Today was our last day of our short holiday. It was up at 5am again for another final morning game drive. It was also the coldest and least productive drive of the whole trip. Our ranger and tracker were trying to find a large herd of buffalo. They found their tracks and their droppings but despite searching for them we couldn’t find them. What was very ironic was that when we left the Timbavati Reserve on our way to the airport we passed them (and it was really a huge herd – in the hundreds).
The highlight of the morning drive was probably seeing our first and only owl of the trip – an African Scops Owl (total bird count for the trip – 107). We also saw zebra for the first time in 2 days and that was particularly good because one of our overseas visitors had not yet seen zebra in the wild. The real highlight of the trip though was that they laid out breakfast for us in a river bed. For some reason breakfast in the bush always seems to taste better. Eggs and bacon cooked on the Cadac gas braai, fresh fruit, muesli, yogurt, fruit juice, coffee … you name it and they had it there. It was a really nice way to finish off the holiday.
After breakfast we went straight back to the lodge and quickly packed up everything and then back into our VW Kombi and to Hoedspruit Airport. The drive took us an hour 15 minutes when we arrived and it was very bumpy on the dirt road in. It took us an hour on the way back and the road did not seem nearly as bumpy. Maybe it was just that we were used dirt roads after 2 days of game drives.
We did unfortunately arrive at the same time as a large bus load of foreign tourists so we had to wait patiently behind them as they checked in. It was remarkable quick though. Maybe I was just chilled from 7 days of holiday in a game park. We checked everything in and made our way to the ‘departure lounge’. It is really just one big lounge which was pretty full as there was both a Johannesburg and Cape Town departing. Our overseas guests were on the flight to Johannesburg (along with all the foreigners) and that flight was clearly packed full. Our flight to Cape Town was 45 minutes later and it was evident after the Johannesburg flight had boarded that our flight was going to be relatively empty.
The security at Hoedspruit airport was amusing. Firstly they called me back because when they scanned what they thought was our cooler box, they thought it had an explosive like item inside it. They wanted me to explain what it was. I pointed out that it was in fact a travel/car fridge and not a cooler box and what they could see on the scan was the fridge coil/cooler. They gratefully accepted that explanation and thanked me. When we boarded they made us walk through a scanner. When I went through it beeped but no one did anything – not even a pat down. No scanner for your hand luggage though. They were checked by hand. They simply opened one zip, looked inside and said ‘Thanks’. Very laid back and not overly comforting though no one on our flight looked like Al Queda operatives (fortunately).
We left 15 minutes early because everyone was on board and we landed 2 hours 30 minutes later in Cape Town. It really is the way to visit the game park. Straight from Cape Town to Skukuza and then back from Hoedspruit. No messing around with transfers in Johannesburg and really convenient. Definitely to be repeated in future.
Until January 2015 …
P, H, M, C (and S will be with us then)