So that was a small part of the weekend that was. In retrospect, we should have called the authorities and told them that the circus was coming to town because we are a rather loud and quirky bunch. Travelling with 60+ people (including a lot of little midgets) is not easy. But it's oh-so-much fun. I've chronicled my weekend trysts before in Cape Town although there were significantly fewer people there. This time however, we were on the other end of the country in the northern Province of Mpumalanga. The last time I was in the Sabie region was in 2000 so it was nice to go back after such a long time. My excitement was evident and I took over 1000 photos in two days. Here are some of them (click on images for larger detail):
We left quite early, around 5:30am on Saturday morning in a convoy of 6 vehicles. Half of the family had left on Friday. The drive is usually around 4 hours long - 6 hours if you're driving in a convoy and have to stop every now and then for someone to pee. It was a long winding road.
After 6 hours of pit stops, winding hills and being tortured with John Denver and Barbara Streisand courtesy of Mother and her sisters, we eventually settled on a place to meet the others. The MacMac Pools was an ideal location to picnic. Fortunately for us, the braai (BBQ) was already underway when we got there, just in time for lunch.
Just coming out of winter, none of us were prepared to swim. But the water looked too gorgeous and the temptation was just too much for some of my cousins. When we were all kids we used to spend the entire summer year after year, perfecting the art of diving, inventing new techniques and swimming for hours on end in my aunt's pool. It was fun to watch them negotiate their diving strategies. And it wasn't long before others joined them.
After lunch and a great time at the pools, we made our way to The MacMac Falls. Waterfalls are like Churches in that if you've seen one, you've seen them all because really after the third one they all begin to look the same. But they're still so pretty and there's nothing like watching nature in its element, marveling at The Almighty's creation. The entire province is very tourist-y with several stalls selling hand-made African crafts etc. and we encountered quite a few Europeans and Americans on holiday throughout the weekend.
The days were hazy as we're still in "spring" (term used loosely because 28C / 82F days aren't uncommon). However, the views are much clearer in the winter and summer. After oohing and aahing at the falls, we made our way to God's Window.
After a seemingly endless day, it was time to make our way to our accomodation for the night. We stayed at the Forever Blyde Resort close to the Blyde River Canyon. At this point in time there were 11 cars in the convoy packed with people and luggage and food. Much like the Western Cape Province, wild monkeys usually roam free in this part of the world and we were advised not to feed them or leave our windows open because they would in all likelihood break in and steal our food.
After an eventful night, we were up early and ready for another day of exploring. After a breakfast of leftovers from the previous day, we made our way literally a few meters up the road to the top of the Blyde River Canyon. The views were hazy in the early morning, but still spectacular
From here we split up temporarily. Some went horse riding, other's went fishing and the rest of us went to visit the Bourkes Luck Potholes - a section of the river that eroded the rocks over thousands of years to create potholes along the course of the river. Like most of Mpumalanga, the natural terrain means that your tekkies/ trainers/ sneakers are a must. We quite enjoyed exploring...
Afterward, we hit the road again to go to the Berlin Falls. The region is littered with Waterfalls, with 9 major waterfalls and other minor ones along the way.
Then we left for Graskop. A number of family members went on the skyway trail across the gorge as well as the big swing. Because I'm terrified of vertigo, dangling in mid-air is not my forte so I chose to stand by and watch while I babysat some of the midgets and accepted last minute changes in a few Wills. Even Mother's sister had a go. Those who weren't up for participating had a great time watching from the deck.
We then left to have a picnic / lunch at Lone Creek Falls. The region is a haven for bikers and we encountered many along the way. Before lunch some of us prayed in congregation on a patch of green grass beside the river... men in front women behind... before digging into a combo of salads and fries.
Before we knew it, it was time to pack up and head home. We briefly discussed a convoy strategy and had to get going. Aside from being tortured with various renditions of every Chris Brown and Usher song for five hours straight, it was a pleasant drive. We all arrived home around 08:00pm that evening, exhausted but safe thanks to The Almighty... though some of the drivers had trouble keeping up with others. We had to stop on more than one occasion to wait for a lone ranger or two that had to potty.
And that was it. It was a hectic weekend but great non-the-less. We had some hiccoughs along the way as anyone would especially with 60+ raucous family members, all with minds of their own but most of it was wonderful and we have a lot of good memories to share and take home with us. As someone who's been very fortunate to travel quite a bit, I must say that the world looks more-or-less the same no matter where you go. It doesn't mean that it's any less beautiful and that we can't appreciate it especially when its just around the corner. For the most part though, I often find that it's not so much the destination then the journey and the people you share that with that counts the most :)