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OTHER ITA SITES:
Adventures On Route To The Highest Pub In Africa
The Drakensberg is truly a magical place and it is not difficult to see why it is one of South Africa’s major tourist destinations. Recently I spent five days there and never once was I bored.
We stayed at house in the small town of Underberg. Although it only really has two tarred road this town is booming with development and is a popular destination for city dwellers from Durban. We had decided to spend the following morning trying out our very basic fly fishing skills at a friend’s dam. We rose early and being mid winter, wrapped ourselves in as many layers of clothing as possible. The dam looked like something out of a story book. The smooth mirror like surface reflected the surrounding snow capped mountains and was occasionally broken by a duck swimming through the wispy mist rising. I managed to get a fly stuck in the reeds so after taking off my shoes I stepped onto the pebbles on the bank and to my horror heard ice-breaking. The sound caused me to change my plan of wading out in to the water to unhook the fly. The day warmed up wonderfully and after catching no trout we headed home. The afternoon had been set aside to do a hike. The Sani Pass hotel gave us a list of hikes and the receptionist, obviously thinking we were fit, healthy young guys, recommended a hike that read “steep in a few sections”. Well by the time we got to the top of the “hill” I was ready to give up and let the vultures have me but the views were spectacular and well worth the climb.
The following day we decided to drive up Sani Pass into Lesotho. This is a road that leads up through a pass in the mountains and is named after the San people that inhabited the area. It is essential to have a 4X4 and passports because you pass through both the South African and Lesotho border posts. The road was fairly rough but manageable and although it is only 8 km to the top from the S.A border post it takes about 2 hours to enjoy the drive. The sunny grass covered north facing slopes stood in stark contrast to the south facing slopes that were shadowed and covered with snow. The scenery was breathtaking and would rival some of the best in the world. There are many places were you can get off the road and take memorable photos or simply enjoy the mountains. At the top of the pass is a small village with stone huts all surrounded by snow and the Lesotho border post where we found the border officials huddled around a fireplace. The icy wind soon drove us into the highest pub in Africa where hot chocolates were gulped down. I happened to notice that none of the drinks were stored in fridges but when I took a step outside I realised why, they didn’t need to.
On the second to last day we took a drive to Cobham nature reserve for another day of hiking. Entrance cost us R20 and we bought a pamphlet showing us the trails to hike. We decided on a hike that lead us along a river. We were not disappointed, with mountains on either side of us we walked the trail soaking in the scenery and stopping frequently to sit on a rock next to the river and marvel at the crystal clear mountain pools. We had the good fortune of seeing a small herd of Eland, including a huge Eland bull and a troop of baboons. We even took a break to drink from the icy cold waters of the river.
Later that night as we sat in the historic Himeville arms enjoying a beer next to the warm fire I found myself feeling sad to leave this place but making a mental note to definitely return.
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