A recent trip to Cape Town confirmed just how serious the drought is in the Western Cape. Looking down on completely dry dams from high is pitiful, and their rainy season for 2017 practically over. With so much of our land still gripped by drought, we in the Midlands are doubly grateful for the building and early filling of Spring Grove Dam, to augment Midmar’s supply. I fear that many are going to be faced with the stark realisation that Water is Life, and that we are all wholly dependent on water. Hoping to be proved wrong, and that the drought is eased across the region. The levels of corruption and graft in the country leave precious little revenue for contingency plans, desalination and suchlike…
Shane Webster very kindly invited me to ride the 4-day iSimangaliso MTB event again this year, along with my cycling buddy, Chantel Carter from Helpmekaar. Utterly appropriate home range for Chantel as she helps me enormously in completing this event. This year the route ran from Mantuma Camp in Mkuze down to St Lucia, via the Lebombo Mountains, Mkuze, Phinda, Bona Manzi before cycling in Western and Eastern Shores, St Lucia. What an unparalleled privilege to cycle in Big 5 country for 4 days, supported by the Bell helicopter, rangers and a multitude of staff. Some of the descents off the Lebombo Mountains were technical to say the least, and six cyclists suffered broken collar bones on Day 1. Lions were spotted close to our route increasing the adrenaline levels somewhat – Meals on Wheels comes to mind. Generally the region has northerly winds at this time of year, hindering progress when cycling from the south, especially along exposed shorelines. Well, Day 2, found us attempting 97km into powerful southerly winds, at times blowing over 65km/hr. It was brutal to say the least, and yours truly was extremely relieved to finish in 8 hours. Day 3 was a 73km leg, into more southerly winds and drizzle, much of the way to St Lucia. Kevin Pretorius from Phinda, who has ridden every iSimangaliso event thus far, said this year was the toughest in history by some margin. Overnight rain around St Lucia made for a very wet and muddy Day 4 riding in Eastern Shores, with a diversion on account of Elephants in the area.
Russell Crossley from Botswana presented a wonderful talk on the energy and importance of wilderness, along with the Spring of Hope for Rhino being protected in Botswana’s Okavango region. Being part of this extraordinary event for the 4th time is such an honour, contributing significantly to my elation at finishing.
I went on from St Lucia to dear friends in Phinda Game Reserve, enjoying marvellous friendship, game drives and time in the bush before a Land of Legends meeting at Phinda Bayete. Kevin Pretorius kindly hosted us this year, a group of like-minded individuals who enjoy one another’s company and try to promote KZN as a destination in its own right. With Cheetah and Nyala walking through the tented camp, boma dinners around a log fire, fantastic game drives with Bruce Hedges and Rob, watching game capture operations, including Black Rhino and a very collaborative meeting, a most magnificent interlude.
With the arrival of Stella in Cape Town in August, we feel enormously blessed to have welcomed 3 grandchildren in 9 months into the world. What utter and unimaginable joy they bring to our lives. How the Wheel of Life turns, and how fortunate we are to be part of the process.