Afweeca, very dusty!

Trip Start Feb 09, 2009
Trip End Dec 02, 2009

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Flag of South Africa  ,
Tuesday, February 17, 2009

17th Feb - Perth to Jo-burg
After an 11 hrs, 4 movies and 3 ice creams we arrived in Jo-burg airport. We had arranged a transfer to our accommodation The Ritz (which our friend Alex later nicknamed 'the shitz'). Unfortunately, we could not find the driver anywhere and had to find a phone to ring them up... he was not happy as he had been waiting for us for a while so we endured a silent drive through the city. On arrival we were met by the exuberant owner, whose jokes were part of a well oiled patter that he used on all the poor travellers. Our room resembled a dungeon, but it did have its own en-suite. Cesca was hot happy about things because she was over tired.. but we knew things would look brighter in the morning.
18th Feb - Jo-burg (Soweto)
4.30am, after a pretty sleepless night due to jetlag and dorm noise we gave up on sleep and decided to get up. It was too early to do anything so we read our books for a while before heading up the road to the local bakery/café for breakfast. It was the most amazing bakery either of us had ever seen filled with chocolate croissants, pastries, cookies, breads, muffins and any other product you could dream of. It was quite sobering eating breakfast outside watching the armed black security guard patrol the car park to fend off potential joy riders - typical Jo-burg. Back at the hostel we had a tour booked around Soweto township. Our guide introduced himself to the group by taking the piss out of all the nationalities on the van, telling the kiwis 'why would you want to be flightless birds that get killed by predators?' He then started the tour by taking us past the future Football World Cup stadium, Chris had to ask when it was going to be finished. The guide took it as a personal insult to SA building practices and proceeding to lecture that it was essentially finished, the rest was just 'decoration'. From what we could see it was at least 6 months of decoration! The township itself was unexpectedly flash. Things have really changed there since apartheid was abolished in the early 1990's. The houses were of a good standard and the amenities and roads were pretty good too. We were overwhelmed with the size of the township.. it holds 4 million at the latest estimate which gives the total population of NZ a run for its money. It has 480 schools, many more churches and has 3 huge newish shopping malls. The highlight of the tour was a visit to the Hector Pietersen museum in the Orlando district. It was just up the road from the most famous street in Jo-burg that has two noble prize winners in residence (Nelson Mandela and Reverend Desmond Tutu). This museum commemorated the killing of a 13yr old boy who died in the 1976 non-violent protest marches by students against the compulsory school lessons being taught in Afrikaans.
Back at the hostel we attended our pre-departure meeting for our tour. Here we met our driver, Blessed and our guide, Fiona. Out of the people who were going to be on our trip we met Alex and Clare Rhodes who Cesca predicted would be firm friends right from this moment.. Pizza for dinner - but for some reason Cesca wasn't feeling very well and passed on it! So I had the whole thing to myself!
19th Feb - Jo-burg to Bushman's Adventure Camp (Kruger)
After another interrupted nights sleep due to jet lag and noisy neighbours we jumped onto the first of our new homes for the next 25 days - an Acacia safari truck called Sashe. We found seats down in the middle of the truck across the aisle from our friends from the night before, Alex and Clare and in front of a couple of new arrivals... two nurses from Canada both called Sarah. We passed the first few hours getting to know each other whilst outside the truck left Jo-burg and headed east down the motorway. At a service station we had a breakfast snack and found an ATM to get some money out. (Little did we know this ATM machine would provide many dramas later in the trip but for now all was good). Cesca bought a bag of chips for breakfast, ate half of them and then promptly threw up into the bag. She had gone quiet for a while on the bus so I should have known something was wrong. There must of been soemthing in the crossiant we had for luch the day previous - since she had no dinner! Luckily, we had Alex (who pulled lots of cleaning equipment out of his bottomless bag) and the two nurses who were used to dealing with such eventualities. This spew further cemented our friendship with Alex, Clare and the Sarah's as it acted like an ice breaker with Cesca taking it all good naturedly. On arrival at Bushman's Adventure Camp we were shown around by our hostess Dagma. She gave us a welcome drink of coconut rum and then we toured the campsite hearing leopards coughing near one of the walking tracks. We just had time to put our tent up before being whisked away on a night game drive in Kruger around Thornybush private game reserve. This was what we had come to Africa for; we saw Buffalo, Impala, Giraffes, a Rhino with its baby and the highlight was a female cheetah with her 3 cubs. Dinner at the campsite was served in a spectacular outside seating area (a boma) around an open fire.
20th Feb - Kruger
We had a full day's game drive in Kruger National Park today with our professional guide, Vusi. It was a great day and we added more animals to our list including Zebra, Cheetah, Buffalo, Elephants, Rhino, Giraffes, Impala, Water Buck, Baboons, Kudu, lots of bird life, Leopard Tortoise, weaver bird and several different spider varieties. We stopped for lunch and had a swim in a resort swimming pool it was a boiling hot day - but the pool itself was nearly just as hot! At the lunch the other guide was trying to tell us how to open the ice block and before he knew it, it had exploding and gone all over Dean! we headed out again with 1 purpose in mind - lions! We searched long and hard but to no avail. Before dinner local children came and performed some traditional dances for us, pulling all of us up to dance with them around the fire, before we had another amazing dinner at the boma around the fire.
21st Feb - Kruger to Kwa Nokeng (Botswana)
A 5.30am start today as we had a big drive through northern South Africa to the border crossing into Botswana. We drove through the spectacular Magoebaskloof mountain pass to Polokwane. It reminded us of NZ, full of pine trees being farmed for wood. At Polokwane we stopped at a mall and Fiona gave us 100 rand, it was like getting pocket money from your mum. Alex shared his smoked biltong meat and dried fruit. We bought meat cuts, bread, cheese and vegetables. The border crossing was uneventful; we quickly got our passports stamped and entered Botswana! The campsite for the night was only a stones throw over the border. We set up tents then retired to the pool for a beer. Alex was late as he had kicked a football up a thorn tree and had to throw stones at it to dislodge it. Before dinner we all hung out at the bar drinking cider over looking the river in case we saw any Hippos! Always on the look out for animals - till the power went out and we all headed over for Blessed's chicken bojke (stew) which was his mum's secret recipe.
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