Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Drive To Injalak Hill

Morning came early but what a beautifully mild one it was. Fortunately it never got too hot, especially important in this climate on the day that we're going to climb Injalak Hill with Aboriginal guides under the auspices of Lords Safaris.

Our friendly guides pick us up at the hotel and seat our group in the two Unimogs they've leased from another tour company, due to the high water.

Bill and Sue are happily seated at the back behind Mark. It's a fairly tight fit and many of us bump our heads getting in or out during the day.

Off we go.

Once we've forded a stream and driven along dirt roads for awhile, it's time for a quick break to savor the views and admire the birds, of which there are at least 70 different varieties inhabiting this region.

Then it's back into the Unimogs and we drive some more. Some of the views remind us of the U.S. Southwest, at least until we spot a termite hill similar to those we saw in South Africa, one of the hundreds we saw on our trip.

You can see smoke from controlled burns in the distance. Parts of this are reminiscent of Yellowstone Park's open meadows. That smoke could be steam from geysers. No bison in sight though.

We pick up our Aboriginal guide and stop in the little community where Brian takes the opportunity to buy some water at the local market.

Then it's off to toward Injalak Hill itself. Just before arriving there we ford another stream and encounter an unlucky guide who's tried to tow his boat around it, only to become so well and truly stuck that not even our Unimog can pull him out. After our guides dropped us off down the road, they returned and, with the help of police and some really strong towing equipment, finally extricated the boat and the SUV.

As for us, we've now arrived at the base of Injalak Hill, and it's time to start climbing. The Aussies call this northern part of the country the Top End, and as we follow our Aboriginal guides up the hill in switchback zig-zags we wonder how long it will take to reach the top.

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