Round the benz on the KZN Midlands Meander

MONIQUEVANDERWALT_ITOPFORM_MIDLANDSMEANDER_bendcountry (15).jpg

🌂It was a brolliant start to the #iTopFormMeanderMotoring Day, the ominous weather could not dampen our high spirits as we gathered at Mercedes’ Garden City Motors in Pietermaritzburg (PMB).  The crowd that gathered were clearly hip people taking part in this bucolic happening, and I wondered if some were local celebrities. And yes, I wore my gumboots as usual, lol.

We completed the necessary paperwork to take million-rand Mercedes Benz vehicles on the iTopForm pitstop tour of the Midlands Meander, and set out armed with our brollies (umbrellas) as weapons against the wild Kwa Zulu Natal (KZN) weather.

First stop was breakfast at iLawu Boutique Hotel’s Botanic Restaurant in PMB, and my my, there was so much tech before breakfast! All kinds of media equipment and the tapping of phone screens was soon replaced by a sumptuous breakfast and excited chatter about the day’s events.

The next stop was something everyone should do in their lifetime, a visit to the Nelson Mandela Capture Site in Howick. A tour through the Apartheid Museum took our minds down a dark path of South African history, ending in a lifting-of-the-spirits at the sculpture of the face of our freedom, Nelson Mandela.

Back on the Midlands Meander road, seven cars snaked along in luxury to the third stop of the day: Chocolate Heaven at the Junction Village Centre (exit 132 from N3). And what a sweet stop indeed! Trays and trays of delights to every taste with over 40 combinations to dip in a swirling pool of melted Belgian chocolate. Needless-to-say everyone had a smile almost all the while 😊

The last leg on our tour was lunch at the Bend Country House, where my eye spied only the glorious curves and serene luxury that is the Midlands Meander.  A place rich in history, the 1400 hectares of pristine Nature Estate and the hotel’s elegant architecture and décor were a breath-taking sight.

Our hearts full with the comradery of the iTopForm experience, we filled our bellies with a hearty three course meal as the rain poured over the moody countryside. When we rolled out of the dining room, our highly-polished Benz vehicles had received an aesthetic make-over, courtesy of the stormy KZN sky.

Out came many forms of camera, the cold and raindrops forgotten in the heat of the moment. Now all that was left was to meander the road back home, perusing opulent files that will remain forever in the memory banks.

Mt Moreland KZN – Barn Swallows & Legavaan Sighting

The weekend before my Cape Town Christmas trip, my friend and I went up to Mount Moreland, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa.

Mount Moreland is about 15 kms from Umhlanga, and is best known for its Barn Swallows.

20131221_131449

The public can view this awesome sight of the up to 3 million Barn Swallows descending on their roost.

20131221_132004

20131221_131537

This initiative is courtesy of Mount Moreland Conservancy

20131221_131847

20131221_131731

Visitors bring their own chairs, food, drinks, binoculars, and mosquito repellent.

20131221_131806

20131221_131859

The roosting time is about half an hour before sunset, but we went on the trip for the serenity and quite of the landscape.

20131221_132018

20131221_132036

A pathway leads from the top of the view point, down towards the marshlands

20131221_132044

20131221_132104

20131221_132137

I begin descending, the only sound the wind whistling and rustling through the cane fields

20131221_132207

20131221_132446

The path rounds a bend, and a tunnel of foliage leads down to the marsh, igniting the imagination

20131221_132249

20131221_132318

The sparse clouds provide little relief from the midday sun, I head back up the path.

20131221_132415

20131221_132451

20131221_132457

En route out of Mount Moreland, we crossed a bridge

20131221_135008

Stopped to take photos, my friend noticed a Legavaan (or Rock Monitor) in the road behind us in the road

20131221_135031

The Legavaan vanished as quickly as he had appeared, scampering back to the safety of the brush.

20131221_135034

Further along our route back to Umhlanga, we came across the Dust Pit Tavern.

20131221_135256

It is housed in a picturesque building, Cape Dutch style almost.

20131221_135322

20131221_135812

The road home

Beautiful Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa

As part of my job I visit various sites in Kwa-zulu Natal, South Africa.

I usually take 2 or 3 day trip, and go as far as Bergville (plus minus 4 hours from home in Durban), stopping in Ladysmith, Estcourt, BostonPietermaritzburg, Richmond, and Eston.

I also go down the KZN South Coast (Hibiscus Coast), as far as Port Edward, and inland, to Harding.

I prefer taking the back roads, and avoiding major highways.

Here are some pics from my last two trips.

SAM_1435

Inland – en route Boston, a tiny farming town in rural KZN

SAM_1468_Edited

Climbing the hill on the N2 to Harding

SAM_1467_Edited

N2 to Harding under re-vamp

From the top of the hill en route to Harding

From the top of the hill en route to Harding

SAM_1469_Edited

Nearing Harding, I spotted this Crowned Eagle

SAM_1474_Edited

Back route from Harding to Port Edward, Izingolweni Road 

SAM_1473_Edited

Terrain contrast of the Hibiscus Coast

SAM_1472_Edited

Rolling sugar cane fields bordered by thick forests

SAM_1477_Edited

Route: Richmond to Eston – April 2013

SAM_0155

Richmond to Eston – October 2013

SAM_0154

Bougainvillea in full bloom – October 2013

SAM_0160

R624 – nearing destination Eston

SAM_0156

Rolling hills on the R624

SAM_0162

The in-coming summer rains will see the hills transformed into God’s pallets of fabulous greens

SAM_0157

Majestic evergreen forests

SAM_0151_Edited

Finally, returning home to Umhlanga Ridge area