Sunday, July 12, 2009

Olifants backpacking trail, part 1

Pre-blog disclaimer: This is an extremely long post, and shall be split into one entry per post... Names have been changed to preserve anonymity!

This is an account of the amazing holiday I have just come back from. I went to the Kruger park on a new-ish trail that they have opened up, where you have to carry your own backpacks, food, tents, etc. For the record, there are other, much more luxurious and less strenuous options out there, principally the wilderness trails (where you sleep at a base camp, and don't carry anything). I was invited on the trail by a friend who I do scuba diving with, and ended up on the trip only really knowing one person (which was fun in itself)...

Day 1 - Not on the hike. Yet.
I woke up numerous times last night, wondering whether it is time to get up. Eventually I switched on my phone, only to discover that I needed to be dropped off half an hour later than planned - 5am instead of 4.30, and my dad had to be up also, so he could drop me off... So I still got up at about 4 am. It was as black as pitch, drizzly, and thoroughly unpleasant. I got dropped off on time, but, due to traffic (at that time of morning!?!), and horrible roads with chunks of concrete lying randomly in the middle of the road (scary!), we were slightly late in getting to the airport. Not very late, only about 10 minutes, but still late enough for the others to be phoning to find out where we were!

And then we drove, and drove some more, and more. And then the sun rose (into our eyes), and eventually, after what seemed like an eternity to my thoroughly unhappy stomach (in reality, about 8am), we got to Belfast, and had breakfast at the Wimpy there. I wouldn't recommend mine again - it was a Dagwood, but not so lekker - the bottom layer was a burger type thing, with a lot of yuck sauce, which actually seemed like they had tried to make a hamburger with semi-wilted lettuce, and two slices of toast. It just didn't do it for me. At all. The top layer, however, was pretty good (bacon and egg). Overall though, the meal was disappointing. After that, we got back into our cars, and drove through Dullstroom, Lydenburg (very pretty), then went down Long Tom pass (also very pretty, but very chilly and windy also).

The temperature in Kruger was a summery 31 degrees C! A stark contrast to the frigid morning we had left behind.... We got to Letaba camp in the nick of time just before the camp gates closed, and proceeded to set up camp. I then got my food parcel which I needed to carry, and had a few minor heart attacks about the weight of my backpack, and then started throwing stuff out of my backpack. Including my beanie, which I regretted later on......At this stage I was in a bit of a panic, about what items the rangers were going to throw out of my pack, and thus managed to donate a box of milk to another member of our party... And spent the night creeping into and crawling out of my sleeping bag (did I mention it was really really hot, but not warm enough to not sleep in my warm sleeping bag).

Here ends Day 1.

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