"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on March 8, 2020 by Sioux under General
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My grandchildren spent the morning at Ushaka with their parents, and from there they, fetched me at the airport in the afternoon. I was so looking forward to this time away with them all!

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Red desert Courtesy Steemit
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The holiday estate we were at was near Port Edward, on the banks of the Mtamvuna River, which forms the border between KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

 

The name means “the reaper of mouthfuls” because of the damage to crops when the river floods. At almost 162km long from source, it flows into the Indian Ocean just south of Port Edward. Legend has it that any person failing to confess his sins before fording the river will be carried away by the water spirits.

 

It is also supposed to be the home of mermaids, who have often been reported playing in the water on moonlit nights.

From one side of the chalet deck we had a small but gorgeous seaview through the greenery, and to the other side we looked over the CH Mitchell Bridge, more commonly referred to as the Umtamvuna Bridge, which connects the two provinces and is the only road link for about 300km.

 

Built in 1966, it is the largest steel suspension bridge in South Africa, with a span of 206m. The highest point of the arch above the roadway is 35m and the bridge holds the roadway 30m above the average water level.

 

Rocked by two bomb blasts in 2002, the bridge was closed for 3 weeks for repairs.

The weather wasn’t playing ball on my first day there, so we headed off to an area set above the cliffs on the left bank of the river known as ‘The Red Desert’, claimed to be the world’s smallest desert. About 10km out of town, the area is only 200m in diameter and 11 hectares in its entirety.

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Image courtesy Steemit / Google

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Described as a miniature version of the Arizona Desert, the 2-3m high hills and valleys of rich red soil are stark in their contrast against the greenery of the surrounding sub-tropical vegetation. Archaeological discoveries have been dated back millions of years, and added to the mystique of the area. It has been proclaimed a protected Nature Conservation Area and an international heritage site. 

The strange phenomenon is surrounded by myths and legends including one that it is the site of an alien landing; or over grazing by locals during the 1800’s, with subsequent wind erosion leading to the desertification.

 

Scientists have taken the opportunity to study the unique desert ecology. It is a plant hot spot, with some rare and extremely special indigenous plant species, as well as a number of protea bushes. There are plenty of birds, and a number of small mammals and antelope that quietly occupy the area.

From the desert, we headed to the North Sand Bluff Lighthouse, a fully automatic lighthouse previously known as The Port Edward Lighthouse. The 24m tall lighthouse was originally built in 1968, and was subsequently rebuilt in 1999. The light emits half a million candle-watts in power, and has two beams which are visible for 40km. Although still operational, the lighthouse is off-limits to tourists. We played on the rocks of the beach below the lighthouse for a while then headed back to the resort.

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We spent the afternoon walking on the beach in front of the resort, chasing crabs and just enjoying the sea air.

 

My grandkids and I went for a night walk to get some images of the chalets at night.

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The weather was still cloudy on my second day so we relaxed at the resort until lunch time, then headed out for lunch at The Waffle House, which has been around since 1957, followed by a walk along the quaint wooden bridge, through Tanglewood  Forest to Ramsgate Beach.

 

Bird life in the trees of Tanglewood Forest and the reeds along the banks of the Bilanhlolo River include wagtails, red bishops, kingfishers, woolly-neck storks and Egyptian geese; plus some monkeys, otters, fruit bats and leguuans that habitate the forests.

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Later that afternoon, the two youngsters and I took a walk around the complex, before heading back to the chalet for dinner. The perfect finish to a wonderful day.

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