The Baviaanskloof11th -16th May 2017

by Gerald O’Brien

The Baviaanskloof is a really special place, it’s not your normal 4×4 trip which takes you into the wilds over rough and rugged terrain to remote campsites that have wild animals wondering through them 24 hours a day. No the Baviaanskloof is a place of extreme natural beauty and spectacular land formations in an area of around 400 000 HA. The   Baviaanskloof, or “Valley of the Baboons” lies between the east-west running Baviaanskloof and the Kouga mountain ranges in the western region of the Eastern Cape.

The Baviaanskloof with its spectacular land forms is clad in a diverse array of plants and inhabited by a large variety of animals, all of which keeps one constantly entertained wherever you go and whichever way you look.

Our group, made up of 12 adults in 5 4×4’s all met at a place called “Die

Gwharries” guest house a few kilometers from Patensie, here we got to know each other around a braai and a few beers on the first night.

DAY 1 The following morning we were on our way by 08h30 to Bhejane game reserve for two nights. The route which we were to follow on our way was an interesting one. We were going to drive the Antoniesberg Berg pass. The pass is a rough, steep gravel pass which crosses the Grootrivier on the northern side of the Baviaanskloof Mountains. The pass itself is not very long, but the access roads is what makes this drive something of an adventure and is only passable in a 4 wheel drive with high ground clearance.

The pass offers an interesting 4×4 drive with stunning scenery of the Gamtoos Valley to the south and the canyon which has been formed by the Groot River over many years. We had our break at Grootrivier Poort which is where the route crosses the Groot River. Our next stop was at Steytlerville.

Steytlerville is the centre of the wool and mohair district of the south eastern corner of the Great Karoo and is known for its astonishing variety of semi –desert vegetation which includes dwarf Shrubs, tiny succulents, umbrella shaped wild Plumb trees and ancient Cycads. Steytlerville is a clean and tidy town with friendly folk and we spent a while there having a bite to eat and a fine mug of Cappuccino. From here we had a 50 kilometer drive to Bhejane.

The route which we took was through the valley which offered fantastic scenery and a few well-kept old farm houses with their zinc roofs and large farm style verandahs along the way. That night we had a big fire going in the boma at our camp site in Bhejane.

The temperatures in this area of the Karoo had us all with our winter woolies on and all the bedding that we had brought with us ready for the night. The night time temperatures were very low and in the morning it was around 3deg c.

Day 2 We spent the next day in the Bhejane game reserve taking in what activities we could. The owners, Adriana and Philip of Bhejane are typical “Country Folk”, very friendly and going out of their way to make sure that our stay with them would be a memorable one. We took a short hike around the reserve after

breakfast, followed this up at the coffee shop next to the reception and then at 4.30, we were collected in a game drive vehicle and together with one of ours we went off to feed the Buffalo. The big bull was aptly named Maximum and he certainly was a large bull with wide horns. Maximum let us know who was in charge here and kept a constant eye on his latest calf, Minimum. From here we were off to feed the Lechwe, on the far side of the reserve. Lechwe are predominantly swamp animals found in the delta area of Botswana but they are now being successfully bred in the Eastern Cape and in the Karoo of all places. The best was saved till last, in the next enclosure we fed a small herd of Sable antelope. What an absolute pleasure with these majestic animals been up so close and not too worried with our presence. In the background but not been fed was a herd of Eland.

The Karoo is a sparsely vegetated area and the reason for feeding the breeding herds is serve as a supplement to their daily diet and they are fed every single day. Another fine braai fire to warm us up before the cold night ahead of us. Around the camp site we spotted Bush Buck, Mongoose, Serval and Genet, we were advised to watch out for the monkeys and baboon as they can be a problem, but they gave us a wide berth and we never saw any sign of them. Bhejane is a really pleasant stop over point with friendly owners at affordable prices and if you are in the area, I would recommend it. In addition to the camp site they also have a few chalets with fine views of the reserve.

Day 3 We had a 90km drive to Vaalwater Lodge, not far from Willowmore. Willowmore is another clean and tidy town with plenty of interesting shops, curious, ATMs and eating places. We had lunch at the hotel and is so common in the Karoo towns, everyone is just so friendly and accommodating. Once again the drive was never a dull one, the country side was great and driving into the camp site just seemed to come along all too soon. The caretakers at Vaalwater have been hand rearing blue cranes for a number of years now and whilst we were there they had “Gogga” a six month old crane that was now been fed only once a day, the rest of the time it finds its own. Within a few more months the feeding will stop altogether and the bird will fend for itself. The reason for the rearing of the birds is due to the high mortality rate of the new born chicks by small predators such as jackal and caracal. Then there are also the feathered predator’s that feed on the chicks.

Vaalwater has the most amazing ablution facilities of all the places we stayed at. They are large, very clean and well-kept with hot and cold water. The campsite is big and plenty of space for all, needless to say we had our usual fires going, some braaing and some cooking on gas.

Day 4 Before we headed off down into the Kloof proper today, we took a quick 4×4 drive around the hills on the Northern section of the farm where we got to do a bit of game viewing along the way. The 4×4 trail took us about an hour or so but it was a pl easant drive where we got to use low ratio on a few occasions whilst driving up the steeper rocky climbs and then down again on the other side.

According to the GPS we only had 50 kilometers to go to the campsite at Bo-Kloof, we would be descending into the main Kloof of Baviaans so there would be lots to see and photograph as we made our way through. We arrived at the Baviaanskloof Curio shop by around lunch time and everyone ordered the coffee shop’s Rooster Brood and Honey with cheese or mince or whatever they had going on the day. Together with a cup of coffee it all went down very well, and sitting on the side of the main road under the trees made for an enjoyable hour or so. On the way to BO Kloof, we were lucky to spot their elusive Anotolian Shepard dogs in one of the sheep enclosures on the side of the road. They are big dogs and their role in life is to live with the sheep and protect the flock from any harm, such as predators. The digs are big with white bodies and black heads, the same as the sheep and together with their long hair, blend in very well with their flock. The dogs originate if turkey where they are actually a protected species. The local baboon troop welcomed us to the campsite from up in the hills behind us, juts letting us know that they are there and to look after our goods at all times. Needless to say during our two day stay at Bo Kloof neither the monkeys nor the baboons came into camp.

Day 5 After breakfast we stopped off at the reception where, between us, we virtually wiped out the farm’s supply of honey in one go. Bo Kloof are well known for their fresh honey which they produce on the farm, farm fresh I guess. From stocking up on Honey for a long time to come, we went out to meet with Patrick at Sewe Fontein and the wild Fig Forest. First we went with Patrick to Sewe Fontein where he told us everything about the spring. Sewe Fontein is actually spring number seven, and at the same time the biggest flowing spring. The crystal clear cool spring water just bubbles out from the ground as it has been doing since 1937. The water is used for drinking and irrigation purposes by the locals in their everyday lives. I forget all the figures that Patri ck gave us, but it must have a constant flow rate of at least 5 litres per second, possibly more.

The wild fig forest is quite spectacular by the sheer size of the trees and how the fallen ones seem to survive once they have toppled over. Apparently the big fig trees do not have very deep rooting system due to the shallow underground rock surfaces, and they may topple in the big storms that do occur in the Kloof from time to time.

From there it was off to see the Makadat Caves, a place of accommodation where the guests stay in open caves in the side of the mountains overlooking the Kloof. The one we visited was only assessable by 4 wheel drive and was situated pretty high up in the mountains and was a ten sleeper. It’s certainly not 5 star accommodation but for a night or two sleeping in a cave in Baviaanskloof, I thinks it’s really great, has hot and cold water with flushing toilets, soft beds with matteresses and a Kitchen sink with stove.

Day 5, Today we would pass through the Baviaanskloof nature reserve and then out past Patensie and on to Inni Kloof just outside Hankey. The nature reserve is around 70 kilometers in length and is only accessible by 4 wheel drive. The reserve section has a herd of buffalo ranging in around 250 head strong and for that reason, we were only allowed to get out of our vehicles at the desi gnated picnic spots. This was not really a problem for us and we were also lucky enough to spot one loan buffalo very close to the side of the road. The bush was fairly thick at that point and I have no doubt that there must have been other close by. Over and abov e the buffalo, we saw quite a few buck in the bushes, especially in the wetter parts where the road ran alongside the river. The drive through the reserve section is absolutely stunning, mountain passes, their shapes and sizes and all covered in an assortment of vegetation makes it an absolute paradise and a place that should be on everyone’s bucket list. The going was slow, but then the passes are single vehicle width and often quite rough with very high and steep drop offs on the side.

When you come up against an on- coming vehicle, size counts. The bigger you convoy the more chance you have of making the other party reverse or in the case of towing the other party reverses. What happens if both parties are towing? I really don’t know. We encountered two different vehicles, one it was a reserve ranger who reversed his vehicle for us and the second was two ladies, neither of who felt comfortable reversing on the pass. Needless to say I reversed their vehicle for them whilst they got a lift in mine.

The camp site at Inni Kloof was really great, a large camp site with a big communal fire pit and reasonable ablutions. Two of our party want an early departure for home the next morning and to up- grade to the nearby chalets. Owners John and Catherina came down to the fire and chatted for a while and it was good to hear how life carries on in the Baviaanskloof and the problems that the farmers have and don’t have.

The trip went off without any problem and was enjoyed by all and a general comment from everyone was, why we have waited so long before visiting the Baviaanskloof. It was enjoyed by all and with a really great group of people who all help make the trip what it is.

Up Sani Pass – August 2016 – Trip Report

image001 Thanks to all who came out and enjoyed the day out with us on our 2016 Sani Pass Outing.

At the meeting point there was coffee flowing to keep the eyes open after the early morning drive up and others which were a lot more perky from the sleep up in the berg lucky buggers.

A short drivers briefing was on order, some radios handed out for communication on the trip. During the briefing there were a few confused looks when it was announced that the road leading up to the pass will be worse than the actual pass its self. Off we set to the border post, all passports stamped and cleared the pass now lay ahead of us. Bye bye South Africa for a short while.

image009A leisurely slow drive up the pass taking in some of the spectacular sites and a photo or two for memories. Going up the pass it was apparent it was in better condition than the road leading up to it on South
African side and pretty easy not even requiring much effort due to the construction that has been happening up there. At the Lesotho border there was a beautiful tarred road but before we could continue we got our passports stamped and road taxes paid off to the hotel we went for a cold one or in a few cases some hot chocolate with a marshmallow in Yum…
After a short break we regrouped and set off to a view point along the way we fund some nice 4×4 challenges then a breath taking view where we sat down for lunch.

image007There was also some snow in the shaded areas and of course a snow man had to be built and a few snowballs thrown around.

Lunch over we set off for a short drive to Black Mountain driving along the beautiful tarred road there was some spectacular engineering done on the steep sections. It was also apparent there was a large amount of snow up there with some sections still
so deep you could hide a car in. As we got really high up you felt a significant loss in the vehicles performance. A few quick snaps were taken then off to the border as it was getting
late.

image027All stamped out we drove down the pass well not all of us one member took a run down the pass to test her endurance very brave she was and hope all went well.
Back on SA soil and all cleared at customs was time for the long trip back home. Hope everyone had a good time and a safe journey home.

ZINGELA OUTING – APRIL 2016 – Trip Report

By Frank and Sue…

FiveAfter the Kosi trip Sue and I decided to do the Zingela camp as a contrast to the different terrain and environment, and we are pleased we did. Meeting up with Danny and Evette, Terry and Lyn, Simon and Ellen and Wendy from Kosi weekend. Sue had taken the Friday off so we had an early start and ambled up to Weenen where we turned off onto dirt just after the garage. The route schedule Kevin gave me to the camp site seemed easy and clear (all 4 instructions) until we got to the Weenen Estate turn off which was a fork in the road. I phoned Mark and Linda (owners of the camp) only to hear we had over shot the Sunvalley turn off. Once we got to the causeway over the Bloukrans river I spotted a red arrow painted on a pillar of the bridge, cool, just follow the arrows to the camp, that track petered out, no tyre marks on the road, we asked some locals for directions to Zingela, all they could do was point in the direction of the mountain. I turned right and over a cattle grid and then up the Bloukrans pass.

eightFor me, 1st gear low range over the rocks, not knowing whether we were on the right road I carried on until we saw some power lines and the tops of thatch rondavel’s. We met Mark and Linda who suggested a cold beer which never touched sides. Mark escorted us to the camp on his Yamaha, along the way we saw and heard the barking of an irate female baboon, standing on her hind legs looking for her baby,we waited until she calmed down.

OneWe set up camp and it was not long after Wendy arrived. As the sun was setting the rest arrived in convoy. Kevin and Jennifer left Durban at 5.30pm to arrive at about 10.00 in a blaze of lights, lighting up the cliff face on the south side. It was an early braai and into bed for us.

The following morning turned out to be cloudy with a menacing wind, Sue and I decided to walk back to the main camp for the excise and then back again but not without incident. When it happened it was over in 3 seconds. To my right, alongside the road was a earth bank. With no warning 4 large warthog, grunting and raving at their disturbance, came blundering out towards us with a branch that had hidden their entrance, then dispersed in all directions, as Sue said, definitely a brown pants moment.

We got back to camp to find everyone sitting beside a wood fire which was really inviting and listened to all their experiences of different trips they had undertaken in the past. That evening it was hot curry, cold OB and into our burrow (the roof top tent) for a good night sleep.

ThreeSunday was a slow get up, with breakfast in the sun to warm up. Kevin suggested we all go for a drive down stream to a picnic spot which he knew and kindly offered Sue and I a lift, crossing the dry river bed behind the camp we found a well corroded track going up the side of the krans, definitely not a jeep track (Cherokee) nor a bike track (Suzuki) only the big t’s, in my novice mind I graded it at 50 up and 60 down but was told only about 5.

We all had time out at the river with snacks and something to drink. I was left behind to guide the rest passed a large boulder which was obscured by grass only to catch a lift with Wendy, then the adventure started, what goes up must come down. Wendy’s sump plate came in contact with a rock, at the sound of it she took a deep breath then exhaled with some vocabulary I cannot print in fear of been thrown out of the club. I then decided to walk the short distance to where Kevin was guiding the guys down the rough stuff. To top it all Wendy managed to get her rear end (diff) lodged in front of a boulder which had by now became loose, with the three of us we managed to bounce the Isuzu over and out. Everyone got out without any oil leaks!!! The Govenders went off to find a cell phone signal to phone Talia as she had returned from Paris. They soon returned with a huge tree attached by a strap to their tow bar. Now that’s fuel for the fire.

Sunday night was an all get together for socialising, cooking, braaing and liquidising until late into the night (for some ) Monday we all decided to leave in convoy at about 12pm. It was at this stage I noticed two large hand prints on my bonnet which definitely were not human, most of us agreed it could be baboon prints, all this wild life!!!! I have photos of them and will make enquiries. Due to heavy dew we packed up after the tents had dried out in full sun. What a lovely day and having to leave a magnificent spot to return to civilisation. We returned the same way and saw two giraffe not far off, then down the Bloukrans pass for a few photos on the causeway. At Weenen some filled up and others took the tar road to Estcourt or Greytown. Kevin led the others on a dirt road, a short cut which came out at Mooi River. Our final good byes as we headed for home.

From Sue and I a big thanks to all who have really made us as new members very welcome.

10 DAYS OF BLISS AT KOSI BAY – Trip Report

IMG_7351by Lynn & Terry Espitalier

This was our first real camping trip away with the 4 x 4 club. The Govender’s the Subbiah’s and ourselves left on the Friday before the long weekend. Lucky for some us that could get the time off.
Kevin and Terry towed the boats and Danny and I towed our trailers. This was going to be a first for me towing, especially the last stretch through soft sand. I was very nervous, but thanks to Kevin’s guidance on the two way radio I managed to get to Kosi without an incident and I didn’t get stuck once. We stopped at God Knows tuck shop for the compulsory beer before we headed off to our camp.

On arriving Leonie and Phil made us feel very welcome. Our trailer was only a few days old and we were acting like real city slickers when we were trying to put up our tent. Fortunately we had a few helping hands and our tent was up in no time before Terry and I landed up killing each other.

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“…it was the best place to be”

The following morning everyone went off to put the boats into the water and to enjoy some time on the lakes. I stayed back at the camp to catch up on some sleep before I ventured out. On returning Terry could not stop raving about the time they had swimming in the channels in the lake. It was extremely hot so it was the best place to be.

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Talia in her Jimney

While we were there we did a day drip along the road towards Black Rock, stopping off along the way at a few lovely spots to admire the breath taking views. We also stopped at Dog Point and unanimously decided that we would have to return on another day to enjoy more time there. On route everyone had the opportunity to show off their driving skills. Talia in her Jimney showed the men how capable her little car is. A few of us didn’t made great impressions on our driving skills, but it was a lot of fun and I think we learnt a few more tips on what and what not to do when tackling these steep sandy roads. The coastal area of Kosi is so unspoilt, lots of cycads and beautiful green valleys.

Simon and Ellen, who had arrived a couple of days after us decided to go to Black Rock to snorkel but we carried on to an old Kosi Bay camping site for a picnic and a few cold ones. Talia and Chanel tagged on with Ellen and Simon and reported back that the snorkelling was great and that they had a good time there.

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The girls showing some leg…

We returned to Dog Point a few days later with a gazebo and our cooler boxes. It was low tide and a little overcast when we arrived but it wasn’t long and the sun was beating down on us. We all spent a lot of time swimming, snorkelling and just enjoying this lovely spot.

Every evening Terry made us a lovely festivity fire and we enjoyed lovely meals on the braai and a few really good curries.
On the long weekend more members arrived. Unfortunately we had a problem with some campers camping a little too close for comfort but after a little relocating everyone was happy.

Our guide Smanga took us to Lake 4 where no one is allowed. What a treat it was!!! It’s absolutely beautiful and so untouched. Danny pointed out the Palm Nut vultures to us. I thought that they were Fish eagles but it turned out that Danny was right. There are beautiful palms and huge water lilies all along the sides of the channel. The water here is not as clean as the other lakes but the scenery is really stunning. The bird life everywhere is absolutely amazing. I was very excited to see flamingos.
We spent the last few days chilling on the boats and trying to fish but we were not rewarded with even a bite.
One evening a few people managed to see the turtles that had just hatched and were making their way to the sea. A wonderful experience for anyone that has not had the opportunity to witness these turtles that are so vulnerable once they have hatched.

The days passed by so quickly.
On our last evening the local children treated us to a lovely show. Dancing and singing Easter songs and even getting a bunch of us to join them in dance.

Before we knew if it was time to return back to Durban. 

It was a very memorable 10 days, lots of laughter and teasing was had by all. I look forward to returning again someday.

IMG_7426A special thanks goes to the Govender’s who went out of their way to make it an awesome weekend for all to enjoy. Thanks again.

P.S. Terry sometimes does strange thing s and didn’t let us down. One morning instead of taking his vitamins that I had put out for him, he decided that he liked the colour of one of my pills, which happened to be blue, this happened to be my hormone pill. Anyway we teased him and told him that he was going to grow breasts, which earned him a new name “Cookie”.

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Lesotho – Sehlabatheba February 2016

Matabeng Pass from 3000m

Once again, this was an awesome 4×4 trip through some of the most spectacular scenery that the Mountain Kingdom has to offer.

The convoy was made up of seven 4 wheel drives and all with low ratio transfer cases, a pre-requisite for a trip of this nature. After our last fuel top up in Matatiele, the convoy made for the Qacha’s Nek border crossing, and as usual, the officials on the South African side were friendly and efficient. The only thing that has me puzzled is the process at the border, those either entering SA or leaving SA must enter the immigration building through separate entrances which makes perfectly good sense to me. However once inside the building, everyone meets at the same immigration desk with only one official on duty. I must say though, he does seem to do quite well in balancing the queues by taking a few from one side and then a few from the other side and eventually it all seems to balance out and keeps everyone reasonably happy. Once you have your passport stamped, you then exit through the door that the other are entering and when they have their passport’s stamped, they exit through the door that you are entering through. It would be a lot quicker by simply having two officials on duty though. The Lesotho side was very quick with no hold up’s and the officials were nothing but friendly towards us and welcoming us to their country.

The first stop on our way to the Sehlabatheba Nature reserve was a very necessary one, we needed to stock up on one of the finest products of Lesotho, namely their Maluti Lager. Their Maluti Lager is a really good tasting beer that goes down very easily and at a cost that is not much more than what we pay for a beer in SA.

Sky roof in the rock formation

It’s a few hour drive from the border to the campsite but the time passes quickly with just so many interesting sites along the way. For the first part of the day we have the Tsoelike River on our left and then later on the Legooa River. Much of the route takes us along the south eastern border between SA and Lesotho with SA in the valley on the right and the mountains of Lesotho on our left.

Mountain Lake and rock formation

The Sehlabatheba National Park is spectacular, set amongst the Maluti Mountains on one side and the escarpment down towards Bushmen’s Nek on the other, the campsite being on a grassland between the two. After a wet and windy night we took a walk to the nearby mountain lakes and rock sandstone rock formations. They are nothing short of spectacular and a photographer’s paradise. Unfortunately there was still a lot of low cloud and mist around, but never the less still some awesome photos were taken. The attached photos were taken by Prakash Bhikha, one of our group and a well-known photographer.

Handing out clothing

Our next campsite was one hundred kilometers away on the banks of the Sani River. The route we were taking would include the Matabeng Pass which tops out at 3150 meters followed by the Sehongong Pass. We would also be taking in the most amazing scenery once we met up with the Senqu River and valley on our left hand side. Most rivers and streams in the Mountain Kingdom find their way into the Senqu River, which once it flows in SA. Becomes the Orange River. The source of the Orange being on the Khubelu River in Lesotho high up in the mountains up above the Royal Natal National Park. The drive up and over Matabeng Pass required the use of Low ratio, 1 because of the altitude and 2, because of the condition of the road that we were driving along. On the way down the other side of Matabeng Pass we stopped at a really remote and poverty stricken village where books, pens, crayons, clothing and pots and pans were handed out to the local villagers. We try and do this every trip, and it is the least that we can do to raise the lives of the villagers for a short while. We had a perfect stop over for our lunch break on the banks of the Matabeng River and in the shade of the numerous Poplar trees. From the lunch stop we still had around 60 kilometer to go, but the road improved so much so that we were able to travel at a slightly higher speed and we made camp by around 16h00. Camping on the banks of the Sani River was great, the weather was kind to us and we sat around the fire for quite some time, although after a long day in the vehicle, it seemed as though everyone was happy to retire fairly early.

From our Sani River campsite we had exactly 100 kilometers to go before we would arrive at the Sani Pass. Again the scenery along the route was amazing with mountain pass after mountain pass, and each pass being as good if not better than the previous one. The road has been repaired quite a bit since I was last there which made the going quite a bit easier, although the few kilometers up and over the Menoaneng Pass which topped out at just on 3000 meters was still fairly rough and required the use of low ratio once more. I fact, I find driving in The Maluti’s that low ratio is often the best option, even if the going is not too rough, using low ratio means that you are able to select a gear, possibly 2nd or 3rd and just move along at a controllable speed without constantly changing gears. The new tar road between Mokhotlong and the Sani has been completed but they are already ripping it up in places for what I would assume are maintenance reasons. The road, built by the Chinese was only finally completed late last year.

We were at the Sani Top by midday after a 07h30 start which meant that we had time for a bite to eat before the descent down the Pass and back into South Africa. The Sani Top Chalet is currently being well managed and the service and meals were really good and at reasonable prices too. There are plenty of tables and staff to cater for everyone when it gets busy and once your order has been taken, your meal arrives after a short wait.

This was a great trip through the mountains with a great group of people who all enjoyed the sights and camaraderie for the few days that we were all together.

I have done this trip many times in the past in many different vehicles, and I must say, I was really very impressed with the 76 Series V8 Land Cruiser station wagon. The vehicle has an abundance of usable power and is never found wanting for more. On the open tar road, it will quite comfortably keep up with the rest.

I do this trip at the same time each year, so feel free to book now for 2017.

Sani River Campsite

 by Gerald O’Brien

Inanda Dam Wall Outing – Trip Report

The February monthly outing started with the usual rendezvous, this month is was at Nandi Petroport on the N2 northbound carriageway. New members on their first outing , old members returning, greetings all round, Jennifer handing out the 4×4 decals and of course the benefits of Petroport; toilet facilities, hot chocolate, coffee and, of course, Steer King burgers and chips (9 in the morning,ugh!). The driver’s briefing with convoy rules was carefully explained by Kevin for the benefit of all and then a choice of route…short route via Kwa Mashu or the longer route via Verulam. Verulam came out on top and off we went, 13 vehicles heading up the freeway with headlights on, to the Umhlanga turnoff. Left turn and into the Verulam/Mt Edgecombe area then north east heading for the lower reaches of the Valley of 1000 Hills. As we headed further east houses turned to shacks and then sugar cane then shacks again. Evidence of the recent protests was evident all along the road, burned out boxes, trees, tyres and charred tarmac. There were a couple of sizable potholes for good measure but nothing really worth talking about in detail.

Our first stop was at the Mzinyati Falls, an unknown plunge waterfall right on our doorstep, it gave us all an opportunity to stretch our legs and take some pics. The brave ones got their feet wet and crossed over the “top of the falls” to get a better view, those who, like myself, hate heights stayed with feet firmly planted on the one side. We attracted some interest from the local kids who came along and readily posed for pics, a two minute drive around the lip of the gorge was rewarded with a great view of the full falls. The question begs asking “why is this kept secret?”

Our next stop was near the base of the Inanda dam wall with a water plume shooting out and a cooling spray blowing over us, cameras were clicking as the sun was now shining and the water was catching the rays making a great opportunity for the creative ones amongst us.


We now had an opportunity to engage 4WD as we got to the picnic site right on the banks of the Umgeni River. A small drop-off was safely
negotiated by all and out came the tables, chairs and braai stands. Fires lit, beers cracked sizzle of cooking meat and conversation flowing all around, kids playing in the water, not too clean but they didn’t seem to care. One lonely fisherman, a couple of local kids and a quick visit from two quite large Nguni cows lent atmosphere to the braai. All too soon it was time to pack-up and negotiate the drop-off in the opposite direction, which was quite challenging for a couple of drivers, and then the long steep climb out of the valley into Wyebank.

Not a strenuous outing, mainly on tar, but nevertheless a really enjoyable one so thanks Kevin for organising and leading and Trevor for being tail-end Charlie.


By Gordon
Battersby (long time friend of the Club)


 

A leisurely drive along the ‘Toti ‘waterfall route – Feedback—

Toti Falls

Thanks to all!!! Who made the effort to come out and enjoy the day with us. We had a pretty large group of vehicles 28 in total and it was a great way to start off the outings for the year.
09:00 arrived and departure was imminent. Setting off in a road train stretching out about a kilometre long. While going through the local township the roads we proberly got a few weird looks from the taxi’s when they stopped for passengers and couldn’t get back on the road until we passed he!he!he!he!
Off the tarmac and onto the dirt we encountered an old church a good place to say your last preys before…….. You get some incredible breath taking views and forget you should continue breathing.lol!!!

On the way down we came across a few bikes and quads that were there to also enjoy nature at its best. First bit of serious offroading went of pretty well only a few seats got chewed up and needed some re-upholstery.
On one of the river crossings we came across some local law enforcement who luckily were bribed with some fresh grass to allow safe passage through the valley.

After a few more river crossings we came across a play area where we could practice some articulation and hill climbing .At the top we decided to all pose in voortrekker style for a group photo.

Then it was off to the braai spot as our stomachs were starting to digest themselves.

At the picnic area we managed to squeeze all 28 vehicles in and no sooner braai’s were set up and fires blazing awaiting all the carnivores to lace the grid’s with meat and spice.

Gazebos were set up and every available inch of shade was used up while chomping down on lunch, as the sun was blazing down on us with no mercy.

After lunch a few decided to go explore the surroundings and found a tranquil spot next to the river with a beautiful small water fall and a lovely swimming area.


So it was pack up time and we set off to the main Nungwane falls.
Along the way we saw the Nungwane dam which is quite low because of the drought which our country is experiencing at present.

At the falls there were some spectacular trees growing out of the cliffs in places that no man could possibly think of or manage to plant them there showing the power of nature.

As some were taking last minute photos others were just relaxing and taking in the scenery.

Thanks to all who attended again and hope it was a enjoyable outing couldn’t be done without the participation of all the club members and let 2016 be a amazing year to all so watch this space for future outings!!!

Trip Report- Weenen Nature Reserve

By Gerald O’Brien

I had a few days off with nowhere to go just before the Christmas Season began, and all the friends from Gauteng would come flooding into Pennington.

The view from our campsite. Note the wall for the water hole roughly mid pick. The water hole was virtually dry, see pic below.
The view from our campsite. Note the wall for the water hole roughly mid pick. The water hole was virtually dry, see pic below.

Mkuze and Ithala game reserves on the north coast have been my favourite short term destination’s for many years now. With the recent drought situation and reports from others, I decided that Marsha and I needed to find an alternate place to stay.

The Weenen Nature reserve just outside Estcourt proved to be really good find.

Weenen Nature Reserve, proclaimed in 1975, covers around 5003 hectares and the vegetation is typical Valley Bushveld and is characterised by Acacia Karoo, Acacia Tortillas and Acacia Niclotica.

The first of the narrow bridges to be driven across
The first of the narrow bridges to be driven across

The reserve varies from 1000 to 1240 meters and has a road network of around 30 kilometers taking the game viewer into the valleys and then up into the mountains. Due to the nature of the terrain, I found the drives to be very interesting, and at your own risk, you are allowed out the vehicle at designated areas. The reserve has a number of well situated picnic spots along the drives as well as a few view- points where one can look down on to the neighbouring farmlands. There is a LDV or 4×4 track that is well worth a drive, it follows along an old narrow- gauge rail way line that was constructed at around the turn of the century and has a few very narrow bridge to cross over, with very little room for error. The narrow line was operated by the Natal Railway Company and was originally designed to run from Ladysmith to Weenen but only the section between Weenen and Estcourt was surveyed in 1902 and constructed. The drive itself is not really a 4×4 route but it does require a high ground clearance, hence the name LDV route.

The reserve is rich in archaeological sites with evidence throughout the area of stone and Iron Age’s occupation dating from before 1500AD. The large rock structures, which were the cattle kraals, belong to the recent Zulu population, whilst the smaller structures were those of the Stone and Iron Age inhabitants. You will see many of these structures along the route as you drive around the reserve.

Although we were not there in ideal weather conditions, we did still see quite a bit of game including, Zebra, Eland, Kudu, Giraffe, Impala, and Red Hartebeest and of course White Rhino. The reserves species list is of course quite a bit bigger than this though. The birdlife is fantastic too with a large bird species list to tick off as you go along.

Another of the narrow bridges to be driven across. Not much room for error.
Another of the narrow bridges to be driven across. Not much room for error.

We camped over for 4 nights, 3 of which were in either rain, strong wind, lightning storms or all three, the days were not much better. The last night we chose to take the short 28 kilometer drive to Estcourt for take aways rather than try and light a fire or even cook on gas in the wind and rain.

The camp site does not have the best positioning in the reserve, its right as you enter the reserve on the left hand side. Fortunately the main Weenen / Estcourt road is not a busy one as you do hear each and every vehicle as it passes by, it’s not loud but you do hear them. The camp site’s are fairly open but they do have shade on them which on hot days will be very necessary. We were the only ones camping for the duration that we were there which was a real treat for us. From our camp site we overlooked a large valley, a hide overlooking an empty water hole and then a hill in the distance. Just to sit and watch the game from out camp site was really great and if the weather had been better, I would have spent more time in my chair with a book and the great site on front of me. The cooler box would never be too far off either.

Two Dung Beetles struggling with a Dung ball over a few sticks.
Two Dung Beetles struggling with a Dung ball over a few sticks.

Weenen has not seen the last of me, I enjoyed the reserve and everything it had on offer and a bonus is that it is just 250 kilometers from Pennington. Make that less than 200kms form Durbs. I would recommend the reserve to anyone looking for an easy weekend break.

The only water hole that had any water in it. And even that was not much at all. When the rain has been good to us, this water hole and hide will be a great spot to spend a bit of time, and you are allowed to walk the few hundred meter to it from the campsite.
The only water hole that had any water in it. And even that was not much at all. When the rain has been good to us, this water hole and hide will be a great spot to spend a bit of time, and you are allowed to walk the few hundred meter to it from the campsite.
View of the unfenced campsite. We had Zebra, Eland and warthog visit on most evenings. The birdlife in the camp was good with Guineafowl roosting in the nearby trees at night.
View of the unfenced campsite. We had Zebra, Eland and warthog visit on most evenings. The birdlife in the camp was good with Guineafowl roosting in the nearby trees at night.
On the LDV route. This must have been the Mona station many years back. Its’s all narrow gauge railway lines.
On the LDV route. This must have been the Mona station many years back. Its’s all narrow gauge railway lines.

Shongweni Truck & Car Show

Fri 30 October – Sun 1 November

A great weekend was spent on our stand at the Shongweni Truck & Car Show attempting to attract new members to our club. Thanks to Trevor Wheeler, Deon Coetzee, Deon Bouwer, Kevin Govender, Cobus Adams,Gavin & Sue McKenzie & Gary & Cheryldene van Schoor for displaying their vehicles and helping to man the stand.

EISH!!!!!! IT’S BROKEN.

SLEEPING ON THE JOB

WAITING FOR THE BAND TO PLAY.

Shushu 2015 – Trip Report

Thanks to all who came out to Shushu and enjoyed the natural “load shedding” in the African bushveld.

Some nights were a little colder than others but thanks to the abundance of fire wood we were all sorted and if that wasn’t enough there were some liquid substitutes to warm you up from the inside.

The hot water pools were also superb with a lovely aroma of sulphur just to give you the kick that lets you know you are in the bush and with no civilization around so it’s time to let your hair down and relax.

There was also some awesome 4×4 driving to be done along the banks of the Tugela river with all sorts of terrain sand, rock………


One of the sights to see is the Giant fig tree where if you wanted you could park a 4×4 in the centre and use it as a garage with a couple of leaks in the roof but only if it rained.

We were also off to the presidential headquarters “Nkandla” to see Mr Zuma’s residence which is quite a piece of work to say the least.

We were there for a short while and snapped a couple of quick shots and ducked before we might see some blue lights coming for us over the hills.

In all it was a great relaxed weekend and hope to see all there next year.