Published: August 10th 2012August 10th 2012
Reflections at dawn
It was 1978 and I had been working for about two years. Some friends and I had started saving money to take a trip somewhere - no destination in mind yet; we were all just dreaming about it and putting our frugal cents together. As our savings improved slightly, one by one my friends started getting cold feet or needed their money for something else. Eventually I was the only one left still wanting to travel, but very little money saved and I was getting itchy feet. Eventually I couldn't wait any more as my patience vaporised and I started calculating where I could go with so little money. There was no way that I could leave the country with so little, so I took the next option: I decided to see a small portion of my own country. My decision was to go to the Drakensberg in Natal. I had seen some photographs of these majestic mountains and wanted to see them for myself. I had no car at that stage, so I went up to Pietermartzburg by train, then took a tour bus to the Drakensberg and stayed at Cathedral peak. What bliss, enjoying the outdoors, breathing in clean
Hills and valleys
mountain air and taking in the beautiful scenery, with lovely waterfalls, forests and meandering paths for the inexperienced hiker to the serious climber. I took short hikes and so too I took toddler steps towards my travelling dreams. This was definitely a place I wanted to come back to. Little did I know it would take me just over 30 years to go back to the Berg!
I really wanted to go back to the Drakensberg but somehow we always headed to another destination. Each time I suggested going to the Drakensberg, my husband would suggest another alternative - usually a coastal destination, as he is like a fish under water and happiest in the sea or on top of the sea. I had no objections, because I thoroughly enjoy being near the sea as well and we always feel revived after having spent a holiday frolicking in the ocean like a couple of kids. Eventually last year Paul and I decided to spend a long weekend on the edge of the berg just off the Oliviershoek Pass near Bergville. We stayed in a lovely log cabin overlooking a trout dam. It was in the middle of winter and
the evenings were extremely cold, but luckily there was a fireplace so we could warm up the cabin at night. Waking up one morning, there was not a breath of wind and the water on the dam was so still. We took our morning coffee and walked around enjoying the first couple of hours in the day before the wind picked up. We went for many walks, exploring the area, looking at the fauna and flora and found some bushmen paintings. There are so many places to go in the Drakensberg, but impossible to see all of it. No matter where one stays, there is always something special in each area and places that you can go for walks. Unfortunately every winter there are veld fires in certain areas and which is very sad, as so much gets destroyed, but it is a common phenomenon of Africa.
The whole weekend Paul had a mischievious smile on his face. He had a surprise for me - a helicopter flip over the mountains for both of us as a 30th wedding anniversary present. Between you and me, I think he wanted to spoil himself! The helicopter was taking off from Cathedral Peak
and it would be wonderful to see the place I had been to before for my first holiday in the Drakensberg. I was excited about the helicopter trip until I saw the size of the helicopter. To me it looked no bigger than a toy! It was a four seater and I had my doubts that we would all fit in, let alone that it would stay in the sky with four of us in it. I pushed my doubts aside as this would be an experience and sight of a lifetime. Imagine having a bird's eye view of the mountains from close up. I would be very fortunate to see something like this. Into the bubble I got and made sure I was strapped up properly and put on my earphones and microphone so that we could all chat while we were flying. We took off and started flying over the mountain peaks and what a spectacular view! If I didn't have ears, my smile would be reaching the back of my head. We stopped on top of one of the high peaks and had a glass of sparkling wine to toast our anniversary while looking at a splendid
Fire break to prevent spreading
panoramic view around the berg. It certainly was worth waiting 30 years for this visit and being spoilt by my husband in such a way. Thank you, Paul!
There are more photos below