Thanda — Week Three

Lilac-Breasted Roller
Lilac-Breasted Roller

My third week at Thanda included more game drives, of course. During one of them I got this photo of a Lilac-Breasted Roller, one of the area’s more colorful birds. I also spent a few hours at a nearby community center installing panes of glass into windows as part of a larger project to turn an older building into a useful site for a health clinic. Other volunteers repaired the concrete walls, did some exterior painting, or moved litter from inside the property to the other side of the fence.

Scenic view of the Drakensburg
Scenic view of the Drakensburg

The most significant event of the last week was an optional trip to the Drakensburg, a mountain chain in South Africa. When you think “Africa” you may have visions of open savanna or brush. But lush valleys and soaring mountain tops are not that images that usually come to mind. Having said that, this is an area of profound beauty.

Path at Giant's Castle in the Drakensburg
Path at Giant’s Castle in the Drakensburg

On our first day we journeyed to Giant’s Castle, where a short hike took us to a site containing old cave paintings. The above picture is of the path to that site. Again, not exactly the kind of image you might have expected to find in South Africa!

Sunset at the Drakensburg
Sunset at the Drakensburg

The next day we travelled to a different part of the range in time to take some sunset photos, including this one. I rather like the colors and layers I managed to capture here.

Sunrise at Sentinel Peak in the Drakensburg
Sunrise at Sentinel Peak in the Drakensburg

The next morning we left our accommodations at 3:45 am, drove a ways into the range, and began hiking up toward Sentinel Peak in the Drakensburg. The calendar may say that it’s summer here in South Africa, but it was cold, cold, COLD on top of that mountain as we waited for the sun to rise! The wait and the cold and the walking in the dark were worth the effort as we were treated to extraordinary views.

Gary at sunrise at Sentinel Peak in the Drakensburg
Gary at sunrise at Sentinel Peak in the Drakensburg

You can tell by the number of layers I’ve got on that we all had to dress for the occasion. You can also tell that I really do need to get my beard trimmed!

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