be missed and we strongly urge our visitors to enjoy the various Blue Flag beaches”, says Bayview marketing manager Simone Keddie-Boshard. Another bucket list tick on the Garden Route has to be taking a leap of faith off the Bloukrans Bridge Bungy.
7 Passes Tented Camp
Situated near Wilderness at Woodville (famous for the big tree, great for picnics with a SANParks permit) between the Touw and Diep River Passes this is a stay that embraces the mountainous beauty of the Garden Route. Named after one of the best and most beautiful biking routes in the area, 7 Passes Tented Camp comprises just six spacious tents, each equipped with a small fridge, luxury spa-bath, electric blankets and fans. Three tents sleep two people each and the other three family units sleep four each, but all overlook a picturesque lake and canoes are free to use for paddling. 18km from the Wilderness village (where most of the restaurants are), getting here requires a short kilometre-long stretch of dirt road. A communal lapa area allows for self-catering in a shared kitchen with both indoor and outdoor braai facilities.
Cost: From R490 per person including a full breakfast www.7passes.co.za
Eat here: In nearby Sedgefield, Upstairs at Rose does great steaks. There are also meals for sale at the camp, such as salads, lasagne, braai packs and so on, plus an honesty bar for cool drinks.
Don’t miss: The Seven Passes Road. This old highway connects George in the West with Knysna in the East and was built by Thomas Bain between 1867 and 1882. The 75km route crosses 10 rivers, seven gorges on scenic back roads crossing the Swart, Hoogekraal, Homtini, Karatara, Silver, Kaaimans and Touw Rivers.
Oyster Creek Lodge
Just off the N2, Oyster Creek Lodge is an easily accessible stay in Knysna in an iconic location with glorious lagoon views. Accommodating a maximum of 12 people, the four-star lodge works just as well for a couples getaway or for exclusive-stay groups. It operates as a bed and breakfast as well as a self-catering lodge. All rooms (one twin, two double rooms, one queen and a luxury suite) overlook the water and open onto a balcony. Bike parking is available next to the lodge, but aside from a full English breakfast buffet, unfortunately, it’s not within walking distance of any restaurants. However, a shuttle service can be arranged to the Knynsa waterfront or to Thesen’s Island. Otherwise, make the most of the self-catering facilities on site and the peaceful atmosphere that only comes from such close proximity to water.
Cost: B&B from R660 per person, but check directly for specials, such as the winter whale-watching rate, which includes accommodation and boat-based whale-watching from R1150 per person. www.oystercreeklodge.co.za
Eat here: Freshline Fisheries is pure seafood heaven (closed on Sundays).
Don’t miss: Do a day trip to Uniondale via Prince Alfred’s Pass and pull into the legendary biker-friendly, rustic cafe Angie’s G-Spot. Currently undergoing some maintenance, it’s still open for meals, good vibes and route advice. Classic motorcycle fans should visit The Motorcycle Room in Thesen Harbour Town. The collection includes vintage enduro bikes, motocross and superbikes, and a wide variety of customs too, but the emphasis is definitely on the tough little 50s of schoolboy days.
17 on Wellington Suites
If you’re after more contemporary comforts on the Garden Route, 17 on Wellington ticks all the facilities boxes – free Wi-Fi, brilliant breakfasts, sparkling swimming pool and just 10km from the George airport. The on-site parking is fully enclosed with a security gate and electric fence and the suites (budget rooms and family suites are available) are centrally located, with several restaurants within walking distance. George is the area’s largest town, but it’s centrally located on the Garden Route if you’re looking for a more suburban mid-way base. To the North, Oudtshoorn and the Cango Caves are just 45 minutes away, to the East Knysna is another 45 minutes and to the West, Mossel Bay is only 30 minutes.
Cost: B&B From R650 per person, but contact directly for seasonal rates. www.17onwellington.co.za
Eat here: The Fat Fish has sensational seafood, outdoor tables surrounded by a beautifully landscaped garden and indoor fireplaces for colder winter meals. Lunch and dinner are available on request at the 17 on Wellington Suites too.
Don’t miss: Just down the road, the Outeniqua Transport Museum boasts an impressive railway collection and classic cars.
Located in the quieter suburbs of Richards Bay and within reach of both the beachfront and harbour, Indaba Lodge primarily caters for the business traveller. However, behind the hotel facade, swish new self-catering apartments offer a more relaxed holiday-style stay. There’s free Wi-Fi, air conditioning and an outdoor braai on the balcony, or DStv for rainy indoor days. The hotel’s on-site restaurant, Trevally’s, offers light lunches, generous buffet breakfasts and dinners, plus coastal craft beer on tap from Ballito Breweries. Parking is available beside the maritime-themed units (just down a flight of stairs), is fenced in and patrolled by a security guard. If you’re travelling as a couple, there’s also the super, affordable Retreat Spa, which offers everything from manicures to facials to full, hour-long body massages for just R400.
Cost: From R1680 per night in a spacious self-catering room, which sleeps four. www.indabarichardsbay.co.za
Eat here: The nearby Imvubu Lodge feels a million miles away from the industry of Richards Bay. Book a table at the Sundowner Bar for pub grub and beach views.
Don’t miss: Between June and September, northern KwaZulu-Natal is a haven for Humpback whales. Advantage Tours & Charters offers boat-based cruises from the harbour in order to see them splashing up close. www.advantagetours.co.za
Accessed via three kilometres of dirt road, but conveniently located just off the N2, The Hatchery is a quirky, comfortable stay converted from an old prawn farm. A perfectly unique and rustic riverside stay overlooking the Amatikulu Nature Reserve, the beach lagoon accommodation comprises 11 rooms and one rooftop tent. It ’s a great destination for a big group gathering or an adventurous overnight stay between the likes of Durban and Swaziland. Although it’s kitted for self-catering thanks to a communal kitchen area, if the thought of grocery shopping ruins a trip for you, The Hatchery’s butlers can put together any spread, from a dine-and-dash to a long leisurely affair with enough prior notice. You can park a motorbike close to the rooms (depending on the room, it’s anything from one to 20 metres away) and guards are on duty. Owner Matthew Myburgh says, “We have been part of the community for many years and have very little crime”.
Cost: From R825 for a two-sleeper room on a self-catering basis. www.thehatchery.co.za
Eat here: Matthew recommends Mtunzini. “A dormitory village some 20km away on an awesome coastal district road. There are a few options here including The Fat Cat Coffee Shop (number one option for bikers in our humble opinion). We can also do pregos and other Portuguese fare with enough notice right at The Hatchery”.
Don’t miss: A visit and tasting at the nearby Tapanga Rum Distillery. Less than 10km away, book in advance and learn about how South African rum is set to overtake the current craft gin movement. www.tapangarum.com
Elephant Lake Inn
Embrace the tropics with a stay at the charming village of sunny St Lucia. The Elephant Lake Inn consists of 34 rooms and is ideally located with quick access to all shops, restaurants and activities. Just don’t walk too far at night as hippos share these streets. The rooms are fresh and clean, a buffet breakfast is offered and motorcycle parking is close by, monitored by night security. If you own a Harley, the St Lucia Rally is on from 14 – 16 June 2019 and is in its 23rd year as the longest running Harley-Davidson Rally in South Africa. The Elephant Lake Hotel (the sister property to the inn) is a short five-minute walk away and well worth a visit for sundowners as it’s perched on a raised shoreline overlooking the estuary.
Cost: B&B from R1#100 per room. www.elephantlakestlucia.co.za
Eat here: Ask the locals for route advice at the St Lucia Ski Boat Club. There’s great pizza, a vibey outdoor setting with views of the lagoon and it’s easy on the pocket.
Don’t miss: You won’t be able to use a motorcycle within the iSimangliso Wetland Park, but there are loads of operators offering game drives, sunset cruises on the estuary. You can book at the inn. If you’ve visited before, consider a night drive to see St Lucia a little differently with Shaka Barker Tours. www.shakabarker.co.za
Isinkwe Safaris Bush Camp
It can be difficult to gain a great bush experience from the back of a bike. Tucked away in a secluded track of sand forest in Zululand, Isinkwe is a rustic bush camp that’s totally accessible for motorcyclists who want to embrace the outdoors. Situated 25km from Hluhluwe town on 22 hectares of natural bush, getting to Isinkwe Bush Camp requires a fun bit of gravel travel. Once there, Isinkwe offers dormitory-style stays, simple chalets or camping on shaded lawns. The property is secure, with electrified security fencing and gates, plus a parking area close to the rooms or right beside your tent. The communal braai area has facilities for self-catering and a bar opens daily from 5pm, where you’re likely to see the Thick-tailed Bushbabies (after which the camp is named) feeding just after dusk. While it’s not possible to enter by bike, there is the option of exploring the nearby of the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve on a guided game drive (it’s roughly 20 minutes away from the Hilltop section).
Cost: Ensuite Rooms cost R450 per person sharing (R900 per room) and campsites are R140 per person. www.isinkwe.co.za
Eat here: Great lunches are served at the Fig Tree Restaurant, 30km from Isinkwe Bush Camp, past the town of Hluhluwe heading towards Sodwana Bay. Breakfast is available on request for R120 per person (bacon, eggs, fried tomatoes, baked beans, yoghurt, cereals, toast, fruit salad – the works) and a canteen-style dinner can be arranged for R130 per person.
Don’t miss: The bush camp sits next door to Dumazulu, a living Zulu Cultural Museum, bird and snake park.
Great for couples out on a romantic outride, Chantilly Resort consists of six chalets spread around the small estate with views into the surrounding sugar cane farms. Located between Darnall (stop in at the Darnall Country Club for decent grub) and Zinkwazi, there is a short gravel road from the turnoff to the main gate. Parking is located close to the chalets. Each unit is identical in design and consists of a double bed, spa jet bath and outdoor shower, a self-catering kitchenette with a bar fridge and oven, plus a beautiful private deck area with a braai and fire pit. The lush surroundings make it feel like you’re all alone in the forest. Chantilly Resort has an on-site restaurant too if you’re not up to cooking, with an al-la-carte breakfast, lunch and dinner menu
Cost: R1750 per night for two. Book directly and ask about current accommodation specials. www.chantillyresort.co.za
Eat here: Book in advance and enquire after the Sunday bikers breakfast special for groups: R100 for a full breakfast buffet with complimentary tea, coffee and juice station.
Don’t miss: Zinkwazi Beach is located six Kilometres away from the resort. It’s truly a fantastic unspoilt beach. Go to the Ski Boat Club located right on the beach and enjoy lunch whilst digging your toes in the sand.
Zinkwazi Lagoon Lodge
You know you’re in a top spot if esteemed African adventurer Kingsley Holgate has set up a home here. Zinkwazi translates to place of Fish Eagles and their haunting cry is still part of the magic in this pretty sleepy hollow. Zinkwazi Lagoon Lodge is lucky to have one of the best locations in town with both lagoons, ocean and forest on its doorstep. This is a destination for the seriously laid-back. 26 rooms lie scattered across the extensive palm-fringed grounds amongst tropical trees. Ask for one with lovely lagoon views or set up a tent in the shade of the tall forest trees at the campsite. Bed & Breakfast and Full Board options are available on site with meals served a la carte at the Raffia dining room – fresh fish dishes and spicy local curries are the specialities. There’s parking and a security guard on site, the main gates are closed from 6pm but you can still exit and enter at any time.
Cost: Forest campsites from R300 per stand and room only from R595 per person. www.zinkwazilagoonlodge.co.za
Eat here: Don’t let the simple shipping container put you off, Proud’s Pizza is delicious, wood-fired, located right at Zinkwazi beach and open daily from 10.30am to 7.30pm.
Don’t miss: The elevated Isifonya Pub & Sundeck in the forest canopy at the lodge overlooks the lagoon. Perfect for balmy beach nights.
Salt Rock Hotel Beach Resort
A beach bum paradise, the Salt Rock Hotel is about parking off to enjoy the atmosphere of an old-fashioned family hotel. Whether standard, air-conditioned or deluxe, all rooms have sea views, it’s easily accessible by tar road and home to a beautiful protected stretch of beach and a huge tidal pool. It’s an ideal spot for tours that start or end at the nearby King Shaka Airport because the hotel offers a daily shuttle (it’s 20 minutes away). Expect all the perks of a hotel stay such as full buffet breakfast, 24/7 security, ample parking and all the amenities including a shopping centre.
Cost: B&B from R1030 per person per night sharing, but keep an eye on their Facebook page for specials. www.saltrockbeach.co.za
Eat here: The hotel’s terrace menu is served between 10am and 9pm. Debbie Ahern of Guest Relations says, “We specialize in curries and pizzas from our very own wooded baked oven”. If you’re not an early-riser, a plated breakfast is also available from 9am for just R40.
Don’t miss: Get an adrenaline injection by spotting whales, dolphins and more from the air. Take to the sky in a microlight from just R550. www.comefly.co.za
Sibani Lodge Tented Camp
Cradle of Humankind
Set in a 2000-hectare game reserve, Sibani Lodge Tented Camp is close to Johannesburg (just 25 minutes from Lanseria airport) but feels a million miles away from hectic city life. Kudu, giraffe, zebra and impala stroll the grasslands and the bush is best experienced from one of the four luxury tents that make up the new tented camp (there is a conventional lodge on the property as well). Named by destination experts as “real-deal glamping a la East African safari” the tents include en-suite bathrooms, king-size beds and all share dining boma that overlooks a well-frequented waterhole. You can park your motorbike right beside the rooms and a gravel road allows easy access into the reserve.
Cost: Full board (including a game drive) costs R1200 per person. www.sibanilodge.co.za
Eat here: Dinner is best enjoyed on-site and under the stars. Expect great home-made meals or a lekker bush braai. Picnic baskets are also available.
Don’t miss: Group Manager, Wesley du Plessis says, “Visit the nearby Bru House for a beer tasting or book and join us on an Anglo-Boer War history walk”.
Crooked Tree Campsite
This delightful river-side campsite actually specializes in camping with dogs, but the neat sites and easy-on-the-pocket price make it a great option for budget bikers (or if you’re just missing the mutts back home). Crooked Tree Campsite is well-situated on the Rustenburg road with easy access and is a back-to-basics stay – no electricity or a restaurant, so visitors need to bring along all camping gear, food and drinks. Campsites include regular stands, riverfront stands as well as a few fenced off options to choose from, plus you can park your bike in sight. Ablutions have a rustic feel but are powered by solar lights and gas geysers for hot water. If you’re after a truly unusual weekend away, why not hop into an old Enfield Motorcycle for a morning breakfast run? Enfield Tours, based in Johannesburg, has a fleet of 16 Royal Enfield 500 Military Green Classics for those wanting to experience the charm of riding a classic. www.enfieldtours.co.za
Cost: From R350 per stand for up to four people. Only open on weekends and during school or public holidays. www.crookedtreecamp.com
Eat here: If Pizza is your thing, there are two amazing pizza joints nearby. Try Paganini’s or the White Dog Taproom.
Don’t Miss: Make the most of your wild surroundings and book a stargazing evening at the nearby Maropeng Hotel. Dates on www.webtickets.co.za.
Set on a game farm, but revered for its country feel, Steynshoop consists of two charming accommodation options – the thatched Mountain Lodge hotel and the self-catering, Cape vineyard-style Valley Lodge. Access is tarred until the last 7km stretch, which then gives way to a hard gravel road leading to this larney stop. Steynshoop Mountain Lodge is renowned for its fine cuisine and the converted thatched house offers nine rooms decked out with farm-style antiques. The Valley Lodge, meanwhile, comprises separate cottages in a more relaxed atmosphere with Weber braais and stoeps. Both options offer impressive mountain views and take you back to the tranquility of nature with warthogs visits, nyala sightings and more.
Cost: From R500 per person at Steynshoop Valley Lodge. www.steynshoop.co.za
Eat here: The Valley Lodge is self-catering, but guests can book for meals at the Mountain Lodge (which is 1.3km away) if required, while the Mountain Lodge is a fully catered stay. The full English breakfast buffet costs R130 per person.
Don’t Miss: Country Trax is an off-road motorcycle training institution and an accredited BMW Motorrad training provider in Gauteng that hosts frequent outrides from various starting points and in many directions. Check out their Facebook page to join their monthly outrides, which might in the area. There is no cost involved, but participants are responsible for their own fuel, food and drink. www.countrytrax.co.za.
Ibis River Retreat
Cradle of Humankind
Just off the popular breakfast run route, between Lanseria Airport and Hartbeespoort Dam, Ibis River Retreat is set in the Crocodile River Nature Reserve (it’s 7km off the main road – the first 3km are concrete strips, thereafter its a gravel drive). Home to five, spacious self-catering cottages located near the river’s edge, Ibis River Retreat is a city dweller’s sanctuary. There is no compromise on comfort as each unit is fitted with a private outdoor jacuzzi, a jet master fireplace for colder winter evenings and a private terrace offering a Weber, charcoal and firelighters ready for a lekker braai. Part of an access controlled area, there’s safe parking in front of each cottage and a night security guard patrols each evening.
Cost: R3200 per cottage per two night stay over the weekend. There is a winter special during July. Book two or more nights over the weekend and receive a 25% discount, or book two or more nights during the week and receive a 50% discount. www.ibisriverretreat.co.za
Eat here: Bookings Manager, Tanja, recommends “The Fat Olive is just nine km from our retreat and often hosts a live band on weekends”. All the cottages are self-catering, however, you can arrange to have breakfast served in the privacy of your cottage at R120 per person. If you’re after a good coffee on the way, try the Dutchman Coffee Roasters at the Culinary Warehouse near the airport.
Don’t Miss: Indulge your romantic side at the Fish Eagle cottage. Set right on the water’s edge, this is the perfect couples surprise stay. Tell your partner to suit up for a breakfast run and end it here instead. Treat your significant other (and yourself) to the affordable spa treatments (just R400 per person for an hour’s full-body massage).
Cradle Moon Lakeside Game Lodge
Cradle of Humankind
From Beyers Naude, the entrance to Cradle Moon is tarred and paved all the way to the reception. Founded in the 1970s, Cradle Moon Lakeside Game Lodge is set under the Zwartkop mountains and you might recognise it as the resurrection of the previously beloved Heia Safari Lodge. Set within the 1500 hectare Cradle Moon Conservancy, accommodation is offered in one of 50 secluded rondavels. No driving or parking is allowed to the bungalows, but all motorcycles will be under 24-hour security in the parking area. The central feature has to be the lake, which is home to a family of hippos and serves as inspiration for a damn (excuse the pun) fine biking route. From Cradle Moon, do a round trip dam-based outride west towards Brauhaus am Damm (on the R563 then on the R24) for lunch and then continue on to the N4 before looping east again towards Hartebeespoort Dam and back to Cradle Moon again on the R512. If you have the time, admire the views over the area from the Harties Cableway on the way (R210 per person, www.hartiescableway.co.za) .
Cost: B&B from R850 per person. www.cradlemoon.co.za
Eat here: Exceptionally popular with cyclists (but don’t let that put you off), Bidon Bistro is one of the newest offerings in the Cradle and has a great value-for-money menu. There’s great coffee, freshly squeezed juice and interesting breakfast options such as breakfast pizza.
Don’t miss: The Cradle Boutique Hotel Restaurant has the best view in the area (and also offers a much quieter, more luxurious stay if that’s what you’re after). The deck overlooks bushveld beauty and being just 10km away, it’s an excellent breakfast or lunch alternative to try on your way home.
Warthogs Bush Camp
This route is tarred all the way until you turn into the gate entering Warthogs, where a two-kilometre gravel road immediately settles you into a bushveld frame of mind. Tucked away into the Magalies Meander, an hours drive from both Johannesburg and Pretoria, Warthogs Bush Camp has ten chalets. However, it’s the unbeatable price of Warthogs Tented Camp you want for a group getway of friends or family. Use it as a base to explore the ancient areas around here or bring your adventure motorbikes and tackle the Warthogs 4×4 course (just note, this must be a pre-booked). The tented camp consists of six tents, an outdoor braai area, covered outdoor kitchen, ablution facility, a wash-up basin, fridge, freezer and a microwave. Each tent has two comfortable beds, a small camp closet and a metal trunk to stash goods. You can park beside the rooms or simply drop the kit and leave your motorcycle at the centrally secured parking area. If you’re travelling with family, activities and civilised facilities, such as spa treatments, game viewing and horseback safaris are available from Warthogs’ sister property, Askari Game Lodge and Spa, which is just two kilometres down the road. Situated in the Gala Hall, Askari Lodge also boasts one of the largest private collections of ox wagons, carts and other animal-drawn vehicles from the period 1800 to 1900 in an informal museum.
Cost: From R750 per chalet per night (which sleep two) or the entire self-catering tented site costs R1200 per night for the site and there are six tents, each sleeping two guests. (Tents must be taken for two nights over a weekend, and the whole site must be taken exclusively)www.askarilodge.co.za/warthogs-bush-camp
Eat here: Ask for a braai evening to be arranged at Warthogs if there’s no room to bring self-catering supplies.
Don’t Miss: The exceptionally popular Black Horse Brewery is a ten-minute drive away. Book ahead for breakfast and lunch if you’re a big group, it gets busy!
Misty Mountain lodge
Long Tom Pass, Mpumalanga
Situated on the gorgeous, sweeping tarred Long Tom Pass between Lydenburg and Sabie, Misty Mountain is magic for motorcyclists. Offering harbour from the foggy conditions that often plague this section of roadway, expect country-style hospitality and great views (when there isn’t any mist) at this established stay. Suites are spacious with indoor fireplaces, electric blankets, heaters and basic self-catering supplies on offer, including a braai on the stoep. There’s parking next to all accommodation and security guards stay on duty throughout the evening. Take the owner’s advice and make sure you “stop at the Graskop Gorge Lift Company to do the lift and forest excursion”, while you’re in the area. Lisa Sheard also tips that “Further along the Panorama route you can pull in at Potluck Boskombuis for an ice cold drink with a view”.
Cost: B&B costs R800 per person www.mistymountain.co.za
Eat here: The lamb shank served at the on-site restaurant is highly recommended, or there’s local trout too. On cold evenings an enormous fire is lit and red wine compliments the setting perfectly.
Don’t miss: Do something a little unusual and hop into the Long Tom Toboggan for a wild ride – the bullet-shaped downhill capsule can reach speeds of up to 45km/h (the last ride is at 4pm).
Lovingly renovated from the original 70s-style hotel and situated in the middle of town, the Graskop Hotel is a great option for first time riders on the Panorama Route. Vendors sell macadamia nuts on the street outside and Graskop is the gateway to all iconic sites, such as God’s Window, The Pinnacle, Bourkes Luck Potholes and Lisbon Falls. General Manager Marcus Tejessy also says, “Graskop is the central hub for the Panorama Route with easy access to Kruger Park (it’s just 40 minutes to Phabeni Gate), a large variety of waterfalls, Three Rondavels and lots of winding roads, perfect for bikes”. The hotel has 37 en-suite bedrooms, 19 of the 22 upstairs bedrooms have been decorated by different contemporary South African artists, while the 15 garden suites each have a peaceful patio. Only Garden Rooms have parking alongside, otherwise motorcycles must be parked in the hotel’s central off-street parking area. Rates include a full English breakfast, buffet style, to get you fuelled up for a scenic ride along with your bike.
Eat here: Dinner is available from the hotel restaurant off a daily, three-course set menu. If you don’t want to eat in, try Abe’s Glass House just a two-minute walk away.
Don’t miss: Harrie’s Pancakes is right next door and a Panorama Route institution. Order sweet or savoury and wash it down with a pot of local Sabie Valley coffee.
Situated on Sabie’s Main Street, The Woodsman is an easily accessible, relaxed stay in the heart of waterfall country. The name of the B&B echoes the area’s plantation economy and features spacious rooms decorated with tasteful period furniture and plush Victorian baths to soak any aches and pains (ask for a room with a balcony and view if you plan to stay a couple nights). The parking lot is very near the rooms, closed off from public access, with security gates and CCTV Surveillance, but keep in mind that all rooms are accessed via a staircase so heavy luggage could be a hassle. The drive between Sabie and Hazyview is renowned among bikers with around 66 twisting turns. Tackle the route and then settle in at the lively pub and restaurant on-site.
Cost: B&B from R570 for one person and R810 for two people www.thewoodsman.co.za
Eat here: Famous for their shawarmas, you’ll find top meals right where you are at The Woodsman restaurant.
Don’t miss: B&B Manager Johann Folscher says, “if you’re feeling adventurous and are fond of beer we recommend the Sabie Brewing Company”. It’s within walking distance.
Panorama Chalets and Rest Camp
Perched on the edge of a typical Mpumalanga escarpment, the Panorama Chalets and Rest Camp boast some of the best views of our accommodation roundup. It’s two-kilometres outside the main centre of town (but an easy drive if you need supplies) and is a great group option with self-catering chalets sleeping from two to six people. Each chalet has one to three bedrooms with single or double beds, bunk beds or sleeper coaches, ask and book the exact setup you’re after. There are also camping sites available for the more adventurous biker. The camp kitchen has a scullery, drum braais are available for evening braais and the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa has awarded the site three stars. Keep in mind this is a popular destination during school holidays and Easter weekend, so it can get very busy.
Cost: From R450 per person for a self-catering chalet and camping costs R230 for the first person and R80 per person extra, with a maximum of six people and two small tents per stand www.panoramaviewchalets.co.za
Eat here: The on-site cafe does light meals, lunch, amazing burgers and pizzas, bunny chows and dinners.
Don’t miss: Can’t get enough views? Grab breakfast and great coffee to a different vista at the nearby Graskop Gorge Lift Company restaurant.
Africamps at Mackers
Safari-style tents sit on the banks of the slow-flowing Sabie River at this comfy new glamping resort and you can park virtually at the door. The tents each sleep four (one room has a double bed and the other has bunk beds) and the self-catering setup includes an seriously scenic outdoor braai pit with lounge-like seating to admire the river. Braai packs are available for dinner if you’re after a really easy stay or light the fireplace inside on cooler winter evenings. It’s approximately 1,7 kilometres from the main Sabie Road via a gravel stretch route and the road down to this quiet spot can get very muddy after rain, but most guests manage in a regular sedan car.
Cost: R745 per person sharing and a ‘cook your own’ breakfast basket costs R110 per adult. www.africamps.com
Eat here: The nearest restaurant is approximately a 15-minute drive away – Tanks Bush Pub is where the locals go.
Don’t miss: Order a ‘cook your own’ basket for breakfast if you don’t want to eat out or go anywhere near Shoprite. It includes eggs, bacon and coffee grown just down the road.
Constructed using the very wood that Sabie is so well known for, Ligna Lodge is home to several affordable log cabins and is easily reachable by tar on the Old Lydenberg road (just keep your eyes peeled for the potholes along the way, especially outside the nearby plantation factory). Don’t let the rustic lumberjack exteriors fool you, inside each unit features a fireplace, dining room, Wi-Fi, full DSTV and a self-catering kitchen in either two or four-sleeper arrangements. Not all rooms have parking next to them (so specify when you book) but there is 24 hour security on the premises. If you don’t have feasting supplies, there’s a restaurant at the lodge offering breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Cost: Room-only rates start at R675 per person sharing, www.lignalodge.co.za
Eat here: “My favourite pizza place is Smokey Train Diner, but they sell a whole variety of other foods as well” says Reservations Manager Thandiwe Ngobeza. Housed in a vintage South African Railway train carriage, meals here are sure to be memorable!
Don’t miss: After a hot day riding, a dip at the nearby Mac Mac Pools is welcome liberation from sweaty riding kit. Bring cash to pay the R20 entry fee and enjoy the valley views from a cascading series of natural rock pools.
Pilgrim’s Rest, Mpumalanga
The entire town of Pilgrim’s Rest was declared a National Monument in 1986 and it’s one of two living museums found in South Africa (the other is Matjiesfontein). This unique, charming Victorian-style accommodation is true to the historical gold rush heydays, but there’s modern amenities too, such as Wi-Fi. Motorcycles can be parked next to the rooms, plus there’s security patrols, but the place you’ll really want to park off is at the Church Bar with an ice cold draught. The bar was once the Roman Catholic Chapel of the St. Cyprian’s School in Cape Town. It was dismantled, loaded onto a boat and shipped to Delagoa Bay in Mozambique and then made a six-week ox-wagon journey to its current spot.
Cost: B&B is R690 per person sharing and a single room costs R760 www.royalhotelpilgrims.co.za
Eat here: The Royal Buffet offers great value for money at R180 per person and you’re sure to be starving after a hard day of riding.
Don’t miss: When in Rome, do a PIlgrims Rest evening Ghostie Tour with Brummer Tours to get a history lesson and freak out your mates at the same time. Book in advance 082 522 1958.
Mountain View Lodge
Proclaimed as the start to Route 62, Montagu is a beautiful introduction to the splendours of Little Karoo. Tucked between the Cape’s famed wine region and the arid semi-desert, there are several renowned wine tasting options nearby, quirky Barrydale is an hour’s drive away, and mountains furnish the Montagu with excellent views (and seriously scenic drives). Bordering the Kanonkop reserve, Mountain View Lodge offers said views, but is still within walking distance of Montagu’s other offerings in town. Environmentally-responsible, the lodge consists of seven individually decorated rooms looking onto garden views, with king-size beds, free Wi-Fi and private parking. The on-site Belgian Restaurant at Mountain View Lodge Montagu serves traditional Belgian and South African cuisine for guests (book in advance), and the bar is also true to its name with loads of Belgian beers on the menu. Owner Alain declares that “if motorcycle Walhalla exists, it will look like our region”. Having been an adventurous motorcyclist for over 30 years, he’ll happily share route tips and backroad advice with you.
Cost: From R700 to R960 depending on single or double suite and the option of breakfast. www.mountainviewlodgemontagu.co.za
Eat here: Piccolo Tesoro is an authentic, family-owned pizza place within walking distance (less a kilometre away).
Don’t miss: There’s still a stop and go between Montagu and Ashton, take the Koo Valley road in (from the N1) for an alternative route.
Koedoeskloof Country Lodge
Just outside of Ladismith Accessible via a 375-metre stretch of good gravel road, Koedoeskloof Country Lodge is set a little off R62 and offers a retreat into the Klein Karoo. Owners Debi and Eugene Bezuidenhoudt are keen bikers with plenty of inside info on awesome backroads. “We have too many gravel roads to mention here and you’ll be spoilt for choice. Seweweekspoort is a must see and is only 30kms from us. It’s a good dirt road that takes you through the most amazing scenery and rock formations. You can either do the 19kms through the Poort and then turn back to Route 62 or turn left and meander around the back of the Seweweekspoort mountains through Vleiland and Rouxpos, and back to where you started. You can also connect with the road that takes you to Anysberg and Touwsriver, or turn right at the end of Seweweekspoort, and ride out to Gamkapoort Dam”. Motorbikes can be parked just metres from the rooms and there’s seriously affordable camping available as well as comfy rooms.
Cost: From R800 per room, which sleep two people. Book ahead if you’d like to include a full English breakfast. www.koedoeskloof.co.za
Eat here: Koedoeskloof has an onsite restaurant called DwarsBar, which (as the name suggests) is fully licensed. For the very hungry, order the Dubbel en Dwars burger. A mean meal of two generous patties (either kudu or beef) served with crispy fries.
Don’t miss: If you’re travelling from Cape Town side and you want to do dirt, take the back road from Montagu, by turning left at Telana just outside the town, it’s about 140kms via the Ouberg Pass.
Karoo Moon Motel
Beautifully renovated in 2014 the Karoo Moon Motel is an essential road trip stop. Initially an 1896 Karoo homestead, it sits right beside the incredibly popular vintage diner Diesel & Crème and right on the tarred R62 road. Breakfast is available daily from 07am at the family-owned diner, which is filled with enchanting nostalgia-inducing paraphernalia, such as video game machines and old Koffiehuis signage plus an array of enamelware. The motel offers three stylish rooms (two doubles and one twin room) featuring fun, antique decor, free WiFi and sharing a communal lounge area, kitchenette with microwave and fridge. Safe parking is available right outside the rooms. It’s environmentally-sound too, thanks to biodegradable toiletries provided and all water is reused to irrigate the gardens. If you can’t spend the night, make sure you stop long enough to sample one of their gourmet milkshakes.
Cost: From R800 for two, www.dieselandcreme.co.za
Eat here: Straight from the locals’ mouth, Dean Pharo from the motel suggests the following: “Donkey Shed (open Monday evenings), Bistro Blues (Tuesdays), Mez Karoo Kitchen (Wednesday – Saturday), Karoo Art Hotel (Sundays). Barrydale is very small, and all the restaurants are all within a few minutes walk”.
Don’t miss: Dean also suggests swimming in the mountain pass (Tradouw Pass) and taking the little known Brandrivier gravel road via the Garcia’s Pass to Riversdale on the N2.
Monique’s Guest House & Bike Stop
If the name isn’t enough to convince motorcyclists, then the affordability of Monique’s Guest House and Bike Stop stop is sure to seduce many overnighters. Bikers can park right on the stoep as there is more than enough room and the bikes are out of the elements, says Monique. “It is safe up there, I have never had any problems what so ever”. This guesthouse is an excellent option for group trippers. One communal house, the space consists of two double rooms with their own bathrooms, and one single room with two double bunks that all share another bathroom. Outside on the wrap-around porch, a braai beckons and kitchen facilities include a microwave, bar fridge, kettle with cutlery and crockery.
Cost: B&B from R300 per person. Breakfast is at the nearby Country Pumpkin in the morning, an institution on Route 62, which has been going for many years. www.facebook.com/moniquesguesthouseandbikestop
Eat here: If you’re looking for simple pub food, Monique recommends Dung Beetle.
Don’t miss: Just outside Barrydale, there Hot Springs about 30km out. The hot water comes right out of the ground and is fantastic to swim in. Ask Monique for more info.
Kleinplaas Self-Catering Holiday Resort
Regarded as the ostrich capital of the world, Oudtshoorn certainly is an appropriate spot to meet one. Look out for Oosie the Ostrich, who might be your neighbour at Kleinplaas. Affordable chalets (there are two-, four-, five- and six-sleeper options) and camping stands are available here. Expect large, and level stands with grass at the four-star graded campsites, plus plenty of trees to take shade from the harsh Karoo sun. All stands have electrical points too. Well-situated, the resort is close enough to town to walk to restaurants (the furthest one is approximately two kilometres away) or shops, but there is a full English buffet breakfast available at the onsite restaurant to kickstart your driving day. Motorbikes can be parked right in front of the units or campsites, plus a boom gate and night guards provide more security in the evening.
Cost: Ask directly for specials, but expect roughly R500 per person to stay in a chalet, www.kleinplaas.co.za
Eat here: Kleinplaas recommends Bello Cibo as a top pizza spot nearby.
Don’t miss: Thorny Creek Brewery and The Red Bus Café (open Friday, Saturday and Sundays) and also visit the new ostrich Emporium.
Oppi Dam Camping
Technically, this option is not on R62, but it’s only 15km outside of Oudtshoorn (driving in the direction of Cango Caves) and an excellent stay for those wanting to tackle the nearby Swartberg Pass that drops into Prince Albert. There are self-catering chalets, but the campsites here at Oppi Dam seriously stand out. There are 26 stands, and each one offers their own private ablution block, sink, electrical power point, table and two benches, braai area with a grid, plus an awning to protect in any weather. If it’s sunny, there’s also access to the dam for fishing and canoeing, but two swimming pools offer more traditional relief from the heat.
Cost: The cottage (which sleep two in a double bed) cost from R500 per night and luxury campsites cost R350 per two adults or R550 for four. www.oppi-dam.co.za
Eat here: All options here are self-catering, the nearest Restaurant is Buffelsdrift Game Lodge and Surval Olive Estate, 10km away from Oppi Dam.
Don’t miss: Go even further off the beaten track. From Oppi Dam and over the Swartberg Pass in Prince Albert, return to Oudtshoorn via a different route. Go towards De Rust and ride back through the twisting pass named Meiringspoort.
Gilcrest Place Guesthouse
Thatched and white-washed, Gilcrest Place blends perfectly into the iconic West Coast town of Paternoster. Situated in a sweet cul de sac, you can park right outside the front door and there’s also a security guard posted at the entrance to the road. Dee Mc Cool, the friendly host says, ‘They are redoing the road from Vredenburg to Paternoster right now, so there are a few delays with road works, but it will be silky and smooth very soon!’ Breakfast is a feast served from a sea view room (look carefully, whales and dolphins are frequently seen just beyond the breakers) and includes homemade bread, cookies and artisanal cheeses, plus sizzling bacon, poached egg, avo, smoked salmon, hollandaise sauce all served with herbs grown in the garden.
Cost: B&B from R1900 per room (ask for a sea view stay) www.gilcrestplace.com
Eat here: This is a foodie paradise. Abalone is right next door, De See Kat restaurant is five minutes away and Leeto in the Strandloper hotel is about two kilometres. Dee advises guests book ahead to avoid disappointment, this town can get busy!
Don’t miss: Dee also recommends you take a long way around. ‘Guests love to drive the route from Stellenbosch, Paarl, Tulbagh, Riebeck Kasteel then here to Paternoster’.
Farr Out Guesthouse
For those after a little more solitude, Farr Out Guesthouse is situated about two kilometres away from the village of Paternoster but feels worlds away from civilization. Surrounded by fynbos, this unique stay ranks highly on TripAdvisor with over 240 ‘Excellent’ rated reviews. Choose between four elegant guest rooms or if you’re riding pillion, snuggle up in the unique tee-pee tent and arrange to use the wood-fired hot tub. Parking is available at a covered carport and environmentally-friendly practices at the lodge include the use of solar geysers, water-saving showerheads and recycling. The owner, Deon van Schalkwyk, also offers Beach Buggy Safaris starting at the guesthouse, then along the sandy dune track over to Dykereiland and back if you’ need a break from your bike.
Cost: B&B from R590 per person and there’s also the unusual glamping of Wigwam Rising Moon. www.farrout.co.za
Eat here: Afsaal Padstal, on the gravel road to Trekooskraal and approximately 14km away from Farr Out, is a typical padstal well known for its West Coast food.
Don’t miss: The notorious panty bar, hidden inside the Paternoster Hotel.
Seagulls Guest House
The white sand beaches and clear blue waters of Langebaan lagoon make for an alluring destination and ‘Windtown’ is an easy weekend escape from Cape Town. Seagulls Guest House has seven affordable, fully-equipped and neat self-catering units designed for couples or a getaway for large groups of up to 19 adults when booked as a whole. Set within walking distance from the excitement of Langebaan’s main strip (pubs, shopping, beach and restaurants), this three-star stay offers braai facilities, a swimming pool, free Wi-Fi in all rooms and many of the suites enjoy lovely lagoon views too (specify these when booking). The parking area is located in front of the guesthouse but is off the street.
Cost: From R1200 for a two-person self-catering unit. The single rate is R650 per night, but with a group sharing prices drop to R400 per person per night.
Eat here: Restaurants and shops are 700 metres away and easily within walking distance. Pearly’s on the Beach and Driftwood come highly recommended. If you don’t want to stray far, full English breakfast is available at Seagulls for R80 per person.
Don’t miss: For epic views and local history at the in-house museum, head to Legend’s Bar at The Farmhouse Hotel.
If you really want to get away from it all, Doringbaai is a rugged and remote West Coast outpost that still feels like an authentic fishing village. Reached by 35km of gravel road on the R27 from Lamberts Bay, this small town was originally part of a diamond mining concession that ran all the way north to Namibia. Doringbaai still has an operational lighthouse, but the old fish factory is now home to an unusual winery named Fryers Cove, whose white wines are chilled by the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Thornbay Accommodation consists of ten neat fully equipped self-catering units, all with sea views and a braai area. There is parking on the premises next to the apartments.
Cost: Rates vary from R650 to R1100 per self-catering apartment. There is also a discount of 10% for groups of 14 or more if you’re travelling in a big group. Breakfast is extra R95 per person. www.thornbay.co.za
Eat here: Doringbaai has three restaurants (The Jetty Restaurant ranks highly among locals and tourists alike) and two pubs within walking distance. However, Thornbay Accommodation also has a fully stocked fishery on the premises. Stock up on seafood and spoil yourself with a proper seafood braai.
Don’t miss: Take the gravel road to Doringbaai. This is the most scenic route starting with the R27 to Velddrif, then drive via Dwarskersbos, Elandsbaai and Leipoldtville. Turn towards Lambertsbay and take the turn to Vredendal/Doringbaai.
Blow off some steam and organise a fun group getaway at a great price. Just 80km from Cape Town (there’s still a view of Table Mountain), between Yzerfontein and Langebaan on the R27, Swartbergsvlei is a West Coast farm where the adventurous come to take their off-road bikes for a proper spin. There’s soft, thick sand and also harder rocky routes, which you can tackle solo or as part of the many enduros and funduro events held here each year. There is accommodation for up to 80 people in various simple self-catering houses. Think white-washed farm cottages and stone chalets (the units have various bedroom capacities and sleeping arrangements, enquire before booking). Guests need to bring their own towels and a braai grid, but firewood and ice are available right on the farm.
Cost: From R185 per person, www.swartbergsvlei.co.za
Eat here: 15 minutes before the turnoff to Swartbergsvlei, pull into Route 27 Roosterkoek padstal for authentic padkos and moerkoffie. The roosterkoek are made fresh daily.
Don’t miss: Winter is snoek season. A public fish market can be found alongside the main road in Yzerfontein. Stop here on the way and buy some apricot jam too for the perfect farm-style fish braai.
Papkuilsfontein Guest Far
Toting the title ‘Serengeti of the flora kingdom’ and in an area known as ‘the Bulb Capital of the World’ Papkuilsfontein is seriously famous for its flowers. The traditional Karoo guest farm is home to several beautifully restored stone cottages and is the highest speciation of indigenous bulbous flowers on Earth. There are several self-catering options on the farm, but do yourself a favour and order the home-cooked true-Karoo feast and eat it by candlelight. All cottages are off-the-grid, powered by solar and gas. After good winter rains, an impressive waterfall gushes into a canyon on the farm and flowers carpet every horizon. Parts of Papkuilsfontein have been managed as small flower reserves and a 5km flower route has been developed on the farm to better appreciate the variety of the Renosterveld and some Fynbos. The closest town is quaint Niewoudtville, 25km away with its central sandstone church.
Cost: B&B from R780 per person, or R1160 which includes a two-course dinner. Self-catering costs from R600. Camping is available as well. www.papkuilsfontein.com
Eat here: No need to stray far. The lamb served is free range from the farm and meals consist of seasonal dishes, such as mango and chevin cheese on a garlic crostini, bobotie, or chicken pie, lamb shanks in red wine sauce, followed by traditional sweets, such as brandy tart or malva pudding. Packed lunches are available too.
Don’t miss: Access Papkuilsfontein more adventurously using the R364 back road from Clanwilliam, which climbs over Papkuis and Botterkloof Passes. Once at the farm, continue to Nieuwoudtville either on the R27 tarred road and after that N7 towards Springbok, or take the Kliprand road towards Loeriesfontein to see the Quiver Tree Forest and past Leliefontein over Kamiesberg.
Bike X Cape
At 250 kilometres, the R355 that connects Ceres and Calvinia is South Africa’s longest stretch of dirt without a town or petrol station. Make sure you fill up the fuel tank in Ceres before tackling the infamous tyre-chewing gravel road. Bike X Cape accommodation sits 90km along the R355 towards Calvinia and offers the perfect stay to biking enthusiasts. Each en-suite traditional clay and latte cottage (complete with a bathtub) is named after a Moto GP Rider or choose one of the simple, spacious tents for a more budget stay. You can cruise the Karoo on your own, or join a guided off-road motorcycle tour. Owners Michelle and Rael live, breath, eat and sleep biking. “We are able to assist bikers with changing tyres, minor repairs and sometimes even have a bit of fuel on hand. We also assist with towing of bikes on our trailer back to civilization should the rider not be able to repair their bike and have maps on hand of the Tankwa Karoo reflecting all the back roads and trails, as well as the Cederberg. We specialize in off-road motorcycle tours and can advise our guests with regards to route planning, road conditions, river crossings and more”.
Cost: Tented accommodation costs from R200 per person and en-suite rooms from R350 per person. www.bikexcape.com
Eat: The bright blue Tankwa padstal (10km away) serves meals until about 4:30 pm. Pull in for an epic roosterkoek, bacon and egg breakfast. Otherwise, Bike X Cape offer braai packs and condiments, such as potato bake, salad, pap or garlic potatoes. For the freshest foods, arrange in advance.
Don’t miss: Take a drive to Sutherland for the day. The 106km gravel road includes the Ouberg Pass, which is 1400 meters above sea level with an 800-meter climb onto the Roggeveld escarpment. Expect sharp twists, turns and bends. At the top, there’s a spectacular view of the Tankwa Karoo basin with the Cederberg Mountains. Once in Sutherland, visit the Southern African Large Telescope. Otherwise, Biedouw Valley is an easier 80km dirt road escape from Bike X Cape and a popular flower season stop.
A self-catering stay 26km north of Clanwilliam in the Western Cape and home to the world-famous boulders of Rocklands, this area is popular with climbers, but it’s just as adventurous a stay for motorcyclists. Tarred roads make it an easy drive (including the Pakhuis Pass) to the entrance of the farm, but then there’s the 2,5km stretch of dirt road that takes you to accommodation. The sand is very soft in places, and previous guests on road-bikes have struggled, but dual terrain riders have no trouble. Embrace the bliss of a digital detox. There is only MTN cell phone coverage and no wi-fi. Owner JP du Plessis is very accommodating of motorcyclists and suggests the following: “Time your trip with the new moon and braai under the stars. There are no restaurants within walking distance, or that you can truly safely get to at night. We live in a conservancy and there are often nocturnal animals on the road between us and the nearest restaurant. We hate losing these animals to traffic of any kind, but I cringe to think about what’s going to happen to a biker’s legs if they hit one of the large porcupines that often walk the tarred road after sunset. For road bikes, and especially in flower season, take the R27 West Coast road from Cape Town to Clanwilliam. Ride carefully, it twists and turns and has sections of bad tar, but you miss all the trucks that frequent the N7 Cape-Namibia route. Hug the coast line and, as long as you’re riding in the afternoon (it’s best with the sun at your back) then you’ll see amazing flowers. For dual terrain (if coming from Cape Town) rather head through Ceres and enter the Cederberg at its southern tip. This is already a very common route and will take you past the classic biker destination: the Cederberg Oasis. Just beyond Oasis, the road will split and adventurers can either fork left and stay on the prepared gravel road passing Stadsaal Caves, or tackle the 4X4 trail that traverses the spine of the Cederberg/Karoo interchange through Langkloof, Eselbank, Wupperthal, Biedouw Valley and then into the Agter Pakhuis. Both of these routes have patches without cell phone coverage, so it’s best that riders stay in radio contact, or someone in the party carries a charged satellite phone with them in case of emergency. The 4X4 route will provide some challenging technical riding, but for the most part it’s just a beautiful, easy double-track through spectacular mountains”.
Cost: There are several self-catering options. Caracal Cottage is a converted caravan built inside a wooden cottage and sleeps four, and costs R800 for the unit. Dassie Den is a luxury safari tent that sleeps four and costs R750. Tortoise Terrace is another luxury safari tent that sleeps four and costs R650. Costs include a free crate of firewood. www.thestorytellers.co.za.
Eat: There is a restaurant on the neighbouring farm Traveller’s Rest that serves breakfasts, light meals and lunches like pizza (15 minutes away). During the winter months, there is also a lovely coffee shop, The Hen House, based on Alpha Excelsior farm, which is directly across the river (500m walk/4km dirt).
Don’t miss: Take advantage of the bikers-only offer. They will do shopping (including beers!) ahead of your arrival. Simply email a list at least a week before and pay for the groceries on arrival. There’s no extra fees for this awesome service.
Rock Ridge Mano
For something a bit more contemporary, Rock Ridge Manor offers modern comforts in a country setting. Five self-catering units each have a kitchen with a two plate stove, microwave, kettle, toaster, plus air conditioning, DStv, and an electric blanket. Loeriesfontein is a small town in the Namaqualand region of the Northern Cape and is best accessed from the N7 highway, turning off on the R27 at Van Rhynsdorp to Nieuwoudtville, then following the R357 to Loeriesfontein (a further 65km north). For epic flower sightings, follow the Rondekop Route, passing the Quiver Tree Forest and make your way back via Nieuwoudtville. Breakfast packs are available, but if you’re here to see flower, there’s no rush. They look best from 10am onwards when they open up to the sun. Enjoy the hot english breakfast available from 7.45am.
Cost: From R550 for a bed only, B&B R650 or book the special rate for motorcyclists, DBB for R750. www.rockridge.co.za
Eat: Boesmanlad Pub and Grill in town offer homemade meals in a no-nonsense environment. Try the chicken and chips.
Don’t miss: The Windmill Museum is one of just two in the world (the other is in America). The museum team and interested persons all over South Africa have sponsored and collected 27 windmills, now assembled and on display at the museum.
Brandkop Guest Far
Just off the tarred R357 between Nieuwoudtville and Loeriesfontein (look out for the Nieuwoudtville waterfall if there’s been good rain, it’s spectacular!) there’s a short gravel road to the Brandkop Guest Farm. The working farm is home to sheep, goats and wheat. “Being keen bikers ourselves, we would love to show our guests the backroads on a map and share a few tips. We are connected with friends on farms in the area and always know where the best flowers are to be seen at any given time”, says owner Elizna Louw. There are two private cottages (one within walking distance of the Quiver Tree Forest) and the larger Brandkop Farm House, which sleeps eight in four double rooms and is ideal for a group of friends. All units have indoor fireplaces plus built-in braais and firewood is available at reception.
Cost: From R700 per person for a special package that includes dinner, bed and breakfast. All bedding (handmade goose-down duvets) and towels are supplied. www.brandkop.yolasite.com
Eat: You are in sheep country now. “Normally we only do self-catering, but as we regularly receive groups of bikers on our farm, we now offer breakfast on request, as well as a braai dinner with lamb chops from the farm, bread and salad” says Elizna Louw. “We also do pre-arrival shopping for our guests for anything that they would need and are unable to carry along on their bikes”.
Don’t miss: Day visitors are also welcome. If there’s no availability on the farm, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out.
The best and only place to stay in town, Middelpos Hotel is an old school Karoo stay that’s also outrageously easy on the pocket. The little village lies almost exactly halfway between Sutherland and Calvinia on the R354 (or If driving from the Western Cape, go via Ceres on the legendary R355 to the Tankwa Karoo National Park, over Gannaga Pass) and thanks to its remoteness, has retained a small town charm. It’s strategic positioning as a trading post back in the day also make it well-positioned for road trippers as it can can be accessed via various gravel routes from Sutherland, Calvinia, Williston, Brandvlei, Fraserburg, Ceres, Touwsrivier, each of them challenging in their own way. During the spring flower season, the road between Middelpos and Sutherland is particularly beautiful thanks to the combination of old stone buildings and rainbow hues. There is a shop, garage and post office in town plus 10 rooms in the hotel and three self-catering units (sleeping two or six).
Cost: DBB from R480 per person and the self-catering unit costs R500 for two, www.facebook.com/pg/middelposhotel
Eat: Middelpos Hotel is well known for its excellent boerekos buffet dinners (book in advance)
Don’t miss: For the latest update on the best flower fields, check the Cape West Coast Tourism www.capewestcoast.org/news/ or call 0729388186. The Namakwaland Flower Line is also very helpful, call 0727606019.
TIPS FOR DRIVING THE WILD COAST
- If driving through Mthatha, be aware of a recent scam. Official looking guys in yellow vests are stopping cars (at a stoplight along the main road) saying the road ahead is closed and they have to take a detour, which requires a ticket. They will explain how to get to the nearest ATM to buy your ticket. Usually, there is a car in front, which has also been stopped and they will tell you to follow it. The person in the front car is in on the scam. Once at the ATM, you are directed to a specific machine where they copy your card details and money is stolen. If stopped and told about a detour, just say “no thanks, I will go see myself”.
- There are petrol stations all along the N2 and Jikeleza Route. Petrol stations can also be found in Lusikisiki, Port St Johns, Coffee Bay, Mqanduli, Elliotdale, Willowvale, Centane, Kei Mouth and Mooiplaas. Some of the hotels and resorts have petrol pumps as well, so call ahead to find out.
- Travel during daylight hours. You might meet a Transkei speed trap in the form of a large animal. There are also potholes and many misleading dirt tracks leading from the feeder roads making it easy to get lost at night.
Set on a hillock in the seaside village of Chintsa East (under an hour away from East London) and surrounded by indigenous coastal forest, this chilled-out stay is set just 800m from the beach.
Easily accessible by the N6 and N2 highways on good tarmac roads, this is one of the most convenient Wild Coast retreats. A welcome stylish respite from the typical beach guesthouses that characterise the coast, Purple Haze consists of five units each sleeping two. All rooms offer a sea view straight from the bed and provide self-catering basics such as a microwave, toaster and fridge. There’s a communal Weber for braais and the nearby Chintsa Supply Store at the village centre stocks most necessities (including fuel). Motorbikes can be parked right in front of the rooms, there is a fenced-in parking area, and guests get their own gate remote. The lodge doesn’t offer breakfast on-site, but this affords guests the chance to explore – most dine at the Village Bistro, a two-minute drive to the middle of the village. As an eco-stay, it also ticks several feel-good boxes. The lodge is constructed using recycled materials (steel and timber) and features a greywater system, gas geysers, low energy appliances plus eco-friendly paint.
Cost: R950 per double room (sleeping two adults) per night up to 13 December and R1050 per room per night after that. www.purplehazeecolodge.com
Eat here: There are many options within a ten-minute drive from Purple Haze. The C-Club is right around the corner, laid back Barefoot Café offers takeaways on request if you’d rather stay in and local craft brewery, Emerald Vale Brewery, is open from 11am to 5pm.
Don’t miss: This is a 420-friendly stay, so if you’re into the good green stuff, the lodge is accepting (but bring your own).
The Coffee Shack is an iconic Wild Coast hideout that’s easy on the pocket and full of good vibes. Surf, socialise, sit back and relax.
Coffee Bay is accessible by tar road, but you do need to be aware of potholes. The route from the N2 to Coffee Bay (80km) is a beautiful drive through a rural landscape, so keep them peeled for stray animals and school children walking along the edge of the road. The road to Coffee Bay is tarred; however, the roads connecting to Mdumbi and Hole in the Wall are gravel. Word on the street: they are currently tarring the way to Hole in the Wall too. Coffee Shack is divided by a small estuary that spreads onto the beach. There is accommodation and secure parking available on both sides, plus both car parks are locked in the evening. Bikes cannot generally be parked next to the rooms, but the parking area is close to the accommodation.
Cost: Camping (in your tent) costs from R100 per person; dormitory with bunk beds that sleeps 6 – 8 people costs from R170 per person or book into a private room with double bed and shared bathroom from R480 per night. For groups, the Kings House has two bedrooms, kitchenette, living area, deck, braai and able to accommodate up to eight, which costs from R960 for four. www.coffeeshack.co.za
Eat here: The Coffee Shack includes Babalaza Bar & Restaurant, which has affordable meals (prices for breakfast and lunch are from R20-R60) and free dinner every Sunday night. The kitchen cooks up a big potjie served with home-cooked Xhosa bread. There is also an excellent pizza restaurant within walking distance (Papazela Pizza), and White Clay (1km) has a seafood restaurant.
Don’t miss: As the saying goes, when in Rome. Every full moon, the Coffee Shack goes a bit crazy. Starting with free vodka at sunset (usually on a clifftop overlooking the bay) watch the full moon rise over the sea. Often, there are free fresh oysters and mussels too, followed by a drumming session in the garden. For something more quintessential, dive into the ocean with surf lessons at R70 for a two-hour session (wetsuit and board included).
Kob Inn Beach Resor
Perched at the Qhorha River mouth, this classic resort offers accommodation in 46 thatched units.
Access to this beachside hotel is via a 30-kilometre gravel road from Willowvale and you can either visit the usual way, via the N2 or follow even more gravel backroads. The Southern route starts with a crossing of the Kei River, at Kei Mouth aboard one of three working ferries in South Africa, then following the rural roads. The Northern route can be driven from Coffee Bay via Hole in the Wall, past the Dwesa Nature Reserve to the hotel. There are plenty of local routes for a day trip, with a highlight a visit to the Sixhini River viewpoint. Call to ask about road conditions and directions. The resort is nestled right on the seafront, offering spacious rooms metres from the waves. (Their outermost accommodation is a maximum of 100m from the sea). Rooms are comfortable with either double or family-sized layouts, each with an en-suite bathroom. On arrival, there’s a variety of activities: canoeing, quad biking and fishing (if there’s space for a rod on your ride).
Cost: From R860 to R1050 per person per night sharing, a steal which includes three meals a day. (On days that you’re out all day, packed lunches are available). www.kobinn.co.za
Eat here: This is a full-board stay, so all meals are on-site. Saturday nights are renowned for seafood banquets at Kob Inn, with a mini seafood dinner on offer on Wednesday nights. The scenic bar is also top for sunsets situated on the edge of the rocks with panoramic views of the sea.
Don’t miss: The 6km walk along the beach to Mazeppa Bay is an epic way to while away a day. Time your departure and arrive in time for lunch.
Morgan Bay Hotel
Established in 1946 this third-generation, family-run hotel and nearby campsite offers accommodation for every budget – and all within walking distance of the beach.
Morgans Bay boasts one of the prettiest lagoons around and allows for protected swimming in the Indian Ocean. The hotel has 40 tastefully furnished en-suite bedrooms, all with ceiling fans, free WiFi, DSTV and a tea station. Beach towels and umbrellas come included, while surfboards, sand boards, bodyboards, SUPs and canoes are available to hire for an active day in the bay below. For an epic afternoon, the owner, Richard Warren-Smith suggests the following. “Take a ride up to the cliffs for a sundowner. A bit further from there is the Double Mouth and from here a short walk to the river. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, walk further on the beach to a 400-year old shipwreck. Bikes and cars aren’t a problem as crime in the area is non-existent. We do have a garage that we offer to bikers that are wanting cover, and there’s a security guard on the premises as well”. Also available to book through the hotel are sites at the impeccably-positioned Morgan Bay campsite. Set up your tent under a shady tree on the edge of the Inchara Lagoon. All sites have electricity, picnic benches and braai facilities.
Cost: Bed and breakfast from R795 to R965 per person, in season (December school holidays) rates go up to R1600 per person. Camping costs from R290 per site per day for a maximum of four people. www.morganbayhotel.co.za
Eat here: Don’t go far. The fabulous Deck Restaurant and Bar right at the hotel offers superb views of the beach, ocean and cliffs. There is also a more formal restaurant on-site, too, which offers four-course meals for R230. Otherwise, the Yellowwood Tea Garden and Pizzeria is a wonderfully laid back pizza joint.
Don’t miss: Billy Nel’s Morganville Farm Private Motorcycle Museum. Located just a 10-minute drive away is home to over 650 antique motorcycles and various other vehicles. Call ahead to arrange a visit, 082 769 0844.
Swell Eco Lodge
Do you want to get totally off the beaten track? Access to Swell Eco Lodge requires at least an hour’s worth of gravel travel.
Expect stylish modern interiors and traditional Xhosa rondavel exteriors at this eco-friendly stay. Nestled into the rolling Transkei hills, Swell Eco Lodge is made up of contemporary self-catering rooms along the north side of the Mdumbi River just an 800-metre walk from the Indian Ocean. Each of the eight rondavels has two units sharing a fully equipped kitchen that includes a braai area and deck boasting superb sea views. Parking is available right next to the rooms, and there’s a night watchman for peace of mind too. The Pondo people around Mdumbi will gladly share their culture with visitors, and the lodge works very closely with the community on several projects (including a reliable clean water supply).
Cost: From R450 per person. www.swellecolodge.com
Eat here: The lodge is predominantly geared to self-catering, but catering can be arranged with advance notice. There is no restaurant here, but the lodge does have a small shop selling necessary supplies.
Don’t miss: Hole in the Wall, Hluleka Nature Reserve and Mapuzi Caves are all nearby making for memorable day trips. If you’re hesitant to tackle it alone, the lodge can arrange guides or an outing. Also ask about Lwandile, a secluded and unspoilt beach with one of the highest viewpoints in the area.
Mdumbi is a community-run business for travellers willing to venture off the tourist trail. Embrace gravel drives, communal facilities and rustic accommodation at this budget beach stop that has real heart.
Here, you’ll also find one of the Wild Coasts most beautiful beaches. Indigenous Milkwood trees surround the shores, and epic waves kiss the coast. Accommodation includes dorms and double rooms in traditional Xhosa huts, but super affordable campsites are available too. If you didn’t have space for a tent, their ocean-view safari tents offer a little more privacy than the dorms. Mdumbi Backpackers doesn’t have a liquor licence. Instead, they promote cultural exchange. Enjoy the two-minute walk to the local shebeen and crack open an ice-cold Castle quart with a new friend. It’s just one of the ways that Mdumbi Backpackers works closely with the members of Mankosi community. Most of the activities – such as kayaking around the islands on the beautiful Mdumbi Lagoon – are directly run by locals.
Cost: Camping costs from R100 per person and ocean-view tents cost R380 for two. Note, Mdumbi does not accept credit cards, bring enough cash or arrange an internet transfer. www.mdumbi.co.za
Eat here: This is pretty much the middle of nowhere. You could buy a fish from locals if they have any and cook it yourself. Otherwise, the Mdumbi Cafe makes delicious home-cooked meals so you can spend more time relaxing or exploring. Order off the menu for breakfast and lunch (cooked breakfasts, salads, wraps, toasties). Dinner is a set menu affair, ranging from Saturday night seafood feasts to Mama’s smoking prawn curry. There is also a fully equipped communal kitchen.
Don’t miss: While travelling in the Wild Coast area, visit Mveso (the birthplace of Nelson Mandela) just off the N2. From there, make your way to the coast and visit Hole in the Wall and stop at Coffee Bay for lunch (Mdumbi is about 40 minutes from Coffee Bay). From this backpackers, you can also meander on small tracks to Port St Johns, but capable bikes are necessary.