South Africa Educational Study Program


June 4, 2007

Departing Durban at 8:00 a.m., we journeyed towards the Midlands.  Along the way we made several stops.  First was a weaving and candle factory where we made many purchases of beautiful African crafts.  A bit farther down the road we enjoyed lunch at a small collection of shops that had a deli and restaurant.  Full and satisfied we made the last leg of our journey into the Drakenburg Mountains where we happily found our new home for the next two days at the Inkosana Lodge.  While many rested throughout the afternoon, some of us ventured into the terrain to do some hiking.  Our peaceful afternoon was followed by a delicious dinner of soup, homemade bread, sheppard’s pie, and cheesecake provided by the lodge owner, Ed.  The night closed with jigsaw puzzles, trivia and laughter.  

June 5, 2007

We were awakened this morning by a bell ringer alerting us to breakfast. In the common room we ate cereal, toast, eggs, and bacon.  After breakfast we headed out to Falcon Ridge.  Falcon Ridge is located at the top of one of the foothills leading into the Drakensberg Mountains.  Here we saw many native birds including the peregrine falcon, the fastest animal in the world, reaching speeds of 420 kph.  Mark, the falconer, then showed us four birds: the Lanner Falcon, crown hawk eagle, spotted eagle owl, and a cape vulture.  Our very own Kasey even got to hold the spotted eagle owl!  They flew over our heads and pecked near our feet—it was a little scary!
We then drove down the road to the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir School where we watched a rehearsal. Not only did we hear them sing some native Zulu songs, but we also saw some gumboot dancing and African drumming.  Interestingly enough, this was the first school in South Africa to mix races in 1984.  It costs about R60,000 per year to go there and some children are on scholarship. The choir tours all over the world and were actually recently in Buffalo, NY, which is only a couple hours away from Skidmore.
For the afternoon, we had many different activities to choose from.  Some people went shopping at native art shops, some went hiking through the mountains, and others relaxed at the lodge and caught up on their reading.  It was nice to be able to take a breather from the usual busy schedule.  Today’s weather was nice and sunny, which led to many of us hanging out in Adirondack chairs taking advantage of the warm weather.  When dinnertime came along at 6:30, we were all starving for some good food, specially prepared and served by Ed and his amazing staff.  Dinner at the Inkosana Backpacking Lodge is always amazing and accompanied by festive music and delicious wine. Tomorrow we venture over into the mountains to Lesotho, which means early to bed for the crew.