I thought it was time to do a report on our trip to BnD last November, when José found a few Rhino for me and taught me an awful lot about the KNP
It was not the most auspicious start – my first two flights, from Jersey to Gatwick then on to Madrid went according to plan. However, on arrival at Madrid I discovered that my Iberia flight to Jo’burg which was due to leave at 25 past midnight had ceased to exist but there was a flight departing at around 10 am the next morning. A quick chat with the Iberia customer services desk established that my flight was, indeed, running 10 hours late but they would, of course, provide a hotel for the night.
Ho-hum – if you’ve time to spare, go by air! Once I was in the hotel it was time to make some ‘phone calls and send some texts. José was due to meet me at JHB in the morning but had fallen in with a very dubious bunch of Saffies and was painting Gauteng red. She was perfectly happy to have a lie-in in the morning the do some shopping in the afternoon. As I would now be arriving at JHB after dark, we were unlikely to get to P’kop before the gates closed so I rang the camp to cancel the first night but to ensure that the rest of my booking (at BnD) was not cancelled as no-show. I rang Avis to make sure they didn’t cancel my rental car when I didn’t show up, then I had an SMS confab with José and we came up with plan B.
I finally arrived at Jo’burg 12 hours late after my first daylight flight the length of Africa and was met by José and mfb/Mike. Mike confirmed that we should be safe enough driving through the night to Nelspruit so off we went. I managed to take the correct turning out of the airport this time and, apart from meeting a lone suitcase on the motorway – followed by the owner driving back to pick it up (the wrong way in the fast lane), it was an unexciting drive; we finally got to the Southern Sun Emotweni just before 2 am. We then had the unpleasant experience of listening to a couple of guests giving the night porter a very nasty tongue-lashing because he had accidentally double charged them for a can of Coke from the night bar. They were really nasty people. Finally we checked in (giving the poor guy a hefty tip) and retired.
We surfaced mid-morning and set off for Malelane gate. José had stocked up with food, drink and a cool-box in Jo’burg so we didn’t bother with shopping and just had a quick sightseeing tour of Nelspruit (yeah, I took a wrong turn or two) before setting off for KNP.
There were a dozen or so cars at Malelane so it took a few minutes to enter the park; it didn’t matter now, of course, as time was switched off. We had a whole week to do what we liked when we liked, without any clockwatching (apart from camp closing time, of course). So they couldn’t renew our Wild Cards at the gate because the machine was playing up – big deal. They would do it at BnD when we checked in. A gentle amble straight to BnD produced little in the way of wildlife apart from a lonesome Ellie (which won me the "what will we see first?"
competition) and a Woodland Kingfisher which turned out to be an SMS from mfb ensuring that we had arrived safely. The SMS tone on José's cellphone was an endless source of amusement – and occasional confusion – over the next week.
I had booked a family cottage at BnD and it was lovely. A bedroom each (one double, one twin), bath/shower room, toilet, huge kitchen/living room and large patio with tables, chairs and (of course) a braai.
We dropped off our bags, transferred the refreshments from the cool-box to the enormous fridge, put some vital supplies back into the cool-box and set out for our first afternoon drive.