I live here, it is my home. Approach my homeland from the eastern seaboard, it is a mountainous country, which is the introductory focus of my pictorial. We will however work our way across the big hills, ending on the little hills of the western seaboard. I note that my homeland is not limited by border or boundary, it is a free perambulation of the southern end of my Africa. I live here, it is my home.
This aloe (Aloe Ferox) covered north east facing hill, is on a mountain pass between Matatiele and Rhodes ( 30°42’31.07″S and 28°22’12.55″E), the pass is a bit of a killer I must admit, due to it’s jeep track nature, with gravel like surface that is very sharp edged (double or triple ply side walls a must).
This hill and the following series of images, depict the area in mid August (winter in the southern hemisphere). In the lower regions, where we see the brown winter grass (altitude ranging 1200m to 1800m above sea level), we see the typical grassland running up the hillsides, until the severe slopes and eventually sandstone outcrops prevent any vegetation.
The area is mainly used for livestock farming (due to grasslands), and the local farmers are linguists of note, as depicted by this signboard on the higher plato roadside. As we approach the higher plato (2400m to 3000m above sea level), we encounter the “snow”, which is strictly seasonal.
In most seasons, it is a very light scattering, lasting a few days only, except on the southern slopes that ice due to no direct sun.
The snow zone near Rhodes, is locally most famous for southern Africa‘s only ski slope at Tiffendell ( 30°39’20.05″S and 27°55’40.18″E, and yes, they make snow all day long here). I think the one slope they have (the only slope they have) is 1km long.
The most interesting thing about it is most definitely the pub, which has an abundance of “local” sports to keep all entertained.
I am sure the ski slope is very busy during peak season, I am not sure what is looks like in summer, grassy knoll comes to mind.
Venturing further east, we descend to lower ground again, heading towards Lady Grey ( 30°43’43.47″S and 27°12’25.36″E at 1800m above sea level), we start to see the familiar grasslands again, with very distinctive sandstone out crops.
As we have left the east coast belt effectively, the skies are clearer no (the east coast belt is sub-tropical and humid, the skies are heavy with moisture all year round).
At Rhodes and Tiffendell, we essentially crossed the southern most tip of the Drakensberg mountain range.
Now we are on the central plateau near Lady Grey, but the Drakensberg deserves our attention.
So a bit more beautiful sandstone rock formation gazing and then a sharp turn north east to view the Drakensberg in all it’s splendour, basically Lesotho in summer.
Lesotho is completely landlocked by South Africa (South Africa is a country, correctly know as the Republic of South Africa). It is a wonderfully peaceful place to visit, but be sure to take a “real 4×4”, all the “good stuff” is on severe track.
So end of the day now, until tomorrow and Lesotho ahead…