Saturday, October 27, 2007

Drakensberg - getting there!

We had, wisely enough, picked up our car at Johannesburg airport on our arrival and our faithful companion would bring us the long distance from the busy streets of Johannesburg to the tranquility of the Drakensberg mountains in around 6 hours. If you plan to travel over larger distances, hiring a car is a must, as public transportation, in our terms, is lacking in large areas of South Africa.

We left Johannesburg by the N3 highway, and as we left the larger metropolitan area we discovered the size of, and distances in this large country. We left the province of Gauteng, crossing into a small part of the province of Mpumalanga, just after Heidelberg. Then we entered the Free State province close to Villiers, and the Kwazulu-Natal after the town of Harrismith.

The Giant's Castle area is located around 100 km/82 miles west of the city of Estcourt. As we arrived from the north, we turned off the N3 into the city. At the intersection of Conner and Lorne streets we followed the Ntabamhlope road and the signs to Giants Castle.

You are well advised to start early on your trip, as Giant's Castle is a gated area, where the gates close at 7 PM during summer (October 1st - March 31st) and 6 PM during winter (April 1st to September 30th). The roads from Estcourt into the mountains have a completely different standard and may delay you, in times of rush.

Changing scenery

As you drive we clearly noticed that it was the end of winter. Winter here is the dry season, with relatively low temperatures and practically no precipitation. The rain came, during our stay, and the effect on the nature was remarkable, as the trees and flowers woke up from its state of hibernation.

As we left the populous province of Gauteng, we ended up on a motorway with very few vehicles and long endless plains with a few hills scattered here and there.

You better check where to get a snack, as on large parts of our ride, we could hardly see any places to eat at all. As we approached the city of Harrismith we found a place to eat. BJ's Restaurant & Fast Foods.

More on South Africa?

See more on South Africa on my page South Africa from A-Z here

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