Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Our mid-week sortee continued

This is a continuation of our trip down to Kwa Zulu Natal to spend time with John, Debbie and our precious Natal grandchildren
On the road again... This is one of the most beautiful scenes in the Eastern Free State. In all the years that we've travelled this route - always by motorbike - I always explain beforehand to Grant that I'd like a photo from the top of this rise. He always tells me to tap him when I want him to stop and take a photo. I always tap him on the shoulder about five hundred meters from where I know we'll crest the hill and have a wonderful view. He always reacts by continuing until we have gone over the crest and stops in the dip below and it is far too late to get a good photo. Last week I used my P&S Sony Cybershot to capture the picture I want. Only thing is I KNOW that with my big camera (which we have to stop and retrieve from the luggage box) I can take a REALLY good photo. *sigh*
We came up behind a truck transporting two oxwagons. An oxwagon was accommodation and transport for our ancestors while they pioneered Africa. Today an oxwagon makes an interesting and different type of accommodation for tourists. I surmise these wagons were taken to a nearby holiday resort which specializes in this type of accommodation 
Coffee from the flask and sandwiches (just visible in the green Tupperware on the bike seat) has become an institution on our bike sortees. While enjoying our refreshments, other travelers (normally all our age-group and older) stop to chat. A South African lady and family visiting from Australia wanted to know where we'd come from and where we were off to.  They, in turn, told us where they were stayin while hiking the Golden Gate National Park mountains. They thought our method of transport was a really neat way to travel
The Red-winged starlings are common residents and become very tame in car parks and campsites. Here the female (with a matt grey head) pecks at a bit of bread Grant dropped for her. The male, who is glossy black all over except for rufous wing bars visible in flight, watches and waits for thr next tidbit
A close-up of the female Red-winged starling who also has rufous wing bars visible in flight (the slightest colour is peeping out under her wingtip in this photo) Here you can see her matt grey head
At the top of the pass after crossing the border between the Free State and Kwa-Zulu Natal,  the mist closed in and the conditions turned cold, wet and rather treacherous

80kms down the road as we reach the Oliviershoek Pass, which descends into the valley at the start of the Natal Drakensberg, the mist closed in on us. It started raining and the weather turned icy cold. Grant stopped the bike and I donned one of the most important items of clothing in my experience as a biker: the Drizabone. Many years ago, while working on the gold mines in West Africa, Grant asked an Australian collegue to buy two Drizabones when she went home on leave. She returned with a jacket for each of us at the princely sum of 200 Australian dollars. It was the best money we've ever spent for our bike travels and we never leave home without them. (For non-Australians out there, a Drizabone genuinely keeps you dry-as-a-bone!) Clad in my Drizabones, I sat on the back of the bike and sang songs of praise behind my visor while we rode down the mountain in third gear. The mist was so thick, we couldn't see further than a few meters of the road. I thank God for my husband's experience  - he started riding motorbikes when he was eight years old - and take my hat off for the calm manner in which he got us safely to the bottom and back under clearer skies. The whole time we were in the 'Berg, it rained on and off which is never a problem for us whether we are travelling, camping,  away visiting or relaxing at home. Rain is always welcome to us and should be to ALL South Africans! 
The communal lounge/diningroom invites cosy interaction with other guests while the children  eat their dinner and get ready for bed
 Nkosana Lodge is surrounded by beautiful gardens where adults can relax and children can let off steam. The proprietor Ed,  has three large (docile) dogs and two of the fattest cats I have seen. Coming from me,  that's saying something because, aside from Shadow - the Sudanese import - the Hedges cats are all large tubby critters

How idyllic is this?
The ablution was seperate from our hut. The showers jut outdoors which was a wonderful experience. You have total privacy from other guests while enjoying nature to the limit!
The roof of a rondawel (a round hut with a thatched roof) from the inside
While lying in bed in our rondawel, I decided to photograph the view to share with my blogger friends. Isn't it a gorgeous sight to wake up to?
The bush through the window behind the bed. The rondavels are furnished with a double bed, the linen and soft furnshings are African design. There is a steel rack with coathangers to hang your clothes and concrete ledges with shelves underneath on either side of the bed. Very compact,  very cozy and quite sufficient for a couple of nights' stay
The view of the mountains through the window to the left of our bed
The path leading from the accommodation to the communal lounge/diningroom is lined with indigenous shrubs and perennials. Here is a wild iris (Dietes grandiflora) which I photographed using the Super Macro feature on my camera
All the while at Nkosana Backpackers Lodge, you are guaranteed a stunning view of the Drakensberg mountains

About 100kms from home on our return trip, we rode through a violent and very wet rainstorm. Here Grant locks the pannier after removing my Drizabone so that I can complete the ride in comfort

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to the Drakensberg as much as I enjoyed sharing it with you.


  1. Wonderful, Jo, although that mist part was rather scary to read about!
    The wild iris is gorgeous!
    Your thatch-roofed rondavel with inside/outside shower reminds me of Luna Lodge in Costa Rica, where our cabin had a thatched roof and the shower was open to the garden. A world away but many similarities.
    You know, I have to admit that I follow several blogs but no matter how many other people there are to check out, if there's a new post from you, I always read that first!
    If I'm not good about commenting in the next while, it's because we are leaving for Hawaii. I have posts prepared ahead for all my memes (I hope) and I even accidentally posted one today when I meant to click "save"! Tsk.
    I'm taking my little netbook computer and hope to keep up, but I don't know how it will be during the second week when we're on a cruise ship.
    Just wanted to let you know.
    Love to you and Grant and Shadow!
    -- K

  2. The backpackers' lodge looks like heaven. Had to laugh about your difficulty getting your husband to stop at the right place for a photo. I've had the same experience. You still got a nice photo, though, Jo.

  3. Hi Jo, you are still traversing the highways and byways, all of your photos are good as usual and show all sorts of African life and life styles.
    Why no pic of your Drizabone, we will just have to imagine it!
    Wind ,rain and for sound very unAfrican, more like Irish!
    Enjoyed the post as always

  4. Hi Jo, Other than the foggy wetness and getting Grant to stop for a photo, you two had a terrific time with family.
    The really important thing in like, right Jo.
    You are all blessed to have one another.

    Hugs, Pam

  5. Nothing for me to sit on a bike, I did it once and that was enough for my whole life ! It was a Harley !
    The place looks very nice as a holiday place !

  6. What a great account of your travels! I really enjoyed reading it and felt like I was right along with you! Your drizabones, the starlings, the mountains and flowers...all very interesting and enjoyable to read. Thanks so much!


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