Saturday, February 25, 2012

South Africa - Day 13 Wild animals and cobwebs

Up nice and early this morning for the first of our twice daily dose of animal gazing. Not to be caught out again I wisely festooned myself with a full compliment of clothing, which by the end of the drive I couldn't wait to be shot of, not that I became affected with a unhealthy desire to try out safari nudism of course, none of us had had breakfast and I didn't want to be responsible for all that food going to waste. I merely meant that I was looking forward to getting into a t shirt and shorts, once the sun comes up the temperature climbs considerably.

We headed into the East side of the park in our quest for big mammals. First spot of the day though was neither big nor a mammal, it was a giant kingfisher hovering above a pond, OK it was big, as far as king fishers go, but not big as far as hippos go, but it was a beauty, wings moving in a blur as it stared intently at the water below.

After that brief diversion we rounded a bend in the track and immediately came to a halt, it was either that or run headlong into 19ft and 1200kg of pure giraffe, who, it seemed, was in no immediate rush to get out of our way. But after a short while he loped off allowing us to pass unhindered, not that giraffes are especially known for their hindering of course, in fact they are probably more celebrated for their non-hindering abilities. If pushed I’m sure most people would point to the fact that giraffes, as generally docile and quiet beasts, do not excel in the hindering department.

The resemblance is uncanny

Saturday, February 18, 2012

South Africa Day 12 - Kariega Game Reserve

Up early this morning for our drive to see the animals of this fine country in all their splendour. After a swift breakfast, we departed around 8.30 and got stuck into the four hour journey that would ultimately deliver us to the Kariega Game Reserve which would be our base for the next couple of days. En route we stopped in Jeffreys Bay, which is famous for its annual surfing competition, and is the sort of place that’s rife with hostels, laid back caf├ęs, people who wear beads in their hair and caters for travellers not tourists, yep it’s full of slackers and bloody hippies. Needless to say, and with a certain deadening inevitability, it’s also referred to as J-Bay.

Anyway, we stopped for a decent coffee and wrong turn that took as along the coast for a while, in the opposite direction we wanted to be going, but once that had been sorted out to everyone’s satisfaction, I put my foot down and headed on a course bearing due giraffe.

We made pretty good time, the roads, as normal were relatively quiet, and with a fair tailwind, good speed could be made. As the speedometer was in KPH, and I’m not completely sure how that exactly relates to MPH, I was never certain how fast I was actually going most of the time, in relation to how fast I would drive at home in the same conditions. I tended to go at a speed that I felt was covering a good amount of ground in a decent time, but not too fast that I was starting to feel like I had to concentrate too hard on the actual driving.

The main roads that cross the rural plains are of a pretty good standard, whilst not overly wide for two way traffic they do have capacious dirt sidings along their length. This is useful as it’s courteous to pull over slightly to let faster vehicles pass you, and most people do actually do this, it is equally courteous for the passer to flash their hazards at the passee to say thank you, which in return they may receive a sparkle of the headlights to say you’re welcome. I thought this type of roadway affability was splendid and it was one of the factors that made driving in this country so enjoyable. It was only when I got home and discovered that 140kph equates to around 90mph that I realised why I was passing so many cars on our assorted jaunts.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

South Africa Day 11 - Prince Alfred and the Garden of Eden

Had a bit of a lay in for a change before descending to the breakfast hall for a leisurely repast. I decided to go for a cooked breakfast as I hadn’t had one for a couple of days, unfortunately it was rubbish. Insipid, shiny skinned sausages, vapid, mushy tomatoes and bacon that looked like it had been part of a well loved shoe before being poached in oil and making the journey onto my plate. As it lolled there unctuously dripping grease into the yellow, watery fluid leaking from the scrambled eggs, I watched the ensuing slick unfold and realised I did not have much of an appetite.

I’m being a bit harsh of course, but I think all this high living had got the better of me, I was actually missing a basic, honest to goodness bowl of cereal. How these fabulously wealthy people manage to get through their quails eggs, smoked salmon and caviar muffins, all washed down with bucks fizz and martini chasers every morning, for that is what rich people do of course, I have absolutely no idea.

So after snacking on a couple of pastries we high tailed it out of Knysna and shepherded our metal steed towards Prince Alfred Pass. This road, built by the pass marvel himself, Thomas Bain, was finished in 1867 and covers about 70km of winding, mountain conquering terrain and is considered one of his finest achievements. Taking about 4 years to build, with it’s precision dry walling and expertly contoured carriageway, snaking their way through a seemingly impassable range, it stands pretty much as it was when completed nearly 150 years ago.

The very pass itself