Afterwards we went to the visitors centre which is having it's roof rethatched. It was interesting to see the complexity, a pretty massive job requiring skilled workmen. The old thatch was tossed aside and women from the local village, Amazizi, were allowed to take the thatch for their own houses.
Today's gift & the absolute highlight of the SA leg of our journey was visiting a nearby rock art site. I never thought I would be in a position to view something like that with my own eyes. You have to have a guide because some cretins (using polite words here, when I don't really want to) have defaced the artefacts with graffiti and also ruined the drawings by putting water on the rock to "make the photos better". Some people should be shot, no question.
These drawings are 800 years old and under an overhanging rock which protects them from the weather. The San people were tiny, approx 4ft high so they stacked stones to build a kind of step ladder to be able to draw. Some of the drawings didn’t make much sense, according to Tabani, our Zulu guide, they were drawings done by the Shaman "under the influence". That's me paraphrasing. There are quite a few rock art sites in this region but they are not open to the public. Frankly I'm amazed that ANY are open to the cretinous public! We also saw some fossilised shells, impressive given that we are hundreds of kilometres from the sea. I keep looking at every overhang with fresh eyes - can't help it. Tabani said if we went for a hike and looked properly we'd probably find more.
It was very interesting talking to Tabani, he is not married and told us that the bride dowry price is 11 cows; more if the woman is beautiful and/or educated. If she has a child by another man it's 2 cows less. A cow costs NZD500 so it's a very steep price for a young man to pay especially given that jobs do not seem to pay that well & the village is fortunate to have access to jobs in the tourism industry.
I am very very glad we did not attempt the walk to Tugela Falls because apparently the falls are dry. Despite this area looking reasonably green to us, having come from the completely arid north, there has not been the usual amount of rain during the summer and incredibly, the 2nd highest falls in the world are dry.
After reasonably short drive and we are now at Golden Gate National Park. The drive took us through an area that was fascinating but the light was so hazy it was useless trying to photograph. There are many buttes and escarpments between Thendele and here, you can easily see that a lot were once volcanic plugs and being basalt stayed when everything else eroded away. Once we crossed into the Golden Gate Park the landscape changed again into really big rock landscapes that are quite difficult to make sense of in a photograph. The one spot I did want to try had 2 car loads of people just hanging about. That was enough, we did not even get out of the car. It probably would have been okay but we were well out numbered by big men and it was too much of a risk to take. Especially as we've been warned that people prey on tourists in rest areas & there is no way we look like locals
This afternoon we took the cameras for a walk near the hotel which ended up being an hour trek up to the base of a massif that towers over the hotel, along the bottom edge of it and down again. We also had to negotiate several stick ladders & bridges, up was ok, down is not. While we didn't see any baboons we could hear them and surprised several antelope, a couple of which I think might have been young Eland, given the shape of their horns. A fully grown adult male Eland stands 1.78m at the shoulder and I'm pretty sure these were not that big.