Driving West Along Geoglogically Rich Letaba to Phalaborwa H9 Main Road
Once again it was time to leave the peace, and wonders of the Kruger Park behind us and head home. We'd be driving the main tar road initially south west from Letaba and then almost directly west to the gate at the mining town of Phalaborwa.
We'd be covering waypoints 387 to 394. On the map waypoints 176 to
181 are from when I left the Kruger in May via the south westerly drive
from the Mopani camp area. I knew we would be passing through a Basalt
rock outdrop in this granite bedrock area and was looking forward to
seeing this outcrop ... known as Gabbro.
Waypoint 387 is where we crossed the Maswidzudzu Stream a tributary
of the Nhlanganini River (at the reeds in Tsonga) running south of
the road. We also encountered our second large
buffalo herd of the
day crossing the road here. Greenstone rocks are marked as a
geological feature in this area. Greenstone, also known as greenschist, is a non layered metamorphic rock derived from basalt,
gabbro or similar rocks containing sodium-rich plagioclase feldspar,
chlorite, epidote and quartz. Chlorite and epidote give the green
colour (source Wikipedia).
Waypoint 388 is the Nhlanganini Dam and close to where the Buffalo
were crossing the road. Waypoint 389 is a look out point over the
Nhlanganini Dam where
Hippos were browsing on the far bank.
Waypoint 390 is the Gabbro outcrop I'd been expecting. It
is a very prominent hill rising from flat ground with very dark
rocks. The picture below shows a close up of the Gabbro rock
Waypoint 391 is the Rhidonda watering point, windmill driven and
donated by Mr and Mrs C C Kay in 1981. Three zebra were feeding at
the side of this artificial pan and the brown leaved Mopane is
clearly visible in the background with a lone thorn tree showing in
The Southern Low Rolling HillsWaypoint 392 is a point where you can really appreciate the description of this part of the Kruger ... the southern rolling hills. Around this point we started to see many more termite mounds and this shot below shows a typical colour and form associated with many of the mounds in the area. The shots below of the mounds were opposite each other on different sides of the road. Note the dramatic colour differences in the soil "mined".
Waypoint 393 is a watering point in memory of Brian Fitzgerald
Peterson a lover of nature donated by family and friends in May
Waypoint 394 is the Masorini Picnic Spot situated at the base of the
conically shaped Masorini Hill made of rocks described as
"coarse-grained orange coloured Syenite plugs". The colours are
wonderful as can be seen in the picture. The ruins of an early
settlement exist here. Syenite coarse-grained igneous rock, similar in appearance and
composition to granite. Unlike granite, it contains little or no
quartz. The chief minerals in syenite are the feldspars, with mica,
hornblende, and pyroxene. Varieties are distinguished (according to
the ferromagnesian minerals contained) as augite syenite, hornblende
syenite, mica syenite, and nepheline syenite.
Reference Wikipedia. Syenites are comparatively rare rocks, being found chiefly in a
few areas of the United States and Germany. They are occasionally
substituted for granites as building stones.
The drive from Letaba to Phalaborwa appears to be a geological paradise and is worthy of a slow investigative drive by those interested in rock formations and the impact upon ecology in the Kruger. We reached the gate shortly after that and started the long drive home via Lydenburg and Dullstroom.