From the relative luxury of Didima Camp, we made our way to the remote camp of Injisuthi in the central Drakensberg. This little camp is a favourite of ‘Berg locals, and tends to draw a mountain connoisseur crowd.
I love it, because although the cabins are simple and a bit run down, the emphasis is on the surrounding mountains, rather than the accommodation and services. Also, there is no electricity, and no cell phone reception, which in this day and age is a miracle and wonder, don’t you think?
The first night we slept in our cabin at Injisuthi itself in comfy beds, and did a bit of much-needed laundry. But the next night we found ourselves sleeping in the middle of nowhere on a slab of stone alongside a river called Poacher’s Stream, a tributary of the Injisuthi River.
I had heard from someone that the ranger outpost a few kilometres from camp on a high ridge had really good views, so I was keen to get some good photos in early morning light. I also wanted to test out my K-Way Nerolite tent and backpack before I venture next week up into the Mnweni area (I’m going to be spending four nights on the summits of this stunning part of the ‘Berg). So we packed everything we needed for a proper hike, and with heavy backpacks we set off just for one night’s camping.
Thinking it would take us about two hours maximum to get to the ranger outpost, we set off mid-afternoon, and for the first hour, we made good progress. But although our map said there was a path to take us up onto the ridge, we soon realized that the trail had become overgrown and non-existent. After an hour of trudging up the steep slopes of the Poacher’s Stream valley, in the general direction of where we thought we should go, we decided – against our better judgment – to try scale some seemingly surmountable cliffs above us, hoping to get onto the ridge.
Well, we’re not rock climbers, and after some cursing and one rather near-death experience, we conceded defeat. Dusk was approaching and the only thing to do was camp where we were, alongside the river on a slab of rock, on the only piece of flat ground for miles around.
The tent was set up, we ate our two-minute noodles and tuna (cooked on a small gas burner), and the icy air got us into “bed” soon after dusk. A duvet (borrowed from our cabin) was our mattress, and we shared my K-Way Thermashift sleeping bag, which did a really good job of keeping us warm, even though we had unzipped it so that it could cover both of us (Rachel had forgotten hers – that won’t happen again, trust me!).
We didn’t get much sleep. Rock tends to get very cold in the Drakensberg in winter, and it has a habit of being very hard indeed. I also kept imagining voices, and woke up a few times, thinking I could hear Basotho cattle rustlers coming to relieve us of our camera gear. (We’ve been told it can and does happen…). But despite waking up frequently, when I did sleep I had incredible, deep dreams. It always happens to me when I sleep on the ground, out in the middle of nowhere. I wonder why!?
So as soon as dawn approached, we were out of “bed”, had our hot Pronutro, packed up, and off we went back to Injisuhti, praising the sun for shining, and stopping for an icy swim on the way home.
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Conservation partners BirdLife South Africa, Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks, CapeNature, Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Gorongosa National Park, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Namibia Wildlife Resorts, Parque Nacional do Limpopo, South African National Parks and Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.