Johannesburg - Hazyview

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October 27, 2008 - Monday - Johannesburg - Hazyview

We board our coach after breakfast this morning, and end up waiting for a half hour while a couple pull their bags apart in the parking lot looking for something terribly important.  Eventually we leave and learn our "Coach Captain" (driver) is called Phineus.  He proves to be a very good driver: good-humored, and always on time.  Our bus is quite new, very comfortable, air conditioned, and has a washroom and a fridge.  As we roll through Pretoria and onto South Africa's national road system, we can see this is an excellent transportation system, with toll booths on certain sections.  M4 takes us past Cullinan (some famous diamonds mined here), Witbank (surface coal mining & refining), Middelburg and Belfast (forestry & farming) before we turn off and end up in Lydenburg.  Most of us go to Wimpy's for lunch - a fast food joint, South African style.

Our bus at a rest stop on M4
Our bus at a rest stop on M4
Black farmers in their field
Black farmers in their field
Freshly ploughed farm fields
Freshly ploughed farm fields
Steel mill near Lydenburg
Steel mill near Lydenburg
Granery for maise (corn)
Granery for maise (corn)
Mountains and trees near Blyde River Canyon
Mountains and trees near Blyde River Canyon

South Africa is home to the largest man-made forest in the world (140sqkm). We learn that Pine trees are harvested after 10 years, with the trees growing to 12m high. Eucalyptus are also used in some areas, however they require more water, so they are falling out of favor.  We see a steel mill just outside of Lydenburg.

Panorama Route- Our first scenic stop is the viewpoint at the Blyde River Canyon, where we can fully appreciate the 800 metre drop to the canyon floor. Across the canyon are the "Three Rondavels", huge round rocks that look like African huts.  Our next stop is Bourke's Luck Potholes, where the Treur River has eroded strange cylindrical potholes in the sandstone. Our last stop in this area is God's Window, a dramatic vantage point to view the Drakensberg Mountain escarpment with beautiful views of the lowveld, and even Kruger National Park is visible on a clear day. This is where the quirky movie The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980) was shot.

Blyde River Canyon wall formations
The Three Rondavels formations
in the Blyde River Canyon
Blyde River Canyon wall formations
The Three Rondavels formations
in the Blyde River Canyon
Blyde River side canyon walls
Steep walls of the Blyde River Canyon
Bourke's Luck Potholes
Bourke's Luck Potholes
Bourke's Luck Potholes
Bourke's Luck Potholes
Bourke's Luck Potholes
Bourke's Luck Potholes
Bourke's Luck Potholes
Bourke's Luck Potholes
God's Window, part of the Drakensberg escarpment
God's Window, part of the Drakensberg escarpment
Drakensberg Mountains
Drakensberg Mountain escarpement

Despite having covered hundreds of kilometres today, we arrive at Hippo Hollow in time for dinner.

Graskop - things to See and Do in and around Graskop, Panorama, Mpumalanga

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