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Mnweni is the river coming out of the Berg between Royal Natal and Cathedral Peak. I took two of my sons, Jörg and Christopher, and Jim there for a wild week in the mountains. Initially we were going up to the top at Mponjwane.
We parked our car at the tourism center and grudgingly paid our money for hiking and parking, it's all for the upliftment of the local community. Claiming these mountains as ours doesn't help.
It was a hot day, the sun was burning, hardly any air movement. At one stage I dumped myself into a local watercourse, but that water was just as warm as the outside. A saving grace was a stream of cool water flowing along the bottom. After going up the hill and down the other side, covering 8 km we made it to our pool with still plenty of time for a jump and swim in the lovely cool water of the Mnweni River.
For the next day we originally aimed for Chi Chi bushcamp. But the heat was unbearable, today it was like a sauna, the sun was partially covered but there was no air movement and a high humidity. So it's no wonder that we only made it as far as Shepherds cave. We actually slept in 5-star cave, which is just around the corner. Shepherds was taken by dagga (marihuana) farmers, they use it for sleeping and processing the crop. In any case 5-star was much better with more room.
The real uphill started the next morning and we only made it to Chi Chi bushcamp. I didn't have the strength to comply with Jim's wishes of making it to the top. The name bushcamp means nothing, it's a couple of flat spots on the side of the river bed. We put up tents and just finished when it started to rain. And did it rain, it came down in buckets.
We than also started to hear this roaring sound and on looking outside found the river in flood. So much so that we started to worry. Still contemplating should we move or shouldn't we? I noticed a huge block of a rock being pushed by the river. That did it. We quickly gathered our stuff and went to higher ground. Just in time, Jim's campsite started to flood as we moved things off.
Because there was no flat area higher up we had a hard night trying to fit the body in between the grass bushels. But morning came and the worry, would we be able to cross the river? Crossing was essential since we were on the 'wrong' side of the river. Somebody looked out the tent with first light and announced that it looked okay. That made me sleep a bit longer.
Although the river was down from its flashflood proportions we still had a strong flow of water. The use of ropes was essential. Fortunately it has become our standard equipment, that is carrying a 5m piece each. One can do a lot with 10m rope. River crossing in Spitsbergen was at times trickier than the one's we were facing now.
Three times we had to cross various arms to get to the right hand side looking downriver. After that a tricky climb up the bank and pushing through thick vegetation we made it to the path.
For the day we aimed to get back to 5-star cave. This was on the left-hand side of the Mnweni and it meant another crossing. No problem and we moved in. Using the last bit of sunshine to dry our things we set up camp. This was a much better night than the one at the bushcamp and, I think, I slept right through.
For the day before last, all we had to do was to get back to the initial camping place. Lunch we had at the river coming from Icidy, selecting a lovely spot were it runs through sandstone and forms a lovely pool.
Staying on the left side we bundubashed our way down to the Mnweni pool. Taking note of the fact that our campsite was untouched by the flashflood three days ago we decided to use the same spot again, especially since there was no rain anywhere. And then on Saturday it was the walk out and lunch at the Little Switzerland hotel, having the, by now, standard Lamb-burger.
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