It's Drakensberg, baby! Gee whiz, it's been a long time since I've come up here. I mean it's probably been, what, a good ten years? Altogether way too long, considering that this place is tucked away right inside my home province. Yeah, sure, KZN has beaches and Zululand and stuff, but I think that its most distinctive feature is having the best gosh-darn set of mountains in the country. Not that I don't appreciate and respect Table Mountain, but man, “the berg” really puts stuff into perspective.
I'm currently holed up in a backpacking establishment known as Amphitheatre Backpackers, named after the area of the Drakensberg where it's based. Not a bad place: prices are reasonable, cool features abound and I'm able to hide in a corner whenever I want in order to do geeky, computer-related stuff. The jocky vibe of the place makes me a little ill at ease, I will admit, but I'm putting this down to being out of practice when it comes to backpacking.
In some ways, this place is a rather mixed bag: some of the facilities are amazing, while others (such as the kitchen and water) are a little on the iffy side. Which is okay, I guess: it's just that alongside the super-duper awesome indoor jacuzzi (which I'm still too shy to clamber into: my pseudo-tan has thus far refused to return and, as I've said, the vibe is a bit too jock-ish for me) I have to deal with stuff like shower doors which don't entirely closed over, leaving me in perpetual fear that the Dutch girls I was staying with were going to see my willy.
At least I have a comfortable place for the night:
Yeah, so, I almost decided to lie down in the dorms. Then I remembered that I had some freakin' expensive camping equipment that needed to pay itself off with use, so at about 5pm on the day of my arrival I told the backpacking crew that I'd changed my mind and decided to set up a tent instead. Camping is usually a lot cheaper – in my five-day sojourn here, I'll be saving nearly R200 just for sleeping in a tent instead of a bed every night, and the figure would have been a lot higher if dorms were more expensive or campsites were cheaper (this is often the case).
“BUT NANDREW, AREN'T YOU GOING TO FREEZE YOUR ARSE OFF?”
The answer is no. It's not quite dead-winter yet, and the weather here has been jolly nice so far. I can now state proudly that my cousin was wrong: she hit a 7 on the Mother Scale before I left due to all the fuss she made about how cold (and dead) I would be with my current equipment in the Drakensberg. But, as always, I'm a survivor and stuff. Life's pretty good right now.