It was time to explore another continent after five and a half month on the American sub mainlands. Let’s go to the southern extremity of Africa! Let’s go to the cape (of good hope)! I flew 9 hours from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg, the biggest city in South Africa. With high expectations on the country and its people, a hop-on hop-off bus ticket (Baz Bus) to get from Johannesburg along the cost to Cape Town and a ticket for a 4 day safari in famous Kruger National Park.
Serendipity – Arrival in Joburg
The first time I am ahead of the time in Germany (+1h). Because of the time difference I flew overnight and arrived the next morning in Joburg, how the South Africans call the biggest town in the country. Before that, something incredible happened at the airport in Sao Paulo: when I showed my Brazilian vaccine card with the yellow fever vaccination proof, the guy at the counter wasn’t allowed to check me in. The vaccination was not valid before February 22nd, 4 days after my flight. I patently didn’t think about the 10 days the vaccination needs to engender an aktive immunity. Luckily, the helpful South African Airways employee at the counter checked my German vaccination card thoroughly and seemed to be familiar with the various vaccinations. My yellow booklet already listed the needed yellow fever vaccination. Seemingly, I got it last August back home in Germany. The crux: it isn’t listed under the common name, but rather declared as Stamaril. You can get a bit confused with all this different vaccinations I got. 😀
I was scared stiff, but in the end everything worked out. We landed in time at February 19th at 7.30am in Johannesburg. The free hostel shuttle picked me up at the airport and drove me to my abode, where I stayed just for one night. The next morning I went straight to my much-desired safari.
4 day safari – German troop
Our driver Moses picked me up in the early morning and we started the 6 hours drive to the camp, close to the National Park, together with the other tour participants. We were a group of 6, thereof 5 Germans including me. Maria and Marlene are from Munich, Johannes and Matthias from Offenburg. The 2 guys coincidently stayed in the same hostel. So we met the night before and drunk a refreshing Black Label beer together.
Maholoholo Wildlife Animal Rehabilitation Center
When we arrived at the camp, we got our tents and went directly to a rehab center for injured and outcasted animals. We could cuddle a trained cheetah and saw various eagles. The Marshall/White Eagle is the biggest in Africa. Scientists found traces of human babies in their nests. With their claws they are easily able to break human bones.
After the eagles we went further to the vulture cage, where I feet one of them. Hopefully no vulture of bankruptcy… 😉 At the end we also saw a female lion, wild dogs (unaware to see them in nature the next day) and a honey badger. Those cunning creatures can even kill elephants. They just dig under them and bite off the balls, so they bleed out. What an ugly way to die.
Thereby, the 1st day almost came to an end. Back in the camp we had a delicious dinner (t-bone steak, potatoes, salat), cooked by the kind soul of the camp. Our cook Martin always has a smile on his face. I am not quite sure if that gets supported by certain plant substances. 😉
Searching for the Big 5
The cock crowed before sunset at day 2. We had to get up at 4:15am, grabbed some breakfast and drove to approx. 45min to the Kruger Park. For a better understanding, with an area of about 20.000 km² (as big as Israel), Kruger is the largest wildlife reserve in South Africa.
When we barely entered the promised land, a pack of wild dog crossed the street (about 20 dogs). Goodman, our guide, got really excited. He explained, in whole Kruger currently living only approx. 400 wild dogs, so you might see them only every 3-4 month. What a great start to the 1st game drive…
In point of fact, we saw all of the celeb-animal-quintet at day 1. The big five, the most dangerous and hardest to hunt animals of Africa, are lions, leopards, rhinos, buffalos and elephants. But furthermore, we were able to observe a lot of other species. We saw zebras, monkeys, giraffes, turtles crossing cozily the street, birds as well as big and baby pumbas (the warthog from Lion King).
But as always, pictures gives you the best impression. I also cut a little movie of the safari (watch after chapter “Day 2”). So take a look at the wildlife by yourself and enjoy!
The same procedure as last morning. Wake up call shortly after 4am to start the safari at 5am. Because we did a sunset drive in a smaller resort that day, we only stayed in Kruger till 2pm. But the drive at the evening was absolutely worth it. We took some wine and a few snacks with us. In this smaller area, Goodman was able to drive us way closer to the animals. A perfect finish of this unforgettable time!
The end of the day? Not yet. Back in the camp we met the new group, had dinner together (delicious as always, thanks to Martin, the cock who always keeps smiling) and enjoyed our last hours in the wilderness. We didn’t want to waste the tasty South African wine… 😉
I would like to thank our guide Goodman again. Or how I call him, Bestman! What a great guy and the best guide ever! He grew up in the bush close to the park, so he knows Kruger inside out. He read footprints, explained us the behaviors of the animals and attended to all our wishes.
Day of departure
Around 7:30am we start our way back to Joburg. On the way we made a short break at the Blyde River Canyon, the 3rd largest in the world. A little hangovered, we just took the usual touri-pics and continued the ride.
Another night in Joburg
The German crew stayed in a hostel together. This time a bit more closer to the city center (already forgot the name of the hostel). I just stayed one more night before I moved on to Durban. Maria, Marlene, Matthias and Johannes spend a bit more time in Joburg. But more about my next steps in South Africa soon…