It was a good day to be on the bus as it was drizzling rain. We stopped to view Nelson Mandela’s grave, which can only be seen from the road. He was born near here. Our bus driver said this is the poorest part of the country and there are a lot of people living on tiny plots of ground raising corn, with a few animals.
I walked three miles from my lodge, not a fancy one, along the park by the zoo, a lake for small boats, and lovely neighborhoods catch the Hop-on, Hop-off Bus Tour starting near the charming pedestrian mall. I like to sit on the top deck and it was not that hot. Since the bus had to wait for an arriving bus, the driver came up and introduced us to the tribal language with clicking sounds and made small dance movements with the words. He was really agile. I was so hoping to hear the language. It is almost impossible to learn as an adult and I was afraid it was not preserved. He had us all smiling and clapping.
We waited in front of this Casino for our small van to take us to Soweto, a slum of 5 million people, of whom 121 are white. What a contrast to this scene!
But I was surprised to see all the nice homes to the left. It seems when people have earned more money, they have stayed in the neighborhood and built better homes and made improvements.
This is where the bungee jumping is, abandoned coal stacks.
Here is a picture of Hector, being carried by his brother, after being shot by the police.
The school children were protesting they could only be taught trades, not reading, writing or arithmetic as white children were taught. June 16, 1976 is the date.
A lovely lady smiling at a little girl nearby.
I read the best book, “Jock of the Bushveld” stories about a dog named Jock in the time of the gold rush, first published 100 years ago in South Africa.
And back to the casino to catch the bigger bus.
At 5 am our guide and driver, Ted, picks me up at Old Vic’s Travellers Inn, along with a young German couple. By 6 am we are at the southern gate to Kruger Park, the Malane Gate. He knows all about the animals, is interesting and drives slow enough so we can see everything. Sometimes I take a photo to shie the GPS coordinates, just for fun.
We entered the Malalane gate at the bottom of the map, drove around most the day, stopped for lunch, and spent the night at Preterluskop. I was on a tour that Dave at Old Vic’s Travellers Inn gives. Ted was our super guide, then he went home and Dave arrived and cooked us a BBQ dinner. It was pleasant enough to sit outside.
Our guide and driver is Ted on the left. The couple in the middle were Irish and the other couple is German.
Hippopotamus in the river.
Sofia is South Africaan and was on the hut next to me. Somehow, I got a private hut. Sofia, her husband and two young children live near the Malalane gate, but they are enjoying a few nights away from their kids. She was very sweet and friendly. It was great to meet her and her husband. They speak English, but not Africaan, although Sofia is learning so she can converse with the Africaan folks.
A kudu buck.
Crocodile on the rock.
Jane Goodall spreading her message and giving a better life to abused chimps. I was thrilled to be here.
The Sudwala Caves are the oldest Caves in the world. See how the staglitites and stigmatites meet in the middle, forming a column. That kind of formation takes zillions of years to form. Now you know.
I was told these mark the start of the trail, but I still did a double take, because there is a leopard here and if I was very fortunate, she would show herself. But no, I was not so fortunate!
Whoever marked this trail has a great sense of humor. Those little human paws better pick up their pace!
Close behind, the lion stalks it’s prey! Pretty entertaining, but I do look over my shoulder occasionally.
Interesting facts on the trail, the Latin name, and in Africaan and English, the two main official languages in South Africa. There are 13 official other languages of the tribes, as well. The Africaans wanted their children to only read and write Africaan in school, not English, which was the language of their hated oppressor. Hated because they outlawed slavery in 1820, for starters. As well as stole the land when gold and diamonds were discovered.
Looking back at Oliphants River Lodge from the trail.
Lichen the lime green on reddish rocks.
Ha, ha, this warning sign is near the end of the trail. I opted for the longer route home on the trail , instead of wading across the river. Perhaps on the other side they would have a warning sign about crocodiles. No worries! I really do not think there are crocodiles here.
Back at the Lodge.
Another view of the river and countryside.
Perfect cycling weather and road, cool with rolling hills and little traffic. Although the clouds were a little troubled with lightning and I might get soaked.
It was true, life was great down this road. Thank you Uncle Barry!
Cycling to Oliphants River Lodge was a mere 12 miles and should have been easy, but from the map I could see there was a gravel road the last bit. And there was a bit of traffic on the secondary road, with trucks hauling coal. Often I would just pull off the road to let them pass, but sometimes there were passing lanes on the hills. It is all big rolling hills.
Bets and Sone (a French name) invited me for brunch. Their warm welcome and hospitality amaze me. Bets brought her wood carving project, Sone is crocheting a blanket for her first grandchild to be born in June, and I paint in my sketchbook. We talk and laugh. It is like having instant old friends!