This morning started at a slightly warmer four degrees Celsius this morning and by 08h00 we’d had our warming coffee and were on the road for a rather long trek to Tshipise. We refuelled at Caltex at 8:30 and continued along the well maintained N1 double carriage way when at 08h45 the traffic suddenly came to a standstill. My Waze app informed me that traffic would creep on for the next 25 minutes but no explanation of what was causing the delay. We were stuck in the right lane with huge trucks beside us in the left. On coming traffic was light and flowing.
Eventually we arrived at the toll gate at 09h34 and could see that only one booth was open. Alec called on the radio, “They’re diverting us. We won’t be able to carry on along the N1!” And sure enough we were ushered through to the left and did not have to pay the toll. We have no idea why but presumed there was an accident up ahead. This meant we had to detour through Modi and then onto the R101 before rejoining the N1 at 10 o’clock. We saw a bashed truck cleared off the road a little further on and wondered if that was what the fuss was about. We heard later that there had been a three truck collision.
Our breakfast stop was at Caltex Starstop, The Ranch near Polokwane and it was really good. The road was good until Louis Trichardt and then it was a bit rough. To add injury to insult you have to go through a toll and pay R50 for a bad road and then immediately turn off onto the road to the resort.
On arrival at the Forever Resort we had to provide our IDs, registration numbers of the vehicles and caravans and each of us had to sign in. Before driving through the gate our temperatures were taken too. As it is term time we were expecting a quiet campsite but nothing could have been further from the truth! It was almost full to capacity but we finally managed to find two sites next to each other.
Tshipise is derived from Tshivenḓa “tshisima tsha u fhisa”, ‘hot spring’, referring to the mineral springs. One of the pools at the resort is filled with the spring water and there are also two indoor pools which are very hot and good for relieving arthritic and rheumatic aches and pains.
Tshipise Forever Resort is popular for retirees from the cooler south. They set themselves up here for the winter months to escape the cold of their southerly homes. They’re known as “Swaelties,” the Afrikaans word for swallows. There were also lots of young families with children probably taking a weekend break. The facilities are excellent and there are big pools and other things to entertain the kids.
The ablutions are pristine, there is a well-stocked shop, a laundromat with several washing machines and dryers and a good restaurant. I took the opportunity of doing a load of washing at R40 for both the washing and the drying.
We also had supper at the restaurant in the evening and the food was excellent. Cathy and Alec had chicken schnitzel the Earl had lamb stew and I had a grilled chicken. We also ordered two portions of veg and 2 baked potatoes to share.
The weather is considerably warmer now that we’ve crossed the tropic of Capricorn. Evenings are cool but not freezing and it was warm enough this afternoon to wear short sleeves.
After today’s drama we are all relieved that this is our last overnight stop before entering the park tomorrow. It is only a 90km drive to Pafuri Gate and we can’t wait to finally start our Kruger Safari!