Friday, June 24, 2011

Another Trip - Jo'burg-Greater Durban-Drakensberg-Verkykerskop-Jo'burg

We left Jo'burg about 5:30am when the moon was still high in a purple-gray sky, but instead of being the only ones on the road we were greeted by early morning traffic!   In the distance it was all smokey from the night's fires but it made for great pictures as the sun rose for the day.
We were amazed how busy the roads were as we left the city, vans, trucks, trucks with trailers, tankers, normal cars all going about their business and all in a rush to get there.
We crossed the Vaal River which is the border between Gauteng and the Free State and we were now well and truly in farming country. Rows and rows of orderly corn stretching for miles on both sides of the highway and even a crop of sunflowers!
There were also many miles of absolutely nothing but rolling landscape where you could see forever.
We found Cosmos growing alongside the road some taller than the grass!  Still more corn and neat hay bales and of course the faithful windpump which you will see just about anywhere in South Africa.  As we neared Harrismith the tell-tale blue mountains rose up in the hazy distance.
We would only be stopping in Harrismith on the return trip but if you have ever been in this area at night, the lit cross on top of the mountain overlooking the little town, is a memorable landmark.  In the picture below you can see the Drakensberg-type mountains in the background.  Never mind what the house looks like, please note the TV aerial on the outhouse!
Picturesque railway bridge still in use in the Van Reenen's Pass area.
On the Durban side of Van Reenen's Pass this South African Army truck was transporting an Olifant Tank, normally based in Bloemfontein.
And it was toll fees again - we had to go through at least five of these toll gates.... it can become quite costly.  From here on towards Durban we passed trucks, car carriers, cooler trucks, tankers, timber trailers, vegetable trucks piled high, busses and taxis and more cars!  In the photograph below these trucks are all waiting in line to be weighed, if overweight they will be heavily fined.  The stretch of road between Jo'burg and Durban must be the most used in the country and they have to make sure the roads are kept in a good condition constantly.  There is also a very noticeable highway patrol.
We had never seen quite so many ever, luckily they have a dedicated lane for them to make life easier for the rest of us. Being quite tropical there are plenty Glory Trees (Tibouchina granulosa) originally from Hawaii in pink and purple, they also grow in the Tzaneen area.
These butterflies are affectionately known as 'gliders' because that's the way they fly.  In spite of their slow flying they are not easy to photograph.  Usually when they rest their wings are upright.

However our trip would not be taking us right into the heart of Durban but just to the outskirts and from here we would do a U-turn and head back to Johannesburg via the Drakensberg Mountains and other places of interest.