Written by Holiday Jo on 24 Feb, 2004
Sun City is THE most amazing place I have ever been to -- the hotels are magnificent, the views are fantastic, and the weather was beautiful. What more could you want? Sun City is heaven.I would suggest staying at Sun City for at least…Read More
Sun City is THE most amazing place I have ever been to -- the hotels are magnificent, the views are fantastic, and the weather was beautiful. What more could you want? Sun City is heaven.
I would suggest staying at Sun City for at least three nights, as there is so much to see from casinos, restaurants, water sports, an excellent water park with slides, and nighttime cabarets. You can choose to stay in one of Sun City’s four hotels, which range from the luxuriously expensive to the comfortable cabanas. The Palace of the Lost City is the most extravagant hotel, but we chose to stay at the Cascades Hotel, an equally stunning hotel at half the price. Our room faced the pool and every morning we took the glass lift down to the outside restaurant to eat our breakfast amongst the waterfalls and gardens.
My favourite part of Sun City was the Valley of the Waves, a huge water park; if you stay overnight, it is free to enter. We were too scared to go on the Temple of Courage (the name says it all), but we did float around the pools and gardens on our inflatable ring and just relaxed as the current pushed us along the ‘Lazy River’.
At the entrance to Sun City is the alligator park, which can be very scary and if you have children, I would make sure you hold on to them at all times as it can be quite frightening to be so close to the gators. We spent about half a day at the gator park and watched the displays that are held hourly to teach you more about the wilds of Africa and the alligator’s environment.
In the evening, Sun City really comes alive and you can just walk around the different hotels and casinos spending your money on the slot machines, or if you’re feeling flush, go to the tables. You can get lessons on how to play the tables, but I found it more interesting to watch others and just putting my rands in the coin machines. There are also so many restaurants to choose from and I would suggest having a braaii (barbecue) lunch at the Palace and sip cocktails there in the evening.
During the day, if you’re feeling adventurous, there are many water sports available to try at additional costs -- we chose the parasailing and were so glad we did. The views from up high are amazing and you really get to see the whole of Sun City – you can even plan where to go next. If you’re a keen golfer, there are two golf courses that were designed by Gary Player -- I am not a good golf player, so I waited for my family in the spa.
All in all, Sun City is a place not to be missed -- I defy anyone to not enjoy it.
Written by francelvr on 30 Sep, 2008
Though the bitter South African government policy of apartheid became history in 1994, if you visit Johannesburg its lingering effects can still be seen almost anywhere you go in the city. Ragged women holding babies in their laps beg on street corners, fences around…Read More
Though the bitter South African government policy of apartheid became history in 1994, if you visit Johannesburg its lingering effects can still be seen almost anywhere you go in the city. Ragged women holding babies in their laps beg on street corners, fences around middle-class homes bristle with signs warning of alarms and guard dogs, and closed-circuit surveillance cameras stare back at you everywhere. Though apartheid is no longer the law of the land, its legacy is the crime, poverty, and desperation many residents of Jo’burg (a nickname for the city) still face daily. In the early 1990s, the so-called "Group Areas Act" (1950), which had reserved the city center and suburbs for whites, was finally scrapped. Thousands of poor, under-educated, and unemployed native people previously restricted to surrounding black townships like Soweto (home of Nelson Madela) and Alexandra soon flooded into the city, closely followed by urban blight. In addition, because Johannesburg was South Africa’s most northerly big city, it has become a magnet for uncounted immigrants from other African countries fleeing poverty and war. Crime skyrocketed, especially assault, robbery, and even murder. Landlords abandoned many buildings in the city, particularly in high-density areas such as Hillbrow. Many corporations and institutions, including the country’s principal stock exchange, moved their headquarters away from the city center to relatively secure suburbs like Sandton. By the late 1990s, Johannesburg was ranked as one of the world’s most dangerous cities.Today, reviving the city center has become is one of the main aims of Jo’burg’s government. Concerned about the effects of crime on the economy, quality of life and tourism, the city has taken drastic measures. In the central business district more than 200 surveillance cameras have been installed; all streets are now monitored around the clock by an army of operators. Cameras can spot "bad guys" and follow them around street blocks. The city’s automatic teller machines (ATM) are also constantly being watched. Though crime is still an issue here, the number of robberies and thefts has considerably decreased since these crime-fighting measures were put in place over the past decade.Such problems have plagued Jo’burg because of the bitter residue of pain and desperation decades of apartheid rule left behind in South Africa.In Afrikaans, the language of the Dutch whites who settled in South Africa in the 17th century, the word apartheid means "separateness". It described the rigid racial separation between the governing white minority population and the nonwhite majority population that was the law here from 1948-1994. Though these laws no longer exist, apartheid's social, economic, and political inequalities have left white and black South Africans with a pounding hangover. Apartheid classified people according to three major racial groups: white, Bantu or black Africans, and colored or people of mixed race. Later Asians were added as a fourth category. Laws dictated where members of each group could live, the jobs they could hold, and the education they could receive. Apartheid also forbade most social contact between races, authorized segregated public facilities, and denied nonwhites representation in the government. South Africans who openly opposed apartheid were tagged Communists and the government passed strict security legislation, essentially turning the country into a police state. Sadly, even before apartheid became official policy, South Africa had a long history of racial segregation and white supremacy. In 1910, the country’s parliament became all-white and in 1913, it passed legislation limiting black land ownership to 13% of South Africa's total area. Not surprisingly, most native Africans opposed these discriminatory policies, which made it virtually impossible for them to get an education, make a living and live where they wanted. To fight these policies, the African National Congress (ANC) was founded in 1912. In the 1950s, after apartheid was made law, the ANC declared that "South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white," and began working to abolish the system. In March 1960, at least 180 blacks died during bloody riots against apartheid in Sharpeville, S.A., causing the government to ban all black African political groups, including the ANC. From 1960 to the mid-1970s, the South African government tried to make apartheid a policy of so-called "separate development." Blacks were forced to live in newly established, destitute homelands called Bantustans, intended to eventually become sovereign states. Meanwhile, more than 80% of South African land remained in white hands. Increasing violence, strikes, boycotts, and demonstrations by apartheid opponents, along with the overthrow of colonial rule by native people in Mozambique and Angola, finally forced the government to relax some of its restrictions in the late '70s.By 1980, as public opinion worldwide turned decisively against the apartheid regime, the government and most white South Africans increasingly began to feel their country was a haven besieged by communism and radical black nationalists. Considerable effort was put into getting around international sanctions and the government even began developing nuclear weapons.However, by 1990, South Africa's white government had finally begun to see that apartheid not only was depressing its economy but bankrupting its soul. In February, the country's last white President F.W. de Klerk released Nelson Mandela, the revered ANC freedom fighter, from decades of imprisonment, amid jubilation across the land. In 1993, Mandela was elected South Africa's first black president following democratic elections.Today, majority rule is a fact of life in the country but South Africa's proud people still struggle daily to shake off the bitter legacy of apartheid. Close
Written by from the trudge on 20 Dec, 2007
Trudge 3:Edith Stevens Cape Flats Nature Reserve : Cape Town (cont): No!”it was certainly more than that I claim. The land ‘Cape Flats Reserve’ was and is lonely. And yet , they’d say, a train line courses its way right in the midst…Read More
Trudge 3:Edith Stevens Cape Flats Nature Reserve : Cape Town (cont): No!”it was certainly more than that I claim. The land ‘Cape Flats Reserve’ was and is lonely. And yet , they’d say, a train line courses its way right in the midst of the piece of acclaimed land. That is what it is, acclaimed. Now don’t you forget this. It is acclaimed. It does not have to holler the truth in this. It does not have to be boisterous in identification of its worth. It just continues to be acclaimed. I suppose personal sentiments and sentimentality demands that I prefer to see that it speaks its worth more officiously. That is what the politics of the day then and now did. It spoke. What with the Caspers, and the teargas and the bird shots, the forces, they claimed maintaining law and order in us. I said but! But! I am law and orderly see! I ran. Always the opposite direction. I ran away from the Caspers. They were always bigger, better and ‘brusquer’ as more aggressive and more violent than my thoughts could ever conceptualize.
But the ‘Cape Flats Reserve’ so peaceful in its silence, loneliness and unassuming existence. I suppose that I search increasingly as I do now for the National Signifiers of acclaim in national symbols that prevent an automatic oversight of the sight by the unwittingly innocent disregardful and disrespectful civilian.
Then relief awakes like a fresh breeze: She is called Edith Stevens Cape Flats Nature Reserve: She who has within her capacities protected the wealth of years of treasure, vegetation as treasure, habitat as treasure. And she continues to hold and harbour with honour such as these mentioned by specific and scientifically safely and securely all that exists there.
• Edith as the Cape has within her boughs:
I pondered the possibility that within her encamped space, Edith might be the haven of the destitute and desolate. But then, the cobras are claimed to exist there as well. The hedge, a wire one, alongside of the Historical monumental treasure, Modderdam Road, folded backwards alerted me to this possibility, that some without the securities of fineries, sustinence, love and care, might find homage in respite and sleep, there. I have yet to see that this might be.
I know of a time at the immediate Authority to which ‘Edith’ belongs, The University of the Western Cape as the Custodian and Guardian for care and maintenance, during December of 2004 when an extremely destitute man aged approximately 65 years was found huddled in a large wastage container. He had scavenged for food there and decided to continue to sleep amidst the dirt and grime. I presume that he thought that his safety could at least by measure or part be assured while he slept there. Further observation at the time indicated that some on the premises of the institution had at least been providing him with some food to eat. Although this did not suffice, it helped somewhat. He was desperate, but less so given the fact that he slept and ‘ate’ there.
And lastly I noticed the mounds just slightly above Edith, a bridge beneath and through which the aforegone mentioned trains pass. The tar attested to all the necessary requirements suitably adhered to inorder to be appropriately named Road and Main Road. There were the expected expansion cracks or cavities. I studied all of this earnestly to understand that Edith was not bound to experience some disaster of some sort or the other soon. The Road was secure. Then too, there were the mounds of soil. These resembled mole humps, but that they were not. I know this for certain because of what could have once been ‘humanly designed man-holes’, cavities dug into the soil that appeared to be displaced earth mounding to release to view the existing space, a human sized cavity large enough to accommodate a human figure. It would be warm and comfortable, so unlike the hardened tar surfaces on which so many within the horrors of their destitution must prevail and rest if that could ever be at all. Barring the ants and a possible spider, at least the soil would be a welcome peaceful and comfortable rest where such a rejected and despised by the world life can be nurtured. Oh! The horrors of our world!
The tar of the Road called Modderdam is cracked at various places. I deduced that that must be as a result of the business of the diversity of regular traffic of varying weights and sizes. Buses, trains as mentioned, trucks, motor vehicles, conveyer and conveyancing of fleet vehicles passed by regularly. And then, there were the Caspers as well. Only today the Casper fiends, claim that they play hopscotch and soccer with our babies. I am sure that I would not allow them to play with my babies. They might just teach my angels ‘caspering and teargas.’ And then too it was as if I could discern in some of the cracks the pressure of construction days and processes as the adjacent commercial and industrial sites were created. These were mostly steel structures. Steel requires that deep foundations are furrowed as excavation, mortar, concrete and cement, fixes the structure to hold the eventual colossal frame that molds and defines its walls that protect against the vicissitudes of the elements.
• Edith continues to be proud as she exists there. A proud lady no doubt is Edith. But so deceptive a lady as she presents by comparison to whom she really is:
Edith is not lonely as surmised. On the contrary she writes herself in many places within many exploits and functions of involvement and relationships. Edith Stevens Cape Flats Nature Reserve is acclaimed Nationally and Internationally. That she promulgated success in featuring competitively vying for supremacy with the best and that she has won clearly deserves praise. She is laudworthy.Continued next:Edith Stevens Cape Flats Nature Reserve: Cape Town:is notably laudworthy. And is she laudworthy!!!Please join me for Trudge 4 next
: see next explication due shortly:2008.01.20
Written by Global Villager on 07 Dec, 2007
Three things make Chart Farm stand out in my mind. Firstly it is a farm in the middle of suburbia (albeit a very wealthy suburbia where the homes are on very large grounds). Secondly, it is the only rose farm I know of where one…Read More
Three things make Chart Farm stand out in my mind. Firstly it is a farm in the middle of suburbia (albeit a very wealthy suburbia where the homes are on very large grounds). Secondly, it is the only rose farm I know of where one can pick one's own roses anywhere in Greater Cape Town. Cut a dozen of your favourites or select a mixed bunch. The choice is yours. Row upon row of rose cultivars of every possible colour imaginable await. Secateurs and a tray are supplied. As a visitor to Cape Town, moving on in a day or two, this idea may not be the most practical, but at R3.00 per rose (2 for less than $1) the value and novelty should be appealing. For locals this is a popular venue, especially over weekends. The other special aspect about Chart Farm is the setting high on the slopes of Wynberg ("Wine Mountain") Hill overlooking the verdant green Constantia Valley. In the direction of Table Mountain and Constantia Nek, vineyards, orchards and other large swathes of greenery seem to cover much of the valley, with only a few houses visible here and there. This indeed gives the impression of a giant green lung, against the striking backdrop of the Cape Peninsula Mountains. Constantia Valley is famous for its historic wine farms with their Cape Dutch homesteads and award winning restaurants.At Chart Farm, the Coffee Terrace serves teas, cakes, breakfasts and lunches. Recently we re-visited the terrace and were pleased to note that the new glassed in sides do keep out Cape Town's fresh south-easterly summer wind, whilst not detracting from the view in any way. There is also an outside terrace section that is popular on wind free days. The tea was great and made from boiling water, but the chocolate cake was a little too dry for our palates. The flies in summer are a reminder that this is a working farm. Access from Wynberg Village is easy. Simply follow Waterloo Road up the hill, turn left at the Wynberg Park / Chart Farm signs and then first left after passing under the freeway viaduct. Chart Farm is open daily from 9.00am until 4.30pm Try to get there before 4.00pm though. From January, grape picking is another option on the farm. The kiosk sells certain produce, such as fresh cherries, from time to time.With access from Wynberg and views of Constantia, Chart Farm forms a link between two charming parts of Cape Town. And there is no doubt that the roses do "lend enchantment to the view". Close
Written by Linda Hoernke on 21 Jun, 2007
Cape of Good Hope is part of the Table Mountain National Park and a major part of the Cape Floristic Kingdom. There are over 100 species of indigenous plants and a few that can be found nowhere else on earth. The Cape is situated at…Read More
Cape of Good Hope is part of the Table Mountain National Park and a major part of the Cape Floristic Kingdom. There are over 100 species of indigenous plants and a few that can be found nowhere else on earth. The Cape is situated at the junction of the cold Benguela current on the west coast and the warm Agulhas current on the east coast. Cape of Good Hope was declared a nature reserve in 1938 and became a national park in 1998. It covers 20 acres of varied flora and fauna and includes 25 miles of coastline. Known as “The Cape of Storms,” shipwrecks dot the shore with stories of its treacherous waters and historic trade routes. A lighthouse sits at the end of the trail to Cape Point, on top of one of the highest protrusions of rock along the coast. The Cape was first seen by Diaz in 1488 when he sailed around it in search for a route to the East Indies. There are hiking trails within the park and we hiked a scenic trail along the coast where we walked through a mist giving us peeks of water crashing against the shoreline and onto fine sand beaches. The end of our hike was spent on the beach having a picnic. Chacma Baboon can be found in the Cape and are the only protected species of this kind in Africa. They live on fruits, roots, honey, insects, and scorpions. They can be seen on the beaches at low tide feeding on sand hoppers and shellfish. When visiting the park, don’t forget that baboons are wild animals. Do not feed them or display food when they are around. Move slowly away if one approaches you. They can be dangerous. There are at least 250 species of birds in the Cape. When flowers are in bloom, you will see a number of sunbirds, sugar birds, and other species in search of nectar. Small mammals include Rock Hyrax, Striped Mouse, Water Mongoose and Cape Clawless Otter. The Park is open during the summer 6am to 6pm and during the winter from 7am to 5pm. Phone: +27 21 701 8692Fax: +27 21 701 8773E Mail: email@example.com Close
Written by Linda Hoernke on 19 Jun, 2007
The Gateway to Robben Island is at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. The building is three floors and houses an auditorium, museum, and exhibitions that reflect the history of Robben Island. The tours are 3-4 hours long and include the maximum security prison, the prison…Read More
The Gateway to Robben Island is at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. The building is three floors and houses an auditorium, museum, and exhibitions that reflect the history of Robben Island. The tours are 3-4 hours long and include the maximum security prison, the prison house of Robert Sobukwe, the lime quarry, leper graveyard and the commissioner's residence, which is now a guest house. We caught the boat to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent 27 years of his life. The island sits in Table Bay and was once a leper colony and an insane asylum. Robben Island became famous during apartheid years when it was known for its institutional brutality of political prisoners in South Africa and Namibia. It is now a World Heritage Site. We first took a bus tour around the island. I was surprised to find people actually living there and that they had built a school and church for the families. Some of these people were ex-prisoners. Our guide was an ex-inmate of the prison. He was arrested when he was 17 years old for recruiting people into the ANC. Considered a political prisoner, he was beaten, starved, and alienated from his family for seven years of his life. He took us through the B Section of the maximum security prison where we viewed Nelson Mandelas cell…a small cubicle with a bed on the floor and a pot for his toilet. There was nothing else. This section held many leaders from different groups who were isolated from the other prisoners. Their shoes were taken away and they had no jackets. Our guide said when he was a prisoner he had misplaced his toothbrush and for that he spent 30 days in solitary confinement with nothing but one cup of foul tasting porridge each day. The name of the game was humiliation…your identity was taken and you were put to work in a quarry where the living conditions were beyond comprehension. After apartheid, the last political prisoners were released in 1991. Nelson Mandela left Robben Island to lead South Africa to democracy and to teach a message of tolerance, reconciliation, and hope for the future that affected the world. Reservations are a must...sometimes they are booked a week in advance. For advanced reservations: Phone: +27 (21) 413-4200Fax: + 27 (21) 419-1057E Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Close
Written by MikeInTown on 13 Feb, 2007
Sun City reminds me of some of the all-inclusive Caribbean resorts at which I've stayed - minus the ocean. But make no mistake; Sun City is not an all-inclusive resort. I had to carry my wallet to pay for the activities, meals, and a show.There…Read More
Sun City reminds me of some of the all-inclusive Caribbean resorts at which I've stayed - minus the ocean. But make no mistake; Sun City is not an all-inclusive resort. I had to carry my wallet to pay for the activities, meals, and a show.There are four hotels at Sun City; each offering entertainment such as casinos, game rooms, dance clubs, restaurants, shopping, and theaters. We had a great time wandering in and out of these places.The Palace of the Lost City Hotel is the most luxurious of the four Sun City hotels. Rooms here start at $700 per night and go as high as $5,000 per night. My wife and I wanted to take a look inside this ornate establishment but when the man at the door looked at our cards and saw we were staying at the Sun City Cabanas, we were denied entry. He told us we could sign up for a tour which costs approximately $8 per person or we could pay him half price under the table to get in. We declined and headed off to explore the beautiful pathways and fountains outside the hotel - at least those were free. One thing that surprised me during our walk was the rooms I saw on the ground floor that had their curtains open looked pretty much the same as our room at The Cabanas. Anyway, we continued to walk the paths and through open corridors. Eventually, we somehow ended up inside The Palace. The attention to detail of the decor, furniture, artwork, and sculptures was incredible. We continued to marvel at the structures inside this place until we arrived at the lobby. We didn't want to push our luck too much in case the man at the door happened to turn around and recognize us.We left The Palace and headed over to the Valley of Waves. This major Sun City attraction consists of a man-made beach, a powerful wave machine, a gigantic water slide, several pools, an inner tube river, in addition to fun hiking trails. We had a great time here but did not linger. We had bought tickets to a matinee show in the Sun City Hotel.The show we saw was called Afro-Dizzia!. The performance consisted of songs and dances from a variety of genres. It reminded me of the type of entertainment I've seen on cruise ships; the difference being, some of the numbers in Afro-Dizzia! contained nudity and very suggestive dancing. There were topless women in thongs and men in G-strings in some scenes. The show also had plenty of smoke, flashing lights, and fancy costumes. It was entertaining and lasted about an hour and a half.We finished off our day at dinner at Calabash, one of the many Sun City restaurants. We spent two days at Sun City and probably could have used one more. Regardless, Sun City was a nice way to end our tour of South Africa. Close
Written by linda bianco on 27 Jan, 2007
I must say right off the bat we had a wonderful, small travel company plan our trip. We have used these guys several times. They are wonderful. Heritage Tours is based in New York and only work in a few countries, so they know their…Read More
I must say right off the bat we had a wonderful, small travel company plan our trip. We have used these guys several times. They are wonderful. Heritage Tours is based in New York and only work in a few countries, so they know their stuff. We started in the wine country and stayed in Franschhoek at a lovely, small hotel. The grounds were beautiful, surrounded by mountains. We spent 3 days relaxing, tasting wine, and eating. A highlight was doing a wine tasting on horseback. We rode in the mountains overlooking the vines and then rode down into the valley to the wineries for a tasting. We then had a guide with a car who picked us up and we did a beautiful drive to the Cape Peninsula to see the penguins and Boulders Beach. Then 4 days in Capetown, which is just beautiful. There are many activities: museums; botanical gardens; trips to Robben Island, where Mandela spent so many years. The city is lovely, clean, and we felt quite safe. The next part of our trip was by car. We flew to Durbin and picked up a car. Driving on the left side took some getting used to, but we did just fine. My husband is a history buff, so we stayed in two different places, learning about the wars which were so critical to the ultimate evolution of South Africa. We stayed at Three Tree Hill Lodge, about 3 hours outside of Durban, and learned about the Second Ango-Boer War of 1899-1902. One of these wars took place at Spioenkop in the Drakensburg Mountains. We went to the site and had a lecture that brought it all to life. The lodge was lovely and very romantic. Then we were off to Fugitive's Drift Guest House, another 3 hour drive. This is in an area called the Isandlwana and is a UNESCO Natural Heritage site. This battle was between the British and the Zulus in 1879. We learned much about the bravery of the Zulus. The people who give these lectures are like actors and they do bring everything to life for you. There you are on the actual site and you can almost hear the noises of war. The guesthouse was certainly the most luxurious one we had ever stayed at...rooms were huge and beautiful, food was delicious, there was a pool, etc. Drive on another few hours to the tiny country of Swaziland. It is a lush, landlocked country characterized by magnificent scenery, friendly people, and a very traditional African way of life. Swaziland was never colonized and its citizens never subjected to apartheid. We spent 2 days here...great! Then onto to a small airport where we flew in a 5-seat plane to Tanda Tula safari lodge. We spent 3 nights there. Fabulous tents, wonderful service, and we saw great game. The last 2 days were spent in Johannesberg, where we wished we had had more time. Our guide was a unique character who we loved. We visited Alexandra township, which was so touching. We saw life through the eyes of these people. The apartheid musuem was another place to just shed some tears. I'm afraid I'm running out of time and space. I am happy to give more information to anyone who is interested in visiting this wonderful country. This was my second visit. Close
Written by MikeInTown on 05 Nov, 2006
The Big Five animals are: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and Cape buffalo. Kapama is a Big Five game reserve that covers 32,000 acres of African wilderness. We were fortunate enough to have spotted all five by our second game drive.The animals are accustomed to the…Read More
The Big Five animals are: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and Cape buffalo. Kapama is a Big Five game reserve that covers 32,000 acres of African wilderness. We were fortunate enough to have spotted all five by our second game drive.The animals are accustomed to the sight and sound of the Land Rover so most of them ignored us and allowed us to come relatively close. There are a few animals that do react to the vehicle. Warthogs and wildebeest take off running. The wildebeest herds would run through the bush like a freight train. Elephants and rhinos sometimes became visibly annoyed if we got too close. Our driver had to throw the truck in reverse a few times to give them room.LeopardThe leopard is the most elusive of the Big Five. Our driver told us it is not uncommon to go weeks without a leopard sighting. We were extremely fortunate because we saw one during our first drive. It was a female leopard that was feasting on an antelope. We were close enough to hear her crunching the bones. After the leopard had her fill, she began to cover up the carcass with dead grass. She then stood up and began calling her cub. A few minutes later, a little blue-eyed fur ball hopped out of a hole in a tree and went to its mother's side. We were all snapping photos like crazy - even our driver. This was my most memorable sighting.LionWe came across a male lion with a huge black mane (and a very foul odor). We were able to get within 15 feet of this massive cat as he began to roar (click to listen). After all the roaring, he fell over and went to sleep. I never thought I'd be this close to such a powerful cat.Cape BuffaloI'll admit. These big boys made me nervous. Cape buffalo can weigh up to 2000 pounds and can be very aggressive - especially if you are on foot (good thing we were in a Land Rover). It is said that they are responsible for more deaths in Africa than any other animal. We encountered these huge beasts during a morning drive. They were grazing and sparring. The collisions of their curved horns sounded like to bowling balls being clapped together. Some of the buffalo were quite close to the truck. As I looked around I began to notice we in the middle of a herd of these giants.Other AnimalsWe saw many more animals than just the Big Five. We saw giraffes, zebras, impalas, owls, hawks, eagles, vultures, monkeys, a hippo, a variety of antelope, a variety of small birds, and even a puff adder (very venomous snake). Our friend brought a safari checklist with her. This made the game drives even more enjoyable. Our driver was more than happy to help us identify the creatures on the list. However, our debate of the day was: Can we count an antelope sighting if the antelope we saw was being eaten by a leopard? Close
Written by Norfin on 23 Aug, 2006
We were collected from our hostel in Jo'burg on Thursday morning, expecting the adventure of a life time and boy....did it do exactly what it said on the tin. James (our excellent safari guide) drove us to and through the Mpumalanga province, stopping off…Read More
We were collected from our hostel in Jo'burg on Thursday morning, expecting the adventure of a life time and boy....did it do exactly what it said on the tin. James (our excellent safari guide) drove us to and through the Mpumalanga province, stopping off only at Nelspruit to stock up on supplies and grab some lunch. Though unplanned, we managed to have James to ourselves so we were a group of four altogether - ideal numbers really, a window each plus we only had to put up with one another and not any 'annoying tourists' (other than ourselves).
Our route from Jo'burg took us passed plenty of power stations and through a lot of smoke - two things which eventually gave way to miles of orange orchards and extreme heat. (That's extreme for Irish travellers used to rain!!) After a long but interesting drive we arrived at the Numbi gate to Kruger and our adventure truly began.
We stayed at the Pretoriaskop Camp for the first couple of nights. I thought it was a great camp...we had a nice rondavel facing away from the main body of the camp towards the fence which made us feel like we really were on safari and not cozied up in a village (as some of the rondavals in the centre might do). Pretoriaskop isn't particularly built up - but a shop and a garage have all you need. There's also a really lovely swimming pool - ideal for early afternoon cool offs and a good location for sitting eating ice creams!!!
The thought of 5.30am starts had us running scared to begin with but you get amazingly used to it! We were up at 5 on Friday...into the van and out the gate just after it opened at 6. [You definitely want to be getting into a van or some other high vehicle, the height makes it much easier to see everything, I don't know how people in cars would manage] We witnessed our first African sunrise. You hear about the colours and see the "Lion King" style pictures but I don't think I believed it til we saw it through bleary eyes that Friday morning!
It took a lot of looking before we spotted any animals - it was our first game drive, it was 6am and we definitely were not expecting the amount of ground cover that was there. I'm not sure what I was thinking but there was a lot of tall dry grass and low trees - and let me tell you, animal camouflage really works!!! Giraffes which seem so obvious in zoos can hide behind the narrowest of trees a foot from the road and be invisible! Elephants and rhinos - land whales and grey for goodness sake!! - can somehow blend in with their surroundings! But all of the searching and waiting only adds to the excitement when you finally see and elephant tearing up grass or impalas scattering with fright or rhinos huffing across the road or meet the stare of a lion (from the safety of the van!)
Nothing will recapture the excitement of waiting at our first water hole for about 45mins waiting waiting waiting...until eventually a herd of wildebeest came for a drink in almost postcard perfect formation. [Here's where you need to throw any attempt at 'coolness' aside and just get giddy and excited and start flashing that camera - the more pictures you take the better, don't try to impress you guide by being 'un-touristy' just take those pictures] That first day we saw so much and our safari innocence meant it was all so exciting impalas even brought a cheer - by the end, these creatures were spared only a glance! We managed to spot three of the Big Five - elephants, buffalo and rhino - that first day, but really the big five is not what it's about, the experience was everything, the search was the thing.
My own favourite - the rhino was proved difficult to find - we drove for hours passing hundreds of 'rhino toilets' (this part of Kruger has a huge rhino population) but no one using them. [Sorry to move away from the topic again but the dung on the roads is a very good thing to keep your eye on. Even non-experts like us were able to identify different droppings by the end of the first day and how fresh they were - good to know as you may follow that route further or turn around depending.] So, after an afternoon following rhino toilets we finally spotted our first white rhino - a couple of metres in from the road just waiting to cross, and cross he did!
At the end of our first full day in Kruger, we had seen - impala, kudu, hippo, elephant, rhino, duiker, buffalo, mongoose, baboon, giraffe and zebra. But the best thing? The best thing was knowing we had three more days left to see them again and hopefully one or two more! THAT was the best!