11.04.2012 - 14.04.2012 30 °C
Travelling to South Africa from New Zealand was one of the journeys I was least looking forward to, given we were going to be spending 18hrs airborne, on two flights. Lee must have just had a guilty look about him as he was scanned thoroughly in Auckland and Sydney! Once we had boarded our second flight, we were taxi’ing to the runway, only to be told by the Pilot that we had not been given clearance to leave due to a security breach by one of the passengers on our flight, just what we wanted to hear! Once security were satisfied after trawling through CCTV footage, our flight was given the go ahead to depart. After our plane rattling and shaking like it was about to fall to bits during take-off (even alarming Lee who is the most confident flyer I know), we then found out that our in-flight entertainment systems were not working, it was looking like it was going to be a long 14hr flight ahead! After me managing to throw my pen at the sleeping man across the aisle from me, and waking him up, we ended up moving seat for most of the flight so we could watch some films. An hour or so before we were due to land, a lady decided it would be a good idea to fall over and knock herself out, it was an eventful flight to say the least! On arrival in Johannesburg, our organised collection person decided it would be a good idea to wait in the ‘Departures’ section, clearly that made a whole lot of sense as we were in the ‘Arrivals’ section… kinda where you’d expect incoming flights to be, is it not!? After about half an hour of faffing about and borrowing a very kind mans phone, and Lee running over my foot with our trolley stacked with about 50kgs of backpacks, we found our idiot of a pick-up person. The drive to our hostel was a bit hairy, we were both feeling a little nervous due to the reputation of Jo’burg. Our hostel was like fort Knox, with two security gates and perimeter fences to go through. We’d missed the start of our pre-tour meeting, and so had to join late. Once we’d checked in, we were looking forward to a nice meal and bed after being up for over 24hrs. That’s when the receptionist informed us they had run out of food. So, that mixed with the fact that we had no South African currency, or a will to leave our compound meant that we were left tired, hungry and a bit grumpy to say the least. We headed down to the bar, and managed to get ourselves a packet of crisps each, a bar of chocolate between us and two beers, and pay the very kind barman in USD. We thought we would have a game of pool, but had no money for the table So, after spraying most of our wardrobe of clothing with pesticides to stop the malaria infested mossies we are expecting to meet soon, we went to bed.
After a pretty crap nights sleep, we got up around 5.30am to prepare for our early tour start. On the bus we got and had the chance to see some of Jo’burg in the light. Once we’d seen fence, after perimeter fence, after electric fence, after cctv security sytems… we’d seen enough! Lee was shocked at the extent of the security required there, I wasn’t at all surprised being Mrs Pessimistic
We made it to our campsite for the next couple of nights and set up camp. Lee managed to pick us the dodgy tent… the poles were the wrong ones, then we didn’t have a rain cover, then our zip didn’t want to work! Our guides then helped us put the rubbish one down again and get a new one, with poles that fit, and a rain cover, and working zips – we were good to go We had a nice group dinner, not very South African though… Spaghetti Bolognese, followed by a cultural show by some locals which was great fun. We even got dragged up to dance, they did completely show us up though, their rhythm was certainly better than ours! The sign in the toilets was a little alarming, it said to beware of live snakes!
The following morning, after our alarm blaring at 4:30am (!!) we headed out for our first game drive in Kruger National Park. We managed to see so many animals… zebras, buffalo, wart hog, wild hog, giraffe, impala, hippo, white rhino, crocodile, kudu, turtle, terrapin, wildebeest, baboon, monkey, two cheetah’s casually walking down the road, leopard, and all sorts of beautiful birds including vultures and other birds of prey. The impalas we saw were fighting for females, literally locking horns, it was great to see! We also saw a really big group of Elephants who decided to cross the road in front of us. As they had young with them, one of the elephants became a little angry with us and just stopped in the middle of the road and stared at us head on! Our guide told us to keep very quiet. I must say it exceeded all our expectations, the animals were amazing and there were just so many more than we imagined there would be! The only animals we didn’t see from the ‘Big 5’ were the Black Rhino and Lions… but we decided this was a good thing as we didn’t want to be spoilt so early on in our Africa tour!
That evening, our chores began… Lee on cooking duty and me on cleaning duty. Lee ended up chopping up a cabbage which was the size of a small person, and that was about it, he got off lightly. The following day was spent mostly on the bus travelling through to Botswana. On the way we saw a beautiful gorge over looking a huge valley. The greenery really amazed us as it’s just not how you would picture Africa in a sense. We also saw loads of wild pigs, donkeys, cows and goats happily grazing along the side of the roads. We were looking forward to seeing what Botswana had in store for us