Thursday, April 15, 2010

Shingwedzi - Day Three continued

Once through we were officially in the Kruger National Park. 
We saw some Zebra,

And some buck (shhhh, there in the background)

The buck had become very nervous as well as the baboons that were amongst them.  We all sat quietly and a couple of people from our group saw a Cheetah, or was it a Leopard, taking a good old stroll about 30m from were the road was.  I am so sorry I missed it - might have been right under my nose!!

We eventually reached the Pafuri Picnic Spot for lunch at 12:15.

Here we stopped off for an hour, refreshed ourselves with lunch and tea and a lesson regarding the Golden Orb Spider that spins its golden canopy web from absolutely nowhere to absolutely anywhere - they are ginormous!  The female is a very big specimen - yellow and black, while the man is a bit smaller. And as most women seem to do in nature - they gobble up their mate after mating, enabling them spin away merrily for the rest of their existence and bring up and send out their children.  These are non-venemous spiders. We felt a lot safer knowing that...or did we?
A quick trip to the spotlessly clean ablutions and we hit the road again in the direction of Crook's Corner.
Johan, our guide, explained that this is the area where the Levubu joins the Limpopo river and Mocambique, Zimabwe and South Africa meet. Vagabonds or "crooks" as they were once called, used the rivers as territorial assylum, evading the law in the event of hot pursuit from either country!

Here we saw a pod of about twelve
hippos relaxing leisurely in the cool water.  They looked like torpedos packed together ready to discharge at the ready. 

On the banks were some wide mouthed crocodiles sunning themselves.  I daresay they were waiting to grab their lunch?
We said our goodbye to Crook's Corner and made our way to the Pafuri Border Post.  We must have arrive there at about 15:30 and it must have been about 33 degrees celcius, the air thick with humidity.

The officials are VERY strict that side.  Men MUST wear a shirt.  If you have a hat you MUST take it off.  You cannot enter any buildings where there is a photo of the President without showing respect and you can find yourself in deep water if you don't abide by these rules.

The process as this borderpost was long.  Everyone has a job to do and what could take one individual to do has been split into three or four divisions.  I suppose that is job creation.  After all the paperwork was done they searched the cars and waved us a cheery goodbye.

Just the otherside of the post is a "Bottle Store".    If ever you want to see a scramble for beer, this is the place to be!  
The guys all rushed in every direction in search of that golden liquid and all that could be found was Black Label, so we moved on further down the road where there was another "Bottle Store".   

It was taking a while and when Denise and Frans pulled up and asked me if the wallet had been found, I had no idea what they were talking about.   Gordon had forgotten that he had put it down when we moved from the last spot and thought it had been stolen! In the meanwhile it was quite safe with me.   Oh Joy!  Much to everyone's relief. 

We bought a little Jack of Gin for R10 and hit the road again.

We made our way into the unknown through the tallest, thickest grass I have ever seen.  It engulfed the vehicles and was actually quite exciting. 

Recall "Dr Livingston I presume?" or that famous lawnmower ad, "Rolux Magnum!!" 

All we needed were our pith hats, hunting shotguns and Leopard-crawls to surprise some wild beast......

We drove through a "small" forest of Fever Trees!  How magnificent these are, growing in all their glory. 

The light has quite an amazing hue due to the trees being light in bark and leaf and it has a mystical feel to it as you pass through.

Just beyond this forest we came upon some very beachy terrain and did the soft tyre shuffle.

The shuffle brought us to the beachy bank of the Limpopo River where we were to set up camp for the night.  It was 16:30 and 35 degrees celcius!

It is the real African experience..local women and children washing clothes and themselves and playing in the river which, I must mention,  can quite safely be walked across to the otherside, no problem.  It is only when the water is deep that crocs and hippos will make that a No-No.

The locals have a "shuttle" service here comprising of boat and bakkie.  The boat to ferry people and goods and the bakkie to transport them to their relative destinations once they are the otherside. 
One consolation - there are NO taxi strikes here! 
It seems the service runs all day and well into the night, especially during full moon.

We set up camp in a semi "lager" style, crescent shaped, each vehicle parked behind the other.

Our FIRST night without any fancy facilities.  So, out came Dug.........

It is very difficult to describe this experience in words and pictures, but I will try my very best.....

Everything is so vast out there.  Huge, clear blue sky.  Lots of fresh, unpolluted air.  The land is flat. Not a hillock to be seen.

The river, despite it being used for everything by the locals, was sparkling and Alan and Sean were in it in a flash as well as a lot of the group. 

The sun began to set and peace settled amongst us as we slipped into exhaustion and beheld our surroundings.

Full Moon rose and the land was illuminated in a soft and gentle silver light, casting a brilliance where very little other light was necessary. 

When we did use light it felt as though we were sitting in a very dark room with this solitary light that seemed so out of place. And it sure attracted the goggas, so it was best to keep it off anyway!

Everything was so still that I felt like the only being in the universe.  You know that feeling when we have power outages - when the silence becomes so loud that you have to whisper?  

I suddenly realised how true my belief is in that we are all so very small are.

Anyway, everyone was exhausted and most had pre-prepared meals easy enough to dish up and eat without having to braai after the very long journey we had had.

The air was thick with humidity and it was still very hot - 25 degrees at 20:00 and at the rate we were drinking to keep cool, we were going to run out of ice very soon! 

The Moon was so bright it put out all the Stars!

And so, after supper of cold chicken, salad and rolls, we took a trot into the outback, had a quick wash in a cup of water and rolled up the ladder into the land of Nod.

Full Moon was at 02:25 the morning of the 30th and at about 02:00 drumbeats could be heard from across the river.  There were four rounds, each becoming more frenzied.  What were these celebrating at this hour? 

Here are some pictures of the view from our Howling Moon Roof Tent - aka "Room with a View"

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