NS BPers & Derrick called taxi nite before which arrived early(he told him to wait, nice of him since it was 5:15 am). Got to Greyhound station (all other major buses as well), bus left at 6:20, got w/in 25 km of JBurg and traffic backup made 45 min trip an hour and a half, lots of smog in the air, just like LA, ha! At bus terminal we waited another 45 min for passengers getting on the road at 8:50. Bon was able to call Nelspruit and leave a message for Don…he thought we’d be coming the day before but with all the visa s___ , well save that for later. So far big cities in S. Africa not up to what my expectations were – just as much trash along roads as 3rd world countries, trash containers overflowing, trash piles in empty lots, only suburbs and upper class residential areas were maintained. Also, violence is a bit overblown not having witnessed any evidence only rumors or stories from travelers or once in a while a local white. Actually, thinking about it there’s probably no difference between big city decay found in NYC, LA, or Chicago and JBurg! Concertina wire or broken glass on top of walls in lots of areas and yet right next door none and low walls – in transition?!
The Greyhound bus driver was very nice, let us off at N40 hiway intersection so we only had a 500 m. walk to Nelspruit BPers & Don was waiting patiently at 1 pm. We had a discussion of options and settled upon renting an Aroundabout car thru Paul(owner of BPers) for the next day & tour Blyde Canyon area. Don signed up for Kruger Park safari – they promised to drop him at airport Sunday in time for his 7 pm flight. Aroundaboutcars delivered the midsized Toyota to our ON accom about 5…Bon bit the bullet and put it on our credit card. She’s a bit gun shy due to Baja Hertz rip off several yrs. Ago. She had fun getting used to lger car and left hand driving going to dinner!
Up and out by 7:15 cool crisp overcast – drive N. on Panorama Route of Blyde River Canyon. Pancakes/Bfast in Graskop, stop at Afr Silks Weavery, on to Bourke’s Luck Potholes, God’s Window & Rainforest overlook, the 3 Rondavals and then back to Pilgrim’s Rest. A bit underwhelmed, perhaps our expectations were too high – most disconcerting is the huge acreage devoted to tree plantations throughout as well as grazing on private property. I think our preconceptions were built upon US wilderness areas where no such development exists. A good reason to keep private development out of public lands I’d say…it really affects your perceptions and feelings about the area!! It negatively impacts not only your view but how you perceive the natural wonders that are there. I think it was unfortunate that we stopped at Pilgrim’s Rest last when we had a shortened time frame and could not visit most of the museums (6) which show the history of settlement etc. Ruff Guide gives this town a bad rap it doesn’t deserve in my opinion. Sure it is a bit touristy, but well done and lots to see and learn!
Headed back in a downpour to Nelspruit where we went out for dinner at Cicada Restaurant, ate there the nite before – good food, good value.