Gemsbok in the park
I awoke looking out over Africa as everyone imagines it should be. Our bedroom overlooked the Mountain Zebra National Park through huge glass sliding doors. We drank tea, sitting up in bed, watching a monkey family right there on our stoep and the curious sight of Tree Hyraxes (like Rock Dassies but they live in trees rather than among rocks) sitting in the uppermost branches of a tree just 2 metres away.
We eventually dragged ourselves away and made ready for the day ahead. Today was Dave’s 70th birthday and the day was perfect. Our first task was to drive around the park to see what animals we could tick off our list (thoughtfully provided by the park). We drove up the mountain to a high plateau and spotted Eland, Kudi, Red Hartebeest, Black Wildebeest, Blesbuck, Springbuck, Gemsbuck, Steenbok, Southern Boubou, Blue Crane and, of course, the Cape Mountain Zebra. This latter is very distinctive with its closer stripes and the rump markings that distinguish it from the Zebra we are all familiar with. (See photo)
We left the park to travel to Rhodes by way of Craddock and Dordrecht and then on a dirt road to Barkly East, the Moshoeshoe falls and finally onto Rhodes. We passed through some magnificent countryside and stunning mountain scenery, made especially beautiful as we neared Rhodes when everything was bathed in the glow of the setting sun – a magical sight (see photo).
Rhodes is a tiny hamlet deep in the Southern Drakensberg, at the foot of the highest mountain pass in South Africa, Naudesnek. We all stayed in the 100 year-old Rhodes Hotel where we
celebrated Dave’s birthday with champagne.
The next day we had intended to tackle the Naudesnek mountain pass, but were advised by the locals that the road was very bad due to recent heavy rains, so sadly we had to make a detour to Eliot, Maclear and Mount Fletcher in order to reach Boston via Underberg. Boston is where Dave and Barbara have their farm and where we stayed for one night before flying off to Jo’burg to stay in Karen and Ian’s home. We were very excited when Suzi joined us there and we could catch up with her news.
On Friday morning, Paddy and David flew off to Zimbabwe to join their brothers Tim, Terry and Martin and brother-in-law Brian for their fishing trip to Tafika Camp on the Zambezi River beyond Mana Pools. I have decided not to go to Zimbabwe as – apart from the fact that food is short and the lack of fuel makes it impossible to get around - they only have electricity between midnight and 4 am and that’s the only time I would have to plug in my hairdryer or recharge my phone, camera and iPod!
Now I am up-to-date with my travels. Suzi and I are having a great time here in Jo’burg. There is so much to do and see and never a dull moment. Irene and Karen are so talented with all their craft projects, Liam and Kian are always busy and, of course, Ian is working day and night with his expanding businesses (or cooking delicious meals – his way of relaxing).