South Africa · 11 Days · 38 Moments · January 2018

With Sue in Natal. Jan 2017.

31 January 2018

So that wraps it up. Sue goes back to Chichester tomorrow after a busy 14 days here on the edge of the Indian Ocean. I hope she has many pleasent memories and a list of firsts and some ticks on the bucket list.

30 January 2018

Just stopped at the Mandela capture site memorial so Chris and Sue can take the long walk to freedom down to the statue. We left Tendele about 8:30 and set off for Bergville where I confidently turned east down the R616. This is the road we used to see traffic on at night from Ntenjwa. Consultation with Bruce yesterday assured me this was the way to the Spionkop battle field. Long story short I eventually did a Uturn at a spot which unknown to us was a mere 500m short of the turnoff we were seeking. We made a long excursion down a road which went to a place we thought had association with the battle. I got crosser and crosser but in the end we stopped at the site car park at about 10:30 We spent more than an hour on top of the koppie . Like all these places quite compelling. Must go home and read some more. Joined the N3, fueled at Midway with no name brand diesel and stopped again at the Windmill for pies.
Tuesday. And it's time to head home. I think we will go via Spionkop battle site.

29 January 2018

Chris started on the puzzle that Margie left behind and inevitably I got sucked in especially when the two girls went off for a walk. What us it about women and walks? However it was not completed by the time we cleared the decks for dinner and puzzle was returned to its box to await another time. Our plans to braai were utterly washed out by some very hard rain but fortunately we were able to do everything in the kitchen
After breakfast and a chat Margie and Bruce set off for home (Joburg) and we 3 went down to the campsite and the start of the River Walk. An easy concreted path up to some pools. Afterwards called in at the visitor centre which was in total darkness because of the power out, much to the delight of the staff then didn't have to do anything. The power came back on once we were back in the cabin thinking about lunch.
And we woke to a power outage. Fortunately we had brought a gas cylinder and ring so coffee was OK. Internet coverage was a goner. We were puzzled about how Margie and Bruce would cope with the breakfast they were to cook us all but at 7:30 as arranged they turned up with a gas ring they'd be found in their chalet. We then found one in our place and so we had three. Meanwhile I'd started a small braai fire and soon toast was on the go. It was pouring rain
Now that's a view to wake up to. The drive up here was fine bar a scare about perhaps another puncture just as we joined the N2 Freeway. False alarm however, it was just the road surface. Shortly after Howick Sue mentioned she was peckish. This was great news and we surged up the hill to Notties and the Windmill stop for pies and coffee all round. Around Winterton we were very please to find ourselves amongst great numbers of Amur Falcons. After turning on to the Royal Natal road Sue started to have memory flashes of places like van Rensburgs farm where she had spent weekends. Check in at the park gate was carried out by a very friendly chap and we got to the Tendele camp at about 1:20 and while Chris was checking in for chalet 15 I found where Bruce and Margie were and was greeted by Bruce and a beer. Later they joined us for tea and sandwiches and then a great supper of oxtail prepared by Chris

28 January 2018

Arrived in time to catch the presentation at the Aussies Final.
And so to Sunday and we are off to the 'Berg with Sue. We have 2 nights at Tendele. Much rain is forecast!

25 January 2018

The next leg of the tour with Sue begins on Sunday when we go to Tendele

24 January 2018

Aaaand home! Almost exactly 3 hours door to door with no stops
The ladies pitched up with reports that the dual mouth system doesn't seem to be open to the ocean at present. We went round to Wimpy for breakfast and then I followed Sue's example and popped in for a session with the legendry Sr Zungu. R95 later and could hear a frog burp. Home for a cooling swim and packing.
That collapsed a little. Our plan to have a walk on the beach ran into difficulties as soon as we found the beach road closed at thr north car park. A second attempt from the village road ran into a barrier at Iphipha beach. The car park and toilet block in the casurinas near the old mouth of the estuary are all gone. So we set off but once I reached the surf and began walking south towards Mapelane I realised that I should turn back since the strong breeze from the north would make life difficult on the return. I abandoned and trudged back to the car and now I'm at the ski boat club parking awaiting the ladies. I'm sad because I really would have liked to see the effect on the lake and the river mouths of the recent massive excavations. Never mind I'll do it in August.
War! Wednesday morning and a huge troop of vervets has turned up testing everyone's defences. We were found wanting in the rusk protection division. Strangely there seems to be a lone Samango as well who the vervets don't much tolerate and there are frantic tree chases from time to time. Many of the female vervets are nusing very tiny babies. Unfortunately I failed to get a picture

23 January 2018

The picnic site (despite the undoubted but ramshackle toilet structure) was a great disappointment and now with rising panic that lunch might never happen I hastened everyone into the car and shot back to the Centenary Capture Boma we had already been to and herded the food carriers into the picnic area where we laid waste to Chris' sandwiches in a shady an pleasent spot. Sue tried yet again to get the retail genii out of the bottle and while waiting I photographed the wonderful black rhino sculpture
Another chatty fellow who had come around the Loop the (old) wrong way told of elephants and lion up at the Lookout. So off we went. The dirt roads in the Reserve are in very poor shape and I was going a little too fast in order to benefit from shock absorber action when a huge rhino burst from a roadside bush and scampered along side us briefly before turning off into the bush but not before Sue got yet another WRB pic on her phone. The Lions were indeed visible from the lookout. But very far away in the dry river bed but the Canon still picked out some nice family moments. At this stage we consulted the map as I had consulted my stomach and got a luncheon call loud and clear. Chris identified a picnic site with toilet facilities just gate side of the Umfolozi river crossing. On the was we stopped at Mpila so I could check the car battery mount (all good) and Sue could try and ignite the shopper inside her. But she emerged empty handed just like Chris.(WRB = White Rhino Bum)
We resumed the trek into the park not even stopping at Mpila with still scant luck bar some distant rhino and very distant buffalo. Set off down the really bad dirt road to get onto the Sontuli Loop and thence to Sontuli Picnic site. Dusty, windy, pretty empty but did yield a very distant handful of elephant way down the river. Small cheering noises. At this stage the power of brunch ruled and we carted the picnic to a table near the very dry river.Welcome coffee and snacks all round. The ladies (pictured) held court and dealt with a number of chatty visitors who called by to use our vantage to look at the elephant. A man from England (NE) with a French wife was horrified my my suggestion the the French word for elephant might be Barbar. Sue and he sparred a little about how to spend retirement time but no bloodshed.
Tuesday. a tough day in Umfolozi GR. It's not far from here just about 90 min across the N2. Got there smoothly and set off eagerly. Zip. And more zip. Scarcely any birds even. Zero big or even small furries. So following a Bennett recommendation shot off into the Centenary capture centre where an excellent toasted sandwich somewhat covered the fact that breakfast before we left was what might be called : modest.

22 January 2018

The supper was magnificent. Enlivened by visits from Gerrie from Bethal and in due curse joined by Hennie his large mate
I'm about to light the braai fire for the prawns. And open the sparkling This retired stuff is just hell. Yellow rumped tinker barbet getting boring too.
Sue and Chris are right now on the lake cruise as we have not seen crocs or hippos so far. The theory says that the excavations annoyed them and they all went upriver.
After my regulation swim and avoided the blue bottles we were packing up when there was a massive crash. A huge tree just fell over closing the entrance road. Fortunately there was a place where an exit route could be rapidly cleared. I crawled under the fallen trunk to photo the name card of the poor fallen warrior. Red Milkwood. It was almost totally eaten away by termites by the look of it. Saw a herd of 5 magnificent kudu bulls on the way home.
Had a very sucessful slow drive into Cape Vidal. Stopped at the first vlei and saw plenty of good stuff including Water Buck faun. Zebra, Blackheaded heron eating a snake, Jacana, Pratincoles and wooly necked storks. When we got to CV it was lovely. We did find a placec to set up the picnic but the best venue wa taken by a huge tour party set up dominated by a massive stuffed leopard (samango deterrent)
The smart new entrance gate at the croc centre for Cape Vidal. Still don't accept a Wild Card though and the entrance ticket receipt is still feet long.
Wowee. That was a sucess. Sister Zungu syringed both of Sue's ears, charged her R95 and now Chris and I have to be really careful what we say. Sue can now hear a wine bottle cap snap at 300 paces.
Smooth talking Afrikaans speaking pharmacist in here is now treating Sue for badly blocked ears when all she did was go in for a cold prep!
The big tree over the pool is in fruit and it is attracting nemerous birds. And the sweeper uppers.
Here are the pelicans from last night and a simply wonderful sighting of golden tailed woodpecker this morning
No hippo on the drive home except a very fetching derriere in a long white dress should be recorded as very unusual for that road at that time. I went to bed even though it wasn't yet 8.
The ski boat club was pretty much unchanged and we had a very nice supper (burger, chicken strips and lamb curry) with a fine La Motte white which paired perfectly!
Monday morning an on the stoep listening to the dawn chorus. Logged a woodpecker already. And a purple crested loerie. Yesterday we spent a long time at the end of the road near the ski boat club looking at the changes caused by the huge earthworks . Most of the opposite sand dune has gone and there is now (oops. Just heard a fish eagle and a cameroptera) a large lagoon like expanse of water. No croc or hippo but we clocked a galinule and a pair of pink backed pelicans.

21 January 2018

Sue being intrepid.
I failed to get the camera in time to get Sue in the pool. But here's the new pool anyway.
I need to go down to the estuary soon to see the changes after the excavations.
The nicest change to the flat is that the hideous chimney over the braai has been removed. I reckon this might be the sixth or seventh braai arrangement we have had here.
Great lunch then Chris and Sue went exploring St Lucia on foot and a tried to repair the cord on Sue's lovely small binos.
Safely at D20 Sandy Place. As usual lots of changes since last we were here. The N2 was remarkably quiet and we had and incident free trip up here from Durban. Unpacked now and ready to find lunch. Some pics of the Sani in its old place at D20 and the unpacking happening.
Food and toys. Check.