Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Craven, North Drakensberg, January 2012

Day 1 : Arrival

As soon as we arrived we headed up the mountain, which soon brought us to the top dam, allegedly well stocked with rainbow trout and other fish. Weel, i saw three fish swiming off to the centre of the dam. Never made it there fishing though .. Next time around..

Decks with chairs everywhere .. 

Day 2 : Up the mountain : Under Sugar Loaf and into a cave ..

The proteas .. All over, few kinds of and starting to blossom .. Can only imagine them in full bloom !

Coming closer to the top and into the clouds ..

Met Keith and Margaret on the track - a lovely couple who told us a lot about these mountains and the world in their trips (image taken by NV, using a LC1). They are also proud members of the Midlands Hiking Club (www.gohiking.co.za)

The tree fern .. One of the most beautiful rugged-gentle thing yuo'd see there. One of the oldest species on earth - dating back thousands of years and preserved till today. Here are a few "portraits"

San tribe bushmen paintings..

This tribe crossed these mountains many hundreds of years ago. The latest sign of them is claimed to be around 1926 (?). Their favorite animal was reported to be the eland - pictured in one of the drawings. They moved around looking for an easy prey. Hunting was done mostly with arches with arrows topped in poison - the first arrow that hit the eland would eventually slow it down and put it to sleep. 

Day 3 : Back in the mountains : Cannibal Cavern

This place has a few excellent tracks, not very easy for the most of them, and the long once taking > 3 hrs to complete and covering some 7-8 kms in total in very steep and difficult terrain .. A highly rewarding experience and exercise all in all, you and the nature, and the only sounds are the birds and the waterfalls - which are small and all over. The encounter with puff adder or spitting cobra (both found in the area among others) which did not take place - was not greatly missed ;-) 

Up to the ridge and among the proteas ..

A magnificent cave/formation to visit and even stay and spend a night or two there - the Cannibal Cave ! 

North of Cathedral Peak was voted as the most scenic place in the Drakensberg by Keith, following my question "if you had one most spectacular place to choose here.." And few other places in the area we spoke about and i promised myself to visit :
  • The second tallest waterfall in the world - very close (by car) from where we were
  • A trip to Maputo and Iniaka island
  • Sunny Pass Chalets
In the afternoon, a visit to the tennis courts turned into a rather pathetic "warm-up" with Dr V, who did funny things with the racket, while constantly laughing ..
Three well maintained courts, in the heart of the mountains i've decided there and then - our (Northcliff) tennis club deserves a 5 days here for a major tournament, with a 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes - Hendrik, are you taking note ?

The nearby waterfalls provided calamity, a buck was spotted next to the lake - a mother and a child, and walk where mountain leopards raising the adrenaline rounded it all ..

Framing some of the view from our room - No 59

And here is my new meeting room ! Needles to say the team will be  facing the pool and the gorge at the back and not a wall with a white board ..

In case in you want a bath in the open ;-)

Lying next to this magnificent pool, with a bottle of champagne could alone justify the trip to the Cavern !

Day 4 : Endgame

Some of us lazing around the pool and bar, and biting nails on the Nadal-Djokovich match, others headed for a forest trip..

Daisy and Lulu ..

Getting a Sunday braai going ..

A return in late April - May here - after the rains are gone and then in July - for the snow .. The excellent (many courses) food (with the exception of the bacon and the eggs), the excellent service, the warm hospitality of the hosts, everything there begs a return ! And this place should be on your short list if you visit SA for first time .. 

To be continued in a few months. 

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