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Baviaans Saamtrek report
04-02-2012, 08:54 AM
Post: #1
Baviaans Saamtrek report
From master wordsmith Chris McDuling, the first installment!

Tuesday 20th- Day minus 1
As the song goes “by the time I got to Woodstock they were half a million strong” – well lets just say that by the time I got to De Rust there was a cold beer, and another cold beer waiting for me. 2 White Syncros from Cape Town parked next to the donkey sloot with only Verine still standing and Leon and Peter tucked very deep under duvets into lalaland. So thanks Verine for the cold beers and thanks guys for the cold shoulder.

Day 1
I feel like I have just closed my eyes when I hear happy smiley voices making noises about coffee that i am not ready for yet – but Steven is here, packed, ladies seated and raring to go. They slowly got into the swing of things though when the sun started to finally warm up old bones and by 10 o clock 4 Syncros were finally heading through Meiringspoort. Well not really, because i still had to pick up some soetes and a few chicken heads and feet – the walkietalkies were not for eating, they were just to keep me company because I was partnerless for this trip and they make pretty good company cause they never talk back. So I caught up with everyone as Peter was turning the 4 Motion into the shade of a Wild Olive tree in the Waterfall parking area.
Pete and his missus headed into tham thar hills to do the regular touristy things and appreciate nature by getting the obligatory photo of the waterfall. The rest of us played mutual appreciate with the nubile little lass and her brand new beemer moerse motorbike thing in the parking/picnic area, while she and her crew oohed and aahed about our Volksies wat in modder kan ry!

When the wellington farmers get back we are ready and raring to go – well almost, so we first have a snack, a cup of coffee, and a few beers because we have some dusty roads waiting.
Coming out of the Meiringspoort pass at Klaarstroom Steve leads us onto our first bit of dirt. Lovely undulating, not badly rutted and mildly corrugated allowing us to put up a bit of speed with dust being thankfully transferred off the dry road by a mild breeze. Steve does a stop for our first wildlife sighting, and we all nod appreciatively at the rather large tortoise, an unknown species to us, which, if we bothered to look in our book what exactly specific species/family/clan this bush munching dinosaur lookalike type is – but instead we look to see what reptile is hissing at us and find that it is of the Continental family – the leiklip has taken its first victim and Peters motionless 4 motion rim is now touching dusty terra firma instead of riding on a bed of air. Not one but two little wurmpies later and the 4 Motion is ready to chomp miles again – but not before we all drop tyre pressures. [Peters compressor is so small that it not only plugs into the cigarette lighter holder, but I am sure that I saw him pack the whole thing in there]
We pulled into Willowmore, stocked up with ice and stuff, fed half of the pavement population and moved out onto the cement road. A consensus that the time is overtaking the miles and so we head straight into Steytlerville instead of doing the windey windey on the farm servitudes. On the loooooong open stretch as the town becomes more than just specs and finally becomes little houses with ants in them – Leon informs Steven on the radio that something white like smoke flashed out of the back of his Syncro, but it is gone now!
Steve reports back that the little 2.1 is singing its heart out and enjoying the substantial tail wind with a fully packed roofrack acting like a spinnaker.
When we are all together filling up the fuel tanks and Leon has managed to skweeeze 49.5 litres into a 40 litre tank, then Steve remarks that it looks like his temp gauge could be running a little high. So we looks, after unpacking a substantial amount of groceries, bedding, clothing, camping equipment, miscellaneous, and enough deep cycle batteries to make Eskom nervous, we find that this is not a watercooled 2.1 – no non onno no, it is an air cooled 2.1.

The filler bottle liquid level sensor decided it was tired of sitting in the bottle, and climbed out to play with all the other engine parts. This is not supposed to happen under normal circumstances and the Syncro has become a donor of glycol mix to the vegetation of the Karoo. But what has caused this to happen?
Who cares, we took one look at this and informed Steven of road trip rule number 1. If your vehicle cant move on its own any more then you hand over your beer and we leave you there. So we conform to rule number 1 and we depart for Mvubu minus one Syncro but happily with extra beer stock donated.
The road to Mvubu awaits with a fuzzy idea of where this rendezvous point is, but the leader for the day left behind, and a VW badge heading into the known – well sort of known unknown/
to be continued/

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04-02-2012, 10:18 AM
Post: #2
Re: Baviaans Saamtrek report
Looks great Ian sounds even greater.. you should have been a writer! you obviously missed your vocation?
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04-02-2012, 10:30 AM
Post: #3
Re: Baviaans Saamtrek report
As I said in the intro, the report is written by Chris; and he must be one hell of a tour guide, because he could have made a very good living as a writer if he pursued that vocation instead!

Wait for the next installment; it just gets better!
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04-02-2012, 07:08 PM
Post: #4
Re: Baviaans Saamtrek report
Chapter 2 from Chris.

Day 1 part 2 continued/

So now we are travelling much faster and lighter having shed the weight of the underpowered, overloaded, poorly driven 2.1 boxer, and we put up some seriaas steam to a scorching average of 80km/h!
The Gattling guns on the pillar in the middle of the main Steytlerville road turned out to be Vickers by the way, but this is already a faded memory and before we know it we are way outside the municipal boundaries of Steytlerville and looking for the entrance into Wolwefontein. This could be a sign of things to come because we dont actually know where we are and still have 30km to go to Wolwefontein and the settlement we are facing is actually Baroe and not Wolwefontein. Ironic that we are going to Wolwefontein because I did baroe a tube of solution, which I wanted to return, so in effect I already Baroed but needed to return to Wolwefontein, – who needs LSD flashbacks anyway!.
Back to reality as we turn into the real Wolwefontein this time. Hand over the solution with a very brief greeting and explanation that there is a gathering waiting to happen, and we are off again, leaving behind a shouted dialogue of something about a legless man on a trolley and a baboon working the railway lines, but we will have to go back for that one someday.

Pride is overcome with practicality as the small group stops to discuss general direction and everyone finally admits that they believe that one of us actually knows where we are going. So a phone call to Ian and a short chat with an answering machine we leave a message mumbling about rough direction, town or GPS co ordinates. A cheery Ian returns the call with a point for point description to the exact place “and when you get to the T junction in Kirkwood then just follow the signs on the well marked route” – and finishes off with “I will see you in the morning, I started cleaning my car, but now it is still in pieces”. That makes good Syncro sense.

To fuddle things up lightly some enterprising confusion expert has a board up BEFORE Kirkwood directing to campsite IMVUBU. A lenghty discussion around the merits and demerits of places with names such as Umfolozi as apposed to Imfolozi, and Mtata as apposed to Umtata, but the final decision is slewd through the lack of a T junction and Verine making physical threats of severe pain infliction if camp is not made before nightfall. We move into Kirkwood.
Here the dilemma is reversed with the presence of a T junction, but the lack of any signage. Local taxi drivers are very friendly giving directions with broad smiles, and all compete in the sport of confuse the Mlungu, with the only looser being the Mlungu as every taxi driver wins first prize in sending the Syncros in unsynchronised circles around Kirkwood. Eventually a bakkie jockey lets slip and mumbles something about “the place where the stupid white people go sleep in the bush” and we jump to this clue tearing off over potholes that were specially imported from Mozambique.

The welcoming sight of a bright red Syncro greets us at the gate. A locked gate!
Louwtjie has been here for several hours – but why bother to argue and reason with an official when your mates with all the documentation are on their way – so rather sit and sip on a few beers, read a book, do some birdwatching and make a movie. If we hadnt pitched up I think Louwtjie would still have been happily camping out for free at the front gate.
We approach the gate on foot, and it opens enough to allow pedestrians in, single file.
After several gesticulations of waving hands and mutters it is decided that we would all talk at once because the ensuing confusion could culminate in a quicker solution. Finally with a very friendly smile the camp official Sergeant with an air of finality calmly informs us that he must apologise on behalf of the main camp, because they have not informed about our booking of the Mvubu camp, and he has subsequently already booked the camp out to another group who already have squatters rights over the said Mvubu campsite. This is a right overarching all others in the SANParks rule book of bookings and he makes no bones about it, he is a book man. This is underpinned by the fact that they dont have a computer at this site yet, and the official phone is outside on the table under the tree. Thoughts of bribes, cutting holes in fences, general anarchy, all come to mind while we frantically shove five copies of email communications and shout SANParks officials names at him in a discord of irate babbling.

Our sergeant is not moved, never looses his calm and friendly nature, and in a good hearted gesture of humanity he offers a bit of a consolation to make us feel better by saying that the people in the camp have the same Taxis as ours!
/to be continued/

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04-03-2012, 10:38 PM
Post: #5
Re: Baviaans Saamtrek report
[to make us feel better by saying that the people in the camp have the same Taxis as ours!]
This is getting very interesting ,some good writing here,thanks for sharing !

Miles of smiles ;-)
Green ? a green Syncro , really ?
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04-03-2012, 11:30 PM
Post: #6
Re: Baviaans Saamtrek report
Day 1 late late afternoon continued/

When we are told about these 3 Taxis that are in the campsite, the silence is deafening and there are 5 Mlungus with jaws dropped and mouths open. The young uniformed lady standing quietly aside with her open A4 book, all the while going, ahem, uuuuhm, excuse me, hello, akskies, somebody listen to me, eeeeish, hellllooooo, and now we all hear her for the first time as the Sergeant and a raucous indignant bunch of Syncronaughts stop for breath. She asks ‘are you not all part of one group’. The penny drops and the Sergeant is waving us through open gates gesticulating us on into the bush with a friendly wave telling us not to worry about any further check in, we will sort out payments in the morning. I thought I heard him say something about, be careful hip cats, or hip ous, but then I was certain that there wouldnt be a band or a music festival here if we had such a hard time to get in and all we are wanting to do is camp.

Mvubu. The name conjures up visions of a survivor TV program or a lost island with savages chopping each others heads off and making little miniature heads out of them to hang off the cars mirrors [why did the head hunters go to all that trouble to shrink someones head anyway, they didnt have cars?] We have miner confusion in the group because we were all frenetic to get away and find the campsite so that nobody listened to the young ladies attempt at giving directions as they were drowned out in the distance by Louwtjies orchestra of diesel clatter and turbine soprano.
The place certainly lives up to the expectations of the name – minus a head hunter or two – but an absolutely beautiful drive through pristine bush, most of the way above the height of the Syncro roof, a track crossing a few streams and rewarding with glimpses of wildlife on plateaus and open patches of meadow. If we had gone only down the road to the Mvubu campsite and nowhere else, already the time and fuel would have been well spent. Congratulations and thank you Ian, what a fantastic place to introduce us to. Like the big man says in the movies “Ill be back!”

We drive on following the 4 Motion and I curse as I go off the track scratching around trying to find my mik en druk, not sure that I have even packed it in and knowing that by the law of camera, if I do find it, there will be no more warthog, Kudu or secretary bird to take a photo of. I console myself with the thought that Leon will probably capture some pristine wildlife with the 50 pound bazooka that he uses, and that Louwtjie will get anything that moves on video with a frame only interrupted by an ‘89 Combi mirror and a soundtrack sounding like a pennywhistle on steroids as the Diesel puts pressure to keep up to petrol.

Thankfully the 4 Motion in front does not have a 2 way radio. This actually makes good sense and should be a future convoy rule. If the leader was aware of the confusion about direction, and the babbling about the 2 forks that we believed were wrong turnings, according to preprogramed ESP co ordinates, then we might not have had a flawless run, straight into the wonderfully lawned, and almost perfectly level campsite, with a sight for sore eyes, 3 x T3 Syncros, camped out with awnings, and enough equipment to start up a a fully stocked outdoor warehouse franchise.

The Banana Boys were here and have been here for 2 days, and so too the Gauties who arrived here early this morning. The Kapies are sticklers for tradition, and are provincially late, barely making it before sunset, with just enough time to complete the laager, jovial greetings and exchange of pleasantries, before the last of the suns rays dip below the valley between the 2 mountains framing our pleasant piece of paradise.
An in depth discussion, much running around in circles, checking and double checking of wind direction, walking in and out of, rolling over, and stepping in and out of the concrete dedicated usual communal fireplace by Tim, Leon and Louwtjie, observed at a distance quietly by myself. Then we carry over a modified SANParks portabraai, to the middle of the ensemble of Syncros, and all stand and stare at the empty 44 gallon drum with a satisfied feeling of achievement. What a beautiful sunset from that campsite, definitely something to go back for. My camera is now altogether forgotten, and replaced by thoughts of ice cold beer and cholesterol replacement therapy. Thankfully Louwtjie takes up the call of firemaster for the communal fireplace, and proceeds to make a serious dent in our carbon footprint.

There is not a light to be seen anywhere before our bunch flick the switches. Tim wins the LED competition without even entering. Leon is not to be outdone and shows that there is still good use for ancient equipment as he fires up the gas lamp on a 2.5 metre extendapipe which lights up half of the campsite in a warm candlescent glow. After a while we get used to the sound of a mirage fighter afterburner, and the gas lamp becomes background filter for the nattering slowly starting to drown out the barking of the baboons above us on the mountainside.

There is already a civilised and very practical fire going elsewhere when Louwtjie sets to carrying out his excessive tree reducing carnage, but this other fire is not made from just any old forest. No no, this fire is carefully packed into a stainless steel, purpose built, pre school suitcase size, suitcase lookalike, portable barbeque, which is fired by eclologiclally sustainable sensible charcoal, made from the mustberadicated rindepest rind alien scrub what has to be killed anyway because it is on the wrong part of the planet. It seems like the last British outpost still has civilised remnants which run as deep as the quartzite on a Northern Cape mountainside - but wait, you cant keep the Zulu, out of KwaZulu Natal!
/to be continued/

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04-04-2012, 12:15 PM
Post: #7
Re: Baviaans Saamtrek report
trip report is brilliant,but do you have anymore pics?
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04-04-2012, 06:14 PM
Post: #8
Re: Baviaans Saamtrek report
Still waiting impatiently for Chris to write the next installment! The pics are getting ahead of the story!

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04-17-2012, 08:06 PM
Post: #9
Re: Baviaans Saamtrek report
I met up with these syncronauts in Baviaans and then moved onto greener pastures.Once again confirmation of great country we have and I cry for friends and colleagues who have moved to other continents.(not yet heaven but more of hell..)

Will,as the energy grabs me,report more on our trip.

Many highlites,mostly from backpacker joints at 55,joints at 55,realising my aftermarket decoupler driveshaft has a 78 opel 1800cc bearing and that the syncro runs like a dream without it,that my wife,frantically fearfull of 4X4 type routes,chilled after 5 minutes into our first solid offroad excursion and relating the Syncro to a tank!WOW,this bus is amazing.

I also have to give credit to the Conti Worldcontact 4X4 tyres,very good choice,and the ultimate Car magazine garageman's casebook guy in Morgan's Bay,Ally Blom,who turned my bearing crises into an AHA experience.May there be more of them around and let us spread the word.

Do not venture into the ex-Transkei without a Slingsby map (also one's for Baviaans and Cederberg) and accept that if they say a bridge is washed away in 2006 it will still be washed away!

What a beautiful country and so many (s)miles to explore.

Oh yes,and was once stopped by traffic police outside an obscure town outside ferry at Kei mouth,only to be asked how much I wanted for my bus!

And of course the ADDO Mvubu officials said be jolly and swim and canoe at the 4 stand campsite,only to be woken up by a massive hippo swimming in the pool and having to source info on crocodiles in the river from resident game rangers.

Ever heard of Vondeling,Breakfast Hotel and Bulungula?It is out there.Inscription in Bulungula guestbook read something to the effect that this guy had been on 6 continents and 100's of places,and this was heaven.

It is all out there syncronauts,on your doorstep,go out and grab it.

Maybe later,I will post more snippets of out trip.

Oh yes,any of you know Zuurberg pass and lodge,as well as Annie's place?On top of the pass you look down on an airstrip with elephants on it and people on the elephants,like Brad Pitt Hollywood style entertainment.

I must remember to tell you about Terra Khaya,the ultimate back to your roots place in Hogsback,with barefoot dreadlock philosopher(the owner) greeting you and removing blackwattle aliens for 2 hours will score you a free dinner,or bring and plant a tree and get another freebie.

The owners of Wildside ala Getaway 8 passes article phoning you on way there that the whole 8 passes area is washed out (after them driving up the mountain for reception)causing you to go to East coast for drier (washed out)coastal area,and challenging Umtata's traffic in rain on friday at 4..My Syncro nose first,me first.Chicken run ala king.African chaos and even order?

Memories memories.

So many and will add on as they surface.

Thank you as the hippies said,thank you for everything.They are religious in their own way,and mad me humble in the way they appreciated everything.
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