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Published: April 20th 2010
Sure enough, 03h57 and the electric air pump started again, accompanied by the now expected Afrikaans expletives. I lay there, desperate to sleep, wanting to get a little more rest before getting up at 05h30.
I must have gone back to sleep as Jerry came across to the tent to see if I was awake. Feigning alertness, I wished him a Good Afternoon
and went off to have a cold wash. A few other hardy travellers were around, some drinking coffee, some drinking rooibos and others just beating the living daylights out of each other for having failed to mend the leaking air bed.
Bags packed, tent folded, breakfast taken, dishes washed, camp demolished and it was time to pack the bus and leave the camp. Maxwell led us at speed through the Kruger, missing several sights but giving us a brilliant few of a bush - until we asked him to reverse the bus a little to give us a sight of the game!
Although we stopped for Giraffe, we were fortunate enough to witness a young bull Elephant who, tired of hiding behind a tree and pretending he wasn't there, decided to exact his frustrations on
that same tree, ripping it in two. Perfect timing for the battery in my camera to pack up!
Farther down the road, we came upon a large herd of Elephant, maybe between 40 and 50 pachyderms, of all ages. It was a remarkable sight, watching them come into the clearing and make their way across into the trees on the opposite side in a long line.
Due to the excess rains of recent days, Crocodile River was in flood and the gate at Crocodile Bridge was closed. As a result, we needed to make a detour and eventually came to Malelane Gate, where we crossed the river and left the park. And so it was, that at 09h40, we found ourselves at a Super Spar in Malelane having a wonderful cup of coffee and some interesting (peppermint) cheesecake. A quick wander round the aisles, stocking up on essentials like wine-glasses and wine, filled the time.
Heading south towards Swaziland, we passed fields of sugar cane, some already harvested, others sitting green and lush in the early Autumn morning.
We arrived at Jeppe's Reef and were stopped at the border crossing. We left the bus and went
to queue in the immigration hall, collecting another stamp in the passport before being permitted to leave South Africa. Walking in the hot sun, as though in some spy-exchange in Berlin in the 1960s, we arrived at the Swaziland immigration post and queued again for another stamp. Passing through into the small Kingdom, we waited for the bus to clear customs before climbing on board and settling down.
The journey to Piggs Peak was uneventful, with great scenery and a reasonable road. We climbed through pine plantations and on by the Komati River and into Nkhaba before arriving at Malolotja Nature Reserve, our (luxurious) accommodation for the night.
Collecting our keys, we drove into the park and stopped by a number of log cabins. The guides took the first, the three Dutch took the second, leaving me, with a cabin all to myself. Having unpacked and decided on the room I'd use, we headed to the guide's cabin for lunch.
After lunch, we prepared for a long walk to a waterfall. Taking the bus for the first 5km, we left it at the end of the road and continued on foot, downwards, through countryside very reminiscent of
New Zealand's King Country. Lower and lower we went, passed Eland and Blesbok, the heat not diminishing until, about 90 minutes after having left, we stopped above the Malolotja waterfalls. Resting for a short time, and admiring the view, we began the long climb back up to the top.
All was going well until, 30 minutes into the ascent, Willem realised that he'd been finding the climb rather too easy and had left his rucksack at the bottom! David and I continued to the summit, arriving just before sunset with the two girls arriving some 20 minutes later. Maxwell, whom Willem had found sleeping, arrived back at the bus well after sunset and totally exhausted.
Back at the cabins, I tried to have a shower but found that there was only a hot tap - with the water being rather too hot! Fortunately, I carry a screwdriver with me (as you do), so I turned on the hot tap, dismantled it and moved it on to the cold, where I could at least have a comfortable shower. Having got that far, I also washed some clothes and hung them all to dry. Dressed, I went across to the
Dutch Trio and helped them finish an unopened bottle of white wine! With an evening meal just around the corner, we stopped via my cabin, collected another bottle of wine and sat down to a meal of roast chicken.
Back in the cabin, my head hit the pillow and I was asleep.
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