Johannesburg

Trip Start Oct 26, 2009
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Trip End Nov 23, 2009


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Flag of South Africa  ,
Monday, October 26, 2009

Touchdown and we had landed in Africa. With the usual mix of excitement and nerves we left the arrivals hall. This soon turned to frustration and boredom as our ride from the hostel never showed.Feeling vulnerable we decided to jump into a cab and were soon dropped off at the Mbizi Backpackers in Boksburg. At first we doubted we had the right place as it didn't have any real sign-age and was really heavily fortified.After fifteen minutes outside the front gates we finally got in and meet the owner Patrick. He gave us the tour and showed us our double bed that we quickly exchanged for two singles and assured him we weren't a couple. "Hey I get all types" was his response. The hostel was a huge house, not too many rooms and only a few beds in each room. Nice and cozy, huge garden out the back and the party tent with bar out the back. It was a laid back place and we were urged to help ourselves to beer and write down in the ledger what we took. Steve had organized the Hostel and It really was a long way out from Central Jo'Berg. I wasn't really happy about being so far from the action, however the place was ideal for heading towards Kruger National Park.

We were fairly Jet lagged so had a decent sleep and then mid afternoon went for a walk down to the shops. Patrick assured us it was a fairly safe area however we felt completely out of our element. Everything was so heavily fortified and we felt like we stood out like the tourists we were. 

It was a lot colder than we expected with not a lot of sun about. We spent a couple of days just getting over the jet lag, playing cricket in the backyard and organizing the Safari.

I booked accommodation in the National Park through the website www.sanpark.org and organized a rental car to be delivered to the hostel from www.aroundaboutcars.com and when it arrived we quite shocked with the square shoebox that was meant to take us on Safari. I have seen wheelbarrows with bigger wheels. Still after checking over the car we loaded it up and hit the road in a pre-organized route to the highway towards Nelspruit some 450km away. It was an amazing feeling having everything falling into place and heading towards Kruger. The drive went smooth, stopping off just once for lunch and some Biltong that Steve had already decided he wanted none of. The drive was fairly boring despite the huge storm that blew over us and we were shocked at the amount of seemingly lost people just wandering in the middle of nowhere or resting on the side of the road miles from civilization. Towards Nelspruitwhere some of my friends on the Gold Coast come from the drive winds it way through some quite lush green mountainside before meeting the town.  Here we refueled and drove the last stretch to the start of the Kruger Park.

__________READ KRUGER ENTRY_____________

We organized an extra day with the hire car once we were back in Johannesburg and decided to head to the Lion Park on the outskirts of town. Driving to Kruger had been an absolute breeze compared to trying to make our way through the congested highways. I have never driven in so much chaos in my life and it was quite nerve-wracking at times.  With the Soccer world cup approaching they need to fix these roads and fast.  There is a tone of roadwork that is going on and I have my doubts that they will finish it in time. We finally manage to make it to the Lion Park. It was a mix of emotions seeing the animals locked up that we had only days before seen roaming free. There were numerous animals in the park but the highlight and the reason for the visit was the chance to play with a Lion Cub.

We were brought into the enclosure just four of us (We were lucky) and the cub immediately took to chewing and clawing at my pants. I got down and was able to play with plucky little thing and rough him up a bit. He fought back and was so strong for how little he was. He was so adorable, it was another really memorable moment for me, I didn’t want to leave!  Steve was a lot reluctant to have a go – didn’t want to get scratched but I managed to convince him what he would be missing out on.

After the cubs we visited the rest of the animals and then drove around the lion park tracks where we entered a series of giant gated enclosures where packs of lions were house, able to roam around. We got very close to some very big boys. One curious adolescent lion took to chasing the brake light on the car – I was very worried the thing was going to attack the tiny car we were in – I wasn’t looking forward to paying the insurance excess!!

On the way home we stopped at a stunning casino. This place was inspiring, really fake, really over the top but inspiring anyway. They had essential rebuilt a whole European Town under the roof of this huge building, complete with shop fronts, paved roads, fountains, everything.  We spent a good couple of hours in here before venturing back onto the roads to get home – this took quite some time.

The weather really had been awful in Johannesburg so we decided to fly down to Cape Town Early.  
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