last week my husband and i decided to go on a spontaneous road trip from Durban to Cape Town. he had just bought a new car from a dealer up country, so we put it through a 1800km journey on some serious gravel roads and epic mountain passes to see what it could do.
instead of doing my usual iPhone photography along the way i decided i wanted to test out a camera that i have had my eye on in the past while. i’ve been wanting to get a mirrorless camera that’s small enough to keep in my handbag, but that has the functionality & flexibility of a DSLR for a variety of uses. i’m not a professional photographer, so spending a bundle on a high-end camera is not a priority for me. but i do LOVE taking photos, and i also love editing and sharing them as quickly as i get the shot. so i wanted something that was compact with good lenses and that allowed me to edit and share the images almost immediately if i wanted to. like a smartphone on steroids, i guess.
in comes Cape Town based photography experts Orms, who were kind enough to lend me a Samsung NX300 for the week. this little camera kind of hit the sweet spot for me: it’s small (and so light!), good looking, can be used with a variety of lenses and – this is the best part – it can upload your photos directly to any of your devices via its built-in wi-fi. it can also share images to instagram and facebook etc if you connect to a wi-fi network, but i prefer editing the photos on my iPad before doing any sharing. the price is also nice, not as expensive as the other high-end mirrorless cameras on the market – so you can start off with the body and a pretty basic lens, then add to your collection as you go.
so on Friday i flew to Durban and Anton was waiting for me with our new car (a second hand Toyota Prado which eats those dust roads like you won’t believe) and we set off on our journey. first stop was Mbona Nature Reserve just outside Howick where we stayed with Anton’s aunt Willemien and her amazing dog Rukker. this area is actually know as the Mist Belt, which is appropriate considering the entire place was shrouded with mist when we arrived (and left the next day). I have never been to the Midlands, and naively expected rolling green hills – but of course it’s winter, and their rainy season is in the summer. it hasn’t rained there in months, so everything was dry and brown… which still makes for good photo opportunities.
the next morning we left Mbona and started on the most interesting leg of our journey – travelling the road that runs along the southern border of Lesotho and crosses from Kwa-Zulu Natal into the Eastern Cape. we were heading to Tenahead Mountain Lodge, and it took us almost the entire day to get there. we ended up climbing the second highest mountain pass in the country (without even realising we were going to!) which was pretty harrowing in parts, and cooooooold. so incredibly cold that the waterfalls along the road were frozen all the way up.
the next day we left Tenahead and made our way down Naude’s Nek to Rhodes, a small village at the bottom of the pass. it actually took us hours to finally hit a tar road again. then we did a not-so-interesting stretch of road, bombing down the N1 towards Beaufort Wes. anyone who has ever driven from Joburg or anywhere up country down to Cape Town would have done this long stretch of road. it just goes on and on and on, and while the landscape is beautiful it is also pretty uninteresting – unless you veer off the beaten path to explore the countryside. but we didn’t have time, we wanted to make it to the Karoo National Park before dark. our last stopover before heading home.
the Karoo National Park is one of the smaller parks in South Africa, but by no means less interesting. there is a pack of lions in the park that visitors often spot around the camp, which we unfortunately did not see. they were reintroduced 180 years since the last wild lion was shot in the area. it is pretty alarming to think that almost all of the terrain we drove through was once teeming with wildlife – not just buck, but lions and elephants and every matter of wild animal that you now only find in nature reserves.
after an entire day’s drive we arrived in the dark (you can see the shot above that Anton took with the camera’s long exposure). so the next morning i woke up early to watch the sunrise, we had our coffee, and then we headed home.
all photos taken with the Samsung NX300 and edited with VSCO. Samsung NX300 provided courtesy of Orms. you can see the photos i posted on Instagram using the hastag #missmossxorms. for all my local readers: if you’re interested in buying the NX300, Orms currently has some sweet specials running. if you’re looking for a compact run around camera that packs a punch then i would highly recommend it - i’m going to buy myself one as soon as possible.