Into the Wild
Trip Start Dec 31, 2008
17Trip End Mar 20, 2009
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Actually after the last days in Cape Town I actually wasn't overly keen on going on this trip
but I felt it was an important part of the experience here so I booked it and I'm so glad I did.
Arriving at the pick up point in Jo'burg I met my very small group of 7 including myself which consisted
of some Swiss, Dutch, one Korean, a french guy and a german lady who was much older than the rest of us.
The tour guides seemed very friendly and strangely enough I know one of them from my previous Namibia tour although then he wasn't my guide. The chances of this happening are about 1 in 80 and yet it did
We headed out for our long drive with a few short stops along the way. Mostly the scenery wasn't spectacular but it was nice to see some of the smaller towns. I call South Africa, "Africa Lite" because so much of what I've seen, especially in Cape Town is not the 'real Africa'. Seeing these smaller towns is more authentic in my opinion.
When we finally did reach Kruger we immediately did our first game drive. In less than an hour we spotted an Elephant and a Rhino, 2 out of the 5 "Big 5" just like that!
That evening we had a great dinner and I offered to do the dishes. I chatted with the tour guide I knew until
the other guide asked me to come quickly back to the site. There were lions roaring! Of course they stopped as soon as I arrived.....lovely. Now I was the one roaring... Grrrrrrrr!!
However, the sky was lit up with a million stars and the other guide that I had met previously and I laid on mattresses outside, sipped wonderful South African wine as he showed me some of the stars. The sky was so clear that I saw the Milky Way and the Southern Cross. I love the Milky Way especially because it just looks like a dusting of stars...Stardust if you will
It's so beautiful.
Early the following morning (like 4:30 am!!!!!) I got up to do the guided walk. Our guide was hilarious, not because he said anything funny but he had the laugh of a small child and it sounded ridiculous (but very endearing) on this park ranger. He laughed often and so did we.
After a few minutes of walking, we spotted a Buffalo (number 3 of the big 5 thank you). He was chilling out by himself not 75 meters away and he looked up at us for 2 seconds before taking off. I got a nice little pic of him.
We continued to trudge along as the sun rose and it became warmer.
Suddenly the ranger stopped, he pointed to a nearby bush and we saw a huge rhino sitting with not one but 2 babies with her. He whispered that the chirping birds were warning the rhino that we were there. She didn't seem too bothered by it though. We watched as she got up chewed some food and trotted off with her babies.
It was lovely.
The rest of the walk was great as well, we stopped for a snack on some cliffs that had gorgeous views of the park. This 'park' that is bigger than some countries actually
I like that I'm a walking contradiction.
Later when the walk was over I saw the ranger emptying his rifle....it was fully loaded and I was handling it like a toy! Thankfully I didn't shoot anyone's head off so I guess it was o.k.
That afternoon we did another game drive and saw what has to be one of the most magnificent sites I've ever experienced. We drove for a while, all of us trying to scout something. There were some hippos taking a bath along the way, a lonely giraffe munching on some trees... finally we noticed a bunch of cars stopped looking at something.
We stopped as well and saw them. There were what looked like 3 lions chilling out not 50 meters from the road!
Unfortunately they sat in the worst place to actually see them because they were right behind a huge bush.
Finally we gave up because the gate to our campsite was going to close in 30 minutes and we would get a huge fine if we showed up late. We drove off to turn around and as we did we noticed that the lions had moved....they were walking on the road.....7 lions!!! The whole pride on the road! There were females, adolescent males and one adult male! They walked for a bit and then just laid there for ages while we all took many many many photos. When I was finished with the photo ops I just looked at them. These magnificent creatures about 10 feet from me. We checked each other out.
It was just amazing.
We finally had to leave because the gate was closing in about 10 minutes and we were quite far. The driver took off and made it right on the nose.
We were all so excited about what we had just witnessed. We were high fiving eachother all over the place.
The two guides, the french guy and myself decided to go to the restaurant/bar nearby for some celebratory drinks The bar was really cool because it's actually an old train station that they've converted into a restaurant
We sat, we drank, we chatted about random things, it was lovely.
That night turned cloudy and no stars were out. It poured rain that night and it woke me several times.
It didn't bother me though, I've always loved the sound of rain.
The next day we went to Blyde river canyon, said to be the 3rd largest in the world. There's this beautiful little lake in the middle of these 3 majestic peaks that looked like traditional Zulu huts (called Rondewels) hence their name, the 3 Rondewels. We went to another area as well with waterfalls, really lovely.
The final evening we did one last game drive and spotted a leopard walking on the road. We only got a glimpse of him though but it was still fantastic as he is the most elusive of the big 5. He was the last of the big five. I saw them all!
Yesterday we went to a G-d's Window, a famous site with gorgeous views of the area, then we headed back to Jo'burg.
I checked my phone and saw that I had a message. It was from one of my favorite boys at my placement. I decided to call him back. We had a short chat, I told him I saw lions, which made him very happy.
I asked how his weekend went and if anything "bad" happened. He assured me it didn't.
I told him I was leaving South Africa shortly and I had to go but that I'd call him soon.
He began to cry
I did too.
I assured him that I have many people who don't live near me that I keep in touch with and that I will continue to call him.
I told him to go to his karate lesson that was beginning shortly.
I asked for a phone kiss and gave him one as well, then we said our goodbyes.
We dropped nearly everyone off at the airport but 5 of us, including the guides, went back to the hostel since I still had some time to kill. We sat at the bar and I chatted with one of the guides. We swapped funny travel stories, we had some beer. Then we put on some music and the whole group of us sang "Lean On Me" while two of them played pool.
Finally it was time to go. I was a little tipsy by this point and really didn't want to leave but I had no choice.
I said my final goodbye's, man I hate goodbye!!!!
The guide I knew from before drove me to the airport. We hugged and he said "see you on facebook".
I saluted back to him and off I went.
Goodbye South Africa.......no wait! See you later South Africa!