Category: south Africa, 2019

Zulu Dances in the Mountains

March 31

After breakfast, we leave at 8AM to drive (216 miles and approximately 4 hours) to Tugela Falls in the northern Drakensberg Mountains, arriving in Tugela Falls after lunch. Roads are perfect and views lovely. We stop at two roadside service areas, both of which surpass US service areas in choice, cleanliness and appeal. Our guide, Ndoda, gives us historical, archeological, cultural and political information along the way. He’s very informative,and the excellent sound system in the van makes it easy to understand him. This afternoon we transfer fro our compact, but comfortable, van to a tractor trailer to be transported partly uphill.

From there we are told that we have a short walk to where we will meet some dancers. This is a lie. It’s not short, it’s rather steeply uphill on rocky terrain. We were not adequately warned about this hike and, as a result, I don’t have proper shoes on (not that that would have made it a piece of cake). I would not have made it except for Ndado’s help.

At the top we see very energetic dances by eleven young Zulu women, ages 21 to 44, against a beautiful mountain backdrop. Here are a few of the several hundred photos I took, to give you an idea of what we saw. The first is our photo group in position to capture the dances. I’ve also tried (unsuccessfully, so far) a slo-mo video done by one of my fellow photographers, Stan Begley. the dancing we take a less steep downhill route. Again I’m helped by Ndoda, who is an impressive and delightfulfellow, raised with wonderful values. Time spent with Ndoda is a very pleasurable addition to,what was planned for the day, an unexpected treat.

Against a backdrop of untainted skies, green and brown-hued mountains are met at the foot by extensive farms and grazing animals. Crystal clear lakes throw back a reflection of both mountain and sky, picture-postcard in their beauty. Bright, warm days, can be shattered by the sudden onset of afternoon storms, which clear rapidly becoming cloudless, starry nights. Extending up from the Eastern Cape, the imposing uKhahlamba Drakensberg Mountains form a natural border between Lesotho and the Free State. Dubbed the “Barrier of Spears” for its impenetrability, the Drakensberg is a World Heritage Site broken into north, south and central regions. Each region possesses its own distinctive rock formations and impressive vistas. The Drakensberg mountain range stretches more than 620 miles in extent, and at its peak, commands an altitude of close to 11,483 feet above the sea to the east and south.

We are driven to our hotel, the Orion, where we have a buffet dinner that is fair. But the beer is cold, which is the important thing. Room is more than adequate, large and decently appointed.

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