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TG Newsletter: OPPIE OEWER

Oppie Oewer

(19 – 22 March 2021)

Some people rely on a little thing called ‘wisdom’ that lets them anticipate the effects of their decisions. Identifying all the pros and cons, playing out the different scenarios, and forming expectations of each in their heads.

These people know from a young age what they want to be when they grow up, what car they want to drive, how many children they want, and even what those tjokkertjies’ names will be. They have the answer to, ‘Where do you see yourself in 10 years?’ written down as an inspirational note on their cell phones.

Are they born with the gift? Do they brain-train? Are there classes you can take? Do they devote lots of time pondering about life?

Only the finest mamparas – like me – were born to see how many wrong choices we could cram into one lifetime.

I envy those whose lives are on the ‘right track’.

Because I always choose the most corrugated road, and then attempt to traverse it with the least suitable vehicle. I just try and survive the bad decisions I make. Give more gas, steam ahead and pretend like I never even noticed the multiple-choice options at the bottom.

Luckily, other mamparas before me decided to give this skill of making bad choices a sharp scientific name…


Four years ago, we met a family in Botswana on one of these adventures. They invited us to come visit them in Limpopo someday. FOUR YEARS later we finally took them up on their offer. We booked a long weekend with Gerrit du Toit, his wife Alta, and son Gerrit Jnr at Oppie Oewer.

What took us so long…? These are mens-mense. They accommodate tenting, or you can book a chalet and let me tell you, their breakfasts and dinners are SMAAKLIK! There’s a bar on the deck overlooking the river, and both Gerrit’s can take you on some exclusive adventure routes (they have ‘permission’, so don’t try and push your luck).

We got there a day early late one night and figured we’d do a few touristy things around Tzaneen. Some of the best tar-twisties whirl through these Wolkberge! Magoebaskloof makes a moegoe out of any biker with too much throttle wrist. The corners are tight, blind and full of surprises.

We rode up to Debengeni falls. Named after the ‘big pot’ carved at the base by 80 metres of falling water. Big water, big thunder and big trees.

We tasted new crafts at Zwakala and opted for the vegetarian burger. No intestines were harmed during lunch!

After filling our bellies with home-grown Tzaneen beer, we hooked it east to Leydsdorp, with a population of 6 ghosts – a former 1900’s gold rush town which for one day only became the world’s smallest city.

Chikita was heart-and-schnozzily welcomed by the security pirate… after he took a proper tjomp out of my Forma boots.

If you wanted to test your luck in those days, you’d have a 1 in 3 chance of losing. Most folks died of malaria, but short on the little mosquitos’ heels were bar room brawls and thirdly, hungry wild lions (who reportedly joined in some of the fatal pub fights).

Beneath the bar is a cellar for easy disposal of dead drunks. Until today you can still hear them call for BOOOOO(z)!

On the way back to Oppie Oewer we stopped at a mighty 2000-year-old baobab. Oom Swannie, the kremetart-keeper and his dear old friend have a bond that will outlast any history books about the area. Every inch of the tree inside was carved with names of those that think themselves significant. Trees don’t have to carry your name; they have their own!

For the long weekend, the du Toit’s already had a booking by a group called Route Beat Pro. Thanx Jean-Roux for letting us tag along with you ous.

We have never wanted to join a big motorcycle tour group, but we thought; how can we knock it if we’ve never tried it? Sometimes we must test the UNknown, to check if the UN isn’t maybe to our taste.

The night before the ride-out along the Kruger National Park’s fence, I suffered serious jitters. These RBP bikers talked the big-stof-talk. I really wanted out – I was just picturing Chikita’s embarrassment at me in front of all those 1200’s, with my slow waddles and sandy shrieks. What did I get myself into?!?

That evening, I had a handful extra rums and stress-balled up into the foetal position on my mattress. We sommer slept on the deck, listening to the Groot Letaba river tell grand stories of great warriors.

I woke up the next morning with sweaty palms, struggling to get my big girl panties on. We filled up at the garage and rode through some tuisland and trust grounds just as the early sunlight soaked up a dusty brown colour from the waking earth. Cows being herded, children playing in the streets, women sweeping the yards.

We were riding at the back of the group by the time we got to our first dry riverbed crossing. As we came around the corner, we caught two 1200s taking a quick nap. We slowly passed them, trying not to kick sand in their sprockets and parked on the opposite oewer. Was there a briefing I missed?!?

Herman showed us how to cross a riverbed by firstly fluctuating to the left, then a quick fluctuation to the right, and doing one last hard fluctuation to the left again. He might have missed the parked bikes by millimetres, but in the process he probably stretched both his lieste more than a grade 5 girl’s hair elastics.

Abraham with a capital H

We made it to the Kruger fence by lunchtime and stopped at a spot called The Beach. Some went down the embankment to go build sandcastles, while others opted for the cool water of the Klein Letaba river.

Gerrit Snr, in the support Cruiser, arranged to meet up with the group at designated points. He was already waiting for us with coldrinks, sosaties and a few beers.

The river was clear, shallow and warm; and even though there are crocodiles in the area, their taste in biker meat is a bit finicky.

We signalled Gerrit for some beers, and, being the great host that he is, he drove down the embankment, over the sand, AND INTO THE RIVER to hand deliver us some ice-cold pints.

…and duly got stuck.

We watched as the manne dug, dragged rocks into the river, jacked the car up, heaved and ho-ed for almost an hour. While quietly in the background Gerrit just got on with getting on. He told a few of the fellas to bury the spare wheel in the deep sand, go stand on top of the mound and slowly winched himself out.

Making bad decisions ain’t so bad if you know how to dig yourself out of a hole.

From here we rode next to the fence via a small, overgrown, twee-spoor track going up one or two steep inclines and diving into a few short but deep ditches.

By this time Chikita and myself had snaked up to the front of the group. It proved more difficult to avoid the horizontal boneys than just picking a fresh line ahead of the trop. There was a perfectly clear path down the first trench, through and up the other side. It was about one and a half meters wide. We stopped on the other side and waited for everyone to catch up.

Sitting under a Mopani tree, watching the guys make their way through was such a highlight for us, thanx for the entertainment!

Oke number 4 decided to rather aim for the left of the path and tried to climb out via the big rock step. Oke number 5 saw this and made an emergency nose dive into the centre of the thick sand. Oke number 6 decided to join in the group activities and bliksemed over before he’d even begun his descent. Bloody marvellous!!!

All the rest decided to enlist in this award-winning performance too. Next time I’m bringing popcorn!

When you are young you’re careless about trivial things like ‘consequences’. Decisions are in your hands – not in your head. Gerrit Jnr could not quite appreciate the standing ovation he got…

After everybody finally made it through, most of the okes (1 – 11) were getting extremely tired. Picking up a stubborn 250kg iron horse in the sweltering heat of Limpopo was becoming a deal breaker. Some of the okes (3 – 7) wanted out. They decided to take a short cut to the nearest tar.

*Psst guys – they call it training. It’s one of those decisions you won’t regret*

I was about to follow the hensoppers when Chikita gave me that look. You know… THAT look!

The one that asks, “Who does that?!?”

No backing out – there are no skid marks in your big girl panties yet – man up – grow guts – come on – we’ve got this!

One kay down along the fence we saw some elephants dipping in the river. Instant reward for a sensible decision.

We did, however, run out of drinking water. The two of us never take much to start with (makes the beer at the end so much lekkerder), but joining a group makes the ride a lot longer. We desperately needed to get home!

I think Chikita started dehydrating and lost concentration. A deep, narrow, overgrown rut in the road grabbed her front wheel, and so, she ploeged a new foundation for a future Kruger fence. She rides too fast for me to ever get her mishaps on video, but this time we had Brent in pursuit, immortalizing the graceless slide.

By the time we got to the dirt highway heading back to camp, clouds started to gather, and the sun sat low on earth’s edge. I’m convinced these big adventure bikes kick up more dust than a bitty DR. You could bite chunks out of the thick red cloud. Visibility was down to two meters and we could hardly avoid any of the stones, branches, potholes and speedbumps. Our kidneys turned to soda!

That evening we were (again) the last two at the bar with the du Toits, sipping our Jack, talking about the meaninglessness of our lives and the accompanying freedom that it gives us to make as many mistakes as it takes to become respected wanderers.

I might have never ended up where I could have been. I wasted a lot of expectations along my travels. I’ve disappointed myself the most. But at least every step was taken with enthusiasm. Over time my dreams have changed, and I’ve learned more out of living than out of books. Whatever direction I’ve taken, I took it with fervour. Whatever decisions I’ve made, I made them with gusto.

Do better, do more!


Visiting the du Toit’s of Oppie Oewer up in Limpopo. Sightseeing in Tzaneen. Having a properste bar fight in Leydsdorp. Riding along the Kruger fence with a group of adventure manne. Big bikes, big mouths, big fun!

Video produced by Jolandi Mentz (19 Mar 2021)


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