by Vuyi Mpofu
Setting off at the crack of dawn in the Mitsubishi Xpander CVT, a 7-seater MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle) the group drove in convoy towards Pietermaritzburg. The Xpander could easily have carried the entire group’s luggage thanks to its 3rd rows of seats; which, when laid flat, increases the luggage area by a whopping 1.77m. Fortunately, our other vehicle was the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, which has a smaller boot; but given the size of some of the accompanying journalists suitcases, I can safely say that the Xpander provides ample space for a medium-sized family’s luggage.
With ample legroom for front and rear seat passengers, the 275km trek to our first rest-stop in Harrismith was comfortable and smooth. The Xpander’s 45-litre fuel tank, with a claimed fuel consumption rate of 7.0L/100km pulled up to the fuel pump with just under half a tank of fuel and a further approximately 320kms worth of fuel left in it. Our breakfast venue was 200km away and while I was confident that the Xpander could easily make the stretch, we filled up the tank because the group wasn’t in the mood to cut it fine.
On the other hand, when the Eclipse Cross, with its substantially bigger 63-litre fuel reservoir reached the petrol station, its gauge hovered just below the three-quarter mark. I won the argument against refuelling the Eclipse Cross and we before long, we were back on the road.
KwaNogqaza, aka Howick Falls
With the sun peeping over the horizon, we arrived at Howick Falls, a geographical gem adjoining the centre of the small town.
Also known as KwaNogqaza which means ‘the ‘place of the tall one’, the waterfall cascades into a churning pool of water, 95-metre below. The waterfall is regarded with more than a dash of superstition by locals because legend has it that the Falls and surrounding area is sacred space; inhibited by the spirits of ancestors of the Africans who inhabited the area as far back as the 19thcentury. Folklore also has it that a giant snake-like creature lives in the depth of the waters.
The view from the top of the Falls is one to behold. Inhaling the fresh air and listening to the sounds of the awakening birds against the backdrop of the thundering waters, we let out a collective sigh of appreciation for the moment.
Nelson Mandela Capture Site
Next, we travelled a short 9km to the most important historical landmark of our trip; the site where the late former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela was arrested on 5 August 1962.
Tata Mandela had been travelling on the R103, disguised as the chauffeur of the car he was driving at the time of his arrest. The Apartheid police had been hunting for him for 17 months prior to his capture and was apprehended as he drove past what is now the Nelson Mandela Capture site.
The Capture Site not only commemorates this significant moment in history with a cultural and historical exhibition, it’s also has a world renowned sculpture. The late Nelson Mandela spent the next 27 years of his life in prison, awakening the consciousness of South Africans and the world to the inequalities and unfair treatment of people in our country; a battle which culminated in the first non-racial democratic election held on 27 April 1994.
Without a doubt the Nelson Mandela Capture Site is a must-see place for anyone with a desire to learn the history of our nation and how the purpose and sacrifice of one man has so greatly shaped our country.
Leaving Howick, the Adventurers headed to Pietermaritzburg to visit the Natal Museum – one of South Africa’s five national museums.
Set in a building which dates back to the early 1900s, the KwaZulu-Natal museum is dedicated to increasing understanding of the history of mankind in South-Eastern Africa and of the Natural World, through the collection, study and display of real objects. The Museum opened its doors on 30 November 1904 and is now home to several of South Africa’s most important heritage collections.
The collections are of international renown and feature regional archaeology, African cultural products, European settler history, seashells, insects and other forms of animal life. The KwaZulu-Natal Museum is proud to be the custodian of one of the most important collections of Zulu craft objects. It also boasts a room dedicated to KwaZulu-Natal history, including a reconstruction of a Victorian street, complete with shops and period homes.
The visit to the museum is yet another must-see place as it clearly illustrates how the various races and cultures of South Africa have co-existed alongside one another over generations.
CMH Mitsubishi Ballito
Leaving Pietermaritzburg, the we drove further down the N3, headed to the Dolphin Coast. There we met newly appointed Dealer Principal Nathi Mhlongo, who heads up CMH Mitsubishi Ballito*.
CMH Mitsubishi Ballito is more than a dealership; rather, it is the embodiment of motoring lifestyle, offering its guests and customers a barbershop, nail & beauty salon and restaurant.
Over a hearty lunch, Nathi Mhlongo interacted easily with the media on topics ranging from his rise within the CMH group, becoming a Dealer Principal, the history of the CMH and Mitsubishi brands in South Africa and a few of his plans for the dealership’s growth, impact and relevance to its target market.
*CMH Mitsubishi Ballito is one of 5 newly opened Mitsubishi dealerships. The other 4 are Mitsubishi Motors Zambezi in Pretoria and CMH Mitsubishi Midrand (Gauteng), Morgan Mitsubishi Bethlehem (Free State) and Mitsubishi Motors Paarl (Western Cape).
It had been a long but fun and informative day but we still had a further 210km to our accommodation for the night – Hluhluwe Game Reserve. The drive to the Reserve provided more excitement than anyone could have anticipated but I’ll share that story for Day 2 of Ubuntu Adventure 2021.
- Xpander 1.5L manual: R299,995
- Xpander 1.5L automatic: R319,995
- Eclipse Cross – 2.0L GLS CVT 4×2: R459 995
- Eclipse Cross – 1.5L GLS CVT 4×2: R499 995
Pricing includes a three-year/100,000km manufacturer’s warranty and a two-year/30,000km service plan1