Natal – Rhinos and a Leopard

Should be new photos posted besides those below

Had a very eventful day in Hluhluwe, before entering Ithala, spent mainly watching Rhino’s at play!

Its a baby

Mr Grumpy – Got Emma shouting a bit

Lucky enough to have seen loads – both types- we saw nearly 30 in total in Natal. Had a lovely quiet Christmas, spent in Ithala Game Reserve,camping on a very remote site, the first night was spent sharing a braai with Jean, Marie, Rosie and Frankie, a really friendly family,who kindly left us with a delicious jar of pickled beans and a tin of home-made cookies, thanks so much to them. When they left, it was only us and one other couple for company– JC & Pat. This turned out to be perfect, we went on a drive along a remote track on Xmas morning, crossing rivers and generally mountaineering up some pretty rough terrain.

We missed our families and friends hugely, but thankfully got a reasonable signal and were able to Skype in some strange fashion, a few of our nearest and dearest.

This was slightly delayed though, due to spotting a Leopard on the way to the office. “Hawk-eye” (Michael) saw it down in a valley, looking on from above was good as it started stalking something below us -zoom in on the photo’s, you can see when it gets serious.More photos in seperate posting.

Xmas present

Then a torrential downpour started – the previously dryish river channel came down in a roar about a 2 m high rush which happened again the next morning lifting the hight to about 3.5 m above the start. You can see why the river is bare.

After a couple of Days we went north through Zululand – beautiful countryside to the Royal Natal Park in the Drakensberg mountains to see Brett & Mary,with whom we had arranged to meet. We travelled with them in various parts of West Africa,so this was a very exciting prospect!

Had a wonderful three days with them, catching up on each other’s lives since we last met in Namibia briefly.

Took a couple of gruelling(don’t laugh Brett) hikes up the mountains. The first being a short one to warm up for the following one. Found some waterfalls for a swim,which was freezing,but exhilarating none-the-less, the next day was actually something of a Marathon, in the heat, despite leaving at 8:00 am, this involved 8-10 km a mainly uphill struggle,especially for two oldies that have spent the last nine months sitting on their bums in a Land-rover. Brett cooked a well earned feast on our return, so all was well until trying to get out of the roof-tent the next morning…..say no more.

 

Travelled North towards Joburg,stayed on a farm near Heidelberg, making preparations to accommodate another 4 people in the Landy (boyfriends are coming too) this should prove interesting!

Made a visit to Vereeniging to buy a new GPS, following an amicable divorce from Emily (sat nav) who had been behaving disgracefully. Having made our purchase, we returned to the car-park to find the car had been broken into and my beloved camera stolen. This is a car-park with security guards every thirty metres,who rather bizarrely claimed they had seen four guy’s behaving strangely and gave us their car registration,we reported the incident to the police,but knew there’d be no chance of getting it back. Another expense we could have done without,but with the girls arriving in a couple of day’s it’s off to the camera shop.

The Landy has had a facelift, which includes a new sofa in the back, created by the genius himself, with various pieces of foam and old caravan seating kindly donated by Peter in Cape-Town and interior design by yours truly, involving sarongs and cushions,liberally scattered( the colour co-ordination needs a bit of working on but hey-ho we’ll get there) So the girls,plus boyfriends should be snug as bugs in rugs,accept that it’s reaching 40c some days,so to say it’s going to be cosy is a slight understatement! Not to mention fitting all their stuff in…………

New Years Eve for us was a low key event trying to braai in a thunderstorm,after a very tasty bottle of white wine we retired to bed at around 8:30pm…..never felt so healthy on New years Day!

Sadly this was to be short lived when Michael suddenly started to feel unwell,aching,fever and chills that night. With some self- diagnosis from The Rutter Doctor and Nurse team,we remembered how after walking in The Drakensberg a few day’s earlier Michael found a Tick attached to his waist,we removed it,whilst Mary made comments to the effect of watch out for Tick Bite Fever, having not thought much more about it,we soon came to realise this was exactly what it was. Luckily, the cure for it is a large dose of Doxycycline ,of which we carry plenty, so we dosed him up. A terrible night ensued, with the patient going from hot to cold with a splitting headache with nursey doing her best to keep his temperature down by applying various cold wet T- shirts and feeding him paracetamol’s, meanwhile a huge thunder, lightning and rain storm was going on in the skies above.

Got to Joberg, with Michael still feeling awful, We needed a camera before the girls flew in,but with nowhere to park,as the Landy is too high for all the “covered” car-parks,we parked outside a huge mall on the busiest of roads while I went in search of “The Camera”. Of course they didn’t have a replica of my old one,so I came out with a Nikon and various accessories,all in all it took about 15 mins ……..never have I spent so much, so quickly,especially on something I know so little about,although I’m sure Michael would beg to differ on that one!!

 

With the camera safely locked away,we headed to Pretoria to see if our new passports had arrived(others already full,as Africans love nothing more than a good stamping session)

At the The British High Commission, no-one seemed to know anything and the girl dealing with our case was on holiday, however,with some persistence and by returning the following day,we were able to collect them.