A South African Adventure

A couple of weeks ago I got a message from Darryl Hurter of South Africa.  I have posted some material from Darryl in the past focusing on his interest in Triumph cars and some of the activities related to Triumph cars in South Africa.  This time Darryl sent me a report on a recent vacation that he and his wife, Rosemary, took to a remote part of South Africa.  Much of the report that had been prepared by Rosemary dealt with normal family vacation matters, but there were some images that changed some of my perceptions of South Africa.

One of the places that they visited was the Vleihuisie – a remote little get-away situated on the Doornberg Farm about 13kms outside Nieu Bethesda deep in the Karoo. The little rural cottage, shown in the image below, has electricity which would make one appreciate small luxuries, such as an electric blanket which is a must at night as the temperatures can get below freezing at night.  As you can see, it appears to be a modest place.

Africa Countryside 3

Vleihuisie On The Doornberg Farm

From the Vleihuisie Darryl and Rosemary had an uninterrupted view of their favorite mountain – Compassberg – and the view from the back of the cottage is of vast lands stretching away into the distance.

There is no jungle or bush around, only low scrub and fynbos. The purple mountains are all around in the distance.  The farmer on whose land the Vleihuisie lies is a fourth generation farmer in his family. His forebears lie in the quaint little grave yard on the farm.

Africa Countryside 2

The Karoo Area Is Not An African Jungle.  Compassberg Is The High Mountain In the Center Of The Picture

Darryl and Rosemary were surprised one night when they realized that it was snowing. They opened the door of the Vleihuisie and watched in wonder as the snow gently wafted down.  They had never seen snow falling in South Africa before.  They had parked their 4×4 outside the front door in readiness for packing the next morning and it quickly gathered snow on its roof.  When they woke in the morning they thought that they were in a winter wonderland.  They had to pour hot water onto the 4×4 door locks to open them.

Africa Snow 2

Same View of Compassberg (to the left of the tree), But Now With Snow On The Ground!

On the farm there was the wreck of a nineteen-thirty-something car. Darryl couldn’t find any badge or indication of the make. It had wells for 2 spare wheels in each front fender so would have been a desirable cross-country vehicle back then.  Darryl says that it was definitely made in the USA.

4x4 trail 1

4×4 Trail To The Base Of Compassberg

Darryl and Rosemary have always been attracted to Compassberg – which at 2,502 meters or 8,209 feet was the highest peak in South Africa until the Transkei was incorporated into South Africa. Now the peak Ben McDui in the Malutis is the highest. Darryl’s dad grew up in this part of the Karoo and he would tell Darryl and Rosemary so many stories about the mountain and folk who had climbed it. He never did himself and was hugely delighted when Darryl and Rosemary climbed to the top of Compassberg in 1998.  So on this most recent vacation, they yet again hatched a plan to tackle the mountain – they got permission from a farmer who has a 4×4 track to use the track to get to the base of the mountain early one morning.  As you can see from the photo of the 4×4 track, it was quite rough!

Africa Countryside 6

View From Compassberg

After driving to the base of Compassberg, Darryl and Rosemary climbed a long way up Compassberg.  Their 4×4 is parked at the end of the trail which, although almost invisible in the photo, is just in front of the brim in her hat.  The view from here is spectacular and does not look like Africa to me at all.

While the topic is slightly different than what I usually post, I found Rosemary Hurter’s report interesting and fascinating and I enjoyed reading it.  It provided me a look at South Africa as I had not seen or visualized before.

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