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July 26th 2013
Published: July 26th 2013
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Despite having been to Africa before, today has been the hardest day of travelling we have ever experienced. Ten hours on the road to cover 600 km, or to put it another way an average speed of 37 mph. For the cyclists among our readers we have had a total gain today of 22,000 feet and we are now up in the Drakensberg Mountains. Meg has been complaining of dehydration and altitude sickness! The Eastern Cape where we started this morning is very different to places we have travelled before in South Africa and Namibia; it has suffered from under-investment for many years and the road infrastructure is fairly poor. We had completed nearly 20km this morning before we were able to get into fourth gear.

Today we had another first, something that we said we never do, that is to travel after dark on the rural roads, where you have to look out for cars without lights, vehicles with one headlight so you think it’s a motorbike, cyclist without lights - normally on your side of the road but coming towards you – oh, and not forgetting the pedestrians. This is on top of speed humps that aren’t signed or lit that could be classed as mountains and pot holes deep enough to be mines. Added to this, two days ago our GPS finally gave up, being vibrated like mad on my cycle trips and holidays in Namibia and here, so we are using local maps which aren’t always that accurate... well it all adds to the adventure.

That being said we have seen the most amazing scenery as we made our way through the rolling hills of the Eastern Cape into the beautifully rugged mountains and amazing mountain passes, all of which we would have missed if we had stuck to the normal tourist routes.

We made a quick stop - well it would have been a quick stop if the directions were correct - at the school our first bursary student is now teaching at. We received a wonderful gift of her graduation pictures that we could take back with us.

Not much more to add about today really: we can let the pictures do the talking, just to add when we got to our destination which seems like an oasis of luxury, Rob’s hands were tingling from the hours of vibration. We are sorry we didn’t manage to get any photos of the sensational sunset over the mountains: we really were more concerned about getting off the gravel roads before we completely ran out of light!

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