The great thing about having friends is you get a place to visit, someone to talk to and have a good time with. Then there are those friends that make you their best man for their utmost special day. Problem with such choices is some friends tend to pitch up at your gate, say hi to your fridge first before acknowledging your existence, then make themselves comfortable in your home. Only when they are comfortable do they say “hi”. Not when you’re travelling to Lephalale in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. I gave a day’s notice to the newly weds only because I NEEDED directions.
I took a bus from Cape Town and had the worst experience ever from a company, product or service. After arriving at Park Station, Johannesburg I had to get to Pretoria. I used the exceptional service of the Gautrain which made the trip shorter than an episode of your favourite drama series, then I had to catch another bus to Lephalale, the Lowveld Bus Service. From Pretoria to Lephalale it took four hours which meant I spent 23 hours on the road (largely due to my horrible Cape Town to Johannesburg trip).
I was broken but upon my arrival, I was greeted with a beer in the car. I fell in love with the town immediately.
A very small town but the one thing it had going for it was the development. A town based on the Medupi Power Station, a lot of construction and development was happening all around me. Having taken a walk to Lephalale Mall, every third male was wearing construction attire of some sort. I felt like I was in The Lego Movie.
*cue in background music:
Everything is awesome,
Everything is cool when you are part of the team.*
Lephalale Mall was impressive, top retailers, banks, quality facilities, restaurant franchises and more. And it was well designed, blending with the environment so intrinsically you would think it was a mine. And shoppers were present meaning there are people in this small inhabitant. I even treated myself by dining and shopping in the mall. Unfortunately there wasn’t a cinema. Understandable but from what I saw, there is an opportunity for cinemas to entertain the town. All they do is braai and go out for dinner. The town needs a cinema.
“Civilisation” is all on one lllllloooonnnnnngggggggggg stretch of road. Franchises like Ocean Basket, Pick n Pay and KFC are all situated along the road. It’s like the BC era when civilisation developed on a river. The road just goes and development occurs on either side of it. Getting lost in this town is near impossible which makes it amazing. The Lowveld Bus Service also operates in the town making it the MyCiti Bus Service of Lephalale. And there are taxis here too, very clean and fairly “new”. Probably the cleanest taxis in South Africa.
Unfortunately I was not there long enough to see the sights but I did get a tour of the Medupi Power Plant (from the outside). Growing up in the city, a kid like me does not get to see towering structures that produce a powerful amount of energy. I can only use my imagination thanks to Hollywood, but Hollywood blows them up. After seeing Medupi, Hollywood needs to stop disrespecting power plants. It was definitely the highlight of my trip and I left highly educated. If you are ever in Lephalale, take a trip to Medupi. For the town, it could be a tourist attraction.
The interesting thing about Lephalale is the people share the land with wildlife. I got to hear of the stories of how a buck can be your neighbour one day and on the next, it’s passing you whilst you are stuck in traffic. I was secretly hoping to bump into wildlife of some sort. The birds were the only inhabitants of the wild that showed their existence. This was largely due to the little drinking hole in the garden. Seemed like animal and man lived in harmony.
Having left Cape Town with its cold and wet weather, I was expecting to be wearing layers upon layers in Lephalale as the town is in the middle of nowhere. It was far from cold. 22 degrees and above during the day, it made things really difficult for me coming from Cape Town. Cape Town would be bright and sunny making you believe that it’s warm outside. Once you stepped outside you would feel the chilling breeze hit you then you would reconsider going outdoors. In Lephalale I was asked, “Do you have a cap?” Confused by this I replied with “Yes and a beanie.” Little did I know the cap was not to keep me warm, it was to protect me from the sun. I wore a cap each time I took a walk. And this was in winter, I could only imagine what it’s like in summer. With no beach to go to, what do people do to keep cool? Well, each house has an air conditioner. I guess the air conditioner was complimentary with each house.
The great thing about Lephalale was the quiet atmosphere it gave. The sun sets, you pull out the camping chairs and take a seat, open up a beer and relax whilst the sun set on another beautiful day in the small town of Lephalale. On Fridays, a lot of people leave the town to go to the major cities for the weekend as traffic is in one direction, making the town deathly quiet. I could only imagine what Christmas is like here.
It was great to be out of the city for a change. The air was clean and the pollution of sound and people could not be felt or heard. There are times you would think you are the only person in any given square kilometre. But it’s a great place to get away. With a variety of lodges in and around Lephalale and camping sites, this small town is an ideal place to “get away”. You want to take a break from it all, travel to Lephalale, check yourself into one of the lodges and relax. Trust me, the concrete jungle can be suffocating and the best remedy is a trip to the African outdoors where it’s you and nature.