Dispatch No.3 – uKhalamba Barrier of Spears – the Drakensberg Mountains

Posted by Kingsley Holgate on 4 June 2009

A long line of colorful Boundless Southern Africa Landies group outside the famous Nottingham Road Hotel, the well-known watering hole known as “Notties”.

“It’s the last outpost of the British Empire” chuckles the barman as everybody raises foaming glasses of the Captains brew. I look at the faces around me, adventurers from all over South Africa all with the same vision of a journey to connect The Transfrontier Conservation Areas across Southern Africa.

There’s my wife Mashozi, that’s Gill Holgate’s Zulu name. As always she’s the expedition bursar and will be in charge of juggling the budget and all the paperwork and supplies. Ross Holgate, my son, is in charge of logistics and filming the journey, Anna Muller types up the notes from my expedition journal, Babu Cossa from Mozambique is an old expedition hand, our Portuguese and Shangaan interpreter and malaria prevention educator. There’s Dave Pusey the researcher and Rob O’Brien as camera assistant. Mike Rumble, we call him Mad Mike, is mapping the entire expedition for Garmap, Johan Louw is the expedition coordinator.

Mike Nixon, Leith, Shaun and Neels make up the crazy mountain bike team who are accompanying us for the entire Lesotho leg. Also joining us for the Lesotho leg is Lesley Sutton, the PR and marketing girl from Land Rover, adventure medics Bertus and Victor (sponsored by TuffStuff Insurance) and expedition humanitarian volunteers Eugene and Chris from Nando’s, Greg from Captain Morgan, Hugh Roe from BAT and Big Deon Schurmann. Then of course there’s me the Greybeard with the title of expedition leader – a` position impossible to fill without these fellow pilgrims of adventure, most of whom have traveled with us in the past.

Its day one of our 120 day journey across the continent from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, linking 9 Countries, 7 Transfrontier Conservation Areas, 30 National Parks and Reserves and the Communities adjacent to these areas. Its all about Nature, Culture and Community.

From Notties it’s west, into the setting sun – Izinthaba zo Khalamba, Barrier of Spears – The Mighty Drakensberg beckons us.

Dressed in beanies and jackets, we all pile out of the Landies to be welcomed by wonderful Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife officials, our hosts at Giant’s Castle. There’s a hushed call for silence, as umnumzane Hadebe the Royal Praise Singer to the amaHlubi announces the arrival of his Royal Highness King Langalibalele. His Royal Majesty endorses the Boundless Southern Africa Expedition Scroll of Peace and Goodwill for Conservation whilst young Hlubi boys dance to their ancient warrior chants and the sound of rawhide drums echoing amongst the mountains. The clicks in their language come from the Abathwa, the San people who once inhabited these magnificent mountains. Now all that remains of these tiny hunter gatherers are their galleries of rock art, some of the finest examples in the world.

Tomorrow we’ll follow the footsteps of the San along the Bushman’s River into the forests shadows and caves of the uKhalamba Barrier of Spears.

We’ll keep you posted.

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