Trivia fact of the day- whenever people think of Lord of the Rings they think of New Zealand’s mountains, but those are not the ones that inspired Tolkein. Rather, it turns out he was born in South Africa and lived in the Drakensberg Mountains for several years as a child, so when he envisioned Middle Earth he was actually thinking of here. So how could one not visit a place with such stellar literary commendation?
There are so many lovely spots in the region that they become commonplace- this waterfall was just next to where I was waiting for the bus in a town called Pietermaritzburg. Some bus stop!
A lovely sunset view from the hostel I was staying at. Most of the people around here are ranchers of various capacity, so the sunset was particularly spectacular due to smoke from controlled burns in the area just before the dry season.
A word about the backpackers I stayed at by the way because it was yet another neat place in South Africa I wished I had more time to spend at, called Khotso Backpackers. It was de facto a working family ranch that let rooms to travelers, complete with a sheepdog to guard the livestock against leopard attacks and the family crowding around their Ham radio every night to talk to those away on a several day horse trek. Sort of Wild West meets Africa I suppose.
Um, ok. On this trip I met several animals who had cases of mistaken identity like the dog that thought it was a cheetah or the giraffe that thought it was a person, but this is the first time I met a horse that thought it was a dog. No joke this is Simon the horse, who spent most of his time trying to get into the house where all his friends were hanging out and, yep, I once spotted in the kitchen when someone didn’t close the door quickly.
When not actively trying to sneak into the house Simon is always looking forlornly at it in hopes that someone will come hang out with him in a very non-horse way. And I’ve gotta say it’s somewhat disconcerting after awhile- can you imagine opening the curtain sleepy-eyed in the morning only to jump back, wide awake now, because there is a horse staring at you on just the other side of the glass?! I’ve seen far less creepy scary movies started under much more dubious circumstances, let me say that much!
Anyway, these are some of the more sane and cuddly inhabitants of the ranch- baby lambs! Specifically these are the ones whose mothers rejected them upon birth for whatever reason, so they get to spend the night sleeping in the shed as well as getting bottle-fed until they get bigger. Me holding the sheep I bottle-fed. Excuse the milk on his head, it turns out lambs are plenty cute but also plenty dumb.
More on the Drakensberg later because the scenery is just amazing. Plus I got to go to my last new country of the trip while exploring it…