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~ I dont blog about things to be liked. I blog about things that I like ~ ... so that one day, on my death bed, I will have said and done what I wanted to do, and die peacefully without regrets.
Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders & says..' Oh shit....She's awake'

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Manoutsa Trail - A Rumble in the African Jungle

Hiking Trail: Manoutsa Hike, J.G. Strijdom Tunnel, Blyde River.
Name of Reserve / Area: Manoutsa
Nearest Towns: Hoedspruit, Gravelotte, Nelspruit, Pilgrims Rest, Kruger National Park
Province: Limpopo Province
Country: South Africa

Duration of hike: 4 hours one way

Directions to get there: From Hoedspruit, you take the R36 and drive East. Pass the Manoutsa Resort on your right as you drive up the mountain pass. Drive through the J.G. Strijdom Tunnel. About 1 km after the tunnel is another craft market on the left. This is where the route starts. Do not attempt this route on your own or without a guide. You are welcome to email me should you wish to go on this route.

Contact Information:

Best time of year to go: All year. In summer the lakes can be swam in, in winter its bearable from the African heat.

What costs did you incur to do this hike: R30 pp for the permit, plus costs for the guides available on request.

How safe is it: Well, this is Africa. In my opinion, this is on your own risk. You walk in the deepest darkest jungle. Its beautiful. There are all sorts of wild animals in the mountain. But hiking is an adventure and I did not felt threatened at all - especially being with an experienced guide.

Fresh Water: I would not drink this water, but that's my opinion.

Difficulty: Moderate hike, steep hills, dark caves.

Pets: Not a route to take your pooch on.

How will I rate this hike? Awesome!

I was fortunate to go and visit my best friend from school days in her hometown, Hoedspruit. One of the things we asked her to share with us, is to take us on the Manoutsa Hike.

This must have been one of the most scenic river hikes I have been on so far, please read on and see the pictures. Soon I will load a video that Bernet made, of this hike too.

To view these images, either click on them, or right click and
open in a New Tab / New Window.
I have made them large enough
so that you can also save them as Desktop Images if you wish to do so.

We started off at the Manoutsa Holiday Resort, on the edge of the Olifants River, at the foot of the Drakensberg mountain.

Adele has friends who know friends that gave us a ride to the top of the mountain. I know it was cheating a little (getting a ride to the top), but beggars cant be choosers!

The drive to the top takes you back through the J.G. Strijdom Tunnel, to the craft market almost right next to start of the hike route.

We got dropped off at the Craft Market, and immediately crossed the road into - what one can genuinely call - the real African jungle.

We came upon many waterfalls and lakes all along the way down.

The walkway is not very clear and this hike must be taken with an experienced guide like Adele.

The route takes you through a few caves, torches and careful treading is par for the course.

Whilst Bernet and I were sitting here watching Adele swim, I noticed a Vine Snake (or Twig Snake) perched on the bush in front of me. Adele told us that these snakes are so poisonous, that they do not have anti-venom for them. If you get bitten by a Vine Snake, the venom thins out your blood to a point that your entire body starts bleeding until you bleed to death. Interesting to say the least. Can you expect anything less than danger in a jungle like this?

More steps and rocks to scramble. This route was not very exhausting, but its not for the faint hearted.

This is another little lake which Bernet likes to jump off the rocks. If you look careful, you will see her flying through the air in the picture above.

When one drives through the J.G. Strijdom tunnel, you will notice a small waterfall from the road. This is a part of the Blyde River, flowing towards the Olifants river. Adele took us right to the bottom of this waterfall, which turned out to be much bigger when standing under it. Each of us had a turn to get a free back massage. The locals believe to cleanse themselves under this waterfall and to gain the powers of the water. We surely did that - and oh what an amazing feeling and thing to experience.

More steps, ropes and rocks to scramble down...

Each lake that we passed by seemed more beautiful than the other.

Finally as we reached the end of our walk, at the bottom of the mountain, we continued to follow the path through the local village. There we had to give them our mountain pass which we paid for at the Manoutsa Holiday Resort.

Im really sad that we unfortunately lost all our pictures of the village and its locals, but it gives me a reason to just have to come back again. The video that I will be loading soon has some pics of the locals and the village, so keep your eyes open for when I load the video.

My best memory of the village was seeing a little baby goat (kid) lying in a corner on some hard rocky ground, in a small patch of shade - desperately trying to avoid the heat of the day. He must have been about a week old. I wiggled myself into the typical 'dilapidated goat pen' and walked over to pick him up. At first he moaned terribly when I tried to pick him up. But after a cuddle and some proper TLC, it was so sad to see how he moaned even more when I put him down to continue on our road further. He came running after me, as if to say "hey! where are you going now!? I want more of that love-stuff!"

Pictures by:
Alex Aitkenhead ...shot bru! they rock as usual. Jx

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mother City bracing for 'beast' of a storm

Source: By Caryn Dolley

Cape Town is bracing for massive cold fronts that are set to hit the peninsula this weekend, bringing "absolutely huge waves" and gale-force winds.

The pending storm is expected to be so severe that disaster management workers are already on full alert and rescue organisations have warned hikers to avoid mountain paths and bathers and sailors to exercise caution when at sea.

But while sea-goers may be deterred by the predicted sea swells, big wave surfers say they will make the most of it.

Yesterday Steve Pike, a surf forecaster who tracks the weather, said "a massive storm" was expected when a double cold front hits at the weekend.

"During the first part of Saturday there'll be fresh winds and some rain. It’s nothing major but there will be strong winds.

“The swell actually starts arriving during the day and you can expect waves to reach six metres.

“By Sunday, when the second part of the storm hits, waves may reach eight metres and there’ll be even more vicious gale-force winds,” he said.

SA Weather Service forecaster Carlton Fillis said “a very windy episode” with waves reaching seven metres was expected between Table Bay and Cape Agulhas on Saturday and Sunday.

City of Cape Town Disaster Risk Management Centre
spokesperson Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said if a warning was issued steps would be put in place in case the centre needed to assist any residents affected by the storm.

National Ports Authority spokesperson Coen Birkenstock said if a “serious storm” was to hit, it would issue a warning but this had not yet been necessary.

NSRI, however, yesterday warned sea-users to be extra cautious as wind speeds were expected to reach more than 50 knots and swells in the deep sea more than nine metres.

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There is an old saying...

The more you learn, the more you realize how little you know.