River Deep, Mountain High
Trip Start Aug 21, 2009
52Trip End Nov 09, 2009
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Where I stayed
to be warmer than the 28 C (82 F) we have had the last few days in
Johannesburg, which even at that is warm for spring as the elevation
of Johannesburg is 1753 m. (5751 ft.).
We leave the hotel at 8 AM in a 9-passenger van with the luggage towed
behind in a small trailer. We are traveling at least 550 km today. For the
first hour and a half, the landscape is similar to that along the
QE2, including cattle grazing and crop production. We then start to
climb into the mountain region
or jagged peaks or snow on them but you can tell that we are in a
much higher elevation. We find out later from our guide that we are at
over 3,000 m. (9,800 ft.). We reach an old former gold mining town
called Pilgrim’s Rest where we have lunch. The specialty of the
restaurant is pancakes. We have pancakes with chicken curry and nuts
and one with chicken, nuts and salsa. They're worth it!
From there we head to the Blyde River Canyon. Over the past 60 million
years (give or take a half a million years), the Blyde River has carved its
way to form a canyon 300-800 m. (984-2,624 ft.) deep. There are limited
places where we can stop in the canyon and our first stop is at Bourke’s
Luck potholes. Bourke was mining for gold in this area but he did not
have any luck finding gold. When he died, his son mined just 20 minutes
away and found gold and made it rich. We’re sure his father is rolling
in his grave.
Bourke’s Luck potholes are located at the confluence of the Treur and
including potholes, by waterborne debris.
A short drive takes us to a viewpoint called God’s Window. It provides
a great panorama view from the escarpment overlooking the canyon.
Another short drive and we’re at a site called the Pinnacle, which is a
large monolith rock pointing straight up to the skies in the canyon.
From there we go to the Graskop Hotel, where we will be staying
for the night. The time is already 5 PM. The hotel welcomes us
with a nice glass of locally made port. The hotel is making some
renovations and our room smells of fresh paint. It is a very cozy
and modern looking room, with a view into their very attractive gardens.
There are only 2 restaurants open at night in the town and we choose
to go to the Portuguese restaurant. We had chorizo sausage for a
starter and chicken chacuti, a Mozambique dish, for our main course.
It was delicious. There are very few lights on in this town and we are
grateful that the restaurant is kiddy corner to our hotel. It’s
early to bed as we understand the next two days are going to be long
ones in Kruger National Park.