10-Mar-2002 -- The city of Bloemfontein is slightly less than 400 km from Johannesburg, on the main route down to the Cape. So when leaving Johannesburg on a long trip this is a good place to stop for breakfast and to stretch one’s legs, but there are still many kilometres and hours of travel ahead. However, on the way back home, Johannesburg is now within a few hours driving, and there is little desire to stop.
The N1 highway completely bypasses the city to the west. Confluence 29S 26E is about 20 km or so off this bypass, near the small town of Bain’s Vlei – now really an extension of greater Bloemfontein – although I’m sure the residents will not agree with me! It appeared that the Confluence Project has not yet become known in Bloemfontein, otherwise this Confluence would have already been visited, as it is fairly easy to find.
We headed north-west on the R64, and turned off at Bain’s Vlei. From there it was simple to follow the roads to the Confluence, which turned out to be in the middle of some large mealie (maize) fields, about 1.5 km from the road.
The area is fairly well populated, and we did not want to venture onto the farm without permission, in case an angry farmer came along brandishing his gun. So we drove up to the nearest farm house, only to find a locked gate and a couple of very loud barking dogs... but this attracted the owner, who came out wearing the expected revolver on his waistband! He turned out to be very friendly. However, the confluence point was not located on his property but on his neighbour’s. He was sure that the owner would not mind, and in any event the owner lived about 25 km away, so we proceeded onto the fields, after many warnings not to get stuck in deep mud.
While walking through the rows of maize to the confluence point, I noticed some recent footprints in the sand – possibly someone else had beaten us to the draw? Our visit was on 10th March, so if someone else was there before that date we will accept 2nd place. The pictures show maize plants in all directions. These plants did not look very healthy, and showed signs of hail damage.