Saturday, June 17, 2006

OKHAHLAMBA

Okhahlamba (pronounced "Oka-schlamba" with a gutteral sound for the "sch") is a rural highlands area halfway between Johannesburg and the ocean, bordered by the high ridges of Lesotho on the west. It is a geologically beautiful area of high cliffs and mountains, lakes, and grassy savannah.

Okhahlamba is the Zulu name for the area, and the Afrikaner name for it is Drakensberg. I haven't yet figured out exactly which name to use, since I am neither Zulu nor Afrikaner.

World Vision has an "area development project" in the region, in which poverty and AIDS are endemic among several hundred thousand people. Some live in towns and others out in sprawling mud brick huts out in the tall grassy fields. It was our privilege to spend the week with this program and try and document some of the things that they are doing. You can read more about our week on World Vision's blog, http://blog.worldvision.org.

We left on Friday to drive back to Johannesburg, about a three or four hour drive. But we decided to stop on the way at a beautiful part of the northern end of Drakensberg called "The Amphitheatre." It is a valley ringed by 1,500-foot cliffs and geological formations. A waterfall plunges down from the high Lesotho plateau and becomes the Rugela River.

We hiked about halfway up from the furthest point you can park in this national park area, up along the Rugela River toward the waterfall. We hiked for about two hours then had to turn back so we wouldn't be caught by darkness. But it was an enjoyable workout and beautiful hike.

I mainly wanted to use this blog to show you some of the photos from the hike. But Blogger will only let me upload these two for some reason. The one above is a view of the cliffs of "Cathedral" during our hike. Below is a shot from the beginning of the hike.

This hand-made wooden bridge crossed the Rugela River early in the hike. Most of the "rivers" I have seen in South Africa, so far, are little more than a bubbling creek. Though I'm sure they have larger ones.

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