FUN-travel: South Africa – Safari

September 18, 2010 by  

The ABC’s of Africa

A = Awesome
B = Bummer
C = Celebration
BB = Big Bummer
RBB = Really Big Bummer
TA = Totally Awesome
VG = Very Good

Day 13 – Wednesday, September 15 – Port Elizabeth to Hoedspruit (Greater Kruger National Park) – sunny, hot, 90’s

Boys Bucking Heads

  • B– 8:05 am flight
  • BB – have to drive 2 hours to airport (do the math)
  • A – plane takes off 15 minutes early
  • B – have 3 hour layover in Joburg
  • A – catch up on email
  • B – takes 45 minutes to figure out how to get WiFi in airport (no one seems to know for sure)
  • A – take off on time – arrrive 1:40 pm – baggage delivered in parking lot by tractor
  • B – drive one hour to lodge (only 30 miles but 30 mph speed limit)
  • A – staying at Simbavati River Lodge on banks of the Nhlaralumi River in Timbavati Private Game Reserve (borders on Greater Kruger National Park) has expansive deck with breathtaking views overlooking  the river
  • A – lunch being served, afternoon game drive is from 4 to 7:30
  • AA – first safari ever! first 5 minutes run into elephant herd of 20 – then 3 giraffes – then 4 zebras – then lots of impalas – then pride of 5 lions lounging & napping after dinner of baby giraffe – more elephants
  • AA – OMG – this is major Wild Animal Park on Steroids!
  • C – the thrill of seeing all the animals

FF (FUN Facts) – AA = awesome adventure

Levon the Lion

More FF – Impalas are the “McDonald’s” of the bush – their fast food for the lions, quick and easy – lowest on the food chain, they are voracious breeders, all babies born at the same time

Day 14 – Thursday, September 16 – Greater Kruger National Park – 2 game drives – sunny, hot, 90’s

Walter the Water Buffalo

  • A – awake to symphony  of birds chirping and baboons hooting
  • B – knock on door saying it’s 5:30 and morning drive is leaving  (we never got our 5:00 wake up knock) jump up throw on yesterdays clothes, attempt to get a least a half cup of coffee and we’re off
  • 1st drive – 5:45 to 9: 15 – 5 kudus – then more elephants – then 1 leopard sprawled out on high termite mound – then southern yellow billed hornbill AKA the “flying banana” & Kudzu from Lion King – then springboks – then pack of 6 hyenas laying in road – more impalas
  • A – lunch @ 3 with show of young elephants butting heads & playing in river
  • 2nd drive – see pair of African hawk eagles perched high on branch stubs of dead tree – then herd of water buffalo 600 strong surrounds our jeep as we sit & stare each other down – then water bucks – then for the Big 5 finale “Rudy the Rhino” at the water hole! (witnessed him fully & properly mark his territory by doing his business “pooping” and then kicking it to fully spread it around & stepping in it to insure he carries it with him in his every step as he ventures on – then 3 more giraffes – more impalas
  • A – back to lodge and hippos are on banks of river right in front of deck
  • A – after dinner sit around the campfire
  • C – have seen the “big 5”

FF– elephant, leopard, lion, rhino & water buffalo make up the “big 5”

Day 15 – Friday, September 17 – Morning Game Drive & Johannesburg  – cloudy, overcast, cooler, 70’s

  • B – not many animals out
  • A – find another pride of lions (3 young males) lounging & napping after big breakfast of water buffalo – poor boy was jumped at the water hole – see 3 more giraffes and a 2 week old baby – more impalas, spring boks & water bucks
  • TA – small airport & like flying pre 9-11, no metal detectors or bag check to speak of

Leona the Leopard

FF – elephants trample everything that gets in their way, even huge trees (which is one of the ways their tusks get broken off) – absolutely amazing how the animals just “blend into the landscape” & how the hawks sitting in dead trees appear to be extensions of the stubby branches

Rudy the Rhino

Safari Recap: Kruger is famous for seeing the “big 5” which is why we wanted to come. It was very dry and brown with lots of dead trees. We thought we would see a larger volume of all of the animals. On our last drive we drove and drove with very few animal sightings. The winter is the dry season and the summer is the wet season. The weather this time of year is warm to hot during mid day and cool to cold at night. Trust me, when they say to bring layers of clothes they’re not kidding. So glad I grabbed my coat at the last minute before we left the states. Remember that you are driving in a convertible jeep and the sun hasn’t come up when you start. I highly recommend you bring a hood, vest, jacket and gloves if you want warm hands. They do provide blankets which are great for taking off the morning chill. As it warms up, you start peeling the layers off.