844 days, 20,256 hours, 1,215,360 minutes, or 72,921,600 seconds. That is the approximate duration of my world tour. I never wanted it to end and now, in a manner of speaking, I suppose it never has to. If you wish to go by country do so by clicking on one above. They are numbered in the order I visited them, more or less. If you enjoy reading about it even a tenth as much as I enjoyed living it then you will not have wasted your time. Grab a refreshing beverage, settle in a comfortable chair, and make a journey across the world, experiencing it as I did. Then get off your ass and check it out for yourself. You're not getting any younger.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Central/Upper Berg (Drakensberg, South Africa)

April 3rd, 2011 (January 2011) – We left the Sani Pass area and began our foray through the back roads of central Drakensburg.  Although we had a map and some vague idea as to where we were it felt a little like we’d entered East Jesus. Small villages and large swaths of farmland were all we encountered for a couple of hours. It was beautiful but a bit unsettling at the same time. 


Driving a VW Polo along a empty dirt road (we did pass what appeared to be two other tourists in a small red car at one point) can leave one thinking about the possibility of a breakdown. Sure Avis provides 24 hour roadside assistance but they’d have to find our stupid asses first. And I would not describe the Polo as all-terrain so we had to tread lightly.

Eventually, we made our way to the town of Winterton where we decided to splurge on a room for two nights. Leslie was still not 100% and I was starting to feel a bit under the weather. The prescription was a comfortable bed and a flat screen television. Yeeesss. After a good night’s sleep we drove some 30 km into Champagne Valley and went for a short hike in the Monks Cowl area. We had planned on doing a more extensive jaunt but, once again, the weather was not particularly cooperative. The threat of rain was ever present. We did manage to have a nice stroll and were still able to take in some of the area’s natural beauty, passing rainclouds and all. One advantage to cruddy weather was the distinct lack of humanity. This adds a nice touch to the desolate scenery.



















After Winterton we continued north to the ‘Upper Berg’ for a couple nights of camping in Royal Natal National Park. We had intended on camping in the Cathedral Peak Nature Reserve (breathtaking area I might add) but the campsite was less than inspiring, the weather still poopy, and the hike we wanted to do was closed due to landslides. Superb.  Royal Natal made up for it. The campsite had a nice backdrop and this area, like all of Drakensberg, was rather striking. We passed a day trekking to a spectacular waterfall and spent a couple of hours taking it in, snapping a pic here and there. I even made an attempt to swim beneath the falls but the icy waters kept me and my nards from getting very far. On the way back we encountered a troop of baboons that kindly posed for a few shots. We thanked them and moved on.

















Our next destination was supposed to be Tugela Falls and a hike along the top of what is known as the ‘Amphitheatre’ of Upper Drakensburg.  We never made it. We inquired at a nearby Hotel about the possibility of getting all the way to the Sentinel car park (where the hike begins and a hut to sleep in can be found). The women at the front desk assured us we could manage in a 2WD vehicle. The women at the front desk must have been huffing glue. 

Daylight was fading but we decided to give it a shot. What we found was a breathtakingly beautiful mountain ridge road strewn with small boulders and rocks of varying sizes. I took our silver box (i.e. the Polo Vivo) as far as I could (which was probably 5 km farther than I should have) but in the end had to capitulate once again. The Polo took a beating but endured magnificently. There more than a few tense moments when we thought we might just tear the bottom out. We didn’t…thankfully. Even if we had made it all the way we might have been trapped there for days. As we were retreating it started to rain and continued on most of the night. I can only imagine the condition of the road afterward. It really was quite a shame because the scene we were presented with was just plain awesome. I would have loved to see more, much more. That was the first time we regretted not splurging for a 4WD but certainly not the last.

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'Love me or hate me, but spare me your indifference.' -- Libbie Fudim