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Road Trippin’ South Africa

What a weekend:

1040km
£80ish for 9 hours in a hotel
4 out of the ‘Big 5’ animals
3 waterfalls
Average speed of about 120km/h
2 thunderstorms
1 apple-stealing monkey
2 very hungry lions and 2 very scared Kudu

We left our hotel in Johannesburg just before 9am aiming for Kruger National Park, heading east. As we got closer we figured we’d been making really good time so we wanted somewhere to stop and have lunch. We happened across the Artist’s Café somewhere on the way. It was somewhere just south of Sabie but I didn’t really know at the time and I’m none the wiser now… Either way, and amazing little B&B type affair in the middle of a forest plantation. A converted railway station, it had some amazing decor:

Junk from round the world. Found a highland shortbread box and a German hair pomade tin.

So much random stuff everywhere! Great spot to refuel though; we left a comment in their guestbook a couple of lines underneath Greg and Susan from the Wirral…

As we set off in search of a nice picnic spot for lunch we spotted a very useful looking sign that said ‘Panorama’. Sounds good so far? Well, after 15mins or so we were thinking it wasn’t such a good plan until we happened upon this spot:

Too much for a single shot!

Pretty panoramic 🙂 Hard to believe this is South Africa – looked more like North Wales or Scotland… Moving on we decided there was time to visit some of the tourist trap scenery, starting with the Mac Mac Falls:

If the photo looks good for my little phone it's because Phil took it...

Not quite Angel or Niagra but the biggest I’ve ever seen at something approaching 70m tall. They’re normally twin falls but SA’s been really dry apparently so this is just Mac Falls…

One more stop we made was into Pilgrim’s Rest, a mining town from SA’s gold rush period in the 1800s. The town’s been left pretty much as it was it seems:

The sign says "Rust in Peace, A. Austin, born 1930s died 1950s of Metal Cancer".

And it was really nice to wander round the old shops etc. Bit touristy but nice to stretch the legs 🙂

We were making excellent time so we had time to find a few detours:

Yes, there's no road on our GPS

A little off-roading perhaps? It was supposed to be a shortcut and would have been if not for the water-logged river fords:

Phil had hired a not-to-shabby Honda Jazz which we covered in mud:

 It's orange, honest

Good clean fun 🙂 The route took us to Bourke’s Luck Potholes which we thought probably wouldn’t be too exciting after the drive down that road… Wrong:

I love this Photo Stitching business.

They were actually a pretty impressive confluence of two rivers that had carved the sandstone up into some amazing structures.

Getting onto late afternoon we figured there was time for us to get to one area we had planned to do on the way back – Blyde River Canyon. This is one of the most amazing areas of natural beauty I’ve ever heard of, and by far the most impressive I’ve personally seen… The most famous point is God’s Window, an outcrop that looks one way up the river canyon:

DSCF2214

And one way over the rainforest:

My 1M pixel phone doesn't do it justice...

It was truly fantastic seeing the sun start to set over all this, really the middle of nowhere, no noise other than wind in the trees and some random birds and frogs. Best of all though:

IMAGE_218

I wonder what hourly rate God pays his window cleaners?

That was day one. Day two to follow sooner or later 🙂

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