Friday, April 9, 2010

Shingwedzi Trip - 27 March to 4 April 2010

Africa is certainly not for sissies and this trip just proved it.

If you are well prepared, you can survive anything, even life in the bush without any facilities whatsoever. Just you, your water (the sustenance of life) and your best friend, whoever or whatever that may be..... I will leave that up to you.

Our route was to travel to Makuya Park, which adjoins the Kruger National Park, via Polokwane, Giyani and Mhinga, move across into Mocambique, travel southwards and out through Phalaborwa.

Day One We were up at 05:00, grabbed a cup of tea, packed the last things into the dream machine, took a quick shower and hit the road at 06:50. As you would all remember it was overcast but warm. Our first destination was Polokwane (Pietersburg).

Swallowed down the Malaria pills with a nectarine and water. We made it to our first stop at 10:00 and it was searingly hot and humid too. We were to meet the rest of the group at 12:00 so we saw to a couple of things while we waited.

The tap of our watertank had been leaking and if we were to survive our eleven day expedition it had to be repaired. We found a little plumbing shop that had exactly what we were looking for and between Gordon and the assistant, they had the problem sorted in less than twenty minutes. All cut, joined and dry - not a drop lost.

We also had to find BRIGHT torches to frighten off fierce bush animals and found some really nice rechargeable Sniper torches, which are sure to last us the rest of our lives. We couldn't find anything in Joburg and were very pleased that the little town of Polokwane had stock of what we were looking for.

And so we continued with peace of mind.

This photo was taken on the R519 between Crecy and Roedtan - a pantechnicon of vehicles bound for who knows where?  It was the only vehicle we had seen since leaving Polokwane.
As we were going along it turned out that the group had already moved on and were two hours ahead of us. Foot on the accelerator and head to the wind, we shot off to the designated meeting place just off the road to Punda Maria where we arrived at 14:00, all hot and sweaty with no sign of any relief whatsoever.

We met our group leader, Frans and his wife Denise as well as Nigel and Denise Wilshire - two of the funniest people ever - a laugh a minute with them!

The scenery was vastly different to what we had traversed and the atmosphere quite different.

Trees everywhere.

Thatched huts and mielie fields dotted all over the place, interspersed with some very nice looking houses built over a period of time with hard earned money.


We reached camp at about 17:00.

The heat was so intense that perspiration just rolled off without any effort. We got on with setting up for the night before the sun went down and the animals came out.

The campsite has no fences and is surrounded by many trees and bushes and situated just above the Levubu river.

The sites are clean and nicely sized and we settled inbetween some trees.

The ablution facilities consist of two showers and two loos.

No electricity or donkey. NO WATER.
The guys had forgotten to deliver!
But, that is why we had to be self sufficient.

The sound of nature filled the air and one could not but feel the peace of a world that was created for us to share and be one with. As our Creator intended.

We heated up our chicken soup (despite the heat) and had it with fresh breadrolls. Lekker!!

And slept SO well!

We slept with every single window open, including the skylights. The air was breathless and damp. We  discarded our sleeping bags and used sheets instead - thank goodness!

Day Two: The Call of the Fish Eagle  We woke up at 06:50 and still no water, therefore no loo, equals Dug, paper and lighter.
(I have explained previously that Dug is a good old foldup spadeColeman Folding Shovel and Pick, which eventually becomes your best friend in these situations)

Gordon and I each washed in about a cup of water from our supply - what more do you need when you're not even dirty? Yet.
Breakfast tea, biscuits, muesli and yoghurts.

I wrote today's entry while Gordon read yesterday's news.

We then went on hot, and I mean hot and sweaty, pursuit for Worldsview where one has a panoramic view of the Makuya Park

Alas we didn't find it - just kept missing it, it seems, but we had found ourselves a very nice spot down by the Levubu River. 

Shaded, tranquil and the ever welcome call of the Fish Eagle.

Here we sat and had our lunch and tea and read relaxingly.
At 15:00, when we left, it was 37 degrees celcius!

We made our way back to camp and what a buzz it was!! Water had been delivered and everyone was rushing around flushing and showering away the day's dust and grime. Needless to say, we joined in. The "cold" water providing just enough cool relief after a long, hot day.

There were fireflies about and they provided much entertainment for the two boys who were with our group, Alan and Sean. They managed to capture a couple and put them into buddy bottles for a while to study them, providing peals of laughter and much scurrying about to catch new ones to replace the released.  They were also intrigued by the size of the Shongololos they found and I told them that when they are out and about on the move, there is sure to be rain.  Of course, what do I know, so I had the two of them looking at me disbelievingly.

Supper consisted of marinated vegetable sosaties and couscous. Yummy.

Sound and snug snores befell the camp. Nothing, not even a moth moved.  All the world was still.

Here is a collection of Baobab trees.  They are absolutely everywhere in this area and vary in shape and size.

This is damage done by elephants.  They gnaw away at the tree for water, especially during times of drought

Day Three: We were up 05:45. Kettle on, tea, breakfast. Tent down, wash dishes, pack up - D R I Z Z L E - R A I N - Ha! The Shongololos were right!

Just when a new place starts feeling like home it's time to go. Oh well, perhaps we can stay longer another time.

Today we had a long drive ahead of us with a lot of ground to cover.

We left at 08:00 and drove up to the Makuya Park entrance and made a sho't right and drove along the fence for a very long time,

passing cattle farms that belong to "cattle barons" of the region. 

At 10:00 we crossed the Levubu River.

passed through a neat and tidy little village.

And reached the Pafuri Gate to enter the Kruger National Park at 10:20.

Everywhere you look, in the area you drive through, the villages you pass and at this Gate, there is absolutely NO litter and this sign you see on all the main roads

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting, Ms Chatterbox. I was amazed at the name change of Pietersburg and heard that other famous city names like Witbank and Nelspruit have also changed. Very sad indeed. Your legacy is slowly being eroded.

    I love the pics. Two years ago I did a camping trip into the California desert and unlike you, we went in early spring, like now, April, and we froze our rear ends of in the morning but by afternoon we were comfortably stewing in our own juices. Just like in your situation we also had extremely primitive ablution facilities but there was water. I can imagine your discomfort at the heat. Believe me however when I say that 37° C. is mild compared to the searing temperatures that California routinely sees in summer, Between 40 and 45° C and sometimes even higher. in Death Valley the highest temperature ever recorded there was in a tiny desert town named Baker (very aptly named!) and stands unsurpassed since 1913 at 134° F (~56° C). A huge thermometer with that temperature stands in that town to commemorate it:

    We went through that town once on our way to Las Vegas at 04:00 in the morning and the temperature was still a stunning 35° C from the previous day!

    Did you have a lot of bugs nearby that river? Mosquitos? Other goggas?

    I hope you will post more, it's been a while since I have seen a field report with high res pics from SA :)
    I love that Braai thing on the opening page, very nifty! Might just get Gordon to send me one :)

    Jan Sweetpak :)Þ


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