We left Kruger on 10th March little anticipating what chaos the world would shortly plunge into. SA’s harsh ‘lockdown’ caught us in KZN where we remained trapped for the months that followed. However through the kindness of friends and relations we survived – albeit not without frustration.
You may remember that we sold and moved out of our newly acquired home at Simbithi, Ballito at the end of 2019. Licking our wounds we retired to our refuge, Kruger Park, to contemplate our next move. The problem is that both Renette and I are our happiest caravaning in our great parks – so we have bought another Quantum and a new Quantum (yes!!) Pinnacle caravan and we are going to travel until we feel the urge to be a little more conventional and buy a home – somewhere – and settle.
With lockdown ending, the rush on Kruger has been huge and because September/October are not our favourite months there, we have decided to head down to the Cape for two months after which we will return to Kruger in November/December for which we have successfully booked.
So, after last minute preparations in Jo’burg, we left Dave, Steph and our two precious grandchildren in Kyalami and set course down the N1 to Bloemfontein. Despite being bigger than our old Penta, the Pinnacle is far steadier with no hint of sway making driving really easy. A brisk tailwind helped us along our way and today was oh so typically September on the highveld. Everything bleak, brown and dusty.
At Bloem we turned left towards Ladybrand and arrived at Werner (Renette’s cousin) and Noleen’s Eingedi Retreat at 1pm.
For those that don’t know, these two amazing souls have, in the space of four years, transformed what was a wasteland into a real oasis.
One can only marvel at their fortitude – as they approach their sixties. We spend a really lovely time with them at the dinner table fighting off the Freestate cold with a roaring wood fire in the grate.
With a strong north wind blowing and dust flying we spend the day catching our breath and enjoying the company of the Werner and Noleen.
Again, dinner around the table as we prepare for and early start for Cradock in the morning.
At 6am we quietly leave Eingedi and take the road past Hobhouse, Wepener, Zastron that skirts the western border of Lesoto. With yet another heavy front arriving at the Cape, the wind has really strengthened and although it helps us on our way, I sometime fear that the caravan will be blown over, such are the strength of some gusts funneling around cuttings.
We usually breakfast at the Stables at Aliwal North on the banks of the Orange River but they are Covid closed and Wimpy comes to the rescue with a Hash Brown. Then on through the typically drab SA dorps of Rouxville, Hofmeyer, Steytlerville and finally Cradock at 1pm.
We finally reach and enter our destination – Mountain Zebra National Park – at 2pm. With the wind still howling, the dust flying, poor light and being a little zonked, we pay little attention to our first animal – a Bat-eared Fox.
I have only seen them in Kgalagadi before. Thereafter some Ostriches and Springboks.
Mountain Zebra is the most scenic of Parks and the Restcamp is attractively tucked away in a remote valley.
We find a decent campsite and settle in – just before an unexpected downpour of rain sends water sluicing through the camp. I have my cameras poised for tomorrow and after nearly six months of Covid inactivity I look forward very much to the morrow.