CONGRATULATIONS to Natalia Venter on winning a two nights stay for a family of four (2 adults + 2 children), including accommodation, a game drive and guided walk, to the total value of R3 400.00 at the Mountain Zebra National Park.
Location: 305 kilometers from Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay & 12 kilometers from Cradock on the road between Cradock & Graaff Reinette, in the beautiful Eastern Cape, South Africa.
Date Visited: 16 – 18 November 2012 (Summer)
What we Drove: The Jeep Cherokee, complements of Maritime Motors .
Where we Stayed: The main camp, in a two bedroom chalet. Mountain Zebra National Park also offers camping & mountain cottages, as well as a luxury six sleeper guest-house.
What we did: We took the opportunity to just be together as we cooked, walked, watched game, swam in the Park’s beautiful swimming pool and saw magnificent game.
Recommendation: This is an amazing and very affordable weekend for a family who wants to do something wonderfull. Instead of going on a guided game drive and walk, as much fun could be had as you self-drive through the park. The roads are in exceptional condition. The restaurant & shop stocks whatever you forget to take along.
Website: Mountain Zebra National Park
We’ve become accustomed to traveling this year.
Weekend road trips.
Breathtaking moments shared.
This was our twenty-second one in less than ten months.
‘The year seems full & meaningful, despite what challenges may have presented themselves’, Zuko speaks the thoughts filling her mind and heart as we hit the open road, driving past the Port of Nqura.
The Jeep Cherokee’s 2.8 liter diesel engine is inaudible.
The climate control keeps the summer afternoon’s heat outside.
The kids laugh & talk, filled to the brim with excitement.
‘We’ve seen so much. Done so much. It feels like we’ve had two years since Christmas.’
I can see how her mind looks at pictures of the places we’ve been & the things we’ve done.
Holding up a snapshot of our family at Tsitsikamma in front of the guesthouse at The Garden Route National Park.
Little wrinkles forming at the corners of her mouth as she looks at us horse riding at Addo Elephant National Park and sliding down the waterfal at Bergrivier.
‘What was your favorite trip?’ she asks the kids, including them & me in her reliving of our experiences.
‘I loved Lalibela‘, Theunsie is quick to answer.
‘The surfing trip in Jeffreys Bay‘, Wilhelmina is quick on his heels.
‘No, picking those humungous apples’, she changes her mind. ‘Where was that?’
‘Grootnek in the Langkloof,’ I help her find the name.
‘Grootnek! That was fun.’
‘It was. Taking the Jeep Wrangler up into the mountains was exciting.’ Theunsie remembers.
‘Sophia? Which was your favorite trip,’ Zuko opens the door for one more experience to flood back into our hearts.
‘I’m thinking. I loved them all,’ she quips. ‘My favorite was Die Lapa, with the horses & the little cowboy village. Yes. If I must choose that was definitely my favorite.’
We talk about our ten day trip exploring the Blue Crane Route.
The stunning walk to the waterfall.
‘O, going snow hunting was fantastic!’ Wilhelmina laughs.
Then we talk about Somerset East.
The friends who joined us as we shared the ‘Biltong Festival’ and decided to find snow on the spur of the moment.
A stop at the Nanaga Farm Stall interrupts our conversation.
We get some biltong, droë wors, water & nuts.
As I point the Jeep Cherokee towards Cradock, engaging the cruise control, Zuko takes out another snapshot.
‘I loved Nieu Bethesda‘, she says.
‘And Graaff Reinet.’
What an amazing year.
Filled with tasty experiences.
And then we are at the entrance to the Mountain Zebra National Park.
Originally started, in order to conserve the Mountain Zebra.
Now home to a variety of game on 28 000 hectares of conservation land.
Every time we get to spend time at one of our South African National Parks, I am impressed by the ammount of time & energy & resources we invest in conservation.
And how possible it is for South Africans & International tourists alike, to enjoy the beauty of Africa.
Friday night we settle into our very comfortable chalet.
We light a fire.
The conversation keeps on drifting back to our year’s travels.
Fond memories were made.
This we cherish as more memories take shape.
Saturday morning we meet Richard.
He is our ranger.
We go out on an early morning game drive.
We see lots of game.
A short walk to an ancient cave with Koi-San Paintings.
Their way of claiming this ancient land as their own, long after they’ve been driven into a lonely existence.
Lunch is followed by an afternoon at the swimming pool.
As the sun sets a fire comes to life again.
Black Backed Jackal the musicians who entertain is late into the night.
As I drift off to sleep with little Maddi lying on my chest, I hide some new memories in the crevices of my being.
I love it when we cook together.
We should do more trips where we cook our own food, I think, as dreams of beauty & wonder overwhelm me.
Sunday morning we head out on foot.
Richard is with us again.
This time he shows us the plants.
Excitedly talking about their medicinal value.
The old wives’ tales believed.
He shows us the little five.
Hidden amongst leaves & branches.
He’ll tell you about it as well, when you go and visit.
When the sun is high, our walk ends at the Park’s cool blue swimming pool.
We cook together.
And then we’re off.
The Jeep Cherokee comfortably taking our luggage and our dreams on a slow cruise through breathtaking Karoo.
The Cherokee is quiet.
As we each touch a last bit.
We’ll travel again, we agree, as we unload travel bags.
We’ll travel more.
If it be our gift.