Wednesday, September 19, 2012

South Africa Safari August 2012

Pictures and video at the bottom of this post.

Now that we are done the Tour de Tuli, we are off on the next stage of our adventure, Safari.

We traveled due east from Mapungubwe Camp, South Africa, running parallel to the Limpopo River, which in this region makes up the border of South Africa and Zimbabwe. Our drive was 225 kilometers to Kruger National Park. We will be staying at Pafuri Camp for the next 2 nights. Pafuri Camp is 20 kilometers inside the Pafuri entrance to Kruger National Park.

On our arrival, we were treated by a very welcoming staff. Since we arrived early, we were offered brunch while our tents were being readied.

Pafuri Camp is part of Wilderness Safari, their mission is to provide sustainable tourism. We will be staying in tents, though these tents are nicer then most people's homes.

The staff is very friendly and the entire camp is elevated above the jungle floor. You walk on a raised board walk 5 to 6 feet above the ground. This is done for two reasons to keep any predatory animals away from us and to keep us from having a negative impact on the environment.

Included in our visit are two game drives per day. The game drives are in the evening around 3:00 pm to 6:30 and in the morning from 6:00 am to 10:00 am. These times correspond to when there is the most animal activity.

Our guide is Godfrey and what a guide he is! Not only does he know the names and descriptions of every animal, bird, plant, and tree in the South African Jungle, he can spot birds and animals from miles away and then track them down for us to see.

Our first game drive started off birding. We saw some unique and colorful birds, as well as a group of giraffes. We stopped at a natural spring for some tea and a beautiful sunset. It was interesting seeing water in the spring and with the area in such a harsh drought, it had been days since we had seen any type of natural water. Joining us on the game drive was another guest Dave Thomas, not the Wendy's Dave Thomas, but the famous world traveler and accomplished birder. Dave had also done the Tour de Tuli and would now be spending a few days at Pafuri.

With the sundown, Godfrey used a spot light to locate animals and the highlight was tracking a female leopard, what a beautiful animal.

Dinner was excellent. Early to bed as our wake-up call is at 5:30 am. This was sleeping in compared to the times we had been getting up. The tent had all the comforts of home: a high quality bed and bedding, both an indoor and outdoor shower, and a full bathroom.

One negative is Internet access. They say they have it, they charge for it, but it does not work. It would be much better to just say no internet.

Day 2

Today's game drive was into the northeastern part of Kruger along the Limpopo River. We saw additional birds, as well as zebras, warthogs, and lots of Antelope. On our arrival back at camp, we had brunch, another great meal. I can see a pattern here. Eat, go on a game drive, eat, go on a game drive, eat, go on a game drive, etc....

We decided to take it easy this afternoon until our next game drive at 3:00. We hadn’t had the luxury of just hanging around in luxury, so this was very relaxing.

The evening game drive was just as spectacular as the morning. It started out with an elephant sighting just a few feet from where we met for our game drive vehicle. We drove through the jungle to the Lanner Gorge carved by the Levubu (Levuvhu) River, which is the same river the Pafuri camp sits on. We had to be over 1,000 feet above the river. We enjoyed a spectacular sunset. On our drive back, we spotted two aardvarks (ant eaters). Aardvarks are not rare for this area, but spotting them is very rare. Godfrey was over the top excited. Watching Godfrey get so excited, was more exciting for me than seeing the aardvark.

Day 3

In the morning, we had our last game drive and we drove through the fever forest. The fever tree got their name from people thinking malaria came from these trees. Fever trees grow near water where mosquitoes live and bread. Instead of realizing the mosquitoes were responsible for malaria, they thought it was the trees, thus fever tree.

The highlight of the morning drive was tracking a leopard, and seeing it kill a baby antelope. After tracking the leopard, we had morning tea on the banks of the Limpopo and Levubu (Levuvhu) River. This area is known as crooks corner as it is the border of Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique. Crooks used to jump from one country to the next to keep from getting caught. On the Levubu (Levuvhu) River, there was actually some water and a crocodile and 3 hippopotamus were enjoying it.

We hated to depart Parfuri Camp and we were off to our next adventure in the Sabi Sands section of Kruger. Parfuri is the northern most part of the part of Kruger while Sabi Sands is southern most part of the park.

The 6 hour drive was an easy but long drive with the last 20 kilometers of very rough dirt roads. The 6 hours turned into 7 hours.

We arrived at MalaMala Game Reserve which is one of the largest game reserves in the Sabi Sands area at 7:30 pm traveling the 20 kilometers of dirt road in the dark. The reception was just great and they got us situated very quickly. We missed the evening game drive, but made it in time for dinner. We met Robin, our guide, at dinner.

Day 4

The morning game drive was not quite as early as in Parfuri. We slept in until 6:30 am going on safari at 7:30. While Parfuri is known for it's birding, MalaMala is known for big game. On the first morning, we saw a leopard, lions, lion cubs, elephants, as well as many other game animals. Robin, while a great host, was lacking in his guide abilities. It seems we are following the other guides and not finding the animals on our own.

Scrappy slept in, he has been faking a bad cold. I say faking because I am pretty sure he eyed the MalaMala airstrip and plans to take a few planes on some joy rides, while we are out on our game drive.

The food is not as great as Parfuri, but is as plentiful.

The schedule here is morning game drive from 7:30 to 11:30. Lunch was at 1:00 and then afternoon game drive from 3:15 to 7:00, dinner was at 8:00.

On the evening game drive, we saw 2 male lions. We asked Robin about doing some walking on the game drives. He said he will see what he could do.

Day 5

The morning drive was great. We saw two different lionesses with their cubs, a giraffe, and a leopard stalking a janet. We also did a nice hike as per our request. Robin explained some great information about some of the local trees. One tree that could be used to wipe your nose or butt, one that made great toothpaste and one that made a great toothbrush. He explained that is where the word toilet trees (toiletries) came from.

The evening game drive was very nice. We hit some new parts of MalaMala, as well as seeing hippopotamus, and rhinoceros. Robin is starting to listen to Margarite, thus his guide skills are improving. It seemed the first day he just wanted to make sure we saw lots of animals, quantity vs quality. Robin has now settled down and his focused has moved to quality and our enjoyment has increased significantly.

The food here is good. We start off with a large breakfast, while on the morning game drive we got tea and cookies. Lunch was served at 1:00 which is fit for a king. At 3:00, right before the afternoon game drive we got tea and a large snack. Dinner was at 8:00 and the quality is top, and the quantity is enough for a small army.

Day 6

This is our last day on Safari. We got a great start by spotting a lioness and we followed her for a while until she returned to her den and 2 cubs. It was rather exciting to see these 2 tiny cubs play with their mom. From there, we drove much of the park seeing some elephants, giraffe, and a hippo that was completely out of the water. We then found a leopard sunning himself. On our way back to camp, we saw a single rhinoceros and a group of rhinos.

Day 7

Scrappy will be leaving us, so we need to head back to Johannesburg. This is a 7 hour drive. Once in Johannesburg, we located De Wet's house. He had graciously offered to store our bikes while we continued our travels. With De Wet's help, we got all three bikes packed in under one hour. Once everything is stored, we headed back in to Johannesburg and we have booked the same apartment we stayed at before Premiere Classe.

Day 8

Scrappy has a flight at 6:00 pm. Here is a guy that has flown all over the world by himself in his own or borrowed planes. In this case he will be flying commercial, Johannesburg, to Dakar, to Washington, D.C. to Denver. 30 hours door to door.

As I mentioned, Scrappy fly's himself all over the world, but never commercial. He was a little nervous not about the safety of the flight, but about going through immigrations and customs. Scrappy will be carrying some contraband with him. He will be bringing part of a "Wait a bit tree" and he wants to see if he can graft it with a tree in the United States. He is also bringing some South African grain alcohol Mompur for his brother. He thinks his brother may also have 2 livers and drinking this stuff will prove it.

We had several hours to kill, so we decided to visit the Apartheid Museum. This museum showed a very dark side of South African's recent history. Well worth the visit, it helps you understand the current political climate in South Africa. Just over 20 years ago, discrimination in South Africa was the rule not the exception. Segregation all all races was expected.

Tomorrow we will be flying to Cape Town so we decided to stay at the City Lodge at the Johannesburg airport.

Cheers, DUG



1 comment:

Unknown said...

The beauty of this amazing continent, there no any other place on earth that can compare.
Every time i see all these video. I appreciate my continent more and more. The world wonder, wide river, desert, savanna, tropical is all there. These have fascinated people throughout history. Oh my beloved continent your future is bright. Because is homeland to all humanity. Thanks all.