Announcements: 1) A story about my Kruger trip has been published on travelgurus.co.za. Please check it out. 2) 2Summers turned one today! I wrote my first 2Summers post exactly a year ago, six weeks before moving to Jozi. If you want to know how it all started, click here. ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ On to Part 2 of my hiking adventure in the Kruger Park: the vegetable installment. I experienced some pretty incredible (and adrenaline-inducing) animal sightings on my four-day hike through the Pafuri Triangle (see Part 1). But as I sat on the flight home and thought about it, I decided my favorite sightings in Pafuri were plants, specifically trees.
A big thank you to travelgurus.co.za and Wilderness Adventures for making this blog post possible. Last weekend I visited Kruger National Park, the largest park in South Africa. This wasn’t just any old Kruger safari, either. I went to the remotest and most beautiful section of the park — the Pafuri Triangle. A view of the Limpopo River, just before my plane landed at Pafuri Camp. The Pafuri Triangle is in the far northern corner of the Kruger Park, wedged between the Limpopo and Luvuvu Rivers and the borders of Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Johannesburg is a new city by human standards, having been founded 125 years ago in 1886. But just a short drive from Joburg lie the remains of some of the oldest human descendants on earth. The Cradle of Humankind, 20 kilometers from town, is a 47,000-hectare World Heritage Site that produced the first adult australopithecine fossil, “Mrs. Ples,” discovered in 1947. Mrs. Ples is believed to be between 2.8 and 2.6 million years old. To date, more than 850 hominid fossils have been discovered in a series of dolomitic limestone caves scattered throughout the Cradle.
I’m leaving town for a few days and probably won’t have internet access. Before I go, I want to share a few recent pictures from the garden at the Lucky 5 Star. Before moving to South Africa, the only aloes I’d ever seen were aloe vera plants — droopy house plants that people keep around for when they burn themselves. Here there are hundreds of different kinds of aloes, ranging from small, cabbage-sized plants to massive trees. I’ve also recently learned that aloes grow tall, flaming orange blooms in early winter.
Before I start, let me alert you to a guest post I wrote for a blog called “Notes From Africa”: What Your Cat Wants to Know: An American Ex-pat Perspective. It’s a departure from my normal subject matter — please check it out and browse through Lisa’s lovely blog while you’re at it. Thanks again, Lisa! Easter Monday was the first nice day we’ve had here in weeks. The air was balmy, the sky was azure, and the clouds looked like that gauzy cotton that people stretch across doorways on Halloween. Hiking was necessary. We considered going to Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve, a park in southern Joburg that we visited a few months ago. But while searching online for a Kliprviersberg trail map (which I never found), I stumbled upon a listing for Kloofendal Nature Reserve on the western outskirts of the city. Joe had heard of Kloofendal but never been. We decided to give it a try.
After a rainy Saturday evening in Magaliesburg, Joe and I decided to go for a hike in Mountain Sanctuary Park. The sun was only listlessly trying to push through the clouds, but we were determined to do something outdoorsy on our country weekend. Mountain Sanctuary Park is a privately owned nature reserve in the Magaliesburg Mountains, about an hour from the town of Magaliesburg. To get there we had to cross Breedt’s Nek Pass, on a rutted, boulder-strewn dirt road. The views are great but this road is not for the faint of heart, especially after rain. We passed a hapless couple getting their VW hatchback hauled out of the mud by a tow truck.
Joe and I drove along a bucolic country road in the Cradle of Humankind, a World Heritage Site 45 minutes outside Joburg. It was a sunny afternoon. We weren’t exactly sure where we were going. We’d heard there was a large sculpture park out this way and we wanted to check it out. We came upon a gate that said “NIROX.” Our map said this was the place. But the gate was closed and locked. After some internet surfing and a few phone calls, we learned that the NIROX Sculpture Park is only open to the public for special exhibitions and events. NIROX is a private foundation created to cultivate the arts in South Africa. The foundation is set on 15 hectares of land, filled with trees and wildlife and gurgling streams. In addition to the outdoor sculptures, which blend seamlessly with the landscape, NIROX also provides accommodation for artists in residence who stay for a few weeks at a time.
Joe and I just returned from Lionsrock, a wildlife sanctuary about three hours from Joburg near the town of Bethlehem. Lionsrock is a haven for mistreated animals — mostly big cats – rescued from zoos and circuses around the world. Lionsrock, which is a lodge for vacationing humans as well as a sanctuary for retired cats, was founded three years ago by Four Paws (Vier Pfoten), a Vienna-based organization devoted to alleviating animal suffering. Lionsrock residents.
In my last Melville Koppies post, I mentioned a Saturday morning guided hike in Koppies West that I planned to attend. I didn’t make it and I won’t bore you with my lame excuses. But to make up for our morning laziness, Joe and I took our own walk on Koppies West yesterday afternoon. Of all three Koppies sections, Koppies West is the largest and has the highest elevation. The view of downtown Joburg from Koppies West is jaw-dropping.
First, a few words of thanks: Thanks to WordPress for “Freshly Pressing” me for the second time in three months. Wow. It was great to get a second chance because this time I actually understood and appreciated what was happening when my inbox started to overflow. Thanks to everyone who read, commented on, liked, and subscribed to my blog. I’ve tried to respond to as many of you as possible but if I haven’t, rest assured that I’ve read and appreciated every comment. Thanks to my mom for coming to visit and giving me an excuse to do fun things that create fantastic blog material. Thanks to Joe, the man behind the blog, for improving my photography, making my photos look amazing, and teaching me so many interesting things about South Africa. Now, back to Cape Town. Mom and I did several fun things during our trip that I wasn’t able to cover in the first two posts, so I’ve compiled a few of my favorite photos to illustrate them: Riding the Hop On Hop Off Cape Town Sightseeing Bus. For someone who thought she disliked group tours, I certainly did a lot of them last weekend. We wanted to visit Kirstenbosch National […]