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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

The Spectacular Monks Cowl - Day 344

This afternoon we spent our time enjoying a walk at the spectacular Monks Cowl, the morning - chatting - no surprise there!

In our bathroom at the Airbnb here, there is a sign that says “Joy” This word sums up our host Shirley perfectly. She is such a joy to be with, and we had a delightful chat with her this morning. She informed us about a walk in Central Drakensberg we could do today – that was the plan.

Halfway there we saw a café along a country road called ADY'S - The Queen of Tarts Eatery. We stopped off to have a coffee, a flat white of course. We met Ady who shared with us that she also travels around the world, but with groups and runs cooking classes. We were intrigued so asked if she would come and join us. She had just returned from a month in Thailand and next year will be visiting India, around Mumbai, the Golden Triangle and Goa. I think Kerala may be for another time.

Some other guests had come to visit her, so after a lovely chat, she left us to finish our drink and um, yes, we did have some cake (slippery slope? I hope not). I was reflecting that we have now met three people within the last two weeks who have started up a business from their passion: Coffee, African artefacts and now cooking around the world. I then reflected that earlier on our travels, we kept meeting artists. As I was thinking this, I overheard Ady and her friends talking about Art Classes. How strange?

Time to move on, we arrived at Monks Cowl Car Park and signed the register. We had to give our name, age, car details and what path we were taking. We were very impressed with the safety procedures here. We planned to go on a longer trek, but as it was past midday, the guard gave us one look. We got the message and found a shorter 5-hour walk to Nandi Falls. I was slightly concerned about the time as I certainly didn’t want to get back in the dark, so we agreed to walk as far as we could in 2 hours and then head back.

What a delightful walk. Gentle undulating hills with steps and paths clearly marked, the views were incredible of the towering Champagne Castle and Cathkin mountains, all part of the Maloti-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site. After we climbed for a short while, the landscape flattened out to beautiful vistas of sweeping grasslands with tiny viola, curry plant and bushes of scarlet red Natal Bottle Brush in full bloom. What a sight. Occasionally, we would get some relief from the baking sun under the canopy of trees, providing shade for not only us but some wonderful ferns, mosses and lichen and we crossed the babbling stream a couple of times over rows of round wooden poles with quite a few missing!

We began to wind down through a riverine forest, and the path became less distinct. Tim was ahead and called out that we had reached the Nandi Falls. We were ahead of schedule; somehow we had reached our destination in 90 minutes. There in front of us was a cliff of about 10m high with water raining down into a pool. Sitting on a large flat rock was a young man, deeply engrossed in his phone. He looked up after a time, and I apologised for disturbing his peace. Tiaan was from Johannesburg and a software developer. We wondered if we could drink the water and he showed us how to tell if the water was pure. We took his advice, and Tim scooped water into our drinking bottle. It must have been ok – we’re fine! We ended up chatting together for about 45 minutes about a whole range of things; phones, travel, especially in Japan as Tiaan would love to work there, culture, and he shared some places for us to visit around the area. What a lovely young man. I was concerned about getting back, so we left him in peace and wandered back to the carpark. Just before we reached there, Tiaan appeared. We walked together then had to sign out from the register and went our separate ways. I hope he manages to get to Japan someday. He seemed a very focused young man so I am sure he will.

Shirley had suggested that we visited the Champagne Castle Hotel afterwards and sat on the veranda for a drink. What a great idea. She was right – what a spectacular view, and even sweeter with a cooling Gin and Tonic. (Just Tonic for Tim – there is zero tolerance for drinking and driving here in South Africa). And on our way home, an exceptional moon greeted us after another exceptional day.

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