Joburg to Nottingham Road

Aahhhh yeah, finally got a decent sleep. Good call not to hit the town last night after Potato Shed. Get up and head downstairs, Waldo is just getting ready for work. He makes espresso and Megan makes us an energy tonic. That should get us on the right track. They also load us up with some roadtrip supplies: peppermint chocolate, milk stout, and a bag of biltong.

Waldo is about to head off to work and I want to get a pic before saying goodbye. Unlock my phone and the facebook app is open. It updates and tells me that 6 years ago today I met Waldo! What the hell? I show him the pic. Damn that’s amazing timing. And it’s Bastille Day too? The pic is from the Mongol Rally launch party in Goodwood, UK exactly 6 years ago.

We grab Toe Licker and snap a farewell shot. We thank Waldo and Megan for the airport pickup, the accommodations, the night out and the hospitality. Couldn’t have started our trip in SA any better than that. Hopefully it won’t be 6 years since we see each other again.

Peter and I pack up all our gear and toss it in the back of Megan’s car. She’s going to visit her folks in Pretoria today, the country’s capital, and has offered to take us to a breakfast spot in the direction of the car rental place. We stop in at a place called Bean Tree for breakfast

The epic tennis match last night made front page news 

While we’re waiting for the food to come we get some info from Megan about where we should go. She suggests Nottingham Road. The drive is nice in there and there’s a brewery and a fun pub called Notty’s. That sounds good, looks like it’ll take about 5 hours to get there and will place us just North of Durban and within striking distance of Sani Pass if we decide to make our way into Lesotho.

Oh yeah, this is gonna hit the spot.

Still making open-faced sandwiches every chance I get


We finish up and give Megan a big hug goodbye. They’ve been so great to us, couldn’t have had a nicer couple to crash with. 

Peter and I go to the rental car spot and get ourselves a weakass, but hopefully reliable, Volkswagon Polo. We do the inspection, drop a card on it, check off a bunch of boxes for insurance purposes, throw our bags in and hit the road. This thing maxes out at 110 km/h on the ring road around Joburg. No balls at all. 

Ahhhh but it’s nice to be on the move, now it feels like a proper Distance From Normal trip. Speaking of which, let’s reset that odometer and see how far a drive it is to Cape Town from here. We curve round Joburg and find hwy 3 heading South. There are some tolls and what look like photo speed checks. How does that work with a rental? Find out later I guess.

The scenery South of Joburg is nothing short of… nothing. There’s nothing as far as you can see. Absolutely nothing. “Where are we Wyoming?”, “Maybe we took a wrong turn into Manitoba?” There are controlled burn patches by the road in case this mass of nothing catches fire. Other than that, not much to say.

It starts raining. There’ll probably be snow in the Sani Pass if we get to it tomorrow. I DJ us some tunes and sing-alongs as we blast through the rain. Not much to look at but the roads are great and we’re making good time. There isn’t a tree, rock, river, hill or anything for… probably about 200kms.

We come to a large roadside plaza so we pull off to take a leak and get some snacks. The Polo is doing great on gas, that’s a bonus.

Another 50 clicks South of Reitz and the landscape finally starts changing a bit. There are trees by the road that look like they have ornaments on them. Must be hives or nests of some sort. The elevation starts going up and there are rock outcroppings up to plateaus over the plains now. The next 2 hours are much more interesting.


We’re getting close now. We get off at Mooi River to avoid the plaza toll and go to the 103 towards Nottingham Road. Crazy potholes. Total car Killers. Should just stick to the tolls it seems. There’s a sign that says ‘High Accident Zone’. Wonder if that’s the winding road or these potholes. The countryside here is nice though, rolling hills with spruce and pine trees. We pull through a town called Rosetta. Megan had mentioned that this place may be a good spot to crash. There are a lot of Bed and Breakfast style places, some ranches, it’s a quiet drive through lush greenery beside the Mooi River.

Nothing jumps out at us as a must stay kind of place so we just continue into Nottingham Road. We blinked and mostly missed the town, but there’s a stellar looking German beer hall on the side of the road called Bierfassl. Yes please!! After nearly 5 hours on the road we could definitely throw back a beer or ten.

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