Just returned from a great trip to Wildest Afrika. My dear Mama always reckoned that the Bundu starts at Bellville – well, she might have been right, tho’ Barrydale could be a stronger contender these days.
Whatever, the State of the Roads is probably the best bundu indicator. Before you take up Marthinus van Schalkie’s offer of a great holiday in your own country a brief assessment of the roads in different areas wouldn’t do you any harm. We set off from Ceres [why Ceres? – another story] on a grey chilly morning; at Ashton we took an impetuous decision to take the Klein-Karoo route to PeeEee. A good decision, apparently, when we heard that the N2 was stiff with rygo’s – you know, “Delay: 40 minutes. Thank you for your patience.”
|This log was swimming in the St Lucia Estuary ...|
The roads were great until Misgund, which has nothing to do with manure, but means “begrudged” or “denied”. The reason for the name is impenetrably obscure, but it’s where the Eastern Cape and the slightly-worse roads begin. The Langkloof road steadily deteriorates as the speed-limit drops from 120 to 100 to 80 in inverse proportion to the number of potholes, until at last you emerge onto the N2 and you thank Sanral, toll-roads or not, for relatively decent pothole maintenance.
|Top left: Duckface. Top right: Don’t call me ‘Duckface’.|
Bottom left: A haunch of camelopard: bad tie-dying
Bottom right: Oxpeckers resting after a rough night out.
|Clockwise from top left:|
Crowned crane, Wakkerstroom; Grey heron, St Lucia;
Pale chanting goshawk, Graaf-Reinet;
Trumpetter hornbill, Cape Vidal
The other way – Fort England/Queenstown/Lady Frere [don’t take the Dordrecht loop – turn right to Lady F] and on to Ugie, Maclear, Matatiele is only 25km further to Kokstad than the N2, and mebbe 30 minutes longer depending on the rygo’s and the goats. It’s a spectacularly beautiful road, mostly in good shape excepting about 10km near Lady Frere, with no huge trucks and hardly any cars [or even taxis] at all.
Portrait of a Lady: a white rhino ...
Gnus don’t have walls to bang their heads against, so ...
Zebras are reactionary ...
Warthogs are darn scary, specially redheads ...
|You always get the feeling that something’s |
watching you, when these guys are around
On the fifth day we visited Imfolozi Game Reserve, a singularly beautiful bit of Northern KZN which resides down a very bad road from St L. It was here we discovered that KZN has the second-worst roads in RSA, as well as indifferent gate-guards at the reserve. Once in, however, we enjoyed a paradise of rhinos, impalas, giraffes, gnus, warthogs and zebras, but the much-advertised elephants were on leave for the day, resting up in their bushy hollows, so none were seen. Our travelling companions – we’ll call them Jughead and Veronica – were great company and a big help in game-spotting, though Jughead pronounced himself uitgewild by the end of the day and we returned to St L for pizza and a welcome game of cards.
|Left: Bad advertising|
Top Right: ‘Blacksmith plover, get lost.’
Bottom right: ‘Black-winged plover, get lost.’
The road north continued to deteriorate rapidly until we reached the Swaziland border at Golele, where after a brief 1km detour the road became absolutely superb and, with few exceptions, remained that way throughout our stay.
|Anyone would’ve thought it was springtime ... |
these happy couples were spotted at St Lucia
To reach Bethlehem you need to cross from Volksrust to Vrede; inexplicably, the only way to get there is down the worst dirt road you ever, ever saw, and it’s been like that for over forty years. You hope for better things at Vrede, but the Free State has the third-worst roads in RSA, where again the only good ones are Sanral’s.
|No essay on Wildlife would be complete without a couple|
of primates: clockwise from top left, at
Graaf-Reinet; at St Lucia; at Imfolozi.
Kaartman, May 2012