Grootslang van Richtersveld

Richtersveld National Park - South Africa

Situated in the northwest corner of South Africa, you will find the mountainous desert of The Richtersveld.  To its west is the rough and cold Atlantic Ocean whilst the largest river in South Africa, the Orange River, winds along its northern border.  The village of Sanddrift has breathtaking views of the Richtersveld’s natural beauty and its close location to the Orange River adds to its biological and geological uniqueness.

This is a truly fascinating, culturally diverse village, and here you will hear many stories of the Wondergate (Wonder cave) and the creature that lurks within.  Wondergat, or Heitsi Eibib as known by the Nama people, means “spirit” or “emptiness”.   Apparently this hole connects to the sea, which is some forty miles away, and is also supposedly filled with diamonds.  The Wondergat is a limestone sinkhole and has a deep shaft leading straight down into the earth.  It is almost perfectly circular and about 4.5 meters in diameter.  The vertical part is about 20 meters deep and the tunnel then goes much further down at an angle.  This Bottomless Pit is celebrated in the folklore and mythological tales of the indigenous people.


For within this hole lives the Grootslang (Big Snake in Afrikaans).  This is a very good name for this primordial cryptid creature, as it is supposedly more than 40 feet long and 3 feet wide.  According to the legend, the Grootslang is as old as the world itself. The gods, new to creating things, made a big mistake in the Grootslang’s making, and gave it too much strength, cunning and intelligence.  When the gods realized their mistake, they split the Grootslang into two creatures, and thus made the first Elephants and Snakes.  But, unfortunately, the first original Grootslang escaped…

Some say the the Grootslang is a gigantic snake that leaves a trail at least three feet wide, whilst others say it’s a much more interesting half-elephant half –snake.  Others say the Grootslang can transform itself into a young maiden who lures men to the Orange River to drown them, and the San believed the snake can kill with its very breath alone.  The Grootslang was featured in a “The Secret Saturdays” episode called “Something in the Water”, in it its depicted as a four-tusked green skinned Elephant with horns and a spiked snake tail.


At night the Grootslang is supposed to emerge from the cave and lure prey back into its lair.  It feeds on trespassers and fiercely guards a stash of thousands of diamonds and gemstones, because Grootslang coverts gems, particularly diamonds. Despite its lust for cruelty, victims may try to bargain for their freedom by offering it enough precious gems.

One of the better-known stories about Grootslang centers on the disappearance of the Oxford-educated English businessman and explorer Peter Grayson.  “I am determined to return to England as a very rich man or a dead man” he reportedly said before setting sail for the Richtersveld in South Africa with six companions.  Then tragedy struck.  On the first night in camp a lion killed one member and seriously injured another member of the team.  A few days later a third person died of a poisonous insect or snake-bite.  Then a fourth member of the expedition became sick and begged to return to civilization.  The final two team members carried him back to the nearest town, leaving Grayson alone to continue the quest.  “ I can do this on my own” he boasted before they left him.  And that was the last time the unfortunate Mr. Grayson was seen or heard from.  When a search and rescue party came looking for him a week later, they found the camp deserted and no sign of him.  Most believe that the Grootslang got him.

Modern sightings of the beast suggest that it could very well be a massive python.  Eyewitnesses claim that they have seen an animal resembling a snake, at least 50 feet long.  Another witness claims to have found mysterious footprints a meter wide that eventually disappeared at the edge of a river.  Throughout history, many who had spent time on or near the Orange River had a story to tell.  In the 19th century, a prospector called Fred Cornell had so much bother with a large snake like creature scaring his pack mules that he attempted to destroy it with dynamite.  Apparently unsuccessful, he threw several sticks of dynamite into a gulley where it disappeared mid river.


If this story tickles your fancy, then contact us at Road Travel Africa.  You could yourself be listening to the campfire tales told by the “Grootmense” (Nama elderlies), stories which carry you away on a wonderful journey through the ages, full of wonders. You can also taste the delicious ash-bread and mutton ‘potjie’, made on the open fire, and watch the traditional Nama dancers move to Namastan music plucked on their guitars.  This area is beyond fascinating, culturally diverse and myths and legends abound.  There’s a diamond on offer for everyone – challenging walks in the desert, unique and beautiful succulent plants, incredibly diverse bird life, relaxing walks along the Orange River for the less fit, and the most amazing photographic opportunities.

Delicious Gourmet Tour through the Cape of South Africa

As a Southern African Inbound Tour Operator we get a lot of requests from a wide variety of different clients – from online shoppers, to travel agents to return clients. Recently a Joberg based “operator” wanting to do a gourmet trip in the Cape approached us. Seeing as we have such an extensive network of foodie destinations & related things to do and experience– we gladly accepted the request and put together a tailor made package. Today we’d like to share it with our followers and other interested readers – to give you a little taste of the Cape.

Day 1
Group will be met on arrival at Cape Town International Airport and transferred to their hotel situated in the famed Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.

Tonight the group will enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, famed for its traditional Potjies and Cape Malay dishes.

Q potjies

Day 2
Group will depart after breakfast for Table Mountain. Enjoy a cable car ride to the top (weather permitting). Spend some time on top with the tour guide before returning to the lower station, from where the group will go to Signal Hill for more spectacular views and photo opportunities.


Enjoy a walking tour through the colorful Bo Kaap, stopping at the Spice Market, before going onto a local house to participate in a local interactive cooking experience.


After this unforgettable lunch, the group will have some time in the city center, stopping off at the Greenmarket Square open-air market and a walk through the Company Gardens. Arrive back at the hotel in the late afternoon, with the evening at leisure.

Day 3
Enjoy breakfast before the group departs with their tour guide for a Cape Peninsula Tour. Drive through Camps Bay and Llandudno towards Hout Bay, where the group will depart on a cruise to Seal Island. Continue on Chapmans Peak Drive to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve.

Lunch will be a memorable local seafood affair in Kalk Bay, followed by a visit to Simons Town and the Boulders Beach Penguin Colony.


The group will return to their hotel in the late afternoon, with the evening at leisure.

Day 4
This morning the group will have a little leisure time in the morning to visit the V&A Waterfront or just relaxing. The group’s tour guide will meet them at their hotel at mid-day to depart to the Constantia wine route.

A Gourmet Lunch will be enjoyed at one of South Africa’s best award winning restaurants, followed by a wine tasting at a select wine estate.


Finish off this beautiful day with a walking tour through the magnificent Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Return to the hotel in the early evening, with the evening at leisure.

Day 5
Group will depart after breakfast for the West Coast. Enjoy a wine and olive tasting with the owners of the farm en-route.

Arrive at the traditional outdoor beach restaurant at mid-day. This restaurant is set right on the beach – barefoot pleasure! There are several courses, all traditional dishes – from fresh mussels, fish, to potjiekos. This culinary experience will take a few delectable hours.

Strandloper crayfish braai

Return to Cape Town via Blaauwberg, stopping at the beach for that iconic photo opportunity. Arrive at the hotel in the early evening.

Day 6
The group will be met at their hotel after breakfast and check out, and depart on their journey into the heart of the Cape Winelands. First stop will be at a top sparkling wine producer. Enjoy a tasting with a difference.
JC bubbly tasting

Visit one of the oldest wine estates in the area for a wine tasting and light lunch, before checking in at the hotel situated in the Stellenbosch town center.

vergelegen copy 2

The hotel is ideally situated to explore this quaint village. There are many restaurants, shops, bars and clubs within easy walking distance.

Day 7
This morning the group will be met at their hotel by their tour guide and depart on a walking tour of the old part of town.

The group will then enjoy a rusk with indigenous teas, there will also be a visit to a small family-run butcher to taste some of their famed biltong and droewors. Lunch will be a trilogy of fragrant Cape dishes, complemented by a glass of excellent Stellenbosch region wine.


The last stop on the walking tour will give the group an opportunity to purchase some nostalgic local sweets in a brown paper bag at the oldest shop in town.


The group will then depart on their afternoon meander through the Stellenbosch wine route, visiting two or three beautiful estates. Return in the late afternoon, with the evening at leisure.
Day 8
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before the group will depart with their tour guide on their wine and dine tour through Franschhoek. First stop will be at a beautiful local wine estate where the group will enjoy a wine tasting paired with homemade charcuterie at the comfortable Farm Grocer bar counter.
Neil & Clayton Moreson

The group will enjoy a walking tour through the heart of Franschhoek and a visit to the French monument before going onto their next wine tasting and cellar tour at another award winning wine estate. Lunch will be enjoyed at a traditional restaurant on La Motte Wine Estate. The group will enjoy a fine dining experience with a complementing wine selection. Each guest will also receive a hard cover recipe book with beautiful photography, Cape Winelands cuisine recipes and their history.
LM Tree

After lunch the group will enjoy a walk around the gardens before departing for the next tasting at a wine estate that also produce fine wines and unusual cheeses. Enjoy a cheese and wine tasting before departing back to Stellenbosch.


If time permits, enjoy one last wine tasting and a visit to a extraordinary art gallery before returning to the hotel. The group will have time to relax and freshen up before they will be met and transferred to the local township for an unforgettable show and farewell dinner.


The live performance showcases local talent in a setting that shares with their guests the vibrancy of township street life, featuring township food and a craft market in an arena overlooking the surrounding mountains.

Day 9
Enjoy one last delicious South African breakfast before check out and transfer to the Cape Town International Airport for the group’s homebound flight.

**End of Services**

As mentioned, we did this as part of a bigger group safari – we can of course assist with the rest of Southern Africa – adding on visits to KwaZulu Natal (excellent Indian and Zulu cuisine), Mpumalanga (Kruger Park, Sabi Sands, etc. Safaris), Gauteng (Egoli – place of Gold), Botswana, Namibia, etc. Contact us to work out a bespoke program to fit your specific taste buds.

Impundulu the Lightning Bird

The Lightning Bird / Impundulu / Inyoni yezulu is a South African mythological creature that feature strongly in the tribes of the Pondo, Xhosa and Zulu folklore.  Some of the tribes believe the Hammerkop is the Lightning bird because of its long shaggy crest and curved bill, whilst other tribes believe that it manifests itself through lightning or to women in its true form.

Derek Ramsey Hammerkop

Thunder is created when Impundulu / the Lightning bird (or the Inyoni yezulu in Zulu) flaps his wings, and lightning when he descends to earth to lay his eggs.  Fairy circles that are created in the fields, usually by mushrooms, show where the lightning struck and where you have to dig to get the Impundulu’s eggs.  When the eggs are grounded into a fine powder and mixed with a fish that shines in the dark (and a few other medical ingredients), then you can supposedly use this concoction if you want your enemy to be struck by lightning!  Although some believe the eggs to be bad luck, and will therefor be destroyed immediately.


When the Immpundulu is not creating meteorological havoc, it is believed that he caries children away and drinks all the milk. The Impundulu is also a rainmaker, with powers to cause people to have sex, can afflict disease and some even believe that it can suck blood or suck the breath out of people with Tuberculosis.

Even if you don’t believe any of the stories, there are a lot of South African folk tales that focus on birds and the mythology around them. For instance, if the shadow of a flying Bataleur (Terathopius ecaudatus) falls on you, you will never have the same intelligence again…

bataleur - dewi - flight

If you think this is all superstitious nonsense, ask yourself if you see the dove as a symbol of peace?  It’s a tradition that goes all the way back to the time when these birds where seen as the messengers of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love in ancient Greece.

The only way to capture the Impundulu is at the moment lightning strikes the ground.  Apparently the fat from the bird contains a very special component that the witchdoctors use in traditional medicines.  Another belief is that a piece of the bird’s flesh could be prepared into a remedy to trace thieves.

Ken Wilson impundulu-notxt

The Impundulu is also a confidant of witchdoctors, and is sometimes seen riding the back of a hyena (witchdoctors can shape shift to hyena).  It is mostly considered as an evil creature, and can cause illness and very bad luck.  It is also said that the lightning bird is immortal, and will outlive its masters.  Legend tells that the bird can be passed down in the witch’s family from mother to daughter.  If the Impundulu is not handed down, it is called an Ishologu, an ownerless monster that will cause chaos.

The Impundulu cant be shot or stabbed, drowned or poisoned.  The only way to destroy the creature is by fire.  Most reported sightings describe it as a huge winged black and white creature the size of a man.  You are most likely to encounter the Impundulu in the eastern Cape region of South Africa. Contact us to arrange your visit 😉