Latest News! 7th January, 2021

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Magwa Falls without the mist Magwa Falls without the mist - Photo: Pinterest

The 2 weeks that were

Firstly we wish all of you a healthy 2021 where your travel dreams may be realised.

As we all slowly creep out of the so-called festive season and face the realities of 2021, there are a couple of things that stand out in the headlights. 

I spent a week in hospital over Christmas (not any fun at all) after surgery and during that time 2 Covid patients died every night. It only becomes real when you see and hear people you know having contracted the virus and its effects.

Our job is to keep you in a positive mind set and encourage safe travel where possible. So let's get straight into things as we continue our journey down the Wild Coast

Wild Coast Tour - report back Day 4

We woke to a misty morning with light drizzle. After a good breakfast it was to be the 4th traverse of the Mbotyi Pass, with our first destination being Fraser Falls. We were most grateful to have had our local guide, Armstrong with us, as without him, it would have been very difficult locating the falls in the thick mist. Standing on the lip of the gorge, one could sense the deep wooded ravine below and the sound of the water on the rocks was clear as well, but the visibility was just not up to scratch.

Not to be daunted, we headed further north, turning off into the Magwa Tea Plantations, where we discovered the very attractive Angel Falls - a smaller waterfall on the same river as Fraser Falls. This time the drizzle and mist held back for just long enough for everyone to get good photos and videos.

A U turn took us back to the main gravel road and from there a left turn down the actual factory and the much bigger Magwa Falls. We stopped at the factory gates, whilst Armstrong engaged with the gate guard in Xhosa, who suggested that we return for a factory tour after viewing Magwa Falls.

It's a short drive to the falls, but once again, thick mist rolled in creating an eerie atmosphere. There is nothing to warn drivers that there is a near perpendicular drop of 300m at the end of the road. More than one driver hit the brakes too late, sending their vehicles plummeting into the gorge. One of the car wrecks is still clearly visible from the far bank. Magwa Falls have their own guides and in short order a pair descended the hill, wanting a bite of the cherry. Armstrong had a lengthy indaba with them, but they remained on site looking for a handout of sorts until we left. 

Disappointingly, Magwa Falls lay hiden in the thick mist. It was meant to be the highlight of the day. Our guests handled it in fine spirit and soon we were heading back to the tea factory.   

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Magwa Tea Factory was yet another disappointment on this day. The gate guard informed Armstrong that the factory manager had said we can visit on any day, except Monday. Needless to say, it was Monday. At about that time, one of our guests reported over the radio that they had left a suitcase at Mbotyi River Lodge. Whilst they went scurrying back to collect it, the rest of us went to Lusikisiki to refuel and wait for the Pajero to catch up.

More thick mist made the trip down to Port St.Johns more hazardous than interesting. The one thing we learned is that local drivers have never heard of switching on their headlights in low visibility conditions. The myth is that putting your lights on drains your battery lide and reduces the life of your engine. Minibus taxis even tackle the roads at night without lights.

We had the three back to back passes to tackle which included something like 300 bends. These are from the north Ntafufu Pass, Kodusweni Pass and Umzimvubu Pass. The trip is shorter than it seems and soon the grand view of the Pondoland Bridge came into view ahead, flanked by the Gates of St. John on the left.

We had made good time to the bridge, thanks to the misty conditions which greatly shortened the stopping times at the waterfalls. We turned right towards Umtata/Mthatha and drove the attractive Isinuka Poort with its caves, then on to the Butybuse Pass, where we turned left down to Mngazi River Mouth on a decidely dodgy tarred road. The river estuary is lovely and the Mngazi River Bungalows would make a great sleepover spot if it wasn't so pricey. Instead we parked our convoy off a side road and enjoyed a lengthy lunch break, whilst Ed got his guitar out and serenaded us with some great country music. 

We chose some very obscure back roads to head back to Port St. Johns and it on these roads that the true Wild Coast is experienced to the full. Around every bend a new vista presents itself as donkeys, goats, poultry, goats and thousands of dogs (some just weeks old) scurry across the road. It involves razor sharp attention to stay out of trouble.

The last point of interest of the day was to drive the Port St Johns Airport Road, but once again, the mists and drizzle closed in completely spoiling the view. Up on the runway the visibility was just 20m. We returned down the north side of the mountain into the grubby village of Port St Johns and refuelled at a service station outside our guest lodge.

It rained heavily for most of the night, no doubt leaving questions in the minds of our guests as to what adventure awaited us the next day.

Great South Africans - Actor Ian Roberts

Roberts was born in Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape Province and grew up on his father's citrus farm near the town. He attended St. Andrew's Preparatory School and St. Andrew's College in Grahamstown. After completing high school he performed his compulsory national service in the South African Army, which he completed in 1971.

Actor - Ian Roberts

After a variety of different jobs and a course in photography at the Port Elizabeth Technical College from 1973 to 1975, Roberts enrolled at Rhodes University in 1976 for a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Speech, Drama and Social Anthropology.

Roberts became a South African icon when he played the character of Boet in a long-running series of television advertisements for Castrol motor oil. This character (together with the other characters Swaer and Moegoe) has also been featured in M-Net's comedy series Kalahari Oasis as well as in his Radio Kalahari Orkes band.

In the Oscar-winning South African film, Tsotsi, Roberts played the role of a police captain.

He was married to South African actress Michelle Botes, but the couple divorced in 1999. They had two children.

Year Title Role Other notes
1987 Jane and the Lost City Carl  
1989 Arende Sloet Steenkamp  
1989 A Private Life Sergeant Smit Television Movie
1992 The Power of One Hoppie Gruenewald  
1993 Triptiek Television Series
1993 Daisy de Melker Sid de Melker Television Movie
1995 Cry, the Beloved Country Evans  
1996 Rhodes Colenbrander Television Miniseries
1997 Mandela and de Klerk Kobie Coetsee Television Movie
1998 Paljas Frans  
1998 Tarzan and the Lost City Captain Dooley  
1998 Sweepers Yager  
1999 A Reasonable Man Chris Van Rooyen  
2000 I Dreamed of Africa Mike Donovan  
2001 Malunde Kobus  
2001 Askari Ripshaw  
2002 Promised Land Gerhard Snyman  
2003 Hoodlum & Son Earl  
2004 King Solomon's Mines Sir Henry Television Movie
2004 Red Dust Piet Muller  
2005 Wah-Wah John Traherne  
2005 Tsotsi Captain Smit  
2005 3 Needles Hallyday  
2006 Number 10 Marius Kramer  
2008 Bakgat! Basjan Du Preez  
2010 Bakgat! II Basjan Du Preez  
2013 Bakgat! tot die mag 3 Basjan Du Preez  
2013 Stuur Groete aan Mannetjies Roux Oom Frans


South African Cities

Kimberley is the capital and largest city of the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. It is located approximately 110 km east of the confluence of the Vaal and Orange Rivers. The city has considerable historical significance due to its diamond mining past and the siege during the Second Anglo-Boer war. British businessmen Cecil Rhodes and Barney Barnato made their fortunes in Kimberley, and Rhodes established the De Beers diamond company in the early days of the mining town.

On 2 September 1882, Kimberley was the first city in the Southern Hemisphere and the second in the world after Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States to integrate electric street lights into its infrastructure. The first Stock Exchange in Africa was built in Kimberley, as early as 1881.

In 1866, Erasmus Jacobs found a small brilliant pebble on the banks of the Orange River, on the farm De Kalk leased from local Griquas, near Hopetown, which was his father's farm. He showed the pebble to his father, who then sold it. The pebble was purchased from Jacobs' father by Schalk van Niekerk, who later sold it on again. It proved to be a 21.25-carat diamond, and became known as the Eureka. Three years later, in 1869, an 83.5-carat diamond, which became known as the Star of South Africa, was found nearby. This diamond was sold by van Niekerk for £11,200, and later resold in the London market for £25,000

Kimberley - City of Firsts

Henry Richard Giddy recounted how Esau Damoense (or Damon), the cook for prospector Fleetwood Rawstorne's "Red Cap Party", found diamonds in 1871 on Colesberg Kopje after he was sent there to dig as punishment. Rawstorne took the news to the nearby diggings of the De Beer brothers – his arrival there sparking off the famous "New Rush" which, as historian Brian Roberts puts it, was practically a stampede. Within a month, 800 claims were cut into the hillock, which were worked frenetically by two to three thousand men. As the land was lowered, so the hillock became a mine – in time, the world-renowned Kimberley Mine.

The Cape Colony, Transvaal, Orange Free State and the Griqua leader Nicolaas Waterboer all laid claim to the diamond fields. The Free State Boers in particular wanted the area, as it lay inside the natural borders created by Orange and Vaal Rivers. Following the mediation that was overseen by the Governor of Natal, the Keate Award went in favour of Waterboer, who placed himself under British protection. Consequently, the territory known as Griqualand West was proclaimed on 27 October 1871.

Colonial Commissioners arrived in New Rush on 17 November 1871 to exercise authority over the territory on behalf of the Cape Governor. Digger objections and minor riots led to Governor Barkly's visit to New Rush in September the following year, when he revealed a plan instead to have Griqualand West proclaimed a Crown Colony. Richard Southey would arrive as Lieutenant-Governor of the intended Crown Colony in January 1873. Months passed however without any sign of the proclamation or of the promised new constitution and provision for representative government. The delay was in London where Secretary of State for the Colonies, John Wodehouse, 1st Earl of Kimberley, insisted that before electoral divisions could be defined, the places had to receive "decent and intelligible names. His Lordship declined to be in any way connected with such a vulgarism as New Rush and as for the Dutch name, Vooruitzigt … he could neither spell nor pronounce it." The matter was passed to Southey who gave it to his Colonial Secretary J.B. Currey. Roberts writes that "when it came to renaming New Rush, [Currey] proved himself a worthy diplomat. He made quite sure that Lord Kimberley would be able both to spell and pronounce the name of the main electoral division by, as he says, calling it 'after His Lordship'." New Rush became Kimberley, by Proclamation dated 5 July 1873. Digger sentiment was expressed in an editorial in the Diamond Field newspaper when it stated "we went to sleep in New Rush and waked up in Kimberley, and so our dream was gone."

Following agreement by the British government on compensation to the Orange Free State for its competing land claims, Griqualand West was annexed to the Cape Colony in 1877. The Cape Prime Minister John Molteno initially had serious doubts about annexing the heavily indebted region, but, after striking a deal with the Home Government and receiving assurances that the local population would be consulted in the process, he passed the Griqualand West Annexation Act on 27 July 1877.

As miners arrived in their thousands the hill disappeared and subsequently became known as the Big Hole (or Kimberley se Gat in Afrikaans) or, more formally, Kimberley Mine. From mid-July 1871 to 1914, 50,000 miners dug the hole with picks and shovels, yielding 2,722 kg of diamonds. The Big Hole has a surface of 17 hectares (42 acres) and is 463 metres wide. It was excavated to a depth of 240 m, but then partially infilled with debris reducing its depth to about 215 m; since then it has accumulated water to a depth of 40 m leaving 175 m visible. Beneath the surface, the Kimberley Mine underneath the Big Hole was mined to a depth of 1097 metres. A popular local myth claims that it is the largest hand-dug hole on the world, however Jagersfontein Mine appears to hold that record. The Big Hole is the principal feature of a May 2004 submission which placed "Kimberley Mines and associated early industries" on UNESCO's World Heritage Tentative Lists.

By 1873 Kimberley was the second largest town in South Africa, having an approximate population of 40,000

Pass of the Week:

Lying about 150 km north west of Kimberley in the thirstlands of the Northern Cape is an interesting gravel pass, which is well worth exploring, but we suggest not going there in the summer months.

* * * * *   L A N G K L O O F   P A S S   No. 1    * * * * *



Trygve Roberts

Thought for the day: "The onle way to do great work is to love what your do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle." ~ Steve Jobs

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