THIS REPORT COVERS DAY 3 - TUESDAY 1 JAN 2019 - TO MYSTERY CAVE. See also Alison Chadwick's report for futher coverage and more of Keith's photos
Report and photos courtesy of Keith Ashton
[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULLSIZE - or view pics in accompanying SIMPLEVIEWER Presentation]
First of all thanks to Alison Chadwick for her excellent write-up covering our 4-days at Bushmans Nek Hut, however Alison decided to have a more relaxed day 3 as described in her write-up and 4 other ladies (namely Rose Dix, Jenny Rooks, Libby Deysel and Margaret Ashton) also had a more relaxing but enjoyable hike on Day 3 doing some swimming in various pools and checking out all the wild flowers in detail.
The rest of our group namely Steve and Lynda Verreynne, Julia Preece, Este Shearar, Eric Essenwein and myself Keith Ashton departed from the hut at about 06h45 heading for Mystery Cave which contains superb Bushmans paintings.
We first crossed Bushmans River and hiked downstream passing the start of the track to Thamathu Cave until we reached and crossed Ngwangwane River. After crossing Ngwangwane River we headed upstream on a beautiful but hot sunny day until after about 5 km we reached Cedric's Pool (also know as Twin Pools as there are two lovely pools adjacent to each other) - a really fantastic swimming spot, but we just had a rest here as we intended to swim on our return from the cave.
We continued upstream until we reached an indistinct turn-off (this route needs to be well known to the leader), the very small track being nearly overgrown. After crossing the river again it was a relatively long climb up to "The Gap" in sweltering heat. We had a rest at "The Gap" to take in the beautiful scenery and to view across the valley, half-way up the mountainside Vast Cave (so named as it really is vast and reaches into the mountain nearly 50 metres, where a torch is required to see the end rock face).
After our rest we continued along a small undulating, partially overgrown track until we reached Mystery Cave with it's marvellous Bushman painting and this was our rest and lunch spot. After lunch we dropped down to the river close-by to cool off for a while before making our return back to the hut, still in sweltering heat.
As we arrived back at Cedric's pool it was time for a swim and cool off before continuing back to our hut.
We saw many beautiful wild flowers, baboons, mountain reedbuck including a baby reedbuck separated from its parents as they darted downhill leaving the baby to try and hide above us, although I did capture a photo of it.
The attached photos clearly illustrate our 4 extremely enjoyable days in our magnificent Drakensberg - how lucky are to experience such joy. Some of our group even said "This experience in the mountains with such a nice group of people was the best New Year of their lives" or "Best New Year ever".
Thanks to all our participants for sharing these precious moments with us.
Keith and Margaret
1. Day 3 - crossing first river en-route to Mystery Cave
2. The 4 ladies will do their own thing and not join this hike
3. After 5 km we reach Cedric's beautiful pool
4. A view of our group at Cedric's Pool from above the waterfall
5. Eric looks towards the Devils Knuckles from Cedrics - also known as Twin Pools
6. A view of Vast Cave (centre of pic) from The Gap
7. A telephoto closer view of Vast Cave
8. Lizard on it's rock
9. Spot the baby mountain reedbuck hiding - centre of photo
10. Climbing still en-route to Mystery Cave
11. Mystery Cave - a rare Bushman painting of a small flower
12. More Bushmans paintings
13. Superimposed Busmans paintings
14. Good Bushmans paintings of men with bows and arrows
15. A busy scene
16. Many Bushmans paintings on a rock panel
17. Este, Julia and Lynda having lunch in Mystery Cave
18. A nest in the roof of the cave with parents and chicks
19. Making our way back from the cave
20. Still on our way back as Julia looks up to heaven
21. Another river crossing on the way back
22. Yet another crossing - just one more after this to the hut