Trip Start Jul 30, 2012
180Trip End Oct 18, 2013
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Where I stayed
at the base of enormous red mountains
We had been told to leave at 12 noon and so everyone was there, ready to go at 12 noon. It turns out that 12 noon was African time and so it was another hour or so when we finally left. Luckily, the drive was short, just 1.5 hours. En route, we stopped on the side of the road and were told to get out and look at the ground. Everywhere, littering the Earth, were semi-precious rocks. Just there. That explains what all of those huts were doing on the side of the road; they were all selling semi-precious stones, presumably polished, unlike these ones that were raw and rough, with natural shapes and jagged edges
In the distance, beyond the standard desert terrain, exploded a mountain range. We were told that this is where we were going. From the distance, it didn’t look like anything out of the ordinary; just a normal mountain range. But when we arrived, I was again, just like at the dunes, transported into a quiet bubble of non-reality; a sheet of silence and humility descending upon me.
These were not normal rocks that you see all over the world. Most rocks are grey or brown or some mixture thereof. Most are jagged and protruding in layered slivers as the ages pressed them together and cemented them in place. These mountains were red and orange. Glowing red and orange in the dusk light. They weren’t jagged; they were like mounds of ice cream that had been stretched upward by some huge hand in the sky. Other scoops of ice cream had been melted and flowed into the next scoop. Other scoops were still nice, round balls of ice cream, huge scoops. And others still were like double or triple helpings. The deep crevasses between them looked like chocolate sauce had dribbled down the sides and where the rocks were jagged, it was as though chopped nuts had been sprinkled on top
We were like ants next to this scene. The rocks, although smooth-appearing from the distance, were grippy beneath our feet and they were fun to run on since you weren’t worried about slipping. But I became swallowed up in the scene. My body on top of these rocks looked miniature, like I was the size of the rock dassies who scurry around here.
We set up our tent and check out our ablutions: a long drop. There is no water here whatsoever! No loo. No shower. No sinks. Nothing. This is a true bush camp. There is just, us and nature and nothing else. Expect for the leopards.
We had signed up for a walk to the cave paintings and so followed our guide, Eddie, when he arrived. The walk through the valley was a dream and we were constantly dragging behind the group as we wanted to get photos. As the sun was starting its descent, the light was dancing on the walls of these mountains, changing their character, highlighting different angles, changing the intensity of their glow. From orange to red to reddish brown, to almost yellow the light was so intense.
The paintings were a little underwhelming, but at 2000-4000 years old, you still had to respect they were still there at all. Our guide explained that they were used to communicate with other tribes; they weren’t for their own amusement, which I had always thought.
We meandered back to our camp and we were very much the last in the group, by about 500m
Dinner was pork grilled over an open wood fire, on a typical braai grid, potatoes, and apple sauce, which was delicious. Lorraine uses apple cider to make her apple sauce and this is something I should try. We enjoyed the stars, washed up with bottled water just outside our tent, and headed to bed. Colin, our guide, slept on the rocks, in his sleeping bag, under the stars. Just him and the leopards.