Sauntering up Sani

For ages I have wanted to explore the flowers on Sani Pass and every year feel sad when the Annual Walk comes around in January and I miss it because I don’t have a passport. So last year, I made the effort to head into central ‘Maritzburg and get one. I was determined this year, but blow me down, I couldn’t make it.  Afterwards, I heard from a friend who had gone that there were hundreds of people and it was really dissappointing, so I didn’t feel too sad after all.  Then last week an opportunity to explore landed in my lap and I leapt at the chance! No crowds! How lucky can a girl get?

sani pass up ahead res.

There are plans afoot to tar the road.  Yes – that windy bit of eroded rock you can see in the distance.  Seems completely crazy with fossil fuels on the wane. It should really be a fabulous donkey path.  Which it is, but cars can go up and down too.  I guess those who live just at the top think it will be great to be able to zip down to South Africa in a jiffy, but I believe their tranquil lives will be ruined forever.  Roads bring crime, disease, litter and extra tourists.

sani pass   frogging 041res.

After all the rain there were waterfalls everywhere – and cascades down the sides of the mountains. Sometimes four or five waterfalls one after the other all the way down.

sani pass  waterfalls res.

So the flowers:  there were lots of this little Hebenstretia comosa

sani pass Hebenstretia comosa res.

On the lower slopes things were pretty Midlands like, but as we got higher the flora changed.  Especially when we crossed the Mkomazana river, it was like a fairyland of dainty flowers.

sani pass  mkomazana river res.

Isn’t this little blue forget me not – Mysotis semiamplexicaulis just lovely?

sani pass Mysotis semiamplexicaulis.res

Most obviously in flower were the yellow Euryops – vivid splashes up the mountainsides and pink Geranium pulchrum – carpets and carpets of them. Amazing.

sani pass geranium pulchrum view res

The dominant colour scheme for this week was yellow and mauve (next week I am certain it would be completely different). This Berkheya purpurea was lovely.

sani pass  berkheya purpurea res.

Plenty of plants I had never seen before which was nice.  Like this Jamesbrettenia pristisepala

sani pass Jamesbrettenia pristisepala  res.

and this very small Eucomis montana clinging to the rocks

sani pass   eucomis montana .res

Lots of clumps of white daisies with needle like leaves – a mystery to me.

sani pass   white daisy res.

a Scabious with very deeply lobed leaves close to the gound,  or maybe it is Cephalaria galpiniana?  I’ve never seen it before.

sani pass scabiosa res

The roadsides are literally lined with flowers.  As the pace is slow, we just stopped where we could and got out to explore – moving on if a truck came along.

sani pass view through scabiosa res.

We passed hikers, motorcyclists and tourists, trucks laden with bales of wool and a mini-bus taxi and three Basotho fellows in gumboots and blankets. They completely blended into the landscape and looked at us makhoa in a bemused way – perhaps wondering why on earth we we driving, when walking was the most obvious way to get up the mountain. This Glumicalyx goseloides had almost finished flowering.

sani pass  Glumicalyx goseloides.res

The orange poppy Papaver aculeatum was still in full bloom although down in the Midlands they are over now.  I thought this was an Asclepias at first but now I think it is probably Gomphocarpus.sani pass gomphocarpus rivularis res.

Interesting how it gets less and less important to me to actually know the name of the plant. I’d been hoping that the orchids would be splendid, but hardly saw any besides this one, which I haven’t identified.

sani pass orchid res.

Dierama are notoriously difficult to photograph as they wave in the breeze, but this unusual one deserved a try – particularly with the view.sani pass  dierama.res

Right at the top (2865 m) we picnicked with sheep and angora goats and an incredible view.  In Sotho the Drakensberg is called “The Cliffs of Natal”.  We spotted a shepard sitting right on the edge looking out forever and wondered what he was thinking about. Shopping in Underberg perhaps?

sani pass  summit helichrysum res.

What a lovely day out – perfect weather, pleasant company and pretty flowers. Doesn’t get much better than this.  ke a leboha. 

sani pass  geranium pulchrum res

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Jenny says:

    Yes, indeed, but as you get to know each name the flowers get to be like old friends. No less beautiful or special, and even more loved.


  2. David says:

    Superb wildflower saunter. Thoroughly enjoyed your photos. Puzzling through the books for identifications, for weeks after, is part of re-living the experience. I have saved your saunter so that I can do just that. Thanks


  3. Bridget Ringdahl says:

    well said des! but thanks Nikki now i know what those orangey almost finished flowering ones are called 😉


    1. I came across this quote recently, which says it perfectly:
      Determining the genus or species of a flower is very different than just being with it, appreciating its hues, patterns, textures, complexity, vulnerability, tenacity. Objectifying nature prevents the wonder of it touching your soul.


  4. capital604 says:

    lovely pics Nik must have been a lovely time you had in the mountains with all those splendid plants around you


  5. The plants don’t know their names but they bloom just the same.


  6. des says:

    Love your comment about not being so important to know the names – its just as beautiful with no name – and names are just letters and letters are just squiggles that we silly humans have given specific sounds to.


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