Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Last Part of our Holiday

Our minimalistic camp set-up

On Saturday we went camping at Golden Gate Highlands National Park which is nestled in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains of the north-eastern Free State. The park derives its name from the brilliant shades of gold cast by the sun on the park's sandstone cliffs. (See header photo changed especially for this post) Grant and I have regularly camped here over the past fifteen years. Since 2007, when we decided to camp as much as we can while travelling on our motorbike, we have spent several enjoyable weekends camping at Glen Reenen Rest Camp. On one occasion we even overnighted in a Sanparks rondawel (round hut with a thatch roof), which, for me, was wonderfully luxurous compared to our normal minimalistic style of camping.

The beauty of camping at Glen Reenen is that there is a general dealer store run by the friendly Sanparks staff so we buy our foodstuffs as we need it. We also enjoy hiking in the mountains.

On Sunday at 8.30am, we started out on a climb to Wodehouse Peak (2438 meters/7998 feet). First you continue along a short 45 minute walk to the bottom of Brandwag (Sentinal) Buttress. (See photo below) Then with the help of a chain, you clamber up the side of the buttress to the top. Once you're up there, you walk as close to the edge as you dare and photograph the camp below (Well, that's what I do, anyway!)

The imposing Brandwag (Sentinel) Buttress which guards the entrance to Glen Reenen Rest Camp
Grant standing on the edge of Brandwag Buttresss overlooking Glen Reenen Rest Camp

The campsite, Sanparks offices, accommodation and general dealer photogtaphed from Brandwag Buttress
The round rocky outcrop visible just above Grant's arm, is called Mushroom Rock (for obvious reasons). Once we reached the top of Wodehouse, we would carry on and down over this rock eventually meeting up with the road below. The entire route is semi-circular.

From Brandwag Buttress you immediately begin a long hard slog up the grassy knolls towards Wodehouse. Grant and I did this hike in 1997 and within half an hour of walking, we realised that this time was going to be quite a challenge. An hour after leaving the buttress, we reted on a crest for a drink of water and a few biscuits. In the photo above, I purposely included Grant's arm to try and give an idea of how high we were in relation to the road far below.

Grant looks up up at the peak which was still quite a long way off...

Finally, the last ascent to the top

Grant waits up at the top while I take the photo...

Wodehouse Peak (2438m/7998ft)

After a delicous cup of tea which Grant brewed on our little gas cooker and a more sweet biscuits for energy, we started off down to mountain. We made reasonably quick progress descending the grassy knolls (thinking that this was going to be easy) when suddenly we arrived on the top of Mushroom Rock (see header photo). From there the route was so technical that we found it quite dangerous. Because of plentiful summer rains this season, the rocks were running with water and the path down was almost non-existent.
We gingerly slid across and down the large, flat expanses of wet rock, clutching onto grass tuffts and tough mountain shrubs for safety. The above photo doesn't do justice to the steep downhill traverse we made but muddy moss stains on the seats of our shorts shows how difficult the route was... Eventually we were down and crossing the river. We had to walk back to the campsite, which lay one kilometer ahead, along the main road. It was with no small relief that we stepped onto the tarmac.

Grant strides ahead to the campsite. (Brandwag Buttress, where we started the climb, is visible in the photo). Being Easter Sunday, there was plenty of traffic on the road. My husband was not impressed when I suggested we hitch a ride back to camp with one of the vehicles (lol!)

A welcome cup of tea in the campsite

There was a heavy downpour on Sunday night but our little tent was as waterproof as ever. Next morning (our last day in camp), we awoke to overcast skies and before we knew it the heavens opened again. There was nothing for it but to pack up in the rain. Which is what we did.

Half an hour after leaving Glen Reenen, the skies began to clear, the sun came out and the rest of our ride home was - as always - glorious. This was the last trip on our motorbike. We are taking it to the city tomorrow where it will hopefully be sold for the worthy price it deserves. We have had three wonderful years and covered 37,000kms/23,000miles on this beautiful machine. When we return from the Sudan in August, we will look at buying a BMW Adventure. We then intend to do a trip overland through Africa (Lynda in Tanzania, has promised me a cuppa on their farm at the foothills of Kilimanjaro!) and across to Europe. Time will tell...

Meanwhile I hope to record our many bike trips over the past eight years on my other blog. More about this when I return to the Sudan.

For more of other people's worlds, click here.


  1. wow, looks like you had a great time!

  2. My you are an adventurous fit couple. That hike sounded awesome and difficult. The photos are great.I'm past minimalist camping we prefer cabins now. You don't sound like slowing down in the future either. Good for you!

  3. Hi Jo. Thanks for sharing your world.Looks like you and your husband enjoyed your holiday. I like all your photos but my favourite is the last sweet. I love hiking and camping. Too bad that we were so busy during our holiday because of my Joel and JM's graduation.

    Have a great day dear and have a safe trip back to Sudan.

  4. Thanks for popping in Lara. Good to meet you.

    Hi diane;) Once we were quarter way up the climb, we seriously questioned our sanity (both of us!) It was very difficult and we're only feeling like humans today - two days later. I also love cabins and we do often spoil ourselves with proper accommodation. This holiday we only camped this weekend. We try to keep the costs down this way, but often the desire for comfort wins out!

  5. Hi Misalyn, I just LOVE your new profile photo. I've been away so much this break I actually cannot wait to get back to Khartoum to read up all the blogs again. I look forward to hearing all about your holiday and the graduation. Bless you (((Hugs))) Jo

  6. What a fantastic post, Jo! And your photos are gorgeous! Such a wonderful place to hike and camp and so beautiful!! Thanks for taking us along, this was a terrific hike and you two are in such great shape! Wonderful! Hope your week is off to a great start -- it would seem to be!!


  7. Oh my goodness, Jo... What a fabulous hike you all had... Reminded me of some of the crazy ones that George and I have taken. Usually though, ours are in the middle of the mountains somewhere searching for waterfalls...

    So--if you sold your bike, how did you get home???? Glad you two have had such a fabulous holiday...

    Thanks for sharing.

  8. Thanks Sylvia, believe me, this hike took it out of us this time. We are finally able to walk today without groaning - ha! It was great though. Thanks for visiting with me!

    Hi Betsy;) as I said you and George were on my mind throughout our hike on Sunday! We are only taking the bike through to the city tomorrow. I will follow Grant in our pick-up and we return later tomorrow on four wheels intead of two. Boo-hoo! Thanks for popping in.

  9. You two are such troopers. What an amazing hike. And I do know how trecherous those hillsides and rocks can be after rain. The views are so outstanding. When you said sell the bike I paniced, glad you'll replace it when needed. The next long bike journey sounds great.

  10. BTW, I love that new header shot, plus all the gorgeous scenes below as well.

  11. Hi Gaelyn, I thought you'd relate seeing as you've just seen similar rocks and cliffs. I added the header to show Mushroom Rock. By the time I took that photo, Mushroom rock had dried off, but at the time it was rather challenging. Thanks for your kind comments. Oh yes, the bike is only being sold because we're "upgrading" well, going more rough with a larger tank and crash bars etc.

  12. Almost makes me sad! What a beautiful picture to start out with, then the pics along the way. I can truely say that you have given me the fever to ride...and I have NEVER ridden a bike before! I am sad that your trip is nearing an end, but praying for your safe return to the Sudan and that all goes well there! Love & God bless!

  13. Hi Jo. I will post the graduation and holiday stories on my personal blog. Am glad that you like my new profile photo.

    By the way, I deleted my latest post because of some technical problems. I don't know what happened. Some of the text were not visible. Good thing that I saved the text in Word format. Anyway, I reposted it, hopefully this time, there will be no problem.

    Take care dear and have a nice day.

  14. Jo that is such a small tent for the two of you, I would very much prefer the thatched round native hut. we go camping in our comfy caravan, in luxury really almost.
    You saw plenty of wonderful scenic places and climbed lots of mountains, a real adventurous holiday.
    Love all the great photos.

  15. You really were on an adventurous hike it seems. You do such a great job of describing it all. Looking at the other campers around you it was clear you were minimalist campers for sure. By the way, how do you fit those two black and silver trunks you have onto your bike?


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo