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5. Game for a Drive

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Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga, South Africa
Sunday, November 14, 2010

Picked up at 8:00 from the PortsWood and driven to the Cape Town Nelspruit Airport, I was quickly checked in for my 10:00am flight to Kruger Mpumala Airport. My two seatmates were from Angola. "Not quite ready for tourists," they said as they told me to wait a few years before visiting there. My friends from Friday afternoon, Mona and Eric (New York) and Matt and Donna (Edinborough) were on the same flight. Unfortunately, they were headed for different places once we arrived at Kruger at 12:25pm.

I was picked up at the Kruger airport by James and shuttled to Kruger Park Lodge. I wouldn't recommend this lodge to you unless you are driving your own car and enjoy solitude. My “chalet,” which is very nice, is a long, long walk from reception. There is no internet in the “chalets” and they have no electric adapters for loan so you can’t charge up your computer and camera batteries. The almost empty dining room is tiny, perhaps because the “chalets” are kitchenettes for the time share owners and there are few other guests. There is a bar but it is hard to find and deserted; I had the chicken. So far, there hasn’t been a salt shaker anywhere in South Africa that works. The Kruger Park Lodge is dead, spread out and ill equipped. They do, however, offer laundry service at a flat rate for however much you can cram into their bag. I’ve plenty to cram.

Chadrack was my afternoon game drive guide. Here, they use modified Toyotas, built up in the rear with three, open sided, elevated rows of seats. Each vehicle would handle nine tourists; I had this one all to myself. It’s a bit of a haul to get into Kruger Park from the Kruger Park Lodge which is not inside the park as its name would imply. As soon as one enters the park, great numbers of impala offer a greeting and, soon after, zebra and giraffe welcome you as well. We spotted a white rhino, elephant and, later on, a mating pair of lions (sorry if the photo is R rated). The terrain here is unlike what I had previously experienced on safari in Kenya and Tanzania. Scrub brush predominates in the areas of the park where we visited; not the clear savannah type environment I had seen before. For that reason, animals are not to be seen at a distance, instead becoming visible only once you are upon them. The afternoon was heavily overcast so the light was flat and it began to lightly rain late on my drive. The temperature is probably around seventy degrees which is nice. The wind chill in a moving open vehicle makes things chilly, however. It was cold in that truck; I am glad I brought both a jacket and a rain slicker along. We were out of the park by 6:00pm, a good thing because it was pitch dark just minutes later.large_63235a30-2fec-11ea-86e7-3f1d5cba98a5.jpglarge_6323f670-2fec-11ea-b714-c915d9c20102.jpglarge_62ffa590-2fec-11ea-86e7-3f1d5cba98a5.jpglarge_62fe9420-2fec-11ea-b714-c915d9c20102.jpglarge_62dfc180-2fec-11ea-b714-c915d9c20102.jpg

Tomorrow, I am to be picked up at 5:30am for an all-day game drive hosted by Alfred as Chadrack is not working. South Africans continue to amaze me with their near universal warm and welcoming attitude. In this post-apartheid time, I am encountering many more blacks than whites. They do have a fascinating accent but I am used to it because my favorite client, Larry, has not only acclimated me to it, it was his enthusiasm that brought me here.

Posted by paulej4 14:10 Archived in South Africa

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