You shouldn’t be surprised – it’s September so it must be time for the Temple’s to be visiting a game park. It is a year since we last did this and we have been going through withdrawal. We left this morning on a direct flight from Cape Town to Kruger Nelspruit airport. Everything went smoothly and in fact we took off 1 minute before our scheduled time of departure. The flight was uneventful and we landed about 20 minutes early.
I really love the airport at Nelspruit. It has to be one of my favourites in the world (and I have been to a few). It is a little thatched roof building and it immediately makes you feel like you are in game park territory (or safari as foreigners like to call it). In fact even the flight makes you feel like it because you are generally on the plane with 50 other tourists all wearing their ‘safari’ gear down to the David Livingstone hats.
We got our rental car and headed to Malelane where we wanted to do some shopping for the days we are in the Kruger National Park. On route we quickly realised that the air-conditioner of the minivan we had rented was not working. Too late to turn back and not that I wanted to do that anyway. Given it was 32 degrees (C for the Americans reading this), there was no way we were going to survive without air-conditioning either. It is a public holiday in South African today (Heritage Day) but fortunately my personal assistant is fantastic (yes she will read this 🙂 but she really is) and she managed to get Hertz and organised that they would come and change out the minivan for us. Thanks Cecilia … I really owe you now!
We did a very quick shop for our food for the next few days and then headed into the Kruger Park through the Malelane gate. We had organised that they would swap out our minivan at Pretoriouskop (the rest camp we are staying at tonight) at 5pm and by the time we entered the Park it was about 2:30pm. It is about 60 kms to the rest camp and you would think you would easily be able to cover that distance but you need to factor in that the maximum speed limit is 50 km/h on the tar roads and 40 km/h in the dirt roads. You also need to allow for the stops for animal sightings and rock sightings (for when someone thinks they saw an animal and it turns out to be a rock). We made it to the camp just after the Hertz driver had arrived so the timing was pretty good in the end.
On route from the gate to the camp we saw quite a bit of game given it was now 34 degrees C and everyone (including us with our non-functioning air-conditioning) would have preferred to be sleeping under a tree. We have so far seen two of the big five (elephant and rhino) and both already in abundance. At one point I spotted a Rhino and called it out. Daniel (our “adopted” son who is actually a nephew who was illegally sitting on the window of the van and predominantly outside the vehicle) thought I was joking and just trying to get him back in again but in fact I really had spotted a rhino. That one was followed up by a sighting of two rhino right next to the road. We also saw a lot of elephant including a mother and calf that was so small he/she fitted under his mother entirely. Add in the usual Impala, Steenbok, Common Duiker, Vervet Monkey, Zebra, Giraffe, Wildebeest, Warthog and a small smattering of birds (11 so far but we haven’t really spent any time birding seriously) and we have had quite a good start.
As it is unofficially ‘National Braai Day’ (Braai is a Barbecue for all non-South African people), we had the mandatory braai for dinner. Stephen had brought a flint with him (present from girlfriend) and so the guys thought they would start the fire with it instead of buying matches. 10-15 minutes of attempts and Daniel kindly offered to go and buy a more trustworthy way of starting the fire. Hopefully I am never stuck with them in the wilderness.
After a long hot day and the prospect of an early start tomorrow at sunrise we are all off to bed and sleep. In fact Helen is snoring as I type …
P, H, D (because he went to buy the lighter), M, C & S (because he has been annoying Chloe most of the day)