Leopards never change their spots.
It’s a saying, but seriously. Why would they? Their spots are gorgeous. Spotting a spotted leopard (redundant?) in their local spot was such a privilege. Even if it was only on a computer screen, just to know that these majestic animals are roaming the same paths and valleys and veld that we too can walk is a pretty special thing. As was Dr Quinton Martins’ knowledge on my favourite member of the Big Five (like when he pointed out that most spots on a leopard are in fact rosettes, not spots! Who knew?!). The expanse over which these animals roam, to me was incredible. It just brings to light how much of an impact we as humans have on their lives.
From my leopard crawling in the Gamkaberg Nature Reserve, we drove on to Prince Albert via the Swartberg Pass. And boy – is that pass impressive! I mean, it was built over a century ago, one of the longest walls is apparently 2,4km(!!!). The pass is still used today, and being a bit of a mountain pass lover haha I can safely say (‘scuse the pun) that this road, even though it is all dirt and gravel is really really well kempt and to me very safe; the hardest part is keeping your eyes on the road for all the incredible views!. I know it probably sounds mad to those of you who haven’t driven it before – but for those of you who have, you get it, right?! It really was an awesome part of our long drive north to Priska and its madness that that sort of pass exists, let alone has existed that way for over a century…!
The next day we headed for Prieska. At first, I thought – snap. It’s South Africa’s outback. But the next thing we were cooking a potjie with spice combinations I wasn’t even allowed to know, swimming in a pool with dogs, admiring Damara sheep (they have quite peculiar tails!!! Sheep in Aus don’t have tails), and listening to an accordionist! Oh, and the windpump broke (did you see that!!!).
That’s when I realised, we were definitely, definitely not in the Outback. It may look the same, and it may be filled with similar characters but all these characters had a different story to tell.
And that bizarre, crazy fun day really epitomised my trip so far. It showed me that when you’re inundated with culture and experience – well that’s just the beginning of it; you can become so overwhelmed and pleasantly surprised when traveling that you end up eating a potjie, listening to an accordionist, and about to be hailed on in the middle of nowhere in Prieska. And that that’s not only okay – but you couldn’t imagine anything better.
This is why I love travel, this is why I love food, and these are the reasons that I am falling in love with South Africa.