©2005 Lennart Borg

A Mineral Trip Report from South-Africa 2004

Day 1. This mineral adventure started at Gardemoens Airport in Norge/Norway on the 19th of September, 2004.

There, I, Lennart, met my two Norwegian friends, Johannes and Lars. We flew to London and changed planes, which took us up to 11 000 meters and 12 hours later we  were in Cape-Town.
Johannes and myself have been active mineral collectors for many years, while Lars travelled with us just for a different adventure.
Before this happened, I had contacted several mineral clubs in South-Africa over a period of 10 months, to find a good companion to take us up north to the Namibian border. The man recommended to us was Heinz Wolff.

Day 2-5. We arrived in mid September and our host and trip leader, Heinz and his lovely wife Imme, met us at the airport. From then onwards we were guests in their house at Bloubergrandt and our accommodation was 400 meters away, at The Dolphin Inn Guesthouse, which I can recommend to all my friends.

We enjoyed four days and nights as ordinary tourists with Heinz as our very clever guide, storyteller and driver.

We travelled to Cape Point, which is similar to the Norwegian North Cape. Both places have high cliffs, dipping into the sea and it is only the temperature that differs at the two places. Cape Point is situated south of Cape-Town and the trip there was a lovely one with a lot of places worth seeing.

The places we visited and passed, were The University, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Rhodes Memorial  with nice lion sculptures, penguins on a sand beach at Simons Town, wild ostriches, thievish baboons and a puffadder which passed our road, fishing harbour ports and the big mineral shop - Top Stones.
We passed some very unusual road signs. In Scandinavia we are used to see Elk signs, but here we could read: "be aware of Penguins and Turtles on the road".
In the evening we visited Willy Thelen, who has been collecting minerals for many years. We also paid a visit to the collector, Antonio Grandi and his lovely wife, Geni. 

A visit to the wine districts around Durbanville and Paarl Village was on our wishing list and we also visited the Afrikaans Language Monument on the hills overlooking Paarl.
That evening we went to Graham and his nice family. His teenage son, Richard, was preparing for the trip in their car. Graham had studied geology at The University for some years and we could admire his beautiful collection of minerals in crystal form. Maurice would also join up with Graham on this journey.
The only "disadvantage" with Graham was, that he had a brand new Suzuki car with everything computerized – said Heinz!? I really hoped it would not break down, as there was no way of repairing it up there in the desert. Heinz's own car was an older Toyota without computers. Yes, four days later, Heinz's car broke down in the wilderness, but he is clever and 20 minutes later he had fixed the fault and off we went to next site.

Day 6-8. Yippie, we are on our way to the desert, passing The Olifant River with green valleys and big wine fields.

This first day we travelled 550 km:s up to Springbok situated 1000 m above the sea level. Here we visited the mine owner, George Swanson and his mineral industry and shop. His grandfather emigrated from Sweden and his son (the father of George) then went to South-Africa. We also had a look at Jopie Kotze's beautiful mineral collection.

Next day we had an appointment with 35 members of the Cape-Town Mineral Club outside the gate of the Aggeneys  Mine and we here split up into two groups. One of them went down into the underground mine and the other group went collecting fresh material just unloaded from the mine on the big sites around the mine. We found lots of Pyrite, Chalcopyrite, Copper and more sulfides. It was wonderful to see how eager Lars was picking and searching for minerals and this he did for the rest of the trip. In Norway he just wanted to follow us for an "unusual vacation/adventure trip", but I am sure they have a new rock member in Norway today.
The next place was the Black Mountain Mine – and many abandoned old sites with similar material were found and at one of them we found small, clear crystals of Barite.
One hour before sunset we were back at our campsite. Club member, Pierre, passed me and said: "Do you want to follow me on a trip to the mountain just beside our tents?" Sorry to say my answer was:"No thanks, I have to do the cooking tonight". Later in the evening, during our dinner, he came back with his backpack filled with nice Quartz clusters and crystals!!

We visited some more mines in the area north of Springbok and camped a last night with The Cape-Town Mineral Club.

Day 9-15. Now we were alone in our two cars and we left the paved roads and went out into the unknown.

Some day later we came to a farm and started a conversation with the farmer about minerals and he soon showed us his clusters and crystals in the backyard of his house and some of them we bought from him. Quartz, in all colours with scepters and phantoms were there and I saw one piece with green inclusions and some red xls with Hematite.

That evening we played sand-botcha in the light of the moonshine and lamps on our heads.The Nordic team, Gymnos, lost against the Bookers with 10-9. When our hosts come to visit us in Norway or Sweden, we will compete again and that time we will use snowballs.

Next day we got lost in the desert, but some hours later we were back, following some tracks of a car.

Grahams son, Richard, had a big interest - collecting different bugs! Often he said: "Look here, how nice!" Then he often had a spider or scorpion in his hand. So, Richard, for me you are the real Spider Man!

Some important rules that Heinz taught us: "It is better to drink the water than to wash yourself in it".

When we passed a big sand dune, he deflated all four tyres and just kept 0,6 kg pressure in them. He drove everywhere and later when we "climbed a mountain", he used his air compressor and filled them again – just wonderful!

We also learned that the Kuruman Manganese Field consists of many different mines within a huge area. They are all private property, still working and almost impossible to visit. All the surrounding land is private farmland.

We climbed many mountains and in one place there was a cave with nice red Quartz and white Feldspar xls. We had lunch that day in the shade of a fig tree. The temperature was between 35-40 degrees.

On another mountain we climbed and find some nice, green Epidote and Tourmaline.

In a village I shook hands with a tall, black man and introduced myself. "Hello", he answered, " I know you!"  "Oh you do, from where?" was my answer. And he continued: " I met you in the prison!!?" " Oh no, it must have been my twin brother", was my reply.

Some days later we came to the Orange River and we all loved to swim over to Namibia. It is not often that you can swim from one country to another without your passport.

In the middle of the river we "discovered" a small island on which we placed a Norwegian flag and baptized it Johannes Island, which now "belongs" to king Harald of Norway.

Some things I will never forget: The one night sleeping outside the tent, starfalls and wishes, a Coral snake outside my tent, The Blesbeg Mine and all the nice clusters just waiting for us with Quartz, Fenakite and Tantalite. Now Heinz was in despair, his car was overloaded with stones and he told us – pour out the water and let us go home!? Next time, when you  come back again, I will have to bring a trailer!

Soon we were back on paved roads to Cape-Town and started to undress and shave ourselves before we entered the show at Cape-Town Mineral Club.

South-Africa has 12 mineral clubs and this one is one of best. We were lucky to be there the same day as they had their monthly mineral show, which is the first Saturday every month. We all bought a lot of nice xls.

Day 16-19. It is now Sunday and this day we were busy unpacking the car and packing our minerals into packages, ready for shipping.
Heinz  continued to show us more of all the interesting things in and around
C-T: Bloubergstrand, the nuclear power station, Maurice's home and his nice collection and shop, Signal Hill, the beautiful Kirstenbosch Garden, Water Front, The Gardens, Green Market Square, Sea Point, South African Museum and finally The Table Mountain just before our plane went back to Europe.
Summary: we travelled 2200 km´s and this was The Travel of my life and I will never forget those three weeks, and here I also can speak for Lars and Johannes. We were lucky to have no accidents or illnesses.
We met many wonderful people in the mineral club and the friendly and hard working chairman, Malcolm.
All three of us long to come back to your nice country and we wish to see some of you up north in Norway and Sweden (we have more than snow crystals!).

Many, many thanks to all of you who made this mineral trip possible:
Heinz and Imme, Geni and Antonio, chairman Malcolm in C T M club, Graham and Richard, Maurice, John and all names I have missed - a special thanks to all the club members.

Lennart from Sweden

©2001- GeoNord