South Africa > Johannesburg
15 May 2013
Alas, time to leave when we thought we were just warming up! What a memorable stay here at Africa on Foot Lodge, just a brief three days, but all good things must come to an end, as the cliché goes.
Well, at least we are happy that in such a short stay, we managed to get the Big Five of African safari — Leopard, Rhinoceros, Lion, Elephant, Buffalo. Thanks to rangers Matt and Enoch for all their efforts.
Enoch drives us out of the reserve, out of Kruger National Park, back to the pub near Hoedspruit where we were dropped off a couple of days back.
And as a parting gift, just before exiting Kruger via the Timbavati Gate, a herd of zebras suddenly appear from the thick bush, or to be correct, a ‘zeal of zebras’.
Just like the male giraffe which welcomed us as we entered Kruger two days ago, this beautiful zebra is saying good-bye to us now … how sweet.
Our van to Jo’burg is at the rendezvous pub right on the dot to collect us, and stops in Hoedspruit centre to pick up more travellers.
Retracing our previous route, we soon pass the citrus territory at the foot of the majestic Drakensberg.
I always love road trips in a foreign land, simply because one can get closer to the country on these journeys. It could be time-consuming and tiring but it’s always worthwhile.
Negotiating the pass through the northern end of the Drakensburg as we make our way south.
Very ancient geology, but spectacular landscape nevertheless.
After the pass, the fertile plains are dotted with villages.
Autumn is defintely here in the ‘bushveld’ — it’s now early winter they say.
Driving through the town of Belfast, much better-looking than the other more-famous Belfast, which we visited in 2005.
That about sums up this fascinating country!
Sometimes I feel like driving in Australia — especially in some parts of South and Western Australia.
Indeed so much similarity to Australia, an equally ancient land from the Gondwanaland period.
They call this the ‘bushveld’ region — a subtropical bushland, dry savanna-like.
The welcoming sight of very green Dullstroom, famous for fly-fishing expecially trouts.
In all my travels, I have never seen such a generous speed limit for a 2-lane country road. In most countries even modern dual carriageways stop at 110. Imagine a head-on collision between two cars here, each hurtling down the road at 120 km/h!
In these highlands it gets a bit greener thanks to more precipitation.
Down in the plains, it’s drier and maize seems to be the crop of choice.
Maize harvesting in progress — in 2009, South Africa is world’s 9th largest producer. It’s used as staple food and also animal feed.
Along the modern dual N4 carriageway, we stop at a modern rest area with excellent amenities, not to mention armed guards.
Our transport from Hoedspruit to Jo’burg — a very comfortable and incredibly clean van, and driver Gert is extra-polite! Baggage are stowed in the trailer.
The amenities inside the rest area are very commendable.
And one whole wall is dedicated to this part of South Africa — we are aptly impressed.
Behind the big building, the plain stretches as far as the eyes can see, but there’s something more interesting nearby.
It’s a mini safari park. Where else can you find zebras and buffaloes in your backyard?
And the ubiquitous impalas, obviously safe from predators here.
A short break at the rest area, and soon we are passing by the power generation zone again, just east of Jo’burg. Better view this time due to lack of smog. Six cooling towers, this is huge.
We arrive at our hotel, the same one we stayed at before, just next to Jo’burg OR Tambo Airport, some six hours after leaving Hoedspruit. A quick dinner and we are soon in bed — we have to catch an early 6.30am flight to Cape Town tomorrow morning. That’s always fun!
> THE END