Cape Town to the Limpopo River (Kruger Park - by train and electric car)
by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
My father was a railway engineer and the train brought back memories of childhood holidays. Our up journey was two days / nights instead of one. I loved waking to the sunrise over the Karoo. (But we forfeited the first night's accommodation as we slept on the train, arriving in Jo'burg station VERY early)
In September we saw the flamingos returned to Kamfers Dam in Kimberley. Earlier this year fledglings were rescued from a dry dam and raised by SANCCOB in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. Sadly the birds are not breeding this year due to severe pollution. Kimberley's water situation is dire.
Those huge yellow bales are wool. Pivot irrigation neon green against the brown grass.
On the journey up we enjoyed lunch, the water feature and fever trees at the Bela Bela mall (town previously called Warmbaths). Cleverly designed as an arcade with tall entrances and a tropical roof - it was a very popular place to amble along the shops. We sat behind glass in the coolth admiring the view.
We travelled through a rainy Haenertsburg where we had a short walk in the mist belt grassland. And a delicious lunch! I don't cope well with altitude - and couldn't have done the much longer hike we had planned. Maybe next time? The Ungardener fell and limped along for a few days.
At chilly Magoebaskloof the rain eventually cleared and we could enjoy the anticipated view down the valley. Chief Makgoba was killed in the Makgoba-Boer War in 1895 (the sculpture acknowledging him is 2006?)
At Baobab Hill in Kruger Park miners walking from Mozambique stopped to sleep. On foot, donkey cart or ox wagon to Soekmekaar on their route to Johannesburg's goldmines (1919-1927).
Crooks Corner far North-Eastern corner of South Africa (in 2008 we went to the North-Western corner Union's End in our Land Rover). Very dry, then suddenly tall green forests banking the river.
But the 'great grey-green greasy Limpopo River' was absolutely dry across 500 metres to Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Beneath the near bank was a trickle from the Luvuvhu River with a few crocodiles. Lala palms and flame Combretum.
We were a bit disappointed with the accommodation in Kruger. In the tented camp at Punda Maria (way up North for Crooks Corner) we had a nice wide deck with buck wandering past and resting in the heat of the day. But there was also a leaking whiffy sewer!
We had self-catering accommodation, but the hot plates didn't work - so we were 'forced' to eat at the restaurant. Next time I know not to take supplies for cooking. International tourists don't self cater, and South Africans braai (barbeque). At Punda Maria there was one vegetarian choice which we ate, three nights in a row. My turn to slip on a gravelly slope, land on my knee and slide to a shocked halt.
Olifants rest camp I did enjoy. We had a (built) rondavel. Circular with a thatched roof and a NOT tented shower and loo. We had a magnificent view from the verandah sweeping down to the Olifants River, which gratefully had water!
Our last night in Kruger at Lower Sabie was again disappointing. No view. Tiny enclosed kitchen reeked of rat poison (and the secondary poisoning implications for predators in a nature reserve!)
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