Day 115. 14th April, 2023. Johannesburg, South Africa.

We arrived in South Africa in the very early hours of this morning. Johannesburg airport was deserted at this time, so we were through immigration and reclaimed our baggage pretty quickly. Adam had booked a rental car and I had booked us a hotel, not far from the airport. Finding it wasn’t so easy though, as we had no wifi and so no good navigation. 

We were tired and by the time we got to sleep it was around 2.30pm. We had arranged to meet at 9.30am. Dennis and I didn’t wake up until 8.45, so there was no time for breakfast. We returned to the airport, with a bit of difficulty, as we still had some navigation issues. We found some short term parking and went back to the terminal to change money, get a SIM card and also some breakfast.

Then we set off for Pretoria. Adam needed to go to a government office there. He needed an official letter confirming ownership of his Land Rover, so he can get it reregistered.  After this we spent the rest of the day sightseeing at the Voortrekker Monument. First stop, the cafe, where Adam bought us milk tarts. They are like custard tarts with a generous sprinkling of cinnamon on top. Delicious!

The monument commemorates the Great Trek. Between 1835 and the early 1840’s, some 12,000 to 14,000 Boers from the Cape Colony, in the south of South Africa, emigrated inland. The Boers were the original European settlers. The cause of their trek was their rebellion against the policies of the British government and in search of fresh pasturelands.

The monument is located on a hill just south of Pretoria. It is a large, impressive, granite structure and was designed by the architect Gerard Moerdijk. One of the highlights is the carved marble frieze depicting the hardships of the trek and battles with the Zulus.

The upper dome is designed with an opening which allows a ray of sunlight to fall on the inscription “Ons vir jou Suid-Afrika” (We for thee South Africa), every year at 1200 on 16th December.

The 16th December was the date of the Battle of Blood River. It was a great victory for the trekkers. 464 Boers against 10,000 Zulus. The Boers were led by Andries Pretorius and the Zulus by their king, Dingane. It is known as the battle of Blood River as the water turned red from blood of so many slaughtered Zulus.

In the basement there is a museum with some original wagons and belongings of the trekkers.

From the top of the monument there is a commanding view over the city of a Pretoria.

We found some inexpensive accommodation in Pretoria and once settled we decided to shop for some dinner and breakfast. Once again we had no navigation aids. We had left all our phones etc charging in our rooms. We had some fun finding our way back.

It is great to be in a less challenging climate. No more constantly mopping my brow. It has been a beautiful blue sky day with temperatures in the low/mid 20’s. it is also good to be back in the first world. Will South Africa stay there though. With the ANC, under President Cyril Ramaphosa, running the country, cracks are appearing. 

Most noticeably the problems with the electricity grid, which means power has to be rationed. We noticed this with the traffic lights not working in parts of the city. The online Power Advice advised the power would go off here between 8 and 12. Am expecting it to go off at any moment!

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