Proud stockists of Ural sidecars & spares
IMPI WARRIOR STRIKES IN AND AROUND THE BERG
On a very unassuming day after a lot of preparation and fretting the Wheelers decided to tow Impi to Central Drakensberg over the Easter holidays. Not only are we going to paint this area red, we are also going to have a lot of fun! We were definitely on a mission to unleash Perun (Russian god of thunder and lightning) on Champagne Valley and surrounds.
Our first trip took us to Giant’s Castle, where like true South Africans we clutched our cell phones and cameras on a very slow ride through numerous rural villages. Obviously we were a local treat, and I couldn’t keep my lips red enough for all the photos! A lot of this trip however was done on tar roads, and in Impi’s hum you could feel that he wanted something more. He wanted to show us what it would be like to growl away on the proverbial “unbeaten path” . Like good little Soviet soldiers we listened to the call, and a beckoning adventure started to unfold!
From Giant’s Castle we set out to do some very important shopping and sightseeing in the Midlands – with all our luggage tied to the rack, we would have the boot to fill with allour treasures,and frankly shopping just seemed like such a good idea at the time. So for those of you who are unaware, any good shopping trip always starts with a good cappuccino, and you cannot find any better than at Nottingham Road which is also surrounded with cool pubs and micro-breweries but seeing as it was still early in the morning, and we had a lot of shopping to get out the way we stuck to our daily intake of caffeine. The shopping trip proved to be very successful, and the boot big enough – armed with a brand new pair of red vellies and matching handbag it was time to turn back to Champagne Valley.
The trip back took us through God’s country - over the Bushman’s river towards the Wagendrift dam. Impi growling happily on the dirt roads, impressing and making us even happier. Greg reckons that this is where the bike really starts to make sense – “made for roughing it…” The sights around this area were something that a photo can hardly capture! You cannot help but to stop and stare at the magnificence of our beautiful country. We definitely belong here!
Today we were also more comfortable with rural South Africa and didn’t clutch onto our earthly goods as we did the day before. We did however have our pockets patted down by the local kids when we stopped for these fantastic photo opportunities. Hopefully they were looking for sweets….
After a well deserved bath and a good night’s sleep the Northern Berg seemed like a good idea. So Impi took a sho’t left the the Royal Natal National Park to experience the world’s second highest waterfall – the Tugela Falls. The total drop in five free-leaping falls is 948 metres! This is almost too good to be true, so there had to be a snag. The snag is that you have to walk 7 kilometres to the gorge, which is totally unacceptable for people like me – Henry Ford worked really hard to get a workable motor engine – and with a capable machine underneath us, why would we? I totally prefer being the monkey in a very different way. We could however get a shot of this wonder, which is a small white line and circled in red. This proves that we’ve been there, we’ve seen that and now have more riding to do!
The next day Impi told us that he felt that blood had flowed in this area, and being a “war veteran” himself he would like to explore the battlefields where people used one power of horse to travel. Again we obliged, and for those of you who know Greg will know that he is fanatical about war, an expert in World War 2! So it was obvious then, we needed to know more about our history and battles fought in South Africa. The destination would be Spion Kop, where my people (“Louis Botha and his chinas”) gave Greg’s people (“Redvers Buller and his gentlemen”) a good public bashing (we lost later, but the idea of boere hooligans is quite cool).
At first we followed the sign telling us where Spion Kop would be, and promptly couldn’t find the way up the hill. Is this maybe how the British “stumbled” across the boers? Did they get lost too? It would certainly explain why they got their derrieres spanked by what started out with 15 Afrikaner men (initially anyway). As per our “expedition” now, it just seems like Pommies seem to get lost quite easily (sneaky laugh). (Greg: “We did not get lost we were looking for some tea and scones, you guys said the restaurant was full and evicted us with extreme prejudice” ).
Eventually we found the entrance to the Kop. These days you need to duck for cows rather than bullets and I suppose cow dung smells a bit better than it would’ve in 1900. Spion Kop has breathtaking views and on a clear day you should be able to see straight into heaven… I definitely want to build my retirement home here. I’ll spoil the ghosts of the English soldiers with some gin and tonic, because this place must be haunted.
The Kop is still maintained by the British Armed Forces and it is amazing to think that these men fought and died for a country like this, It makes you feel proud to be a South African.
Being all thirsty after our mission to Spion Kop we stopped at the Tipsy Trooper in Ladysmith and let me tell you they make the most massive sarmies I have ever seen. A little known fact is that towards the end of the Ladysmith siege the garrison and townsfolk were largely living on Chevril, that is named after what we know as Bovril. Luckily our sarmies didn’t have this on it! We washed our sarmies down with some milk. For some reason or another the brand of the milk was “Luyt Lager ” (a micro brewery in Nottingham Road) and it was amber in colour, we sumise that they have not heard of Clover, and that they use a different pasturisation process in this part of the country.
Impi said it was his turn to be looked after. We happily obliged and filled him up with some freshly squeezed farm petrol and pointed his nose up the hill to the the Ladysmith Siege and Boer Memorial site. The site is sprawling and confusing but well maintained. The Boer Memorial is imposing but interesting as some of the bodies of the fallen Boer’s are intered in the memorial and thier tomb stones and veld stones are set into the wall of the memorial. By now it was getting dark and we headed back to the Central Berg.
On our way back we tried another dirt road detour and were happily riding along, with impi purring along like a lazy cat, when a realisation dawned on us that we were about a thousand kays away from the Kruger National Park and yet there were buck of every sort all over the show. Ummmm......... you guessed it, we took the wrong road and drove into some random persons game farm. The buck on the left had crazy serial killer eyes and accordingly we quickly rectified our mistake (it’s spelt “our mistake” but is pronounced “Greg’s famous English sense of directon strikes again”) by the use of another dirt road we were soon back in the Central berg having supper at Thokozisa (the only restaurant that serves pasta bigger than the Berg) .
Reflecting on how little we really know about South African history we found a new map and the planning of another trip later this year. We’ll become experts in South African wars and obviously have more adventures on Impi (now feeling very comfortable being called a Zulu warrior) – it sounds like a good plan to us anyway. This time we’ll include the Amajuba battlefields as well.
After 1300 kilometres, the vote was unanimous. Next time we’ll be riding Impi to the Berg!
Written by Greg and Louise Wheeler