Through Kruger National Park

Trip Start May 20, 2010
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174
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Trip End Sep 05, 2011


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Flag of South Africa  ,
Tuesday, July 12, 2011

DOMINIQUE HERE:

Day : 412
Temperature : 20 degrees
Weather : Mostly sunny


I'm amazed we actually managed to get up at 5am. But we did have a big day ahead of us and we had no choice. We arrived at entrance to the Kruger Park at the Paul Kruger Gate at 6am, bought our tickets and entered the park just in time for sunrise.

We stopped a short way into the park at Skukuza Camp to check out what animals had been seen the previous day and where they had been located. There are large boards at the camps with different coloured dots representing different animals. These dots are then pinned to a map to represent where the animals have been spotted the previous day, giving the visitor an idea of which tracks or roads to take in order to have the best chance of seeing wildlife.

We had been desperate to see some cats….Leopard, Cheetah or Lion, but our luck was out that day as we didn’t see a single one. Furthermore, despite seeing piles and piles of fresh elephant poo, we failed to see any elephants.  This, was very frustrating.  However, we were especially lucky with the Rhino, spotting four in the 7 hours we spent inside the park, one of which was extremely close and walked across the road just behind our car. In addition to the rhino we also spotted Buffalo, Wildebeest, Zebra, Kudu, Bushbuck, Impala, Giraffe (well one, in the distance!), Crocodile, Storks, Herons, Vultures, Fish Eagles, Ground Hornbill, Yellow Billed Hornbill and the beautiful Lilac Breasted Roller.

And so at 1.30pm we left the park at the Crocodile Bridge Gate. We will just need to make sure that we see Lions, Leopards, Cheetahs and Elephants in Namibia!

Within half an hour we were at the border. We checked ourselves out of South Africa and moved on to the Mozambique side where a chaotic scene lay before us, with hundreds of people everywhere, dozens of touts waving down our car and thrusting "official" ID cards in our faces. We weren’t sure what was going on until we read one of the ID cards which said “tourist assistant”. Ah yes, the unofficial “official” assistants….I think not. After ignoring the many shouts from random people, we managed to push our way into the building where after much confusion and a fair bit of time we discovered that we needed to fill in some paperwork for the car. We also happened to discover, purely by chance that we needed to declare all our valuables…cameras, laptops, etc….otherwise they could be confiscated at the border on our return to South Africa.

Next we had to fill in the visa, pay our $78 US to enter the country (what a rip off!), get our fingerprints taken ( I hate having to have this done!) and photos taken, we were then issued with a shiny, new full page visa in our passports….yikes, a full page visa. I think Kevin and I now have only 3 blank pages left in our passports! Hmmm.  All in all, about one and a quarter hours to get out of South Africa and into Mozambique.

The road to Maputo was pretty good and we reached Maputo in around an hour after leaving the border. We instantly noticed a different feel to Mozambique…it was definitely like being thrust into a third world country again. Maputo had a very edge vibe to it, and we had been warned by numerous people that it was not safe to stay there. And so with windows up and doors locked we continued through and onwards northbound. We did get stopped once by the police, who had obviously spotted the car and the tourist occupants and then demanded to see Kevin’s drivers license and promptly announced that there would be a “heavy fine” because Lynsey was not wearing her seatbelt in the back. We later read that these heavy fines which tourists are given can be up to $1000 US! Easy money eh?! As it was we had about 50p in Mozambique money on us, having not been to the ATM, and so feigning ignorance, and obviously being too much hard work for the aforementioned police officer, we were let through without having to give away any of our precious US $.

A couple of hours later, and just before dark we pulled off the main road when a sign pointed to some accommodation nearby. After driving down a sandy lane, and praying that our car didn’t get stuck in the sand, we reached a small place called Casa Lisa, run by a South African chap and his two friendly Collie dogs. For $10 we set up our camping equipment and hit the bar for some Amarulas….it had been a long day!

The following morning we set off once again. It was another long day, 6 hours in the car by the time we arrived at Tofo. We noticed a completely different feel the further north we travelled. It felt safer. The local kids would wave to you and smile. There were more palm trees and fields. It was nice. When we drove into Tofo it was just getting dark and we popped into a number of backpacker places to check out the accommodation. Unfortunately they were all full. By now it was dark but we had no choice but to head out of Tofo and drive to Barra, only 5km back where there may have been other options for accommodation. We pulled off the main road onto a dirt track which we followed for some time. The road then split into two and we took the right hand road which gradually became more and more sandy. As the road started to climb up a gentle hill we decided it was too sandy for our car. As Kevin started to reverse down the road he somehow came out of his tyre tracks and yes, you can imagine we got stuck in the sand.  Just what we needed!!!! 6.30pm, pitch black, middle of nowhere, stuck in the sand! Thankfully, Lynsey has plenty of experience driving in sand, and with her  instruction we were eventually able to dig ourselves out and get out of the mess that we were in….but we still didn’t have anywhere to stay.

Once back on the dirt track we took the other lane and immediately came across a guest house. Lynsey and I ventured in and spoke to Vessna, the lovely lady who owned the property with her husband and 3 gorgeous great dane dogs. We explained our situated and asked if she had any rooms available. Thankfully she did and boy, were we fortunate to find this place. What a treat we were in for. Our own “house”…..two beautiful bedrooms with four poster beds and mosquito nets, a beautiful bathroom to share, an outside kitchen with views over the property, an enormous, covered outdoor decking area with tables and chairs for 8 people, an outside lounge area with cushions, a barbeque area, and two enormous hanging wicker chairs with cushions to lounge in! This, was honeymoon stuff!

All we need to do now is decide how long we will stay for……
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Comments

Holly on

Love the Mozambique 'house'. Looks a fantastic place to stay. Hope to speak soon - not sure what your travel plans are for the next few weeks.... x

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