I am almost 50 years old and have never ridden a passenger train—until now!
I rode a passenger train from Pretoria to the northern reaches of Limpopo in hopes of finding my beloved baobab trees. I found them!
I absolutely loved the trees and I absolutely loved my train ride.
The train ride was 14 hours long and most of the ride was during the night. However, I did get almost 4 hours of train ride in the daylight and it was at the best time: I was able to see our passage through the Soutpansberg Mountains, the most northerly mountain range of South Africa, and see our arrival into Messina. Messina is home to the Messina Nature Reserve—a nature reserve that is dedicated to preserving baobab trees.
Since the baobabs won’t live in the frost plain (very wise trees these are!), I had read that I wouldn’t see baobabs on the southern side of the mountain range but that I would see them on the northern side. When I realized that we were traveling through the Soutpansberg mountains, I was very excited.
True enough, as the train moved through the mountains, I saw my first baobabs on the other side! They were magnificent!
A brief aside: there is a group of us in Louisville that hike Bernheim Forest monthly. In December and January, the group usually hikes to the “eagle watch area” in hopes of spotting American bald eagles. On one hike, a large bird was spotted and I was asked, “Is that an eagle?” I responded, “No. When you see a bald eagle, you will know it is a bald eagle because they are very distinct in appearance and like no other bird.”
I can say the same thing about baobabs: when you see a baobab tree, you know it is a baobab tree, as they are very distinct in appearance and like no other tree.
The trees are coming in the next blog, but I wanted to share some photos of the train ride first. I believe train travel has become my favorite way to travel! Enjoy!