Brits, Vaalwater, Thabazimbi – 1 or 2 days (adventure bike)

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The southern side of Marakele National Park and some bad weather approaching.

1. Total distance of route and date of ride?

649 km, 27 October 2012

2. How long did it take to complete?

It took a full nine hour day. It could easily been more, but there was a lot of tar on the way back. And I kept it pinned to get out of the rain. So this would probably be a great route to do over two days.

3. Why do you recommend this route?

It’s a full day’s riding. It takes you out the city and on some exciting gravel roads. It’s also a fantastic adventure route full of training opportunities with thick sand and rocky bits.

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On the way to Rooiberg
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Northern border of Marakele National Park. I hope you like sand.
4. Please tell us how the route runs.

The day started in Pretoria but the trip actually in Brits. Head north-east out of Brits towards the Brits Airport. Keep on this road towards Jericho. Just outside Jericho turn off to the left towards Borakala Game Reserve. You can’t pass through the reserve, but you can work your way around it towards Rooiberg.

From here keep on moving north to Marakele National Park. Pass Marakele on its western boundary and then on the northern side. Work your way through to the R517 just north of Vaalwater. From Vaalwater ride towards Thabazimbi while staying on the southern border of Marakele. From Thabazimbi take the R511 back to Brits. Refer to map for detail as many of the roads are less-travelled gravel roads!

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Borakalalo Game Reserve’s gate.
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Between Rooiberg and Marakele National Park
5. What kind of motorcycle is the route suitable for?

Adventure bikes. And bikers with basic skills to go off the tar. On this route you will ride on and over sand, rocks, water and damaged bridges.

6. Please name significant points of interest along the way.

Just to see a genuine, untouched mountain outside Gauteng was amazing. There were weird scarecrows hooked onto fences and hanging in trees keeping an eye on my progress.

Rooiberg is a very interesting little village with a shop and garage. There are some great places to stay around there. Vaalwater is another nice Bushveld town. This region has some fantastic things to do and places to overnight at.

7. Are there petrol stations along the way?

There are enough fuel stations. You can fill up in Rooiberg. They have one privately-owned petrol station there. Vaalwater has fuel and Thabazimbi too.

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The northern border of Marakele National Park. It feels like the middle of nowhere.
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The southern edge of Marakele National Park, on the way to Thabazimbi.
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The northern border of Marakele National Park, on the way to the R517.
8. Are there any dangers along the route?

Warning lights should come on after leaving the Borakalalo Game Reserve. It’s really sandy from there. Around Rooiberg is where it gets rocky. The roads around Marakele should also be approached with caution.

9. What did the trip cost in fuel, meals and accommodation?

Fuel was R520 and some pancakes in Rooiberg R12.

10. Did you use any special gear?

I always have my little med packs, water packs and tire repair kits at hand.

11. Did anything funny happen that you’d like to share?

Yes, I had one really awesome spill. What made it funny was that I was forewarned.

I stopped at Rooiberg and a man started talking to me about my trip and where I was going. He warned me that the roads were quite wild, with wild pigs running around. And about a twin-spoor road which suddenly becomes a gorgeous road and then again very sandy around a corner. In that corner a lot of bikers goes down.

So I did see the pigs and some buck. I did travel on the twin-spoor road. I did get to the lovely dirt road. I did speed and I did fall!

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The sand pit. Northern border of Marakele National Park.
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Nothern border of Marakele National Park. The bridge is gone, but there is a stone wall made for crossing.
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The southern side of Marakele National Park, Bakkers Pass
12. Do you have any other comments or advice about the route?

Take pictures and have fun. It’s a nice day-route, with everything to get you out of your comfort zone and give you that feeling of adventure.

13. Any doctors or hospitals in the area that you know of?

Brits Hospital: 012 252 3311, GPS co-ordinates:  25° 38′ 41.97″ S; 27° 46′ 46.74″ E

Thabazimbi Hospital: 014 777 1599, GPS co-ordinates:  24° 35′ 52.74″ S; 27° 24′ 24.60″ E

Vaalwater Clinic: 014 755 3839, Sanddrift Road

Save emergency numbers to your cell phone, before you go.

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Southern side of Marakele National Park, Bakkers Pass
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Western border of Marakele National Park
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Southern side of Marakele National Park

Ride report by Gideon Rossouw

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