Early morning wake up call, the 4 of us go straight to the cars as to not get screwed with the seating. Only Miami lady is there as her husband is under the weather. JB and Lindsey are able to join her in the front row, while Amy and I take the second row. Father and son come afterward are have to take the back. Luckily for us, frenchy was back home sleeping also.
If I thought the drive last night was bad, today's was a waste of 4 hours. The only decent pictures worth taking were the ones of the sunrise. At one point, we were driving on the paved road for 30 minutes. There is one paved road, it has fences on either side so that you can go faster than 20 kmph and all we saw were impala and one giraffe. If I wanted to drive on a road with deer on the side of it, I would have stayed in Philly.
We drive around some more and finally spot a zebra, too bad frenchy wasnt here. Problem was the zebra was on private property as was going the other way. So finally when we do see something, we couldn't get any closer. More driving, more nothing but impala. At this point, I am start to say impaaaaalaaaaa. Then the rest of the car says the same thing. Impaaaaalaaaa, impaaalaaa, impaaaalaaaa. Amy falls asleep at this point, and I start to do the same when the ranger slams on the breaks. Everyone wakes up as he says "did everyone see that lion." Far in the distance he points. Everyone looks, but of course no one sees anything. Then he says that it is a leopard instead of a lion (what kind of ranger is this, he doesnt know the difference between the two animals)? Just at this moment, the leopard runs away. JB says he saw it, but couldnt tell if it was a lion or a leopard, he only saw it for a brief second. The ranger decides to drive around to the other side in order to find it. We were all quite excited as this would be our chance to see the last of the bug 5. We drove around, the ranger pulled into the open field, but of course there was nothing. So the ranger went back to the road and drove around a little bit longer and then stopped. He hopped out of the car and told everyone it was time for a sundowner.
This upset me more than anything. No one in the car has seen a cat in this park for 3 days. The ranger finally spots one and gives up looking for it after 2 minutes. If we were back in the safari car with Van, we would have hunted that thing down until we were right up next to it. But I guess that is the difference between Jackalberry and Royal Legend. One is meant for game viewing and the other is meant for people that want a comfortable bed. But I guess this is why Van got a huge tip, and I can't even remember this ranger's name.
We get back in the car after the sundowner, drive around for another hour, and don't find anything. We head back to the lodge pretty much empty handed for the day. After a delicious morning breakfast, we went back to our rooms to pack up our belongings. Our transportation picked us up at noon to head to the airport. As the bus pulled up, I noticed it was larger than the mini-bus we took the day before. Looks like we were taking more people to the airport than just the four of us. Luckily for us, the other 3 people were frenchy and the gang (oh great). Hoping to never see them again, instead we had to ride the 45 minute bus with her, and then an hour long plane ride.
Feeling bad for the kid who didn't get to see any animals after flying all the way to South Africa, we showed him some of our pictures from Thornybush. He was quite interested in the lion kill, so we explained what happened in detail. At this time, frenchy told us that if she were there, she would have screamed to tell the warthogs to run away. This didn't phase me because if I were in a car with someone that did that, I would still see a kill as I would have thrown her to the lions myself.
We make it to the airport, and I hand JB my last 20 rand to tip the driver. He says he will use that for all of us, then give the porters at the airport 20 rand from us. The porters take our bags as we check in. JB and Lindsey go first, and then hand the guy the 20 rand. We then check in, and a different guy blocks us from moving on. He stares at us and says "tip." I explain to him that the very generous tip that he got earlier was for us as well. Then the guy's buddy comes over and says we have to tip him. Frustrated, I go through my bag and finally find 3 rand to give to the guy. I tell Amy that I hope she doesn't have anything valuable because those guys are probably gonna steal something from us.
The flight was fairly uneventful except when we hit an air pocket and the lady behind us screamed. Then she saw a bug, got scared and flicked it on Amy. So now Amy is screaming because there was a bug on her. I don't do anything because I hate small planes and am holding on for dear life. JB is sitting there reading his book like nothing is going on, but Lindsey came to the rescue and got the bug off of Amy.
We had some time to kill in Jo'burg, so the girls did more shopping. There weren't too many stores, but enough to do damage with the rest of our rand. JB and I waited in line to get our VAT tax back for all the souvenirs we bought. To claim the tax, you need to have the souvenirs in possession to show them. This is their way of screwing you if you had already checked your bag (which we did in Hoedspruit). Luckily I had one bag of stuff, so I kept pulling out the same mask pretending it was each of the items we bought.
Security was easy, except for the first time in South Africa, we were not allowed to carry liquids. This meant I lost a bottle of water I just purchased, and Lindsey would lose the 2 gallons of water she got. Not to completely throw it away, her and JB decide to drink one of the gallons of water before going through security. Once through, we had to wait in a new line for our VAT taxes to be refunded, and also the mecca of duty free shopping was on this side. We didn't have much time, which was a good thing, so we proceeded right to the gate (only stopping at 7 stores along the way).
The plane ride home was much more crowded, so we were not able to stretch out. I was able to watch Yes Man, Slumdog Millionaire, and The Simpsons Movie on the way home. Amy's video system did not work (well the audio didn't work), so we switched seats in the middle of the flight so she could watch Bride Wars. We had to stop in Senegal for an hour in the middle of the trip to drop off some people and pick up new ones. I got to witness first hand how they clean a plane. They moved really quickly, and we had to take all of our stuff from the overhead lockers (that's what they call them) and put them in our lap so that security could make sure no one intentionally left a bag on the plane and got off in Senegal. Finally we were ready to go. They had to spray the plane once the doors were closed in order to kill any bugs that might have come on board.
The flight was off and only 8 more hours till we landed in Washington Dulles.