The Drakensberg Mountains

After Johannesburg, we went hiking in the Drakensberg Mountains. The Drakensbergs are not known in America, but then again, most Americans would be hard pressed to name a single African mountain beside Kilimanjaro. While not exactly tall on a world scale, the Drakensbergs are incredibly beautiful. The geological magic of the Drakensbergs is that they were formed not by tectonic pressure, but by erosion. You can think of them as something like a pumped up mega-canyon on HGH. This unique origin is what makes them look so distinctive.

So far, they are the best thing I’ve seen in South Africa, and I look forward to returning.

It’s possible my judgment was clouded by chips and salsa. This picture is here solely to rub in the face of other volunteers:

Now for some mountains:

On the first day we took a short hike to a waterfall and climbed behind it. It was nice, but it was nothing compared to the second day when we hiked through a gorge. You can see the river that snakes through towards the gorge in this first picture:

This is Tugela Falls, the second highest waterfall in the world.

The idea of the hike is that you get down into the gorge, and then you boulder hop on the river up to the base of the falls. Unfortunately, in the rainy summer boulder hopping turns into wading.

And the wading eventually turned into swimming, but I’m going to leave those pictures off, thanks.

After the boulder hopping and swimming, we did this rope ladder:

And then we went up some rocks, using tree roots sticking out from around the rocks. It was pretty intense, especially the part where I almost tripped over the grip wire and died. Weee!

On our way out of the gorge, the clouds cleared and we could finally see the full intensity of the mountains:

This rock formation in the middle of the next photo is called Policeman’s Helmet. Can you think of another name?

The mountain peaks surrounding the area we hiked in form something called the Amphitheater. At the end of the day, the clouds cleared just enough so we could see it. I’m pointing at it.

And I made African food for my friends. It all came out really good, except the pap which was a little soft.

In the photo below, starting from the top right, clockwise: the white stuff is pap, below it is ematsanga (pumpkin, actually butternut squash but it’s still ematsanga), morogo (spelling? greens, but always translated as spinach), and an empty pot that eventually contained sauce. Yum!