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Eunice had surfed some more on the Internet and had found a Haworthia location at nearby Koup Station. Some of her suggestions had in the past proved to be a little disappointing but a) we had nothing better planned than driving and b) this spot was right along the road that we were on, so it would have been a little churlish to drive straight by. There was a train pulling in just as we pulled off the N1. The carriages looked a bit dated but at the same time quite luxurious. Each carriage had a logo pained on its side: The Shongololo Express. A bit of Googling back home reveals that the train travels to seven countries on the southern African continent: South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia – sounds like one of those great adventurous train journeys you see documented on TV.

We parked the car and had a look around but initially there was nothing to excite us. Things improved once we had walked away from the station towards the hills.

S2754 - Pleiospilos compactus

S2755 – Pleiospilos compactus

It turned out a very nice stop as we also found Euphorbia stellispina, Astroloba sp and some Crassula in flower.

Signs along the 200 km stretch of N1 highway between Laingsburg and Beaufort West warned us that this was the most dangerous stretch of highway with the highest fatality statistics in the country, mostly caused by driver fatigue, so we took a random turning off the road after the first 100 km for a leg stretch and look around.an area that from the highway looked quite boring and uninspiring from a plant perspective, but as is often the case, a closer look (and better preparation?) can produce some nice surprises. At S2756 we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by clumps of Mesembs covered in yellow flowers. No idea of the genus or species – for now I’ve just lumped them into ‘Cheiridopsis sp’ for the purpose of provisionally filing images.

S2756 - Cheiridopsis sp

S2756 – Cheiridopsis sp

An interesting and useful stop and suitably refreshed we completed the final stretch of the dangerous 200 km stretch, leaving the N1 at Beaufort West. Looking at my images for these Diaries, I realise that I missed my usual picture of the car’s rear light that serves as a ‘stop marker’ when I sort my images quickly at the end of each day. These images also carry the GPS data on which I rely to know where we were. Fortunately I’m expecting images from my fellow travellers who also have GPS enabled cameras, so in the mean time I’ll just rely on the picture I took of a road sign indicating that this extra stop (S2756a) was on the R61, 10 km past Beaufort West. This stop was prompted by Euphorbia stellispina clumps at the side of the road but the main excuse was when we spotted Hoodia gordonii, this time in flower!

S2756a - Hoodia gordnii

S2756a – Hoodia gordonii

Another stand of a different Euphorbia and the need for another comfort break provided the next brief photo opportunity (S2757):

S2757 - Euphorbia sp

S2757 – Euphorbia sp

Near Graaff-Reinet a large stand of Aloe ferox prompted the last stop of the day:

S2758 - Aloe ferox

S2758 – Aloe ferox

while a family of vervet monkeys reminded us that we were driving through nature, rather than through a huge botanic garden. They were too quick in poor light – I just managed to get some pictures of blurred monkeys on the move.

A day that had started off as ‘just a driving day’ had again surprised us with a nice crop of images.

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