06-Dec-2003 -- This Confluence lies in the rolling hills best described by Alan Paton in his "Cry the Beloved Country". The opening scenes of that book are set in Carisbrooke, a mere 20 km south of the Confluence. This is certainly a pretty part of KwaZulu-Natal, the most populous province of South Africa. There are two approaches to the Confluence - from the South, via Ixopo onto the Donnybrook road, and turning right towards Hella Hella on an unsurfaced road. From the North, one turns off at Richmond, and then south via Hella Hella to the Confluence.
The name Ixopo is an isiZulu word for "the sound made by a cow's hoof as it lifts out of the mud". Other place names are of English origin and were given by the 19th century British settlers who immigrated to the area. Main activities in the area are dairy farming and forestry. The Hella Hella is one of South Africa's most scenic river passes as you cross the Umzimkulu River through a deep gorge. Four-wheel drive is not necessary, but will help in rainy weather.
12h15 on 6 December 2003, I left my home in Westville, near Durban with laptop, digital camera, Garmin GPS, 1:250,000 maps and tripod. I travelled via Pinetown, Cato Ridge, Thornville, Richmond, and Ixopo, getting more and more apprehensive as I neared the Confluence, as the weather had begun closing in and this area is known for thick impenetrable mists. The longer route to the Confluence was taken, as I was surer of the roads in the area.
As I arrived at the Confluence just before 14h00, the rain began, but fortunately remained light while I went about the documentation process, photographing the GPS with 10 birds, an EPE of 4 m, and all zeroes. The Confluence is situated at the top of a hill, at an altitude of 1326 m and is a mere 40 meters from the roadside in an unfenced wattle tree plantation. I photographed the confluence views to all directions - but not much to see, except trees, and shot a general view looking towards the plantation from the roadside.
There is also a picture of myself standing at the Confluence, and a photo of the map used to locate and travel to the Confluence. One kilometre north of the plantation I took a further two photos, one looking north and one looking back towards the Confluence.
The Confluence was left as found - only my footprints remaining. I am not sure that the previous visitor was at the same spot as myself, as he recorded the road as being more than 100 m from the Confluence, and the general scenery is quite different. The road certainly has not moved. Also, there are no GPS photos. It was about three years ago that the Confluence was last visited, so the trees certainly would have grown a bit.
After completing the documentation process, I travelled the short route back home via the Hella Hella pass, reliving my last trip through the pass more years ago than I care to admit. The rain was quite heavy at the time, and I used 4WD just to be safe and give the vehicle a bit more traction and stability. This was my first Confluence, and I intend bagging a few more soon - especially 29S 31E.