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


Thursday, May 6th - Kruger National Park

We were all up again at 6 a.m. for a buffet breakfast at 7 o'clock which included an omelette station or eggs cooked to order. I would highly recommend the Hotel Numbi as the rooms were spacious and clean, the service was great, the meals were excellent and it was a very good experience all around. However, it was again time to move on.

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After checking out we stopped at a large modern shopping mall to pick up for some important staples for tonight. Harold, Wendy, Lee and I stocked up the important stuff like beer, rum, Canadian whiskey, wine and brandy. Andre went for the more mundane and boring stuff like steaks for tomorrow's barbeque and lamb, potatoes and veggies for our potjie tonight. A potjie is a traditional South African pot stew.

With our shopping done and provisions secured, it was on to Kruger National Park. Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers 18,989 square kilometres (7,332 sq mi) and extends 360 kilometres (220 mi) from north to south and 65 kilometres (40 mi) from east to west.

To the west and south of the Kruger National Park are the two South African provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga. In the north is Zimbabwe, and to the east is Mozambique. It is now part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a peace park that links Kruger National Park with the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, and with the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique.

The park is part of the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere, an area designated by the United Nations Education and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO) as an International Man and Biosphere Reserve (the "Biosphere").

The park has 9 main gates that allow entrance to the different camps. The names of these gates are Paul Kruger Gate, Numbi Gate, Malelane Gate, Crocodile Bridge Gate, Punda Maria Gate, Orpen Gate, Phalaborwa Gate, Phabeni Gate and Pafuri Gate. We entered through the Phabeni Gate at 9:15 a.m

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We began our Kruger Park adventure by driving up the Sabie River Road through to the Paul Kruger Gate.

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It was a fantastic day for sighting game. In alphabetical order, the animals we saw and were able to positively identify, sometimes up close and personal were African Lion, Cape Buffalo, Common Duiker, Elephant, Giraffe, Hippopotamus, Impala, Kudu, Leopard Tortoise, Nile Crocodile, Nyala, Scrub Hare, Slender Mongoose, Vervet Monkey and Warthog. Some of the more interesting birds we identified were the Bateleur, Blacksmith Lapwing, Hamerkop, Helmeted Guineafowl, Malachite Kingfisher, Marabou Stork and the White-backed Vulture.

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From what I could gather, Andre used to be a full-time guide within Kruger Park for 12 years until he left to go freelance in 2001. And for the past four years he has been working with Cecil at Climax Tourism Services. Because of his background and knowledge of the park we were really being given the cook's tour of the park and were absolutely fascinated by the experience.

We continued on past the Skukuza Camp and stopped in at the Lake Panic Hide. Lake Panic is a great place to view hippos, crocs and bird life.

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From Lake Panic, we travelled up the Marula Loop along the Sand River to finish our tour for the day.

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The temperature reached 38 degrees Celsius in the shade by the time we checked into our home for the night at 2:30, the Skukuza Camp. Skukuza is the hub of the park and its headquarters. Very much like a good sized town, within the camp there are guest cottages, conference facilities, a large shop, restaurants, amphitheatre, post office, police station,, resident doctor and pharmacy, ATM and internet, car hire and repair and a swimming pool.

While the four of us went into the restaurant for a bit of lunch, Andre checked us in and had all of our luggage off-loaded. This was where he dubbed Lee's hard-sided red suitcase "Big Red". While I don't think her luggage was over-weight, it was the heaviest of our four bags and caused Andre to comment on occasion over the next few days.

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After lunch we had an hour or so to freshen up before our night drive in an open safari truck. These trucks hold 22 people and two of them went out full at 5:00 p.m. for our mini-safari. It was fully dark by 5:45 or so.

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The highlight of the three hour night drive was a pair of lions that we caught in the spotlights in the distance. The male lion and the lioness were in the act of mating and it was quite a commotion, with all the roaring and hullabaloo that typically occurs with any species. We endured the night drive as we found it was too long after an already long day. And because we had been spoiled all day by Andre looking after us exclusively, it's not something any of us would do again.

Andre picked us up at 8:00 when we arrived back at the night drive staging area and drove us back to our cottages where he had his lamb potjie and rice prepared. We had a very nice dinner on Andre's patio with a bottle of South African Merlot. However, we have to be up at 5:00 tomorrow for a 6 a.m. departure, so off to bed by 10:30.

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