We left Tala Game Reserve in mid-afternoon and made our way along winding country roads to the little town of Himeville, South Africa … and then a little beyond. We moved from the Indian Ocean coastal plain to rolling hills, through valleys to the foothills of the Drakensberg Range (Afrikaans for Dragon Mountains).
We stopped for lunch along the way at a tiny little off-the-road restaurant called Pucketty Place Tea Garden. We ate at a picnic table in the midst of a small copse with farm animals all around us. Chickens clucked and roosters crowed. Geese and ducks waddled around and three black piglets were on the loose. A frog croaked from a little babbling brook behind our table. Bucolic and serene were offered up along with bunny chow and butternut squash soup for specials.
We arrived at the Sani Backpackers Lodge just before 6pm. The Drakensberg Mountains and Lesotho loomed up in front of us. We had reserved two en-suite rondavels for two nights. We were particularly impressed with the lodge's Fair Trade views on local tourism and commerce and their mission statement of catering to “independent travelers with a conscience.” Trip Advisor had rated them highly. We were pleased with our choice. Each hut was situated in a woodsy setting accessed by little bridges, far enough away from each other to be quite private. They were cozy and comfy with a warm duvet and an extra wool blanket to keep warm on cold mountain nights.
After settling in, we returned to Himeville to the century-old Himeville Arms Hotel & Pub. What a cool place! Exactly what you'd like a pub to be. Homey with a big bar and fireplace and comfy places to sit and chat and sip cool draft beers straight from the tap. We had a light shared supper and headed back in the darkness to Sani Backpackers.
We were located strategically at the bottom of the Sani Pass and we'd booked a Land Rover tour to the top. We were all primed to head into Lesotho in the morning. The Sani Pass is described as the “mother of all South African passes”. We'll see how it goes.