Thursday 2016/12/29

Pretoria – Hoedspruit/Blyde Wilderness Lodge


Today, our route lead us from Pretoria eastwards over the highway to Belfast and from there to the north. We were impressed by the wide views into the landscape. Grassland with single or small groups of trees whose silhouettes seem somehow strange to us.

Occasionally, the lovely hilly landscape is decomposed by ugly black scars originating from coal mining. In addition to the larger mining areas, there are often large industrial plants, presumably steelworks or similar, which are almost acceptable in the expanse of the landscape. The settlement is not very dense (no wonder with less inhabitants than in Germany and considerably more space), only with exceptions around the steelworks. There we also see the first townships, which seem quite rundown.

Since it starts raining already in the morning and it doesn't really stops for a long time, there are not many photostops.

From Belfast we head north and drive to Dullstrom, where we have lunch at Harrie's Pancakes Restaurant. Delicious, not only sweet pancakes. A recommendation from our travel guide, which we can confirm.

First purchase of souvenirs: Bracelets made of mini perls in N'bane look (geometric patterns).

We continue along Lydenburg and Ohrigstad and make a detour to the Echo Caves. To reach this, you have to drive six kilometers from the main road on a muddy slope. Most of the roads besides the main road are gravel roads.

The Echo Caves mainly impresses us because it is not too touristic. In Europe such an attraction would be much more developed.

Shortly after this detour we cross the Abel Erasmus Pass, which offers some beautiful views into the much more mountainous landscape now.

The access to our accommodation, the Blyde River Wildlife Resort, also leads several kilometers over a gravel road, with some parts softened by the rain.

The resort is located very nice on the river and we get a large room in a cozy semi-detached house with a thatched roof and a wooden terrace.

We have dinner in the restaurant of the resort.

We are still somehow strangers to how to deal with the service stuff. The guys signalling free parking and helping you to drive out of the parking: Do they get a tip or not? Is the guide through the Echo Caves simply impertinent, if she urges you to give her a tip (telling us she is only a volunteer guide), which is more than the entry to the caves, you already paid for? It is hard to understand.

Also it is difficult for us Europeans to accept the luggage boys carrying our luggage, and next morning the same men washing all the rental cars of all guests by hand. Somehow there is still feudal life in Africa.

And we have not yet been accustomed to the hard English accent which is spoken here. During the tour in the Echo Caves, we only did understand the half (or less) of the explanations.