Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Country Part II: Dragon Mountain

Not long after my research trip, I returned to KZN, this time for pleasure. One of the attorneys at our NGO, L, offered to host the interns at her family's chalet in the Drakensberg ("Dragon Mountain" in Afrikaans). Ever since I'd read the following description of it in Lonely Planet, I knew I wanted to go to the 'Berg: "If any landscape lives up to its airbrushed, publicity-shot alter ego, it is the jagged, green sweep of the Drakensberg."

I was particularly excited when L's parents mentioned that they'd spent the weekend chasing baboons out of the chalet. When they saw the huge goofy smile on my face, they'd replied grimly: "Baboons are aggressive." Maybe I'll get to hug one, I thought to myself.

A long, winding drive later, we arrived at the chalet. In the mailbox was this letter:
What I read: Leave bananas in your room if you want to cuddle with baboons.
When we arrived during the night, it was hard to see exactly where we were in relation to the mountains. By the light of the morning, it became obvious.
A room with a view

The Drakensberg was our backyard!

Signs of zebra dung near the deck of the chalet had us on the hunt. Apparently there was a herd that roamed the area.

The scenery was stunning and before long we found the zebra herd (i.e. three zebras). We followed them closely, hoping for a zebra encounter of the striped kind.

They were gracious enough to pose for my pictures.
D, the zebras, and the Drakensberg
The zebras never got close enough to pet (or ride) so we went on a hike instead.

Getting around pesky fences with old wooden ladders.

We watched two foolish individuals walk across the raging waterfall.

Then we did it too.

We lay on our bellies and peeked over the edge.

The water was clean enough to drink, so we scooped it in our hands and tasted the sweet dragon mountain water.
That night, I had my first braai. We had boervors, chakalaka, and Mrs. Ball's chutney.

Alas, we left seeing neither friendly nor rogue baboon. Nonetheless, the Drakensberg was quite wondrous, and as we drove back home to the city, a sunset followed alongside.

*** In all seriousness, baboons are very dangerous; do not pet, cuddle, or play Scrabble with them. And do not attempt to ride a zebra. Their stripes make you look fat.***

1 comment:

  1. Damn you for prohibiting me from playing Scrabble with baboons! You know that was on my bucket list...