Words and image by Grant Spolander
Head for the Hills
Our Holnek adventure kicked off in darkness. It was one of those moonless nights, when the Milky Way splashes across the night sky and pools behind an infinitely dark horizon. We left Pretoria later than planned, arriving at Holnek’s entrance gate somewhere around 21:00. Just as our headlights pierced the wire fence, trail owners Kobus and Manda came out to greet us.
We followed Kobus’s Cruiser in a cloud of swirling dust to our accommodation for the weekend: a well-equipped thatched home, with two wooden decks that presumably allowed one to gaze out at something which was, as yet, in darkness. Our three-hour drive from Gauteng had brought us to the heart of Mpumalanga, but, having done the journey at night, we had no idea what our surroundings looked like. It was an unnerving feeling, and although our chalet glowed with incandescent warmth, I felt like a lost fish – circling an alluring light in the inky depths of an ocean.
The next morning, I woke to Gary’s call: “Grant, open your curtains. You gotta check this view.” The two wooden decks, previously cloaked in darkness, were now presenting one of the best holiday-home views I’ve ever enjoyed. For as far as the eye could see, rolling grass hills spilled into a valley of peppermint-crisp trees and chocolate-coloured rock. Everything was eerily silent, and the scene utterly mesmerising.