Africa – Week 2 Back to News List
Whales in the morning – Elephants in the afternoon
St Lucia is renowned for having hippos wander its streets, something I thought to be a bit like the myth that kangaroos bounce down the main streets in any city in Australia, but it is indeed true with the locals being surprised at my cynicism. We organised a sunset cruise that got us incredibly close to countless hippos that call St Lucia Lake home. We spent another day touring the superb iSimangaliso Wetland Park where we saw rhino, hippo and whales just offshore, it was magnificent.
Departing St Lucia, we quickly got off the main road and wound our way through the Nomangci Mountains in the Zulu heartland. The roads were a thrill and the scenery epic as the empty road ran along the top of a spine of the mountain ranges. Our overnight stay was at the truly remarkable Isandlwana Lodge that was built to look as if the building was built into the rockface, it truly was breathtaking accommodation, one that overlooked the Anglo – Zulu battlefields of Isandlwana.
We arranged to have Dalton, the great great great grandson of the very first Zulu warrior to take up arms against the British, take us on a very informative tour of the Isandlwana and Rourke’s Drift battlefields. The Rourke’s Drift battle remains one of the most heroic battles in British history where an incredible 11 Victoria Crosses were handed out, after 137 British held of 3000 Zulu in a ferocious 11-hour battle
We continued on to the beautiful region of the Southern Drakensberg’s arriving late afternoon overnighting in the equally wonderful Moorcroft Manor
Crossing into the Transkei we visited the, at times, emotional Nelson Mandela Museum, who can ever forget the 1995 rugby world cup when Mandela handed over the winning trophy to South African captain Francois Pienaar at Ellis Park while 60,000, predominately white fans, chanted Nelson, Nelson, Nelson? Incredible times, the museum is a testament to a great man, and a must see in South Africa.
We took the roads less travelled as we made for the Wild Coast, a remote and wild part of the Transkei with jaw dropping coastal scenery, overnighting in wonderful Haga Haga with only three streets and a scenic location to die for. Our hotel was literally on the beach and waking up in the morning opening the curtains to see whales breaching is something I will never forget. Incredibly we were to see elephants that afternoon, whales in the morning – elephants in the afternoon, where else but Africa!
We crossed into the Eastern Cape region and visited the Addo National Park, famed for its population of elephants. The afternoon game drive resulted in many elephant sightings including a thrilling “elephant hide” where we were only 20m away from some of these beasts, thank God their eyesight is lousy! Sitting watching a family of elephants is such an amazing experience, we could have stayed there all afternoon.
We left Addo and drove into the remote Karoo, a semi desert like region of South Africa that sees little rainfall but even less traffic. It is a remarkable landscape dotted with remote and, all but deserted, villages and a few farms running angora goats and ostriches, before descending to the coastline where we overnighted at the stunningly located Knysna, perhaps the most well to do part of South Africa. Canals we full of yachts, restaurants lined the foreshore and old boatsheds were converted into utterly stunning hotels, one of which we stayed in, it was a bit of pure indulgence that we enjoyed.
We saw the week out with an absolutely incredible days driving via the Prince Alfred & Swartberg Passes, a series of dirt passes that sliced their way through ancient red rock that towered above the track, huge boulders defied gravity while the tracks wound their way up and over an incredible landscape, all the while clouds struggled to cross the pass and folded over the mountain ranges looking more like a curtain than cloud, it was inspiring stuff and the camera worked overtime.
Its only week two and we struggle to comprehend what the next two and a half months in this remarkable continent shall bring.