Sunday April 26, 2015 (Africa, South Africa)
It’s our last full day with Dave & Ivy today. After this it’s back to our old ways of bussing from place to place and taking taxis where possible – no more luxurious car rentals!
We awoke from our lodge early in the morning to get a head start on the way back to Johannesburg where Dave & Ivy would be departing from. We had heard a lot about the Blyde River Canyon, and wanted to drive past sections of it on the way "home”. It’s “one of the largest canyons on Earth”, but it’s unclear exactly how one measures such a thing. Regardless, it’s a massive canyon and a bit different from the Grand Canyon, for instance, because it’s full of greenery – various plants and trees make it look a lot different than the stone canyons one may be used to seeing.
On the way to the Panorama Route, which is the route that takes you down the western side of the Blyde River Canon, we stopped at a roadside stall to pick up some fruit. And to pet kitties, because this lady had two cute ones! We filled our cuteness tanks and continued on our way.
Our first stop was the “Three Rondavels” viewpoint, so named for the traditional indigenous homestead with round walls and a thatched roof. There are three big lumps in the canyon that are moderately reminiscent of these homes. We had to pay 10 ZAR to get in to the viewpoint, but as it turns out only 2 of the 5 viewpoints on our map required payment (the other being God’s Window, which we skipped).
As we continued down the Panorama Route, we also stopped at the Wonder View viewpoint (with an incredible vista), and Mac Mac Falls (a somewhat underwhelming waterfall, but beautiful still!).
Graskop was our lunch destination. We’d heard a lot about the pancakes there, so we stopped in at Harrie’s Pancakes – the “original” Graskop pancake. I have no idea why pancakes are such a thing in town, but there are many imitators and bandwagoners that have joined the party. Everybody but me had a savoury pancake, but I went for the peanut butter, banana, chocolate chip and ice cream pancake. With a beer to drink. Healthy lunch for Ian.
After Graskop we were on a mission to get back to the Johannesburg region as soon as possible. It’s a reasonably long drive, but we made it back without incident. A set of pizzas ordered for dinner and a viewing of Trevor Noah (the South African comedian taking over Jon Stewart’s show) and his latest comedy special capped off the night.
Tomorrow morning it’s the airport for Ivy & Dave and the Gautrain to Pretoria for Sandra and myself. We’re going to be taking an eight day “vacation from vacation” until our flight out to Kenya on May 5th. Expect little in the way of updates as we’ll be sleeping, running, eating in… mostly sleeping really. But the place we’re staying is fairly unique in one particular respect, so we’re excited to show you a couple of pictures.
Thanks so much to Ivy and Dave for joining us for these past few weeks in South Africa. We’ve managed to squeeze in quite the itinerary and it’s been amazing!