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 Post subject: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 7:28 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
My last Trip Report was titled "Ah, But Your Land is Beautiful" so I only found it fitting to name the new one after another Alan Paton novel (with a word added for me). As with the last report, the title rings true again. There is not a day that passes that I do not yearn for Africa.

As I wrote in the last report, my missionary parents packed up with 12 year old twins in 1979 and moved to Africa. We lived in Swaziland for the first two years and then moved to South Africa.

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We returned to the United States 6 years later and quickly became reacquainted with American life. It wasn't until 20 years later when a very special friend convinced me to come back for a 20 year school reunion that my love affair with South Africa was renewed in full.

I have since made 4 trips in the past 9 years, and as I'm sure all will agree, a trip to South Africa would not be complete without a visit to Kruger National Park. If it were up to me, we would return annually, but the cost is prohibitive, so we are only able to return every 2 to 3 years. After 4 weeks in 2011, my next planned trip was not until 2014 (for the 30 year reunion).

About a month ago, my twin brother called and said he was planning a trip to Kruger in November of this year. He asked if I would be interested in taking my son and joining him and my nephew for 10 nights in Kruger. My immediate answer was, "Of course. BUT, I gotta check with the boss." Any sensible human being knows that the boss means the wife, right? My wife is an absolute gem. I mean she allows me to drag her and the kids to Africa every few years, but I didn't want to push my luck with this one. I beat around the bush for a few days before coming out and asking directly if I could go. She gave me a resounding yes on allowing me to go, but a firm NO on taking either of the kids out of school (we normally go in June/July when they are out of school on summer break). By this time 4 of my brother's friends from work decided to jump in and they had all already purchased airline tickets and booked accommodations at Kruger.

So, 7 months from tonight I will board a plane again for my favorite place on earth. My brother made all of the bookings at Kruger, which will include some firsts for us both. We will start our adventure with 3 nights in Shingwedzi. Neither of us has been that far north before. We will then have 2 nights at Olifants (another first), 2 nights at Satara, and then our final 3 nights at Malelane.

I know I have started this report super early, but I'm too excited to wait!!!! Our last trip was absolutely amazing and I can only hope this one will be as well. I can't wait to experience this magical place with my brother and nephew, AND to be able to share it with some who will be newbies as well.

Our dates are as follows:

November 25 - 28 at Shingwedzi
November 28 - 30 at Olifants
November 30 - December 2 at Satara
December 2 - 5 at Malelane

If any forumites will be around during those dates we would love to meet you. Till then.........

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:37 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Hilda, MM, O-Dog, Roaneric, wildflowergirl, Sharifa, Puppy, and Cheetahlady:

Thanks all for commenting. I'm hoping that the time will fly by. In preparation for the trip I just bought a Canon 100-400L IS lens to add to my kit bag. I can't wait to put it to use in the Park.

Puppy, it is disappointing not being able to bring my son. He was two when he first visited the Park and got to spend his 7th Birthday in the Park as well. At first he was upset about not having a proper birthday party with a cake, but our South African friends helped to make it a special day for him, complete with his own customized KNP birthday pudding.

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He is now 10 and has been on 4 separate Kruger trips. He was quite upset when he found out I was going and he had to stay home. My daughter was just as upset as she too is captivated by the Kruger magic that nobody will understand until they have been.

Thanks for allowing me to share........

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:06 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Well in just two more weeks I will be waking up after spending my 1st night at Shingwedzi. I felt the best way to get in the mood would be to go through pictures from previous trips and post them into this report. It was fun going back and sorting through the photos. It was also easy to see how the quality of the pictures increased as I bought better equipment and then again as I learned to use it.

So climb on board and let's take a trip......

This one is from our first trip in 2004. The kids were 2 and 5.

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Somewhere in paradise.....

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Some more big guys.....

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How about some of that Kruger scenery....

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And any trip to Kruger is enhanced by being there with friends.....

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Well that's all for tonight. Hopefully I will have a chance to post some more tomorrow night.

Till then....

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 9:34 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Time for some more memories from trips of the past:

A gorgeous male Kudu

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A dad and his girl (who happens to be almost as tall as him now).

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From the deck of Mopani

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And the Baobab on the hill below the Ranger's house. Oh how I would love to live there!

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The Tropic of Capricorn

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Night drive from Satara

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Our first stay at Tamboti brought some nighttime visitors

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And some general photos

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And a sunset to end the post.....

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Just 10 more sleeps before departure!!!

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 6:47 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
So far all of our Kruger trips have been with our South African friends who are avid birders. I never had much time for our feathered friends, but they have grown on me, and I actually paid a lot closer attention to them during the last trip. So, this episode will be for the birds.....

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[img]http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8324/8143202382_c3f6099b64_z.jpg[/image]

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And another Kruger sunset to say goodnight.....

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_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 8:14 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
I think everyone will agree that the sunrises and sunsets in the bush are something to long for so I thought I would start this post with a Sunrise taken along the road between Lower Sabie and Crocodile Bridge a few years ago.

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Now how about an episode of cats?????

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Proof that no matter how good your equipment is you can still mess up the shot...

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This beauty walked out in front of us as we were on our way out of the Park. What a send off!!!

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And last but certainly not least for tonight....

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I hope you all have a great night. Till tomorrow.....

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 8:00 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
And a quick post with some random pictures for tonight. I did get the camera bodies off to the Canon shop today for a good cleaning. They will be ready for pickup tomorrow.

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Well it has been a long day and the quicker I get my eyes closed the quicker the morning will come and I will be able to check off another day on the calendar.

I truly appreciate everyone who is following and commenting. It makes the effort worthwhile.

Thanks again,

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 8:03 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Hi friends,

I logged on last night with every intention of doing a posting with some more pictures. However, family duties jumped in the way and since I am leaving them here this trip, I decided you would all understand if I made them the priority. This was especially important since both of the kids are extremely upset that they don't get to go this time. Mom is adamant that they cannot miss school. My mom and dad just celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary. My dad's secret to a long and successful marriage.....Admit that they know best in some areas..... So this trip will be with my brother.

I have a friend here in the USA who is a fingerprint examiner. She LOVES Zebras, because like a human's fingerprints, a zebra's stripes are individual and unique. I have no idea if this is true or not, but since she believed it, she asked me to take pictures of zebras for her. I soon realized that zebras are often very photogenic. So I will start with some zebra pics.

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And some general game pictures.....

I know Impala are common in the Park, but they still can be gorgeous animals

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And I love being able to shoot several species in one shot

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Well that is all for tonight. We are down to six days until departure. Thanks for following along!

Till tomorrow.....

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:49 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Well we are down to just five days until departure. The packing has begun and things are being checked off the list. Getting VERY excited!!!!

Here are some general photos for tonight's edition........

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That's all for tonight. Thank you all for sticking with me.

Till tomorrow.....

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 10:09 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Down to the final four days.....

We had a very unexpected sighting on the Lower Sabie Bridge a few years ago. I thought I would share that tonight.....

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We sat on the bridge for several minutes while the otter devoured his lunch. It certainly wasn't the type of sighting I had thought about before, but was one of the most special I have experienced. I later spoke to Martie at LS who said in her 5 years as a guide at the camp she had only seen an otter once.

Now a few general shots

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Hope you all have a great day!

Till tomorrow......

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 9:54 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Well we are down to three days now. We leave Los Angeles on Thursday November 22nd, which is Thanksgiving Day here in the USA. Traditionally it is a time for families to get together and celebrate and be thankful for the blessings they have with a huge turkey dinner. I love Thanksgiving dinner!!!!

So when we booked our flights we selected a flight that left at 2100 hours. That would give us plenty of time to spend the day with the family, stuff ourselves, and then go into a food coma for the 1st leg of the trip, which happens to be 11 hours to Frankfurt this time around.

A while after booking we received a notice from the airline that the flight time had been changed from 2100 to 1800 hours. Not ideal, but still workable for an early meal. A short time later we received another notice that the departure had been moved up again. Now it is at 1350 hours. For an international flight check in is 3 hours before departure. Airport food is not my idea of a good Thanksgiving dinner, but at least I will be on my way to Africa again!!!!!

Today was supposed to be a packing day. Sadly a friend and former co-worker passed away this week from cancer and the services were today.

I did manage to get all of the camera batteries all charged up and ready to go.

No real theme for tonights pictures, just thankful that I have them to remember the wonderful times we have had....

Here kitty kitty....

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I know there's a leopard out there somewhere, but where did she go?????

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There she is

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The breakfast of champions...

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That's all for now. Have a good day and till tomorrow.....

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 8:03 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
While the excitement is building, so is the stress. There is still so much to do.....

This will be my first trip without my wife and children. I feel a little guilty about being in paradise while they are at work and school, especially now that all of the burden will be on my wife's shoulders. I will need to find a special treat for her....

This will also be my first trip flying a yellow ribbon. My twin brother (deamole on the forum) and I will be driving separate vehicles with a bunch of newbies on board so I bought a whole spool of yellow ribbon at the store today so we can both have our ribbons flying.

Just a few random pictures tonight and then back to packing.....

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Have a wonderful day! Till tomorrow.....

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 8:49 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Well friends this will probably be my last post at least for a few days.

The bags are packed (well almost) and I am ready to go. Had a bit of a scare earlier as far as the bags go. I planned to take one large suitcase with enough clothes to last the entire trip just in case the laundry facilities weren't working or were not available. The suitcase is certainly large enough to accommodate that. I did most of the packing yesterday and weighed the suitcase at 41 pounds. That is well under the 50 pound weight limit. I knew I had a few more things to add, but I was certain I would still be within the acceptable limit.

I added the last items this evening and put the bag back on the scale. I was astonished to find that it now weighed 62 pounds. OUCH!!!!! What to do. I called Lufthansa and was happy to find that I am allotted 2 bags at 50 pounds each. So i got a smaller bag and moved some things like binoculars, tripod head, a pair of shoes and a change of clothes into the smaller bag. It is well under 50 pounds and the large bag is now at 47 pounds. Once we arrive in South Africa I will transfer everything back to the large bag to save space in the rental car and leave the smaller bag at our friend's house until the trip home.

I need you all to pray that our flights are on time. Somehow the airline separated our group once we leave Los Angeles. We all fly together to Frankfurt, but then everyone else flies on to Munich for a 6 hour layover before continuing on to Johannesburg. For some reason they would not put me on that flight and I stay in Frankfurt for 10 hours before flying on. We are all due to arrive at OR Tambo within five minutes of each other, so long as everything is on time. If one or the other flight is delayed then someone will be stuck waiting for the others.

The plan is to get our luggage, get two Nissan X-Trails, and drive to our friend's house in Joburg to change from winter clothes to summer clothes. We will then drive to a lodge called Madhi a Thava outside of Louis Trichardt for our first night. After breakfast on Sunday morning we will buy supplies and drive into the Park through Punda Maria gate.

Here is what the camera kit looks like both before and after stuffing it all into the bag.......

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I couldn't believe it all fit. The bag is a Lowepro Proroller 250 Lite. I was amazed at how much I was able to fit in it.

These will be my last pictures from previous trips. Hopefully I will come home with lots of new and exciting pictures to share.....

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Thank you to those who have been following and commenting. It is greatly appreciated. I am very much looking forward to meting a number of forumites during this trip.

For those who will be praying for my trip, please also pray for my angel of a wife who is allowing me to take this trip while she stays home and works full time and takes care of two kids, one of whom has special needs. She is a blessing!

Till the next time I can post......

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 10:54 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Made it to the airport. All checked in and about an hour and a half till boarding!!! See you all in a few days.

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 7:59 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
We finally made it!!!!!

The trip from the USA was absolutely grueling. After more than 36 hours from the time we left the hour, we arrived at OR Tambo. The flight from LA to Frankfurt was over 10 hours, then a 10 hour layover before the flight to Joburg, which was another 10 1/2 hours.

I took the train from Frankfurt airport into Wiesbaden and went to a spa for a much needed massage. It at least helped pass the time and my back was thankful as well.

While we are in transit I often ask myself why I am making this trip again. It truly takes so much out of you. However, as soon as I am back on South African soil the answer is clear. This Country is one of the most beautiful and hospitable lands on earth!

After collecting the luggage (minus the lock that was stolen) we were off to get sim cards for the phones. We waited in line for about 20 minutes at the Vodacom store before being told their system was down and we needed to go to their store upstairs. Same thing, their system was down as well. Back downstairs to the MTN store and we were all hooked up. Then after a few more snags at the rental counter we were off and on our way.

We drove to our friends' house to collect some cooler boxes. I mentioned our friends in the last TR as Mr and Mrs D. I am pleased to announce that MRS D joined the forum as Inyosi a few weeks ago. Can't wait to see her posts...... Anyway she and I left immediately for the bank and picked up some groceries for lunch. Inyosi put together a nice salad and some chicken while Mr D cooked up some Wors on the braai. So thankful to have such good friends who always welcome us back with open arms.

We then drove off to the Madi a Thava Mountain Lodge outside of Louis Trichardt. This place is awesome!!! A beautiful mountain retreat with a superb staff who cater to your every need. We arrived just after 1830 hours last night and everyone was hungry and exhausted. The staff put together a nice dinner of burgers, chips, and salad and then it was off for a shower and bed.

It stormed last night and we awoke to a cool and beautiful morning. I am now sitting on the verandah watching a troop of baboons playing and listening to the birds sing their songs. It could only be better if my SO and kids could have joined me......

After breakfast we will be off to town to stock up on supplies and then on to Punda Maria gate to enter the Park.

I don't know when I will be able to post again, but till then........

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


Top
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