Last week Friday while sitting in the office, in between emails and phone calls, I wanted to check on Google where there are some awesome pubs to go to in South Africa. Since it was a long weekend, there would have been plenty of time to recover from a serious hangover, or the “val” just before the hangover. (See what I did there…)
I typed in my search query and it brought up some websites showing a host of famous pubs in SA. Some of them dating back over a 100 years. On one website the guy wrote about the Val Hotel (as in waterval in Afrikaans, just without the word water infront). It’s a pub in the middle of nowhere in Mpumalanga, about 150km from Johannesburg. I was interested.
Here is our motorcycle route review!
The journey begins
After finding out a bit more about the place, I decided that Saturday was going to be the day to go an explore this mythical place.
The Route There
It was about 8AM, the sky was a perfect blue and a cool breeze blew outside. Basically it was a perfect day for riding. Autumn must probably be the best time of year for riding a bike since its not too hot or cold.
We headed out from the Fourways area, onto the N1 North, and the onto the N3 South towards Durban. It was the start of the school holidays so there were few cars on the road all going to Durban. Luckily we didn’t have to stay on the highway too long.
Just after Heidelburg, we took the R23 towards Balfour. These roads were amazing. Beautiful countrysides all around with very few cars on the road. Since I haven’t been on these roads yet, I was taking it very easy. Which is nice, as I got to take in more of the country side and spend quality time on the bike.
The Val Hotel is located about half way between Greylingstad and Standerton.
Just before the turnoff onto the R547 where Val is located, they were busy with some roadworks. Its easy to manage with any motorbike, just a bit of an inconvenience. Not too much of a hassle though.
Once you get to the R547, you take a shot left, and about 5km later you turn right into Val. It takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes to get there.
Now this is where things get interesting. Val is a small town, surrounded by farms, that basically only consists of the hotel. Yup, that’s it. On the one side of the road is the hotel with the restaurant and pub, and on the other side of the road is the old railway station and the post office. Both of these buildings have been converted, one into a back packers, and the other into rooms which form part of the hotel. Right next to them is the railway line which I believe is the main route between Johannesburg and Durban, so trains pass there frequently.
As soon as we parked the bikes in front of the restaurant, I could here music playing, and thought it came out of the restaurant itself. But no, it didn’t. I then noticed on the other side of the road is a telephone pole with a speaker at the top. It was playing old 50’s era songs. We were the only ones in the street and I thought we stopped right in the middle of the twilight zone!
The bar looks like one of the typical ones you see in western movies, but more a more South African version, decorated with old traffic signs and small farming equipment. Outside is the restaurant area leading onto a huge lawn. You immediately feel relaxed as soon as you sit down and realize just how peaceful it is there.
We decided to try the “Lekker Breakfast” on the menu and one of their craft beers, which was the perfect way to start the long weekend.
After the meal, we walked around the town a bit a headed to the railway lines by the back packers where we sat down for a while. It just seems like there is no rush, you don’t feel like you need to be anywhere and that whatever is happening anywhere else in the world just doesn’t matter.
The Route Back
I didn’t fill up in Greylingstad thinking that there is a petrol station in Val, so we decided to ride to Standerton to fill up there. About 5km from Standerton, I had done about 210km on the tank and the fuel light came on. Luckily we weren’t too far away and were able to reach a petrol station easily before running dry,
From Standerton we took the R546 up towards Evander (near Secunda) where we climbed onto the N17 back towards Johannesburg. This is also a beautiful road, with great scenery all around. The road back on the N17 is great as the highway is well maintained and traffic not too bad.
I would definitely do this route again. It is near enough to Johannesburg and Pretoria to easily complete in a day (even in half a day) but far enough that you actually get the feeling that you are on a road trip away from it all.
Total distance is about 400km, so most people will need to fill up at least twice, depending on the bike (I have a Yamaha R1) and the speed at which they are riding. I would recommend filling up before you leave, at Greylingstad and at the petrol station just before you get onto the N17 back to Johannesburg. But you can also do what we did and fill up before you leave and in Standerton only.
Take your time on this one, as it is awesome just to cruise along these roads and take in the scenery as you go along. Even though we didn’t stay over, I would definitely consider it for the next time I go there.
I definitely give this route 5 stars! Please let us know in the commetns below or on our Facebook page what you think of this route.