Travel Journal

Johannesburg to Bushveld Camp - January 29

(Tuesday 12 February 2008) by Karin
Today, my 18-day Overland Explorer tour from Johannesburg to Cape Town started. Four o'clock wake up as I didn't pack yesterday :-(. Bob drops me at the departure point where the "Green Monster" (our vehicle for the next 18 days) is waiting for us. Us being Carole and Andy (Canadians), Giovanna (Italian) and me. Our guide and driver is Jonathan. The green monster has four pairs of seats on each side, floor to ceiling windows, 16 huge lockers at the rear that easily hold our luggage and refrigerated compartments to keep our drinks/food cold at the front. I think we are going to be comfortable and be able to move around a lot as there are only 4 of us.
In the morning we drive the 'scenic' road to Mpumalanga. Lots of mealie (corn) fields on either side of the road so I drift of to sleep. Lunch is at the historic town of Pilgrim's Rest. Pilgrim's Rest was a gold-mining village. Tourist shops, craft stalls and historic building is what you'll find now.
We continued on to visit Bourke's Luck Potholes. These bizarre cylindrical holes were carved into the rock by whirlpools near the confluence of the Blyde (Joy) and the Treuer (Grief) rivers. The Treuer river was so named by a group of Voortrekker women who where abandoned on its banks by their menfolk for such a long time that they thought they had been left for dead. When the men finally did return, the women had set up camp beside another river, which they named Blyde in celebration.
Continuing north we reached a viewpoint overlooking the Three Rondavels. Huge cylinders of rock with hut-like pointed "roofs" rising out of the far wall of the canyon. Thousands of feet below, the Blyde River snakes its way through the canyon. Stunning. Thereafter we wind our way down the escarpment to the Lowveld bushveld where we stayed at the Drifters Bush Camp within the Balule Game Reserve.
Here we saw our first kameelpaarden (giraffes), disco donkeys, blue wildebeest and below the camp, near the waterhole, a buffalo.
Dinner was a barbecue on the deck accompanied by a typical Southern African staple: Mealie pap (it is made from ground maize (corn) and reconstituted with water). Edible with the vegetables I prepared. Afterwards we sat by the fire and listened to the animals (lions, disco donkeys, etc.) while watching the stars.

PS: Sorry, not enough time for pictures
PPS: For those of you still trying to figure out what South Africa had before candles...... Electricity is the answer.
PPPS: And here is the next question...... What is a disco donkey????

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