Led into no man’s land

Getaway (South Africa) - - Inbox - – Dar­ren John­ston, Joburg

We ig­nored the sug­gested route as lunch in Dull­stroom seemed like a bet­ter idea. Af­ter all, our digs for the week­end was only 30 kilo­me­tres away. Dull­stroom was chilly and wet – we found the cosiest place to eat, tucked into the big­gest pot pies and made a fuss over the res­i­dent Stafford­shire bull ter­rier be­fore rolling out of Dull­stroom and hit­ting the road, or what was left of it. An ear­lier down­pour turned the out­bound gravel road from pass­able to im­pos­si­ble – the gravel grad­u­ally turned into a thick sludge, and we nav­i­gated over rocks, de­bris and even around three lit­tle pigs (no jokes). It soon be­came clear that this was go­ing to be no or­di­nary drive. We reached a fork in the road and opted for the ‘fastest route’ that led us onto a rarely trav­elled sin­gle track. Thick mud caked the tyres, caus­ing our hatch­back to slide un­con­trol­lably, nar­rowly miss­ing boul­ders, fences and be­wil­dered look­ing cat­tle. Only when we am­bled over a cat­tle gate did it dawn on us that our ‘trusted’ GPS was ac­tu­ally tak­ing us for a ride! The last thing we needed was to be in­ter­ro­gated by a farmer for tres­pass­ing. We had to turn around and plough through that muddy mess, which turned a 45-minute drive into a three-hour trek. A rare en­counter with a ma­jes­tic ground horn­bill for­ag­ing on the road­side kept our spir­its up as we got through the bad stuff and ban­ished the GPS to the cub­by­hole. As the sun slipped from the hori­zon, with sighs of re­lief we ar­rived at our des­ti­na­tion, where a crack­ling fire, cold beer and amused hosts were await­ing us. Moral of the story: don’t trust your GPS!

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