This series on our travels will be a return to my home country, South Africa. We are so fortunate to live in a country absolutely blessed with incredible beauty. One of the best known natural phenomena in this country are the Spring flowers in Namaqualand.

Namaqualand is a semi -desert region in the North-Western part of South Africa. It is hot and very dry in Summer but gets some Winter rain. In August/September, after these rains, the most incredible display of colours and varieties of flowers appear in their thousands across the landscape. Numerous tours are arranged for local and international visitors to see this glorious display of God’s creation.

In 2001, when we had purchased points from a holiday club, we decided to visit Namaqualand and the West Coast of South Africa. We did not join a tour but drove ourselves the 1500km (3000kms round trip) from Durban on the East Coast to our main stopover, Langebaan, on the West Coast. Langebaan was a holiday resort at which we could spend a week on our holiday points club system and it was here that we chose to stay for a week in September 2001. As I have done with other blogs, I will break this trip into a few blogs making for easier reading and appreciation of the wonder of South Africa.

On our way to Langebaan we spent 2 nights in Kimberley and one in Augrabies. There are times when our weather totally surprises us. Durban normally has a very mild Winter witha  few very cold snaps coinciding with snow on the Drakensberg – the mountains which form the eastern backbone to our province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). These mountains are called the Drakensberg, a word derived from Afrikaans meaning Dragon’s Mountains. The formation of the mountains resembled a dragon’s back. The Afrikaans word for a mountain is berg.

September is Spring in South Africa and by then it is usually warming up, in Durban at least, but we are always reminded that we could have cold snaps in the month. Well, just before the weekend of 14-16 September 2001, the snow fell. We were due to leave on the morning of Friday 14th and drive northwest to Van Reenen’s Pass and then due west to Kimberley. One of the heaviest snowfalls fell over the whole of the Drakensberg on Wednesday & Thursday 13th & 14th. Van Reenen’s Pass was closed and so, too, was the road to the south. KZN was marooned! When we awoke on the Friday morning we had no idea what we were going to do.

At 6am we phoned the Automible Association (AA) and asked for their advice. They told us that the southern route would be cleared in the next hour and, as it would take us 2 hours to get there, it should be drivable by that time. It would be a very unusual route to get from Durban to Kimberley but we had no option. We travelled south into the Transkei, then north to Bloemfontein (Fountain of Flowers) is what the city’s name means because of the abundance of roses which grow there) and then due west to Kimberley.

It actually turned out to be a beautiful drive, especially through Tsolo in the Transkei. Beautiful mountain scenery which made us feel as if we were situated on top of the world. We arrived safely in Kimberley 12 hours after leaving Durban and were thrilled to find that we had booked ourselves into an excellent Bed and Breakfast. The next morning was spent discovering Kimberley. We did not visit the Big Hole as we had done so in 1992. This time we went to the museum and enjoyed discovering some of the very old buildings. Kimberley has a very interesting history being, at one time, the diamond mining capital of the world.

Although it was very cold the day was beautiful and we truly enjoyed just soaking up the essence and vibe of the place. After a good night’s sleep we left for Augrabies at 09:00 the next day. At least this would not be such a long and tiring drive.


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