Before we start, for those of you not au fait with the term “herping” here’s Wiki’s definition, which is pretty spot on.
“Herping is the act of searching for amphibians or reptiles.The term, often used by professional and amateur herpetologists, comes from the word “herp”, which comes from the same Greek root as herpetology, herpet-, meaning “creeping”. The term herp is a shorthand used to refer to the two classes of ectothermic tetrapods (i.e., amphibians and reptiles).“
So, with that out the way… here goes. Ahem. Herping in the Soutpansberg….
I was privileged enough to spend the last few days of holiday at the Lajuma Research Centre in the Soutpansberg Mountain Range.
The “little” brother, Luke and I spent a couple of days (not nearly enough) being shown the superb beauty and rich biodiversity of the area by Melissa and Ryan from the Soutpansberg Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation. Both Melissa and Ryan have a huge interest in herpetology and a vast knowledge of all things reptile and amphibian related (plus a whole lot more) and we couldn’t have asked for better or more avid guides.
My infatuation with TED talks only started about a year ago when a friend helped me analyse how I was spending my travelling time.
At that stage I was travelling 110kms everyday on the highway to get to and from work. The only thing that kept me sane (relatively) was music. A memory stick full of my favorite songs kept me singing along (probably badly) and kept my mind off the hassle of long distance commuting.
I was visiting friends for dinner one evening (more than likely complaining about commuting, and time and feeling overwhelmed and dumb and limited) when he asked me what I listened to in the car. “Music, naturally! I live in the lyrics” He suggested in a very simple way “why not consider something more engaging, a language course, audio book or audio course?”
My love for the Drakensberg deepens each time I have the privileged to visit. It doesn’t matter which part of the Berg I see, it does my soul a world of good, just to be in those mountains. It’s one of the few places that quietens my ever noisy mind.
So, when my boss suggested a day trip to the Sentinel earlier this year, I needed no convincing.
We set off from Pretoria dark and early one January morning, and arrived at the Sentinel carpark just after 10am. The last few kilometres of the roads are rough, and need to be navigated with care.
But the surrounding scenery is well worth the slow passage, and offers a taste of what’s to come.
Your first real glimpse of what’s to come
Quiet scenes from the Drakensberg. Wild flowers, blue skies, it doesn’t get much better than this.
After the usual hike registration with the guard on duty and paying of hiking fees, we hefted our camera gear and started out on the main route. (we didn’t stay on this route long, but don’t tell anyone)
My blog has been silent for far too long. So, here’s a quick look into what’s kept me so busy for the last year and a bit.
When people hear where I work now, their eyes grow big in surprise, they frown and then I get a sting of interesting questions…. Here’s the answer to some the most frequent ones…
What it’s like working for the ASI.
I started this job just over a year ago, after a dead end stint in the hospitality industry. My new title; “Admin Manager” – little did I know at that time, what this role would encompass. There I thought I’d be doing a bit of course coordination, invoicing and quoting. Ha!
As with all new jobs you go through that initial phase of sink or swim. Everything is new and unfamiliar, and you’ve gotta keep your eyes, ears and mind open. Luckily I’m not really a fan of the whole sinking thing, and slowly got better at swimming – albeit in circle and doing doggy paddle.
For those who live in the picturesque Cradle of Humankind, getting in and out of the area during the weekends can be a hellish nightmare. Blood pressure soars through the roof and swear words fly like fighter jets at an air show.
In many areas of the Cradle there are demarcated cycle lanes for people who wish to enjoy our beautiful countryside on a weekend ride. I do applaud those who get up early on a weekend morning, don their revealing spandex suits and pedal around the Cradle – it’s an achievement to be proud of. To be active and outdoors is one of the best things, and it’s great to see masses of people doing it. Unfortunately sometimes the M from the masses is silent.
Zwartkops Mountain has served as the scenic backdrop for most of my life. It’s been like having a favorite oil painting hanging on the entrance hall wall. It’s been the one icon I could always pinpoint on any return trip, with that warm sense of “I’m going home”.
This unsung landmark is situated in the Cradle of Humankind, stuck, smack-bang in between three popular lodges.
About 20 years ago, it used to be fairly easy to park ones car on the side of a back road, and climb up. Now it’s a little more challenging, and to do so without the fear of being shot for trespassing is not really possible.
A mere 20 minute drive out of the hustle and bustle of ever-busy Fourways traffic, brings you to another world. As you step out of the car into the cold morning air the unmistakable smell of river rises up to meet you. For those who have been lucky enough to grow up along the river banks, it’s a homely and natural smell. Every cell in your body shouts in joy “OUTSIDE!!” your smile starts to spread uncontrollably and your eyes get a mischievous sparkle.
Even though it was mid-winter and another cold front was around the corner, getting out and in the fresh winter air did us good. It blows the cobwebs from the mind, makes you forget the work week and the impending doom of Monday morning (for some). And so that’s exactly what we did one chilly Sunday morning a few weeks ago.
Enter the Hennops Hiking Trail.