Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

An African Adventure

I've been back from South Africa for a week and a half now but have been both too busy and too tired to post - the journey back involved a long wait between flights at Johannesburg so, since neither J nor I can sleep on planes, it meant that we were awake for well over 36 hours and it took me a while to recover. Above is the view from the plane as we flew from Johannesburg to Kruger. It's a small (very small!) plane so you are always flying at a low enough height to see the scenery below.

These Vervet monkeys were at the side of the road as Steve drove us from the airport to our hotel in White River, they are all over the place including the verandah of Steve's bungalow on occasion!

Impala are also very common but I always enjoy seeing them as they are such attractive animals. This too was at the side of the road between the airport and White River - in spite of being called Kruger International it's actually a very small and rural airport and all the buildings have thatched roofs, it's easily the most attractive airport I've ever seen. Of course I never thought to take a photo of it!

On our first full day Steve drove us up to Blyde River Canyon which is the third largest canyon in the world. This is the Pinnacle, a 30 metre high pillar of quartzite rising out of the wooded canyon floor with spectacular views from the viewing platform.

Next stop was Bourke's Luck Potholes where we had some lunch accompanied by more Vervet monkeys. One jumped onto our table and snatched half of Kaitlyn's toasted sandwich, I'm afraid I burst out laughing and a furious little voice informed me that 'It's not funny Granny!' Actually she's quite right, these monkeys can become very aggressive where food is concerned so you don't argue if one wants to share your lunch - her face was an absolute picture though as the monkey disappeared up a tree with her sandwich:)  Steve told me that a bite from a Vervet would mean an immediate rabies shot - not a pleasant prospect.

The girls loved it here as they were able to paddle in small shallow rock pools while further along bigger people could sit and cool their feet in the fast flowing Treur River.
In 1843 a group of Voortrekkers led by Andries Potgieter reached the edge of the Great Drakensburg Escarpment as they searched for a route to Delagoa Bay in Mozambique. There appeared to be no possible way down for 50 km in any direction. Leaving the women, children and a few men outspanned on the banks of a river just below the top of the escarpment (near what is now the town of Graskop) Potgeiter and the rest of the men set off on horseback to try to find a way down to the Lowveld. The group who stayed behind were given strict instructions to turn back if the scouting party hadn't returned in 2 months time. They remained a fortnight beyond the two months and then sadly they started the long journey back - the river they had camped by during those long anxious weeks they named Treurrivier - the River of Sorrow. This is the river where Kaitlyn and Lucy were so happily playing.
NB Outspanning means unharnessing the animals that are pulling the wagons and making camp.

I couldn't resist taking a photo of this beautiful damselfly - there were several of them around looking like flying jewels.

This is where the Treur River begins its spectacular descent to join the Blyde River. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Bourke's Luck Potholes where the Treur River cascades into the Blyde River. Over millions of years the meeting of the swirling waters of these two fast flowing rivers has eroded the bedrock to form these fantastic potholes. It's an amazing sight.

The Blyde River - as our Voortrekkers slowly continued their sad journey home they had to ford another river. As they were crossing what must have seemed like a miracle occurred. They were overtaken by the men they had believed to be dead and this happy reunion was marked by naming the river Blyderivier - River of Joy. So we have a happy ending after all:) The scouting party had eventually found a route down the Escarpment by following an animal track and had successfully reached Delagoa Bay and signed a trade agreement with the Portuguese.

I'm afraid I couldn't resist ending this post with another monkey photo - they are so very cute:)


Bovey Belle said...

It sounds the most AMAZING holiday. I am chargrined that I have not put pen to paper yet to reply to your last letter. Where has the time gone?

I am looking forward to seeing more photos and hearing about your wonderful adventures.

Janet said...

Welcome back! I must admit I, too, had a chuckle when you told about the monkey snatching the sandwich! I'm sure it wasn't so funny for Kaitlyn though.

Your photos are spectacular. Once again you've "taken" me someplace I'd never have seen if not for you.

Roy said...

Glad you have recovered OK Rowan, it looks like a very interesting trip. Hope there are more photos to come.

Carolyn said...

Hi Rowan,
That would be quite an adventure! the monkeys are so cute.
Hope you get rested up soon.


rel said...

Glad you're home safe.
Will return to finish reading of your adventure after a proper nights rest. :)

Wanda..... said...

Wonderful tale to go along with the beautiful photos, Rowan. The monkeys were extremely cute and I can see how they could catch one off guard while eating. I would have laughed too, but I don't think I could go 36 hours without sleeping! Hope you've caught up!

Piecefulafternoon said...

Amazing photos - and wonderful stories.

WOL said...

I've been looking forward to your pictures. It must have been very sunny there. All the colors are so bright.

Traveling is wonderfully exciting but it is also wearing -- strange beds, strange food, etc., etc. As fun as it is to travel, it's good to return home to familiar and comfortable things again.

Diane said...

What an amazing adventure Rowan . Your photos are great. I bet it was lovely to see your family. Can't wait to see what else you got up to - and its great to have you back. xxxxxx

WOL said...

I just happened to think -- a water pistol full of vinegar would be just the thing for those pilfering monkeys. Works like a charm on cats. Then I had such a chuckle over people wearing shoulder holsters with water pistols in -- LOL!

Monique Elisabeth said...

so glad you are back safe and sound. I love the pictures. Those cheeky monkeys look so cute. It looks like you had a wonderful time with your family. I hope you will be less tired soon.


Thimbleanna said...

Wow! It sounds like you had a fantastic time. Those monkeys are indeed cute -- and I burst out laughing at the story where you burst out laughing! I'd love to visit there someday -- I hope you have more of your adventure for us!

MorningAJ said...

Your photos are marvellous. You must have had a great time!

Mac n' Janet said...

Welcome home Rowan, incredible pictures, hope you're going to post more.
I'm not fond of monkeys, have always found them a bit vicious! Love the impala though.

Jane said...

Welcome back Rowan, I've been checking your blog now for days hoping you'd reappear :) Glad to see your holiday was a safe one.

Dartford Warbler said...

Welcome home after your fantastic holiday!

Granny Sue said...

My goodness, what an adventure. I love the photo of the waterfalls; when I enlarged it, I swear I could see faces in the rocks--even a rabbit. I can't wait to see more. Africa has always fascinated me.

rel said...

I can easily picture you laughing while your grand daughter gives you a scolding with a look of exasperation on her little face.

Rosie said...

Glad to see you are safely back from your adventure and that you had a wonderful time with your family. Your photos are super Those monkey are cute even though they are after your food:)

thesnailgarden said...

Welcome back Rowan, it looks like you had a wonderful time with your family. I'm afraid that I would also have laughed at the monkey incident! :) South Africa is one of the places on my travel wish-list and your stunning photos make me want to go there all the more. Best wishes, Pj x

Gracie said...

Wow, stunning photos, I hope you have many left to show us in future posts....
Btw, welcome back!

Mary said...

Of course I knew your trip would be awesome - Africa does that to those of use fortunate enough to see its awesome sights, and even though you'd been before there's always new things to see I'm sure. (I'm returning next year and can hardly wait!).

Great story and pics Rowan......will be looking forward to more. Know the children are missing their granny. Glad you're safely home and getting caught up. Just a month and I'll be on my way home - looking forward to that!

Sheila said...

The landscape and the geography is so different there, it's fascinating to see. I understand why your granddaughter was cross, but I would have laughed too. Monkeys seem to be very opportunistic don't they. I know we found them quite intimidating in Gibraltar.
Great story about the settlers, it is this kind of detail that always makes your posts so interesting.

Lucy said...

A relief that there was a happy ending. I shall remember their pain even though it turned out alright in the end. What a life to lead!

And for you - the journey of a lifetime . . . with a few scary bits thrown in, it seems.


Comfrey Cottages said...

what an amazing time you had! the kids are so adorable:) as are the monkeys! lol just breathtaking scenery:) thank you so much for shairng your adventure with usxxx