Tuesday, 28 February 2012


Deep in the Mountains, the freezing winter night swiftly closing in, huge trees looming overhead, obscuring the last pale rays of the dying sun…We have been driving up and down mountains, on potholed logging tracks, turned to marsh by puddles of rainwater and snow melt (yes, this is Africa). But the last logging truck had passed us over an hour ago, packed with tired workers obviously headed home.

Snow Dusts Cape Mountains
Communication proved difficult when we discovered that our mobile phones would only work at certain elevations and in the absence of the aforementioned, huge trees!  Our host knew we had crossed the first River, just after noon and had been quick to reassure M that only another hour would see us there. More than once, in an afternoon that is infamous in our memories, we debated aborting the whole excursion and heading back to civilization, a bottle of good Cabernet and a warm B & B. That was while we still had a rough idea of which way civilization lay.

African River Crossing On The Rocks

Now, time was running out and with it our options.  The wilderness we had plunged into a few short hours ago had morphed into a spaghetti bowl of muddy trails in a tangled mass of undergrowth, overgrowth and stones…very muddy stones.  The darker it got, the harder it was to pick out where a trail ended and a just-felled patch of timber started. More than once the ‘Cruiser had to pick her way over branches and rocks or bypass whole trees left lying across the smudge of truck tyres that signified a track.

Adventure is awesome, keeps you on your toes, extra adrenalin is good for the metabolism and with these cheerful thoughts in mind, I hopped out to open yet another gate.  The lights of the ‘Cruiser picked out the rocky road, the trees and growth making a corridor up the hill but all the detail left and right was veiled in darkness; quite cosy really, down below me somewhere, I could hear the rushing water of an unseen stream and the soft “thrum” of the engine next to me. As I closed the gate, that cosy darkness enveloping me exploded with sound, roaring, barking, howling sounds! Arrrrrgh…Help! 

It took a lifetime to cover the distance between the back of the vehicle and the cab. Shaking with fright and shock, M nearly had me in his lap but then I realized he was shaking too…with laughter! We had inadvertently disturbed a troop of Chacma baboons settled in the trees for the night and they were scaring us off.  They use this technique to get rid of hungry leopards so why not lost people?

Chacma Baboon Male
The Chacma baboon with a body height of up to three feet (90 cm)and a weight up to 100 pounds (45 kg), is the largest and heaviest of the baboon species. Males can have canine teeth as long as 2 inches (longer than a lion's canine teeth). They are awesome predators – just think, four hands and all those teeth.  Many a leopard regretted their choice of dinner when dinner bit back…

See where we get to next time…


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