Spine of the Dragon - David Bristow
Wednesday, 13 April 2011: Day 6: Sunland Baobab to Kurisa Moya
Distance: 53.7 km
“You can translate Kurisa Moya variously as sacred spirit, or enchanted wind; it’s the name of the lodge where we’re staying tonight as the guests of Lisa. The wind that blew down, or variously up, the Kudu’s River Valley as we attempted to breach the heights of the Great Escarpment on the northern side of Magoebaskloof was more vindictive than benevolent.
The 20 or so km from Modjadjiskloof to the turn-off to Houtbosdorp (once earmarked as an early Boer capital, now a mere collection of huts), was fine to mild with rolling countryside, cows, a holy retreat of sorts (Ave Maria), and road works. We had a fine 5 km burst downhill on hard-pack road widening shoulder.
From there it was pretty much up all the way, and up and up. The gravel road runs beside the Kudu’s River, rich farming land flanked by dense thornveld and big bushveld trees. Every now and again a group of vervet monkeys would clamber into the road-side canopy to check us out. Twice families of warthogs broke cover and raced up the road ahead of us before breaking back into the dense bush.
As we climbed the mountains got greener, higher, and wetter. Rivers raced down the sides of the valley as it steepened, and waterfalls with rapids and pools, and umpteen bum slides, tumbled away to the Lowveld now well behind us.
Both Steve and I were more flowing than dripping by the time we got to the really steep section of the pass. Bakkie drivers looked at us skeef. The few perambulators had more of a WTF kind of greeting. A cool wind blew us into Kurisa Moya, a nature retreat in the mountains with lovely forest and one of the country’s finest birding destinations (Lisa’s recently deceased husband Ben was the mover and shaker of BirdLife SA all across Limpopo).
A cold blast from the fridge at Thoka Baloka cottage, looking all the way down the Kudu’s River Valley, revealed cold beers, Cokes, fruit juice and an asparagus and salmon pasta dinner in waiting. After hyena’ing down cheese, tomato and chip rolls, we rounded off lunch with the pasta. For supper, a bucket of KFC courtesy of my mates, wildlife film makers Adrian and Robin who are driving up from Hoedspruit to crack a few bottles of birthday wine. Never more will I be 54.
Tomorrow, a tough if short 30 km to Haenertsburg, and week one is in sy moer in. We have to head for Joburg this weekend to take care of business (T-shirt printing, radio interviews, bicycle repairs and GPS advice).
Stay cool and ride easy.”