Monday, July 27, 2009

Drakensberg!

The Drakensberg mountains are a 200km long range of mountains, the largest proportion being in KwaZulu-Natal. Their Zulu name is uKhahlamba – meaning the barrier of spears. The Dutch voortrekkers, called them the “Dragon Mountains”. This beautiful range with its basalt cliffs tower over yellowwood forests, cascading waterfalls and riverine bush. P and I were engaged at the top of the Tugela Falls, 12 years ago, having climbed the treacherous chain ladder and walked along the plains of the Amphitheatre.

We left Jozi at 12h30 on Friday. Packed to the hilt and looking forward to our week-end in the mountains. We got onto the highway only to find that they had blocked off the two left hand lanes due to tarring, so we sat in traffic for a good half an hour before getting past the road works and hitting the high road.

Traffic heading for the N3 on Friday!
We arrived at Hlananati just after 4. We were told that the mountains had been covered with snow in that morning, but by that time they looked majestic with bright sunshine having melted the white caps. The Tugela falls were still frozen though and remained so for the whole week-end. (Bear in mind that the Tugela falls are the world’s second highest waterfall with a drop of 947 metres!)
The Magnificent Amphitheatre - if you look carefully on the right you can see a white strip - that's the frozen Tugela falls!
After unpacking we sat in outside the little chalet and soaked up the vision of this magnificent mountain range.  The Tugela River ran right past our chalet - rather empty though and quite frozen in the morning.
Part of the Tugela River - I love the reflection of the thorn tree in the water.

A truly magnificent sight!
Saturday morning we were up bright and early.  Nalleka and Jarred made us a delicious breakfast of flapjacks with cream cheese and biltong and raspberries and cream.  Just the thing to start a busy morning.  The unanimous decision was to take a drive to Monks Cowl and do a hike from there. Before we left, we were graced with a visit from some little furry creatures!
These are "dassies"  small plump guinea pig looking animals about the size of large rabbits.  Would you guess that their closest living relative is the African Elephant despite its size?
What is a birthday without presents!  Happy Birthday P
Once we got to Monks Cowl (the drive being a little longer than we expected!) we set off on a hike up to the Chrystal waterfall.  I found the smell of the bush and the extremely cold, fresh air no good for my asthma and decided to stop half way.  Stacey stayed with me and we slowly wandered back to base camp.  The others  completed the walk and P decided it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a birthday swim in that icy cold water and he stood under the waterfall!  Nuts, I tell you, my husband is NUTS!
A mossy log seen on our way down.
Sunlight coming through the branches on the mountain.
On our way back to Hlananati, we stopped to do some shopping at a little stall and this Zulu man was singing at the entrance.  Told me he was singing about "Mr Jesus" - he looked so happy!
Saturday night was Christmas in July.  Don't you think our table looked pretty?  We had crackers and the most delicious meal at the restaurant.  It really was a fun evening.  Ended off back at the chalet with Niunia's extra special "eggnog" and chocolate for dessert!
Sunday morning dawned too soon and all too quickly we were packing up and it was time to leave.  We went to Bergville with Alex and Michael for lunch and then headed on back to the big city.  We got home at about 16h30!  Back to work today and back into routine!
Stacey, Alex and Michael just before we left!
All good things come to an end I guess.  Time now to start planning our next trip!

4 comments:

Shaun said...

Glad you guys had a super time. Looks awesome !!!!!

Jeanette said...

Looks like you had a wonderful weekend

Avril said...

So that's why the Drakensberg is is special for you! Engaged right at the top!! Wow - how romantic - exhausting but romantic!!

Thanks for 'taking' us with you! What a lovely weekend you all had!

Firefly said...

Sounds like you had a great time. I went to the Drakensberg on my Matric tour and it was awesome. I would love to go back there with the family (or leave the kids somewhere and just take the Damselfly). The mountain is beautiful, specially around the Amphitheatre and Tugela Falls.