South Africa Journals

South African Safari

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A September 2001 trip to South Africa by sjmclaughlin

Preparing the hot air balloon Photo, South Africa, Africa More Photos
Quote: One St Patrick's Day in Belfast, some friends and I were brainstorming where to go for our next vacation together. Some wanted a beach destination and some wanted more of an adventure. Someone mentioned South Africa and a plan was hatched.

South African Safari

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Overview

Buffalo, zebra and impala  Photo, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Quote:
We started our trip in Johannesburg at my friend, Vicki's parents' house, drove to Pilansberg/Sun City for some game drives and casino action and then flew to Kruger National Park to finish our trip with a safari adventure.Quick Tips: South Africa is still a relatively dangerous place. Leave your valuable watches and jewelry at home. It's best not to be a target. Best Way To Get Around: Buses and taxis are not recommended for tourists. And walking around the cities is asking for trouble. The safest option is to rent a car from the airport. Even if it's only a short journey. Driving is an experience as well. Remember it was a British colony so drive on the left. There are vendors ...Read More

Bakubung Bush Lodge

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Hotel | "Bakubung Game Lodge"

Bakubung Bush Lodge Photo, South Africa, Africa
Quote:
Bakubung means "people of the hippo". A series of small buildings surround the hippo pool in a horseshoe shape. Driving up to the lodge, you realize you are in the middle of the bush and on the edge of Pilanesberg National Park. Impala and wildebeast are seen grazing along the road. When we first arrived in our room, we went out to the patio to find three Vervet monkeys hanging out on the wall separating our patio from the next. They had jumped up to the second floor balcony, snuck into someone's room and stole the little milk cartons from the tea tray. They didn't seem to mind us watching them and even let us get pretty close. The gate around the hippo pool was at the end of our patio. It als...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 31, 2002

Bakubung Bush Lodge
Pilanesberg National Park
South Africa
145521861

Escapes! Stonebridge Village

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Hotel | "Umlani Lodge"

Escapes! Stonebridge Village Photo, Branson, Missouri
Quote:
Umlani is located in the Timbavati region of Kruger National Park. It is an unfenced safari lodge which means that animals can and do come right into camp. If you are after luxury, Umlani is not for you. It is rustic but comfortable. There is no electricity in the camp so guests are given flashlights and gaslamps. I enjoyed that part of the experience more than I thought I would. The only problem is that no electricity means no TV or radio and we were all very anxious to hear about the September 11 attacks which occurred while we were there. Umlani has only 10 huts in the camp giving it an intimate feel. The huts are simple and cozy. The bed is draped romantically with a mosquito net. There is a...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 31, 2002

Escapes! Stonebridge Village
1 Oak Lane
Branson, Missouri
417-334-0806

Pilanesberg National Park

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Attraction

Pilanesberg National Park Photo, South Africa, Africa
Quote:
20 years ago, thousands of animals including the Big Five (Lion, Buffalo, Elephant, Rhino and Leopard) were relocated to this area to create Pilanesberg National Park. Because many of these species are not endemic to the area, the purists call it "just a big zoo". In fact, the 5 baby male elephants caused havoc when they were first brought in because they had no adult elephant to keep them in line. Since then, the park learned its lesson and has relocated entire families. Although you can drive your own car through the park we opted for the guided tour in an open safari jeep which I highly recommend. Our ranger could spot animals from far away and very hidden. We never would have found them on our...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 31, 2002

Sun City

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Attraction

Sun City Photo, South Africa, Africa
Quote:
OK, so it's not a real beach. But there is sand and there are waves. This man made beach is part of the mammoth Sun City resort. It's a great place for soaking up the sun as waitresses bring drinks right to your towel. I spent most of my time in the wave pool which alternates between gentle rolling waves to enormous tidal waves. There is a horn signalling the change so you have time to get the kids out of the pool before the big one comes. Surrounding the wave pool and beach are several waterslides, the Lazy River, a volleyball court and an adventure playground for the kids. We spent hours on the waterslides. We even braved the giant waterslide with the 90 degree drop. Beware, it's not for the fai...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 31, 2002

Kruger National Park

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Attraction

Charging elephant Photo, South Africa, Africa
Quote:
Staying at the Umlani Bush Camp, we were taken on 2 game drives a day. We followed a strict itinerary. Our rangers, Foreman and Andries, would wake us at 5am for the morning drive. We'd be back by 10am and relaxed or snoozed until lunch at 2pm. The afternoon game drive left at 4pm with sundowner drinks half way through. We'd return to the camp around 7pm and sit around the boma (campfire) before dinner. Since it was an early start, it was an early night too. There were so many spectacular things to see on the game drives. There were so many giraffes regally strolling through the bush munching on tree tops. We stopped to watch some bull elephants and were chased away by one. We walked 5 lions teari...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 31, 2002

Preparing the hot air balloon Photo, South Africa, Africa
Quote:
The morning after our first game drive, we had a hot air balloon ride booked through our hotel. Grudgingly, we were up before dawn and taken to the middle of the park where the balloon was being unfolded. The captain said he would normally have the balloon all blown up for us and ready to go but he was concerned about the weather. After watching the skies for a while, he agreed to go and had his assistants start blowing up the balloon. The basket held 10 people - 2 pilots and 8 passengers. We started our trip by floating low above the park. This gave us a close up view of the animals from above. We hovered over 5 lionesses in a tree and saw a small stampede of buffalo. Then the pilot brought us higher...Read More