Trip Start Sep 04, 2012
47Trip End Aug 02, 2013
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For the next 2 days, our tour guide Sidney had one goal in mind......to see the big 5 (named so by hunters because they were the most aggressive animals or the most difficult to hunt). They were leopard (tick!), lion, buffalo, rhino and elephant. 9 of us were packed into an open jeep and we simply toured the park searching for 'game'. On Friday we saw a host of giraffes and elephants. One scene in particular stood out, as a mother giraffe and her young were thirsty and were waiting patiently at a waterhole for an elephant to finish having a drink. The elephant eventually finished drinking, and splashing around, and the giraffe tentatively moved in. Just how cautious this mother was really portrayed just how 'in the wild' these animals are, as they are pray for several big cats. We managed to tick off lion (seen chilling out from a distance) and rhino (saw several groups of them, one in particular being pretty close to us) and buffalo (ish), but they were the star of the show on Saturday!! It goes without saying that a whole host of animals including wildebeest, zebra, 'bambi's', 'pumbas' (Lion King reference) and antelope were spotted on a pretty successful day!
Saturday saw the return of the entertaining giraffe and elephant (both great value) and Sydney got us some 'crocs' and 'hips' down by the waterhole aswell!! As I said though, Saturday's highlight was the massive herd of buffalo trekking down to the waterhole and then trekking back dangerously close to a pride of 8 lions!! Different class!! We were hoping to see the lions attack, but the only movement you get off them in the day was when they got up, stretched and sat back down in a new area of shade under a tree!! Lazy!! No wonder they were hungry!!
It was definitely worth going with a tour guide as Sidney was excellent at spotting animals and even slammed on his brakes when he spotted a tortoise and a squirrel, but everyone in the jeep was on the lookout! A Spanish couple had eagle eyes for almost everything, I spotted a herd of massive Rhino's and Kala spotted........wait for it......some ducklings!! I also have to mention that Kala survived 3 nights in a tent (although she scanned the tent for creatures every night before bed and went to bed fully dressed!!). As our camp site was just outside Kruger Park there were lots of wild animals around our tents. Pumba's were very common and on Thursday night we returned from our night safari to a herd of wildebeest sniffing around our tents!
So we'd seen the big 5 and plenty more to boot in what was certainly my favourite part of the trip so far!! (It took an age to slim down my 548 photos down to 90!!!)!! I was painfully snap-happy!
Sunday saw us travel to Johannesburg via the Blyde River Canyon (third largest canyon in the world) where we had a stop off and quick photo. Got there at tea time and even managed to catch some premier league highlights on the tele.....brilliant!.....Man Utd 2 Spurs 3....not so bloody brilliant....!!!
Monday saw us relax on our final day in South Africa by going to 'Liliesleaf Farm' which is now a museum, but in the early 60s, was the secret headquarters of the African National Congress (ANC) where Nelson Mandela launched an underground military wing. After years of trying to overturn the government politically and peacefully without success they decided that the only way forward was to move to a violent fight and they planned acts of sabotage and guerrilla war with all meetings being held at Liliesleaf. Police raided the place in 1963 after a tip off, and made several arrests, which resulted in the 'Rivonia trial', in which Mandela addressed the court from the dock for a period of approximately 5 hours because he was his own defence lawyer. Still, he, and several other members of the ANC were sentenced to life imprisonment. The rest, as we know, is history.
South Africa has been an amazing start to our travels and has exceeded our already high expectations!! What more could you ask for in a place......history, culture, diversity, wildlife, beaches, adrenaline activities, endless scenery.....and we only scratched the surface! It'll take some beating.
Let's see what you got China...!