Jo'Burg to Drakensburg

Mon, 18 Aug 2008 15:46:12 +0000

Gaborone to Jo'burg Index Tugela Falls

I'd forgotten precisely what time the bus was this morning, so I got up at 6:30. Plenty of time, in fact the bus arrives at 7:30. I hung around making myself visible until it arrived. We had to wait a while for one passenger to get ready, so I sat on the curb with another passenger called Leith, who happened to work at the hostel where I'm going to be staying. It was interesting to talk to someone from the other side of the bar. He's from Capetown, and speaks some Khoisa, which surprised me. That being a click language, I would have thought that it would be pretty hard for non-native speakers to learn it, but apparently it's reasonably common in South Africa.

We went to another hostel to pick up more people, and then to the airport to pick up yet more. This took some time and I got to chatting with the other passengers, a mixed bag of Brits and South Africans. 100% tourists on this bus, though. One thing I like about this Baz Bus is that the driver turned around to tell us how far it would be to the next stop, where we would be able to buy food and use the toilet, and so on. That made it a lot easier to relax.

Still, it was a relatively short journey, and we arrived at Drakensburg a bit after 1:00 in the afternoon. The hostel is really very very nice. It has a huge bar, a pool, a jacuzzi, a sauna.

I was checked in by a lady who I take to be the owner, just because she is so efficient. There seems to be a real system to this place: you have to sign up for dinner in advance, and for any activities that take place, with everything from drinks to excursions being charged to your tab. I really have no idea why I'm here, so I immediately signed up for both dinner and the excursion tomorrow. Slightly disappointingly, we won't be going to Lesotho, but we will be going on a good hike through the mountains to a waterfall. Sounds good to me. Then I went out to the garden to hang out with some of the other backpackers. Dutch, French and German, a nice easy-to-get-on-with bunch.

In the mood to do something active with the afternoon, I went for a walk into the big wide nothing that surrounds this hostel. I was aiming for the nearby lake, but there doesn't seem to be any path there. Instead I contented myself with sitting on a rock by the babbling brook and not doing anything at all. That was very nice. I resolved to come back at night and see the stars.

I rejoined the human race in the bar for a beer. The beer here is sold in either 350 or 750 millilitre bottles, so obviously there was nothing for it but to get a 750. I had a game of pool against one of the Dutch guys, and talked to the French woman about travelling. At seven it was time for dinner. The steaks were really far too large, and I was glad I opted for the moroccan vegetables and cous cous, which was tasty. We were joined by an Irish couple who had a lot of stories about travelling through Africa, which made me wish I had spent some time getting to know the place properly.

I called a halt to that in order to keep my appointment with the stars. This turned out to be a bit of a failure: there's lots of haze from the brush fires that are constantly going on around here. Also it's a full moon. So while the stars weren't very spectacular, I could easily find my way by the moonlight, and the fields of waving grass were very satisfying in their own way. I just sat still and listened to the frogs and the ducks and the wind in the grass. There are worse ways to waste time.

Gaborone to Jo'burg Index Tugela Falls