Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Jembisa: staking your wild space

Take my advice: follow the N1 all the way to Potgietersrus [Makopane] and from there approach Jembisa via the R518. I have visited the Waterberg previously and somehow missed out on this beautiful road snaking up through the sandstone massifs of the Kloof Pass.
Until now.

Yes, the R518 provides a unique introduction to the Waterberg.
As the orange walls of vertical rock rise higher and higher you are drawn deeper and deeper into the intimate folds of the Waterberg plateau. it is impossible not to sense that there is something special going on here.

Arcuate rock faces rise around you, by some means different to the folded mountains of the Magalies and the Cape. This is because these rocks are around 2-million-years-old and form part of the anvil of stable rock that other continents broke themselves against before splitting off Gondwanaland to become India, South America, Australia and so forth.

Soon termite mounds begin to rise around you as even the road turns to red dust. Even better still, by the time you reach Jembisa, the envelope of silence is complete. At the entrance to your bush home away from home a Bushveld Gardenia tree stands quietly, holding strange moony grey fruits in its branches - a favorite food of baboons, monkeys, kudu and elephant.

Give the Gardenia a second glance if you suffer from asthma, infertility, earache, sore eyes, or even a headache. Some people even believe the tree offers protection from lightning. Whichever remedy you're after the chances are - as your feet scrunch loudly on the gravel drive - you will be restored to your former, better self, right here.

Dogs and Mountain Bikes

Two things stand out to us as we meet the resident ranger John and his wife Jane. One is the bevy of mountain bikes parked neatly to one side of the garden, the other is the pair of tail-wagging dogs that welcome us like old friends. You should know that it is very unusual for game reserves to offer either mountain biking or risk having man's best friend running around like live bait.

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