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Published: September 19th 2011
After a great night’s sleep at Africa Sky we packed up, ate breakfast, and headed out towards the mountains. The drive out of Jo’burg was fascinating as Pete (our guide) told us a great deal about the history of South Africa. He also gave us the scoop on all the things / places we were seeing during our drive. We drove by a squatter village (HUGE areas where illegal immigrants from surrounding countries build shacks out of whatever they can find and create their own little village), free houses for immigrants (one of the South African government’s ways of dealing with said immigrants – they build them free little box houses so that they can move people out of the squalor of the squatter villages), gold mines, and all different types of farms…
On our way up the mountains we stopped at a little town called Lydenburg and had lunch. We also picked up a copy of Jock of the Bushveld, a classic South African animal story about a famous dog from the 1800’s who apparently was quite a comical and talented pup – when Pete was telling us about Jock it reminded me a lot of a historical South
African version of Marley - from Marley and Me. The funny thing is you see Jock’s name everywhere – all over Lydenburg, the mountains, and even throughout Kruger. So of course we, as dog lovers, couldn’t pass up buying this book... Oh and what did I have for lunch??? You will never guess – a bacon and banana toastie. Pete was shocked that we had never heard of such a thing (by the way a toastie is like a Panini if you are wondering). The verdict is that bacon and banana sandwiches are amazing!! Who would have thought?
The drive up the mountains was nothing short of incredible – the winding roads brought into view one amazing sight after another with breathtaking views at each turn. There were actually a ton of pine forests going up the mountain – interesting tidbit… pine trees are not indigenous to South Africa but were brought here mainly for paper, and also for wood.
We got to Autumn’s Breath in the late afternoon, it’s a charming little mountain retreat in a little town called Graskop. After checking in we went to see some waterfalls and scenic lookouts in the mountains that were simply
stunning. People come and spend up to two weeks just hiking through these mountains and we can certainly understand why – they are massive and just go on and on as far as you can see – and the places we visited (the waterfalls, lookouts, etc) were just magnificent. We spent our evening toasting to a great day while we watched the sun set over the mountains, followed by a delicious Portuguese dinner at a local restaurant.
The next morning we departed for our drive out of the mountains. Along the way we stopped to see several different sights – a scenic lookout point, Bourkes Luck Potholes, and The Three Rondavels. Each of these places were just magnificent, in fact it’s hard to pick a favorite as they are each so uniquely beautiful. There were also fantastic craft markets at each site that we were able to browse and shop in. The people who sell at the craft markets in South Africa are nothing like the people who were trying to sell to us in Zambia and Zimbabwe. They are still locals selling goods as their way to make their living – but they are not nearly as
pushy – huge difference! You actually can browse… As we drove out of the mountains we continued to enjoy stunning and mesmerizing views – and to top it off we had the excitement of knowing we were headed to the Pezulu Tree House Game Reserve for our next stop.
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