South Africa, Day Five: Safari

Oct 20 2010

This is the sixth in a series of blog posts about my recent trip to South Africa. I’m posting them a week after they happen. For all 825 photos from my trip, see my Flickr photo set.

Sunrise at Kruger National Park, South AfricaThis was my full day of safaris. The itinerary:

  • 5:00am Wake-up call
  • 5:30am Gather in the dining area for snacks (hot coffee, iced coffee, hot tea, iced tea, water, milk, cake, scones, etc.)
  • 5:45am Head out on morning safari
  • 7:30am Stop for snacks (water, smoothies, wine, muffins, scones, etc.)
  • 9:00am Return from safari
  • 1:30pm Lunch. I had the sweet potato orange soup and grilled kudu (a game animal) with fries. Everything comes with freshly-baked bread, sweet butter, iced tea, water, etc.
  • 4:00pm High tea, including cakes, cookies, breads, etc.
  • 4:30pm Head out on afternoon safari
  • 6:00pm Stop for snacks as the sun sets
  • 7:00pm Return from safari for a dinner by firelight

As you can see, they fed us extremely well. All the food was excellent, too.

Fortunately, a storm had blown in the night before, cooling down the air and clouding the skies, so it never got above 80 degrees. Perfect weather for sitting in an open-top jeep and taking photos.

A rhinoceros at Kruger National Park in South AfricaNow I face a problem: how to describe the excitement of seeing a giraffe or cape buffalo up close. There’s little stunning about these animals; the excitement comes from knowing that I’ll probably never see one again. The photos don’t do the experience justice.

So I spent the day eating and watching animals in their natural habitat. Nothing beyond that, and I’ll never forget it.

Dinner topped even the prior meals: rack of lamb, beef, chicken kebabs, potatoes, mixed vegetables, creamy soups, apple crumble, lime tart. We ate and chatted, and listened to the rangers’ “war stories.”

We were then escorted back to our rooms–a detail I should explain. Since the resort is in the middle of a national park, and there’s only an electric fence to keep out large animals, smaller animals can easily get in (particularly baboons and small ruminants). They even had a leopard take up quasi-permanent residence for a while. So you can’t roam the resort at night; you have to find a security guard who’ll escort you from the main rooms to your own.

Hippos at Kruger National Park, South AfricaI felt comforted by this. We were in the middle of nature, not some human-cleansed zoo. We were forced to respect it.

The next day isn’t really worth blogging about; I got up, was taken to the airport, and flew home. Other than the chatty van driver and the prop plane from Kruger-Mpumalanga Airport to Johannesburg, there was nothing remarkable.

An ad described its product as meant for people who measure their wealth not in dollars, but in experiences. I’m fully content with this experience and the memories I’ve made. I feel more rounded-out as a person.

Africa changed me for the better.

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