Wednesday 27th May 2009 Dundee
I am up quite early as I need to change money and head off to the bank after sending my latest update. There is a woman in the queue at the bank who insists on making quite dodgy statements about the state of South Africa and it’s government to anyone who will listen and any that wont. The meet and greet lady is really just a local gossip and is a bit of a nuisance asking lots of questions as I am in the process of trying to do my transaction. Glad to get out of there. I head to visit the Farmers Brewery but it looks shut and so I head to the site of the Battle of Blood River. They have a big memorial laager here in bronze and it gives you a little idea of the scale of the event. The curator pleads poverty for the place and I guess they aren’t getting either as much funding or as many visitors as they need. I move on to the scene of Rourke’s Drift which is the battle on which the film Zulu was based. Actually only 17 soldiers of the British force died here and 100 soldiers resisted against 1000 Zulu warriors. 11 Victoria Crosses were awarded and the papers of the day seemed to think they were being given out too freely. The site is in an active village and right next to the school. It is run by the local community and so is a useful source of extra income even in the quiet seasons. I look up lodging on the GPS and it comes up with Mars Cottage campsite in a small game reserve. I arrive only to find it is not a campsite at all and certainly not open to the public. This is after texting a place in Eshowe and finding that they didn’t have space for a Landrover. I contact a Backpackers at Hluhluwe and they can fit me in but it is a long way away particularly when I end up travelling down a road which actually leads to a park gate through which there is no travel at night. It is dark now and I settle in for a long drive round the outside of the park which is huge by UK standards. I arrive at just before 10pm having actually had a good drive. On the way I was stopped at a police point where they were breathalysing everyone. I got a score which surprised the guy 0.0 I don’t think he had ever seen someone completely clear before.
Thursday 28th May 2009 Hluhluwe
Sometimes people get so involved in their business it is their life. The owner here has a tattoo advertising his business on his chest. I head to the park and am rewarded with some nice sitings at the start followed by a long period of nothing. I call at the picnic site where the tours pull in and they are treated to a plush lunch supplied by caterers. 5* tourism accompanied by 5* drivel being spoken. Glad I’m not with them. I have an early night to catch up.
Friday 29th May 2009 Hluhluwe
I head to town and have no joy filling my gaz bottle. Looks like it could be a problem here. I then head to the Southern park Umfolozi and use the main road as the parks board map suggests it is only 56km round to the gate. Nowhere near, it is 60 miles!! I end up doing 130 miles today but get a really great elephant experience at the end.
Saturday 30th May Hluhluwe
I start the day with some mini car chores. They take a bit of time but are worthwhile. I chat to Dave, the owner, who says he wants to head round Africa when he turns 50. I wish I had £10 for all the people who said that sort of thing to me so there it is Dave if you’re reading this. A challenge to actually do it.
It is a bunfight in town so I head off to the park travelling only 30 miles in total and getting some wonderful sitings including a lion.
Sunday 31st May Hluhluwe.
I have to laugh as I am doing the breakfast washing up as one of the big Afrikaaner lads who is at the site heads through to use the inside shower rather than the shower block saying ‘Have you seen the size of the spiders in there?’ I thought it was funny coming from someone the size of a prop forward. I do a short game drive meeting a guy who has a business called ‘Rover and Out’ selling 2nd hand Landrover spares in Durban. Too late for me. I decide to check the wheel bearings and the hi-lift rail bends alarmingly. Dash it, more expense.
Monday 1st June Richards Bay
Nearest town is Richards Bay for a hi-lift so I head there. The guy at LA 4x4 couldn’t be more helpful as his hi-lifts are expensive and he sends me to a place where they are half the price albeit a copy type. I try a few places for a gas refill but no luck. Then I head North to Kosi Bay.
Tuesday 2nd June Kosi Bay
Actually a rest day and nothing really to report other than finding out I have to go back to Hluhluwe for foreign exchange tomorrow.
Wednesday 3rd June Kosi Bay
I head off to Hluhluwe and do my money changing. Then back North after picking up some Q20 (like WD40) from the car spares place. Struggle to get away as the guy is keen to talk about Norwich!!!!!! Parents going back soon to see AC/DC concert at Wembley. Nice drive back north and plan to see around this area a bit tomorrow.
Thursday 4th June. Kosi Bay
I top up the transfer box oil then head to town where an Indian guy fixes my compressor air filter with superglue and some powder telling me I can use baking soda instead of the powder for plastic repairs in future. Excellent job. I then head off and get my permit to drive in the park to the estuary mouth and beach. It is a nice bit of sand driving and very pretty when I get there. There are the traditional Tsonga fish traps which are stakes that trap the fish in a pen as the tide goes out. Quite clever.
Lloyd, the manager here, does a BBQ and I eat with him and an Israeli couple who are travelling after their National Service, Lee and Erhoud. Nice couple.