South African Trip & Safari
It was with extreme anticipation and excitement that I began planning my trip back to South Africa. My home town of Fish Hoek (in the fairest Cape!) and my family were beckoning and I was eager to go. It had been 4 years since my previous visit and my dear Mom was getting, to say the least, pretty upset by my perpetual absence!
On Christmas Day, 4am in the morning, my girlfriend Theresa and I were ready to go. We were feeling like a million bucks, as I was finally getting back to my roots; even if only for a short while. Our itinerary was all planned; 4 days / 3 nights on a Safari in the Kruger Park, including one day & night at a private reserve in the Sabi Sands area called Nkhoro (arranged by Tim Nel of BackPack Africa / Happy Valley Lodge); followed by the remaining 8 days at home. Pretty simple; unfortunately restricted by the short vacation-time allowed in the States!
The flight, although long and fairly uncomfortable, passed without incident. The service on SAA was excellent; and the ready supply of alcohol made the trip relatively painless. We arrived in Joburg the next morning (Sunday the 26th) where we were met by the Lodge minivan and wisked off to the temporary stop-over at the Happy Valley Lodge in Sandton. Our host, Marlyn; did everything to make our stay comfortable and pleasant. After freshening up; we walked to the closest supermarket to buy some groceries for an evening braai (I mention this because it was a wonderful experience to wander around a South African store after being "deprived" of our typical SA products for several years!). After enjoying a peaceful and restful Sunday we were ready for our Wildlife experience; and were eagerly awaiting the Bundu Bus the next morning!
Nico, our Bundu Bus guide, was spot on time at 6am. We were the first of a group of twelve that was picked up; finally getting on the N4 to the KNP via Pretoria. It was a multi-national group of tourists in the mini-bus; and it promised to be a pleasant experience. Nico and I being the only South Africans, my girlfriend Theresa and a father & son making 3 Americans, as well as 3 French girls, a young Dutch couple, an older Dutch lady and 2 German girls. It was wonderful to be back! The familiar countryside and landmarks brought back many memories (I did my military training in this area); and we were all looking forward to "hunting" our first animals! Our camara's were ready!