Day 5 – Weatherwise, each day seems to be a carbon copy of the day before. I left Upington at 5.30am before first light and while it was still pleasantly cool. After just a few minutes I paused on the bridge over the Orange River to appreciate the moonlight reflecting on the water. In the early morning before the bustle of human activity could cast its far-reaching shadow, this was a timeless scene. Undoubtedly appreciated by the early settlers and unchanged for untold decades before that.
A few deep breaths and I rode on into the cool air. But the cool was not to last. It became very hot once the sun came up.
It is a pleasant route from Upington to Groblershoop, with many ups and downs as the road vaguely follows the course of the Orange River. This also makes for very pleasant scenery changes as the irrigated lands, mostly grapevines and citrus, contrast strongly with the bleakness of the unwatered veld. The semi-desert has a harsh beauty all of its own and it supports a fascinating array of plants and animals. But man demands more from these acres than Nature has provided and has taken it upon himself to spread the influence of the river far beyond the banks that confined it for so long. The green swathe marking the course of the river has been widened, jobs created and food produced.
The kilometres clicked by and fairly soon I reached Groblershoop, the hope, apparently, of one Piet Grobler, one time Minister of Agriculture.
We had passed a large, tranquil looking dam about 28 kilometres before Groblershoop, where there were a few people camping. On finding the Caravan Park in town abandoned and derelict, we loaded up the bike and drove back to towards this dam with the thought that we might spend the night there. We stopped at the offices of the Dept of Water Affairs along the route, to solicit some advice and a very helpful official suggested that, for reasons of security, we would be better off going to the Boegoeberg Dam Caravan Park, 33 kilometres to the south of Groblershoop.
Boegoeberg Caravan Park, proved to be interesting, sited on the edge of the dam. We arrived on Good Friday, the start of the Easter weekend, and the Boegoeberg Dam is obviously a popular spot for the boating and fishing fraternity. In the late evening a group of young folk arrived at the concrete recreation area, quite near to which we had pitched our tent, to do some dancing. Music courtesy of an in-car stereo system. Played South African style – loudly. Very loudly.
They were determined to enjoy themselves at all costs, which motive cannot be faulted, but which was greatly at odds with my intention of getting a good night’s sleep. Luckily for us their enthusiasm for dancing did not match the volume of their music and they didn’t stay too long. I wondered if dancing had been included in the weekend programme by the womenfolk as retribution for the hours devoted to fishing and boating by the men. The hunting-fishing-beer-and-braai brigade were hardly going to impose an evening of dancing on themselves.