Tea growing near Pu Mat National Park at Con Cuong, Vietnam.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Con Cuong (Pu Mat National Park), Vietnam.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Ninh Binh, Vietnam.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Back in South Africa

Hard to believe that it's only two weeks tomorrow and we will be heading back across the pond to New York City.

We left Lesotho (our 21st country visited!) on Tuesday morning. We didn't have a firm destination in mind, but we did know the general area we were heading for. We ended up in the town of Bethulie, South Africa.

Here's how it all happened...

First, we drove to the Van Rooyensheck border crossing. It took about an hour and a half to get there from Malealea Lodge.

Only 13,335 kms to New York City!

Our last bit of Lesotho mountains.
Crossing back into South Africa.

Crossing the border was simple. The first stop was where they stamped us out of Lesotho. We got out of the car and a Lesotho police officer came over and offered to trade us two horses in exchange for our car. We all laughed. Then he asked where we were from, and asked if Canada is a good country. We replied yes, but that it was too expensive and too cold, and told him what the winter has been like. He agreed. Too cold.

Then we drove another 20 meters or so and had our passports stamped for our re-entry into South Africa. We're allowed a total of three months in the country and so we're good until our departure on March 7th.

We ended up doing 235 kms (146 miles).

We arrived at the town of Bethulie, and saw quite a few signs near the entrance of the town advertising various accommodations.

One of the first places we saw on the way into town was the Bethulie Bikepackers. Knocked on the door, and owners Peter and Annette came out to greet us. The house was empty, and they told us the cost was R300 ($31.50) for the two of us per night. With a choice of bedrooms, and a fully equipped kitchen, we were sold!

We spent most of Wednesday getting caught up on some internet things. We were pretty much without for about 10 days, so had no idea what was going on in the world. Did we miss anything? Not much, it seems!

We did try and go out for a walk around town yesterday. Didn't make it very far and it started to look like rain. We got into a grocery store, but by the time we had picked up a few things, it was pouring buckets!

Pouring buckets! We had to wait 20 minutes or so for the storm to pass.

It was a good one. Lots of thunder and lightning too!

Later yesterday afternoon, Peter offered to take us around the town and show us some sights. Bethulie has a lot of history from the Boer War (1899-1902). The third largest concentration camp operated by the British was located here and over 5,000 Boers were interned here, with approximately 1,737 of them eventually dying of disease, starvation, and extreme temperatures over a period of 14 months. Yes, the British operated concentration camps well before the Germans did!

Graves of British soldiers.

Peter brought us to one cemetery where there are 32 British soldiers buried. These graves are still maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. In fact, Peter says they are normally kept better trimmed than this. 

Then, we headed to a monument sitting in the middle of a field. The unfinished monument was supposed to be an "apology" to the Boers, with funding coming from the British government between 1919 and 1923, but the project was stopped before completion by the Boers who weren't quite prepared to accept a British apology.

The unfinished English Monument

A storm is brewing. Interesting how it looks like it's coming from the top of the monument!

It wasn't long and things got very dark. I actually got a picture of the lightning!

This has become a really interesting area for us to visit. We learned a lot about the Boer War, and the fact that 7,000 Canadians served in South Africa over the three year period. 267 of them did not return home.


  1. Your time there is winding down, pretty quickly, but you sure have covered a lot ground, glad we could travel along with you.

    1. We can't believe how fast the time has gone by and we still feel like we have so much to see and do.

  2. I'm with George! Excellent story telling, my bucket list keeps growing thanks to you guys!

    1. Thank you Peter, I hope that you are able to stroke a few of these off your list in the very near future.

  3. Remains to be seen if the weather smartens up in the Greater New York area before your arrival. Could be a bit of a shock.

    1. We're only in "the city" for three nights, and then we're heading to Mexico. So providing our plane can land and take off from JFK, we'll do fine!

  4. I'm already sad this great trip is almost over. I can't guess how you must feel. :c(

    1. Actually, although we've had a great experience, we're looking forward to Mexico and our motorhome!

  5. Lots of history in this part of the country. I think you'll really like Graaff Reinet which is not far from Camdeboo NP with a little wildlife and a fantastic vista. Heading towards the Wild Coast tomorrow.

    1. Yes there certainly is lots of history. We are in Graaff Reinet right now and it is such a pretty town. I think that we will head into Camdeboo NP tomorrow and do some hiking in the Valley of Desolation.

      Hope you are enjoying the Wild Coast!

  6. For one of your posts, before you forget, could you pull together you BEST CHOICES, including prices, for someone who wants to spend about a month travelling in Nambia with perhaps a side trip to Lesotho, but not necessarily South Africa. We have so enjoyed ALL your posts!! Rebecca in SW FLA Zanzibar Safari

    1. We will try and do something like that if we can but it may not be for a little while. We seem to have so much going on at the moment. Thanks for the suggestion Rebecca.

  7. That's what I love about you guys, you tend to immerse yourself in the history of where you are. You just don't do the "tourist" thing you actually do real travel writing.
    Might be a good hobby for you to do that as a freelance job sometime. Magazines pay well if you are a good writer and can do the immersion like you do. Something to think about for your spare time and get lots of great travel in too!

    1. We are always trying to find interesting things to see and do that are out of the main tourist areas and it is never hard to find them.

      Kevin has looked at doing something like that but it is very difficult to get noticed with magazines or newspapers because so many people are trying to do the same thing.


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