Thursday, 19 April 2007

South African Holiday Part 6. Kruger - Pta - Sydney

Part 1 - Sydney - Saldanha
Part 2 - Saldanha - CT
Part 3 - Cape Town
Part 4 - Pretoria - Kruger
Part 5 - Kruger Park

The final camp we stayed in was Olifants, and although the closest exit gate to there is Phalaborwa Gate we decided to exit via the Orpen Gate as the best animal viewing is around Satara and we fancied a dramatic last drive. We were out of the camp at 6am, and left the Kruger at 11am on Saturday 18th March.

During the drive I was looking at the map and I realized that the Klein Drakensberg (small dragon) range was really close by, so we took a detour through the mountains on the way back to Pretoria. The mountains are stunning, they rear up from the lowlands in a wall of rock layers, and I couldn’t help thinking of the early explorers and trekkers having to find a way through. I’d also picked up a copy of Jock of the Bushveld (one of my favorite books as a child) while we were in the Kruger, so the ox-wagon era was fresh in my mind.

We had a glorious drive though the Berg, stopping at a few lookouts and pausing at Bourkes Luck Potholes. Milord reckons that is the most uninviting name ever for a spectacular river gorge, and if I hadn’t been raving about it he wouldn’t have stopped! (In my teens I did a 3 day hike along the Blyde River which ended at Bourkes Luck Potholes, so I knew all about them) In that area the Blyde River has carved a deep gorge, and where the water eddies it has created bowls and tubes through the rock, called the potholes, quite spectacular, and lovely to see running water after so long in the dry bushveld. We stopped to look out over the escarpment at Gods Window, and then made our way to Graskop where we grabbed a couple of burgers for a late lunch. Then down, down, down the mountain and south to pick up the N4 and head back to Pretoria.

We got back to Shane’s around 6pm, which meant we’d been on the go for 12 hours! Milord said it was such an interesting drive that he hadn’t felt tired. Even once night fell the “Hijacking Hotspot” signs on the highway kept him alert ;-). At Shane’s we had a very well earned couple of beers and I was asleep before 10.

Our final Sunday in South Africa was spent quietly. While Shane and her family were at church Milord and I burned all our photos to a dvd and started packing. Stephan cooked a chicken in the kettle braai and we had lunch sitting outside in the glorious dry heat. We were so lucky with the weather while we were in South Africa. Only one day of rain the whole time, only a couple of windy days in Cape Town, and generally hot. It was scorching in the Kruger Park, but so dry that it was bearable – at one point Milord said “How can it be 38 degrees and I’m not soaked in sweat?” We blessed the car aircon, and it was a pleasure to step into cool buildings every so often, but really we enjoyed the heat most of the time. The past summer in Sydney has been so disappointing that it was lovely just to be hot!

Shane and family dropped us at the airport at 3pm, we flew out at 5pm, and got into Sydney at 2:30pm Monday afternoon after 11 hours in the air. Argh, lost a day somewhere there! We had a shower, went out for dinner, and were asleep by 8pm and slept a solid 12 hours to 8am on Tuesday. Milord went to work and I started sorting out our photos. It took a week to cull and stitch them from 600+ to 300!

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