Day 8 – Garden Castle to Durban

The next day was our final day at Lake Naverone we had a relaxed morning while packing our gear, then headed off to the Sani Pass, this time to do it by 4×4. Everything you have heard about how treacherous this route can be is TRUE. Some very rocky and steep inclines plus very sharp corners and precipitous drops make this one of the most dangerous roads in Southern Africa. If that was bad enough throw in some icy rivers for good measure. We were very careful and successfully made our way to the top, yet just as we were reaching the top a taxi, packed to capacity, started tailgating us. Imagine our suprise that this Toyota Hi-Ace Super 12 could possibly make it up this kind of trail, yet apparently they do it every day! I have photos taxis crammed to capacity making the ascent! South Africa does not allow any 2×4 vehicles over from the South African side, but if you are coming from the Lesotho side you can pretty much drive anything you want to. The Lesotho taxi drivers cleverly come only as far as the SA border post, then the passengers cross the border and climb into another taxi waiting on the other side. They have to do this because the taxis would not be allowed back over the SA border post once in SA!
The view from the top is spectacular and its well worth making the journey whether you decide to hike, bike or 4×4, (or catch a taxi!).  The bar at the top is well known and highly spoken of yet we weren’t especially taken with the yuppiness of it and didn’t bother having a drink there with the many gautengers dressed as if they were at a ski-resort, complete with snowboarding goggles. I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt and Heather was wearing a summer dress – I guess if you’re from the Western Cape you just don’t feel the cold the same way as the Gautengers do. I remember the Gautengers from our diving holiday in 2008, huddling on the boat after the dive in full wetsuits shivering like we were at the north pole and occasionally puking over the side and fouling their expensive brand new Cressi outfits. Heather and I would peel off our short suits as soon as we got topside – after all, the water is always above 20 degrees and just because it’s rainy season doesn’t mean it’s cold in Mozambique!!
We purchased some Lesotho keep sakes from a nearby vendor called the Kings Shop (in a zinc shack) and I bought a Lesotho branded sweat shirt from the customs official.
I thought the descent would be much more difficuly yet it proved to be really easy compared to going up, this must be why the sign states that vehicles coming down are to give way to vehicles coming up.
After a disgusting lunch at the Sani Hotel we refueled in Underberg and made our way to Durban. This time we trusted the GPS on Heather’s new Nokia E72 which got us to Durban in 2.5 hours shaving an hour off the route which is normally recommended. Of course this was another dark Africa detour, yet again with surprisingly good roads. We arrived at the Blue Waters Hotel on the beachfront in central Durban in record time (two hours and thirty minutes). The receptionist could not believe that 3 hours earlier we were in Lesotho.
The hotel was nothing like the pictures on the internet, with grotty rooms, dirty, oily underground parking, porters who are not available when you need help carrying your bags and filthy old carpets with a lived in smell (and too much carpet powder) that one would expect from a cheap porn theatre instead of a hotel. The hooker roaming around in the front of the building added to the ambience as did the drunken Saturday night revellers, Indian drag racers and the noticable police presence. One drunk somehow got trapped in his own car and leaned on his hooter for most of the night in a desperate bid for someone to help him out of his drunken stupidity. Foolishly we ordered room service and got food which made Heather feel ill and which I refused to eat, so we demanded a refund. The food was cold, bland and tasteless. I went out onto the balcony to get some fresh air, trying to avoid the carpet but not succeeding and breathed in a lung full of cigararette smoke emanating from the surrounding balconies. Smoking is not allowed in the hotel rooms but it seems that you can smoke everything short of weed on your balcony. With all of us sick we refused the room upgrade that was offered to us by the manager after we complained, and turned in for a very restless nights sleep. This was the worst R1000 I have ever spent. The hotel breakfast the next morning was unmentionably bad.