Beyond Lockdown – Day 13

“The views were immensely wide. Everything that you saw made for greatness and freedom, and unequalled nobility”

– Karen Blixen

Expedition: #BeyondLockdown
Timeline: Day 13
Distance: 5 372km
Province: Mpumalanga
Region: Hoedspruit
Destination: #mariepskop

Today, we stood atop Mariepskop, named for the Pedi Chief, Maripi, and as in Karen Blixen’s ‘Out of Africa’, we felt the energy of this incredible continent deep within our bones. And once again, we could only marvel at the rich diversity of our intoxicating country 💙

This raw and uncharted collection of gritty peaks, eroded ridges and looming sandstone walls slab up from the #Lowveldt plains, and is technically part of the northern #Drakensberg. This – and the hide-away village of #Phiring – was our 7th provincial stopover on this year’s #BeyondLockdown #Expedition with Isuzu South Africa and it is a section of South Africa that I recall vaguely from family road trips to #KrugerNP many a decade ago.

Mariepskop itself was terra incognito for all of us, though. A rutted track winds from Lowveldt plains via first scraggly plantations and then dense, primary #afromontane forest, before you boom onto the unexpectedly vast #fynbos summit. The protea, restios and heather seem completely out of place, and you could as well be lost in the Groot Winterhoek wilderness in the Western Cape mountains. We were joined by Romy and Mike ecologists from the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region, who shared valuable input on the ecological importance of this incredible Conservation South Africa project.

Peter Van Kets and I went feral in search of a ridgeline shot, crawling through caves, jumping rock fissures and ducking through clivias. One thing is certain, this is an untapped adventure playground, with untold trails, tracks and routes for #mountainbike , #trailrun#hike#trek and #climbing enthusiasts. Another gem is the breathtaking #Klaserie waterfall, where the eponymous river tumbles along dozens of rock-slab steps before veiling into the forest thickets far below.

There are so many more stories to tell, including our visit to the #Phiring community tourism project, with a hike into a wild Kloof with the enthusiastic young From the Region for the Region eco-monitors, but we will share all of this in due course. Right now, we are back in the #isuzuMUX cruising the tarmac curves to the east in anticipation of some ocean time where the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in #KZN nudge up against the calypso coast of #Mozambique🌴🍃🌊

Once again, this brings us back to why we all need to support South African #Tourism (and yes, I’m harping on about this). You CAN change the lives of many thousands of people dependent upon your contribution to the local economy, and this really is what our ‘Long Drive to support SA Tourism’ is all about 👌🏻

This incredible 9000km #BeyondLockdown journey was made possible by our unstoppable #IsuzuSA #DMAX & #MUX vehicles, and the great rubber supplied by Dunlop Tyres SA 🙏

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