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  • Writer's pictureGabby Sykora

Bushman's Nek - Lifer Galore

Let’s use our timeshare, they said. It’ll be good to get away, they said. All fair until you realize that your destination will take you almost as long as traveling to Cape Town, to reach.

We set off for Bushman’s Nek Resort in the Underberg at 5 am. The plan was to do brekkie at the Wimpy in Harrismith, well because, isn’t that what one traditionally does when heading to the coast? As usual, Harrismith was really cold and the wind, Icy!! During breakfast, the guys decided that we should go off the beaten track and avoid continuing the journey on tar. Heading off in the general direction of the Berg, we made our way up the pass on the Lower Lotheni Road. Slow and steady, wins the race, and soon we were racking up the lifers. Stopping frequently, to just listen to sounds of nature and take in the magical views. Notable lifers for me on this part of our journey were White-necked Raven, Cape Crow, Wailing Cisticola, Buff-streaked Chat, Gurney’s Sugarbird and the Southern Bald Ibis.

Southern Bald Ibis

Gurneys Sugarbird

Approaching Himeville, Dad showed us that he truly

lives for adventure. Pulling off to the side of the road and making a U-turn, literally had us all sitting in wonder. He simply said, ‘What’s the point of being to close to Sani Pass, and not taking the drive up?’ Luca was in his element. An opportunity to hopefully see the Ground Woodpecker. His words were not even cold when he shouted, ‘Stop, Stop!’, Almost falling out of the car in a hurried attempt to capture the bird on camera, he raced to his vantage point, shouting for me to join. There on the rocks in front of us, sat 3 Ground Wookdpecker, baking in the last heat of the day.

Ground Woodpecker

Sani Pass

Day made, we headed to our hotel rooms at Bushman’s Nek Resort. After a quick dinner, it was back out again. Who can miss the opportunity of seeing some owls in the darkness? Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be and we headed off to bed, happy with the 11 lifers we had got for the day. Up early morning, it was time for some more adventure and we headed off again toward the Lesotho border. Kicking ourselves that we did not bring our passports along, we were limited to taking the short walk to the waterfall across the Lesotho Border at Bushman’s Nek. We wandered about for some time, again taking in the beauty of the snowcapped mountains that surrounded us. A late lunch at the rather strange farm restaurant, aptly named, The Pig and Pony, was most enjoyable. We headed out on a drive, with nowhere particular place to go, in mind. With me at the wheel, I was relying solely on Luca to do the spotting for lifers. He did not disappoint. With another couple in the bag, it was time for a relaxed evening by the fire. Mesmerized by the snap and crackle of the wood burning and the occasional horse naying from the nearby stables, I drifted off to sleep. Time for bed after a relaxing but busy day.

Bushman's Nek

The following morning saw us all up and packing for the loooong journey home. Sad that the weekend had passed so quickly. As we left the resort, I softly asked, ‘Do we need to leave right away? Can we pop for one last walk to the waterfall, please?’ Why did I say that? What was I thinking? We drove up as far as we could, as time was limited, as the impending journey home was awaiting us. Making the quick walk up to the top of the waterfall, I sat down and began snapping photographs, with moms’ phone. As I leaned forward to make the most of the water cascading down, I heard something ‘plop’ below. Not knowing what it was, I called down and asked “What was that? Something fell!” I hurried down and as I approached, Dad he asked me “Where’s your phone Gabs?” I felt in my pocket and my legs turned to jelly. My heart sank. It was my phone. My phone had just fallen out of my pocket and was now deep down in the water beneath the waterfall. Realizing there was not a lot we could do, I shed a few tears and we left for home, all the while still trying to rack up a few more lifers for the trip.

The long drive home saw us venturing into the bundus once more as Dad figured the straight road home is just too boring. We drove through Heidelberg and managed to add a few more birds to our wanted list, bringing the total number of lifers for the weekend (for me) to 17. All in all, a long way to go for just a weekend, but hey, it’s memories like these that are not easily forgotten. Until the next trip…


Drakensberg Prinia

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