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Monday, 28 March 2011

Names of peaks in the Drakensberg

Went fishing this afternoon and before a thunderstorm chased me home a managed to catch one small bass on a foam popper. Many people are killed every years in SA by lightning. A story in one of our daily papers caught my I this morning of an Australian tourist that was struck by lightning and killed on Saturday. She was with several other people who climbed a huge boulder just outside a small village called Hanaertsburg in Eastern Mpumalanga province. While they were on this boulder a bolt of lightning struck it sending everyone flying. She was taken to hospital unconscious but later died. The other members of the party all suffered burn wounds, a dog that was with them was also killed. So when I see a storm coming I seek shelter, especially when I'm carrying a carbon fibre fly rod.

The Drakensberg experiences extremely severe thunderstorms during the summer, from November to May the Berg will on average experience thunderstorms for 2 out of every 3 days. I remember being caught in a thunderstorm on the Berg with other member of a hiking party. There's no where to hide, we all separated and I tried to make myself as small as possible. It is impossible to explain the ferocity of such a storm and takes all your willpower not to jump over the nearest cliff just to get away. It's in a situation like this that you realise that you don't really have much control in life. But that's another story.

When you climb to the top of the Drakensberg there's no going down the other side, because you are then on top of a huge 30,000 square killometer plateau, which is the mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, with more mountains and peaks stretching westward. The mountain range that you see from the eastern Natal side is actually cliffs, punctuated by peaks. The names of these peaks are very interesting, they often have two names, an English official name as shown on maps, and a Zulu name. The Zulu names are very descriptive and poetic.

The highest peak on the Natal side is Injasuti, which means well fed dog. Dog in Zulu is Inja and when you've had enough to eat you say you are sutile. There are many different stories as to the origin of this name. Injasuti peak is 3459 meters high, 11,350 feet. This peak is also the source of the Injasuti river, a lovely stream with rainbow trout. 

ThabaNtlenyana is the highest peak in the Drakensberg range, but it lies in Lesotho, it is also the highest mountain in Africa south of Kilimanjaro. The name ThabaNtlenyan  means nice little mountain a bit of an understatement. This peak is 3482 meters high, or 11425 feet.

The next highest peak on the Natal side is Champange Castle at 3377 meters. It looks a bit like a castle and the first climbers to climb the peak celebrated with a bottle of champange on the summit. One of the most dominant, but not highest peaks is Cathkin Peak, the Zulu name is Mdedelele,  meaning,"make room for him". Giants Castle is another interesting peak, with the Zulu name, iNtabayikonjwa, meaning, "the mountain at which one must not point". If you point at the mountain it will cause bad weather. Another mountain in the range has the same Zulu name, but the injunction for this mountain applies only to women. If they point at this mountain they will end up marrying one of the men who live on it's slopes, and they are not considered to be the best looking.

There are more than fifty peaks in this part of the Berg, I won't be able to cover them all but I will do a few more in the next blog. 

1 comment:

Gaelyn said...

The storms there come and go so quickly. John and I hunkered down small. Maybe I'm an idiot, but I thoroughly enjoyed the energy of the storm, being cooled by the rain, and not getting struck by lightning of course. The descriptive Zulu names remind me of our Native people's names for place.

So much enjoying your blog.