Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Taaiboschfontein to Kraankuil

From Taaiboschfontein its a quick dash up the N1 (with a short diversion to take a snap of Three Sisters) to Richmond, then off the highway onto the gravel road through De Aar and on towards Hopetown. For the two hours between Richmond and De Aar I saw one man with his dog, one donkey cart with a family, and two men on their bicycles, and that's all. No cars, and no-one else. Makes it very easy to just stop anywhere along the road to observe the scenery. And what a change of scenery, with the big mountains of Beaufort West area giving way eventually to huge plains of scrub, and this year a lot of extra grass, with occasional koppies.

Some pics along the route:
Karoo: Three Sisters
Karoo: Three Sisters

Karoo Koppie R348

Karoo Windmill R348
Karoo Windmill
Kraankuil proved to be a big challenge photographically, with such large open spaces and little elee to work with. But the first surprise of the stop was to be a gathering storm coming in from the west on Monday afternoon. Pieter and his wife kindly drove me along various farm roads, to try and get a reasonable view of the approaching storm. What a pleasure to see a storm in the karoo, but evidently there have been a lot of them this season! The rain arrived while we were still photographing it, and drove us home. It was to rain for several more hours that evening.

Karoo Storm, Kraankuil
Karoo storm over salt pan near Kraankuil
The next morning Pieter and his wife offered to drive me to a salt pan about 20km away, which after the night's rain he was expecting to have some water in it.  Arriving there we were a bit apprehensive because it was so open and flat, but as the light developed, with the clouds of the previous night, it turned out to offer some very unusual photo opportunities. The pan indeed had a lot of water in it, and the edges were very muddy so one couldn't walk into it. The focus was on the colours of the sky, reflections in the pan water, the warm colour of the mud once the sun came up, etc. Not at all pictures I was expecting in the karoo!

Karoo : Kaalpan Salt Pan Sunrise after Rain
Karoo: Kaalpan Salt Pan Sunrise after rain 
Karoo : Kaalpan Salt Pan Early Morning after Rain
Karoo: Kaalpan Salt Pan Sunrise after rain
Karoo : Kaalpan Salt Pan Salt Water Windmills
Karoo: Kaalpan Salt Pan salt water windmills
Karoo : Kaalpan Salt Pan Early Morning after Rain
Karoo: Kaalpan Salt Pan early morning after rain 
Pieter's farm is too small to really walk on, and the landscape so flat with any point of interest so far away, which meant rather driving around the area during the day and snapping whatever caught my eye.

In the late afternoon yesterday we went out again to a spot I had seen during the afternoon, but alas the clouds had blocked out the horizon, so no pics at all from that session.  This morning we went for a drive without a clear pre-prepped plan, but just stopped along the roadside when it looked interesting. We were treated to a fantastic light show as the sun was rising, painting the clouds all shades of pink. I'm now about to make the dash home, this mornings pics will be loaded from home tonight.

I haven't come across any WiFi during the trip, so I've had to rely on the cellphone.  But doing uploads through my cellphone has proved quite a challenge - coverage on the farms is pretty sporadic, and very slow going if it works!  This was prepared early this morning, but after a hour of struggling it bombed out just before finalisation.

I'm now driving through the tired old towns of Luckoff, Fauresmith, and Jagersfontein, (where there is at last some 3G coverage) on my way to Bloemfontein, then home.

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