Heading down from Joburg we managed to get lost immediately, turned around and eventually found our way onto the N3 down towards Durban.
Turning off at Harrismith we took our tiny Chevy along 30km of 'under repair' road, which meant that it was one lane of potholes up to our axels. Finally we battled through and passed a sign casually stating the pass we were driving through was at 1718m above sea level, not far short of an Australian ski field.
As we drove towards the Drakensburg and Lesotho we were truly amazed by the scenery. Sheer cliffs drops, 3200m peaks and lush greenery greeted us.
Entering Royal Natal National park we were told not to feed the baboons and watch out for dussies crossing the road, though we still have no idea what a dussie is.
Setting up camp and noting that everyone else was using the supplied metal braais, we wandered off to find some firewood. The family camped next door noticed this and offered us some charcoal, then asked if we'd like to come over for a cup of tea. We settled into their camp chairs and felt no choice but to accept the Speed's amazing hospitality when they offered us a share of their steak, potatoes, mealy-meal and salad. This was followed by peaches and custard! For two backpackers we were eating far too well.
The next morning Tom went off for a light jog with Jeff and James. starting from our Mahai camp site the ascent was made to Lookout Rock, climbing to about 2300m there was a definite shortness of breath, but the view was spectacular during the 8km run.
We then headed off for what we thought was about 14km of reasonably flat path walking to the bottom of Tugela Falls. 9.5 hours, one near miss with a one hundred kilo rock landing on tom's leg with nothing worse than a cut and a bump, some serious bush bashing, river crossings, pouring rain and chain ladders we returned to the car. We think it was about 20km, with 8km of it being really tough stuff. It was however an absolutely spectacular, just breath taking hike, and not just because we were walking nearly two miles above sea level. Tom had left his wet runners under the car to dry while we walked and on returning to the car, we thought someone had stolen them. After much cursing we drove off, only to be stopped by the car parking attendant who handed them back. Relief!
That night we were both in bed around nine, full of cous cous, canned curry and some tea (once again thanks to the lovely Speeds.)
The next morning we rolled out of bed late, sleeping in until about 6.30, ate our Oats with water then trotted off in the sunshine to stretch our legs. The walk was a little harder and hotter than expected, but again well worth it. We packed our gear, drove out of the national park, turned around, drove back, picked up the boots we had left to dry under the car from our campsite, then hit the road to Durban.