Having been ‘pandemically confined’ for months and only recently being allowed to venture forth – almost inch by inch – or so it felt, it was a treat to spend a day in the Addo Elephant National Park. As soon as overnight accommodation was allowed, we opted to spend two nights at the Mountain Zebra National Park, near Cradock.
As you can see in the photograph below, the sky was heavily overcast when we arrived – that in itself has been a rare sight in our part of the Eastern Cape. Being the end of winter, the grass is dry and golden: look at the beautiful wide open expanse of the grassland with the mountain rising above it. Such space gives one the feeling of freedom!
Here is a closer look at the mountain, with an ostrich in the foreground.
The grassland in the valley seems to go on forever.
When you get close to the mountain, driving up to the plateau, you become entranced by the bulging rocks, loose boulders and the vegetation growing in between. The pale coloured trees are all Cussonia spp., known colloquially as Cabbage Trees.
Once on the plateau, you can almost see to the end of the earth – mountains and valleys that change with the light of the day. It is scenery that one can absorb in great gulps; difficult to take in all at once; the openness, the beauty, and all that space is ‘cleansing’ and healing. There is a feeling of freedom (one can forget about the pandemic there) and ‘wholesomeness’ that made me feel ‘normal’ for those few days.
If you have only travelled along the highway through the flat part of the Free State, you are in for a wonderful surprise when you drive close to the Lesotho border and through the Golden Gate National Park. Look at these lovely colours and shapes:
This was taken through the windscreen.
Look at the large cave or rock shelter in the image below.
All of these photographs were taken with my cell phone while we were travelling.
Here Cathkin Peak in the KZN Drakensberg is bathed in the afternoon light – a glorious sight.
It takes on a darker hue as puffs of clouds begin to gather early one morning.
Cathkin once disappeared completely behind a screen of smoke from a grass fire.
A closer view of that basalt peak is awe-inspiring.
Cathkin Peak (3 149m) dominates the scenery.
The Mountain Zebra National Park is situated on the northern slopes of the Bankberg mountain range, near Cradock in the Eastern Cape. Apart from seeing animals, birds and appreciating the natural vegetation, it is worth visiting the area for the scenery alone: the high peaks and plateau provide unparalleled views across the Karoo; then there are the ridges, wonderfully shaped rocky outcrops, and deeply incised valleys caused by the Wilgerboom River.
Generally, the dirt roads are in good condition, with some sections either tarred or have had concrete strips laid down.
It is while driving along some of the steep winding roads that lead down to such valleys from the plateau that one becomes aware of the underlying geological formations consisting of sandstone, siltstone and mudstone of the Beaufort Group of the Karoo Supergroup, with dolerite plates and dykes.