PART ONE

On Sunday, 1st February 2009, Jean and I took Dad and Jean to Mpumalanga for 5 nights. We had originally been thinking of going to Hulala Lakeside Lodge when we were told about a house that could be hired in the estate next door to the hotel. This turned out to be a great idea as we could do whatever we wanted. We would have cereal, etc. for breakfast, go out for lunch and then have a light snacky supper. The view from the patio of the house is spectacular. It overlooks the De Gama Dam. There are 4 zebra on the estate that wander around and twice they walked in front of the house while we were there. We all had a wonderful time even though there was a fair amount of rain. This caused us to read and relax, which was what we needed.

On the Monday we set out to look at some scenery. Our first stop was at Graskop. We stopped at the Graskop Waterfall which is just on the edge of the town. At this waterfall there is a bungy swing. This freaked Dad out just a tad. In the photos below a person can be seen jumping.

Our next stop was at the Pinnacle. As can be seen it was quite a misty day. We were unfortunately unable to see God's Window after this.

Next stop was the Berlin waterfalls.

Next was Lisbon Falls. It was here many years ago when we brought Mom and Dad that we watched a motor vehicle advert being filmed.

Tuesday we relaxed a bit and went out for lunch. We had set up a surprise for dad and organised a microlight flight. Just after lunch it started to rain so the flight was put on hold. Wally the pilot aaid the forecast was for sunny weather on Wednesday, so seeing as it was dad's birthday the following day we decided that would be the best. Tuesday night it stormed for approximately 8 hours non-stop (according to Wally their rain gauge, which holds 100mm, overflowed). Wednesday, Dad's birthday, rained on and off, so we we relaxed again admiring the view. We also caught up on reading. We're not certain whether Dad reading the Fair Lady "The Love Issue" was a hint for a birthday present!

On Thursday Jean received a message after lunch that the flight was on. As we had to suddenly do a U-turn and go in the opposite direction we decided to tell Dad. We rushed to the airfield at Hazyview only for the rain to return. We sat and had cofee with Wally and Daveen. The weather cleared enough for Dad's flight. He flew to Numbi Gate at Kruger National Park, along the fence line and back along the Sabie River. He even saw Buffalo on the trip.

The weather stayed clear long enough for me to fly over De Gama Dam, then towards Kiepersol and then back along the Sabie River. It was amazing to get a perspective of how close the dam is to Hazyview and how everything fits in. I was able to fly over the dam and see where we were staying. As we landed the rain came in again!

All too soon Friday had arrived and we packed up and set off in a round about way to see a number of sights on our way home. I took a couple of photos of the house before we left.

We made our way to Sabie and to the waterfalls. Our first stop was Bridal Veil Falls. Due to all the rain the walk turned out to be very slippery and difficult. Some of the climbing was very steep so Dad and the two Jeans turned back. I made it to the falls, took a couple of photos and made my way back.

Next stop was Lone Creek Falls. It was amazing the amount of water that was pumping over the falls. Taking photos was quite difficult as I had to put my camera under my shirt, pull it out, take the photo and put it back under my shirt. By the time we got back to the car we were all pretty wet. The scenery along the walk was very lush and beautiful.

From Sabie we made our way over Long Tom Pass, stopping to look at the Long Tom, to Lydenberg. Dad didn't enjoy the pass. Although beautiful, we had forgotten how high and exposed the pass is. From Lydenberg we went to Dullstroom, stopped and bought sandwiches, and made our way home.

PART TWO

Towards the end of February Jean took leave for just over two weeks. We decided to go back to Mpumalanga as we had enjoyed our first trip so much. We booked into the house at De Gama Dam from Monday 23 February leaving on Monday 2 March. From the Monday 2 March to Friday 6 March we stayed at Ngala Safari Lodge on the western border of the Kruger Park next to Timbavati Game Reserve. The week at De Gama Dam we relaxed, read and drove around a bit. Once again we had quite a bit of rain. We looked at some estates as this area would be a potential retirement spot. We managed to get in some massages and enjoyed going to a number of restaurants. We did a day trip into the Kruger Park and I managed to get a second microlight flight in.

On the Friday it cleared enough for me to go on a microlight flight. I went on a 1 1/2 hour flight over the waterfalls and Blyde River Canyon. The clouds kept on opening up enough for us to see the sights. With all the rain, Wally the pilot, commented on waterfalls that he had never seen before. It was truly an amazing flight and I got to see sights that you cannot see from the ground.

After flying up part of the Sabie River Valley we arrived at the Mac Mac Waterfalls. From there we cut across to Graskop. The bungy jump at the Graskop Waterfall was covered in mist.

Seeing the Pinnacle from the air was an eye-opener. I have seen the Pinnacle and the one waterfall on the side a number of times. One looks out into the valley, but one forgets about where the water must go. To see the rapids and waterfalls from the air blew my mind. The part that cannot be seen from land, as one can see from the photograph, is spectacular.

We were unable to see Gods Window due to the clouds, so we made our way over to the two waterfalls. First waterfall was the Lisbon Falls. Wally didn't think we would be able to see them, but the clouds opened sufficiently for us to fly in. Although one realises that the two waterfalls are close it is only from the air that one can appreciate this. It is also great to see the valleys and rivers around these two waterfalls.

The clouds once again opened up enough for us to see the Berlin Falls. From there we went across country towards Bourkes Luck.

We were able to get right above the potholes at Bourkes Luck. From there we made away towards the Blydepoort Dam in the Bylde River Canyon.

The Blyde River Canyon was breathtaking.The view of the Canyon from the viewpoints along the road, the dam wall and a boat on the dam could never give match the view that I got from the microlight. The clouds made it really beautiful. Wally said he had never seen it like this. Ironically he said it was the smoothest flight he had experienced over the Canyon. I plan to fly there again on a clear day for comparison.

We flew out the Canyon towards Acornhoek and Bushbuckridge. The houses are spread over an extremely wide area. We also flew over Inyaka Dam, which has a very different dam wall design. Finally, we flew over Bogart's Valley, one of the new estates being established, before landing.