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             OUR AFRICA SAFARI (with Jobovic Safaris)

With credit to Ian Boxall (one of our clients on the 13 Day Improved Southern Explorer safari)

Saturday 26th March   Johannesburg

Jackie and Steve picked me up at 5.10am and we were on the bus and on our way to Sydney by 5.45. We were   at the International Airport by 9am, checked in and through Immigration by 10. Time for a coffee and snack       before boarding for our 11.35 flight. The flight took just on 14 hours. Watched three movies and read my book. Very slow-moving  processing queue through immigration. Donna G had arranged for her driver to pick us up   and take us to our Hotel arriving there about 6.30pm. The Hotel Radisson Blu in Sandton is a very good             property. They run a shuttlebus to the nearby shopping complex set around Mandela Square. We went over therefor dinner and found it to be quite a place. Excellent restaurants and shopping facilities. And a huge statue of   Mandela! Had a lovely dinner and then went for a walk around the Mall. Picked up some fruit for breakfast and  then caught the shuttle back to our hotel.  Sleep.

 

Sunday 27th March   Johannesburg

Slept well, but woke early about 5 am. We went down to the Gym at 7 am and did a short workout. It’s an          excellent setup spread over three floors including a lovely heated pool. Unfortunately we didn’t have bathing     caps so didn’t swim. Ate some of our breakfast fruit and got ready to be picked up at 9am for our Soweto Tour.

The 30 minute drive gave us a good look at the Johannesburg urban area. Sandton, where we are staying, is        about 10 km north of Johannesburg.  A good freeway system made the trip very easy as was the drive in from    the airport the night before. We could just as easily have been driving around Melbourne! The residential areas were of a very high standard. The urban areas covered with mature trees. The CBD area looks very dated. Older high rises and empty buildings. Many corporates have moved out of the CBD into areas like Sandton.

Approaching Soweto the urban landscape changed. Hardly any trees. Small houses. Looking dry and dusty.

The bike ride is run by Lebo’s Backpackers. A pleasant little budget operation. They have carved out a nice        lawned area with shelters, picnic tables, BBQ pits etc. We chose a bike and were ready to go. About 13 of us in  the group with two guides. The main guide, 28 years old, grew up in Soweto and was very knowledgeable aboutits history. We learned a lot about the struggles during the apartheid era. It was a surprise to see that even  in the township there is a class system. We rode first through the poorer section. Unsealed roads. The stench from the piles of garbage along the road pervaded the air. Small shacks, some just made from corrugated iron. Grey waterfrom the houses ran out into the lane ways. The people however were generally happy to see you and say hello. The little children were very friendly. As we rode into the better areas the roads became sealed, the houses of a  better standard, neat front gardens, private cars. Four million people live in the township. There are some small  shops scattered through the area and hairdressing businesses set up in small corrugated iron sheds. We stopped  at the Hector Peterson Memorial Park and learned his story. In 1976, 15000 schoolchildren organised a march tocomplain about aspects of the education system. They had petitions to deliver to the government representatives. It was a peaceful protest. The police set up roadblocks and tried to disperse the children. When they refused      shots were fired. Hector Peterson,12 years old, was hit and killed. By the end of    the day 600 children were      killed. A very moving story, well told by our guide. We also saw the houses where Nelson Mandela lived,        Desmond Tutu lived and Winnie Mandela still lives. They are proud of the fact that two Nobel Peace Prize       winners live not only in the township, but in the same street.

At the end of the ride we were given lunch – stews cooked in camp ovens and nice fresh bread.

A wonderful experience. A great introduction to South Africa.

Our driver dropped us back to Mandela Square in Sandton where we met up with an old friend Donna Grcman. She is working in Ghana but was passing through Johannesburg on her way back to Ghana after a trip to           Capetown. It was lovely to see her. We had a few drinks, talked, watched Australia lose the cricket to India and had a very nice dinner at a steak restaurant whose name escapes me.

A perfect end to a great day.

 

Monday 28th March   Johannesburg

The weather so far has been very warm – 30+ during the day and mid-teens over night.

Today was the same. We met Donna in Mandela Square at 9am and had a nice relaxed breakfast at Tashas,         sitting outside. She had arranged for her driver to pick us up at 10am to take us to the Apartheid Museum. On     the way he drove first through one of the better suburbs where Nelson Mandela had his home after his                Presidency. Beautiful tree lined streets, mansions and high fences. Then we drove through a black suburb on the way to the CBD. The garbage collectors have been on strike for three weeks and there were piles of rubbish       everywhere. Even without that, the apartment buildings were not very attractive and it would not be a very safe area for a white tourist. The downtown was a little cleaner but numerous deserted and decaying buildings.

The Apartheid Museum was very interesting. It documented the struggle of the blacks during white supremacy  and the path to integration. It certainly wasn’t pretty. Lots of reading and graphic pictures. We spent a couple of hours there before our driver took us back to Mandela Square.

Donna suggested a nice cafe where we had a late lunch. We did take a walk through the Mall attached to the      Square. It is huge and has a large range of up-market shops.

We said our goodbyes to Donna at 4.30pm. I think she was sad to be leaving. We have had a lovely time             together over the past 24 hours. But she has work tomorrow and a five hour flight back to Accra in Ghana.

I went back to the hotel for a nap. Steve went off to the movies. I met up with him at 8 pm for dinner and then   back to the hotel to pack ready for our 5 am pick-up tomorrow. The Safari begins.

 

Tuesday 29th March   Kruger National Park – Berg-en-Dal Camp   (440km)

We were up at 4.15am, ready for our 5am pick-up. Piet (owner/driver) and Bryce (guide) were on time and we  were quickly on our way. Turns out that Steve and I are the only two people on this Safari. We have the whole   16-seater Safari vehicle to ourselves. Suits us fine. We can really spread out. As dawn broke we could see the    surrounding countryside. Very much like south-east Queensland. Rolling hills, good pasture. Orchards and        eucalytps. Crops of sugar cane and maize. Also numerous coal-fired power stations on account of the rich coal mines in the area. After about 250km on a good four-lane highway we stopped at a roadhouse for breakfast.  A  chance to get to know Piet and Bryce. I think they will be good company.

On the road again through what is known as the Panorama Route on the way to Kruger. Became quite hilly and  the escarpments were steeper. Red rock just like our outback. We stopped at Nelspruitt so that Bryce could buy  supplies for lunch and dinner. We stocked up on some beers and extra fruit and snacks for the road. We found    the prices very reasonable and beer, in particular, very cheap. Continuing on we entered Kruger National Park atthe Malelane gate at the southern end of the park. The Park covers almost 2 million hectares. It stretches over    200km north-south and over 50km east-west. Nearly 150 animal species and over 500 bird species inhabit the    area.

As we drove towards our camp we stopped for a Rhino on the side of the road followed by an Elephant.             Welcome to Africa. We set up our tent quickly and had some lunch. Tried to have a nap before our game drive  but it was too hot in   the tent. I was also suffering from a temperature, sore throat and sinus issues. Filling up onPanadol and sucking Strepsils to try and relieve the problem.

This camp area has a swimming pool, shop, reception area and cabins. From 4pm to 6pm we were booked on a  game drive in open vehicles seating about eight people. We saw quite a lot of animals including Elephants,         Impala, Cape Buffalo, Giraffe and Wild Dog. Very successful first game drive.

Back at camp Bryce had prepared a Spaghetti Bolognese meal with garlic bread. Very tasty. Nice hot shower in the very good amenities block and into bed not long after 9pm. Great first day.

 

Wednesday 30th March   Kruger National Park – Skukuza Camp   (70km)

Up early at 6am. Packed up camp. Quick breakfast and on the road to Skukuza Camp. It is only 70km away and we took our time doing our own game drive along the way. Saw heaps more animals and Bryce was very quick  to spot each variety and give us lots of information about them. I particularly loved the mob of Zebras with the Giraffe in the background. We also saw  a mob of Elephants and some Lions in the distance. At one point we     saw five different species all feeding together. Stopping to watch a string of seven Elephants cross the road was rather special. Closely followed by a Rhino and baby crossing the road.

Skukuza Camp is one of the main camp/lodges in the Park. Numerous cabins or rondavels and a well laid out    camping area. A large shop and restaurant and nice deck area overlooking a river and wetland. Excellent            amenities once again. Rest time after lunch before Piet and Bryce took us for our own game drive in the area      around Skukuza. Got a good close up look at some Cape Buffalo and Hippos in the waterways.

BBQ’d buterfly chicken, salad and potatoes cooked in the coals for dinner tonight.

 

Thursday 31st March   Palaype – Itumela Camp   (650km)

Big day in the saddle today as we left South Africa and entered Botswana.

Up at 5am and on the road just after 6am. We stopped in the town of Hazyview just outside the Park for a very  nice cooked breakfast in a local café. Back in the truck and on to Botswana. The country became quite hilly for a while as we climbed up over a small range with interesting escarpments and plantations of pine trees and         eucalypts. We stopped in Polokwane at a shopping centre for petrol and something to eat. I also bought two       pillows to improve our comfort level in the truck and the tent. Steve had already spied two extra bedrolls to      make our ‘bed’ a little more comfortable. We crossed the border into Botswana at Martin’s Drift on the             Limpopo River. Fortunately the process through immigration went quite smoothly and relatively quickly given  that we had to first exit South Africa, drive 300m, get out and enter Botswana. Lots of stamps in the Passport.  We were through in about 25 minutes. On to Palapye and our campsite at Itumela Camp. Interesting setup. The drive in along beside the railway line was quite rough. Wondered where we were going. The amenities were      cute. Open air showers and toilets – appropriately screened of course with a palisade style fence. We had dinner in the bar/restaurant tonight. Some sort of stew and vegetables served as a buffet. Quite adequate along with a    few beers.  Two ladies of the night joined our table hoping for a conversation and free drink. No takers here.     Too tired! Bed early. The extra bedroll and pillow were very welcome.

 

Friday 1st April   Elephant Sands   (400km)

Not so long a drive today. Up at 7am and on the road by 8am. We drove through Serule on the way to                Francistown where we stopped for lunch at a Wimpy Restaurant. Sadly the Wimpy was out of Chicken and Ice Cream – two of the staples of their menu! Also found a money changer and swopped some South African Rand for Botswana Pula. We continued on through Nata to our camp at Elephant Sands. No hills. Quite flat. Open      grassland and lightly timbered. Quite high (over 2m) termite mounds. Starting to see lots of donkeys along the   roadside as well as goats and cattle. The donkeys were once part of the farming culture – used for ploughing andtransport – but are now free roaming and breeding rapidly. Also saw a couple of Elephants coming out of the     bush on the side of the road in much the same way as we see Kangaroos!

Elephant Sands is a nice camping area set around a large waterhole. The Reception Area has a pool, bar and       restaurant. Open along one side which gave excellent viewing to the waterhole. This is where Elephants come todrink most evenings. It is quite possible to see over 100 Elephants at a time come down to drink. This was not    the night. We saw three wandering around in the distance. Nevertheless we made good use of the pool, the bar   and the restaurant where we had a great meal accompanied by a nice bottle of red wine that Donna G had left      with   us.

 

Saturday 2nd April   Chobe Safari Lodge (near Kasane)   (260km)

Beautiful sunrise this morning. At 7am we had a very nice cooked breakfast in the restaurant before striking      camp and settting off for Kasane and Chobe Safari Camp on the Chobe River. Easy drive. Saw Elephants and   Giraffe along the roadside. Stopped briefly in Kasane for supplies before checking into the Chobe Safari Lodge campsite in time for lunch. The Chobe River marks the boundary between Botswana and Namibia. We are in thenorthern most part  of Botswana adjacent to Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Chobe Safari Lodge is a great property. The Reception Area includes a very large restaurant overlooking a pool,deck and the river. There are motel type rooms as well as hotel accommodation and an extensive camping area with good amenity blocks. We made good use of the pool and pool deck for a swim and rest before setting off   on our sunset cruise on the Chobe River. We thought this was one of the highlights of the trip. We saw lots of    animals – Elephants and Hippos in particular – and birdlife. The Elephants were particularly entertaining as we watched them come down to the water’s edge to drink and play in the water. The baby Elephants were               especially amusing to watch.

Dinner tonight was a buffet in the Restaurant – a fantastic spread of salads and meats and desserts. We certainly over ate tonight.

 

Sunday 3rd April   Victoria Falls   (85km)

Up early for a 6am Game Drive around the Chobe National Park. It was mostly birds and Impala at first. But      just as we resumed, after we had stopped for a cup of tea, we came across not one but two prides of lion. They  were simply lying across the track. When we got closer to the second pride we saw that there were cubs  playingover two females. We were quite close – less than 20m away. By the time we moved on there must have been a dozen game drive vehicles around the lions. It didn’t bother them. They just lay there taking it all in. This           sighting made the early rise worthwhile. Back at the lodge just after 9am and straight into the restaurant to         attack the breakfast buffet. Like the evening meal last night there was plenty of choice. The boys couldn’t help   finishing off with fresh waffles!

We were on our way just before 11am and making for the Zimbabwe border crossing at Kazungula. Again we   had to check out of Botswana and into Zimbabwe. It all went surprisingly smoothly and we were through in        20 minutes at a cost of $35USD each. Our passports are filling up with visa stamps. From here it was a short     drive into Victoria Falls. We stopped in the township to book some tours, Helicopter Flight and Sunset Cruise,  before making our way to the N1 Hotel and Campground. This turned out to be a lovely grassed area, adjacent   to the hotel, with a very nice pool and pavilion area where we could cook and eat our meals. We also had to get some USD as they are Zimbabwe’s currency unit.

After a quick lunch Piet took us down to the Victoria Falls precinct. What an amazing sight. The noise was        deafening as the Falls, about 1km wide, thundered from the Zambesi River into a 100m deep ravine. A cloud of spray rose over 100m into the air and created lovely rainbows. We walked along the opposite rim of the ravine   looking across at the Falls. The air was full of spray and at times it was like walking in a heavy rainstorm. We   got absolutely drenched. Fortunately at 35°C it didn’t take long to dry off. This was truly an amazing sight. We spent about two hours in the area enjoying the experience. Back at camp we could hear the Falls and feel the      spray  in the air from over 5km away.

Time to relax. Swim. Read by the pool. There was good wifi here and I was able to catch up with emails and the newspapers from home. BBQ Steaks and Pap for dinner tonight. Pap is like a porridge made from maize.         Apparently a staple in the African diet. Did nothing for us. I’d prefer mashed potato.

 

Monday 4th April   Victoria Falls

Overcast, windy with showers when we got up this morning. The hotel offered a laundry service which I was    glad to take advantage of. For $8USD I got all my dirty clothes washed and ironed. We had booked an 8.30am   helicopter flight but just after taking off we had to turn back because of low cloud and poor visibility. We           re-scheduled for 2pm and  they took us back to camp. Steve did his own laundry, after which we went for a walkin the immediate neighbourhood where we found a craft market place selling mainly stone carvings of animals  and other artifacts. We couldn’t help ourselves and made a few purchases before heading in the other direction,  into the township where we found a café and had some lunch. We discovered that warthogs roam the township   in much the same way as dogs in Bali. They don’t seem to bother anyone as long as you don’t bother them.

Just before 2pm we were picked up for our helicopter flight to Victoria Falls. We were in the air for 25 minutes and it proved a sensational experience. Approaching the Falls it looked like a bushfire in the distance. The pilot  flew round and round the Falls in all directions, giving us an excellent view of the Falls from above. He also      flew a short way up the Zambesi River above the Falls and followed the gorge below the Falls back to the base.  We got back to camp just in time to be taken to the wharf for the Sunset Cruise on the upper Zambesi River. A  very relaxing way to finish the day. The cruise included free drinks and plenty of tasty finger food. Saw some   Hippos and enjoyed a spectacular sunset.

Back at camp Bryce had prepared  a very tasty sweet and sour chicken stir-fry.

I must comment on sleeping in the tent. The roof panels are mesh. We put a Fly over the tent if it looks like rain.So far not necessary. Lying on the mattress and looking up through the tent at the night sky (the milky way of    course, the Southern Cross and Orion) is a lovely way to fall asleep. And of course the birdsong in the early      morning serves as an alarm clock. The hard part for me is rolling over and getting upright when needing to leavethe tent!

 

Tuesday 5th April   Nata Lodge   (320km)

The usual cereal for breakfast, cup of tea and then on the road, back into Botswana through the border gates.    More visa stamps. Botswana is very wary of foot and mouth disease affecting its cattle industry. The truck had   to drive through a shallow pool of disinfectant and we had to step into a pan of the same stuff. And put any othershoes we had worn into the solution. Once through it was an easy drive, back-tracking a bit, down to Nata. At     times it was like driving across the Hay plains. Also came across large cultivated areas of maize and corn.

Nata Lodge is yet another fine camping and accommodation complex with nice pool area and restaurant. We     arrived in time for a late lunch at the bar. Set up camp and then enjoyed a swim and relax before our 4pm Game Drive into the vast salt pan area (some 20000 hectares). We mainly saw Wildebeest and Cape Buffalo as well as numerous species of bird. We pulled up on the edge of a huge lake, 20km across, enjoyed a drink and watched   another spectacular sunset.

Dinner tonight was in the restaurant from the menu.

 

Wednesday 6th April    Maun   (320km)

It threatened rain overnight so we had to put the fly on for the first time. Up at 6am. Nice cooked breakfast at    7am in the restaurant. On the road by 8am. We stopped at another camp, Planet Baobab, so the boys could         check it out as a future campsite. Boab, as we call them, trees are a feature of this area. Plenty of Donkeys,        Goats and cattle along the road as we went along. We stopped in Maun for lunch and supplies. Maun is quite a   regional centre with traffic lights and roundabouts. After setting up camp we made good use of the pool and      deck area. Had a nap. Enjoyed Beef Stoganoff, prepared by Bryce, for dinner.

 

Thursday 7th April   Okavango Delta    (60km)

Packed up at 6am and picked up at 7.30am for our trip into the Delta. We had to take tents, sleeping gear, food  and cooking gear for the overnight stay. We were taken about 30km along a sealed road before turning onto a    dirt track leading another 20km down to the Poling Station. We were to travel in canoes,called Mokoros, ‘poled’along by local  villagers. It was a beautiful, blue sky sort of day. Steve and I shared one canoe. Piet and Bryce  were in another. Our supplies were in another. We pushed off into the main canal, but after about 15 minutes weturned off into a narrow channel through the reeds, grasses and water lilies. At times the grasses were over 2m   high. We zig-zagged through this network of channels for an hour before arriving at our camping area. We        quickly unloaded the boats and the boys got a fire going while we put up our tents. The kettle was soon boiling  and we enjoyed a cup of tea while relaxing in this tranquil environment. A restful day around the camp fire.      Bryce produced a nice platter of cold cuts, cheese, olives and biscuits for lunch. A short nap after lunch before  one of the Polers took us for a two hour walk into the surrounding area. The highlight of this was the large pool where we saw quite a few Hippos.

Bryce cooked up a delicious stew in a camp oven which we enjoyed under a stunning starry sky.

 

Friday 8th April   Maun   (60km)

A very cool night. Up with the birds. The Polers had the fire going and the kettle on for an early cup of tea as    dawn broke and we were treated to a beautiful sunrise. Steve went for a walk with Piet and one of the Polers. A bit more successful than yesterday afternoon, they did   see some Elephants and Zebras in the near distance.

We packed up camp and at 8.30am headed back to the Poling Station through the reeds and tall grasses, along    the narrow channels.

Back at the Lodge we unpacked and set up our tents before having a nice hot shower. Piet and Bryce took us      into town where they had to shop for supplies before eating lunch in yet another Wimpy. On the way back to     camp we stopped at the airport and booked a 45 minute fixed-wing flight over the Delta. Piet and Bryce came   with us. We could see from the air just how dry the Delta was. We still spotted, and flew close to, a wild            bushfire as well as Elephants, Giraffes, Hippos, Cape Buffalo and Warthogs. Thoroughly enjoyed this view of    the Delta from the air. Makes you appreciate how expansive the area is. Flying back into Maun we also had a    good aerial view of the clearly defined suburbs. The house blocks were generally all cleared dirt. The small       houses constructed of besser blocks with an iron roof – but neat and tidy. Also saw some quite lavish properties of brick and tile.

Bryce cooked up some lovely chicken kebabs and sausages on the BBQ tonight together with mashed potato andpeas. Great meal. Watched some of the Masters Golf on TV up in the Lodge.

 

Saturday 9th April   Khama Rhino Sanctuary   (520km)

Long drive today. Up at 6am and on the road by 7am. A bit blasé about the long drives now. Even get to have a snooze in the truck as we go along. We did have to stop for Veterinary checks and shoe washes along the way! We stopped briefly on a large salt pan and again just out of Lethikane for lunch – buns and cold meat. Passed a  large pile of diamond mine tailings – looked like a huge mesa.

We got into Khama in the early afternoon and set up camp. Very cold. Track suit and fleecy top. The wind         blows up from the south over the Kalahari Desert. Our 4pm Game Drive was one of the best yet. Khama Rhino Sanctuary has been established to breed and preserve both the black and white Rhinos which are threatened        species. We had an excellent guide who had been at Khama for many years. We saw lots of White Rhinos,quite close up. She took us into a quarantine area where they had one Black Rhino in an enclosure. They only have     five and this fellow had been a bit naughty and they were trying to quieten him down. As well as the Rhinos we saw dozens of Wildebeest, Zebras and Warthogs. Many different varieties of antelope including Kudu and          Impala. A very impressive outing for us.

Back at camp Bryce cooked up some Kudu T-bone steaks with salad and corn. Lovely meal.

After dinner we sat around the BBQ fire and enjoyed some drinks to celebrate Bryce’s birthday. Steve gave himhis Brumbies shirt and I gave him my Brumbies cap. Very cold tonight. Went to bed in track suit and fleecy top!

 

Sunday 10th April   Johannesburg   (620km)

Up at 6am and on the road by 7am. Long drive. Through Palapye to the border by 9.20am. Through in a quick   20 minutes. More visa stamps. We stopped in Mokopane at a Wimpy for lunch and then on through Pretoria andinto Johannesburg by 4pm. Our safari was over.

A fantastic journey. So pleased to share it with Steve. We had a great trip. Said our goodbyes to Piet and Bryce. They have been excellent. Very knowledgeable about the animals and their habitat. Looked after us very well.   Felt very safe and secure at all times.

Checked into our hotel – Radisson Blu Sandton. A nice hot shower. Re-pack our bags. Over to Mandela   Squarefor a nice dinner at Butchers Shop and Grill.

We will sleep well tonight.

 

Monday 11th April   In-flight

Hard to get out of this comfortable bed. We arranged a late check-out for 1pm and headed over to Mandela        Square on the 9am shuttle to enjoy a nice breakfast at Tashas. We split up after that to do some shopping and    wandering around the Mall. Caught the 12.30pm shuttle back to the hotel. Checked out and sat in the lounge      until our driver came to pick us up at 3pm and transfer us to the airport. Easy progression through check-in and  immigration. Steve re-claimed some VAT on purchases we had made. We had enough Rand left over for a drinkand a snack before boarding our 7.10pm flight to Sydney.

Didn’t sleep on the flight. Watched four movies.

 

Tuesday 12th April   Canberra

Landed at Sydney at 3.30pm. Cutting it fine but just made our 4.50pm domestic flight to Canberra where Jackie met us. Unfortunately our luggage arrived on the next flight.

Take us back to Africa

With credit to Becky and Kim Bertram, two guests on one of our tours.  www.talesofthetravelingsisters.com

Jobovic Safaris: South Africa, Zimbabwe, & Botswana

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Our Jobovic Family (missing Laura from this photo)

Africa captured our hearts. We spent 11 nights camping under the serene African sky and were mesmerized by the beauty of the great outdoors. Africa brought us back to our roots…country living. We grew up in the country of rural Wisconsin with horses, cats, dogs, goats, a ferret (not a good animal), rabbits, raccoons (just for a short while), and a few other random animals at times. We spent our childhood playing outside daily, staring up at the stars in amazement, and enjoying life without a constant stream of technology. Africa showed us just how much we truly miss that.

We spent 11 days completely enthralled with the beauty of nature. And we could not have asked for a better group of people to experience this with. Piet: co-owner of Jobovic Safaris and driver for our trip; Bryce: tour guide; Liddia, Dani, and Laura: fellow travelers from Italy and San Marino. We immediately felt close to our tight-knit group and spent the time joking around, talking, playing pranks, and acting like children. The trip was passed with a steady stream of laughter and growing friendships.

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From start to finish, our African Safari was a dream come true. We highly recommend Jobovic Safaris to anyone traveling to Africa…in fact, take us with you! Our journey started from Johannesburg, South Africa on Oct 19th at 5:00 am after arriving at the airport from Israel at 4:00am. We picked up our fellow travelers at their lodging and made our way to Kruger National Park in nothern South Africa, which began our 1st official game drive. As soon as we entered Kruger, we saw so many different species of wild animals including elephants, impala, zebra, giraffes, buffalo and much more. After driving through Kruger for a couple hours, we arrived at our 1st campsite, Satara, within Kruger. Each night we set up our tents and each morning we packed up camp – we never imagined that camping in tents for 11 days could be so amazing, but it truly was INCREDIBLE!!!

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Our 1st night set the stage for having a blast goofing around and scaring each other. We set up camp next to a small kitchen building with birds flying all around. However, Kim thought they were bats and has a fear of bats due to her Charleston days. Of course, I (Becky) had to take full advantage of this fear since Kim gets a kick out of trying to scare me about snakes. So, a small twitch randomly finding its way to Kim’s head did the trick. Haha – so much fun scaring each other!

Day 2 was a full day of driving through Kruger National Park. Our extremely knowledgable tour guide, Bryce, spent the day teaching us all about the habits and characteristics of all of the wild animals we were seeing. It is absolutely amazing to watch wildlife in their natural habitat and understand how life in the wild works between species. After arriving at our 2nd campsite within Kruger, we went on a sunset game drive and saw a pride of lions with a kill (Buffalo) along with a herd of buffalo, elephants, giffares and more, up close and personal.

Leaving Kruger on Day 3, we headed to the Zimbabwe border, where we spent the day. True to our guides warning, crossing the border into Zimbabwe proved to be an adventure in itself. The adventure started upon arrival at the border and being sent back by the South African guards because they were unnecessarily requiring an additional letter from Piet, the owner and driver of Jobovic Safaris. We obediently made our way back to a gas station in South Africa to await the faxed document. An hour and a half later, we were ready to try again, but little did we know, the obstacles had just began. We were all cleared to exit South Africa and we made our way accross the river in no-man’s land to the Zimbabwe border post. We had to obtain visas to enter Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, our lovely traveling companion from the Republic of San Marino was denied access into Zimbabwe and deported back to South Africa. After spending 5 hours at the border and sending one traveler back to Johannesburg by bus, we were on our way to our 3rd campsite, Norma Jean’s Lake. What an eventful day!

From that point on, the running joke was who would be thrown off the island next..haha. Luckily, we all made it the rest of the way and even managed to recoup Laura when we arrived in Botswana. Zimbabwe was filled with adventure from exploring the Great Zimbabwe ruins and learning about life in years gone by (Kim gracefully participated in a dance with locals) to visiting a wildlife orphanage that rehabilitates and releases animals back into the wild and ending our time at Victoria Falls, one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. Each day was an exciting adventure and each night was a peaceful paradise camping in the bush. Our campsites included Ivory Lodge where we watched elephants 20 feet in front of us and sat in a tree stand and saw a 500 strong herd of buffalo come down for a drink; Antelope Park where a zebra and horses roamed freely in the site; and Rest Stop at Victoria Falls where we witnessed monkeys feeding their babies mere feet from our tents and where the monkeys so cleverly broke into Lidia and Dani’s tent to steal their packaged cookies – haha.

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Our time at Victoria Falls was pretty epic! We spent the day white water rafting down the Zambezi river. Unlike in the States, we were not driven down to the river to start our adventure. We hiked down the gorge, down steep ladders and over massive rocks, to get to the river. We then rafted down 19 official and many more unofficial rapids, up to category 5, which is the highest you can go down. There were 8 people in our raft and we victoriously made it through the 1st 7 rapids without losing anyone. Going into rapid #8, a category 5,  we were all filled with confidence and that’s when we were taken out. The saying goes: Pride comes before the fall, how true that proved to be. In a matter of seconds, our raft had flipped and we were all tangled under the water looking for the surface. Talk about a rush! Scary, but fun at the same time. I (Becky) flipped out once more with 5 others and quickly got pulled back in to paddle through as it was the first of 4 consecutive rapids. Our entire crew flipped once more on rapid #18, and again were fighting to make it to the surface. It was so scary, but so much fun.

We decided to take a refreshing swim, as we neared the end of the rafting experience. Once most of us were out of the boat, a crocodile was spotted on the shore and took a dive into the water. Kim and I swam to the boat and begged to be pulled in quickly. Haha – I’m sure you can imagine the terror we felt at the possibility of being crocodile lunch. But, we got our revenge, for dinner that night, we ate crocodile pasta. Mmm Mmm Good! After surviving the water, we had to hike back up the gorge to the awaiting vehicles, which ended our rafting experience. This adventure was definitely not for the weary – we got a great workout!

Our adrenaline souls were not yet quenched after spending the day on the rapids so we decided to take a leap off of the 111 meter gorge. You can check out the videos of the gorge swing on FaceBook. Let me tell you, it was a massive adrenaline rush, but so amazing!!! Perfect way to end a day of adventure at Victoria Falls.

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The last leg of our African Safari took us through Botswana. Thankfully, we had no problems crossing into Botswana and enjoyed wonderful accommodations and game drives in Chobe National Park. Botswana was a perfect end to the journey as we slept under the starlit sky, took a swim at Chobe & Nata Lodge, and enjoyed gourmet dinners.

Leaving Africa was by far the saddest part of our journey. We fell in love with this continent, living outdoors, and watching wildlife. True to the saying, Africa gets in your blood, and we cannot wait until our journey takes us back to this breathtaking oasis.

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Until we meet again, Africa…

Much Love,
B&K
*Written by Becky

*We would post more photos of the wildlife but we took most of them with our cameras and cannot upload them at this time.