Rich in breath-taking scenery, culture, history and wildlife this 10 night self-drive journey through Kwazulu Natal takes in the highlights of the Drakensberg Mountains, the Battlefields and one of the finest Big 5 Game Reserves in South Africa
In conversation with Charley Boorman
We asked Charley Boorman, the charismatic modern-day adventurer, travel writer and motorbike enthusiast about his travels to Africa and particularly South Africa...
What are your travel ‘must-haves’ when you head to Africa?
Baby wipes and a sleeping bag; as long as you’re clean and have a good night’s sleep you can do anything. Music is also really important and when I’m riding I listen to audiobooks; I’m dyslexic so it’s a great way for me to read books while I’m on the road.
You spent quite a bit of time on the road in South Africa – any close shaves?
I remember there was one really scary bit when we were up the Sani Pass, which is this incredibly precarious road through the Drakensberg Mountains and it was really icy. We attempted to go up on our bikes but we just couldn’t get any further, so we tried in the 4x4. The car began to slip backwards and we almost went off the edge of the mountain. We all had our hands on the door handles ready to bail – it was seriously terrifying!
How does South Africa compare to other places you have been?
South Africa is one of my favourite places in the world, everywhere you look there’s a photo opportunity! The thing about South Africa is that it’s been given a lot of bad press and people seem to think it’s a really dangerous place, but I’ve never had any problems. A lot of people already know Cape Town and Johannesburg, and they’re wonderful places, but it was when we got out of the well-known areas and started travelling around the country that we really discovered the true jewels in the crown. The Sani Pass and surrounding mountains have to be one of the most stunning places in the world.
You are known for your enthusiasm for motorbikes. What would you say is the most scenic road-trip in South Africa?
Hard question, there are so many amazing places to ride out in SA! The dramatic scenery of the Winelands was truly breath-taking, but the Garden Route is a really beautiful road to ride on, with the Indian/Atlantic Ocean right next to you. Riding on a bike is the best way to really feel like you are part of the scenery, it’s so easy to jump off the bike and chat to people, which is when you really get a feel for the place.
Is it true you abseiled down Table Mountain? Scary? Would you recommend it?
I did, it was great fun and I would definitely recommend it. It was certainly an adrenaline rush and the amazing views make it well worth the fear factor!
Also, we know you went shark cage diving – tell us about that.
It really was incredible, you’re in this cage attached to the side of the boat and the guys on the boat just shout “Down, down, down!” and when you put your head under the water the sharks are right in front of you, banging their heads on the cage. It’s terrifying having them so close but just amazing, such an adrenaline rush! We also went diving in the sardine run, we weren’t lucky enough to see a feeding frenzy but we did see 600 dolphins – at least 600, it could easily have been more – we were so lucky to swim with them.
Most interesting individual you met in South Africa? And why?
I think that’s one of the best things about South Africa – the people are so welcoming and friendly, and we met some amazing people all along the way. The Kalahari Bushmen were really jolly, fun people – even though over the years they have been slowly pushed out of their lands and it becomes harder for them to maintain their culture. The people living in the township we visited were also really happy, fun people – I think that’s the amazing thing, these people go through some really difficult times but are just so happy and friendly – it’s really inspirational.
If you were to recommend doing one single thing in South Africa – what would it be?
Explore. There is so much to see, I couldn’t pick one thing – there’s something for everyone in South Africa, amazing food and wine, adventure activities and beautiful beaches and scenery. There’s just so much to do and see, I’d really recommend you plan everything you need to beforehand and then just get on a bike and go and have an adventure.
The Drakensberg Mountains are another of Charley’s favourite spots in South Africa.
Check out our Mountains, Battlefields and Lions adventure around KwaZulu Natal.