A short trip to Mapumalanga

Tell us about your recent trip. Please add some photographs.
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Harold
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Vehicle: 1998 Hi-lux 2,4 S/cab (p); 1997 Hi-lux 2,4 D/cab (p)
Real Name: Harold
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Mon Sep 10, 2007 9:42 am

Few notes on a recent trip to Mapumalanga – 6 nights away.

After business in Melmoth we set off to Vryheid on way to Ithala. As it was already mid-afternoon we would not get through to Ithala before they closed the gates so decided to find a place to camp near Vryheid. Eight kilometres before Vryheid we saw a sign ‘Die Peacock Animal Farm; caravans, camping and backpackers’, (S27.84322 E30.82676), so we turned in to see what it was like.

Cheapest camping I have had for many a year; R30 for two people (R15 each). The campsite was simple but clean with rabbits place running everywhere. The ablutions were clean with hot water, plus we had a large intimidating Mastive take a liking to us and slept the night next to the Hilux; reckon I was safer than the gold in Fort Knox. If ever you decide to stay there no need for an alarm clock as the bantams, peacocks, and hadedas will wake you at sunrise.

Next two nights we spent at Ithala reserve. The camp ‘Doringkraal’ is very much a bush camp – the type of camp I love. No lights, no hot water, and an open air shower. The camp is not fenced and there was much evidence that it is regularly visited by the elephant. Unfortunately they did not arrive while we were there, in fact we never saw them at all.

We had the camp to ourselves the first night. During the course of the second day we drove up to the main camp office as my wife wanted to sniff around the Curio shop. As we were leaving a Landrover arrived as I was using a block of wood to give the latches on my side hatch a good whack to make them secure. The fellow in the Landy made a snide remark to the effect that a Landrover does not need to be whacked to close anything. I was about to make a facetious reply but decided not to.

It was a very well kitted out Landy with all the bells and whistles. Two fridges, batteries, rooftop, roller drawers, easy chairs, and other designer gear, - must have cost at least 8 times what my Hilux cost.

Later the Landy arrived at the campsite and we got chatting with the couple. They were a delightful couple that had done some serious trips. However the more he told me about his adventures the more I felt happier about having a Hilux. He had one Landy burn out, another where the gearbox packed up. Besides having trips with other Landy’s where something always seemed to go wrong with at least one of them. Seemed like he most common problem was electrics. I felt like saying to him, “Everything Keeps Going Right – TOYOTA”.

Next morning dawned and shortly afterwards a contrite Landrover owner arrived to ask me to help him jump start his vehicle as his batteries were flat, all three of them. “I got a problem with my charging distributor to the batteries,” he told me. My Hilux got him started and he left early on his way back to the Cape. We had a leisurely breakfast, packed and set off for Sabie. At least we wanted to – guess what? After cranking the Landy, plus the fact that I had not turned down my Engel meant my battery did not have enough Omph to start the engine and we were all alone. Also I had not put in my spare battery. Lesson one: just because you are going away for a few days don’t skimp by not taking the spares & equipment you would normally carry on a longer trip.

Fortunately we had parked on a slight slope and I had placed a rock under my front wheel to get us level. All I had to do was make sure we got off the rock forwards. This is when a wife comes in handy. I told her, “When I shout push, push like hell!” I shouted push, she pushed like hell and I rolled off the rock, in second gear, let out the clutch and the engine came alive, like only a Hilux can in 30cm of travel.

Spent a lazy day and then set off and decided to try out the ‘Natal Spa’ near Paulpietersburg. The caravan & camping sites are limited in extent. Besides most are not level. With past experience I have developed the knack to know what to do to level my rooftop tent. Here I needed concrete block under the front right wheel. As there is much building development taking place we had no problem in finding a concrete block and a brick. Place brick in front of block, put into low range, climb onto brick and finally onto concrete block. Reason for low range is to enable you to idle up on the block and not overshoot; four-wheel drive is not necessary.

For me the ‘Natal Spa’ would not be a place I would ever go to during a holiday period or long weekend. But for those who do not mind crowds and bright lights it would be great.

From here on the trip became a business trip and boringly uneventful.
Other places we camped at was ‘Merry Pebbles’ at Sabie and ‘Aventura’ at Badplaas. These sites are always well maintained and cater for large numbers of holidaymakers. Certainly off-season and during the week there are few people there, however my choice would be the Ithala style of camping. For starters I do not like all the lights. Everywhere there are lights and the place is almost daylight at night. In our world with an energy crisis it seems ludicrous to waste so much energy and costs on unnecessary lighting.

Last comment: on the way home travelling from Warburton to Amsterdam we visited a farm butchery call ‘Glen Vleis’: (S26.55484 E30.63301). If you are ever on this road buy meat here. The quality is excellent and the price lower than elsewhere.
Harold (Greytown, KZN)
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Mon Sep 10, 2007 2:12 pm

Hi Harold,

That was a most interesting trip from the sounds of it, and very well detailed by yourself. The simplistic camp sites with minimum facilities are also usually the most enjoyable, after all that is why one goes out into the Bush!

Thanks for the report, it gives me a craving to get out and travel as well, something which sadly I don't seem to do much of anymore.

Oh, and you were very good to the LR driver, thank you for upholding the Hilux creed (Be kind to drivers of other vehicles, for they knoweth no better) so admirably!


-F_D
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