Back in South Africa - Tiny step 2: A week in the Karoo - CycleBlaze

Back in South Africa

We left Mexico on the 3rd of December running back "home" a month early because of the possible threat that Omicron posed.  By the time this short tour starts thirty six days would have passed since then.  Far too long to have not being touring !

None the less, we have been able to spend Christmas with the family for the first time in a few years and have managed to stay almost fit despite our inclination to not ride our bicycles when not on tour.

Because we have a number of commitments over the next six weeks or so, we can't be away for too long.  So we have decided to do a week long tour centered around the Karoo town of Steytlerville (we had a rest day here at the end of November last year).  It will be a mixture of camping and staying in farm cottages while our digs in Steytlerville is a backpackers frequented by off-road motor cyclists.  The Landy will stay at the backpackers while we are out on the road.  Much of the route will track the (usually dry) Groot River, first heading south-east then backtracking through Steytlerville as we head westwards towards Willowmore.   The Groot River is flowing again after some wonderful rains have provided some relief from the drought that the Karoo has endured for more than seven years.  I am looking forward to the veld looking alive after the terrible condition we saw it in when we cycled through here just over a year ago.  Our route will mostly be on dirt roads apart from heading back to Steytlerville on the last day.  That is if we stick to the plan, something with which we struggle.

Planned route.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesWow, what a change from tropical Yucatan!

We learn in the news that Omicron is now collapsing in South Africa. Here in Canada, everyone is freaked, as case counts skyrocket and curfews have been imposed. In Yucatan in December we felt quite covid comfortable, but now we are hiding under our beds. What is the scene like where you are?
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1 year ago
Jean-Marc StrydomTo Steve Miller/GrampiesHi Steve

I was shocked to read of Dodie's accident. I hope she is mending quickly and that you will be able to resume traveling sometime soon.

With regards to the COVID situation in South Africa, life is as close to normal as it can be, especially when compared to the rest of the world. The 4th wave has clearly peaked although hospitalizations and deaths are only flattening out now. Large gatherings are still prohibited and the curfew that has been in effect since March 2020 was only lifted a few days ago. Mask wearing is still mandatory everywhere (mostly adhered to) and I think that has helped significantly. Wearing a mask now seems as natural as donning a pair of trousers. Scientists estimate that more than 80% of South Africans have been infected at least once so there is some element of herd immunity. I also suspect that by far the majority of Omicron cases here have been so mild that they have not been tested and therefore detected. Even though overall vaccination rates are low and booster shots for the general population were only started just before Christmas, more than seventy percent of the older age groups and the vulnerable have vaccinated (low when compared to the West but stratospheric when compared to the rest of Africa). Quite honestly, I feel a lot safer here than I think I would feel in most countries right now. Of course, that could all change as fast as one could utter the next available letter in the Greek alphabet.

Incidentally, I tried my hand at our my version of Poc Chuc on News Year's Day. My son and his family certainly enjoyed it although Leigh said the refried beans that I made on the side tasted nothing like Mexico :-(.

Stay safe !

Jean-Marc
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1 year ago
Rachel and Patrick HugensHi! We've cycled in Africa twice and the first time in the Karoo. And have stayed with Warmshowers hosts in western SA. We are wondering if maybe you know someone from Capetown who stayed with us in Boise, and then we stayed with her family on our last trip: Leana Niemand.
Racpat
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1 year ago
Jean-Marc StrydomTo Rachel and Patrick HugensLeana is a bit of a legend in cycle touring circles. I have never met her personally but have chatted with her on FB. She spends most of her time in Thailand these days - if I remember correctly she owns a house in Pattaya. She still has a website at http://www.leananiemand.org.za/.
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1 year ago