Wednesday, September 11 Orange / Gariep River
Orange River, also known as Gariep River, is the longest river in South Africa, starting in the Drakensburg Mountains near Lesotho and flowing 1800km westwards to Alexander Bay. It also forms the border between Namibia and South Africa. On the Namibian side, the land is sandy, rocky and barren, while on the SA side, it is lush with citrus and mango plantations. Don’t ask me why.
Our first night in SA was spent on the banks of this river. Unfortunately, the cold, overcast weather prevented swimming so, by default, the afternoon centered on dogs. There was the board game version (in which I remain undefeated!), and four models of the living, breathing version that decided to join us for an afternoon walk. This proved interesting.
Shadow liked to play fetch with rocks, especially ones as big as his head. The border collie loved to round up cars, especially those going in excess of 80km/hr. The female bull mastiff was a wee bit gender confused and liked to take her male sexual urges out on the male labrador (proof that LGBTI exists among other species?!). The lab, meanwhile, did not appreciate her advances and instigated several fights in retaliation.
Despite all this, we warmed up to the crazy beasts, so when we found the border collie struggling to make its way out of an irrigation canal that it had somehow managed to find its way into, I felt obliged to get down in the mud in my newly cleaned clothes to scoop him out. He thanked me by shaking his wet fur all over me. The drama continued into the night, when a cruising police car ran over Shadow and didn’t bother to stop. After a frantic 15-minute search we found him by the riverbank in shock and nursing a broken leg.
Thursday, September 12 Citrusdal in the Cederberg Mountains
As we headed South, the arid landscape of the last three weeks morphed rapidly into a lush land of vegetation. There is something grounding about the sight of green: a sign of survival, an instinctive trigger to relax. Being the start of spring, the green countryside was overlayed with a patchy carpet of purples, yellow and orange wildflowers that set a challenge to Australia’s Midwest in beauty and design. Closer inspection revealed a similar cross-continental display of schoenias, sweet peas, pigface and, of course, proteas, but with a slight African twist. The biggest difference, though, was the backdrop of the stunning Cederberg Mountains, stretching as high as 2,000m above sea level.
Our camp for the night was by an orange grove in Citrusdal. Once again, we were joined by the trusty (far more normal) farm dog on an afternoon walk, crossing over a freezing creek and up a rocky 4WD track to get a beautiful view over the valley, and spying a lost mole along the way.
Friday, September 13 – Sunday, September 15 Cape Town
Finally, after 19 days, we had reached our destination, but not before a great little bushman tour at !Khwa ttu, and a stop at Bloubergstrand to take in the nippy view of cloud-covered Table Mountain. Much to my dismay, the weather in Cape Town remained largely overcast and freezing the entire weekend. Fortunately, my stay there also coincided with visits by my besties from Swaziland, Myles and Tegan, with whom I enjoyed dinner and a wander around the waterfront, as well as Lesotho-based Aussie mates, Ed and May, with whom I enjoyed a couple of chilled bevvies and catch-ups. I also spent some time hanging out with Cape Town “local”, Juanjo, with whom I enjoyed cups of warming Rooibos tea from his hill-top Tamboerskloof garden, overlooking the Table. With that, my great adventures had come to an end, but never fear, I shall not stay put for long.