One of the joys of living in this part of the Eastern Cape is the game farms. More specifically, the number of game farms that you are able to drive through for free! This is because they are made up of former farming land, which had district roads (owned by the government) running between them. Fortunately for us, anyone is allowed to drive on these roads. In fact, even Shamwari (prestigious and pretentious as it is) has district roads running through it, so we go for “private” game drives there quite regularly.
Yesterday, Mum and I decided to go on what is fondly referred to by us locals as the Poor Man’s Game Drive, which obviously takes advantage of these district roads! Normally we pack a cooler box to stop for a drink somewhere en route, but we decided, since it was Human Rights Day, that we would treat ourselves for lunch at Stanley’s.
Off we set. First we took the Ghio road, which takes you through some farmlands with amazing aloes being burnt a striking orange by the sun, to the Ghio Wetlands and alongside the Kariega Game Reserve. As we meandered along, we noticed a large plume of smoke coming from the hills. We later saw some of the destruction caused by this fire, but more on that later.
Driving on, we came to the Ghio Wetlands. We used to spot rhino here quite often, but that was before all of the ignoramus poachers invaded our reserves and now I’m not even sure if there are any rhino left. There was a handful (quantity, not mass) of buck, one lonesome ostrich, various water birds including African Spoonbills, Stilts (with their lovely long red legs), Coots, Grey Herons, Great White Egrets, Cape Cormorants, Sacred ibis (not the Hadeda, but the La-di-dah!) and an amazingly humongous flock of Greater Flamingos. How exciting! Even though these were more white than pink (yes, I know their colour depends on their diet) it was lovely to see so many of these strange creatures. They always remind me of a song I used to sing and dance to as a kid called Meg the Flamingo. Meg the Flamingo only ever stood on one leg, so during the song you are continuously jumping from one leg to the other, until… “One day the animals asked her “Why do you stand on one leg? Why don’t you stand like a person?” “I guess I could try it” said Meg. So Meg the Flamingo decided to do what the animals said, and looking around, put both feet on the gro-o-o-ound, and promptly fell over instead, that’s Meg!”
Next we went to have a look at the Kariega Game Reserve water hole, which is actually on the R343 road to Grahamstown. This road is actually fantastic, as the Kariega Game Reserve is on both sides of the road. So when travelling to and from varsity, I used to have an entire game viewing experience. You can imagine that the trip used to take a bit longer than it should…
When we got there we saw that the fire had actually jumped across the road from one side of Kariega to the other, leaving a mass of scorched ground in its wake. There were a few brave Blue Wildebeest wandering around, so I took a few snaps before we moved on.
As we continued our Poor Man’s Game Drive into the Sibuya Game Reserve, game was scarce. This was probably due to the fire and midday heat. We did see some Impala (you ALWAYS see Impala), zebra and giraffe, and stopped at a beautiful “window” through the bush so that I could take some photographs of the Euphorbia barely concealing the river running through the valley below.
By this time it was almost 1 o’clock so we turned around and headed to Stanleys for some lunch, and of course a few gin & tonics. Stanley’s is a restaurant and bar that is known, not only for good food, but also for its spectacular view of the Kariega river.
Having had our fill, we trundled off home to watch the second half of the cricket, which we lost 😦
Thanks Mum, for the beautiful day out.