Maud's Volunteer Journey pt. 13

In this blog I will tell you about my trip to the Drakensberg, Durban and Port Saint Johns. The Drakensberg mountain region is a beautiful place. We took a trip over the Sani Pass (which borders between South Africa and Lesotho), in a Jeep over the mountains to the kingdom of Lesotho, and saw African snow on the mountaintops!

We also visited a cottage belonging to some of the local Lesotho people – it was quite sad to see that they owned almost nothing. At the end of our visit, the people sang a song for us and we took photos with them and their typical Lesotho straw hats. We also visited the highest pub in Africa at Sani Mountain Lodge. 

We hiked in the Drakensberg with a guide up the mountains. Unfortunately we were with an older Frenchman with bad legs, so we couldn’t go that fast – but we had a beautiful view, and saw ancient cave paintings by the San people on the rocks at the top of the mountains. On the way back, the guide told us that we could walk by ourselves to the river and the waterfall on the route, so that we didn’t have to wait for the Frenchman. We walked to the waterfall and saw some big baboons, which made us too nervous to walk any further - so we looked for the shortest route back to the jeep. It wasn’t too easy - we had quite an adventure crossing the river! Luckily we arrived safe and dry on the other side. When we finally made it back to the jeep, we were very tired, and were happy to get to our backpackers’ hostel, which conveniently supplied meals.

On our last day in the Drakensberg, we went on a horseriding tour of the mountains. We all had our own horse – mine was beautiful, but a bit slow! We walked on the trail in a row, and my horse was the last one in the row, struggling to keep up. It was a lovely trail over the mountains and next to the river. The tour took three hours with lunch on the top of the mountain, and afterwards all our muscles were sore, but it was more than worth it. 

We then drove to Durban, one of the two stops on the way back to Port Elizabeth. We arrived at dinner time, so we went out for dinner and then went to bed early. The next morning we visited a market where they sold souvenirs, and all bought something. There were a lot of Indian stallholders, as Durban has large Indian and Muslim populations. Our impression of Durban..? We didn’t see a lot of the city, but what we saw looked ugly – we probably weren’t in the right places.

We had one more stop planned before we got back to Port Elizabeth - Port Saint Johns, in the Transkei region. We wanted to drive back home the next day - but that didn’t happen! We drove on a dirt road for what we thought was just a few kilometers before coming to the highway, but it was longer than expected, and just before the end our car hit a big rock. The petrol tank was leaking and we couldn’t drive any further. There we were, stranded in the middle of nowhere, panicking because we didn’t know where we were.

We called the car rental company and gave the coordinates, because the road was nameless. They told us that there should be someone arriving in 45 minutes with a new car - it’s Africa, so of course a  very long 2.5 hours later a man arrived with a new car for us. In the meantime, we had cried and imagined scenarios like having to sleep in the car in the dark in the middle of nowhere - even getting robbed. Luckily our hero arrived though! One day later than planned, and after a night in Coffee Bay in a backpackers’ hostel, we were safe at home in Port Elizabeth.  

 

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