Day 16 – 19/08/2017 Solitaire to Maltahoe
Woke the next morning to a stunning view looking out towards a distant hilltop.
The campsite and early morning view
There were some weaver birds nesting just outside my tent and a lovely plant in full blow growing in the dry dust against some rocks.
Weaver birds chirping in the tree
Flowering against all odds
After packing we had to drive back to the main building to check-out. Only to find that miss congeniality was getting a massive serve from a couple of South African customers over their breakfast. They were complaining bitterly about the service, cold bacon etc! They even suggested she go and get some proper training. I felt so sorry for her.
She eventually came back to the reception to help us, totally disgruntled and unhappy with the world.
After taking a few photos we left the camp and headed to Solitaire to take some photos. At Solitaire there were a collection of rusty old cars making perfect subjects for photos. There was a restaurant, a very popular bakery, a small lodge with some lovely cacti, aloes and succulents outside as well as the fantastic old car below.
Relics at Solitaire
Old Truck nestled against the aloes
When we left Solitaire we decided to drive through the Riethoog Pass before making our way south to Maltahoe.
The mountainous area was really picturesque and as we left the plateau and descended into a valley we spotted a large farmhouse. The sign outside said Remhoogte ‘Tea, coffee, cake and the best view and hospitality’. Well we just couldn’t resist checking it out.
The 15,000 hectare property is managed by a Pastor Donovan and his lovely wife Lorette. They both welcomed us and Lorette served us the most welcome cup of tea and homemade carrot cake. This was a good start.
Donovan and Lorette – If you would like to have the same experience they can be contacted at tel: 063683312
After tea, Donovan took us for a drive through and between the mountains on the western side of the property in his bakkie/ute to see the best view around. I sat in the front with Donovan and David stood at the back holding on for dear life as we bounced over the rugged terrain.
The bakkie on one of the less precarious areas
Quite tricky to negotiate at times over precarious ledges, almost vertical climbs and rocky outcrops but it proved to be everything they promised. Donovan pointed out some crude scaffolding erected with unmilled timber and twine high on the side of the mountain . This scaffolding was erected by the bushman so they could extract honey from the mountain face.
Down in the valley Donovan stopped and we piled out and followed him through the bush under some trees and down to the first of two natural springs. Here we sampled the clear pure sweet water.
Taking a sip of the sweet clear water
On the way to the next spring we spotted a large male kudu ascending majestically to the top of the mountain before bounding up and over as soon as he spotted us. We also saw a few dassies, klipspringer, chacma baboons and grey go-away (Grey lourie) birds.
Kudu heading for the hills
Chacma baboon giving directions
Donovan pointed out plants the bushman used to make tea. These are dark brown grasses that stick up stiffly growing on the mountain edges. Some of the other trees we saw are: the quiver trees, phantom tree, wild olive tree, wild cypress,wild fig and Anna tree which is not indigenous.
The illusive Quiver tree, which is part of the aloe family
In one of the grottos just above the other natural spring grew a small tree, which according to Donovan hadn’t changed or grown in the past eleven years.
Slow growing tree in a little grotto
Our excursion took about 2 hours before arriving back out the farmhouse where Lorette had prepared some delicious homemade bread toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches for us rounded off with refreshing home-made cool lemon juice.
After an unplanned but most enjoyable and memorable stop at the Remhoogte farmhouse situated between Solitaire and Nauchas we headed south for Maltahoe at 3:30pm. Donovan gave us instructions to get to Maltahoe so we didn’t need to punch our co-ordinates into ‘Lady Jane’. Big mistake!
As we were nearing Maltahoe we thought we needed to feed the coordinates to ‘Lady Jane’ to find our accommodation address. To our horror we discovered that we still had another 97kms to go. It turned out that the Camp was in the Maltahoe area but no where near the town. The sun was already starting to set so we weren’t at all happy about this.
The road to the campsite was very badly corrugated which slowed us down even more. It was now pitch black outside and there wasn’t another light or car in sight.
Well it had to happen didn’t it?? We had a massive blow out in the middle of nowhere! So out with the phone torch and headlamp to inspect the damage.
The tyre was completed shredded I have never seen anything like it. No option but to get the spare on as quickly as possible. My hat off to David who jumped into action and got the shredded tyre off and and the spare on quick smart. I stood alongside with my phone light for a little extra light. Just as the tyre was fitted another car happened to come past with 4 passengers. They stopped to ask if we needed help. By then it was all done and dusted so we thanked them for stopping and they drove off into the night, dust billowing behind.
With the tyre replaced we set off with caution with another 60 kms to go on this bad road at an even slower pace . Feeling extremely apprehensive with no spare!
At 7:30pm we found the entrance to the camp and felt confident we had made it in time to check in. Close off time was at 8pm.
We drove into the camp which was in darkness and spotted a few young campers sitting around a fire. We asked them where the reception was only to be told it was already closed! ‘Maybe tonight was the night we were going to sleep in the car’!
With our torches in hand we went to see if we could find anyone around the vicinity of the reception building that could help us. We received a friendly greeting from one of the local dogs. This camp is very isolated so there wasn’t even a possibility of finding alternative accommodation. By now I was extremely tired, hungry, dusty and frustrated. Just then David noticed small torch lights in the distance bobbing towards us.
Two local woman arrived in their pajamas to check us in. They weren’t too happy with us but we explained that we had a blow out. Extremely relieved we followed them in our car to our campsite.
We had a quick bite to eat of chakalaka corned beef and cheese on provita crackers topped off with a hot cup of tea and chocolate. The night sky was by now full of stars and called for a bit of star gazing but it turned out to be a little too crisp.
It was now time to have a much needed shower only to find that not only was the tap situated at the very top of the shower head (only accesible by standing on the bath) there was also no pressure or hot water. Oh well that was that.
Falling into bed at 9:30pm I think I fell asleep before my head hit the pillow.