Walking With Dragons

April 26, 2015.  The Drakensberg hold a special place in my heart.  When I lived in Durban I was a member of the Natal Mountain Club and joined them on several outings into the range.  It's a breathtaking area.  The Drakensberg are an escarpment rising abruptly from the rolling hills of western Natal, forming a string of peaks along the edge.  The name translates as "dragon mountains" and when viewed from the east it is easy to see why:  the twisting chain of peaks looks like it could be the back of a sleeping dragon.

Jenna and I took a day trip from the Midlands up to Giant's Castle National Park.  The roads were slow going and we had to keep an alert eye out for pedestrians, bicycles, dogs, and livestock.  It was a Sunday so church was getting out and villagers were returning home in their finery.  At the park we enjoyed a picnic lunch beneath some oak trees, sharing some goodies we picked up at the wine shop earlier- caraway gouda, salami, and biscuits.

Midlands farm on the way to Giant's Castle.

Approaching Giant's Castle.

From the chalets I embarked on a hike to World's View while Jenna stayed in the cafe to read her book and relax.  The walk along the valley wall was spectacular.  Clouds zoomed overhead, the golden hills rolled away before me, the escarpment towered behind me, and the warm breeze carried the scent of the earth.  When I stopped for a drink or to take photos there was absolute silence. 

It felt right to be back here, to tread the familiar paths through mountains that held such wonderful memories.  It was a stunning view and perfect conditions to be there.  At my turnaround point I savored the solitude and wished for many return visits.  Sixteen years is too long between trips.

On the drive back to The Bend we took a dirt road cutoff through the Kamberg valley.  It was a much more direct route to return than driving all the way around but it was slow and bumpy going.  Our Land Rover made light work of it and we arrived at the country estate dusty and hungry.  We enjoyed dinner in the bar that night with a couple traveling from Johannesburg to Durban.  A roaring fire added to the cozy ambiance.  Ironically, the telly in the bar was showing a Sylvester Stallone movie set in Seattle.  The long arm of the Emerald City continues to reach us.

The fireplace welcoming us at The Bend.

The stately rural grandeur of The Bend.