No sooner did we land – after 2 days of travel (ok with a 6-hour time lapse – so maybe a day and a half) but still after a 15-hour flight from Atlanta, I was given a brief night’s sleep and hauled off at early o’clock to hike the Melville Koppies Nature Reserve.
Note to self, this is a vacation, not a holiday – there is a difference. Nonetheless, time is too short to complain – and when next will I be back in South Africa? Unless my last single son decides to marry there – maybe never. So just do it!
But what a lovely way to start a holiday, sorry vacation – fraternising with the natives, learning how to enjoy Jo’burg, sweating off the stresses of life (in a lovely temperature of 24 degrees C), traversing the rugged terrain of the famous Melville Koppies Nature Reserve.
Melville Koppies is a Nature Reserve and a Johannesburg City Heritage Site. It is the last conserved remnant of Johannesburg’s ridges as they were before the discovery of gold in 1886. Its geology goes back three billion years. Stone tools show that Early Stone Age man camped here as long as 500,000 years ago. Within the last 1,000 years Iron Age immigrants arrived, and remains of their kraal walls can be found on the northern slopes.
The vegetation of the Koppies is entirely indigenous and is a remarkable example of the richness of highveld grasses, flowers, and trees so close to a city centre. These ridges have looked like this for hundreds of years. Unfortunately (or not) for us, we encountered this terrain at the end of winter… still an impressive site in the middle of the vast, modern city of Johannesburg.