08-Aug-2004 -- Usually one does the Confluence Dance to get those magical 10 zeroes showing on the GPS. For this Confluence it was the "Confluence Squelch" as the point where all the zeroes appeared was just inside a very foul bog with bulrushes all around. But I am getting ahead of myself.
For a long time I had known that this Confluence (28S 32E) was badly in need of a revisit, especially as the previous visitor had not submitted a GPS photograph showing latitude and longitude, but claimed that he was within 100 metres.
Sunday, August, 8 was in the middle of a long weekend in South Africa. So, Gareth and Melissa (my two teenaged children) and I decided to head north from our home in Westville, near Durban, find and document the Confluence, and then spend the rest of the day in the nearby Hluhluwe Umfolozi (pronounced Shloo-Shloo-wee Uum-4-low-zee) Game Reserve.
At about 10h00, complete with laptop, digicam, GPS, binoculars, bird book and whatever else we thought would be useful, we fuelled up, and set off. Lunch was taken in Hluhluwe village, and then we headed for the Confluence. We found the same unpaved road heading northwards from the main Game Reserve approach road, and followed this route through some pretty rugged terrain, until we passed the school marked on the 1:500,000 topo-admin map. From there it was a matter of engaging 4-wheel drive, and trying a few different approaches, until eventually we managed to find a track that petered out about 50 m from the Confluence.
Approaching on foot, we soon discovered that this one was not going to be so easy as the point obviously lay in the middle of a bulrush swamp. However, not to be deterred, Gareth removed shoes that had already become dirty, while Melissa took hers off before hitting the mud. I just pressed on as I was wearing my rock sandals anyway. I asked the youngsters to sit tight while I did the confluence squelch, and as soon as I had the magic zeroes, called them over for the GPS and cardinal point photographs.
The view north was the approach direction and our vehicle is just out of sight to the right. The view east is towards some nearby houses (perhaps the houses mentioned by the previous visitor, although the houses are at least 500 m away). The view south is towards the northern end of the Game Reserve, and west is a hillside with a few young eucalyptus trees. Having had enough of muddy feet, we retreated back to the hillside for the visitor and general view photographs.
The area is populated by subsistence farmers who grow mainly maize (corn) and raise cattle, and was once part of the empire of the mighty king uShaka of the Zulus. The area of the present day Game Sanctuary used to be the personal hunting grounds of Zulu Royalty.
Nearby was an Aids Help Centre (closed on Sundays) and a rather pretty tree with very bright red flowers. Once in the game reserve we enjoyed sightings of rhino, elephant, a few species of antelope, giraffe, zebra and warthogs. We watched an awesome sunset before leaving the Game Reserve. Home was reached at 20h00 after a tiring, but successful and rewarding day. Total distance travelled was 740 km.