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Showing posts with label National Parks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label National Parks. Show all posts

Giants Castle Nature Reserve - Central Drakensberg South


A Scenic Drive Towards The Giants Castle Nature Reserve...

Turning off from the Estcourt N3, winding through Wembezi ...




Giant's Castle is a mountain peak in the southern African Drakensberg in KwaZulu Natal. Giants Castle offers visitors to the regions hiking opportunities with panoramic views. The Nature Reserve offers secluded accommodation, bushman rock art with easy access for everyone and about the best base to start a Drakensberg hiking experience. The area is one of many of South Africa's adventure areas, and plays host to the Giants Challenge MTB marathon in April each year.

Lying at the southern end of the central Drakensberg Giant’s Castle, which gets its name from the outline of the peaks and escarpment that combine to resemble the profile of a sleeping giant, is essentially a grassy plateau that nestles among the deep valleys of this part of the Drakensberg.(Wikipedia)




Giants Castle Game Reserve is considered the home of the eland as well as the bearded vulture. Another Giants Castle highlight is the superb bushman rock art at main caves which is easy to get to and well presented.(Wikipedia). Formerly the renowned Lammergeier Hide was open for visitors to watch bearded vultures and other endangered bird species. This facility has since fallen into disrepair. (Wikipedia)





The Giants Castle Campsite and Chalets offer the best Base for all Eager Hikers and Climbers wishing to venture deeper into the Drakensberg Mountains. The Bushmans River can be fished for many Kilometers however only Fly Fishing is Allowed... Giants Castle Fly Fishing



The iZimbali Restaurant provides delicious breakfasts, lunches and dinners with comfort, cleanliness, warmth....






Drakensberg Hiking Trails from Giants Castle ...

There are in excess of 25 walks in the Giant’s Castle Game Reserve. The 285 kilometres (177 mi) network of trails here includes 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) to 30 kilometres (19 mi) hikes, spanning from 1 hour to overnight.

There are currently 14 recognized escarpment passes in the region (listed north to south):

Corner Pass
Around the Corner Pass (variation route on Corner Pass with alternative summit) 
Judge Pass 
Gypaetus Pass (opened in September 2012) 
Bannerman Pass 
Thumb Pass 
North Hlubi Pass 
South Hlubi Pass 
Langalibalele Pass 
Bond Pass (opened in 2014) 
North Jarding/Jarateng Pass 
Central Jarding/Jarateng Pass 
South Jarding/Jarateng Pass 
Giant's Castle Pass...

The Bushman’s River Trail is one of the most popular walks in the reserve. Points of interest along this route include Sandstone View and the historic Rock 75, where a cook from the 75th Regiment on Foot carved the figure 75 into a boulder during the Langalibalele rebellion in 1874. The highlight of this trail is the Main Caves, with one of the best known rock-art sites in South Africa... (wikipedia).




Article by: GeoSol Earth Staff  

Contact us if you want to be featured on our Earth Blog - GeoSolEarth Contact


A Gorgeous Drive through the Central Drakensberg - South Africa - Towards the Cayley Lodge Resort and Monks Cowl - Fishing can be done at Bell Park Dam as well as Drakensberg Sun - The Yummy Valley Bakery as well as the world famous Waffle Hut are must stops. 







Central Drakensberg Adventure Through Winterton



A Gorgeous Drive through the Central Drakensberg - South Africa - Towards the Cayley Lodge Resort and Monks Cowl - Fishing can be done at Bell Park Dam as well as Drakensberg Sun - The Yummy Valley Bakery as well as the world famous Waffle Hut are must stops.



The Best Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Menu can be found at Drakensberg Sun. Other resorts include Champagne Sports Resort, Dragons Peak and Monks Cowl Campsites, Champagnes Castle Hotel, Gooderson Monks Cowl Golf Resort for Golf and Relaxation Sunsets - Cathedral Peak Hotel and the Didima Campsite.



The World Famous Drakensberg Boys Choir lies En-route. Cathkin Estates allows investors to purchase a small piece of this paradise for the price of a body part. So if you can afford the home you will die a happy soul.






The Monks Cowl Campsite allows hikers and climbers to venture deeper and higher into the Drakensberg Mountains. It is also the last of the Tar Road as 4x4s would now be required to progress further.






Article by: GeoSol Earth Staff 

Contact us if you want to be featured on our Earth Blog - GeoSolEarth Contact




Ai Ais and the Richtersveld

If you have not been to the Ai Ais and Richtersveld Transfrontier Park then it should be on your bucket list! The area is nothing like anything else on this planet and in fact at times you feel like you are not on earth at all. The only thing that makes you realize that you are indeed still grounded is the familiar sounds of birds chirping, the sun embracing your shoulders and the bright blue sky above your head.
richtersveld-views
I could not count the amount of times I mumbled “gosh” and then had to remember to breathe as my brain struggled to make sense of my surroundings.
sunset
The Richtersveld is regarded as the only Arid Biodiversity Hotspot on Earth with an astonishing variety of plant, bird and animal life of which much is endemic. The Fish River Canyon is the largest canyon in the southern hemisphere and a wonderful sight to behold. We sat on the edge of the canyon eating lunch and telling stories of wild horses and a German war grave.
fish-river-canyon
The German war grave is that of Second Lieutenant Thilo von Trotha who died in the canyon in 1905 during a confrontation between German soldiers and native Namas (one of South Africa’s earliest known people). We discussed the origins of the wild horses and some speculated that they were left by the German Soldiers after the war however it seems a more plausible explanation was that the origins of the Fish River Canyon horses can be traced back to a farm in the canyon area that I believe was called Kochas. It is said that the farmer, a Mr Pieters, brought horses into the canyon in the ’70s and as it was impossible to fence off the area, the horses soon escaped and became wild. Some forty years later approximately thirty horses live in the Fish River Canyon. They live as their long lost ancestors did, wild and free.
canyon
The area is a favourite amongst nature lovers and much of it is only accessible by 4×4 vehicles, something that is a blessing as you trundle along alone in the wilderness. In fact at first glance you do not see anything other than the vast and beautiful landscape. Though barren and desolate, closer examination reveals the area to be rich in desert life forms, with an array of unique species specially adapted for survival.
richtersveld
It’s as important to look down at one’s feet, as it is to look out into the horizon. When one does look down the ground is littered with animal spore. We saw the tracks of leopard, wild cat, antelope, mongoose, monkey, baboon and then a what looked like the drunken party of numerous smaller critters. I could not help but sit and wonder where each was going and what their story was.
beetlewormbirds
At night I would setup my camera trap to see who would come and visit. At the Kokerboomkloof campsite I placed the camera, on some boulders, right next to our tent and that evening we had a visit from an African wild cat that we had no idea was in the area. How much we miss.
wild-cat
Sitting and looking at the landscape I would often wonder how these 650 something plant species manage to survive. One can see from the unusual shapes and colours that the plants in the Richtersveld have developed the most extraordinary adaptation strategies to the harsh climate. The kokerboom or quiver tree is just the most wonderful plant and is known as Choje to the indigenous San people. The quiver tree gets its name from the San’s practice of hollowing out the tubular branches to form quivers for their arrows. Then there is the rather bulbous butter tree or botterboom that looks like a miniature baobab and always brought a smile to my face. If it had cheeks you would want to pinch them!
richtersveld-tree
The other unique and rather special “tree” is the halfmens. Legend has it that the Richtersveld halfmens derives its name from the ancestors of the Bushmen who were driven south by warlike tribes from the north. Some turned to look back across the Orange River and were turned into halfmens or half people, forever gazing northwards. It is said that when the spines on the halfmens stem are stroked, the plant produces a series of clicking sounds that is said to mimic the clicks of the Nama language. I tried this but think the sounds I heard were more as a result of my imagination, as just sitting by one of these trees and considering the legend conjures up a whole host of images and feelings.
trees
As wonderful and awe inspiring as the nature is, the added joy of the journey was the people we shared it with. Friends and strangers, we shall all hold this time together in a special place in our hearts. You also realise after punctures, breakdowns and getting stuck in deep sand that this is an area in which one should not travel alone. Not only for the reason that you may need to be towed or share water, but also to be able to say “gosh look at that….” and then hear the chorus of murmurs.
sunset-richtersveld
Find a way to go and if you need a traveling companion to come with to help you find firewood, give me a call. We will have stories to tell around many a campfire.
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Mike Visagie
I am an explorer, poet and photographer who's passion is not only to explore the world in which we live but also our own inner world's. I do the later by working within the field of organisational psychology and human development. My own exploration is done either by sitting still, deep in thought or moving forward, camera in hand and a smile on my face. I know no better place on earth than the African bush shared with friends. See my website here.
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