From Hazyview we had planned a 250 Km trip along the main views. The first on the list was Mac Mac Falls. Next was Pilgrim’s rest. This is a old little mining town that attracts individual visitors as well as tour buses. When looking for a parking spot we saw a lot of signs ‘car wash’ but, because our car was cleaned (every morning) at the B&B we looked for a spot with no signs. We walked through the village for about 45 minutes and upon our return we found our car completely clean AGAIN!. It seems the locals wash every car that enters the village, no way to escape it.

The three rondavels

Next stop was God’s Window, a point where people have a beautiful view over Blyde River Canyon. We then drove to the ‘Potholes’, Further down the road there’s another lookout from where there’s a view over the ‘Three Rondavels’, a mountain range that looks like 3 typical African huts.

On the way back we stopped at Shanana cultural village close to Hazyview but since it was already late the handicraft exhibition was already closed.

On the morning of Wednesday July 26th we got up at 7 and after breakfast headed to Swaziland. The road was in good shape and traffic was light so at 12.00 h we were at the South Africa - Swaziland border at Jeffe’s reef. Being used to the European ‘non-borders’ this was different. We parked at the S-African side of the border and went into the office with our passports. We then got a document that we had to present to the customs officer before we could cross into no-man’s land. There we parked the car again and went into the Swazi office to fill in the paperwork and get our passport stamped. We then proceeded to the actual border where the officer asked us where we came from, where we were going and if we were on holiday. We answered him and with a friendly ‘Welcome to Swaziland’ we were on our way. This was the first time that we came across a genuine friendly custom officer...

We had to be very careful on the main road because of livestock that crossed the roads every time we came close to a village. By evening we arrived in Mhlambanyatsi where we booked a room in the Foresters Arms.

Because I didn’t have a license for Swaziland I had to keep the radio and antenna in the suitcase... too bad, since I was really looking forward to operating from 3DA... The owner of the Forester Arms allowed me to use his computer for a few minutes so I could check if there was news about my license, but all in vain.

As luck would have it ZS6GH, Henry, also stayed in the hotel and we talked for a while and I ‘inspected’ his mobile station.

3DA/ZS6GH mobile

Before leaving Swaziland, we stopped at the Swazi Market in Mbabane. We parked at a small parking lot in front of the market and were promptly greeted by a local guy who offered to ‘watch our car’. This was the first time we came across this typical custom. We were to have many more ‘car watchers’ later in the trip. We later heard that since the car watchers were active, there were hardly any thefts from cars.

We crossed the border with South Africa without any problems (even though it took some time to process the paperwork) and by late afternoon we arrived in the Hilltop camp in Hluhluwe National park.

Our Hilltop accomodation
This was the chalet we stayed in for 3 days

Zebra keeping guard
While outside making QSO’s with people in the US and Europe I had 3 zebra standing guard close to the car, fortunately they were friendly. One of them stayed near the chalet for many hours.

road block
The bridge was flooded but it was no problem to cross

Close call!
One of these will have to move to the side... but who??

Pumba!!
White rhino

In Hluhluwe park we saw a lot of wildlife

From Hluhluwe we booked a trip on Lake St. Lucia. We had to get up very early and drive more than 100 Km to get to St. Lucia, a holiday resort on the Indian Ocean. We boarded the boat and at the peset time the boat left the launch for a boat ride to the hippo’s. Along the edges of the lake we saw several crocodiles, eagle and several other birds.

Hippos

On Sunday July 30th we started our day as early as possible, we had 450 Km to cover. After breakfast at 7.00 h we drove through Hluhluwe park, the first part was tarred but, the second part was untarred. About 3 Km before we reached the gate of the park we had a flat tire. There we no other cars in sight and even though it’s strictly forbidden to leave the car, it was impossible to continue. I unloaded the luggage in order to get to the spare tire and began changing the flat while my wife kept on the lookout for animals. There were none at that time... After this mishap we continued our trip exiting the park and driving towards Ulundi. Most of this road was untarred too and it wasn’t possible to tell the color of the car underneath the dust. Near Ulundi we visited the Zulu Heritage museum. At one in the afternoon we were the first visitors that day. It was interesting though.

Whenever there are road works there are people trying to sell fruit.



We bought pineapples a few times.

Roadside fruitsellers

Except for the scenery we had no ‘must see’ things on our schedule and by evening we arrived in ‘The Nest’, our hotel in Winterton. This is a complete resort with tennis field, bowls, swimming pool, horseback riding...

The next day we made a trip to the Drakensbergen, to Monk Cowls, where we walked to the waterfall. On the way back we visited a Candle an carpet factory.

Bushman's painting

Since we only had to drive a short distance the next day, we first stopped at Giant Castle where we walked for over an hour to reach caves where the bush man made rock paintings. The tour, by a local ranger, took about an hour.

After a quick stop at the Howick falls we went to the Harrow Hill farm, a working farm where cattle is raised.

The next morning we only had to drive 100 Km to Durban. We arrived in the Holiday Inn Garden Court, checked in and unloaded our luggage. Our room was on the 18th floor (probably the ‘real’ 17th, since there was no 13th floor). Outside the wind was picking up and was whistling through the gaps in the aluminum windows. I asked to put some adhesive tape over the gaps and that cured the problem. The view was fabulous though...

Across the road was Mini town, a miniature exhibit with models of landmarks. Next door is Snake park, a very small animal park with a few crocodiles and different snakes, some of them very venomous.

One of the main Durban attractions is Sea World. Unlike it’s American counterpart with the same name, Durban’s Sea World is rather small but it offers a wealth of sea creatures from around the globe but especially from the waters of South Africa.

Many visitors to South Africa board a plane and fly to Port Elizabeth but we decided to drive. this meant that we had to spend the night somewhere around the halfway point. First we drove to Shelly Beach where we looked for.. eeer... shells. We found some beautiful examples without much effort. From here we moved on to Oribi National park. According to the information we had we would see a lot of monkeys but, we we not able to find even one. Another 25 Km of untarred road brought us back on the main highway and via Kokstad we arrived in the Umtata Holiday Inn Garden Court by evening.

At 9 in the morning we left the Holiday Inn and followed the N2 highway westwards. About 70 Km before we arrived in East London there was a roadblock. We waited for a while thinking it would soon be our turn to pass but, no such luck... a police car came alongside and the officers said that the road was closed until 2 in the afternoon for blasting.. It was only 10.30 and we had a long way to go so we asked what the alternative was.. ‘no problem’ he said, there’s a ‘dirt road’ a few kilometer back that would bring us back to the N2 passed the blasting area. Several people turned around and we set off for the detour. That must have been the worst road I’ve ever driven on. We had to drive through potholes at a crawling pace and it took us 1.5 hours to cover the 25 Km detour.... We still saved time considering that we would have to wait 3.5 hours at the roadblock... though choice.

We made a short stop in Oos-Londen for a late lunch and seeing Steve Biko’s statue and a little before sunset we arrived in the Settler’s Inn in Grahamstown. We walked around town a little and after dinner we went back to the Inn.

Addo Elephant Park is only 120 km from Grahamstown so after a short drive we arrived at reception at 10 h. We put our suitcases in our chalet and started our tour of the park. None of the roads are tarred so we took it very easy. Addo is not a very big park, like Kruger or Hluhluwe so it’s possible to drive to any place in the park and stay until 1 hour until closing.. plenty of time to get back. Even though it’s an elephant park and there are over 300 ‘big guys’ in the park we hard great difficulty in finding them. We would see ‘proof’ that they were around but could hardly find them. It’s hard to believe that it’s even possible to ‘lose’ an elephant but once they hide in the bush they may be as close as 20 meter without being seen. After a day of looking and searching we had seen 4 elephants, after seeing herds of them in the other parks it was a bit of a disappointment. We later learned that because of scientific research and the tracking of the elephants with a helicopter, the animals were a bit ‘stressed’ and were hiding in the less accessible parts of the park.

The next day was going to be a long drive once again. Almost 500 Km from Addo to Oudshoorn. We had a few stops along the way and the first was Port Elizabeth.

Port Elizabeth lighthouse

Jeffrey’s Bay was next and once again we found some beautiful shells on the beach. When we got ready to drive off I suddenly saw some movement in the ocean. It turned out to be a whale. We tried to find a higher spot to park and watch the whales from there and so spend some extra time near the coastline. Further west was Plettenberg Bay. We found a good parking spot overlooking the ocean right away and from here we spotted some whales.

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