Through blue valleys and past layers of mountains like sand paintings, we chased the sun to Driehoek Farm. We were greeted by three excited dogs called Maxi, Zulu and Tabs. Maxi is a Heinz 57 pavement special like Bow Wow and Zulu is a Jack Russell and a real wee character. Tabs is an enormous Anatolian shepherd dog with a kind face. He in particular was pathetically thrilled that we were paying him some attention. We found out why a few moments later when we were told not to pat Tabs as he is a working dog trained to protect the farm animals… from leopards!! Tabs was sponsored by the Cape Leopard Trust after livestock were taken by these opportunistic hunters. Although leopards rarely attack people, we were warned that Bow Wow could become a tasty snack. Walking in the mountains with him was not advised.
We set up our camp by the river which gushes with sparkling water from the mountain. After the incredible heat and burning sun of Beaverlac, it was a relief to find that there was no shortage of tall shady trees here and plenty of flat ground. It takes us around an hour to set up camp. We had left Wupperthal later than expected and so there wasn’t time to make a fire to cook on as we would usually do. For quickness and ease we made Alastair Brew’s Chicken and Mango Salad which also begins our new Bush Recipes section.
The next day we went in search of some ancient bushman cave paintings. Cederberg was the home of the San and Khoi people for centuries and many of their rock paintings dating back as far as 8,000 years can still be found in caves and under rocky overhangs (ref). We saw paintings depicting a bushman with a bow hunting a deer like animal. It is thought that the artists were Shamans who painted in a trance-like state.
We continued our walk with some trepidation as we had Bow Wow with us a.k.a. Leopard Bait! Leopards are usually nocturnal hunters but have been known to hunt on over cast days like this one. For safety we had brought our taser gun which makes a loud cracking noise. In the event of an attack, we hoped that the noise would scare off a leopard rather than cause any harm. Bow Wow seemed to instinctively know to walk very close to us that day.
We didn’t see any leopards (although they may have seen us) and thankfully we made it back to our camp with Leopard Bait intact. Zulu the Jack Russell was patiently waiting for us. He and Bow Wow tore about boisterously as we started our fire and made dinner. They were highly amusing to watch, showing off in front of each other and reminding us of Kevin and Perry the teenagers. Whenever their antics got too unruly and we had to scold them, Zulu would become very polite and look at us innocently through blinking eyes as though we were Mr and Mrs Patterson!
After dinner I told Lachlan the tale about the Dog, the Leopard and the Baboon.
A dog sees a leopard heading rapidly in his direction with the obvious intention of having him for lunch. The dog thinks, “Oh sherbet, I’m in trouble now!” He sees some bones on the ground close by, and immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat. Just as the leopard is about to leap on him, the dog exclaims loudly, “Man, that was one delicious leopard. I wonder if there are any more around here?” The leopard halts his attack in mid stride, a look of terror comes over him, and he slinks away into the trees. “Whew”, says the leopard. “That was close. That dog nearly got me.”
Meanwhile, a baboon watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, thinks he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the leopard. The dog notices the baboon running after the leopard, and realises that something must be up. Catching up with the leopard, the baboon tells all and strikes a deal. The cat is furious at being made a fool of and says, “Baboon, hop on my back and see what will happen to that conniving canine!”
The dog sees baboon and leopard approaching and thinks, “What will I do now?” Instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers pretending that he hasn’t seen them. Just as they get close enough to hear, the dog says, “Where is that Baboon? I can never trust him. I sent him off half an hour ago to bring me another leopard, and he’s still not back!!”
Lachlan nudged me to look under the table. Bow Wow and Zulu had stopped playing and were listening carefully and lying in exactly the same position with their chins resting on their paws. It was as if Bow Wow was proudly saying to Zulu “I get story time every night, this is just normal for me.”
Zulu stayed with us the whole evening as we chatted and and had a wee dram by the fire. Bow Wow is not a cuddler, you are lucky if you can squeeze him for a few moments before he starts gnawing your ear or bites your big toe. However, Bow Wow was determined to not let Zulu gat any cuddles and so pretended all evening that he didn’t mind them. Bow Wow makes us laugh everyday and we could not imagine doing this trip without him.