Schoenmakerskop - The ninth step ... Somewhere in South Africa - CycleBlaze

Schoenmakerskop

EDIT: The "plan" as laid out below changed significantly!

Like many other folks, our plans for 2020 had to be tossed out the window.

While making our way through Patagonia earlier on in the year we had envisaged ourselves spending the austral winter struggling through the thin air of the Panmir Highway.  Instead, after a mad scramble to get back to South Africa in late March as COVID-19 wreaked havoc through the world, we eventually ended up spending much of it back at Schoenmakerskop, a little hamlet on the coast outside Port Elizabeth.

Before we sold up and became nomads, Schoenmakerskop was our home for almost nineteen years so being back here has a bitter-sweet familiarity to it.  The lockdown restrictions have meant that interactions with our previous neighbours have been limited but it has meant that we have been able to enjoy our favourite old cycling routes along the coast or into the more rural areas west of Port Elizabeth.

South Africa's lockdown has some of the most severe restrictions, many of which seem quite illogical, but last week the restriction on travel for leisure purposes was lifted, albeit that one may not cross provincial boundaries.  The Eastern Cape, the province that we are in, is quite large and varied so cycle touring around it can keep us occupied for at least a few weeks.

The road down to Patti in the Cape Receife Nature Reserve. Much of the area around Schoenmakerskop is dedicated to nature conservation.
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The idea is that next week Wednesday (the 12th of August) we will hit the road and start an open ended, mostly clockwise, perambulation of the western half of the Eastern Cape.  Much of this area falls into the south-eastern portion of the Great Karoo, the semi-desert that covers a large part of the South African interior.  It has a relatively low population density but its towns and settlements are seldom more than a hundred kilometers apart.  We have covered much of this area before by motor vehicle but it will be good to see it from the seat of a bicycle. 

This map illustrates the low population density in the Karoo areas of the Eastern Cape. Apart from in towns, the population density is less than 1 person per square kilometer.
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We can expect to be traveling from sea level to over 1800 meters, much of it on gravel roads and the weather could vary from over thirty degrees to below freezing.  Accommodation should come in the form of campsites, hotels and guest houses and possibly some wild camping.  We are not particularly fit but we are not in a hurry and have no time constraints.  With no real plan we will be taking it as it comes.

This map vaguely illustrates the topology of the area through which we plan to cycle. Schoenmakerskop is on the coast in the bottom right hand corner. Between the mountains closer to the coast and the Sneeuberge rising over 2500 meters in the north lie some of the vast plains of the Karoo. The highest point on the approximate route we have in mind will be just over 1800 meters.
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Scott AndersonI’m really excited to follow along on this one. More than once Rachael and I have researched a South Cape tour but could never quite decide if it sounded safe. It will be great to get a first hand report.
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5 months ago
Jean-Marc StrydomTo Scott AndersonHi Scott. My apologies for the taking so long to reply but I didn't have much to contribute at the time. Since then I have come upon the following group on Facebook that you might find interesting and useful. "South African Bicycle Touring, Bike Packing Travelers & Warmshowers Hosts" found at https://web.facebook.com/groups/269463207290350
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1 month ago