<<  Mpumalanga & Limpopo, 30-Apr-2016  >>

Cruising across northern part of South Africa

Empty and scenic ride into the tropics and spotting our first giraffe

We flew back to Johannesburg, rented a car at the airport and started driving northeast, across Mpumalanga Province on our way to Limpopo Province. After leaving the sprawling Johannesburg and Pretoria area, we kept driving on what would fit “on a dark desert highway” verse from Hotel California perfectly. No towns, not gas stations, no lights, no lines, just a dark, desert highway to seemingly nowhere.
Africa is dark. There are very few public lights and houses are far and away from each other, so all you see are isolated dots of light spread in the black darkness. Given the fact that Republic of South Africa is one of the countries with highest rate of violent crime it didn’t sound very appealing to be looking for accommodation in unknown place in complete dark. We tried to book something on-line from a smartphone, but finally we ended up driving up and down in some god forgotten town (Mokopane) looking for a cheap guesthouse. Somebody advised us one and when we came there it didn’t look particularly full of life. We ringed a bell, and after 3 minutes of waiting (and yes, it does feel scary here in RSA at night) the gate opened automatically, we drove in and looked for a reception or something. Old door with an old bell, and again no response. Just it when it started to feel downright creepy Irene noticed thru a window that an old lady on electric wheel was approaching to open the door. This was a pure David Lynch experience! It’s hard to describe it, but the strange creepy atmosphere of present, yet hidden evil, the long waiting times between anything and finally a lady on a wheelchair – I tell you this is Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway at their best! Not to mention that the lady was Afrikaan, so she had impossible, otherworldly and spooky Dutch accent.
The room looked like it remember the late colonial times, and when we looked at each other, (I mean me and Irene, not the old lady) we just had to laugh about surrealism of the whole thing. But at least we had a place to sleep and we felt well protected by Afrikaan grandma on a wheelchair.

In the morning we continued north, crossed Tropic of Capricorn and thus entered the tropics. We found a little private nature reserve where we decided to stay, because it had that “cool safari accommodation” feeling, but for cheap, and unlike normal reserves, here you were allowed to walk around as no dangerous animals live there. So we made our rented car wishing it was a 4WD as we pushed it thru rough off-road tracks, scratched it everywhere by thorny branches, but we didn’t really see any animals, until we encountered a giraffe staring at us right ahead. We stopped the car and approached the giraffe, which is very unique, because on normal safaris you can never leave the car. And so, smiling ear to ear, we met our first giraffe then spotted 2 more and enjoyed the night in safari apartment. Feeling rich :-)

Next day we cruised up and down across Limpopo Province (named after Limpopo province), which lies in the tropical region of South Africa. There is nothing really big to see there, but the scenery is simply great, indeed like “real Africa”. And no tourists. Even the name sounds cool – Limpopo – don’t you think?

Click for photo gallery

     MARCEL STRBAK | www.strbak.com | www.facebook.com/marcel.strbak