Day 265. Wednesday, 13th September, 2023. From Coral Divers, Sodwana Bay to Blood River Museum and Memorial Site. Start Mileage 214,200. 

First : Happy Birthday to Sarah in Whistler. Dennis’ youngest daughter.

Despite a Park vehicle driving past us soon after we had parked, we had a peaceful night. I was expecting someone to come and tell us to move, but it didn’t happen. 

I was woken at one stage during the night by raindrops falling through the vent above me. We have become unaccustomed to rain, not having seen any for 2 months. It was a bit soggy when we emerged this morning, but a warmer day with some blue sky. 

We were away early. No Caranex to pack up and no porridge to cook. We are out of oats, so it was muesli for breakfast this morning. As we were eating, a couple of mongooses ran out from  under Poki. Looking up through the windscreen there were dozens of them. They seem to travel in packs,

Driving out of the 2 park gates, no one questioned us, so it was a free camping night. Although we had already paid the park entry fee.

Onwards towards Durban

Our route took us through the Hluhluwe Game Reserve. We haven’t seen large animals for a while. There were many buffalo, zebras and impala and a solitary elephant. 

The road is really hard travelling. The speed restrictions continue with monotonous regularity. In South Africa they have added speed bumps and rumble strips. Not just one or two, but always a whole, unnecessary, series of them.

I spent the day on my phone trying to arrange shipping Poki back from Durban. Shipping to Rotterdam is 25% cheaper than shipping to Southampton. We are going for this option, so I have been looking for an agent to arrange customs clearance etc in Rotterdam too. Also trying to arrange accommodation in Durban, while we sort out the shipping and while Poki undergoes some maintenance. All very difficult in a rocking and rolling vehicle as we crash over continuous speed bumps. Dennis doesn’t like slowing down, which doesn’t help:)

By the time we reached our destination for today, Blood River, it was 3.20. The museum here closes at 4pm, so we didn’t have a lot of time. The lady at the desk was very welcoming and also advised they have a campsite, where we are now spending the night.

Camping at Blood River

Blood River is the site a seminal event in Afrikaner history. On 16 December, 1839 a small force of Voortrekkers, (Boers) around 460, defeated an army of 12,000 Zulus. The Voortrekkers wagons were attacked by the Zulus, who were mown down by cannon and rifle fire. 

When the Zulus retreated the Voortrekker Commander, Pretorius, and a group of riders chased the Zulus to the river. Here they were slaughtered and the river apparently ran red with their blood. Over 3,000 died in the battle. It is the Ncome River, but has become known as, Blood River.

The event has been seen as proof that the Boers had a divine mandate to “civilise” Southern Africa and that they were the chosen people.

We watched a video at the museum, which gave us a good understanding of events, before going to see the Laager. It is a full size circle of wagons depicting the Voortrekkers encampment where they were attacked.

Wagons formed up in a D shape. All made of steel for posterity. Each one has a light on at night.

There is no one else at the campsite, so it is very quiet and peaceful. It is quite chilly this evening.

Apparently a cold front has passed through. On a news site there were even pictures of snow in some places. I am sure, though, we will have a very snug night in Poki.

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