CuriousCanadian, Micetta, Maddie88, Meandering Mouse, Jo, Safrica, jonty1, Petra Jacobs, Jubatus
Ready for action, indeed! Here we go:Monday, 30 March 09
Today was the big day: the day we would drive across the Crocodile River! We were very excited to get on our way. We arrived in South Africa on Saturday evening and had spent two nights at friends of ours in Pretoria. We were wondering how the jet lag would be from Australia to Africa and now knew: our whole family slept well, but were all wide awake by 4h30 every morning!
It would be our only chance to visit Menlyn (a huge shopping centre) this morning, so by the time most shops opened at 9h00, we were there! The initial reason for a trip to South Africa was my brother’s wedding at the end of April, and we still needed a few special items before we left the city. So torn between our need to shop and our desire to leave for Kruger as soon as possible, we managed to turn onto the N4 at about midday.
This did not give us much time to idle along the way, but we still did a quick stop to stretch legs (and let the boys do star jumps under the willow trees to get rid of some energy!) at one of the petrol stations closer to Pretoria as well as at the Hall’s Gateway, where we stocked up on dry wors. We found our rental, a Toyota Avanza, perfect for our needs, but a little jumpy on the road if you go over 110km/h. Not that we really could....we realised that we have grown accustomed to driving much slower since living in Australia and found the speed and disregard to road rules quite shocking at first (but got into the groove of it all as we went on!). We admired the cosmos in flower on the Highveld and the beauty of the Schoemanskloof on the way....South Africa is a very scenic country! There was not time to stop for basic foodstuffs at Malelane, so we just proceeded to where we have wanted to be for many months...
At 16h30 we drove over the Crocodile River...nearly: first we had to stop and savour the moment! We found it amazing to actually be at the Malelane gate!
All of us got out of the car to book in at the gate and SO and kids had lots of time looking at the sightings board while I tried to get the paperwork done. I decided that the 20 (!) minutes that it took to get our entry paper was not going to spoil our arrival! We also bought a new map at the gate: the SANParks Jacana one (was only map available). I actually wanted the Honeyguide one, but found this one adequate. It has a few new things that I can’t remember seeing on our old maps, like a more detailed map of the roads around the Skukuza area and a page with all the historic places in Kruger and info on other monuments close to Kruger. And then the usual ecozones, that I find very interesting.
As we drove through the gate, I got out my new camera (took photos with my ‘mik&druk’ up to now) and we started to guess what we would see first....I opted for elephant, SO for impala and our 4 year old son, for giraffe. I thought that there was not a good chance of our son being right, but our first animals were indeed giraffe! They were far from the road, but popped their heads through the trees to say ‘hello’ to us. This was the start of another 18 days of game viewing and we were thrilled! We took the tar road to Berg-en-Dal. A white rhino was the first of the big 5 to be spotted.
All the animals were new for our youngest boy and we were not sure what the oldest could remember from previous visits, so we were trying to teach them as much about the animals as fast as we could so they could start recognising them by themselves. Real life is different from books!
The ladies at Berg-en-Dal reception were on the ball. We were booked in quickly and got the unit that we requested beforehand. It was the first time that we were staying in a bungalow here (but have camped on almost every site at Berg-en-Dal...) and we were very curious to see what it was like. We bought coffee, rooibos tea, sugar, milk and Ouma rusks at the camp shop and made our way to the bungalow. It was one of the upgraded units, with a lovely view of the fence. There were no animals in sight, but the African bush in front of us, was pure magic! We unpacked as it got dark and tried to get ourselves organised for the night. We were all very tired and after dipping an Ouma, we got the kids through the shower (slightly disappointed, as there was no round kudu soap...) and in bed. SO and I were hot on the kids’ heels, only still sharing with each other how incredibly blessed we felt to be on holiday in South Africa...