African Safari 2010  Header

Gene & Lee's African Safari
South Africa - April 28 to May 24, 2010


Introduction to our African adventure!

April 28 - Edmonton to Calgary

April 29 - Calgary to Frankfurt

April 30 - Frankfurt to Jo'burg

May 01 - Jo'burg

May 02 - Jo'burg to Livingstone

May 03 - Victoria Falls, Zambia

May 04 - Livingstone to Jo'burg

May 05 - Jo'burg to Hazyview

May 06 - Kruger National Park

May 07 - Kruger National Park

May 08 - Kruger to Pongola

May 09 - Pongola to Durban

May 10 - Durban to Cape Town

May 11 - Cape Town to Gordon's Bay

May 12 - Gordon's Bay / Gansbaai

May 13 - Gordon's Bay / Stellenbosch

May 14 - Cape Town to Jo'burg

May 15 - Jo'burg to Lephalale

May 16 - First day of hunting safari

May 17 - Second day of hunting safari

May 18 - Third day of hunting safari

May 19 - Fourth day of hunting safari

May 20 - Fifth day of hunting safari

May 21 - Sixth day of hunting safari

May 22 - Seventh day of hunting safari

May 23 - Jo'burg to Frankfurt

May 24 - Frankfurt to Calgary


Wednesday, May 5th - Jo'burg to Hazyview

We were up at 6 a.m. and had breakfast at 7:00. Again, a very nice buffet breakfast was included in the hotel restaurant. When we were finished we went back to the room to finish packing, then down to the lobby at 8 a.m. to check out and meet Andre. Andre is with Climax Tourism Service and will be our guide and escort for the next few days though Kruger and down to Durban.

While planning the guided portion of our trip, it was a real challenge to wade through the countless websites that all make a very good case on-line as to why you should contract their services. However, after a fair amount of research and a few false starts we took a leap of faith and decided on Climax Tourism Services. Founded in 2003, Climax Tourism Services is owned and operated by Cecil Harley.

Climax caters to travelers that need a very flexible, private, personal service and itineraries are tailor made for each group. They also have a special focus on wildlife safaris to South Africa's game reserves. We liked what we saw and got prompt, courteous and professional responses to any inquiry made. Arrangements were made, money was paid and fingers were crossed.

Happily, no surprises as there he was. Introductions all around, load the luggage and ourselves into the eight passenger Toyota touring van and away we went. Out goal today was to travel up to Hazyview, our jumping off point to Kruger National Park. However, first we wanted to see some sights on the Panoramic Route along the way.

Because of the time of day and traffic issues, Andre decided to bypass the main highway while we were still close to Jo'burg. Travelling down secondary roads we made excellent time. Along the way we passed Nan Hua Temple, the third largest Buddist temple in the world and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. It's located in Cultura Park, a suburb of Bronkhorstspruit.

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This is the South African headquarters of the Humanistic Buddhist order. They do a lot of community work and the temple is open to the public, who can book in for weekend-long retreats. We stopped for a brief photo op then away we went again.

Before we got too far from the bigger urban centers though, we had a bit of important business to look after first. Wendy's watch was starting to show signs of needing a new battery, so the request was put in to try and find a jeweller along the way. We had to wait until after 9 about which time we joined Highway 4 at Witbank, which has a very large shopping mall alongside the road. We whipped in, found a jeweller right away, replaced the battery and were on our way again within 30 minutes or so.

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We stayed on M4 until Belfast, then north on 540 thru Dullstroom to Lydenburg into what is known as the Highlands Meander. Evidently there's lots of trout fishing in this high country. From Lydenburg we drove west on 37 through the Long Tom Pass which gets its name from the Long Tom cannons used during the Anglo-Boer war. From there it was into Sabie for lunch.

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We enjoyed a leisurely lunch at the Woodsman Restaurant & Pub in Sabie. The food was quite good and we had the Diggers Draught beer from Hops Hollow, the local brewery which is the highest brewery in Africa.

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After lunch it was back into the van to deadhead straight north to the Blyde River canyon and the Three Rondavels on 532 through Graskop. Even though only 1% of South Africa is forested, Graskop is home to a thriving timber industry. The Graskop timber plantations are some of the largest man-made forests in the world. The endless rows of non-native pine and eucalyptus trees are very evident as you cruise through the area. These two species were originally introduced to provide shoring timber for the gold mines.

The Blyde River Canyon is the biggest vegetated canyon in the world, second in size only to the Grand Canyon in the USA, and the Fish River Canyon in Namibia. It forms the northern part of the Drakensberg escarpment and is 16 miles (26 kilometers) in length and is, on average, around 2,500 feet (800m) deep.

A great view of the Blyde River Canyon is at the "Three Rondavels", huge, round rocks reminiscent of the houses or huts of the indigenous people, known as rondavels. The three well known peaks of quartzite and shale with their sheer rock walls tower more than 700 m above the surrounding landscape. These peaks are named after the three most troublesome wives of Chief Maripi Mashile. They are Magabolle, Mogoladikwe and Maseroto.

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From there it was back down to Bourke's Luck potholes. This natural water feature marks the beginning of the Blyde River Canyon. Swirling whirlpools which occur as the Treur River plunges into the Blyde River cause waterborne sand and rock to grind huge, cylindrical potholes into the bedrock of the river. The Potholes were named after a gold digger, Tom Burke, who staked a claim nearby. Although his claim did not produce a single ounce of gold, he correctly predicted that large gold deposits would be found in the area.

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After walking down to the Potholes and back we spent a few minutes in the museum which showcases the flora and fauna native to the Blyde River Canyon.

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Driving out, we were met by a troop of baboons making their way toward the museum.

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After the Potholes we made straight for Hazyview back thru Graskop and west down 535. Arriving at the Hotel Numbi in Hazyview at 5:45, we checked in then everyone down to the wood paneled bar for a pre-dinner drink. At 7:30 we decided it was time to partake in our set menu dinner so over to the dining room. It was like we were transported back to the 1890's. The service was colonial and very good. Half shell mussels to start, asparagus soup to follow. The main courses were braised beef, fresh trout or chicken. Desert was chocolate ice cream squares and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. We finished up with coffee.

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Off to the rooms by 9:30 and to bed at 10. This was quite a long day and our first with Andre. He's a very knowledgeable and patient gentleman who is going to make our next few days great.

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