Leg 3 of Peter van Kets and Jacques Marais’ Beyond Lockdown, Beyond Expedition, took them to the confluence of the Northern Cape and the Free State provinces. There they were treated spectacular African sunsets, awe inspiring starlit skies, a paddle on the Seekoei River and an extreme gravel grinding adventure.

“Africa … You can see a sunset and believe you have witnessed the Hand of God. You watch the slow lope of a lioness and forget to breathe. You marvel at the tripod of a giraffe bent to water. In Africa, there are iridescent blues on the wings of birds that you do not see anywhere else in nature. In Africa, in the midday heart, you can see blisters in the atmosphere. When you are in Africa, you feel primordial, rocked in the cradle of the world.” – Jodi Picoult

Zane Schmahl putting his gravel bike thought its paces on a gravel adventure ride. Photo by Jacques Marais.

“We have left behind the seas of sand shaping the vast swathe of the Kalahari, and sailed the tarmac tides into the heart of an endless grassland ocean” regales Jacques Marais. “YR.NO pinpoints us at ‘Faugh a Ballagh’ – an ancient Irish war cry translated as ‘Clear the Way’ – but our view from a lone koppie looks across the mini-Serengeti of the New Holme Guest Farm at Karoo Gariep Nature Reserve.”

The images of this amazing space – the domain of Mama Beauty Diyantyi, PC and Mariska Ferreira – tell the mind-blowing tale of the Beyond Lockdown team’s stay upon sedge-lined shores of the tranquil and windswept Seekoei River. “You want to stop near Hanover to play local, stay local and meet the huge-hearted locals of the Xhariep region” Marais advises.

SUP searching for the last hippos of the Seekoei River. Photo by Jacques Marais.

Scale the scattered rock kopjes looming under a billion-star sky; bullet down a gold-washed grass veldt jeep track; paddle onto the glacial chop of the Seekoei estuary; or stand entranced at rock engravings dating back to when Khoisan tribes ranged far and wide upon these plains. Like the team; you may end up in deep conversation with a Karoo farmer on rainfall patterns or predator control, maybe even gate-crash a local wedding to sing along to Kenny Rogers hits while trying to dodge an 89.3% alcohol volume moonshine mix. So, go for it. Support tourism at grass-root level and help change the lives of those thousands of people dependent upon your contribution to the local economy.

The next leg of the ‘Long Drive to support SA Tourism’ lures the Beyond Expedition north; all the way to the Groot Marico in the Northwest Province. The fabled origin of South Africa’s best loved stories, it also boasts a breathtaking adventure or two. The River Still promises a peach mampoer, straight from an Oom Schalk Lourens story and a freshwater sinkhole to free-dive.

Fully loaded for adventures the Isuzu D-Max is powering half of the Beyond Lockdown team, while the mu-X is ferrying the remainder of the crew on their 9 000km journey. Photo by Jacques Marais.

Be sure not to miss the excitement. Keep following the Beyond Lockdown adventures on social media, the until the 20th of August on the following channels:

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In the absence of any light pollution the African stars come to life over the Karoo Gariep. Photo by Jacques Marais.