We had an uneventful drive up to the mountains on Saturday morning. BJ's at the Ranch outside Polokwane continue to offer the best service and breakfast en route. The bottle store at Vivo actually has some decent red wine, but are clueless about the weather. It was cloudy and raining when we arrived, but they told us it hadn't rained there for a while. Clearly live indoors a lot...
The southern side of the mountains were shrouded in mist when we arrived so we packed and drove round to a neighbouring farm, where we hid the Landy in the bush and hiked over the ridge onto the remote Northern parts of our farm. From there we explored one river system and its very dry rock-pools. Fires still smouldered in places on the valley - a very hot fire had burnt through the area 8 months ago - the ancient peat of the ferns in the valley burning slowly and causing a 40cm collapse in the terrain where it had burnt through underneath. The 'red falls' valley was greener and at the falls themselves there was enough water to warrant camping, which we did for the next 2 nights. On Sat afternoon we chilled and enjoyed the view of Zimbabwe (and later, of the sunset and zebra grazing on the plains below). On Sunday we hiked up past the bushman shelter, stopping only to explore beckoning caves, and then headed down the 'DiepKloof' after which the farm is named. After some time in this scenic but currently dry valley, we found a new route up the Northern side of Lajume mountain which involved a scramble up a wooded kloof, complete with swarms of bees, tangling trees and loose rock to grip on. Once on top, Andrew kindly re-attached the Nepali prayer flags and although looking severely weathered, they continue to flutter on top of the mountain, providing a spiritual link to the Himalaya. We had lunch and dozed in the shade of a small tree before continuing down the mountain again - this time seeing 5 vaal ribbok, before stopping again to explore caves that beckoned from the other side of the valley. Sadly we discovered no new bushman relics, but paused to think what this place must have been like to support its last human inhabitants some 800 years ago.
On Sunday night the wind came up and we found Monday morning to be misty and windy, with the valley above us obscured by flowing clouds and light drizzle. We packed up camp and headed back to the Landy, where we spent some time exploring the wide valley in which we had parked, while also filming the clouds swirling around the peak. Back at the main camp we promptly sat in the sun and guzzled our alcohol stock, before heading off to a viewpoint to watch the sun set behind us as menacing clouds moved in towards us. That evening we managed to braai just before the rain and wind really hit, and woke yesterday to white-out conditions and lower temperatures. Fortunately the rain had been light enough that the roads were still relatively dry and we didn't have any major slips on the track out.
Got back safely yesterday afternoon. A great trip and made special by being able to share it with good company. Thanks to all involved.