EASTER ROADTRIP INTO THE BUSH
The Onthophagus taurus and I have much in common. Able to roll up to 10 times its weight, a male is able to pull 1 141 times his own body weight. That is the equivalent of an average person pulling six double-decker buses full of people; when last did you do that? Amazing little creatures, Dung Beetles. They are also currently the only known non-human animal to navigate and orientate themselves using the Milky Way.
The Dung Beetle rolls a ball of dung and then pushes it backwards to a spot where it is buried and serves as a brooding ball. Often three balls can be placed in the same hole. Nifty little creatures.
As seemingly odd and out of place as the Dung Beetle’s habits appear to be, this is how I feel when going to the bush. A bush holiday was just not something we did as a family when I was growing up. My folks are Durbanites (aka beach folk) and that is what constituted a holiday for the young My Lime Boots.
But, I’m always game for a challenge and to try new things. So, with my friend Janice in tow, we packed our Ford Everest and headed off to spend the recent Easter weekend with her folks at their home on a game farm in Hoedspruit, in the province of Limpopo, South Africa.
A Bee-Line For Dullstroom
Since we decided to leave on the Thursday before the Easter weekend, I got the opportunity to test my newly found outside broadcast skills for my online radio show, SoapBox Radio. We stopped off in Dullstroom, approximately halfway to our destination of Hoedspruit for a late lunch at Mrs Simpson’s Restaurant, consistently rated as one of the best restaurants in South Africa.
Mrs Simpson’s was also to be the spot for my first outside broadcast. So with one-half of the ownership team, in the form of the fabulous Stephen de Meyer, Janice and I chatted about travel and our lunch at this legendary spot.
Mrs Simpson’s was a veritable feast for the senses, each piece in this lavishly decorated space has a story and with Stephen on hand to recount, Janice and I were lost in stories not only of the lady herself but so much more.
The Mrs Simpson in Mrs Simpson’s, of course, refers to Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, whose third husband, Prince Edward Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII, abdicated his throne to marry her. The then King’s decision to marry a woman who had two living ex-husbands threatened to cause a constitutional crisis in the United Kingdom and the Dominions (never forget the much maligned Dominions darling) and ultimately led to his abdication in December 1936, so that he could marry “the woman I love”. Wallis had slight obsessions with shoes and handbags and this theme has been continued throughout the restaurant.
Janice and I had a ball of a time that afternoon, which ended with Janice and Stephen playing dress-up using items of decoration from the restaurant.
For more of my time with Janice at Mrs Simpson’s, as well as the live broadcast of the SoapBox Radio show with both Janice and Stephen, check out my Facebook Live video (I neglected to push record when doing the show so there is no PodCast).
Onwards To The Bush
Man, if I thought we hit a storm driving from Joburg to Dullstroom, I had totally underestimated what lay ahead for us from Dullstroom to Hoedspruit. Fortunately, we were travelling in the new Ford Everest which tackles the open road with a wonderfully smooth ride, despite being a car built with substantial off-road capabilities. It’s Watt’s Linkage Suspension delivered phenominal stability and handling, despite the challenges that the weather and the Abel Erasmus pass threw at us. We arrived somewhat late on the Thursday evening at Jejane Private Nature Reserve, our Easter destination, but in one safe piece(s).
I totally loved my time in the bush.
My time at Jejane was to be an opportunity to unwind and relax after a rather busy start to 2017. I was blessed to experience the bush in a way I had never done so before. Rather than the commercial game drives that have been my bush experience to date, I tackled the bush with Janice and her parents, Trevor and Carol, who are all three so knowledgeable on the bush and the various animals. Amid their sightings of Rhino, Buffalo, Giraffe; I joined in with shouts of “um, animal, over there” and the like.
We also took time to explore the local town of Hoedspruit, which is overflowing with local flavour and expressions of artistic interest. There is no shortage of interesting places to eat and pass the time with a good old beer, did I mention that I got to unwind?
One of my favourite spots (so much so that I made us all go back there a second time) was Sleepers Railway Station Restaurant. Located in the old station building, still a functioning station, with Rovos Rail stopping off there on a regular basis, I had a great time soaking up the atmosphere with my camera.
Despite experiencing rather rainy weather to start with, we still managed to have a ball of a time. That’s just the way it is when you are in good company. We occupied ourselves with sleep, homegrown gin tastings (thanks to the ingenuity of Trevor and Carol), sleep and game drives. The odd wine was present too, I will not lie.
The Ford Everest did well on the game farm, especially since the rainy weather had resulted in significant quantities of water being deposited on the rather dry land. Previously dry riverbeds were a flow and roads became challenging. All in a days work for the Ford Everest, which allowed us to view the game in style and comfort.
The rain was so heavy upon arrival that, on the first morning, I actually washed the car myself. I know, I am still asking myself why. That and, did aliens actually land in the Free State that time?
But it seemed the right thing to do at the time. After its wash (it is a large car to wash #justsaying) we drove into town and through a plethora of large mud puddles. All that washing effort in vain, as the car looked worse after our trip to town than it did before the wash. Oh well, nothing like bonding with your car and all that.
Apart from a rather (too) close encounter with a massive hyena while eating dinner one night (I was riddled with fear so could not grab my camera and take a shot, my bad) while Janice looked on probably with an equal amount of concern (I hope), we also were visited each night by a civet. Somewhat less threatening than the hyena, I managed to grab a few shots of her (Jan tells me it was a her for a reason I cannot recount in polite company).
So for a novice bush person such as myself, it was a highly successful exploration into a space I am not usually comfortable in. So much so that Janice and I have already booked our next outing to Jejane in July, the meeting request came through this morning!
What did you get up to for the easter weekend? I truly hope you had a chance to spend some time with those near and dear to you, at a time that encourages reflection.
Janice and I travelled throughout the easter weekend on our roadtrip in our Ford Everest, an SUV that delivers a smooth ride both on the open road and on off-road conditions. To book a test drive and experience what we discovered to be true of the Ford Everest, click here.