The last weekend in the Drakensberg was an absolute blessing of weather of in the end. I have now learned never to trust the weather report when it comes to the chain of mountains that is the Berg. Despite grim forecasts for the entire weekend, we had amazing luck with dramatic lighting, excellent cloud features when we needed them, and blanket cloud at the places where we needed soft light. It was as if the weather gods had taken up photography.
Of course this doesn't mean that it was all perfect (is it ever). I'm writing this sitting in a damp cloud at Royal Natal. The weather forecast has finally caught up with us and the predicted 100% rain is 100% here. The policeman's helmet dips in and out view and there is the incessant pat, pat, pat of water dripping from the thatch roof. Nick (from Tailermadesafaris Safaris) have split up with him taking a group of photographers down to the river while I wait for anyone who wants to move toward the protea forest to shoot in the mist.
The weekend started with a fantastic trip to the to of Mike's Pass to watch the sunset. Incredible cloud action meant for some really exciting images as the sun slanted down the walls of the escarpment, creating ethereal silhouettes like an army of medieval knights. Sunlight glanced over the mountains and lit up the proteas on het he top of Mike's Pass like beacons. A truly wonderful experience. Somehow we managed to dodge the weather as the incredible cloud show finally resulted in a howling storm surging down the mountain. The rain was flying horizontal to the ground as the wind rammed up against Didima Lodge. This meant for an interesting experience of indoor rain as everyone sat down to dinner (the water came in through the roof vents and came cascading down into the restaurant below). It seemed to put one large Dutch group into a very jolly mood as they burst forth into song (and kept singing for the next two hours).
The second day involved the trek in to Rainbow Gorge, which never ceases to amaze me with it's character. Spring rains have meant that the narrow section of the gorge is now quite wet, with water flowing right through and over most of the the rocks. Give it another month or so and it will be impossible to go in without getting boots wet, or donning water shoes. Miraculously the weather, that had threatened rain, cleared entirely and meant it was possible to do some star trail photography in the evening after dinner.
Sunday morning found us back on the road to Royal Natal where our group split so that some could venture up to Gudu Falls, while those less inclined for more exercise made their way to Cascades to explore the river and waterfalls there for the afternoon. Gudu Falls were spectacular with their precipitous drop into the icy pool below. I still find it difficult to do justice to this incredible waterfall feature (maybe one day when I grow up to become a photographer I will be able to).
So now we leave the mountains draped in a shawl of cloud and rain. Incredible luck, and a wonderful weekend with some splendid guests (happy birthday Mujon!)