9/12 (From Diary 2)
The dog is developing in to a bit of a Rasta-dog,
and I give
needed haircut along with a tick-removal treatment. We are running
out of water from the tower, and I can't figure, how to get it from
the huge tank to the little on the tower.
At nine, I drive Cingiswa to Bathurst to get airtime - bungle for
mobile talk. I can't figure why she expect me to pay - but I
eventually do. She is dropped of at the farm at ten, I can leave for The Sibuya Private
Game Reserve, a 60 kilometre drive. Despite I feel, I have no time for
it, I gas the car (16 km/l this time), and stop at the big mall in
Port Arthur to buy a cable for the GPS (the one I brought from home was a bit
short in one end, and got broken, when I opened the door: The GPS
was sitting in the small window in the door. Luckily, only the wire
The now charging GPS leads me to an intersection, and there are no
signs: The road to the right is just two tracks with grass
in-between, and a "Road closed" sign 20 meters down the road. The
one to the left seems endless, and I turn around when it narrows for the
fifth time. I ask at another reserve, but I guess I mess-up somehow,
and ask for The Shamwari Game Reserve. After 85 kilometres, and a
few hints from the only two people I see, it is there. The
Shamwari Game Reserve is a fancy place,
and the only way one can see their big animals, is to spend a night,
and join a game-drive in the morning. Rooms start at 4200 ZAR for
singles. No driving in private cars. I just recall: I have forgotten
While I'm here (where I actually planned to be to morrow), I try the
nearby Amakhala Game Reserve. At the main gate, I'm asked to drive
through the reserve to the nearest lodge, three kilometres in. Fine
with me, but I fail to see any animals, only the dung. Same story,
but I might be able to book a game-drive without a room for 900
ZAR - just I give notes in good time.
Not really the success I was hoping for, and I'll return. The tour
have been going through one game reserve after the other. I have
seen so many zebras, blessbucks, ostriches, baboons, gazelles, kudos
and wilderbeasts, but not the big ones I was looking for.
Í set the GPS for the original site once again, figuring I might as
well use the remaining day, looking for it. It leads me down 70
kilometres of dirtroads, mainly through game farms and a few fields with cows. At the same intersection, I head down the narrow trail
with the Road Closed-sign. A huge gate, with all kind of warning sigs,
blocks the road. Be aware of lions, elephants and other buggers. But
no sigs telling me NOT to go in, just one asking me to shot the
It is actually a public road, leading through The Sibuya Private
Reserve - I think. It need maintenance - hence the Road Closed-sign, I guess,
but along the trail, I se numerous animals. Some warthogs block a
bridge - till I'm close enough to make photos.
After a long and rough road, another gate bock the road. A crossing
gravel road and a sign on the other side, leading to a Sibuya Forest
Lodge. Another long, rough road leads to a fantastic luxurious
lodge. Here are room for eight in total, prises start at 3800 - for
each, if you share
a hut. I have to pay 5000ZAR a night. The reserve can only be reach
by boat, the manager tells me. That somehow explain, why I had this
hard time finding it! I explain I'm here to check the place out for
a health-centre, and he gives me the grand tour.
day-game-drives for 1600 ZAR, but I have to book them at the office
in Kenton-at-Sea. Considering how much wildlife I have seen along
the road, I'm game. At the office, they regret; there are no tours
tomorrow. However, I can join the manager for an inspection tour. I
guess that is better than none, although I fear it will only include
their three lodges. Never the less, I think this could be the right
partner for the project: Quite close, apparently good game drive,
interesting boat ride and
interested in a cooperation.
While I'm here, I check the perfect beach at Kenton-at-Sea, before I
Nice beach, but nothing else interesting around here,
as fare as I can tell.
is getting late, and I have driven 320 kilometres today, seen a lot
of wild animals, but not achieved to go on a game drive among the
The water have returned - somehow, but mixed
up with something else. I start working at the porch
with a cup of tea - which taste slightly different. Could be caused
by the material making the water look like light milked tea? Then it
is time to start supper; the planned Spaghetti Carbonera have some
kind of bacon but the rest is improvised. Added some roasted chicken
polony, used noodles, powder cheese sauce and dried oregano. It
taste a bit right, and they do like it - although Cingiswa add a
pickled cucumber with dill! Xolea won't let the dog have the
leftovers; it is his breakfast, and I give it some dried dogfood -
10/12. It is a sunny morning, and I
wished I was going for a game-drive right away
- but I ain't. I go
through the waste material Sibuya supplied me with, and try to
add more birds to the list of sights from the porch. Despite it is
early in the morning, it is strangely quiet. It might be the
extensive sunshine? Or the large, African Crested Eagle, sitting in
a tree, halfway down at the clearing?
At ten, it is time to head for Kenton-at-Sea and Sibuya's office. My
guide for the day greats me in front, and show me to a
terrace, overseeing the huge river. Here is coffee and tea, and
while I enjoy that, a few more adventures turn up.
We walk down some stairs, and board an aluminium boat. At first, it
is slowly upstream while the captain tells about the surroundings,
and point-out the wildlife we passes. It is mainly birds, but he
also give the common and Latin names on some of the more iconic
plants. A few fisherman try their luck in the salty river. It is
only sweet eight kilometres up, and pretty rich in fish, of which we
see some jumping. A Fishing Eagle take its part, while different
herons get their sheer. Here is even a Goliath Heron. A lot of the
different birds, known from the beach patrols the sandy sides of the
river, and a single Holy Ibis check the sand for crustaceans. A
couple of Cycas can be seen among the numerous River Euphorbias, but
we fail to see any hairy animals.
We stop to unload some of the guests, and I see this lodge. All
their lodges are in real harmony with the wild, and interfere as
little as possible. No feeding of the wild, no concrete, all build
on poles, tents for the guests, only solar energy and so on. And
"only" 5000 ZAR for a single night! All tents
have a porch, facing
the river, offering a great chance to observe the rhinos on the
other side. We head on to drop off the rest of the guests, before we reach the last
Right behind the dining area, a platform offers a absolutely
magnificent view over a valley. Right in front of us, some Spring
Bucks are grassing, and I'm told elephants often do that too.
We start a short game-drive, but it is real rich on animals.
Buffalos, gazelles, Élans, Spring Bucks, Water Bucks, zebras and
even a couple of elephants. Way too fast, we are out of the reserve,
and then back to the office. I simply have to book a proper
game-drive right away. 1000 ZAR, but guarantied 3-4 of the big five.
Way better than the one I bought for 2500 ZAR somewhere in Asia,
only offering one buffalo, in the fare distance, and two butterflies!
It is still too early to head home, and
Alexandria is only 30 kilometres away. I see several buffalos and
other wild life along the road, and the entire scene is fantastic:
Huge, green hills, numerous waterholes, interesting plants and
Alexandria, despite the name, is not that interesting. A few shops,
a white church and a single back-road. I do the walk, photo the
church, and try the supermarket. I might as well stock for the
supper I'm preparing for tomorrow. There are no towns before Port
Elizabeth, and I turn back. A single of the huge Aloes is flowering,
and that causes for a photos. Here are also a few interesting
succulents, and on the next field; a herd of
buffalos. I am
considering taking the public road through Sibuya, but the food is
getting warm in the car.
Back at the farm, I make a cup of tea, and listen to the birds with
my eyes closed. Then I start working, but make a break to take the
dog for a walk. We find some new trails, but they do need a machete
before you can walk them without bleeding. The Acacias and two other
bushes have fears thorns!
Cingiswa "volunteers" to cook supper, and I continue work at the
porch. Next time I look up, it is black night. She have made a
traditional South African dish; "pap", which is cooked maize-flower
added some sliced beans, accompanied by a slightly spicy sauce with
beans and pepper fruits. Real tasty! But then I figure; she did ask
about the minced meat I bought today, but not the rest of the
ingredients - and she used them.
Another perfect, sunny day, mend to
be spend on game-drive. Unfortunately, that will not be the case. It
is spend on Cingiswa-drive - at least the first half. While Cingiswa
is at the lawyers in Port Arthur, I try to get some more efficient internet. It
seems like a 3G wireless solution, using microwave from a tower in
Bathurst could be the right. It is from Igen.co.za, and installation cost 2500ZAR, including
desk, line and wireless router. A 2Gb limitless connection is 550 ZAR
a month. Significantly cheaper within a month or two! I get the
documents, and drive to the mall and buy airtime for Cingiswa, a 55
ZAR bungle internet for Xolea and 300 ZAR internet for my self.
to last the rest of my South Africa time.
On the way home, I spot a small, real green tortoise at the road.
Significantly more flat than the others we have seen, but
terrestrial. Around four years old, and the size of a hand. It get a
ride to the farm. A fast cup of tea, and I need to explore some wild
nature. I head east, and try to get into some of the reserves,
scattered along the road. Some are costal, and could reveal new
biospheres with new plants.
I take a long gravelroad, parallel with the eastbound costal road.
Within four kilometres, there have been Bless Bucks, Nyalas, Spring
Bucks and Buffalos. And of cause some cows and even a couple of
enormous Brahma bulls. At one of the ponds, some gees and ducks rests.
At the costal road,
I turn left towards East London, and look for the reserves. I find
some, but their gates are closed and unattended. Guess they don't
like people dropping bye unannounced.
Then I try to find a path to the sea, but it seems like the beach is
privately owned. Where the big rivers meet the sea, lodges and
leisure reserves have huge gate and fences. I make a few stops, and
botanizes along the road, but it does not reveal much. One entrance
to the fields
have a small bridge for pedestrians, and I take that as an
invitation. Disappointingly enough, here are nothing interesting to
After 50 kilometres driving, I find an access to the beach. The river meets
the sea at some huge sand dunes, and here are some snail
encasements, a huge claw from a crab and alike, to be found in the
beach along with a few plovers. It is a perfect beach with warm
water, a sunny day, and I'm completely alone? I try to make it into
the vegetation on the enormous dunes, but it is too dense, and I
guess there will be no small plants underneath anyway.
The return is done inland through sparse, remote
and bad maintained gravelroads. Here are scattered settlements among
the huge hills. Ever five kilometres or so, I find a single
Boophane disticha, most flowering, but two with fruits. And I
get a photo of each, I'm afraid.
As the trail descents from one hill, the landscape turn real dry,
and sandstone gravel make the home for more succulents, than the
grassland. Here are tiny Euphorbias below the huge ones, and some
tiny "Aloes", named something else, I can't recall. Huge Aloes give
shade for small related specimens and other small succulents.
Despite the long distance on these roads, it is the only place
which are dominated by succulents. Many areas are covered in dense
bushes, and furriest inland, it is all grass.
I reach a "build your self bridge", and have to find rocks to widen
it enough. As I build, two Water Monitors take cover in the nearby
pond. I get over my bridge without loosing any paint underneath the car - but
only because there are no left anyway.
Small villages are scattered over several hills, and their livestock
grasses the green hills. Some hills are covered in huge Aloes, some
in medicinal herbs. A filling station along the gravelroad makes my
turning point, and I head out towards the coast again, but still in
an angle. Home
at four, slightly disappointed by the sights, but I
guess I'm spoiled by now.
I work until it is dark, then I start cooking.
The plan was my favourite Bolognaise meets Con Cane, but only the
minced meet are the right component. I end up with something a bit
to sharp and way too salt, despite I have not added any salt -
except what was in the spices I used. Cingiswa call it eatable,
Xolea loves it and end up eating too much.
The forecast for tomorrow is not that good, but it usually turns out
better. I might try my luck up north, which should be better.
I upload another slideshow; ZA time,
12/12 Yet another perfect
I spoil the dog, petting it while I eat breakfast. A few new birds
passes; Mousebirds, Blue-Capped Sunbird, Split-tailed Drugon and
what appears to be a falcon. I planned to take a day off, but at
half pass seven, I'm starting doing the laundry, cleaning my room
and the car. The latter is a huge challenge. It was new when I
got it, and now, it look like a framer's 4x4 - 20 years later. I
can't find an extension core for the vacuum-cleaner. No more luck
attaching a hose to any water supply. Broom and bucket it is. It end
up looking way better, and as long they don't look underneath, I
hope I'm safe. While I clean up the car, a frog passes bye - rather
At noon, it is time to take the dog to the most remote part of the
farm. Armed with a machete and a camera, the adventure begins. I
head towards the clearing, but keep to the left. The aria is moist,
and the bushpigs have done some quite big alterations to the grass
covered area. A yellow bathtub sits in the middle of a narrow creek
below, which seems so unreal in all the undisturbed nature. Further
down the narrow stream, a crab sits - way more natural than the big
We follow the trail a bit, but the arid area below the first
electric poles lours me in. Here are several succulents, among them
the tiny Euphorbia I encored yesterday. A big loop brings us back to
the trail. A big cockroach is reluctant to leave, and I then I see its
young ones. Some species of cockroachs actually have child-care. An
Australian for one year! A backbone from a
large animal lies next to the road, but we don't meet any large
An almost invisible trail leads left, and it seems like an old road.
We follow it till it kind of fades away. Some animal trails
further down towards the river, and at some huge Euphorbias, a real
unexpected road reveals. It is reinforced with rocks on a steep
decent towards the river. It vanishes just at started, and we are
left with animal trails again. Best guess is, that it is one of the
first roads, leading through the area, hundreds of years ago.
The machete come in real handy, and after quite some hard work, we
finally meet the river. It is real hard to tell exactly where we
are, but I got a feeling of, the horseshoe bend will be a bit
further to the right. We follow the real idyllic river, and it does
make the bend. We try to follow the river side, but the bushes are
way too thick. A lot of machete-work bring us up to the top, but a
30-40 meter vertical drop prevents us from reaching the other side
of the bend.
Here are lovely flowers, at least six Cycas', huge trees and loads of
other green stuff. We get lost in the maze of trails, clearings and
not least; thorny bushes, in the fare end of the farm. Here are no
guiding lines at all; sun gone, hill after hill, no signs of human
activity. When we finally crosses our own trail, recognisable by the
chopped down branches, we head home. A skink crosses our trail, but
nothing else new, catch my attention.
Almost four hours have passed, since we left the house, and a cup of
tea is real appreciated. Cingiswa want a short tour to Bathurst -
just the gravel road. I'm not that hooked on the idea, considering
how much energy I have put into cleaning the car, but she is rather
I swallow my tea, and she has dispatched Xolea
for this important
expedition. We first try Bathurst General Store, but it is closed on
a Saturday afternoon.
Then we have to try Port Alfred. Here, the first five shops don't
have whatever it is we need so badly. The sixth has, and it turns
out to be six ZAR of snuff! And just one box, of cause. It have
taken us more than an hour, the car is dirty again and coasted me 50
ZAR of gasoline.
Back at the farm, the dog need a tick-removal
treatment. They have not yet attached themselves, but I find 25, and
that can fare from be all. A result of following the animal trails.
I got my share, but not that extensive.
The ever turned-on TV is turned up to max: Gospel is on. I fail to
find a spot in the shadow, sufficient far away.
Xolea get the hint; "You got the supper under control?", and start to
cook chicken with rice. Perfectly spices and real tasty. After that,
I start rigging up my alarm clock. Computer and cell-phone.
13-12 I get a great idea at four; charge
the camera battery for once. It has already begun to lighten, but I
try to catch a bit more shot-eye. At half pass six, a mongoose is
watching me through the window. He might be fast, but I get a
perfect picture - of my own reflections in the window. It was
described as a rabbit by Xolea and a rat by Cinguswa, but now I
figure it is responsible for the lack of peacock chicks.
It is a greyish day, and Xolea take a rain-check on his beach-plan,
mainly because of the cold and slightly rainy weather. As I drive to
Kenton-at-Sea, it starts raining quite heavily. I have brought a
fleece jacket and raincoat along the sunglasses, but I would so much
It turns out most have cancelled their game-drive for the day at The Sibuya Private
I'm only accompanied
by a cool German surfer, who lack waves. We
have half an hour to sip tea, and chat, before out guide sails us up
the river. The sky clears up, and despite it keep being kind of
cold, the sun dominates most of the time. I guess it can't be more
perfect for animal spotting. They have been hiding from the rain in
the morning, but won't have to hide in the shadows due to the heat.
We pass a lot of birds, like small and big heron and the Goliath one
as well. Here are some African cormorants, a young and an adult Fish
Eagle, plovers and other beach birds, martins, kites - and others.
We stop at the first lodge for a short break, then head on a bit
further up the river to the next camp. Here, we get a 4x4 and head
out into the wild. Loads of Spring Bucks, Nyalas, Zebras,
Water Bucks, Blue Wildebeest and more,
but none of the Big Five so far. I spot quite some interesting
flowers and plants, but that is not our guide's strongest side.
Then we meet two young, but still huge White Rhinos bulls. They are moving
slowly while grassing, and don't mind us at all. Their weight is
around 1300 kg each. An older male comes round the corner. It is
Africa's biggest, with a weight of 2600 kg. Not that he is fat, he
is just huge! The young ones curl up their tails, flatten their ears
and sneak off. I get some great photos of all three.
Next event is a great view over a huge valley. I kind of scenes a
giraffe, way out in the bushes, and manages to get a blurry photo.
As we drive on, we meet more Blue Wildebeests and I see a flowering
plant I never seen before. Could be an Aloe? We descent to the
cross over the public road, I drove he other day. Here, the lions
have their own enclosures on 100 hectares. We spend a long time
driving around the rather dense bushes, but no luck at all. They are
feted by catapult, and the half cow it brought by electric car.
Sound safe that they don't connect the sound of a diesel engine with
Back in the huge area, we see more Spring Bucks and more birds. The
Blue Starlings are fantastic, the Spectacled Weavers too, and so is
the tiny Pygmy Kingfisher. We end up at the River Lodge, and on our
way up, I spot a toad.
We sit and wait for the lunch at the viewing tower, but it is fare
from as interesting as last time. I nag the guide about the lack of
Big Five, and he desperately point out a group of Cape Buffalos, in
the fare distance. But no leopards, no elephants and no lions. Guess
that is how it is, when the enclosures are "too big".
Dinner is great, especially the sweet tart with loads of fruits made
into some caramelise crème. I don't dare asking for the receipt. It
is only topped by a trifle I got in Scotland, way back.
I get home in the late afternoon, and as the two
others are sleeping,
I recon the TV-signal is missing. I go through
the photos of the day, and write about it. I give the car a fast
wash, still pretending it newer went off-road.
Then I kick the dog
awake, and take it for a short walk; just a hour. When I return at
seven, I kind of hoped the cooking was started, but no. They are
I make some roasted, jacked potatoes with a bit of onion, carrots,
spices and herbs. I find a sausage, called Kameeldoring Boerehors,
and that is for roasting on a fryingpan , right??? I'm not sure
wherever it contains camel or Boer, nor how it is spiced. Just as a
habit, I make a gravy, which surprisingly turn out quite good,
despite I don't recognise a single spice I use for it.
The others appears as the food starts to smell.
I try to figure what I miss to accomplice, while
I'm at the farm. Here are still a lot of invasive plants, fences
cutting the lot in smaller pieces, buildings that need a lot of
a pool that only are suited for the dog, a road that need mending
and a water supply that need cleaning. Not things I can do without
proper tools. Besides from that, I think I have done what I could.
Tomorrow will be dedicated to look out for new bird species from
the porch, finish the primary report for the owner and pack my gear for the next 56 days' adventures. Then
preparing the slide-shows with Plants,
Best photos ,
All the rest and
the best 75
14/12 Another cold day, and it is my last
on the farm for now. I get a better picture of
morning guest, the mongoose. It will be real difficult to keep it
away from the peacock - and the mongoose is actually the indigenous
species, in contrast to the peacocks.
The slideshows are made, but the internet not
really mend for data amounts like this. Eventually I succeed, and
they are up. I rap-up some other items and projects,
then Xolea want to go for a bit of shopping in Port Alfred, while
"we" still have a car.
After a hour and a half, we return with close to 20 kilos of food,
which I by some strange reason had to pay. At least, it should be
sufficient until I return in two months.
I take the dog for a walk, way up on the remote hill by the public
road. Seen from the porch, the only human made things are two
electric poles and that short bit of gravel road. The neighbour
drives bye, and we have a chat. People are real queries around here!
The peacock female turns up late afternoon, when we returns. I had
suspected she might be roosting, and to judge from her messed-up
tail-feathers, she is. She appreciate the dog-food - way more than
Quite strange, I have only taken 1400 photos on this stay, way less than I use
The minister of Finance have been sacked, the ZAR
dropped 10% and I'm not complaining. The car get yet another
cleaning, pretending it haven't been off-road - much. Then I just
plain restless, ready to head on.
Xolea cook; Beef with oven-cooked fries, veggies and gravy. Real
good; he got it by now.
15/12 Don't sleep well, and then my alarms
start to go off at three, I don't feel that fresh! Apparently,
Cingiswa is joining me to Port Elizabeth to have a meeting with an
official, sorting out some papers for the Farm. The first hour we
drive, it is pitch dark, except from numerous stars. We meet a few
trucks, and a few bakkies, when it start to lighten.
I drop Cingiswa in a suburb, and find the airport. Drop-off of the
smoothly; he didn't bother to go out and have a look. Ticket and
security just as easy, and then I have a hour and a half to wait.
Better that, than five minutes too late. I catch up on world's news and
writing. The poor Spark have taken the beating from 2490 kilometres
on an average of 19 km/l. Some would consider that good, but I'm use
The airport seems empty, and only a few flights this Wednesday
morning. Apparently, that is how December is around here.
As I plan the route from Johannesburg to the Lesotho border, I
realises I have to go through Heidelberg, Frankfurt and Bethlehem - sounds like
a big detour to me! Though here are several malls in Johannesburg, I
rather wait for later with the extensive shopping.
I get to the first rental office real fast, but then I have to wait
for a pick-up. At there garage, it takes a bit more than two hours
to fill out papers, get the car explained and look through - and
wait for each. It is a nice car, but rigged for four. I rather get
some of the weight off, and wait for them to remove one top-tent, some
chairs and cooking stuff along with sleeping bags and alike. A bit
passed noon, my visa card is once more ripped for 50.000ZAR - this
time as deposit.
Surprisingly enough, Johannesburg let me out real easy and fast. On
Tom Jones St, a massive steam boat is parked in the water. It is not
what I'm after, and in general, I only stop a few times. Ones at a
sign that kind of tells: No Dollars. A "S" crossed over. It is first
after I have stopped to take a picture of it, I figures it means "No
It seems like endless, brown grass-fields with numerous cows on. It
is almost completely flat, and except form one fields, not much
calls for a camera. This fields, on the other hand, have somewhere
and 3000 small, black cows on it. It is huge, but they stand rather
close. Never the less, I either get a few cows or a black line on
the photos. In a bit of an contrast, a huge atomic power-plant is next.
Passes Heilbron and Reitz, but stops first in Bethlehem for the
shopping. 20 litres of water, cans, powder with taste, rice noodles,
toilet paper, muesli, taste for the water, soya, tea and suga.
Rather expensive, but I guess I'll have a hard time finding it in
Lesotho and Swaziland, and defiantly not cheaper. Anyway; it is nice
Right after Bethlehem , the first table mountains show up, and the
terrain curves up. I drive right to the border, and within tem
minutes, I'm both out of South Africa and in to Lesotho. I have to
pay 30 ZAR in road-tax, but that is all.
From here, the diary continues in
21/12 Back from
LESOTHO by the mind-blowing,
magnificent, amassing, fantastic, astonishing Sani Pass, I'm now
back in South Africa, just to get to Swaziland.
The road from the border control is fare from at
impressive as the Lesotho part, but never the less; beautiful. Grass
filled hills with a few barren rocks sticking out. Many interesting
plants, among then Banksias and huge tree-ferns. It is just amassing
how green this is, compared with the Lesotho, I just left, two hours
(real slow) driving away.
While I botanizes, a small Peugeot cross-over passes me. I think;
only Frenshmen would chose that car. Next stop, I meet with them. We
have no common languish, but we agree on "magnifique" -
cause, they were French.
I had no intentions of making it to Swaziland today, and I just
enjoy the tour and stop whenever I find some thing interesting.
25 kilometres after the border, the road flatten out, and it get
sealed. I make a seven kilometre de-tour to Underberg. Both to see
the town, but also to take avenges of the South African
supermarkets. It is endless, flat, lush green grass fields with
diary cattle, huge lakes and massive mansions. No small rondawels
her. And hardly no people. Just a golf course, a polo club, the
country club an Underberg start with nicely moved lawns and a well
trimmer ally. It is in so big contrast to Lesotho, as any
country can be - including Greenland!
Spar supermarket have all I want, and I head back. It turns out only the seven
kilometres road I already have driven, are sealed.
lush green fields are the temporarily home to many white storks.
Here are numerous creeks and rivers, few but huge farms with endless
The terrain raises, and the road passes a pass. This is close
to Dragensberg, and the iconic Kamberg is clear, a bit south. After
the pass, the fields get even bigger and smoother. Some fields are
several kilometres, but only a few cows are found on them. The road
cuts through Maloti Drakensberg Park, then it is effective farmland
Just outside Underberg, there are plenty of
camps, lodges and alike, but I thought it was a bit too early. Now,
100 kilometres of gravelroad later, at half pass five, I am so
ready. But with the exception of a farm for every
here are nothing! I aim for the largest town around - another 45
kilometres on gravel. The fields here are huge - nearly endless.
Some with maize, some with potatoes some with young pine-trees.
Finally, a sign show of to
and despite the road is just a farmers real bad dirt road, I'll give
it a shot. Could be a man living in one rondawel, renting out
another - or half of it? Several kilometres further out, pass some small farms, a
huge lodge is found. I end up in the wedding cottage with Jacuzzi,
living room with fireplace, huge bedroom and much more. And I get for 1/3 of the
price, including dinner and breakfast: 950 ZAR. Bit too much for my
budget, but it
is real windy, I need a hot shower, and it could start raining. Half an
hour to settle in and have a shower, then dinner is served in the
Deep fried mushrooms, pork roast and chocolate cake with ice. I dine
along with some interesting and humorous Americans, living in
Mozambique and South Africa. They tell me, Mozambique is suffering
from drought too. I had heard they should drown in this El Nino
year, but fine with me! I also learn the cops that stops you all the
time, will settle for 200 Mozambican Metical - around 30 DKK.
But it will happen time and time again, and one can spend half an
hour bargain it down from 2000 Mozambican Metical.
I know I have around 500 photos waiting
and diary to write, but I guess I can spend half the day tomorrow
here. And upload all Lesotho photos on my remaining airtime, which
only works in South Africa, and expires before I get
Never the less, I start writing and make me a cup of hot choco'. A
tiny, point-snouted mice joins in, bit it is only interested in the
insects. At midnight, I'm finish with a breath diary, and call it a
22/12 Breakfast is only served after half
pass seven, and I get a couple
of hours to work in the morning.
There are numerous bird voices outside my house, but it is hard to
spot the origin. I recognises the sound of doves, Guinea fouls,
ducks, cranes, gees,
different sparrows, starlings, martins, weavers, a rooster, but
there are many more.
I'm advised to visit the Giants Castle, nearby, but the drizzle and
fog are covering the area, and I keep working.
The photos of Lesotho
are made into slideshows and the diary updated, while I sit in the
restaurant. My room and the main building is filled with amassing
detailed and creative woodwork. Even the window frames, all the
chairs, wardrobes, staircase, lamps and more are exquisite
handiwork, combined with art. I try to capture some. They have been
made by the owner and his farther.
Here, the mobile internet is also a challenge, and it is passed noon,
before I give up. The plan is to reach
the Piet Retief area, for another night in South Africa. It is the
bigger city near the Mahamba border crossing. My original rough plan was
to enter Swaziland on the 25., so I'm a bit ahead of schedule. Dundee
and Vryheid is the waypoints - not Ladysmith, because my GPS prefer
the other city with that name, 1200 kilometres west of here.
I stop several times on the route. First time
quite close to The Antbear, where several
species of beautiful bulbs catch my
interest. Later, I stop along the sealed road, and find surprisingly
more interesting plants. Just outside Colenso, the side of the road
have flowering Aloes, flowering Vitaceae and many more "new"
plants. It is a greyish day, and quite cold. I start around 1500 meters
height, and the warmth form the sun lack this misty day. Fleece jacket and the
heater on in the first stint.
The first city is
Colenso, which itself is a "was then"-city. I find an ATM, figuring South
African Rand works in Swaziland, but Swazi lilangeni will be useless
anywhere else. Their mobile internet is good, and while I keep
botanizing along the road and driving, the computer uploads loads of photos in
slideshows via my cellphone.
Here are gamefarms along the road, and I see quite some wildlife -
way out in the bushland. Along the road, it is only some White
Storks, Guinea Fouls and Vervet Monkeys. Despite my GPS only
recognises the other Ladysmith, I do drive through this big and
modern city. The sidewalks are packed with people. From here, it is
endless grass fields with scattered cattle. Not worth botanizing on,
and I just drive on. The altitude remains now between 1000 and 1200
meters. The higher areas are dominated by forest and bushland.
In Dundee, the upload is completed - I hope, and I just drive on. A
field with ostriches make me do a breath stop, but they are also too
fare away for my camera.
Half pass five, it start to drizzle, and I start
looking for a bed or camp. Moolman Hotel turns out NOT to be my
accommodation for the night. I would spend the night with a light
foot on the clutch and the rev's high! But it would make a fantastic
set to a scary movie!
A smashed-up bar with a pool table, filled with Hill-Billy's and
freaks, all black.
I reach the big and modern Piet Retief, and try a couple of options.
One is so fancy, they don't open. Arabic Nights sounds entreating,
but not next to a mosque. They tend to make way too much noise in
the early morning, and here, you are expected to join in.
Finally, I find a combined hotel, lodge, bar, restaurant and camp
site. The rooms are 450 ZAR, but despite the threading rain, I go
for the 150 campsite. The girl say "take any lot you want" and so I
do: There are a brand new barn next to the campsite. Here are only a
caravan and a couple of car wrecks. I can easily squeeze the truck
in, and "let it rain".
A hot shower and a mount of spareribs, and I'm a happy camper. It is only 32 kilometres to the border, and I expect it to be a smooth
as the previous. Remain in the restaurant to work and sip tea.
Half pass nine, both the computer and the phone, providing internet,
give in, and I find the tent.
23/12 It did rain during the night, but I
was perfectly dry. Eat breakfast along the lakeshore, watching the
Cattle Egret colony. A short drive to the border, interrupted by a
tour to the gas station. It is easy to get out of South Africa as
- and now it
continues in Swaziland I will return in