Giant’s Castle Reserve is in the middle of the crescent-shaped Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa. This range forms the eastern boundary of Lesotho. We spent a wonderful four days there in mid-winter in July.
“Chasing angels or fleeing demons, go to the mountains.”
The majestic and dramatic backdrop that these mountains provide is spellbinding, whether viewed from the valleys or the higher reaches of the “upper berg”.
The “Dragon Mountain” range is the castle for giants, soaring ones.
“Great things are done when men and mountains meet; This is not done by jostling in the street.”
The steepness of the slopes of the ridge in the “middle berg”. Can you imagine what fun it would be if they were snow-covered.
The panorama in front of the vulture’s hide. (Double click on the panorama images to see a larger view)
Scarlet splashes of the Glossy Mountain Bottlebrush.
The mountains become very moody depending on the light and clouds.
These mountainous ridges have abundant wildlife.
After being in the vulture’s hide for two days, the following day we got up before sunrise and went to the ridge behind the hide to photograph the mountain peaks as the first rays of the morning sun struck them. The horizontal rays of light and the colour of the light early in the morning provided an exquisite picture.
As the sun began to rise the colours and the mood began to change.
As the sun was rising a large bank of cloud rolled in again altering the mood and colours.
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…”
As the bank of cloud moved past so the sunlight started to illuminate the middle ground bringing out the pinks and apricots, with a hint of yellow.
First thing in the morning, the Bearded Vultures were already on the wing – ever watching.
Thick but broken cloud rolled through and created some dramatic light. If you do not get up before sunrise in the middle of winter and get out there you will never experience this majesty.
“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”
Once the sun was up, we decided to go back to the lodge for breakfast. This was the scene as we started to make our way down from the vulture’s hide ridge.
No photographer can resist playing with the layers of blues and shadows created by the mountains in the distance.
“It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”
~Sir Edmund Hillary
That afternoon we decided to walk, south from Giant’s Castle lodge, upstream along the Bushman’s river to watch the sun setting.
Ever watching eyes of the giants.
“This mountain, the arched back of the earth risen before us, it made me feel humble, like a beggar, just lucky to be here at all, even briefly.”
The valley in front of Giant’s Castle lodge has wonderful depth, emphasised by the shadows cast by the setting sun.
The sandstone cliffs behind Giant’s Castle lodge. You can hear the Speckled Pigeons calling and the baboons barking from the cliffs.
Along the path looking back toward Giant’s Castle lodge in the late afternoon.
“Each stone, each bend cries welcome to him. He identifies with the mountains and the streams, he sees something of his own soul in the plants and the animals and the birds of the field.”
~ Paulo Coelho
On our last morning, we got up before sunrise to photograph the unfolding morning panorama.
The colours before sunrise were soft pinks and mauves. The wind was blowing quite hard and it was very cold, but you feel alive when you are submersed in such beauty.
“How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains!”
The first rays of sun hit the “upper berg”, painting wonderful colours on its massive cliffs.
“No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied – it speaks in silence to the very core of your being.”
Another panorama looking up the Bushman’s River valley- changing colours, changing moods.
On our way back to the lodge to pack up and make our way home, we saw this lone Eland grazing on the side of the ridge.
We expected it to be cold and possibly see snow on the higher reaches as it was mid-winter. We could not have been more wrong. It was warm during the day and ablaze with colour. The Vulture’s Hide at Giant’s Castle was very productive. Being immersed in such grandeur and colour was soul soothing!
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”
~ John Muir
Explore, seek to understand, marvel at its inter-connectedness and let it be.