Our next destination took us to South Africa as we were about to embark on a 2-week safari. Wendy was really excited about this as she has been wanting to go for years. I, on the other hand, was a little afraid I was going to get eaten. I did manage to make a new friend on this trip; Safari Steve. He was ever so helpful in telling me about all the animals and keeping us safe. If anyone plans on going on safari, I highly recommend him as a game ranger.
Our journey started in Johannesburg as this was where we were departing. As part of the tour, we were booked into the Safari Club SA. This is a delightful lodge owned by the lovely Alastair and Josie. The rooms are very spacious with a powerful shower. They serve breakfast and a 3-course dinner in the evening and can order lunch from a local takeaway if necessary. The best part is the honesty bar, where you help yourself to an array of drinks and note down what you have taken.
We didn’t explore Johannesburg at all, partly because we didn’t have time and wanted a day to relax before the actual safari but also because Johannesburg has really bad reviews online over their crime rates. I’m sure if we had had more time, we would have ventured out. Many of the tourist spots are quite spread out as well so it’s not the easiest to get around unless you hire a car/taxi.
Our first day on the Safari was quite a long drive as we travelled over 450km, passing some wonderful scenery. We stopped by the Blyde River Canyon for lunch where we could see the ‘Three Rondavels’ (AKA The Three Sisters) which refers to the traditional round hut dwellings of local villages. The three peaks have been named after the wives of Chief Maripi Mashile; Magabolle, Mogoladikwe and Maseroto. The canyon itself is the third largest in the world and is surrounded by an array of wildlife, geology and landscapes. It was a lovely place to stop and take some pictures.
Day 2 Kruger National Park
The next day we went on our first game drive at Kruger National Park. This is one of Africa’s biggest reserves, home to the big 5 (lions, rhinos, buffalo, leopards and elephants). The big 5 have been identified by hunters because they are the most dangerous to hunt. Surprisingly, of the 5, the buffalo is the most dangerous. The reserve covers over 19,485 square kilometres, so spotting the animals can be tricky. We spent about 8 hours in the 4×4 safari, which was worth it as we managed to see an array of animals including elephants, hippos (albeit from a distance), warthogs, giraffes, birds, jackals, zebras and helmeted Guinea Fowl. These birds may seem small and safe, but apparently, if a car and a bird collides, the bird will come out triumphant as it has a very hard exterior.
Our game driver was Olaf and we stayed in his lodge (Nsele Lodge) which he runs with his wife Stefani. They are a very nice couple and the food they served there was delicious. They also have the best dinner call to let guests know that dinner is served. The lodge itself is in another reserve, so don’t go wandering off at night.
Day 3 Polokwane
Our third day took us to the Limpopo Province, to the capital, Polokwane. Here we had a walking tour around the local Game Reserve. This was a very welcomed activity as we had been sitting for the past few days so it was nice to get some exercise in. We did manage to see a handful of wildlife here including Impalas, Kudus, Snakes, Giraffes, Buffalos, Wildebeests and Ostriches. Unfortunately, many of the animals were very far away so our photos haven’t come out well here.
We also managed to stumble across a poisonous snake which is superb at camouflaging itself. Luckily, someone saw it in time before stepping on to it. In Africa, there are also the biggest millipedes I have ever seen. Imagine if that drops on your head from a tree! 😨
This reserve used to house rhinos as well, but because of them being poached, they have been relocated to other parks. It’s very sad to think that rhinos are killed as their horns are so valuable. People believe that the horn is an aphrodisiac and are willing to pay well into the millions for it. The last poached rhino here was in 2017, so they subsequently all got relocated after that. As you can see in the photos, the remains are still there.
Our accommodation here was in little wooden cabins, which reminded me of the mobile homes you can get in the UK.
We are crossing the border tomorrow into Zimbabwe! See you then.