March 8, 2017
Graskop to Kruger
Time: 3 hours – excludes several long stops along the way
At 8am, we went over to the ‘other house’ an extension of Autumn Breeze Manor right across our lodge for breakfast. The owner was around, so she gave us a tour of the establishment, also her home, and spoke of its expansion plans and the pool repairs. It’s a great stopover on the Panorama Route and she was really friendly!
‘God’s Window’ was 20minutes away and as soon as we arrived we looked down at a forest covered in haze while the guide warmly greeted the souvenir vendors like they were long lost buds. So, he excused himself from the hike. We climbed up the stepped footpath, just as the skies were clearing up and stopped at different viewpoints exhibiting the beauty of Mpumalanga that radiated under the blue skies. We spent half an hour admiring the green cascades of forest beneath us. It was so serene, the crowds were distant, the birds were chirping and fluttering about. The comfortable silence transformed into agitation as the guide’s loud voice took over the air as we approached the van.
In another 20 minutes, we pulled into Blyde River Canyon, an impressive geological formation of rocks over swirling waters. Once again, he excused himself from the hike, and we were on our own next to large groups of tourists from China and EU and a collection of photography gadgets. The views were different from every angle, we walked over the rocks to ‘Bourke’s Luck Pothole’ and took it all in.
An hour later, we drove to another view point that was absolutely breathtaking. The pictures do it no justice. We walked a couple of hundred meters and chilled by the cliffs mesmerized by it all. Baboons were ambling close by, some souvenir vendors and one Japanese couple.
We went back to our old street at Graskop for a quick bite that took over an hour to prepare. There were hordes of tourists (the same guys we bumped into at Bourke’s Luck Pothole) eating lunch at the same time. Nevertheless, we were going to Kruger with high expectations because the guide could not stop raving about how Berg En Dal was his favorite part of Kruger – Big 5 for sho, and lodging was going to be out of this world. DARN EXCITING!
So we arrived at 4pm and stopped by the grocery store at the rest camp because he’s been promising us a Braai dinner since our last visit and today was the day. After we bought the goodies, game meat and stuff, the skies turned dark before the thunder. It was pouring, cats and dogs. Speaking of cats and dogs, we hardly saw any except for an elephant and a couple of impalas and zebras.
As soon as I walked into our chalet, he cheerfully asked ‘Do you like it?’ expecting an affirmation. I angrily snapped ‘NO’. My phone was running out of juice and the electrical outlets were the three plong plug SA standard which only meant one thing. We had to take turns charging our phones. That pissed me right off. Most establishments have two types. He asked why. I mentioned the plug and then lo and behold the bathroom situation was weird af. Door no 1 opened into the toilet. Door no 2 opened into the shower. Door no 3 opened into the sink. I’ve never seen anything like it before. To fan the flames, the roof in my room started to leak badly. As a result, I had to move everything away from the growing puddle while I waited for someone to come check on it. Half hour later, the maintenance man said it was a ‘big job’ and he couldn’t do anything about it at this time. The camp was fully booked. The bed was dry but who really knew what was going to happen next?
The guide got the hump because I got the hump (he’s that kind) and went back to his chalet. The rain didn’t stop and dinner was about to be an obstacle course. Unfortunately, he couldn’t make sense of the weather pattern and cancelled the Brai after going back and forth from our chalet to his. At least he found an adapter we could use. He was next door and I’ve never seen him so flustered. He couldn’t make up his mind. We were running out of time because it was 6pm already and it would take at least an hour for the coal to start burning. My anger continued to brew as the Braai situation was spiraling out of control. Like what do we do with all the raw meat? Finally we agreed to have the Braai as the rain began to ease off. It didn’t completely stop.
He rustled up a great meal and I called it an early night – 8pm to be precise because I needed to sleep the heck of the evening off.
According to my sources, he repeated the same stories. ZZZzzzZZZ