We drove through a hailstorm on the way down to the Korannaberg Conservancy in the NE Free State. That’s the last thing you’d expect in midwinter (technically, three days before the solstice). All three litres of Olli's Pajero (which means something rude in Spanish, akin to making hay...)was not sufficient to carry everyone's kit so it went on the roof and was soaked.: We in Eric's double-cab found the Pajaro crew waterproofing their kit under -a clear starry sky, clear after the rain, a classic example of closing the stable door alter the horse has bolted. The cold front that the belt of hail presaged did not materialise for the rest of the week planing paid to our ideas of cycling through snow and thawing by log fires
The barn at Merimetsi was crude but cosy, with cobbled and dung floors, an uithuisie, hot water from a donkey, candles and beds packed in like sardines. Though we arrived at 23h00 we needed the customary minimum 3 hour flame staring session, so that we did in front of a , blazing fire under brilliantly clear skies Certain members of the party had come to relax, so next morning Heidi kept guard while the rest went riding, We asked the farmer where to go for the long ride (about 60km). While he could have just said "Follow the white markers", he gave us a flowery Afrikaans description of the whole route, full of dongas and gats. Ollie's wheel bent after about 15km and this give him and Michelle an excuse to stop and head back to camp. The remaining bittereinderers peddled on, breezing along farm roads, through fields, past settlements of farm workers, dams, mined homesteads, ruined land and on up a helluva steep switchback route to a great lunch spot atop a hill. We were still following white markers, having taken one or two diversions and found them again, but were really led up the garden path somewhere on the rolling plateau. We ended up descending a horrendous downhill that had once been part of a race course and in the end did only 44km, though it felt like eighty.
Next day some cycled and some hiked, searching out bushman paintings and exploring fascinating crags. Food was gourmet, location was very more-ish and company was quite entertaining, Another excellent trip to go down in the explorer annuals