Right upfront I would like to Robert Whitecross for making all the arrangements for the weekend. Unfortunately he had a meeting to attend in Cape Town so Rod stepped up & became our lead – thank you Rod.
It was a very small group of riders that set out from Engen Longmeadow headed for Tzaneen. Our route was very scenic – the countryside is so green & lush at this time of year. Its really pleasant to drive through places like Marble Hall where it feels like time goes past very slowly.
The Magoebaskloof Pass is normally a great ride had a very inconvenient stop / go due to minor road repairs. Of course it was hot by that time of the afternoon but it’s a lovely pass to ride.
Our band were absolutely delighted once we were on the road again & our road to the hotel turned to dirt. Yours truly was having kittens on the back as the dirt was bumpy & there were lots of washouts & it was generally much too gnarly & ‘butch’ for the likes of me.
Our room was a pleasant surprise – a little dated perhaps but very clean & spacious & really charming. The view from our room was as advertised – most of the rooms face the Wolkberg Mountains which are tall & majestic & slightly mysterious. We had time to relax & stroll around the garden or sit on the lovely veranda watching the local sunbirds.
Dinner was an intimate affair – the bar invites one to sit & relax but we were all fairly hungry so after a few drinks we headed for the restaurant. As one would expect from a country hotel the food was great.
We had a wriggle in our plans – the local road-running club had planned a race for the same weekend & the route of the road race meant that the best route to our planned activities on Saturday morning was closed.
After a LOT of debate as to routes / times / schedules we finally agreed to get in the car early on Saturday morning & head out & hope for the best. Thanks to Peter & Sandra for the use of their car – we would not have been able to achieve the ‘Birding’ aspect of our ‘Biking & Birding’ weekend without them.
So we got 5 men & yours truly piled into the car (um well I was in the boot) & off we went. We dodged around the route of the race thanks to excellent navigation by Colin. We were heading for Kurisa Moyo which is one of the hidden gems of the province & is probably visited more frequently by international visitors that South Africans. It is well known as a echo-tourism Nature Lodge & offers hiking / mountain biking / 4×4 trails /fly fishing & of course Birding. Robert had teed us up with Paul Nkhumane who is a sanctioned Bird Life South Africa Guide. For more info on Kurisa Moya please visit http://www.krm.co.za
Paul took us to a secluded garden with a feeding area & introduced us to some of the ‘specials’ in the area including the beautiful Green Twinspot – you can see from the picture that it is very beautiful little bird & we were very lucky to see it – I have been looking for this for 20 years! He lead us through the forest & was able it identify every bird, tree, butterfly & creepy-crawly on the walk. He is full of foke-lore & local knowledge which makes for a really fun morning.
Along with some lovely birds we were introduced to a Tree – the Champion Tree which is a Cussinia Sphaerocephala (Cabbage Tree / Kipersol) which has a circumference of 22 meters. We left Paul & headed back into Tzaneen for a spot of lunch & back to the hotel – personally I was glad to be in the boot of the car & not hanging on for dear life on the back of Rod’s GS.
We spent the afternoon at leisure – some folks hit the pool, others walked around the lovely grounds & others perhaps had a little nap after all the excitement.
Once again we had a really lovely dinner & some good fun & great laughs before we headed off bed for an early morning departure. On Sunday’s it seems that the hotel pulls out all the stops – there were fresh scones with cream & jam & pancakes & all sorts of interesting bits & pieces to eat.
On behalf of Rod & myself we would once again like to say Thank You to Robert for the arrangements & then to Colin & Gottfried & Peter & Peter & Sandra for joining us for a very special weekend.