For the past several weeks, the third wave of Covid brought an Alert Level Four Lockdown with strict curfews, alcohol bans, and limitations on travelling through Gauteng. Then to add insult to injury insurrection and rioting caused havoc in Kwa-Zulu Natal causing us to rethink routes to avoid the rebels, hijacking and fuel and food shortages. The joys of living in Africa! Fellow Gecko owners, Alec and Cathy (109) and the Earl and I (81) had a 38-day Kruger Trip planned and feared we might have to postpone or cancel. But with a positive attitude and a desperation to get into the bush we planned regardless and prayed that calm would descend upon our country and that our esteemed president would return us to Alert Level Three. And yes – we listened to his address to the nation on Sunday night and to our relief and joy found that not only could we travel through Gauteng without our permits we could pack our favourite alcoholic beverages too! A sunset in the wild is just not the same without a glass of “Life from Stone” to enjoy it with. Cheers and thank you dear President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Just before departure date the country was hit by an incredible cold front and just two days ago our first destination, Karoo National Park was covered in snow! Now for those of you who don’t know our beautiful sunny South Africa, snow in The Great Karoo is a rare thing. Yes there might be a sprinkle on the mountain tops but not that often anywhere lower down thank you very much. All over the land temperatures plummeted and we were shocked to see, on social media, snow storms occurring all along our planned route! Even in our seaside village of Struisbaai it has been bitterly cold causing us to light the wood burning stove from early on in the day. But clearly the Gods are on our side as today dawned chilly with clear skies and a promise that the Little and Great Karoo had left the minus temperatures behind. But our caravan beds were made up with down duvets and an electric blanket to ensure that the chill stayed well away.
We met up with our Napier friends Cathy and Alec at the Bredasdorp silos at 8:20 am and with joy in our heart drove the scenic route to Karoo National Park. The snow still lay thick on the mountain tops but temperatures did not drop below 6 degrees C. Mostly we enjoyed sunshine and warmth to 21 degrees C by midday.
The entire trip from Bredasdorp on the R319, N2 and R324 through Swellendam and Suurbraak to Barrydale where we stopped for breakfast at the delightful Country Pumpkin and then followed Route 62 to Oudtshoorn where we refueled and joined the N12 and passed through the very beautiful Meiringspoort to Beaufort West finally arriving at Karoo National Park at 3 pm. We will be spending two nights here, before continuing for another 5 days to enter at Pafuri Gate in the north of Kruger National Park. Watch this space for reports of our adventures.
The Little Karoo thrilled us with its unusual greenness and beautiful orange flowering aloes. against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains. The Great Karoo was dry in spite of the recent snowfalls. But what I love most about the stark Karoo are the colours – the awesome beauty of the muted pinks, mauves greens and russets.
Karoo National Park’s campsite is awesome. Today is the first day of Term 3 so there were not many campers and we had no trouble picking out two lovely campsites next to each other. The ablutions are pristine and beautifully cared for.
We had dinner at the restaurant this evening and were their only guests. The food was fantastic – Chicken breasts stuffed with spinach and feta for me, Karoo lamb chops for Cathy, Beef Steak for Alec and Venison steak for the Earl. All served with veggies and potato wedges.
It is now half past nine. I am snug under my down duvet, the hot blanket is on and the Earl is already fast asleep. Outside it is chilly and the wind is blowing but luckily no snow! Tomorrow we will explore the park and hopefully I will have some more photos to show you. Thank you for joining us on our latest Gecko adventure.