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Hakuna Matata

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Saturday, February 2, 2019

6:20 wake up call this morning so we could grab some breakfast and get to the lobby in time. Sadly they didn’t get the sausage out there quick enough, but I think I’ll survive anyway 🙈 By 7:30 we were all ready to get loaded up in Ian’s minibus and head for the airport (Which we arrived at faster than anticipated, and where I’m currently sitting and typing this as we have 2 hours till our flight. Oh yes, and not to mention security is nowhere near what we endure in the states. You wanna just walk in the airport with a full bottle of wine in your carryon?! Go right ahead, the plane is that way...no worries 😀).

Right away we mentioned to Ian that a friend on FB thought he was William Shatner. He just laughed...but now that she mentioned it, I gotta agree there is a resemblance 😀 Along the way, he continued to give us the full touring treatment. For any Netflix viewers, we drove by this giant ship sitting kinda just along the highway. I guess there’s some show called “Black Sails” that is set in the Caribbean, but actually filmed right here in Cape Town. Just gotta be sure to keep that pesky Table Mountain out of any background footage 🤷🏽‍♀️

I also finally learned what ANC stands for...African National Congress 🤦🏽‍♀️ Guess I should’ve just asked or googled days ago when I first started hearing it. Oops...my bad. Anyhoo, driving into Cape Town we began to see all these metal shacks and dilapidated little buildings, as well as people actually running and exercising right along the motorway. This shackland houses people from all over Africa that poured into the area thinking they would get housing and jobs. Instead they ended up here, and hopefully one day qualify for the government housing in the townships they border. But it’s pretty unreal to see these structures go on for miles and miles. Sadly this is probably more of what the average American pictures the whole of Africa to look like.

Currently the Western Cape is ruled by the opposition party, and it sounds like they are better off for it. The next election is coming up in May and yet again the ANC is promising jobs, but at what cost?! It might be the first time I ever think to scope out an African election...so thanks yet again to Ian. It also explains the “Register to Vote” signs I photographed yesterday in Stellenbosch. Which reminds me about the language thing I never mentioned. South Africa has 11 official languages: Afrikaans (which comes from what used to be “kitchen Dutch”), English, and 9 tribal languages. For convenience, signs are generally only in English, but I think most people do speak Afrikaans as well. All these interesting little things I had no idea about. But just imagine: 11 official languages and that’s just in one small area of Africa 😳

Pulling into the airport, we discovered just how nice of a place it is. Turns out it underwent some major renovations for the 2010 World Cup. And then it was time to unload and say our goodbyes to Ian 😢 Thanks for all the tips and info and laughs. You helped make our stay in Cape Town and Stellenbosch an unforgettable one 😊


But I suppose, I’ve already said/typed far more than I planned to this morning 🙊 So I’ll be off and check back in later from our safari camp!

Me again, this time from midair. We took off on time and were afforded some phenomenal views of Table Mountain, with the tablecloth (clouds) partially set. Now we’re just about ready to get our complimentary lunch service on a flight that isn’t even 2.5 hours long 🤔 Aaaaaand the flight attendants just keep walking right on in to the cockpit 😳 Oh yeah, definitely not in the states. We may even be in a time warp 😆

Lunch consisted of boxed lunches with potato salad, chicken (or roast beef) and some chocolate mousse. Not too shabby. Then a quick cleanup and we were making our decent into Hoedspruit airport. As we taxied around, the “terminal” came into view...basically a thatched roof hut with an outdoor waiting room. Then there were the warthogs standing off to the side next to the fuel truck. And finally a tractor rolled a cart around with luggage in and just kinda parked it on the curb 😀 The trickiest thing was navigating the queue for the toilets.

We were met by Jimmy, the water chemist by trade who now runs airport transfers as a side gig so he can live close to his grandchildren. He had us grab our cameras cause ya just never know when you’ll encounter something. Then we were off down the sand road (“African back massager” as he referred to it) on our way to our safari lodge. We did end up seeing impalas (the African version of our deer), a Cape buffalo at a watering hole, monkeys crossing the road, and who knows what else that I missed. But it was too fast and bumpy for any photos.

Pulling into Kwa Mbili Game Lodge, we were greeted by a bunch of the staff. The guys quickly tackled our luggage, and we followed Shayna to the reception area to hear some rules, sign releases, and be handed a sundowner drink before being shown to our room. Rule of the room is shut the doors at all times as they don’t want and snakes, spiders, monkeys, or anything else wandering in. If anything does show up, inside or on our patio, we actually have an air horn to blow to summon help 😳 And they recently had a leopard on a patio and in the kitchen, so it’s not out of the ordinary. Oh yeah, the camp is a private reserve located in Thorny Bush, which is a region of the Krueger National Park. There are no fences (aside from a high wire to keep out elephants and giraffes), so the animals are the ones in charge around here.


They were just starting lunch, so we made our way to dining hut area and met the other 4 guests...Thomas & Caroline from Germany and Tom & Annabel from the Netherlands. We had chicken Caesar salad and this tomato pie thing, both of which were delicious. Then it was time to get ready for the afternoon game drive. It was a very hot, sunny afternoon, well in the 90s I believe, and we're basically cruising around in an open air tank. And by cruising I really mean bumping along as we drive over trees and through bushes and in and out of holes. I quickly realized how Thorny Bush got its name when I didn’t duck and almost lost a clump of hair to the branches we were driving through. Note to self: pay better attention!!

My first question was how on earth do I get into that Jeep?! Luckily there are steps built around the tires, so it wasn’t as tricky as I had imagined. Our ranger, the guy who drives the car, is Tyrone and the tracker, the guy sitting precariously in a seat on the hood of the car, is Tipple. It’s just incredible watching and listening to them communicate. They both have ear pieces in as well, listening to reports from other rangers on animal sightings. And there’s the giant hedge clippers to clear paths and the rifle on the dashboard. And the instruction to never stand up in the vehicle and never get out unless they tell you to.


In Africa, they have the Big Five for animals: lions, leopards, elephants, Cape buffalo and rhinos (more specifically black rhinos). Since the other four people had been there already, the goal was to finish up their big five sightings while we would be starting ours. So for instance we got to one watering hole and there was an elephant splashing around in it, but then we quickly high tailed it out of there. I was like what the heck, I barely got to see him. But turns out there was a rare black rhino sighting and we had to move quick to catch it. Tyrone said we can pretty easily find more elephants, but if that rhino is seen today, he may disappear for the next couple days. When we got to the spot, there were 2 black rhinos just munching on dinner. Unreal!!


The other thing about being on safari is it’s a lot of driving around chasing after things and hoping to find them...sometimes ya do and sometimes ya don’t. But I am really enjoying just sitting back and taking in all the random sights and sounds along the way.


I am trying to remember what we all saw on that first drive, as it’s pretty much a blur. I was still trying to figure out my sister’s camera, trying not to continue oohing and ahing at every turn, all while the Lion King soundtrack is playing on loop in my head 🙈🙊 Not to mention I am typing this after we already did our Sunday morning drive, so that one is fresher in my memory. It was wonderful, amazing, picturesque, awe inspiring and any other superlative you can think of. Between Brenda on video duty and me pretending I’m a National Geographic wildlife photographer, I think we are getting a lot of very cool videos and photos. But with how large the photo files are, I don’t know if I can get many actually loaded so I may have to leave you in suspense.

During the game drive, we also take a refreshments break. Last night it was cocktail time in the bush 🍹 The other couple nice thing about these private reserves is they like to have no more than 2 vehicles near the animals at any one time and we are able to stay out a little later passed sundown. Upon arrival, we're met by someone with a basket of wash cloths to wipe the road dust and dirt off.


When we got back last night we had a braai (bbq) dinner in the boma, round open air enclosure where there was a bit of a camp fire going. There were lamb chops and chicken and salads and chocolate mousse. Not a bad way to end a long day. We were off to bed around 10:00 as the morning wake up call (someone beating on your wall) happens around 5:00.

Posted by JackiesJourneys 02:30 Archived in South Africa Tagged safari krueger kwa_mbili thorny_bush

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